Who’s counting the post-treatment days? Moi? Yep, that’s what I do in my diary, a little note to self.
It always has been day by day, and nothing has changed – in fact, it seems even more acute now with the passing of each day.
The wanting to walk before I can run, that battle of mind and body, as already stated whereby I think of doing things and then realise I need to slow down – I am certainly very far from rushing around, that’s never been my way.
There have been tangible shifts these past 7 days and I have to acknowledge that. I am not stuck like a broken record, going over the same old stuff that my mind has been plaguing me with about my situation and perhaps dwelling on the downside, the low mood, the frustrations and expectations – yet these are all very real.
I am slowly thinking a little more ahead now, slowly bringing my body in line with my mind – a driver to get the physical side of me moving – I haven’t done a lot and that has to change!
Lack of sleep is my problem – I’m restless along with an agitated mouth & throat. I have taken morphine, but I don’t want to rely on that for my sleep, clearly.
I really am out of sorts & out of sync – a bit like a dancer with no rhythm desperately trying to keep in time with the music and his fellow dancers, but it just aint happening.
My out of sync may not be as noticeable on the outside – I have walked a little this week and been in communication with one or two people – I haven’t held conversations like that for best part of 3 months.
I monitor and try to observe myself – that’s tricky, am I fully present? I am trying to be. What do I say to people who I haven’t seen for a while? Lost for words or how to sum up these last few months to somebody – yep, tricky too.
I don’t want to make a big deal of it, but I certainly don’t want to underplay how tough it’s been either.
Ok. This week kicked off with a haircut which made me look and feel so much better, in my opinion – the scarecrow look had to go. I knew the radiation would zap my beard and I can now report that I no longer have a beard – just the possibility of a moustache and an inch of sideburn. I haven’t shaved in 3 weeks and I don’t need too. I liked the possibility to grow a beard when I felt like it, but that’s history now, but I do feel more clean-cut at least, on the upside.
The hairline at the nape of my neck has receded by about 2 ½ inches which feels odd too – I have been pulling out my hair over these last couple of months.
Am I slowly resurfacing – yes, I think I am. Communicating a little more and a little better.
Several months ago I built myself a one man submarine and began to slowly plunge the ocean depths – the abyss. I wasn’t sure of my destination or what would happen along the way or even when they’d be the inevitable thud of hitting the ocean floor.
It has been a claustrophobic journey for me so far but of my own choosing. The one man vessel meant there wasn’t room for anybody else. If I could imagine the dimensions they’d be barely enough room to stand up and perhaps a few feet to pace up and down. No gauges, no controls that I can visibly see and operate. It operates by responding to my body-mind emotions.
It envelopes me. There’s a small porthole, but its dark out there and I never really know just how far down I am or whether indeed I am actually moving – maybe I am in some sort of suspension and not actually going anywhere?.
Perhaps I needed to get deep enough to avoid the barrage of depth charges way up on the surface. The deeper I sank the safer, somehow, I would feel.
I remember watching the epic adventure of Das Boot, a crew of German sailors in a U-boat hunting ships to sink. The endless waiting, the tension was unbelievable. They were hunters but they too were also being hunted. That feeling of resurfacing, – up periscopes and then opening the hatches having had to fathom the depths for days, weeks having been pummelled, crushed and bashed about by the endless depth charges they’d encountered along with the immense pressures of the ocean depths – not much life down there, it seems.
I am slowly filling my lungs with air and very cannily taking a look around – I just had this sweet image of a meerkat poking his head out of his burrow very carefully, but with razor-sharp movements, checking his surroundings – is it safe to come out?
There will always be some kind of inevitable dangers in the world, but you have to resurface and get out, in your own time to feel that ‘rush’ once more. We know in our daily lives there are all sorts of possibilities and encounters that could be detrimental to our mind and body but we filter most of that out and perceive the world in our ‘present’ mind, take a deep breath, in a way, and go out and do what we normally do.
When I went back to see the nurses this week for a check up I walked into the hospital and realised how claustrophobic it felt – I don’t want( and never wanted) to be there. Not underplaying the marvellous job all the staff do but I felt like a prisoner who’d been temporarily released or on parole and I now had to come back in. When I left an hour or so later I walked outside – I had resurfaced and it felt good to be out of there heading back to some sense of normality. I have spent 2 months, day in, day out in the hospital, but at this stage I’ve been demobbed and debriefed awaiting a few more details before I can hopefully get back into civvy street. I can’t help but use these military analogies that’s my father’s influence, as an ex- naval man.
I haven’t totally resurfaced yet I am still using my periscope to look around before I make any sudden moves.
I am moving forward but being very self-critical means I don’t accept or take on board these degrees of improvement. It’s not that I am negative but unless I am heading at full speed everything’s just a nuisance and slows me down. I finitely scan and observe my body, looking, watching and waiting for the shifts – I am over the worst bit, which is what the nurses told me and that’s nice to hear, finally. I am in a better place now physically than I was just 10 days ago – it’s the mental adjustments that are also proving a challenge and I think that’s why my mind is restless and I need to slow it down in-line with my body and not the other way round.
Finally, I know if I resurface too quickly I’ll get the bends! I have had a little of the bends already…I need to find my bearings and re-orientate myself!
So, whether you’re diving deep or slowly resurfacing, try to remain calm and collected.