Monthly Archives: February 2007

Body consciousness

Today I went outside again, and got lightly sprinkled with rain. I had my leg on a board, sticking out from a wheelchair. I’ve watched Little Miss Sunshine, which I saw last year and thoroughly enjoyed both times. I love the open-ness of its comments on life and society. All the characters are interesting, a real mish-mash of potential, and all develop through the journey. In one of the critical moments, the Proust scholar uncle talks about how Proust saw the years of suffering as the ones where you learn the most. Perhaps that is so. One can also learn through not suffering, through joy. Through everything, I think. I’d like to do more of the joy learning. And always to some extent one chooses whether there is joy or suffering there. It is hard to find joy in pain, but it is possible to find ways of suffering less, or more, in anything.

The hard thing is when a part of oneself is resisting something very, very strongly. Anything – waiting, pain, lack of movement…the weather…anything. I suppose also desiring something very, very strongly as well. Although I find it easier these days to let go of that end. Depending on how physical the need or desire is.

I was thinking today of what I ‘had to’ do. Being in hospital, mostly immobile, one comes down to the basics. Obviously, the autonomic functions – but they are what happens, rather than what one ‘does’. You can focus your consciousness on your breathing, but it is rarely necessary to do so. The first level where consciousness begins to become necessary is elimination, although to some extent that will be automatic sooner or later, once consumption has taken place. Elimination being a major consideration when not independently mobile. Trying to keep everything working, trying to keep it happening at a time when it is possible to get help. Trying to involve the maximum amount of movement with the minimum amount of pain. All major considerations for me at the moment.

The next level of ‘have to’ and consciousness is drinking and eating. This does not just happen by itself, I do have to do something. It is not autonomic or inevitable.

It is amazing, being in here, how much time can be taken up by just these things: sleeping, eating, drinking, eliminating, moving. I could focus all my consciousness just on these.

Although I would be bored. I am very glad to read, write, talk, view as well. And blog. I am looking forward to reading other people’s communications again as well, I have only seen a few since I’ve been in here, since it is not actually wired and must be transported.

When my knee bends a little more and I can get about a little more independently, I’ll be going home. Balancing my enthusiasm to do so against the pain of pushing it. Although I’ve been told I can’t really push it too much. Every movement is good.  


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Chocolate temperature

The temperature in my hospital room is just right for chocolate. I don’t have to keep it cold. It is just soft and creamy and delicious. I’ve had a range of chocolate since being in here. It is one of the benefits, particularly as I am able to eat well at the moment.

I’ve had Herceptin today. It was completely trouble-free, even to the extent that 25 mg of phenergan (an antihistamine to combat potential allergy problems) did not put me to sleep at all. Not many months ago, 10 mg of phenergan would have knocked me out. I develop all kinds of tolerances.

It’s a bit scary, having started the Herceptin. It is my big hope for now. The scary thing is, what if it doesn’t work? But. What if it does? That is the better place to focus. Look how the chemo worked. And this, so much more comfortable.

I’ve been reading The Sunday Philosophy Club, which is also comfortable. A good book to read, with a drip in your arm. The drip will be coming out soon. I am going to request Voltaren, which I am to see if I can stop taking, for the good of my stomach, now I seem to have overcome other painkiller problems. Then when the physio comes, I will try some walking around. The knee is much better today, with only a narrow angle range causing pain. Being upright is okay, just a low angle to the ground is uncomfortable now.

A storm is brewing. They allege the monsoon trough is back. Perhaps there will be some more good lightning shows tonight.

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Last night, I slept. How good was that? I didn’t even need to go to the toilet, first time in months. I didn’t need any extra painkillers. I did wake up a few times, and stretched my knee and went back to sleep.

It is still swollen like a balloon, my knee, but it hurts less today, is slightly more flexible. There are lots of staples down the side of it. I have to be walking quite well to go home in a few days, but I’ll only do that within the limits of what feels okay. I’d rather be here than push it too hard. I don’t need any more pain than necessary.

Tomorrow, hopefully this time, I start on Herceptin. They will give me the first dose here in my room.

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A shower

That’s my big adventure for today. Much harder than after the hip op, because my whole leg had to be supported out straight. I am not looking forward to going to the toilet too many times. But I’m told it is likely to improve quickly. I hope so.

