Category Archives: Kes

Chemo sleep, Kes and The History Boys

It’s now a week since I had my fourth ABVD chemotherapy infusion and, as expected it knocked me sideways in terms of energy. I had expected to be tired but it’s not a tiredness, nor a fatigue, of a type I’ve ever known before. I’ve come off walking, kayaking and biking trips with muscles screaming for relief and ready for a hot bath, a warm meal and my bed, but it’s not like that. I’ve done overnight walks where the journey home has been plagued by my wanting to nod off, but it’s not like that either. It’s more a wanting to go to sleep rather than being tired – I know that sounds utterly ridiculous but it’s the way it feels. It’s very strange to go to bed knowing I want to sleep and then having to work at it. It’s very strange to find myself, after the passage of an indeterminate amount of time, realising that my chemo-affected brain is working but doesn’t know whether it is trying to wake up or go to sleep and also has no idea of whether or not I have been to sleep during the missing time. On such occasions time is very fluid. Today I took to my bed for an afternoon nap – yes I’m clearly practising for my dotage! This would be around 4.15 p.m. Some time later I went through the “my brain is working but should it be telling me to sleep, should it be waking me up, oh I think I’ve been asleep as I feel a little refreshed but I’m not sure, and to feel so different I must have been out for hours” routine. I’d been asleep, if indeed I had been asleep, for no more than 25 minutes. I really wonder whether there is some kind of chemo-induced state of awareness, a sort of mental twilight zone which is neither awake nor asleep, not conscious but not unconscious and neither alert nor not alert. It’s very strange!

Today I thought my energy levels were a little better so I thought I’d do a bit of light housework by running the vacuum cleaner around downstairs – the floor is all tile so it’s really not too demanding in terms of pushing the cleaner compared to doing so on carpet. Anyway, the vacuuming went really well and I didn’t feel tired by it, but, then I needed to pull the sofa back to the position I’d pushed it from.  Naturally in pushing the sofa I’d been able to use muscles in my back and legs. In pulling it I wasn’t able to use anything other than my arm muscles without a lot of thought and they weren’t up to it! Too weak to pull a sofa on a tiled floor! Let me stay out-of-the-way of seven stone weaklings lest they decide they can get revenge on me for all the sand they’ve had kicked in their faces!

Another strange thing tonight was that I discovered TCM were showing the film Kes which was made in and around my home town. Nothing unusual in that you might think, except that most of the actors have very strong Barnsley accents which I would think would be fairly impenetrable to many Americans especially when kids cartoons such as Thomas the Tank Engine and, I think, Fireman Sam, amongst others are dubbed with American voices instead of the British ones used in production! Click here for the introduction or here to see the incomparable Brian Glover playing PE teacher Mr Sugden living his dreams of glory as he happily clips pupils around the head! Kes is, I think, about many things but particularly education and the role it might be able to play in improving lives. It’s only a couple of weeks since I watched The History Boys which also examines the impact of schooling on the lives of a group of students. One significant difference is that The History Boys are an academic elite destined for Oxbridge whereas Billy Casper is told by his brother that he won’t even be able to get a job down the pit as you have to be able to read and write to do that. Two very different films but both very interesting.

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Filed under Cancer, chemo, chemotherapy, Kes, Sleep, The History Boys