Tuesday, 10 January 2012


The acupuncture I had post-surgery did a lot for my nausea, balance, and energy levels; but the little copper needles in my scalp, in spite of the therapist's best efforts, have so far failed to stimulate my hair. I am now resigned to male-pattern baldness as a lasting legacy of the tremendous bolt of radiation I was given to mop up any rogue cells remaining after the second craniotomy. It has been well over two years now, and, although the back and sides have been growing slowly but surely, my tonsure still refuses to sprout.
Tired of trimming the new growth with nail scissors to match the non-growth on the top, three days ago I ordered some electric hair-clippers from Amazon, which arrived this morning. At first, I was too terrified to take them out of the box, but once I'd found the right gauge for beginners (a series of colour-coded safety combs), I oiled the blades and gave it a whirl. An hour later, I had a perfect Sinead O'Connor cut and a fresher-feeling in my scalp, enhanced by Neem Hair lotion from Dr Hauschka. Now I know how boys feel when they get a new gadget: excited, thrilled, can't wait to use it again.

Since I've been in recovery, I have ordered a lot of stuff from Amazon, all of it good and speedily dispatched. I've had bathroom shelves, a phone, a digital radio, vacuum cleaner, a pad to stop my laptop sliding off my knees, tiny trolley cases guaranteed to satisfy the stringent cabin baggage allowances of EasyJet and Ryanair, a watch, an opal ring for my daughter's Christmas present, and numerous books and CDs. I have the entire collection of Thomas Mann, whose novel 'The Magic Mountain' (Der Zauberberg), has to be the best book about chronic illness ever written, taking in philosophy, the tensions in Europe before the Great War, and perceptions of time, expanding and contracting as the seven years of Casthorp's sojurn in the sanatorium go by. Jeanette Winterson was on the radio this morning talking about the solace which reading can bring to a troubled soul. How that resonated with me as I was reading 'The Magic Mountain' again in the early days of my recovery. Now I'm reading Dostoyevsky's 'Brothers Karamazov' again, for the umpteenth time, and it too seems to have a greater significance for me in my cancer years. The other great soul feed, perhaps the greatest, is music. As I write this, I am listening to Verdi's Requiem, for which I begin rehearsals this evening with Truro Choral Society.

In the meantime, the Amazon courier has just delivered another package, and I have a book case to build.

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