Cancer, Crohn's and Crappy Days

Someone please write Saturday’s TWIM for me (thanks to the lovely sanabituranima for writing this week’s TNIM at short notice). My head is too mushed to even think about This Week in Mentalists at the minute – it’s not just that I can’t face writing it myself; even approaching potential authors is a task pathetically beyond me right now. So please volunteer. Ta.

Firstly, may I refer you to the rant at the start of this post. I had written up a shitload of this entry, then went to look for some links to add into it, only to return to find that the WordPress iPad application had crashed in the interim. Granted, I should have learnt my fucking lesson the last time this happened and saved the thing frequently – but really. What is it with the device that hates my blogging self so? FUCK YOU, STUPID APPS.

With that out of the way…OK. Now. Me. Not dead. Well, not dead in the biological sense, but certainly without any form of the life-emitting spirit that I believe less cunty individuals refer to as the ‘soul’ (an amorphous concept to my mind, but then nothing much makes sense to me). Writing is not something to come easily to me right now, so Maisie’s funeral saga will have to continue to wait. Thank fuck I have no professional deadlines at the minute. So, in brief…

Monday

My mother had an appointment at the cuntspital where Maisie drew her last breaths. She had been recalled, rather urgently I’d add, to the dump after a recent mammogram, the implicit suggestion being that something untoward had been found.

Naturally, as if I have not been mental enough over the last week or two, this sent me completely round the bend with worry. I lay awake all night on Sunday night/Monday morning dilemminating about it, wondering what I could possibly do to maintain even the vaguest semblance of sanity – possibly of life – if Mum had cancer and died.

This panicked frenzy of morbid thoughts was not aided by something that I heard about over the weekend. About 10 days ago (from today) one of Mum’s closest friends, Lucy, had been taken into (the same) hospital after being unable to breathe. Her breathlessness was caused by a large lump in her throat, which her genius GP – on several occasions – had perceived to be an “infection”, for which he kept throwing her anti-biotic scripts.

Upon her hospital admission, predictably enough, the lump was found to be cancerous.

Despite the GP’s incompetence, though, the medical staff thought that they’d probably got it in time. They stabilised her breathing through her neck, and undertook further biopsies on the lump to see whether they would favour chemo- or radiotherapy as treatment. There was no, “we’re sorry, but you only have x weeks/months”. Despite being unable to speak, Lucy was apparently in cheerful spirits, passing convivial notes of communication to her husband Andy and other assorted family members. This was on Wednesday or Thursday of last week.

My mother contacted me on Saturday to advise that Lucy had died in the early hours of Friday morning.

Another death. Thanks, 2012, you’re really loving everyone in the Pandorian plane, aren’t you? Now, in all honesty, I was never close to Lucy, and my mother and her had, in recent years, not been the good mates they once were – but overall, for quite a while, she’d probably have been Mum’s second best friend. So whilst I wasn’t upset for my own reasons, I was for those of my mother. First her sister, now her friend. Who fucking next?

And of course, Lucy’s passing only served to reinforce my concerns about my mother’s breast screening. I tried to rationalise it. I tried to weigh up statistics and likelihoods of x and y in my mind. I tried “positive thinking”. Unsurprisingly, none of this did anything whatsoever to assuage my concerns – if anything, it only worsened them.

After the appointment time had long elapsed, I voluntarily rang my mother. Yes. I chose to use the phone; that was my level of concern. To my abject horror, she didn’t answer either her mobile nor her landline. I started catastrophising that she’d been admitted right away, due to the severity of whatever had been found.

As time passed with further no-replies, my apprehension turned into a full-blown mentalist panic. Should I ring the cuntspital? Should I go to it? Should I just kill myself now – why wait to hear that the fuckers accidentally killed her whilst she was in a scan or something?

Ridiculous, but real. When I finally saw her name jump up on my mobile, I was stunned and relieved (though still paranoid – “it’s one of the nurses or doctors using her phone to tell me that she’s dead”). As I answered it, however, I feigned nonchalance. My mother worries about me being worried.

