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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Demon Days 4

Day 2: A beautiful, fine sunny day segues into an overcast one and I spend most of the time in bed, reading. I'm chuffed that, with some determination, I'm able to concentrate long enough to power through several chapters of the book I'm reading. It's one I've set for a book club I've organised for next month so it's given me some motivation.

I feel a little more tired than I did last time. I also noticed the yukky feeling in my mouth has settled in a bit sooner than usual.

Louisa rings in the morning suggesting a walk, but I know I am tired and demur.

Anne rings soon afterwards, offering to cook me a meal and I'm thinking maybe next Friday would be good. She says she is always there if I need anything.

Janet rings around lunch time and we have one of our longest conversations yet, covering a host of topics including World War 1 and the pitfalls of rigorous exercise.

I hear Lee arriving at the door to give me my injection and finish my conversation. These seem to be hurting less as I guess I'm getting used to them. There is also Lee's immaculate technique as she is really a highly experienced nurse.

We chat for an hour or so and in-between, I field a call from someone wanting me to write a grant application. Work is the last thing from my mind right now.

In the afternoon I go to the shop briefly to pick up some art materials. In the car, I realise it's a bad move as I feel exhausted.

When I get home, I think about hopping back into bed but decide to attempt a walk. It's a breezy afternoon. It feels good. I manage 3.5 km.

Day 3: I wake after a bad night of alternating hot sweats and feeling cold. I know menopause is setting in and it doesn't feel good.

I have a stomach ache and I feel queasy.

I spend nearly the whole day in bed, making further progress through my book, dabbling on Ebay, fiddling on Facebook, completing a cryptic crossword.

It's not a good sign when the ceiling fan malfunctions. I send Harry to the garage to fetch the back up air cooler. Hot flushes are no good when it's steaming outside.

Ethel is pottering around. She is such a gem. If she weren't keeping up with the household laundry for me, it would all be putrid by now.

Fiona rings and we have a nice long chat. My sister is starting her PhD this year. It's difficult to keep up with her as I swear, she can do 10,000 things at once. She's got a brain that never sleeps!

Later Al tries to fix the ceiling fan in fading light but tonight we have been invited to two 50th birthday parties - for Wasiela and Spitzie.

Even though I have said I will go to both, I think I can only manage the one closer to home. I feel a bit bad about continuing to miss out on fun and outings but what to do? As the summer holidays disappear before my eyes and Ben is only weeks away from returning to school, again I am aware of being the one outside the lolly shop with my nose pressed up against the glass.

I last 3 hours at Spitzie's party which is held just down the road. A few people comment on how good I look and I observe that makeup and dim lighting helps!

Day 4: I wake feeling quite nauseous to mild sunshine and a still morning. I notice that my fingernails are quite discoloured. Apparently, I'm to expect them to fall off eventually but I'm hoping I'll be lucky.

The day pans out unexpectedly. The sky clears and it's a pristine day, Al completes the installation of the fan in our bedroom. I swear, this man can fix anything.

It's a stinking hot morning and it's stifling inside though there's a breeze outside. Waiting for Al, I fiddle on my guitar on the back deck - I'd love to get back into the classical guitar I learned briefly a few years ago. I reckon I'm about Grade 4 but I'm really really rusty.

Fan fixed, we decide to mooch down to the Redland Bay markets with Harry and Ben but it's already 10.30 am and half the stalls have packed up - it's so damn hot. I buy two mingy handbags from a woman because I feel sorry for her - and regret my purchase, as you do.

Harry drops us down at Pelican's Nest, a lovely little restaurant overlooking the water. The breeze is brisk here and thankfully cool. Al and I have a light breakfast and walk home.

On the spur of the moment we invite the Neils over for an early dinner and cook a chicken, spinach and mango salad together in the kitchen.

Al remarks upon how well I'm holding up and I have to say, I am!

By the time we are sitting on the deck, eating and chatting with our guests and watching the full moon rise in a pink sky above an incoming tide, the only clue that I am unwell is the fact that everything tastes terrible. Mind you, the anti nauseas are helping.

It's a great day - everything considered.

Day 5: Unfortunately, I have a terrible night. The hot sweats are terrible and the nausea is chronic. I am dry retching over the toilet bowl at midnight. (Choice, broo).

Eventually, I cede to a sleeping pill.

I am woken by Al with a recording of a recent development: my chronic snoring. Actually, it's quite funny.

It's a putridly hot day and I'm tired and still squeamish so I lie like a half-dead squid on my bed nearly all day. I do a tiny bit of work on the painting I'm doing, I finish my book, I watch 'Jane Eyre' on Foxel. It's about as constructive as I can be the way I'm feeling.

