When I reread this post, first published in July last year, I had such a rush of remembered feeling: the thrill of walking back from the chemist’s that day has a big pin in it on the map of my recovery.
I woke up yesterday morning to find that I had conjunctivitis. Have you ever had conjunctivitis? My advice to you is: don’t. It’s horrible. It’s a highly contagious infection that makes the eye swollen, red, itchy, hot and sore.
So, I woke up and found I could barely open my left eye. Once I prised my lids apart, I took my contact lens out in the vain hope that the problem was a lodged eyelash or similar. It wasn’t. Taking contact lenses out of a sore eye with long fingernails resulted in only a limited amount of gouging, which was good. I washed my eye and waited for the pharmacy to open.
When I got to the pharmacy, the conversation went like this.
Me: I think I have conjunctivitis. Is there anything I can buy over the counter for it?
He: Yes, of course. Try these drops. Keep them in the fridge. Your eye should be better withing 24-48 hours.
Me: Thank you.
He: If it’s not better in two days, see your GP.
Me: Will do.
I paid. I left. I started using the drops straight away, and they seem to be working.
Are you waiting for the punchline?
There isn’t one.
And that’s the point: I had a whole medical conversation and there was no cancer based complication. At all. For the first time since diagnosis.
Tooth problems were exacerbated by chemotherapy side effects; IBS needs to be seen in context of a stripped out gut; almost-endless toe infection a consequence of low immune system, and had to be treated in the context of chemotherapy damage to toenails. Even manicures, pedicures and haircuts require a chat about collateral damage. But eye infections? With eye infections, I get to go to the pharmacy and act like a normal person.
I like this gradual falling away of cancer-related stuff. Every time there’s a little, unexpected happening like being able to buy medicine without the c-word coming into it, my step gets a little lighter. I remember that, although treatment’s not over, it’s more over than it used to be.