Friday, 29 March 2013

It's life Jim - but not as we know it!

So much has happened in the last couple of weeks that I didn't know how to write about it - so I didn't. I find that as long as I can coast along in life I am okay, but if anything comes along that slightly rocks my boat, I am no longer able to deal with it rationally. I can cry at the slightest thing, my resistance is at an all time low. I always thought I was stronger than I am - I have come to the realisation that I am not invincible neither am I superhuman.
 Let me explain, last week I went to see my oncologist Dr Sarah who told me what to expect with my next course of chemo - I was half way through - hurrah, it would be super sailing all the way - or so I thought. Any preconceptions I had about myself and my ability to fight this dreadful disease flew out of the window last weekend. Dr Sarah called me in as normal the day before my 4th chemo session. I told her how well I had reacted to the last dose and she told me about Taxotere. The next 3 doses that I was due to have.... after we discussed all the new symptoms that I may or may not have, rather blase I said " So it will just be like having the flu then" this was not a question rather a statement.  I then left the chemo suite went home and convinced hubby and myself that it was going to be anywhere near as bad as FEC the last treatment of chemo that I had just had. Brilliant,  I thought now just get through the next couple of months get the radiotherapy out the way and get my boobs re done and that'll be me sorted.

 Oh how we deceive ourselves when we are eternal optimists. Not once did I think this next course of treatment would hinder my life. Yes of course I have had to adjust my life around cancer, and it has been a bit stop start, feel sorry for myself, but stiff upper lip Wendie. Put on your make up and wig and don't play the victim. Other patients have told me how gruelling they found their treatment, and I..........yes I,  in my infinite wisdom on what we call life, have been smug - yes bloody smug, when this wonderful people have told me their stories of horrific times they've had through their chemo, I've always thought " well that won't be me, I just get my head down and work my way through it" I cannot believe how narrow minded, and near sighted I have been.

Now I could beat myself up here but to be frank - I don't have the energy to waste on such trivial matters. Basically I have got too big for my boots and Taxotere came along and made me realise that I am no different to the next person. I am no braver, no stronger and certainly no more a fighter than anyone else that has ever battled with cancer.

The day after Chemo hubby and I went to Spec savers and picked up our new glasses and to be fair I felt no worst than any other time I still managed to look in the odd shoe shop.
However, Saturday onwards was a different matter. I never left the house for a nearly a week, I struggled between sofa, toilet and bed. Nothing could prepare me for the great takeover that I experienced.  Every part of my body felt like it was screaming out in pain, by Wednesday I felt that my spine was being drilled into. My fingertips were so sore that I could not hold a cup or glass so typing was out of the question. Besides I was rarely conscious for most of the week. Chemo took hold in such a way that my brain couldn't tell my body whether it was full up with food, or empty. I didn't know the different between wanting to go to the toilet or not. In fact on two occasions I am ashamed to say I wet myself. I didn't know if I was hungry, so I kept eating. I couldn't taste anything and I craved my brain to recognise food. I put salt on dinners and sugar on cereals. When I wasn't lying on the sofa I didn't know if I was asleep or not. My brain took on this tunnel like fog that I didn't recognise. Standing proved painful, sitting down was agony. I couldn't support my head and I was so weak that walking proved impossible. My breast that had been operated on had the most unbearable stabbing pains. My back where the scars are felt like someone had stabbed me with red hot pokers, and my arm where the nerves had been stripped out along with lymph nodes had pulling sensations that felt like my arm was going to explode. My legs and feet felt like someone had trampled all over them and my whole body felt like someone had taken away my frame as I could not sit or stand upright. My stomach was so swollen that I couldn't get any clothes on apart from yoga trousers. To top it all when I looked in the mirror I had become what I feared most - a cancer victim. No hair, no eyebrows, barely any eyelashes and a grey like pallor.  A look of total defeat was written all over my face. This was one battle I could not win. It had taken me over. All I could think of was - no more, I cannot take any more. I am done. Complete. Defeated.
As I lay there in pain I had a chat with God - I questioned him over and over, if you exist then why? Why? I  lay in the bath in a haze of half living, dribbling and exhausted. I thought of my wonderful husband who had that half out of his mind with worry look,  I realised how soul destroying this was for him. My children who had sat and spoke to me when I was in the land of consciousness with smudges under there eyes and fretful looks on their faces, when I struggled to tell them everything was going to be fine. Just give me another day or so and I'll be fine. In my head I am ashamed to say I realise now how - people make their peace with God. How they pick a day and say, this is a good day to die. I planned my funeral in my sleep and when I was awake I told my husband that this was the end of the road for me. I could not put my body through any more. "You realise that I don't want any more chemo" I told him. He nodded his head and turned away, after what seemed like a lifetime he faced me again, took a step closer and said " Yes you bloody well will, you are not giving up do you hear me - don't be so bloody selfish, you have me and the kids and family and friends that rely on you, we've got plans. So no, you will finish this treatment do you hear me? You are not bloody giving up, because I won't let you" I glanced at him and managed a weak laugh. Slowly I put my arms around his neck  " No darling" I whispered. " I won't give up, because it is not all about me, but if there were no one else for me to fight for, I would not fight. I would not put myself through any more" again he nodded.

