Vegas or Bust
In my article, The Good Delusion, I mention the inconvenient health impact terminal cancer tends to have on one’s body; the symptoms of mesothelioma including breathlessness, fatigue and pain. These annoying effects have meant making many changes, including shutting down my man-cave gym due to my inability to exercise. To be honest, bearing in mind my current physical fitness levels, I feel like I should be planting Union Jacks every time I make it up a flight of stairs these days. And of course there are physical consequences of my new super sedentary lifestyle.
I also recount the life changing improvements from taking steroids that have given me the energy and focus to allow me to live a life beyond my bedroom. They continue to help immensely, but after prolonged use, some of the side effects that were cautioned have now started to kick in full force.
Since my diagnosis my friends and I have made more concerted efforts to meet regularly (a fatal prognosis does wonders to concentrate the mind), but despite our more frequent get togethers, I think even they are surprised when they see me and there’s something new and not quite right about the shape of my face. The analogy they are rummaging around their imagination for is probably something like a fully laden hamster who’s had a facial prolapse, or an elephant seal that’s had a stroke.
Every morning as I blearily brush my teeth, I am ambushed by a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. It’s like that moment of shock in the horror film where the doomed victim shuts the bathroom cabinet door and suddenly sees the mask-wearing, knife-wielding psycho killer in the mirror behind them. Argghh! Who’s that!? To be honest, I had never considered myself a particularly well paid up member of the vanity club, but these new jowls are enough to make Jabba the Hutt self conscious.
Now, I’m not a fully qualified oncologist or nutritionist, so I can’t say for certain, but I think the steroids or the combination of drugs could be partly responsible for my increasing weight. The hormonal shut off valve that tells me when I am full seems to have stopped working. Or it could be the frequent and repeated visits to the kid’s snack box; something that is meant to last them a week, lasts me a dessert. Or possibly my body is using its innate intelligence to predict the ramifications of my illness and is preparing itself for a time ahead when I will need reserves of energy like a hibernating bear. Or it could it be the fashionable, but unfeasibly large dinner plates we insisted on getting that have a way of making a 32oz T-bone steak look like a lamb chop and demand you fill up all the white space left.
I dare say that any single one of these factors would be enough to have a noticeable effect on their own. However, borrowing a training methodology from the ironically super fit and successful British Cycling Team, I have taken things to an Olympic level through the ‘Aggregation of Marginal Gains’. That is to say, combine all of the above, season liberally with a dose of, “Who gives a flying fudge?” and accept I am eating far too much shit food, far too often.
There was a time I’d have to bear the mirth of whomever it was I was explaining to that I was the same height and weight as England rugby fly half legend Johnny Wilkinson. Clearly that weight wasn’t being carried with the same muscular disposition as the squatting spot kicker. Funnily enough they don’t seem as incredulous now we are talking more Johnny Vegas.
I can’t say that the situation is helped by my frequent hospital appointments where I am reminded by my consultant that he is only going to start being concerned when I start losing weight. I would really hate to worry him; he’s a decent chap and I wouldn’t want to put him through any undue stress. In fact, it seems to be a common interpretation that, all things considered, an overweight Eamonn is a happy, healthy Eamonn. So much so, that some friends dispense altogether with the usual polite discretion when noticing an acquaintance’s growing girth, and confidently comment on my increasing waistline.
Of course there is the secondary practical effect of these physiological changes as I metamorphose into the Incredible Bulk (“You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry!”). Pretty much all my clothes have become redundant, or at least rather disturbingly or painfully tight. So much so it did occur to me to throw them all out. However, as the good doctor reminds me, at some stage all this blubber is going to start falling off as I fully engage in the ‘C’ plan diet, and who’ll be laughing then, eh?
In the meantime though as a person with a terminal illness I have an ongoing quandary. Should I buy any new clothes (or new anything for that matter)? It’s not like I ever rode the bleeding edge of fashion anyway, but I already have a perfectly functional winter coat. I have one set of basically smart clothes and let’s face it how often am I going to feel like going somewhere that requires a dress code? How many new pairs of shoes am I really going to go through before the scythe drops?
Whenever I consider a purchase these days I do the following mental arithmetic.
Eg. Eamonn wants to buy a jacket that costs £60. If Eamonn wears the jacket on three occasions before a) he loses so much weight he is mistaken for a cadaver and it doesn’t fit, or b) he actually becomes a cadaver, how much does Eamonn pay for each use of that jacket?
This calculation keeps purchases to a minimum and maintains my children’s material legacy, but it does mean some unfortunate innocent is occasionally scarred for life by the inadvertent glimpse of too much hairy man belly. I guess that’s a price I am willing for them to pay.