I bought the wig.
It was the least I could do, really. I'm feeling bad for not keeping on top of events; it took me till this morning to realise that tomorrow isn't just the Bear's birthday- it's one of those big ones, the ones with a zero.
And for this, I have done precisely nothing. Thanks, Freeloader.
It's the second Big Day that the Freeloader's comprehensively screwed up. It was my brother's 60th last October, and he was meant to be coming up here to celebrate (another excuse to cook- woohoo!), but his visit was hastily cancelled when I was diagnosed. I wasn't exactly coping or feeling festive at that stage.
You only get one go at a 60th. It really isn't fair.
But we knew that, didn't we? "Fair?" I remember one of my old teachers saying long ago, in a tone that encompassed both wonder and contempt. "When did I ever pretend to you that life was fair?"
So I have been reincarnated as a 'hot blonde', to quote the Bear himself. Mind you, this business of being 'hot' has turned out a little more literal than I'd planned, given that I spent last night obsessively taking my temperature as it roamed all the way to 38.1 degrees before deciding to behave and be reasonable.
Yep, it's not just that the poisons have built up in my body. I've not just been feeling like warmed-over crap for the last two weeks because chemo gets worse as you get further into it. No, I actually was sick, but I didn't realise it. I blamed the Freeloader for everything.
As you do.
The dreadful sore throat, the hacking productive cough, the absolute exhaustion, the aching muscles- hello, you have the flu. Don't you recognise those symptoms, you numpty?
Um, no. I just assumed it was more side effects.
It took me till halfway through last week to wake up and get myself to the doctor, by which time I was wheezing and spluttering like a blocked sewer pipe and contemplating pulling out the Ventolin.
Or a plunger maybe.
Dr Rosie took one look at the back of my throat, listened to my raspy chest and started writing the script for antibiotics.
"You know," she said patiently, "it would have been quite alright to call for a helicopter when you had these symptoms while you were flooded in. You're immunosuppressed and you have a chest infection. It's okay to call for the SES to help you- that's what they do. Sure, you made it and you're okay now, but you might not have been."
Sigh. Old habits die hard. What was that I said about being a squeaky wheel?
Not one of my strengths.
I told Dr Rosie about weeing every hour on the hour for about four days, too, and about how Jools was worried about my sugars.
"Well given that you've stopped doing that, if I take your sugars now it won't give us much idea what was happening back then," she noted. "I'll write you a form to take to your next blood test. There's a retrospective test they can do to see if your sugars have been up in the last month or so- if they have, there'll be some sugar still stuck to your red blood cells."
More paperwork. I popped it in my bag with the script for Amoxicillin.
"Would it be because of the Dexamethasone?" I asked. "Because I'm wondering if I've been taking too much. I'm getting awfully confused with all these different tablets- can I just run them all past you?"
And I emptied my bag of about eight simultaneous medications onto the desk. (I didn't have the other three that come at the start of the cycle.)
Gentle reader, there's a hole in the holistic bucket when it comes to cancer treatment. You have all these different doctors prescribing for the problems that their treatments cause, but they're not talking to one another. And the poor confused patient ends up with a lolly shop full of pills, trying to do this mental jigsaw puzzle of what, when, how much and what with. Every bloody day.
And that is no joke when you have chemo brain to boot.
So god bless Dr Rosie, yet again. We sat there and sorted out the drug regime with all the pills there in front of us. And yes, I had been taking too much Dexamethasone. You see, day 1 of the Dex is day 0 of the chemo cycle, so when Dr Mellow said to extend taking it to day 4 and taper it to prevent the bone pain... he almost certainly meant day 3 of the chemo cycle, and day 4 of the Dex treatment.
Is your head spinning yet? You think you've got problems understanding? You haven't been systematically poisoned. Imagine what it's like for the patient. In short, I'd taken about four more of the damn things than I should. No wonder I was leaking like a punctured downpipe in a cyclone.
And Dexamethasone- well, that's the thing that sent the Bear's last partner into a diabetic coma. Talking about tramping on thin ice.
Anyway, to quote Pooh Bear, supposing it didn't; I didn't go into a coma, and even if I had high sugars back then, they must have settled down.
I won't be overdosing on the Dex again, believe me.
Dr Goodguy, on the other hand, was nothing but pleased with me at our three-monthly checkup this morning. My scar has healed up just fine, my shoulder movement is great, there's no sign of anything untoward happening in the other boob and he doesn't want to see me for another six months.
We chatted a bit about the radiotherapy, and he was pretty strongly in favour of radiating my armpit. (Dammit. But really, I've decided to do it anyway.)
"Look, you're in the grey area," he explained. "If you had only five or so positive lymph nodes, I'd say definitely no. If they were nearly all positive, I'd say definitely yes. You're in the middle. But my feeling is, do it. We can manage any lymphoedema if and when it happens..."
I filled in the missing clause in the silence: ...better than we can manage a recurrence of the cancer.
Yeah, okay. I get it.
We talked about reconstruction, too. He gave me some pamphlets, a DVD and the bad news.
"I'd definitely recommend flap surgery over implants after radiotherapy, and also for someone with a larger breast size like you. The chance of complications with the implants after radiotherapy are just too high."
"So flap surgery- when would you do that, and where would you take the flap from?"
"Oh, I don't do that. I'd have to send you off to someone who specialises in it. It's not one of my areas of expertise, and I don't dabble. I do things properly or not at all."
The sound of my bottom lip hitting the floor was probably audible.
Double bugger. In fact, triple fucking bugger.
I don't want anyone else messing with my breasts. I want Dr Goodguy- and not just because he doesn't charge a gap, either. It's because I know how bloody skilful he is.
I tried to recover my composure. "So where would you send me?"
"The Gold Coast, or a capital city."
"My son's in Sydney."
"That's definitely an option."
And then we went back to let's worry about that when we come to it, let's get through the radiotherapy first, etc etc. But I'm still a bit shattered.
So the hot blonde will have to (a) wait six to twelve months after radiotherapy finishes and (b) travel to the big smoke to get her cleavage back. I guess the wait justifies the cost of the prosthesis, anyway; let's think positive.
And as the Bear pointed out in the car as we drove home, "I can't imagine he'd refer you to an idiot."
Point taken, Bear.
So that's about all the news from this hot blonde for today, though I probably should show you my hot fingernails. Red hot.
I guess it's the Doxorubicin that's made them look like this. For some reason my nails aren't doing any of the things they told me would happen- I don't have ridges across them, one for each treatment, and they're certainly not turning black or threatening to split or fall off.
Yet. Touch wood.
If the truth be told, it's probably the best my fingernails have ever looked (if you discount the red stripe). Just think- I could be transformed into some sort of fashion plate by the end of this, sitting around all day in my blonde wig moisturising and making up my face, exercising faithfully each morning, massaging my arms to keep my skin supple and smooth, rubbing cuticle cream into my fingertips, painting my nails...
...as my brother would say, "squadron of pigs cleared for take-off."