The past week seems to have cast a lot of shadows, but not just for me. Feeling rather like the world has gone crazy (and indeed it has) but I am becoming more resigned to the fact that it is part of a cycle for which debate and engagement is the appropriate response. A friend, yesterday, suggested that spouting off in an echo chamber was useless and that we need to return to the days of talking with the very people whose views differ from our own. We need to learn/re-learn to debate our position rationally whilst also actively listening to other opinions.
Political blindsiding has not been all…I seem to have been dragged back (with some token kicking and screaming) into the world of being a “patient” again. Despite being what I think of as a hospital regular, stuff has changed in my absence. New scanner (with a different voice) plus the facility to watch movies, not that the staff have learned that part yet! Sadly still the same dye injected into veins that makes my mouth taste metallic with the added bonus of the “warm” (not fuzzy) feeling as if you have become incontinent.Cancer! – such a riot!
All this week’s medical appointments seem to have ended up focusing on my heart function. I am unsure why and asked if my blood tests had been worrying. They hadn’t. I asked if there were any other indicators that were awry. There weren’t. Nonetheless 3 doctors in 4 days does make you wonder. Maybe it is just something to add to my flailing round in the dark state. Still, more doctors, more tests, more clinics over next 2 weeks so maybe something (benign) will emerge.
…and just to throw something else into the mix of the darkness theme, our cat has gone blind.
But I have just discovered a bright side. Glitter grout. Who knew?
Reunited friends. What a lot to catch up on. 40 years of life’s diverse routes which brought 33 of us (our school year group) back to Harrogate, where it felt like it had all started. We have all had our share of successes, failures and tragedies. We had a Pandora’s Box of memories which when we started to put them together created a far better narrative of schooldays than I had been able to assemble for myself over the years. We also found a bounty of black holes and events I, for one, could not believe I possibly attended even with photographic evidence. And, who knew, that when we planned what we would do when we got into the real world, that we would be so adept at clocking up such an extraordinary number of ex-husbands?
So it has been back to normal life again this week, pickling cucumbers and preserving lemons, which is my sort of “normal”. My other “normal” is also about to kick in, with a bonanza batch of blood tests in the spirit of attempting to kill three birds with one stone. None of them quite at the right time for the different clinic appointments but experience of these endless check-ups tells me that it will be “fine” ( a pithy “fine perhaps…but that’s OK)…and I know I have to chase up scans that should have been done by now, but I haven’t.
It’s one thing coming off herceptin, heart monitoring, scans, blood tests and facing cancer but quite another deal climbing down from a very high anti-depressant dose. Even my gentle downward stumble seems to be turning me into yet another person I haven’t been before.
I don’t have to do this but somehow thought I was ready to engage with some of the pain. I am ready. Guess I had just forgotten how much pain I had (that was secreting itself behind the SSRI influence) and what pain is like.
I have seen my GP and know I can take it at my own pace or, indeed, not do it all. For the time being, 6 weeks in, I have re-calibrated my gradient for reduction. Waking up and smelling the coffee isn’t quite what I had anticipated and I am so missing my quirky, irreverent, spirited, intelligent, argumentative, tenacious, fierce, talkative, difficult, magnetic and so talented…yet dead, friend. The endless silence she leaves in her wake is hitting me in waves, some days lapping…some days tidal.
But I’m OK..I need to experience this…and overwhelming all of this is the delight and roars of laughter I can only hear in my head (that we would have shared) if she had seen my fake nails, nail art, tattooed eyebrows and tiddly pom mules!
Another decision making hiatus, another step forward, and, as a bonus, another new word. I am a “neophyte” that is. if I have understood the word correctly – converting to my own lay medical approach of dealing with metastatic cancer. I have stopped treatment.
