Life After The C-Bomb

I'm going to try to make this the last time I say it, but MAN, my life and outloook were totally different before I got hit by The C-Bomb. 

I know I harp on it, but sometimes the changes are so drastic I can't ignore them.  I know some of this is because I have stable levels of thyroid hormone, and some of it is because I went through the stress of cancer.  But it's still pretty mindblowing to emerge from years of depression, poor reasoning, and high stress levels and find the world an open, logical, friendly place.

Before The C-Bomb, I actually remembered looking at the B when I was told I needed my thyroid removed, and during a particularly delirious, tearful moment, asking him if there was any way they could just leave it in.

I am aware now how terrifically insane that sounds, but I was overwhelmed at the time.  First of all, I'd been fighting random illnesses for years, with all the terrible stigma attached to being chronically ill, and I was afraid that being a cancer patient, and not having a key part of my immune system, would make that worse.  I was also (as superficial as this sounds) devastated by the weight implications.  Second, I assumed, and many people who'd "been there" confirmed, that being without a thyroid was an immediate Fat Sentence.  

A Fat Sentence is like a Death Sentence, except instead of DYING, you blow up to incredibly huge proportions and are never able to lose weight ever again.

Instead, the opposite happened.  In the next 7 months, I lost 12 pounds.  In the following 5 months, I lost another 10.  It took me a year to lose 22 pounds, but considering that I'd thought I would never lose more a single pound again, that seemed minor.

I've always had GIANT goals.  After The C-Bomb, my thinking split simultaneously: one one hand, I became determined that, because I was now feeling so great, I would take on EVERYTHING I wanted to do; but I also became aware that priorites were needed.

I kept hearing the expression get back to basics when my life was riddled with drama and difficulty.  After my surgery, I finally REALIZED what that meant: when major things are going on in life, major action is needed.  Sometimes the answer is cutting a bunch of crap OUT (not down, but out altogether).  Because I realized: I have had cancer. I need to cut a lot of CRAP out of my life

Don't get me wrong:  the attitude that I can and WILL climb all those mountains is still there.  I just don't think they all need to be climbed in the same year.  And some of the mountains don't need to be climbed at all.

A few weeks ago, I took the GRE again, and my score (after several focused weeks of math study) was lower than I liked, despite seeing an enormous improvement over my last test attempt.  Then I came down with another sinus infection and had some time to think about the other areas of my life could be improved by taking that same focused approach and cutting out some more CRAP.

Training, naturally, came to mind.

I thought, I am really doing a lot right now.  And my life is going great, not riddled with any type of drama or difficulty, and I finally feel like ME again.

And I REALLY want to keep it that way.

Before the C-Bomb, I would have said, PERFECT!  I can handle it if I need to pile some more shit on! Let's see just how much I can do!  But now I view this as a chance to maintain the balance I've achieved, to avoid inadvertently bringing on any more drama or difficulty, and to enjoy what I have instead of reaching out and up constantly for MORE, more, MORE.

You probably think this is a no-brainer - and I bet most people plan their own goals and challenges similarly - but my brain just didn't work that way. It wasn't because I didn't see the logic, but 1)I always felt like there was no point in limiting my goals and 2) I always felt like my progress was measured not by how much FASTER I could go, or how much BETTER I could be at what I *WAS* doing but by how much FARTHER I could go or what ELSE I could do.

So I figured, what if I adopted the "get really good at what I'm doing before I move on to something new" attitude?  What if I tone down my race schedule this year and make my "A" and "B" races Olympic distance, with a sprint or two on the way as barometer races? (I already have 3 or 4 in mind.) My thinking is simple: I know what I need to improve on for 70.3 training, and 70.3 will be there next year. But I know I can FINISH an Olympic-distance race without any REAL change to my training schedule - AND improve at the distance - while still leaving me time in case I feel ill, need to study, etc.

It's like a light bulb went off in my head.  EUREKA! - I FINALLY *get* it. I can be just as successful  (or more) being better at something I've already done as I can at trying something new.  And establishing a solid base of racing and self-efficacy is exactly what I need right now.

By chosing a goal I know I can already acheive, I am assured of a minimum level of success. I'll probably even lose weight training now - which I never did before. Even better, I can continue training, then racing, while I accomplish all my other career and academic goals . . . . without suffering a stress-induced brain aneurysm.

I cannot even BEGIN to describe how EXCITED I am.

Also on the topic of Life After The C-Bomb . . . I've been working really hard lately to try to make sure that I'm communicating from the perspective of an individual, not just a chronically ill individual.  Obviously, my health issues affect my life, and I blog about them in part so members of my support groups can connect to them, and in part because it helps me get things off my chest.  (In retrospect, I've probably shared TOO much information.  If people don't KNOW you're "the sick person," they can't treat you like "the sick person.")

When dealing with the changes in my training schedule or life schedule, I realized that I'm no different than anyone else.  Regardless of your health situation. . . . life just happens.  The bills are due.  The kids get sick.  The dog breaks a leg.  Work changes.  Friends come and go.  Spring, summer, winter and fall - they all come for every single one of us.  My challenges aren't all that different than anyone else's.  So, from now on, I'm going to try to look at my changes and adjustments as a natural consequence of being a busy person . . . not as a natural consequence of being a sick person.

It's funny, but even though I still battle my vertigo, Life After The C-Bomb feels a lot less . . . well . . . sick.

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