Days 43-49: cricket and dowsing
25 May 2011
I've always liked cricketing metaphors. That's why I decided to record my cancer diary by numbering the days from the date of diagnosis. My aim is to notch up successive cricketing-style milestones.
So the first aim is the half-century of days. Then I'll aim to reach 100 days. Once that's achieved it's going to be 50 weeks, then a century of weeks. And then it's into measuring progress by months and years. I'll be happy to score another 50 years (that'll take me to the ripe age of 104) ... but don't think I'll go for the full century on that measurement.
So I write this on my 49th day and - appropriately - I'll be spending it watching Hampshire v. Lancashire in a 4-day, traditional county cricket match at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. It's the first time I've been to a county match since I was a schoolboy, when I used to cycle across my home county to watch Essex play in Colchester and Chelmsford. It's one of the symptoms of my new, more relaxed approach to life. Or, to misquote the poet William Henry Davies: 'what is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare (at cricket)'.
So, as I pack my binoculars and straw hat for the match, I'll briefly recap on the past week. The second chemotherapy proved better than the first. I managed to avoid the sickness and nausea. However the fatigue was worse and continued for longer. I'm realising now that, effectively, you have to write off the first week of each chemo cycle.
By the 4th day after chemo I was just exhausted. I spent much of the next three days sleeping and feeling rather low. My mood was not helped by the discovery that I had been the victim of on-line financial fraud, with large amounts of money vanishing from an on-line account ...and this just days after another fraudster had hacked into my mobile phone account, leaving me worried about password security and computer viruses. It's ironic that I'm supposed to be banishing anxiety as part of my way of dealing with the cancer. I'll just regard these as little tests to see how well I was doing.
By the 7th day after chemo I did feel strong enough to go to watch Fulham v. Arsenal in the final game of the football season. It's about a half-hour walk from the station to the ground and normally I stride it pretty quickly, usually overtaking most others along the way. This time, after a good first 15 minutes, I found I was getting slower and slower. Soon even the slowest walkers were overtaking me. I felt like a 90 year-old shuffling along the embankment path. Still, I enjoyed the game and felt that normal life was beginning to return.
On the 8th day I felt much stronger again. This was the day my wife, Chrissy, had arranged a visit from a 'holistic geobiologist' who was here to survey our house for geopathic stress. Now I'll admit to be being fairly sceptical about this but - like most things - I was willing to give it a go.
Roy was a fascinating character. An ex-forester, a former policeman in London's Soho district, and a triathlete who's represented Great Britain, he retrained in dowsing and geobiology in Germany. Geobiology goes back to the 1920s when an eminent dowser made the claim that cancer was caused by energy lines that ran under the beds of people who had died from the disease.
Using dowsing rods and a suitcase full of scientific instruments he set about checking our house for geopathic stress. This is the harmful radiation caused by electromagnetic disruption from things such as underground streams, mineral deposits, or fault lines. Happily our house and garden were given the all clear.
So next he tested for electro-magnetic fields, for 'electrosmog' and 'bed geomagnetic anomalies'. When he came to both my study and our main bedroom his instruments gave off alarming signals and noises. One culprit was the cordless phone. It turned out (and he was quite right about this) that we had mistakenly set up two master cordless digital units for our phone land-line. One of these was in the bedroom, which should have been only a so-called 'daughter unit'. DECT cordless phones emit radiation 24 hours a day, even when you are not using them. And we had two of them, one transmitting close to where we sleep.
A second culprit, less surprisingly, was the wi-fi system in the house. The wirless transmitter is placed very close to where I sit at my desk. A third problem was found to be our bed, which has a metal frame and bedhead. This was causing electrical disruptions exactly in the place where our heads are on the pillows during sleep.
All of these issues are easily addressed: a new cordless phone system using an ECO system which cuts out most of the radiation emission (he recommended the Siemens Gigaset ECO models), a hard-wired router which sends the internet signal through your home's electrical ring circuit, and a new wooden bed.
At no point did Roy suggest that any of these issues were remotely a cause of my cancer (if he had detected geopathic stress that might have been different). Indeed I did not tell him until well into his visit that I had cancer. But his point is that the body needs to recuperate and to restore the natural energies and needs the right environment (especially in the place you sleep) for that.
I found it an interesting day. I do not pretend to understand the science of it all and I would refer you to the very knowledgeable post below from Chris Thomas, a friend of mine who urges caution in these matters.
Anyway, since then I have been almost back to my old self and able to get on with work and normal living. It struck me at one point that chemotherapy provides a rather good analogy for living with cancer. During the day-long treatment I was attached to an intravenous drip for 8 hours. I could move around but I had to take the drip, mounted on a stand on wheels, with me wherever I went.
That's what cancer is like. You can do lots of normal things. You can feel well. You can function. But you are aware - all the time - of that thing that is trailling along with you all the time.
But one day I will be saying goodbye to it -- I'm sure of that.