Maybe This Time


The second day of the new year was spent driving with my dad on a too-familiar road wedged between mountains and river as we headed upstate, where my doctor wrote out a prescription for a new supplement to add to my treatment plan. I’d asked him to wait—wait until after Christmas, wait until the new year so that I could have some semblance of normalcy for the holidays, so I could feel well enough to celebrate with family and friends.

And I did feel well. Better than well. Better than I’d felt in months. My mom glanced at me as I set the table for Christmas Eve, then as I helped her prepare our feast of the seven fishes, then as we ate dinner and gathered in the living room and exchanged gifts.

“How are you feeling?” she asked after the rest of our family went home and I settled on the couch with the dogs.

“Good,” I said. “Great, actually. I haven’t had this much energy in a really long time.”

It was what I wanted—a day where I could be completely present with the people I love most, without worrying about the pain or wondering if I was overdoing it, knowing my energy could drain without warning and I’d spend the next few days or weeks recovering.

Recovery looks different than it did a few months ago. Whereas whole months were once spent sleeping after a walk around the block, now I only needed a brief nap to restore any energy I’d lost.

So when my doctor talked again about the new treatment that would almost guarantee more herxing, there was a part of me that hesitated. I’ve felt so sick for so long, that now that I’m starting to see improvement again—now that I can spend time with friends or take the dogs for a long walk or do my own grocery shopping—I don’t want to go back there, I don’t want to feel worse again. Yet, there’s a greater part of me that remains hopeful—because my sole focus remains on getting better, and now is the opportunity to do whatever it takes to ensure that once I go back into remission, I stay there.

Tonight, I spent some time creating a Monday through Friday routine for myself. I didn’t have this before, and I felt restless, useless—so accustomed to working and being on the go and a part of the outside world that I felt guilty for slowing down and taking care of myself, even when my very health depended on it. But this routine—made up of time set aside for twice-daily walks, creative expression to feed the soul (journaling, coloring, meditation, and reading), and two hours devoted entirely to writing (not to mention lots of naps and scheduled time for chores)—will help keep me emotionally grounded through this next round of treatment.

When I called my mom and read off my newly scheduled routine to her, she paused.

“What about fun?" she asked.

Fun's on pause right now. Right now, it's just about getting through the day and feeling like I have a purpose as I focus on getting better. But I can't ignore the fact that having fun is as important as any medicine when you're healing. And so, this time, I vow to make time for that, too.

Days passed in a blur of naps and words and medicine these past few months until symptoms began to recede and I began venturing out into the world again. The memory of how strong I’ve felt these last few weeks is what will motivate me to keep going, keep fighting, until I’m better at last.

Slow and steady, that’s what this disease and its recovery are made of. Slowly, steadily, I’m on my way back to me.

Photo Credit: Relax Time by Alessia-Izzo

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Susan Pogorzelski.