This is what happened, as I reported on Twitter:

Mum has a mass in her left breast, spotted from a comparison of her recent mammogram and the one prior to it. They performed three more mammograms and an ultrasound. Apparently the mass spread out under pressure – which they claim it probably would not have done were it malignant – and the ultrasound was clear. So they are “happy enough”. It’s a relief…”

Yay! Great news! Surely that was the end to my panicked worry?

Not quite:

It’s a relief, but the tests were at the shithole hospital where Maisie and half the rest of the country die(d), so I can’t settle despite them giving what Mum described as “the all clear”. Paranoia, I know. Should just be grateful and relieved. I am, obviously, but catastrophising was/is always my default setting. Just hope that she really is OK.

I mean, there was a mass. Is an ultrasound and a mammogram sufficient to tell what that mass’s true nature is? I’m no oncologist – maybe it is. But the fact that they didn’t give her a biopsy or any such tests keeps my nervousness from abating entirely.

When I logged off from Twitter, I was suddenly overcome with a great sadness, as well as the severe depression and anxiety I’d already been experiencing. And I started to fucking cry again, sitting alone on my sofa. Pathetic. But then I remembered that the cameras were there and I dried the fuck out of my eyes and sat there pretending to be normal. Which was a fail, it seems, because A was struck by how palpably black the house felt when he got home from work that evening.

Tuesday

Up early to get Srto Gato to the vets for his neutering operation. Went back to bed upon return to the house and spent most of the day there. Dozed in a haze of non-sleep drowsiness for a bit, spent most of the time staring at the wall as the seconds languorously ticked by. Vets sent a message about 2pm to tell me to collect the cat about 5pm. Blocked number then called, but naturally enough I ignored it. For once, though, the caller left a voice message.

Turned out that, in the wake of our re-assessment sessions, it was Paul offering me “ongoing counselling” from Tuesday 28th February. He asked me to call the office to confirm whether or not this was suitable. I duly contacted Nice Lady That Works for Nexus and advised that this was fine.

But it’s not fine. I mean, I am glad to be going back – ultimately, psychotherapy with Paul was an enriching and helpful experience – but I’m dreading it too. Through no fault of his, working with him fucked me up on several occasions in the past. It’s the inevitable, gruesome nature of trauma therapy. And whilst it is, in the long-term, important that all the trauma and related issues are thrashed out, in the short-term it makes for a very difficult mindset. So. I don’t mind admitting it for once. I’m scared.

Went to get the cat, and forced myself to stop at the shop. Bought pancake ingredients and made A and myself two batches that evening. I’ve no idea how I managed to fight teh m3nt@Lz for long enough to be able to have done this, but whatever the case, I’m glad of it, and count my pancake-making as a win.

Wednesday

Mother phones. “Rhona McFaul is in hospital,” she tells me. “They’re doing her operation tomorrow.”

I mentioned briefly towards the end of this post that Rhona was being admitted, and that her husband was worried that said admission would be to the cuntspital where Maisie died. Unfortunately, that is exactly where she ended up.

Worry about Rhona. She is one of the McFauls that I like. The operation – to help relieve her very severe form of Crohn’s disease – is major. They were cutting out her entire large bowel, sewing up her rectum and attaching a colostomy bag to her stomach. Poor cow.

Go to mother’s house, as per weekly convention. Manage to maintain an utterly deceitful façade of pseudo-sanity to stop mother worrying about me. Mother asks if I will go with her to cuntspital to see Rhona before she is taken away to the gas chambers goes through the operation on Thursday morning. Agree.

Go to cuntspital. Wave after depressing wave of oppression and misery emanates from every atom of its building. Force self to carry on to Rhona’s ward. Ward is even worse.

