So before the last session of chemo is even underway, the ‘return to work’ thing begins to creep into my thoughts..
I have mixed feelings about my return – mainly because my mind jumps from one thing to another so quickly nowadays that concentration is sure to be an issue.
My bosses (the 3 amigos) are the most lovely, understanding and genuine people you could ever wish to meet. I am so lucky that I work for them – and luckier still that they are not only my employers, but that over time they have become my friends as well.
I have been given all the time and space I need to figure my way through the ‘bullshit’, ever since my initial diagnosis of breast cancer. It has most definitely been an emotional roller-coaster, but on my good days I have felt comfortable enough to be able to pop into work for a cuppa and a chat – which in itself is priceless.
Nevertheless even with all the understanding and kindness, my anxiety levels are rising the day before my return. There are so many questions I keep asking myself – will everyone stare at me? will everything be different? will I even be able to do it?
The loss of memory mixed with the lack of concentration is a reality for me nowadays and one I am going to have to work through step by step. Lists and the use of calendars are going to be a necessity – and lots of them – also perhaps even the revision of prior knowledge. Silly things like having the courage to make a phone call suddenly become a hurdle to master. As a young person it is extremely frustrating to have to work through things that used to come so naturally to me.
The fatigue (tiredness in it’s purest form) will also take it’s toll. I am mindful of hitting the proverbial ‘brick wall’, because once that happens it takes some coming back from. Even having the kids for a few hours after school is turning into an art form (over use of Disney and bribery have become much more frequent nowadays).
As a mum, it’s not the job itself that tends to be stressful but the juggling of the work – home life scenario. Before all of this happened to me, that part of my life went at one hundred miles an hour – something I know now, before I even begin that I won’t be able to keep up with this time.
I am looking forward to the normality of work. The routine. The reason to get out of bed. The conversation with friends. The feeling of being productive & achieving something for me. Listening to other people’s lives however small the tales, just to perhaps find that bit of real life again.
Many months ago just after my diagnosis I asked my boss to tell the rest of my colleagues the news on my behalf, as I just couldn’t face it.
I did go into work for the few weeks before my surgery and because I felt normal I carried on as normal. I remember the first time I walked into the office. The dreaded ‘C Word’ threatened to fill yet another room and the sense of relief was evident (especially from the boys) when everyone realised that I was still smiling and offering to make tea.
After everything that has happened, this time around I think things will be different, very different – because I am a different person to who I was six months ago (much though I would love to pretend this is not so).
I’ve lost my health and my stubbornness – or some of it. I have had my will and determination bashed out of me – and the girl who never cried at anything, now cries at the drop of a hat. Most likely I will still laugh off the tears though, so the boys in the office may just have to treat me as some sort of ‘teary roulette’.
I know that I am lucky to be able to try to get a little bit of normal back, and I know that many people in my situation are not so lucky. You start to treasure every ounce of normal that you can get your hands on and I have been given that gift by the 3 amigos.
So I am doing it, I am going back, and I know that if I take little steps I might just even bloody manage it.