Food: There’s a lot of information out there about what constitutes a healthy diet and how to eat to help stave off various conditions and disease. I’m told meat and non-organic dairy are to be kept to a minimum in future so in order to get sufficient protein whilst avoiding these products, I should eat more fish. The trouble is I’m not a big fan of fish unless its tuna or swordfish and these big fish, being carnivorous and some way up the food chain, now contain significant amounts of mercury. (So much so that pregnant women are advised not to eat them). My future diet is looking increasingly fresh fruit and vegetable based together with quorn … I hope there are no health warnings about this fungus-based protein substitute Because it’s now a staple part of my diet. The other food item to avoid at all costs is sugar and I’m finding this easier said than done. Cutting out sweets, cakes and other goo isn’t a problem but sugar seems to turn up in the strangest of places. It’s in savoury foods including many sauces, soups and curries and its even in some fruit juices (why add sugar to fruit juice when it’s already full of natural fructose?). Food shopping has become a label-reading extravaganza. I’m sure some people think I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder when I read and check labels on everything I pick up and mutter under my breath when I find sugar has infiltrated something else it really doesn’t need to be part of.
Fainting: I had a little incident at the hospital on Friday. Unfortunately most of the veins in my left hand and forearm are damaged by chemo. This means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the nurses to find veins long enough, soft enough or unscathed enough to administer the ongoing herceptin treatments. On Friday we encountered the challenges of more blown veins. Normally this doesn’t affect me but over time being a human pin cushion appears to have a psychological impact. Coupled with a very warm environment this led to me losing consciousness even though I was sat in a chair! I didn’t know much about it but it gave the nurses another thing to deal with when they were already very busy. I felt sad for them because they try so hard not to cause any distress and are genuinely upset when things don’t go smoothly. It seems this situation is quite common, especially for people who’ve experienced multiple failed cannulation attempts over a prolonged period of time. On Friday it took 4 attempts to find a useable vein. We had to revert to my right side, back of the hand (not ideal and another fail) followed by the based of my right thumb, before finding something suitable. The issue with veins is slightly concerning – fainting every time someone comes near me with a needle means I will spend a lot of my time unconscious!
Fatigue: Until recently I’d been quite lucky on the fatigue front, but just lately it seems to come in waves. One minute I’m fine, the next I’m feeling weary. I’m wondering if I go to sleep with my eyes open because there are gaps when I can’t remember what I was doing during the evenings. I’ve concluded that’s either the effects of fatigue, the fact that I haven’t been out much for about 5 months so days merge into one another or maybe I’m just plain forgetful. Perhaps it’s a combination of all three. I need to rebuild my strength and I’m hoping some regular work on the cross-trainer will help reduce the effects of fatigue.
Fine lines: At my age it’s natural to have some fine lines and wrinkles. They provide that ‘lived in’ look to my skin. The past 5 months seem to have turned fine lines into the San Andreas fault in some areas, complete with plenty of deep fault lines and flaky edges! I think the flakiness may dissipate over time, I’m not so sure about the lines and suspect they’re here to stay. No-one tells you about this when you embark on chemotherapy. Maybe they think it’s unimportant compared to all the other side effects but the change in skin texture and quality from head to toe is a fairly significant event and it would be nice to understand what’s permanent and what isn’t. There’s no point in the daily application of Oil of Olay if the only solution is to drink plenty of water and rehydrate from within.
Remarkably, the past 5 months seems to have almost cured me of using the other F word, the one that also includes k, u and c. This is very odd because there have been plenty of reasons to use it on an hourly basis. Maybe dealing with life’s big deals makes us less prone to stressing over the small stuff. Maybe it puts everything into perspective and that makes the small stuff irrelevant. Perhaps this is a lesson we should teach our kids early on so that they only get stressed over things that really matter and have some means of shrugging off everything else. It might stop them becoming regular F word users and life is definitely too short to be tangled up in the weeds every day.