I accidentally extended my own lockdown by fracturing my ankle so now moving off the couch to go anywhere is a hassle slightly reminiscent of recovering from cancer surgery. It hurts less than it did a week ago, though.
Hi! It’s been ages, hasn’t it, but at the same time it’s hard to tell because the world is on fire.
I’m going to be on my local radio station on Friday night, around 7.40pm on BBC Northampton, reading part of a lyric essay and talking about writing and my piece, which of course is about my usual subject.
I’ve been wanting to write something for a little while but haven’t really known what to say or where to begin. I was up half the night with trapped wind and slept in two hour blocks for maybe six hours total. After going to bed at about half eleven, I drifted off at about half one and was up every two hours either going to the loo or taking Rennies and pacing our small kitchen trying to get my wind up. When I woke up at 8.30am I decided I’d rather get up than try to have a lie in, because the wind and pacing and not sleeping reminded me of the days and weeks after surgery. So, not cool.
I read a paper talking about PTSD and cancer. Here, I fixed it. We need to hear more from people who are living with and after cancer, not those who have zero idea of what the emotional and mental fallout actually feels like.
It’s the time of year when I normally get very introspective (yes, more so than usual) and productive with my writing, and these two things mean I write something about what I’ve done this year and what I want to achieve next year. But having had cancer not so long ago makes that tricky – and the expectations I have for myself that it shouldn’t be tricky, make it trickier. Are you with me?
When I had my routine CT scan in August (ish) it didn’t come back clear, so my consultant sent me for a PET scan. That didn’t quite come back clear, either – it showed a 7mm lymph node growth, so my consultant said I should have an MRI and an ultrasound guided needle biopsy to take a closer look at it. I had the MRI in September and yesterday I almost had the needle biopsy.
It’s Wear It Pink day today – a day when people wear pink to raise awareness for breast cancer and the charity Breast Cancer Now. The idea is to wear pink for the day, donate to the charity, and put on or take part in some sort of sponsored event to raise money – like a bake sale or a run and so on. But I do wonder how many people throw on a pink t-shirt and think “okay I’ve done my bit, I’m raising awareness now”. I know lots of people like this stuff and I might be on my own here, but I’m not too keen on participating in these sorts of things – which is why you won’t see me wearing pink today or going to a charity coffee morning in September. There are a lot of emotional aftereffects of cancer, even for years after remission, and if something is going to throw the disease in my face I want it to be really worthwhile. Charities do a lot of good and when lots of people donate money due to the attention the charity receives on days like this, it can really make a difference and my emotional issues and avoidance tactics aside, I think the work charities do and the attention they receive is great and very important.
All the leaves are changing and nothing is changing and maybe everything is changing. My mother sings California Dreaming while she stands smoking at the kitchen window, just the first two lines, nothing more, she doesn’t know the rest – sometimes softly to herself, sometimes with vigour, with an excitement about the sky being grey, whether or not it really is. Sometimes I look in the mirror or catch my own mannerisms, think about my ways, and realise I am becoming her a little and I love it. I talk like my dad. I tell people to pack it in and stop mithering and find myself repeating sayings I assume are a bit northern and explaining it away with as my dad would say. My family is the best family to ever exist and we don’t need to be perfect because nobody is – I can only emulate the best people I know, and they are the best people I could emulate because they never left. Others left and said they had come back but they haven’t, not really.
I had my gastroscopy on Friday and it was the best endoscopy experience I’ve had so far – not least because the only thing I remember (thank you, sedation) is my doctor straight after the procedure saying “nothing serious”. As a result, I’ve had an extremely relaxed weekend.
Happy bank holiday! For me, this long weekend is appearing between scans and checkups, as snatches of joy often do. I had my PET scan on Wednesday, which was a breeze – it’s always easier when you’ve done something before. I had a nap during the scan last time, and this time was no different, except this time my leg didnt jerk in my sleep and wake me up panicking that I had unintentionally moved. The results should come back in a week or two. Next Friday is my gastroscopy, at a completely different hospital, so Peter and I are continuing our tour of the local medical establishments.
Anyway, I wanted to share a poem today, because I haven’t posted one for a while and I haven’t submitted much to lit mags or had anything published for a while, either. Here’s something I wrote on the way home from a friend’s house last week, and the photo that follows is my terrible attempt at taking a photo of the moon that same night.
The moon behind the church
I want to live where I can see the moon. I want to be with people who can see and nod and agree with my assertions about the beauty of the moon. When the traffic slows, I like to think it’s because every driver is trying to get a really good look at the moon. I want us all to turn off our own moons – headlights – and slow to see the moon behind the church.
I pull over to take a picture. Get my good side, it says, keeping its cheek turned. I comply, the photo doesn’t turn out quite right – I don’t have the tools – but I am happy to sit, forget the day the sun had burned, and let my head cool as I admire the moon behind the church.