Tuesday 24th July 2007; the Tuesday after chemo I woke a little late again that was probably down to the sleeping tablets, I panicked and rushed around like a mad hatter getting ready for work but unfortunately no matter how hard I tried I still missed my bus, arriving into work 5 minutes late. As I walked into the office flustered from the rushing around and apologizing profusely for being late; Elsa looked up at me and then looked away very quickly without saying a word. ‘Yikes’ I thought. Not a good start for me again. Last week I was late, yesterday I wasn’t in and now I’m late again. I could tell by the look on Elsa’s face that she definitely did not approve. Carla, Seth, Dylan, Patrick and Perry all asked how I was. But not Elsa, it was as though I wasn’t there.
The morning went really slow of which I carried on updating the database. This task is so tiring, too repetitive that all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep. I couldn’t be bothered to go out to lunch so I stayed at my desk ate my sandwich and carried on answering the phone and inputting client’s details onto the database.
It really does sorry me about being put on this job and I still feel that I will go into work one day for them to say that they are letting me go. I had to find out what was happening for my own piece of mind really and so after plucking up the courage to ask Elsa I opened my mouth. “Elsa, is the same going to happen to me like it did to the other guy who was put on the database work” I asked her very very sheepishly. “Of course not” she answered me and explained why I had been taken off the invoicing. She told me it was because the invoicing had to be done to a timescale and because they didn’t know how I was going to be from day to day that they had thought it best that I wasn’t involved with it, just in case I made any mistakes on them. I know my mind isn’t 100% and I know my performance level has suffered since my diagnosis and I know my concentration level has dropped considerable since all the chemo poisons have been running around inside my body, I'm tired all the time, and worried about what is going to happen to me, will I be able to get through this treatment, will I still have a job. I have noticed that I do really have to concentrate on the work tasks and one day last week while typing out a letter I luckily noticed that there were considerable amounts of spelling mistakes. This I found rather puzzling as I have always got the spell checker on as a precaution. Well we can't have documents and letters going out with spelling mistakes it would be so unprofessional. I'd missed all the red squiggly lines indicating the miss spelt words and I'm so relieved that I have always had a system of triple checking everything before I class it as complete. I felt a bit better after talking to Elsa but wondered why it hadn't been discussed or explained to me. Surely it would have been courteous to do so rather than letting me wonder and worry of why they had taken me off my normal job.
How many conversations have the company had about me with Elsa or anyone else? Shouldn't they come to me and discuss these things rather than make assumptions that a job role is too much. If they don't talk to me about it they will never know. Elsa got quite chatty after this conversation and I saw the more normal side to her, the Elsa who I had first met just 8 months ago when I arrived for my interview to join the company. Yes I have only been with the company 8 months which is the reason why I am so worried about my job, if I'd have been there for a more longer period such as a couple of years or so I’d feel a bit more relaxed as they would know what I am and aren't capable of, what my performance level is truly like, but only being with them for 8 months and not knowing the full system yet I sometimes wonder if they think I am a waste of space.
Later in the afternoon I was struggling to keep my eyes open, I was so tired and my body was aching, to top this I had developed terrible stomach pains and so by 4.30pm I decided that enough was enough and my body was telling me it needed to rest. I got up from my chair and went over to Seth. Seth didn't hesitate; he looked up at me as I approached him and straight away told me I didn't look well and asked if I needed to go home. I was so thankful to him, not just because he was letting me go home but because I didn't have to ask, I hate having to ask to go home or for help, it makes me feel incapable and not in control of my life. I have always been so independent but now I have to ask for favors and help all the time, and I don't like it. I don't like the idea that I have to put people on the spot so they have to say yes, just because they feel it is there duty to do so or because they feel sorry for me. Then there is the factor of; what if they say no, this would leave me feeling totally rejected and crushed. I thanked Seth without making too much of a fuss and went over to shut my computer down and gather my belongings. Carla and Elsa were in the photocopying room and so not to be rude I popped my head round the door to let them know that I was leaving. Carla in her normal cheery self said “Ok see you tomorrow” Elsa glanced at me and just shrugged and turn away. ‘What had I done now?’ It was obvious to me what I had done; I was leaving early again. I left the office feeling that power of guilt swallowing me up once again. I was feeling guilty on top of the feeling that I was a failure. What is all this crap about ‘listen to your body’ I’m listening but I feel like I’m in a no win situation. The main thing though was the decision of me going home wasn't down to her. Seth was her superior and she had no right to shrug at me whether she approved of the idea or not. What if she was in my shoes, would she like it if I did it to her? No! I think not.
