Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I've had a good couple of days. The weekend was quiet, with hubby and littlun away camping, and biggun off spending 'quality time' with boyfriend. I indulged in the Sunday papers, watched lots of films, and didn't see a bloody soul! The phone didn't ring from Friday afternoon until Sunday night when hubby came home. Not even a text message! Nobody loves me - Boo Hoo!!!!

Gets a bit lonely at times - this being ill-long-term business!

Today was great though. First thing in the morning mum met me at my house and then we went to the stables for a joint riding lesson with littlun. She was a bit scared but kept it under control well, only squealing twice in 45 mins! I had great fun, and it was just so nice to do something with the children (well one of them at least - biggun's too in love to go riding!).

K riding Lady

Standing up exercise

Mother & Daughter moments!

After riding was well enough to go visit a friend, and then she came back to my house and we sat in the garden in glorious sunshine. Bramble had his first innoculations on Friday, so we had him in the garden in the run with the rabbit and guinea pig. I think he loves 'outside' despite the fact that he's nervous and twitchy, running into the house if a plane goes over or someone starts up their lawn mower! Cute.

Health wise, things tick a long as ever. Aches and pains spring up here and there, but on the whole it's steady improvement all the way. I even did the front garden (pruning bushes back and weeding out 8 months worth of nettles! Might even have a day where I get to feel 'normal' soon, or is that too much to ask?!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

What the Oncologist said, Part III

First things first: Pussy cat is fine. He's been walking normally, jumping on and off furniture, and the only difference in him, is that he's been a lot more friendly and gentle. Actually, friendly isn't fair - he's always been friendly, he just has no sense of how much pain/damage is little teeth and claws do to human flesh! Perhaps his first taste of real pain has made him think a bit? Am I humanising him too much?!!!

Secondly, and the reason for the post - saw the doc this morning.

He said;

- he's pleased with my recovery from RT, so far.
- that he will send me for a scan in 4-6 weeks (any earlier may give a false reading due to scarring and swelling from the RT, so that needs to be completely healed first).
- that he will see me after the scan (Oct 1st.).
- if the tumour is stable and or reduced, they will see me 3 months after that.
- we are hoping the tumour will remain stable, and not spread.
- if the thing doesn't stay stable, we can do chemo again next year (but you can't repeat RT - thank f*** for that!).

There you go. Now everyone who takes the time to read the blog knows as much as I do!

I feel very positive, believe it or not. Doc wasn't worried or stressed about the long time spans, as non-small cell types tend to develop very slowly. It's not like I'm going to keel over at Christmas anyway! I just need enough time for there to be a break through in terms of non-surgical treatments, for my particular strain of the disease.

Disease. Hmm. What a word. A dis-ease in the body... my body is not at ease. (No sh** Sherlock!)

I have had the busiest day since before RT started! After the hospital I went to visit S and her lovely donkeys (who are so friendly now they walk around with you!). Then I went to another friend's and had a brew before she (very kindly) took my little one out with her two for the day. Then I went home and Nic called in, so didn't have a nap and even managed to sit at the dining table for my evening meal (which I was also able to eat!) Good times. Good times.

AND THREE posts in three days... is that progress or what?!!!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

9, er 8, er 7 lives...

Bramble seems to be testing his 9 lives theory. Yesterday he jumped/fell through the banister rail on the landing and descended about 10 foot, landing on his feet and showing no signs of injury. But today he got his hind leg stuck in the chair, jumped off, and has really hurt himself.

So it was an emergency trip to the vet, where the diagnosis was, 'not broken but seriously injured,' with complete rest prescribed. How do you tell a cat to take complete rest?!

We've locked him in the kitchen with a blanket and his little toy kitty, and he seems to be heeding the vet's advice! At least he is now using the leg a little rather than that awful hanging limp thing he did straight after the accident. He drew blood from the vet when examined and growled at every touch, but now he's quiet and will allow me to stroke the leg gently for a moment before nipping carefully (?!). If it's no better tomorrow we have to take him back, and if it is better, then we take him back in week's time for jabs... he's gonna love that!

I don't know. Animals and children, eh.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Cats and Horses

I had my second riding lesson today - after my 9 week enforced break - and learned about the 'sub-gaits' of walk, trot, and canter (collected, working, medium, and extended).  I also learned how to get the horse to put an extra stride in before the second jump of a double - fab!  It was far from perfect, I assure you, but the point is, I guess, that not only did I manage the full half hour without passing out/throwing up, I also managed to a bit of jumping, and as always with my wonderful instructor, learned loads!!!

I did have a 2 hour nap when I got home, mind!


Little Kitty

Bramble is growing up so fast, and can be a vicious little git at times.  He takes advantage of the youngest whenever he can, and the other day, had both hubby and little one hiding under the duvet after he attacked them both and started growling!!!  I just grab him by the scruff of the neck and smack his rear end before locking him in the kitchen alone for 10 mins, and as a result, he's better behaved for me.  As for the eldest, I don't think she's been bitten once by him - he adores her!  We all still love him though, and when he's in a cuddly mood, he's the sweetest thing you ever met.


