This is the first week in almost a year where I haven't had any medical appointments. No doctors, consultants, therapy or treatments. I keep double checking my notebook and phone to make sure I haven't missed anything. I even found myself going through my lever-arch files making sure there wasn't a letter I'd missed reading. I think I've become institutionalised. Like Brooks in the Shawshank redemption, I've forgotten how to act in the real world (although I can go to the loo without asking permission). My next Consultant appointment is not until 7th of July, and barring picking up a summer flu I won't be in hospital again until the Big Scan at the start of August. It's a weird feeling.
So to recap the last six weeks (apologies for my lazy blogging). I finished my 20th and final Radiotherapy session on my Birthday in mid-may. All went well but my thinking that it would be a walk in the park compared to chemo / surgery was naive to say the least. Just because there's no veins being opened doesn't mean nothing is happening. Cells are still being targeted and your immune system is working overtime. It leaves you feeling shattered. Many times in my month of zapping I didn't want to go in to Barts. I wanted to stay in bed watching "Homes under the Hammer" and listening to the sessions on Lauren Laverne's 6 music show. As always though Barts is a big ol' perspective machine, and patients were being wheeled in on chairs and beds. If they can do it, I bloody well can. So you grit your teeth, exchange jokes with the receptionists in the basement and get on with it.
The day after it finished and with the blessing of my Radiology consultant I jumped on a Ryanair special from Gatwick to West Cork. I spent 5 days driving around the hills and mountains, eating seafood and watching some brilliant local musicians. I slept for at least 10 hours a day and still felt knackered but it was good to escape.
So back in London it was another round of Hospital visits, notably to Guy's where I met an ear surgeon who confirmed my deafness caused by one of my chemotherapy drugs, Cisplatin. My low levels are still ok , but mid range and treble are all gone. So I'll be soon fitted with hearing aids which should help. I'm finding it really difficult to be in noisy pubs or hold conversations in cars. I'm an expert in reading the acoustics of a place now. I'm really not a fan of the whole warehouse, stripped down aesthetic. Exposed brick and pipes just mean the sound bounces around and doesn't get absorbed. An old man's pub with leather benches and partitions is so much better. If you want to find me at gigs I'll be one the one next to the Bass Bins.
I also saw my oncologist who was happy with all my blood counts. My ACP count which measures the amount of cancer activity in my blood is now back to normal and my platelets and red/white cell counts have recovered from the last series of chemo. Until the PET CT scan in August to see if the radiology was a success, there's not much else to do.
I'm using this brief window of opportunity to try and go see as many of my friends as possible. Cancer treatment leaves you so exhausted most of the time you don't have the energy for visits. Often a trip to the local library and a coffee stop can leave me knackered for the rest of the day. As I don't know what's going to come in August though (there is always the spectre of more treatment over the hill) that I'm travelling as much as possible. I was in Bristol and North Wales last weekend, before that Warwickshire. Next month I'm excited to be going to Colorado for two weeks to play in the Rockies and drink craft beer. Amazingly the US government has granted me a Visa. So I'm going to go before they change their mind / Trump becomes president.
Also happily I'm still back on my bike plodding around on the new cycle superhighways. I get out of breath really quickly, and the lycra warriors are always impatient to overtake me. I don't care though, the feeling of freedom and normality to be able to get around without being on a bus or the back of a cab is great. Having Cancer is something that is going to be with me for a long time to come. I'm fed up of it dictating every part of my life, so doing something as simple as riding to Sainsbury's is almost a revolutionary act right now.
Even if the scans come back ok, I'll still be under strict monitoring and checks for the next year before my consultant will be happy. This is my reality. I just have to get on with it, and make the best of my time off for good behaviour.
Currently I'm...watching Euro 2016, and cheering on Iceland!...reading "The Idiot Brain" by Dean Burnett, a great look at how our minds work...listening to Tegan and Sara "Love you to Death" great stuff from the Canadian duo.