Sunday, 11 December 2011

Retake.

I really hate talking about what I've ‘learned’ for fear of coming off like some wanky X-Factor contestant who refers to themselves in the third person by week four of the finals but, occasionally, these things must be done. Worse yet, though, is that I've written about this particular learning on at least one occasion before which, in our continuing X-Factor analogy, is surely the equivalent of Louis Walsh’s insistence on swerving any considered judgement for incessantly repeating the hometowns of each contestant.

But, excuses aside, I might as well get on with my reiteration of the lesson I can’t seem to avoid re-learning by getting back, once again, to the frustrating rediscovery that my emotions aren’t as easy to separate as I’d like them to be.

I say ‘my’. In fact, I suspect this is something we’ve all had to begrudgingly figure out at some point or other, regardless of the bullshit behind it being lower-cased or title-cased. I suppose it’s just that, with the big-B’d Bullshit, finding yourself ribbon-tangled in a number of hugely conflicting emotions at any one time is less an occasional nuisance of a lesson learned than a baffling mindfuck of a rammed-down-your-throat crash-course exam-retake in genetics from a Klingon-speaking Amy Childs.

Perhaps most exasperating of all about this rediscovery, however – at least for a tidy-freak such as I who likes to neatly store all sentiments in the super-organised walk-in wardrobe of her mind – is that it leads to posts like this having to be written immediately after posts like my last. Not that I didn’t want to write the last post, I hasten to add. By ’eck, I wanted to write that post. And I meant it, too. But I was also aware of needing to write that post; of needing to let you read something that didn't include too much of the shock stuff or the heartbreak stuff or the prognosis stuff.

As is The Bullshit's chip-pissing way, though, the day after I published that post saw the chemo-evils begin to kick in. Not, I ought to make clear, to the kind of nasty levels as my chemo for breast cancer (for one thing, I’ve got my hair and I’m ruddy well keeping it), but still pretty fucking shitty nonetheless. First there’s Chemo Wednesday itself: an emotionally fraught and annoyingly long but otherwise manageable day. The following 24 hours is when the drugs start doing their thing, which generally translates into hit-by-a-plank tiredness and a sickness that, mercifully, we’ve been keeping under control with a kitchen-sink approach to anti-emetics. Rubbing Maldon salt into the wounds of Wednesday’s ‘Eat Me’ post, however, Thursday is also the day that my tastebuds, well, piss right off. Which, as you can imagine, is utterly screwing delightful. Then Friday – and, for that matter, Saturday – gets worse yet: the tiredness becomes worrying, and to be perfectly honest I’m pretty bloody useless at anything that doesn’t involve moaning or getting dizzy on my way for a piss. But y’know what? I can cope with all that stuff. What I’m struggling to cope with more and more, however, is when the blues kick in. And this time, after a 15% increase in the drugs administered to me, they kicked in a bit more than we’d seen on my first two chemos.

Hence the Cheese Friday evening I’d carefully planned with my mates, in order to allow P to get to his work Christmas party, rather undesirably became Tears Friday: I wept on P in the morning, then on Tills and Polly in the evening. Much like the occasional necessity to bang on about what I’ve learned, I begrudgingly appreciate that this is just another of those things that must occasionally be done. There are just things that sometimes have to be said, as I so wish there weren't, to the people closest to me; both things I need to get off my chest and ensure are understood, and things that can help those who most need to comprehend the day-to-day realities of mine and P's shituation in order to make themselves most useful, for both for our sakes and theirs. (I don't mean that in an expectant, needy way, I'm just mentioning it because, well, that's just what close family and best mates do.)

And so, back to the conflicting emotions: none of the above is to say that Cheese Friday was a washout, or indeed that mine and P's new lives are either. On the contrary, Tills and Polly and I were able to get past the crying and really enjoy our girly Friday (and all the eating and gossiping that came with it), just as P and I are doing a frankly chuffing stellar job of keeping our lives resembling some kind of vague normality (with all the devotion and love and compassion that comes with it).

But, bugger me, sometimes it's just SO FUCKING HARD. Not hard to adore my husband or appreciate my mates – that stuff is more natural than breathing – but hard just to keep up the effort that’s now required in just being.

I really hate doing that, too. Whingeing and griping and having to make it so abundantly clear what life with secondary Bullshit is like. It's not how I want to be writing, just as it’s not what I want you to be reading. But it's the truth. And, much as I completely bloody loathe admitting to it, the truth is that life has become, at certain times more than others, cruelly testing; a gargantuan effort the like of which I still cannot – oh, let’s be honest, the like of which I will never – believe we’re having to tolerate.

