The preamble to the World Health Organization charter reads, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” And yet, when I asked my oncologist about physical therapy, all I received was a sympathetic half-smile.
I realized I would have to take my well-being into my own hands. So I studied lymph drainage videos on Youtube (How did we ever survive before Youtube?) and found a therapist on my own. He has been working out some of the scar tissue in my torso. I didn’t know that such a thing is possible; the doctors say I have to have additional surgery to cut out scar tissue.
Say what? You want to cut me open…again…to clean up the mess from cutting me open?
I don’t think so.
I progress with recovery, an ongoing process, a seemingly endless series of baby steps. Just recently, I have noticed some of my muscle strength returning, a glimmer of the joy yoga used to bring me. For months, just turning over in bed and standing up hurt every joint; just imagine being so tired that getting out of bed is exhausting. But this morning I did a seamless transition from core work on my back to downward facing dog. (If you’re not a yogi and don’t know what that means, please feel free to be impressed. A few years ago, that would have been gibberish to me, too.)
While I can’t really complain about the medical treatment I received in general, I have discovered some glaring holes in the system. Women’s health is still a secondary issue, shrouded in mystery, whispered about behind closed doors. And women’s well-being is a non-issue; the very existence of our well-being is questioned. A prime example: Number one on the Japanese list of side effects we and our families might expect to see from chemo is grouchiness, whereas grouchiness doesn’t even appear on any of the English websites I consulted. I would assume Japanese society still expects women to smile, no matter what, a concept the West seems to have ditched. There was a time when women marched and burned their bras for the right to be bitchy. I am grateful to them.
(Heavens. I just deleted two paragraphs about social injustice and bullying and racism and guns and violence and the lunatic fringe, which includes people who decide to move to Hawaii during a volcano eruption. Who would do such a thing?)
Apologies, dear reader. It seems a bit too much at times, coping with the fallout from last year while Madame Pele is raining her fallout much too close to my soon-to-be backyard. May I ask that you do whatever it is you do, pray or chant or meditate or light incense or do a hoopla dance, to send a little luck my way? I don’t think that’s too much to ask.