What do you do when you think you might get bad news, you prepare for how you might react if you get bad news and then, when it turns out the news is good, you haven't thought about how that might feel? That's just how I feel, even today, four days after getting my fabulously welcome news about there being no signs of cancer in me.
I worry that I might seem blase about the news - believe me, I am anything but! I am immensely thankful and deeply, deeply grateful to our wonderful NHS for the care they have taken of me at every stage of this frightening, turbulent process. It's just that I still feel a bit - well, "numb" is the best word I can think of to describe it. It's almost as if I have schooled myself over the past year not to expect the news to be good, so when it is, I have forgotten how to feel!
That makes a kind of sense to me and I suspect it's a kind of protection mechanism I have built up around me so that I didn't/don't get disappointed when the news turns out to be not so good. I am pretty certain that at some point, the reality will kick in and that's when I will react. It might take the form of manic giggling, or a bit of a sob, or even a snivelling snotfest of crying, but it will almost certainly happen at some point. In the meantime, I'm just getting on with things and starting to plan a bit further ahead than I have done in recent months. Without wanting to sound defeatist or morbid, for a large part of last year I couldn't see beyond Christmas 2011, simply because I wasn't entirely convinced that I would be around after that time. Don't judge me, don't call me pessimistic, don't think I had lost the will to live because I absolutely hadn't. I just couldn't get my mind to behave differently. It's great to be able to think "Yes, I can look further ahead and plan for 2012, 2013 and beyond."
Right, enough of the introspection! What has happened since hospital on Friday and my good news? We had a lovely guest for the weekend, a Norwegian friend of our daughter's, whom she met while backpacking around SE Asia. We didn't see that much of either of them over the weekend, as they were meeting up with other friends from their travels up in London and staying up there on Saturday night. Our house was the meeting point for some of these other friends too, so there were plenty of young people around over the weekend to infuse the house with energy and laughter! I think Maddy enjoyed sampling a cooked English breakfast and a roast dinner (I was under strict instructions to make Yorkshire puddings, bread sauce and roast parsnips! Being a good mum, I did as I was told, of course....). Maddy left today and we hope she'll come and see us again - her English is superb (and infinitely better than our Norwegian!)and she drinks almost as much tea as we do :-).
Neil and I went out for a lovely, celebratory meal on Friday night and then were out for dinner again on Saturday, at our good friends' home. Ample amounts of fizzy were sipped over the two days, as we marked the milestone of Friday.
Yesterday I went to visit a friend who has broken her ankle/leg really badly and has to spend all day with her foot up on a stool, hobbling around on crutches only when necessary. She was very good visiting me last year when I was convalescing at home, so I was pleased to be able to do something in return. I do think that when something happens to you that makes you feel unwell, upset, restricts your mobility or independence, then it is a huge upset in your world - sometimes people have said to me over the past year that what's happened to them is nothing compared to what's happened to me, but I don't agree. I think that we are all affected to different degrees by the events in our lives and what might seem trivial to one person can be devastating in its effect on someone else. I hope that I never start to think "Well, you think *you've* got problems? Wait till I tell you what *I've* been through!" because that would mean that I had lost a degree of compassion.
Today - and this is where the "Boom, boom, boom, boom" comes from - we held a drumming workshop at my church for local school-children. I went along to help and ended up taking part ("Oh, surely not?", you murmur....). I ended up banging on the big bass drum and also the tom-tom drums. Great fun!
Of course, it's Valentine's Day today, when we tell the one we love how much they mean to us. I cannot find words enough to tell Neil how much he means to me. He has been my emotional foundation and rock over not just this past year, but our entire marriage. I couldn't be without him and I feel like this every day, not just Valentine's Day.
Oh, and I joined Twitter - thought about it long and hard and decided that it might help me get some more exposure for this blog and hence raise some awareness of what it's like to deal with cancer and facial palsy. It's good to think yes, I am a cancer survivor. And my face? I had surgery to save my life and it left my face a bit wonky. It is the better alternative!!