This is the first time this year that I haven’t had any imminent medical appointments to deal with.
And with the stitches now removed from my mouth I just have to wait and let my gums and bone heal around the dental implant. So I’m not due back at the dentists until at least mid-September when I should have the abutment (also known as a post) fitted.
So, for once, I have some breathing space.
Although I hate to use cliches, this one seems so appropriate. It truly has been a rollercoaster of a year so far. I have been transformed almost seamlessly from a middle-aged man with chronic, but managed, sarcoidosis to a depressed man with skin cancer and sarcoidosis who has lost part of his finger and has two livid scars on his left arm. And a mouthful of damage to contend with to boot.
On top of the crushing stress on my mind and body, I have also put my partner, children, friends and family through the emotional mill. I suppose I could have tried to keep it all quiet a little longer than I did, but sometimes you can’t sidestep inevitability.
I have experienced raw fear, trepidation and disappointment. Counterbalancing that, I have also felt hope, relief and cautious optimism. And some considerable physical pain too of course.
A New Beginning?
There is also a sense of a watershed moment being reached in my life. At times, it didn’t feel like life could really get any worse than it was. Of course, it can. It always can. You just have to open any newspaper or click onto any news site to witness someone much worse off than you. But I felt I had reached rock bottom. A very harsh and unforgiving place to be.
Now I feel that things have moved on for the better.
I have made it through my operations and biopsies, not unscathed, but nowhere near as bad as I feared. Sure, I have been riddled with overpowering doubts and misgivings. At times, I have convinced myself that I won’t see out the year; that my future was assuredly 6 feet under. Yet at other times, I have glimpsed myself being discharged from all the doctors and consultants that litter my life.
Also, I have taken some deliberate steps to take control of my own health. I have drastically overhauled my diet, lost weight and already seen palpable improvements in my overall health. Difficult at times, yes, especially with so much temptation everywhere – a little cake here, a coffee there, perhaps just one treat. Still, even though I have resisted everything, it is early days here. I haven’t found it as tough – or indeed impossible as some friends have confided to me – as I thought and now I am determined to see it through.
I am now only taking one drug – steroids – after a failed experiment to see the back of them. I have succeeded in ditching the immuno-suppressant Azapriothine for good. Ideally, my new health regime will, at the very least, reduce my dependency on steroids if not wean me off them altogether in time. I have also begun trying some alternative medicine, supplements and therapies which will, hopefully, deliver what they promise.
My mood has seesawed from, frankly, suicide planning to the euphoria of the cancer “all clear“. I am also trying to live more day to day, taking each day as it comes (yes, I know, more cliches but they fit). I can’t admit to much success here but it’s still a work in progress. I have good days and bad days in equal measure. And, yes, typical man I know, I tend to keep these to myself.
Breathing Space to Reflect
So this breathing space that I have been given has afforded me the chance to reflect on what has happened to me over these last few months. Of course, I’m still mired in the middle of it all with many future cancer check-ups waiting for me to endure. Coupled with my regular sarcoidosis testing and appointments and my ongoing but passed-the-worst loathsome dental trips I still have the proverbial mountain to climb. Soon I’ll be back in amongst it all – the anxiety, the tests… But I do feel I am getting somewhere.
I don’t have a life roadmap or anything like that and probably never will. I also don’t enjoy that knowing confidence that some people seem to be blessed with that they will be OK. And I don’t have a particular faith that God or whatever supernatural being you worship will step in and save my sorry arse.
But I have survived so far.
I’m still here.