Tuesday, July 25, 2006


So hot, this heat is melting me away. I'm so sick of it and so tired by it. I'm fed up of feeling totally overwhelmed by it: like my head were about to explode; like my skin is going to burn off my body.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Where were you?

I was blithely unaware of what was happening until I got to the hospital where I was seeing Keith the massage therapist.
I knew something wasn't right: I'd had to walk nearly the whole way there because no bus came. And there were lots of people waiting and there was that buzz in the air.

Something's not right.

So, I walked. A big deal for me at that time: I was impressed I made it.

It's funny because before I left, David's mum called to say that there was a problem with the tube and I didn't check. I just thought, I'm not getting the tube: it doesn't matter. I didn't even check to see what was happening. I didn't think it was anything big. I was wrong.

And so, I didn't really realise what was going on until I got to the hospital. While I was there the hospital implemented its 'disaster management' (my term, not theirs) and were expecting a possible influx of wounded people. The lifts were closed to the public in order to be used for patient transfer. And there I was, on the eighth floor. It's a long way down when your legs are wobbly. In the end, Keith walked me down: me clutching his arm. But however wobbly I was; I had nothing to complain about - people were treated in that hospital who had lost limbs and had other serious injuries. I was lucky.

Today, my thoughts are with all those for whom this is a very difficult day. And working close to Russell Square I have already seen many of those people. Walking into work this morning the streets round here were cordoned off - just like they were after the incident last year. It brought back floods of memories. Some about the bombs and some about where I was at that time last year. So, after the little freak-out I had yesterday I'm feeling a little fragile - but mostly, so sad for other people. I don't think I had the capacity to really spread my feelings last year and so it's now that my empathy is springing in.

May all those who need it be sheltered and comforted and held.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Freak out

Today I freaked out and didn't even realise it. New-style freak-out. Cool.
Or not.

Normal, monthly Thursday. Keith followed by chemo-suite for port flush and Zoladex implant. *MUCH* better than last time because I was there just before nine. I went to do this new check-in thing and only the haematology assistant was there and he had me write my name and hospital number and the time I arrived on a piece of paper for the chemo assistant. Then, in the chemosuite Ivy told me that she doesn't start until 10am so I should just carry on doing what I've always done and Ivy will pass on the info. After all that hoo-ha last month! Farcical. The nurse who had upset me so much last month actually did the flush and the injection: I thought I was going to cry when I realised but then she was perfectly nice! So, it obviously was just the stressy state the chemo-suite was in last time. So that's, sort of, OK.

So - all OK so far.

When I'd been upset on Wednesday about the GP-thing, I rang Elaine - who said I could come and see her on Thursday - she was having a paperwork day after a meeting at 9.30. Go and have a coffee and find me later. So I did the Starbucks thing (herbal tea, thank you) plus a sticky-bun. Why do I always do to Starbucks when I could go to the non-chain, probably better cakes and buns, place next door? I am a brand-junkie about my coffeeshops apparently.
And so I hung about until after 10 to give her a goodish amount of time before I went up there again. The whole time fighting my 'I should go to work, I'm not really *needing* to talk to Elaine: I'm not totally spare, I just *want* to talk to her' thoughts. I have discovered that I have some thing in my head that says 'if I want something, that is wrong. Wanting is wrong and should be denied'. I only want to talk to Elaine - so that's self-indulgent and shoud be denied.
I get to her office - she's not there. Dilemma point. Do I get someone to bleep her? Do I wait around for her? Do I run away? I'm still so convinced that this is self-indulgent 'chat' that I can't bear to get someone to bleep her; besides, I'd have to go and ask someone to do that and I'm still not really sure what that'll mean so I don't want to do that. I don't want to sit and wait on 'the chairs' because you might as well just hang a sign round your neck that says "I can't cope: pity me" so I'm left with the third option: run away. I'm good at that - I have lots of practice at that: that's what I'll do. But I want her to know that I stopped by, so I write a note and stick to her door. Then she'll know I missed her/she missed me (and she'll feel bad (in my head)). So I write the "I came to see you but you were not there" note with a firm "I'll see you next Thursday". I'm trying to convince myself I can cope until then on my own.

And I go.

Down the lift that takes me out at the Radiotherapy entrance and I go out the doors and I......................................................................stop.
Just outside the doors. And I can't go any further. I don't want to leave, I want to talk to Elaine. And I stand there. I stand there for over half an hour. Not going forwards, not going backwards - and every so often I would call her office and it would always go to the answerphone. As I stood there Keith came by and teased me, saying that the bus didn't stop here - hardy-ha - and then asked if I was waiting for the rain to stop. I replied 'After a fashion' - which was actually a total lie. Now, why I didn't just ask *Keith* to bleep Elaine for me, I have no idea. But I wasn't in a totally logical state really, so that's why. I called again - still the answerphone, I left a message. It was somewhat bizarre I think. Something like "I've been standing ouside the radiotherapy entrance since I left and I can't leave. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this, sorry, bye." Good lord. As I write it out I just think I'm not as insane as that sounds - really, I'm not. Really, I'm not.
Anyway, as I hung up and put my phone away someone came out of the radiotherapy clinic and stopped to put their umbrella up. As he walked off I walked at the same time. Like his movement thawed my inertia and I went home.

