Holby City, 26 Mar 2013, Journey’s End.
Today was a good day. Today, one of my favourite characters, Tara, the ambitious medical student who’s quickly becoming a formidable heart surgeon finally got the opportunity to do a properly difficult operation, and save somebody’s life.
Problem is, Tara has a brain tumour, which is growing, and slowly it’s meant that she’s been less and less capable of doing her job. Last week it was a hand tremor. This week it was a fit which made her collapse.
Her boss’s boss’s boss, the big cheese, on seeing her latest brain scan, marched into theatre, and almost stopped her mid-operation, but was merciful, and let her finish. She’s acheived her dream, she saved a life, and now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the tumour to take hers. Soap gold dust.
Pretty actresses like her get signed up by ITV with no problem, we’ll see her in something else before long. You get used to the three yearly cycle of new doctors and nurses after a while.
But for me, it’s not so cut and dried. I don’t have a single, realisable dream, after which I rest easy. I don’t have an agressive, terminal disease which will rapidly take my life.
Today I made a little mistake at work, I didn’t perceive something as it was intended, I wasn’t quite as quick as usual. Then I had a conversation with colleagues during which the track of my multitrack mind which says ‘my legs hurt, can I sit down now?’ was sounding louder and louder til it drowned the conversation. I dried up the dishes sitting down. Nobody’s going to swoop in to march me from the operating table, it’s nothing half as melodramatic.
But it has begun, and where will it stop? Today I am less able to function at work than I was last month. I am less able to interact with others such that they don’t notice a difference. I am less able to contribute. I am less able.
Moving onto other BBC medical soaps, in today’s Doctors, Jimmi was examining the stages of bereavement. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I am losing the me I could have been, but how will I adjust to that?
Science seems a reasonable (sorry) way to start, documenting every movement and every symptom until life becomes a long equation of Energy In = Energy Out. Or energy out meaning pain tomorrow. Is that bargaining?
Denial’s quite nice where I can face it – being perceived as ‘normal’ at work is welcome, in a way. Even the people I’ve told don’t seem to want to ask how I am. But when I pretend I’m not ill, using energy recklessly like a ‘normal’ person, it’s not long before my body reacts. On the train I was shaking with muscle spasms from Norbiton to Fulwell. Looked like a right weirdo. One day I’ll accept my limitations and ask for a seat.
So, I’m not an actress on a short-term contract, with visible wobbly-collapsy-symptoms and weeks to live. But nor am I completely well, with nothing to stop me standing by the water cooler for a chat. I’m stuck in the middle.