I have a recurring desire to stay warm. You might think that this is a perfectly natural desire, one that is replicated in every human being on this planet, and that is probably so; nevertheless I have this desire and for me it is new. Let me explain what I mean.
When I was in hospital, I would often spend days lying in bed. Certainly, at the start of my treatment, lying in bed was all I could do. It was an effort to move, and the energy required to lift my legs out of the bed and move them to the floor, locate my slippers, and re-arrange my clothing so I didn’t inadvertently expose myself was just too much to bear.
So I spent a lot of my time just lying there. I indulged myself in conversation with my fellow ward-mates and waited for the next drug round or feeding time. It felt a lot like being in a zoo, with the one obvious exception of tourists not coming around to view me in my native habitat and poke food through the bars.
In an environment like this, when food and drugs were prescribed at predefined times, I allowed myself the luxury of sleep. In fact, this was not so much a luxury as a necessity – chemotherapy drugs are designed to flatline your whole antiviral system, and this in turn puts your body through a hell of a lot. On the outside, you are relaxed, calm and slightly dozy. Inside, multiple wars are being fought and won. It’s a lot of work.
When I slept, I often curled up into a ball, on one side, and drifted away. I became oblivious to the noise of the hospital and the varied comings and goings of those around me, and retreated into idle dreams and just plain flat out sleep. This was always easier in the afternoon, when shafts of bright sunlight shot through the windows and illuminated the ward.
I found that I naturally gravitated to the sun, and let it gradually warm me through as I dozed. As time went on, it became a natural thing to do – when the sun lit up my little space, I slept.
Now, nearly a year after that experience, I still find simple pleasure in sleeping in sunlight. Like a cat that curls up in front of a warm fire, or a spot on the floor that is bathed in light, I find myself wanting to catch a few moments of bliss, get comfortable, and sleep.
Perhaps this is a way for me to re-live the few pleasures I had when I was going through my treatment. Certainly while my body was wracked in pain or simply fighting a multitude of battles on my behalf, I was able to mentally relax, free of the normal structures of daily life, and let others manage my destiny for me.
I guess in retrospect it was a time when I could return to being a child, shuck off the responsibilities of adulthood, and live my life on far simpler terms. Now I am returned to the usual day to day challenges of work, I live for those moments when I can return to easier days.