Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A touch of the breast cancer

I've been feeling much better the last couple of days. The bottom is almost back to normal (you'll be relieved to hear) and have actually had a full night's sleep last night (aided by drugs, but hey, I'm not proud...).

The fuzzy headedness has more or less gone. But I still lose track of things halfway through a sentence, and if I walk into a room to do something, I have to do it there and then or else it gets forgotten. Very quickly... Read of someone else's FEC chemo experiences yesterday and she described it as 'Chemo Brain', which I already have started using.

Actually spent yesterday out and about a bit, in the blustery half-sunshine-rain of our bank holiday weather. Met my parents and my little brothers (the former supervising the latter on some pony thing in the middle of a big field on the Worcestershire/Herefordshure borders).

Max, who's 10, said "You're hair hasn't fallen out yet then". Little brothers. They're great...

Seriously though, it had been troubling me as to how much, or how little I should tell them. They are young, but old enough to notice all is not well and I keep turning up with dressings affixed to various parts of my body. And even Max has learnt to stop inviting me on the trampoline with him (he just likes the fact my weight makes him bounce higher) so they know something's up. And when the hair starts going, it will suddenly be very obvious.

I also remember, how growing up, my parents would sometimes, rightly or wrongly try and shield us from stuff we 'didn't need to know'. I remember finding out we were at war with Argentina during the Falklands conflict by overhearing some kids talking about it down the stables. Which was weird. It worried me more that they'd tried to hide this from me (or more likely, just assumed I wouldn't be interested).

Anyway, I had decided to check this weekend to see if they knew enough about what this whole breast cancer thing was. If only so they wouldn't piece together snippets from the media and from school and come to the conclusion that I'm done for.

I spoke to my parents about this first, and my Dad mentioned that they'd picked up on it sooner than expected. Apparently, a month ago, Max turned round and asked 'What exactly is cancer, anyway?'. That stumped him for a moment but they decided to tell them all about the fact that I've had "A touch of the breast cancer" (my mother's words - she thinks she's doing post-modern suburban gossip irony) and explain what Chemo is all about. So I didn't need to go into detail with them but at least I can speak freely to them about it and not worry about what assumptions they might leap to.

And another thing... Whilst feeling much better, I have, since Sunday evening, felt like someone is standing on my chest. Physical activity left me feeling like I had the lung capacity of a hamster. This feeling continues, despite taking it very easy up stairs etc and it actually hurts to talk at my normal speed. And the indigestion I'm still experiencing makes this feeling of constriction even worse.

So when I called the hospital this morning to fix a time to get my stitches out, I decided to mention it. And they've summoned me in for tests and blood counts and checks. Could be a portocacth complication, could be the start of some dreaded infection.

Either way, it means I have the perfect excuse to opt out of our office trip to the Bingo tonight. A bingo hall is bound to be like a petri dish of bacteria for the average chemo patient. So it's sensible I stay away. But oh how I love to play housey housey...



Marie said...

Chemo-head sounds kinds of like what my brain is like these days!

Anonymous said...

Steve suffered from chemo brain and still did for some time after. Don't let it bug you. That's what partners are there for - to help you remember what it was you were going to do. In any case, it may just be old age or being a nutty, distracted academic doctor :). More often, Steve reminds me what it is I have to do, since I forget in about 2 seconds flat.

I like that you're talking to your little brothers about it. It must be a Dutch thing to keep things from children. And while I guess there is merit in it, I was very frustrated as I got older by how much my parents kept from me, and how naive I was to the world. Children are smart, and process things much more quickly (without the same hang ups) than we adults do. I see it like exposing them to the measles at an early age ...