I'm getting bigger, mum!


Looking all grown up at only 12 weeks.


Of course all this riding and chastising the kitty doesn't leave any energy for writing, as I'm sure you've guessed.  Bloody good job my PhD is on hold (intercalated) for a year, innit!  Not that I've forgotten about it though.  Oh No!  Tis on my mind all the time!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

On the way back...

I've been in a very dark place for a while now - something to do with being in constant pain, and having constant nausea, not to mention the lack of energy, the cold sweats, and, nearly forgot (!) all those loverly burns! 

Of course the kitten has been an absolute godsend, keeping me company, purring away while ripping my hands to pieces (I look like I've started self-harming!).  When I've been too ill to scrape myself off the sofa, I've managed to get to the kitchen to feed him, so he's forced me to make a physical effort.  So it hasn't been all bad.  Also have the shiny new laptop, a hubby to die for (oops - really should rephrase that!), and wonderful kids.  And I am still here.

So these things have helped somewhat in digging me out of the depression I'd been stuck in, like sinking sand.  The haircut helped too, but yesterday I must confess to crying for much of the day.  I was sad because I packed all my teaching files away; my career is now in 9 large boxes on top of the office cupboards.  My briefcase looks forlorn and un-used.  I was mourning my life because my life as I knew it, my life prior to November last year has gone.  There was no teaching of fastrack this summer, and no modules to be written/updated for September.  No more wages.  I have to re-evaluate who I am, where I'm going, and what I'm going to do with my life (and of course we don't know how much life I've got left either - much as no one wants to think of that fact, including me.

Only I have to live with it every day.  And it is very stressful.

Which is why I wanted to keep up with my riding.  That time each week where the only thing to be considered is your relationship with the horse you are riding/handling.  It's like meditation because the mind is concentrated on one activity 100%, and I love it.

Well, today I finally got back in the saddle, and even lasted the full half hour, although I had to take it easy and work at a walk now and then.  It was fantastic.  I was grinning from ear to ear, cantering around the school, sitting in balance and riding as well as ever.  What a relief (I thought I might've had to start from scratch again due to such muscle wastage and loss of fitness).

I am officially on my way back from the chemo and radiotherapy, and although I don't see the oncologist until 23rd July, and there won't be a scan for ages after that, I think as long as I can get out and ride, I'll be able to cope a lot better with whatever they say.  At least that's the plan at any rate.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

How are you?!

I know I shouldn't complain, but after 10 months (OMG!) of illness, it is really starting to piss me off when people ask how I am but aren't content with a short response, i.e. once on the subject, they won't get off it again. Don't get me wrong - I know it's because people care and are interested, and that is wonderful. I do want people to ask how I am, and sometimes I want to talk about the whole illness thing, but there are times when I've forgotten about it for a short (and blessed) while - times when I just want to say, "Well, I've been better," and leave it at that. I don't want to think about the next appointment with the oncologist, or when the next scan will be, let alone what happens after that!

You see this living with cancer business is just so challenging. When I've been too ill to do anything, too ill to think straight, I've just been getting through the hours/days/weeks, but in the last week I've started picking up again. I have such a long way to go, but can now go to the supermarket, or do a bit of cleaning. It's a long and lonely day when you're ill - the rest of the world are living their lives, going to work, going out and about etc. I am stuck in all day and might not speak to another person (apart from my mum and dad!) from 8.30 am till 3.30 pm. It is depressing, especially when you're well enough to want to do thing and go places, but not well enough to actually do anything about it. So the upshot of it is, when the phone rings, or someone visits, I don't want to focus on this horrible thing I'm having to live with. I don't want to face the reality of my current situation, because I do enough of that when I'm alone for long stretches of time - it's sometimes difficult to focus on anything else as every thought of 'the future' begs the question, "How long is my future likely to be?"

So do ask sick people how they are. Do listen if they want to talk about it. But please remember that they might not have the4 answers to questions like, "So what happens next?", or might not want to face it at that moment (and why waste good company talking about cancer/doctors/treatments/bowel function/etc.?). I mean, I'd like to hear about how you are too!

Oh dear. I do hope I haven't upset anyone with my little rant! Please don't stop asking me how I am!


The amount of people who read this post, and rang me saying, "I won't ask how you are..."!!! I should try to be clearer, obviously. It isn't the asking how are you, but the going beyond the call of reasonable duty. It's the incessant digging for yet more information that I just don't have - and the unspoken, well are you going to live then, or what? question that sidles in alongside interrogations that would put the Spanish inquisition to shame.

I didn't mean to put anyone out, and the funniest thing of all, is that the people who have wound me up so don't even read my blog! It's people who should know better, who should've spoken to my parents and found out that way, the ins and outs of the cat's backside that is my current state of health. Those who read my blog know that I tell you what I know already, that I write it down so that I don't have to go over it again and again like endless re-runs on UK Gold!

I'm preaching to converted here and I thank you all for letting me have my little rants!

Friday, 11 July 2008

A turning point - fingers' crossed...

Today has been fabulous!

I got up and booked a riding lesson for next week! First one in 10 weeks it'll be! Sooo excited!

