Small black clouds

storm-clouds-oly1739_blogAs I’ve written here before, I am predisposed to a certain kind of melancholy which – if the episodes weren’t so short lived – might well be diagnosed as a mild depression.

It’s nothing new, and certainly not something my diagnosis has brought with it.

It’s something I’ve dealt with since my teenage years. I’ve got used to it as an unwelcome, but permanent aspect of simply being me.

In my case (thankfully) the deep reasonless and irrational sadness comes in short bursts. A week, maybe two. Then the small black clouds disperse and the skies seem to brighten again.

Those who do suffer from depression will recognise the signs: unexplained tiredness and longer lie-ins; a lack of motivation, sometimes even the will to summon interest in what’s around you; a tangling deep sickness in the pit of the stomach.

There comes a sense of disgust and annoyance with yourself, your body and your mind; an impatience and disappointment with the world: the way the bus driver drives, the way that woman smokes while her kids whine, the boy who pushes in front of your kids on the slide, the boarded-up shops, the supposedly self-service machine in Sainsburys that always needs a fucking assistant to come and actually make it work.

Usually mild niggles writ large, obscuring the view.

And so you retreat to bed, pull the covers over your head and stare blankly at the weave of the duvet until, gratefully, you fall asleep.

You know getting out is better. Being busy is best. It’s not like the opportunity isn’t there: there are a list of things to do in the garden; a dozen emails and texts waiting for response; invites in the calendar; promises to get in touch.

But you can’t do, won’t do – don’t want to do – anything.

I feel as if I’m now emerging from a couple of weeks of patchy skies. The clouds are beginning to shift.

My biopsy results left me feeling directionless: sweet news, with a nasty aftertaste. I’m not in trouble yet, but the doctors want to start treatment soon.

Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t make plans. Don’t relax.

And then, after nearly two months of life without seizures, they’ve slowly started to creep back. First, one or two out of the blue, then once a week, then more regular than that.

As my mental health has improved, my brain health itself has taken a turn for the worse.

As regular readers will know, a key non-clinical sign of my tumour worsening is the increase in regularity and intensity of seizures.

After the biopsy and upping the drugs around the same time, I enjoyed a month with seizures so mild I could carry on cycling while they were happening. Then there was a fortnight with no seizures at all.

As we suspected they might, the seizures have returned.

The one I had today was the fourth in four days. And they’re deep now, not light as they were post-biopsy. A spiralling dizziness, numbness across my right hand side, pins and needles in my leg and arm, an inability to form words

Each one lasts up to five minutes. Surrounding them like brackets is a general feeling of light-headedness, tiredness, headaches, stumbling speech.

I already have an MRI scan booked for August and my next results day in early September. I shan’t be surprised if the MRI confirms my non-clinical symptoms: that the tumour is continuing its slow progression to malignancy.

Some of my doctors already want to begin cancer treatment in the autumn. I’ve been resistant.

Why rush to put my otherwise healthy and fit body into a 42 long weeks of radio- and chemotherapy if there’s no emergency? Why bring on early something likely to leave me with long-lived, if not permanent, neurological disfunction?

This return of seizures could be a phase. The trough to go with the peak of incredibly good health I’ve just had. With any luck, I’ll be back up a hill shortly.

But I am disappointed that the seizures have returned when my health had improved so much. I’ve planned a summer of family holidays and cycling. Mountains to be climbed, long-distances in the saddle.

The seizures won’t stop any of them, I’m too stubborn for that. But they may take off the shine.

If the seizure activity is indicative of further malignancy in the tumour, these coming months might be the last chance I get – for just shy of a year – to regularly get out on the bike, or even spend much time away from home.

With that knowledge, it’s not the poor physical health caused by the treatment that I fear. It’s the slow gathering again of those black clouds that the treatment might bring with it.

One comment

  1. You’re doing what I do when I feel down, having a good rant and getting it out of your system, always makes you feel better, and all those things you mention especially the self service machines are things that it’s perfectly reasonable to get angry about.

    As for future treatment, it’s scary, it’s your brain. I know I’m supposed to say something to make you feel better but all I can say is your body will always surprise you with how amazing it is at mending and recovering.

    personally I’ve wanted to meet people who’ve had the surgery or radiotherapy and chemo to talk to them about the effects, maybe you should do that and find out first hand. My personal concern is that my tumour is in the front right part of the brain which is partly your character so I’d be concerned my character could change. Enough about me, I don’t even have seizures. I’m lucky at the moment.

    Meanwhile fight back those clouds with some good music. I would post some but I sense you’re not a massive disco fan.

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