Farewell Kingston!

I used to absolute hate hospitals. I was terrified of them. To me, a hospital was where people died. I did not think about the fact that it was where people were saved. The thought of staying over night in a hospital freaked me out, let alone spending 6 weeks in one. I think the fact that now I am not afraid of hospitals anymore is mainly down to the staff at Kingston.

It’s virtually impossible not to like all the people on the Coombe Wing. They’re an interesting bunch really. Some watch even more television than me (which is definitely saying something as I’m sure my mother can attest) and are always there to discuss how good an upcoming film or TV programme is. Some get annoyed (and rightfully so) when you promised them you’d bring them cake and all you deliver is a gallon of your urine to test your kidney function (sorry – I promise I’ll bring you cake, I promise). Some will play Wii Fit with you for an hour so that you don’t become a slob (even though I’ve been told now by UCH that I need to be at a good weight for the transplant – wooo! Bring me food now!!). Some will lend you inspiring books that change your life and box sets that you never got around to watch (shocking really – I mean all I do is watch TV). Some will answer the phone with “Flo. It’s Brad Pitt”  in a strong Birmingham accent, making you cackle with laughter at the absurdity of it all. Some spend their night shifts clanging around in the kitchen at midnight (a very comforting sound really) and singing beautifully and always with a smile. Some are so small and young looking that you can’t believe they have adult children. Some simply refuse to get around to getting their new uniform (honestly!). Some agree to open countless tins of fruit for you and don’t get offended when you choose beans on toast rather then their own food (sorry but it’s good for the bowel movements). Some just brighten your evenings with discussions about New York and tell you how you simply must take a boat back (which I am so doing once I’m allowed). Some don’t make you feel embarrassed when they have to take a look at your bum (must be because welsh people are so kind and understanding). Some reassure you when you’re having a reaction to platelets and completely freaking out (turns out just needed some intravenous piriton and hydrocortizone and we were good to go). Some use their time off to go to beer festivals in Germany (very jealous of this) and then go straight back to working on Intensive Care Units (I kind of suspect they might be superheroes). Some have sons who worked on the Hobbit!!!!! (so cool). Some have two jobs (like being a nurse isn’t enough work – superheroes, it’s the only explanation).

There are some days where I just can’t get my head round how hard they work and how they always manage to uplift you every time they walk into your room. What actually keeps me positive and happy is wanting to make them happy. When you’ve got cancer people don’t expect you to be smiling all the time and to always be up for a chat and that’s what I love. I love it when they get happy by seeing me happy and in turn that makes me happy. It’s a positivity circle (take note that I coined that phrase – copyright Florence Kleiner).

I am so sad to leave. Honestly. Because I’ve come to deeply care for these people and all they’ve done for me. I think they’re the most incredible people in the world because they make people better, whether they’re doctors or nurses or catering staff or porters. By just being human, by just living and getting on with their day they bring such a sense of life to the hospital that it makes you want to live more than anything. Some row and run and write dissertations all the while working like unbelievable hours and still they’re always smiling and helping you and being the most goddamn superhuman fantastic people alive.

And I promise that I will be back once I’m better. And I will make them cake every week. And I will help volunteer on the haematology ward, because although this is goodbye Kingston, it’s not really goodbye, because you can’t say goodbye to people who changed your life.

I’ve made a small little video to accompany this post. It’s basically all the selfies I’ve taken so far plus some lovely and very flattering videos of me singing and dancing in the hospital, because singing and dancing are the best things you can do to lift your spirit and also I look really weird so I thought it might make you all laugh. Anyway, enjoy I guess.

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In Memoriam

“When you want something enough, the universe will always conspire together to help you achieve it.” Just at the beginning of this week I finished one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s called ‘The Alchemist’ and it’s written by Paulo Coelho and has been described by many as more of a self-help book than literature. It is all about destiny and about how you are the only person that’s stopping you from achieving what you want. Obviously I found it a very interesting and inspiring read as it helped me feel strong and in control of my situation. One of my favourite parts of the book is where he talks about how the prospect of suffering is always worse than the suffering itself which I believe to be very true indeed. If we can learn to live in the present without worrying and caring too much about the future then when our future does come about we will experience it with much more ease than if we were to be focusing on it constantly in the present. The present is for living. The present is where we can change things, where we are in control, which is why it is more important than anything else. So I’m going to focus solely on the present and day-by-day life because it’s where I’m going to excel frankly.

