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Fear and introspection

21 Feb

One of the things that has been an almost constant presence in my life since the diagnosis, no matter where I am, is fear.

I have been afraid of having seizures when I am alone in case no one finds me, when I am in public in case I do not have time to tell anyone what is happening, when I am at work, in case they decide I am too sick to work and don’t let me keep my job. I feel scared on public transport in case I have a panic attack and cannot get off. I am scared that I will be this way forever.

When I am busy and have slept enough, and realise that I have lots of support all of this fear melts away, yet I still have moments where I am scared of feeling scared. I wake up in the middle of the night having a panic attack, or start to breathe shallowly at work and think I’ll be sick on the desk.

Writing this post has unnerved me, as I now feel the familiar knot in my stomach, but I had to after reading this, which has inspired me to have more courage and fight the feeling of fear. You can be afraid, just like you can be weak, but with a strong mind you can admit you’re scared, acknowledge it and overcome it.  I hope.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~ Nelson Mandela

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Exhaustion

21 Feb

Monday was the end of the line. 6 days post consultation my body & mind which had kept going through work, going out, seeing friends, a party, a date, an ex-boyfriend coffee, a bridesmaid dress fitting, and at least 4 ‘I have to have more treatment’ conversations, had given up. As I walked through the door with my Sainsburys shopping I was seriously worried my legs were going to go from under me. I was supposed to be calling my best friend to arrange a holiday, calling my mum to sort out my cousin’s visit, calling my date back, cooking food for the week, and all I could do was crawl into bed. I got up again later, made some dinner and emailed work to say I’d be off sick today. I think it’s the first sick day I’ve taken since returning after my operation 9 months ago.

Today I’ve slept. When I did get up I showered, then sat down as if hit by a tonne of bricks – after showering! God, I feel like I did when I was in hospital.
I’ve been reading Anti-Cancer which is written by a medic who was testing brain theories using an MRI scanner and scanned himself only to discover a brain tumour. He had it removed but relapsed and talks about the feeling the second time around when you can’t understand why your body is letting it grow in the way that it is. He talks a lot about cancer fighting foods. Luckily I seem to eat a lot of these already but I’m hesitant about my new regime of three cups of green tea per day!

This however is better

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No Regrets

19 Feb

I think many people would be saying ‘If only…’

‘If only I had been able to see into the future I would’ve travelled here…’

‘If only I had known that this was growing inside of me I would have spent less time wishing I were someone else; richer, more successful, prettier.’

‘If only I had known I might not be around ’til I was 80 I would’ve grabbed things with two hands and hit the ground running with as much enthusiasm and vigor as I could muster.’

I can honestly say that there have been times when I’ve thought ‘uhrgh the grass must be greener – if I earnt more I could do more.’ But I’m lucky – these moments have been few and far between, passing as quickly as they appear. The money thing is generally because I want to buy rounds of drinks for friends and can’t!

I have very few regrets and I have my parents to thank for this- they’ve never pushed me to do what they see as the ‘right’ thing (find a career, settle down..) which must’ve been hard for them and scary. To see your only daughter leave and run to Mexico, then fall for a Mexican!

They have been unbelievable supportive, from initially instilling such a strong work ethic that they probably knew that I would eventually come back. But not telling me what I should do with my life as I clearly wouldn’t have done it and needed to find my own way. They don’t understand my job but I hope they are proud.

They now fully expect me to have an on-off career as a few members of my mum’s family have. Even though Dad will have another heart attack if he reads this! Dad it will be in advertising for as long as I can handle the pressure, that I can assure you of!

Dad’s rigorous saving attitude & mum’s more free spirited family & now the brain tumour seem to have combined to make me.

A me who works very hard but makes the most of life.

And I’ll admit and give full credit to mum & dad as this plan would not be possible without their foresight and savings and wise investment and ability to help me buy my flat, which is my pension and security (which I may not need!)

Hello 2011…it’s March already and so much has happened

28 Feb

I had almost forgotten this blog existed – I hadn’t posted for almost 6 months.
It has been a very quick, and very hectic 6 months. Hectic really does seem to be the right word to describe life at the moment.
I was just getting into living in London again, and had just moved into a new flat in Angel with two flatmates, as well as moving into my first department at Dare (production) when I had another seizure.

My first seizure happened in August – or at least that was the first major one, where I was taken to hospital – I think I might’ve had the first one in July when I was travelling in Guatemala with Anna. I woke up one morning with a really swollen mouth, as if I had been bitten in the night. That would become the ‘tell’ of the seizures, well, the ones which happened when completely asleep instead of as I was drifting off or waking up.

