Friday, May 13, 2005

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It's hard to see progress from day to day. Sometimes it even seems like the opposite of progress.

But week to week, a thin pattern of progress is barely discernible.

For example, two weeks ago I was in the hospital. Last Thursday evening, I was at the pub watching the band play. Last night, I was able to join the band for part of the first set, and even sang two songs. It was great. While I was playing with the band, I didn't feel the everpresent discomfort in my gut. It seemed like a promise that someday I might recover some of my old life.

Yesterday was a pretty good day overall. I met with my psychologist. I went to Target and bought some clothes that fit.

Buying clothes was surprisingly stressful. I've lost about 60 pounds, and while I had the weight to spare, it does feel like a loss to me. While I keep being told I look great without the weight, the weight loss to me seems akin to my hair loss and surgery scars - just another physical sign of the trauma I've been through.

Still, in all, yesterday was a pretty good day.

This morning is more of a step back. On doctors orders I had foregone my medicine since Tuesday, when I had some digestive problems. On the same orders, I was to resume the medicine today at just 2 doses a day. I took my first dose at 7:30 this morning. The digestive problems resumed at 9:30 and 10:30.

I'm waiting for the doctor to call me back.

I'm trying to keep my eye on the positive progress, but I can't help feeling a bit discouraged.


Blogger CJ Fillmore said...

Hi Jim--
I am so glad you are able to see the tiniest bit of progress. Such a little thing can give one so much hope.

Those stinkin' baby steps and having to learn new things and respond to all the changes are a real drag. And I don't know why it is, but the digestive problems for some reason just seem so much more unbearable than other chronic aches and pains. They are the worst.

From all I have seen and heard, both you and your wife were pretty remarkable people before this bout with cancer. I was contemplating all the different ways it would change the both of you, and I couldn't help thinking that you both will probably move from remarkable to amazing. And even though you may not always realize it, everyone who comes in contact with you will be better for it.

Romans 8:26 & 27:
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

I really like how the Bible says when we're not sure what we should pray for, we can pray to the Holy Spirit to pray for us on our behalf, because He knows better than we do what we really need.

There is a season for what you are going through--a beginning and an end. I will pray for hope for you, and for whatever else the Holy Spirit knows you need.

May the grace of our Lord be with you both, now and always--

2:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Wolf said...

"Fall down seven times, get up eight." Buddhist expression about the persistence needed to become enlightened.

Easy to say when you're not experiencing the bruises, cuts, and scrapes, not to mention the PAIN, from all those falls. Still, what else is there to do?

Permit me some Friday evening rambling. Here’s another Buddhist metaphor: Do you know how long you've waited for this particular life? Imagine a six-inch ring floating somewhere on the vast surface of the earth's oceans. Every 100 years a turtle surfaces in a random spot from the depths of the waters. The amount of time that it would take for that turtle to blindly happen to stick his neck through the ring, that's how long you've been waiting for this life.

Is that true? Who the heck knows? But the image is brilliant. Isn’t time a human construct which is partly a mental projection? We can to some extent choose the time reference in which we see the world (Einstein proved that time is not absolute--a minute can seem a near eternity; a near eternity can seem like a minute). This particular life, this particular moment--the good, the bad and the horrible--will not come again and is therefore precious regardless of how we might like to change it. And suppose you have waited a billion years or so for the experience you are having now, because it’s just what you need for the next step of your journey to union with G-d. If that were the circumstance, and it makes as much sense as a lot of things we accept as true, then the concept of good day vs. bad day takes on a whole different meaning.

I’m exploring here, not preaching. More in person. Blessings to you, wonderful Jim Guy.

Love, Tom

7:40 PM  
Blogger marian said...

Sorry I missed you at the pub! Two straight weeks of Thursday night shifts. Glad you were able to go, though!


9:07 PM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

I sent this as an e-mail, but I realized that I don't open e-mails from strangers myself, so here it is in case:

I work as a healthcare provider in Sweden, for a man in a wheelchair. Sitting all the time is disasterous for the digestive system. We've learned a method of massage that stimulates stomach/intestinal function. The idea is to massage in the direction of intestinal movement in a particular pattern.

First, draw a line with one hand, fingers together, from under the left side of the ribcage straight down to the hip bone, quite slowly, as if you (your massager) were painting carefully, and with light to medium pressure. Then, as that motion ends, begin with the other hand a motion from the right side of the ribcage across to the left side, and then down. As that motion ends, begin with the other hand down at the right hip bone and straight up to below the right ribcage, across and down. Repeat this three times. With one hand, draw a half circle starting from below the right side of the ribcage and across and then down to the left hip bone, where the other hand takes over to draw a complete circle between all the points. There's a bit more, but this is the digestive system part, I believe.

It sounds like hocus pocus, but it is a fully legitimate, documented and medically accepted treatment form here, used mainly on handicapped people (on their entire bodies) as a way to heighten awareness of the body and to stimulate circulation. I tried to find an internet site in English, but the method doesn't seem to be used, or to go by a similar name, in the U.S., so I had no luck. I hope it helps in your case. It should be worth a try.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I for one was very happy to see and hear you the other night, Jim! I am hoping that the discomfort fades with a bit more time. 60 lbs is about an average weight loss for some chemo patients. I think it's very positive that you're focusing on your progress, despite the discouragement. I think your psychologist can give you some mental exercises to help with focusing more on the positive. We love you, stay strong and wise, and we really love seeing you onstage again!


Jenn, John, FiFi

9:20 AM  
Blogger vkenny said...

Hi Jimmy, Progress however small is still progress. We hope and pray every day for more progress
which will lead to total healing. Keep your eye on the finish line it is close than you think. Keep fighting the good fight!

8:53 AM  
Blogger UisceBaGirl said...

"Two steps forward, one step back"... means you will eventually get somewhere. This is also how I descend when I scuba dive - my ears/eustacean tubes have a lot of difficulty descending the first fifteen feet. I go hand-over-hand on the rope down to 15, slowly, two feet down, one foot back up, slowly, trying to relieve the pressure on my ears... and then, suddenly, between 15 & 20 feet, the pressure is no longer a problem and I get to admire the underwater marvels while breathing easily.

May your experience be similar with a sudden breakthrough to a much easier and miraculous experience.

10:12 AM  

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