Saturday 9 August 2008

Careful what you wish for.

Another one of the annoying things about cancer (expect to read that sentence a lot) is how utterly boring it can get. At least my tumour had the good sense to show up in time for Wimbledon, a summer of cricket, the Olympics and the start of football season (come on you Rams!), so I'd have a load of sport to keep me entertained. Yesterday, though, was a typically dull day – so dull, in fact, that the excitement of being able to do a morning's work made my hands quiver and my heartbeat quicken (even the smallest event gives me the shakes at the moment – the other night P fell out of bed and I had to lie still for 20 minutes afterwards to calm myself down from the thrill of it all).

Along with all the boredom, it's easy to feel low and cranky when you wake up every morning with that same hangover-mixed-with-jetlag exhaustion. But – if you'll excuse me going all new-age on you for a moment – I'm buggered if I'm going to let The Bullshit take over my mind as well as my body. Everyone needs a strategy to keep boredom at bay during these times, and you're reading mine. Other things help too: being able to do some work from home, the plentiful contact from my mates, occasional walks round the block and following the test match more closely than Richie Benaud. It's not much, but it works. And it beats the arse off moping around in my dressing gown, eating lemon curd from the jar and watching Loose Women.

But when yesterday's cricket-viewing was over and the golf went on (not my sport of choice, but I was outnumbered by P and Dad), I made the mistake of drifting off into boredom. I started worrying that, with so little going on at the moment, I'd never again have anything interesting to write about. (Well, nothing other than the sore arse I had as a result of that morning's upset tummy, but that's hardly the kind of thing to include in your blog. Oh.) I found myself willing something to happen, and there's the fatal error. Because, when I went into the bedroom to change out of my Mickey Mouse sweater (don't worry, it's been washed since the last time I mentioned it), I pulled it over my head and with it came a clump of my hair.

Now, despite my optimistic hope that my hair would stick around (told you I was an idiot), deep down I guess I always knew that this day would come. But that doesn't mean it came as any less of a shock. Cue hysterical crying and more shaking. P and Dad ran in to see what was up – how lucky that two of my three favourite boys (the other being my brother J... or maybe Dave Grohl) were around to give me a cuddle (Dad) and instinctively prise the hair from my hands and flush it down the loo (P). The tears continued for quite a while (long enough for the boys to order a take-away) and, once I'd got over the shock, I surprised myself to discover that it wasn't so much the hair loss I was crying about, but more the fact that I could have been so bloody cretinous to think there might be a chance – however small – of this not happening. I hate being wrong at the best of times, but this dumb denial takes the cake. (On the upside, though, I'm no longer sweating the small stuff about my pubes.)

So there it is. It's started. I'm still hoping that, thanks to my hair being so thick, it'll take a few months before I reach Bobby Charlton comb-over stage. But that's probably foolishly optimistic too. (What is it with this misguided, rose-coloured outlook of mine?) The thing is, it wasn't a horribly massive clump of hair that came out. But it was more than enough to know for certain that this was the beginning of the part I've been fearing most. And while it's not yet noticeable (yet), I'm still really pissed off that the first bit to fall out came from the front of my head (my lovely fringe, dammit) and not at the back or sides where I've definitely got hair to spare. I'm equally pissed off that it came out in the hood of my favourite feel-good jumper, and not some nondescript top that I'd be happy to throw away in protest. And, while we're at it, I'm also pissed off that it had to happen on a Friday night. What is it with Fridays at the moment? First the Exorcist-style puking, then the acne, now the hair loss. What the hell's going to happen next Friday? Is my arm suddenly going to drop off? Oh hang on, it's back to the puking again, isn't it? T'riffic.

I'll admit I've been pretty nervy about my barnet over the last couple of weeks. I've analysed each hair that came out of my head, and even counted 61 fallen strands the last time I blow-dried. That may sound like a lot but, in fact, it's about average – count for yourself the next time you get your hairdryer out. (Actually, don't – it's tragic enough that I've been indulging in this kind of mental behaviour, without trying to inflict it on you too.) To be honest, even on an average day I moult like a cat – you should see the state of my chair at work. Maybe it's this kind of thing that made me think I'd get away with it during chemo. Whatever it was, I was wrong. So you won't catch me blow-drying my hair again in a hurry. Or washing it or combing it or running my fingers through it, for that matter. Actually, from this point on, consider it officially out of bounds. I've mentioned before how much I hate people touching my hair normally, but go anywhere near it now and I WILL POUND YOU INTO THE GROUND. (Oh great, there's another three on my keyboard. And four in my bra. Bollocks.)

I'm not sure how you're supposed to react to these kind of events. I actually felt like a bit of a divvy for crying so much. But what, exactly, is the correct thing to do once that's happened for the first time? After a pep-talk from Mum, I chose the unorthodox route of watching The Simpsons Movie, scoffing the remains of a banoffee pie that my friend brought round the night before (see, Weeza, told you I wouldn't last 24 hours without eating it) and spending £120 on a five-match package to watch Derby County in my chemo 'good weeks'. Because, I figured, if I'm going to end up bald and scary-looking, there's no better place to feel at home than among the skinheads at the footy. Perhaps I'll even go the whole hog and get 'RAMS' tattooed across my knuckles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God you have made me laugh. This is like reading my own brain the hair fall out started on friday for me and i too am scared to wash it , move or breath . Its bloody verywhere and when you have white tiled floors its not funny. I have jus read your article in the you mag and you have made me feel normal and added a smile to my dull day. Love it x