Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 15th May

Certain things fascinate me. At the moment it’s something about how the human body fights things.

I haven’t been sick with a cold, or anything, since last September, just after the cancer was diagnosed. This is not necessarily unusual: I don’t get colds all that often. It just seems that, with all that my body has had to deal with and all the stuff my immune system has been through, there may have been some bugs that crept in and took hold. Not until now, apparently.

I think that having a cold also has something to do with the time of year: it seems as though a lot of people get some kind of bug when it is so cold and so hot all in one day. Also, I have been going into schools on TE, so have been exposed to lots of kids with lots of germs flying around, I’m sure.

The bane of a teacher’s life – those bugs. Until you build up some form of resistance to them.

I am also increasingly fascinated by the extent of the damage caused by the surgery to my side and how my body has been affected; and how long it takes to heal.

This seems strange, so far (well, relatively) down the line, but it isn’t really all that long ago and it was a helluva cut and interruption of a whole part of my body. I am reminded of this every day, with the feeling of discomfort in the site. Also, though, it seems as though the muscles and nerves find different ways of reacting at different times.

I have done nothing in the last week to pull (or affect the muscle in any way) the muscles under my right arm. I went for a couple of runs, but didn’t paddle the whole weekend. On Monday, I started feeling the muscle just under my arm pulling a bit differently and feeling as though something had happened to it (apart from being cut, moved around and generally messed about with) and it has taken some form of strain.

I don’t even know which muscle it is that I can feel, all I know is there is something different. Then I think that maybe, as the sensation is coming back in the whole area, maybe I’m just feeling the muscle doing what it has been doing for the past 7 months.

In some ways, I wish there was a kind of blueprint for all this. Yesterday at the dam, one of the mothers said that she wished kids would come with a manual, including dates and events. It would be really useful if we could know things that were supposed to happen – like when I will actually be strong enough and fit enough to go for a real run and paddle more than my 3 / 4 laps slowly.

There are no absolutes with cancer, though. The disease/condition itself is so different, so dependent on so very many factors, not the least of which is the person themselves. Even if another woman had exactly the same scenario as I had wrt the actual tumour, and the same treatment, there would be no guarantee at all that we would have reacted the same way, or how the process of recovery would go for either of us.

So many factors. So many anomalies. So many differences.

Isn’t that what makes us all human? And what makes the whole thing a journey of discovery?

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