Thursday, 4 October 2012

Welcome to paradise

A year ago from Tuesday, I was to all appearances perfectly well, just back from an autumn break in the Highlands.

A year ago from Wednesday, I was sleep-dancing across the office floor, on the right side of my ribcage and with the sides of my tongue clamped between my teeth, wakening in a wheelchair to a paramedic's kind offer of air and a bewildered trip to hospital. The first of many.

The time between has been packed with scans, bad news, surgery, worse news, fear, intra-dermal injections, radiation, blood tests, chemotherapy, fatigue, steroids, stronger adjuvant chemotherapy, more jags and sangrial sampling, a gastric problem which could have pebble-dashed a warehouse, marriage, euphoria, more adjuvant chemotherapy, more fatigue, more scans, more blood, even more fatigue, stiff legs and the resultant Cyberman stride. Yet it honestly doesn't feel like a year. Time flies when you're enjoying yourself.

One year ago today, October 4, 2011, I was at home; slumped, drained and bemused, on my leather couch with which I would become so familiar, on my first of so many sick days with which I would become so bored, wondering what the hell was going on.

A year later, I'm sitting at a picnic bench under a big tree, in an almost perfect little cove on the north shore of Bermuda. It's 28°,  the sea is blue, something's singing in the next big tree along, and there's just enough cloud cover to let me see my tablet screen and type this. Soon I will go in search of beer. Life's tough.

We're here in this island paradise as guests of my friend and former colleague Raymond Hainey: gentleman, journalist, and all-round good chap; and also one of the finest operators the Scottish press has allowed to escape. While he has been chained to the type-face, Clare and I have beached and lunched and beered, and when he hasn't, Raymond has generously driven us to the sights while we have generally got under his feet and cluttered his flat.

And I feel much better for it. Sure, I sunburned my feet on day two (I never burn anywhere normal, like on the shoulders - for me it has to be somewhere awkward, such as the ankles or forearms or feet), and I twisted a knee falling down the stairs in a pub (it was lunchtime, and I'd only had the one pint), but I feel so much healthier; lighter even.

I'm not going descend into hippy wittering about a healing atmosphere, because that would be nonsense. But sunlight lifts the mood, warmth relaxes, and the light exercise of sight-seeing is probably doing me no harm. The Boris Karloff stomp has eased off as my legs feel stronger, and although I still get tired, it feels cleaner, a warm sleepiness compared to the sickening, bone-deep fatigue which hit before. It would be nice to think that easing will continue back in Scotland.

Of course, I will have to return to the results of the scan I had just before leaving.

But in the meantime, I'm relaxing in Paradise. Still with a hole in my head, but relaxing.

I'm not worried. I feel good.

So far it's a happy anniversary

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