When you go through the kind of year I’ve been having, dealing with the realities of a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatments, you learn so many things about yourself. It’s been interesting for me to step out of myself to observe what I do when I’m counting down to disability. Many people suffering from a disability don’t have any warning that it will strike. It just happens in a blink and they have to deal with the realities that ensue. These might include the inability to drive oneself to places; to manage household chores; to take care of the needs of your people or pets; or even perform the self care we take for granted and do mindlessly on auto pilot throughout most of our days. Really, how many of us think about brushing our teeth while we do it? My mind is usually drifting to a million other places and often questioning ten minutes later whether I even brushed my teeth at all.
For the past six weeks I’ve been in the unusual position of knowing that as of the last week of May, I will be limited in my activities for an unforeseen amount of time. I’ve been warned that post mastectomy I won’t be allowed to lift anything over a couple of pounds eliminating my ability to carry loads of laundry, groceries or even cats who are parked in places where they don’t belong; that driving will be forbidden until I’m given the go ahead by my surgeon thus preventing my ability to run errands independently, let alone shop for the above referenced groceries; that raising my arms will be impossible for a while cutting off my ability to take things out of cabinets or put them away. I read someplace that I should picture my arms working like those of a T-Rex, only functioning below the elbows. Roar! I gathered and purchased a few new button down shirts as well as some button down pajamas because of the limited arm lifting which will make pulling on a tee-shirt very difficult. There are many other challenges that I’m anticipating such as taking a shower with drains dangling off my chest or being unable to sleep since it will be hard to get comfortable. Of course, pondering all of this makes it difficult to fall asleep now in anticipation. Yes, I’m foolishly bringing it on myself at this point.
While anticipating these changes and challenges, what does a normal person do for the weeks leading up to them? What would you do? Well, here’s what I’ve been doing. Feel free to laugh at the stupidity.
I’ve never been good at cleaning out closets and cabinets because as long as stuff fits in, and I just might need it someday, I find better things to do with my time and shove it all to the back. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not a hoarder, you can find plenty of clean floor space in our home and the only tripping hazards you need to watch for are the three cats and the dog. But I just don’t take the time to clean stuff out – fortunately I’m not a huge shopper. However, during these past four weeks of anticipation, you might confuse me with the infamous Marie Kondo, author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. My accomplishments thus far:
Cleaned and organized the spice drawer. I’m so pleased, and don’t you DARE mess it up! There are categories that make it easy to find what you need. Herbs, seeds, blends, spicy, ethnic, baking – as you can see, it’s not just an OCD pursuit.
Cleaned out the oils, sauces, and vinegars in the pantry that were many years post date.
Cleaned the rest of the kitchen pantry shelves including flours that were too old to use.
Cleaned out the refrigerator tossing countless, old, open condiments and other jarred items that were stale, funky, moldy or many years past date. Just look at the photo in my previous post.
Tossed out many tee shirts from events and times in my life that no longer brought me warm and fuzzy memories.
Tossed out old, worn out and out of date hand bags. I don’t care what label was on them, they would never be used again.
Cleaned out my pajama drawer. Baggy things, stretched out things, too short things, you get the picture.
Gave away my bathing suits which will no longer fit me on top, even if I were to gain back the weight I lost.
Cleaned out my old brittle panty hose. Why, just why did I hold onto them for so long? The knee high hose also went bye-bye, although I confirmed that decision first with Louisa since she would know if there was some return to fashion for that 25-year-old accessory of which I wasn’t aware. Nope. My instincts were correct for a change.
Cleaned out my dress clothes which were either out of style or just worn out.
If I weren’t genuinely concerned that I would regain the weight I’ve lost, I would give away at least half of the rest of my clothing which is currently baggy on me. But I don’t want to be faced with only two outfits just in case I grow back into my old 35-pound heavier size. You just never know what metabolism surprises are in my future after I complete treatment and begin the maintenance meds. Also, on the last day before mastectomy I plan to give away my bras, all of which no longer fit and would return an echo if I hollered down into them, since I refuse to wear underwire ever again in my life, even after reconstruction. Silver linings, I’m regularly on the hunt for them.
Remaining on the to-do list for this weekend is to clean out my shoes and my office desk.
If I had more time there are many other areas I would clean out, but the clock is ticking and there are still things to do like put away the winter coats (this spring has been too unpredictable to do it sooner), balance the check book, change the bedding for the summer, and stock up on pet supplies.
There must be many better things I could do with my time than give in to this ridiculous urge to clean out and reorganize my nest. It’s not as though I would be doing any of this cleaning or organizing if life was going on as normal without the prospect of surgical disability. But, part of me thinks (close your eyes Mom), what if I didn’t make it out of surgery alive? Would I want anyone to see my messy drawers and closets and have to deal with them? Oh, the shame and the disgrace.
Another part of me thinks I will go crazy looking at the disorder and being unable to do anything about it once I return from the hospital.
And one other part of me has considered that this is all part of shedding my old self in preparation for the new one to come down the road.
Finally, let’s not forget my new television obsession, Tiny House Nation. I may have been influenced by it, just a tiny bit.
Whatever it is, the next time you come into my house I’d be thrilled to show you the refrigerator or kitchen pantry. I torture someone in my household every other day to look at how nice, clean and neat they look.
What would you have done these past four weeks if you were in my shoes, anticipating any kind of surgical disability?