"Why am I so tired?"
1950s technology meets 21st-century woman.
It's like a scene from an old science fiction film. The helpless woman is bound under some huge machine, while strange alien creatures scurry around. Moments later, it is apparent that they mean her no good, she is clearly uncomfortable, and in pain. Nonetheless, they force her into different positions, aim their dreadful machine at different parts of her long-suffering body, and then leave...
If anyone ever asks me how it feels to be nearly through cancer treatment, I will get them to imagine that. That is just how it feels to Christine. As I write this, Christine has just four radiation treatments left, and we are both exhausted. Read all you like in those cancer-survivor blogs about how "cleansing" or "empowering" the experience was, the treatment sucks. It hurts and it makes you sick, and it makes you tired.
Her radiation oncologist continually apologises for the brutality of "1950s technology". After all this time, there is seemingly no alternative to beaming huge amounts of X-Rays into living tissue, to kill off cancer. Christine has an foot-square area on her right chest, extending into her armpit, which has taken the brunt of the treatment, although there was another treatment field on her back for a time. She has described it to me as "having an intense sunburn" renewed every day. The burning is so bad in places that she has dark-red skin, and weeping blisters.
The only upside here is that quotation at the start. Christine's mom, Helen, used to say the same during her treatment for ovarian cancer, to the point where the family would just roll their eyes at her whenever she uttered it. Cancer, and the associated treatments, are tiring in the extreme, and Chris keeps on asking this question. We roll our eyes and ask it right back, with a grin.
Being sick is tiring. So is caring for someone - it's stressful and hard, and occasionally, it seems to be without reward. So now and again, Christine and I look at one another, and one will ask "Why am I so tired all the time?", and the other will sigh, or laugh, and explain it all over again. But I'm whining again.
So, Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show...?
My father suffered a stroke the day we started packing the old house up, to move. Fortunately, he's made of stout stuff and was up on his feet again fairly quickly, and is now back at home, but this doesn't mean he's out of the woods just yet - he's lost some weight and is undergoing other medical investigations. Suffice to say that it's worrying me, and adding to an already-high stress level.
The house move went moderately well, although the nitwit packers failed to correctly label or unpack many of the boxes, with the result that our garage is still full of largely unopened crates, and I still haven't found my hair trimmer. Thanks to the good offices of the excellent Ferenczy and my Dad, I now have all the paperwork I needed to start the immigration paperwork. Now comes the waiting time...
Oh, it's only stress...
A couple of months ago, we did a count of Life Change Units. In a nutshell, one completes a questionnaire covering recent (six month period) life-changing events (each of which has a points value). At the end, the total number of points indicate the amount of stress one is under, and how likely it is to affect health. Things like marriage, moving house, change of job, health problems, change in family circumstances, all add to the count.
"So what?" I hear you ask...
Well, with fewer than 150 LCUs, one has a 30% chance of developing a stress-related illness or having an accident in the following year
For 150 - 299 LCUs that increases to 50% risk
For over 300, the odds are stacked against you to the tune of 80%.
Ours was at 480, and there are things we have undergone that aren't even on the list. What, me worry?
In an attempt to lighten the load, we have taken to Sudoku and jigsaw puzzles. Christine has taken three weeks off work (her last treatment is 4th October, next Tuesday) and is spending as much time as possible resting. We're both pretty much exhausted all the time, and fully intend to have a celebration dinner date as soon as we are both in a fit state.
Tess is enjoying her new school. Funny how Chris and I were fretting about it, given all the other changes she's faced in the past six months, along with us. We went along to pick her up that afternoon, thinking we were going to face floods of tears, and had nothing of the sort. She's a great kid - I'm lucky to have married her mother, too.
Thank you to AnnaPanna and paraclete for tea.
...okay, this is the last bit. I have been trying to remember how, as a young boy (in the school choir), we managed to get Sheep may Safely Graze, from Handel's Messiah sequed into What a Friend We Have In Jesus and Deutschland über alles. Any ideas?
(R) breast and (R) axilla - Caught in the medical machine - Going Amazonian - When the Breast Fairy Comes - So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology - Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions - Support the Amazons: A Dual-Function Ninjagirls Bakesale for Boobies - Seven Down, One to Go - 1950s technology meets 21st-century woman. - Getting better, but cancer SUCKS - An Open Letter to Macy's regarding Tits