The concept of time in the life of someone with a diagnosis of any kind is probably not the same for someone living in a space where health is taken for granted. There are various moments on my journey that come to mind where I’ve had to surrender to it. Time, for me now, is something extremely valuable and something I’m learning to respect more than I did before.
Last week I had the most brilliant time in the countryside with two special people who took me on the most exquisite walks, made sure I was fed (boerewors on the braai style) which I totally welcomed. They took me away from the London vibes into the perfect space that is their home away from home,to forget about the last couple of months. Thank you Tim and Tom!! You are both incredible, your home is glorious and I love that we ate cake..more than once.
I came back into London with a date with Sophie planned for the following day!! Yay! We had a chilled lunch and then caught a show. Brilliant day my Sophie Soph! She is now a West End performer people. She has made her debut in Mamma Mia and I couldn’t take my eyes off her when I saw the show. So proud!!
Today has been a good day despite my immune system struggling to normalize. I guess it’s a case of too much too soon so I’m going to take a step back and carry on at a less pressurized pace. This has happened several times since chemo ended so lets’ see how this goes…
Today was good because while I’m recovering from whatever bug I may have picked up on the tube, my time was spent catching up with people I love. I’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately which I’m finding helpful with the current state of mind that I find myself in. I’ve avoided writing for a long time. WordPress tells me it’s been two months. It feels longer.
I’ve needed time 🙂
I attempted to write on two occasions, but both were unsuccessful. When I explain myself to the people who know me, I feel understood. I’ve said things like, “How can I write and make sense of anything when nothing makes sense?” and “How do I communicate what I’m going through when it’s not clear who I am anymore?”
I’m sure you get the picture, so I won’t elaborate further and even reading that back doesn’t capture it fully.
I honestly have so much to say, but will probably need more time to put it down or maybe one day it’ll all come flooding out of me and you’ll all wish I’d remained in the corner of the Monopoly board, behind bars.
I’ll try and share a few things that I’ve experienced during this “lost” period.
I’m not sure whether I’d communicated clearly in earlier posts that one of the side effects I’ve experienced for quite some time and probably one of the strongest ones to my mind, has been menopause. The general assumption is that it’s been induced by having chemo and could change once it’s cleared out my system, but for now, it seems like it’s here to stay. Menopause is also not really something that you’ll understand fully till you’re having volcanic eruptions of your own. This description was provided perfectly by my friend Aurelie. Thanks pal..at least we both get it now 🙂
How does this affect me? In various ways would be my answer, but let’s just look at two rather important things, sleep and meditation.
Sleep is hard to come by when you’re tossing and turning, opening and closing windows, washing yourself with cold water, reaching for your homeopathic remedies hoping at least one of them will take effect, praying everything you’re currently doing will settle the hot flush down and just when you think you’re on the up…another hot flush sneaks up on you, takes you down and it’s the same pattern all over again. I don’t worship my hot flushes enough to count them, but you need more than two hands sometimes.
A big one for me is how it impacts my meditation. I’ll wake up early to make sure I have quiet time before the kids from the school opposite me arrive and begin their screaming/shouting/singing ritual, which I actually quite enjoy, but not when you’re trying to meditate. So if I’ve had a decent nights’ sleep, then my meditation is on track and timed with perfection, but if I’ve had a menopausal manic one, it’s usually a case of getting up whenever I can manage to open my eyes. That’s one challenge. Then once I’ve actually managed to find myself in the upright position and seated for a good long meditation, it’s no different to going to sleep. The windows open and shut, I cover and uncover myself and because I’m now upright, my nose runs, so I’m rushing to fetch a tissue, then back again to open the window again and try and pick up where I left off in finding the peace I’m so desperately craving. I’m making light of it, which is a probably a good thing as I thought I’d lost my sense of humour a few weeks ago, but honestly, it’s not actually humorous.
Meditation is a vital part of my life and something I don’t want to be without, but it’s become so tricky and frustrating that sometimes I just sit and allow the frustration and the flush to pass over me, while listening to the voices of little children who are definitely not working towards a silent existence, and why should they when they’ve got a big playground in front of them.
Here’s another. When you have chemo, as is commonly known, you lose hair, in various places. Some are welcomed. I’ve never had smoother legs in my life 🙂
The one thing that surprised me and will explain the runny nose I spoke of, is that you lose nose hairs as well, so there is nowhere but down when it wants to run. There isn’t time to slowly reach for a tissue. It’s a mad dash, especially when you’re in the company of others. It can be quite embarrassing if you’re not prepared for it. I now have tissues in every pocket of every item of clothing I own. The trick is to remember to take them out before you do a wash load. First world problems.
The obvious thing is losing your hair on your head, but the cold cap made all the difference for me and although most of my hair fell out, the bits that are left are evenly spread so I can tie it back while the rest is catching up, so I look much the same as before. The new hair is very sweet actually. It’s soft and some bits are straight and others have a gentle curl, but they are all growing into something that is beginning to make a new style for a new gal.
I haven’t mentioned that I lost my eyebrows and lashes about 3 weeks after chemo finished. This in itself was so interesting to experience and I’m enjoying following their growth as they push back through every day.
I had wondered what it would feel like to be without them. I’m not one for too much make-up, but one thing I always like to do is put a brush of mascara on. Well, when there’s no lash, there’s no brush needed and my reaction to this surprised me. I was due to attend a course on the weekend of the week they disappeared, so I basically rolled out of bed, showered and got my things together for the day and left. I didn’t even bother with my beanie and there was surely still a reason for that, but I didn’t care. En route to the course, I was standing at a bus stop, a bus arrived and a young girl who was sitting on the upper deck was looking down at me. She was staring for quite a while, which gave me the opportunity to look up and smile at her. She smiled back. Who knows if she was daydreaming or taking in the splendour of who I was that morning, but I felt completely liberated. I carried on like that for many weeks and have to say I wish women could experience that same freedom, without the reason behind the hair loss of course. I think women who approach a more natural way of being in the world are often labelled as “letting themselves go,” but I have never subscribed to that school of thought. A balance between the two is more what I believe is healthy.
Well, this has surprised me as I wasn’t sure I’d get beyond 400 words so I’m encouraged. I still have plenty to say on the subject of time, but I’ll leave it there for now.
Oh, maybe one last thing. When you have lots of time on your hands and don’t know what to do with it, don’t only lie on one side, with your neck in an awkward position when binge watching your favourite series on your ipad. You may need to spend time getting that fixed too and who has time for THAT?
Here’s to a cold Icelandic sleep for me tonight. Thanks for staying with me. Sorry if you felt I’d abandoned you. If you did, I’m sorry and I understand as I have those issues too and am happy to discuss them or write about them and encourage more conversation about them..and now I’m just talking nonsense because I can’t believe I actually managed to put something down today that makes any sense at all, so now, while I am making little sense….I will slip out quietly ..
Sorry about the picture of the clock..I ran out of time and had no creativity left..
Aunty Boop ..this is for you!! Thanks for bugging me about another blog. I did it x