Getting back to the working world is not easy.
In my excitement of being ‘back to normal’ I forgot the real world and how fast it moves! Sure I can do everything I used to, but only as long as I do it at my own speed. I can walk the dog, do my lymphedema exercise, apply my creams, do a stomach massage, bathe, dress, and be out the door in about four hours. This doesn’t necessarily make me the best man for any job, but right now it’s the best I can do.
But that’s not even the problem. The bigger issue is that I’ve seem to have lost the chip in my brain that made me such a brilliant mutli-tasker. When I left my job four months ago, I could keep a dozen lists in my head, along with a mental Sharpie to cross things off. Now I walk into a room and completely forget why I’m there.
And I had conversations such as this:
Colleague – Okay, we need fabric for a curtain awning
Me – I like your shoes
Colleague – Thanks! This is a rush job, and we have to get it to the seamstress by noon.
Me – Did you know that Valerie Harper is on Dancing with the Stars?
So that was Week one, but things have picked up slightly from there. I’m slowly getting back into the real world.
I can now concentrate for slightly longer periods of time (though my mind frequently drifts off to thoughts of swimming, or nipples). And I speed through my morning exercises, taking more time to do them in the evening. I’ve also gotten used to wearing semi-professional clothing rather than my billowing wardrobe that got me through the summer. Still, there are many favorite shirts that I can’t wear, in fear that, if I reach up to get something, I’ll expose my stunning 17” scar. It’s never to far from my mind that beneath my clothing, I still look like a Raggedy Anne doll that had been bitten by a shark.
Last week for work I visited a fancy antique shop. The mission was to recreate a restaurant from 1902. The fellow in charge (Alex) was enjoying our task. We started talking about Downton Abbey and he swooned slightly and whispered, ‘Oh, yum. Antique porn!’
I laughed, and checked myself out in one of the antique mirrors on the counter. My shirt, I noticed, had come partially undone. Not only were my radiation tattoos visible, but also a good chunk of my pretty pink bra. (How am I supposed to monitor these things when my boobs are numb?) So I mumbled ‘Oooops’ and did up a couple of buttons.
Alex grinned slyly and said ‘Don’t worry honey, I’ve seen it all’. I raised my eyebrows, and he said, ‘I have four sisters – so I’ve seen everything.’
All I could think was, ‘Well you ain’t never seen anything like these!’ Seriously! He has no idea.
So standing there amidst the fine china, I realized that just when I think I’ve eased myself back into the normal world, I still have another foot that is firmly planted in another nearly normal world. A world in which it feel like there is only me.