Days 419 – 422


It’s my last day of chemo today – I’ve had four days of Cytosine, Arabinoside and Etoposide which have gone pretty well, but I’m beginning to really feel it.  I feel heavy and brim full of chemicals, a low level cramp in the stomach and a bad taste in my mouth.  I’m taking a lot of preventative pills – unit fungal, anti bacterial, anti-acid, anti-sickness – and they seem to be doing the trick.

Nurses and service personnel come in at frequent intervals, all smiles and often a little chat – mostly women and some men, almost all from far away places; Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, China, Korea, Japan, and many have been here for a long time.  Through our brief conversations I’m travelling the globe, eating fresh mango and many varieties of banana, avocados from their parents back yards.  I wonder if I’ll see some of these places – if it happens will that boat take me there?

Each day a doctor comes in to check on progress – my consultant Dr Marcus came yesterday and asked how it all was going with a group of trainees around him, wanting to know if there were any unusual symptoms.  I reported that I was fine and doing well, but mentioned my fledgling sore throat and some odd bite-like red spots developing in my right armpit – I think his eyes brightened with curiosity at the latter but after a quick look he said ‘Well, I’m not impressed…’.  I don’t think I have any ambition to excite this man’s interest.

My hours are full with pills and procedures and my own activities – waking early still and spending an hour this morning with my Tai Chi but, feeling a bit light headed, after breakfast and a shower I’m back in bed reading and dozing a little, though in snatches as someone always comes to check blood pressure or take blood samples.  The final chemo shot is at 11am I think so not long now.  Melphalan sounds like quite a heavy one again; I’ll be hooked up for a few hours while they run a lot of saline into me to ease the passage of the drug.  I’m drinking a lot of water already – about 4.5 litres a day and I fill in a fluid chart, peeing into a plastic measuring jug now so familiar that I can guess the volume without reading the scale.

I’m managing to play some mandolin – re-learning some old tunes and getting my fingers to move.  It’s coming on and I’m downloading good recordings of the tunes if I can find them and working from the sheet music, so I really mean re-learning in that I’ve played a lot of these tunes rather sloppily at the sessions and have fallen into bad habits.

I feel relaxed and calm.  I’ve had visits from David S,  Denise and Nell and Susanna, and Fi is coming today – each bringing fresh supplies in and stories of out there.  I’m watching a few movies and reading a little of Robert McFarlane’s ‘The Old Ways’ about walking, about following a path.  I like his questions of a landscape: ‘What do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else?  And […] what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?’