Posted in Life

A hiatus

Finally, life is back to normal.

I’m driving again, I’m back at work (and actually doing work), back at the gym (even doing some upper body work and this morning I ran almost 2kms as part of walk club), and I’m attending a photography course two nights a week plus doing the requisite homework for it.

My scars are healing well – one of them is virtually invisible (and in a spot that no one besides me would look anyway) and the other one is still a little red but otherwise fine.

It’s been four and a half weeks since my surgery, I’ve been to the final post-surgery checkup with the breast surgeon and she’s happy with my progress.

It feels like normal life and that feels good.

Except … I now have a schedule of radiotherapy treatments covering some of the fridge poetry I composed last weekend. Beautiful poems of tenderness and fragility.

Okay, I lie. The poems are words flung together with barely any thought and consequently are absurdly nonsensical.

Absurd nonsense on the fridge

You can only imagine how horrid the ones being covered are!

But the covering – the sheet of paper obscuring the absurdity of my fridge poetry – reminds me that life is not yet back to real normal.

I’m living in a hiatus. And I like it.

I can pretend that this particular episode is over and normal life has resumed … apart from the times I venture to the fridge, and when I have other appointments. Like the one on Tuesday last week.

I received the schedule on Tuesday last week when I went for my radiotherapy consultation. It started with a meeting with the finance person who gave me a patient card and explained what I needed to do with it, a parking permit allowing me to park on the hospital grounds for free during my treatment, and a hefty document explaining how the treatment will be financed.

I was startled to hear that it’s amazingly expensive – $24,000 to be precise although there might have been a few cents added in just to make it look like that wasn’t a number plucked out of midair. Thankfully we live in Australia and Medicare pays most of it. The out of pocket expense is a lot less, but still a substantial amount of money. I signed the forms and then was introduced to Katrina, one of the radio therapists. Until that particular moment in time I had never realised that was an actual job title.

Katrina led us to a part of the hospital we hadn’t visited before – I don’t think there are too many of them left – then into a cubicle where I had to take my clothes off – from the waist up – and put on a gown (opening at the front please). I put my clothes into one of the blue patient bags, handed it to Tim and followed Katrina into a room with a big machine in it. I lay down, put my arms above my head and held the handle bars as instructed, I was wriggled into position, then drawn on, wriggled into a slightly different position, lowered, moved backward then forward, raised, had some sort of cube taped to my stomach,  drawn on some more … I have to admit to feeling like one of the drawings on Mr Squiggle.

I put on the goggles as instructed, then watched as the yellow bar raised and lowered as I breathed. When I took a particularly deep breath the yellow bar went into the blue box at the top and turned green. I practised breathing and holding the green bar in the blue box (holding my breath), as instructed, then breathed normally. Okay, we’re going to start the first scan now, says a disembodied voice close to my right ear. Breathe normally.

I breathed normally watching the yellow bar float up and down, my arms starting to tingle from being held above my head for so long. The screen in the goggles went to a white square and static-like lines criss-crossed it.

Silence.

I lay still.

We’re going to have to stop there, said the voice.

Apparently, the CT scanner had stopped working. They turned it off and back on again but then engineers were mentioned and I wondered if I could put my arms down. When it was decided that getting it going again would take quite some time, I was able to put my arms down, remove the goggles, but before I could get up they did a tracing of all the drawings they’d done on me. When I say ‘drawings’ I really just mean crosses. The tracing is in case the crosses wear/wash off between now and my treatment.

Can you come back in on Thursday morning so we can do the full scan? Sure.

The crosses had washed off by Thursday so the tracing proved its worth. Less wriggling, fewer drawings, scanner at full power the whole time, yellow bar turning green as it moved into the blue box, breathe normally again thanks Sharon. Apparently I’m very good at the breathing! Years of experience, I tell them.

There’s a blood vessel at the bottom of the heart that falls in the zone of the radiotherapy treatment, as does the bottom of the lung, so holding my breath means the blood vessel and lung are lifted out of the way. It’s a simple yet clever innovation in treatment which not every radiotherapy clinic offers.

Second scan complete, I pick up the new schedule, drive home and put it on the fridge, a reminder that it’s not quite over.

Because of the delay in doing the scan, my treatment will now start on Thursday 21 February at 8am. That’s the day I’m running a new staff induction day at work. The induction day is sure to take my mind off the beginning of treatment and plunge me back into work reality – at least that’s my hope.

I don’t really know what’s in store for me as I go through treatment, but I’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the hiatus.

Photo by me

 

 

Author:

I like to travel and take photographs. I like to blog about both.

9 thoughts on “A hiatus

  1. It’s good to read of your current mindset, that you’re ‘enjoying’ this hiatus, and understand it for what it is. Hopefully your plans work out and the staff induction can take your mind off the first round of treatment. Glad to hear of your return to some normality in regards to the gym and life. Continue listening to your body, it will soon tell you if it needs a rest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thinking of you Sharon; it was so good to see you running today, with quiet determination.
    I can’t help feeling that this blog is a great way to allay the inevitable fears as you move forward into the unknown with your treatment. It is also a lovely, gentle read.
    Thanks for doing it; I think those who maybe facing a similar situation would take strength from the knowledge.
    Take care and make sure you rest whenever you need to. I believe sleep is a great healer.
    Xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Kate. It’s fabulous that others read my posts and find some potential benefit in them or see benefit in my writing for others.
      My quietly determined running yesterday came with a lot of aches and pains later in the day, so I’m trying to decide whether to do more of it or stay away from it!! I know which option Tom would choose for me 🙂

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  3. We went through this with a friend about a year ago — when I say ‘we went through this’, I mean she went through it, and we did our best to be there. My wife did most of the ‘heavy lifting’. Being a bloke, I was involved as much as the ladies wanted me involved.
    Being a writer, I watched what happened to our friend and the people around her. People she thought were close to her did strange things. It was amazing to me!
    In my world, you don’t distance yourself from your mates when they are in crisis, but it seems that not everyone lives in my world.
    Around about the same time I had a crisis (not medical, fortunately) and I found out very quickly, which of my friends were real. Not very many, as it turned out.
    It seems to me that the vast majority of the people around us are very happy to be around when things are going well, and we contribute to their happiness, but when we are down, and they have to work a little harder, they flutter away to where it is warm and happy haha.
    Basically, we learn a lot about people when the shit hits the fan.
    Hopefully, your mates are made of sterner stuff.
    Be well kid.
    Terry

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Terry. I have a small (quite exclusive) circle of friends (made up mostly of family or people who have been in my life for almost ever) and so far none of them have abandoned me. They’ve actually all been rather wonderful! I feel very fortunate 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Have ‘they’ given you any idea of side effects of the treatment? Will you be able to continue working? I’m glad to read you’re experiencing some normality and enjoying a reprieve from pain. Will be thinking of you. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jen, yes there’s a whole host of possible side effects Most common are skin irritation issues – redness, swelling, sunburn-type burn, peeling, discolouration (I may end up with one much darker breast) – and fatigue or tiredness (depending on which literature you read). There are others that are longer term but they’re all only possibilities. I may get none of them.
      As for work, yes I’ll keep going to work. Even though it’s regular (daily) treatment, it doesn’t take long. I may have time off in the last week but that depends how it affects me. It’s all wait and see at the moment.

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