This week has been mentally tough. I have had my routine treatment, although I was feeling pretty rough, because of my chest infection. However the positive side of that was I got examined again. A larger dose of antibiotics was prescribed, and things are improving.
As I had been feeling lethargic, it meant that I spent more time than usual on my computer. Looking into more detail of some of the things that were happening in the cancer world, and in particular, some of my friends who are currently going through treatment.Coming into the Christmas period whilst undergoing treatment is very tough. It is a particularly poignant time of year anyway, but when people are seeming so happy, it can be very difficult to feel the same way!
My own stem-cell transplant took place over the Christmas period, which is a time I can never forget, as it has totally changed my life. As I have said so many times, all cancer experiences are unique, but we can all learn something from each others. Every so often I get very moving comments left on the blog, in response to a particular post. Dee wrote the below comments, on my post about ‘guilt.’ I felt that I needed to share them with my readers. (Tu, Dee!)
“This has been a really bad week for me, in which loss of independence, frustration and guilt stand out like beacons. My form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma will always come back, and remission for me will only ever be in terms of periods between need for treatment. There goes the first guilt trip: “only ever”. I’m alive, whilst some around me are dying. Some of those I nodded to only yesterday, are no longer with us. Yet I have the audacity to complain about ‘my lot’. Well, yes, I do! I mourn for my old life, and I really mourn the loss of my independence.
Courses five and six have been horrible. In each I have caught some random bug during my chemo week, just as my whole immune system is being wiped out, and utter debilitation had swiftly followed. Needing people to look after me, unable to do house work, regularly unable to do my shopping, sometimes not even being able to get out of bed, get washed, get dressed, and worst, those really dreadful times, when I can’t even walk unaided. This once formidable matriarch of long standing, this unflinching support network for close family and friends, this ruler of all I see, has become this simpering wreck of a woman, who’s frail limbs, gaunt face and saggy bottom of a woman thirty years older than I, sits here instead, only now once again able to clear the drool from my colourless lips for myself.
This is my second hospital admission in four weeks, and I write now from my hospital bed, unable to sleep any more. My fever has broken, this infection is under control, and I will be going home in 6 hours time. My treatment complete, my cancer gone! But it isn’t, it’s only sleeping. As I lay here planning for the next phase of living with cancer, I am all too aware that 72 hours ago, I was stood in the corridor crying like a baby. I was unsure if it was safe to let go of the wall, I was struggling with visual disturbances, and I was so do weary and weak that I couldn’t even work out what I was trying to do, although I did know it had something to do with the Doctor who still hadn’t come after 3 hours, despite his assurance that he would ‘be there in 5″.
The nurses rushing past, no one to talk to, no one to help me, no one to hold my hand and tell me I was safe. Not on this frantically paced acute general oncology Ward where End of Life was going on around me. “The Doctors are busy with patients who are really sick”. I am a patient, I am really sick! I voiced my concerns, but no one stopped. I had become invisible. The patient in such urgent need, yet no one could see me, I had become invisible, and I felt like a non-person, unwanted, afraid and alone. I was still alive, and once lucid again, I felt guilty that I had bothered the nurses than night, that I had demanded that someone met my needs, when some around me had lost their fight. Guilty as charged.”
I was astounded at the emotions that were so powerfully described in these comments. A lot of what happened to Dee in this instance, I have experienced personally. The feeling of helplessness washes over you. I know there are so many patients going through such tricky times, both physically and emotionally. Christmas is a difficult time for us.Unfortunately our issues continue, so if someone you know is going through some tough stuff, hopefully this piece might help you understand if they are not always full of festive joy.
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