Bob, Me and the HGV

Being bald isn’t actually that bad. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it. I find myself taking Bob off when I leave work and drive home. I’ve had some funny looks but to be honest I really couldn’t give a shit… so what??? And it’s soooooo comfy. I do seem to spend a lot of time touching my head which is a bit weird I guess. Now we’re all different, but I can’t bring myself to buy one of those “look at me, I’ve got cancer” headscarf things. I just think it’s a bit tragic. If I’m truthful I don’t think I look that bad and apparently I have a “nice” shaped head. As IF people say that to me!

I’d completely forgotten I’d left Bob on the passenger seat so when I opened the window to ask what was wrong the look on his face was absolutely priceless…

Now, I haven’t mentioned this before but my really good friend Karen had a stroke a couple of weeks ago so we’ve now changed who visits who. She’s clearly the most poorly. What I didn’t appreciate is that a stroke isn’t a one-off incident… it’s a forever illness. She has some issues down her left side with her leg and face (she’s always had problems with her face though, lol). What has been amusing is our conversations. We are very similar; we’re both usually a million miles an hour and cram in as much as we can to our day, and night for that matter. What this also means is that her brain, like mine, is usually so active and we both talk way too quickly. But due to her stroke and my chemo brain we’ve had some hilarious nonsensical conversations whereby we either forget the word, forget what we were saying, lose our train of thought or say the wrong thing. I told her it was Monday when I meant Thursday so nothing too important, but potentially changes the outcome of the conversation. All good sport and we’ve laughed so much about it.

So I’d decided to take a drive over to see Karen again. I was busy chatting on the phone to my friend Heather whilst I was navigating my way through the back roads to get across to the A43 and then the A14. While I was gassing, I arrived at a junction and was waiting for traffic. Directly opposite the junction was a bald Spanish lorry driver who was out of his cab and dodging the traffic to cross the road to me. I asked Heather to wait a moment and I wound down the window as he asked in broken English whether he could get his HGV down the road I’d just travelled (no chance, by the way, much too narrow). I’d completely forgotten I’d left Bob on the passenger seat so when I opened the window to ask what was wrong the look on his face was absolutely priceless…he was faced with a bird who was as bald as he was. His English, which by the way was actually very good, was somewhat stunted as his brain processed that I was without hair… really amusing!

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Friday 8th April

Gosh, time is flying. It’s now the 8th April and it’s chemo day 4 again, which means in my head I’m over halfway. In fact, I’d go for 60 per cent and only two left after this one. However, I’m really dreading this if I’m honest. I’ve felt SO well this last time, almost back to normal. I’ve had to look after myself and be careful about having early nights, eating sensibly and not doing too much, but I’ve just felt great. I’m changing from Docetaxel to a drug called FEC; means nothing to you or me but apparently what happens is the cancer realises you’re trying to murder it so the same chemo stops being effective. I’ve been assured this one is easier but I guess everyone is different and we all react in different ways. I’m staying positive, naturally, but there’s always a ‘but’. I’ve planned to have this next week off as I usually do so it almost doesn’t matter what happens… but I’d so like to stay feeling well AND keep my eyelashes.

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Wednesday 13th April

Five days later and we’ve got to 13th April. It’s not been too bad. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I feel OK. The nausea has relented a bit but I feel so thick, a bit like when you’ve got a mega hangover and your brain can’t process information properly. I find it embarrassing. I can’t hold an intelligent conversation and my ability to recall what I was saying or even finish a sentence properly has been compromised. Still, it’s not forever. Another weird thing: My teeth hurt. And the tips of my fingers. Really is the most obscure feeling ever.

