Complete intoxication is not the right coping mechanism

29th June 2015: Sydney, Australia

I once made reference to a quote stating, “some people in the world need a tap on their shoulder to make changes in their lives”. Initially I played with the phrase, adjusting it to my own circumstances by adding, “some people in the world need a tap on their shoulder to make changes in their lives whilst others needing a gigantic push”. Now, I pose the question of what happens if nether the tap or push is sufficient to lead to sustainable change? Does it then just signal no other chances at living will be provided? I ask these questions following a night of behaviours and lifestyle choices I thought had been in my past. Just to note, I am not referring to anything malicious. Rather, complete and utter intoxication over a period of two days. Interestingly, it happened in the midst of all this waiting. I ponder whether some significance is associated with the decision? If so, will the direction be an inevitable death at a much earlier age than I ever hoped? Alternatively, will it be a moment, recognised as a coping mechanism, implemented unconsciously to block out all the uncertainty awaiting me? Finally, could it just be evidence of me changing on a permanent basis, and the night was a singular necessary step backwards to ensure the long lasting life does in fact become a reality.

1, 2 or more drinks?

10th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

The platform of writing these entries was designed to be honest, and so I must confess there is a contrast to the content from the last entry. The reasoning is due to waking up yesterday with a hangover. It was the first time in over eighteen months, and I realise why drinking alcohol to excess is typically avoided. I spent the majority of the day asleep, missing very good waves and feeling as one would expect when hungover. Admittedly though, do I feel bad? The answer coming to mind is no. I probably will not drink alcohol to such an extent for a very long time, however, to visually express my outlook is to think of the night as a wave missed in the ocean. There is no benefit in remaining in a prolonged state of annoyance or frustration as the event or the wave has passed, and will never again be possible to obtain. I agree, a similar wave or event may again occur, and hopefully a better choice is made, however, all this is out of my control so it appears best to wait for the next wave to pass through.

My first Christmas…

24th December 2014: Sydney, Australia

I am approaching my first Christmas at home in five years, and of course it is inevitable that changes are to occur over such a period, however, I doubt it would have been anticipated that such changes have would been thought as a possibility. Tomorrow is going to be my first major full day of celebration since my operation, yes, there have been occasions whereby I have been with my others to celebrate varying occasions. Christmas is something else though, and it is the first of several times over the coming week whereby these changes will be evident. The obvious point in mention relate to my lifestyle and attitudes to such events. Undoubtedly, I am extremely excited about the coming week, yet, admittedly, there is some discomfort lingering in my mind about how the days will unfold, especially in regards to my fatigue, nausea and overall mental preparation. I guess this derives from both family/social norms about how the festival season is celebrated, and the way I have approached this time in the past.

It seems to always come back to two main points for me, namely, the elimination of alcohol from my life and the comfort about the prospect of placing fatigue on my body from insufficient rest. Both points directly relate to social situations, and I am unsure of whether I will return to a place within my mind when these thoughts dissipate, leaving me to just enjoy the celebrations without any invasive thoughts. The interesting point is that no direct connection is made between the thought process and the Cancer that was inside me or a fear of reoccurrence, it just seems to have left a huge stain upon me. I do recognise this as a relatively normal response to such circumstances, however, am wondering whether the stain is permanent or will fade, and eventually disappear over time?

Again, it seems a negative undertow surrounds my thinking, and in some ways it doesn’t really reflect how I am feeling. These words just flow when I start typing. Possibly it is normal to be focusing on such issues, especially approaching moments such as my first Christmas since the surgery or it might just be the case that it is easier to write or be attracted to certain issues discussed in my entries compared to times of joy, love and life.

Well your health is all clear at the moment so everything is fine… Or is it?

12th December 2014: Sydney, Australia

I am fairly settled at home, albeit there is no job featuring in my life, however, I have been here long enough now for a sense of normality to have kicked in. The stark reality is that the normality I was so accustomed to is no longer in existence. It is of course an inevitable part of life, with people evolving and growing with their individual journeys. It is a rather blatant statement to make but the adjustment phase, if it can be labelled as such would have been a smoother process without the lifestyle changes I have made, namely, the virtual ceasing of drinking alcohol. Consequently, options to socialise during the night have become limited, especially when bearing in mind the non-committal stance shown in regards to social occasions resulting from my side-effects and to some degree the lingering psychological effects of my whole situation. I am not being down on myself, however, the reality of the situation is that the expectations of my friends would be fairly well established prior to spending a night with me. In addition, the age and life decisions usually being made by someone of my age, relates to planning with a partner, a point outlining what I deem the secondary effects of experiencing Cancer and having such uncertainty in my life. It is now nearing the end of the year, and I have absolutely no idea what next year holds for me. The situation can definitely be framed in two positions. Firstly, a sense of worry regrading relationships and future employment or a positive reframe to look at the year full of opportunities previously not within my outlook at the time. Interestingly, no mention of my health came to my mind, again, it was the secondary factors associated with such a circumstance taking priority, and I feel this point is pivotal to other people developing an understanding of the experience of Cancer. I feel it could be a case of, “well your health is all clear at the moment so everything is fine”. To some degree, that in fact is the case as the secondary factors wouldn’t be mentioned should my health deteriorate, however, am I just going to stagnate at 30 years old, being content with reduced social, employment and monetary aspects in my life? Of course not. I don’t think there is any easy solution. Rather, I feel it is going to be adjusting in all areas of my life, and when having this mindset there is little separation from me to many others with or without health concerns.

