Sunday, 7 December 2008

Part Fourteen - Dancer, Prancer, Vomit and a Chest Infection


The last fortnight can only be described as an interminable nightmare. After spending a vast proportion of my recent time boastfully lauding it over other cancer patients due to me feeling tip-top, the Cancer Fairy finally took it upon himself to mercilessly beat me into the ground with his giant stick of misery. A few of you may have noticed that I couldn’t even expend the energy to write a blog last week, but I’ve finally managed to haul my laptop open through fear that people might assume that I’ve actually died. The good news is that I’m still very much alive. The bad news is that I’ve barely been able to stand up for twenty seconds without becoming nonsensically out of breath and I currently feel like I’m pregnant with pure, unadulterated evil.

The problem arose around this time last week when I was diagnosed with a chest infection. I had been feeling a tad below par for about a week before this and I had considered phoning up my ward to tell them that exact fact. However, I’m never quite certain how bad I have to feel to phone up a ward that deals almost exclusively in chemotherapy without fear of being greeted with derision. As a general rule, chemotherapy patients aren’t as happy-go-lucky and effervescent as you may assume. If I had phoned up to tell them that I felt “a tad below par” it may have been pointed out that I had been having intensive cancer treatment for about four months, and then I might have felt a bit silly. So, having allowed my fear of very slight social embarrassment to exacerbate my condition for a few days, I awoke with a raging temperature and was hurried along to Perth Royal Infirmary.

I wasn’t particularly worried about this, I had been told to expect all manner of infections here and there due to the fact that I currently have the immune system of a small HIV positive insect. However, there’s something about having six visibly concerned medical professionals gathered around you that makes you question what they know that you don’t. After much deliberation, they decided that I’d need to spend at least two nights getting constant antibiotics through a drip at Ninewells Hospital. This news whipped up scant enthusiasm within me. I had been to Ninewells a few times before and each visit appears to be more emotionally crippling than the last. If I’m not getting told that I have cancer, I’m visiting dying relatives, getting my neck sliced open or ejaculating into a tiny pot in a cold, lonely room. If something goes wrong in my life, Ninewells almost always rears its ugly head as the grim setting. It is to me as the Fuhrerbunker is to Adolf Hitler.

Arriving at Ninewells’ haematology unit, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a tantalising selection of whisky, gin and other spirits on a tray next to the massive TV. I don’t know why Dundonian cancer patients require a minibar but I felt comforted by the fact that, if my boredom was to reach dangerous levels, I could always get off my mash and stomp around the corridors after midnight - most likely wearing nothing but a vast array of medical paraphernalia as a giant, funny hat. After 20 full minutes of fantasising exclusively about this possibility, I was ushered through to a small room by a young female doctor who looked uncannily like Geri Halliwell to learn my grim fate. “Can I come?” asked my Mother, at which point Doctor Spice looked at me and whispered “Do you know her?” - evidently thinking that she was an insane drifter woman desperate to latch onto a complete stranger’s medical consultation.

Bracing myself to be told that one and a half of my lungs had fallen off, the Doctor tapped me on the chest a few times, made me breathe a bit and then shooed me away home with a big sack of drugs to keep me happy. I didn’t quite know how to react - what had she missed that my Perth doctors were so gravely concerned about? Also, whilst it was obviously a relief that I didn’t have to spend the night in the same room as four terminally ill and incontinent old men, I couldn’t help but feel slightly aggrieved that the decision to stick a giant needle in the back of my hand in preparation for intravenous antibiotics had proven to be overenthusiastically premature. Anyway, I removed such trivial matters from my head and skipped away home once again reassured that I am, in fact, indestructible.

In hindsight, I actually think that a night or two in hospital may have been preferable to this fortnight of utter misery caused by the unholy alliance of antibiotic tablets and chemotherapy. I’ve felt preposterously ill, all the while waking up to people’s Facebook status updates about how terribly rough they were feeling because they threw caution to the wind and had an extra Apple Sourz the previous night. I would have crawled through a tunnel woven together from shards of glass, out-turned salt and vinegar crisp packets and pig faeces to have experienced just five minutes of a glorious hangover this week. You people don’t know you’re born.

Anyway, happily, my tyrannical antibiotics regime ended today. I felt that I should explain my Cancerous Capers absence before Paul McCartneyesque rumours started flying about regarding my mortality. I should return to my usual bubbly self within a few days, and I’ll attempt to create a slightly funnier entry for next week when I’m not one sudden movement away from explosively vomiting.

Take care, cancer fans.

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