I’m not sure that’s what you do to someone on their birthday never mind someone who’s ill…

I got a text today from the ‘friend’ who posted the Facebook comment that had upset me back in February regarding the head shave. I was due to see her on Friday but she was texting to let me know she wasn’t coming because she was going to work – arguably not important, but Friday is my birthday and whilst I might not be ready to party, frankly I’m not sure that’s what you do to someone on their birthday never mind someone who’s ill… It’s the strangest thing but I get the feeling that there’s a cabinet reshuffle on the horizon – I’ve got a couple of ‘friends’ who seem to have got lost along the way. This journey really is a ‘buckle up and let’s see what happens next’ ride and not for the faint-hearted! Not only is it having a dramatic effect on my mind and my body but some of the people whom I thought were friends have been a bit of a disappointment.

Why am I So Pissed Off on My Birthday?

Thursday 14th April

What can I say about today? Nothing other than I feel THE most emotional I’ve ever felt in MY ENTIRE LIFE. What’s this all about? I’m crying for literally no reason. I’ve had some visitors over but I bet I’ve been a complete prick today. People are so lovely though – so understanding. I’m really struggling with this crying shit coupled with the chemo brain I don’t even know my own mind anymore. It’s really scary. As I said it’s a bit like a bad hangover but 50 times worse. At least with a hangover, you get to have some fun first. It makes me feel so thick. I forget things and it makes my brain work slower, not a big deal you might be thinking but for someone like me who rarely makes mistakes, this is horrific.

On the bright side however, I’ve got a friend who’s told me she’s thrilled for the first time in our friendship she can keep up.

I know that I’ve said this before but I really don’t want you to underestimate just how debilitating it is. I forget what I’m saying, I can’t remember basic words and I struggle to follow what’s being said to me. It’s not that I get bored but I just fail to comprehend the simple stuff. It’s like my brain is thinking “Unless it’s happening in the next 5 minutes, I probably don’t need to know” and deletes any brain cells that might have been used for storage. It’s been extremely humbling. I’ve made mistakes regarding work, I’ve had to admit that I can’t remember what I’ve been told, I struggle to make the right decisions and it’s like I can’t get my brain to do what it normally does without much effort. On the bright side, however, I’ve got a friend who’s told me she’s thrilled for the first time in our friendship she can keep up. My usual communication style is a little bit of a scatter gun approach and often leave friends with a number of half-completed stories. It’s funny but I guess a bit irritating.

Friday 15th April

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! It’s 15th April – HURRAH, another year on the planet. I LOVE my birthday always have… so why do I feel so bloody pissed off? I woke up crying and basically spent the rest of the day doing pretty much the same thing. The friend who cancelled me has left a gap in my day which just adds to how pissed off I’m feeling. I got ready to drive over to Northampton to see Karen for lunch but as I couldn’t stop crying I aborted the journey after about 15 minutes.

I’m not overly vain but honestly, can these chemicals take anything else that distinguishes me as a woman?

Thankfully she’s really understanding and gets it, but what an utterly shit birthday. To add insult to injury the boys gave me my card but said that my present hadn’t arrived. Now whilst this might not be a big deal, trust me today it was like the end of the world. Very dramatic and unreasonable behaviour from me but to be honest that’s exactly how I feel – unreasonable and grumpy.

Oh, and as an extra special gift for me, my nails have started to lift. My beautiful natural nails that I look after, nurture, love and which are a bit of trademark are about to fall off. REALLY??? Anything else? I’m not overly vain but honestly, can these chemicals take anything else that distinguishes me as a woman? I don’t feel so bad with the nausea and fatigue this time just finding the emotional side hard to deal with. Early night for me with the attitude that tomorrow will be brighter…fingers crossed.

Thursday 5th May

May 5th and it’s my next spa day. A little out of sync but I had a day out booked for yesterday that, come hell or high water, I was NOT going to miss, nor was I going to turn up feeling special. I wanted my personality in attendance not one of my thick days. I’d won the chance to spend a day with the Red Arrows. It was a superb day and well worth putting off the treatment for. However, now I’m feeling special. FEC can feck off. I had it administered not 3 hours ago and already I can’t stop bloody crying. FFS…how bloody annoying. It’s alright, it’s not for any reason whatsoever. I’m not built for this crying shit. It’s just utterly pointless AND FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I got annoyed with the boys when they got home from school, who were only trying to help me. Honestly, this is a bigger bloody challenge than feeling ill.

