Sunday afternoon and it's already getting dark - I shall be so relieved when the days start lengthening again. I really dislike these short days and hate the day the clocks go back with a passion, because I know it leads to ever decreasing days and ever lengthening nights.
Since I last posted, I have had more friends round for lunch. On Friday, two friends I know from Runners World, Geves and Debs, came all the way down from the depths of Essex to visit me for a few hours. It was so good to see them and we had a great old chat and catch-up. I have been so grateful that so many friends have been willing to make the journey out to see me. I enjoy company, although I still feel a bit nervous and apprehensive before seeing friends for the first time since all this happened, because I do worry about what they will think when they see my different face. But after a few minutes, I think we all tend to forget about it, especially when we get stuck into a bit of gossip and a giggle!
I went to the gym again on Friday morning. As before, I took it slowly and steadily and did some lateral pull-downs to give my left shoulder a bit of physio. Although I was signed off by the physio a few months ago, I think I need to get into the habit of doing some regular stretches and exercises to try and regain/retain movement. I am convinced that exercise is going to be vital in dealing with my depression - even after just two gym sessions, I feel more positive and more as if I am returning to normal (albeit a different normal from before). Just doing something I used to enjoy doing before all this happened, even if I am doing it at a much lower level, makes me feel that fragments of my old life are falling back into place. By the time I see my GP to discuss my depression and possible treatments later this week, I hope to have done another couple of sessions at the gym, so I should be able to talk meaningfully with him about the value of exercise. However, if between us we decide that I need some additional help from medication, then so be it. I won't refuse out of pig-headedness but I want to be sure that the decision is reached after proper discussion.
Last night we had a Scottish evening at my church, with country dancing, songs, Burns poetry and a few other Caledonian gems. I had suggested this as a social event at the beginning of the year but then wasn't able to play much of a part in planning it all, but I did manage to get hold of some posters courtesy of VisitScotland and my friend Linda was brilliant and sent me loads of tartan ribbon and St Andrew's flags so I was i/c decoration on the day itself, which meant I could feel part of it without having to get really involved in cooking and serving food! I did make two trifles as my contribution to the repast, but they were pretty straightforward and quick to make. Neil helped set up all the tables and then helped dismantle everything at the end of the evening. Because we started at about half six, it meant we were home and flopped on the sofa before ten pm, which was very welcome! I feel very tired today, but that's probably because I was unable to resist the opportunity to do some Scottish dancing and got up a couple of times. Bit of a mistake, as I am weary now, but it was such fun and just felt so good to be doing something active and sociable.
I don't want to tempt fate by speaking too soon, but I really do feel that just over the last week or so, I have turned a bit of a corner and feel so much better than I have done for the past few months. I have more energy, both physically and mentally - I want to do things, to get involved with events and people. There's still that feeling of trepidation and self-consciousness about my face, but I think it's a good sign that I am getting involved in social things. We have our local Christmas shopping evening this Thursday, when all the shops stay open, the high street is closed to traffic and there's a great sense of excitement and Christmas anticipation. We always go along and see lots of our friends and this year will be no different, so I am looking forward to going to that (with the usual provisos!).
Anyway, I hope this positive feeling continues although I am realistic enough to know that there will still be dark moments ahead. I still need to learn to let go of this need to be always in control and always coping, but at the moment I am okay. One of the people I was talking to last night (she was in the dance group which did some demo Scottish dances for us, and I know her anyway but hadn't seen her since I was ill - clearly I don't know her that well!) - anyway, after that very rambling bit in parentheses, the point I wanted to make is that she is a doctor and was able to give me a bit of reassurance, in a very straightforward way, that it was extremely unlikely that cancer in the parotid gland would be a secondary cancer so the likelihood is that it is the primary (which has still never been confirmed!) and that I looked so much better than she would have expected me to look at this stage in my recovery. She also said we are absolutely right to push my consultant for a PET CT scan, to try and get the peace of mind Neil and I both feel we need. Another friend, who is an anaesthetist, also said we are right to push for this scan, so we feel comforted to know that we're not being unreasonable in asking the question.
I have another busy week this coming week, with friends coming for lunch on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I also have my speech therapist on Tuesday (when I shall ask about how I can protect my facial muscles when running), GP on Thursday followed by dental hygienist at the Marsden, and another friend coming over on Friday afternoon. She has been through radiotherapy and chemo this year, so we can empathise with each other! Factor in the Christmas shopping evening and an attempt to get to the Open Day at the Orpheus Centre to see where Amy works, and it's a pretty full-on week! I am no longer feeling the need to have a rest during the day, so my energy levels must be increasing, given the way I seem to have become a Lady who Lunches :-)