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Up Date 2

So this should be a practical guide to Chemo therapy but life has gotten in the way.

It’s now been 4 weeks since my last Chemo. Instead of spending Friday packing bags, hyping myself up, cracking open the high strength anti-nausea tablets, crying in a parking lot and then being pumped full of chemicals; this Friday saw me completing my first week back at work!

It feels momentous and oh so normal all at the same time. Last year I’d have laughed if you’d told me about the sense of accomplishment I’d achieved just by working a 5 day week.

There were a few weeks over the summer when I wondered how sensible it would be to return to work 3 weeks post chemo but this particular job, with this particular group of people? To see anyone else do it would have broken my heart and I’ve given up too much this year, professionally and personally to let it slide.

So, I’m not going to say it’s been easy. This week has been work, eat, bath, sleep, repeat. I basically pass out by 10pm. A’s been amazing fixing all meals (including pack lunches), tidying, washing etc. I’ve not been fighting it (much), with out his help and support I probably wouldn’t be back at work so soon. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel like a total tool for not pulling my weight.

I’ve wanted to start on my Thank You cards, reply to the lovely people who’ve been so kind over past 6 months but that is yet again on hold, phone a friend or even write a blog post.

I get frustrated with my achey body, my clumsy hands and feet, my reliance on others – especially at work, how long it takes to shower and dress, how slow I walk. Then I’ll catch a look at my self and get frustrated again. It normally takes A. reminding me that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” to cut my self a break.

I just to feel myself. NOW! If not sooner.

So this just a little Sunday update. I hope as the weeks go on my stamina will come back and I’ll resume some sort of work / life balance. I’m just chuffed I’ve got a work / life balance that’s out of whack. Makes a change from the rest / rest balance of previous months.

Thank you everyone who has sent love and best wishes.

ps my feet have swollen up for no good reason! What’s that about? Seriously, anyone know? It’ weird and sore….

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STOP. Chemo Time.

I thought it was about time I wrote about Chemo. I wrote that sentence and then nothing happened because how do you write about Chemo?

On a side note; it has come to my attention that people (and by people, I mean cancer people) debate whether cancer and chemo should be given capital letters. Unless it’s beginning a sentence, the grammar police would probably say no but this isn’t what the debate hinges on. No sir, it’s whether one gives ones power away when one gives these words a capital! I enjoy this debate. I personally don’t understand it, but I enjoy it, it tickles me. To whom does the power go for one thing? I can’t type either word now without thinking about the debate and the power….

I’ve been moving around all summer, from Dad’s house to the flat and back. I spent the last few days unpacking, sorting, and finally putting away. It feels good to be in the same spot for a while. Trying to unpack my mind, examine the contents of those boxes? Well, it’s slightly more daunting.

I’ve been having an internal monologue about how I was going to tackle this subject, pretty much since before my first round of treatment. I believe I’ve remained mostly silent on the ‘nitty gritty’, not counting my spectacular hissy fit in July – which you can relive here.

Reading that post back is painful and a little bit funny. I was really incensed by Facebook posts. I can’t lie, I still hold mini grudges against people who use that medium to do nothing but complain, especially about illness. Jeez, at least get yourself a Blog!

I’m hoping that this time round I can be more measured….. I’m going to aim for measured at any rate. I’ve spent some time wondering if I should write about my ‘summer project’. Is it useful to? For me or anyone? Will it just come across as either a martyred showing of my scars or a brazen humble brag? The best answer I’ve come up with is probably. Probably it will be all of the above.

In our family we have a short hand, When people seem to be doing a nice thing but are actually just tooting their own horn, someone will mutter “speech by Toad”. This comes from the end of Wind in the Willows; before his dressing down by Badger, Toad’s Thank You Party consists mostly of speeches, songs and poems about his daring deeds and heroic actions, mostly falsified.

In a bid to fence in my ‘toading’, I thought I’d at least try to separate my posts out – a practical guide and a more personal account. Future me and others can then choose for themselves.