So let me say this again, then – and, my god, let me be heard: this is SO. FUCKING. HARD. I hate to do the me-versus-you thing but, unless you’re in these here shoes of ours, you simply cannot even begin to comprehend – and I hope to all forces that are good in the universe that you never have to begin to comprehend – just how screamingly sodding impossible this is to handle. 

The aforementioned blues, then, are often where the real work comes in when it comes to remembering that it’s okay to feel a number of contradictory things at one time. See, I know that the blues are chemical. And I also know that they’ll pass – usually by the Sunday or Monday following chemo – and that I’ll start to feel a lot better, and hopefully ready to kick some ass again, before the next round. What I also know (insert groan to end all groans) is that – since there’s no end in sight to this chemo, given that it’s designed to, well, y’know, keep me here – is that this is what mine and P’s life looks like now.

Because after week one comes, of course, week two – which, as must be so, goes up a notch in the difficult-to-grapple-with stakes. But while week one comes with a resenting knowledge that similar must be endured again next week, week two comes with, yes, more to deal with shitness-wise, but also a hope that week three – our well-won week off chemo – will be better, bringing with it blissful freedoms in which we can actually do stuff and go places and do work and eat out and see people and get dressed and wear make up (not that eyeliner is an especially good look on P). And, okay, those freedoms might now mean having been forced to give up my b-e-l-o-v-e-d driving licence for a sodding wheelchair, but at least they mean that P and I can do things, and see something other than the walls of our (thankfully very lovely) flat.

And therein lies another contradiction, emotion-spotters: the sight of a thirtysomething husband having to push round his wife in a wheelchair is, on first look, a sad picture. But to anyone who saw us bumbling our way up the rocky pavement edges of Wansdworth in the first of our week-threes, or swerving our way through Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in the second (speaking of which, general public: stop fucking gawking, will you?), in fact it was neither. Because, to refer you back to the aforementioned stellar job we’re making of this – despite all the hard work, despite the most taxing of efforts to keep on keeping on, and despite the various drugs it’s taking to keep us both going – we are somehow still making this not just tolerable but, wherever humanly possible, pleasant. We’re doing it our way. And I’m really fucking proud of us.

Of course, there are plenty of other conflicting emotions on the table right now, as at any other time. Take tomorrow, for example, and our having to spend an extra full day at the hospital in order for me to have a blood transfusion. By ’eck, it’s a drag having to be there (sorry, Royal Marsden – I love you but… y’know) and I can’t say I’m relishing the thought of notching up another dozen bruises on my junkie-scarred and vein-collapsed right arm, but the reason it’s being done is to make me feel better. And thus I must believe that it will. Then there’s the weirdness of having someone else’s blood pumped into my arm. I mean, whose the hell even is it? What if it belonged to a BNP member or a Forest fan or – shudder – someone to whom grammar isn’t important? What the bejeezus might happen to me after having it? All of which, obviously, are completely daft concerns given that anyone considerate enough to give blood in the first place is obviously just pure cool. (And yes, I’m also saying that because there’s a chance I’ll be needing more – so, um, cough up, will you?)

I fear I’ve lost my way a bit with my message today, and for that I apologise. I guess just all I’m trying to let you know in this chemo-fogged, ham-fisted attempt at an insightful post – whether or not you knew it already – is that, bloody hell, reader, this shit is tough. I appreciate that those closest to me are already transparently aware of this fact (and, dare I say, sick of hearing it). But I also appreciate that those who know me from a greater distance might not be so well informed. Whether that’s for reasons due to my lack of explanation or their disinclination to find out simply doesn’t matter. But sometimes, we all have to learn something that we’d really rather not. And, for Lisa and Peter Lynch (eesh, no – I just can't do that third-person shit), it’s looking increasingly like we’re not just going to have to keep on learning the same old lesson of coming to terms with our continually conflicting emotions, but keep on sitting – no, acing – the same old exam. 

22 comments:

Will said...

Thank you for sharing. You're really making me think. x

* sparkle and tri * said...

Amazing Lisa, as always. Thank you for writing such powerful words.

Sending oodles of love your way.

little_ape said...

Sometimes it's just easier to pretend you're still you pre bullshit. This may just be me, and by no means do I take your blogs or your struggle for granted, it's just that you're on my pedal stool and the strongest person I know in twitterville so sometimes it's well nicer to pretend its not really happening and that it's not as bad as My Sister's Keeper has me believe...

