And no, I won't be extending the ‘fight against cancer’ metaphor.
do feel much better than I did at the end of Round One, although some
other things happened. But I haven’t come home with that haunted chemo
look in my eyes ( I hope).
was in hospital for eight days and feeling like I could just live there
indefinitely, which I will be doing in a few months. I’ve learned you
can spend all day doing nothing and the time will pass. I can measure
out my life in coffee spoons, or my temperature, or latest blood tests.
The chemo part went well. I found a doctor who is good at lumbar
punctures, and I’ll be asking for him each time. I had a temperature,
which meant staying longer, on IV antibiotics. I believe the source of
the infection was developing cellulitis at the cannula site. Um, when I
tell the doctor or nurse that something isn’t right, I mean it. The next
cannula on my other arm became blocked on its second day. It’s a bit
strange having fluids dripped into you you that just leak out.
Fortunately this all happened after the chemo (no-one wants leaking
chemo) and after a blood transfusion (my haemoglobin was too low) and
fluids (my blood pressure was too low). Oh, and I met an intern who
liked to stick needles into very small veins, and missed each time; my
hands, wrists and arms aren’t pretty. I suggest she’d make a good GP but
won’t have a career in Haematology. But I’m fine now. Just have to
avoid getting an infection. I’m likely to need a platelets transfusion
next week, but we’ll see.
the first few days I was in my own room. Lovely and peaceful. I could
hear 2CH playing from the room next door. It was a comfort. The playlist
has barely changed since I was a child. I might bring in my own radio
and play 2CH when I have my transplant. And I read Salinger. ‘Raise High
the Roof Beams, Carpenters’ which I like very much. (The title is a
quote from Sappho.) The other story it is published with, ‘Seymour: an
Introduction’ is less successful. Salinger starting to slide down his
own crack. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I like the Glass
family stories. Seems such a complete world. But I don’t like Salinger
as Buddy writing about writing the stories. When, oh when, will the
posthumous works be published?? I’m waiting.
also read Julian Barnes ‘The Sense of an Ending’ which I enjoyed. I
wouldn’t consider it a ‘masterpiece’, and I suspect it won the Man
Booker Prize because of its brevity. If the judges were seriously
shocked by the ending, and impressed by the subtle plotting, they need a
slap. I took it as an example of dramatic irony; the reader knows more
than the narrator, and there’s the pleasure. It would be a good book for
bookgroups to discuss. Linear and brief.
I moved to a shared ward where patients had their text message alerts
set to horses and ducks. I met a patient who had a transplant last year,
and she gave me some tips. Her white blood count had plummeted after a
year of recovering well, and she needs a liver transplant. Her condition
is more complicated than mine. She hates the procedures and tends to
scream during biopsies. I go for the relax and breathe approach. I also
met a young woman who became engaged two weeks ago, and last week was
diagnosed with aggressive leukaemia. She wasn’t undergoing treatment.
She was waiting to talk to the specialist about treatment. And then she
went home. It turns out the outcome would be about the same with or
without treatment. So now she’s talking about quality of life. She’s a
lovely young woman. Religious. Works in a religious institution. Her
family are lovely and must be very proud of her. What has happened to
her is totally devastating and undeserved. It shows how life can change
in a moment, especially when you body does things without your consent.
It is a very strange land the Magic Faraway Tree has delivered me to, and I’ll be back there before the month is out.