The New Normal # 5 – Size Isn’t Everything

When I had left university, my first proper job was working at a music college in West London. I got to hear incredibly talented musicians rehearse and record all day while trying to work out a timetable for said musicians and handle their exam papers. One day, I had to arrange a courier for a bundle of exam papers to be sent to a moderator (glamorous, I know) and the helpful person on the other end of the phone asked me for the size and weight of the package. I was new to the working world (and couriers), so for size I opted for ‘roughly the size of a double toaster’ and for weight I suggested ‘like a chunky baby’. Once the courier and the rest of the office had stopped laughing I gave them the conventional weight but I don’t think it was quite as descriptive.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I have seemingly learned nothing from this as I keep getting asked by people how big the cancerous lump in my leg is and so far my answers have been ‘a large Granny Smith’, ‘a small Grapefruit’, ‘a hot dog roll’ and ‘a child’s pencil case’. None of these things, as far as I’m aware, are actually living in my leg at the moment but what is in there is still a bit of a mystery to me. What I do know after a few more medical visits is that it’s my lymph nodes that have trapped the ‘blackness’ inside my leg and some of it has snuck out to play in my abdomen. However, my heart is in good nick, my blood pressure is fine’n’dandy and, after, slightly strange incident involving a Latvian woman dry shaving my chest hair, the ECG came back normal – whatever that means.

So, the operation is all set for 24th May and I’ve been preparing like an 80-year-old man would. Firstly, I’ve been researching exactly what Netflix is because I’m going to be immobile for a while and somehow Netflix has passed me by. I’ve got the ‘and chill’ bit down pat but I’m excited to see what the first bit is all about. Secondly, I went and got some slippers…in May. Slippers are essential footwear in hospital, they’ll literally laugh you out of the place if you are wearing flip-flops or crocs and God help you if you’re sporting a pair of espadrilles. Finally, and most crucially, I’ve purchased a second hand old man chair from eBay. I was going to put a picture up but really all you need to know is that it’s beige, very upright and when I showed it to my eldest stepson his reaction was “ugh, it looks like it will smell of old people and cigarettes”. The purpose of this chair is to have something I can actually get out of without having to roll on to the floor and be winched up by some complex hoist system.

I’m all set for the op, then, but what I am struggling with is the concept of cancer. Apart from the lumpy leg I still feel completely fine and even though I know that there’s an insidious disease using my body as some sort of evil soft play area (aren’t they all evil?) I can’t quite believe that it’s there. Maybe if each bit of cancer was the size of a Kinder egg and made a beeping sound like a faulty smoke alarm then it would be easier to believe. Then again, nobody can see my shaved chest and I know that’s definitely there so maybe you don’t have to see it to believe. Unfortunately.

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