Tiomnadh

Chnuasaich mi an nòisean gum bu chòir dhomh tiomnadh a sgrìobhadh a-cheana san t-Sultain an-uiridh, ron chiad àm a chaidh mi dhan ospadal airson endoscopy fon an-fhaireachdair fhaighinn, ach cha robh an t-àm agam air a shon. Tha mi a’ dol a-rithist Diciadain agus an turas seo, sgrìobh mi e: cunntas-banca Seiceach gu Rob, cunntas-banca Albannach gu Tommy, leabhraichean-latha gu Jamie no Falcon (am fear a lorgadh iad na bu luaithe). Tha mi ’n dòchas a-nis gun lorg mi cybercafé airson ga chlò-bhualadh.

 

Pizza

Incroyable. Ces jours-ci, je mange généralement juste des soupes, des petits pains (avec beaucoup de thé) et des œufs. Mais aujourd’hui, j’ai acheté neuf mini-pizzas (270 g en tout) et je les ai toutes mangées. Bien sûr, avec beaucoup de thé; néanmoins, je les ai mangées d’un trait et je les ai même appreciées. Peut-être que je pourrai aller pour manger dans un restaurant bientôt …

 

Threads picked up

Last Wednesday I was finally strong enough to visit my GP: somewhat to my (pleasant) surprise she prolonged my sick leave notwithstanding the delay in my getting there. The next day I visited oncology, but was told to come today; on Friday I went to the shrink’s, where I’ve got an appointment, albeit only for 1 June.

And today I finally paid a ‘proper’ visit to the oncology department. The direct endoscopy (which I’d missed, boozing) was rescheduled for 18 May (incidentally, the second anniversary of my leaving of Scotland, hope it’s not a bad omen), with the next meeting at oncology on 22 June (where they should also decide whether they should send me for the PET/CT scan I’d missed as well).

Funnily, my throat seems to have improved a bit once I was through with it today. But then I did suspect it was, like most of my medical problems, at least partly psychosomatic.

 

An at air falbh … ’s dòcha

As dèidh ochd seachdainean bhon fhàgail an ospadail, bha “ath-sgrùdadh” agam Diardaoin. An oidhche roimhe, bha amharas agam nach biodh e deimhinnte, agus sin mar a thachair. Chan fhaca an dotair an at nam ghuthlag tuilleadh, ach thuirt e gun robh a’ ghuthlag air a thoinneamh leis an réidio-theiripe agus nach fhaca e a-steach gu ceart. An ath mhìos, coimheadaidh iad a-steach is mise fo pràmhan, agus bidh sgana PET/CT ùr ann: cha bhi fios agam co-dhiù a bheil aillse orm fhathast ron 27mh Giblean.

Tha e a’ coimhead dòchasach ge-tà, ach bha droch naidheachdan ann cuideachd: cion nan smugaidean agus dè cho dùmhail ’s a tha iad, thuirt an dotair dhomh gur e “buaidh an taobh mhaireannach” a tha ann; mar an ceudna an sprogan (duine cnàmhlach le sprogan, o mo chreach) – faodaidh sin fàs eadhon beagan nas miosa fhathast; cha robh a’ mhisneachd agam as dèidh sin ri faighneachd mu dheidhinn na staise/feusaige a sguir dhen fhàs.

Agus fuirichidh a’ chuisle dham stamac gus a’ Chèitean aig a’ char as lugha …

 

Ann an teis-meadhan an ath-shlànachaidh

Oidhche Ardaoin. O chionn ceithir seachdainean, dh’fhàg mi an t-ospadal. Ceithir seachdainean bho seo, thèid mi ann airson faighinn a-mach an robh an leigheas soirbheachail. An deach an aillse air falbh.

Smaoinich mi gum biodh dà mhìos ro fhada, gun dèanadh aon mhìos a’ chùis. Fìrinn innse, cha dèanadh. Ged a chaidh a’ chuid as motha dhe builean an leigheis à sealladh, chan eil an amhaich fhèin mar a bha i fhathast – agus bhiodh aig na dotairean am fibroscope a chuir a-steach. (Cuideachd, tha mi a’ fàs sgìth leis an ‘PEG tube’, oir chan eil i a dhìth orm tuilleadh, agus tha e riatanach ga glèidheadh gu làitheil. Ach bheir iad a-mach i tron amhaich.)

Uill, foighidinn, a ghille. Aig a’ cheann thall, mìos ann no às, tha fios gur e an toradh an rud cudromach: am faod mi a bhith an dùil gum bi bliadhnaichean, seach mìosan, romhamsa fhathast.

 

Retrospect: last part of hospital stay

It was only getting worse.

I don’t mean the chemo. In fact, I never discerned any side effects, although it was stopped when my blood samples revealed to the staff that my kindneys were becoming affected too much.

I don’t even mean the radiotherapy, although in the end I needed to use the PEG tube even for ‘drinking’, could only speak with difficulty (and pain), and salivated so much I was afraid I might choke in sleep.

