Pat took me in to the treatment centre yesterday to get my ‘take-away’. This involves a half an hour drip treatment, then being hooked up to the bubble which comes home and dangles around my neck on a lanyard. The whole thing presents a logistical problem with all the pipes, but I worked out that I can put it in my pocket, then when I’m sitting or bathing or sleeping I can just place it next to me. Sleeping is OK except that I can’t lie on my right side. Lou, my sister, gave me one of those travelling neck pillows a while ago and that works great to stop me rolling over on the pipes or the sore side where it’s still sore from the surgery. I think this might be a useful tip for anyone else going through this. Bathing is a challenge – impossible to get a razor in around the pipes. The social presentation part of me has visions of me having to get Pat to make braids to keep things socially acceptable!
There’s also the social identification issues related to how you wear the darn bubble. You know how you see the new first years arrive in their best clothes from Christmas at the beginning of the academic year and then by July, they have become much more casual in order to fit in? Well it was a bit like that walking into the centre yesterday. Should I wear my bubble outside my clothes – loud and proud – or under my shirt with the pipes discretely tucked in? I noticed that most people hide their bubbles until they’re actually in the serene space of the treatment centre. As previously noted, I’m not good at closets but I think there is something in the discourse of cancer that is about not making other people feel uncomfortable, and/or positioning oneself as a victim.
This is a strange thing. I’m calling it a ‘thing’ because I don’t feel like a ‘sick’ person. I’ve been walking around with this for two years, without really noticing. And though I struggled last year on the Dolphin 50, I did finish it. My legs and arms and head are strong – it’s just the plumbing that isn’t working too well. I guess this is how ‘disabled’ people feel. Cancer is definitely an illness, in the sense that something isn’t right and it can definitely can kill you. Then again so can driving a car or eating too much.
We got back from the treatment centre at 11, chatted to Lou, and tried to catch my mum or Sam in Australia on Skype, but missed them again. I slept for a while and got up just before Carol arrived for a visit in the pouring rain and mist. So lovely to chat lightly and about the Rhodes doc week and what is important in life. Pat made a fabulous tuna salad with pannini for dinner – and I polished everything off.
I had some strange pains in my tummy and couldn’t face the movie (American Violet) with Alfre Woodard about a young, single mum threatened with the removal of her children if she didn’t cop to a charge of selling drugs in a schoolyard. I can’t watch movies about abuse of power – am in total denial about human nature maybe? Funny, I can handle it in science or historical fiction, but not in novels. Probably because I can pretend it’s not real. Anyway, I withdrew and read a Brother Cadfael story (Ellis Peters about a Welsh monk, ex-crusader, in the 12th Century – always a murder mystery – but always gentle and forgiving of human foibles). In my quiet time between 8 and 8.30 I realised that the pains were probably a Good Thing indicating tumours protesting at being attacked.
I’m trying to avoid taking the anti-nausea pills because they make me sleepy. This morning though I was feeling rather flat – sore shoulder, sore tummy, a little nauseous. Whinge, whinge, whine. Pat wouldn’t let me drive to the centre in case I got the wobbles. Funny how I felt better as soon as I sat down in there. And Pat went into action mode detailing all my minor woes and asking how to handle them. I felt very protected. The serenity and the lightness, the friendliness of the other people having their treatment made me feel quite teary. There was a doctor there – all hooked up – and yet still talking to his patients on his cell, being caring and concerned. He is in his third year of his fight and said that the secret is to hook up with the “endorphin family”, through exercise, laughter and noting the beauty of life. He called it ‘taking care of the spiritual body’.
Pat had to dash off to a client, as soon as we got home. (Her pc is still not sorted.) It was a relief to have the bubble disconnected, quite freeing. So I hopped into Squashy and headed of to Pinecrest to the pharmacist and to Woollies, where I bought the most garish underwear I could find. They make me laugh. I tried again to reach the folks in Oz, darn the time difference. What a joy to see the latest pics that Sam has sent of all of them. Dougal on the other end of a chocolate cake experience made me laugh out loud. I’d love to share them, but I’m a bit wary of publishing them openly, without Sam’s permission and seeing as his Oz cousin called him Google at birth, that might just be too early for him to be establishing an online identity – he’s not 2 yet.
I haven’t been sure what I was going to blog about today, because I didn’t really want to dwell on feeling a bit grotty, especially as the first round of chemo is supposed to be the easiest. Just as I was booting up my laptop – the MPR crew popped up on Skype: throwing big words like pedagogy, epistemology and ontology with happy abandon. I hadn’t got the camera and mic hooked up but I could hear the laughter and the challenge and the intellectual excitement going on. It was so nice to chat to you guys: Delysia, Bwalya, Mabongz, Mary, Shubs and Anisa. Made me feel much better.
Now sitting on our comfy couch, with my best friend and mate sitting beside me quietly, surrounded by love and caring of friends I count myself one of the luckiest people in the world.