It’s really hard going about your ‘normal’ everyday life. Going to work, sorting the kids, making sure everyone is all right, even running, when you have something playing in the back of your mind ALL OF THE TIME without ever knowing when it might jump up and bite you.
I came across this blog post by Sherry McAllister a few weeks ago and was blown away at how she totally nailed what it feels like…. every day…. so I thought I would share her brilliant writing….
Imagine you’re going about your day, minding your own business, when someone sneaks up behind you…
You feel something press up against the back of your head, as someone whispers in your ear.
“Sssshhhhh…. don’t turn around. Just listen. I am holding a gun against the back of your head. I’m going to keep it there. I’m going to follow you around like this every day, for the rest of your life.”
“I’m going to press a bit harder, every so often, just to remind you I’m here, but you need to try your best to ignore me, to move on with your life. Act like I’m not here, but don’t you ever forget… one day I may just pull the trigger… or maybe I won’t. Isn’t this going to be a fun game?”
This is what it is like to be diagnosed with cancer. Any STAGE of cancer. Any KIND of cancer. Remission does not change the constant fear. It never truly goes away. It’s always in the back of your mind.
Please, if you have a loved one who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, remember this. They may never talk about it or they may talk about it often. Listen to them.
They aren’t asking you to make it better. They want you to sit with them in their fear… their sadness… their anger… just for the moment. That’s it.
Don’t try to talk them out of how they are feeling. That doesn’t help. It will only make them feel like what they are going through is being minimized. Don’t remind them of all the good things they still have in their life. They know. They are grateful.
But some days they are more aware of that gun pressing into the back of their head and they need to talk about it. Offer them an ear.
I haven’t been able to track Sherry McAllister down, but if i ever do I want to give her a huge hug because she has summed up so eloquently what it is like. Thank you for your words Sherry.
This wasn’t what this weeks blog was going to be about. I was going to write up a witty account of my experience of the many few media meetings that I have had recently, raising awareness of Ocular Melanoma and spreading the word to #checkyoureyes. However as ever in life, something else cropped up…..
When all of this eye cancer stuff began and s**t started to get real about losing my eye to have it replaced with a false/prosthetic one, I made a vow, a promise, a statement that I would never, ever, in a million years remove the aforementioned eye from my head for as long as there was breath in my body. The only time it would be removed was when somebody EXTREMELY qualified would do it to give me my permanent one and possibly a spit and polish once a year. And because I was soooooo sure that this would never, ever, ever, EVER happen, I think that I must have blocked out the section where Eye Lady (not her real name) told me exactly what to do if it DID happened…. I mean I was aware that there was a mini plunger involved, but I actually thought that this was given to me for comedic effect and there would be NO WAY that it would ever be used.
It’s a bit like when I was at school, I only really zoned in on the bits of lessons that I deemed I would need in the future…. In hindsight maybe knowing about the political structure of the UK would have been most use to me currently….
Anyway…. I have set the scene. The temporary eye was in…. and was NOT coming out until I saw someone with a medical degree, therefore I didn’t feel the need to listen exactly to anything that Eye lady (not her real name) said about the returning of said eye back to its flappy eyelidded socket…… Oh how wrong I could be…
I had decided (in my wisdom) that I would head to London during half term with the chiblets to see a wonderful friend who had come over all the way from California with her daughter as part of their European tour. I had roped in the Mini Mermaid UK team in London to be the hosts, cooks, entertainers and tour guides, which left me just to waltz in to join all of the fun. I took the kids so we could #makememories and they could have a little break from everything that had been going on. We made it down there with no dramas and even negotiated my nemesis ‘The Underground’ to get to where the party was happening, both eyes were in…
After a night of rose, champers, fabulous food and being introduced to the infamous S’more biscuit dessert from the States (which are basically sweet crackers with melted chocolate and melted marshmallows in -note to self, giving them to the kids at 10pm at night was not the wisest choice…) both eyes were in….
After a restless night, both eyes were in….