Rhona and family – just her, her husband and their two children – are in surprisingly cheerful form. Rhona is having a blood transfusion and being forced to take ridiculously strong and foul tasting laxatives. Do not envy her one bit.

Why am I writing this in the present tense? This happened on Wednesday. This is Friday.

So, I didn’t envy Rhona at all, but was encouraged by the positivity she seemed to be demonstrating. We didn’t stay with them that long – it was only right to let her have her last time before the thing with her immediate family – but wished her well and told her daughter, Student, to keep in touch the next day to advise on how the operation had gone.

We returned to my mother’s, and I continued to exhaust myself with the maintenance of my “sane” façade until bedtime.

Thursday

At 3.30am I decided that I was evil and should ergo ingest about 60 Zopiclone. This was a moment of sheer idiocy, as I know full well that that sort of Zopiclone OD is unlikely to be fatal (to me, that is. I am not for one second suggesting that it is in any way not dangerous for others). Got up to get Zopiclone, to find that I only had three of the fucking little shits. It didn’t seem worth it, so I took one for sleeping purposes and abandoned my plans.

The rest of the day was uneventful, except for my mother’s worry at several points about not having heard from Student. When we eventually did learn how things had gone – quite late in the day, perhaps about 4pm – it turned out that the delay had been caused by Rhona being in severe pain straight after the procedure, meaning that she had to have an epidural and stay in the recovery ward for much longer than expected. Other than that, though, the operation apparently went well and there were no complications.

That didn’t stop my mother’s neuroticism, however – yes, I know, I know, I’m one to talk – instead, her need to worry fixated upon me instead.

“You know, Rhona might not have had to have such a huge operation if something had been done about her Crohn’s a lot earlier,” she said, reasonably enough.

“I know,” I replied, “it’s a fucking disgrace.”

“Yes,” Mum said, in that expectant tone she uses when there’s something more she wants to say, but she’s unsure as to whether or not she should actually say it.

I waited.

“You should really go back to Lovely GP,” she complained eventually. I asked why.

“Your IBS has gotten ridiculous. You can barely keep anything even down, and when you do, off you have to go, straight to the toilet.” This is true. So much so that I’m genuinely mystified as to why the fuck I’m still so fat.

“But Lovely GP and his colleagues have already told me that there’s nothing they can do about it,” I reminded my mother.

“Fuck that,” she said defiantly. “What if you have what Rhona has? They originally told her that she had IBS. It was only when she insisted that they examine her more closely that they found out she had Crohn’s – and now they’ve removed her bowel, and she’ll have to use that horrible bag thing for the rest of her life. Just in case, go and see him and ask for a referral. Please. Hopefully it’s not Crohn’s, but if it is, then the sooner they find that out the better.”

I think I’m as likely to have Crohn’s disease as I am to be sanctified by Benedict XVI, but I made the appointment, if only to put her mind at rest. Things are really bad IBS-wise, but nothing has helped – medication, removal of x and y and sodding z from my diet, eating the fuck out of fibre-rich products. Nothing changes it. There is nothing Lovely GP can do, save for referring me to a specialist. And then I’ll go through the trauma of having a fucking camera shoved up my arse to find that – surprise surprise – there’s nothing they can do, but have I tried a nice bath before bed?

Still. If it calms my mother, then good.

Friday

Sitting in bed typing this. Consider the following as a scale of depression: zero is when you are awake but so full of blackness that you can’t move and might as well be comatose. Five is hide under the duvets. 10 is being able to comb your hair or something. That means that something like 100 is feeling OK. I think right now I’m at about six. This is actually good, because the rest of the week was generally hovering at zero/one, with occasional threes or fours.

I don’t entertain the notion that I’m coming out of the depression, mind you (though obviously I’d welcome it greatly if I were). I still feel fucking awful, and although I’m not going to off myself (despite the Zopiclone wobble), I keep seeing helium, bodies flying off buildings, the usual cal, floating nefariously in front of my eyes like Macbeth’s dagger. But I’ve survived this long, so don’t worry.

