A bit of a life update this morning. I went to bed on Thursday night feeling fine and woke up the next morning feeling anxious without really knowing why and it sort of stuck with me all day. I think it’s partly because I was worried about my teeth. Every couple of years my wisdom tooth has a bit of a move about and the gum gets infected so I go to the dentist and he gives me antibiotics and says if it keeps causing a problem it will need to be taken out under general anaesthetic. So this happened again the other day so I got antibiotics but the dentist also said that because I’m on alendronic acid (to prevent osteoporosis because I can’t go on HRT for the menopause because of the cancer risk), he wouldn’t want to take any of my teeth out because AA might make it take a long time to heal up. So that was me jumping to worst case scenario of having my wisdom tooth out and suffering with it. Typical of it to flare up as soon as I go on AA. But I looked online (not always recommended, really) and found some people saying they had teeth out while on AA and it was all fine. So I feel better about it now.
I had a dream last night that my CT scan results came back (I had the scan three weeks ago) and by some miracle I was pregnant. We were worried about losing the baby because of my surgery but we were excited. In my dream I got some counselling at my gynae checkup too, asking what was on my mind and stuff. That was before someone rushed in with the scan results (which I thought showed the cancer was back because of how she ran in with them). And before that, I had a dream I was playing with someone else’s baby. He was very smiley and didn’t cry and I think I might have been his favourite out of everyone in the room. My grandad was there too, as he sometimes randomly appears in my dreams despite no longer being with us, and he said “you’ll be wanting one of those of your own soon”. Nobody bothered to correct him.
Feelings around being childless and having a hysterectomy are quite complicated. I think I’d like something good to happen to me medically. I’d like me and my partner to go to my parents’ house to tell them something big that isn’t how I have cancer again, but something good. I would like to feel like other people. I would like to feel like I’m having a normal, big experience. I’d like to be counted as a mother in the general population. I’d like to be pregnant and excited and understand and enjoy the experience. I’d like to have a tiny human to look after. I feel so alienated from people around me who haven’t had cancer – I don’t have any “cancer friends”. Having a baby is among the things I want that I thought I would have in my life but haven’t yet. I want a baby, I want to get married, I want to own a house. I just want to be a normal grown up.
I got a lot done yesterday. I booked our flights to Florida for next year, and I got Keane tickets for me and my mum. I tried to get them during the presale on Wednesday but they sold out within two minutes, so I’m glad I managed to get them yesterday.
And the big news I haven’t mentioned is that I got accepted to study for my PhD at Teesside University! I’ll be doing it at a distance, researching the role of poetry in psycho-oncology. I want to find out how writing poetry can help cancer survivors in remission to work through fear of recurrence, health anxiety and other related feelings.
So, good things are happening even if they aren’t the big things I’m still waiting for or might never have. When life doesn’t give you any luck, you have to create it for yourself. And most of it isn’t luck, it’s work. Good thing I like making things happen for myself.
Did it snow this winter? I can’t remember watching flakes fall from my armchair but really, wrapped in recovery, I was not here.
It was hot last summer. I remember roasting watching the football, sweating walking into town for drinks to help me forget that I was too much here.
I’ve spent sporadic seconds each season wondering what the point is in seeing the next one if illness and fear is all there is for me, if nothing I expected to happen is waiting for me, wishing I wasn’t still here.
Summer is slinking around again and the bio oil I rub on my scars smells like a Floridian hotel in a way I can’t quite identify, but is surely a metaphor for how Orlando in four seasons’ time can heal, can erase, can smooth out, can soften me, can help me remember why I am still here.
My poem “Welcome” has been published in Picaroon Poetry today! I wrote this one in January, two months into recovering from Whipple surgery and four months post-hysterectomy, and it’s a really short one about what it’s like recovering from major surgery. Hope you like it! Read “Welcome” here.
I went for a tiny run today and the biggest effect it had was that it made me want to write. Which is better than the shower I had afterwards, at which point I took a photo of my belly, which just made me want to cry. It looks pretty bad – all scarred and lumpy and disfigured. Don’t care about the scars so much but my waist only goes in on one side now – what’s up with that? At first it was funny to feel a sort of gap where my organs used to be but now that I have actually seen how straight my other side is in comparison, I’m a bit freaked out. Have things actually moved further towards that side in the past couple of months? It’s weird and I don’t like it.
I have been feeling a bit sad today, just one of those low days really. I’ve been feeling a little more like that more often recently, while finding it difficult to explain. One explanation went something like:
“I was just looking at my drain sites and remembering that I used to have drains in, and it made me sad.”
I mean, doesn’t that sound a bit silly? I am sad because I am remembering something. I am sad for no reason other than I am thinking about something that happened in the past, and that isn’t happening anymore. I think it felt silly to me because it seems pointless to go over things in my head for no reason, and because in the context of what has happened, some of the things that have happened seem trivial. I suppose it is the idea that now that cancer is gone I should be happy. But of course I know it doesn’t work like that. I know that.
Been a bit of a funny week. Heard a lot about various people’s illnesses, which reminds me of my own. Which might be a bit selfish or something, to be thinking about how other people’s troubles make me think about my own, but can’t really be helped. One of them was really close to home and I would have preferred not to hear about it. But never mind. I’ve been having some unpleasant memories about being in hospital, recovering at home and stuff. Might also be because I have quite a few checkups coming up. Saw a baby in the pub last night, which also made me a bit sad. It wasn’t particularly cute but it was tiny – a fresh human. His mother looked absolutely besotted. Oh, and I’m sad about my hair still feeling really thin. Not sure what to do about that. Any tips?
I have a rather nice rest of the week ahead of me which is making me quite nervous. My aunty and uncle are visiting tomorrow, on Saturday night I’m going out with a friend, and I’m going to make time during the weekend to be super productive with Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and my PhD application and maybe some other writing, I hope. Everything seems… okay. Good, even. And that is bad. Well, it’s good but it makes me wonder what’s going to come along and fuck everything up. I can’t possibly be left alone by the medical world for any great length of time, surely?
I haven’t blogged in a while because I haven’t had too much cancer-related to talk about. But I thought I’d write a quick post about some of things that are happening seven months post-hysterectomy and five months post-whipple. (I can’t believe it’s actually been seven months since my hysterectomy already.)
I have two pieces out in the April issue of Bonnie’s crew! The first (page 30) is a creative non-fiction piece called The News, which I have been trying to place for possibly a couple of years now. It’s about trying to fit the anxiety of going for scans in with everyday life, and how easily that anxiety can be triggered.
The poem is called Grammar Error (page 37) and it’s a real short one, written after my hsyterectomy.