I woke up on Monday morning to send my friend a text message to acknowledge that the 18 August was her birthday and that I had remembered that fact, and in doing so, I realised that I had forgotten that the day before marked the two year anniversary of me being told that I had multiple myeloma.
Everything about that Friday, two years and four days ago, is burned into my brain, for as overdramatic as it sounds, it is the day in which my life as I knew it, changed. Knowing what I know now about My Myeloma, very little about it surprises me. It surprised me on the 17 August 2012 and forgetting the anniversary of that Friday two years and four days ago did surprise me. It surprises me because it is indeed the date in which everything changed. It might not be something worthy of celebration, but it is something I thought I would always remember, stop and think about when the clock rolls over to 00:00hrs on the 17 August.
In my defence since that day, there are other days in which I feel My Myeloma more than others, and thus at these times I pretend I am a mirror and reflect. Such days tend to feature a ‘small’ amount of wallowing and they include my birthday, Christmas Day and the anniversary of my transplant. I also spent much of Sunday on motorways travelling back to London Town after a weekend away and most of my energy was spent willing myself not to be tired. The reality on Sunday was that after a lovely weekend away in North Devon, I was extremely tired.
Such was my fatigue on Sunday, that I fell asleep for the first time in a long time, wishing that I did not know what myeloma was, let alone have it. I wallowed, even though it was not for the reason I imagined. It’s not a thought I have very often, because it is one that wastes my energy and only succeeds in making me feel sorry for myself and jealous of everybody else in my life. That is something I have had to learn over the last two years. I have also learned the hard way that I cannot go away for a weekend and not suffer the consequences for a few days afterwards. Feeling uncontrollably tired has been the overwhelming theme of my week thus far; something too that I have become all to familiar with in the last two years.
In my two years, I have relapsed twice, I have had an operation, a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy, had two full rounds of treatment and started a third. Today I start another round of radiotherapy. And that is just the medicine. Two years is a long time in Myelomaville. In this time I feel like I have aged considerably, I know I am wiser, the list of what I care about and the weight I give to the things on that list has changed dramatically. The list is far longer and I feel and care far more than I did BC. I have lost and gained weight and all over body hair, and there is a small chance that I have lost an inch off of my height. In short, there are times when I feel like the person I was 735 days ago, is nothing like the person I am today.
Myeloma has forced me to grow up, despite it’s constant and sometimes successful attempts to infantise me. So many things in my life have stalled, and yet in the two years so many things have happened. The things that have happened, in fact, the majority of things that have happened l, are not what I wanted for myself. They have happened however and the only option I have is to learn how best to deal with them when they jump up and slap me in the face whilst kicking me in my stomach. I frequently get my methods for dealing with the lows wrong. As old and wise as I think I have become, there are still days when I royally mess things up. Crucially though, I still get up and try everyday and when things do go array, I am likely to admit that it has, in an undisclosed time in the future. I then try not to do it again.
I suspect the real reason I forgot about this anniversary is because the current battle is garnering all my attention and focus. I do not have the time to reflect on what could have been. I do, however occasionally need to remind myself of what I have achieved in the last two years. I may not need to know how many Velcade injections I have had, but I do need to know that I have the strength to battle what is coming next. And do you know what? I know I have the strength because on this anniversary, I can look back at what I have achieved so far and say without any shadow of a doubt, that I do have the strength. Myeloma is hard, it is all so very hard, another thing I have learnt in two years, but my stoicism is proving to be tougher. It is tough even when I am inexplicably tired and moping around my flat for days on end, experiencing the occasional bout if projectile vomiting.
I attempt to take the difficult days in my stride. In the two years, I think I have almost successfully done that. Everyday for me is a battle of varying proportions. There was a while there where I had the pleasure of a temporary ceasefire and the challenges changed, but right now, I am right back in the fight. This time around, as I fight, I have a huge advantage on my side. It is an advantage that is a far more worthy way of acknowledging this anniversary in question. I have the knowledge of two years on my side and I use that knowledge everyday and it is that, that helps me get out of bed. It is that, that makes me strong. In case you were wondering, I know I am strong because a good friend told me so last week.
The 17 August – I salute you.