Dark cloud on a sunny day

I’m looking out onto a sunny day and not feeling the joy this would usually bring. Anyone who knows me would say that I am a naturally happy and positive person. Throughout my life I have suffered from depression although not so much in recent years. I have mostly managed to keep it at bay.

I think my whole life has been one long struggle. Poverty, living with not one but two alcoholic husbands. (yes I know one is unfortunate, two is foolish).

18 years ago I was starting the journey into treatment for stage 3 cancer. I was given the all clear in September 2001 a few days before 19/11. it was still another couple of months before I returned to my part time work. It took time to build back the strength to do more than just the basic requirements of family life. I remember very clearly the words of my Macmillan nurse telling me that a very few people have long term bowel/bladder problems following the treatment I had undergone.

I think that after all these years it is safe to say that I am one of these few people. I wasn’t aware until two years ago when I was so ill that I was literally housebound in agony with no appetite. My cancer treatment had made me prone to kidney infections. I had suffered repeated bouts of flu like symptoms, pain in every part of my body and a shivering fever. What scared me the most was the drastic weight loss and the frequent passing of blood in my urine. After many blood tests, ultra sound scans, CT scan it was decided that the cause of all these symptoms was a severe kidney infection.  A course of strong antibiotics and forcing myself to eat again I began to get better. The next year and a half I have managed to stay reasonably healthy.

The last few weeks I have felt unwell, I was getting those flu like symptoms again. I have been struggling to force myself to eat for a few weeks and the blood in my urine has increased from being once or twice a week to multiple times a day.  I never know when the blood will come but I always know when it does because passing water becomes very painful. (it makes me want to cry). I don’t have thrush or cystitis both very unpleasant but luckily not problems that I have had to deal with for years. However as I sit here now I have a pain in my urethera. I don’t know how to describe it other than a feeling that I have a holly leaf wedged inside me. I have been to see the Dr, I don’t have an infection at the moment. The flu symptoms have subsided. On Friday I had to take a day off work as I had a severe stomach upset which left me on the loo for hours. When not on the loo I was sleeping.

I was trying to force myself to eat to get back my energy but scared to eat because my bowels were playing up. Ever since my cancer treatment I have suffered with bowel problems. I can never be confident that my bowels won’t erupt with little or no notice. It makes being out of the house very dangerous for me. Yes I really chose the right job for me. Being in my car for hours on end delivering parcels. There have been days when I have had to make a mad dash home for the loo. I don’t always make it.  It has been bad enough for all these years but now that I my bladder problems have increased over recent years it is getting me down. Following a recent urodynamics test (which wasn’t very successful) the registrar tells me that my bladder has damage from my radiotherapy back in 2001. Cheers I had worked that out.

This has been my life for so many years now that I don’t remember what it was like to have normal toilet functions. I find it both physically and mentally distressing every time I need the toilet. It must be wonderful not to have any worries or distress when sitting on the toilet. I just don’t remember.

All this added to my recent bout of being unwell has led me into a dark place. I don’t usually allow myself to wallow for long but this time I feel myself being dragged under. I know I have things to do and people to talk to but it all seems as though my life is too much effort. I have my estranged husband calling me with messages saying that he needs my help. I can’t help him I have my own demons to deal with. If it wasn’t for my four sons and their growing families/partnerships I just wouldn’t bother getting up each day. I just want to give in to oblivion. I know I won’t, I have my grandson and another grandchild on the way to think about.  If I am honest though I am fed up with my life.

To make life even better within minutes of posting this I fell. I missed the bottom step of our stairs, flinging myself and my laundry into a heap on the floor. Surprisingly my ankles were fine. However I did have incredible pain in my feet. I later discovered the my left big toe is bruised and I had some painful swelling on the side of my right foot. Having wrapped my foot in a towel and some frozen sweetcorn, the swelling subsided. Now three days later my right foot is only painful when knocked but my left big toe is still painful but I am able to walk on it fairly well now.

I have just been reading about PRD Pelvic Radiation Disease Pelvic Radiation Disease

This is new information for me. I had no idea that what I have been dealing with for the last 17 years is a common condition for those of us who have had radiation treatment for Cervical Cancer. Had I known about this sooner I would have made more noise about it with my GP. Instead I have lived with it believing that nothing could be done.  Over the last couple of years I have had various tests and screenings for my bladder problems but never for my bowel problems.

Yes, I am grateful for the treatment that I had which has enabled me to  continue with my life and watch my sons grow up. However I would certainly say that these apparently not so rare side effects of radiation treatment have affected my quality of life.

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