(Can’t be arsed to proof-read this, sorry).

Admissions of Dirt, Lies, Foreboding and Evil

Beware pointless whinging and navel-gazing nonsense.  As usual.

I have an appointment with my consultant in the morning.  I wish I didn’t.  She’s probably going to have a go at me for dragging her into my war with the management of the hateful bloody Trust, and I wouldn’t blame her.  None of this is her fault.

I don’t know what to say to her, apart from the fact that I am sorry.  Sorry for putting her in that position, sorry for having wasted so much of her time since January, sorry for being so twisted.  For everything, really.

Evil Liar

How do I admit to her that I’ve made up everything about being sexually abused?  Will she stop treating me in a righteous fit of pique, or will she section me for being such a fundamentally fucked up being as to dream up something as evil and heinous as that?  Who makes up a story that they were systematically raped as a child?!  Who does that?!!  It makes the lies that Hideous Ex spun me look like stealing a penny chew from a bankrupt sweet shop.  I am malevolence personified, and I don’t know how she’ll react to that.

Skilful Actress

How do I admit to her that I’ve been walking about with a (perhaps metaphorical) smile on my brittle, prematurely haggard face, convincing everyone that everything is fine…when inside I am screaming and despairing?  That I’m doing my Great Pretender thing again?  Am I actually screaming and despairing?  Who is the arbiter of what is and isn’t real?  We are only defined by perception, ultimately, are we not?  And the perception of everyone else is that I’m fine.  I’m one person to Everyone Else’s dozens of people…what do I know?

Paranoid and Schizo

How do I admit to her, when I haven’t even had the balls hitherto to tell anyone else, that I’m being watched on those rare occasions on which I put my foot outside the door of the house, which is at least a comparatively safe haven for me?

How do I admit to her that I’m haunted by inner amorphous but nefarious terror all day long, which is compounded notably by what sounds like sleep paralysis at night?  The difference between the two being, however, that I can accept a rational, medical explanation for what happens at night, but during the day I can’t.  Then the foreboding dread is real, and I am certain that it means that something ghastly is about to happen.  I deserve it for making up lies about Paedo (not that I should continue calling him that), of course, but she’ll probably say that I’m paranoid – possibly delusional – which isn’t fair; but, again, everything’s about perception, and her’s is a medical one.

Fucked Up Eater?

How do I admit to her that my eating behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic?  There’s no clear pattern to it – I binge sometimes, I eat nothing all day on others – and I almost always end up vomiting what I’ve eaten, an action which is quite deliberate.  In fairness that’s simply because I feel over-full (and never realise in the course of eating that it’s time to stop consumption), not because I’m trying to get rid of the calories I’d just ingested.

Something I’ve started doing in the past fortnight or three weeks is taking laxatives after each meal, but again this is not about losing calories – it’s about getting waste out of my system as quickly as possible in order to minimise IBS attacks.  I am concerned, however, that NewVCB won’t see it quite like that if I elect to confess to her.  I don’t think I have an eating disorder (I’m about fucking 14 stone for Christ’s sake!) – I’m just trying to manage other issues.  But to give her an accurate picture of my state of mind, I feel almost honour-bound to tell her the truth (about the binge/eat nothing behaviour) when she asks about my appetite, and I fear that that will lead to further questions.

Dirt-Bag

Finally, most grotesquely after my lies (though a good bit further down the ladder of outrageousness), how do I admit to the almost unspeakably disgusting fact that I haven’t had a shower, nor even a fucking proper non-shower wash, for weeks?  That it’s partly because I have no actual reason to – I barely leave the house, after all – but more so because I am scared to clean myself?  How do I justify that absurdity not only to her – but to myself?

Clarissa of Bipolarity and Brushing Your Teeth has an interesting post outlining her take on this issue, and the explanation rings true with me too.  I remember with embarrassed and cringing despair the horror of having to undress in front of other people – people who thought that they were more attractive, slimmer, cleverer and more interesting than me, and who were more than happy to demonstrate their views to me.

