I have heard this line a few times and it always fills me with a little angst – perhaps we can all relate to this in some shape or form.
For example, I can think over the years about chronic mouth ulcers. They would appear either by their own accord or through some toothbrush trauma were you stab your gum with one’s over zealous tooth brushing technique – please tell me I’m not alone here…
I knew for a good few days everything would be fine but I also knew that as time went on I would begin to feel them – they could last easily up to 2 weeks or more.
The pain would increase and my mind would follow and no matter what I put on them it made no difference – they just had to run their course. So, there would be a week perhaps where it would be really uncomfortable and I felt they’d never shift, but then suddenly that shift occurred and they didn’t feel as sore – that edge had gone, relief!
The accumulative effects of treatment means that I need to get 2-3 weeks under my belt after treatment has finished before things begin to, hopefully, settle down – the doctors said 3 months recuperation, and in the grand scheme of things I am not surprised.
I only have 3 radiotherapy sessions left this coming week – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
I met Vic, who was 2 weeks ahead of me, on his last day – fatigue and pain had really hit him during his last few days, it had gone up another level of pain. At that point, just like when someone’s telling you the ending of a movie you haven’t seen yet, you feel like covering your ears and running away. I gave Vic a sympathetic smile knowing that perhaps my time would come too.
I sometimes see a new face, a chap about my age who has just started his treatment – I sit in the waiting room and take a swift glance at his neck – yep, he has got a lump too, quite noticeable. In my mind, I contrast and compare and analyse – similar age, the lump is on the left side of his neck not the right, positioned slightly superior and posteriorly too. I wonder what’s going through his mind. He sits there in silence with his partner – I assume in my mind that I have a pretty good idea what’s going through his mind at that moment – he has his own battle going on, I can sense it.
Meanwhile, the old boy brigade are there trooping the colour in their fine display of dressing gowns – all being zapped in the prostate! I’d say their average age must be 65-70 or thereabouts .I wonder about that their treatment too – how are they positioned on the machine to target the prostate?mmm…
There are, I think, 6 or even 7 Lineac accelerators (LA) machines It’s akin to an airport lounge. You sit, you wait. You read a magazine, you restlessly move about, have a drink waiting for your gate number, if you like, or one of the radiotherapy team to call your name. You see people walking through the gates but there are lots of radioactive signs about and the gate is closed now as that individual embarks on their journey – there’s undoubtedly that edge with the nerves kicking in a little, just a little.
Whats been nice is, although the radiotherapy team is big, you get assigned, for most part, the same machine meaning you get to see and recognise the same team members – LA 2 has been my gate for the last 6 weeks.
So once again, a bit like the airport lounge, these are the equivalent of the planes that are in continual use, and are therefore prone to breakdowns, software malfunctions and delays too! Sometimes the lounge can be empty at other times bursting at the seams.
There is a check in desk too where you pop your name in the computer, your details appear and you click to confirm and take your seat in the lounge…I digress.
I was up until last week trying to get a little weetabix in my mouth and down my gullet, but things are now “uncomfortable”, shall we say in my mouth and throat so 100% liquid vanilla protein shake man – that’s me!
I have had quite a busy week and glad to have made it through to the other side, intact.
Just as I try to pump a shake into my belly every 2-3 hours I am also applying cooled cream and aloe vera gel to my neck and shoulders which are burnt. I am fair skinned and remember when I was much younger having been badly burnt in the sun – déjà vu moment. I look like I have been on holiday, having just exposed my collar bones upper neck and shoulders to sun. It’s sore, tender and tight – I wake up in the middle of the night and early morning and head for the fridge and pull out my cooled cream which is very soothing.
…and what’s going on outside is going on inside my throat and mouth. I will spare you the details but there’s lots of coughing up some pretty nasty gunk! I was in a very busy waiting room in hospital this week and I didn’t want to particularly draw attention to myself by having to go to the loo and cough and gag whilst bringing up stuff I needed to bring up, but yep, I had to do exactly that!
Number one rule for me at the moment, never stray too far from a box of tissues. Ok, I should stop now but I feel I’m on a roll. I also didn’t stray too far from a loo this week either. I’ve never been a regular guy shall we say and from day one my poor little sensitive gut took a beating and it’s not recovered yet. For at least 2 weeks I had chronic constipation and tried everything – nada!
Cut a long story short – I was prescribed various medications which weren’t working, so I had a chat with my doctor and he gave me some suppositories.
I had a giggle with the nurses and they handed me over some gel and latex gloves – very happy to accept them and get home, pronto, in the comfort of my own bathroom and, as James Brown said “ take it to the bridge”.
If you didn’t already know a suppository agitates the inside of your lower bowl and gets the muscles moving – within 10 minutes things were happening. Let’s just say they really helped and now my bathroom cabinet is proud to display, gel and latex gloves to boot, the suppositories – just for a temporary period of time, you understand.
Enough of this toilet talk.
Back to food. I have to honour my mother’s meringues. She came to see me a few weekends ago. I have always loved meringues with fresh cream, and she, of course, makes the best meringues. A tub was left full of tempting delicious crisp and chewy meringues – I can’t eat them at the moment but my daughter, Hannah, found the tub quickly enough – hopefully they’ll be some left for me too!
I still find it very hard and frustrating to see all around me tucking into their food. In fact, I’m typing this upstairs in my bed, as my daughter, Sophie, who has popped down for the weekend, is making a bacon sandwich – torture! Looking at the clock, I best be off to pump a vanilla protein shake with added fibre into my belly…
Savour each mouthful of food today.
P.s Here’s a temporary mobile number as my normal number is out of action for a couple of weeks –
M: 07706 183311