I feel like I've come to a new stage of illness, or non illness, or recovering from illness.
First there was the fight. Where I had a tumour in my body and everything was an emergency. Where blood tests showed it might be cancer. Where I didn't have anywhere to live and was forced into the hospitality of family friends. Where the tumour would flash and boom with pain, a baby sized lump, floating where it shouldn't be, squeezing my organs out of shape. Where mystery fluid would appear in my lungs then disappear, dramatically, just as they were about to stick in a needle and draw it out. Where I started not to know what my body was doing any more, where it felt out of control, as if everything was up for grabs - giant tumour appearing out of nowhere, lungs filling and then draining of fluid, cancer cells spreading inside my body, to my omentum, my abdomen, my womb, my guts. Where I would shortly have major abdominal surgery; 5 days in hospital.
My stomach muscles cramped as I came out of the black aneasthetic, pain streaking through me; a nurse hovered over me, telling me to breath, bringing me to her eyes, back to the world.
Fight to lie on your side in bed; fight to sit up, fight to cough, fight to shit. Fight to stand up for longer than half an hour, fight to walk more than 200 metres.
Cancer is a constant presence, hovering in front of your face emanating fear and despair, a black spot blocking your vision, your awareness of anything but itself.
Then, three months later, started the recovery. No more cancer, no longer in danger. No tumour in my body. Just a scar, newly sutured muscles and a shuffling, traumatised person. I was scrumpled into three small balls, one each of mind, body and spirit. So I focused on healing myself. Not fighting but taking care of me. Finding a path to peace and my new life. A change of country, a change of lifestyle, a change of everything. Back to old friends, making them new friends - rediscovering who people have become after a three year gap. Counselling, art courses, gardening, walking, biking, swimming, crying. Lots of crying. Small things, daily, weekly.
Now, another three months later, it's the third bit. Where I've realised that I'm not going to get back to the way I was. That these changes to my body, to my self are probably going to stay. And I don't mean the return of the cancer. It has a more forward looking feel to it, a more outward looking feel. I can move out into the world again, limping but still moving. The things that remain in my body, mild nerve pain, scar tissue, they're not necessarily the return of the cancer, more likely just an internal limp.
And of course I'm not who I was, I'm not going back again to my hobo travelling, challenging lifestyle. I'm delicate, still pink and raw and a bit sensitive. I'd rather knit on the sofa than go wild camping. But maybe, in time, this will come back too, this wild part of me. I won't force it.
The first hospital check up has passed, where they prod my belly and do a blood test and wave me away for another three months. No cancer, no problem, come back in three months. And I've realised that it's over. No more fear. I'm healed, I'm healthy. And the third bit is a new phase, where I'm back again, not what I was but ready for what the new me is.