The Bookworm


I find it difficult to concentrate; this is not new. My concentration level or lack of it, is not something that is within my control and I am never sure whether this is a fact that reassures me or not. It is the fault of the drugs. If in doubt always blame the drugs. Drugs R Bad. Since the first day I was given Oramorph, I have never looked back and to varying degrees, I have been zoning out ever since.

Not being able to concentrate is debilitating. I find it incredibly embarrassing. At it’s worst, at the start of my treatment and around my transplant, holding a conversation was a challenge and would usually be proceeded by a lengthy snooze. Films would not be watched unless I had seen them before and even if I had seen them before, they would have to be watched in batches. Even the season 3 finale of The Killing had to be viewed in four 15 minute sessions. Sarah Lund would not be pleased. It’s also the reason why I cannot follow Game of Thrones.

The present, with just 60mg of MST a day and the fortnightly injection of velcade, my concentration is the best it has been since somebody said myeloma. I have a memory and at least two days per week, I can follow a film I have not previously seen from start to finish, in one go. Unfortunately, I have limited control over what day this will fall on. Needless to say, this issue has led to me watching a lot of bad, formulaic television.

Books have been the real victim of My Myeloma. Forget the ebook, myeloma is the death to hardbacks. Upon hearing I was unwell, many people purchased books for me to read, to kill time. I even received two copies of Fifty Shades of Grey. I have not read them, which is probably for the best as myeloma has made me a sexual pariah and I do not need any additional stimulation. I have attempted many times to read a book. I open the front page, I read it. I might even read four pages, but then I have to read the pages again because I am unable to recall what I have read. It jumps all over the page as I think about what I am having for dinner and become infuriated that I cannot follow the plot, even in a Jilly Cooper novel.

I joined a book club and that died a death, though I believe the failure of that was not purely my fault. I tried audiobooks and I became enthralled by the Candy Crush Saga and stopped listening. At least I can now read articles in a magazine or the occasional newspaper. I can fully recommend the Guardian’s recipes and the film reviews in Sight and Sound read whilst in the bath.

As my concentration has improved, I have become certain that my ability to read something with a beginning, middle and end, will return. Let us be clear, I am no ignoramus, but I was not what one would have called a great reader before. I find reading all consuming, so I usually reserved reading to periods of annual leave when it would be acceptable to stay up until 4am promising myself that the chapter I was reading would be the last for the night. That said, I have a reasonable knowledge and book shelf. Last year, I was outraged when somebody had the audacity to tell me who Hanif Kureishi was. Fool.

I find the lack of an ability to read still, embarrassing and it ranks high in the things that suck about myeloma. It would make my journeys to Wakefield far more productive.

On my recent travels, I had long decided that I was going to read a book. I took four. As I said yesterday, I did suffer from the fatigue on holiday and it quickly became apparent that four was but a pipe dream. I am pleased to say that I did read one book. One whole book. I have been planning and hoping for this celebratory blog for a long time, so I will repeat the fact that I read one whole book. Sure, it was no War and Peace. It was not even a novel, but it had a beginning, a middle and a sleep, so I can say that I have read a whole book.

The book in question, The Old Man and the Sea was loaned to me an age ago as an ‘easy read’. At it’s 97 pages, it took until Day 5 to finish said book. I am sure I read the same pages again and again, but that is not the point. The point is, I read it. I am capable of reading a wholebook.

It may not sound like much, but to me, it is another example of how I am slowly, very slowly, rebuilding some sort of life. It is a gain.

I was told a few weeks ago that I am to join another book club. It’s a challenge that I almost have the confidence to endure.


“Do you know who Hanef Kureishi is? He’s a writer.” Pwah. You have no idea how this comment annoyed me. I’m a culture vulture don’t you know.


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One thought on “The Bookworm

  1. Terri J says:

    Sometimes I find books with short stories are helpful when you can’t concentrate. I just finished CHESTNUT STREET by MAEVE BINCHY. It was a collection her husband put together after her death of things she wrote. That is one author I will surely miss.

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