I remember the exact time it happened…. it was 7.23am the eldest chiblet was up and had made banana bread with our amazing host and was out at the park…. the youngest chiblet was chilling with our other host, I literally felt that I was winning at life with both chiblets occupied. I had a great big stretch and attempted some half hearted yoga moves and then whilst I was sitting down, I had a momentary lapse in concentration and gave both of my eyes a big old rub……. suddenly I heard….’bounce, bounce, skid……..’ and then silence. My heart jumped into my throat and I could feel the colour drain from my face as the realisation hit me, I didn’t even have to look in the mirror, I just knew. Dropping to my knees I scurried across the floor praying that I would find the offending item and it hadn’t dropped through any of the floorboard cracks. Spotting it under the bed, I dived for it and grabbed it…… now what? What the heck was I going to do now… I desperately tried to remember what Eye Lady (not her real name) had said about returning the eye to it’s rightful socket but in that moment I was sweating, feeling sick and panicking that I was holding an eye in the palm of my hand and my flappy eyelid was there flapping away in the wind (N/B there was no wind in the room I was in, apart from the overwhelming feeling to trump due to the sick feeling in my stomach)
‘OK Hannah. Think… Think…Think for goodness sake! What ARE YOU GOING TO DO!!!! Right, first things first, clean it.‘
Over to the sink and I saw the expensive hand soap with extra vitamins and minerals in it (and some exfoliant in to make your hands super soft) thinking that this wouldn’t be the wisest choice I spun around and found the fragranced body wash in the shower,
‘That’ll do’ I panicked. Giving ‘the eye’ a quick wash (the strangest thing in the world holding and washing an eye) I was then faced with ‘to dry, or not to dry’ dilemma…. opting for ‘to dry’ I then had to face the reality that I would have to put it back into the socket…
OK, here goes…. this is it…. I’ve go this…. do I lift the flap up first or slot it in the bottom first? Oh my god, I feel a bit sick…. I can’t do this…. I can just leave it out… no one will know… nope this eye is staying out of the socket… pull yourself together… you can do this…. deep breaths…oh jesus, it’s all skin like…. erugh, look inside… oh my god…. ok, here goes…. please just go back in….
Lift, shove, blink and it was in…… ‘
Thank f**k for that….Hold on, that feels really weird and doesn’t look quite right….oh dear lord, what if I have put it in the wrong way round? Do you know what, i’m ok with a bit of pain and it being uncomfortable and looking odd… it can just stay like that until I see a medical professional next week….
I quickly put my eye patch back on (out of sight, out of mind and all that) and that is where we are at right now. It is still uncomfortable and looks just a bit strange but it is in and I have survived the first re instalment of ‘the eye’ and I think that I handled it with grace and dignity…..I’m pretty sure that Eye Lady (not her real name) would be proud of me too….. (she would probably roll her eyes and mutter under her breath about if I had listened to her the first time I would know EXACTLY what to do, but I am sticking with the thought that she would be proud…)
Until next time folks, try and keep your eyeballs in….
I used to play this game when I was a kid and then in my rebellious years. It comprises of being in a cycle of other kids and one person says “Have you ever…?” and then thinks of something ridiculous, like “Done a poo outside?” and if you haven’t done the pointless thing that they ask you, you have to complete a forfeit (or drink/eat a concoction of rancid things put together by your ‘so called’ friends when you are a teenager.)
Any way, there is no actual point to the beginning of this blog really, apart from to say, ‘HAVE YOU EVER HAD A FALSE EYE FITTED…?’
So strangely, some of you reading may very well have had one fitted and will be able to relate to my experience. For some of you, this will be an eye opener for you…. pun very much intended….
Where do I start….?
About 6 weeks post surgery I received a letter through the post from ‘The National Artificial Eye Centre’ my first thought was that they could have maybe thought about a shorter, catchier title for the service. I don’t know, something like….’Eye Eye Centre’ or ‘Bionic Eye services’…. but I guess it says exactly what the service is. My second thought was about where the centre was going to be. I had visions of heading to Harley Street in London, wearing my best Sarah Jessica Parker (ala Sex In The City) outfit and then lunching afterwards….. Turns out the centre is in Hunslet in Leeds, approximately 5 miles from my house down Dewsbury road (one of four awesome centres in England) I have to say that I was a tad disappointed that the location wasn’t a bit more exotic.
