Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Long, Long Goodbye (sorry but it has been 3 months)


It’s quite embarrassing coming back to this after all this time. My original excuse was that I was waiting for something cancer related to happen and so avoided writing for a while. Then stuff happened and I really couldn’t be bothered. For the last couple of weeks I’ve just been avoiding it because I’d left it for so long. To be honest as the whole thing is winding down I feel like I need this less. It originally began as a way to chronicle all the cancerous events and stop me from having to tell the same boring story over and over. I also have a terrible tendency to change the course of events the more I tell a story and so the blog was born.
After the PET scan in April, I had to wait for 7 weeks to find out the rest of my treatment plan. I turned up to see my doctor and after waiting for an hour he told me they were still thinking about it. When I returned for my next visit he told me that I had to have another two cycles of chemotherapy. This was the standard treatment for Hodgkin’s. He told me that ordinarily they would have given radiotherapy but given my age, the risk of breast cancer was too high to ignore. Apparently the risks of breast cancer are much greater when the radiotherapy is eradicating younger breast tissue. The last thing I ever want is second malignancies. Although I have come through the first bout of cancer, I don’t think I could take the mental drain it causes, nor the strain it puts on the people around you. If there is a God out there I’m pretty sure he’s a cunt, considering how much he’s shit all over my mother throughout her life. If there is one person who does not deserve any more shit for the rest of their life it’s her.
The last couple of months have been largely uneventful. In an attempt to deal with the treatment limbo and general boredom, drinking has become my main past time. Luckily, I live in England and had I been living anywhere else people would probably assume I had a drinking problem. Don’t you just love this glorious country? The sad fact of the matter is that all the “I’m so lucky to just be alive and have everything I have” wears off. Sooner or later you’re going to start worrying about how fat you’re looking in your jeans (I don’t want to talk about it). The more normality you claw back the more dissatisfied you become with yourself.  This dissatisfaction is in part down to the fantastic mood swings I’ve acquired (thanks chemo) but stems more from eagerness to move on to the next chapter of life. This pushed me to transfer the remainder of my treatment to Birmingham and try and find a job. Thanks to the wonderful Student Loans Company and their sadistic policies, I was nearly broke. Had it not been for generous birthday gifts from family and friends, I would have been poorer a lot sooner.  I also had to cancel my New York 2012 trip due to the fact that I can’t get travel insurance. Isn’t it depressing how the most mundane, medial tasks can sabotage life changing, super-duper cool, fun post-cancer moments? The problem is that when you have cancer you think you’re so ‘special’ but the odds are that you could swing a dick and hit someone that has or has had it. Life’s a business and it doesn’t care if you’re special, it cares if you have money or not.
The hair stuff has been my main enemy since I found out I was in remission. It’s hard having to see yourself with hair and then take it off and toss it on the side like a top hat in a cabaret. It must feel a little like when movie stars Google themselves and one of the top recommended searches is “[insert name] young”. Gutted. Renee Zellweger still thought she was a hot young thing and now the rest of the world, as in Google, has decided she’s past it. I’m definitely getting a little crazy about it because the other night I dreamed I scalped some girl for her hair. Intense, I know. I don’t know the reason for it in the dream, maybe a punishment for something?  Speaking of Renee, I really can’t wait for the awkward grow-out stage she’s demo-ing nicely here:
Jesus, Renee. 

As much as I moan about the hair stuff, I discovered something that keeps me thankful that it’s more than likely over for me. The dangerous, voyeuristic nature of our online society has led to a slightly unnerving, casual pastime called ‘Facebook stalking’. I know on a personal level how creepy it is having been introduced to people I had come across on Facebook and pretended I had no idea who they were. Fucking psycho, I know.  As I was a bald woman with not a lot to do except to wait for the weekend when all my friends had finished work, I admit ‘Facebook stalking’ was a regular feature on the Kristina schedule. I tended to click on people I know and then their friend and then maybe a friend of theirs, until I am so far away from where I started I get embarrassed and  promptly throw the computer down and run away to eat some Pringles. So a few steps before Pringling I came across a girl’s Facebook with a status that read ‘have been told I have weeks to live’. I was shocked at what I had read but morbid curiosity led me to read more. This lady’s cancer had come back after two years of remission and was now terminal. It became apparent that she had died as hundreds of people had left their thoughts and prayers on her page. It was crazy to see not only your life but your death is recorded in cyber world. I read every single message from her friends and family and cried. It was weird because I didn’t know her but reading all the memories her friends had of her was incredibly poignant. I’ve had a pretty blah blah blah attitude to cancer and this was a dose of reality. I’m so lucky and it would be an insult to the memory of people that have died if I keep taking this for granted. 

My treatment being transferred to Birmingham was exciting; I was in the space ship hospital. I was put on the young person’s unit which meant TV and Wi-Fi. They were all kind of helpful too saying they were going to set me up with some work experience which I desperately needed and give me crap like money and free holidays. Seriously. The nurses were all lovely but the day unit was a recent addition and they were not used to giving ABVD chemo. The first week was tough because they couldn’t get a cannula into my arm. The more treatment they give you, the more your veins shrink and harden. It becomes incredibly difficult to find veins and after 5 months of treatment mine were worn out. It took the head nurse 15 minutes to find a vein but when they started pumping saline into the vein to check it was stable, my vein collapsed. My arm ballooned a little with water it was rank. It was decided that I would need a Picc line for my last two treatments. This is a line that goes directly into a bigger vein in the top of your arm and stays there for the duration of the treatment. They put my arm under a local anaesthetic and used an ultra sound to find a vein that could handle this shit. It was slim pickin’s up there too so she had to chose one right next to my heart which they don’t like to do but the bitch was desperate. So I had this in for the next two weeks and then the day of my final chemo came. Unfortunately it was not a joyful day.

I turned up at the ward at 11am with my friend Kathryn. I sat and chatted to another girl and her mum who I had met the week before. For 5 ½ hours I waited after being told that the pharmacy hadn’t made my drugs yet. One of the nurses then took me into a private room and sat me down.
“The pharmacy was waiting on one of your drugs and it arrived but the Dacarbazine has expired”.
“...what does that mean?”
“It means you can’t get your chemo today”
I couldn’t believe it. No, they couldn’t do this to me on my last one. I know I’m prone to profanities in this but at the hospital I am a sheer delight; patient and calm and no swearing whatsoever...until today. It went along the lines of “this is fucking ridiculous you did this to me last week, I’m going home tomorrow you have to give it to me today”. They were on top of it and made whoever was in the pharmacy stay and make me a fresh batch. I get shit done. I was there until 11pm and had to forcefully demand that the nurses take the Picc line out as promised. It was one of the most exhausting days of my life and such a terrible way to end it all. I felt bad for the nurses because it wasn’t their fault, over the top protocol means that they are forced to delay treatments and end up with a build up of work. Can’t the hospital trust that they know what they’re doing? I was pissed off with the pharmacy as they had my drugs and never sent them up. They seem to be completely desensitised to what they’re actually dealing with. To them it’s drugs in syringes but to me it’s the end of chemotherapy, the end of cancer, the end of the hardest year of my life so far. I’m not even all that angry at them because the hospital is huge and they must be flooded with requests. My experience has opened my eyes to the state of the NHS and how important it is that we stop cutting jobs and funding. I know that people have opposing views but surely one thing we can all agree on is that people suffering is bad? I read that a boy died in hospital the other week due to dehydration, the nurses hadn’t got around to seeing him because they were too busy. Every hospital I have been in the nurses have been swamped with patients, so I have no idea how the government could even contemplate cutting their wages or more nurses! I hope Andrew Lansley dies in a hospital that was too short staffed to deal with him. Poetic  justice.

