For a while. I’m only falling apart for a while and the deterioration is primarily physical, not intellectual, (hallelujah for that). I know its origin, I know broadly when it will end but physically right now is the point at which I start to slowly fall apart.
For me it begins with puffiness and pain up my hand and arm from the site where last week’s FEC-a-thon took place. The vein designated for the mother-load gets sore and grumpy. I know exactly where that vein runs, from the back of my hand to well above my elbow. It burns inside like a magnesium flare and is especially unhappy in my wrist. It’s hypersensitive, it gets very moody, and its a wimp. It will play me like this for another week, taking revenge for the abuse it suffered on October 16th and then it will gradually settle down again ready for round three on November 6th. Round three. It’s not so far off and it’s a really exciting milestone. Seriously, it’s exciting. Round three marks the end of FEC and I can tell you now I’ll be celebrating that FEC-ing day for sure! I’ll also be half way through my total chemo countdown. Happy, happy, happy, times ahead.
But back to the present. A swollen throat, sore tongue, peeling mouth and ulcers. Falling apart in there is a little more difficult to predict. It starts about 4 days after FEC but the finishing line is less precise. Keeping on top of it requires extra drug-induced assistance too. Ooh, more drugs, how nice! The best, most effective drug is too expensive for my hospital to issue…. (are you listening David Cameron, would you like to try this too??) Fortunately I managed to get some from my GP. Now this stuff isn’t exactly pleasant. It’s far too akin to swishing your mouth round three times a day with aniseed-flavoured snail-slime. But it does the job and snail-slime or not I’m sticking with it. It beats craving snails from the garden and frankly there are some days when I’m just not fast enough to catch them 😉
Then there’s indigestion and what can only be described as weird feelings in the oesophagus and stomach. Given the same stuff makes up my mouth as makes up the rest of my alimentary canal I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out what’s going on in there. It’s all too predictable. I’m not usually a big fan of milk, drinking it makes me feel yucky. But these days a nice milkshake (thank you Shaken Udder) really seems to soothe things down. I find non-dairy ice cream and muesli good too. This bit of the falling apart process takes around a week before gradually fading away as if nothing ever happened. It’s annoying when it’s there and then it’s gone again. All I can say is it’s weird.
Last come random things. Swollen ankles and feet – not sore, just puffy. Tiredness – to be expected, imagine how many thousands, millions (?) of good cells have been polished-off and how much extra work my 177cm frame has to put in to regenerate them again. Headaches, ongoing occasional nausea, a little less stamina, a little more lethargy. These are all irritations because they slow me down, they make me feel a lot older than I am. At heart I’m still 18, I still have an innocent (ok, maybe not entirely innocent, I’ve been through childbirth) joie de vivre about so many things. Seeing the sun come up, bread baking, flowers in the garden, starlit nights. So I find these random irritations – ankles, tiredness, headaches etc., are best catered for with a nice slice of walnut cake and a cup of green tea. Walnut cake and green tea works wonders for my spirit, especially when my body is saying for pity’s sake sod-off and leave me in peace. But today’s news headline from spirit to body is as follows: I have no intention of sodding-off and leaving you in peace, not now or anytime soon. You got us into this mess and you’re darned well getting us out of it. Let this serve as an enduring lesson. Praise is better than punishment so get your act together because you won’t want to sit on this naughty step ever again!