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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Demon Days 2

33% of the way through my chemo treatments and I log the transit of this second phase with some trepidation.

Day 2: I feel dizzy owing to developments previously mentioned in 'Antarctica' with my haemoglobin count lower than it was after my previous treatment.

Al goes off to a golf day to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research at Brookwater Golf Club (where my friend Ann works) and with my blessings.

I'm left at home with Ben who has a pupil free day. I lounge around on my bed, then snooze outside on the deck, enjoying the breeze.

Nim texts me and rings to see how I am. Chris rings to check on my progress.

I have painted a picture for her and couriered it down on Wednesday - a little thank you for being my mentor and besides, Christmas is coming up. I've made a pact with myself to try and create something beautiful in each cycle of my chemo. Painting is an outlet for me. I find it therapeutic and I get lost in it.

Lyndal, who is a professional artist, wrapped it up for me using her own packing materials so I am pleased when Chris texts me the picture as promised, on safe arrival. Here it is hanging on her wall, with her two little kids, Charlie and Abby, standing in front of it. (They have only just built a chicken coop and Betty the chook has proved to be a prolific layer - Chris says she loves it and it's appropriate :))

Lee comes round to give me the dreaded injection (alas, it hurts like buggery again but this time, I know what to expect so I manage to focus on something else). She brings me lollypops and two lovely new head scarves.

We lie on my bed together and plot our trip to Nepal. We discuss my desire to end up as a 'B' Cup after I have a grope of her breasts (she's a C)... hey! I told you we were close :))

Al gets home bearing a $1000 Qantas Travel Voucher - he played golf badly but scored on the raffle. It's the third overseas holiday my man has won over the years. At least one of us is lucky :))

Lee leaves and all of a sudden, I feel a bit down. She looks so gorgeous in her lovely dress. Why can't I look like that too?

I don't know why. After all the laughter yesterday, suddenly I feel like curling up in a ball in the corner. I recall the advice of Sharon, my lovely Facebook mentor who has cautioned me to "look after my heart and my head." I think I see what she means now.

When Janet rings, it perks me up a little as our conversation ranges over the predicament of consultants. Talking about work takes my mind off things.

But when she hangs up, I'm in a funny mood again. I sense I'm not in a good place.

Day 3: The symptoms of nausea are worse than the last time and I'm not convinced the medications are working as well. I feel generally poor all day.

I am sweating a lot as it's a steamy day, so once again, I go and lie on the deck, doing my own scene from "Beaches" sans Bette Midler and enjoying the fairly blustery breeze cooling my scalp.

Craig comes round for a quick chat. Garry drops by from next door, as Craig leaves. He is leaving on a long surf trip on Greg's boat, "Addiction" tomorrow so he's come to say good bye.

As he leaves he says, "Can I kiss you?"

I say, "Yeh, kiss me on my head. Then rub it three times and I'll grant you a wish."

I feel nauseous still and go and lie in bed again where I doze.

Harry arrives home and I can't believe it but his shaved head has already re-foliated (if there's such a word) and then nicks off to the skate park.

We have a short chat and he drives Ben off for a sleepover at a mate's place.

Al pops next door for a few rounds of tennis with Garry. At this point I am alone. I lie in bed, sagging into my situation.

I decide that somehow I must get up and go for a walk. I manage a slow 2.8 km. Coming up the short slope to my house, I have to stop four times.

In the evening, I attend a fundraiser organised by our friends, the Coopers who live just down the road a bit. I go on my own because Al has to attend a presentation night for the Redland Bay Tennis Club. I wear my wig and have a pretty good night in the end, lasting four hours! What a champ!

When Al gets home, he bears three trophies. One inducting him into the Club's new 'Hall of Fame' (Reddy Bay Tennis Club is one of the oldest sports clubs in Redlands if not Brisbane. Hey, it's quite an accolade!). There are also two awards for Ben, a child with the competitive drive of a Centrelink queue, who won the A-Grade title this term and Runner Up last term.

Day 4: A stinking hot day and I am covered in sweat as I lie in bed, retching. The anti nauseas don't seem to be working so I'm relying on eating small portions of food. I haven't got the recipe right yet so pass the morning feeling god awful.

I also notice I have some photosensitivity. My eyes are red.

Al goes off for an early round of tennis and has jobs to do so I doze on my own.

In the afternoon I get up and move to the deck where I doze with my eyes closed. I move back to bed. The fan whirrs at full speed. Al's had to pop into make up numbers at the Tennis Club AGM so he's going to be a little later.

Somehow I motivate myself to get out of bed for a walk,

Once I get outside, I'm surprised that I get stronger as I go. It's a lovely afternoon with a blustery breeze and I'm just enjoying being upright.

In the end I walk 6 km!

I think I'm doing okay except for the evening, when, I'm bilious again. Okay, I have to admit, I throw up.

I go to sleep with a bucket by my bed. Just in case.

Day 5: I lie in bed in the morning, watching 'Kerry Anne' and feeling squeamish.

It's a hot morning and my pillow is wet from the night before. Who knew a bald head perspired so much?

I find Kerry Ann dreary, perky, healthy! I turn the TV off and stare at the wall.

My mood is not good. I literally wish I could die. I hate the smell of myself and the look of myself.

The texture of this illness covers me like a fur. Al brings me a bowl of cereal but it doesn't seem to quell the queasiness.

