The days are blurring past.
Tuesday’s chemo comes and goes and although it started well at 11am with a good and clarifying conversation with Nurse Caz and a quick chat to Dr Kruger who kept his distance with a cold, and a relaxing couple of hours to kill in the clean and light staff restaurant which has become my new haunt where I read through my nutritionist’s notes and half listen to two smart young doctors being verbally test-examined by a senior and both the trainees being spot on with their answers which reassures one for the future, and the sun coming out long enough for me to go out and sit on a bench and feel some small warmth on my thin face, despite all this, the day ends at a really low point.
I’m due in at 3.45pm and so I’m there, and then I wait. Lots of people are waiting; come and wait and go. And I just wait. Finally at 5.30 I get called, but I’m already struggling. I’ve felt pretty rubbish all day, very tired and rather nauseous, and actually walked today with a stick because the inflammation pain in my right knee and ankle and in the shin bone itself is severe enough to make me weak and wobbly. It’s not such a long wait really, but I’m remembering last week when I didn’t get called until too late and got sent home to return the next day. And I know its happening again. I fall asleep with my head on my knees and then when the waiting room empties I lie down on the bench seat and sleep until called. The chemo nurses are doing their best and everyone is tired. I’m not making it easy; I’m hit by the heat and start to sweat, I’m feeling faint but can’t say anything for a sort of fear that if I’m not up to it I’ll get sent home again and although I hate being hooked up to the chemo pump clickclicking I need those damned drugs. I need them now. I realise that Dr K is assessing me as to whether I can take it – the punishment of this second line chemo, and he’s wondering. I’m wondering. The PET scan next week will show if the cancer has retreated enough for us to proceed to the Stem Cell Transplant procedure, and the dose may be adjusted but I have to be fit enough to take it. It’s a test.
All this is going through my mind and it gets darker and darker. I’m absolutely hating being there, hooked up. A blackness in the mind I can’t hold off. 30 seconds last 10 minutes. Clicketyclick. Hunger pangs making me lean forward. Sweat.
At last it’s done. As we’d got ready I’d managed to say quietly to Nurse D ‘You’re a master…’ as she slipped in the needle and I didn’t feel a thing, and I meant it – but another nurse across the room heard what I’d said somehow and was laughing ‘Yes, we call her Yoda!”
I felt ashamed somehow as I left. Those lovely nurses.
Of course Alison and Milli were there to meet me and drive me home.
But I’ve jumped a day in recounting. And the rest of the week has been full of good things.
Monday we went to Falmouth and met Mike A the owner of the boat in Scotland. A very good meeting I think and a very genuine and generous man, and a geologist too which I like very much. There’s a momentum to what is happening with this which feels right, and I’m just going to go with it. Tickets are bought for the trip to Scotland and a week of train travel: Penzance – London – Glasgow – Oban – Glagow – Plymouth – London – Penzance. It sounds relaxing. Ali and Milli are coming to Scotland too and then stopping in North Yorkshire as I return to PET scans and consultations…
And the kitchen at the studio is coming into its own and getting more organised. A fabulous new juicer and a powerful blender installed on the new worktop in the dining area which now works as part of the kitchen. Room to move about and find things to hand and make terrific food. Cooks Alexandra and Kate are very happy and looking forward to trying new things which I get to eat!
And Diana comes over with the first batch of super-nutritious organic beef broth which, added to a miso soup mix, makes an incredible mug full of goodness. And she would like to help with the garden so we discuss planting it all to herbs this Spring; parselys and corriander, rosemary and thyme. And today by chance I talk to Sheila in the health food shop and ask after Sam who used to run the polytunnels up at Joff’s barn where the bus is, and she explains he’s just bought a van and is setting up as a gardener, and then I’m wondering if Sam would like to come and prepare the ground as I think only Sam can. I’ll call him tomorrow.
I’m still exhausting myself of course. That’s not so difficult to do. But I do have a sense that things are all falling into place at last; the kitchen, the crew, the house sale progressing quietly, and a good boat to go and look at. A conversation with Dr Saz who is going to re-introduce me to yoga and come and play food with the kitchen toys. There is some tranquillity ahead before I go into hospital and I’m finally getting there. I feel fit enough to take what’s coming. I can suddenly see the point of the post-SCT new beginning Day +1. I can be ready for it.