Saturday 7th September 2014
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!)
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.
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).