Lento, in Italian. Tarda, in Latin. Goddamn it let’s get going!, in Big Mike-ese throughout the month of March and into early April.
I’ve learned to value slow. As in recovery. As in improvement. As in healing.
My return to normality, if such a state is even possible for me now, has come at a glacial pace. I had delusions that as soon as my chemoradiation treatments ended on March 21st, I’d immediately — or at least within a few days — return to bouncing all over town, eating pizza, yip-yipping over my beloved Cubs, and otherwise navigating through life as though no such thing as My Olive Pit™ had ever existed.
As noted here previously, the worst was yet to come. The next three weeks were indeed the most torturous I’d ever experienced in all my life, worse even than the night of October 14th, 2003.
Things are much better now, natch. Only the improvement has come incrementally — damnably so. In dribs and drabs. In fact, the betterness has arrived so subtly that from day to day, I hardly even realize it. The recognition comes to me in Oh-wow! moments, such as last week when, sitting at Lake Monroe with The Loved One enjoying a gorgeous sunset and the calm waters, it came to me that I was able to feel pleasure for the first time in months.
Taking a full inventory today, I now understand the truth is my state of being is 23 million times better than it was as recently as the second week of April. To wit:
- I’m driving
- I spend time at my old headquarters, Hopscotch coffee
- I drop in at the Book Corner and even pretend to work a little on occasion
- I drank my morning 14 ounces of water by mouth today
- I eat both clear broth and pureed soups for lunch
- I’m able to floss again
- Taking a shower doesn’t whack me out for hours anymore
- My mouth and throat are no longer chock full of horrifying substances
- I visit Lake Monroe almost every dusk
- I can speak again
- I don’t have to spit or hork every few minutes anymore
- My mouth is free of sores
I could go on and on but you get the point. Each of these little improvements came at its own sweet time. There was no dramatic moment, the kind you feel when after, say, battling the flu for a week you wake up one morning, take your shower, and realize, Hey, I’m better today. The flu’s all gone!
I still can’t eat pizza yet and that’s frustrating. But I’m not tortured by its absence as I was, oh, a month ago. That’s an improvement, too. A little one. Tiny. An increment. Something to value.