What troubled me most was that in addition to these, I could hardly get any rest. What with people watching TV, my roommates snoring, nurses constantly coming for this or that reason and so on and so on, I only slept in a a-few-hours instalments. Which was of course taking its toll on my mental energy.

In the end, while still switching on my tablet each afternoon or evening, I then just made some bookmarks for reading later, and killed time by playing Microsoft fucking Solitaire. I had no zest for anything more demanding than that.

(Even when I unexpectedly received a New Year’s email from Tommy, it naturally made my day, but I was only able to mail back ten days after being discharged.)

I was also nostalgically recollecting foods I used to like and noting down those I wanted to taste again once I could.

But it was over at last and after some time things began getting better. But I already wrote about that.

 

Thill mo ghuth

Uaireannan, cha tèid gnothach am feabhas mus gabh thu ris nach tèid a-riamh. Airson na làithean, cha b’ urrain dhomh labhairt, dìreach cagairt. Cha b’ ann mus do ghabh mi ris gur dòcha gum fàg an tinneas balbh mi, gun do dhùisg mi air madainn Diluain seo agus, abair iongnadh, fhuair mi a-mach gun robh mi comasach air brudhinn a-rithist. Seadh, a’ bruidhinn ann an guth ìosal is glè thùchanach a-mhàin, ach a’ bruidhinn. (Fìrinn innse, b’ fhèarr leam ma chumas mo ghuth cho ìosal mar a tha e a-nis. Bu lugha orm an-còmhnaidh dè cho sgalanta ’s a bha e.)

 

Step by step

Tomorrow it’ll be a fortnight since they discharged me from the hospital. And man, was I in bad shape. Unable to swallow even liquids and croaking rather than speaking, sleep-deprived and generally weak, with tinnitus, a nose both blocked and runny, and too many skin problems to list here …

I’d been warned the radiotherapy would keep kicking in for another week – that is to say, it would last a week before the side effects even started going away. Which proved to be true. There was very little improvement my body made during that first week.

This week was better. While the changes appeared imperceptible from a day-to-day perspective, they seem almost impressive in retrospect. My neck no longer looks like I was badly sunburnt yesterday. I laid off the painkiller and the expectorant. I don’t tire as quickly/easily. Bit by bit I tidied the flat and nearly caught up on my languages- and internet-related backlog. And so on. I’m even blogging now.

Most tellingly, while last Thursday I only managed one swallow of tea, today I’m into my third cup, in addition to a cup of coffee, three bread rolls (soaked in tea or bouillon before being put into the mouth), and a baby food jar – and I’m not done yet. I can’t have haggis, but I do mean to have tattie mash this Burns Nicht.

Sure, many troubles persist. I salivate too much to leave house without a pack of paper tissue; I can’t gargle; morning hypotension remains an everyday occurence; my voice seems to get, if anything, worse; there’s more. (And it will be some time yet before I can enjoy a bona fide dinner worth its name. I never enjoyed eating much; I’m sure I’ll turn into an epicure for a while now.)

Still, I feel I’m through the worst. Patience, that’s the order of the day now.

 

2016

Generally, a very bad year.

Of course, it had its good moments too; for instance, I’ve read some good (even some very good) books. But outwith books and the Net there were few pleasant moments. On the contrary, there was no lack of nasty things. I hate this noisy stinking land and nation more and more. I’m even losing my affection for Rob; while Tommy has obviously lost all interest in me.

So the cancer I’ve been diagnosed with is quite bad as well, but in fact not extremely bad. Sure I’d like to overcome it, but if I don’t and the next year is my last . . . I suspect I won’t lose all that much. There’s precious little to look forward to either way; I’m only driven by the instinct of self-preservation.

 

Two thirds over

That is to say, two thirds of my “treatments”. Thanks to radiotherapy I’m already taking all my nutrients via the PEG tube (even inject more tea through it than what I actually drink); talking hurts a bit and my voice is quite hoarse; on the other hand, I’ve more or less learned to tolerate the mask.

Funny thing is, everybody warned me about the side effects of chemotherapy, with nausea, vomitting, hair loss, weakness and so on, but I see hardly any (touch wood). True, my moustache is slowly giving way, but my weakness is no doubt more like laziness, due to all the lying in bed; and if there’s something makes me sick it’s the fucking noise.

I can’t get enough rest. This time I gave up on going to my digs for the weekend so as not to be bothered by the stamping scum living upstairs. I ended up with a temporary roommate which arsehead switches on the bloody TV in the morning and watches it until he goes to sleep.

 

Cure begun at last

I’ll spare you too many details; I hope I still haven’t turned into the kind of patient who can only talk about his disease, but who’ll expatiate on that whenever given the slightest excuse for doing so. Neither do I see a point in turning this into a sort of “My fight with cancer” blog.