We both realised then that everything we had hoped and dreamt for would never be the same again. Our lives had changed. I had changed, cancer has crept up through the back door and stole something from me and mine when I wasn't looking.  When it first came along  I took it on the chin we all did, because I insisted that I would be fine and everyone believed me, and trusted in me, put their faith in me - but now it has stolen something precious from me. It has taken my foundations and my very soul and shook them. Everything I thought I was and everything I believed in is now in question. My strength, my beliefs, me and who I stand for have been tossed around. I don't know who I am any more, but more importantly I don't know what I stand for, my instincts are gone, my zest for life- bland. Like the snow on the ground this springtime, everything is covered and nothing is appearing in shades of colour.

Yesterday the sun shone and I painted my nails pink.

Monday, 11 March 2013

New wig - Hollywood wives are calling!

Last week I expected to feel really rubbish, but apart from the Monday where I spent all day sleeping and reading on the sofa in my knitted slouch hat and dressing gown ( Oh yes I did and I didn't beat myself up) I worked the rest of the week without being propped up.
Hubby told me how proud he was of me for taking the day off and doing nothing. Obviously I didn't tell him about the cleaning of the bathroom and the couple of loads that went into the washing machine, but honestly he was so relieved when he came home from a long day at work to find me cuddled up on the sofa.
Normally he's telling me to sit down and rest. My chemo nurses say the same. So on Monday I did what I was told and I loved it, also after sleeping in-between chapters I managed to finish my book!

Tuesday onwards I was still waiting for the chemo to kick in, apart from my mouth feeling very strange, really sensitive, dry and metal tasting and having a problem with my back and neck - another story. I felt okay. At least a 6 out of ten maybe a 7 and it lasted all week much to my delight.

Also on Tuesday another new wig turned up - drum roll please - it was a long wavy blonde/brown one, I was so excited - however I wondered if I would look like mutton dressed as lamb? Or some old bird out of a Jackie Collins novel? Or heaven forbid - my mother? Would transvestite's look at me and want me to join their new dance troupe or would the kids and hubby roll their eyes and laugh at me? A million thoughts ran through my head. So with great trepidation I put it on - and pulled it off - no not off my head but really pulled it off - it looked great. Hubby told me I looked lovely. The kids told me they liked it - heaven forbid!
So I got dressed and went to work wearing it. No one saw the hot flushes and the frantic tucking behind the ears whilst swearing as I tried to get used to it. In fact I sauntered round Tescos afterwards and was suprised that no one laughed at me.
Now I've put on weight recently - I blame the steroids and not the fact that I cannot stop bloody eating and do you know what a long wavy wig along with a large handbag definitely makes you look thinner. Don't ask me how, it just does.

On Thursday I sashayed into Chemo wearing it. Caroline one of the other ladies who also has chemo the same days as I couldn't figure out what was different about me. The nurses thought it was fabulous. Apparently they love Andrew and myself coming into the ward, they guess what colour outfit I going to be wearing, how high my shoes are going to be and what wig I'm going to be modelling that week. The words I hear often are " We love it when our Wendie comes in she always looks so glamorous"  this  makes me feel fantastic. Admittedly we did get put in the naughty corner last week for giggling Andrew and I.
We laugh all through my treatment, we giggle with the nurses and we smile at all the patients. Don't get me wrong I hate chemo, but I look forward to seeing the lovely nurses, tea ladies and everyone else that makes the chemo unit so bloody wonderful. These beautiful people are allowing me to stay alive. So I'm doing it in style.

On Friday we took the kids bowling. I had so much energy that I was dancing and moon walking in the lane - much to my son's disgust. The more he ask me to stop the more I wiggled and jiggled. Don't get me wrong I am not an exhibitionist, I just felt so happy to be alive and out and about with my family having a good time. We laughed and jumped up and down every time one of us scored cheered each other on when we were rubbish and generally had a great time. Its one of those days I will cherish - it doesn't happen very often now being the fact that they are both teenagers. I did at one point run into the ladies and have a bit of a grizzle with happiness, sad I know but wow, what a great day.

Saturday afternoon I met up with some friends had a fantastic lunch and a gossip, I was suppose to go out again in the evening but I was done for. So hubby and I had a great dinner at home and put our feet up. Then just to finish off a great week Sunday for Mothers day was the perfect ending. No wonder I'm putting on weight!

I have to say that lucky stars are well and truly thanked. My life is fab!