Sometimes when I write these posts I come up with a few words or ideas and weave my writing around those ideas. Sometimes it works better than others. The last few posts seem to have been a bit more challenging.
One word that popped into my head is ‘insidious’, now there’s a word to consider. It means to proceed in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. There’s a word I understand only too well.
Another word is ‘thorax’. I looked up this word because I had a feeling Thorax was a character in Asterix the Gaul along with Obelix, Getafix, and Unhygienix. I hit a dead end. Then I thought about Dr Seuss but, as we all know, his character was The Lorax. Digging a bit deeper I found a character called Thorax in both My Little Pony and World of Warcraft. Who'd have known?
Obviously the thorax I’d been thinking of was the part of the body of a mammal between the neck and the abdomen, including the cavity enclosed by the ribs, breastbone and dorsal vertebrae and containing the chief organs of circulation and respiration. Thorax aka chest. My thorax is the source of a new and worryingly niggling pain. More of that later.
Then I thought of the word ‘review’. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of something it’s hard to see what’s going on. So here’s a mini recap just in case you (or me come to that) have lost track of what this blog is all about.
There was a time, generally throughout my 50s, when I wasn’t particularly fit but I was fit enough. I was a bit overweight, my blood pressure ok but it was generally rising. I had an ongoing problem with a small patch of shingles for which I had treatment three or four times a year. Early in my 50s I had a stressful job, by the time I’d reached my late 50s I’d shaken off the stress and Tricia and I were beginning to look towards our future retirement. Issues relating to Tricia’s eyesight problems were now settled as far as we could tell.
Our 3 girls were making their own lives and we were probably thinking we could make some decisions without referring to anyone but ourselves.
By the time I was 60 I had bowel cancer. I didn't know it but I had probably had it for some time. My 60th birthday came as did my bowel cancer screening kit. I put the kit to one side and didn’t give it much thought. Summer was upon us, I had better things to do than catch my poo. Tricia and I had already planned to spend that September in France chugging around in our motorhome. Tricia insisted I did my poo sticks which I did just before we left for the Continent. We had a great month in France but I returned to a letter inviting me to an appointment to discuss the potential problems identified in the screening process.
My cancer journey had begun.
I had 2 major surgical interventions, two tumours removed and gruelling schedule of chemotherapy.
This time last year I was probably as active as I’d ever been. We were doing loads of walking we'd even started kayaking. I don’t think, for my age, I’d ever been as fit. Retirement planning seemed feasible again. I was booked in for a routine scan. Back into the doughnut to see if the cancer had raised its insidious head again. To be honest I didn’t relish the prospect of more surgery or chemo. Well my cancer had returned this time in my liver and this time it is insidious, it’s going to see me off. I’m done for. Chemo will slow it but nothing will stop it. And I thought the first 6 doses of chemo were gruelling try having almost 3 times that amount!
And what was my first thought? Let’s write a blog!
Unhesitatingly I agreed to more treatment. Was there another option? Yes, have nothing and die within the year.
I’m now 64. My cancer journey continues but my treatment has finished. I’ve been pretty fried by the chemo which has left me pretty crushed. I’m unable to walk very far. I’m constantly exhausted. Even conversation tires me. My ‘get up and go' has without doubt ‘got up and gone’.
So what’s the next episode I've got to look forward to? Well I’ve discovered that any sort of illness, especially with my compromised immune system, lays me very low indeed. I’ve also discovered that my malfunctioning liver is almost definitely the cause of the pain in my thorax aka chest and it can be bloody painful. I’ve started a simple pain management regime that will intensify in time.
I’ve entered a kind of malaise which isn’t like me. It’s like I simply can’t be bothered to do anything very much. Thankfully I’ve had the Olympics for company (and I did manage a wedding last weekend!) but now that's all finished I really need to stir my bones or I'll just drop dead on the sofa.
I really do need to get out for coffee on Thursday. Let’s say at the café by the roundabout in Charlestown at 10am.
And so my journey continues......