Monday, November 17, 2014

hope + fear, reading journeys + real journeys, and walking step by step

After the late-summer-like days, the real November now finally arrived with morning fog and with overcast skies, and with wind that lets more and more leafs sail down to the ground.

Somehow in tune with the change of season, it's one month now that things turned, that I moved from healthy person to person-dealing-with-cancer in a matter of a day. It is still weird. And even the days that are more normal are different - like Wednesday, when I was in the city for work meet-ups. It was good to see the ones I work with, to be out there. And there's this psychological effect, that work gives a feeling of things going their normal way. So much is in the mind: thinking you are healthy, when your body knows another truth already on cellular level. Thinking that things are normal as the outer circumstances feel normal. and on a more general level: thinking positive. Or getting wrapped in fear, and feeling overwhelmed by all. Which could happen easily now, especially when you start to think of all the things that might happen, all the troubles that might be waiting for you.

It also made me think that working freelance, with all the flexibility and freedom it brings, of course has a downside when your body happens to follow the road of illness: you can't call in sick, knowing that then simply someone else will do your share of work: there is no such person. You need to find ways to get the work done. So if things are difficult on a bodily level, it also can mean that it's at this vulnerable point that your work and income turns unsure, too. So far, things are still running okay for me from that perspective. But I am more aware of this, and on the other side, of the fact that here in Germany, health insurance is safe ground: your insurance company won't (and can't) let you down when the situation gets troubled and expensive.


After the work time, I was in the clinic again at the end of last week for a check. Driving there starts to feel more normal, too. Below an image of the clinic area, taken the first time I went there. The sculpture always makes me think of a spacecraft, and of a skyward rusty hope, grounded in the earth, in 4 little spots.

I was a bit worried when I arrived at the clinic - the reason I went was to check if the healing is developing okay, as in the days before, the operation wound had been both more sensitive, and the tissue around felt a bit harder. But the doctor was pleased with the healing. Actually it turned out, the fact that there is more activity in the area and the hardening is indeed part of the healing. “The operation wound, it is like an inflammation for the body, but without bacteria,” he explained to me. Which gave me a better idea of what my body and the cells there are doing there right now.

It was interesting to notice how the same pricking feeling of the tissue now feels like “Okay,  this is healing”, and before the visit it felt like “Oh dear, it feels as if there is something wrong.”

I also asked about our planned island holiday. So far, the doctors were hesitant with making a decision, and chances had been that I would have to cancel. But now, with the healing turning out well, and with no other complications from start, he now gave his okay to go. So it was double good news. Driving back home, I felt tears in my eyes, both from the worry, and from the relief.

While driving, I also thought about the journeys I have done so far, the places I have been able to visit, the roads I have been able to walk, both speaking geographically and on a deeper level. That it might be a good idea to not postpone life plans for "later", or the time of retirement, it's a notion I had since a long time: you never can know. (And nice that just right now, the weekly photo challenge is "Achievement" - I added a photo from my journey through India: a moment of being on a boat on the Ganges, for sunrise at Varanasi. and here's the collected stream)

Another thought I had repeatedly in the last weeks: that there always will be books. That if I really have to cancel this or other journeys, and if I have to spend longer time in bed due to treatments, I can go on a reading journey, revisiting places I have been to, see them from another perspective, and explore new places.

It's also a thing that lightened up the hospital time: it was both a time of reflection and of reading for me. I went there with a small bag of books, which included 2 of my longtime companion soul books with me, Pema Chodron "The Wisdom of no Escape", and Hermann Hesse's "Small Pleasures". And here are the other books:

The one in the middle, "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" is from the booker prize shortlist. It's a touching and thought-provoking read about the human condition, psychology, and experiments. Here's a guardian review that gives a good picture: "A psychologist father's animal-human behaviour experiment on his children has heartbreaking and hilarious repercussions.... if any other book has done it as exhilaratingly as the achingly funny, deeply serious heart-breaker that is Fowler's 10th novel, and made it ring true for the whole of mankind, I've yet to read it."

It's also a book that tells about our inner curiousity and longing to understand how things work, how one thing effects another. How we all are interconnected, influenced by all that is beside ourselves, both on a conscious and unconscious level.

The other two books are from German authors: Christa Wolf "Leibhaftig" - "In the Flesh" is a story set in a hospital, with the illness both a personal time of pain, but also an analogy to society. here are some collected reviews, at the literary salon complete review. This line touched me, about Wolf and the sick writer in the story: " Words are all she has, and this stream of them that makes up the novella is the hold she needs to get through the ordeal."

The third is also a writer's book, about writing and travellig: Sigrid Damm's diary-style account of visiting Ireland.

While pondering on journeys and books, about reading journeys and real journeys, a plan surfaced: if I won't be able to go to the island, I could do a world trip in books... and return to the 7 continent challenge. Or rather: revive the idea for 2015. Now I think: I could / should do that anyway, whether I go or not.

Beyond all those themes, I am still waiting for the results of the next tests. Maybe they arrive this week, in time for the cancer-board meeting of the doctors. Or maybe not. I try to get more patient, and see it all as step-by-step journey. Now the healing. And the island time. And then, the results. And the treatment plan. And then, the treatments -
Step by step. Just like a journey.  You have a rough plan, and then you go from there. First one place, then the next.


More  Links
PS: I now started to put mark all blog posts about this shadow journey with a tag, you can click here to read them: C is for cancer, and for courage, too

And more reading notes are online here: World Books 2015 - reading notes


Jean said...

Such fine and cogent writing. Beautiful writing makes even sadness and difficulty something that people want to share and gain from sharing - it's a great gift. I'm so glad you're healing well from the surgery and it looks like you'll be able to take your planned trip to a place your love. warmest hugs x

Dorothee said...

Dear Jean, thanks for your thoughts and your feedback. The writing, it helps me to notice and process all the things that are going on right now. There are so many layers to it, apart from the actual medical / bodily aspects.
Hugs ~~