THE ROAD TO NORMALCY

The road to recovery from a serious illness or surgery can be a long one with several stages. During the beginning stage you rest at home resting, healing while you watch movies. In the second stage you’re up and getting around and slowly doing things around home. In the third stage you’re feeling good and you’re released to go back to work on light duty. In the last stage you get off light duty and start back on the path of normalcy. These stages sometimes take a while and can be cumbersome.

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I had my first surgery on July 17 and my second surgery on November 2. In between surgeries I worked a month and a half. Altogether I spent 13 weeks in the first and second stages of recovery and a lot of time on light duty. I became accustomed to light duty. As a cashier light duty meant express register. That meant smaller amounts of groceries to ring up and put in bags. There was also no lifting of heavy items. Sometimes I got put on a register at the far end of the store where it could be pretty slow. Although it was boring at times, I occupied myself by writing blog posts on receipt paper and filling out survey slips.

Light duty could be busy, but it was much easier than working the regular registers. In addition to less lifting and fewer groceries, I didn’t have to load the customers’ carts. Express was a good place to continue my recovery and to allow my body to fully heal. It gave me time to ease back into the working world and to slowly buildup my strength. I got to talk with customers, bring in a paycheck and feel useful. I liked it, but I knew it wouldn’t last forever. I knew in time I would have to return to normalcy.

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Wednesday I went to the surgeon who did my mastectomy and he cleared me for regular duty. Friday I went back on big register for the first time since July. I was overwhelmed with the endless cartloads and lines. It didn’t help that the weathermen were calling for a snow storm over the weekend. Even though in our area we have snow storms every winter, people panic. They stock up on food like they may never be able to leave the house again. It was a bad time to go back to regular duty. Luckily they allowed me to go back on express for the last two hours of my shift.

Customers kept putting their cases of water and pop on the register even when I told them not to. I tried to use the hand scanner on them and ask the customers to put them back in their carts. Some customers were accommodating and some weren’t. For those who weren’t, I had to lift the heavy items. My third customer turned out to be a three cartload. By the time break came, my body hurt all over and I was exhausted. Getting back to normalcy was hard, but it felt good deep inside to know I’m healed enough to do it.

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On full order register I got to see some customers I hadn’t seen in a while. They wanted to know how I’ve been and about my journey through breast cancer. They were excited to see me and I was happy to see them. When I told them, “I’ll see you again,” it wasn’t just a saying, but the truth. I beat cancer; I went through two surgeries within three months and was finally on both feet standing tall. In my eyes I out witted death and was going to be around for a long time to see my customers.

Not only have I gone back to regular register, I have decided to set goals to return to my writing and editing my memoir on a more regular basis. The road back to normalcy is hard, but I’m well enough to take it. I’m a changed person and a stronger person for it. Work will continue to get easier and I hope to get back to working out. My life is getting back on track. It feels good even though I ache all over.

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I have a lot to be thankful for, and as I travel down the road to normalcy I stand in the light of recovery from breast cancer with pride.

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