For the first time in years, I cannot go to work. I am under doctor’s orders to stay home and recover.
Rest. Heal. Recover.
The surgery is over. My prostate and the cancer it contained has been removed from my body. After a few days in the hospital to make sure that all systems were functioning properly, I was sent home. Now I am moving about the house with a catheter strapped to my leg and instructions to “walk, drink water, rest, repeat.”
But don’t go to work. Don’t lift anything over ten pounds.
I woke up this morning at 5:15 a.m. and I could see through the windows that it was just starting to get light. I did not move. Everything was quiet. My wife was deep in dreamland. The dogs had not yet started to fidget. And that is when the thought struck me that this time of recovery is really more of a detoxification.
And what is detox? It is a time to free someone from an intoxicating or an addictive substance in the body or from dependence on or addition to such a substance.
Well. I am not a drug user. I do not drink alcohol, so there is no addiction there. My problem is that I am addicted to pushing myself too hard. All the time. This morning, with nowhere to be and no need to “get up and go”, I began to go over my schedule and my routine.
Up before 5 a.m., out the door by 6:00, run three to five miles, work a 12-14 hour day on my feet, come home and collapse, get up and do it again. On the weekends? Stretch those long runs out to 10-12 miles. Work. Run errands.
Push. Go. Run.
All the time.
I know that many people have busy schedules. They work long hours. They push. They go. And that is okay. If it works for them, and if they can live a normal life, then more power to them.
But I have not been living a normal life. And that is the key.
My addition to running and to going and to pushing and to “trying to do it all” has forced me to ignore too many other things. My addiction has left me constantly tired. And being tired all the time has kept me from loving the way that I should love. It has prevented me from listening the way I should listen. Being exhausted every day has not allowed me to pay attention to others in the way that I should.
My attention span has been short.
My answers to questions have been curt.
Yes, my running shoes have been dusty. Meanwhile there is a stack of unopened mail on the table and I am falling asleep on the couch every night. I don’t call my kids. I don’t check in on my parents. Yes, my weight is down and last week I ran 40 miles and averaged over 20,000 steps every day at the age of 57.
But I could not finish the Crown King race that I signed up for. I fell apart. I was worn out. I was done.
If this cancer has taught me anything, it has taught me to focus on what matters and to let go of what does not matter.
So this is a time to stop.
To slow down.
I have been addicted to movement. I have been addicted to going. I have been addicted to how many miles I covered and to how many steps I logged.
But this cancer has shut me down.
And now I am in recovery.
Right where I need to be.
Yes. I will press on. I will return. I will “get back in the swing” of things. But I might do it at a slower pace. And I might not have so much dust on those running shoes.
The lessons we learn.