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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Sunshine and Sleeping Pills

Each time I have chemotherapy I get a substantial intravenous dose of steroids. Buzz , Buzz, Buzz. Keeps me awake. I get to take a box of steroid pills home to continue dosing up from the next day onwards. It says on the box 3 a day for 5 days but on my hospital notes it says 3 a day for 3 days dropping to 2 a day for 1 day then 1 a day for 1 day. I do the latter because I need to reduce my dose rather than drop off a cliff.. (Other pills are available, I seem to have them all).

I also get the joy of a little blue pill each night for 7 nights although I also have had conflicting information regarding these. Unfortunately they're not anything to do with erectile dysfunction they’re sleeping pills. The actual prescription states one pill a night for 7 nights but one of my doctors said perhaps 2 nights then a break. Confusing? Yep. So I’m back to 1 a night for 7 nights. The lack of sleep is a real killer. It might be novel waking up and watching a film in the dead of night or making a cake at 4am but it all takes it's toll. I’m still writing this at 4.45am.

The mix of chemo and sleep deprivation is not much fun so I’ll do my best to knock myself out.

Then there’s the impact of the sunshine. Ah! Sunshine and a bit of warmth. Today I went out without wearing my gloves. Now, for me, that's a real novelty. In my car I have metal trim on the gearstick and the steering wheel. The cold metal hurts so I wear gloves.

I have 10 types of glove.

1. Thin cotton gloves, like a wine waiter. The biggest I can get are too small, so not very useful.

2. 3 different colour Latex gloves, black, blue and white, to keep my hands clean but they’re rubbish for insulating my hands against the cold.

3. I have a pair of sheepskin gloves which are brilliant for cold days and driving. I’ve had them for years. Given to me by my old boss Sarah. Easily my favourite gloves.

4. I have rigger gloves. I use them for putting wood on the log burner. But I mainly need them for dealing with the ashes when the metal is cold.

5. I have welding gloves for the pizza oven.

6. I have my everything gloves, my Goldilocks gloves. Good grip, a bit of warmth, good when using tools, good even when going to the fridge, they’re just right. I have a few pairs dotted around the place. In the garage/utility room, in the kitchen, in my tool boxes and in lots of cupboards and drawers. They’re from Screw and Fix it, they cost about £3 a pair and it’s OK they’re also food safe. I have a clean, new pair for cooking otherwise yuk! They're Nitrile Foam Coated Gloves and I need them.

7. Oddly I have purple medical gloves from the hospital for handling chemo.

8. I also have sealed packets of super sterile gloves for cleaning my plug and play port.

9. I have a pair of ordinary woolly gloves.

10. Finally I have some wetsuit gloves to use later in the year.

It’s not only gloves I need. I have a collection of scarves to keep my neck warm. On real cold days my throat can constrict, my voice goes up an octave so I need to keep my neck warm. So I have a scarf collection. Mask wearing helps....Good old covid! I double coat, wear warm shoes. I have hat to keep my head warm. A cold head means an itchy head.

Then the sun comes out and I can cope again. Until I experience another chemo curse. Oh no! The suns comes out. My protection against sun burn has gone. Where’s the factor 50, where's the shade. The incidence of skin cancer in chemo patients becomes a worry (should I worry?). Where's that hat? Sun on my head means an itchy head.

However, as soon as the chemo finishes within a few days the cold problem (peripheral neuropathy) begins to abate. As soon as it does I can go near the sea, maybe even get in. I can paddle my kayak, squeeze into my gimp (sorry) wet suit. (Apparently wetsuits used to be called steamers but that’s a term little used now). I’ll never completely recover from my treatment, that takes years, years is something I don’t have but I hope I’ll be lucky enough to have enough time to do something I regret.

Because which is better? – to regret something you do or to regret something you wish youe? Is that even good English?

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Ooh I’ve gone a bit Paul Anka.

Nevertheless perhaps I could have looked after my diet better.

Now here’s a thing. I usually wake up feeling hungry. I have an early cup of tea and a bowl of cereal. Today I’m fancying muesli with orange juice (in the same bowl, no milk).

Cheers and gone!

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