Living in a pretty remote part of Ireland means that lockdown and general pandemic chaos really hasn’t been so bad. Truth be told, it’s been very peaceful. The beach has been empty, so safe for me to venture out and OH has done all the shopping. Of course, there’s been down sides – yet more missed visits with friends I’ve already missed from last year & I’ve not seen the rest of the family since Christmas. But we’ve not experienced the empty shelves or the queuing outside of supermarkets and, more importantly, we’ve not had anyone close to us contract Covid.
I tell you this so that you will take pity on me as I appear to have become incapable of reading large yellow signs on windows & doors.
As you know, I don’t allow OH to accompany me to CUH as I prefer a little concert in the car instead. So obstacle number one on the way to my first face to face appointment since February was the petrol station. Having not experienced any shops since lockdown I wasn’t aware I might have to wait outside depending on how many people were already in there. In fact the two gents by the door, did give me a strange look as I sailed past them, but I assumed it was because I was wearing a mask. I did hear someone shout something from the cash desk, but it couldn’t be at me, could it? I then wondered round the shop to look for sweets. Did I notice the yellow arrows on the floor? Errrm, no. Only once I realised I was corralled & couldn’t reach the cash desk, did it occur to me there might be a problem. Having retraced my steps, the cashier gave me a stern talking to and hadn’t I read the sign on the door? I paid up and hurried on my way. Did I learn my lesson?
Well I wish I could say yes. I had two appointments in CUH, the lymphedema clinic and the oncology consultant. They were both being held in the Orchid Centre which is off the main hospital entrance so I wouldn’t have to go into any other departments. I’m an old hand at these appointments now so I just waltzed on in to the lady at the desk. She stared at me like I was from another planet. Did you not see the large sign on the door? I know, you see the pattern. She dispatched me back to the outer door of the clinic to wait for a nurse. The nurse took my temperature, ensured I’d not been poorly in the last week etc and showed me how to use hand sanitiser. I was then allowed in where the lady at the desk ignored me for a while. In truth, it’s what I would’ve done as well.
The lymphedema clinic was a big success. I’ve lost a couple of inches on my leg and she was delighted to hear about my sea swimming and trampolining.
The next appointment was supposed to be with the oncology consultant but I was called in by one of his team. He examined me – checked over where any scary lumps might be – all good. He then said that he would book my scan for August. Hang on a minute! August? I wasn’t happy. I had been told July. This might seem like a matter of weeks, but when you’re waiting for a certain reassurance, another 4/6 weeks is a long time.
I think this is where my mask came in handy. He could only see my eyes, no accompanying smile. He decided he wasn’t prepared to argue the point with me and trundled off to get the consultant.
I’m a pretty optimistic person and I know that outlook has got me through all of this, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t the occasional dark thought. Any strange pain can be imagined into all kinds of things at 4 in the morning.
The oncologist arrived, no doubt having been told some awkward bird was waiting for him. He was, as ever, kind and charming. He explained the scan would be in August as then there would only be one more month of treatment left. I told him how it was hanging over my head. Of course, what can he say? Only that the treatment is going well & that because I am lucky enough to get this treatment I am 50% less likely that the melanoma will return. There is no arguing with that, so August it is. He said that all my bloods are excellent so he wasn’t worried at all. As a friend said to me later – if there’s nothing to worry about, why have the scan at all??
Here’s the good news that messed with my head a little. Come the end of September my meds will finish. Mr T & Mr M will be no more. So having bombarded my body with this poison – life saving & incredibly expensive, clever poison – for 12 months, one day I just stop. No weaning off them, no bells, lights & whistles, just stop. Having lived this regulated life around them – drugs that you can over dose on – that’s it, last tablet done, it’s over.
I know that this is MASSIVELY good news. Don’t get me wrong. I know that, yet again, I have been blessed to have been in Ireland and to have all the right things fall into place that I could get this treatment. I just feel so weird about it finishing. Our lives have changed so much around the operation and the treatment. Actually the nurse at my GPs described it as similar to a bereavement. That you are almost grieving for the person you were before all of this happened.
Come September, I will be handed back to the surgical team who will start with regular check ups – pretty much back where I was in 2009 when I merrily rang my friend in Dublin to say my check ups were over, I was cancer free.
Sometimes when I start to write my blog, I surprise myself at what comes out. This was one of those days! Life is good, OH swims in the sea with me, I’m walking 5 miles a day and I can venture into the village shop (masked up obv) to choose my own wine!!