Monday, September 12, 2016

Driving the Road to Recovery at a Safe Speed

I recently got this message from a regular consumer of my blog:

I am scratching my head. I had full faith that you would make it through, but I am taken aback by your—appearing to me utterly foolhardy—upcoming schedule. Do your doctors know?! Shouldn't you be resting and drinking lots of fresh juices, and work on de-stressing your life?

Usually, when people survive cancer they make changes in their lifestyle in order to rebuild their body's defenses. Let us know how you see that... reading your missive, I worry. 

As this is not the first time this question has come up, it seems worthy of a response. The inquiry comes from a concerned place and expresses reasonable questions. So… in no particular order, here are my thoughts about why I am doing what I'm doing as I recover from multiple myeloma, keeping in mind that I have every intention of rebuilding my body's defenses:

o  What can be more therapeutic than pursuing one's passion?
I'm convinced that attitude plays a large role in health. As such it's valuable to my health that I keep my social change work oar in the water, at least part time. While I no longer work full days (excepting when I'm on the job), it's important for my self esteem that I continue to contribute to making a better world, one meeting at a time, putting to use the knowledge I've accumulated over the years about the nuts and bolts of what it takes to function well cooperatively.

o  Yes, my doctors know my travel plans
I have two main doctors: Buadi (a hematologist) at Mayo and Alkaied (an oncologist) in Duluth. I have deep respect for both and both have signed off on my returning to work in moderation. So long as my body is telling me that my recovery is continuing and I'm not relapsing, I have a green light. They have even told me that ongoing maintenance treatments can be flexibly scheduled to work around my travel plans. If I go overboard I have no doubt that my body will let me know that I'm being overzealous.

o  My work is not aerobic 
While it requires sustained focus, process consulting does not strain my lung capacity, tax my kidneys, or pressure the tensile strength of my compromised bone structure. Further, you have to take into account that I have been doing this for work for three decades and have a fairly solid idea of what it takes. One of the distinct benefits of honing one's skills is learning how to conserve energy without compromising effectiveness. It's an art form.

o  I'm working about half rate
While my schedule may seem breakneck to others, it feels like coasting to me. For example, I expect to participate in no conferences this fall (last autumn I attended three). Here's what travel I have lined up from now through the end of the year, which covers a span of 16 weekends:
—one weekend community consultation
—four facilitation training weekends
—one FIC meeting (for which I have no organizing responsibilities)
—one visit to see my son and grandkids

o  Most of my work this fall will be training facilitators
The majority of what I'll be traveling to accomplish this fall will be conducting three-day facilitation training weekends. In each instance I'll be working with a co-trainer (not alone) and all three of the women that I'll be partnering with understand that they may need to fly solo for a time if I run out of gas and need to lie down to recharge my battery. What's more, I tested the waters in this regard last June (when I was weaker than I am now) and the training weekend went fine.

o  I'm a veteran train traveler
Per my wont these past three decades, I will generally travel to and fro via Amtrak, where I find the rhythm of the rails to be mostly relaxing; not draining. I know how to slow down my metabolism on board the choo choo and rest up for the work ahead (or how to recuperate from the work just concluded). Having done it already, I know that I sleep reasonably well in the reclining coach seats, bad back and all.

o  I am not you
Like most everything else, there is considerable variance among people's temperaments and accustomed sense of pace. What suits one may be overwhelming for another, or perhaps painstakingly slow for a third. In making choices for Laird I am not asking others to make similar selections. I am only asking others to give me room to find my own way.

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