My Body Is An Impetuous Child

I always thought that if I treated my body right, it would, in turn, respectfully return the favor. For the most part, I have eaten well-balanced meals and put in far more good than bad. While I never could maintain a gym membership, I did retain an active lifestyle. My body may not exactly have been a temple, but it was a well-appointed home on a neatly manicured plot, at least as such metaphors might go. It is understandable that, as I turned the corner into my fifties, my body would undergo some changes of its own. I was prepared for that, more so because it had been such a sport about four years of treatment for my lung cancer. After all, chemotherapy and radiation are sometimes brutal tools. But what I did not expect was full-out teenage rebellion.

My body is in full out rebellion

Granted, we cannot always predict the side effects of our treatment. And we cannot even say with certainty when some of them might show up -- even months after the treatment has stopped or been changed. But sometimes it just seems like my body is acting out for the sake of acting out. It will pull a fast one on me here, then appear all kind and loving until, whammo, right out of the blue it straight-up defies what I am asking it to do. As a father and former adolescent, I am reminded that hormones can cause such behaviors, certain lapses in rationality, even unfounded anger or disdain where there should not be any. But I have been as good to my body as possible, under the circumstances.

Sure, I did choose those treatments, I'm complicit in the process of going through them. But there was a net-positive result -- at least most of the time. I'm still here with that body of mine today because of those choices. I would expect some gratitude. But what I get is an ever-changing barrage of special behavior that no one can peg down as a legitimate side effect to whatever drugs I have taken.

Daily body aches and pains

Suddenly, I am getting night cramps that are screamingly painful. My toes and arches and calves and even my shins all feel like they are twisting in knots at the same time. No drugs will make it stop entirely, though they do ease the pain. But the cramps then decide to move to the hands during the day, just to say, "gotcha!" My tumor is reduced to a fraction of the size it was in my initial diagnosis after more than a year of watching progression and failing treatments, the lungs clearer in the CT scan than I have ever seen them, and then, bam, pneumonia kicks in hard and fast. The other day, my left shoulder just started twitching vociferously. These things are crazy, more insane than the side effects that I would expect from my treatments because, frankly, they are so out of the blue.

Meeting my body with kindness and understanding

My body is just an impetuous child right now. And maybe I can't blame it, not entirely. After all, I've been unpredictable, too. My choices of treatment have shown little mercy some of the time. I figured I'm (relatively) young and healthy, so throw the hardest stuff at me. Bricks and nails, I can take them. Or, at least, I'll heal from the bruises. But maybe my body was pushed a bit far, taken by surprise even. So I will continue to try responding with kindness and understanding. After all, I guess I am still getting to know it better through all of these changes. Maybe we will come to some sort of an understanding. If not, I can try discipline, but after these past four years, impetuous or not, I think this body of mine deserves a velvet glove.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on October 21, 2018, Jeffrey Poehlmann passed away. Jeffrey’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. He will be deeply missed.

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