Round 3 / 4 Review

It's an interesting exercise to think of the last two months in terms of highs and lows. The best of times, the worst of times. Well the best bits were awesome so I'll put those in later and the worst weren't too bad, so overall it's been better than OK.
Round three of my adventures in ChemoLand started with a slight twist on the cannula finding a vein saga. On both chemo days the nurse got them in on the first attempt! My record is five attempts so success on the first attempt is good. Unfortunately in Round Four my veins rebelled and remained elusive requiring several painful attempts. They remained bruised and sore for the full cycle since Round Three, but on the up side, it was useful to know which ones not to use in Round Four!

My nausea has been slightly worse but only lasted for seven days compared to ten on Round Two. I still haven't been sick. It's just a feeling that adds to the tiredness and saps my motivation.

This round I was more careful with my diet avoiding food that triggered revulsion. That left: toast, muesli, ice cream and yoghurt, but not all at the same time, although it was considered.

There seems three mental processes regarding food:
A dismissive 'can't be bothered' attitude that means I don't snack or graze. 
An instant disgust 'how can anyone put that in their mouths ever!'
The one that provokes my curiosity is the four sips effect e.g tea. The first sip is delicious, but by the fourth it's disguising! It’s like a condensed version of: sipping a delicious beer at a party, then the same half empty can the morning after.
I've also had a lot of internal dialogue along the lines of 'but it's your favourite!' to which I have to argue with my inner sitcom mother that I can't stand it. 'Go on, just a little bit' Nooooooo!

Daytime eating was easier than an evening meal. I'm not recommending the Chemo diet to anyone but it's very effective.
Of course I make up for the half stone I’ve lost in the following two good weeks. Those two good weeks feel like: when you're on holiday and all food guilt has been suspended.

I haven't drunk alcohol since June! ...ish!
I filled out a questionnaire for a research program and when it asked for my weekly consumption I ticked the 0-5 units box. Who is this person? I've had a sip of Fliss's rose and it tasted bitter followed by a sickly sweetness, yuck! In honesty that's always been my response to rose.

Joke: What do get someone who's not had a drink for several months due to medical reasons? 
A bottle of wine for when they can!!!!
I know, it's seriously dry humour!
btw it was my birthday on the 24th Sept. Just saying.

My birthday coincided with the Round Four naff week so Fliss and I celebrated my 58th birthday a week early with a lovely day out walking along the Thames from Fulham to Hammersmith, stopping off for a gastropub lunch. The weather was perfect for sitting outside.
The food tasted wonderful and I had two half pints of IPA (baby steps) which tasted amazing. It was as if the gain control was dialled up and every flavour sprang out to greet me 'you're back!'
That Friday I met my good friends Eviane and Perry and we went to my favourite cafe, Renaissance, just around the corner. We nattered the afternoon away, and then moved across the street to The Tap Room, a tiny microbrewery run by some Czech guys doing their grandads recipes for lager. Fliss joined us and we put the world to rights. 

It never fails to amaze me how restorative social activities are. It's one element of Seligman’s Positive Psychology based PERMA-V model. We take friendships for granted and assume they'll always be there, but they need attention to maintain them. Does it really matter who's called who? And if it doesn't, why haven't they called? 

With any relationship there's a dynamic, a structure that maintains itself. Sometimes it's played out as a game of who calls who. I've friends and relatives who always call me, others who I always call and many whom I take it in turns to call like a game of telephone tennis. There's even good friends and relatives that neither of us call and that's OK too. We'll catch up eventually and no doubt promise to call soon. They're all good. An old version of me played out my insecurities through this game. My self worth was continually in the balance and I often withdrew to the safe space of avoidance. It’s very Gestalt, but now I own my response to the world, I'm free to chat to anyone and everyone or not. If you want to know more, call me :)
The very best part of the last cycle was being back at Salsa Soho (bar Salsa) for my Salsa Rapido 1-Day Intensive course. I allow myself one course per month, when I'm least immunosuppressed, to keep the business and my sanity ticking over. There's a risk but it's certainly worth it. It’s a chance to be me again, doing what I do best. Over the past 21 years, my course has developed into an expression of who I am and where I'm at. What I'm trying to say is, this is where I can be publicly authentic. Apart from teaching the dance, it's a presentation of social partner dance as a well-being practice. It's up there with yoga, mindfulness or any dance-fitness class, but with more to like and less lycra. 

Learning to learn, is learning to 'tolerate the intolerable' (Kohut), find our tribe (Nike) and reach 'to infinity and beyond' (Buzz Lightyear). All in all it's 'fab' (Captain Scarlet).  BTW you may not know the late Heize Kohut, but he's important in the world of developmental psychotherapy and courtesy of me, salsa! He only started writing books after lymphoma (what I've got) prevented him travelling around the USA in his capacity as president of the American Psychological Society. More on him in a later blog.

News: Speaking of writing, I've just signed up to a weekend course with Hay Publishing. Many thanks to my friend and awesome business/life coach Sandra Marshall. 
Writing a book has been a loooooooong held ambition for me. Part of the reason for this blog is to develop my writing 'voice'. Research has been ongoing for several years and 2024 is the year! It's basically a book about the intersection of: Social partner dance, Positive Psychology and Attachment theory. I know that needs working into a catchy phrase! 
Thanks for reading and stay tuned, there’s sooooo much more to come!


Unknown said…
Alistair you've lost me on all the physcoligy speak ....can't even spell it ....but totally with you on the the dance teaching renewing your sense of self !!So so glad you are managing to get some in ...and some eating....hugely important to maintain as much weight as possible during this horrendous treatment ! Not going to phone cos I'm useless on the phone....but huge love to you and Fliss your wonderful joyful classes carried me through some tough times and always left me feeling better...hang on in there and good luck with the writing !!Lesley oh and I loved the salsa cruise
Sean said…
Love the 'every flavour sprang out...' bit. One of my favourite Thames walks too. Glad you're hanging in there Alastair. See you both soon. Sean and Laura.
Mary Muirhead said…
Re canular Tom had a permanent one fitted before he started chemo and it saved him from so much discomfort and pain.

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