As many of you may know, this week I finished three years of fortnightly sessions to have my blood treated. This involved being plugged into a machine for up to four hours on two consecutive days. It was very time consuming and tiring but like everything else that has happened since my diagnosis you have to readjust and deal with it. When I started, no one was really sure if the treatment would even work, and if it did, how long it would take, and there is also a combination of medication that I have to take with it, so things are quite complex. I find a lot of this quite ironic really because when I was diagnosed, it was suspected that my cancer may kill me. I was offered a stem cell transplant as the only possible escape route from that fate, which has worked brilliantly and kept me in remission so far. But I have spent the last seven years having treatment for the side effects of the transplant!
The side effects have been many, and varied and the treatment also, each bringing fresh and very different challenges. So having now settled into what had become a long term routine, it is time to stop that and find another one. I will now have a lot more free time, which I’m sure will be filled with something, but at this stage I don’t know what, and that is a great feeling. When I look back at my old diary, hospital appointments dominated the pages, and I had to squeeze in what else I could manage. Now apart from a few appointments I have made previously, I have plenty of free time.
But it’s not time to crack open the champagne really. Since I was diagnosed back in 2007 I have had pretty much continuous treatment, and rarely have a few months without something being required. So although I look forward with optimism there is also a degree of caution too. This has prompted me to think about how many times I have tried to make a plan and had to change it, due to my unreliable health. Sure, life can be very unpredictable even when you are healthy, but when you don’t know if you will be well enough to leave the house on occasions it makes life very difficult.
I was thinking of how best to describe this situation and shifting sands came to mind. The definition I found is as follows “a situation that changes very often in an unmanageable way” which I think sums things up perfectly! This is exactly what is happening to me, but what is the best way of dealing with it? As a business man I have been used to finding solutions for complex problems, but I came to the conclusion that there isn’t really an answer. Simply because the problems are normally different each time, and until they arise you can’t deal with them. There is no preparation you can do, for something that might not even happen.
So over the period it seems I have got used to things changing at a moments notice, and have made the necessary adjustments almost automatically. I used to be someone who needed a plan to work to, not too structured but at least showing me the direction I needed to go. Now I feel like a bottle in the sea, waiting for the tide to take me where it is flowing. My urge to plan is still there, and of course there are certain things I must, but generally I am loathe to make too many fixed arrangements.
Christmas and New Year is the time I use for reflection on my year, and how I can improve things for the upcoming one. This one is going to be the most difficult, as on paper I will have the most free time I have ever had to look forward to but there is still a great cloud of caution hanging over me. In many respects I have been given what I really craved, and that is choice, but it somehow felt easier and structured when I knew what my weeks involved. I should really feel excited, but I don’t currently. Maybe it hasn’t really sunk in, that after so long I am not scheduled to have any more treatment. Naturally there are smaller health issues I still have to deal with but nothing as all consuming as I have just completed.
Is the world now my oyster again? Certainly I don’t have the energy or enthusiasm for the things that I now have the time to do, giving weight to the, “do it while you can” voices. I am not convinced that you can really have it all in life, as when I had health and money I didn’t have the time. Now I have some time and don’t have the other two! But whatever my new situation is, like usual I guess I will find a route, and probably should stop thinking about it and let it happen, I might just enjoy it!
Working for myself I was prepared for an element of unpredictability so that theme became more exaggerated with my health, but how do other people cope with a fast changing landscape? For many I see it is very difficult to adjust, and it is not only the patient but in many cases loved ones too, who’s life is impacted and rapid adjustments are made. This is not just in time, but in finance and emotionally too, many things can change quickly for people after a cancer diagnosis.
Have you got used to constant change and how do you deal with it? As usual it would be great to hear from you with your experience, so please feel free to share below.