Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How am I Feeling?

I just had a session with Susan Thomas, one of the breast cancer nurses in the team. She gave me a form to fill out, and asked me some questions. That’s the procedure before the surgery. What a way to mark my 20th wedding anniversary.

I don’t remember how many times I’ve been asked this question. “How are you feeling?” Calls from Dr. Judith Hammond, my GP at Unimelb Health service, the breast care nurses at Royal Women’s Hospital, and other hospital staff have come eversince I was diagnosed with BC. How am I feeling?

That was the survey form I just filled out. It’s kind of tricky to put your feeling into scales. But I guess I’ve had that question before. I’m not depressed, but certainly I can’t say I’m not taking this seriously that it doesn’t stay in my head. So I just put number 3 on the scale of 1-10. I have some concerns. How am I going to take care of the family, my study? Will I face some financial issues along the road?

In general, I put marks on NO to most questions that relate to possible causes of anxiety. I hope I’m being honest to myself. I hope it’s not a kind of denial. I do realize that I’m having BC right now. Nothing will change that fact. But what I’m optimistic about is that I have control over most issues. I’m feeling very much OK. Physically, emotionally. I can still do all the tasks I’ve been used to doing for the last two years.

But perhaps what worries me is the idea of not knowing what’s going to happen after the surgery. I have one more week to lead this ‘normal’ life. After surgery, I may be tired for a couple of days, and may or may not worry about the pathology result. If I have the series of chemo and radiotherapy, I may or may not fell well enough to do the routines. I may or may not feel helpless about it.  But that’s my choice how I’m going to feel, isn’t it?

The fact that I’m right here, typing this post on a library PC at least shows that I’m still leading this normal life as a student. That is, if you can call the spending most of your time meditating in the library normal.

Somehow, I’m afraid that my being calm is just a persona. I don’t think people notice any difference in me. In fact, they’ve been blurred by the idea that my husband is coming, and therefore, they see sunshine on my face. Maybe I’m sparkling, because I carry this ‘burden’ gracefully. Or is it just my way of seeing things.
I’m just afraid that, behind the door, there’s a different story. Am I taking it out on the kids? Getting upset easily when things go wrong with them. There you go again! Do they go wrong because they don’t meet the standard I’ve set? What if I’m the one who’s too hard on them, or to be exact, on myself? Sometimes I feel guilty after having reprimanded Adzra. I don’t really like to see her in tears easily for simple reasons. Is it because I don’t want to see myself in tears?

Maybe I’m pushing myself too hard. There’s so much I want to do, but I have to face the fact that I have to cancel or postpone a lot of things. Just now, I finally sent an email to Inter-Asia Cultural Studies conference in Singapore. It’s a relief to finally tell them that I have to withdraw my presentation. I thought I would miss this great opportunity. But then, Fran, my supervisor has been so understanding. She even said that somebody has just got to stop me. And that’s her job. I also want to try tutoring. She said, go ahead and apply. If you don’t have to have chemo, you can do that. But if chemo is waiting, you can still have next year.
Basically, I just have to accept the fact that I will have to slow down a little bit. Taking one or two steps back, but to gain strength to go full gear again when things get better. Health-wise.

What have I got to lose? Health is just the priority right now. Tutoring can wait, there will more other exciting conferences, and PhD is not the only thing in this whole wide world.

What can I do while undergoing all those protocol procedures? Maybe I could write about this journey? or try poems and short stories instead? For sure, I must see this as Allah’s way to give more time for enhance my spiritual well-being. Nobody knows whether this coming Ramadhan will be my last. Shouldn’t we feel that way when Ramadhan is approaching? We just have to make the most of this precious moment.

Ironically, this rings a bell only when you know that your time may run out more quickly that you’d expect.
Oh God, please give me a chance to be a better person. A better mum for my kids, a much better wife for my husband. He’s missed me so much because of my personal pursuit. Please give me strength to face this. Nothing matters anymore but YOUR protection and blessings. Where would I turn to but YOU?

My husband just texted me in Whatsapp. He is ready to start his new life. He’ll be flying tonight, and insya Allah we will be together again tomorrow, and the days after that. As I assure him that things are going fine, tears are claiming their rights.

Tiwi, it’s okay to cry.

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