My pact

4th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

The last few days have seen snippets of information detailing the discovery of the tumour. It is a rather powerful and emotive process, forcing me relive some of the memories associated to this stage of the journey. Therefore, it seems relevant to also mention a decision made prior to the whole hospital experience. Again, with most topics, I guess how each reader interprets the information will differ, however, it is personally seen as a critics moment of my life. The topic in mention regards a pact made with myself on the night of New Year’s Eve 2013.

On the night of December 2013, I was staying in an incredible place with my girlfriend and family that overlooked the snow fields of France. Typically in such places, there wouldn’t be a care in the world, on this night though, a pact with myself was made consisting of a promise not to drink any alcohol or eat any red meat for as long as it took for normal health to return. The pact may not have come to fruition if I hadn’t been starring disappointedly over the snow fields from my sweaty bed following weeks of ill health. The significance of that New Years Eve night alone in my bed almost delirious from a high temperature is reason for presenting at the hospital back in London, early on the 12th January 2014 with no alcohol consumed the day before. Why the significance? Well, I believe that pact ensured the stomach pains and flu symptoms were treated as genuine concerns and not just a poisoned post-festive season liver screaming for attention from the assault received over the past weeks.

In reality, regardless of the Cancer or not, I feel modifications to my lifestyle would have been made. An evaluation of my lifestyle and health at the time of diagnosis would show a generally health conscious person whom regularly exercised, however, the alarming feature would be the amount of alcohol passed through my body on the weekends. I am now able to identify myself in terms of the relationship I had with alcohol as a binge drinker. Would I have considered myself different to others surrounding me or others in general around London? No, not at all! In my mind, I didn’t drink midweek, exercised and ate relatively healthy, so would have actually probably had a blurred perception of what healthy living entailed. I do remember wanting to cut out either a session at the pub on either a Friday or Saturday as countless beers would usually would have been consumed, and I think having the Cancer just accelerated some health related decisions into my life. Now, as noted previously, I don’t have the sessions in the pub, more being comfortable with no more than one or two drinks. Consequently, I have found to have a renewed love for other aspects of life, including a sharpness that appears to have returned in my thinking, greater focus, more time and an overall more positive approach without days spent hungover. Yes, I have had some ill health of late and haven’t been as energetic as preferred, however, I feel a return to a full-time schedule will occur next week. In summary, the pact made with myself clearly targeted an area of my life needing attention, was a key step to accurately being diagnosed, and has placed me in this fortunate position whereby I have been able to make the changes needed to actually work towards living a healthy and full life.

Alcohol and Cancer

30th August 2014: Wales

A four hour car journey from my girlfriends house to Wales was endured. The motion experienced of bumping around in the backseat wasn’t well received, particularly when bearing in mind that this feeling is somewhat now accustomed due to the side effects of my medication. The feeling associates itself with the decision made to reduce my alcohol consumption. Alcohol! I have come to realise that I am more than capable of polishing off a beer like the old days, well that’s if you only look at the first few sips before you’ll see I am holding onto the bottle (no longer pint glasses) like a familar prop till I take about my fourth swig, realising it has turned warm and I am longer desiring the taste for more. Alcohol! The car journey today whilst nursing the after effects of a drinking session. No way! If only these feelings could be shared with myself in the past, that is with the exception of times on a Monday at work after a heavy weekend. Honestly, I thought it would be missed a lot more than it is. Strangely, it hasn’t been a straining quest to overcome a thirst for a beer nor has it had to feature in any conversations with doctors. Of course, people will ask, ‘when you going to be able to have a session again’, yet, again, strangely, the thought of it doesn’t really tempt me. In saying that, a few beers or a wine or two with no ill after effects wouldn’t be so bad but isn’t that what most people would want? It’s not really going to be a case of people lining up to have a hangover or cover your morning hangover for you after an alcohol fuelled night is it? The only summary would be never say never, and the social aspect and laughs had over a few beers could, if given enough thought provoke nostalgia, however, at this stage, I’m happy to have my five sips and hold a warm beer before settling into bed, knowing my body will be in better shape to approach the night with a clear focused mind and wake up to enjoy the hour or so before popping the pills that recently were hinted as becoming a routine for the rest of my life. It is probably useful to mention that like a lot of topics discussed, this only captures my current thinking and experiences, and in no way do I think negatively about moderate alcohol consumption, and maybe still have a soft spot for the ocasional blowout. This is all about age and experiences though and is the fundamental beauty of a journal. Naturally, if I was at a different stage in my life then what I am writing may difffer. A lot of what is coming across is about a personal journey with no criticisms directed at anyone (well at this stage).