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The Penultimate Bend

This was set up to advance posted so that I could have a leisurely start to Friday.  Or so I could do the jobs that I need to do before I head off to the hospital.  Or both perhaps.  I had forgotten that St Eroid, the patron saint of insomnia, was watching over me last night, meaning that by 5 a.m. I gave up trying to get back to sleep and got up instead.  Some people evidently do lots of St Eroid induced housework or eating rubbish ... I try to avoid too much of either!  In any case my neighbours wouldn't appreciate the sound of nocturnal vacuuming.  So, what follows is mostly what I wrote last night, with a few tweaks in the stillness of the early non-so-bright (though a bird with insomnia was singing at 5...)

Today is the fifth and penultimate dose of chemotherapy... the second visit of the Angel Docetaxel... must be an angel it ends in El!  Maybe the Hebrew scholars can assign an interpretation to it?!  Carcino-zapper-of-the-lord maybe..?

I am delighted that I've got this far without having to delay a dose due to low blood count or infection.  It's come close on the blood count a couple of times but always recovered in time.  Psychologically hitting 31st December for the final dose is still a big target... and still not guaranteed.  I have to keep being good and careful for another few weeks yet.  To finish this phase in 2010 would be good though.

Way back in September Mount Chemo, as I've named it, seemed utterly enormous - uncharted territory with lots of scary possibilities.  Now I'm most of the way up I am secretly quite pleased with how I've coped... OK it's not a secret now I've said it.  In some ways it feels as if it's gone quickly but it's had its dragging moments too. Anyone who did 'O' level (or 'O' grade I suspect) maths in the 1970s will vaguely recall the concept of the sigmoid curve... starts slowly at the bottom, then rises steeply, then flattens out again.  A bit like a quarter of a sine curve.  Anyway, that kind of reflects how it's felt speed-wise.

The worst bit, for me, so far, was the venous pain with the second two doses of the first drug cocktail... coupled with the unknown of if it would go or if the veins would recover; I am fortunate both arms are now fine and the very last of the tenderness is going from my left wrist.  Some people are left with permanently stiff arms; I am glad my oncologist told me to use my arms anyway even if they hurt as it is the temptation to mollycoddle them that causes permanent damage.

I have been very fortunate to have lots of excellent support through this phase... people on standby to give me a lift if I needed it (so far I've been able to walk to and from all my appointments), people who are willing to hear me bore for Britain on my most recent experiences (like you, gentle readers), people who have sent emails or cards, and people who, above all, have treated me the same as before and occasionally remind me that I'm still the same person.  I kind of am and kind of am not the same, but it's nice to be reminded of the 'am'.

Being almost up the climb is not the end... there's still a way to go yet, still the possibility of unexpected stiles or boggy ground, still the potential for surprise views before I reach the top.  This is one uphill climb I'll be very pleased to reach the end of... it will be nice to be able to celebrate by eating the things that have been prohibited or proved problematic; it will be nice in 2011 to begin to have hair again (and in time hair long enough to brush); it will be nice not having to wonder what new side effects might be lurking.  But it hasn't been anywhere near as bad as I feared it might be and so as I round the penultimate bend, the fifth of six, and as I reflect on the benefit that has been gained, it is with a sense that the climb will soon be completed and has been worth the effort involved.

Of course after a little rest there are new adventures on this journey but I'm not going to get ahead of myself.  And for all mymany and lovely checker-uppers I'll post something later to confirm I'm still OK :-)  (Who needs Facebook or Twitter when you've got a blog?!)


  • Well done for getting this far. Praying for you, as are many I know.

  • I didn't know St Eroid, so thank you for introducing me to my patron saint. This is the saint who presides over much of my prayer - in which your name has been known to crop up : )
    (And perhaps you would appreciate me using the time to do some reading of submissions.....)

  • meant to say, I know St Eriod is better known in my life as Fr. Ustration....!!

  • Hi Ruth, love the idea or Fr. Ustration... I feel a whole set of ecclesial figures could be derived quite effectively. Who knows Rev O'Lution might be on her way... ;-)

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