I have a theory, ill-formed and ill-informed as it may be. Back around 2016, I think our universe slipped into some type of black hole, tilting the earth on its axis in a different way than projected, and we have been living in this altered universe ever since. Between a weird presidential campaign, a raucous four years of politics, topped with a global pandemic, it has felt so completely different than “normal.” Of course, this is on a macro level. Is it abnormal or some type of new normal to which we are all adjusting? Right now, I’ll vote “abnormal.”
On a micro level, we bought our Airstream and brought her home in 2016, setting the course for full-time RV traveling, which we began in 2020 at the height of the beginning of the pandemic. Then, almost two years later, I was diagnosed with lymphoma (still don’t know the precise one!). What!?! I never, in a million years, would have thought I’d be diagnosed with that. I’m still grappling with it, knowing that my life as I’ve known it for the past two years is now completely on hold. The freedom I felt traveling this country with Carl and living in the Airstream has been taken from me by ruthless invaders in my body. The control I had over my everyday life has been snatched away as I wait for biopsy results, wait for treatment to begin, wait for the end of treatment, wait for a cure. Wait, wait, wait – somehow my new mantra.
Some might tell me to adapt to this “new normal.” I reject that. This is not a new normal. Full-time RV traveling was my new normal, and I’m not ready nor am I willing to accept a different one.
As full-time RV travelers, we only had to pay attention to what day it was when we moved from one campground to another. Other than that, the days began to blend. Alarm clocks in the Airstream were non-existent. Days consisted of hiking, biking, exploring a new locale, planning our next destination, meeting new friends. Sure, there were days of grocery shopping and laundry, general maintenance and cleaning in and around the Airstream, and sometimes enough of a “breather” to begin to feel restless. This was our new normal after years of working and raising kids. And it began to morph into our normal.
We all know what “normal” looks and feels like to our own selves. Morning routines, working, chores, grocery shopping, gathering with family and friends. We know what will generally occur each day; we are in a safe zone of contentment and expectations.
“New normal” is when “normal” gets overtaken by something that changes the direction of our life, such as moving to a new city or state, getting a new job, buying a house, having children, retiring. Or maybe it is a medical diagnosis that allows us to continue as we were with maybe a few modifications like medication. We will settle into this “new normal” with new routines and new expectations, and it will morph into “normal” again.
“Abnormal,” though, cannot morph into normal. It takes prisoners as it continues on its insidious path. We are meant to gird our loins, hone our defenses, and be prepared to attack.
Our current situation is completely abnormal. It is unwelcome, possibly life-ending (for me), definitely life-altering for both of us. Normal life has stopped. We go about our days AS IF they were normal, but they are not. Carl tries to keep the appearance of normalcy, stock trading in the morning, working a part-time job, and managing the maintenance around the Airstream. But my days are ABNORMAL. Medical appointments, research, managing my mental and emotional well-being, enduring unknown aches and pains and other symptoms. The other day I took a two-hour nap! I didn’t even know I was tired!
Everyday is a new day, but it is not normal. It is not a new normal. It is abnormal.
So, what do I do with this abnormality? I’m preparing to attack. I am getting the tests and biopsies I need to prepare the first line of assault—chemotherapy. I’m reading, researching and assimilating information to ramp up a second line of assault—high-dose intravenous vitamin C. I am putting myself through mental and emotional bootcamp to assemble my third line of assault—reduced stress, positivity, and hope. I have honed my defenses. I will attack, and I plan to win. My goal is to get back to my “new normal” which was just beginning to morph into normalcy.
We tend to call those with severe illnesses fighters and warriors. They are attacking the enemy of abnormality. They are fighting for normal or, at the very least, a new normal. Win or lose, they become heroes of their own lives.
And that, my friends, is what all this boils down to—we are all the heroes of our own lives, regardless of the “abnormality” we fight against. We each create the normal or new normal in which we thrive the best, and we cloak ourselves in armor to attack that which dares to invade it.
Abnormal, invader, attack, armor, warrior, fighter—these are not very palatable words. On a macro level, we honor those who join the armed forces, become warriors, and fight for our country. On a micro level, we seek peace and love and harmony. But it is through these ideals—these defenses—that we ultimately overcome the disruptors of our “normal.”
Stay centered, and remember you are your own hero. And, if you aren’t sure about that, just take a glance over your shoulder and look how far you have come.
Medical update: I had a surgical biopsy on 2/18/2022 to have a lymph node removed from my neck and a chemo port installed. I am still waiting for the results (10 days later) but am hoping to meet with my hematologist tomorrow afternoon for the results and a treatment plan. I am also starting high-dose intravenous Vitamin C this week, hoping it will help with some of the side effects from chemotherapy. I am excited about this, as I know it will be good for my overall wellbeing.
2nd update: Literally one hour after I posted this blog, my hematologist called. The precise diagnosis is Diffuse Large B Cell lymphoma, and chemotherapy could begin as early as tomorrow. We meet with her tomorrow afternoon for the treatment schedule and to go over other details. It is a relief to finally have a precise diagnosis after two months of waiting.