Well, the alien got the best of me today! After dropping Ali off at Joanie's (flowers are from Joanie's garden), I got on my mind on the idea that I always consider going biking or running. Well, I say always as in the past week and a half! LOL. There is a beautiful regional park nearby our home called Peters Canyon. People jog, hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride there. Usually, I ride my bike through the canyon, and just run around our neighborhood. There are some pretty steep hills in the canyon... too steep for my amateur biking chops, so I usually steer clear of them, particularly recently as I am in some pretty poor shape right now. But, I am skiing Durango Mountain at Purgatory in exactly 20 days, so I really need to challenge my legs and lungs so that I am able to hang and actually get some decent skiing in! So, I thought a little outside the box today. I hit the flat trails on my bike and made my way up to one of the hill tops and left my bike there and jogged the hills down, then up, then down the other side, up to the next ridge, and back down again. Man, that worked just fine!
Then, there is this other 'peak' that I have never hit because it is way to steep for my bike skillz... so... I left my bike at the base and hiked it. I can see this peak from the freeway nearby, and have always said... someday... I'm gonna climb that hill! Well, today was that day... after the other hills no less! I am really happy I did. It was a little bit of a stretch, but I think hiking and mountain biking is a really good fit for me because it is so engaging. My brain is so engaged from the wind, the sky, the different plant and animal life (I saw a butterfly, a roadrunner, 2 squirrels, and tons of birds) and the constant changing terrain that I find I can exercise a lot longer outside than on a treadmill or bike or stairclimber. Also, with hill climbing, when I get to the top, I get the instant satisfaction and gratification of the view!
That was the high point of the day for me. The rest of the day was tough. It was my first day back to work as a music therapist at UC Irvine Medical Center in their oncology dept. I was also scheduled to work the winter Grief & Loss Retreat at the Casa (where we had the AZ EB Gathering), but I am in NO position to facilitate that group at this time in my own grief journey. Here's the thing, as the numbness is wearing off, it's getting more and more painful each passing day, week, and month. November was harder to handle than October, and this week heading into December has been harder and more painful than November. It's not even the holiday stuff, either. Yeah, it turns it up a little I guess, but I am feeling more now, and it is painful and exhausting. It's like the pain saps my energy.
Anyway, I went to work, and before beginning I stopped in the cafeteria to get lunch. It took me just about an hour (and a giant mug of coffee) to get up the courage to go up to my unit. The first patient was 3 years younger than me and she had a newborn at home. The second patient was undergoing chemo and was receiving red blood cells. I recognized that bag on her IV pole immediately. I was immediately back in Bella's room for an instant. FLASH.
It was like yesterday morning when I was at the dentist for a long over due check up. As I lay there in the chair, the suction goes in my mouth and the sounds... FLASH... back in Bella's room wrestling with her to try to suck out all the mucous and spit during her bout with mucositis. When the doc asks me to close my mouth around the sucker, it sounds EXACTLY like when I would find a pocket of phlegm hiding in her cheeks. My heart and my brain ache just writing about this. Ugh.
I had a blast with both patients I saw today. Only 2 of my 6 referrals were either still admitted or wanted music therapy, so I took my time with each and really just allowed them to drive the experience however they wanted. I do that usually anyway, but today there was muuuuch more freedom from me. It is very funny being on an adult unit after spending 4 months on a peds unit this summer and fall. Adults are so funny as patients! I'm not sure which job requires more patience... a peds doc dealing with parents and the patient, or adult docs dealing with adult patients!
One thing I struggled with today was that in both rooms either the patient or a family member asked me if I had any kids, and if so how many and how old. I shared about this once before, that now I say I have two kids, and if pushed, I say one is here on earth and one is in heaven. I really didn't want to say that today, but I didn't know how else to do it at the time, and it made one of the patients understandably upset (the new mom with the 4 week old at home). So, my new plan is just to say 2 kids and then quickly move the conversation back to them as soon as possible while not seeming secretive. There is a difference between secrecy and privacy.
Ironic, coming from a guy who writes every thought he has on the internet. right?
But seriously, it's for the patient's best for me to keep the focus on them. I had a nurse one disclose to me her personal life issues, and it was frankly weird and unprofessional. It is one thing if you have worked with the same patient for a while, but in a first shift or music therapy session, it's not too hot to having it be all about you! LOL.
Also, I used to take it so personally when someone didn't want music therapy. I used to think it was my fault for not explaining it clear enough. So arrogant. Uh, Tim, it may have NOTHING to do with you whatsoever! I remember sending people out of Bella's room if I wasn't in the mood to deal with them... and it was about me, the parent, not them the whatever service they were. Today, the first person who said no, I got a little ruffled, but then I remembered I was on that side of the coin not too long ago, and no, not every waking moment was an open door for someone to come in, regardless of the intent. Again, it was never about them as self or ego. It just wasn't right for us.
It reminds me of The Four Agreements: Rule number 1: Don't take things personally!