Fear and Longing

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Two emotions are interrupting my relaxed, treatment-less Saturday morning.  It is brilliant here; the sunlight reflecting off the Seattle Times Building’s windows is lighting my room.  I am going to head out for a brisk walk to try to calm my mind.

I am scared of what is to come.  It is a new emotion.  I wasn’t overly fearful or anxious before my surgery (thankfully I was pretty unaware of what they were going to do or I would have been too frightened to show up at VGH), and I wasn’t worried starting treatment at ProCure, but I am scared thinking about my radiation at UWMC.  Why?  Maybe I am more aware of what I am getting into in this round of radiation, or maybe I was so happy to be avoiding photon radiation that I have spooked myself.  I was comparing how fortunate I was to be in proton therapy to my imagined sense of photon radiation and now the bogeyman I created is here to haunt me.

So I will go for a walk and get over it.  Worrying about in my room on a Saturday isn’t going to change what happens.  What do I have to fear?  The recovery from my biopsy and laminectomy in June was much easier that I had anticipated, and while the July surgery was much larger than I envisioned, and the first few weeks were a little rough, the overall recovery has been smooth.  Other than some nerve damage I am almost completely recovered.  In fact, I am better.  I have been walking all over Seattle without canes or walking aids and I have less back pain than at any point in the past 25 years.  My ProCure experience has been like going to the spa (well, an equipment delay prone spa with really unpleasant treatments that cause intense fatigue; where is the Aveda product, the hot stones and the sauna?  I need to talk to someone about this).  This journey has worked out well so far, why won’t this leg?

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Walking helps me to focus on the positive and push the worries out of my mind.  Late last night I was unable to sleep due to my nerve pain, so I went for a long walk on the treadmill, while watching The Cider House Rules.  The nerve pain subsided, I found the film calming (why would a film about an untrained orphan who never attended school working as a doctor be soothing?), and I was able to sleep, although I did wake up at four and google Dr. Tseng to review her credentials (she looks solid, but I may call Harvard on Monday and confirm that she actually did graduate from their medical school).  I‘ll head out now and walk these worries away.

I’ll replace the fear with pleasant memories (I can hear the “presentness” and MBSR folk now – “living in the past is as bad as living in the future”, but hey, give me this one.  I’ll get back to meditation tomorrow morning.)  Last weekend Stella and Olivia were here.  We saw a lot of Seattle and ate great sushi, Indian food and chocolate.  We met new friends and rested.  So, I’ll take a few minutes to relish this, vanquish the fear and enjoy Seattle.  And then I’ll write that positive post I’ve been meaning to write.

—-if you live in BC get out and vote today.  This whole democracy thing, while dubious, is our best hope.

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17 thoughts on “Fear and Longing

  1. Paul, I think you are entitled to your fears. Although I agree, worrying about it really any situation doesn’t really change anything well except our stress levels. Hope you get your walk in; Seattle is a beautiful walking city and it is amazing how walking can clear our heads and hearts. Wishing you peace, more weekends of sushi, Indian food and chocolate (the last two being two of my favs) with Stella and Olivia, and of course good health.

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  2. Paul,
    Yes, I agree with ‘Fromthe stick…’ Above. You are most entitled to the fear that you feel. It’s real & it’s good to acknowledge it. Those of us in ‘Mindfulness’ workshop, encourage ourselves to think of what we feel we need to do (& act) instead of freaking ourselves out with our stress responses. I know that it’s definitely easier to say than to do but it’s probably worth a try. Paul, you’d love this workshop.

    May your strolls in the sunshine, along with the great food, help you rise above the fear & leave you with a plausible solution! And chocolate is definitely a must so have that for dessert, Paul! I’d say at least once a day, would be great! … Dark chocolate, if you like that.

    I’ll definitely continue to send you positive energy. Glad Stella & Olivia were down to keep you out of mischief! Take care.

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  3. HELLO PAUL: MY WIFE, YVETTE , YOUR GREAT AUNT. AND I HAVE ENJOYED READING YOUR BLOG OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF DAYS, AND FEEL THAT WE HAVE GOTTEN TO KNOW YOU A LITTLE BETTER THAN WE DID BEFORE? UP UNTIL TO-DAY, YOU HAVE SEEMED TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A LOT OF POSITIVES FROM YOUR TREATMENTS TO DATE, AND FROM THE RESULTS REALIZED. UNDOUBTEDLY PAUL, AS THE SONG GOES, “YOU HAVE TO ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE, ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE, AND DON’T DEAL WITH MR. INBETWEEN” ?

    YOU HAVE AN INTERESTING STYLE OF RECORDING YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEARS, WHICH HAS HELPED US TO EMPATHIZE WITH YOU IN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. LONG WALKS DON’T CLEAR MY MIND WHEN I HAVE A PROBLEM OR WORRIES. FOR ME, I NEED A DIVERSION THAT WILL OCCUPY MY SENSES, LIKE WATCHING A GOOD MOVIE OR DOCUMENTYARY?

    ANYWAY PAUL, TRY TO STAY POSITIVE AS BEST YOU CAN. WE ARE IN YOUR CORNER WITH YOU ON THIS, AND HAVE OFFERED PRAYERS NIGHTLY FOR YOUR WELFARE. I THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO CONFESS TO THE LORD THAT THIS MATTER IS COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR CONTROL, AND PUT YOURSELF IN HIS HANDS? GOD GIVE YOU THE STRENGTH YOU NEED TO SUCCESSFULLY FORGE AHEAD!
    KERRY & YVETTE

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  4. Great post especially under the conditions you are under. I found it refreshing and I think you have a pretty positive attitude. I think you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have some fear, but you have a lot of humor and that is doubly good!

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  5. Paul
    Keep on expressing your thoughts feelings questioning…You have the gift of expressing yourself in the written word.Am so proud of the way you are facing this challenging time.
    Love positive thoughts and prayers from afar!

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  6. That was amazing to read. I never realized how focused one had to be to fight this and from what I see you are fighting this like a warrior human could be expected to. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. All I have to offer is my admiration for both your courage and your sense of humor – two things I knew you had in abundance from the moment I met you. Please check out my blog. I would like to know what you think.

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  7. Hi, Paul! Greetings from snowy Edmonton! I love following your blog and appreciate very much your willingness to share your journey; that is not an easy thing to do. Like everyone else has said, the fear is the logical response to what is going on. I can certainly relate to fear of radiation and what the future might hold, even with my much less complicated cancer experience. I think it’s probably true that trying to erase the fear only makes things worse, even though that is the natural instinct and feels like what you’re supposed to do. In my experience, I failed miserably at avoiding fear. The only other option for me was “embracing” it–not liking it, mind you, but exploring it and not beating myself up for the feeling. Maybe that will resonate with you, maybe not–everyone’s journey is different. May sunshine, chocolate, and walks bring you to moments of contentment!
    Peace from Frieda (and David) Gramit

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