I’ve wanted to write about this for a while now, but have been a bit busy and maxed out on screen time (more on that later). But it’s about time I prioritised it.
First-up; heaps of you have been pinging me to see if I’m ok in light of that beer thing…
AN: I’m known for running a book at weddings on speech durations, so am happy to open one now on how long it takes Corona to rename/rebrand?
Anyway, thank you – I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts and taking the time to check in with me. According to my Oncologist, I’m not more at risk than anyone else. Yes, I had a low blood levels during chemo, but haven’t had chemo for about a year now, so my immune system should be no better/worse than your average person. Yes, I have a pre-existing condition, yes I’m living with cancer, and yes I have tumours on my left lung. But if you think of your lung as two balloons (one inside the other), my tumours are in between the two balloons, in the cavity around my lung. They don’t restrict my breathing, my lung capacity is not reduced and my airways are clear. The pain comes from the pressure they put on things around my lung, rather than inside it. So if I did catch the virus, my pain would come from coughing rather than respiratory issues. That said, I don’t want to catch it any more than anyone else, so yes I am being careful (and well stocked with coffee!)
I learned to adapt and take extra precautions during chemo, and I’ve kept up much of those habits ever since, more out of routine than anything. I have sanitiser by every sink and a bottle in my handbag. At the first tickle, I gargle with salt water, and I avoid busy areas with lots of people in close proximity. If someone walking towards me or standing near me coughs or sneezes, I cross the road, walk away or give them a wide berth. These are things we should all do anyway for good hygiene but have generally become complacent about, relying on our natural immune systems.
During chemo, I also had to isolate myself for long periods of time; either to avoid infection or because I simply didn’t have the energy to go out. Whilst mind-numbingly boring, frustrating and heartbreaking when you miss out on things, you do get used to it and find different ways to occupy your time. Often, for me, that was when I wrote the blog.
Travel plans having to be last minute or cancelled and long-term plans feeling like pipe-dreams; this became (and remains) ‘normal’ to me, but I’ve adjusted and now embrace the excitement of what I can do.
Now the rest of the world is having to adopt similar measures, there’s honestly a part of me that feels like saying “welcome to my world!” That doesn’t mean I’m complacent or insensitive, it just means I understand the pain, frustration, expense and heartache that all things brings with it.
A colleague once told me about a model (typically associated with bereavement) called RAWA. Think of it as a bell curve – you start going downhill with Rejection (it’s not happening, it won’t get me, I’m just going to carry on as normal…) before developing into Anger (why is this happening, it’s not fair, generally throwing things at walls / out of windows etc). Then you run out of energy to be angry, and move into Withdrawal (going quiet, hiding in your cave, not wanting to talk about it, and thinking, a lot…) before you finally get to Acceptance (ok, I can’t change this, I ned to change how I deal with it). By this point, you’ve gone down the curve and are coming up the other side, ready to move on…
I’m seeing a similar thing with the other big C. It started on the other side of the world (it’s miles away, low numbers, no worse than flu…) Then came the Bogroll-gate (why are people panic buying? But I’ll get some extra pasta just in case…) Then came the Boris backlash (why aren’t we closing schools? Where’s the financial support? Hang on, I might not get my holiday in Spain next weekend?) And now we’re starting to see the kindness coming through (letters through door offering help, canal clapping in Amsterdam, balcony opera in Italy…)
Whether you think this thing will affect you directly, or whether you think the world’s gone mad – the reality is that it is having a huge impact on life as we knew it, and it’s not going to change back overnight. So we can sink or swim, fly or fight, whatever you want to call it. I don’t like what’s changed my life, but I’ve adapted to it, and will continue to make the most/best of whatever it throws at me next. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and those who accept and adapt (to quote Henry Fraser) will be the inspiration to bring others with them. I draw inspiration and strength from you guys sending me little parcels, pinging me messages, sending me photos of things that make me smile… And despite everything, I’m still here and now adjusting to the next challenge the same as everyone else.
Life through my lense
Well, not quote the same as everyone else. In my last update I talked about my hip. The good news is that, for now, that’s doing just fine. I had radiation in February and apart from the usual side effects (increased pain shortly afterwards and a day feeling like I’d been whacked by very large wet fish), after about four days I felt great again – the orthopaedic surgeon wants to see me in April to check in, but so far I’m hippy happy.
When they decided to radiate my hip, they also asked about my back, as this had also been giving me some pain. But since then it’s got worse, and I’m now popping more paracetamol that a Dutchie after Kings Day, and the odd morphie at night if I’m still tossing and turning after two hours.
So last week, the radiologist decided it was time to zap it. More crazy lines were drawn and I started radiation again yesterday. I’m having five blasts on consecutive days, so I’m two down, with three to go. So far I feel fine but expect to feel a bit lousy over the weekend, as the side effects kick in. But I may be pleasantly surprised – sometimes it hits me, others I get off lightly. But ultimately, it’ll improve so I should be good again in a week or so (or sooner if I’m lucky).
Meanwhile, Mutley & Co are still is situ, and continue to cause constant pain around my left side – it feels like a combination of bruised ribs and a sharp stich, around my chest bone, under my ribs and down my left side. It’s an arse, but I’m kinda used to it now – the painkillers keep it manageable during the day, it hurts like hell at night, but the morphie eventually knocks me out, and when I do get to sleep I’m out for a good six or seven hours. Not ideal, but it’s not stopping me doing anything, especially while the world is in isolation anyway!
Despite all that, I’m actually really busy at the moment. I finished with RB on 1st March and planned to take a bit of time out to decide what I want to do next… Yeah I never sit still for long, do I?! Within three days, I’d registered a company name and got my first client. Last week, I had three events, two interviews and delivered my first job – so much for taking time out to think! Travel, relaxation, contemplation time and even the Vietnam Grand Prix tickets I’d bought all went out of the window. So while the world is adjusting, I’m getting stuck into the new venture – it’s keeping me focused, occupied and motivated. More to come on that soon – watch this space…