Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Happy Hump Day!

Yes, I am now exactly halfway through my radiotherapy treatment: 15 sessions done, 15 to go. It's like getting to the half-marathon point in the London Marathon (the only one I've ever done!) so it's like being just the other side of Tower Bridge, I think? Seasoned VLMers can correct me if I've got it wrong.... I remember, from those dim and distant days of actually running races, that it's always the middle third I find most difficult, so in a half-marathon, it's miles 5 - 9, in a full marathon, miles 11-18. To continue my running analogy, it's not really a surprise to me that I am finding the "middle 8" the most challenging. Starting from late last week when I started really feeling the side-effects, to a brief respite over the weekend, when rest and no radiotherapy for two days helped me start to feel better, to now, when two days back into the radiotherapy I am swallowing past a razor-edged tennis ball in my throat and feeling that exquisite pain of mouth ulcers - you know it's going to hurt when you run your tongue over your teeth but you do it anyway! Anyway, the Hump Day is a great milestone as from now on, I have fewer sessions to go than I have already had - psychologically, quite a boost!

My radiotherapy was early this morning, at 8.30 am. This meant I had to set the alarm - shock to the system after several weeks of just waking and rising when I felt like it. Our next door neighbour, Hugh, was my chauffeur for today and it was good to have the chance to chat to him for a while. He is Scottish and studied more or less the same degree at the same university as I did - although I do like to keep pointing out that he was a good few years ahead of me! - so we share a common love of things French and a common horror of poor grammar and spelling! It's great for me to give full vent to my bugbears and know that he will be equally horrified by them as I am :-) Hey, you've got to grab your pleasures when you can, right?

The reason my appointment was so early (we were back home by quarter past nine) was because this afternoon I had to go and see my physio and speech therapist at East Grinstead Hospital. After a couple of hours of rest (that early morning start was so hard.....) my friend Caroline collected me to go to the Queen Vic (hospital, not EastEnders pub). My physio signed me off for my shoulder although I have to continue doing the passive exercises she gave me and my speech therapist has given me permission to use more electrodes on my face to zap some muscle memory, although not until after my radiotherapy finishes and my new facial swelling has gone down. In fact, as I write this, I have a little electric current zapping through my forehead - bet you wish this was a live video link, don't you? She also gave me lots of samples to try to stimulate more saliva in my mouth, which is starting to feel quite dry and is referring me to the top plastic surgeon at the Queen Vic, who specialises in facial palsy, so that I can get on the list for a brow lift initially and then whatever else needs to be done. It's so encouraging to be able to look beyond the oncology and think that there might be something else happening in my life other than this cycle of radiotherapy.

I am loving the idea of the anti-list that Womble suggested and I see from the comments that quite a few of you also like this, so today's anti- list was: today I shall not - do any washing, do any ironing, do any cleaning or vacuuming or do any cooking. I have stuck to most of it but do admit to a small amount of cleaning of work surfaces in the kitchen and to loading a few things into the dishwasher and sticking it on. I don't think that's too bad! Tomorrow my anti-list is pretty much the same :-D

Our sitting room has been commandeered by our two children this evening, who invited some friends round to watch a film (it seems to involve a lot of bad language, so if there's a sure-fire way to make us leave the room, it's choosing a film like that!) so Neil and I are reclining on our bed, me updating my blog and with wires stuck to my forehead and him reading a book (The Observations by Jane Harris - I thoroughly recommend it) - who says romance is dead, eh? :-p

I never know quite how to close these posts without it sounding like a trite recital of thanks and appreciation but my thanks are always totally genuine and heartfelt. Without support and help, this would be a much harder and very lonely journey. As it is, I feel surrounded by love and care and bolstered by the many thoughts and prayers coming my way. Nowhere do I feel more loved and cared for in my own home (even if I get turfed out of my sitting room in favour of some doubtful film!).


  1. I now have a picture of you as a slightly shorter Paula Radcliffe. In her first LM, she was way ahead by half way, I remember her on her own coming off Tower Bridge and turning right to go to Canary Wharf. She was strong and you knew she was going to win. That's the picture I see now :-)

  2. Don't forget your own personal cheering station at mile 17, calculate when that is and we'll all get our pompoms out for you. That sounds sooo wrong when it's in print but you know what I mean ;-)