Fantastic Experiences and Fed Up

On balance, it’s not been such a bad week.  I’ve grudgingly gotten myself into the tablet routine and have made it out of the house precisely five times.  That’s some semblance of a passable quality of life, even if I’d rather have more.

Yes – the first ten days of this cycle were rough. But by last Wednesday, I felt reliably well enough to accept a last minute call for a big band gig.  Slotting in on 3rd trombone, the stakes were low if I hadn’t turned up, so that got me out of the house and, to my surprise, I was able to make a good go of it.  I’m finding that a good meal settles my stomach, so a trip to Kings Cross Nando’s really helped me get through it.  You may be getting a sense of deja vu here and if you read about 40 blogs back, you’ll notice these same experiences being amongst my first steps out of a pit of feeling rubbish.  The band also helped me get a charity promo in and the generous people of Jamboree donated over £100 to Macmillan.

Thursday gave me quite an unusual reason to make it out of the house.  All sorts of old friends have come out of the woodwork to reconnect with me and that included Ed who, at Uni in Birmingham, accompanied my degree recital.  Ed’s the sort of old contact you see on facebook becoming increasingly successful over the years and he’s now the Assistant Musical Director of Mrs Doubtfire in the West End.  When the offer came of the chance to sit in the pit (not to play, thank goodness!) I jumped at it, or would have done if I’d had enough energy to jump.

This wasn’t just unique but a fantastic experience.  Sandwiched between the trumpet and trombone, I could even choose the balance of instruments and voices on headphones.  What really struck me from sitting in a professional pit is that this band was tight. This should come as no surprise, but wow – these musicians were incredibly together and I didn’t notice a single split, let alone note out of place.  It really hit home that to get this kind of gig, you don’t just need to be able to play the music, but do so consistently and reliably every time you pick up your instrument.  Give me a few run-throughs and I could do the former, but never the latter.  I’ve always known this, but that’s why I’m not a full time professional musician.  My mistake rate is just too high and the pressure of only being as good as your last show is something I wouldn’t want anyway in retrospect.

I’ve been told that musicians who play a show for months to years on end become really jaded and even a really exciting show becomes mundane to the point that you may as well be working on a production line.  So it pleasantly surprised me that this band really got into the show with all manner dancing and in-jokes, like this doorbell that the trumpet ‘pressed’ in time with the sound effect.  Just like all the notes, this cue was spot on!

When I was ushered backstage for some ‘sightseeing’, this bizarre scene in the band room topped off the experience quite nicely.

Of course, on Friday, I paid for daring to go outside and stay largely upright two days in a row with a duvet day.  And on Sunday for music school on Saturday.  I’m still paying for that today, but hopefully having finished the chemo tablets will make for a more tolerable week.

It had better be.  I’m fed up of chemo now and have had enough of being sick and tired.  It’s making me really grumpy.  It didn’t help this morning to have it again confirmed in the news that I have one of those ‘lifestyle’ cancers with all the major risk factors being down to living unhealthily.  It should help that no one knows why this happened to me and my conscience should be clear – I lived the healthiest life pre-diagnosis and there isn’t even a genetic link to mine.  I’m just – in the words of one doctor ‘just very unlucky’.  But reading paragraphs like this feels like a kick in the teeth and I can’t help resent reading it.  Reports like this just make it look like I’m a fat and lazy salad dodger, which I suppose is currently true, but I’d like to do something about that as soon as possible.

All being well, there’ll be even more to write home about before the next cycle starts this time next week.  Maybe even some running – I really need to for all sorts of reasons, not least because the one side effect I’m not exhibiting is low appetite and I’m beginning to resemble some kind of balloon animal.

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