However, Ada's passing from cancer has really gotten me thinking about my own life. She had been plagued by illness for quite a while. She contracted the cancer years ago, beat it into remission and then passed after its resurgence. I became friends with her during her remission. Her zest for life was absolutely contagious. She was so happy. She would paint her toenails bright lively colors and then post pictures of them at the beach or in a lounge chair, always with pretty scenery around them. She often invited me down to Puerto Rico to visit her and that was the first on my list of places to visit when I get better.
Her attitude prompted me to buy a bottle of nail polish in bright blue with a pearl opalescent swirl in it. It is so her. To me it represents living life to the fullest. Enjoying it. Not giving a damn what others think. Live large! Enjoy your time on this planet while you can and in whatever way you can.
Then I started thinking about my own illness. I'm not dying (at least that I can tell) from my illness, although others have. I'm showing signs of slow improvement. I can never tell by my day to day activities. I have to compare to a year ago, the improvement is that slow. So here is my list of accomplishments during this past month:
- Standing in the shower to wash the shampoo/conditioner out of my hair. I still sit through most of my shower but now I get to stand for short periods. Two years ago I had to be assisted out of the shower after sitting the entire time. Now I can get myself in and out of the shower on my own and even stand up several times during the shower itself.
- Going out of the house immediately after showering. Last year I had to lie down for half an hour after I showered before commencing with any type of activity. This year I rarely have to do this.
- I walking around the house more. Doing more small chores. Cooking more often. Cooking more complicated dishes. Even fermenting vegetables.
- I walked down the street. I've only done this once but this was HUGE. I made it four houses down the street to the next corner. I still felt good when I got there but when I turned around and saw how far I had gone I got scared I wouldn't make it back. But I did. And I was fine. A little out of breath but fine. I didn't get PEM the next day either. WOOT!!! I haven't been able to walk that far in three years. Holy crap! I might be getting better after all.
- I'm walking unassisted to and from the car more often. And for longer distances.
- I've been swimming. Yup. Real honest to goodness swimming. I just did three laps in the neighbor's small pool using actual breast stoke. I did it a half lap at a time resting in between. This is the second time in his pool but the first time I was brave enough to attempt actual swimming. Again this is the first time in four years. We haven't even bothered to open our own pool for the last two years because I haven't been well enough to take care of it and three years ago I couldn't regulate my body temp well enough to be able to stay in the water more than a few minutes.
I'm exhausted. But really really happy. I got to swim today. I got to walk really really far last week. I seem to be getting better. At least for now. Relapses are part and parcel of this illness but I'm going to enjoy this while it lasts. For now I need to rest some more. If I get PEM tomorrow it was so totally worth it! Ada, you are such an inspiration.