Symptoms: dry cough
Pain level: head = 6 (migraines)
Treatment: capecitabine (oral chemotherapy)
Featured emotion: Conciliation
TEST RESULT: The latest brain scan shows a new crop of micro-metastases, only 1mm big, which need urgent treatment. This is really discouraging, as my last 2 brain scans were clear. Capecitabine hasn’t had time to work yet, so no panic needed, but this is a bad result. I will have my head screwed into a cage, which is then screwed into a table, for more gamma knife treatment. I have had this twice before. Both times, it was successful when combined with capecitabine, but it’s excruciatingly painful, and scary that new mets appeared so quickly.
You might expect another eruption of grief rage at this news. Make no mistake: I am very, very disheartened and way beyond fed up with this routine. I’m desperate for some respite.
Instead, this made me think about my stalker. He has a job to do, which is to grow and grow and colonise as many organs as possible. His job is not to kill me; that’s just a consequence of him doing his job. So I took some time off from wanting to set his hair on fire like this. (There are a surprising number of images on the interweb of troll dolls being ritually destroyed. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in hating them. Little coiffured fuckers.)
And I started to think about our joint interest in staying alive. I wondered how a conversation would go if I could talk to Mr Adenocarcinoma. I imagine he would have to shout all the time, because there’s nothing subtle about him as an entity.
Stalker: I MUST BURN DOWN THE HOUSE I MUST BURN DOWN THE HOUSE THAT IS MY PRIME DIRECTIVE NOTHING WILL INTERFERE WITH THE PRIME DIRECTIVE.
(I feel like Captain Kirk from the original/only Star Trek series, trying to reason with a homicidal alien that I can neither destroy nor shag. He’s not big on punctuation either.)
Me: You will die if you burn down my house. If I die, you die with me.
Stalker: I MUST BURN DOWN THE HOUSE I MUST–
Me: Yeah, I get that. But consider this. The Caped Crusader is going to kick your ass and mine. That acid lake? The one that’s currently melting your chair? It’s just going to get bigger. It’s going to make both of us feel rotten. You may die, and I will feel like I want to die. How is that in either of our interests?
Stalker: (Silence. Not sure if he’s listening, but at least he’s not bellowing.)
Me: So I have a proposition for you: how about if we share this space, both of us. Together. There’s enough room for us, if you contain your territorial ambitions. You agree to stay outside the house, where there used to be a garden, and not burn down the house, and the Caped Crusader won’t set your hair on fire. We both get to co-exist. In peace. How does that grab you?
Stalker: I MUST BURN DOWN THE HOUSE I MUST…HE WOULD SET MY HAIR ON FIRE? WHAT KIND OF SAVAGE DOES THAT?
Me: Tell me about it. You should see my feet. So. Do we have a deal?
Me: By ‘yes’, you mean that none of what I said matters, and you’ll be ready to throw the Molotov cocktail through my patio doors if the acid lake recedes even a little bit?
Stalker: YES. NOTHING PERSONAL.
This rather farcical exchange has a more serious purpose. My stalker is a fanatic, and you can’t reason with a fanatic, but neither do I need to eradicate him completely. If the disease remains contained, and doesn’t impair the function of organs that I need to stay alive, it is no threat to me. That’s a fairly momentous light bulb realisation. We all hope to get ‘clear scans’ but that’s not actually necessary, and often requires huge doses of toxic substances which seriously degrade our quality of life. What if I just give the stalker his space to live, and I keep mine? I’ve still lost valuable real estate, in terms of body parts that I really liked, but overall, I do feel able to able to coexist with the stalker. We will never be friends, and ultimately he will kill me when the Caped Crusader goes into retirement. He will succeed in shortening my life, but my enjoyment of that life will be greater if I’m not trying to remove every trace of him.
We shall see how long this attitude lasts, or if I’m back to setting his effigy on fire.