Friday, February 4, 2011

Both Sides Now

by Michael

First, Joni Mitchell is The Greatest Canadian.

Second, this is going to be a short post about the mind-body problem.

From the beginning of this cancer journey, Kate and I have talked about how there is both a physical and mental/emotional part to this disease. Recently, we've talked about how the physical part is going well (according to all the evidence we have so far), and the mental/emotional part is ... really fricken hard.

Two weeks ago, I went to my doctor (because I'm checking in with him regularly now) and told him how things were going. Among the things I told him was the fact that Naomi is very angry at the moment. The disruption to her routine has pushed her beyond her limits. She's convinced Mummy is going to die and she's fed up with visitors and she is, I told my doctor, "pissed off."

And because he's MY doctor, he asked, "And how are you? It's okay for you to be pissed off, too."

I am pissed off, too, but I'm an adult and have a better ability to cope than a six-year-old, so I'm not acting out so much. Actually, I feel, on the whole, pretty good. Though not operating on a full tank.

But Kate is suffering. I think anyone who's been following recent posts can tell that. (We are all suffering, to one degree or another, though Owen goes around seeming joyful. How does he do it? His role in this family has often been the opposite!)

Mind/body. It's a problem for Western Philosophy. Read all about it on Wikipedia. It also plays out in real time every day everywhere.

Mental health. Not as easy to talk about as even cancer.

Mind/body. See it from both sides now.

I've told Kate that I take the rehabilitation of her mental health every bit as seriously as I take the rehabilitation of her physical health. It is no less complicated.

I have been very well supported at work these past months in being able to do my job and also disappear when I need to. Accommodation. Balance. It makes a huge difference when those supports are there.

So thank you, thank you, to all who make up our circle of support. As Kate said in her last post, we now seem to be in a type of transition. The chemo is not over. And the final chemo may be extra taxing. But soonish that will be over. Then what?

The unknown brings new stress. Kate has an appointment with Dr. McCready, her surgeon, on February 14, Valentine's Day. We haven't seen him since October. He should provide some clarity about what tests, etc., loom on the horizon.

But as the future of physical health seems to clarify, the future of mental/emotional restoration remains a journey uncertain. Which doesn't mean I'm not wildly optimistic, because I am. It just means I don't know how we get from A to B. Or when. I think we don't rush. We honour the process. We will arrive, I have no doubt.

We have seen things from both sides now. We are headed back to the land of health: physical and emotional. I don't expect it to be a swift journey. But I do expect it to be ripe with meaning. Insight. Learning. Wisdom. All of those philosophical crap shoots. The crunchy granola bits.

There's a Bob Dylan song about this. At least one.

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