Thursday, March 21, 2013

It is what it is…but it’s not where I want it to be

It is what it is. It’s something I find myself saying a lot, especially in situations where it looks like I really can’t do anything about it. But it has unfortunately become something that a lot of us – myself included, of course – say when it’s too easy to shrug our shoulders and move on instead of finding the answer. Lindsay, one of my med techs at the VA amended that little ditty the other day and it stuck with me. She said, “It is what it is, but it’s not where I want it to be” in completing a thought of mine. You see, there’s this little thing called chemo brain, which is a real thing, by the way, that is akin to what we all euphemistically call ‘senior moments,’ ‘brain farts,’ or whatever. You get the picture.  So, she asked how I was doing that day and in my eternally optimistic way, said I’m doing ok even though I was really not feeling so terribly swell and catching on, she said what we all do, “It is what it is.” I responded, “Yeah but…” and she completed my thought, “…but it’s not where you want it to be.” That’s when the light bulb went on for me and that little boost actually made me feel just a bit better.

My hair is coming out in massive clumps and my pillow looks like a barber’s floor. It’s not that this is an unexpected surprise, but it’s still a bit dismaying nonetheless.  I don’t know that I want to take the clippers and make a bigger mess.  I’m kind of liking the leisurely shower method of hair deforestation. Yeah, I’ll be buying a bottle of drain cleaner or two to clear up the mess, but it’s a small price to pay. After all, I won’t be buying hair or shaving products for a while. Weigh the pros and cons on that one…ok, I’d rather buy the stuff than look like a sickly ol’ guy. I’m at the in-between stage where I look like hell, but feel ok. When it all falls out, I’ll look like a bona fide cancer patient, but right now, let’s just say, I won’t be posting any pictures.  I could scare small children and pass for a zombie if I had the right mannerisms. It’s another ‘it is what it is’ kind of thing for me. It’s happening and it’s not something I can do anything about other than accelerate the process.  But as I wander through my own thoughts, I find there are a probably a lot of things that can add that ‘but it’s not where I want it to be’ part that I can do something about it.

The thing is, most of those 'it is what it is' things are insidious little details that when piled up, turn into a pattern of apathy or laziness. It’s not who I am, yet those little shrugs of the shoulders, those decisions for what seem like pettiness end up becoming piles of stuff that just never get done or end up taking extra time later when I’d rather be doing something more fun or productive. I felt that way this morning as I was wading through the prodigious pile of mail that had arrived during my hospital stay.  While I had scheduled payments and taken care of some things ahead of time, the paper trail took some time to go through and find out what was important and what wasn’t.  It took the better part of the morning to get through it all and I still have a few piles of stuff that I just need to find a place for. Maybe it’s just my own version of spring cleaning that needs to happen. Now, before you wag your finger at me for even thinking about overexerting myself in a flash of white tornado fury to clean, rest easy. I’m still in recuperation mode. Besides, when it’s officially the first day of spring and there is snow flying, “spring cleaning” just doesn’t quite seem right. This here ground hog is waiting for the end of winter.

I’m finding, too, that the ‘it is what it is’ is an attitude. The same med tech that  inspired this little post loaned me a little book called Anatomy of an Illness that I started last night. I can see that the gist of the book is the role of the patient in healing. The author’s optimism, laughter, and positive attitude was the key to his healing of a life-threatening illness.  I can’t cite the details as I’m just beginning, but it struck me that the ‘it is what it is’ is akin to throwing in the towel and just letting things happen.  If you’ve read any of my posts to date, you’ll know that my stance has always been to fight this leukemia with positive attitude, optimism, and a dash of crass humor. It’s not because of a book, not because of some idealism, but it’s just who I am; and why should I languish as a victim, even though I had nothing to do with this? I’m convinced that half of my healing is due to the talent of the medical staff and the alchemy of pharmaceuticals that are being prescribed, but that other half is all the soft stuff – your continued prayers, positive ju-ju of all varieties, and support that all contribute to my own attitude. Hey, I’m home nearly a week early.  Don’t ever doubt that what you do has an impact on others. I don’t!

I continue to be grateful for each and every one of you. Yeah, it is what it is…but it’s not where I want it to be. And together we’ll move it to a better place!
I wanted to find the 'official' video to Journey's Don' Stop Believin', but there really isn't one. I don't like live really. Journey was one of my favorite bands. When this hit came out back in 1981 when I was in high school, music videos were in their infancy and MTV actually showed music videos full time. Anyway, it's my chanson du jour. Sois sage et appréciez!

Be well, stay strong, and much love to you all!