It backs against the wall

– raffish, racy and I’m sure brand-new. It’s resting for the night after my spin earlier down the corridor.

Oh yes, living dangerously.

I have a new Zimmer with wheels, a little cross seat and breaks to do wheelies.

It goes like a dream; fluid, easy, no clunking pick up and put down and it’s shiny black and….oh, God, I really need to get out more.

Ten days ago, I was being held by my nurses to walk, my spindle shanks a-quivering and shaking, my trips to the lavatory my outings after the first immunotherapy knocked me for six on top of the last chemo.

But things finally, finally settled and I’ve been eating and pushing my walking in a bid to be stronger for tomorrow’s treatment; to have more back-up to resist the healing poison.

Needless to say, I’m dreading a repeat and all the nurses and doctors can do when I ask the question is hold up crossed fingers. Great.

And now there are other developments both good and also frightening.

The two hospitals had a case meeting and decided treatment was working extremely well and buying more and more months of life. The tumours are still greatly diminished, thank God, and they’re now adding to the three weekly immunotherapy infusions, daily preventative radiotherapy sessions for the next three weeks.

These, too, carry potential side effects and every time I get any I’m right back to square one with the weak legs, the trembling and the desire to turn my face to the wall.

But, worse, my time here is running out. They have already kept me in really longer than they should in this safe, pristine rehabilitation which costs a huge sum to my insurers and the health service per month.

So, between the next two immunotherapy sessions and if I am not brought low again, there is a window for me to leave. I almost vomited with fear when first told for, in truth, I have become institutionalised and to leave this security is like going away to school for the first time.

They also believe I should now be close to my son as, although there will be help at my house for me and they will provide all they can, they believe my mental and indeed physical state was immeasurably improved by his three-week presence in the summer.

I cannot praise enough their help. They’ve sent scans and medical records – some written out in English to the Royal Marsden, London, where out-patient treatment will continue and I’ve had everyone from psychologists to social security experts to see me. I have such faith in this system.

With lockdown and quarantine, Pierce is unlikely to be able to come and get me and so they are seeking further help – ideally free – for medical assistance on the plane they believe is the way to travel. But I may have to do it alone.

At the other end I will go into a small rented flat in Battersea, ideally just minutes away from Pierce – the lay-out of his town house makes it impossible for living there.

I will have luggage – mainly clothes and a few precious photos and maybe a small, sneaked painting or two – and it could be a few weeks until the English system kicks in so, apart from his ministrations, I will be still alone.

I don’t know how well I’ll be walking or feeling and there will be no buzzer to press in the night.

“It’s a bolt hole,” he tells me. “I’ll be minutes away – you’ll often be at our house or I’ll come and have lunch and we’ll have dinner. Your friends can all see you when it’s safe. You’ll see your grandchildren including the one you’ve never met.”

On good serene days I smile and nod on Facetime to him. On bad days I cry, overcome with pride at how much he’s doing and wanting to do for me.

But mainly I cry, for it’s not fair he should have to, want to. He has a young family, a massively busy, intense and demanding working life, and now, for the first time ever … a dependent, no longer an ‘ah sod it all’ mother.

I cry selfishly, too, for the loss of me – for the loss of my movement, my courage, my ability to face down any situation and not stop until I’ve achieved my aim…or story as it usually was.

I won’t go back to LM before/if (still part of me thinks of staying) I leave. Miriam will turn the key and my life will drain into sepia on the walls. My life, my memories, my treasures, my history.

But the reality, without being maudlin, is I’m going back to die where my son can be by my side.

Of course, I’m hoping the months stretch into at least a year but then, as you know, I believe in prayer and miracles, even for old sinners like me.

So, there you have it. Once I had a house in France….now I have a souped-up Zimmer. Merde.

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