I’m not sure how I ever had time to work. After the excavation of my insides, the physio said “You’ll need at least 6 weeks off work. Maybe 12.” My comment: “So that’ll be 2 weeks then. I’m self-employed.” I could in fact have started work again last week (make that 1 week) but I’ve been floating in a sort of limbo of not knowing, which hasn’t done a whole bundle for my concentration. OK, OK, I know – Limbo has been cancelled, but I’m sure you know what I mean.
I thought maybe once Monday was out of the way I’d be able to move on so, in a fit of positive action, I unpacked some videos I need to analyse on Monday morning. When I say I need to, I should have done them weeks ago but events somehow intervened. Needless to say, it’s still all sitting there and very little progress has been made (I do hope Tom’s not reading this!). There has just been no time – there has been far too much talking to do. Perhaps I should be getting on with it now, rather than blogging, but I desperately want to write everything down before I forget. There’s been no time even to blog up to now so the videos will just have to wait. Just a little longer.
The talking began on Monday lunchtime when we saw the wonderful not-quite-but-definitely-should-be consultant at the Royal. He was so sympathetic and sensible that you would think he had been breaking bad news to people all his life. Bad news but with such a positive spin. It was a Stage 1C cancer – and it’s gone. Understand? It has gone. Chemo? Probably. Hair grows back. He seemed to have all the time and understanding in the world and I felt like I mattered. I had dragged my slightly reluctant husband in to the consultation; I think I’d read the runes and somewhere inside knew what was coming but I’m not sure he had taken on board what I’d been trying to tell him for the previous 2 weeks. I may have had an idea what was coming but that didn’t stop me holding out hope that someone would say “Oh everything’s fine – we just couldn’t find your notes last week” or “Let’s talk about HRT“. So we both walked out slightly numb, trying to grasp the implications, not knowing what questions to ask and I spent the rest of the day bursting into tears at inappropriate moments. What did we do before texts, emails and blogs? I could tell everyone without them seeing the tears or hearing the catch in my voice.
By Tuesday I was getting used to the idea and went to meet a friend for a walk and a cup of tea. I chatted in the school playground to one the staff I’d not seen for ages as I waited for A to come out of nursery. “Hi! How are you doing! What about the children?” “Fine. Fine. We’re all fine.” But something very angry inside was shouting “Of course I’m not fine. I’ve had a hysterectomy. I’ve got cancer. Why can’t you see?” Later on, when I bumped into someone in the store who had broken bones at the same time as my ankle fragmented (2 broken elbows. Ouch!), my answer to the inevitable chit chat just came out “I’ve got cancer”. Oh dear – the look on her face said it all and she didn’t know what to say. As for me, I felt so guilty. I really hadn’t needed to say anything; it was just pure badness!
Since then I’ve been asking all my friends, colleagues, relatives, distant acquaintances, strangers in the street to just tell everyone. Please. So that I don’t have to explain when my hair starts falling out. So that I can talk to people like I normally do about life, school, cancer, swimming, ovaries (or lack of), bryozoans, blogs, chemotherapy, standard grades, whatever. So that I can look forward to when life is normal again. So that the children understand that, although things may be different for a while, it’s not the end of the world. It wasn’t a problem when I had my leg in plaster – everyone could see and was sympathetic. It’s not something to hide or be ashamed of. It’s going to be a major part of my life for the next year. So I want everyone to know and I don’t want anyone crossing the street to avoid me (unless, of course, that’s their normal behaviour). I do, by the way, reserve the right to cross the street to avoid other people.
Must go and hang out the washing. Wednesday and Thursday will follow. Also a post on Atlantis, Lost City of. And Work Experience (“This is so boring I wouldn’t want to do this job”). I’ll be back shortly – watch this space.