Anyway, after I got over my upset, I set about trying to prepare for the appointment, which actually meant not really thinking about it until the night before and then panicking and feeling sick about what was going to happen ( I had joked with people that I was going to get old Barry’s eye from the bin, but now I was worried that this may actually be a reality) I had also kinda become attached to the plastic conformer that was half filling my socket, I wasn’t ready to have something that clearly wasn’t my eye act as my eye.
Arriving in Hunslet and congratulating myself on parking in a tiny car park (I had only been driving for about 3 weeks and generally parked in those spaces that no one else wants to park in as you have to then catch a bus to where you are going to) I checked in and waited. The waiting room was FULL of other people (not just with false eye issues) and I felt a little self conscious about my incredibly blingy new patch that had just arrived. Luckily my false eye person (I have no idea what her actual title is) was running on time. She collected me from the waiting room and took me into essentially a workshop (think back to your CDT lessons… but sterilised and you will get the picture)
As soon as I got into the room I broke down in tears describing how I wasn’t ready to have something that wasn’t my eye and that it wouldn’t bring back my sight and how I was worried about EVERYTHING, Eye lady (not her real name) just sat and held my hand, reassuring me and telling me that we didn’t have to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I am so grateful that she took the time to do that, even though she was chocka with appointments all day. That 20 minutes of listening and reassurance was actually all that I needed to get my head around what was happening…..I will state AGAIN that NHS tissues are woefully inadequate (I have gone through a few and so feel like an expert)… I feel like I must start a fundraiser to supply better tissues for teary sobbing patients like me.
Anyway I digress…. Once I had pulled myself together, Eye lady (not her real name) explained what she was going to do, and then promptly stopped when she saw me turn green as she talked about removing the false eye once it was in. I assured her that there was no way on god’s earth I would ever be removing the eye until my permanent one was fitted…. even if it turned black with dirt it would be staying in the socket.
She then introduced me to ‘the case of eyes’…. in fact I think that deserves to be written in caps lock ‘THE CASE OF EYES’ This is the case that she carries around with her that houses over 600 prosthetic eyes….. I know, it gave me the heeby jeebies too. She flipped open the case and took out one of the shelves (there were about 12 shelves of eyes) and brought it over to me. After commenting that finding a match for my eye was going to be a nightmare due to the colour mixture of my eye (obvs I’m awkward) she picked out a few eyes and held them up to the remaining eye in my head and popped them to the side. This process was repeated for about 20 minutes until she had whittled it down to two eyes. What is absolutely amazing is that it was all done by eye (no pun intended there) Eye lady (not her real name) had such an eye for detail (I just can’t help myself…) and such confidence in what she was doing, it was like watching an artist at work.
After a bit of umming she finally settled on what she felt would be a good interim match before my permanent eye was fitted. It was then that the s**t got real…. this ‘eye’ was going to go into my head. Taking what looked like a mini plunger (blugh) she attached it to the eye and lifted up my sagging eye lid and just ‘popped’ it into place….. actually it wasn’t that easy as every time she approached my with the eye, I shrank back into the chair until I almost slid off it…..I was also sweating in cold fear and I swear I had sweat dripping down my forehead. Now I don’t know if this actually happened (the likelihood is that it didn’t) but after the 4 attempt of putting the eye in, I think that she body blocked me so as I wouldn’t shrink away from her any more. Then ‘THE EYE’ was in! Bloody uncomfortable and it felt like it was popping out of my head but it was in….. This was when the fun started (for Eye lady ((not her real name)), not for me…) she pulled out a black marker and started drawing all over the eye! Little marks and lines to show where it needed adjusting… She then ‘popped’ it back out of my head and set about filing and sanding it down on a HUGE industrial sized machine……Remember that I mentioned the CDT style room? I mean, if Aliens had come down to earth at that very moment and seen my with my flappy eyelid and Eye lady (not her real name) sanding and filing an eye, both of us discussing the merits of having a tortoise for a pet (we don’t have one for the record) I’m pretty sure they would turn and fly back to their planet in fear. This process lasted about 45 minutes with her installing and uninstalling the eye in my head several times before she was happy with the fit.
