Saturday, July 28, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0611 - Getting Better?

Not too long ago I felt that my recovery was progressing well. I'd had a remarkable 3 days in a week in which I'd had about 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, something which hadn't happened for over a year and a half. Then, over the last 2 weeks, things seem to be slipping. I'm not sick in the sense of being nauseous or having flu-like symptoms. But I'm always tired, always have far too many bowel movements in a 24-hour period, I have a continually sore bottom, I have trouble walking any substantial distance, and, most disconcerting of all, I have no indication that this is the result of a temporary gastrointestinal upset.

Is it because I'm not eating right or because I'm not exercising regularly? Or is it just coincidental?

I've tried diaries logging what I'm eating and correlating that with bowel movements...seems like a waste of time and far too - pardon the expression - anal an approach. Besides which, the diaries I have submitted to the oncologists don't seem to have elicited any concerns.

Exercise? I appreciate that exercise is important, but I don't know what to do. I've been re-considering yoga since the stretching, flexing and moderate weight-bearing activity are all useful. One asana is especially intriguing. It's called pavana mukta asana or the "wind releasing pose", something which another colorectal cancer patient claimed helped her recovery.

Now I know that some yoga enthusiasts are inclined to project almost miraculous benefits for specific yoga asanas, but even with an appropriate level of skepticism, yoga is one of those exercise categories that could easily be classified as "it certainly can't hurt". Locally, at the HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre in Kitchener, there are regular, freely available exercise classes for cancer patients and those in recovery, including yoga classes. In addition, the centre has specific cancer-related support groups; unfortunately, there is currently nothing related to colorectal cancer, probably because most people don't want to talk about this form of cancer.

Is it coincidental? Here's where having any kind of support network would be truly useful. I'd like to be able to ask questions, provide answers, and otherwise share with others having similar experiences and treatment. In fact, because of this blog, that's happened to some degree. I've had correspondence and calls from people through organizations like the Canadian Colorectal Cancer Association where a few of us have shared our stories publicly. But it's hit and miss.

The oncology channel has a new offering called "Living with Colorectal Cancer" in which individuals share their experiences, but it's so new and there are so few stories available to make it truly useful as an ongoing social networking option for people like me.

So, essentially, I'm left wondering whether or not there are things that I should be doing to improve my situation, whether I'm unusual or, as one oncologist said to me during chemotherapy, "a textbook case". But apart from those times when I have episodes of "survivor anxiety", I'm typically complaining about just wanting to "get better". That may not be the best, most positive attitude to take - but it's me.

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