- Enjoy out-of-town visits from my two best friends from college (one of whom was also my roommate for three years and is bringing along her boyfriend, who I've never met!), my father, my godmother, and my grandmother, along with a visit last night with a childhood friend I haven't seen since I was her bridesmaid several years ago.
- Film a CF awareness video on waiting for transplant for the CFF's American Airlines Celebrity Ski event -- which I've been blessed to be a part of for over 20 years.
- Attend a museum exhibit opening featuring some of my sister's fashion designs on display!
- Stop IVs!!
- Have a final follow-up appointment to hopefully end the "Not-Quite-So-Great PICC Clot Fiasco of 2009." Good riddance to bad rubbish.
- Celebrate my godmother and grandmother's birthdays with dinner and a Broadway show.
- Cook a Thanksgiving meal at home, to be enjoyed by friends and family in my own cozy little apartment, including my family's famous southern cornbread stuffing.
- Celebrate my 28th birthday -- first with a family dinner, then a few days later with friends.
Anyway, since absolutely none of that had anything to do with the title of this post (or so it would seem), you're probably all a little confused right now. See, as excited as I am about all of the above, and despite all the many warm fuzzies swirling around and filling my head with visions of mulled wine and amazing homemade stuffing, I'm also a little, well . . . scared of it all, to be perfectly honest.
I'm nervous because I know that my health depends on following my routine, and we all know that the first thing out the window during huge family gatherings -- no matter where they happen -- is predictable routine. I also know that my body needs more rest than it used to -- that as fun as it is to push myself until I drop, it's not always the wisest decision in the long run. I'm ready as can be for all the nice dinners and social events, until I pause for a moment to remember that this year I'll have to make decisions about when to wear oxygen when I'm out on the town. And finally, as psyched as I am about all the yummy calories coming my way (a CFer's favorite part of the holiday season, for sure!), I can't help but remind myself that it might be tough to make time in between all that eating and socializing to hit the gym.
So what's a gal to do? I think in the past I pretty much wrote off the holidays as a bit of a free for all. As long as I stayed on top of my treatments and didn't overwhelm myself to the point of total sickness, that was good enough for me. After all, it's only a couple of weeks, and CFers are nothing if not masters of "pushing through it."
But this year, I'm approaching the whole thing from a slightly different perspective. For starters, I don't know when the call for transplant might come, and I don't honestly have two weeks to slack off on important things like my exercise routine, because who knows if I'll have the time to make those up after the holidays are over? Perhaps more important, though, are the promises I've made myself over the past year, like the promise to really focus my energy on getting STRONGER every day, and of course the promise to always consider my health -- because if I'm going to accept this gift of life from someone then I'd damn well better be ready to make the most of it.
Of course, I'm not planning to put a halt to any of the holiday fun. Health might come first right now, but it doesn't have to trump life (which is, after all, the reason we do all this stuff in the first place), right? So I've decided to make a simple change and ask one question that might make all the difference:
What Would Piper Do?
In other words, what would my body and spirit have me do over the long run? Sure, the turkey makes me tired in the moment, but that doesn't change the fact that Piper would still want to get in at least a walk. Much as I love to pack my days as full as possible, Piper has recently learned the value of resting and meditation to help de-stress and re-center. And yeah, sometimes I don't like the way the oxygen makes me look in public, but I'll bet Piper would rather wear the stuff and feel better so she can actually celebrate during all these birthdays and reunions. After all, despite my in-the-moment reservations, Piper is (hopefully) learning not to place so much emphasis on what other people might think, and maybe even to be proud of the cannula that shows the world that she can still get out of the house and have fun even while needing a little extra help. (Okay, so maybe not quite there yet, but making baby steps!)
I'm the first to admit that it's not a perfect approach. Piper, after all, is a lot of things, but she's definitely not perfect. I probably won't be able to market any "WWPD?" bracelets to the masses, and to be honest that's most likely a good thing. (Do we really need a bunch of Piper clones? Um, don't answer that!) But I am hoping that pausing for a second to ask myself this little question during the holidays will at least help me find that often delicate balance between life and all those other necessary things we CFers take on to manage our disease. Because when all is said and done, despite her many imperfections, Piper loves to savor things like holidays, food, friends, and family, and she also wants to be around to keep the fun going for as long as possible.
It's a tricky balance, sure, but this year I'm determined to try -- with a little help from Piper, of course.