I know that I haven’t made a blog post entry in a while and it’s mostly been because I’ve been busy. (well, ‘busy’ for me and maybe I couldn’t think of anything that interesting to write about…) Last week I was able to live at home which was very comforting. It took some time to adjust but I did enjoy being able to stroll around the house at my own free will and delight in the glorious fresh pollution of London from my garden whilst listening to countless planes zoom overhead at roaring speeds. Some things never change.

I was also very happy to eat my own food and have my Dad cook for me cause he really is an excellent cook. I may have had to sacrifice my priorities over the television in favour of countless football matches but this is routine in my house unfortunately. Sadly I was not able to see my dog as she’s still considered too infectious for me to be around but I understand that she had a very lovely vacation whilst I was at home.

Last Thursday I visited the transplant centre at UCLH which is really new and shiny. My parents and I had a ‘lovely’ meeting with the Professor there about the risks involved with the transplant. I say ‘lovely’ but what I mean is fucking terrifying honestly. It was essentially a half an hour chat about all the things that could possibly go wrong during the transplant which, as you can imagine, I found incredibly reassuring. And after having explicitly told him that I didn’t want to know any stats he proceeded to give me a list of stats. Dreamy.

I honestly think the problem is men. I’m not saying they’re bad at this kind of stuff because obviously they’re good at the medicine stuff, just as are women, but I’m telling you right now that a woman would not have been so fricking scary. I spoke to the female CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist) afterwards, who had sat in on the meeting with us, and she was so much more comforting and understanding. I tried to crack a couple of jokes in that meeting, to you know, ‘lighten the mood’ but he was having none of it. The one response I did get was ‘I like that you’re feisty’. Like I haven’t heard that one before.

I now realise that this blog may be becoming a hate blog for men, which it is not. I do not hate men. Men are fine. Just women are better. I’m joking. We’re all equal and all that jazz. But men are bad at talking (in general), just saying.

Anyway, so all in all, turns out I’ve got to have this transplant in around about November but I’m totally up for it. I kind of wanted it anyway, rather be cured than just in remission. It’s not a guaranteed cure of course but it’s a much higher possibility than just doing chemotherapy. And turns out I’ve got a type of Leukaemia which is more likely to come back than others so that’s why they’re giving me the transplant now and not later on when I’ve had a family. That’s the other thing they told me, that this transplant has a 99.5% chance of making me infertile. Which doesn’t actually bother me that much anyway. I mean there’s already overpopulation in the world, like I need to be adding anything to that. And adoption is always a really good option. Not that I want kids anyway, they cost too much damn money.

The one thing that annoys me about it is the fact that even if it does make me infertile (most likely) I’ll still get my period every month. Are you kidding me?! I have to suffer through that shit for no reason at all?!! It’s ridiculous. So yes, no kids = fine, periods for no reason = NOT FINE!!

So come the new year I’ll be living with brother’s bone marrow in me, which I’m hoping doesn’t give me any of his other traits, such as how ridiculously lazy he is and how much he complains all the time. Though if it can make me good at maths or give me a better metabolism I’d be really grateful for that.

Now you may be wondering why I’ve entitled this entry ‘In Memoriam’.

Sadly, last week my adorable and incredible Grandpa Ron passed away. As they say, ‘when it rains, it pours’. But I’m not going to sit here and write some very emotionally wrought piece that depresses everyone, instead I’ve chosen to remember my Grandpa with some of my most fond memories of him.

He truly was an incredible man. He lived life to the absolute full and did so many things in his life that he can be so proud of; this included joining the navy at the age of just 15.

And so, my favourite stories about Ronald, (or as he was better known to me, TROUBLE);

  1. My mum often tells me the story of how at the age of 19 she got dumped by her MUCH older boyfriend, Richard (not my Dad fortunately), and was feeling really sorry for herself and lounging about in her misery at home in Derby. So about tea time, Grandpa comes home from having just been having a drink with his friends down at the pub. He sees Mum very upset and goes to comfort her with these very reassuring words that any daughter wants to hear, “Just seen Richard down the pub with his new bird…I can see why he dumped you!” hahahhaha Classic gramps!!!
  2. One year we spent Christmas up in Derbyshire with Grandma and Grandpa. We all squeezed round the ping pong table as no other table could seat us all in our vast numbers. In my grandparents old house you had to climb up some stairs to get to the big living room where we were eating our lovely lunch. Grandpa took it on himself to deliver the turkey from the kitchen to the table which resulted in a rather disastrous event. Picture this; Grandpa climbing up the stairs carrying the very hefty turkey and seeming to be struggling a little under its weight. Then there’s the rest of us, eagerly awaiting the turkey’s arrival and within a flash the turkey is flying through the air as Grandpa trips on the last step. We then hear the shout, “I think I’ve broken a leg.” Panic ensues as we rush to his side only to discover it was the turkey leg he was referring to and not his own. I think you might be able to tell by now why I called him ‘Trouble’.

