Drumroll please... I've not thrown up! Yes, I still feel like complete shit, but at least it's a different kind of shit, thanks to my new type of chemo. Apparently a change is as good as a rest. From the moment Chemo 4 began making its way through my drip and into my veins, it felt totally different. I felt sicker, sooner. But rather than it getting worse within an hour of me reaching my sofa it instead began to ease, and the sick feeling sank from my mouth to my stomach, where I'm happy for it to stay. It even allowed me a crackerbreads-and-soft-cheese interval. And even the hallucinations gave me a break long enough to watch The Goonies and Sex and The City. I did have a weird delirium in the night, though, where it felt like my teeth and tongue were growing too big for my mouth – but still, it was only the one, and this time it came without that pain-in-the-arse voice in my head. (It was always my voice I heard, by the way, but an older version of it, annoyingly trying to coach me through the worst and give me ill-founded advice on what to do, like an embarrassing parent on the sidelines of a Sunday League football game.)
Actually, the whole process of chemo yesterday was better than it has ever been. Dare I say it was almost fun? Granted, Chemo Friday started as it usually would (this time I inflicted the crying fit on my in-laws), though P avoided the usual coping-strategy bollocking thanks to me directing my anger at the loo roll instead. (It was doing that bloody irritating new-loo-roll trick where the layers separate and it only comes off in ripped chunks. I like my toilet paper neatly perforated, dammit, so I made it known by throwing the roll across the bathroom and watching as it landed in a wet-feet patch outside the shower. Which made me even angrier, because I then had to do the pre-wipe, knees-together walk to the other side of the room to fetch it.) But from the moment we left the flat, everything went well. We had a smoother ride to the hospital by choosing to go in our own car, rather than suffering the questionable driving of the World's Dodgiest Cab Firm. When we got there, the receptionist gave us a Golden Ticket in the form of a free parking pass, thanks to my ongoing treatment (see, cancer's not without its upsides). I also decided to overdress for the occasion, beginning my new life-tactic of saving nothing for 'best'. And I went prepared by uploading Gavin and Stacey onto the iPod so P and I could lose ourselves watching that in the waiting room, rather than having to acknowledge every other patient who walked in with a head-tilted, sympathetic half-smile. We even got everything right the night before chemo with the brilliant, take-our-minds-off-it tactic of taking my mother-in-law to the theatre for her birthday. (The only drawback being that theatres are no place for wigs and hot flushes – I completely gave the game away by continually blowing my fringe off my forehead and scratching my head vigorously. I was this close to ripping off the rug and fanning myself with it, though I fear the audience would have been so freaked out that I'd have taken attention away from the actors and I'd have become the show. Besides, I'm saving that little trick for such a time as some thieving hoodie tries to rob my handbag. A quick whip-off of the wig and the little shyster would soon piss off.)
Things were even pretty fun in the chemo room yesterday. All the coolest nurses were on shift, including my favourite who swears as much as I do. There was a real Friday Feeling, too – it was quieter in there than usual, which meant more banter between the nurses, good sweets out on the counter, a bit of flirting when the male doctors came in and a whiff of gossip in the air. I can sniff out a story brewing from 100 paces, so goaded my favourite nurse into letting me in on a few inter-staff snippets. She was reluctant at first, worrying unnecessarily about professionalism, but once you've spent the afternoon hearing your cannula needle referred to as a 'fecker' and your chemo drugs as 'this shite', professionalism suddenly looks a bit overrated. 'Bloody hell, love,' I told her. 'Save your professionalism for someone else. I think we both know it's wasted on me.'
And so, ill and old and wobbly on my feet and slow in the typing department as I feel at the moment, I'm also pretty excited. Actually, excited doesn't even nearly cover it. I'm emancipated. I know I may be speaking too soon (fave nurse warned me that the 'buggery bit' of this kind of chemo may come between days three and nine), but even the possibility that I may never again have to endure Puke Friday (at least, not of chemo's doing) is the best news I've had in ages. Knowing I've got all three cycles of that first f-u-c-k-i-n-g h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e chemo type out of the way is, I reckon, as close to the undoubtedly wonderful feeling of being told you're cancer-free as I can get right now. And while I know it's far from over, this is relief like I've never experienced, and makes me feel – for the first time since The Bullshit began – that I'm back in charge. I can handle this. I'm on top of it. I've pulled one back. Is the worst of it over?