The New Year is typically a time when we reflect on the past year and then make changes for the year to come. I don’t really want to do either of these things so I think that’s why this obligatory New Year’s post is so difficult to write.
I have already done a lot of reflecting on the past year. This blog, in part, is all about reflecting. On top of that, my recent birthday, my cancerversary, my surgery anniversary, even Christmas, all gave me the opportunity to reflect and now I’ve had enough reflection. I am 26. I have cancer. I had surgery. I take chemo. It’s time to move forward.
Making changes is trickier. I’ve always believed in the power of New Year’s resolutions–and of change. For pretty much as long as I’ve kept a diary (since 3rd grade) I have written a list of New Year’s resolutions. Last year, I didn’t. I slept through midnight on New Year’s Eve and I didn’t feel much like reflecting or resolving in the days after that either. My first entry of the new year, 2011, was today, last year. And it says (remember I had just been released from the hospital a few days before):
I can’t move around. I can’t eat. My abdomen hurts. This recovery thing is hard. It has been two weeks. I should feel relieved that the surgery is over but instead I feel dread. Unease. Insecurity. Dread because it’s almost bedtime and bed is my least favorite time of day. It’s uncomfortable to sleep. It hurts to move. Getting up to go to the bathroom is a chore. Unease because I wonder if i’m recovering OK–if i’m taxing myself too much or not enough. If my scar isn’t healing right. If they didn’t get it all. Insecurity because i’m not in control of my own life. I decided to take the quarter off school. It was the only reasonable decision I could have made–i’m in no condition to attend classes–but still I wonder if I should try, just try to handle a class or two. Without school, my life is at the whim of my doctors, my parents, whom i’m living with. This is the first time I have had some moments to myself in weeks. Weeks. I’m 25. This is not normal.
2011 became more normal as it went on. My dread, unease, and insecurity gradually diminished. I have recovered just fine from surgery. But a year later i’m still not compelled to resolve much of anything for 2012. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day all I could think was, “I don’t care where I am now–i’m glad i’m not where I was last year.” Instead of making resolutions, on New Year’s Day I went for a run/walk with a friend, wore a dress (yes–it was 80 degrees here in LA), went to a brunch, chased the sun, talked to old friends and new, rode almost the whole length of Sunset Blvd., had a nice dinner and a nice conversation, and had dessert. It was a pretty wonderful day.
Now, a few days later, I’m still not back where I was last year–so I have some time to maybe reflect and make some resolutions, right? The only problem is, to make New Year’s resolutions, I feel like I have to have some idea of what will happen in the next year. In order to make changes, one has to have an idea of what they’re trying to change. To have an answer, there has to be a question. Just like you can’t change a tire that’s not there or answer a question that hasn’t been asked, I can’t make changes to my uncertain year ahead. I could certainly make educated guesses that I will maybe have an internship this summer, and graduate with my master’s next December, and in the interim feel pretty good, see my oncologist, and get a few scans, and stick with the chemo… but the chemo is already proving to be unpredictable. Maybe unpredictability and screwy blood counts are relatively predictable for chemo–but for my “year plan” they’re impossible to plan for. I’m also seeing my surgeon tomorrow to start the liver transplant ball rolling… which is scary and murky and unknown and a long way off… and a subject for another post.
So this year, I can only resolve to be open to whatever may come my way. Flexible. Resilient. Whatever you want to call it–living, being a liver, maybe?–at the moment I don’t really need to resolve anything else.
Well, maybe one more thing. I’m giving a vegan, plant-based diet a two-month try. I’m keeping eggs, and if I lose more weight or can’t find anything vegan or plant-based to eat when i’m out or traveling or if I don’t notice any big changes in my blood sugars or liver numbers or general “feel”…or if I don’t think I can realistically keep it up…then I’ll stop. I’m flexible.