Monday, November 5, 2012

Riding the Wild Mouse

The week from hell is finally over. The rides at this week's show have beaten several world records for incline, shock value and sheer terror. Now that I've got off and stopped shaking, I think things are looking up.

But it's been a doozy. There have been several moments this week when I've been reminded of a ride I took on The Wild Mouse at the Easter Show when I was eight years old. That adventure is etched on my memory largely because it was bowel-cleansingly hideous, consisting entirely of being taken to a great height and almost thrown off the edge. Over, and over, and over.

Of course, on The Wild Mouse nobody died, despite being hurtled at speed towards nothingness. At the absolute last moment, the car would jerk sickeningly around the corner, while momentum forced all the screaming riders to continue straight ahead towards the void. Only our flimsy seat belts (it seemed) dragged us back to the trajectory of the car, eventually, as it bolted towards yet another 90 degree bend.

And this week, I didn't die either. But hell's bells, there was moment after moment when my heart got thrown right out of the roller coaster car and took the plunge, and I truly feared I was doomed.


I did manage to sleep the night after the bone scan, probably largely because Jools took over the management of my medication. It's all very well to send the patient merrily off home from hospital with half a breast, a reamed armpit and a neat little package of drugs, but it's another to be sure they've absorbed the finer details of taking it. Especially if whoever wrote the damn script prescribed exactly 50% of what Dr Goodguy was intending.

Gotta love hospital communication. Not really surprising that I'd been waking up before dawn in so much agony I could barely reach for the pills, let alone consider getting up to find some food to take them with.

And then there's the side effects. It was only when Jools started reading the fine print that we worked out that my nausea, anxiety and fits of inexplicable shaking were all recognised fringe benefits of the narcotic. FFS, I was well before all this treatment, and now I felt sick and out of control.

After the shock of the pathology results, I finished up the week with a few days of total torture knowing that things might be a lot grimmer than we'd anticipated, and waiting for the results of the bone scan. Thank god for the internet; I put out a request for nausea remedies, not wanting to put any more drugs in my body after the realisation that I was already being screwed over by them. Thanks to some prompt responses, I soon ended up sniffing sprays of chocolate mint from our garden with the enthusiasm of a coke addict every time my heart started to race or my stomach started to do gymnastic routines.

Followed by some deeeeeep, sloooooow breaths.

See, I'm okay as long as I concentrate on looking this thing in the eye, but you can't look cancer in the eye every waking moment or you go mad. And it's when I take my eye off it that it jumps out from the cupboard of my subconscious, screaming YOU'RE GONNA DIE! like some ghastly Ghost Train skeleton, and I have an immediate panic attack and have to start my calming regime all over again.

The Bear wasn't coping either; he had an attack of I-think-I'll-pretend-it's-not-happening on Saturday and disappeared to work for most of the day, returning in time to self-medicate himself into someplace inaccessible with various common recreational substances. As you do.

Not helpful, though understandable in the circumstances. We Had Words about that. As you do.

By Sunday morning he was sheepish and apologetic, freely admitting to all his sins like the good little Catholic that he totally isn't, and I was sick of riding the Ghost Train. We decided we'd all go out to lunch at the pub and try to forget about the Freeloader for a few hours. I'd done everything I could to smooth the way for Monday, even writing Dr Goodguy an email (what sort of surgeon gives you his email address?! Gotta love that man) to beg him to ring me on Monday as soon as he got the results. Now I needed to leave it alone.

For once Fate was rolling out the red carpet. We had a delightful Sunday drive, enjoyed the blast-from-the-past ferry ride across the glorious Clarence River, got a park literally at the door of the pub. The sun, which had been sulking in its room all weekend in deference to my mood, snuck out from behind the clouds. We walked in and got the best seats in the house, overlooking the river. We ate a perfectly (and I do mean perfectly) cooked platter of fresh local seafood, and my stomach didn't churn once. We looked at the ancient newspapers that paper the walls as we finished our drinks, reading stories from years before we were born and shaking our heads at the old ads that swore by complete bunkum ('a cup of tea, a Bex and a good...' case of renal failure?).

We chattered. We laughed. We reminisced. I felt wonderful.

And then as we were leaving, the Bear innocently made some passing remark about what he had to do on Monday, and the skeleton popped out of the closet and grabbed me by the neck.

Monday. The best part of Sunday was gone, and now all I had to look forward to was a phone call about the bone scan. My heart started to race.

I sniffed desperately at the sprig of mint I'd brought with me. I thought I might suffocate.

I needed the loo, and I needed it now. We stopped at a garage, and I stayed there so long rocking back and forth and trying to breathe that the Bear sent Jools in looking for me.

"I'm okay," I lied.

Got back in the car.

Stopped lying.

"I'm having an anxiety attack," I said.

I usually keep it to myself. If I start talking about not coping, please listen- I'm really in trouble. Asking for help isn't my strong suit.

So we took the bloody Freeloader out of his coffin again and started talking about him, and looking him in the eye, and turning him over, and shaking him upside down to see if anything else fell out of his nasty little pocketsesssssss. Apart from the death threats, that is.

Somewhere along the way I remembered how to breathe, probably around the time the Bear started massaging my feet. (It's very hard to feel terrified when someone's rubbing your toes. You try it.) Thanks to my support crew, I managed to make it home without losing my lunch or getting the shakes.

I reached for the computer the moment I got in, determined to either check in to Facebook for some more moral support from my growing army of allies or just blot out with a mindless game. But my email page opened first, and...

...inexplicably, on a Sunday??, there was a message from Dr Goodguy.

The preview said "Good news is much better to tell. BONE SCAN OK."

And then the whole world changed colour.

"BONE SCAN OKAY," I shouted, before I'd even opened his email.

And then had to spend the next five minutes simultaneously trying to read the whole email and explain to the others how come I'd got this information out of thin air on a Sunday afternoon.

I had no idea. Other than, he's a hell of a good guy. I told you that before.

So the week ended on a high. As my mother famously said when visited by the hospital chaplain after being told of her cancer diagnosis, "I'm not dead yet." 

The ride is going to get bumpy again- I know that. But it's the Wild Mouse, isn't it? You only think you're going to die.

And right now, I think I'm not.


  1. "Bowel-cleansingly hideous'... and drug 'fringe benefits'! You make me laugh Candy! You can face that freeloader full on now, you have the advantage... "BONE SCAN OK!" Yay! xo

  2. As I read this post, I went from having tears in my eyes (this one calls for a tear jerker alert, damn!) to smiling really broadly...that's the kind of power your writing wields. And your honesty takes it a notch higher.
    As concerns your cancer, I'll stick to the positive thinking- it. Will. Go.
    Sorry for dishing out herb tips- I know it isn't exactly easy and you don't need any more complications- it's just that I'd not be able to forgive myself if I didn't give you that info when it seems to hold so much promise. Heck, if you lived closer, I'd have made it for you :)

  3. Great news hon.....and thanks for the hot tip on the choc mint...I need to plant some, my mint intake is massive as the choc one better than straight?? (God it sounds like we are cutting illegal substances....straight or cut with choc?) ha ha. I think we all need to band together and get Dr Goodguy an awesome bunch of flowers or whatever it is you give Drs.....he is beyond wonderful!! Hugs xxxx

    1. Oh, I just happen to have more choc mint than the other. I suspect that anything that smelt strong and pleasant would jolt the brain into another sphere, actually, but choc mint does it for me.

      Totally agree about the flowers!