The thing I'm noticing again is the disgusting smell of this process. I hate to tell you this but seriously, the extrusions from my good self are indescribably putrid. I can't stand the sight or smell of me right now. It's utterly gag-worthy. I feel like Chernobyl on legs.

At mid morning, the lady from 'Damp Doggy' comes to shave my dog, Spunky. Now the whole Hope Family has joined the 'Shave for Solidarity', as Al calls it.

Speaking of which, there is something else that is funny today. I had thought I'd lost my wig but it's turned up: accidentally washed with a pile of towels in the washing machine. Ethel says it's acrylic and should be fine but it looks like a sad rug. I spray some wig sheen stuff on it to see if it will bounce back.

In the late afternoon, I coerce myself out of bed for a 4 km stroll. I go bald headed wearing a pale tee shirt my sister gave me for Christmas. It says: "Cute Bald Chick Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt." I don't know about the 'cute' part. On the way, I pass a couple of tall, teenage boys, carting their crab pots home. I don't know if I feel self-conscious but I try to hold my head high.

Two younger girls pass on bicycles and smile, in sympathy I'm guessing.

By the time I return home, I know my body is sore to the touch, like it was last time.

I pray tomorrow there'll be a storm and this revolting heat will break.

Day 6:
I have difficulty sleeping yet again and, perhaps ill advisedly, take another sleeping pill around midnight I'm guessing.

When I wake, it's hot outside but not so stifling indoors. I feel okay today but there's still a disgusting taste in my mouth. I spend the morning reading until on the spur of the moment, I suggest a movie.

My wig looks dank and pathetic on its wig stand. It would give Donald Trump's rug a run for it's money I reckon. It looks like I should spray Baygon on it. It looks like something pulled from a drain even though I've combed it several times, trying to tame the bits that don't quite seem to sit so well anymore. I'm hoping Maria will be able to rescue it.

Al has to drop off a car we're trying to sell in town, so I agree to drive in with Ben.

On the way, I am acutely aware of how exhausted I feel.

We have a very quick meal in South Bank and I rue the fact that I cannot taste my apparently delicious red beef curry.

We go to Southbank Cineplex and watch 'Sherlock Holmes' with a full theatre of 500 people. It's only afterwards that I think maybe it was not such a good move.

On the way home, I'm aware of feeling surly and removed. Later I worry that my sense of humour may be evaporating.

Increasingly these days I am aware of a lack of expression on my face. It is I guess what I would call resignation.

As a regular Facebook User (hey, at least it's not heroin!) I am aware of how many of my active, joyful friends are out exercising, experiencing life.

People are moving onwards and upwards while I seem to be wallowing.

We get home close to 6 pm. Al cooks me dinner and goes off to play tennis. I read a little more of a new book and when I've reached 60% (thank you Kindle), I turn the light off.

By this time Al is snoring.

Day 7: It's a humid morning and I can sense a scorcher coming on. I have a blood test today and must try to drink at least 2 litres of water before hand so that I am spared the ordeal of being pierced once too many times.

Tomorrow, I have another appointment with Dr Choo. She wants to check my white blood cell count. If it's too low, my next chemo may be delayed.

My taste buds are still a little way from normal but I'm grateful that at least, last night, I managed to drift off to sleep without the use of pharmaceuticals.

There are other things I'm grateful for, of course. I still have a smattering of eyelashes and eyebrows; I may be as big as a cow, but at least I'm not an elephant - yet; some people do still care enough about my welfare to continue to check on me.

This afternoon, I'll hopefully go for a walk with Linda.

There's a cool change anticipated later in the week and I remind myself, everything passes.

Nothing is forever.


  1. Your second last line reminds me of the mantra I used to say to myself over and over whenever I was sick in a far away country... "This too shall pass, this too shall pass..." It was particularly relevant if I was sitting on a Bolivian or Yemenese or Romanian loo all, er, blocked up after eating dodgey "chicken" soup from a roadside vendor... :p

  2. Bronwyn , I once again enjoyed reading your story. I notice how fortunate you are to have such a wonderful support network. Keep strong beautiful lady. Love Wendy

  3. Bron - don't forget to use that mouth gel and spray I sent you for your 'mud mouth' - it really does make a difference (very short term, but a difference none the less).
    And good on you for holding on to those eyebrows! Must be those Sri Lankan strength follicles you were born with.
    ALWAYS thinking of you... C xoxoxoxox