Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fake it till you make it

There's no doubt that the Megwig has a positive effect on my spirits.

Take today, for example. I had to drag myself out of bed for a late morning appointment with Miss Sunshine, the lymphoedema physio, after a less than peaceful night.

I'm actually exaggerating in the wrong direction there. 'Less than peaceful' is Candy-speak for 'life-threateningly terrifying'. In the middle of last night I was quite convinced, for about five seconds, that I was dying. The new, stronger antibiotics that Dr Rosie prescribed after straight Amoxicillin failed to knock over my chest infection have had the delightful side effect of making me severely nauseous (ME! Me who never gets nauseous, even on TAC chemo!), and sometime during the night my body rebelled. While I was fast asleep I actually managed to aspirate a little, um, regurgitated stomach contents.

That, gentle reader, is not a nice sensation. Imagine choking on, say, hydrochloric acid. (Not that I ever have, but it's what my imagination came up with as an equivalent.)

I couldn't breathe. At. All.

And then somehow I managed to gasp, and sit up. And coughed my lungs out for half an hour without stopping, to the point where I came damn close to actually losing the rest of my stomach contents. Yes, Ferdinand nearly saw the light of day.

(Or of night, rather.)

The Bear was seriously alarmed. Dammit, I was seriously alarmed. It took some considerable time for us both to go back to sleep.

So it wasn't exactly a restful night. But we fake it till we make it, don't we? Otherwise we're letting the fucking Freeloader win.

I dragged myself to the shower, did my %^#@!!## massages, grumpily got dressed, put on my Look Good face (which doesn't look so 'Good' when superimposed on a snarl).

Meh. Waiting for the Feel Better, guys. 

Wai- ting.

Topped it with the Megwig.


That doesn't look half bad.

Ate half a gallon of prophylactic yoghurt (that may possibly be an exaggeration too) with the next antibiotic.

Die, you horrible chest infection. I need my next treatment. 

Dr Rosie is a great believer in probiotics- the more yoghurt the merrier, in her books. I hoped it'd work on the nausea as well as the calcium tablets had for the bone pain.

And off I went, faking it all the way, to the other side of Lismore.


Miss Sunshine, shining as ever, declared that I looked like a movie star; I restrained myself from pointing out which one, but it helped keep the smile on my face. It's been hard to keep smiling this time round. What with the chest infection and now the horrible antibiotics, I really haven't had any respite from feeling disgusting.

But back to Miss S. It's months since I saw her last, thanks to the Christmas holidays and the floods, and so she inspected my hand and arm with some concern.

Proclaimed that I was looking good to her, but hooked me up to the weirdo machine for an accurate measurement.

"Hmm. It says 6, but you don't look like a 6 to me."

With a little further inspection she found the guilty party- a little pool of oedema under my left arm. I'd noticed the hard lump there in the middle of the night while I was vainly trying to go back to sleep, and had spent some time poking and prodding it myself to try to determine whether it was oedema or the sudden and aggressive return of the Freeloader.

(Hardly likely, seeing there was no lump there four days ago when I saw Dr Goodguy, but at 3am logic doesn't get a guernsey.)

So after some more massage and a concerted effort at the site of the swelling, she tested me again.


"That's good. That's very good," she declared. "I didn't think you looked like a 6."

"What's it reading?" I enquired.

"2," she chortled.

Which is actually way better than the reading she did before I had my lymph nodes removed, and nearly 2 points down on my last reading.

I'm a star! And I don't mean Meg Ryan, for once.


After that she went on to some more general body work, trying to encourage various remote lymph nodes to take over the work of the ones that were unceremoniously sacked last year. Like any employee suddenly asked to cover others' workloads as well as their own, they need some fringe benefits to feel like working harder, which is why I have to do daily massages on my neck, right armpit and groin.

I mean, you'd work harder if you got a free massage every day, wouldn't you?

"Did I do the abdominal breathing with you yet?" she asked, flicking through her notes.

"No," I replied, "but I think I know how to do that, given that I'm a singer."

"Really? Do singers use that too?"

"Yes, you don't have any breath control if you breathe from the top of your lungs."

And off we went, with Miss Sunshine pressing down on the nodes around my pelvic area while I pressed up with each abdominal breath.

"I wish everyone could do this like that," grinned Miss S. "You're definitely my best patient. How do you teach singers to do that?"

Well, that was an opening and a half. Talk about letting the child loose in the lolly shop. In an instant I was off and away on my hobby horse, teaching her a few of the tricks of the choir mistress' trade.

I could see Miss S. taking mental notes as I raved on.

"That's brilliant. I'll use that," she enthused from time to time.

As I drew the lecture to a close, I had a sudden blinding memory of the labour ward, where my superior singer's control of my diaphragm had definitely contributed to my ability to push a baby with head the size of a watermelon out of a passage the size of a Pringles tube. The attending nurse had been somewhat less cognisant of my skills than the glorious Miss S.

"Put your chin on your chest to push!" she'd barked, over and over again, while I'd sworn at her in my head (one is, by that stage, completely struck dumb by the agony) and moved the poor child another painful centimetre towards the light.

"Leave her alone," frowned the obstetrician eventually, somewhat the wiser given that he'd actually been observing my son's progress rather than adhering blindly to some god-forsaken nursing textbook. "She's doing fine."

(Which was his sole positive contribution to the success of my childbearing experience; but I digress.)

So I noted down another random advantage of my singing experience on my mental list. Deliver babies; massage lymph nodes.



We talked about the impending radiotherapy, too. I am a total bore on that subject at the moment, beating all my care team mercilessly into the ground with questions. Miss Sunshine seemed confident that even if the current lymph channels near my left armpit get fried, she'll be able to help me redirect the flow.

"And I can always give you one of these light bandages to help," she smiled, bringing out the dreaded shoulder-to-elbow boa constrictor.

I cringed. I so don't want to have to wear one of those. I am dreadfully claustrophobic, just for starters. I don't even like wearing tight socks. The thought of having my arm swallowed by an unforgiving reptilian predator like that brings me out in a sweat.

Not to mention how hot it would be in our lovely, humid Bungy summer.

Just another thing to deal with when I come to it.


We figured that my higher reading when I came in was probably also about me driving for over an hour to get there in a 2WDAC car. (That's 'two windows down air con', in case you were wondering; air con is an optional extra on the 1992 Brumby, and mine struck out.) I'd told her about how my arm started to swell and dimple after a week of 40 degree temperatures out in the Bungy, and she'd nodded approvingly at Lucy the Lump's frozen tea towel remedy.

"Perfect," she declared. "You have to try to keep the arm cool any way you can."

I remembered that when I got home after another steamy drive, and whacked the tea towel back on it. And then ripped off the Megwig and put the still-chilly tea towel on my head.

It's hot work being a hot blonde. And once I get home, I can stop faking it. I already made it to the best of my ability, including a dreadful stagger around the supermarket with my stomach in knots of cramp.

Now I can just lie here on the bed and die slowly of antibiotic-induced nausea. Yep, the yoghurt worked for a while, but eating lunch was clearly a bridge too far.

Oh yeah, that's right. I have Maxolon for just such an event. Remember to medicate, Candy!

And maybe it's time to try the other half gallon of yoghurt, though Ferdinand is protesting strongly.

Such an annoying fish.

Shut UP, Ferdi. It'll make you feel better. Just do it. Fake it till you make it.  

Maybe Ferdi needs a Meg Ryan wig too.

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