Either way I’m all finished chemo and it feels great. I have another scan in September to confirm remission and then I go from there. This will be the last post because it’s evident that I have had less cancery things to say over the last few months and hopefully they will become fewer and far been over the next months and years to come. Thank you for taking an interest whether you read a bit of the first one or all of them religiously (Gemma Cameron). For people who know me, you’ll probably see me at Christmas working the Sinead O’Connor (PRE-CRAZY FATNESS) and regardless of what you honestly think, please say these words “Oh wow! You look just like Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta”. Ok?

To everyone who has supported me over the year, old and new friends, I really am thankful. I owe a lot of the easiness of it all to you.

And to my old friend cancer, this is where we part ways for good. What you’ve given me I can’t articulate perfectly but I’m grateful. Hopefully I’ll do something with my life now. I’ve learnt my lesson, now leave. If you are to return, the next blog will be aptly titled “FUCK YOU CANCER”.

Goodnight. X 


Monday, 30 April 2012

Keys to the Door

I had no idea it had been over 20 days since my last post. I must have blacked out from all that crack. No, I'm a strictly chemo-drug kind of girl these days but a lot has happened over the last couple of weeks so no doubt something will be crack-blacked out. Most notably I have turned 21 and celebrated as anyone would with a dose of chemotherapy. But before that I had a pre-birthday visit to London to see my brother and my friend Dom who ran 10 miles around London to raise money for me. Not for a charity, money for me. It is one of the nicest and most touching things that anyone has ever done for me and considering that Dom does not exercise and smokes, his finish time of 1hr 40 mins is more than impressive. Here he is at Tower Bridge in an all-white ensemble. Interesting choice.

Do you know what that's called? Glory. Or delusions of grandeur.
Birthday celebrations began for me on the 12th when Gerard took me and the O'Sullivan clan out for dinner at the Bottle House. If anyone has been there you will know the food is entirely delectable ( here's the menu to make you cream http://www.thebottlehouseinnpenshurst.co.uk/pdf/tbh_main_menu.pdf). They put up '21' banners and fed me champagne and a giant French fancy birthday cake. French Fancies are the bossest of all cakes. As the waitress brought in the cake, Adele seized the moment to shout "IT LOOKS LIKE A GIANT TIT". And a happy birthday to me. It was Sean's birthday on the 16th but a 21st birthday AND I have cancer, that bitch didn't stand a chance this year. Needless to say I ate too much and was given a lovely birthday present from Gerard, quite an evening. On the 13th my mother gave me a beautiful ring which makes me feel like a don when I wear it. It's a big, bad square cut chunk of Lima Quartz and if I wear it on my wedding finger I look like a WAG. Leah picked me up and took me to chemo which whizzed by thankfully. She gave me a great big goodie bag of gifts and then we drove over to Adele's flat where everyone was waiting for me. They got me another cake, a chocolate tray cake which is also a proper boss cake. They all sang the obligatory 'Happy Birthday' but quite frankly I would have preferred the German 'Zum Geburtstag'. I like the way it feels on my ears. I knew they had put their cash together to get me something because my friends are pretty unsubtle. I had no idea what I was getting and so when I tore off the wrapping paper and saw that it was an iPad I burst into tears. I'm going to put this one down to steroids or chemo or anything that means that it wasn't me being an emotional loser. No one was expecting to that to happen, least of all me so there was a really uncomfortable silence while a snorted all over my BRAND NEW IPAD. Thirty seconds after this, Dom walked into the flat an handed me a thick wad of cash in a birthday card, needless to say I couldn't cope and almost had an aneurysm. To say I was spoilt this year is like saying that paedophiles are kind of bad. People have been incredibly generous and it's been horribly overwhelming. Too much nice-ness makes me lose the ability to cope socially. I've got loads of 'thank yous' to send out but as you can see with the lateness of this blog, procrastination has ruled recently.
My friends from Birmingham came down and on Saturday a massive group combining mine and Sean's friends got smashed. It was a great night although all I can really remember is gleefully shouting in people's faces for most of the evening. We then made our way to another bar where I once again had to explain the wig-hat-cancer deal to two bouncers. What is everyone's issue with hats? It's not like I was wearing a sombrero with a swastika embroidered onto it.Wankers. I also got into a big, drunk argument with a dirty rotten skank girl in the queue. Her and her dirty looking friend (her 'fake tan' looked like dirt to me) were trying to squeeze past us and I politely (probably not politely) told them that "there's no fucking way you're pushing in front of us". "Blah blah blah blah why are you being so aggressive?"  This girl was towering over me, a dwarf in a beanie hat. I had no response to her because I was drunkedy. They retreated. Then my friend Emily ran over to me in the queue and we started chatting. Skanks said something along the lines of
 "YOU CAN'T HAVE A GO AT US AND THEN LET YOUR FRIEND IN"
"I'm not going to" Of course I was but these bitches weren't to know this.
"Blah blah blah blah".
So this all got very irritating and I turned around with a big mouth of crazy.
"Look, I've got cancer. I really don't want to talk to dirty skanks like you I just want to enjoy a night out with my friends so shut the fuck up".
"What's that got to do with anything?"
She sort of has a point but still I thought I was a social retard. At that point my friends jumped in and told her that she was a socially inept skank and to shut her mouth. She wouldn't shut up until Dom gave her a dressing down all the while wearing a bright white daisy in his hair. Magic moments. It was a long, loud evening and thanks to the fact that my Vincristine was given to me at a smaller dose, I had no side effects again for the next 2 weeks. That was a great gift from the chemo Gods not spoiling my 21st.

