Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death.
I awoke this morning from a decent nights sleep, vivid dreams, the sort of dreams that are difficult to distinguish from real life? I haven’t been sleeping well this past month, partly a hangover from a Christmas trip to Australia, Jet-lag fuelled, evil, sleep deprivation.
These last couple of nights had been almost normal. My ‘normal’ sleep pattern is, to bed between 10.00 and 10.30 pm, latest 11.00 pm, awake between 6.30 – 7.00 am. 8 hours sleep. However, no matter how long I am in bed I still feel tired, heavy legs tired, when I wake next day. Physically tired (like I have been for a long run tired).
I have to medicate to sleep, pain relief prior to bed otherwise, I might not sleep at all. Best scenario (none pain relief) = broken, disturbed sleep. These last couple of weeks? Just disturbed, ‘Jet-lagged sleep‘. I have found it near impossible to keep my eyes open after 7.00 pm. Trying my utmost to make it to 9.00 pm before giving in and heading to my bed.
The alternative? Give in, go to bed early. Instantaneous sleep only to wake, (wide awake) anytime between 2-5 am. Often resulting in my working during the early morning hours, stuck in front of a computer screen, passing the time.
The night before last, I retired at 9.00 pm exhausted after a busy, disappointing, day watching Everton beaten again. The day included more than my now normal, alcohol consumption (6 pints of a wonderful ‘Plum Porter’) stout? Intoxicated, I slept, dreamless, from 9.00 pm through to 8.00 am the following day. Welcome, undisturbed, sensational, sleep. After 11 good hours, I felt rejuvenated.
My worry is that if my sleep/pain patterns are like this now, what do I have to look forward to? What is my future as my cancer worsens?
Prostate cancer treatment is, almost exclusively, guided by the amount of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), is present in the body. A simple PSA (blood) test is the first indicator of any problems and is a continuous indicator from then on, even if the poisonous gland has been completely removed by surgery or poisoned by radiation. Regular PSA tests inform further treatment until death.
My concerns are that thus. Despite rising steadily my PSA is relatively low and yet I already feel like shit? What will I feel like when it’s not so low, worse? Is it possible to be feeling worse than now? How worse, a lot? A little? Will I actually feel like carrying on? This has led to other questions. Are my current symptoms disproportionate with my condition (guided by PSA)? There may also be, so far undetected, disease advancement, additional metastases, to my legs (bones) and or other areas?
My case is not straightforward, complicated by the fact I have several (other), chronic diseases, diabetes, psoriasis, Dupuytren’s contracture, all of which bring their own symptoms to my problem sleep patterns (severe fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, psoriatic arthritis).
Just when you think ‘it could not get much worse’? I have (very) recently developed another symptom! I know, I’m just a lucky bastard? My latest friend, ‘Satiety – the feeling of being full after consuming only small amounts of food. This can be caused by many things including pancreatic cancer.
Although rare, there are cases of prostate cancer oligometastases within the pancreas and or the biliary tract (secondary prostate cancer of the pancreas). Thats the weird thing about prostate cancer (all cancers?), if they spread to other areas they will always remain as prostate cancer? Not lung cancer or pancreatic cancer?
Last night, was different again. A fairly relaxed day, physically. Mentally, that’s a different story? Life is difficult, my life is difficult, the world is difficult. If you care, if you give two fucks, there is always, something that will provoke a negative mental reaction? A mini (or major) mental crisis?
The catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, millions of innocent children, women (most of the males are already dead, killed in the conflict), all who remain are on the very brink of starvation? The genuine prospect of a (world) war in the Ukraine? Covid-19, isolation, Death? The, now normalised, daily, revelations of sleaze, corruption and greed from our shit show of a government. Some things are impossible to ignore.
During the day, I had read a post from a good friend, who is really struggling, physically and mentally, has been for these past 2 years with what, she now acknowledges, is a chronic illness that she is never going to be rid of. She is still awaiting full diagnosis (Covid Delays) but for the first time (ever), she ‘sounded’ resigned, depressed, forlorn, ‘beaten’. For me? All too familiar feelings. She described her exhaustion, constant pain, her brain fog, sadly, all too familiar, old friends of mine.
Bed at 11.00 pm or not long after, still mentally intoxicated, stimulated ‘from binge watching‘ a favourite TV show of ours, Series 4 of Ozark. Sleep came easily despite sleeping for 11 hours the previous night. I dreamt, powerful, vivid dreams that I, myself, featured in. I was there, fully alive, fit, healthy, participating. In these dreams I was not ill, I was normal.
These days, from time to time I awake sharply, abruptly, sometimes struggling for breath, choking, anxious, on the verge of a mini panic attack (Sleep Apnoea, yet another condition for my health CV). Dr Lee ‘Andy’ my amazing GP jokes with me ‘Mr Reynolds, you certainly have an impressive (medical) CV’? Recently, (jet-lagged times) this kind of sleep apnoea, panic attack has happened more than usual. It is not easy to dismiss, as in, to go back to sleep afterwards.
This mourning was different. I was fully immersed inside a dream, nothing special, nothing that extraordinary but I remember feeling comfortable, safe, content. In my dream, I could feel warm sun on my body, it also felt like I was somehow younger? or at least stronger, not ill? As I transitioned from sleep, from dreams, to reality to being fully awake I could feel the feelings of strength, warmth, normality slipping away? I could sense it, despite trying to prevent it, to stop it, a forlorn fight to remain within this welcome dream for as long as possible. To stay well. To be normal for longer. For ever.
I cannot describe how it felt in words other than, cruel, it felt cruel.
When I was just 6 years old, I remember watching a film, ‘She’ (1965). A Saturday matinee, at the local ‘Picture House’, The Bootle Odeon. The film terrified me, I didn’t sleep for, at least, 12 months after watching it.
The premise, the human infatuation with eternal life, to live beautifully, for ever, no matter what the cost. The main character, played by a beautiful, Ursula Andres would regularly, bathe in a flame of eternal life, ‘She’ was portrayed as a stunning, beautiful, young Goddess.
Everything has a cost?
To keep the goddess alive, eternally young, her flame had to be fed. Hundreds of slaves were ritualistically, thrown into a deep fire pit in order the ‘SHE’ goddess, could continue with her, beautiful, eternal privileged, existence.
I cannot remember the exact reasons why but somewhere within plot, there was a rebellion, against her. Her people (slaves) conspired against her, and everything went horribly wrong, climaxing, with a dramatic scene that has stayed with me all of my life. The stunning, ‘She Goddess’, walks into the ‘flame’ but on this occasion, the magical flame fails to replenish her eternal beauty. Before our eyes, ‘She’ transitions from a beautiful young woman into a centuries old, hag, then, finally, dust.
She’s cruel, film transition, was how it felt for me this morning, waking up.
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