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  • Writer's pictureAja McDonald

Week 2

Days pass and weeks go on. I am now on day 13 from starting chemo. In two days, I begin the second round. As I reflect, I now know that I did way too much over the first four days and these days will be my strictly bed rest days. My brain was scattered, I was super aware of all the things I was experiencing and felt so lucky to not have any symptoms outside of headache and fatigue. But due to the fact that I was on a high of feeling lucky, I didn’t stop. I didn’t allow my body to process and actually rest. I didn’t realise exactly what was truly happening inside.

My drive to live as normal as possible and not let this become something that victimises me has been a huge asset and also a thorn in my side. It’s not in my nature to ever think “I cannot” because I am always 100% “I can” all the time. To the point that I easily forget that those closest to me may not have the same mind frame or drive. It is not bad that this is the truth and I value what my closest humans have to offer. The way our brains are wired needs to be unique or this world would be painfully bland. Our individuality is what makes us human. But my Aries ways, perfectionistic ideals, and survival tactics are what got me this far in life. It’s time to rest, reset and reevaluate how I use these skill with other skills I have not been able to access.

So I accept that days 1-4 I will be like a chinchilla on crack trying to take a nap.

Days 5-8 I will most likely start to experience discomfort in my body and extreme fatigue.

Days 9-11 I will slowly start to get a little more of my normal back.

Days 11-14 should be where I am able to do a bit more and push myself to possibly garden or go for a bit of a longer walk.

I have been advised to only walk 10 mins a day max (or anything equal to that) along with my physio to help the nerve damage in my left arm. Anything more and it would be stepping backwards in my recovery. At least I can go outside and harvest flowers to either dry for future projects or make into bouquets to admire around the home.

A wee bouquet I gathered in the back section of our home.

It’s not easy not being able to go places due to either being too weak to drive or not wanting to take chances on getting Covid. I don’t know how I have survived this whole pandemic so far, but I would like to say that I have been very aware of my body and taking care of my health the best I can. With the combination of guidance from my GP and RCHom and even my consistent therapist sessions, I feel more complete within myself than I have in my lifetime. Hence why I suppose my attitude can continue to look at the bright side of things as I have always done in most cases in life.

Amazing cheeseburger from new favourite diner located here in Dunedin, Patti’s and Cream.

Hubby and I did get to go out and visit the new Patti’s and Cream diner on our day off together when I was simply gong to go and get my favourite Subway sub. Since it’s right next door to my preferred Subway, he noticed the sign said “open” on the diner and mentioned it to me. Looking inside and seeing only a couple tables taken, I immediately agreed it had to be done. I don’t regret one moment of our time spent there with the bottomless cups of coffee, burgers, potato skins and battered halloumi chips that awaited our devouring. Olive, the owner, even gave us complimentary ice cream cones… she even makes the waffle cones herself! This is a woman I greatly admire and am so thankful for what she has grown into an amazing business. I cannot help but share. If you live in Dunedin or ever visit and love the classic diner style food or even an irresistible ice cream, please do yourself a favour and visit this place! And yes, mum, I am taking you there when you visit next!

During this second week of my chemo experience, I had been surprised with a package that arrived from a great friend I made over the first lockdown in 2020. We met on a virtual island full of wonderful animals and lived there throughout the uncertainty spreading around the world. I have considered this friend one of my closest and have watched her grow so much over this time, she inspires me. It really meant a lot to receive this unexpected package of goodies. And, without flaw, I had the most thoughtful gifts awaiting me inside.

Secret Santa Presents Await!

I know that most people are either for or agains the ol Twitter realm these days, but I have to say even thou I am not the best at connecting with people on Twitter, I am so greatful I got to sign up for my third year of the fun suspense of NZ’s Twitter Secret Santa world. I had three gifts inside with a card that directed me to open it before our opening day set for 20th December. Since we don’t have a tree up this year (all due to the chaos of me not working and also a kitten that is a criminal) I used my monstera to document this occasion while I eagerly await to see what’s inside!

With all the ideas brewing in my head and a need to create and find myself during this time, I started journaling for the first time in a journal that was gifted to me during my first week of chemo. I bounce between three main journals in order to keep my thoughts in control and not feel like my mind is going every direction. This keeps my personal life and appts in order, my medical experiences and concerns noted, and all that makes me who I am acknowledged onto paper. When I start chemo, the first four days seem to throw me off and I am scattered. I am now aware that I cannot even handle anything that causes my adrenaline to rise. Therefore, I found that creating a ritual I can go by will be the backbone to how I grow and keep myself focused. How this ritual will work for me, I am still trying to work out.

Leonidus and Lazlo never far from each other.

Six weeks from surgery and I have done so much that I know most people reading this may think I haven’t rested. I have rested the best I ever have in my life, but my body and mind are two different elements working with and against each other. I need to find how they can work with a balance now that I have to make so many drastic changes. For now, I feel driven to reset all the habits I took on under pressure to grow as a tattoo artist and survive an unknown world of change, demand and ageing. I have put all thoughts concerning that part of me aside and on hold, knowing it will be there when I am ready to revisit where I left off.

I am so excited to have this time to do this as I needed to change, but didn’t have the confidence since I never really had the time to stop and have a good long look at things. I never felt safe inside my own head because I put so much care and love into the demand and loyal clients over the years, I never put time down for me. I was selfless in many good ways, but it also started to wear me down so much that I couldn’t find a way to change things I new had to change. I have never had a raise more than $10/hr since I finished my apprenticeship 15 years ago. So it is long overdue that I actually put my health in front of me and harness that self care work I have been doing on the side for several years. I’m just so humbled that so many people are happy to wait and let me do this, knowing that I will be stronger and healthier on the other side.

In this time, I have ordered books to help with areas I want to strengthen, I have goals written down to work towards, and I have a routine in place where I can allow myself to create when I feel the space invite me or I can work on other aspects from bed that can help with all of the things that I am devoting to that of Wolf & Rosehip. For now, my Patreon is the base of what I have to offer my interested clients and followers while I am taking time off my 22 year career in the body modification land. And just so I don’t loose touch to something I have given my heart and soul to, I have also signed a NDA contract to be a part of something I cannot wait to contribute to. I hope that all my design skills over these years can be utilised in that area of my life, even when I am unable to put it on skin.

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