Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Pulling my hair out
The hair has to go, and very quickly. The Lovely Mr Lovely has sent me a copy of a letter he has sent to my equally lovely Chemo guru, suggesting that, since I seemed to have very little in the way of post-chemotherapy symtoms, perhaps I was under-dosed. Everyone I've told about this seems to think it's hilariously funny, but I really don't want a double dose next week, so I need to be a bald as a coot to prove that my little cancer cells have been sufficiently ravaged by it.
So, everyone at home is completely grossed out by my new addictive habit of tugging handfuls of hair out. Personally, I find it fascinating, it's just so wierd to run my hands through my hair and loads of it coming away. This has been going on now for two whole days, and despite the fact that I feel like I've pulled away enough to stuff a couple of cushions, I actually still look like I have a whole head of perfectly copious hair. I have to wear a hat when I go out now, just in case it all suddenly decides to go out, and my kids won't let me cook their food at the moment in case I moult all over their dinner. So poor WM is on chef duty in our kitchen this week, which beautifully lets me off the hook.
Losing your hair is supposed to be one of the most traumatic parts of having cancer, so I've surprised even myself by how much I'm enjoying it so far. But that's the funny thing about this disease - things you think will hit you hard just don't, and things you think you'll take totally in your stride can send you over the edge into a dark black pit of misery. Both can happen too; maybe in a day or two I'll find the whole bald number heartbreaking, but I'm nowhere near there yet.
I heard a theory about cancer patients this week, that they fall into two distinct catergories, the Tiggers and the Eeyores. I think I'm mostly Tigger with the odd moment when Eeyore pops his head up and overwhelms me with misery, but luckily that doesn't happen often, and when it does, it doesn't last very long.
This last week, the misery has mostly been miles away. It's been a lovely week, I've had absolutely no hospital or any other appointments, I've felt reasonably well - certainly well enough to go out to dinner three times and to engage in a touch of retail therapy too. I've even driven the car for only the second time in three months, and the mastectomy scar is sufficiently healed to tolerate a seat belt. I've experimented with new underwear and I've found a bra make that holds the falsie in place so securely and in the right place that I almost forget that it's not my own one.
WM let me help him choose a new car, I've spent stacks of time just chilling with all three of the children, catching up with friends, and just feeling relatively normal for the first time since early May. Downton Abbey's return is just the icing on this week's cake.
I wish I could shift the procrastination though. The to do list gets longer and longer with each passing day, and the house gets more and more untidy and dirty. I have energy galore for about 10 minutes in a burst, then I just flop. The admin and paperwork is now more of a mountain range than a single mountain, and if I'm not careful something that I really should have done but haven't is going to turn round and bite me on the bum very soon. I get to the stage where I don't even know where to start, and the starting is scary, because once I explore that pile I'll find all sorts of reasons to be consumed in guilt, and feel pants for the rest of the week.
Going back to chemo symptoms, I now don't think I got away completely scot-free. The first 10 days I was comprehensively washed out, and although the consuming gallons of water and fasting beforehand did the trick in terms of stopping me feeling sick, even walking from the kitchen to the front room seemed like a marathon. Eating is another marathon, I just don't register hunger, and the weight is falling off, not quite as quickly as the hair, but still pretty good. As well as the hair disappearing, my mouth feels like someone's taken sandpaper and razor blades to it, nothing tastes right, even my staple, my precious cups of tea, taste like the milk went off last year. The chest pain that arrived a few days after chemo hasn't subsided yet, and in a bad moment, despite the medical reassurance I've had, I convince myself that it's the cancer spreading. Hopefully it's just a little know rare side-effect, but I really wish it would bog-off somewhere else.
Somehow I've got to find the wherewithall to sort out the paperwork and the house. I bought myself a new present which arrived today, a Dyson vacuum cleaner. It's still in its box in the hallway, hopefully giving the impression to any new visitors that, OK, the house is a tip, but I'm just about to sort it out. We all have special talents, and mine definitely isn't housework, but once I get going with the Dyson, I'm hopefully going to be galvinised into action, if for no other reason than to clear up all my fallen hair. Otherwise my kids will never eat at home again.
My GP has summoned me to see him later this week, and I haven't a clue why, but something about wanting to talk about my current hospital treatment. Hopefully they haven't decided that my family has single-handedly bankrupted the NHS and I'm never to darken their doorstep again, but I'll let you know. I'm due to see their new trainee GP, who the receptionist enigmatically told me "He's very popular with the ladies". Maybe another Mr Lovely in the making? I'll let you know about that too.
I've got a few more days before Chemo episode 2 next week, so there's time to fit a lot of stuff in. Paperwork and cleaning, obviously, but also maybe a few good books and a some quiet nights in watching TV. Feeling fairly well, apart from this constant chest pain, is such a strange, but lovely, experience after all these months of feeling pants, that I've almost forgotten how to relax and enjoy. I'm sure, with a bit of practice, I'll get very good at it again soon. And if I don't, then I'll obviously need to practice it even more.