I’ve sort of put the blog aside for a bit. but i want to do a brief update, if not just to get used to how it feels to write a blog again. i think it would be useful to me? i’m not sure.
anyhow. we’re now coming up to round 22 of chemotherapy. i look remarkably well, and i feel completely fine. i’d say i actually feel healthier and better than i have in years. it’s complicated, and hard to wrap my head around – how can i feel like this when i’m actually ‘critically unwell.’ what does wellness mean? what does illness mean? how do we contextualise what it is to be healthy, when i feel fine most of the time, but my body is still filled with cancer? though filled might be an overstatement; but liver lungs bowel and a few lymph nodes feels pretty goddamn filled. at the moment, i am dizzy a lot, and i wonder if it’s because i haven’t been drinking enough water. my first thought is always brain mets. it’s probably not brain mets. maybe it’s a sinus infection? i feel slightly shivery. it could be anything, and is probably not brain mets, and i just need to repeat that over the top of the dull roar of constant terror of the fact that one day, there might be, if my liver doesn’t get me first. (my liver will get me first, they all promise me. that’s strangely comforting).
clexane-land goes well, strangely enough. i’ve developed a sort of comforting ritual around the nightly injections, and i barely notice them now. it stings, it doesn’t sting, and life goes on. 10pm every night. when i was overseas, the schedule was morning and it hurts more then.
my mental health remains, complicated. i want to write something bigger and better about that, but i’m continuing with my attempts to see if other people like the things i write and if they will put them with some other words in a place that lots of people will read. i have a lot of complicated feelings about publishing my work, and what it means for how i write, and how i use my blog, and how i think about my blog. i think back before anyone read it, before it came up under my name, and i wonder if i wrote better then. and then i wonder what writing better even means. but my mood swings around a lot. it goes up. it crawls up. and there is no more seductive thing than mania when you have cancer, because right now, you are immortal, and you are bulletproof, and everything is glowing. i can’t describe how that freedom feels when every other moment is coated in disease.
but coating is how it feels. it’s not the first thing i think of when i wake up. it’s a constant, you know, it’s still there, and it’s still integral to my life and my actions and my time. i still need to negotiate everything around the chemotherapy, the hope for surgery that grows a little dimmer every time i see how little my tumour markers have dropped, and the clexane shots.
But the Elizabeth Goes To Iceland Because She Has Cancer thing:
we went to the UK and i saw Byron’s house. my friend Drew surprised me between Hull and Heathrow. i touched his crypt and i went to his house and it was incredible. i’ve had a byron thing since i was a teenager and i walked where he walked and i touched his crypt.
I saw Phillip Larkin’s grave, and Monica’s grave, and i stood there in the afternoon in this empty cemetery and the cold white marble and the headstone marked ‘writer’ and it was a moment.
I saw the Salford Lads Club. it is pretty much a shrine to The Smiths, and it was filled with other Smiths fans, all of us there to also pay our respects to Morrissey. we drove past the house he grew up, and we went to the Cemetery Gates (from the song Cemetery Gates).
We did other things too; Hay-on-Wye, which has been one of my dream holiday destinations for years – a day in London – those things about holidays that are just as they are, and the photos are meaningless to anyone who wasn’t there.
Iceland was an endless stream of the scenery that only makes sense when you are there, and that needs a photographer better than i am, and a camera better than my iPhone. we went to a lake in the north, and Reykjavik, and the Golden Circle, and down to Vik. Vik mesmerised me in a way that the terrible photos i took can only allude to. we walked on the beach for hours and hours, and stood there in the darkness and the cold and the wind, and we lay in the black sand, and there was a glacier, and looking at a glacier is like staring into a Robert Ryman painting, and we ate icecream on the beach.
and we went to helsinki and i saw my friend Nikky who is one of my oldest friends and we got gloriously and spectacularly drunk with metal heads, which is about the most Finnish thing i could think of doing. and we wandered around Helsinki in a hungover haze which is sometimes the best way to see a city.
and there are far more photos but i’ll put them on flickr. let’s be honest though, holiday photos are more fun when they are on instagram and you are following your friends around, or if they are your photos and you wanna look through them nostalgically.
i can’t give what the trip meant to me any sort of credit in a blog post, without it running into far more words than you people want to read.