There are thousands of stories I could tell you about gramps but instead I’ll ask you to do this; remember any grandparents or close relatives that you’ve lost and not think of them with sadness but with celebration and joy.

On Thursday this week my grandpa will take his last trip through the English countryside in a VW Camper Van instead of a hearse because that was always his style. The toughest thing for me will be not being able to be there to celebrate his life but I’ll be wearing bright colours in my hospital room for him cause he always liked to dress brightly (he did indeed have a pair of yellow courduroys and always an orange jumper handy – it’s where I get my style from evidently). Although I know he wanted me to become a doctor (sorry gramps, never going to happen) I’ll always admire deeply his appreciation for education and his desire to never stop learning. I think that’s something we can all take from him. And even now, though I’ve finished school and am in between education, I haven’t stopped learning. In fact I’m learning every day. I’m learning how to be a better person, and if I can one day achieve the kind of life my grandpa lived I will feel fulfilled in every way.

The Gramps (Christmas 2013)

The Gramps (Christmas 2013)

Into the Wild

First of all I have an apology to make. And that is an apology to you, my readers. I am well aware that I haven’t posted an entry in over a week. My sister reminded me that I’ve entitled this blog ‘a selfie a day’ not ‘a selfie a month’. I have some reasons for this but the main one is that, well, not a lot happened this week until this weekend. So I thought I’d wait till the weekend was over and then relay it all to you in one post.

So throughout this week my neutrophils have been slowly creeping up which means my bone marrow is regenerating (I’m so like Doctor Who). Once they get to 1.0 I’m allowed to go home for a week and then come back in for the second cycle of chemotherapy.

On Friday they were 0.6 so my doctor said that if they went up a bit more on Saturday he would let me go home for the afternoon. And guess what? They did go up a bit. So on Saturday at around 1pm, armed with 0.8 neutrophils I left the hospital for the first time in 5 WEEKS! I had to wear a mask till I got home but I was still able to feel the breeze and walk further than just up and down my nearest corridor.

It all sounds very romantic and idealistic and yet it wasn’t at all like I’d imagined it would be. I’d pictured running through fields and feeling alive from the fresh air and the people, and just being overwhelmed with the sense of freedom. But, in reality, it was very far from this expectation.

Yes I did run down the hospital stairs as fast as I could, and yes I did marvel at the beauty of Richmond Park as we drove through it on that lovely Saturday afternoon, but I couldn’t help feeling somewhat incomplete.

When you’re cooped up in one room for 5 weeks and there is a routine in place around you and everything happens at a set time, it is then very difficult to readjust to something entirely different. Most of all, I felt incredibly vulnerable. I am, after all, still very prone to infection and when I see other people I steer clear of them and try not to breathe too deeply as they pass me. I’m scared of strangers, of any illness they may be harbouring. In some ways this has made me think that you have to be at your strongest when you come out of the hospital, when you enter into the world again because no one’s there to tell you when to eat or when to take your pills or check your pain levels or to set a protocol about visitors. When you’re out there, you’re really and truly alone, because although you may be in control of your body when you’re in isolation, you’re never fully in control of your whole being until you’re amongst the populace. That is when you have to be strong, that’s when the fight really begins.

When you are used to isolation it is very easy to expect that no one else exists. That no one else is going about their lives with no knowledge of your situation, but they are. They’re out there living their lives completely ignorant of how much yours has changed. And yes, it may sound incredibly self-centred to believe that the world may have stopped turning, but it did stopped turning for me. Everything I’d planned to do has been put on hold. I should have been packing to go off to uni but instead I’m fighting cancer (something I did not plan on doing – it certainly wasn’t on my bucket list).

I thought that when I came home everything would be exactly as I’d left it and sure enough it was, in a way. But if feels different. When the car pulled up to the drive and I crossed the threshold, discarding my mask on the radiator cover, I smelt the same smells, the same draught wafted through the house sending a chill up my spine but it was still home. It was still the place I’ve lived in since I was born with the same atmosphere. But it was different. It is different. Because whilst the house may not have changed in the last 5 weeks, I certainly have. I’m not the same person I was when I left to go to A & E that Friday evening.

The strange thing is, I hadn’t realised how much I’d changed until I was thrown back into my original environment and I felt like somehow I didn’t belong. I know that when this is all over I will readjust and feel comfortable once again but for now I’m only starting to get used to it.

