I find the edge of the dressing and then Josh reaches round to his upper thigh and slowly, slowly peels off the dressing. Whilst he’s at it I unwrap the single dose of Clexane (a blood thinner), I pull off the cap and flick off the drops of fluid that cling to the needle. I use two alcohol swabs to clean the injection site. The first swab is used to clean away a line of anaesthetic cream. I leave the swab in place so I can see the spot where the injection will go in. The second swab cleans thoroughly. It only takes a second for the needle to sink into his flesh and the fluid to ooze out until we hear the familiar click, click which indicates the injection is complete and a plastic covering has descended over the needle. It’s now safe to dispose of.
“Pain?” I ask.
“No.” Josh replies, “I’m going back to sleep.”
We repeat this ritual twice a day, along with handfuls of pills to be administered on waking, after breakfast, at lunchtime, at 5pm and then again at bed.
As I administer the injection this morning I think about when a friend wrote, “I hope things are going well for you,” in a recent email. My instinctive answer surprised me. It was: yes, things are going well for us.
It got me thinking about what constitutes “going well”. Even more so when I checked Facebook this morning and noticed an acquaintance’s posts from a trip to Mauritius. The post showed a day packed full, full, full with activities. Walking, dancing, driving. There was no mention of a moment of stopping. No commentary on the magnificence of the scenery. I felt exhausted looking at the pictures.
A few months ago, though, that would have been me: on the move, “packing it in”, needing to be seen to fly higher, do more, experience it all. I remember thinking about how life is short and that I need to fill it up.
By that measure, then, things are definitely not “going well” for us.
And yet they are.
Whilst my acquaintance was “doing” a tropical island, Josh ate. He stayed awake all day and had enough energy to come with us on a trip to a local shopping centre to buy father’s day gifts. Chris, my other son, studied for exams on and off during the day. In the afternoon we watched a forgettable show on TV together and made home-made pizza’s. It felt like a perfect day.
It’s very hard to talk about the gifts that cancer has brought us – especially when we are still “in” it. A perfect day is surely one of them.