A bit of pain is no bad thing

I’m feeling much more like me, it’s as if I’m finally waking up from a long nightmare.

Very slowly, I’m getting better. I still sleep plenty but the glimpses of normal life are starting to join up.

It’s strange to have days stretching out in front of me with a whole load of nothing to do.

Before being diagnosed with cancer I packed so much into my already hectic life in London. Now my pace has slooooowed right down.

I’m still too weak to do many things. I can’t walk very far, it’s impossible for me to stand up long enough to cook a meal and I’m too tired to even watch daytime TV.

As for lifting something heavy, like say a kettle, forget it.

Luckily I’m being looked after by my parents who live in the countryside. I’m back in the place where I grew up and I’m sure this is helping with my recovery.

These days I spend great big chunks of time in bed just staring into space. My view of the world is a massive field that leads to a wooded escarpment.

Not long after I came out of hospital, I watched as the light faded from the warm evening sky. Under the cover of dusk, small black objects began to dart around.

A pair of bats seemed to dance outside the window. The light from my bedroom had apparently attracted a feast of moths.

While the bats moved just slightly too fast, making you doubt what you’d seen, the next wildlife surprise was not so speedy.

Sauntering across the field a few days later were four roe deer. The young animals didn’t seem to care who saw them. But then we are in the middle of nowhere.

When the small deer got to the hedge at the edge of the grass, one by one they leapt about six foot into the air and disappeared into the next field.

I’m glad to have distractions like these as last week was awful. Horrendous, in fact.

Since the operation the pain has been bad but bearable. I haven’t been in agony. But that’s all changed.

Intense pain has become a close friend of mine. Day or night, it has wanted to hang out with me.

It has an unpredictable personality. It can be stabbing, shooting or squeezing with a vice like grip. You think you’ve got it under control and then it pops up in a different place.

I knew this was going to be a painful few months but I didn’t realise that second time round the cancer treatment would hurt so much.

It’s thanks to actual real friends that I’ve manage to beat the worst of the pain.

A couple of them suggested things to try, the GP agreed and so another friend drove around late night chemists to get the prescriptions for me.

I’m still in some discomfort. But compared to how terrible it was, it’s such a relief to once again only have to deal with good old fashioned low level pain.

That’s something I can easily cope with.

13 thoughts on “A bit of pain is no bad thing

  1. Hi Helen, thanks for posting. You write so well and so candidly. I’m really glad you’ve got real friends to take you out and make you smile. I’ll try and do it virtually! Stay strong I want to see your big smile in TVC v soon. Love Bex

  2. Hello Helen, its good to read your lovely words again, but difficult to hear that you are still in pain…or worse still, ‘more’ pain. I’m sure you are receiving the best care possible, off the two people most qualified to offer it. Keep resting Helen, your body obviously wants you to. Thinking of you lots and lots, Sarah x

  3. Came across your blog through twitter. I found it difficult to read but your courage shines through. That with the love of your family will see you get back to full health and fitness.

  4. Hi Helen, I stumbled across your blog, and your news, through twitter. You write with such courage and clarity. I’m inspired, and humbled. I hope you have a really good long rest with your parents, and look forward to seeing you somewhere “on the road” soon…I may be in Belgrade for the elections at the beginning of May, and will be thinking of you. Courage through all your pain- barnaby phillips (now back in London, still with Al Jazeera English)

  5. So good to hear from you. Love Springwatch from your window and wishing the pain away. X

  6. Dear Helen Its bloomin’ hard just reading about your pain… I have had some experiences of that… but pleased to read your last few words. You know that it will take time for your body to recover… and your mind but the safety and security and familiarity of your childhood home is treat that your can enjoy and cherish. Keep Strong x

  7. Hi Helen. I love your writing. I find your posts so inspirational and they just bring everything back into perspective. The small, silly arguments we have in life really don’t matter. It’s hard to know what to say, but I just wanted to leave a comment, hoping it will give you that tiny bit more strength. I hope you are doing ok, considering the circumstances. Best wishes x

  8. Helen, sorry to hear you’re hurting, but from what you’ve written already I guess you wouldn’t skim over any difficult aspects of your recovery, least of all the embuggerance of pain. I’ve had a fair sackful of painkillers over the years, though my surgeries were a lot more straightforward than yours – and didn’t include dangerous reactions to anything they gave me! Anyway, my firm favourites were pethidine in hospital and co-codamol at home. 

    Something else that worked was self-massage. I discovered it more or less by accident; I found I sort of had to DO something during periods of pain, I couldn’t just sit or lie there, so I’d distract myself rubbing the painful bit! And it worked, taking the edge off it, sometimes allowing sleep, which is my No.1 preferred remedy, but maybe that’s just the effect of shift work. I think that’s how TENS machines are supposed to work: stimulating other nerves somehow helps block pain signals. And I reckon a bit of massage has got to be good for healing. I know it sounds a bit odd but it helped me ‘get back’ bits of me that had been mucked about with, a bit alienated somehow, by surgery. 

    In my humble opinion there can never be anything wrong with long periods lying on your bed staring into space, ever! I’m guessing, as you recover, your mind will run ahead of your body, and will sometimes rail against the enforced inactivity. I wrote reams, and got a little audio recorder to record stories for my kids, nieces and nephews, it was a low-impact way of helping make me feel a tiny bit productive and useful when I was being run round after. Really glad you feel you’re getting better despite the pain. So, as the French say, courage! Et massage!

  9. hello Helen, love reading this blog and keeping up with the developments and recovery process which does sound rather long and painful. The spring wild life comments are wonderfully observed and make me long for the chiltern hills where we also have the bats at dusk and the deer, as well as the lots of badgers who just adore digging up my lawn and hoovering up any veg that might be planted in the kitchen garden. very best wishes Jock

  10. We have never met, but your posts have changed the day for me; how fragile we are and yet how strong we can be. On this damp, cool, and precious spring day, I wish you all the best, will follow your blog and keep you in my thoughts and prayers. That sounds both cheesy and presumptuous, apologies!

  11. Hi Helen – had no idea you were ill. Thinking of you and hope you feel better soon. Great blog! Jenny x

  12. So glad you have friends to get you painkillers, so sorry you needed them, so wishing you a speedy recovery. It’s great reading your blogs and I hope that each time you write you are better than the time before. Cxxx

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