It was then time for me to see it, something that I was not prepared for at all. In fact, to be honest I didn’t want to see it, it made no difference to the way that I felt about not being able to see, but I then felt that I needed to see it, even to see the work and effort that Eye lady (not her real name) had put in. I took the mirror and had a look. I mean what can I say about it, it was really strange, something was in my socket that looked like an eye. A dead eye with not one ounce of expression but an eye. A flood of emotion came over me, I can’t even describe it. Grief I guess at losing something so much a part of me and then trying to replace it with something else, something false….anger at the fact that it had happened at all and gratitude that I am lucky enough to be able to have a new eye at all.
And then, just like that, the appointment was over. Eye lady (not her real name) suggested that I didn’t put my patch back on and try to walk around without it, but as soon as I left the centre, my patch went back on. 1. Because I had just bought some new fabulous ones (before Madonna showcased hers at Eurovison) and 2. I just felt really uncomfortable and I didn’t feel like me at all. It isn’t very comfortable to wear either. It is sore around the socket and gets dry very easily despite the gel drops I have and feels like something is stabbing into my socket all the time….. well that’s a nice jolly end to the blog!
I am so thankful to the NHS and to the incredible and talented Eye lady (not her real name), I just think that it is going to take a while……
There is also another slight issue with THE EYE, which may mean that my name changes from Captain Corne to Lizard Corne….
During this journey I have never wanted to shied away from sharing my highs, lows and the parts that make you question everything. It is mental health awareness week this week, where people are openly talking and sharing their stories about mental health and their own struggles to help de stigmatise the subject.
This is my story.
When you are first hear those three words ‘you have cancer’ it is like time has stopped. Everything goes into slow motion and your mind struggles to catch up. The room suddenly fills with people and you are passed woefully inadequate tissues and you can see that the Doctors are talking to you, explaining carefully all about the treatment and how successful treatment is these days but your first thought is simply ‘what if I die…. I’m not ready to leave yet….I’ve got so much left to do in this world…. what about my family.’
My first thoughts were about my children, how it was going to affect them, what could I do to protect them…. how could this be happening…. I am a dragon, fierce and protective and there to make sure that my kids grow into remarkable humans. My mission if you like… how can I do that if I was dead. How would Mr Me-Myself-And-Eye cope with everything, without me….? He didn’t know which drawer I keep their sports kits in or which socks they like to wear to school that I wash on a daily basis to make sure that they have them, how to make ‘egg in a cup,’ a staple food that they eat when nothing else will do and the little poem that I say to F before she goes to sleep every single night. You know, really stupid stuff in the grand scheme of things, but important, and stuff that only I know and I actually didn’t want him to know as they were MY things.
I remember being in a bit of a daze as they sent me for my first scan to see if it had spread to my liver…. I don’t think I really understood the implications of it if it had. It only hit home when Mr Me-Myself-and-Eye and I were sitting in the closed canteen of the Sheffield Hallam hospital surrounded by exhausted staff half eaten dinners and the sound of sad relatives comforting each other. Rhona (the Ocular cancer specialist nurse at Sheffield) rang and told me that no METS had been found on my liver, she said that she wanted to tell me straight away to put my mind at rest. Once I told my husband and he immediately broke down with tears of relief, it hit me like a brick in the face, that was a BIG deal. At that moment, I was going to be ok. The prognosis would have been a whole lot different if that phone call had had a different outcome.
I am not a religious person, but I do believe that there is something out there which influences your outcome, something bigger than we don’t know about that looks after us and helps us on our way through life. Some force greater than me made me go for my eye test on that particular day, helped me choose the optician that I went to and has allowed me to continue living.
So in that respect, this story does have a happy ending…I am still here…However, I have lost my eye, my sight and I still live with what feels like a traumatic event and with a ticking time bomb of when or if it might come back. 6 months, a year, 5 years from now, It will always be in the back of my mind.
Every person I know is dealing with their own shit, every single day, we all do it in our own way. I have chosen to share my thoughts and my story as it helps me. This isn’t the same for everybody and I get that. People are dealing with a lot worse in their lives and I get that too, people close to me are dealing with so much…..but everyone is different and just like I don’t compare my body to anyone, I also don’t compare my challenges or ways of dealing with things to anyone else, the way that we deal with everything is so personal.