Now this all sounds very sombre for what should have been an uplifting trip home and it many ways it was. I got to walk into Kew Village and see people being well. Because all I’ve seen in the last 5 weeks are nurses, doctors and ill people. So to see people with no illness was very nice actually, even though I did cross the road whenever I saw a child or an old person, just to be on the safe side.

I may have got too over excited when I saw the tube rush below whilst I crossed the bridge but I feel that I’m allowed to be excited by ordinary life, because I’ve been so far away from it for so long, and yet it was only outside the hospital.

My sister, mum and I went to get a cup of coffee and sat outside so as not to immerse me in a possibly infectious environment. I was wearing my soft cotton beanie but my head was itching awfully, so I went to take it off and my mum very kindly and lovingly said, “Oh don’t take it off, you’ll scare people.” This is because I am not yet fully bald but have a lovely covering of what my mum calls baby hair, so yes, I do indeed look like an 18 year old baby. Lovely.

Mum drove me and her back to the hospital around 9pm on the Sunday night (I was allowed out for the same time on Sunday – this time at 1.2 neutrophils!!) As we drove past the Royal Star and Garter Home by the Richmond Gate entrance to Richmond Park I saw an elderly chap lying down on the pavement outside the home. I nudged mum to make her look too and then we realised he hadn’t collapsed or anything but was in fact doing crunches, on the pavement, by a main road, in the dark, 9 o’clock at night.

And at that moment, I knew what I’d been missing in isolation. Crazy random people who surprise you every day. I’d missed being surrounded by a world that can shock you at any moment, a world that makes you adapt and change your day to fit what it has planned for you. I suppose, in a way, I’ve had to adapt and change to fit this new world that I’m living in, but I’m okay with that. I like change. No one should be opposed to change. Change is good. Change is interesting, it makes life interesting. Maybe I could do without being SO interesting at the moment, but when I’m finally released back into the big wide world, I might feel like doing crunches on the side of the road late at night just because I can. Nah, I can’t be bothered to exercise, I’ll just sit there and down a hot dog.

Preparing to leave

Preparing to leave

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Getting out of the hospital (via staircase ofc – no lifts for me)

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In the car – speeding towards home

A Day in the Life

Saturday 7th September 2014

6.45am

Slowly wake up to hear the man with Dementia screaming profanities two floors below. This happens every day sadly but it’s cool, I’m learning to appreciate his dulcet tones however loud and coarse they may be. Once I’m awake I usually check my pillow and this morning I found it covered in my hair. Lovely. Nearly bald now. Looking a bit like Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta (or, as my mum said, a moth eaten blanket.)

Then I reach for the call button and press it in order to alert the nurses that I am awake and they can come and take my obs (Observations – blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and temperature) and take my blood from my Hickman line. Now sometimes my blood simply doesn’t want to come out so I have to keep repositioning myself on the bed which is such a pain, and too early in the morning to be doing this.

8.00am

Once my bloods have been taken (they check every day to see what my infection levels are, as well as my neutrophils – my immunity) Mum and I settle in our chairs and eat our breakfast whilst watching countless episodes of ‘The Mindy Project’ which Mum has come to love just as much as me. Seriously if you haven’t seen it you’re really missing out.

Then the nurse brings in my pills which I down with a cup of tea (like a boss).

8.30am

At this point I choose my clothes for the day. It’s such a strenuous task. Do I wear the grey track suit bottoms with my periodic table t-shirt, or the blue track suit bottoms? It’s the toughest decision I make throughout the day. I then have to put on these knee high socks which are the tightest socks in the world. It takes about 10 minutes for me to get them on and requires an inordinate amount of upper body strength (see Dad, I don’t need weights to keep my biceps big).

8.45am

Once I’m fully dressed (looking glam as fuck) I make my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth which are lovely and discoloured at the moment thanks to the chemo, and then I use two different types of mouthwash which I have to use four times a day to reduce any infections. I then admire my bum fluff head in the mirror for a second or two and leave the bathroom, sanitising my hands on the way out.

9.00am

I doubt most of my friends are even close to getting up at this point but I’ve been awake for hours. In fact I also get my obs taking at 1am, which is…well…necessary. Though, I don’t have it as bad as the jigsaw man down the hall who has to have antibiotics administered EVERY FOUR HOURS!