I get up to check my emails and intercept a direction from my client - they're waiting on some copy so, what to do? I'm feeling miserable - maybe some work will take my mind off things.

And so I become immersed. For some reason, I can't concentrate long enough to read a book and struggle to watch a TV show through to completion, but when I'm writing, I'm in a different zone. I make good progress.

Despite the writing though, the undertone of negativity prevails.

Luckily my sister Nicky rings and says she's coming to take me for a walk. Seven hours later, I stop work.

Nicky, me, Lily and the twins stroll with three dogs in tow, a slow 4 clicks.

When she leaves, she accidentally leaves one of the pooches, Scruffy behind. He lies on Spunky's bed and really does look like Hairy McLairy. I wonder how he'd look if I put him on my head.

In the evening, Ben jumps in between Al and I to watch a bit of TV. He kisses my bald head and says: "I love you, Mum".

Day 6: Today my mood is truly foul. I work hard all day and, while the nausea lurks I manage to ignore it.

Around lunch time, my mum and Aunty pop round with some 'string hoppers' just for me. (They're a traditional Sri Lankan dish and I love them). I feel better after I eat a couple.

When they leave, I'm impatient and angry again because of the arctic sheaving down yonder. It's disgusting.

'I hate God, I hate my body, I hate everyone!' I rage.

A few people ring and ask after me and Al diplomatically advises that I am not in the best of moods.

My sister Fiona rings and we chew the cud. Afterwards I feel a little better.

Al and I go for a short walk and I apologise for being quite unpleasant for most of this week. I laugh and warn him it will just get worse. Poor man. Does he really know what he's in for?

Afterwards we to go the local Thai as I'm craving spicy food. My tastes have become peculiar. My tongue cannot fathom most tastes. Cheese tastes like slime. I fantasise about salads. I can't tolerate the idea of bread.

Still, thankfully, the nausea seems to have abated and I'm feeling slightly better by the evening.

Day 7: I'm feeling generally better but still a bit green around the edges. I'm also having some issues with my stomach etcetera. Let us just say, I am having a hard day at the orifice, every damn one of them.

In the morning I go to a breathing and meditation class at the Salt Therapy Centre. I love it and think I am vaguely getting the hang of losing myself in my inner space.

I think I used to do this a lot as a child and right through my teens. I was a hopeless daydreamer and would drift off into my own Narnia at the drop of a hat once upon a time. I'm hoping this ability will come back.

There is no better time to lose yourself in another world than when dealing with illness, methinks. In fact, now is a good time to have a dissociative illness: instead of spending so much time in the bain de salle, perhaps I am Charlize Theron, wafting down a red carpet, a vision of elegance.

After my class, I decide to finish off my Christmas shopping. I also want to buy some looser clothing. As a size 8-10, nearly all my clothes are clingy.

Now that I am bloated and wasting,lopsided and untidy, I'm thinking caftans, maybe sacks.

It's not a productive shopping trip. Roomy clothing seems to be made for larger people.

In the afternoon I go off to do an interview for an article I'm writing. The lady I meet turns out to be the goalkeeper from my soccer team, Robyn! Her husband, Daryl has been struck down by a mysterious virus and in June this year, found himself a paraplegic in a wheelchair.

It makes me realise that none of us are immune, from the hand of fate, that turn of the screw. Is it inevitable? I don't know.

For some people it seems, the path from cradle to grave is a sea of golden flowers, butterflies. But who knows? They may be standing on prickles while they're doing their Jesus Christ Superstar rendition through golden fields? Or they may be wearing really tight undies.

It is only as I drive home that I realise I've overdone it. I am completely spent and, to my dismay, I realise the bone pain has been left to lucky last. My legs are aching. They feel as they do on the home strait of a really long run.

And so I find myself here today, the first day of my zero immunity zone and the school holidays have started.

I don't know how this summer will unfold.

For a week peppered by moments of genuine self-loathing, there have been a few high points.

And despite everything, I realise I am lucky after all.

Because I know - and have always known (thanks to some sound parental brainwashing) - that I have a lot to be grateful for.


  1. I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps everywhere Bron - and I don't know what else to write - there are no words that will make you feel any better, which is all I want to do and I can't!!@#$%^&
    It makes me sad and cranky!! >;((

    One bit of mentor advice though - PLEASE DON'T OVERDO IT - You need to conserve your strength and energy so that your body can recover after each session, and it will only get harder over the next few months. You will pay dearly if you push yourself too hard. But working is good - it takes your mind off thinking about how your body is feeling. And be selfish with your time - it's OK to say no.

    PS - Betty, Daisy, Drumstick, Nugget and Henny Penny are doing brilliantly - and they have been named on your painting as well - very good likenesses!

    C xox

  2. You are as amazing as your writing lovely one
    I am so sorry that you are having a foul week, sadly cure is sometimes as harsh as the darn disease, but Pink Power and Positivity will overcome all
    Much love as always, please know that you have a friend that you can vent to, talk to, or cry on, whenever you need it XoxoxoxoxoX
    Painting and work are good antidotes to the chaotic emotions and unpleasant side effects
    If I could go through this for you, know that I would
    Much love

  3. the painting is amazing and i am glad to read the paintd versions now have names.

    you amaze me in how you can still do this work, writing.

    stay well and i hope it gets better.