Happy Monday

There was a strange man in my bedroom a few days ago. When I say strange, I mean I’d never seen him before. With a laid back attitude, he was tall, tanned and had bleached blond hair. He looked more like a surfer in a smart shirt than a doctor.

The GP had been called as I felt worse than I had since the last lot of chemo. The leg pain, the sleepless nights and being permanently shattered had all got too much. Just thinking was hurting my head. None of the medicine I was taking seemed to work.

It was a locum doctor who turned up. We’d never met but it emerged that we’d been at university together. It made this random meeting in my bedroom seem even more surreal.

He stood next to a pile of magazines which were on the floor next to my bed, all unread. Dr Surf picked up a copy of Health and Fitness. A sporty looking woman smiled out from the front cover.

“This is you,” the GP said pointing at the magazine he was holding. It seemed more of a statement than a question.

“Hardly,” I replied.

I wasn’t exactly a picture of health. My face was still a bit red and puffy from crying with exhaustion earlier. I didn’t have enough energy to even consider drawing on some eyebrows or putting on a wig. What little hair I had left on my head was sticking up exposing my scalp. As for fitness? Pah.

After six months of cancer treatment it’s hard to see yourself as anything other than someone who’s very ill. Having a potentially killer disease takes over your whole life. But the doctor made me realise that I’m more than just a patient. That’s something I’m going to enjoy getting used to.

Anyway he sorted me out with some different painkillers. Since then they’ve been working wonderfully.

I had five hours of uninterrupted sleep last night. Five whole beautiful hours. When I woke up I felt rested and more like my old self. The pain seems to have eased and taken some of the tiredness with it. Most of those chocolate cravings have disappeared too!

Today I managed a tiny walk in the garden. I haven’t done that for weeks. Sunny with a slight chill in the air, it felt like autumn was on its way. It reminded me of that back to school feeling of exciting possibilities ahead.

I was quickly out of breath but I forced myself to go on. I’m determined to be fit once more.

Dr Surf was right. I was once like that sporty girl. Not a cover star mind you but just someone who liked exercise and being healthy. Now I’m feeling more like me I can imagine being that girl again.

Diamond advice

I was all prepared for the pain that follows chemotherapy. I’d been hypnotised. I’d been given a white paper bag full of pain killers at hospital.

I’d even bought boots stuffed with wheat that you heat in the microwave.

But did any of this do me much good? Not really.

In the days after my last cancer treatment, the pain steadily increased. Chemo makes your joints hurt. Plus I had to inject myself in the thigh to boost my immune system. It helps the bone marrow to produce the all-important white blood cells apparently. It meant that the bones in my legs ached so badly, especially at night.

But when it came to it, I was too scared to swallow the super strong painkillers.

I know they probably would have done the trick but I think that I’m still traumatised by what happened in hospital. How close I came to dying. When I stopped breathing after having an allergic reaction to a drug to relieve the pain after surgery.

Now I was faced with taking something similar. So I chose pain.

Constantly being in agony changes your personality. A few days on from the chemo, and I was finding it hard to even talk about the pain without crying.

Then thanks to the Diamond Jubilee things changed. A bank holiday visitor came bearing a cake topped with red, white and blue icing and some simple advice. I shouldn’t just accept it. I needed to sort out the pain.

It made me realise how I’d become a shadow of myself. Willing to accept a situation that in ordinary life I would have considered unacceptable. So I made a phonecall and with the help of a chemo doctor, I changed my medicine once more.

Within an hour my body relaxed. That night I fell into a long, soft sleep. The best one since the last evil chemo cocktail.

Trying to get some rest at night has been hard. It seems like sleep fights you. Eventually, exhausted, you doze for a matter of minutes. Then the pain screams at you again and you’re awake.

Now all I have to contend with is a whole load of tiredness. And that is lovely. It’s a side effect that’s easy to deal with.