I’ve said before that I don’t fear death. It’s an inevitability of living and a rather unpleasant cancer diagnosis simply brings forward that inevitability. I’m not looking forward to what may feel a rapid decline and a return of pain though. It’s fair to say I’ve no desire to progress to that stage just yet.
And with that backdrop I headed to my oncologist appointment yesterday a little concerned on a few counts.
The biggest worry being yellow hands. My sister spotted it Friday morning. I went into denial. Chris confirmed it. My landlord thought one hand had caught the sun and another hadn’t. Lying in bed I stared at my hands unable to see anything. But then I walked into my step-daughter’s house yesterday and accepted a cup of tea and a seat without spotting the wedding photos all over the place. We don’t always see the obvious. Yellow could mean liver cancer. Or a reaction to the drug. Or unconnected jaundice. Or I’m turning into Homer Simpson.
My other concern is around my side effects. My porcelain dashes are rarer. The spots less severe. While this should be good news there’s a niggling feeling that it could mean the positive impacts on the tumours is coming to an end. The oncologist was non-commital. I’ll try not to read anything into that beyond her “nobody really knows” comment. Paranoia is real too!
I’d also felt a pain on my left side, presumably lung area, that had niggled for a couple of days. Big worry. Pre-appointment I’d been told to report for blood tests and X-Ray. I handed over my bloods paperwork, joined a group of thirty people holding deli style tickets and was called immediately. The pleasures of lung cancer prioritisation. It’s almost like travelling business class!
On previous visits the x-Ray has been similar. Walk up to reception, give them your name and date of birth and within a few minutes they’ve got your top off and throw a few more cancer causing beams your way. This time was a little different. “Who sent you?” “There’s no appointment” “tut” “I’m going to have to find someone from emergency X-Ray” “this really isn’t good”.
Sweet god I only want my photo taking woman! I’m stood here slowly dying in front of you and you’re making me feel like a right awkward inconvenience to your day!
I took a seat and ten minutes later was processed in the usual way by the nice X-Ray people.
I then wandered up to the oncology ward and made two major breakthroughs. The first was mastering the coffee machine. On previous visits to the waiting area I’ve struggled to work out the sachet insertion prior to dispense thing. This has meant a dispense delay meaning I’ve ended up wandering around corridors with healthcare professionals clinging onto a steaming hot coffee. Today I was able to dispense and consume the coffee prior to collection. I wandered over to the world map on the wall and admired Montenegro and Easter Island.
The oncologist called my name and took me to the scales. A year ago I was weighing myself religiously as part of a health kick that saw seven stone vanish. These weigh ins are now monthly, overseen in a cancer ward and show weight creeping back on. Back pain and a cancer diagnosis led to comfort eating. Every weigh in since December has shown an increase. The hospital like this, I don’t. This time I’m unchanged. Good news. I won’t get back into the 36″ jeans but there’s no threat to the 38″ ones. And I won’t need to return to the charity shop and buy back my old 44″ leg tents.
First up was the X-ray result. All good. I mentioned my left side pain which had now passed. She said there’s nothing showing. Not surprising as the pain had felt more like a minor strain that had now gone.
Blood tests all clear. Thank you fast track pathology.
I repeated that I’m still struggling to stand up efficiently. “Is that new?”. No dear I tell you this every month! Her priority is to ensure my spine doesn’t collapse and a change in symptoms could indicate this.
Yellow hand syndrome. My biggest worrier. She looks at my hands and confirms the right one is coloured differently to the left one. I move my right hand to support the right side of my lips. The Bell’s palsy means I lisp unless I support the lip. The oncologist notes this behaviour and we chat about my recent visit to the eye clinic. She asserts that it’s highly unlikely their scan will reveal brain cancer.
She then confirms the blood tests are fine and would show any liver dysfunction. Big relief. She goes on to compare both my hands. One yellower than the other. The Coldplay song “Yellow” runs through my head. “Your yellower hand is the one you hold your lip with. That action drains the blood out of it changing the skin pigmentation. Nothing to worry about.”
Maybe I’ll exploit my last few weeks of BUPA and try acupuncture. Sticking needles in my face is a price worth paying to get the palsy to feck off!