“Who’s this then?”

That is the question people often ask me as soon as they see me these days, referring to whichever wig or alter ego I am currently wearing. (The options being Brandi, Valerie, Candy Pink, Samantha, Tiffany, Joana or the very natural but chilly Sinead).

“Can I touch it?”

This was the not-quite-as-common follow-up question I was asked by a friend yesterday, fortunately in reference to the wig (Valerie) and not to my post-surgery breast. (FYI wig touching is fine, breast touching is usually not).

After very nearly cancelling because I felt so ill, I made it down to London yesterday for a quick trip to support superstar singer-songwriter Tom Figgins at his EP launch. The trip to London was brief, rainy and fun-packed and involved an interesting challenge as yesterday’s self-injection took place for the first time in a Starbucks toilet!

My short stay in the capital was also replete with gastronomic opportunities, my favourite of which was this chicken teriyaki hot bento box at Blossom, City Point.

It was all going well until I jumped on the train home from King’s Cross station yesterday. Unfortunately, the train before mine had been cancelled, so all 15 coaches’ worth of rush-hour travellers had to pack into my already busy train. This meant that every seat was taken and many people were standing, so my tried-and-tested infection-avoidance technique was about to be truly tested.

I have been splashing out a fortune on first-class train tickets whenever I go anywhere since starting chemotherapy because the first-class carriages are usually empty and thus I normally have a whole germ-free table or area to myself. This time, however, I was wedged into a corner surrounded by businessmen, people standing and – horror of horrors – a rather large lady with a dreadful cough, who squeezed into the seat right next to me. There was only one thing for it, I would just have to hold my breath for the entire two hours and avoid touching anything…

Not only that, but I had been wearing my wig for a few hours by the time I got on the train and was ready to take it off. To give you an idea of how uncomfortable wigs are, gentlemen, I’d say it’s like you wearing a bow-tie. Or a shirt and tie on the beach on a very hot day. Ladies, the equivalent would probably be wearing an extremely tight corset sitting down at the dinner table over a very large meal… or perhaps tights on a hot, sweaty summer’s day… or an uncomfortable pair of heels, maybe? Anyway, you get the hint – anything you want to take off at the earliest available opportunity.

So let’s just say I was a little bit distressed when I took my seat on the train and realised I’d forgotten to take my wig off in the loo before I got on. And you can’t exactly just peel your own hair off to reveal a bald head in front of a load of strangers in close proximity on a train – I mean, of course you can, but it feels like unwritten wig etiquette that you probably shouldn’t. It’s up there with applying your make-up on the tube (I know people do this – I personally struggle with the concept) or stripping down to your swimwear anywhere other than the beach. It’s fine to be bald in the first place, but the shock factor of wig removal is sure to make people feel uneasy.

So anyway, I was lodged in among seated and standing commuters, preparing to spend the next two hours holding my breath and grinning and bearing my uncomfy, tight hairpiece. Fortunately, just as I was starting to panic, coughy lady was asked to give up her seat to its rightful owner, who got on at the first stop, after twenty minutes. Peace and tranquility in my life were restored and I could finally exhale, even if I couldn’t take my wig off. Huge sigh of relief…

Here’s a photo of me awaiting the train to London, sans hair, with an enormous marshmallow-and-cream-laiden hot chocolate afternoon treat.

Chemo Update

It’s been a long and rather painful 10 days since chemo. The terrible aching bones lasted a few days before it started to ease off a bit and I thought that was it. Unfortunately, 24 hours later, the terrible aching pain was back and had just moved positions. The pain was all-over but for the first few days it was concentrated in my legs and lower body, making my knees and joints feel like those of an arthritic 100 year old. Then, by Monday night, it suddenly went to my back and upper body and I spent the night writhing in pain as I experienced what felt like sharp, shooting electricity volts going through my back constantly. This lasted for another day or two before finally easing off a bit by Wednesday. I then began Thursday with a tremendous wig-induced headache, which could only be eliminated with a very large cup of tea (the Paracetamols didn’t work!) And then finally, after the Starbucks toilet immune-boosting injection, the aching pain was pretty much gone but the all-over sore muscle pain (like you might have after a hardcore spinning class and a spot of weightlifting) returned. So I’ve been through the wars a bit, as my mother might say. I still feel quite crippled and still have the soreness, though it is gradually easing and is totally bearable compared with the aching. Oh, and I’m pleased to say my tongue has now gone back to a perfectly normal shade of pink!

I also have my 10th and final self-injection to do today, followed by 10 injection-free days – yippee! (I am now a total self-injection pro, by the way, and have been taken off the local district nurses’ system for good.) For my final post-jab treat, I will be digging something out of this delicious, retro sweet selection sent by the very kind and thoughtful Lizzie G.

Finally, one of my readers pointed out that he feels well-versed on the colour of my pee. I do appreciate sometimes I share a little too much information, but I must say that it’s purely for educational purposes and I know you can all handle it. The one thing I haven’t been sharing, and probably never will, is photos of graphic stuff like needles and yucky medical things. I am personally 100% squeamish, if you haven’t noticed, and don’t like looking at those images myself (or living the reality of them, for that matter) so I promise to keep the images in this blog as fluffy, happy and food-related as possible!

To prove my commitment to banishing thoughts of my multi-coloured pee, I leave you with this picture of my hot chocolate treat. See, dear reader, I am good to you! Happy Friday.