I’m beginning to think I’ll soon be able to at least look up at the parapet, if not over it. Two weeks to go and those two weeks still seem like an awfully long time but there’s no mistaking there’s now an end on the horizon.
The ace nurse has moved on to pastures new, but her replacement got the canula in in two so all was far from lost. Actually quite a jolly atmosphere in the Day Centre this week. Not exactly throwing paper streamers and letting off party poppers, but the mood seemed almost light-hearted.
No one ever minds giving their story here, we’re all in that same boat/river and we all have a tale to tell. Mostly it’s about numbers, so it’s how many chemos have you had? How many radios have you got left? And then if someone’s been unlucky it might get on to how many times has it come back? And where?
In the radiotherapy waiting area there’s a lot of chat, and often it seems a preponderance of chatty men who have prostate cancer. Now if you have prostate cancer and are having radiotherapy you have to drink a lot of water. The purpose of this is to move your bladder so it doesn’t get x-rayed. Fair enough. But having a full bladder is not an ideal state of affairs for someone with a dodgy prostate. The chatty men seem to chat most about the location of the toilet. But they also say how important it is to get to the GP early if you start to have symptoms. I’ve met one or two who regret not going early enough.
But talking of radiotherapy, the soundtrack shows no sign of improvement. Highlights this week were Take That, George Michael and those old radio favourites,The Proclaimers. Walking 500 miles never seemed so far or so hard.
This was made worse by the machine breaking down mid-cycle with me on it. So I found myself lying there immobile, my mask firmly in place, while the invisible team of back room tech guys press whatever buttons they press to make the thing work properly.
After suffering rather more of George’s easy listening album than I would have wanted, the tech guys finally found a way to turn it off and on again (the machine not George) and it burst into life. I emerged relatively unscathed, though unsure if I was ever gonna dance again.
Aside from the severe fatigue, my worst symptoms have been mouth-related. I have all sorts of analgesics and mouthwashes to relieve pain and discomfort, but eating is becoming a problem. I can swallow, well certainly liquids are ok, though solids are trickier. The dieticians are beginning to get concerned about my weight and have increased the liquid feed they prescribe for me.
The liquid feeds are, to misquote from Star Trek one more time, ‘nourishment, but not as we know it’. They look like an appetising fruit drink, as far as I can tell they taste a teeny bit like one too, but actually they are a fabrication, a mishmash of protein and vitamin and mineral and who knows what else. No self-respecting appetising fruit drink would be seen anywhere near it.
I haven’t used the RIG (stomach feeding tube) yet, though the nurses and I did have a dry run with the contraption that attaches and feeds through the night. It’s all fairly ghastly and to be honest I’m hoping I don’t ever have to use it. I can see myself lying next to it while it ticks away, slowly delivering its insomnia-inducing gloop into my guts.
But on Friday, some good news. At a review meeting Dr B examined me and said he was really pleased with the way things were going, that progress was exactly as he had hoped. And expected.