Normality has started to come back because the chemo recently had been a breeze without any side effects. This has meant I could stop replying "lying in bed ill" when people asked me what I was doing next week. I also seem to think that I am some sort of pharmacist/doctor these days and have began prescribing drugs to my friends from my own personal stash. This stash is huge so it could get away with being a mini dispensary. I've given sleeping tablets, anti-sickness tablets and most regularly a tablet called Omeprazole to line my friends stomach before a night out to prevent any hangover. I don't know who I think I am. As great as all the normality is it seems to beat home how long it will really be before I feel myself again. I have debated whether or not I would put this stuff in the blog because it is sort of embarrassing to me but the point of this was to show all aspects of the 'journey' or whatever you want to call it. The other evening before I had my PET scan I more or less had an emotional breakdown. This has been the first one that I have had really throughout this entire process. I constantly dip in and out of good and bad moods at home and my poor mum has to take the brunt of it whilst all my friends and people that don't live with me get the happy-go-lucky, optimistic Kristina. I had spent the day in a manic tidy of my room not talking to anyone. The house was empty and it was just me and my emotionally unbalanced brain. The catalyst for the breakdown was the fact that I have gained a little bit of weight, nothing significant to others but enough to make me hate the way I look. I caught sight of myself in the mirror without a hat or wig on and couldn't stand it. I thought "I'm 21 years old I shouldn't look like this". Though I've still got hair it is thin and short and is a world away from the person I looked like 6 months ago. I couldn't find a place for some books on my shelf and that was it I threw them across the room and sat down on the floor and cried for an hour. Melodrama like this really isn't my style so it was a huge surprise to me. It must have been from an unconscious place because I never realised I could get that upset. I exhausted my tears, ran a bath and watched Requiem for a Dream because I needed something to empathise with my state of mind.
I had been walking around telling people how the cancer stuff makes you realise what is important and what is just trivial bullshit. Facebook is the worst place for me to go when I'm in a bitter mood. There's nothing that can make you more angry than reading about people's medial, pathetic problems that they post to attention seek. I'm not judging because I'm jealous of the blissful unawareness of little Margie "Got another assignment today FML" Yes Margie, FML. FML and shut the fuck up. When I had the bad side effects it was easier to be all philosophical lying in bed and wishing that all you could do was go for a little walk or muster the energy to read a book rather than line up your third episode of Location, Location, Location because that is all the brain can cope with. When you take away the side effects and get that sense of health back, how can you not focus on your appearance and wanting to look attractive but realising that you won't feel that way completely until a years time or longer when your hair eventually reaches a decent length. Fingers crossed. It comes and goes in waves and most days I feel fine but I have a constant wig-awareness when I don't wear a hat on top of it. Even though my friends know and couldn't care less it's a personal thing and isolating. You have people to sympathise and empathise with you, people like Jenny who has more or less gone through the exact same thing as me but it is an individual experience and can make you feel incredibly lonely. Let's not dwell on this, there is good news to tell.

On Wednesday I went back to Maidstone to get my PET scan. I was once again radioactive man and had to stay away from children and pregnant women for the rest of the evening. I can't remember if I ever told you that last time me and my mum almost went out to dinner straight after...to Frankie's and Benny's. Hundreds of children enjoying a birthday party only to leave with a radiation mutation along with their party bag. Oops. Needless to say we came to our senses and had a Chinese take away instead. I thought I was going to be left stewing for the results for a week and tried not to think about that too much. The PET scan would tell whether the chemo was working or not, how much cancer was left and tell me whether I was going to be over the moon or suicidal. I was in town the next day saying Bon Voyage to Kathryn who is spending a month Australia teaching (alright for some) when I had a phone call from my mum. She said that Dr Gale had called and said that on a scale of 1-5 of how good the results were (1 being the best and five the worst) mine were a one! I'm going to ignore the weird backwardness of my doctor's scaling because this is simply marvellous news wouldn't you agree? I won't know the ins and outs until Wednesday but I'm looking forward to having a finish line. A date where I can proclaim that I am an ex-cancer patient. Holy shit, I need to rinse out my Big C card during that time. It will be nice being able to plan my life again including the New York trip in September which my wonderful family have very generously given me money towards. This has helped me out loads since Student Finance decided that me having cancer and being poor didn't warrant a loan to help me pay my rent. They're a cool, heartless group of people.

The pure evilness of Student Finance is still outweighed by the generosity of friends of mine. Along with Dom, my friends Natalie and Ellie are doing the Race for Life in my honour. I will be sat at the side lines, most likely drunk screeching "You think that will beat cancer? RUN FASTER". They have already reached their target of £250 but if you're feeling generous, here is their sponsorship page. Leave as little or as much as you can afford, any support would be greatly appreciated. If your embarrassed of how low your contribution is, leave it anonymously that's what I do. You still have braggers rights even if you give 30p. http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/team-krissie. My other friend Nick who is a tattoo artist has organised a fundraising event at the studio he works at where all the proceeds from the tattoos he gives on the day go to a Hodgkin's Lymphoma charity. I have some real decent friends.

Hopefully it won't be so disgustingly long until my next entry and I'll be sure to fill you in on all the cancerous details of my life. Thank you very much for reading, you've been a wonderful audience.


P.s In case you were wondering just how good mine and Sean's birthday was, my friend Ben will tell you.



Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hair Today, Fraggle Tomorrow

It's important to note that this post has been written in two parts. A good week and a bad week. The first half is so terribly bitter.

It's been a long time since my last post and this is purely because this week has been an unbelievably stinky pile of shit. The chemo seemed to be taking some semblance of a pattern and I was hoping that being a little more prepared for it all would help me get through it easier. I felt moderately well until Wednesday when the jaw ache returned but not as aggressively as the previous occasion. The worst part of the chemo pattern was the effect that it has on my stomach. It seems that my body forgets how to digest food and my stomach is filled to the brim with acid. Although my doctor had given me Omeprazole to diffuse the acid, it wasn't working. I developed a permanent burning sensation in my stomach like a  dirty fingernail gnawing at the lining of your stomach. It was/is one of those pains that is dull but chronic, enough to wake me up. I called my GP and she prescribed me some sleeping tablets but they were crap, they helped me fall asleep but didn't knock me out through the night. I was waking up through the night and then waking up at 7am unable to get back to sleep, then all that I did was wish the day away with a hot water bottle on my stomach, waiting for sleep when I wouldn't have to deal with the pain. I would wake up every day hoping it would be a little better but it wasn't. So I cried and repeated "I can't do this" for three days. On the Friday I was still in pain but had developed a mentality similar to people with chronic pain. You try to ignore it and get on. What I had to get on with was cutting all my hair off. My plan of keeping my hair up was a huge error as the hair that was falling out developed a strange texture and became incredible matted. It was almost woven like when you make felt or something. You could not put a brush, comb or pencil through it. I told my Mum that we were going to have to cut it all off because it was really irritating my scalp and there was nothing else that I could really do. I sat on the stool in my bathroom (not stool as in poo) and she came in with the scissors. I decided not to watch in the mirror because that was all a bit intense and melodramatic for my liking. It reminded me too much of when you watch yourself cry in the mirror to make yourself cry more like a loser. Jen got really emotional and cried that she really didn't want to do this. I felt bad for her but she had to do it, so she began cutting. It felt strangely exciting to have it all cut off. Jen had to hack through it because it was such a matted mess and at once point I caught a glimpse of myself in the shower door. I looked like a Fraggle from Fraggle Rock. This made me laugh and my Mum tried desperately to stifle hers but I looked fucking ridiculous. If you were unfortunate enough to miss out on Fraggle Rock as a child, I'll save you Googling it.
Christ. So I was now the proud owner of a psuedo-lesbo hairstyle and could honestly not give a shit considering I had a volcano in my stomach. Tracey the wig lady came on the Tuesday to look at my hair colour and see what I wanted in style etc. She was coming on the following Tuesday with some choices and would sort it all out for me. So knowing I had the wig in the pipeline I really wasn't arsed. The stomach issue was the thing that was bringing me down. During those days I was ignoring all phone calls, texts, emails and any form of communication with the outside world. The last thing that I wanted to do was to have to sit an write or text or talk about why I felt so shit and why I was so depressed, knowing that no one really understood. "Oh God that sounds terrible" Yes, it fucking is. It's no one's fault and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else but it gets mentally draining having to explain the same stuff to people and then hear bullshit suggestions about what I can do to make it better. "Have you tried Rennies?", kiss my arse. The most frustrating part of being ill or in pain is when the medication that is supposed to make it better doesn't work and no one can explain why. It just doesn't.

