I spent the majority of my youth working on a farm, a dairy farm.  With it came the long days of milking cows and completing all the chores in-between.  In the spring add to those chores the fitting of ground, readying it for planting crops, oats, corn and some others.  This was followed by summers focused on making hay, baling and storing as many as 1,800 bales on some days.  It was a labor of love and instilled within me a strong work ethic, the idea or characteristic of hard work being part of life.  While many of my mates played sports and worked out to gain strength and endurance, I found those same things in my work.  With all of that work, all of the repetitions of handing 50 pound bales of hay, pitching 3-4 manure spreaders full when cleaning out that accumulated over a winter.  I was strong, had endurance and felt good when challenged with physical work.  It is that same work ethic applied to my professional career that enabled me to succeed, to perform at above average levels.  In all of my time I really never fathomed my working as something that was not my choice, but it would seem cancer is changing the paradigm.

Since my diagnosis few, with the exception of the times I did chemotherapy, could even infer I was sick, that this disease attacked my body.  When told of my affliction, and the severity thereof, most looked surprised noting I didn’t look sick, that thee were no tell-tale signs of disease.  In this journey, I always looked at my ability to work as a staple, one of those things symbolizing I remained functional, I remained alive.  Working brought with it a certain sense of accomplishment and in some ways, some degree of independence and more importantly, fulfilled my work ethic.  While for the last 20 or so years I have done mostly ‘brain’ work, meaning my work involved little physical effort, I always continued to incorporate physical work and activity in my life.  Indeed, until the third week of January this year I was hiking 5-8 miles per day with a 35 pound backpack with no problem, something that ended with my pneumonia diagnosis.  While I fully intended to return to my hiking regiment following my treatment, I found some of the ‘little’ aches previously felt in laces like my back and ribs became magnified, thus preventing me from continuing the activity.

Over my life I made two major moves, meaning interstate moves, one leaving my home area and the other returning.  With all other moves, ‘within town’, I always had many friends to help and with my work ethic, found the task underwhelming.  The first move out-of-state was similarly effected, albeit in that case while we packed all of our belongings, we did hire movers to load the truck which I then drove to the destination.  When I arrived at the destination, I had movers arranged to unload the truck, something that made sense to me.  With my latest move I felt the same protocol would apply, but quickly found learned my body disagreed with the idea, that it would fail me in this same effort, despite what my mind told me.  The move turned into something of chaos and close to disaster.  It seemed at that point my body was no longer capable of effecting the kinds of physical endeavors I previously took for granted.

So with my move and while I began accepting my physical limitations, I am now beginning to question my ability to use my mind, to suppress the pain, to focus such that I can be productive.  This reality is coming down upon me in a rather profound manner because before acknowledging some of these limitations, I applied for a role which would leverage my core competencies, a role involving the building of an organization and which, based on the initial phone interview, would offer substantive personal satisfaction.  However, when thinking about the role, about the idea of once again working in an office, working under the constructs of a ‘normal’ routine, I question the realism of my thinking.  Since living here I have wanted to do some day trading, but find I often lack the focus to follow markets with the acuity necessary to be profitable.  This latest realization suggests that while it is my body that fails me, it is doing so in such a way as to limit my ability to use my mind, to focus on certain tasks as would be necessary.  It is beginning to become clear that the disease is taking away another bastion of my life, my ability to work, to function in the work force.  This is indeed a challenging point for now the disease is asking me to resign my ability to work, my ability to remain a productive member of society, my ability to conform to my long-established work ethos.  It is, in the end, another loss, another resignation, another ‘win’ for the disease.  Time will tell if I will succumb to this latest development, the in-person interview comes in two weeks, but the evidence seems profound and the decision inevitable.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

As always, feel free to comment or you may email me at lifeabstractions@gmail.com



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