I have plenty of days where I want to bury my head in the sand and I feel uncomfortable when people say I’m being brave. I feel a fraud because I don’t feel brave on the days I decided can’t take the kids to school because I don’t want to have another conversation about my patch or what has happened. I have many days where it feels like a dark cloud is hanging over my head that I just can’t shift and when I look at myself I see someone who is so so sad and the light that once shone from my eyes has dimmed and I know that I not coping. But up until now I haven’t really written that much about these moments…..because my grief is something still so raw and out of control that if I share it outside of my little world and head then it will blow up into something that I have no control over…..
So why share it now (I am literally in tears writing this) well…. I want people to know that for me, being brave isn’t all about ‘sucking it up’ and getting on with things. Yes that is a part of it, but to be honest, I don’t have much of a choice because the dragon side of me needs to fiercely protect my children and show up for them every day. Bravery for me is about showing vulnerability, being open to accepting all the emotions that happen which makes us human. The resilience that comes from crying, shouting, laughing and talking your way through something that has torn through every fibre of your being. Being truthful in your heart and soul about your feelings, not only to yourself but to those around you…. and so I guess this is why I am sharing this now…
This week is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health, but mental health issues are not confined to just a week, it’s everyday, every hour, every minute. It affects ALL of us from children to grandparents. If we as humans can be an ear for someone who needs to talk. Check in on each other. Smile and tell someone that ‘ it’s ok not to be ok’ then we are heading in the right direction to make sure that mental health issues are at the top of every bodies agenda and everybody’s issue.
For now, I am going to carry on and let my tears fall. To stop and reflect, take some deep breaths, pop my trainers on and welcome this glorious day into my life.
For anyone who is struggling at the moment, there IS help out there. The Samaritans offer a free help line, open 24 hours a day. For anyone who think their children need help, Young Minds offer help and advice and signposts for parents and children. #itsoknottobeok #itsoktotalk #mentalhealthawarenss
I have a confession…. it’s been 5 weeks since I last completed parkrun…. wait, hold on, that’s not true… I have attended two in that time, one was with a most excellent Mini Mermaid where we ran, danced, skipped and shimmied our way around and the other was where I showed off my Madonna dance moves in support of another group of Mermaids at Crossflats parkrun (as an aside, I cannot tell you how uber cool I feel that Madonna has donned a patch as Madame ‘X’ although I think the intention behind wearing her patch may veer into an area that I am not 100% comfortable with…. if you catch my drift…) Anyway, I digress….
So what I actually mean is that I haven’t been down to my beloved Roundhay parkrun since the one I did with my friend Alex 2 weeks after my op (and where chiblet number 2 had an epic meltdown)
Oh parkrun, It’s not you, it’s me…. I just can’t put my finger on what is holding me back. I have had lots of awesome people coming forward saying that they would be my bodyguards (as I am obviously of the same ilk as Barbara Streisand…. or possibly a Kardashian…? Not that I would know one of the Kardashian’s if I fell over them in the street so I will stick with the Streisand example) but even those offers aren’t getting me out of my parkrun funk.
This morning was a prime example, there was nothing stopping me jogging down to the park to catch up with my awesome friends, saying thankyou for their support and enjoying a lovely run around the beautiful park that I am lucky enough to live near. I woke up, actually put on my kit but then backed out at the last minute. Why was this?
Trust me parkrun when I say I desperately want to come back to you as you are such an important part of my life but something is stopping me. I feel nervous, scared, uncomfortable with the crowds, but I know that none of this is your fault…. (I even managed to do the infamous Roundhay schools fun run this morning with chiblet number 1 so I KNOW that I CAN do it!)
So.…. in a bid to quash my fears over returning to you, parkrun, I am going to make this pledge. I WILL be back….. not next week though as I am away for a weekend of walking in the Dales and ‘A Star is Born’ film marathon…. with the obvs very talented and happens to be very beautiful Bradley Cooper…..oh and a group of friends…. So hear it now, that on the day that is the 25th May 2019, I WILL be back…. watch out Randy – pet name for Roundhay – parkrun…. as in, literally anyone who is running that day watch out as I cannot guarantee that I won’t run into you…. the bins on Lidgett Lane can testify that my long and short range perspective is still pretty s***e…. Anyone who is around on this day and fancies donning sunglasses in a bodyguard style fashion and periodically talking into their ‘wrist radio’ would be greeted with a nervous smile and some pretty poor jokes, but would be doing me and my relationship with parkrun a MASSIVE favour.
