Saturday, 9 September 2017

Good Things About Cancer

I have started reading again. Easier, obviously, when I was spending hours/days in hospital with intermittent wifi, but I have kept up the habit. And I try to read the books I really want to read. I go out of my way to find them, which I never would have done before. I continue to read shite too occasionally, because that can't be helped. 

I am now (even more) immune to the aggressive marketing that bombards women of my age. I merrily count up the seven signs of ageing on my face. I squeal with glee every time I see a new wrinkle. I now believe the spiel I've always told my children, that each white hair is a magic strand that gives me special powers. 
I bought this stuff:

Nobody's more pro-ageing than me. Bring it on.

I need never, ever, ever again wear Spanx. (Unless I want to).

Monday, 4 September 2017

Anatomy of a Scan

Scan minus 11 weeks:  Skipdy-do, happy happy, I have this cancer thing totally nailed.

Scan -6 weeks:   Holidays. Yum. Guinness. Yum.

Scan -3 weeks:   Hey. Where's my scan appointment?

Scan -2 weeks:   Em. Excuse me? Could I possibly get that appointment please? Just, you see, children, school, work, you know. But totally in your own time, no rush, I'm cool.

Scan -1 week:    Where the feckety-feckpots is that appointment???

Scan -6 days:     Ok. Fine. We can do this. Now what is that strange pain in my right side. You know, just over my liver.

Scan -5 days:      I wish I could sleep.

Scan -4 days:      I wish that pain would stop moving towards my throat.

Scan -3 days:      Sob. So mean. Why is the world so cruel? Sob. Sniffle. So unfair. 

Scan -2 days:      What do you mean, narky? YOU WANT NARKY??

Scan -1 day:        Eerily calm.

Scan Day:            Oooh. Busy. I like busy.

Scan +1 day:       No phonecall. I mustn't be imminently dying so.

Scan +2 days:      Oh my god. I'm dying. Right now.

Scan +3 days:      Not dead yet. But I'm fairly sure it won't be long.

Scan +4 days:      Sod it.  Panic call. I'm dying here, Oncologist. What's that? It's all perfect? Stable? No new lesions? Hunky dory? Why thank you. No, thank YOU. I do apologise for being so pushy. You are very kind. No YOU. Yes we are all marvellous. Thank you. 

Thank you. 

Thank you.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Could life ever be sane again?

I wrote before about Kubler-Ross and her stages of grief, as depicted by Homer Simpson. 
I thought at the the time I was proceeding remarkably efficiently through the stages and was coping spiffingly with the whole thing. 

That was two years ago, and my brain was geared up for a twelve-month final chapter to my life, filled with joy and sadness and making-the-most-of-it and finally surrendering to the inevitable in a beautiful light-green silk dress in a bed with 5-billion-thread-count sheets, gazing out on the ocean. That was my vision of how it was all going to wind up neatly for me. 

Now, though, the gap between The Terribly Bad News and Death has widened considerably, to the point where I don't really know where I am at all on the continuum. 
On a day to day basis, I appear to be still washing up, and changing sheets, and buying school books. I am not lying back in silk pyjamas having meaningful conversations with long-lost friends (though I still think about trying to track them down, one of these days). I have more and more moments in the day when I am not thinking about The End. In fact, I have more and more moments when I think, you know what, maybe this was all just another example of my tendency towards exaggeration and melodrama. Maybe I made a big mountain out of a stage 4 molehill. Maybe I can forget all about the whole sorry business and get back to deciding which shoes I really need next. 

And then the palpitations kick in, and the head-swim, and the throat-closing, and the panic attack rushes towards me like a huge bounding dog. I have to say "hello nice doggy, it's okay, calm down", while trembling with the fear that he is going to rip my head off with his drooly stinky jaws. The tears start leaking from my canthuses (great medical word. Almost as good as philtrum).

The day will* come, when the Bad News train will re-enter the station, and I will be back on the path of fairly certain death. There is something ridiculously reassuring about knowing what's going to happen next, even if that something is horribly tragic. This liminal in-between bit is very hard to get my head around. 

A fellow cancer blogger Crispian Jago wrote about not wanting to pre-order the new iPhone because he would have to sign up for a two year contract, but has been told he has only 18 months to live. 
I didn't buy any new clothes for the first year after I was diagnosed, except cheap tat from German supermarkets, or expensive dresses that I thought would look good in a coffin.

Every time I book a holiday, I have to weigh up the price of the flights, knowing that I won't get it back if I'm too sick to travel when the time comes, and saving myself the bother of even beginning to ask someone to insure me. (The answer would be "eh, no.")

I have asked my oncologist a few times if he would take my Portocath out. He sidestepped the issue the first couple of times, then finally he had to go full Mother Gothel and tell me it is NEVER COMING OUT. There will never be a time when I won't potentially need it.

I look at newborn babies and my stomach heaves with want. I have three children, I am more blessed than I could possibly imagine, but the fact that I can't choose to have another is heart-breaking. (Again, this is not rational thinking - my back and womb would probably never have permitted me to carry another baby - but my brain just says "I want I want" simply because I can't.)

I have moved from planning three months ahead to six months, but occasionally I let myself go wild and think "next year we'll go to Glastonbury!" 
I reach out my hand towards the future and then I quickly slap it away. Don't touch. 

What's the best way to manage the uncertainty? Should I spend all day acknowledging that yes, my life is irreparably banjaxed? Or should I mostly ignore the background terror and simply accept that occasionally it's going to come rampaging up behind me, snarling and growling and snapping at my face? 

Honey pie, I'm not safe here

But I don't really have anywhere else to go. 

*you know, statistics and what-not