Thursday, 26 November 2015

Are we live?

How do I feel about what happened to me? 

This is a question I have been asked a number of times recently. The question itself confuses me. Am I done? Is it over? It doesn’t feel over when you have to take a day to rest after throwing a ball for fifteen minutes in the park. 

Last week, Matt and I went out for dinner with some of the other scout leaders. We were chatting and something related to my transplant was briefly discussed before Matt smiled at me and said, “anyway, that’s all in the past”. Just like that. He was being positive; he intended it to be reassuring to me and everyone there that I was better now. But as much as I want this whole thing to be in the past, the truth is that it’s just not there for me yet. It is still very much my present. It is the reason I am not working. It is the reason I spend my days at home, doing the same things, becoming exhausted by the same mundane tasks. I felt weird as soon as he said it, guilty for dragging this whole thing out, conscious that people are getting bored of the whole cancer thing. 

Mentally, cognitively, introspectively, I know I have been changed. They call it “chemo brain”. It’s like my mind has a fogginess which prevents me from remembering things clearly, if at all. It also affects my vocabulary; humble words I once frequently used dance around in my subconscious, almost-remembered and tantalisingly out of reach. I feel like I have lost the capacity for creative thought and now find it so difficult to think clearly or organically or uniquely about anything. So when I am asked these huge questions, how do I feel about what happened? how do I feel about cancer? what is having cancer like? I just want to be able to answer in a concise but articulate way but it just doesn’t come.

I’m not a journalist, I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to go viral (in my world going viral is no good thing and involves a hospital admission and hefty dose of Aciclovir! #cancerlolz). I just want this mist to clear, this cloud to dissipate from around me, for things to be so much clearer where the future is clearer too. I know I am changed. I am more tolerant in some ways, and less in others. I feel like I have things in perspective and that at least, is very clear to me.

During my treatment, Timothy Spall was a guest on The Graham Norton Show. He spoke about being diagnosed with a terminal illness (turns out it was AML, and turns out it wasn’t terminal after all). He said that when he was ill things took on new meaning: trees were somehow more beautiful and everything was profound. And he said the day he knew he was better was when things weren’t profound anymore. We used this as a benchmark throughout my treatment. My sister would ask, “is everything profound?” and I would look outside at the view that never changed, where the sun rose each morning over the fields, where I would imagine foxes running beneath the hedgerows, which was so beautiful it almost made me forget where I was and why, and I would reply, “yes, everything is profound”.

No comments:

Post a Comment