Walking it off...
My feet hurt. But I'm strangely happy about it. I'm happy because I managed to complete the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) Surrey Tops 50 mile challenge walk last weekend.
Most people reading will already know about this mad obsession I now have with long distance walking. I love it. Quite simply it sorts out my head. This most recent challenge has completely wrecked my toes and the balls of my feet and I'm very tired but my head is straight (and bald - of this more later!).
I think it's probably my own personal version of a mid-life crisis but I've been told by every department at Charing Cross Hospital with which I've had dealings so far, that I MUST continue to walk. Keeping active and in particular walking in the fresh air, reduces the incidence of cancer reoccurring by 50%. I probably don't need to walk 50 miles to gain this benefit and won't be walking that far again until February. But I will continue to walk shorter distances throughout the rest of the chemo treatment and subsequent radiotherapy. And it is amazing how much better a walk makes me feel.
I know one of the reasons my feet are suffering so much after this last event (nowadays I rarely have the full set of 10 but I think I'm going to lose a record number of toenails in the coming weeks!!) is down to the lack of any training at all of any distance, since the 100mile walk in May. The other reason (I'm pretty sure) is that my skin has already started reacting to the chemotherapy and gone a bit soft and super sensitive on me. One of many side effects I've noticed over the last three weeks.
The other main and most noticeable side effect is the hair loss. It got so bad after the walk last weekend (it was coming out in great handfuls and I came out of the post-walk shower so plastered in loose hair, I looked like the yeti!) that I decided to shave it all off and am now sporting an ever more patchy five o'clock shadow... But I've had a very good example set to me from a young age of how to go bald gracefully and even proudly. Most of the men in my family are bald and none of them have ever tried to hide it. They are (or were, in the case of my maternal Grandfather, who passed away 23 years ago - still miss you, Poppa!) all handsome men with fine shaped heads that look none the worse for a lack of hair. So I'm taking my menfolk's lead and wearing my new look with pride. Invoking the spirits of Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, Sinead O'Conner (alas without the voice! But perhaps with slightly more of sense of humour?!) and with a smattering of Dr Evil (from Austin Powers) just for the fun of it!
I realise I've been wittering on about hair loss & walking and haven't yet got round to what happened back in June, when I woke up after the Lumpectomy... There's not a small amount of procrastination involved in the delay as I'm just a little bit ashamed of my behaviour when I (eventually) woke up.
I'm not a happy person when I come round from general anaesthetics at the best of times. But unfortunately it turns out morphine makes it a LOT worse. All I can say is that I'd be a rubbish heroine addict - god that stuff made me feel dreadful! And behave even worse...
It's all a little unclear now - I vaguely remember Mr Hadjiminas and his very young, handsome registrar coming round to see me and telling me something about something - I dread to think what I said to them - I really hope it wasn't too inappropriate or rude...! I kept feeling horribly nauseous, so the lovely and long-suffering nurses gave me one of those grey cardboard party hats to be sick in. I told them quite loudly and in no uncertain terms (which I expect they heard in the next ward) that I HATED being sick and wasn't going to be if I could possibly help it. I believe I repeated this statement at a similar volume, several times.
I eventually called Mike (my husband) to come and pick me up - after politely (I hope) declining the offer of a bed in the overnight ward. He seemed to take AGES to get there and in the meantime everyone else on the ward was leaving; my lovely new friend, a devout Catholic who lent me one of her precious and beautiful icons to help me feel better and who's name now entirely escapes me; the other two ladies, who'd both been through surgery quietly and with a dignity I had entirely abandoned. Even the staff started to leave! I knew I'd outstayed my welcome when the remaining two nurses came to me and politely but firmly told me I had
to get dressed now and wait out in the visitors lounge reception as they had to lock up.
Mike turned up just as I managed to lump my backpack into the lounge. I was driven home to a wonderful (if brief) welcome from my two beautiful sons. Then, after half an hour or so of ineffectually making sure I'd packed everything I'd need (which basically involved taking loads of stuff I didn't!), Mum and Dad put me in the car and took me back to their house in Thame for a few days of recuperation.
And a week to find out the results. A whole week before I knew if they'd managed to remove all the cancer...
(I think that might have been one of the things Mr H had been trying to tell me...)