Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned – it has been over three weeks since my last blog post. The reasons for this have been many and varied, but amongst them has been a bad case of bloggers’ block. Actually it was more a case of blogstipation; there have been plenty of posts in my mind, but they just refused to come out on to the screen.
In my 20 or so years as a journalist, I have suffered from creative blockages many times. Forcing the issue never worked for me; when I put myself under pressure anything I wrote came out stilted and false. It was best simply to wait it out; the muse would come upon me eventually and, as soon as I felt the first inkling of inspiration, I quickly put finger to keyboard. Once a few words had flowed out, the blockage was cleared and things were back to normal. Thus it has been with this blog and today I had the urge to write again.
Another reason for the radio silence was the aftermath of my second chemo treatment. Having found the days after my first dose horrible but bearable, I assumed subsequent treatments would follow a similar pattern. How wrong I was! For some reason, the second dose hit me with about double the force of the first. I was bed-ridden for days on end, with extreme pain throughout my body and a degree of tiredness for which there really needs to be a new word. Neither ‘fatigued’ nor ‘exhausted’ come close to describing it. After what felt like an eternity, I started to feel a little better and have improved each day. However three weeks later, I still feel decidedly below par.
I faced another complication a few days after the treatment when my ‘chemo arm’ became swollen and excruciatingly painful. A swift trip back to hospital revealed that I had two large blood clots; a protest from my veins at the copious amounts of poison being forced into them. I know that a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) can be a dangerous thing but I didn’t really register the risk to me. That was until I cheerily commented to the nurse “So, could they have gone to my brain and killed me?” “No” she replied, gravely. “They could have gone to your lungs and killed you.” Just when I thought cancer was my worst enemy, I find out the threat from its treatment.
The remedy, which will help prevent further clots, is two-fold: daily injections of a blood-thinning drug until the end of my chemo, and the insertion of a ‘port’ into my chest; this is a little nozzle that will take future chemo doses into a large vein, rather than the small, tired ones in my arm.
My next chemo has been delayed by two weeks. This will enable me to fully recover from the last one. The dosage will be reduced to around 75% strength. I have been assured that the curative effects will be undiminished but the side effects will be considerably fewer. One is expected to feel poorly after chemo, but not as poorly as I have been
It struck me today that our famously variable British summer weather has been in tune with my moods and my state of health, with a mixture of glorious sun, gloomy clouds and plenty of rain. One night, a couple of weeks ago, we experienced the mightiest of storms – hours on end of deafening thunder and strobing lightning. This coincided with my lowest point, when I felt more ill than I ever have before, when I doubted my ability to cope with any more chemo, when I felt cancer and its brutal medicine had got the better of me. Then the storm passed, dawn broke and the sun shone once again.