This has been one of the first chances I’ve had to write in the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been rushed of my feet (foot). There has always been someone else around, so there has been no peace to write. Even now I have one paltry hour left to write down my thoughts. I have been reading a little though, which I think is a good thing. I started back at work two half days a week, so there have been extra pressures on my time.
I go to work and I plod through some admin tasks and I feel as much use as a colander fish bowl. They are safe and straight forward tasks with my butt glued to an office chair, going numb. I forget more than I remember and sit trying to recall the information I once knew for long minutes at a time. For the first week I just talked incessantly. I was like a yappy, excitable spaniel, delighted to see his master. (I have no masters). Now I am like a ponderous old Labrador, vague muscle memory causing him to twitch in his sleep, remembering more active times. Prolonged admin is a task that reminds me of Marx’s theory of alienation. We lack any control or sense of productiveness as we tick boxes and submit information electronically. This isn’t a complaint, it’s an observation. Even these mundane tasks are beyond my addled brain. Large chunks of grey matter have been wiped clean by drip fed poison.
I am not patient with myself and sometimes I am impatient with others. Right now I am struggling to believe my body hasn’t fought off cancer and is making it’s way robustly to completing a one legged marathon. Instead I am making my way rotundly, through king sized Snickers instead. I am losing the battle with my expanding waistline. I had planned to go out and walk miles a day on my crutches but I have been experiencing insistent pain in my hip, heel and increased phantom pains when I do this. So this week I started a push up challenge. I used to be good at push ups. The challenge is 100 push ups a day for 30 days. I have thrown in superman exercises, plank and cat pose, back stretching exercises too. This is having no effect on my midriff, which expands and swells like a sandwich bag full of yoghurt.
I had the grotesque fantasy that my swollen mid section might be tumours growing there. I recall panicking a few weeks ago, thinking that it felt too hard to be normal tissue, therefore it must be the result of malignant tumours. The panic didn’t last long.
For the last few days I have been imagining the cancer has spread to my brain. As well as my reduced ability to remember anything I have also noticed I am dropping things more. My coordination is off. Yesterday in the office I dropped the same thing three times in quick succession. I say ‘same thing’ because I can’t remember what it was and it was only yesterday. My wife mocked me a couple of days ago when I’d aimed some teasing remark at her. She said “what did you have for dinner tonight?” I paused and remembered. Then “what did you eat for dinner yesterday?” There was a longer pause and again the right answer. Then she asked what we had done on Sunday and I mixed things up. Someone has opened my head up and inserted a hand blender and given it a quick blast.
Because I’ve always had physical, mobility problems I always fell back on my brain and my ability to work things out as my strongest suit. I learned in high school that I could handle most subjects without much effort, so I only put in any effort when I thought a teacher was watching me, otherwise I coasted. I discovered IQ books by Hans Eysenck in my teens and would sit, hunched contentedly and complete puzzles seeing if I could improve my score. The puzzles gave me a sense of self belief. (In the land of the blind, the one eysencked man is king – awful pun.) I later learned that my lack of effort coupled with laziness and limitations meant I was just of average intelligence after all. Nothing special, just enough to get by. But the legacy of that thinking lives on in my mind, I still sometimes act as though I was a potential wunderkind who grew old before seizing the day. So I don’t know what I would do if my brain was attacked was savaged by the beast.
Have you ever been to a fireworks display and due to some technical errors it was delayed and eventually called off? Initially everyone crowds around the perimeter waiting for the show to begin, full of anticipation. Then gradually as it transpires there is a problem, murmuring and shuffling begin and a few stragglers at the back start to drift away, convinced it’s not going to happen. After further failed attempts to get the electronic launching system working, more and more people leave to watch the Game of Thrones season launch and make some cheese on toast. In the end when all the crowds have dissipated only one of two bored faces remain to witness one squib being launched and popping overhead. That’s what having a diagnosis of cancer has been like for me this time round. Even I have lost interest. Who cares? The new iPhone 8 is due to be launched soon and it has improved battery life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be followed by professional mourners, weeping and gnashing their teeth. (I hate grinding teeth more than almost anything, even the thought of it is getting me vexed – shudder.) I want to kick this thing hard in the ass and be able to participate in the race of life, FULLY, whether it’s a one legged marathon or a handstand sprint. Tell me the rules and I’ll give it a go.
This is the song that was running through my head as I wrote this. It took me ages to find because I couldn’t remember the song or the artist. Listening back to it they could have stopped it at 3 minutes and done away with the yeh yeh yehs. If you run out of things to say just stop talking.