If you’ve been reading my earlier entries you’ll know that I’ve just started chemotherapy because I’ve been diagnosed with Stage 2B Lymphoma Rich Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is a great long way of saying I have a cancer. You’ll know also that I was worried about side-effects, not so much hair loss as the decades have already got me to the point where Nature has been letting me see more scalp on a steady basis for a number of years, but I was particularly worried about nausea. Vomiting isn’t something anyone really enjoys is it? There’s something potentially degrading about it. Maybe that’s just because it’s something we tend to associate with too much alcohol rather than a side-effect of a medical cure. Anyway I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of spending time on the toilet floor hugging the toilet as I understand many people undergoing chemo do, so, I’ve been very pleased, delighted even, that, after the first three or four days of simply feeling queasy, I’ve not felt nauseous at all. In fact I’ve not really had any of the side-effects which can be associated with ABVD chemotherapy. Congratulations to Lisa, my chemo nurse for setting up the right frame of mind by telling me that many people experienced no side-effects, and if she were to go through the list of them with me then I’d be more likely to experience them than otherwise, as a lot of it is “in the mind”. The last couple of days seem to have been a bit different!
Today is Wednesday. On Monday I felt fine until the early afternoon when, for no reason at all that I could identify, my mood seemed to steadily worsen and I began to feel down. Worse than that, I began to feel somewhat bellicose, and, sure enough, I was fool enough to get into an argument which should never have happened, and which was, I’ll admit down to my mood. A few lines ago I said that I began to feel down for no reason that I could identify, well the same can’t be said for my combative mood: I was certain that was down to my feeling tired, and that was a side-effect of the chemo. I was, I think, partly right in this, though that in no way excuses my belligerence. On Tuesday I was exhausted. I mean flat on my back kind of exhausted and I began to realise that what I had been previously passing off as being “tired from the chemo” was nothing in comparison. Since having the chemo my body-clock and biorhythms seem to have been knocked sideways with a sledge-hammer. I’d been trying to fool myself that I was tired from chemo and a good night’s sleep would sort me out, but, the reality is that, I was fighting against the new rhythm my body wanted to adopt. I seem to have moved onto a cycle which sees me sleep for about three hours, wake to eat something, stay awake for about three hours and then go back to sleep again. I think the longest I’ve managed to go without dropping asleep is about five and a half hours. I find it very strange, but I do seem to be adapting to it now, although I do wonder whether it will go away and let me return to a normal cycle once the chemo is done and my body starts returning to “healthy”.
Some of the consequences of this new sleep pattern should be interesting. This afternoon my wife and I have an appointment with our attorney in relation to my application for residency here in the US. If I adhere to the sleep/eat/wake cycle then I may miss a chunk of that meeting. Perhaps more significant is that we have our appointment with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services next week at the ungodly hour of 7.10 a.m. If my sleep/eat/wake cycle continues as it has been then I am likely to be asleep by 7.40! My oncologist cautioned that I should avoid groups of people so the prospect of sitting in the USCIS waiting room where, from my one visit, there seems to be a large throughput of people from all over the world bringing with them bugs and bacteria which, even if I had had some immunity previously, my immune system may well not be able to cope with now, filled both my wife and myself with some concern. Our attorney has spoken to USCIS about this and, because we made the request at an early date, it seems special arrangements can be made for my interview. My wife has the notion that we might have the interview in the car park (sorry, parking lot) which conjured up a mental picture of some kind of Monty Python sketch, with me on a bed in the car park being awakened by, perhaps, Graham Chapman, to answer questions being posed by Terry Jones with my fellow Yorkshireman, Michael Palin, manically scribbling down my answers on a piece of parchment using a quill pen to do so. All of this would be followed by a slow camera pan to John Cleese sitting behind his desk in the parking lot and saying, “And now for something completely different“.