I know that it is but in my bubble of a Twitter world you are protected from all the crap that's currently being thrown at you.

Make any sense at all? X

Plus positive mental attitude and all that
Bollicks...

Susan said...

L & P,

My main fear, worry and panic about any communication I have with you, (and I realise how fucking fortunate I am that this, fairly often, verges on daily), is that I don't often enough express how hard I cannot even begin to imagine this is for you, how devastated I am for you, how much we want to help, how desperate we are to see you, how much we love you and how we bloody happy you both make us.

And I don't ever tell you how fucking proud I am of you, both of you. How amazed and in awe I am of you I am. And how fucking unfair your shituatiion is.

But that is not because I don't think or feel those things; because fucking hell I do. But, rather, it's because I love so much more about you than that, and I just don't know what to say. So, take this is a long winded monologue to tell you that you. Amaze. Me. And I'm not going to say that I appreciate how shit it all is - because let's face it I fucking don't - but I do appreciate that I don't appreciate how hard it is for you. If you get me?

I love you, so bloody much. I wish we could take some of the weight from you and P, more than anything else in the world.

SB

gemmak said...

Wow, ok, writing is your job but regardless of that you do an absolutely amazing job of articulating stuff that maybe wanders around our minds but which we couldnt possibly get 'out there'.
I of course dont know really what its like to be in your situation but damn girl, when I read this not only am I full of a myriad of emotions for you and yours but I am in awe of you, your ability to write, to somehow cope and to make us understand in some small way.
You rock. Keep kicking its ass on the good days :)

sarah mia said...

I want to write a comment about this post but what could I possibly say? It's hard and I have no power to make it less so, anything I could say about it sound trite in my mouth so instead I'll say this:

I'm so glad that you have Peter and your family and your friends. Being an internet chum has left me struggling with a bunch of conflicting emotions about how okay it is to feel so shit for you - whether or not it's self indulgent to cry about someone you've never even met when they're the one going through all this shit, not you.

The way you carry yourself and the way you can talk so openly and confidently about the love you have for your family and your husband and all of us that make up the rest only serves to remind me why you are someone I wish to have in my circle so much more.

Despite all this shit that's happening to you you still manage to be one of the funniest, friendliest, most sincere people I know and I thank you for that. You're good people, Lynch. I'm glad that we got to become part of your world, it's a fucking fantastic place to be.

Love to you. We are always in your corner, Sarah & Tze xx

ks said...

Lisa,

Thanks for being so honest about your lfe-your words do have such an impact.

I know it will be very small consolation but I really do envy you in one area-your relationship with P. Every blog post I have read conveys how much of a team you are-how despite the horrendous changes inflicted on your lives, you still very much tackle it as a duo-and, as I'm sure you know, that's not easy on any relationship.

So can I just say I salute Team Lynch :)

Wishing you so, so well Lisa,

Karen

Fletcher of the Day said...

Does it sound strange if I say that one of the best things about my husband's cancer was meeting you and P?

While I can't claim to know firsthand how incredibly difficult it is for you right now, I've been through it all second hand with my BF here and her husband, who was terminal for 5 years. The highs, the lows, the hospital waiting rooms. Checking your numbers religiously..trying new protocols (can I get in to that program?). From hopeless to hopeful to hopeless again. It's a long journey.

Unfortunately Patrick's (my friend's husband) journey ended by choice in August, but the thing that kept him fighting for so long, was purpose. His was to finish medical school and yours, I think, is writing about your journey...warts and all. Have purpose and live your life.

xx Lori

Carlie said...

Brilliant post Lisa. I know from personal experience how hard it is just dealing with the fallout from bc without a secondary diagnosis but I can't imagine what you are going through. Your honesty is admirable, cancer is shit and people need to know it. Thinking of you and P, you are doing a great job. xxx

feistybluegeckofightsback said...

What can I say?

For starters, I guess, thank you for a post which is gutsy, honest, raw, shocking, poignant, funny and most of all, which tells it like it really is in all its complexity. Unimaginably shitty.

What really comes across is the fact that in all its shittiness, you are dealing with it all in your own way, valuing and cherishing the good things you have (like, probably the best marriage in the universe and your marvellous gift of expression.

I hear you, and all I can do is send love and warm wishes wrapped in shitloads of respect.
Big hugs, Philippa (Feisty Blue Gecko)

SoulDragon said...

