What’s Next?

An image of the path to the unknown from one of my neighborhood walks.

Chemotherapy and radiation ended two months ago. I never lost the hair on my head but I did lose most of the hair on my face save my mustache. More importantly, I never lost my voice nor my ability to eat solid food. My radiation oncologist was dumbfounded; I am relieved and intensely grateful. 

Mind you, I experienced my fair share of side-effects, including such painful neuropathy in one foot that I could only get around with a cane and only for a few feet at that. My sense of taste vanished after the first week of treatment, except for coffee, chocolate, dill, and cucumbers. (Dill pickles never tasted so good.) A small portion returned, all at once, a month or so ago, but now instead of the absence of taste, most of my sense of taste is distorted to the extent that eating isn’t pleasurable. The doc says that should return within a year, which is also about the same amount of time it’s going to take my surviving salivary glands to be working normally again. 

Thanks to chemo brain fog, I’ve been way more forgetful than my everyday absentminded professor self ever was. I could wear a hat on a walk and then not be able to find it — or the book I was just reading — for days. I’d promise to send a friend a link to a song, article, or performance, and then, moments later, I would forget all about it. My mind became like Swiss cheese — unfortunately, it was more hole than cheese.

Most recently, I’ve been exhausted. As in wiped out, bone-tired, too weak to even think about doing anything. Sleeping 10, 12, 13, or more hours, which makes for short days, especially when I’m feeling fatigued most of the time I’m awake, or as close to being awake as I could get.*

That’s why it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a blog. Or much of anything for that matter. I am a few hundred emails behind. Oy vey! (I am so sorry if I owe you one!)

One of the few good things about being that tired is that it’s given me plenty of time to ponder. Ever since I was told I had tonsil cancer last year, I’ve been uncertain about what the future holds. The prognosis was good. Now I am waiting for my follow-up scan to find out how successful the treatment was . . . or wasn’t. 

These past months of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like the rest of the world has, quite understandably, come to share my current concern about what lies ahead. Certainly, the teaching of the Feldenkrais Method® of neurophysical learning has been rocked by COVID 19. Live group classes migrated online and individual hands-on sessions were canceled. Teachers who’d never taught via the Internet were challenged to adapt. Many discovered what we can now consider a third modality, the individually guided lesson. As those of us who’d already been offering distance learning online already knew, there is a hidden strength in this third way: there’s no better way for students to discover their ability to help themselves.

As the global caseload approaches 6 million and the countries that were shutdown begin to ease restrictions, the question at the heart of so many of the conversations I’ve had lately is, “What’s next?”

Most of us don’t know when we’ll be able to welcome students back to our offices or studios, when we’ll be touching them again. Some have had it with online interaction and others have discovered a new means for reaching out to and connecting with others.

Since February, soon after treatment started, I’ve been sheltering at home. My friends and neighbors have been shopping and running errands for me. Given my age and medical condition, I’ve no idea when my docs will give me the okay to travel let alone when any other country is going to welcome a visitor from the US of A. If I’m on personal lockdown until we have a vaccine, then it may be quite a while before I’m seeing individuals or going anywhere to teach. 

It’s difficult to imagine the path ahead. And equally impossible to wait until it’s clear what’s happening before starting to plan what’s next. 

This much is certain: Things have changed and will continue to do so. If we cling to what we’ve done before, then we continue the mistakes of the past. This is a chance to learn from what we’ve been doing and to imagine anew. 

So I ask — you, me, our community — what can we create that recognizes and builds on the promise of the future? How do we move onward together?

* Thank goodness for Bank Heist, Brother Cadfael, Bull, Download, Hollywood, Perry Mason, Space Force, The Good Fight, etc.

This coming Wednesday, I’ll be offering two free webinars about A TRAINING SEGMENT ONLINE (ATSO), which I taught earlier this year. If you’re interested in finding out what happened when 60+ Feldenkrais® teachers and trainees voluntarily signed up to learn online (unlike folks in training progams who had no choice but doing their segment via distance learning), what I found out from facilitating this first-ever event, and how I’ve improved the program for the next time around, please join in. To sign up for either Zoom meeting, please click on one of the links below:

10:00 AM US Pacific time
Wednesday, 3 June 2020

6:00 PM US Pacific time
Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The summer session of ATSO begins on 17 June and registration opens on the 3rd.

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  1. So glad that the treatments seemed to have gone well. The side effects are awful, but you seem to be managing. Thinking of you often. Wishing you all the best in your continuing recovery.