I was going to save writing my update until Christmas Eve but I figured you might be looking for some cheering up after more Covid restriction announcements yesterday in the UK.
You may recall I finished my immunotherapy meds in September and on my last oncology visit they referred me back to the fabulous Prof Redmond’s surgical team for ongoing check ups for the next five years.
Last Friday Gordon (the car) & I headed off to Cork for the first of those check ups. There was a brief mumbling from OH about coming with me – I soon knocked that on the head. I’ve been cooped up for far too long to miss out on the opportunity of a two & a half hour personal concert in the car. Also, it’s now completely acceptable to play Christmas tunes for the whole journey – what’s not to love about that? Just for the record my favourite is still Meghan Trainor’s ‘I’ll Be Home’ and you can really belt it out in the car.
Years ago when I was previously in the merry go round of post melanoma check ups in England they were a bit of a perfunctory glance over my leg and a few questions on my overall health. I knew this would be more than that so I did wear my fancy sporty looking undies just in case.
I was greeted by a new lady doctor on the team who began by examining the site of the original melanoma back in 2004 – the knee on my left leg. It’s so strange – I used to be so self conscious about that scar on my knee yet now if anyone asks about it, I’m taken aback because I’ve forgotten it’s there. The scar where my lymph nodes were removed in August last year has totally taken over in my mind. As if there was a Top of the Pops scar table and that one is number one.
‘Oh that was ages ago’ I said to the doc, figuring she thought that was the most recent site. She then explained that would be one of the more likely places for recurrence. The voice inside my head said Don’t Tell Me That!!!! I already imagine all kinds of non existent lumps and bumps without giving me another area to check! But all was well thankfully.
The door then opened and who entered? Only the completely fabulous Guardian Angel Nurse, Katrina. Frankly I’m surprised she doesn’t come in on a shaft of light with heavenly music playing. She was delighted with the improvement in my leg from the lymphoedema side of things. There is practically no swelling on my ankle now and just a small part on my thigh. I know I’ve been incredibly lucky with this, but I’ve also worked hard at it with the sea swimming and the trampolining. I know that some people suffer terribly but if you are suffering slightly with lymphoedema, please don’t give up on the exercise – it’s honestly worth it.
There has been a mark on my back which has been worrying me. I’ve tried taking photos of it – usually ending up with a photo of my thumb or my bra strap. I mentioned this to the doc. For this they used a derma-scope which is a clever little microscope machine they place on your skin and it shows a magnified picture up on the screen. Katrina showed me the screen – it looked like a map of the solar system to me! Thankfully it meant a lot more to the two clever ladies and they reassured me everything was fine.
They checked my whole body over, with the occasional stop where I have been savaged by two ginger ninja kittens – clean bill of health given. Yet again, there’s that feeling of exhaling when you haven’t been aware you were holding your breath. Will those moments of worry ever disappear? Probably not.
Next step will be another PET scan which will happen in January. As I now work from home permanently, nobody will mind me being radioactive this time.
As I drove home iTunes decided to play me some random Christmas list with weird cover versions. I find with cover versions you hear the words to songs you’ve been singing all your life so much clearer. Miley Cyrus started singing John & Yoko’s Happy Christmas, War is Over. As I tootled along the mountain road home I had to pull over and have a little teary moment. The words ‘let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fears’ were suddenly so poignant.
I haven’t seen my family since last Christmas and I won’t see them this one. It’s been even longer since I’ve seen my friends in the UK. OH & I haven’t spent a Christmas ‘just the two of us’ for 20 years.
And yet even in that I still know how lucky I am. I’m not alone as so many will have to spend Christmas alone – including one of my brothers who is having to isolate in Wales – and I will force OH into doing all the things we would normally do when there is 6 of us.
Nobody’s Christmas is going to be the same this year and we can only hope & pray that this vaccine does bring us back to ‘normal’ at some point in 2021. I know I cannot wait to hug my family & friends, I can’t wait to be clinking glasses with them again and play stupid board games & endless games of cards.
When I ordered my turkey for two people the lady suggested I’d be better with a chicken – puhlease, lady! OH would leave me if I gave him chicken on Christmas Day! As I’m a vegetarian, let’s hope the kittens really like turkey!