I was going to write something...but now I've completely lost it. My brain has not been working lately in that capacity. I have been struggling to keep a straight thought lately. Chemo brain? I know many joke about such a condition, but I have become a believer. It seems to be a great excuse anyway for everything misplaced, forgotten or turned upside down. The amazing thing is, I always seem to know where my keys are in the house.
My son came to say goodnight. He likes to stall with a long snuggle and a little story from the day...and another glass of water.
What was I saying? What was I even going to talk about? I have no idea. It's gone. Lost in some part of my brain that was burned away by a chemical cocktail meant for a few cells somewhere else in my body causing so much trouble.
I will continue to write, but for now it has been quiet at the keyboard. Frustration sets in as I stare at the medication bottle I must open every day to ingest the tiny little pill I love to hate. The drugs meant to keep the cancer away. The pill that changes a part of my personality with its not so pleasant effects.
Another part of me works hard every day to remain physically strong. As I accomplish shifting my body toward the shape of an athlete, I am finding the new identity I am comfortable to wear. Pushing all winter has given impetus to my health and strength, but in doing so I have crossed some line into a new world. My goal has been to train for racing with my team. I am a member of a dragon boat team.
Next weekend will be the first dragon boat races of this season for me and my team. Winter has been long and difficult this year and so the excitement builds. I live in the Northeast and so much of training for this sport goes indoors in the gym. Even as the weather breaks, the rivers are high and dangerous. The water shows its unexpected power every day. The surface appears calm, but the power and force of the current lies beneath churning the unknown debris. Cancer works like that. Things look smooth on the surface while underneath there is unseen trouble.
And so, part of this journey is shifting from the gym into the boat to reacquaint ourselves with paddling on the water. It requires respect and focus to disturb the angry force with only a paddle to cut the thick serenity. It has become hot quickly this weekend and there is not enough cool oxygen in the air to keep the mind clear. There is nothing else to think about but to keep in sync with the paddler in front of me. Keep in time. Plunge the paddle into the thickness. Breathe. I hide the fact that my heart is pounding out of sync with my breath, and I become dizzy with the strain. I find the reward in working together and I finally understand it is less about the body and more about the mind.
The clutter of thoughts sinks under the spring current of muddy water. The serenity of motion propels me forward. My body is spent and at times I wonder, why am I doing this? I return the next day and the day after that. It is on the water that I am allowed to go barefoot; to not worry about covering scars. On the water, there is no chemo brain or separate identity. Many professions, many walks of life, many levels of fitness all melt into one effort to move the boat. It feels good to feel strong and move forward. There is peace in letting the mind clear hearing only the sound of the water's wake the boat leaves behind. The journey of healing has taken me to unexpected places, and now the wake is finally settling back into the glassy surface.