Tea, Exercise, & Being in My Body

Tea

Yesterday, Grant and I were again in the area of The Tea Spot for various appointments. So we stopped by and got a few more things. It turned out the owner, and writer of the book Cancer Hates Tea, Maria, was sitting right there working, and when I introduced myself, and told her I was reading her book and liking it, she also gifted us a few more items beyond what we were buying! She and the other staffers also congratulated me on my successful treatment. One of the things she gifted us was a little sampler of Rise and Chai, which is pu’erh tea, and so good! We’re having it this morning. Charmaine, you are so right about pu’erh! As I understand it, pu’erh is the final stage of aging of the tea leaf, dark like a black tea, but fermented beyond that, which gives it a lot of depth and complexity of flavor. And apparently, a lot of antioxidant bang for the buck. Delicious!

Exercise

Grant attended one of my sessions with Joanne, the exercise physiologist. Because he is who he is, he asked her the simple question of, “Why is walking or cardio exercise important for Andrea now?” And her answer was simply, that in cancer generally, and especially with ovarian cancer, exercise has been shown to be the number one preventer of recurrence. So that is that for that.

And she proceeded to work me, through stationary bicycling, and various other activities, including walking on my heels, walking on my tippy toes, maintaining my balance while standing on a rubbery, inflated, half sphere, either with both legs, or on one leg, and with or without my eyes open. Eyes closed is remarkably hard! Even on solid ground, but on non-solid ground it is quite a workout! That is part of the side effect of neuropathy from the chemo. My nerves and muscles need to relearn how to talk to each other. With the added feedback loop of vision is it not so bad, but without it, it is extremely challenging. She provided feedback about my posture and which muscles need to be working to maintain good posture and balance and what not to do. It is good to have her undivided and personalized attention. And by the end of the day my glutes and various leg muscles were quite sore. So, more of same continuing on….

I will be starting the CSU Fit Cancer program on Monday evening. I am excited to see how this will go. Additionally, they will be providing us with an “activity monitor” aka pedometer. That will be nice. Depending on what exactly it is, I may also seek out an Apple Watch. (Maybe the Birthday Elf will find one for me for my Birthday?)

Another thing I am sort of chomping at the bit to do is get the all-clear to go to the local (brand new and beautiful!) Eaton rec center. So far I’ve been encouraged to wait until my white blood cell counts come back up into normal range. As of testing done 9/9 it is really close, so I’m allowed to go, but during they day when it will not be so full of folks, and to be sure to wipe/spray down equipment before I use it. And if someone sick takes the machine next to me, get up and move.

Check in with Integrative Oncologist

We also met with Dr. West, on her recommendations for what to do next. Basically now it will be to do routine labs, and adjust all sorts of things accordingly to keep my body in its healthiest state. This may be through diet, supplements, exercise, or mental / emotional work. Grant and Dr. West discussed, in my presence, the fact that I tend to be heady, rather than “in my body.” This is something I’m aware of as it is consistent with my personality type and interests.

However, this intense focus on taking care of my body may be meant to have me inhabit my body a bit more. In the Myers-Briggs world of personality typing, some people feel that we begin to express our less strong types during our later years. For me that would be S and T. So perhaps, this experience of cancer is about getting me more into my body which would be more of an S (Sensing) function, and being more T (Thinking/Logical) about doing so.

Sensing (S)

Paying attention to physical reality, what I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. I’m concerned with what is actual, present, current, and real.

This is in contrast to my strength which is N Intuition.

Intuition (N)

Paying the most attention to impressions or the meaning and patterns of the information I get. I would rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands-on experience. I’m interested in new things and what might be possible, so that I think more about the future than the past. I like to work with symbols or abstract theories, even if I don’t know how I will use them. I remember events more as an impression of what it was like than as actual facts or details of what happened.

It is kind of a viscerally distasteful thing for me to be told I need to be more S. It might help my physical health, but I really treasure the allowance for being N. I think this stems from a feeling I had most of my growing up years that S was the correct way to be and N was incorrect. When I found out in my mid-twenties that N was actually a thing and could be considered a strength, not a weakness, I was elated and SO relieved. Our USA-rian culture really has a primary personality type that it would really like us all to be and I really don’t fit it at all, so have always felt “incorrect.” My perception is that the “perfect” American should be ESTJ. And I am the opposite: INFP. Often institutions which value traditional ways of doing things, like educational systems or religious systems, favor, at the very least, an SJ approach to life, at least in America. So allowing myself to be NP has been exceedingly reassuring.

Hence, my resistance to being encouraged to be more S.

However, the idea that perhaps it is time to start exploring and utilizing my tertiary (S Sensing) and inferior (T Thinking/Logic) functions is worth considering. So I shall consider it. Someone else has wrestled with that here. I just wish I had really allowed myself, or been allowed, to actually be INFP earlier in my life. I feel like I’m playing catch up now, and that I have never really full experienced what being a healthy, strong INFP is like. I’ve already spent too much time bucking up my perceived weaknesses instead of full-on going with my strengths. So, I will feel (& think) my way into this further.

Anyway, must get on with things now…. I could sit and write endlessly, as it is one of my INFP strengths, but the fact of the matter is that there are SJ things that need taking care of, like bookkeeping, and other practical matters. (Can’t I just hire that stuff out??) It will be part of my post-cancer recovery process to spend more time in my strengths and better manage my weaknesses. I could spend all my time bucking up the weaknesses but it has been found, for example by the Gallup organization, in StrengthsFinder, that focusing on and using one’s strengths is more likely to turn into success, than spending time and energy making up for one’s weaknesses. But that is an entirely different posting….

TTFN!

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