Clutching at straws: 1

I’ve adjusted quickly to the idea of cancer. It’s not that life feels normal, just that I’ve accepted the fact of it. There’s no real choice in the matter if you’re at all pragmatic. What are you going to do? Deny it? Can’t see how that helps much.

I’m not dwelling on it, though. I know there’s some deeply uncomfortable times ahead and some pretty gruesome details, but there’s no point in focussing on that either. It has to be done, end of story. I’ve made my mind up that I’ll do whatever needs to be done. Beyond that, now’s not the time to worry about the details.

It’s probably helped by my state of health. There’s still pain, but it’s much less and quite different from before. Had I been feeling like this from the start, I reckon I’d have gone to the doctor much later in the day.

At its worst, my whole head was in pain. The main hotspots were in my sinus, through my cheek, to the corner of my jaw, and in my gums. But there was also shifting headaches, which would move from my eye to my forehead to my ear and the back of my head. Sometimes, they were simultaneous.

For the last few days, the pain has been localised to my nose and sinus, though not always present, and to the corner of my right eye. I still take painkillers, though in smaller doses, and the pain across the board is not nearly as severe as it was.

Also, this coincides with my nasal congestion clearing. From day one of this, I felt blocked on the right side of my face. I was certain that there were large amounts of mucus trapped there, exacerbating the pain. The cancer was there – I figure – but I was only really aware of it because of the congestion, which tightened up the right side of my face. It would press upon the cancer, but also on the nerves to my teeth, and so on, causing the pain.

The congestion started clearing straight after the biopsy. Whether it was the anaesthetic, or the suctioning they did, or a combination of both, but from that moment, the mucus seems to have loosened and begun to flow again. I began to sneeze, expelling more mucus. In the end, most has been removed. I have a slightly runny nose and no blockage – and what I feel now is purely the pain from cancer.

Of course, this is a theory, but it puts a more positive spin on the situation if it’s accurate. The widespread and severe pain I was experiencing made the cancer seem more serious perhaps, and perhaps more advanced. But if it was the catalyst for more conventional sinus pain, then perhaps it isn’t as advanced as we feared.

My health has improved in general. I’m not nearly as tired or foggy, but that will be because I’ve reduced the level of painkillers in my system. Before, I’d be in bed by 9.15 most nights because I felt so run down. Then I’d sleep for 10 hours and wake up groggy. In the last few days, it’s returned to normal almost – I’m in bed by 10.30 – 11pm, and I wake up easier in the morning.

I’ve had very little appetite over the last 6-8 weeks and no interest in food. I’ve probably averaged slightly over one meal a day in that period and, unsurprisingly, have lost weight. Now my appetite is back, and food is much more enjoyable.

Then there’s sex. That’s pretty much a theoretical than practical concept for me these days, but I’ve always been quite driven in that regard, but for most of this, I’ve had zero sex drive. I felt a little embarrassed by it. But now it has returned. What’s life without sex, or even the possibility of it?

Basically, I feel pretty strong and healthy at the moment and look it, too. It’s probably illusory, but it will probably hold me in good stead in the hard times ahead. I’m a powerful man, and I’ll need every bit of that strength. I am okay.

I have an appointment on Tuesday at St Vincent’s hospital for a PET scan. It will take about two hours and is a full-body scan to find where most of the energy is being consumed in my body. The theory is, that’s where the cancer has got to.

I feel much more positive about this than a few days ago, mostly because it doesn’t feel as if anything unusual is happening in my body. There are no symptoms, no unusual pain or discomfort, no blood. But, not counting chickens yet.

Otherwise, I’ve got the move all organised, the house is about 80% packed up, and I’ve made the calls to arrange the transfer of utilities and internet and so on. The cleaning is booked, and I’ve got people to call on for help should I need it.

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