Suffice it to say that on Wednesday they inserted the PEG tube into my stomach, which wasn’t half as bad as I was afraid it would be (although getting used to it will take some time yet), and on Thursday and Friday I finally underwent my first two radiotherapy sessions (the mask still troubling me, but I guess in time I’ll get used to it as well). Also, my hospital roommates are apparently more bearable than the previous lot (in fact, probably more bearable than my neighbours), so there’s little to complain about.

That said, exhausting it is. Both the diagnostics and the curing tire one more than living with the tumour did. (And my parents are plaguing me with questions, while Tommy ignores me completely.) Then again, if I end up cured, it would be worth a lot of temporary inconvenience. Even though I’ve got precious little to look forward to in the future anyway.

 

Tablette

Après avoir beaucoup réflechi, j’ai décidé de n’emporter pas mon ordinateur à l’hôpital. J’avait peur de le perdre (non: j’avais peur que quelqu’un le vole). Mais des semaines sans ordi, juste avec le smartphone et la liseuse ? Ainsi, j’ai acheté une tablette. Après tout, je pourrais l’utiliser dans un avenir plus lointain si/lorsque l’ordi meurt. Bien sûr, seulement jusqu’à ce que j’aurai un nouvel ordi – la tablette a le putain de tchèque préinstallé …

 

… agus às an ospadal a-rithist

Uell, cha do thòisich an leigheas fhathast idir. Chaidh mi dhan ospadal gu dearbh, ach beagan as dèidh an dìnneir thàinig tè ’s thuirt i dhomh gu robh mearachd air a bhith ann ’s nach robh am PEG tube dèanta fhathast. So, dh’fhàg mi a-rithist ’s bu chòir dhomh tilleadh madainn Dimàirt.

Dh’fhan mi a cheana airson an ospadal a bhith deiseil na b’ fhaide na bha mi air an daoraich.

 

PET/CT scan

All the jabs, cannulas, radiotracers and whatnot troubled me none. But the 18 minutes of the PET scan, with nothing happening save for the bench on which I lay moving (ever so slowly) through the scanner, were eternal. Once again I was on the verge of breaking down, giving in and interrupting the process. Of course it’s psychosomatic – there’s no pain, you just wait motionlessly while the time drags on … and on … and on – but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. To think I’m in for a few dozen radiotherapy sessions like this, shorter, ten-minute ones, but with the claustrophobic mask on my face … the only hope is in the old saying that one gets used to everything.

 

It never rains but it pours

As if I didn’t have health problems enough, last Friday after my discharge from the hospital my neck began to swell on the left/cancer side. It grew worse over the weekend, so after Monday’s CT scan I got (via several departments’ nurses) to the ORL department and was prescribed antibiotics (Augmentin); once at the chemist’s I also bought a gargle (Tantum Verde). So far I’ve noticed no improvement, but at least it no longer seems to get any worse. Maybe after a couple more days . . .

 

Well, no

I had some expectations but they were not fulfilled. I got no rest from noise: in spite of the old adage “silence heals” the hospital room was equipped with a telly. I know that people here are addicted to noise, but for me, lying between a guy watching a TV programme and another concurrently watching a film on a laptop was so unbearable it drove me with my Kindle to a corridor armchair.

Which wasn’t the worst. That came when the latter bastard woke up at 2am and began watching another film, waking me up as well and driving me to the corridor armchair for another two hours.

And the cure proper hasn’t begun either. They just made the mask for me (during which procedure I experienced a panic attack, possibly caused in part by sleep deprivation, so that we almost had to stop it and then start all over again) and discharged me for another two and a half weeks. The first bona fide treatment should only happen on the 23rd.

Ah well, at least I may get less irksome roommates then. Not that the chances are great, in this town.
 

ETA, 13/11/16: And it went on: on Thursday they phoned to tell me Monday’s CT scan didn’t come out well because of my fillings, so I should have a PET/CT scan done this week. Neither was that all: once I’m checked in the hospital next week, I’d have a PEG tube inserted, and only the following day the radiotherapy can finally begin . . .

 

Cure begins tomorrow

And never too early. I procrastinated for too long before going to get diagnosed, the diagnosis itself took quite some time as well, and once diagnosed I wasted a few weeks boozing.

On the one hand I’m naturally anxious about how I will cope (not to mention anxiety about the final outcome). On the other hand I’m sort of looking forward to it. At long last something will be done to fight the disease; in a sense it will be an adventure (I did study the NHS and Macmillan websites, but I still have only a vague idea of what exactly I’m in for); and I’ll get some rest from the scum living above me, with their recurring hours-long stamping every day.

 

Not so heavy

I visited Rob’s today: him naturally having scales in the pub, the idea was to weigh myself before the cure begins, and then after its end to see much much weight I’ll have lost. Given that I have much, much less exercise these days than usual, while eating much, much more, 62 kilo doesn’t seem so much. On the other hand, who knows what was the starting point a few weeks ago at the end of the bender, and anyway, 62kg translates into BMI 19.1, with underweight allegedly turning into healthy weight at 18.5. So it seems that (probably after many years) I have a healthy weight after all.