Monthly Archives: December 2018

Keppra Rage

As we have done in the past I’ll be leaving the Funny Boy in charge of the updates whilst I undergo surgery. He is under strict orders to not return my mobile phone to me until the morphine has fully left my system. Those who received texts from me in the immediate days post-surgery will be aware that I was not fully compus mentis. I think the worst was sending over 100 consecutive messages in a WhatsApp group  at 2am. I was busy telling my friends how hungry I was, begging for pictures of food porn and sending  a screenshot of a Wagamamas order worth over £50!! Me on morphine is not a good combination.

I am squeezing in this last-minute blog as I fear the Funny Boy will take advantage and share a particular story about me that occurred recently. Before I begin,  I would like to add the caveat that one of the more prominent side effects of my anti-seizure medication is  a risk of becoming aggressive, agitated or angry.  Or as my surgeon describes it: Keppra Rage! I am sure the Funny Boy will vouch for me when I say that 9 times out of 10 I am pretty laid back and excluding the odd occasions  I don’t have a grumpy  personality.

The Story

In October, the Funny Boy whisked me away to the very pretty city of Durham. On arriving at the hotel we went straight to the pool before returning to our rooms to prepare for dinner. As we change our clothes the Funny Boy walks out of the bathroom and looks  at me with a perplexed expression.

’Oh no!’ He cries ‘Look at my pants!’

I look over to see the Funny Boy still wearing his pants but with his Crown Jewels hanging neatly below his crotch.

‘I can’t believe it’ he continues ‘How has that happened? I haven’t even worn them –  I’ll have to return them!  They are my nice new ones you bought me!’

’What?’ I quickly reply ‘No, they can’t be!’ While he is trying to understand how his nice new pants have been so ill-fated,  I  silently pluck up the coverage to tell the Funny Boy the truth…

The Truth

A few months ago,  I decided to invest in an electric toothbrush. To which the Funny Boy made a number of snide comments basically stating how he thought the amount paid was a waste of money.  His attitude changed when he visited our dentist – who knew of my recent purchase and suggested he just get a separate toothbrush head and benefit from  it’s many features. Being a  good wife, I overlooked is sarcastic comments and kindly obliged, providing he  ensured it was always clean and kept fully charged.

Allow me to set the scene: It’s approx 5 weeks post surgery.  I am experiencing  weakness and reduced sensation on the  left side of my body, the fatigue is ongoing and the Funny Boy has returned to work allow me to fend for myself. I wake up one morning and head straight to brush my teeth.

I walk into the en suite to find the Funny Boy has already forgotten the rules; he has failed to return my head to the toothbrush and  the battery is flat. This may not sound like a huge deal but for someone who has lost the dexterity in one of my hands  the simple task of changing the heads was turned into a major struggle. After a small wrestle I successfully removed the  brush  head. As it landed on the bathroom floor. I was in two minds to leave it there ‘that’ll teach him’ I thought’, but resisted the urge and set about putting the brush on charge for 5 minutes so I have enough ‘juice’ to finish my task. Feeling ever so frustrated I turn my focus on the toothpaste and my mood doesn’t improve when I see the Funny Boy has squeezed from the middle making it impossible to get the paste at the very bottom of the tube. Another battle between my reduced dexterity and the half empty toothpaste tube and I finally finished brushing my teeth. It is not even 8am and my anger level was sitting at about  5/10.

I get ready to take Parsnip down for her morning rituals (she sleeps in our bed – feel free to judge but I actually sleep better with my side) Anyway, as I walk down the stairs I walk past – not one, but two piles of the Funny Boy’s ‘stuff’ which he has awkwardly placed in the hall way and the middle of the stairway. Both of which he promised to put away the night before. The first pile is his clean clothes he has prepared for a weekend away to Durham. The second is a pile of card, paper cuttings, pritt-stick and scissors – leftovers from his latest craft project. Each pile is so large that tidying them away requires several journeys up and down the stairs. My anger level begins to rise. I do a number of legs to return the bits and pieces to their rightful place but in doing so I drop some of the pieces. As I pick up the final bits, stomp up the stairs and begin to curse the Funny Boy I realise what I am holding in my hands. In my  left is a pair of his boxer shorts and in my right is a pair of scissors.

I would like to say I debated what I did next but truth be told the rising anger took over and in a moment of rage I decided to cut the Funny Boy’s Boxers. With one simple cut I slashed the gusset and in an instant my rage was gone. ‘that’ll really teach him’ I thought once again. I’d like to say I thought about my actions and  instantly regretted them but that would be a lie. I returned his pants to the rightful place, set about my day in a drastically  improved mood and didn’t think any more on it.