In retrospect, I'm alarmed at how off-base I was here. I was convinced that I wasn't in enough of a state to *need* to talk to Elaine - so I wasn't going to. Normally, when I know I'm freaking out I do what I need to do to be helped. I leave her a message if she's not there; I get someone to bleep her. But somewhere in my head I thought I was OK and I wasn't. Is this a step forward or a step backwards?? A step forwards in that my freak-outs are not so dramatic that I can't exercise some control over them? Or backwards in that I'm no longer clearly identifying that panic and distress?
I really have no answers to this. No doubt it will become clear in time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Abandoned and crazy

OK - so when does the utter over-reacting cease??

I spent an hour sobbing yesterday.
Because I rang my doctors surgery to make an appointment with my GP; only to be told:

"He's left"


In head:
"How can he leave me!! I've been abandoned! Now I'm really going to die."

Crazy, over-reacting woman.

I truly felt like, shit, bad things are going to happen now. He was the one who started the process. He was the one who sent me to the Breast Clinic (True, with the words: "I don't think it's cancer: I've felt a 'cancer lump' (note: noone uses the word 'tumor' to the patient) before." Whoops! And now you've met a new lump! Lump, meet GP; GP, meet lump!) If he hadn't done that - I could have really been in trouble. And that happens to young women with breast cancer - their GP thinks that it's so unlikely that he doesn't refer them. My GP did refer me - he did the right thing. And I liked him and felt comfortable with him: and that is a big deal for me. I really do get quite bad 'white-coat' anxiety and I deal with it by knowing the person I'm going to see. I always make sure I see my GP and I want him to know me and how I react and so on. I hope my new GP will be as good.

And now he's gone. He, kind of, rescued me. I'm really grateful to him and I can't even tell him.
And just why haven't they informed his patients?! That's what really gets me: that, surely, is not the way to break the news.

And then I think, shit - I am reacting like a lover had just left me; or a family member or a best friend. He was none of these things. I am over-reacting. But I truly felt so upset yesterday. I sat in Tavistock Square (nice, green gardens with Ghandi statue) and wept (and also muttered to myself - adding to the crazy, insane woman image I seem to be going for nowadays)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I don't think I've mentioned that I'm singing in the Proms. Well, I'm singing in the Proms. Prom 20 and 21 to be exact, on the 29th of July as part of the 'London rabble' in Orlando Gough's new piece "We turned on the light".
We started rehearsing a couple of weekends ago: none of us knew each other and now, now, we're pretty tight and are making a really good sound together. The piece is not as far-out and weird as I feared it might be. It's a text by Caryl Churchill about global warming (sounds dull, doesn't it?) but it's growing on me and I certainly think the mass of different choirs and groups - including The Shout - will sound absolutely amazing. We'll be performing it twice and it'll be broadcast live on BBC radio 3.

So we started with a weekend rehearsal which was pretty tiring and now we're rehearsing on Tuesday nights. I have learnt a new tongue-twister to add to my vocal warm-up: He rattled his bottles in Rollix's yard. Go on, try it; you know you want to!! And we've had some great African songs to use as warm-ups too. Lots of fun. And it's been so nice to be singing again:

Let me go

I was doing so well: feeling so much better and then, suddenly, talking to Elaine yesterday I'm back at floods of tears and the honest truth that I have looked at death. I 'cheated' and 'tricked' it.

I escaped....for now.

People have been where I am now - cancer 'free' and thinking they have won but have still died from the disease. I can never be certain that I've won. And that was my mantra all last year:

"I get to win, me; you, cancer, you get to lose. You don't get this girl."

But actually; it just hasn't got me *this time*. I'm not saying I think it's going to come back: I don't know. That's what it boils down to: I don't know. I can't know. Noone can know. And there's really nothing I can do to help myself; to insure myself; to keep it at bay.

I feel like I am part of some Grimm's fairytale: the wicked, spooky forest is behind me. All black with twisting tendrils and branches. Deformed trees and dark shadows. And it's following me and in there is the 'evil', the 'wickedness'. And it can catch you. And, if you're lucky, you can escape. But at a price: you have to pay a price. And that's where I am: paying the price. Turn around 3 times clockwise and touch the ground and the 'wolf' can't get you. That's where I am. Doing meaningless things to try and placate the wickedness enough that it leaves me alone. And hence, I can't forget it all - I have to remember, I have to have the flashbacks because that is paying the price. It's a bargain. You let me go and I will pay you the obesience you require. Every day: whatever you ask of me.

Just please let me go