Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Rollercoaster down in the dip.....should give this post a health warning, maybe?

I always knew that there would be down days as well as up days - well, today is one of the down days. To be honest, yesterday afternoon was a bit of a dip as well, but I thought I had recovered and certainly the day started off okay. Woke up with a slight headache, but that's fine. Did my first lot of physio and facial exercises and then went over for breakfast with Father John, the local RC priest. He used to live opposite us and has now moved to round the corner. I hadn't seen him since my operation so we were due a catch-up. Over toast and honey and a pot of good Northern tea, we had a good old chat, so all seemed to be going well.

Came home, Neil was still here and we were talking about trying to arrange a couple of days away somewhere a bit warmer and sunnier than the UK when all of a sudden, I found myself in tears. Poor Neil's shirt front was somewhat damp in a very short time! I feel that the positive attitude I usually have is in danger of becoming a facade - it feels that I am fighting two battles at the moment: one  with the cancer and one with the facial disfigurement. Both of them are big battles, not just little skirmishes. Waiting to start the next stage of treatment brings with it uncertainty and worry, although I genuinely trust the NHS to do right by me. In a way, that's the easier battle, because the decisions about what to do, and the execution of treatment, is in the hands of the professionals. All I have to do is turn up for treatment and keep myself in the best of health otherwise to give the treatment the best chance of success. But the rest of it, the facial disfigurement? That's up to me. I have to take my face out in public. I have to deal with any stares or comments. I have to choose not to hide away but to try to lead as normal a life as possible. And I am finding it terribly hard today.

 I know the people who love me and who care about me don't care what I look like. But I do. I don't like looking in the mirror and seeing a lopsided face. I don't like not being able to smile. I don't like having an eye that is so different from the other.

I don't like being so shallow that these things matter. All that really matters is being alive and what I look like shouldn't be such a big issue. Well, today it is. And I don't mean that I don't appreciate all the wonderful treatment I have had, because I do. I also know that without the disfigurement, I would in all probability be in a far worse state of health. I understand all that and can rationalise it. Just today, I can't rationalise for my emotions.

So, there you have it - down in the dip and wanting to get back onto a more positive track (if that is not mixing my metaphors).

There is lots to be grateful for, though - a lovely chat with my baby brother on the phone and a visit from him and his gorgeous family next month as they are en route to Gatwick airport; continued love and support from the people who matter and, above all, being alive. When I look at the alternative - well, it's not really an alternative, is it?

As always, I am so thankful for my lovely family and amazing friends. Thank you all and I hope to resume normal, cheerful service soon.


  1. Oh Ali sweetheart, I'm sorry you're having a rough day. Such as my own experience is, I'v found the trick with a bad days is just to go with it, let it do its worst with your mood - it'll soon get bored and leave you with the better days. That makes me sound a little deranged, but still. Trying to look on the bright side used to make me feel guilty that I wasn't more grateful for my blessings, of which I knew I had many. You have every right to feel sorry for yourself at times even with your many blessings, but it will pass and the sun (damn it) will shine tomorrow. Huge hug to you. xxxx

  2. You are not shallow. You've always taken pride in your appearance and looked gawjuss (we'll put the bunny ears and fluffy tail aside/ or blame TP) and now something has happened to change all that, and it's not just a case of a hair cut gone wrong.

    I was given a tip a few years ago after something happened to me and it was the initial shock of looking in the mirror that was the hardest. Holding the look for longer helped as I focussed on the bits of me that were still the same.

    Okay, I'm going to shut up by sending you a magic carpet so you can jump on it and sail about the clouds for a while.

  3. Ali its not at all shallow to be concerned about your face, I can't imagine how hard it must be to look in the mirror and not see yourself.

    Other people who see your face all the time will have been able to adjust much more as they are seeing your face every time they look at you, you are seeing it when you look in the mirror so have had less time to get used to it.

    I understand what you are saying about the alternative not being an alternative but you are going through a hell of a lot and yes you have love and friendship in abundance around you but that doesn't take away the hugeness of what you are contending with.

    Its good to acknowledge the down times and let it out, much healthier than bottling it up.


  4. OMG - News Alert. Alison Sweeting is human after all. She has normal human emotions, doubts and concerns. Thank you for making us mere mortals feel better about having the occasional less than positive thought, allowing us the fleeting moments of vanity that prevent us all from leading totally replete social lives, but mainly thanks a bunch for ruining yet another packet of previously redundant tissues. Thankfully, I read your blog in the privacy of my own kitchen, so no-one need know that I also am not the perfect human that you so shamelessly appeared to be. xx

  5. and could you please stop mixing your metaphors ( whatever that means ) ?

  6. Hi Ali. I'm glad Neil was there to look after you this morning. As has alreasy been said you are not being shallow at all. We all have our internal picture of how we look. As you go about your day to day life your subconscious will be seeing you as you always were. Seeing yourself in the mirror is a sudden reminder of how you have changed ........... on the outside. I know it sounds like 'just one of those things to say' but time is going to be the thing in all of this. Eventually you'll grow more comfortable with the changes that face you in the mirror.

    We are here for the ups and the downs so keep sharing xx

  7. Those pesky emotions, you can't rationalise them, can you? They are what makes us who we are are and, frankly, worth talking to. I wouldn't want a friend who was a robot.

    And not shallow in the least to be worried about your appearance- again, just human.

    For my part I've been worried that you were bottling up too much, which is not good. You don't have to take it all on yourself and be strong for everyone else; you're allowed to be vulnerable.

    The exercise is a good thing too if it keeps you fit and gives your conscious mind something else to think about. But don't bust your farthing clapper!

    KBO, Wee Ali

    A x

  8. Howdy Ali, you are on the most challenging journey of your life right now and you need to look after your mind as well as your body xx You are allowed shit days and you are allowed to feel crap, it's healthy and it's human. Have a cry, have a rant about how just bloody unfair and crap it is, it's your humanity that makes us all love you.

    As far as your appearance goes, it is probably going to take you a lot longer to adjust than those around you becuase you are not looking at yourself all the time. Please don't beat yourself up for feeling sorry for yourself when you need to, I love your honesty and as a friend I want to hear about the crap days and the things you fear or make you sad, as has already been said, it's good to hear you are letting those feelings out x

    love you loads as always, love to Neil as well for being your rock xxxx

  9. There's no rules to this game, there are no right ways or wrong ways to feel and, as somebody else pointed out you are human (though the Scottish brand of human so obviously a bit special).
    This is a huge mental and physical change and you're going to have rough times ... probably more than the good ones for a while ... but you've got your inner strength and your brilliant support network. You'll make your way and we'll be there to help catch you when you waver ... there's a cast of thousands, the smaller may get trampled in the rush! Oh, you are the smaller ... those at the front please be careful.
    Friends are not just there for the good times, you've said that often enough to me :-)
    Hugs to you, to Neil and to AS & LD. xx

  10. Ali.
    "Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
    But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
    Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade."