Disappointing isn't really a strong enough word. Preceded by an expletive it begins to get a little better. Sometimes it's hard to believe the circumstances I find myself in. On Monday during my treatment I had a questionnaire regarding the side effects of my chemotherapy. It had about 10 questions to rate from 0 to 5. 0 represented no discernible side effects, 5 represented severe side effects. Theoretically, I suppose, some people could score 50.
Take the fatigue question; 0 no tiredness. 5 severe fatigue, unable to walk without assistance. Or the sickness question. Some feeling of sickness = 1, unable to keep food down = 5. As far as the hair loss question was concerned, I need a haircut.
Out of a possible 50, I scored 3. 1 for fatigue, 1 for sickness and 1 for sore feet and hands. Finally there was a question about general health, aside from the obvious, again I scored well. I have my bad days when I would score myself way higher than 3 but on the day, it was what it was. I have no doubt that starting this course of treatment in a state of reasonable physical fitness has stood me in good stead.
From my previous experiences with chemotherapy when it finishes the side effects drop away reasonably quickly. So physically I have something to look forward to. Even now I can lie awake in bed and no matter how hard I focus I simply do not feel like there’s anything much wrong with me. I know I’ll be less fit at the end of my treatment. Nothing is without cost.
However my mental health, for which there was no questionnaire, is a different box of frogs. (Like kettle of fish only less predictable). Every chemical that courses around my body trying to constipate me, make me sick, push out my hair, hurt my hands and feet, give me diarrhoea, give me mouth ulcers, effect my vision and the rest of the 10 questions mentioned above; every chemical reaches every part of my brain. A sobering thought. It must have an impact. It does.
The predictability makes it especially weird. I go from reasonably ok about accepting my fate to having my emotions and tear ducts on a hair trigger. I travel from a happy place to a place occupied by Mr Angry in a nanosecond. (home schooling time; a nano is one billionth) so a bit of an exaggeration here. I get moody, I can’t think swiftly, I can’t make decisions and I know some of my mental agility simply will not return. My brain seems to have started to atrophy. Couple all that with Covid restrictions and it seems I have the perfect depressive storm.
And yet I have lots to look forward to and there’s a lot of stuff I’ll not have to suffer.
Oh no? I hear you say. Ok, there’s my particular adventure of discovery where, at some point, I’ll find out how my health will fail me but it probably won’t be dementia. Not for me looking, unrecognising into the eyes of strangers that tell me they’re my loving wife or daughters. Not for me a shuffling, confused elderly bloke. I’ll always be the one that had 4 living brothers although we have had our close shaves. Incontinence will be a joy for others but not me. My prostate is in good order, arthritis and rheumatism will pass me by and I’ll wipe my own bum thank you.
Of course I’d like the opportunity to have the whole bloody lot but it’s not to be so I can only see it as an advantage.
And what have I got to look forward to? Every day, no matter how rotten I feel, is another good tick in the box. With the way Covid is progressing I may not get back to the Continent but hopefully I’ll see some of our present restrictions lifted. Anyway give it another month and the worst winter weather should be behind us and so will my cold intolerance.
As soon as we can, the motorhome will be ready for travel, the bikes will be ridden, the kayaks paddled and the wetsuits squeezed into. I can tidy the garden and streamline the contents of the shed (get rid of my junk).
I’m actually one of the few that has benefited from Covid. The worst of the restrictions has coincided with my treatment where I needed to isolate anyway. Last summer I couldn’t work because of my health but I was furloughed anyway. I was made redundant and immediately got another, very agreeable job, just a bit too fleeting, because of treatment I had to leave anyway. Then as Covid gripped my condition gripped. As restrictions lift my health will, albeit temporarily, lift.
As our freedoms return our family and friends will return. I’m even planning our next walk and perhaps a very trendy night walk.
For me it’s always been Cancer Not Covid