Lisa this is truly amazing. I need to find your book as well. I remember the blues from the chemo. My problem is,(being older-though that in itself is not problematic it's just the way I and my family is) that my depression is oral chemically induced/trauma of double mastectomy induced/OBSSESSING about staying single induced. I've become so stubborn, resentful, bitter and angry. But then I read your blog and think; well shit-my cancer is possibly being controlled(I have a bit left in my bones) I will look forward to your next one and MUST find your book. Hugs and love from a grumpy old countess in Australia xx

Nancy said...

Lisa, You're absolutely right, this shit is tough. Your candor and ability to tell it like it is - is sorely needed. Keep telling your truth. I hear you. Sending supportive warm wishes you way. My best.

Eilis said...

am gutted that I'm giving blood tomorrow and that one of your (on-line) mates is not giving you the good stuff today.

Challenge to everyone who can do it.... get out there and give some blood - our gal Lisa needs it (or someone equally loved and admired) - go on - do it!

CancerCultureChronicles said...

Yes! It's just fucking hard! Thank you for telling it like it is.

feline9 said...

I don't know you, but I have been reading your blog for some time. Thank you for sharing this most horrible of times with us, I don't know if it helps you in any way to write about it, but I feel I am learning lots. **hugs**

helenriley said...

Damn this login stuff. I think my first comment was lost. Anyway - I love you Lisa. A couple of years ago you sent me a lovely email in response to one about my dad who had just been diagnosed with that cuntwank Bullshit. He is nearing the end now and what you say up there resonates with me. It is the fucking pits.

Also - about the blood transfusion - my husband gave blood last week - he is the gentlest soul you could wish to meet and a grammar fiend to boot so let's hope you got his. He is also bilingual so keep an eye out for that, and please don't try to wee standing up.

Lots of love xxx

Fiona said...

Your blog is incredible; you are such a talented writer.

Thank you so much for sharing what you are going through. It does indeed sound truly shitty.

lilianavonk said...

I'd give anything to be one of the people you cry on, whether or not there would be gossip afterward (though knowing you, I rather suspect it might).

Can they do anything about the blues, though? Not that you're keen to throw any more medication into your system, but sheesh, that's one side effect that could actually be addressed, and I know first-hand it is how difficult it is to function in the grip of overwhelming depression.

The other week I was at my pain management doctor's office and I read a magazine article about a guy named Dave Balch who has written a book called Cancer For Two about what he and his wife went through, as well as coping strategies for others going through the same thing.

His wife had breast cancer, which led to bone cancer, and then a brain tumour...sound familiar? But the thing is, she's still alive, & still seems to have a normal life. I know everyone's diagnoses are different, but when I read that, I burst into tears--yes, right there in the doctor's office--because I thought, "If her, then why not Lisa?" This giant surge of hope and relief rushed through me, and I guess it all came out my eyes... ;)

I told my sweetie about that when I got home, & he's already heard so much about you that he commented if anyone was going to survive multiple cancers through sheer life force alone, it would be you. Looks like yet another victim has fallen to the fabled Lynchian charm. ♥

MBNAD woman said...

Through all the years that I've read your blog, I've often come away wishing I could do something useful. But I can. I'm not a BNP follower or a Forest fan and I do care about grammar. And I give blood. I may not be perfect but my blood is lovely.
Mad x

thetailofawaggydog said...

Lisa,

I'm sending you my best from this part of the blogosphere. I don't know what it's like, but if your words are anything to go by, it's pretty crap. Good luck with the blood from somewhere (I laughed at the BNP bit. I'd be screening it!), and here's hoping you have a better week in some way. You're a terrific lady and I just wished I had a magic wand that worked. In its absence, I'm sending you positive vibes and a hug.

HB said...

Dearest Lisa,
Deepest thanks for your continued postings from a long time reader. You gifted me a language and a framework to process and understand my own challenges when my own words failed me. I have something that I would like to sent you from my home in the US. Unfortunately, I am not technologically savvy, and do not know how to reach you on Facebook or Twitter. Is there anyway you could email me an adress so that I may send you something?
My best,
Hannah
hbmidd1@gmail.com

Pauline Castledine said...

As usual, whitty and frank.. but also so bloody sad. Keep doing what your doing, your positivity still shines through even though your having an utterly fuckin shitty time.

Lisa, your writing has an impact on us all, i cant walk down the cake isle without smiling and thinking of you when i pass the tunucks

sending you and Peter and all your fantastic family and friends lots of luv and best wishes for a wonderful booze filled xmas.. from your your forest fan. You can have my blood anytime, forest blood is as good as any hun and i promise it wont turn you into a forest fan xxx