My failure to find rest and solace on an autumn tree trunk, and the subsequent weeping, has got you all terribly concerned. It has been heartwarming, your emails and texts and FaceBook comments.
The only other blogpost that has drawn this much feedback is the one on the How are you question, but that was mostly face-to-face. Even now, three months later, people squeak "I'm not going to ask you how you are!" even though I really don't mind if they do. Some people have tried to solve the dilemma by asking "How is Owl?", but that is almost worse, because the answer is either too flippant or too profound.
Let me put your minds at rest and reassure you that I am fine, really.
I think I just needed to accept that the Suddenly, I feel much better moment simply won't come until all this is over, some time in January perhaps.
And even then, the booklets warn me, it could be months and months before I feel better. I'm skipping the 'After Treatment' sections that tell me the recovery time can be "one of the hardest times to cope with", a time "when you need the most support". Can that be true?
The hardest times are those that fail to live up to expectation. I thought my energy would return, and it didn't. As soon as I try to step into the fray of daily life, and the demands stretch beyond the basics, my skeleton seems to turn to jelly and is ready to collapse in a sorry heap on the floor. Sometimes I didn't even know I had expectations until I'm in that heap.
(Ah. Perhaps they are right about the After Treatment problem. Everyone, including myself, is looking expectantly towards Christmas, when it should all be over and I fancy myself merrily skating off into the snowy winter. Spring, I imagine, will be even better. There I shall be, dancing among the blooming cherry trees with my newly sprouted hair. I'll probably read this then and laugh - or, more likely, cry - at such optimism.)
It's easier now that I have realised I will be tired for months to come, with no let-up.
I just have to accept that I cannot walk far, cycle far, swim far, sing loudly, or sit up at my desk for hours on end. I should have known. I should have listened to others who have gone through chemotherapy in the past. "It's cumulative," they say. "With every cycle of chemo, it just hits you harder." No wonder many people feel like giving up after about four cycles.
I have gone back to work this week, but this time, I am just working quietly at home. That may sound like madness, given the state I'm in, but actually, it has been bliss. The very good news is that my brain is working fine. I enjoy being able to focus on work, rather than on my own bodily functions (or lack thereof). And since I'm at home, I can even do some of it lying down.
I have been touched by everyone's concern, kind thoughts and offers of help.
This is, after all, a highly tedious and uninviting road, so thank you all for sticking with me.
One set of friends, whose house sits in their own bit of woodland, said "You are very, very welcome to come and walk in our wood, and we will always offer you a cup of tea." Sounds good.
I was most heartened by the response of Knee Owl Friend, who I see as a remarkable Strong Woman. She never complains about her many health problems (not in public, anyway) and I've never seen her cry. Turns out she could happily come along to Promised Wood and do some weeping of her own.
"I so relate to the tears," she wrote in an email. "With less reason for them, I’ve been there myself – struggling to do something, go somewhere, achieve a bit more than last time – I have dissolved into tears of frustration and disappointment because of cancelled trains, rude people, routes that were meant to be short-cuts but turned out to be longer, full buses that sail past my stop, and so on.
It seems to me that there is a very fine dividing line between being in control and able to cope, and it all falling apart. Most of the time we can keep the lid on these emotions very securely, while other times the bubbles underneath threaten to blow the lid off. It’s when we’re physically fragile that the lid is more unstable."
Perhaps that's just it. My body is so weak and tired all the time, it just wobbles all over the place.
Don't worry when that happens, folks. There's always the prospect of spring and sprouting hair.