Lessons from 2012: Keeping a Personal Journal

Home Delivery - North Beach - 2012

Years ago, I tuned into the journaling work of Ira Progoff – reading his books and appreciating what he was advocating. But I never seriously committed to his journaling practice. Just too lazy, I think. (Yes, I did decide to start blogging over 10 years ago – but blogs and journals are different – public/private, etc.)

Earlier this year, I had surgery for prostate cancer. In the process, I reconnected with the notion of keeping a personal journal – and it’s proven to be a very valuable process for me ever since.

Here’s how that happened…

As it turns out, both my Dad and his Dad died from the effects of prostate cancer – and, as a result, I had begun a monitoring regime with my GP a few years ago utilizing PSA tests to monitor the health of my prostate. Two years ago, my PSA results crossed a threshold of concern – which led to me having a series of tests that identified I had a low grade prostate cancer.

After the tests raised the alarm, I sought the advice of prostate cancer specialists at the University of California – San Francisco. We entered an “active surveillance” program – involving periodic ultrasound examinations and PSA screenings. Early this year, my results indicated I’d crossed a threshold – where some sort of active treatment was going to be required. I opted for what’s known as a prostatectomy – a surgical procedure that removes the prostate gland and, in the process, hopefully excises the cancer. In my case, it worked very well – the cancer is gone.

I wanted to start keeping a post-surgery journal following my surgery – and, as it happened, Day One had been released just a few months before. The nerd that I am was attracted to the notion of having a journal in the cloud accessible from all of my various devices – and that’s what Day One promised to deliver. My first journal entry was early the morning of my surgery – as we were heading up to UCSF. My second journal entry was late afternoon the day after my surgery – appropriately titled “Coming Home” – describing how I was heading back home with my catheter installed and walking everywhere with “my bag” on my leg.

Since those initial entries, I’ve written at least once a day in my journal. Initially, mostly about how I was feeling post-surgery. But gradually my focus shifted – as my recovery progressed and I began writing in my journal about other, much more interesting things! Having a quick place to write my thoughts into my journal has been a delightful experience. I wish I’d started this practice a couple of years ago when I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder.

As I look back on the last several months of snapshots of my thoughts captured in journal entries, I smile. They bring back memories, things I noticed at the time and would otherwise forget. Somehow having them at my fingertips just feels satisfying.

My journaling turns out to be a new treat – another lesson I learned in 2012.

4 Replies to “Lessons from 2012: Keeping a Personal Journal”

  1. Journaling has always sounded like such a lovely idea and thought of putting my most intimate thoughts In writing always bothered me. How do you get past that privacy concern?

  2. I had my second RC repair 5 days ago on my left shoulder and dominant arm/hand. I had my right shoulder done five years ago, and it may eventually need another repair, as it is acting up again…especially now with the extra demands on it. Yes, it is uncomfortable, sometimes, painful, but I try to remind myself that it’s just another one of life’s hurdles, when I get impatient. And that this too, shall pass. Patience is something I have to work on daily.
    As a retired RN, I am Just Grateful I still have arms to be repaired. It sure beats the alternative!

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