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Monday 9th May

It’s funny how you can change. It’s 9th May and I’m sat in bed like I do most chemo week mornings and am watching telly, chatting to the kids, drinking tea and generally doing nothing that works to a timeline, and do you know what? It’s just great and never in my life did I think I’d be saying things like this. I’ve never just done nothing, didn’t really know why you’d want to, but it’s great and I seem to have so much headspace. My thinking, although slower, seems clearer in a really odd way. I also seem to have so much time as well, which is just great. But I have to say this drug really does make me moody. My poor kids have no idea what they’re going to get when they come home, I’m either euphoric or roaring I’m irrational, hormonal and special… #chemojoys

Tuesday 17th May

Tuesday 17 May and I had my usual appointment with Karen the oncologist today. They’ve found a lump under my scar where the lymph sentinel node was taken from. She said it was probably nothing to worry about but was sending me for a scan anyway and that if the radiographer was concerned he would take a biopsy. So I trotted along the following day about 5 pm (private health cover is the best) and had the scan…and a biopsy. I had a meltdown. I was told I’d get the results in about two weeks. I couldn’t pull myself together. How can I get cancer when I’m being treated for it? If it was scar tissue, why did they do a biopsy? I know they can tell the difference. The chap on Xmas Eve was VERY clear. The super lovely lady who is usually in the room for the procedure was trying to chat to me about stuff, but I just couldn’t hear her or reply.

This has seriously tipped me over the edge – I’ve literally got to my MAXIMUM coping capacity.

As I left, I drove the wrong way home and found a layby. I sobbed for about forty minutes, inconsolable, confused and fucking gutted. I just want my hair to grow back and get back to normal. I’ve been so good, I’ve recognised that getting better relies upon my learning my lessons, staying calm, not working like a demon or conducting my life at breakneck speed. I’ve done EVERYTHING. I’ve approached it with my usual positivity. The unfairness of this is just beyond my comprehension. I phoned my friend – I didn’t speak, I wailed and delivered my third ranty, illogical, irrational meltdown since this delightful journey began…and cannot tell you how much it helped.

I had got lost in the emotional spiral which is very unlike me, I’m usually extremely practical and logical. Some 30 minutes later I was back on the right track. I almost felt like I was being punished for coping with this so well and being so positive. This has seriously tipped me over the edge – I’ve literally got to my MAXIMUM coping capacity.

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I do deal with things myself a lot and always find the bright side, the silver lining, I guess I’m just lucky that way. This IS hard, make no mistake but what I choose to share with the outside world whilst I’m going through this is my business and my choice. No one wants to hear you moaning or your sorry stories about your day, it’s not interesting and more importantly, it wouldn’t bloody help, so if you’re in the same situation think twice about it and keep your friends as friends and not carers. You’ll get through this and you don’t want people changing their roles after the event.

So the outcome. I found out two days later – thank god – that it was just scar tissue and nothing really for me to have got in such state about. I feel bad about overreacting. Really bad. It’s just stupid and can’t have been pleasant for my friend being on the receiving end of that little treat!!

Very much the same as last time only the nausea and the tiredness are getting easier to bear. Again the irrational hormonal emotional stuff is a bloody nightmare but I’m becoming more accepting of it, less cross with myself about how much I cry. So what? I seem to be the only one who gets bent out of shape about it – no one else seems to mind. Each morning I’ve woken up and before I open my eyes I’m marvelling at how well I feel in comparison to how I felt previously. Yup, I feel good enough to get a shower and gently get on with my day. My eyelashes are becoming a little sparse and I’m just praying that they stay put till everything starts to grow back, I really do not want to have to wear falsies.

 

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