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.