During the night, around 2am, when the house was still and all others were sleeping, I noticed the light on in the workshop in the yard. It looked to be just one light. I started to wonder if we had a burglar. There are some Perspex sheets on the roof and Detective Katherine watched for movement or shadows. Over time, none were detected. No movement in the shadows either.
Enough light came at 4.40am to put me out of my misery. I could no longer see the bright light penetrating through the overhanging trees of sycamore and ash on the cow passage as it sloped away from the yard. Did the light reach all the way to the Lower Inch, where the cows had just grazed the stitched in grass seeds? It had been a lucky break getting them in when moisture was scarce but still had enough to allow the grass and clover to germinate. I’m a believer in that bit of luck for a lot of things. It’s certainly better to have it with you than not.
Back to the reason for my sleeplessness; Cycle 4 of chemotherapy. Dr Deirdre had said that recovery would be harder due to the cumulative nature of the aggressive drugs in my body. “It will take you longer to recover this time,” she’d said. Yet, I knew that she and her team and the staff at Bon Secours, Cork had done everything in their power to once again make me as comfortable as possible.
Every cycle brought new challenges. Every day of the 21 day cycles brought new trials. “It’s toxic, it’s poisonous and it’s killing all my fast growing cells - including the tumour!” I had to keep reminding myself of that. This time, there were new nasties in store: wakefulness, an irritated gut and all the ‘lovely’ stuff that goes with that. By now, I’m a little more accepting of the terrible exhaustion, the pounding heart and breathlessness at the slightest exertion.
We can’t explain it, but those who have a positive outlook recover better
My family have realised, too, that they don’t need to nag me about resting. I will because I have to rest; I just can’t keep going. My cousin Sheila reminds me on an almost daily basis that rest will bring me back faster. Sheila is a nurse and has seen enough to know. One of my chemotherapy nurses, Richard, said “We can’t explain it, but those who have a positive outlook recover better!” So, I keep as positive as I can!
As I write this, I remember having a huge meltdown around midnight on Day 6. I was so sore from pain and so very weary from it all and I just sobbed. I had a pain out the centre of my face from the sobs and I knew I was exacerbating everything. Tim comforted me and did what he could, getting water and tablets. I knew he, too, was weary from it all. The reason I mention this is to help anyone who is enduring difficulty - including grief - to have your meltdown.
Try to be cleansed from it and begin again. I am actually finished my chemotherapy cycles, but there’s no feeling of triumph or elation until I recover from this round and surgery is planned. That may sound weird to people who think that it must feel wonderful to be finished. On one level, I’m so grateful not to have to endure another round of chemotherapy and, on another, I just want my energy back! I’m impatient for some normality.
The cows are back
I am having my own private little celebration today. The cows are in the field that wraps around two sides of the house. As they came from the milking parlour this morning, the heads went down and they began to graze. From my vantage point in the living room, the scene is picturesque. The wood directly opposite the house is in full leaf. I know the girls are tearing grass but from where I sit; it is an idyllic, soundless scene of cows grazing, getting sated and then moving off to lie in the sunshine. The cows have been there the day before each chemotherapy cycle. Each time, I’ve looked forward to them being there as it signified another cycle done. This time, it’s really done. Who knows what the next grazing round will bring?