Friday, December 3, 2010
Lessons from Training - Best Laid Plans of Mice & Men
And here are the lessons I learned, most of which I think apply pretty well to cancer treatment.
*Sometimes you need to adjust your plan. Make a plan, but know that circumstances might arise that make an alteration prudent. I had planned on running 15 miles today. It was a modest step up from my 2 recent half marathons. But I got started about 45 minutes later than I had planned. That's 45 minutes of daylight which is precious at this time of year. Also, we had a pretty epic storm a couple days ago which flooded roads and downed trees. Back in the woods, that meant that each little trickle of a stream was a river. Each crossing took extra time to negotiate passage. And it meant not only that all the trails were muddy, but most of them had turned into running brooks.
It was clear that I was going to have trouble running my planned course. I ran the 6 1/2 miles out, but knew my longer return route was not going to be doable. I changed plans and came back the way I came, rather than adding an extra 2 miles with a lot of very steep climbs.
Sometimes you just need to change your plans. It may not be what you want, but reality is what it is. And this definitely applies to treatment. Sometimes, no matter how much to want or need to do something, it's just not the day for it. Accept that. You can still push yourself mightily, but you might have days when you simply can't do all you wanted.
But if you wisely make some adjustments, you may be able to complete the plan tomorrow or next week.
*Learn about proper care & feeding. Food and water - basics of life. Figuring out how often to eat and drink is pretty important. I've learned that I need to have a snack around every 2-3 miles, not much, maybe just a few nuts or square of chocolate - but I need something. And I need water. I sweat - a lot! So I need to replenish my body's fluids. I've started carrying a handheld bottle and a couple of clementines.
Smaller, more frequent meals or snacks are often good. When I was in chemo, I found that to be true. I was less nauseous when I ate small amounts at regular intervals, rather than getting hungrier and trying to eat larger amounts. Not only was it better for my stomach, it also kept my energy level up.
And sometimes, drinking your nutrition is the only way to go. There were times during chemo, as well as climbing at high altitude, that all I could manage was juice or something like Ensure. But that kept me going - it was calories and some nutrients that my body needed.
Figure out what works for you.
*If you're running trails, you're going to get muddy and you're going to get wet. Get used to it. I start out trying to avoid the puddles, hopping from stone to stone. Eventually, I realize that I'm simply going to be wet. And I'm not talking about damp. I'm talking about full on sopping wet - and cold! But it's really just part of the process - no way to avoid it other than not running trails.
I felt the same way sometimes during treatment. After a while, I felt like, yes I'm bald, why talk about it? Yes I feel crappy, but so what - it's chemo! Of course there's a lot to feel bad about. None of us chose to have cancer. It's totally unfair. And all of the treatments suck. But we make our choices about what treatments we will endure. It is a choice. It's a choice that can save our lives - which makes it a good choice (in my opinion). After a while, I just felt like all the negative sides to treatment were part of the process. Like the mud on the trail, the only way to avoid it was to not go through the treatment. And I chose that that was not an option for me.
*Hydrate! I know I put this in all of these posts, but it's important. Drink more than you think you need, before, during, and after. Our bodies need water to function. Without water, our cells die and our organs fail. Drink.
In climbing, we learn to pay attention to the color of our pee. More clear is better, dark yellow is bad. Darker yellow means the body is getting dehydrated. And in climbing, you're may be in a more remote area, days from help. Staying hydrated is serious. People die from dehydration.
This applies to chemo as well. All those drugs tend to dehydrate us. Drink, more than you think you need, before, during, and after.
And keep an eye on your pee. Clearer is what you want, unless you've just had an Adriamycin infusion, in which case you'll be peeing all sorts of weird red & orange colors.
*Watch where you're going; course corrections become harder to deal with the more tired you get. This one's pretty self-explanatory.