Note my avatar on the top right of the blog’s sidebar.  It’s taken from the (truly awful) film Carrie, and comes from a scene in which the protagonist begins menstruating in the school showers, and ends up getting tampons, sanitary towels and bog roll thrown at her by her jeering, scornful peers.  I never endured anything quite that extreme, but nevertheless the activity – apparently innocuous and even full of camaraderie to most of the others – was marred by my classmates’ contempt and revulsion towards me, and does not ergo represent one of my favourite memories.

I feel like there’s more to it, though; it’s almost like the night that A was ‘spring cleaning‘ and I went completely mental.  As if some sordid little detail is lurking there just outside the perimeters of my conscious mind and that for a second it almost blurs its way into focus, so that I can dissect it…but then it snatches itself back again, away from me.  The thing is though, the night of the ‘spring clean’, I was under the belief/self-delusional fantasy-of-evil that I’d been abused and it was a belief about that that sent me off my head – but of course I wasn’t really thus abused, so I must just be very strange.  Scared of cleaning the house and scared of cleaning myself.

General Idiot

Depression can be insidious.  Although it often happens, you don’t always just wake up one morning with a dark syrup of despair imprisoning and inhibiting you.  Whatever is wrong with me at the minute has crept up on me – I felt surprisingly OK for a while there, though admittedly I could have been acting so well that I had just convinced myself that all was relatively well when it wasn’t.  But having said that, isn’t it the same thing?  Or if not, does the distinction matter – isn’t it entirely arbitrary?  Who knows.  Frankly, who really cares.

Until probably this week, I was coping remarkably well with the anxieties brought by being a twisted fuck of a liar, my sense of indeterminate portentousness and being watched when I left home.  However, as my mood has taken a stroll down a figurative canyon, so my nervousness – observing my circumstances, but not previously becoming involved with them – has taken a slow walk up out of its hole.

I feel strange.  It’s not a traditional mixed episode because, paradoxically, I feel a sort of weird resignation about everything.  I can’t really put it into words, and I am only writing this utter, utter bilge to try and get some idea of what I’m going to say tomorrow.

But I’ve written over 1,100 words and I still have no idea.

Insomnia

Despite the name of this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever written much about the subject of insomnia. Well, it’s about 2.35am and I am wide-awake, so let me address that issue right now. I know that I could be using this time to write something useful (insofar as the rubbish I write here can ever be useful), but I don’t have the energy. I’m just feeling sorry for myself and want to vent.

One of the greatest things about anti-psychotic medication for me (well, aside from the obvious) has been its soporific effects. For some time, it significantly reduced my (perhaps over-) reliance on Zopiclone – in fact, I still have a few tablets left from a Zopiclone prescription from September, thus indicating how little I’ve taken of that drug in several months. I know that in the case of Quetiapine, though, there is a general reduction in its sedative effects over time. That seemed to have eluded me mostly – a lot of people report this side-effect wearing off after a few weeks, others just over a month. I’ve been taking it since January now, and it’s only in the last two or three weeks that things have begun to change.

If one was not mad to begin with – and of course, I was (am) – then sleep deprivation, chronic insomnia, sleeplessness, whatever you want to call it would surely make you so. Let’s not forget, indeed, that forced insomnia is used as a form of torture. I know some people learn to adapt to life with a significant reduction in the hours they need to sleep, and kudos to them, but even though insomnia has plagued me essentially for years, I can never envisage my getting used to it. I hate it with a burning passion. It’s one of the most horrible knock-on effects of being mental.