My mum was supposed to see my brother in London on the Saturday so he could treat her to lunch for her birthday but because my body was being retarded she didn't go and he came down instead. I felt really guilty ruining their day and felt even worse that my brother came down because I knew I was going to be a horrible person to be around. The only person I could talk to and be around was my mum. I had reverted back to being six years old again when I would become anxious when she wasn't around and couldn't concentrate on anything until she got back. I was in my room on my own watching the only thing my mind could take A Place in the Sun. James came in and said hi and saw me for the first time with my fraggle hair which was about 2 inches long. I keep forgetting about other people's feelings and reactions and failed to recognise that this would be the first indication of me really being a cancer patient. He sat on the bed and asked me how I, was visibly shocked by the hair. I replied stonily that I cut all my hair off, didn't care and had a chronic stomach ache and that I didn't really want to be around anyone. I'm such a lovely sister. He left and I felt bad but my mood was so low there was nothing I could do to help it. I was so angry that I wasn't getting any better and my mood was bi-polar to say the least. I would flick between ultra tactile,loving and childlike to an icy bitch.
Those few days were hard, it was a case of waking up and waiting to go to sleep so that I didn't have to be conscious and deal with the pain. On the Tuesday, Tracey le wig lady came and sorted me out with a plush wig that more or less is a complete match for my hair. It doesn't look immediately wiggy so I'm very pleased with myself. It wasn't cheap. Jen sorted me out though, she's a good lad. I feel fine wearing it out with a hat but without I'm so much more aware of it, it will just take a bit of getting used to I suppose.

On Wednesday I went for my check up with Dr Gale and he knew something was bad when I started to cry. I normally walk in there with a "no it's all good" attitude because quite honestly it is most of the time. This stomach stuff was insufferable and I told him how relentless the pain had been. He suggested that it was the Vinblastine, the V of ABVD. He thought it was that because of the jaw ache that I was getting as well and the all over prickly pain. Vinblastine affects your nerves so anywhere there is nerves it can affect it, I don't know much about the human body but I do know that you have HELLA LOTTA NERVES. He said that he was going to omit the Vinblastine for a week and put me on a course of steroids instead to see if it made a difference. If it did he would reintroduce the Vinblastine in a smaller dose and couple it with steroids which I respond really well to. He did say that I might get " a bit of a chipmunk face"...nice one. Bald and chubby cheeks. Come and get me boys. My mood for the next few days was a little subdued. I had lunch with Adele on a lovely day and we sat outside discussing our illnesses. I took a lot of my attitude and positiveness from the way she does with her MS. She doesn't complain and doesn't let it take over her life. These are the cards you get dealt and you either wallow in self pity or try and enjoy your life. We sat being tragically clichéd saying how the simple things seem so beautiful and more impressive when your a couple of sick fucks like us. We then went into town where we were lambasted by those charity wankers. They go for Adele when she's on her mobility scooter thinking "well she's a sorry bastard, she must be compassionate enough to give me 30 quid for a key ring". We both stood there while Señor Charity Wanker went on and on and Adele reeled off all the charities she gives to, stressing she cannot possibly afford more. He was a twat and wouldn't shut the fuck up, so I pulled out my C card and said to him that "Unfortunately, she's disabled and I have cancer. We're both poor so have our own problems to deal with". Rude? Certainly. Unnecessary? Debatable. Quite frankly he was pissing me off, plus I know he's getting paid £7.00 an hour to do this 'noble' work so any money I donate won't be going to these kids, it will be funding his excessive hair gel habit.

Chemolicious Friday rolled around and I brought Emily O and Kathryn fresh from returning from uni. Chemo is usually cool had my nurse Sally been there. She wasn't and instead I got left with THE TROLL. The troll is a bitter, rude, short, angry little woman that runs the day unit. Fucker. The first thing she said to me was "You can't have two friends here". I didn't understand. What the fuck was she talking about, I had two people last week and no one had ever told me there was a limit on it. So I cried. I was already in a highly emotional state for the past week. I cried at Britain's Got Talent, the Voice, You Deserve This House; the list is long and embarrassing. She then said that she would let me have them there for that week because I didn't know. She then insisted that next time I could only have one because they would be have 40 patients there. Strange as there are only 8 chemo recliners, dirty, rotten, ratty liar. She also poked about in my veins and made it sore so the chemo was a bit of a bitch that week. My friend Kathryn decided to wind her up the entire session making comments like "child birth is disgusting, when it came down to it I just wouldn't push". She was disgusted but it indulged her "I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU" attitude, digging at us saying "you didn't do physics, did you?". Bitch please. My mum hated her from the moment we met her, she had been incredibly rude to us before she knew that I was a cancer patient. Those kind of fake niceties make me feel sicker than the chemo, you can see right through it.

The weekend after the chemo was great and made me feel like a normal person again. Most of my friends from uni were back and I saw tons of people from school and the like who were nothing but lovely. I did get told by a bouncer to take my hat off and I bluntly explained that I couldn't because I had cancer and was wearing a wig. He looked pretty awkward. Earlier in the night as well some fellow tried playfully whip my hat off. I almost had an aneurysm. Vigilant wig surveillance is in order I think.

The next couple of weeks are looking good. The Vinblastine is definitely the one that makes me feel like utter shite because I feel absolutely fine this week. I'm making the most of it, visiting Brighton and London to see my brother and because a wonderful friend of mine has secretly organised a charity run round London. He won't want to be named but I will Mr Dom Garforth. Next week is my birthday and Birmingham folk are coming to play along with Sean and his family who I absolutely love. Nights out are hilarious and we all adopt the attitude that we are the best people out therefore don't try to join in. It's just what I need to take my mind off the impending PET scan. I have my 4th treatment on my birthday and after that the scan. I really, really, really hope that it's all gone or at least have a concrete finish date for the treatment. I can't wait to get back to uni and being able to make plans for the months ahead without the uncertainity of the length of the treatment. If everyone could send good vibes of cancer killing kind it would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Moulting Season and Jinxes

It's not coming out in huge amounts yet but it is definitely the beginning of the end of my hair. I'm surprisingly at ease with the whole thing. I think that's because I've had so long to get used to the idea now and in comparison to the other side effects that you get, hair loss is the least painful and doesn't physically stop you from leaving the house. I'm trying not to brush or wash it too much and wear it up as much as possible as this seems to keep the hair loss to a minimum for now. I've got two cheapie wigs from eBay at the moment, one of them I had from Halloween last year where I wanted to go as Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. It's black and actually suits me which is bizarre considering that good words used to describe my skin tone would be "translucent" or "bordering on albino". This one does slightly make me look like a Ukranian call girl, she will be called Svetlana. Spasiba. The other one is the same sort of style but I light brown/red colour which is pretty close to my actual hair colour, however this one sits a little peculiarly so I'm going to have to whack a hat on it to avoid that "wiggy" look. I give my hair between 1-2 weeks before it becomes too thin to even wear up. Then I'm probably going to buzz cut it all off, well not me but somebody who owns a set of clippers and will be able to do it without scalping me.
I think I'm going to be more of 'that girl who ALWAYS wears hats' as opposed to 'that girl who's wearing a wig'. I don't know how comfortable I'm going to be wearing the wig on its own for fear of it flying off into the wind and I'm stood there looking like this fella.
I went to Brighton the other day for a wonderful day out with my friend Vicky. When I was there I bought a few hats, bandannas and scarves so I'm pretty excited to practice with them all so I can find my 'look'. I'm hoping I'll look as fly as this bitch:
But in reality, it'll be closer to this... especially when it starts to grow back.
This is the one of the last photos of me with a full head of hair. Yes, I took it myself. Yes, I feel like a dick but it needed to be done.


