I woke early again, but not so much to the music of Ferdinand doing the idgy squidgy hula in the depths. (Though he was.) Not so much to the abrasive misery of a mouth like the Sahara and teeth that felt twice their normal size in the sockets. (Though all that was there.)
No, this time I woke to the song of every bone in my skeleton screeching in agony. The Bone Factory had started up the conveyor belts, churning out extra white cells in response to the Neulasta injection I'd given myself on Day Two. The physical effect of this had been described to me as 'like a bad case of the flu'- aching limbs, general lethargy and so on.
For me, it was nothing like the flu. It was like being stranded in someone else's body with a hefty dose of locked-in syndrome, and a barrel full of wildcats armed with poisoned syringes cavorting in my bones. I had rheumatic fever as a child, and suffered pains approaching these every time I became ill all through my childhood; perhaps this particular variety of hell has become the torture-too-far for me.
Or perhaps it's just that I expected more of myself, that I'd endure it better. Whatever. But let's just say that I Wasn't Handling It.
I tried. Believe me, I did. I dragged myself out of bed somehow, and immediately realised that I could hardly stand up straight, let alone balance on a pushbike. But I'm a stubborn bitch. I dressed anyway, and took Velcro-dog out on the lead with me for a walk instead.
I. Will Not.
I think I probably looked drunk. I know I was swaying all over the road. After a while I took Velcro off the lead, because I thought I might fall over him. Things were a bit blurry out there.
A lot blurry.
Maybe more exertion will help, I thought, and started doing my shoulder exercises as I walked along. Counting to 20. Trying to stay on my feet.
By the time I turned for home, my legs were jelly and my eyes weren't working properly any more. The whole world had turned into an array of bright-lit crystals. I was tripping, in more ways than one.
Home again, I crashed back into bed like a stone.
Felt like I was dying.
Not fast enough.
I lay there most of the day, barely lifting a limb. I tried opening the internet to distract myself, found it full of the massacre of children and my colleagues' uncomprehending pain.
Felt the insignificance of my own fight. How little this matters, really. I am nothing in the whole scheme of things. My pain means nothing.
This is how the Freeloader gets under my skin. Any chance will do.
Give up, he wheedles. Give up.
I closed the computer.
Picked up a book. Couldn't be bothered following the plot. Threw it down again. On the floor.
Put on a DVD. Picked holes in the script. Turned it off, frowning.
Irritable. That's right. Another side effect of chemo. Irritable. Thanks for that, Freeloader.
I nibbled at the left-overs of a cold, mild curry. Rice. I want rice, murmured Ferdinand, lurching sideways.
The day stretched out, stinking hot and airless. I turned the fan to full blast and barely felt it.
This mightn't even work. It might all be for nothing.
There is, really, no other choice than to cope. What's left, if there is no coping? There's nowhere to fall. The pain just is.
There's madness, I guess.
About 2pm, it occurred to me that I could try taking some Panadol. That had seemed like a stupid idea earlier. Panadol for bone pain? Nah. Like trying to kill an elephant with a push-pin.
I took some anyway, and it helped- a little. Enough to stop me descending to tears. Note to self: medicate. Even if you think it's stupid, or useless, medicate. You need all the help you can get.
I see that I need reminders about small, common-sense things. I can no longer rely on my brain to tell me that pain = need for pain relief, pure and simple. Taking deep breaths now and then during the day, I realised at once that this simple act also relieves the pain a little, yet forgot immediately to keep doing it.
I slept a little. Woke feeling like my scar was no longer part of me, and alive with fire ants again.
My morning routine had been blunderbussed by the pain and lethargy. Somewhere at the back of my mind, the thought stirred that cool water might feel pleasant. It took me till 4.30pm to drag myself to the shower, where I stood for too long, letting precious water run through my hair and down my back, not caring about the waste.
I dropped onto the outdoor couch with my lotion, still wet. Did my massage sitting down. Ineffectively, probably. I tried.
It took the fire ants away.
5pm, and I'm ready for the day.
A sudden outburst of chaos at the turkey compound. The dingo pup had returned, and I discovered once more exactly what I could do when I had to. Burst out the front door, set Velcro to chasing him off, went out and looked for casualties.
Found the Bear way down the back of the property. Walked back with him, feeling like I was levitating, held to earth only by his strong hand on my arm.
Got him to put down the poor destroyed baby with the broken wing.
A little self-belief returned then. I pulled out the chopping board, convinced I could at least prepare some vegies for dinner. Whether I could cook or eat them was a matter for later on.
Realised my legs were not cooperating. Again.
This is not me. I never sit down to cook.
I sat down, and chopped at the table. You need to bend. Listen to your body.
The Bear came in and we nearly rowed about how to cut and cook the meat, till I remembered: side effect. Irritable.
Shut up, Candy. He's exhausted. He's doing his best. It's YOU.
Somehow between us, we got a meal on the table without coming to tears or blows. Somehow I managed to eat a little, though the meat no longer appealed.
The sun went down, and my body felt cool and smooth from the late shower.
Day Five. Over.
Today I got up and rode to Eagle Bend again, with more relief than triumph.