Post-surgery and post cancer diagnosis I haven’t really felt like myself. Unsurprising perhaps, but to go from a fit, healthy mother-of two, loving life and work, to a cancer patient with a colostomy bag, a laparoscopic scar and a chemo recommendation overnight is a pretty big leap.
Three weeks on from surgery and the scar is healed, my mobility has returned, the pain killers have become thankfully unnecessary and I consider myself consciously competent, if reluctantly, at managing my stoma.
Of course the shock of the cancer diagnosis is still gradually sinking in, and the practical impact of starting chemo has yet to hit home, but in this interim period, the calm before the next storm, I feel and look (ironically) well.
Three weeks on I find that each day there are more and more flickers of my old self, and I am oh so very grateful for the return of each seemingly trivial piece of normality. The discovery that I actually want my daily morning coffee again after weeks of declining it. The increased craving for sugar and chocolate (which has hitherto been a hallmark of my tastebuds and a lifelong struggle to master) marks a turning opint after days of desiring salty crisps and savoury stodge…which I’m guessing my body perhaps needed after surgery?
I’ve been phenomenally lucky in having had my evening meals provided these last two weeks by my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, along with a few good friends who’ve come to my rescue to build me up after a week dining on the NHS. My ‘meals-on-wheels’ deliveries have been a huge support, a godsend, it’s meant that I have good food and a full fridge without any of the effort of thinking about what to cook, what I need to shop for and the energy-sapping exertions that can accompany both of these chores.
There’s a part of me that wants such an amazing service to continue indefinitely, but today, as a minor accompanied outing (imperative to alleviate cabin fever during my temporary driving ban) I went food shopping. Not the big, mentally and physically overwhelming kind, just a short, but somewhat overpriced circuit of the local high-end chain to snaffle a few essentials for lunch. I’ve so never been so thrilled to visit Waitrose in my life…to wheel a little basket around the aisles and queue up at the tills like a normal person. Mad really, but I can only liken it to returning to the UK after spells of culinary privation whilst travelling and working in less developed countries. Full shelves and incredible choice engendered similar delirium on returning to the UK.
Anyway, each step towards normality is welcome. Kareoke in the kitchen during a weekend breakfast, an autumnal walk to the playground with my children and dogs, I am even grateful for being able to leap across the room and grab a tissue to wipe my son’s snotty nose. I couldn’t have done that a week ago.
Clearly there are still barriers and further steps to healing, I STILL really can’t pick my kids up…which has the silver lining of getting me off nappy changing for probably another week. (Get in!) I STILL can’t drive, which is actually a frustrating quirk of the insurance system. But however temporary such improvements are (I’m informed I may yet regress to a saline loving, non-coffee drinking monster during chemotherapy), I am really loving feeling a little more like me each day.