Back to Durham

As I tell the Funny Boy what happened, rather than getting the rage himself he simply begins laughing, before a slightly worried expression comes across his face. He then recounts his changing room experience. He had dressed himself in the cramped conditions of the changing room while another patron sat on the bench Funny Boy crotch height, putting on his shoes.

The Funny Boy had a vague recollection of getting a strange look, as he unknowingly pulled up his Anne Summers inspired crotch-less boxer shorts, before drying his hair and continuing to get dressed.

What must this chap have been thinking?!  That the Funny Boy was some sort of sex crazed maniac loitering in hotel changing rooms, for an unsuspecting person to walk in and the opportunity to show off his ventilated undergarments?!

Recalling this is when The Funny Boy really started to laugh. We spent the next 2 days in Durham wondering if we might be ejected from the hotel for his efforts at Dogging, but thankfully it didn’t happen.

In the end the Funny Boy was just grateful that the scissors hadn’t been applied to his pants, while he had them on.

I should be back in a week but for now, wish me luck for tomorrow and as always #FUCANCER!

 

 

 

 

I agree, Mr Crosby

This week I spent an evening helping my mum  finish decorating  the ginormous Christmas tree which now sits in her living room. Once it was finished we settled down in front of the fire and put on a firm festive favourite, White Christmas. One of the many songs sang by Bing Crosby has the line:

‘When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.’

Despite seeing  this movie countless  times, including a stage adaptation, I never realised how true these words are. Counting  my  blessings is  something I find myself doing  frequently.

A number of people – friends, family even my medical team often ask me ‘How do you cope?’ It is impossible and unrealistic to expect myself to not have negative emotions: Cervical Cancer at 27 was pretty harsh. Losing my fertility, being catapulted into menopause and managing the ongoing side effects has been a challenge too. Brain cancer four years later and  discovering not one but TWO tumours  with their own set of  life-changing side effects. It is a simple reminder that life sometimes is just not fair. That being said everybody faces hardship and  I doubt anyone will walk this earth  experiencing no form of heartache. Another sad truth is regardless of how tough I think I have it there will always be someone who is worse off.

So, how do I cope?  Three steps:

1. I have to accept that at times I do feel anger, heartache and fear.  As an optimistic person these feelings  – despite being perfectly natural – are somewhat alien and something I hate to admit.

2. More importantly,  I give myself the space to feel those emotions. I allow myself time to release whatever I feel rising inside. No sugar-coating, no BS just ‘how do I feel?’  My ways of expression take various forms – sometimes it can be as simple as a lengthy rant, a solid cry or even taking the dog for a walk on my own whilst mulling things over internally.  Once again Maggie’s have been an endless source of support. I prioritise a fortnightly visit which is where I do most of my emotional ‘dumping’. But for all of this to work I have learned  I need be honest. I have also found since I have started ‘allowing myself’ the space to be sad, mad or angry , the time required gets less and less. On some days a 10-minute rant about my frustrations is all that is required,  on others a 5 minute cry will do the job. A daily dog walk without my mobile phone is  probably my favourite way to achieve this which leads me onto the third and final step.

3. I always take time to appreciate the good things in life – or as Bing Crosby put it ‘counting my blessings’.  I regularly talk to Parsnip on our walks about how lucky we are. Yes, my health may not be great but I am blessed in so many other ways. It is through these blessings that I am not just ‘coping’ with cancer but I  actually enjoy life.

So to finish here are just a few of the blessings I am thankful for…

My surgeon and the whole medical team who make me feel supported, safe and grateful for the NHS. For the Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Edinburgh, and in particular  Yvonne, who I sometimes think knows me better than I know myself.

For friends who drive for over an hour at 9pm at night with a homemade lasagne so my family are well-fed whilst I’m in hospital. The Friends who insist on picking me up before our night out because they know how tired I get and want me to save my energy so we can enjoy ourselves. Friends who  send Christmas trees in the mail and organise  group Skype chats. Friends who write me an exercise programme  because they know how much it means to me but more importantly so I can exercise safely!

The neighbours we  call friends who  turn up at our door with plates full of roast chicken dinner and are always up for a game of UNO.

The colleagues who go above and beyond to make me feel included. Who have an early Christmas lunch so I can attend before my second operation .

For our lovely postman who took the time to introduce himself and offer his support.

For my amazing family  who simply do too much for me to even begin counting.

I’ll finish with the wise words of Mr Crosby and should anyone ask me in the future how I cope I’ll remind them to do the same:

‘So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings’

As always, #FUCANCER