Any one who has had any problems with sleep will empathise with what I am going through at the moment…. I am simply not SLEEPING!!! I thought in an attempt to try and feel a little less like I am going mad, I would explore my relationship with sleep over the years:
0-10: By all accounts I was NOT a good sleeper…. and when I say that I think that the main problem was with the actual going to sleep. My mum used to work nights as a nurse and so my dad was in charge of bed times. I remember distinctly sitting on the top of the stairs aged about 7/8 (on the navy blue carpet…it was the 80’s after all) wailing for my mum…. FOR. HOURS. From what I remember during one particularly painful evening, my dad ended up ringing my mum at work, which if you think about it would have been a right chore as there were no mobiles in those days…. or rather there were ‘carphones’ which had a handset attached to possibly the biggest battery in the world, making it virtually impossible to discreetly carry them around any where.
I can’t remember the actual conversation, but I imagine that it went a bit like this:
Dad: Mary, this child just won’t shut up… she just keeps wailing for you…
Mum: Not a lot I can do about it Steve when I am 2 hours into a 12 hour shift…. maybe close the door and put some ear plugs in?*
*As I said, I don’t know that actual conversation, but this is probably what I would have said!
I think I was quite a whiny child, possibly because I didn’t sleep enough, however what goes around comes around and I am being paid back in spades with child number 2 who rarely falls asleep before 2100 and then has to be lured out of bed in the mornings with a promise that breakfast is on the table and ready and waiting for him (God forbid if it isn’t ready…)
11 – 18 – Back in the day before hair straighteners and all the things that you can get nowadays to metamorphose your hair into something it is just not designed to do, I had WILD curly hair….. I’m not talking ringlets like Violet Elizabeth in ‘Just William’…. i’m talking more like a cross between Gwendoline from Wallace and Gromit (for the style) and Slash from Guns and Roses for the curls (full disclosure, I did have an immense crush on Slash all through my teenage years and wished someone would buy me a top hat like his.) Anyway, back to the sleep issue…So the reason I am sharing this is because I used to get up ridiculously early for a teenager to tame my locks into one of the two ‘on trend’ styles of the time. Either slicked back with gel into a folded pony tail at the base of my neck with two tiny rat tails trailing down my face…. or burnt to within an inch of its life with an inherited hairdryer to make it poker straight (or in my case slightly fluffy,) only to go outside into slightly moist air to have it frizz up into a Gwendoline special again. I mean every day was a battle of wills between me and my hair… and the gel pot.
At this time I was also super keen to earn money for myself and at one point I think that I was working 3 jobs over the weekends…The early shift at the local supermarket (8am starts) and then 2 different bar jobs (12pm finishes) which very often led to going out to the crazy nightclub in Knaresborough (aptly named ‘Night out’) which meant I didn’t get home until gone two on a regular occasion. I don’t even know how I remember those teenage years because between my jobs, school work and my blooming hair, I think I barely slept at all.
20 – 23 – University….I caught up on my sleep here….. I had 8 hours of lectures a week… enough said.
23 – 30 – Working at ITV, my days started at 7am and didn’t finish until 8pm. Very often the days were topped and tailed with the gym (who can forget queuing up outside the gym at 5.55am waiting for it to open with a small team of others, most of them worked at ITV also) and a drink in the local, which meant again that very often I didn’t get home until very late, only to have the alarm to go off again at 5.15 ready to start the cycle all over again. The team at ITV became my family over the years and I still keep in contact with loads of them now. We saw more of each other than we did our families and I look back with a jaded fondness of those (tired) days on set, where after 11 hours of standing around a farm in minus 3 degrees, you could always rely on someone to crack a joke to keep our spirits up and our glasses half full.
