For somebody who is supposedly so spiritual, I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about my body--being in my body--worriedly scanning the corpus--and generally behaving like a marshall at field parade. "Chin up, troops! Stomach, behave yourself! Fusty brain, get in line! General wooziness not allowed on this parade ground. March!!!"

It kind of works and then it doesn't. You may know I've just started an 18-week course of chemo to scour out and devour any rogue ovarian cancer cells left in my body after the hysterectomy. Having also recently had a bowel resection (is this getting too specific for you?), I have to chow down snacks at 3:00 am and second breakfasts at 10:00 am. Because my body just sucks up the food. So it's always a toss-up in the days after the harshest infusion--carbo and taxol.

Am I nauseous? Maybe food would help...(an intimate scrutiny of the insides ensues...). Perhaps I'd better scarf down another Zofran for nausea. No Chardonnay in sight. No slices of chocolate cake, but by God, we've got rice pudding! And Mary Jane does not have a pain about gobbling comfy pudding in the wee hours of the morning or the day.

Then there's the question of exercise and drinking water. Because these chemicals are so harsh--and I am grateful to them for killing my cancer cells--you have to flush out your kidneys 3 days after this treatment with 3 litres of water. Being an American and somewhat lazy about metrics, I only have a hazy idea of what a litre is. A quart?  3 QUARTS?  Anyway, it is a hell of a lot. I sip throughout the day and then, of course, visit the pee-torium frequently.

Exercise comes next. Keep those legs moving, woman, help get those chemicals out of your body--but not before they work their dark magic.  So every half-hour or so, I stand up from my desk and briskly walk around my study and our bedroom. If it's not too cold, I can stride about our deck while the dog gives me bewildered looks.  What in hell is she doing?

You get the point. Keep track of doctor's appointments; organize the blizzard of pills one takes each day; monitor internal systems--it all takes work and energy which I would rather put into something fun, like Chardonnay, eating meals at Alina's, and being with my loved ones and friends.

But a church friend gave me some sage advice recently. After her hysterectomy she said, "I didn't feel like myself. I couldn't do any of the things which defined me and made me feel useful. A dear woman
told me, 'Honey, you are healing now, and that is the hardest work there is." Such a gift to hear this.

I leave that wisdom with you. We must be gentle with ourselves and "trust in the slow work of God," as Teilhard de Chardin said.


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