Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Thursday 26th February

I think it is easy for a person to wallow – to focus on what is wrong and not to look at the good around them. It does depend, though, on the degree of what is wrong.

I have had the chemo taste for a good few days now. Today it was there the whole day. At times, I feel as if it will never go. It is just so pervasive. My mouth is also feeling a bit raw.

Why now? Why still? Those are the questions I find myself thinking, if not asking out loud. And those are my thoughts: why is this side effect still persisting? How come my mouth is being affected after all this time and why won’t the taste go?

Then, of course, I realise that it is not such a terribly long time. It is getting on for two months since the last chemo – well, in a week or so it will be. That is quite a long time, but is not actually as long as it feels. And those were very harsh drugs. As the one doc said more than once, they were aiming to kill every growing cell in my body – but affecting the cancer cells most. Well, what do I expect? My poor body is allowed to take its time to react and to recover. So, if I have to live with the chemo taste for a while longer, then maybe that’s just how it has to be.

It seems to be human nature to want things to be comfortable and not necessarily as they are if we don’t like them. I think that’s fairly logical: who would want to experience discomfort if you don’t have to?

It’s not necessary to spend too much time focusing on what is wrong, though. That is not productive and ends up using way too much energy.

I definitely have my moments, when I do focus on things like the taste, or how uncomfortable my side is. I have moments when all I want is to stop being sore, to stop feeling this lump under my right arm. I really do think that’s human.

I do find, though, that, mostly, I get along and do things, despite the discomfort. When I am teaching, I am not completely aware of my sore side, or of the taste. There is just too much else going on. When I run or paddle, then I may become aware of a physical discomfort, or even pain, but then I work through and around that.

I think that’s human, too: to deal with what we have at the time and to get on with what needs to be done. Maybe what we all need to do is to be able to slump, to acknowledge that we don’t feel completely well, or happy some of the time and to just let ourselves experience those feelings, or to feel a physical pain, for a moment.

The trick is, I think, to acknowledge it and then to let it go.

If the moment is not acknowledged, it can fester and become something that is way more important than it should be – it can lead us to wallow. And no-one ever got anywhere by wallowing, but, rather, by forging ahead, simply putting one foot in front of the other.

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