As time goes on and I start to become terribly involved with the whole thing, you'll probably see me bouncing around town in an Afro relying on in my cancer safety net to save me from "who the fuck is that crazy white bitch". To be honest I don't think even the cancer card can excuse that kind of behaviour.

This week has been a good week side effects wise. The worst I had was shaking hands last Monday. This was a little frustrating as I was learning to knit and my temporary Parkinson's was preventing me from perfecting me knit 2, purl 2 technique. I'm knitting a bad ass scarf at the moment as it turns out I can knit like an OG's nan. This is another one of those silver lining parts of the cancerous cloud. I get to do all these things that you constantly put off learning or doing due to being to busy with procrastinating with your uni work. I feel like all this spare time I have when I'm not nursing side effects should be used to do something productive. It was Chemolicious Friday once again on the 16th and I went with Adele and Sean. It was pretty hilarious and the D of ABVD didn't even hurt that much this time so I am feeling very grateful. I found my perfect rate of 700 which means it doesn't hurt as much and only takes 15 minutes longer than the half an hour PAINFUL rate. There isn't a whole lot to tell at the moment of Chemo and effects. I felt a little pooped on Friday but didn't need to sleep, then Saturday felt completely normal, well enough to go out and attempt to get trashed for St Patrick's day with Sean and Joe. It was a really good night but I think my tolerance for alcohol has gone way up so even getting a little squiffy was difficult to achieve. Sunday was the same, no hang over but I started to get mouth twinges meaning battery acid saliva is on its way. The Difflam should sort it out though hopefully.
On Saturday morning, my good friend Livvi came over and gave all her make up artist tips teaching me to draw in the eyebrows if they go and helping me to look like a well person with wonderful make up tricks. She really knew how to make me look good and if I could afford to have her do my make up for the duration of Chemo and life, I would. She gave me a little goodie bag full of stuff to help me do it myself and already it has made my eyebrows look better than they ever have! Thank you Livvi, you are my angel.

I'm starting to get uncharacteristically superstitious about everything. My friend Emily called me the other day and suggested that we go to New York in September for a proper 21st Birthday. I was so excited as this is THE trip that I have wanted to take since I was 12. I was really excited and started Googling all the crap we're going to do, mostly involving eating and clubbing but then all of a sudden I began to get a little nervous. What if the cancer isn't gone by September? I have been positive from the outset that I'm going to get through it but I feel like making too many plans for the future will inflict some nasty jinx. I don't even like saying  that I am already a quarter of the way through of my treatment because it might not be. After the next month of treatment I will go for another PET scan to see if there are any active cancer cells. A PET scan is very similar to a CT scan. They are both shaped like a giant doughnut and you get wheeled back forth through it for 20 minutes. They inject you was radioactive glucose which makes all the cancerous cells light up because they love a bit of sugar does our cancer. I'm counting down the days until I have this scan and simultaneously dreading it. It could go either way, a complete 50/50. It's either not there or at least shrinking the mass or it's still there and possibly spread. I really don't know what I would do if it was the latter. Everything I say about finishing treatment is always sneakily followed by a tap on wood. If all goes to plan the final treatment date will be 08/06/2012 but I really don't like thinking about it.

This post is all over the place but I think that's probably an accurate reflection on how my mind is working at the moment. Good God so many emotions so little time.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cocky Krissy is a Cock and My Nurse Didn't Know What Your Spleen Does

I throw my hands up and admit that Chemo has royally punch-fucked me in the anus. Today is the best that I've felt in a week and even now I still can barely muster the energy to walk to the top of the stairs. I feel like I'm on a permanent sugar rush at the moment, shaky and tingly. It turns out Chemo is a slow burner on my body and being the ultimate arrogant twat that I am, I travelled to Birmingham for "super reunion" last week and although I adored seeing my lovely friends, in hindsight it was a mistake.
The sore mouth I spoke about in the last post subsided nicely and evolved into jaw ache. I had Ozzy Osbourne jaw; the jaw of a man who has been gurning for 40 years. I was downing the codeine like no tomorrow to no real results. It was a dull, throbbing ache that moved through my jaw to my ears and up to my temples. This lasted Tuesday and Wednesday and on Thursday that's when the stomach fucked up. I knew this was going to be one of the worst side effects because my stomach has always been a carefully balanced eco-system of pickled onion Monster Munch, Twirls and Coke. Chemo was bound to destroy the good thing we all had going down there. Home wrecker.
The trip itself was great though, I arrived in Brum on Tuesday full of optimism and naivety. I thought I had gotten away lightly on the first round of Chemo. I met my beautiful friend Ellie in town where she whisked me back to the house to see the rest of the gang; Jaimee, Natalie, James, Marco, Mike (Migs), Brad and Kay and Georgia would be arriving on Wednesday. I knew I had the greatest friends in the world because the first question they asked me was "What do you want us to cook you for dinner?". Sweet Moses. My friend Natalie is an amazing cook and is half American, quarter Japanese and quarter German (we call her the Triad of Evil/Germ-Jap-Yank-Swede/Nat) and why this doesn't really relate to why she's such a good cook, I just wanted to point out what an interesting ethnic mix that is. My friend Migs is also one with the ingredients so they both set to work making 3 different types of jerked chicken, several rice dishes and corn on the cob. Jaimee prepped everything and I sat on my fat arse as everybody else contributed in one way or another. I didn't but I can't because I have cancer, ok? Dinner was a predictable triumph followed by banana and strawberry smoothies blended by Ellie and Migs. I went to bed a happy lady and woke up the following day with dirty jaw ache. I had arranged to meet a whole other bunch of people that evening so I persevered. We decided that we would take a trip to hospital on Thursday though to sort  me out with some Tramadol for the pain and some thrills. We went into town to the Victoria and had a couple of drinks with some more familiar faces. It was so nice to see everyone but I was terrible company as I could barely focus on what was going on as the pain was occupying most of my conscious mind. One of the people I saw there was fuckin' creative badman Pete. He drew this for me recently:

If you're visually dyslexic or just stupid, this is me kicking the shit out of my cancer demon. It's really good isn't it? This is why I love uni, it brings people who can do cool stuff like this into your life.

Thursday I woke up and cried for an hour just because I felt like it and "the ozzy jaw" was really grinding my gears. Georgia made me scrambled eggs and Migs made me a sausage sandwich (I know, my friends are sick) and then I slowly began to crumble. Jaimee dropped me and Georgia at the spaceship hospital and I ran in with my arms above my head screaming "HELP ME I HAVE CANCER AND IT HURTS". By this I mean I meekly wandered over to the information desk and whispered that I was having Chemo and felt a little "off". This hospital is huge and really does look like a spaceship. See for yourself:

Reminds me of Independence Day for some reason. This is only part of it you see it's rather large and we were in the wrong section, so they sent a little bus over to drive us round the other side to A&E. I like to think of myself as a hospital aficionado these days, I've been all over; Leeds, London, Kent and Birmingham. I know a good hospital with competent staff and Birmingham was pretty terrible. A&E was like going into the fag break room of a tampon factory in 1985. The woman behind the window was definitely an idiot, she asked me for all my details 5 or 6 times, neglecting to care that I was a cancer patient that was close passing out. I had to kneel on the dirty floor to talk to her on her tiny chair, through the tiny little hole in the apparently soundproof glass. Georgie and I then sat there while a decidedly incestuous looking family slept on the seats opposite. I was rather worried at that point, not about any potential Deliverance "squeal little pig" activity with the Leatherfaces but because my immune system is so terrible (chemo kills your white blood cell count) and waiting rooms are breeding grounds for MRSA.

