Day+1 & 2
Day+1 passed in a haze – I hadn’t slept very well, just too many chemicals running around my system, and I felt low to medium nausea much of the day with occasional sharp stomach cramps. I couldn’t face my exercises this morning and stayed in bed. And stayed there most of the day sometimes flat out sometimes propped up to read, sometimes awake sometimes asleep. Uncomfortable.
Dr Marcus and his entourage came round at some point and was jolly and brisk, assuring me that it would get worse before it got better! But also happy with progress, as I am of course. My bloods and all are fine with magnesium levels and platelets dropping as expected. Later in the afternoon I’m hooked up for a dose of magnesium to keep my cell membranes happy.
In the evening Denise came to visit again bringing an organic mango and some Matcha Green Tea powder in a gold box – ceremonial grade – which I like the sound of. And then I went to bed at 9 after some more Obs (blood pressure, heart rate and haemoglobin levels) and slept.
I woke about 1pm and had the strong and entirely believeable sensation of flying at altitude, 25,000ft above the earth, and in my mind watched cities detailed and sprawling, car lights, roads and railways, fields and towns and lakes and snaking rivers and snow-topped mountain ranges. It’s dusk and the sky grades perfectly from deep black blue in the east to pale yellow orange in the west. It’s the sound of the hospital air conditioning and the strange bed of course, but also a deeper feeling of real dislocation from place and time. My place and my time. I find I can stay there just watching it unfold and it’s quietly comforting.
Day+2 is going much better. I woke at 6 and ate fresh mango and peeled apple and then managed an hour of exercise. Bloods and Obs done. A bit later a visit from Beth one of the Haematology doctors here and an interesting chat about the timing of the chemo and transplant, and checks on my lungs with stethoscope and then a gentle pressing of my belly, and of my calves through their white pressure socks. All is well.
And then I spend much of the morning with The Complete Guide to Knots book and a length of soft rope I’ve brought along just for the purpose, anticipating a time when having something distinctly manual and practical to do would be the thing. Brilliant! Figure of eights, heaving-line knots, reef knots, clove hitches, half hitches, fisherman’s bends, highwayman’s hitch, bowlines and sheet bends…perfect for the simple mind. There’s an Hangman’s knot in the book – I don’t think I’ll be learning that but it’s curious how even the two knots in the photo above look threatening somehow even thought the bowline and heaving-line knot are used for boat handling and rescue purposes. Rope gets a bad rap.
Hiccups. Occurring most times when I drink, and I’m trying to drink a lot still. That makes it awkward. Yesterday Denise demonstrated on me a technique with her closing my ears while I drank and swallowed and it worked! But how to do that on my own?
Otherwise, it’s routine and nurses and cleaners come and go and I’m asked what I’d like for lunch and supper. I have to say this is a low point – the food is pretty dreadful despite the promising sounding menus. Really bad. I crave fresh vegetables, but they’re hard to find on the list of meat, fish and potatoes, cheesy sauces and white rice. I need those broths sitting in my freezer. I should have anticipated the reality of the menus when presented at the initiation day but the mechanics of having food brought in coupled with the resistance to that from the hospital has defeated me. I heard from one of the nurses that the Royal Marsden has recently adopted a fresh & organic policy with the same food being sold in the staff canteens which goes some way to subsidising the patients’ food. Can that be true?