I hadn’t realised how many taboo subjects I’d encounter during my many months of medical malarkey. More surprising is the speed at which I’ve been crossing them off the “things one must never say, do or discuss” list. I’m already at ten and still counting.
1. Swearing. I used to swear a bit. Just the naughty swear words, never really naughty ones. Now I swear a lot. Even when I’m nattering with my Dad. Fortunately he appreciates I haven’t suddenly transformed into a foul-mouthed fecker. Certain circumstances call for cussing. (Thanks for understanding Dad).
2. Nakedness. Difficult one this. I’ve shown more bits of me to total strangers since April 2012 than in the whole 1969-2012 period. I no longer have any problems with body image or nakedness. For the sake of warmth I choose to remain fully clothed at all times.
3. Touching. This one goes along with nakedness. Not only did total strangers want to look, they also wanted to touch. I don’t get embarrassed but touching is strictly limited to those with professional medical qualifications. Anyone else will receive a sharp slap.
4. Female hairlessness. What can I say? Hair today, gone tomorrow. Head, eyebrows, lashes, the lot. Sh*t happens.
5. Or maybe it doesn’t. When it doesn’t you’re in big trouble. Chemo plays havoc with all 30 feet of digestive tract and I can honestly say senna is the best discovery I’ve ever made. That’s that taboo crossed off the list.
6. Sex. Yep, you’ve guessed it. I’ve spent too much time talking (with strangers) about how all this medical malarkey affects anything and everything to do with sex. I’m almost ready to become the next Dr Ruth.
7. Reproduction. The human kind, not furniture. Linked to sex. Fortunately I don’t want more kids, if I did I wouldn’t be able to have them. Makes me really sad for all the younger women who go through this kind of thing.
8. Weight. We all know it’s an off-limits subject. (Unless you’re naturally slim or decide to join weight-watchers and want to celebrate your success.) Not any more. I know my weight to two decimal places every 3 weeks. So does most of Worcestershire NHS trust and all the other people who happen to be in chemo camp that day.
9. Death. We don’t talk about it yet it’s a daily occurrence and comes to us all sooner or later. When you’re forced to confront it you realise it would be a lot less scary if we could talk about it. There are other benefits too. You get to ensure all your favourite songs are on your last playlist. I’m having Feeling Good by Muse 😉
10. Mental health. It’s an IF______ THEN_______ statement generally arising from thoughts on the above. IF forced to confront death THEN depression may ensue. Oops, that’s another taboo subject. Fortunately I have no problem talking about my mental health issues. Which is a good thing because there are plenty of them!