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.
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?
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.
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.
I would like to write something positive about what a great year 2018 has been and how I have so many resolutions for 2019. But I had cancer twice last year so obviously it was horrendous, not great, and I’d quite like to see exactly how that is going to fuck me up psychologically before I commit to performing great acts in 2019. Plus, there’s the chemo thing to wait and see for.
The other day I tweeted about trying to be mindful while I am on holiday. I’m in my favourite place in the world, Orlando, Florida, and I know that when I get home my two week holiday is going to feel like a distant memory. When I have gotten home after a holiday in the past, I have felt unhappy to not still be here, and wondered if I appreciated it while I was here. Did I stop and look around enough? Did I take stock of where I was? Did I stop racing around and think about where I was, look at the trees, get up early and enjoy the quiet, listen to all the sounds – the crickets, the park music? Did I smell all the smells – the food, the weirdly sweet smell of the air, the clean smell of the hotel room? Did I appreciate the hot weather, then coming in to the air conditioning? Did I use my time off work to my full advantage?
Home alone, feeling reflective or otherwise emotionally riled for no real reason, and in possession of a lot of Jack Daniels. Four bottles, in fact. Obviously I’m only going to have like two glasses; it’s just interesting that I have so much in the house at the moment. Good to know it’s there, I guess – though I will have to pick a different alcohol when I eventually go to the supermarket to do my “will I still get ID’d now that I’m thirty?” test.
Been at home for most of the day and I decide it’s time to write a blog post at 11:20pm. Better make it quick!
Tonight has turned very introspective. I have been reading online and thinking about how maybe I have some kind of social anxiety and that holds me back by making me think I can’t do the things I might want to, making me unable to say stuff in meetings, not want to go to social events sometimes, not want to do things that make me the centre of attention. There is a CBT app but it’s like $99 for a month which seems pretty expensive. I’m in therapy at the moment, three sessions in but I’m not sure if it’s really doing anything for me and I have three sessions left and don’t really know what I’m going to talk about in them. Anyway, I’ve just been thinking about the things I wish I could change, really. And social anxiety might be something I can change. But the things I’ve been talking to my therapist about seem to be things that we can’t change, like having bad dreams, flashbacks, bad memories, anxiety about checkups. Cancer-related things, seem to be things I can’t change, or that’s what it’s sounding like.
Driving the 20-30 minutes home from my parents’ house tonight (which is always lovely, in the dark – very contemplative), I stumbled upon an interview with Jay Z from when he was in the Live Lounge on Radio 1. I must admit I wasn’t sure who it was at first, but he said some things that really resonated with me so I thought I’d hammer out a quick blog post about it before going to do a bit of my jigsaw puzzle (also quite relaxing and contemplative). I haven’t listened to much Jay Z in the past but halfway through the interview they played one of his songs with Linkin Park – Numb/Encore and I did have a bit of a sniffle at that because he dedicated it to Chester, it being the first time Jay Z performed it since Chester died. And having Linkin Park play unexpectedly does seem to have that effect on me since his passing. That, and I don’t think I have let out some of the things that have been happening family-wise lately, so it was good to get a bit of it out.
I had a bit of a clearout of my wardrobe today. I say a bit, because I never manage to throw very much away. But I have thrown out my favourite dress, which doesn’t quite fit right/look so good on anymore and probably never will again.