Live and Learn: Look Ma, No Eyelashes

"Live and learn", I always say. Well, not always that would irritate people, and besides, always doesn't seem to mean what it used to mean. Perhaps the key here is the 'live' part, but it's the learning that seizes my attention, and shakes it by the throat with vim and vigour.

For example, did you know that most people on chemotherapy actually gain weight? I've managed to acquire an additional 50lbs... make that 23 kilos or better yet, 3 1/2 stone... that doesn't sound like so much.

I've had long hair since the sixties and I treasured it as part of my cultural identity, like chips, tea, cheese and onion crisps, Ribena, cheddar and Weetabix. When the hair on my head started to fall out in great big clumps it was traumatic, even though I knew it was going to happen. What surprised me was the departure of all the other hair. Naturally, I took comfort in more chips. The hair on your head keeps your head warm on cold days and cool on hot days. Mine kept the sun off my neck and helped me to maintain my milky white complexion. It turns out that all the other hair that used to be distributed strategically here and there around my body also had useful functions: My beard used to efficiently disguise the fact that I had a surfeit of chin. Hair in my nooks and crannies used to insulate, and prevent the accumulation of excessive moisture. My eyebrows used to stop the rain from running into my eyes.

But who could have guessed the vital role played by eyelashes? I have learned, in their absence, how vital they actually were. Never again will I take eyelashes for granted. They keep dust and wind out of one's eyes, and they seem to play some arcane role in preventing watery eyes. Also, when stuff gets in your eye, you can use eyelashes like little brushes to get it out.

Ode to my Eyelashes
Eyelash, Eyelash day or night,
Keep me safe from dust and light,
When my eyes is full of grit,
You're the ones what brushes it.
Now you're gone, I miss you so
Come back soon and never go.

With eyelashes I had 20:20 vision (allthough I did need reading glasses) without them the world is a slightly sadder, and much blurrier place where certain people fall down and walk into things a bit more often.

Just last night I fell up the stairs and as I lay there thinking about the pain in my wrist, I thought to myself that I didn't used to need to count the stairs... there was a time when I could see them. I suppose some people might say that was my own fault for turning off the light and *then* going upstairs, but I reason it would not likely have made that much difference.

On the other hand, I have managed to get a fair bit of work done in the past few months (I'm afraid to go outside) although it does take me twelve hours to get four hours worth of work completed... it's amazing what you can get done without any eyelashes...

That's another thing. Apparently there is a thing called "chemo brain" which brings about "chemo moments", these are brief lapses in mental process... they are usually quite minor like forgetting that two and two equal four, how to turn on a light switch, inhaling, standing upright or the proper wossnames for things. I don't suffer from these myself, but I've seen purple platypus donkey duck happen to other people.

Hydration is important. I have been told this on many occasions, not just for me, but for everyone, although especially for me. Apparently, the average person requires about three litres of water each day. However, things like alcohol, tea, coffee and chocolate are diuretics and need to be neutralised by equal amounts of water. My estimate is that the average Anzaeuromerican probably needs to drink between five and eight litres of water daily (although a typical Aussie might need considerably more). I don't know anyone who drinks this much water. I manage about a litre a day, and for about six months I cut out tea, beer and chocolate completely. Even so, I don't think I could drink enough water without drowning. Anyway, my very clever wife recently pointed out that the reason I was suffering from exhaustion, headaches and whatnot is that I clearly was not consuming a sufficiency of tea. I am drinking more tea now (partly because my sense of taste is returning to normal) but I do feel better. The fact that I have been on a "break" from chemo since May-18 might possibly be contributing to the fact that I feel much better, but I'm sure the increased intake of tea has a lot to do with it.


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