Mum usually reads her ‘Mindfulness’ book at this time, which is very good I must say. I, of course, am into a much higher calibre of literature. That’s right, you guessed it, ‘The Princess Diaries’. I ordered all 10 books and in three days I’ve finished three books. Mum says that they’re trash and I’m betting most of my old English teachers would agree, but I can’t concentrate on something like Thomas Hardy or Charles Dickens (or my brother’s suggestion; Dan Brown??) I have chemo brain. I can only focus on the simple life of Mia and her adventures as Princess of Genovia in Manhattan. Also her prospective love interest, Michael Moscowitz, is quite simply the ideal guy. So sue me for wanting a bit of trashy escapism. Maybe after I’ve finished them I’ll read ‘American Psycho’ or something. Just to keep things interesting.

11.00am

My doctor came in to tell me that my brother is a 10/10 bone marrow match for me which means that if I have to have a transplant down the line, there will be less hassle. It also means our entire family will have to deal with Freddie complaining about the procedure for months after it’s happened and for me, it means that for my entire life he will never let me forget what he did for me. This means I’ll have to play a whole lot of football with him in the garden and I won’t be able to object to him taking priority over the television because he’ll say things like “hey, I gave you bone marrow, the least you can do is let me watch sky sports.” Great, thanks Fred. No but really, thank you so much Fred. I couldn’t ask for a better brother.

12.30pm

Having listened to my chemotherapy playlist for hours (who am I kidding? Listened to ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift for three hours on repeat) I’m finally ready to eat some lunch and it never disappoints, I mean honestly I get three choices for each meal at the beginning of the day. I feel like I’m going to be the only person who puts ON weight whilst going through chemotherapy. Honestly! Like the one benefit of having cancer and it isn’t happening for me. Dammit!

(I may need to stop eating so much ice cream and so many custard creams)

2.00pm

Started my 1000-piece Downton Abbey Jigsaw. Nearly finished it cause I’m such a pro. Mum may have helped quite a bit, but I still did the most. Dad was very pleased that I finally started it. He asked if he could help and I said no because when Dad starts helping you do stuff he ends up not letting you do any of it yourself. Like that one Christmas when he bought my brother some expert Lego and Freddie had to ban him from the room because he’d almost finished it himself. We learned our lesson that year. Never let Dad help you with any constructing activities.

4.00pm

Mum napped. Dad wanted to play German Wist which I hate. Then he suggested he give me a quiz. Here we go again. On every holiday we’ve been on Dad always does random quizzes throughout the holiday where he tests us on capitals of the world. ONLY capitals of the world, because it’s the only thing he knows about. But the bad thing is, after years of these quizzes, I still don’t know the capitals of the world very well, as I demonstrated to my father, resulting in him getting very frustrated with me and giving up altogether. Thank goodness.

5.30pm

Settled down to watch Pointless with my dinner. Mum and I do this every evening. After Pointless finishes we switch to ITV2 to watch Dinner Date. Don’t judge, it’s the only telly on at this time. Dinner Date is kind of like Come Dine With Me only more embarrassing because you get to watch strangers try and flirt with each other. Some of it is quite repulsive actually.

7.00pm

After I’ve finished dinner I usually change into my pyjamas (which also means I get to take off my tight socks, and honestly, it’s like that feeling when you take your bra off after a long day – incredible). My doctor has also started letting me walk up and down the nearest corridor in the evening because it’s quieter and it gives me the chance to stretch my legs. I do have to wear a mask but that’s alright.

So looking and feeling a bit like Donald Duck I ventured into the unknown. I met jigsaw man for the first time after hearing so much about him. It was honestly like meeting a celebrity, I felt honoured. He said “Oh you’re Florence aren’t you?” I nearly died. He knew my name?! Best day ever!!

After chatting for a bit and saying our goodbyes, Mum and I were left alone in the corridor once more. And I proceeded to sprint up and down that corridor about 4 times. It was like that moment in Forrest Gump. Admittedly I did nearly pass out afterwards but boy was it worth it. My doctor and my mum said that the corridor wasn’t that excited, but if you’ve been stuck in ONE ROOM for 4 weeks, well I can tell you, any change of scenery is strongly appreciated. I almost felt a new lease of life. Just feeling a different atmosphere was astounding. Seeing where my visitors put on their aprons and gloves fascinated me. I felt like a child that’s been raised by wolves seeing a civilised community for the first time.

7.30pm

The night of television began, starting with Doctor Who, which I still can’t decide if I like or not. And then…The X Factor. Yes I shouldn’t like it, but there’s something about overconfident people with terrible voices that just draws me in. The audition round is the best bit. After that it’s all just sob stories and average singers who will never succeed. Apart from One Direction. But if they can be called successful then I don’t ever want to be that.

