I'm a WASP and my upbringing was greatly affected by the Germanic mindset. The whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" idea and the adherence to the idea that if you just worked hard enough, you could overcome anything. I've used these concepts to power through a lot of things, college in 3 years while working full time, law school while working full time, working all night when in a trial, handling the myriads of details of running a law firm while raising two kiddos and tandem nursing, etc. I'm a stubborn person and if I set my mind to something, it happens.
Well, before cancer anyway.
Introduction to cancer induced fatigue
The introduction to cancer induced fatigue and the fatigue that comes as a side effect to the medication I'm on (Ibrance and Letrozole) is on another planet. Actually, maybe another stratosphere. No amount of caffeine or willpower or any other trick I've ever learned is sufficient to deal with this level of fatigue.
- It's humbling.
- It's life-altering.
- It's real.
Setting realistic goals
I have the gut level tendency to conclude that people around me are weak or just didn't work hard enough when they can't get something done. Yes, I know that it not a nice part of me and I can usually examine that reaction and modify my thinking before I say something; however, I've always been the hardest on myself. I set goals for myself that are far beyond what anyone else likely expects.
So when I am at the point when I literally can't force myself out of bed, it's a pretty freaking big deal. When my kiddos need something and I can't do it, usually physical limitations but also sometimes just because I simply can't make myself move, it hits such a deep part of me that is truly wrapped up in my self-identity.
- Who am I if I can't do certain things?
- What usefulness do I have if I can't force my eyes open?
Losing who I once was
I don't have all of the answers for myself or anyone else. I have to continue to look at and remind myself of the things I bring to my family, that my children do need me regardless of the time or days I miss when I need to honor my body's need to rest. Cancer is forcing us to use new and different rubrics.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?