A nurse came and called me in, at least she looked like a nurse. She attempted to take my blood pressure several times and failed. This is not a good sign. Then Georgie asked her what a standard blood pressure for me should be and she replied, "Well, we can only do something about the top number...or the bottom number. I can't remember". What? Well, as long as she doesn't write it down using her own faeces, I'm sure it was just a blip in her competence. She led us to a little cubicle where we waited for ages to be seen by a doctor. He was a lovely young man and was awfully helpful and complimentary,
"Did they tell you you have a large spleen?"
Why no they didn't mister doctor man but thank you. He told me that everything seemed fine and it was probably just chemo messing with me but he would do a blood test to check my haemoglobin. So the nice doctor (he really was nice this is coming off as sarcastic) left and the weather beaten, blue eye-liner wearing "nurse" came in to take my blood. Georgie and I looked at each other both aware that there was a 50/50 she would give me HIV. "Oh whoopsie you're supposed to use a needle per person aren't you?". It wasn't that dire but she was still tragic. Intrigued by the big spleen observation I asked,
"What does your spleen do?" to which she replied
"Oh...well...I don't know. I know you can live without it".
Excellent. Let's hope the folk sorting out the NHS reforms have not met this bitch. The most bizarre thing was that she seemed like a senior nurse. Not a sister but she was decorated like a soldier with these tiny gold badges. Probably if I'd checked closer they would have read "25m Swim" and "Junior Swim Challenge". Impostor. She took my blood and then couldn't find the wad to cover the injection site.She left the needle in me and made Georgia open an antiseptic wipe and shoved that on my wound. Yes it stung, she's a fucking retard. Jaimee and Ellie came and the bloods were normal so they gave me some Tramadol for the pain. The"nurse" before administering the drug gave this statement,
"I don't want to scare you but if you take this it might make you feel like your dying"
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, when I took it I felt weird and terrible. I took it again and felt the same so be careful".
You probably went "weird and terrible" because it was interfering with the heavy dosage of THORAZINE you should be on. Here's me, Georgia and Ellie at the hospital.Observe me in despair at the "nurse":


I felt better by the evening but couldn't muster the energy for a night out so we sat in, ate and watched Drive. I need to reiterate how lovely all my friends were while I was there, doing anything and everything they could. This is again where cancer isn't so bad because I realise how lucky I am to have a family outside of the blood related kind. They really took care of me and I love them very much. Go on be sick and roll your eyes I DON'T GIVE A SHIT.
Friday came and I felt like shit, I especially felt shit because I decided to stuff three Twirls down my throat. I really wasn't well and felt sad because I couldn't enjoy my last moments with my friends. Ellie came in the taxi to town with me and carried my suitcase to the station. When I walked in I felt pretty sick. Oh god I was going to be sick. Moor Street has no readily available toilets but luckily Georgia had packed me a sick bag "just in case". I proceeded to throw up a Sainsbury's bag full of Twirly sick. Ellie's definitely a keeper, she picked it up and hid it behind a sign. I felt better and waved goodbye to Birmingham ready to kill myself at the thought of getting on the tubes. The train journey was fine but the tubes was grim. Instead of sitting on the seats I plonked my suitcase by the doors and sat on it because my mind wasn't working properly. I looked really ill, I hadn't looked in the mirror but the looks on people's faces said it all. I got back to Tunbridge Wells at five and collapsed on my bed for the next two days with severe stomach ache. It sent me the lowest I'd been, even when the pain had lessened I felt depressed. I didn't want to do anything but felt restless. I put on Sex and the City to live Samantha's cancer journey and that pulled me out of it a bit.
I don't know what I was expecting from Chemo but I have definitely underestimated the grip it has on my body. I watched Kylie's post-cancer 2006 interview (I'm fascinated by all things celebrity-cancer related now) and she said that during Chemo, making it to the corner shop was an achievement so I think getting to and from Big Ham was pretty decent. I won't be doing it again, ever. I've learnt my lesson the hard way.

In other news, I'm having Chemotherapy on my 21st birthday. Jealous?

Big Love x

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bombshelling - a different kind of C-Bomb

My mouth, my mouth. My mouth is messed up. I'd been pleased with the minimal adverse Chemo side effects so far, for me it had been a bit of nausea which was all taken care of by some anti-sickness drugs (Jesus incarnate) and general tiredness. That was it for round one and I was feeling rather happy; booking tickets up to Birmingham for a reunion with Uni folk. Sunday night I started to get sharp pangs in the back of my mouth, like everything I was eating was a bitter lemon, even when I drank a glass of water. This continued into Monday and is starting to flare whether or not I'm eating anything. It's so frustrating, hopefully it will pass but there's nothing I can do. Certain Chemo drugs alter the lining of your mouth and saliva and all you can rely on is perseverance to stop you from going insane. I'm persevering...still persevering. We can surely stop this now. I love to eat so I'm getting a little angry at not being able to eat the stalest, crustiest piece of bread without wincing like those knobs on the Sensodyne adverts. This had better wear off quick because keeping me away from food will be the key to all this optimism imploding into anger and cynicism. This has been the only thing that has brought me down so far, so far indeed that I went and slept in with my Mum Monday night and I can honestly say I have not done that since I was 6 years old. We watched a bunch of SHIT on that Alibi channel (the axed semi-regular cast members of huge US TV shows and getting them to front some 'singlemother/detective/psychic/ninja/IUSEDTOBEAMAN' crime drama-dey) then woke up at half seven as we apparently went to sleep about half nine, and watched Jumanji. I then called this Chemotherapy patient hotline, no seriously, and asked them if there was anything that I am allowed to have to numb my mouth. I didn't care if I never tasted food again, it felt like someone had rubbed a stinging nettle all over my tongue and the back of my throat. The Oncology (CANCER) nurses told me to get Difflam and I hot footed it to the doctors where she wrote me a wonderful repeat prescription. It seems to do the trick mostly. I had to gargle with it on the train up to Birmingham in the toilet, loudly it would seem as the entire carriage watched me retreat to my seat in disgust. This is where I give people my "It's ok, I have cancer" knowing smile; whether they interpret this more as a "I just farted" knowing smile is up for debate.

