I asked to go back to work early. Was it the right thing? Who knows. It is how I am programmed. If I’m not in bed, I should be at work. Even as a child, when it was snowing really bad out but school wasn’t called off, my mom would tell me I could stay home anyway. But I wouldn’t – if school was in session, I was supposed to be there. People would claim to be sick to stay home from school or work, but that’s something my mom always warned me not to do – don’t ever lie and say you or anyone else is sick, or it might come true – simply bad karma (although I don’t think she used that word). So I never did.
I know, I know, I am sick. But I am off the painkillers and don’t take naps every day any more. I now feel well enough to leave the house, to shop, to go to dinner, to walk around the city (as my doctor’s have encouraged me to do – the healthier I am going into chemo, the better it will be for me). And if I feel well enough to do those things, why not go to work? Nick reminded me I was told I should take a minimum of six weeks, up to 12, to recover and I’ve only been out five. (I can’t even believe it’s only been five weeks – it feels like surgery was a lifetime ago.) But I think I can do it. And want to do it – for many reasons:
- I love my job. I like what I do every day, the people I work with, our mission. It makes me happy. I miss it. And I feel guilty not being there (even though I know I shouldn’t).
- Work distracts me from the cancer. Thinking about chemo. And going bald. I don’t want my life to be all consumed with it, although I know I can’t hide from it either.
- I only have a total of 13 weeks of short-term disability at full pay. I would really love to stay in that and not slip to long-term disability (60% pay), which would make life difficult. And with at least one more surgery where I will be out one to two weeks and not knowing how I’m going to feel or how long I’ll need to be out each round of chemo and during radiation, I need to conserve my time.
I know I can’t let Workaholic Amy take over – I will need to take it slow (and know my colleagues and bosses will support this) and listen to my body, so that I can be strong and healthy through chemo. I will not be working my normal crazy hours. And I am actually not allowed to lug my laptop back and forth on the bus and T. I will be smart about this. I will pace myself – as Nick keeps reminding me to do. I will balance work with what I need to do for my health: continue physical therapy (I can now raise my hands straight up to the ceiling, sleep on my side with only a little pain and only take ibuprofen a couple of times a day rather than 24×7), go to all my doctor’s appointments, get plenty of rest, try to teach myself to eat right and exercise as much as I can.
So physically I think I can do it. And mentally I know it will distract me. Otherwise, I am nervous. I feel kind of like I did in September 1991 when I returned to high school for my senior year and was nine months pregnant. I remember walking in and down the hall, my red blazer barely buttoning around my giant belly. Mike, Jay and Mike were with me, both to support and to protect me, as I was scared of the looks I would get and the whispers around me. I know this isn’t the same, but I still feel somewhat like the circus freak show. I just want to be normal. And treated normal. It’s times like this I wish I was a little more private about my life so people wouldn’t know I had a bilateral mastectomy and cut my hair because soon I will be bald. Yes, I know, ironic, as I’m typing this into my blog. But I am doing that because I know this will help others who are going or will go through the same thing as me. And if nothing else good comes out of this stupid cancer thing, I hope I am at least able to help a few people in this way.
So am I ready? I don’t know. But I guess I’ll find out…