The “new normal”

This  seems to be one of the current buzz phrases around adjusting to one’s life after cancer and, while it may be accurate, it’s a phrase I hate: “the new normal“.

I think the reason I hate it is that to me it seems so much of a brush-off: this is your ‘new normal‘, this is what you’d best adapt to. It doesn’t allow for improvement, it doesn’t offer options, it’s a flat and final statement. It’s asking you to lower your expectations rather than risking the possibly false offering of hope.

It’s also condescending – it assumes the patient either doesn’t remember the last six months (or more!) of slash, poison, and burn or that the patient somehow expects that all that won’t leave a mark on the body. I’m less than a week out of radiation; I haven’t had time to forget, and I’ll carry my scars the rest of my life. I know I’ve been changed, the marks are still clear on my body.

Of course, it’s also true, to some degree – there will be a ‘new normal‘ for the body. How could there not be? Things have changed, it is not as it was before. It’s not something I need my nose rubbed in; it’s not really the most helpful phrase to offer a patient.

My left arm’s flared up again – I think it was caused by wearing a Wintersilks top with slightly too short sleeves yesterday (comes from trying to shop in the women’s section – bloody women’s sizing!). The cuffs end up on my forearms, rather than at my wrist, and cause a slight compression, apparently enough to cause a problem. I *think* that’s what happened, though I’m not quite sure…  at any rate, my arm’s unhappy again, after not having been painful for the past few weeks, and I’m remembering why I was so unhappy with it to start with.

It’s all very discouraging.

Add to that the whole lymphedema sleeve & gauntlet series of screw-ups (long story short – after a delayed fitting and various mishaps on sizing and ordering, the store was supposed to call me when the sleeve and gauntlet came in; they didn’t, and when I called to check on the status, I was told I had been called several times and left messages. Which somehow never reached me.) and I was not feeling best pleased by the end of the day.

This too shall pass. I’ll go in today and pick up the sleeve and gauntlet; I’ll go to my follow-up appointment with my oncologist (there are three main oncology specialists who’ll be following me – the appointments with the oncology surgeon and the radiation oncologist are in early December); and I’ll get on with getting the house and garden buttoned up for winter and my enormous suitcase packed for Scotland.

I’ll have just enough hair to hold my hat on by then – look at it grow!

And, thanks to Krista, I’ll have hats to hold on! Hoopla!

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One Response to The “new normal”

  1. Pingback: random thoughts on a november evening…. | ihavebreastcancerblog

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