The Clocks Go Back – If Only…

It’s 5.52am Greenwich Mean Time. At 2.15am today the clocks went back an hour in the UK, which makes my insomnia even more frustrating than usual. 

I would have quite liked a lie in today but my mind was whirling at 1.30am after only going to bed just before midnight. I’ve been up and downstairs like a yo-yo since then, trying to convince my mind to catch up with my body in the fatigue stakes, rather than lagging behind like a sulky child. 

I’ve probably done everything I shouldn’t have done through the long, wee hours of darkness:

 I made a cup of coffee (decaf) and ate two slices of toast at 2am in case hunger was an issue.  I’ll admit, I put sugary black currant jam on (I know it was wrong but it tasted so right!). 

I read some of a psychological thriller book I’m currently reading. 

I listened to Gentle Whispering ASMR on YouTube which normally helps me. Unfortunately it was an old one where Maria is showing journals so my stationery fetish kicked in and I ended up watching it instead of allowing her soothing voice to help me drift off to the land of nod. 

I looked at potential work at home jobs online as I’m worried about making ends meet when I go onto half pay. There are key points in my treatment where I have been warned I won’t be up to working in my usual job so perhaps this is an alternative.

I browsed Pinterest, one of my favourite pastimes, and found lots of interesting ideas. Maybe I should have looked up insomnia aids while I was on there. 

All the while, not a car was on the road. Not a door opened or closed. The only sound was that of Rincewind snoring on my bed (I swear that cat snores as loudly as my son!). 

Ironically, I noticed a statistic that people who get less than 7-8 hours a night of good quality sleep are more at risk of disease or chronic illness. Which made my brain even more active… I mean what’s the quality assurance process for said sleep? How would I know? 

And now I’m writing on my blog about cancer. I think I’ll give myself an F for underachievement on the sleep techniques tonight and hope that tomorrow is better. Or maybe I just need to accept that I won’t be getting much shut eye until after my appointment on 1st November is over. By then I’ll know what stage my bogeyman is at, how I’ll fight it and with what army.  I wish this bogeyman hadn’t missed the memo that they’re meant to lurk under beds, in wardrobes or behind doors, not in someone’s breast…

It’s 6.22am and the new dawn is just peeking into the sky, a signal for the birds that it’s their final curtain call ready for today’s performance. 

Perhaps they will sing me to sleep. 

Perhaps with my thoughts on my blog rather than in my head I’ll have a chance of  my eyes staying closed for a few hours. 

Perhaps I’ll wake up and find the cancer has just been a terrifying, malevolent, lucid nightmare. 

Perhaps…

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Laughing Through The Tears

The human psyche fascinates me. No wait, don’t leave – I’m not about to go all intellectual on you; I’m just musing about how our minds deal with a situation.

Or not.

I’m currently lurching clumsily from emotion to emotion, sometimes going forward, other times looping back round to one which I’ve already seen twice today, thank you very much, and I’m getting rather bored of the scenery! 

It hit me yesterday, whilst lying in the CT scanner, that the whole point of these tests is to see where else this insidious invader has laid it’s malignant hat and called it’s home.  Only 20% of breast lump biopsies come back showing cancerous cells, according to the statistics. And yet I was in that group. And of those unlucky chosen ones, some will be unfortunate enough to be hosting a vile little dinner party in their lymph nodes. Just like me. 

Essentially, this demon has a ticket to the all-you-can-eat buffet; now I need to know whether it’s still in the queue to get in or if it’s already filled it’s plate to towering heights and is chowing down greedily at a table. 

I veer, like a drunk driver, between heart stopping panic and zealous combative resolution when this thought pushes and shoves its way past all the other worries crowding my mind.  

When I told my children last night and comforted my 10 year old daughter as sobs racked her little body, my son sat completely still and repeated the same sentences in various guises: “But what if you die?” 

Yes, what if I die?

What. 

If I. 

Die…?

 I was so full of confidence on Wednesday night that the treatment plan suggested by the multi-disciplinary team was going to get me through and that thought didn’t cross my mind. But it’s all based on the staging. 

I now find myself trying to read the faces of the various -ologists, to see if there’s something that gives me a clue. Is that smile when we’re all done one of relief that their report will be an optimistic one?  Or is it pity I see hiding in their eyes at what they have viewed? 

Part of me wants to live life to its fullest, cherish every moment and I want to scream inside when something gets in the way of that. Storm Bloody Brian. The kids arguing incessantly today. Fatigue. 

In fact, forget about screaming inside; 

I want to shriek like a banshee. 

Smash the plates.  

Shout as loudly as I can with the most vulgar words I know. 

 Tear my hair out because let’s face it, cancer is taking that from me too. 

And I realise that I’ve been so focused on staying positive and trying to keep the fear away that I didn’t see what was festering behind. 

Rage. 

Thick, black, oozing rage which I know will poison me just as much as the cancer if I let it consume me. 

So unfortunately the only way to try to release it is by writing about it and unfortunately you, dear reader, have felt the force of my fury tonight. 

I hope that by tomorrow I’ll be much more resilient and the journey will be a little less dark. 

Although to be fair, you were warned in the small print about what you might encounter when accompanying me. Despite my outpouring of frustration, make no mistake: I’m grateful to have your silent companionship tonight. 

Take My Hand, We’re In This Together…

My nose is making a slight whistling noise when I breathe in.

 There it is again. 

And again.

 Rincewind stirs on my lap and his ears swivel this way and that, trying to locate what’s making the sound. I whisper comforting words to him and gently tickle his neck until he settles again and quietly purrs. 

I’ve never noticed before how soft his fur is or how pleasurable a feeling it is to bury my fingers in it. 

I’ve also never noticed how noisy the freezer is. Or how irregular the leather surface of my sofa is, seemingly endless polygons blurring together under my tired gaze. 

A sob takes me by surprise with a hiccup sound. Tears sting my eyes again and I blink them out, one, two, before some slow breathing helps me gain control. 

Where did that come from? I was absolutely fine until then. I’d had the diagnosis, cried with my partner and friend for a while straight after leaving the surgeon’s consulting room before I started cracking jokes again. Later I had a feeling of empowerment; I’d kick cancer’s butt and be positive all the time. I was fine. 

Except if you’re fine you’re not usually still awake, unable to sleep even by the early hours. 

And fine people don’t obsessively read articles about coping with cancer diagnosis, looking for the one that will explain how to make everything easier. But of course, it doesn’t.

So if reading isn’t helping, maybe writing will. My first instinct is to shut myself off from friends when things are hard in my life but this time, I’m determined things will be different. This time I’m going to be open, tell people I have cancer, that I’m vulnerable, that I’m scared. And allow people to support me rather than trying to be super woman and pretend I’m fine.

I think I’m going to ban the word “fine” from my vocabulary. 

I’m inviting you to accompany me on this journey. If you’re looking for the scenic route then I’m afraid you’re on the wrong bus as this is going to be a bumpy, ugly ride.

Greebo wanders in and gives a little squeak of greeting before jumping up next to me and curling himself into a ball next to Rincewind. The warmth of his soft body is comforting, as is the message after message of support from friends past and present. 

If I can help even one person through writing this blog then I’ll have achieved my aim. At the very least, I hope it helps me.