As I seem to have successfully avoided writing much at all about Chemo, in my first Chemo Titled post. I shall leave you with 5 random facts on the subject. A warm up if you will.

1) The most painful place I have thus far had an injection is my bottom. I know, I couldn’t believe it! It’s a well padded specimen and I was under the false belief that this would ‘cushion’ the sensation.

2) I really should have bought shares in Watermelon, Chicken Stock, Elderflower Cordial, and Lemon Barley Water. Whether I will ever touch them again remains to be seen.

3) I really can be bribed with food. Dad would actually put a slice of cake at the bottom of the garden in a bid to coax me down. I felt like some feral creature scurrying out to retrieve it. I am 95% sure this was A’s idea because, in the nicest possible way, Dad is Good Cop and A is Bad Cop. When it comes to Chemo anyway.

4) The final eye lash count on my left eye is 16, 15 on the top and 1 on the bottom.

5) Hot Flashes are a Fucking Nightmare.

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PICC A Little, Talk A Little

You know that feeling, at the start of a big new project? Or a tedious course you have to get through? or the beginning of a long separation?

Of course you do, everybody knows that feeling, everybody’s been there. You may have a person in your life, I had my mother, who always finishes discussions on such subjects with the words “in a year it will be different”. If this person is truly wise, as my mother was, they will not commit to better, just…. different.

I’m writing this from bed, I’ve switched off Radio 4 and I’ve just been staring out the window. You get to do that with Chemo, just stare off for hours if you like, no ones going to judge. I’ve been staring at the bluest sky, contrasting against the reddest apples in next doors garden. There’s a sunny golden cast to everything and the birds are going nuts. It’s so freaking autumnal, I could burst. Just to add to the sensory overload, Dad has moved (and I’m so excited to use this word) a bushel, indeed a bushel, of quinces in a basket into my room. They smell amazing. I kid you not, I am in full Martha Stewart Living meltdown.

I have been remembering, that this time last year, I had a month of these days. Perfect fall days. Perfect days for running on trails, for rowing, for walking with your Dad, for reading, knitting, quilting, for starting a script. For fixing yourself. For feeling happier than you feel you have a right to and being grateful for that. Grateful and happy and different. New.

I became obsessed with gold glitter, I couldn’t think of anything that signified happiness more. I had problems finding a cohesive way of incorporating gold glitter into my everyday world. I regret not trying harder. Anyway.

So, this year it’s been different. It’s been a week, almost to the minute, that my last lot of chemo drugs started drip, drip, dripping their way down my PICC and into my system. With every passing day I edge further from Chemo patient to my new “in a year”. It’s kinda freaking me out.

As I recoup from Chemo, this final time, my mind is most often drawn to my now (hopefully) incinerated PICC line. To say I was excited for that to be removed is to have no conception on the word excited. My PICC line, more than anything felt like a tether to the disease and to the whole process. You can’t hide it easily, it needs cleaning, it actually tugs on you, when move in a way it doesn’t approve of. Washing, which is already a bit of a chore when you’re not at your best, has this whole new dimension of tedium added.

I wanted it out. I thought I’d have to wait weeks but Mr Oncologist just added it to my notes and boom, as soon as the last drip of Chemo had gone in, out it could come.

Putting the darn thing in was a painful palaver. To lie, arms out outstretched, surrounded by wires and my vision obscured was eerily reminiscent of the final scenes of Dead Man Walking. As it took place the day before my first Chemo, to my melodramatic mind, it did feet like a death sentence.

Now, so many months later it was coming out, with no more fuss than if it was a magicians scarves being pulled from his sleeve. There I was, sitting in the chemo room, no ceremony, no certificate, there wasn’t even any blood.

And all I can think while I replay the memory is, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. These monumental things happen in a blink of an eye and the only thing we can ever be sure of is; next year will be different, next year always is.

In the interest of full disclosure,I’ve been typing today with black leather gloves on. My hands have gone a little gnarled and I’m experimenting to see if this is comforting. I look like a very eccentric serial killer.