The following morning I woke up to the dreaded Diarrhea again ha haa the stomach pains I started with yesterday and suffered from all during the night were explained. Following the work procedures I rang the office to inform them that I wouldn't be in and as usual Elsa answered the phone; how did she take the news well; Yup you guessed it, don’t need to go there again do I? I was feeling pretty tired today due to the lack of sleep from the stomach cramps during the night and even though I had taken my sleeping tablets they didn't work at all and probably finished up with around 3 hours sleep.
It was gone 11 o’clock when I eventually got out of bed and not wanting to mope around and waste the rest of the day, in between running to the toilet I vacuumed, put a bit of washing in and even got round to ringing about the payment protection on my bank and car loans. This small sounding task took up quite a lot of time with the automated telephone services that we have today, Press 1 for this and 2 for that and so on and so on. You get through the first menu and then you have another set of options of press this for this and that for that, then another menu followed by a very cheap version of swan lake playing into your ear as your placed into a long bloody queue. The car loan was simple; I punched in the right numbers to direct me through to the correct department and was only left on hold for approximately 15 minutes. The lady at the other end was very nice and helpful, she took some details, told me that the forms would be out in the post that day and as soon as I received them to check the details, sign and return them as soon as possible so that they could get the insurance to cover the payments without any delay.
The bank loan; well this was a totally different story altogether, which I found unbelievable as the insurance company was the same bloody company that the bank loan was with, unlike the car loan, their insurance company was a completely different company all together. Anyway after listening to the different options of what number to press for what department, I finished up in the wrong place, only to told to ring the initial number I’d rang again. When asked if they could just simply transfer me, I was told that they didn’t have this facility… What a load of crap, everyone knows that all offices can transfer calls. The whole process had already taken nearly half an hour, and so feeling a little agitated, I redialed again and still got through to the wrong stupid department. Why can't they just put me through to who I need to speak too? Another annoying thing was that this phone number I was ringing was an 0845 number, not the cheapest phone calls to make while you’re worrying about how finances are going to be. After failing for the second time and shouting down the phone, at the enjoying same man, who had no intentions of helping me, I decided to take a break.
I suppose the diarrhea didn't help as I was getting really fed up of going back and forth to the toilet. It really was taking it’s toll on me; I had started to wish we had a downstairs loo, as it seemed that as soon as I got off the loo and my feet touch the floor at the bottom of the stairs, I was turning back around and heading back off up to the thrown that had now upgraded to my seat of the day. I was by this point getting a little sore, not wanting to sound crude or give too much info, but I’m sure you know what I mean. You think that I would have got used to this by now wouldn’t you, just had my 3rd chemo and just had my 3rd bout of diarrhea, but I guess it’s something that you don’t get used to, or your bottom gets used to for that fact. Remembering that Diarrhea causes dehydration I made sure that I drank plenty of water. Water goes in, so water has to come out which meant more trips to the loo. In my sheet of side effects it says that Chemo can cause diarrhea and or constipation so I guess I should thank my lucky stars that I am only having the one out of the two side effects. On the upside; today I felt that I had more energy than I have for quite some time or did the energy come from the running up and downstairs, ‘Nope’ that totally exhausted me and had to have a lie down on the in-betweeners. If anyone saw me they would have thought I was in training for the Marathon or something, and overdoing it with the colour of my still very red looking face.
My stomach however, thank goodness settled later in the afternoon and relaxing on the sofa I fell asleep to be woken up by the sound of the telephone ringing. Telesales call, I hate them. "If I wanted a new kitchen I would ring for one . . . Please stop hassling me” I snapped to the man at the other end of the phone, even though I knew he was only doing his job, I have never had any patients with telesales calls, and had my number changed and listed as ex-directory only a few months ago, but for some reason the only phone calls we seem to get are the telesales calls, so where do they keep getting my friggin number from. Anyway, after I’d slammed the phone down on Mr Crappy Salesman, I decided to try my bank loan insurance once again. Press 1 for this and 2 for that, I got through the menu's selecting the correct options. What on earth is happening? I was told that I had gone through to the wrong department AGAIN! This time though the lady at the other end was very nice and sympathetic after I told her about my shitty day with there so called insurance phone number. She told me that they were having some problems with the telephone system that day, and that she would transfer me through to the correct department. What on earth was all the crap about earlier, saying he couldn’t transfer me? He couldn’t be bothered more like. After being transferred to the correct department, my details were taken and I was told all the relevant paperwork would be sent out.
That was it, ringing around was all done, my trips to the toilet had become quite sparse now and I spent the rest of the day relaxing on the sofa which finished up with me nodding off to sleep once again until I heard Lee walk through the door.
Thursday 26th July 2007; Whey hey I did a full day’s work. I arrived in a little late again but I didn’t care, I am past caring now. I have to think of myself and not let anyone get to me. For the time being I have to be selfish and so if that means that I walk into work a little late from over sleeping then I am sorry but it’s something that is out of my control. I am tired due to the effects of the chemo and tired from the sleeping tablets. Today I worked my lunch break too. Why? Because it makes up for some of the time that I have had off due to medical appointments or having time off due to not being well. Let’s face it this week alone I have had two days off. There were no snidely comments today or nasty looks and it felt like a normal day, the normal days before the cancer and the chemo.
Friday 27th July 2007; I arrived into work a late again and I think it’s really getting to Elsa. But it’s not that I do it on purpose I just can’t wake up properly after taking my sleeping tablets. Last night I even tried to take them earlier thinking that I would wake up better but it didn’t make any difference. I dropped off to sleep earlier but waking up is becoming a nightmare. It’s like my eyelids have been glued shut together and I’ve even walked across the landing with my eyes closed to the bathroom, without opening them until after I’ve had my wash and brushed my teeth. Chemo causes fatigue not just because it kills off the red blood cells too quickly but also because of the hormonal alterations in my body and the lack of sleep and anxiety. This is why I am feeling physically exhausted. Sometimes walking around tires me so much I have to stop and take a break, and then there are the flushes that cause me to go dizzy and lose my balance. The emotional drain is overwhelming and I have noticed that things are taking twice as long for me to do of which I have to take lots of breaks. I am finding work quite difficult, the job is boring and even the fittest and most alert person would fall asleep during the process of it, on top of that it’s the getting up and getting there. Sometimes I think I would be fine if there was a nice comfy sofa in the staff room, that I could go relax on in my breaks and lunch hour, to have a little nap or just simple relax back with a drink and put my feet up without any disturbances, some nice peace and quiet.
I left work early, not because I was ill or tired but because I had an appointment with the gynaecology department. My appointment went very well and was told that after looking at my ultra sound pictures in depth they did not suspect that the cyst on my ovary was cancerous. I was however advised that I have a oophorectomy, in plain understanding talk means; they want to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes with surgery. The reason they gave for wanting to do this, even though the cyst looks to be normal, is that my ovaries apparently are looking a little abnormal. This could be purely down to them not working correctly at the moment, thanks to the lovely chemo putting me into a forced menopause state. It was also advised because my cancer is hormone receptive; removing my ovaries would eliminate some of my hormones, which I am fine with, as I only have one fallopian tube left anyways, the other was removed when I had the ectopic pregnancy from the IVF treatment, back all those years ago. My chances of having a child had been drastically reduced and now that I had been forced into menopause my chances had been reduced down to zero. I have just turned forty and my thoughts have turned to the younger women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer in their early twenty’s. How do they feel when they are told that they may never get pregnant? I have been told that due to my age, my forced menopause will most probably be permanent. Here I am, childless of my own but at least I came to terms with this year ago. I asked my gynaecologist if the ovary removal could be done at the same time as my mastectomy which should be in November, she said that she couldn’t see any reason why not and would correspond with my breast surgeon (whoever that is).
Things are going well, the cancer lump in my breast is shrinking, I have one cycle left on my current chemotherapy drugs to go and then I’m half way there. I sometimes wonder if there will be anything left by the time it gets to me having my surgery. Will I need to have the surgery if this happens? I would still want to have a bilateral mastectomy and would insist on it even if they said that the chemo had destroyed it all, purely for my own piece of mind. With talking about surgery with my gynaecologist it has brought it to the front of my mind again that I cannot wait until the day comes. This will be the day that the remaining cancer will be cut out, the day that I will be cancer free