(I may have some One Direction songs on my playlist. I blame Tallulah Vaughan for getting me so addicted to their catchy tunes during A Level Drama)

(I may have been the one to instigate it)

(They’re uplifting alright?!)

(#noregrets)

9.30pm

Around this time I get really tired so I get into bed and do some reading or I watch something on Netflix (my one true love). I also get a visit from the night doctor. My favourite night doctor returned on Friday and I was overjoyed. She’d been on vacation for two weeks so I was genuinely so happy to see her. We chatted for about an hour. It was great. She doesn’t look awkwardly at my wall. She talks to me, like a human being. I love it.

10.30pm

Bed time and sleep time, although I’ve been having very vivid and complicated dreams at the moment so I never feel like I’ve had a fulfilling night’s sleep. Mum says this is a sign of intelligence, but this is only because her friend Anita told her that, and to be honest, the amount of rubbish those two come up with, I wouldn’t trust its validity at all. And so, off into dream land with the promise of another day of jigsawing, screaming old men and quizzes with my Dad hanging in the air.

P.S. My mum would like to mention that my obs get taken on average every four hours, and that I get a dose of pills 4 times a day. When I read the first draft of this to her she couldn’t understand why I didn’t outline these important things that happen throughout my day. I hastened to remind her that having mentioned it at the beginning of the day people would get the gist and explaining every detail of the day would get boring. She said this would offend the nurses. I asked a nurse, she wasn’t offended. I think maybe I need to stop mum getting so involved with my blog. She keeps coming up with terrible suggestions.

And to anyone who wants know (not that you would, I just got asked by someone), my mum would like Nancy to win ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ now that Norman’s gone (oh Norman, you really were the dream).

 

My lovely new hair cut - stock limited, selling out fast, gone by the end of the week

My lovely new hair cut – stock limited, selling out fast, gone by the end of the week

What I’ve Learned

On Friday I will have been living at Kingston Hospital for 4 weeks but the funny thing is, it feels like I arrived just yesterday. These last weeks have been a whirlwind and have flown past without registering in my mind. But still I am aware of the many things I’ve learned since 8th August. I thought I’d go through them in this post.

  1. That you never know how you’ll react to Cancer until you’ve got it

I’d often times considered how I might approach Cancer before I was diagnosed. It was one of those mid-afternoon sorts of day dreams where you ponder the possibilities. It’s not something you think you’ll ever have to consider for real though because it’s always someone else who gets ill isn’t it? And then, when you’re hit with it in reality it’s surprising what goes through your mind. And then you just sort of get on with it. At least that’s what I’m doing. Living my life as normally as I can (considering I haven’t been outside in 4 weeks – no fresh air for me). It’s just another hoop for me to jump through (like my A Levels) before I can start doing what I want to do. And that’s how I’ve looked at it. Just another step on the ladder.

  1. That CT scans make you feel really weird

They inject you with this fluid to make all your organs show up on the scan. So just before they give it to you they warn you by saying “now this may make you feel like you’re having a hot flush and make you feel as if you’ve ‘passed water’ when you haven’t”. Like no joke, they inject it, you feel really really hot all over and then you’ve feel like you’ve pissed your pants, but you haven’t. It’s the weirdest sensation in the world.

  1. That Nurses are easier to talk to and understand than Doctors

Now I’m not saying that Nurses know more than Doctors when it comes to all the medical stuff but they’re certainly better at explaining things. Most of the day I spend in the company of Nurses but I also get one daily visit from my Doctor. And they don’t have a lot to say to be honest. Maybe this is because I’ve already started treatment and it’s just a process of getting it done plus the fact that I’ve got nothing new to tell them, but what they do is just stand there and smile and you go ‘yeah everything’s good’ and they say ‘good, good’. And that’s it. They then look at my wall for a bit, admiring all my cards and pictures before taking about 5 whole minutes to walk to the door and actually leave the room having said ‘goodbye’ about 10 times. Now don’t get me wrong, the Doctors are lovely, really lovely (bless their hearts) but let’s face it, they’re obsessed with medicine not the niceties of small talk.  Now the Nurses are a whole other story. They’re chatty and jovial. They laugh with me and talk to me for hours (slight exaggeration) about this and that. And they know their shit. They tell me all about platelets and transfusions. They take my blood and they’re efficient and professional whilst also being about some of the kindest and best people I’ve ever met. I have so much respect for them it’s unreal. And to be truly honest, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be coping with this stuff half as well as I am.