So in November the seizures continued, to the extent where I was referred for a CT scan, and then an MRI. I was attending a course – IPA Level 1 – and had to present to the rest of the people on the course when the nurse from the doctor’s surgery rang me and said, ‘We’ve had the results of your MRi, and they’ve found a tumour.’ Not the best way to hear it.

The next week I saw the neurologist, Dr Holmes, and the neurosurgeon Mr McEvoy. I will be eternally grateful to Rich’s parents for pulling strings and getting me a consultation with him as he is known to be the best in the country, if not the world.

Mr McEvoy took me through the imaging and showed me my tumour. It is the size of an apple, and sits above my right ear. He then explained that he would have to do further tests to see exactly which parts of my brain it had taken over, and whether they would be able to remove it.

Cue a two month wait before anything even happened. This meant a complete crash at Christmas. I think I had expected everything to be sorted out by then, when in reality it was only just beginning.
In January I had the promised tests, and got some good news – the tumour had not affected any of my brain functioning, i.e thinking, memory, IQ. And the bad news, which was that it was sitting very close to my motor nerves. (I’m not sure if nerve is the right word, but to the motor strip anyway)

Two weeks ago I saw Mr McEvoy again and he gave me the choice of having it removed. The plus, it will give me a better prognosis, and the minus, well I may lose the movement in my face, lips, tongue, throat and left hand side. Rock and a hard place?

So I am now waiting to hear when my surgery will be, and what a wait it is. The pressure is okay most of the time, and then it hits, like a tonne of bricks and knocks me entirely off my feet.

This evening for example, I had been at work all day, very busy, and then come home, cooked a quiche, went for a run, watched some Mad Men, and done some boring house stuff like paying bills. Only at 11.30pm did I crack, and cry, and ring Dad because who else can you ring at 11.30pm??

I really just want to know. I want someone to tell me whether I will live for 2 years or 20 years, whether I’ll grow old, have a career, get married, have a life, have children. All of those things. I almost feel that if they are not a choice, then what am I doing here.

This is why I am adding to Project Sixty Eight, because even though that was about travel and exploring, and this is not, I feel like keeping them on the same blog will make anyone who reads this understand that they should jump at every opportunity they have with their arms wide open. You NEVER know what is going to happen tomorrow.

Back in Blighty

18 Oct

I can’t believe I’ve been back for over a month. A month of visiting parents, friends, house-hunting, trips to ikea, painting & starting my long-awaited new job at Dare.

Hectic doesn’t really cover it. Strangely when I was in Costa Rica I spent the last few days knowing that as soon as I got back to England I would realise that nothing had changed in the 2 months I’d been away, but while I spent those precious hours cycling to the beach in the bright sunshine I somehow imagined London to be equally bright and sunny…nothing short of fantasy really!

When I got back even Heathrow airport smelt the same as ever (not that I can describe it).

After a few weeks to sort out a place to live I started work. Now i’d known about the job since I went away in July, but it didn’t seem real until the Sunday night when i was trying to work out what to wear! The first day flew past in a flurry if presentations and introductions. I can safely say that I forgot almost everyones name straight away. In a way starting a new job is like being back at school-you try and figure out where you fit in while avoiding the school bullies! Luckily everyone was really friendly.

Now in week three we actually have real work to do. We’ve been given a creative brief and have to come up with a concept or two. This is definitely easier said than done-I will never underestimate the time & effort that goes into a creative idea. It’s a real eyeopener being put in the position of everyone else in the agency. Working in Account Management you really bring together all the diverse parts of the agency, as well as the client, so it is a huge help if you understand the time constraints on everyone else.

Anyway, this post could go on forever…I’ll continue it tomorrow.

Friendship

26 Jul

There are very few people in the world that you’d be able to have fun with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without getting annoyed or bored. And even less people who could put up with me for that long!

When you spend 4 hours on a bus that looks like it has never been cleaned, sitting next to a lady and her baby who are very sick, then get approached by a very drunk man who seems to want to chat all day, none of it matters if you have a good friend who helps you to see the funny side.

When you arrive at your hostel and your room is tiny, smells of damp and is slightly mouldy, its all bearable when you are sharing with a friend.

When you go to the first restaurant in the street to get out of the rain, discover that it is Guatemalan/Chinese, and has pigeon on the menu (*Helen, that is especially for you), it is the funniest thing in the world when you’re with  good friend.

And only a great friend would completely blow the budget for chocolate brownies with icecream and strawberries, a squishy sofa and a happy hour.

What am I going to do without her!