It’s that hideous sensation of lying awake in the darkness, eyes firmly fixated on the ceiling as there’s nothing else to view, wanting to move or get up, but fearing that if you do, you will do so just before the delightful escape of slumber would otherwise have arrived. It’s the nasty reality of giving in to the sleeplessness and getting up, only to find that you’re utterly, unbearably alone in the world. It’s looking out the window for some assurance that it’s not just you that is afflicted with this misery, only to be greeted with darkened windows up and down the street, their curtains all smugly drawn, as if sneering right into your face.

Rationally, of course I know there’s an entire community of online insomniacs all available for discussion right now, not to mention the folks across the pond and in other parts of the world who are in their actual waking hours. But insomnia is a paradoxical issue too: the dichotomy with which you are faced is that on the one hand, you’re consumed with the sheer loneliness that the night brings, but on the other, the accompanying exhaustion is so absolute that it seems at best unfeasible and at worst completely impossible to engage socially in any remotely meaningful fashion. And thus you battle on alone.

For any readers that do not follow my Twitter stream, I saw NewVCB on Wednesday and in light of my current problems with fake-Paedo and ‘They’, she has increased the dose of Quetiapine by 100mg (to a daily total of 400mg). Although I hoped and expected that this would have a renewed sedative effect, I was smart enough to request hypnotic medication anyway just in case. Smewhat to my surprise, this request was granted. Result! Hahaha! Up yours, dickhead GP!

Anyway, my instinct was to stockpile the sleepers (Zopiclone, again) for when they were really necessary, rather than to just start taking them with gay abandon right now. To my considerable annoyance, however, it seems like that point of necessity is now. Sleep evades me completely, and has done on nights without Zopiclone for well over a week now. I find myself completely unable to function during the day, and whilst in a sense that doesn’t especially matter what with my being a dolescum and all, it certainly does nothing to assist the maintenance of my precarious sanity.

Besides, another knock-on effect of insomnia is the hold that ‘They’ have over me. Their power – nay, their domination – seems to be worse during these nighttime hours. Perhaps it’s because I am tired beyond tiredness; perhaps it’s because on the face of it there is no one else about at all that can help me fight them. I don’t know. But during the night they’re fighting constantly with me, and if they haven’t yet won the war – well, they’re certainly on the victorious side of the battle.

I took 1/4 of a Zopiclone before I went to bed tonight (last night, technically), but you can see how successful that’s been. I’ve just taken another 1/2 tablet and have every extremity of my body metaphorically crossed that this will actually work. Normally I’m remarkably resistant to medication, and indeed in the past there is no way 3/4 of a tablet would have made me sleep. I’m just hoping that because I’ve been away from Zopiclone for quite a while, and that because it’s now combined with Quetiapine, that I might just get lucky.

But then there’s a trade-off in this too. If it does work, I’ll probably sleep late tomorrow and subsequently be horribly groggy for several hours upon rising. That, much like the hangover effects of insomnia itself, doesn’t do a great deal for one’s mood. I think this way is better, but it’s still far from ideal.

And just to whinge a little more before I sign off: all this bollocks is compounded by the fact that I’ve been sort of unwell for days. I’ve had some rather extreme bouts of nausea, that I initially supposed was psychosomatic, but on reflection I’m fairly sure it’s related to my ongoing IBS. The IBS is playing havoc with my body; I don’t want to be particularly graphic about it, but anyone who has had it will know it’s…changeable. It’s either a famine or a feast, if you get my drift. At the moment, it’s a famine for me (actually, this euphemistic bullshit makes me cringe…but anyway), and I feel all heavy and sluggish and bloated and disgusting. And still nauseous. Eugh.

Right now I am being reminded that I am not alone in being awake at 3.10am – there are several drunken tossers outside who seem to be screaming abuse at each other. Loneliness or not, I think I’ll stick to my own bland company, thank you very much.

Anyway, sorry for whinging and for almost certainly rambling incoherently. In my defence, I am totally shattered and under the influence of conscious-altering medications. I hope, though I will not promise, that something more meaningful will be published here on the morrow (or later today, if you find yourself subscribing to the lure of pedantry).

Good night. I hope.