Atomic man

Yesterday was wretched, at least that’s how it feels to me now. I described the events at the hospital, which now seem hazy to me. The mental conjugations are familiar though, and real, and I wonder whether if I’m to get through this then the only way I can is by relinquishing control. That’s not something that comes easily to me.

It was such a miserable, rainy day – the coldest day of the year, I reckon. Walking from the station back towards home I got a call from the vendor I’ve been dealing with through work. I updated him on my situation, moreso from a professional sense, and he was full of regret and sympathy. It was not what I needed, though I put on the usual bluff performance.

I know my situation is serious. I know, in certain lights, it might seem forbidding. I know that if I lose this then I’m dead. He didn’t touch on any of this, but it was there in the subtext, and I didn’t need to be reminded of it.

At home I made a couple of calls feeling worn down. I was tired, and the chemicals they pumped into me had combined and left me feeling unwell, and with a nasty taste in my mouth. I tried to read. Eventually I fell asleep on the couch, but it wasn’t the pleasant repose after a long day. I felt so leaden with it, so helpless, that it seemed to me that I slept like a man sick.

It was dark when I roused somehow. I made a small dinner – all my appetite had gone. Eventually I went to bed and turned the light out. It was 7.15.

I went in and out of sleep for a few hours. It felt wrong that I should be in bed so early. I considered that I’d got my painkillers wrong and that was why I was so tired. And I thought that this is a forerunner of what is to come: tired and sick. It wasn’t a happy thought.

It feels now that much of yesterday was like a hallucinatory dream. I know what happened, I was there, and for long sections of it I was perfectly lucid – but now I see it as through a piece of gauze. It’s very disturbing to me.

There was one stage in my half sleep that a more pleasing image came to me. I thought: this is what I need when I’m struggling and ill. I was being held in bed, arms wrapped around me from behind, naked skin on mine, breast and body. It was affection, maybe even love, and I felt enclosed by it, and for those moments, safe. Funny, I imagined the person holding me – someone I haven’t seen for so long.

I slept just short of 12 hours. At about 4am I had to get up to take a painkiller – this time, the pain was pure cancer. I woke, as always, feeling sluggish, but I had a coffee at least. I stayed in bed until about 10. Now? I feel slow.

I must pack boxes today. With lockdown extended, the help I hoped for with the move won’t be possible. I need to get this move out of the way and out of my head. It’s something that must be done, but it feels so messy.

I forgot to tell of the conversation I had with my GP, who is a strange bod. I rang on Monday to let him know the latest and to ask for some certificates I needed. He expressed how unlucky I was to be struck by such a rare cancer when none of the indicators are present in me. I asked how it could have happened then. His explanation? That at some point I inhaled a random atomic particle. An atomic particle! Where would that have come from? From one one the atomic tests, was his answer.

I was befuddled by that, but in the spirit of the day wondered why it should give me cancer when it might easily have turned me into a superhero. Atomic Man – the man who glows in the dark!

But then last night I found an echo in me. You know sometimes how you seem to recollect a forgotten fragment that nears relevance now? I always wonder if I’m just imagining it was forgotten, and if rather it has created by my mind. Anyway, something began to resonate in me strongly. It was the image and thought of a glowing ember from a fire floating away on the hot air before being inhaled where it burnt a hole.

Was this something I dreamt before? Or saw, somehow, before? Or is it a figment created out of the GP’s story and made to seem like a memory?

In either case, it’s the image that has stuck in my mind: a fiery particle that by pure mischance has ended up burning me.

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