  1. That craving hot dogs is not a side effect of chemo

Cause trust me, I’ve asked. Turns out, it’s just me.

  1. That there’s only so many times I can cope with the question; ‘are you okay?’

I’ve had it asked me many times in the last 4 weeks, and I get it, I really do. It’s nice to know so many people care about me. It really is. But when I’m sitting in my room and I’ve got 5 members of my family all watching my every move and I’m getting asked that question every 5 minutes, well it kind of makes me want to rip my head off. I’m fine. I’d tell you if I wasn’t. I promise. It’s gotten so bad that now I’ve been infected by it and have started asking my mum the same thing every evening. Mostly because I’m worried that I’m keeping her here in this hospital with me and that she hasn’t slept in her own bed for over three weeks. But she’s assured me that’s it’s no problem however much I might continue to worry about this.

  1. That my sister is going to make the best mother in the world

She has been a jewel to me in the past weeks. So much so that I haven’t seen her face to face in the last two days and I’m having withdrawal symptoms. We’ve spent many a time in the hospital room together watching such classics as The Sound of Music and High School Musical. I’m so desperate to get her back in here with me that I’ve purchased Mrs Doubtfire and Mary Poppins to add to our watch list. Anything I needed she got for me. This included going to buy me sport bras in M&S and having to endure, each time, the cashier asking if she’d tried them on first (I’m a little bustier than she is – sorry farls). Another time she had to put up with being mistaken by one of the nurses for my best friend and therefore 18, yeah she’s 27 on Saturday – awkward. She’s been so strong and supportive to me, I honestly can’t get over it. Now I know she’s not ready to have kids yet (better get hitched first), but when it’s time, she’s going to be one badass mum.

  1. That my brother is in fact human

Yes Fred, I mistook you for some sort of creature all this time (and sometimes I still question this), but you’ve proved to me that you’re a very supportive and caring human being, and yes we can build the Lego Aircraft Carrier. You’re right, it needs to be done.

  1. That the mind is stronger than anything

A positive attitude does wonders for your health and can help you beat anything. If you believe it hard enough, you can do it. Willing something away won’t make it disappear but being strong enough to confront an illness head on and refuse to let it eat away at you will not only help you heal but it makes you a stronger person for it. I’ve never felt mentally stronger. The world is my oyster. I believe it. I will make it happen. And when I come out the other side of this, it will be down to what I’ve done. Me. (bit egotistical, but if I can’t be like that now, when can I be?)

  1. That for the first time ever, I’m not scared of the future

I’ve always been worried about my future. Worried about it beginning. About me stepping into the film industry and falling on my face. But I’m not scared anymore. I’m ready. I’m ready to get out there and get my name out there. I’m ready to start making films and to start learning. I want to learn so badly. They say you never appreciate what you have till it’s gone. I was so scared of going to Uni but now that it’s been delayed a while, I’m ready to go. In some ways, I’m lucky that my eyes have been opened by having cancer. I’ve been told, ‘stop worrying so much and just start living, start experiencing every moment and start being the person you’ve always wanted to be’. But the thing is, I’m not going to wait to do that until I’m out of here. Oh no, I’m going to start right now. And THAT is going to get me through this.

Foles got me a hat from Edinburgh. Fit.

Foles got me a hat from Edinburgh. Fit.

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Another day feeling like a boss – actually must watch that lonely island video again soon

Meerkats, Sloths and Elephant Shrews

My mum thought I should start this post by addressing you all as GBBOs (Great British Bake-Offers). I hastened to remind her that not everyone watches the bake-off and that this would be an unwise assumption to make about the readers of my blog. But mostly my thoughts about this opening were, well why?! It seems she is so enthusiastic about tonight’s instalment that it’s all she wants to talk about. So blame her for this side tracking event at the beginning of this post. 

Now, moving on.

The past few days have been filled with animals. I received a meerkat toy from my aunties. It is called baby Oleg and it even came with it’s own adoption certificate which I have signed (obviously) and stuck to my wall of stuff. Ah yes, the wall of stuff. I have been sticking up all the cards you’ve been sending me. There aren’t a whole lot yet (you disgraceful slackers) but my sister has been filling the gaps by printing off pictures of the most random things, including sloths and Dame Maggie Smith. 

The Wall of Stuff

The Wall of Stuff

Now I’ll explain why there are sloths. Not in the picture above but now there are (I should have updated it but meh). The sloths are there to remind me that I, too, am in fact a sloth. Yesterday morning I felt very tired indeed (probably because I’ve got cancer but you know, could be because I’ve been doing so much vigorous exercise recently). I felt like I was drunk really but not with the added buzz of the alcohol. My limbs felt heavy and slow and I felt like, well, like a sloth. So my sister decided that my lethargic moments would now be referred to as sloth moments and that I should have a picture of sloths to remind me of my close connection with them. Also, sloths are funny to look at. 