I know I have been out of the Cancer closet fully for a couple of weeks now but before that I had crafted a very specific list of who needed to know. For a while I didn't want to be 'that girl with cancer', I got over that quickly. Closest friends were the only ones allowed to know to start with but that was still a fair fifteen people. I'm not popular I'm just way too forward with asserting closeness with people. A couple of people I rang didn't remember who I was. This is all tomfoolery, I'm very private really.
I had my list in front of me and my phone and began the longwinded process I have come to call "Bombshelling". This list of people knew that it could be cancer, I didn't directly point it out to everyone but the phrase "they found a mass near my heart" produces the  word 'tumour' in most people's minds, I'm sure. This sounds utterly grotesque but it was morbidly fascinating to hear their reactions. I told everyone in more or less the same way, the script was a little like this:
"I saw the consultant today and I have cancer. But, it's lymphoma and it's one of the most treatable kinds of cancer with crazy successes in treatment, way into the ninetieth percentile. I'm not worried, I know I'm going to get through it, it's just going to be a couple of hard, bald months ahead."You get the gist.
Most people were shaken but strong, they later said hearing the way I was handling it actually calmed them down. Do I ever stop giving? My friend Sean started talking at a million miles an hour but tried to stay calm and joke about my future life as bald lady and cancer-guilt extorter. My friend Leah sounded like she was hyperventilating and kept saying "OH JESUS" to every sentence that left my mouth. It was sad at the time but hilarious to parody now. The worst thought that I had in my head was that I sort of began a ranking system in my head of 'Who is the saddest? Who loves me the most? Who should I leave the money to?'. I'm a sicko but suck it slags that's human nature.
I told my close group of friends from Uni and home and was happy for them to tell their partners and parents because it's definitely something that needs to be talked about. That was supposed to be it for the time being but sooner or later it's going to find you, sometimes where you least expect it. Alcohol. As you can imagine, the attention whore that I've mutated into has had an unbelievable amount of "Congratulations on your Cancer Diagnosis" sessions, a particular favourite, pre-chemo "Mexicana-Wastorama" where we went to a Mexican restaurant ate nachos, enchiladas and drank mojitos. Banging. Anyway, the point I'm making is that at the time in a sober frame of mind I would never blurt out to acquaintances/new faces/perfect strangers that I had cancer. I was at my friends' joint 21st birthday party in a few weeks ago and remember charging up to my friend Sammie and screeching "Giz your friend with cancer a fag san!" in front of a group of strangers. I don't even smoke. It would have been highly awkward had we not ALL been trashed. I don't think it registered with most. I also recently met random people on a night out and after painting the streets with my insides they declared that I was not "hardcore". To which I replied classily "I'm the hardest-fucking core cunt here because I HAVE CANCER"and sat on my feet. Cue looks of disgust and bemusement as people decipher whether you're humour is pitch black or if you are a genuine smashed cancer patient almost sitting in a pile of your own sick.
Before the big coming out I "Bombshelled" a couple of people sober too. This wasn't too long before the blog. I saw an old friend working in town and when he asked me how I was thought I may as well tell him. He was shocked to say the least but very sweet. I also saw an old friend I used to work with who took the whole thing rather well, he's moved significantly lower in my ranking system now. That'll teach him. "Bombshelling" was a little thrill on its own but I keep forgetting something. I'm not the only person in the world to have cancer. I go around making jokes and acting casual about the whole event expecting people to react in the same way. What I am desperately trying to remedy is to remind myself that not all cancer can be treated so lightly and with the degree of arrogant confidence that I have about beating it.

I don't want this blog to be treated as a "You have cancer, this is how to deal with it" piece of literature; it's my point of view. Too much in fact. I do want the blog to take a certain amount of fear away from the disease and help people understand it and the Chemotherapy and its effects because I don't think it's anything that you would actively seek out on a rainy day. In another factory-bottled cliche, I want to show how something monumentally terrible can change your life in great ways. Talking to my friend Brad last night he told me that he had never seen me so happy and it's crazy but I think he's right. I've always been someone to struggle with immensely low self-esteem in every possible way which stopped me from doing things I'm really passionate about, like writing. Had it not been for the cancer I would have never written anything like this from pure, unadulterated fear of people laughing at me and generally thinking it was shit. Cancer seems to have melted all these insecurities, including the constant obsession with how I look. In short, I've never felt more comfortable or accepted as I am but a big chunk of that is the reliance on the cancer-safety-net. To turn it nice and cynical again, someone can hate me the minute they meet me but within three minutes of finding out I have cancer I become "inspirational", "brave" and "AMAZING". In all honesty, though I agree I'm dealing with it well I wouldn't brand myself with any of those words. I'm just getting on with it and I'm everyone of you reading this would be the same.

Big love x

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Jamaican Tea Lady Loves Me and Hates Everybody Else


We return to Maidstone and Dr Chan is syringing the final dregs of fluid from the pericardium. He dragged the straw out which feels like when I used to dangle strawberry laces down my throat and pull them out again and you'll be surprised to know that I did in fact have many friends as a child. For such a big procedure it's left little more than a ink dot scar. Chan and Caulfield you've done it again. Friday was uneventful; I think that's when I got a visit from Carol, my friend Kathryn's Mum who works as a dietician there. We sat and chatted and she gave me some tips on eating etc. Later on, Kathryn came to visit me and bought me goodies, Pringles, Coke and PJs. You really know who your friends are in situations like this ha! I told her about the possibility of cancer and that I thought I had it. She was very Kathryn and sympathetic and supportive and did the dutiful "it's probably not" response. But she could tell I was serious especially when I said "So when I have cancer, does that mean I can skip the queues at Thorpe Park?". Ah, you always remember your first cancer joke. Seeing my friend cheered me up and the thought of my hospital field trip to London was exciting. The rest of the evening was fine and I got to see my favourite night nurse Agata (no not Agatha). Agata was my favourite because instead of making me piss in the commode she would wheel me the six feet to the bathroom. She was also a dab hand at changing the drip thing in the arm and I generally just loved her. She was chilled like me, well probably more because I would not be chilled about wiping shit from an old man's rim. 

Saturday arrived and I was ready for Guy's. I was so ready to leave as there was a weekend nurse who was slightly crap and was doing that thing where she over-explained everything I already knew so that she could reteach it to herself. My Mum and Fatman (step-dad) showed up shortly followed by the Thames Valley Ambulance team. These guys provide ample amounts of entertainment because they're little double acts. Bouncing of each other and actually being funny. When we got in the ambulance I pretended to be asleep because it did wear dreadfully and I could not be arsed to say where I was going to uni, where I was studying, did I like it, what''s your bra size, who is the best Bond villain, if you could be any character in Titantic who would you be and why? That sort of thing. As we were driving to Guy's we drove past Bermondsey Street Tunnel where the club Cable is and where two weeks ago I had spent New Year's Eve. It really drove home how much can change in a fortnight.

 We got to Guy's and took the lift to the 9th floor and got wheeled into the ward during what appeared to be "nap time". All the blinds were closed and everybody was nice and quiet. The first thing I noticed was that I HAD A WALL. Yes, not a curtain but a wall. Only on one side but still I had a sink and a mirror to monitor the progressive greasiness of my hair. Excellent. Guy's was great you could pretty much do what you want; computer, phone, TV you name it. CCU had a no phone's policy which was wank. The nurses were lovely and a lot of them Irish which meant lovely soothing accents. I got settled in and tea time rolled around, this is where I first met my wonderful Jamaican Tea Lady. 
"Tee or COH-FEH?"
Fuck I love her. She was hilarious, you could tell she wasn't overly bothered about anyone. If anyone asked her to repeat anything she would roll her eyes and say it again with a head jiggle. I wish I had a picture or video of her. She approached everyone else with mild disdain but came to me with a smile. She read the menu options and I chose spicy pork with rice and broccoli. Another great thing about Guy's was that the food was soooooo much better. Dinner was banging. She gave my Mum the up and down with an arched eyebrow then smiled at me and left. Haha! I'm sorry, you probably won't find this funny but my brother and I can testify to how hilarious this woman is. I felt good at Guy's and a big dinner was in order as I was having surgery on Sunday and couldn't from midnight. 

