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.