Yesterday, I got stressed and tired again, and still didn’t sleep well. But today my strength has returned, along with the blood transfusion that went to 11pm last night. I watched Boytown and Columbo. Thank goodness for this computer, to save my sanity. I’m going to watch March of the Penguins now. All caught up on DVDs soon.

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Simple things

The operation went well yesterday. I was very groggy afterwards, so I just slept between observations every hour or two. Then this morning I woke up feeling grumpy. Grumpy that my knee hurt, that I didn’t feel as mobile as I had been, that I couldn’t reach and find things easily, and that I was hungry. I was worried about propping the bed up in case it put more pressure on the knee. I felt too irritable to meditate or chant or even read more than a few pages. I did read a little of Readers Digest, it was just at my limit of concentration.

Then I got some painkillers, breakfast, washed, and discovered I could prop up the bed after all. I can see the cockatoos in the trees again. Mike came up and cheered me up and helped me get organised. The doctors say I can sit up today, try walking tomorrow, go home early next week. My chi kung teacher is coming up to visit soon. I have my computer back and the Boytown DVD to watch. Simple things, and everything is looking up again.

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It’s 4.14 am. I’m not lying awake worrying as such, just lying awake. So I may as well write. I woke up about an hour ago, to go to the toilet. I slept well until then, falling asleep in front of my computer playing a Bewitched DVD. I’ve always liked Bewitched. I used to look forward to it when I was six years old in Northern Ireland. And now I’m 45 and in a Darwin hospital.

One of those things I think about briefly when it comes on is how Elizabeth Montgomery died of cancer. Another person whose death from cancer disturbs me is George Harrison’s. I think if such a spiritual (and materially rich) man couldn’t beat this, what can I do? But then I think, there is no way of knowing how, why. There is no point in comparisons.

Although I do think that dying of cancer, although common, is not common among spiritual leaders, and is not common among passionate livers. There are some exceptions. But it would be interesting to see the comparisons.

Some of the many analogies for cancer I’ve seen include cancer as frustrated creativity. I feel some truth in this. Also, cancer as an individual manifestation of how our multi-national capitalism treats its own environment – unrestricted growth, at the expense of everything else in the environment; no real function other than reproduction.

This also rings true to me, but I don’t see why I should choose to manifest this myself.

However, in general, I don’t worry too much about why. I’m only interested in why insofar as knowing can help.

Tomorrow – later today – I suppose I will mainly sleep. As one does after a general anaesthetic. It doesn’t matter that I’m awake now. It is very quiet tonight in the hospital. I don’t need my earplugs. For this I am grateful, after 2 nights where the man next door found it necessary to watch television very loudly until 4am. Now the only sounds are the building breathing, and my computer fan whirring, and the poor man next door occasionally hiccupping. He is particularly susceptible to hiccups.

At 6am, the night nurse will get me up and showered for theatre, some time in the morning. I wonder if I’ll sleep again before then? Or if I’ll just ramble on, or read The power of now, or The inheritance of loss, or watch Bewitched again. I’m lucky I have so much that entertains me, just lying in bed. Thinking, reading, writing, music, musing, meditating, watching.

I read a funny poem today by Judith Viorst, where she talks about how, no matter what happens to her, there are always people around who tell her how lucky she is.

The really funny thing is that it’s true.  

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Simply today (and a little of tomorrow)

Today I went outside for the first time for 2 weeks. That was fun, to feel the unairconditioned steamy Darwin air again. Mike pushed me around the carpark in a wheelchair. We went upstairs to visit a work colleague of Mike’s who has just had a baby, and I had a baby cuddle. Not much I like doing better than that. I’ve spoken to friends. My daughter is coming up shortly and we will watch 48 Shades, based on Nick Earls’s 48 Shades of Brown. I can’t think why they changed the title.

Tomorrow I have the next operation, to put a plate next to the fragile bit of femur above the knee, and put reinforcements into the bone. (A black butterfly just flew past my 3rd storey window – what’s it doing up here?) Then after a few days they will help me get up and walk. It has been hard not walking – the hip feels so strong.

I feel so strong. I hope it continues.

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