Paperwork has never been a particular strength of mine. I always muck it up. Once I nearly got two passports simultaneously, back when you could do that without Special Branch kicking your door down.
So, I figured that once I got cancer, I’d have a free pass to avoid anything that looked vaguely like a form. Well, you’ve got use things to your advantage, haven’t you? Let me put it this way, I have been relentless in putting my head to one side and playing the cancer card to get out of anything I don’t like. Haven’t changed a duvet cover in months.
You can imagine my shock, and indeed horror, when I realised that there was, in fact, paperwork involved with this cancer malarkey. Not only that, but one must be organised, and speaking as someone who has less organisation than a freshly-salted slug, this is not good news.
The nurse on Ward 1 approached with one of those smiles. Now, she said, as she prepared to unhook me from the stand that was dripping the chemo into my veins, you’ll need to be taking this stuff now.
She promptly piled a mass of boxes on to my lap. They are all neat white packages, full of chemotherapy to take at home. They look like Christmas presents from Satan.
“So,” she said, with a totally misplaced confidence in my organisational abilities, “It’s three of these, two of these, only after food. Don’t take this one with food. Remember, you need to be facing south when you take one of these, and only after you’ve taken all four of these, and only start these if you can’t get out of the toilet and make sure that you don’t touch these ones and these ones.”
“What if I touch these ones?”
“That’s OK, but make sure you wash your hands, phone the fire service and contact the British Nuclear Monitoring Agency within 24 hours. They’ll send a form. Here’s a diary to record your side-effects and moods.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t kept a diary since I was about 13. The last entry was recording my eternal enmity towards Donny Osmond because he had failed to return my undying love, which promptly shrivelled and died like every houseplant I have ever owned. I have since forgiven Mr Osmond, but only because I’m saving myself for Mr Clooney.
They gave me a natty green plastic bag to bring my haul home with me like the worst goodie bag ever.
The first side-effect I noticed was forgetfulness. Well, I say noticed, but I am forgetful, so no idea when that kicked in. I know I am forgetful, because I must have left my diary somewhere, but I can’t find it, so I can’t record it. Now this is faintly worrying. I mean, these nurses are lovely, but they don’t fool me. There is steel beneath the velvet. I’m scared that I will turn up next time and they’ll be demanding my homework, and I just don’t know where it is.
They’ll probably ration my tea.
Lovely Jubbly had the same side-effect as cancer drug – no talking
I could record my pins and needles, I suppose. I honestly thought people would be able to see sparks flying off the end of my fingers, which means it’s not really a side-effect, but a superpower. Turns out of course, that it isn’t, it’s just my nerve endings going nuts.
My family, however, appreciate a weird blip of a side effect. My mouth stops working.
Remember when you used to sook a Jubbly? Your whole mouth went numb and your lips went a brilliant orange colour, although I do have memories of lime-flavoured ones. You could not speak.
Well, turns out chemotherapy has something in common with Jubbly. My tongue tingled, my lips stopped working and I suddenly I realised I could not speak.
My husband, driving me back from the hospital, looked askance at the dashboard. He realised he was sitting in the car with me and he could hear the engine.
It doesn’t last long, because, by jingo, I make sure it doesn’t, but it means that for a short space of time, my family and other animals in the house get their conversation in sharpish.
For the benefit of the youngsters, sooking a Jubbly isn’t a euphemism for some sordid nonsense.
It was a frozen drink in a triangular shaped arrangement. The object of the exercise was to basically sook it on a hot summer’s day. On no account bite into it.
Orange was the favourite, as I recall, but the green one was super lurid. I don’t actually think there was any difference in the flavours, which I always imagine being mixed up in some bubbling vat somewhere.
We got covered in the stuff and I swear we glowed faintly in the dark.