30 – 37 1/2 – Babies, sick, poo, breast feeding, teething, illness, poo, sick, toddler, sleep regression, husband who could sleep through a nuclear bomb, sleeping on a cold 5/6/7 year olds floor to get them to sleep, nightmares, sick, poo, tantrums, being kicked in the head by whichever child crawled into my bed in the middle of the night, sweaty child falling asleep on me and giving me a dead arm…. the list is endless… oh I mustn’t forget ‘waking up with anxiety that a small child hasn’t woken me up in the night yet…’ You get the picture… they say (whoever ‘they’ are) that these years are the best years of your life and for 99.9% of the time I do agree…. I would just liked to have had a tiny bit more sleep…
38 – 38 and 4 months – And then there was sleeeeeeepppppppppp. For a blessed 4 months, I think that I slept well, I went to bed at a decent time, I fell asleep with no problems at all…. I slept through most nights waking up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the world…this was it, I had nailed the sleep thing. Yes I still got up early but it was my choice… oh how naïve I was.
38 and 4 months (ongoing) – Sleep is NOT my friend, a typical night:
Head to bed determined to sleep
Wake up panicking about something random (not always related to ‘the eye’)
Toss and turn for about an hour – an hour and a half
Get fed up, get up, head downstairs (eat a banana, someone told me they were good for sleep) watch Netflix
Fall asleep around 5am
Alarm or small child wakes me up about 6.30…. and repeat until so exhausted, one night out of 7 I fall asleep at approx. 8pm and do not move or stir until the next morning, generally making me feel worse.
However, looking back on my sleep patterns for the last 38 years, it actually makes me feel a bit better…. I don’t think that I was designed to have that much sleep! I mean, all this nonsense about how you have to have 8 hours sleep a night…. it’s clearly never done me any harm…..
To be perfectly honest, I have been really out of sorts since coming back from the Lakes. I can’t really put my finger on why…It could be leaving the most beautiful place, away from everything (including my brain), getting back into the mundane school routine, which I don’t think any one likes, working pretty much full time last week despite telling myself that I would take it easy, or it could just be one of those things that is part of recovering. Anyway, I am feeling frustrated by it, which is making the ‘out of sorts’ feeling worse. That coupled with my mate ‘insomnia’ who has come back to stay like an unwelcome guest, isn’t being helped by the fact that I feel like I have almost finished everything on Netflix AND the fact that I am coming down with a cold makes everything a bit ‘meh’ at the moment… cue the violins…. Running hasn’t even been helping (tell me about it, running usually sorts me right out!) and I cried off my run on Friday and forced myself out on Saturday…. which actually was a blessing in disguise as I hadn’t had a shower for a good couple of days and I defs needed one…. I think I know where my kids get their feral tendencies from…. I have checked in with myself using all of my Mini Mermaid tools but nothing seemed to be shifting the sense of unease, anxiety and blugh… that is a technical name for a new feeling that I have just made up.
Anyway, in a bid to stop feeling sorry for myself I have done a fair bit of Facebook stalking and came across the following which has been written by an old friend I used to work with at Emmerdale. Leah was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer about 2 years ago and is an absolutely inspiration. She talks about her cancer with so much fight and bottle and has so much grace and gratitude in her actions. This piece that she has written has really resonates with me and I can only hope that I show as much fight, resolute and courage as her as I continue on my journey:
My reawakened manifesto for life: #CancerRebel I REBEL Against the fear of cancer Against my prognosis Against negative expectations Against being told what to do Against pity from others and myself Against being diminished by cancer Against being defined by cancer Against restricted by cancer Against being bullied by cancer Against death
I EMBRACE the strength of my spirit I embrace every opportunity that cancer gives me to learn, to grow, to expand I embrace my own instincts I embrace the path on which I find myself I embrace healing I embrace laughter I embrace joy I embrace hope I embrace gratitude I embrace spirit I embrace the strength of my ancestors I embrace magic and miracles I embrace love of myself and of all beings Above all else I embrace LIFE For I am a CANCER REBEL with a fierce heart, an independent mind, a warrior spirit, and an ocean of desire to keep on keeping on and making a difference and making a noise as long as there is sweet breath in my body. To LIFE. Long and sweet may it be for us all.
Leah Bracknell 2019
So my resolution for this week is to be thankful for all that I have (yes even the shoes being left at the bottom of the stairs) to embrace this craziness that is life, an interesting, dynamic and wonderful life and to continue to fight, to be that warrior that takes no prisoners. #CancerRebel