The third animal I’ve been very close to this week has been the elephant shrew. My sister and I were watching this animal program and she started telling me about this really cute creature she liked but she couldn’t remember the name of. She told me it had a little snout so I was guessing things like anteaters and stuff. She still couldn’t remember it. Duncan and I were getting frustrated with this so she let it go. Later that evening I received a text from her saying, “It’s called the Elephant Shrew”. Well I thought, what kind of a name is that for an animal?! And then I looked it up and found this picture. (If you don’t go awww you’re a heartless person and I suspect part robot).

The Elephant Shrew

The Elephant Shrew

Other stuff has been going on too. I completed my expert Lego. Here is a photo.

Lego Pet Shop and Townhouse

Lego Pet Shop and Townhouse

I mean just look at the skill….Yes there was an instruction booklet…Yes I did have to restrain myself from completing it in one day…No I won’t take it apart and do it again…Yes I am going to get Tower Bridge next.

(Just a note, I’m currently watching ‘Young Vets’ with my mum which is a great programme you all need to see it and the vets are doing pregnancy tests on the cows which involves shoving your entire arm inside the cow’s butt, and the cows this week are getting quite agitated and mooing a lot, and my mum keeps pointing at the TV and whispering ‘Bastards’ in a strained Sheffield accent).

Sorry, need to stop getting sidetracked. Okay PLATELETS!

Had them yesterday. They basically look like chicken soup. Here’s a photo. 

Platelet Soup

Platelet Soup

Anyway that took about half an hour to drip through and I’m probably going to get more of them and more BLOOD in a couple of days. 

Yesterday I also left my room for the first time in over a week (and you thought you were a recluse…). I went for an ultrasound on one of the enlarged glands on my neck. Nothing too serious or new to report on that one, just good that it’s not septic or anything. Since my Henry 8th Collar has disappeared this lump has been more noticeable but I suspect it’s just taking a bit longer than the others to go down. I’ll keep you updated on that one,

But anyway, leaving my room is a real process and involves me ‘masking up’, Here is a photo of me looking like I’ve got some infectious disease and am about to go fuck shit up in the rest of the hospital.

Actual Donald Duck

Actual Donald Duck

That’s all folks!!

 

 

The Playlist to rule all other Playlists

Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears, or rather, lend me your fabulous taste in music.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been trying to compile a sufficiently upbeat and cheery playlist to help me through my chemotherapy course and to give me spirit when I need it most. The mood options on Spotify have been very helpful with this task (I especially like the air-punch one – god knows I love a good air-punch).

So here’s my challenge to all of you. Please tell me your one favourite uplifting song that just makes you really damn happy and like everything is right in the world. It can be as cheesy or as pretentious as you like, I will not judge.

You can either comment on this post with suggestions or let me know through Facebook.

In other news, I’m half way through finishing my Lego pet shop. Now I’m not talking like standard Lego. We’re talking expert Lego (16+ thank you very much). Yeah, I don’t fuck around. Also, nearly swept the floor with my Dad in a game of Trivial Pursuit, might have to brush up a bit more though.

By the time I get out of here I’m going to be one hell of an activities buff. Feeling bored, Flo Kleiner’ll fix that. She’s got a solution to every boredom problem you could imagine.

I’m also trying to work out how to rotate these videos of me dancing to Hairspray songs so you can all laugh at how great I am at lip syncing (honestly I could so take on RuPaul and Jimmy Fallon). You might have to wait to see that though as I try to get my head around technology (chemo brain – it’s a thing, trust me).

Oh yes! I’ve also been super productive and am now on top of exactly which pills I take when and what they’re called and what they’re all for as well. So now I can be on it like a car bonnet and make sure the nurses are not poisoning me (they would never do that – they love me, obvs).

Had roast beef today!! Feeling pretty full and got good hair game. ngl.

Had roast beef today!! Feeling pretty full and got good hair game. ngl.

My DRUGSZ!!

My DRUGSZ list!!

Okey dokey. That seems to be all for today. Just being honest but nothing much is happening ‘maintenant’ (oh yeah, I know French). I might get platelets tomorrow which is exciting. I’ll be sure to document that experience for you all. In the mean time, think of me with fondness and the promise that tomorrow you’ll get to see another wonderful picture of my delicious face. Farewell (for now….)