Saturday, September 01, 2007

Questioning my loyalty


I'm not even going to go into detail on yesterday's debacle of a day (I went in, against my better judgement).

Lets just say that after this week, I feel three things in equal quantity:

1. DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF.

It's about failing to do something, not being able to see anything through, not being able to “cope”. I know I’m not, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel like you’ve failed.

I was genuinely confident at the beginning of this process that the whole chemo thing should not affect life too much. And in the first three treatments it didn't really. But the last three have just escalated in terms of the challenges they have thrown my way. They said it would be cumulative but I didn't realise it would accumulate on such a scale. I'd say the last two treatment cycles have been at least ten times as hard as the first one.

I remember being so confident that I could get through this and do my job. Maybe a few days off every three weeks but no more than that.

Partly I think I can blame the specialist for installing this myth in me so strongly. They breezily said things like 'Many of my patients don't even notice the difference' and 'Most people find they can work normally 90% of the time'. I now feel slightly angry that I wasn't really sat down and told the honest truth, but then I guess noone wants to be the bearer of more bad news at a time like that.

It might have made things turn out very differently. I could have quit all work, rented my flat and moved to Hereford and taken the treatment there without the pressures of daily work and new business meetings and bosses that look disappointed when you've dragged your arse in late for the third time that week and feeling like an old woman before her time. But I didn't. I clung to my normal life and pleaded for my job back and stayed in London. Was that the right choice? Who knows.

2. GUILTY ABOUT LETTING OTHERS DOWN.

Guilty when I have to call into work and say I'll be late or not there at all. Guilty when I make arrangements to see friends who I then have to let down again because I don't feel up to it.

Most friends seem to understand and take it in their stride. Most colleagues do too. But lately I've sensed one person's growing impatience with the whole situation. I think, or rather I hope, it's simply because they're trying to juggle workloads and they never know if I will be there or not. But sometimes I fear that it's more than that. I suspect they think I'm taking the piss, that I'm actually not really that ill. Or even worse, that I lied in April about how I believed I could work through this. I genuinely thought at the time I could. Noone is more disappointed than me that it's not working out as planned.

3. ANGRY AND RESENTFUL THAT SOME PEOPLE REALLY DON'T GET IT.

They seem genuinely not to understand that I am at risk from infections in a way that normal people aren't, and that getting a chest infection when you do not have the tools to fight it with is not a light-hearted matter. And I hate having to go into detail for people that don't understand. It makes me sound like a hypochondriac every time. I don't expect people to go 'ooh and aah' when you fill them in on your health situation but a little respect and understanding is all I need. When you tell someone you may need to be admitted to hospital, you certainly have to go for all sorts of tests, you have had a dangerously high temperature for four days and you keep waking up in the middle of the night because you're shivering so violently, and because of all of this you're pretty sure you should not be in the office, you expect more than "Ok. Well I'll see you at work."

Are they deaf? Do they think I'm joking? Or making it up?

I'm pissed off. Really, really pissed off. I don't know whether this treatment of me is purposefully heartless, or if it's due to some major lack of understanding or ignorance, but I am really upset.

The weird situation in which I got my job back has made me hostage to this whole situation. It has made me go in on many a day when I did not feel well enough. But this week I really needed to stay at home. But I still didn't expect such a total lack of humanity when it came to crunch point.

Strange thing is, a few weeks ago when R suggested that after my rads were complete we could move to Hereford, for a healthier (if less wealthier) lifestyle. Back then I responded saying it was a lovely idea but right now I felt a strong loyalty to see my job through here for a good while longer.

However, right now, only a matter of days later, that loyalty is being tested severely.

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