In the absence of any certainty or development in the medical part of my life, I turned to the tried and tested solution, guaranteed to make me feel slightly better - shopping!!
Over the past couple of months, I have only ventured to the local shops, which has seriously limited my purchasing potential. We have loads of charity shops (with good quality items - after all, this is Oxted, dahling) and a burgeoning cafe society - we worked out recently that we can have coffee in a different establishment every day of the week - but the opportunities for *proper* shopping are sadly lacking. I have bought a few bits and pieces online, but I miss having the chance to feel things in shops: touching fabrics, seeing colours in daylight, not on a laptop screen and (and I know you may find this just a teeny bit odd....) smelling things. Yes, I am a bit weird: tactile, visual and olfactory-al (I think I may have just invented a word). I see shopping as a multi-sensory experience :-) The other physical effect is on our bank balance :-D
Today I got a chance to wander round some real shops, at a large shopping centre. Neil was able to pick me up on his way back to the office after his morning appointments and drop me off at Bluewater. Oh, the joy of touching things, holding them up to the light, matching them with other things, sniffing them and then making a decision to buy or not. An ordinary, simple activity but one which I have missed and wanted to experience again. It was tiring, as I expected it to be, but immensely satisfying. Best of all, only one or two people gave me anything more than a cursory glance - I must admit that I was apprehensive beforehand about how I would cope if people stared at me. I think that was because I wasn't talking while I was just looking at stuff (despite what you may think, I am not so barking that I wander around talking to myself...) so my face, in repose, just looks a bit swollen and asymmetrical. When I did engage in conversation with shop assistants, it was all fine and no one reacted to my semi-mobile mouth.
Sum total of shopping trip: a pair of jeans, a shirt, some underwear, a couple of tops, lots of stuff for the house, wine glasses - oh, the list is endless! But the best thing is that I was able to do something normal, that I used to take entirely for granted, and not feel conspicuous. I even managed to meet up with a friend and her daughter, who ended up coming to the same shopping centre, so I had some company for that very important and necessary late afternoon cup of tea! My lovely chauffeur (Neil!) came to collect me when he finished work and drove me home. He's such a star!!
Tomorrow is the MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) meeting, where my case will be discussed and I should hear from them at some point what the outcome of that meeting is. It's a big day for us, as hopefully I should find out what type of cancer I have, whether they need to do any further exploratory work, whether they think I will need chemo in addition to radiotherapy and when things are going to get moving. I am very impatient to start the next stage and Neil is also impatient for this: we both see this as the inevitably gruelling but absolutely essential stage which will get rid of any traces of this evil invader. I am trying not to worry about any little ache and pain and assume that it means I have cancer somewhere else - that way madness lies!! I do actually feel very well - my scar is less painful by the day, although my shoulder tends to ache when I get tired, I don't have a cough or a sore throat, I don't have any problem with lack of saliva (sorry, is that TMI? Tough! - welcome to my world!!). This morning, I went to the gym with Neil and did my physio and some time on the exercise bike and treadmill. I tried a little run on the treadmill, but discovered that my cheek really hurts when I do that. It's not got any tone and nothing holding it up, so it is like having a heavy lump swinging with each step. I'm sure someone could come up with some smutty riposte to that, but I am too tired after my shopping trip to think of one myself :-) I do want to try a little run, so I might try taping up my cheek to give it a little bit of support and see if that helps. If I do get a place in next year's London Marathon, I will need to be able to get around 26.2 miles without that swinging lump cramping my style!
I think shopping should be prescribed on the NHS - not for nothing is it called "Psychological Keynesianism" - or, spending your way out of a depression :-)
Signing off, you lovely people. Keep smiling and do an extra half smile for me to make up for the bit that's missing from mine :-)