Since my cancer was identified as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and increasingly since the start of chemotherapy, I’ve been feeling my world closing in, not shutting down, but definitely contracting. For the past two weeks my world has consisted of our house with the, occasional, addition of a stroll around our local conservation area at night. I’m very much a people person: I’ve always worked in a multi-person environment, always had contact with different groups of people in an average week, always had a daily commute of some sort from a 20 minute walk when I first started work, to a drive of several hours when I was involved in telecomms. Now, most days, I see no-one other than my wife and talk to no-one other than my wife. Occasionally my step-daughter is here which adds something to the conversation. Occasionally I talk with my daughters and grandchildren in England via Skype, but, on the whole, my life is spent in one of two rooms with conversation limited to only one person. Despite this I am still sane – or at least as sane as I’ve ever been!
Today my wife was taking her car to the garage for a service and I so desperately wanted to get out of the house that I said I wanted to go with her: she refused to take me, quite rightly pointing out that although the garage’s office isn’t exactly capacious, and isn’t overwhelmed by customers awaiting their car, there are people passing through and it and the office uses air con, so presumably any bugs are re-circulated. When my wife returned she suggested that, as I’m unlikely to be able to get out of the house at all for a few days, we might visit our local Menchies, which, we thought, mid-afternoon, was likely to be relatively empty, but, if not, then we could sit outside in the shade and eat our fro-yo, thereby minimising the risk of my picking up an infection. It was an interesting experience. I quickly came to realise how restricted my horizons have become in such a short time. The first thing I realised is that my focal range has become shortened – I no longer need to focus on anything further away than the front or back of the room I am in, and when I realised this, I had a little chuckle at the contrast between my focal length now and that of the guys who did go over the top who often had “the thousand yard stare”. The second was the volume. There were children at a nearby table who were chatting animatedly, there were teenagers bouncing around off each other in a boisterous display of energy which I envied them, there was the sound system pumping out something which I failed to recognise, there was the sound of traffic on the road. The other thing which hit me was the speed at which the world is moving. In an earlier blog I wrote about chemo and the speed of light and today I really felt the difference in the speed at which I was moving and the speed at which everything else in the world was passing by me. There was one exception. The children I mentioned earlier had two of their grand-parents with them, both a good bit older than me I think. Anyway grandma moved at a speed faster than I did but granddad didn’t, he was the only thing in my world which was moving more slowly than I was. I imagine that after I receive my second chemotherapy infusion tomorrow he will probably be moving more quickly than I am! Anyway, today the risk was far outweighed by the boost to my morale from my gaol break.
Physically there have also been a couple of changes. The first is that my throat keeps going dry with an associated increase in the pitch of my voice. I don’t think the pitch of my voice has been quite so random since I hit puberty ;o) The second is that I’ve never had a strong sense of smell but, last night, my wife used “a few drops” of cleaning fluid and my nose really felt it. I just felt as though my nose was having the lining ripped out and slammed against the back of my brain. It was such an unpleasant experience that I had to go and sit outside on the porch for twenty minutes or so, and, even when I’d come back in, I stood by the open window so that my nose was getting the benefit of the outside air.