So no blog last week.
I'm afraid it was just too much.
Is that an admission of weakness or an honest response and responsible reaction to the rather hefty burden of the antibiotics I was taking the week before, on top of the five accumulated chemo rounds? I'm going to be kind to myself and own the latter.
The antibiotics were (probably) necessary in order to prevent the rather 'fruity' (to put it nicely!) cough I had picked up, from becoming a full blown chest infection and thus landing me back in hospital. They (probably) worked as I didn't/haven't yet developed a chest infection, or for that matter any other type of infection (let's hope I haven't just spoken too soon there...!). But the antibiotics did send me half way round the bend.
That probably isn't a very PC way of putting it but adequately describes what was going on in my head the week before last. It felt likely my mind was fracturing and I was losing myself to an unknown (and not particularly pleasant) part of my personality. I started taking the antibiotics on the Monday and it wasn't until Wednesday (and 48 hours of mental turbulence) that I thought to look at the leaflet to check the side effects...
At 50cm long, the leaflet looked more like a scroll when I'd finally finished unfolding it. Both sides were covered in closely printed 8 point text and most of that text listed the possible side effects...
Among some really ugly warnings about impaired liver and kidney function and gastrointestinal disturbances was a section on the possible mental side effects, "Altered sense of reality, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, nightmares and strange dreams" were all listed. It didn't give a likelihood of these quite scary side effects occurring but I'm pretty sure anyone who read the last blog entry would agree, I was certainly suffering from at least some of them!
And now I'm just exhausted.
Taking the antibiotics on top of the chemotherapy and bearing in mind that it was then only three weeks since my sojourn in Ealing Hospital (and all the drugs they'd plied me with there!), I think the tiredness I am now experiencing is only to be expected.
My poor, brave, embattled body.
I'm in awe of my body. I do on occasions feel a bit betrayed by the cells which went rogue and mutated, growing into the Lump; the cancer (always now with a small "c") which had started to worm it's way from my breast to the rest of my body via those poor old lymph nodes. But the rest of my body... It is an amazing, biological machine. So complex and incredible; so beautiful in the way it works, in the way it keeps trying to heal no matter what is thrown at it. And strong. Despite the last six months of treatment. It's ironic that I was apparently so fit and healthy back in May (I walked 100 miles after all) and yet if I hadn't found the lump, I was probably only a couple of months away from the cancer escaping to other parts of my body thus becoming secondary breast cancer and rendering itself 'incurable'.
But I felt so well.
Now I do not.
The cure has made me more ill than I have ever been in my life. By increments I have become unrecognisable to myself (inside and out). I have lost almost all my hair (there are a couple of tenacious eyelashes and eyebrows on each side hanging on in there and the hair on my head keeps trying to grow back (incredible perseverance from those follicles!))
I have learnt so much about myself. I have rarely felt so loved and supported. I have discovered how much I enjoy writing. And I have finally tried standup (and enjoyed it so much that I will be doing it again). My priorities have changed and continue to evolve. But most of all I now have the utmost respect and love for my body (which definitely includes my mind - the chemo has conclusively proved them to be part of the same homogenous whole).
Last chemo (number six) today. One more ride on the rollercoaster. I have reached almost total inertia now and everything is much more of a monumental effort. But one of my walking mates on Twitter (thank you Chris!) pointed out that Sunday is the Winter Solstice and from Monday the days will gradually get longer again. At his very simple but inspiring suggestion I will hang on to the coat tails of the sun and use the returning light to me to guide full recovery.
HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE EVERYONE - may the returning light inspire you too :oD