Friday, 5 December 2014

80. A preview of old age

There is a pattern that I should recognise by now, but my reluctance to believe it is one of its symptoms. 

More than a week after the chemo infusions, emerging from the worst of the side effects but still feeling so weak and tired that it is hard to stay positive. I can't really believe that I will ever be fit and well again. 

It is like having a preview of old age. Very limited amounts of energy, strength, puff or concentration. Stiffness and aches everywhere. Having to reserve the most comfortable and most coveted chair, and nobody questions it (although there are wistful looks). This morning, I had to ask my younger daughter to open a bottle of orange juice because I couldn't twist the lid.

My sister arrived yesterday and I found myself sitting behind the geraniums, looking out of the window, watching and waiting. Honestly. It's what my mother used to do if she expected a daughter's visit. I would never, ever be like that. I would always have other things to do whilst waiting for the doorbell to ring.

What I hadn't realised was that when your strength fails, waiting for your sister to turn up becomes a major event that needs focus. Back to mono-tasking.

I am convinced that nobody is interested in my tales of woe.

This is a recurring theme. Why write a blog? What to write? Why bore the world? The combination of bed and iPad makes writing one of the few things I could do, but I lack the inspiration.

I'm writing this only because people have started asked me how I am, so I suppose I'd better put word out that I AM ABSOLUTELY FINE. 

Really, I am (so I tell myself). Fundamentally, deep down, things are fine. 

The side effects are manageable. There were a couple of truly miserable days, when you just have to wait for time to pass. Shivery, aching bones, utter exhaustion, that kind of thing. Think flu. I've watched the thermometer in alarm as the numbers crept up towards 38 each evening, four nights in a row,  but it never quite got there so hospital was avoided. Thank goodness. I did pack my bag though, in case of an emergency exit.

I am now left with that overwhelming tiredness. Not just tired, but physically frail and weak. It really does get worse every time. My muscle strength has gone. For the first time in living memory, there is flab instead of tight muscle, on my calves, my stomach.

So I have found myself occasionally bursting into frustrated tears, feeling sorry for myself. (Thankfully, I also keep finding myself grinning broadly at the realisation how lucky I am to have a nice comfy bed and a supportive family. It's up and down, up and down.)

What has kept me going this time round is the happy knowledge that I won't have to do it again. 

Ignoring the minor issue of radiotherapy. At least there won't be a top-up of Poison. Chemotherapy seems to be the hardest of all cancer treatments. It will take months and months to purge my body of the vile chemicals, but at least I can tell myself now that the only way is up.

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