In this post, what am I now? Probably 44.
I had moved on - cancer was a distant memory and hardly ever crossed my mind anymore. I relived it a little when my mum was diagnosed with lung cancer and asked me for my experience of chemotherapy. I told her that my main memory of it was like having a giant headache-less hangover. My brain felt fuzzy, I was tired, nauseous, thirsty. I couldn't think straight. I forgot the odd word sometimes - one memorable example was when I described what I had planned for tea one night. The menu was - and I quote "Fish, chips, gravy and what are they called? You eat them - those horrible green things. In a tin,. Ew. You can't EAT them" ("eat" said in a horrified voice) I was, of course, referring to mushy peas.
I told her not to plan on finishing any books - my experience was that I would read a chapter, fall asleep and forget what I had read. I told her not to plan on films - as with reading, the routine was get comfortable and fall asleep, missing the whole film. I advised her to either read books she had read before and knew by heart, or stick to women's magazines with the one page stories. I advised lining up some half hour comedy boxsets - half an hour was about doable in terms of staying awake.
I tipped her off on not eating blue cheese, soft boiled eggs, using a baby toothbrush, all that sort of thing. I wasn't told these things - I gleaned them off the internet.
I told her about the nurse who had explained to me that the lymph nodes were like a taxi service - they carry bad cells around the body and the chemotherapy stops them from being able to drive. She found this hilarious - she was a Bachelor of Science and - as she reminded me when I told her to stay the hell away from Google - knew far more than was good for her about human biology and cancer. She hoped against hope that she would meet this nurse and receive this highly hilarious explanation, but sadly, she didn't.
Anyway, I was 44ish and was minding my own business - sitting on the sofa watching Eastenders when I suddenly got a pain in my shoulder. I'd had a slightly stiff/niggly shoulder since the mastectomy (perhaps I should have ignored the illustrations being aimed at the senior citizens and done the physio, eh?!) but nothing like this.
I was in tears. The pain was sending shooting pains down my bicep. It felt like I was receiving electric shocks. There was an uncontrollable itch - no bites or rashes - just an itch.. I don't cry at pain easily but this had me in floods. I took (don't try this at home, children) four painkillers in four hours and managed to make it back off a bit. I went to bed and spent a good hour a) arranging pillows to balance my arm on and b) kicking a small Lhasa Apso dog off the pile of pillows I had arranged for my arm. I got some sleep.
The next day it was tender - not agonising but tender. Two painkillers sorted it out quickly enough but when they wore off, it came back and it brought friends. Bigger, tougher, more experienced friends who, apparently, laughed in the face of painkillers.
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