No matter how positive you feel most days, the bad ones still sneak in. And you know what? That’ ok.
Despite feeling a bit flat I did manage to complete my Keep Calm and Keep Moving 34 day challenge for Trekstock.
I have struggled this cycle. Not with my side-effects particularly, but emotionally.
My brain knows that I’ve reached beyond the half-way point, the end is in sight and I should be feeling excited.
But I don’t.
I feel fed up. I feel tired. I feel bored of the repetitive nature of chemotherapy – the continual monotonous cycle…’like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness’. Instead of feeling elated that I am half-way through I feel a bit trapped; a bit trapped and frustrated that I still have the same amount to go through that I’ve already lived. And now, even though I am coping a lot better with my side effects than I was, I’m still just ready for it to be over and the end still feels impossibly far away.
Sometimes it’s just the simple things I miss.
I want to be able to eat normally without pain and discomfort. When the sun shines I want to enjoy an ice cold lager without it sticking in my throat and making me feel sick. I want to glugg down some cold water after a run without a throat spasm. And I never want to see another hot squash again.
I want to be able to bite down on a fresh grape without crying out in pain.
I want to be able to have a bath without worrying about getting my PICC line wet and risking infection.
I want to go out on my bike every day - not just days when I feel well enough - because cruising along in the breeze makes me feel normal. And free.
I want to leave the house without worrying that my chemo diarrhoea might kick in at any minute.
I want to be able to put away my shopping without pains in my hands. I want my nails and skin back.
And I want to plan for the future. I want to move on with my life.
I want to take our canoe out on the river without worrying that I will get too cold to function (even in 20 degree heat) - or having to think about what would happen if I fell in.
I do know I am being self-indulgent: I do know that things could be worse. But it’s just that some days are better than others.
Every time I return to the chemo ward I face a new psychological battle. I know, with certainty that I will leave there feeling a lot worse than when I arrived. No matter how kind the nurses are. And I dread it.
I get up on a chemo morning and try my hardest to be positive; I go for a run; a dog walk; I sit and read; I try to be still. I make myself a rainbow salad before committing to a week of beige. I do some yoga. I breathe.
But as the clock ticks down I feel worse and worse. And inevitably I am transported back to that small consultation room at The James Paget Hospital following my colonoscopy back in September.
‘It’s not good news I’m afraid.’
I relive it over and over again and it still makes me cry - which physically hurts (thanks Oxaliplatin).
Next I relive that first phone call to my Mum who I knew was back home waiting anxiously for my results.
And from there I relive every cycle that I’ve endured so far. One on top of the other – every side pain, every vomit, every attack of pins and needles, every explosive shit.
And even though I know that these feelings will pass, that I’ll be ok again and that many of my side effects will fade with time, I also know, that in 21 days I will return to this exact space that I am in now. The cycle will continue…’in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements…everyday…the same as yesterday and tomorrow.’ And I still have to go through this at least another 3 times.
My chemo is intensive – it is designed to root out and kill. It is not designed to be endured long term. I know that if we get to the end of this and it hasn’t worked they probably won’t just throw more of the same at me…well I hope they won’t.
But I am still scared. Because what if they do? How will I get through it?
I have started having premonitions of that future consultation with my oncologist where he tells me the results of my first post chemo scan; where he tells me that it hasn’t worked, that the cancer is still there - or worse - that it has appeared somewhere else as well.
And that’s why some days are better than others – because some days it’s much harder to see an end to this.
But please don’t worry – I don’t feel like this all the time. Just some times. Particularly this cycle. I know it’s self-indulgent. I know it’s pointless worrying about things I cannot control. I know it’s destructive to be so fatalistic. But sometimes, just sometimes, you’re allowed.
And I share these thoughts with you, not because I need sympathy, or rallying, but because we’re all going through something strange at the moment. We all have our own challenges and demons to endure and survive and overcome. I try to put my most positive foot forward as much as I can, but I also think it’s ok to let you know, that sometimes I don’t feel so positive. Sometimes I’m bloody petrified. Sometimes it’s hard to get dressed. Sometimes I don’t want to do anything. And I reckon I’m not the only one – I reckon lots of you feel the same. Sometimes.
And sometimes, that’s ok. Because sometimes, some days, are just better than others.