Life is short and I am going to go my own way (not sure why this is all starting to sound a bit Fleetwood Mac) through it and quit being medicalised. I have reached a point, at last, when I feel my judgement is sound and I am not being controlled. I no longer want to be a slave to the hospital, all its sub-text and endless testing (not forgetting the permanent incumbent worry). I have decided to consider myself “better” and plan to “live” accordingly.
Yes…I have thought about it…(fancy…)
Yes…I know what I am doing
Yes…I have discussed with my oncologist
Yes…I have discussed with my family
and no…I don’t need further advice
I have now got the hang of this going solo lark. I make my own choices based on what I consider to be important. Finally I am finding out what I do consider to be important; what makes me happy and what catalysts make me spiral downwards. So…that’s the plan.
Another week looms. My face is looking more “normal” (now the stitches are out) although my brain seems to be staggering a few steps behind. Despite my various incapacities I now have about 4 weeks to get organised before I move house. This is a colossal downsizing operation (and an emotional minefield) which means that I need to be fully medicated in order to get a wiggle-on with pruning my possessions. I have managed about 3 hours worth today which has barely got me to base camp…especially as I get side-tracked at every available opportunity, but I have started! I have my eye steadfastly set on the finishing post (or “a” finishing post) when I have moved, am in my own new environment (unpacked and box-free) and am divorced so I can (I hope) start re-building rather than ripping the past apart.
Meantime I have to get through this. I feel drop-dead tired and as if someone is sitting on my chest forcing shallow breathing and panic so I have to keep stopping what I am doing to take deeper breaths and calm down. I have had lots of offers of help which has been amazing BUT unfortunately I need to get through this sorting part before I can think of delegating anything. My organisational/multi-tasking skills seem to have gone into free-fall but I am relying on the fact that everything will get done, maybe not as efficiently as I have managed in the past but it will all happen. I also acknowledge that divorce, death of friend, life-threatening illness and house move are amongst the top stress factors and, true to form, I am doing all 4 concurrently, so I try to be kind to myself. Time to start making some lists and then attempt to remember where I put them…
Not sure why The Hellespont sprang to mind, but it did…On reflection, I think The Hellespont is called The Dardanelles now …but either way seems to represent where I am. In a narrow passage of water between two continents is the perfect facade for how (and where) I am with managing (or not) to string things together at the moment. I have been forced into this unknown, cold, foreign place and am still struggling against the waves, tides and strong undercurrents but now, at least, I am going forward rather than backwards, hoping for calmer waters ahead and…who knows, maybe some dry land.
This may all sound very cryptic but there is so much going on in my head (and my life) that it feels the right place to settle today, escaping into a little imagery…or perhaps magical realism.
Big week of huge changes ahead of me and then I am launched straight back onto the oncology stage again…blood tests, scans, appointments galore…Here’s hoping I am still fit for purpose…any purpose!
Whilst I really don’t want to be thinking about HIS kiss…and where he was/is planting it – just too sordid, it was an hour or so’s light relief. It gave the cats (and me) an excuse for some exercise – theirs (suffice it to say) involved tearing out of the house at top whack. And the bonus is..I now have very well polished wooden floors and a sparkly house.
So, I am “ready” for next stage of medical intervention. Monday kicks off with a “new” nurse visiting to treat me. Will she be chatty? Will I want to chat? What will be her particular “observation” style? Will I be able to read my book? Will I be here? (I do often ponder going AWOL). And in my current mindset, I feel I should probably launch into a rendition of Que Sera Sera.!
My inner arm is already extensively bruised (from elbow to wrist) in charming shades of purple and yellow (not quite the 50 shades of grey!) resulting from 6 vials of blood tests the other day (6? I know…seems excessive and I have no idea why so many and have got past bothering to ask!). Then Tuesday is back to see oncology consultant…I have not had scans recently so I don’t expect there will be anything to report other than booking my next gamut of tests, so I don’t go with too heavy a heart this time. I suspect that I may be rather tempting fate but surely (surely…) it must be someone else’s turn for the wicked fairy.