Not a bad view either, especially if you love London as much as I do (shitty phone quality though):

They woke me up around 7am to get showered (a real shower) and brush my teeth. I was being slotted in to a full surgery schedule so they weren't sure when I was going to go. A lovely nurse came in and told me to take a pregnancy test to check 100% I wasn't. Unfortunately, I knew better than her but humoured her anyway. Turns out I was pregnant. Ha not. Anyway, I put on these BEAUTIFUL knee length white socks to stop me getting blood clots and put on another gown. Those gowns make you feel like you're sectioned. I went down to surgery about 10am and lied in the recovery room before going in. The surgeon wheeled me through to the tremendously enthusiastic anaesthesiologist. He asked me if I didn't mind him putting on music while he prep-ed everything. Of course I said "Of course not". My answer would have been different had I known the first line of the first song was "Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy"...Surgery is a dangerous game really and had I died, that would have been the last song I heard and that is just not fair at all. Fucking Ke$@#*%#A or whatever her name is was then followed by Miley Cyrus. PUT ME UNDER NOW. They proceeded. I felt the cold anaesthetic creep up my arm and they gave me a nice big bit of oxygen. B-Bye.
I woke up in the recovery room. I was much less embarrassing than my first surgery when I woke up screaming "THIS WASN'T WORTH IT!". Enough of that. I was in a fair bit of pain and the Xing the nurse dosed me with Morphine immediately, such good service. Every time I breathed it hurt, a lot. I had taken about an hour to come around and had been lying there for ages when I told the nurse I still had a lot of pain. I was groggy but I still had a disgustingly vindictive mind to fool my nurse.
"I've still got a lot of pain" I did.
"Does it hurt when you breath in and out?"
"Yes."
"Does it hurt when you don't?"
..........
"...Yes...". It didn't. 
"Let's get you a Morphine drip."
"If you think it would be best *cough*"
Yes, I'm a junkie but fuck you I've been through some shit. Morphine drips really are as good as they say and they have you on a five minute timer so you don't overdose. The world is better with Morphine (in a controlled environment). I went up an hour later and got wheeled back to my poor Mum who had been sitting there for four hours. Ah, Jen such a G. I noticed as well that I had a huge hose coming from my left boob leading to a bucket full of heart juice. It really was a hose, not a tiny straw with Chan & Cau; a hose. Well that's my tits ruined, I thought. For the record they're not, they're still wonderful. I chatted with Mum all day and she left to get the train home. I ate dinner, felt ok and sweet baby girl Morphine sent me to sleep. The noisy, moaning bitch next door woke me up loads but two clicks of the Madame and I was off. Maybe, this post should have been called "I Heart Morphine" or "I Am a Junkie".

Monday came and with Monday, the hose came out and I said bye bye to my morphine drip because in all honestly it was making me a bit sick. Trigger Happy Krissy. I had loads of visitors starting with Adele and Gerard my friend's Mum and Dad. The O'Sullivan clan as a whole are my family, I consider Emily and Sean my siblings, Gerard as a doting father-type who thinks everything I do is wonderful (it is) and Adele is like an Auntie/Friend who is hilarious in too many ways to mention and none of them will paint her in the best light so I won't list any. In any case she has MS so she can always rely on the "I'm disabled" card to balance out her terrible behaviour. I'm going to get a "what the fuck are you talking about" text after this. In any case, they came for the afternoon, we had a Maccies and then Emily and Kathryn came. Adele and Gerard left and my brother's friend Sam turned up with a special gift for me. For whatever reason (probably the chavvy hair and gold hoop earring combo I favour) Sam thinks I look like Katy B. He brought me a copy of the CD complete with a gaffa-taped-on personalised cover of me on the front. It was touching. Then my brother turned up and it was a party. The party was cut short when I started to double over in pain and not be able to move. As it turns out the Senna tablets some nurse gave me early to "keep everything moving" were Satan incarnate. Everyone had to leave as I spent the next hours in labour. Out of everything that has happened, a little bit of poo-problemos was the most painful. Morphine couldn't even save me, it knocked me out for sure but I woke up in pain still. I know you probably are thinking "ERGH DON'T TELL ME THIS" but you need to get a rounded picture of the experience.

I got transported back to Maidstone on Tuesday and was free to roam about commode free, heart monitor free and gown free. One more night and Wednesday came. Caulfield came to do the rounds and a nurse informed him that I had cried because I wanted to go home. He checked me over and said that I could be discharged. Sweet Jesus, yes. Matthew (I won't put quotation marks round his name because I saw him do loads of work and he discharged me) sorted out my papers and university letter and the pharmacist loaded me up with pills and I was gone. I was almost a stone lighter and was the palest I had ever seen myself but fuck it I was out of hospital and most importantly skinny.

10 days seemed like a month but it was all for a good cause, you know to stop me from dying and stuff. I had a clinic with KHP on Thursday when she was to tell me I had cancer but I already knew that. I just had my fingers crossed it was small and Hodgkin's and that by some freak ginger mutant strain miracle my hair wouldn't fall out. Sorry for the length, again.

Big Love x

Cooking with Chemo


Good Morning! It's 8am on a Saturday and I am awake, I definitely have cancer because this is outrageous, surely. I had to give yesterday a miss on the writing because if you remember it was Chemolicious Friday. It wasn't too bad, I was there for a couple of hours and had my lovely friend Emily there for company. I'm having a treatment called ABVD, each of the letters stand for a drug used in the treatment. To save me a whole load of boring typing and miscommunication here's a quick overview of the treatment at Macmillan. Their main toxicity is to the immune system (cutting you white blood count way down), the heart, the lungs and fertility. These are all relatively low at the dosage I'm initially being given and will only have a significant impact if I don't respond to treatment and they have to up the ante. Fingers crossed. 

I'll give you a quick Chemo outline before moving back to Guy's. You walk in sit in a comfy chair and they put a line in a nice, juicy vein in your arm. They flush it through with saline to check it's definitely going in then they give you some anti-sickness. Then one by one each ABVD is put through with a flush of saline between each. They're all fine except for D who is quite the bitch and decides that as the only drug that is in drip form, she's going to make it REALLY uncomfortable for you. I had to sit there for 40 minutes with a brain freeze in my arm and a disgusting dull ache.

Here she is having a whale o' time, little bitch:
They wrap the slag in tin foil because as I said she's a whiny bitch and is sensitive to sunlight. They put a heat pack on my arm and you can see my pasty ass skin glowing a beautiful sunburnt pink below from the coldness. All in all chemo 1/8 wasn't too bad, we went to the drive-thru after. When I got home I felt tired and had sickness but I had good anti-sickness drugs which seem to be doing the trick. I felt a bit weird all night, exhausted and unable to sleep but this morning I feel good for now. I'll probably have another chemo-comedown tomorrow though. 

I would like to apologise in advance for my lack of technical skills. I cannot work out how to put more posts on a new page so if anyone could enlighten me, well that would be swell. The blog's supposed to be getting the Changing Rooms treatment in the next couple of weeks so that should sort it out.

Guy's hospital post coming up shortly!

x