The most inane and banal of incidents can set off a trail into unexpected territory both familiar and unfamiliar…….
Just over a week ago, hubby came home with a gift he had received. A proper Swiss Army Knife. Those ones with all the gadgets and tools all artfully contained in the body of the knife.
These are fascinating little things, and I could not resist having a look and exploring what tricks it would contain. I gently pulled out a little penknife blade, taking care with my crumbly finger nails which have no capacity to grip. I teased out the little scissors and looked around for some paper to test them on. Then I pulled out another mystery implement, wondering what it would be. Snap! The small blade which it belonged to flicked open and caught my finger tip, slicing a neat but deep cut into the finger. There is an instant of regret at such a careless action which is rapidly taken over by the need to act. Thanks to warfarin, this small but deep cut was producing rather a lot of the red stuff and I needed to stanch the flow as quickly as possible. With my arm elevated and the wound held firm, I finally managed to stem the bleeding and carefully cleaned the damage.
I was very quick to blame cancer for the greatest part of this unfortunate incident. Residual peripheral neuropathy, thanks to chemotherapy (Taxotere) has brought me numbness in my fingers and toes numb toes. Numb fingertips cause clumsiness. It is not a very good idea to explore a Swiss Army Knife with numb fingertips, especially with added crumbly fingernails. Adding warfarin and its blood-thinning qualities adds a frisson of excitement to the mix. That is also directly attributable to cancer and its treatment. And if I really want to push it, I can also blame the lack of wisdom in meddling with the knife on the cognitive afters of chemo.
It never fails to amaze me, how much a tiny nick somewhere like the top of the index finger can impact on so many every day actions. Getting dressed, eating, typing and holding a pen all became awkward and uncomfortable with the damaged finger.
The following day, I struggled through (happily it was a Friday) and was glad to get to the weekend. I was especially worried that the cut might get infected in this climate, and that it would not heal given its depth.
So I was very surprised that on the Sunday, I noticed that the cut was healing particularly well and cleanly. By the Monday you could hardly see the cut at all and now there is just a trail of dry skin which marks the scar.
And that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Fast healing, clean barely visible scar? All good. So why did my head turn this into something worrying? Why did I find it so hard not to associate the rapidity of healing cells with the rapidity of multiplying sinister cells. How does a good fast growing cell differ from a bad fast growing cell?
It shows how vulnerable we are to those paranoiac thoughts, to those trains of thought that are barely logical or sensible yet take over a rational mind. A mind which is especially fragile in the run up to the next round of regular but scary scans and checks.
This is the story of a tiny cut finger. This is also the tale of a tiny scared soul, about to pack the fatigued travel bag, braced for whatever is ahead and barely able to contain the fear and anxiety. The afters and sides of cancer and its treatments indeed continue to wreak havoc on the body way beyond diagnosis.
Yet that is not a fraction of the sabotage it introduces into a sensitive and frightened mind.