It has taken me a long time to be able to write this post, and although for the first eight days this was due to me being physically unable, for the majority of the time since leaving intensive care it has been because, each time I have picked up my tablet, mentally I have been found wanting. When it came to writing my other posts, I found ideas and inspiration flowed freely and writing was easy, but this post has been difficult and I have rewritten and scrapped it numerous times. This morning I reread what I had written and decided yet again I was not happy. But this time I decided that rather than blindly starting again I needed to think why was I finding this so difficult; what had changed?
And I think the answer is simple: me.
Everyone has an idea of what makes them them, and for me I have always been someone who likes to think of themselves as strong. When faced with adversity I choose to stare it, emotionless, in the face and although I may be terrified I do not let it show, because, however stupid it sounds, I have always felt deep down that when I show real emotion, I show weakness. So I may moan about things but I am one to grit my teeth and get on.
After this operation, I was in a lot of pain. Pain that I have never known and never want to know again, because it struck fear into me. The other morning I received amazing news – my biopsies had come back and I had clear margins. I was told this by my surgical team, who said that in their eyes the operation could not have gone better, and that I would not need another operation. I think they could tell I had not taken this news as they had meant it, since my initial reaction was one of horror. They repeated the news to a now carefully smiling me, who gave my thanks and grinned. It appeared I had not fully considered this whole process, and had just whole heartedly assumed that this operation would be the last.
The prospect of going through this operation again had never entered my mind, and honestly, it makes me feel sick. Thinking of me and what I was a week ago makes me feel physically sick. Because when I think of myself lying there on that bed in intensive care, blinded by the hours I had spent on my front under anaesthesia and clinging to the rails, truly believing I was dying, I don’t feel like me. I feel weak and helpless…and that scares me.
Don’t get me wrong – I really am ecstatic that I am cancer free. But I feel this ecstasy is more from a relief that I don’t have to go through this operation again, rather than part of a celebration of the long term, far reaching effects of not having cancer. For me, now, this operation is the thing on my mind. And it has been since I had it fifteen days ago, and it will be for a very long time.
I have come a long way since my surgery, and I am able to walk a little with the help of my little pal the zimmerframe. Physically I am getting stronger and I am recovering amazingly well. My progress is astounding me and my parents each day, but no matter how far or quickly I walk, there is still a massive sense of nervousness that hangs over me. I am worried I have lost my fight, because I don’t know how I would ever make it through round two if it turned out there was one. At every point in this journey so far I have been able to fight, to struggle on through the pain and continue searching for the answers when they weren’t there, or pounce on them and act when they were. After this operation I felt helpless. I lost my eyesight, my ability to communicate and my connection to the real world as I drifted in and out of consciousness under a haze of drug fuelled hallucinations. I couldn’t do anything and I wasn’t me. Honestly, I look back on myself and don’t recognise me. This is what makes me feel sick.
All this sounds dramatic but it is true, and I think I needed to write this post to be truthful to myself, because carrying on posting as though nothing has changed would be lying to both you and myself. This surgery has changed me, and although at the moment this scares me, I will continue to tell myself that I am not ashamed. I have been left with physical and mental scars, that extend up along my stomach and back, giving me the appearance of the world’s longest butt crack, but also those that cannot be seen go deep inside and will be harder to mend. I am proud of my physical scars, I earned them and I will wear them unabashed and loud for they are mine. I am more nervous when it comes to the psychological aspects: I am worried I have become boring as this is all that is on my mind; I second guess anything and everything the doctors tell me and find it more and more difficult to believe what they say; I have become scared of the fight itself.
I think more than anything this whole experience has made me question who I am and what makes me me, which, if you know yourself, seems like a fairly easy thing to consider. But not until you feel you have been stripped of everything and and you are completely powerless can you look at what is left and know what is there. It worries me that what remained was very little and that I did not feel strong when I needed to most, but just desperate with a longing for voices I knew. There was something almost inhuman in the way I felt at that time, most likely a combination of the pain and drugs I was on, but it is a feeling that is still haunting me now and will continue to do soon the future. I do not recognise myself lying on that bed and that is scary, and I think I will be dealing with that for a long time to come.
I wanted to write this post before I went into any detail regarding the operation or my recovery, because I thought it was important to give you an insight into my mindset as I write these upcoming entries, and also to show that this operation was not funny even as I make light of various situations. This surgery was the worst thing I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience, and words cannot express how hatefully thankful I am towards what happened, because although this entry and journey has been super depressing, I am cancer free. I am on my way to beating cancer.