Then J came over to visit which is always lovely.

And my new laptop arrived and it is completely fab and better than I thought, and I'm using it now to blog. Feeling very spoiled rotten.

I had a haircut too, as the chemo and radio had all but killed it off. What do you think? It hasn't been this short since 1982!

So all in all, things are on the up. I've had less pain today, been out for over 4 hours, and still haven't had a nap despite it being almost 1am. Tomorrow I may be knackered but it still feels as though my body is at last, starting to mend!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Carpe Dium or something like that

I've done it. I've really gone and done it. I've decided to make the leap from desktop pc to laptop!

But what next?!

Well. I've been improving a little more each day, and Sunday managed to get myself up to the local retail park to look at laptops. I was like a child in a candy store; my eyes coveting the new shiny true life screen thingies, 17" widescreen, dvd/rw, and even a choice of colours (Dell).

But I resisted a spur of the moment purchase because this laptop is to replace the main pc in the house (which is so slow you can cook a three course meal, eat it, and clean up while it's booting up!). It has to be an improvement therefore, and be good for a few years at least (though the last one is about 8 years old (is that a record?!) and has a paltry 512mb of RAM.

I was unsure about Vista too. I've just reached the point with XP that I know my way around the system now, and can fix most problems. I've heard Vista has lots of bugs and issues, but try as I might, I couldn't find a new pc without it.

When I got home I was knackered but still in research mode so I spent a few hours online at Toshiba, HP, Sony, and Dell, to name but a few. I toyed with the idea of a Mac but realised I'm hooked on Windows because it what I started with. I love HP but they need to sort their website out as I ended up frustrated and left! Dell won hands down.

So I did it.

I got one!

A shiny red one (so sad - swayed by a choice of 6 colours!!!), an Inspiron 1720. I love that you can then change the tech specs to suit your needs, though my first attempt at a build came in at over £1500. Oops! Eventually I got it down to within my price range and happily spent the last of my wages (perhaps ever) on a laptop, docking station, carry case, and Office 2007 (I've been wanting to upgrade from Office 2000 for simply ages!).

I'm going to justify this purchase by taking it around the house and garden, and writing my novel on it!

So something good is happening, and feel better, and I even had a poo so no tummy ache this morning!!!

I'm easily pleased, aren't I?!!


Thanks to all of you who have kept reading through what has been an exceptionally 'dry' period in my poor little blog's life!

Sunday, 6 July 2008


Am most disgruntled with current physical state. On Wednesday, having no food in the house (hubby working, me on sofa with hot wheat packs), we rang for a Chinese - the healthy option of veggie special fried rice - only the fat content caused a gall-bladder attack! Brilliant.

Thursday started out with more promise and I even made it to my favourite bookshop where Stephen Fry's autobiography Moab is my Washpot was waiting patiently to be collected, gathering dust. I realised that I have been proper right poorly for 8 bleedin' weeks! Anyway, my favourite bookshop is rather special, not simply because I worked there while doing my degree, but because purchases are wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. In the winter a real coal fire blazes in the downstairs sales floor, and there is no till - just a purchase ledger and pencil, and an ancient wooden cash drawer. I remember panicking in my first few weeks as percentage discounts and so on all have to be done in your head and mental maths is not my forte by any means!

The owner is a tall, lean gentleman, smartly dressed, and with a exceedingly large grin. The staff are wonderful - knowledgeable about books, helpful and warm. Such is their reputation that they have customers from as far afield as Geneva.

The building is an old Victorian (I think!) house with 3 floors and an attic. Downstairs is reserved for new books and anything not on the shelf can be ordered speedily. Up the narrow creaking stairs, with cabinets stuffed full of second hand treasures in every available nook and cranny, there is the Children's Room, where owls have been known to visit for Harry Potter launches, with space for children to sit and browse. The owner's office is on this level too, and up more stairs there are more and more rooms, stacks of books, hallways lined with shelves... it's like an Aladdin's cave. I never made any money working there, as I'd spent it on whatever little stack of treasures I'd discovered that day!

But I digress. After the bookshop, and a big bear hug from the owner, I did a few other outstanding errands and then went shopping with my mum. Bliss. Outsidiness. Only a few feet into the first shop and my gall-bladder kicked off again - this time from humous we'd bought not expecting a tub to have a whopping great 28g of fat! I don't know how I managed to drive home but I found swearing loudly with a long slow rhythm really helped. After much crying and rocking, swearing and howling, several doses of morphine and a diclofenac, it subsided. All this, plus diarrhea, frequent cold sweats, constipation, colic, some vomiting and nausea... leaves me thinking...

... I must still have some awful karma to address from a previous life!

Never mind. Maybe it's a lesson or something to build strength and character? No matter how bad it's been, I have only ever thought of life, of wanting to live, of not giving up. I look up (no idea why 'up'!) and inform the universe, firmly, that I don't care what it throws at me, I still choose life. I want to live.

Although following this PH Diet, and existing on raw veg, fruit, no tea/meat/bread/dairy does make me a bit shaky in my resolve. (Actually, I've not gone all out but have cut out those foods 'almost', so that 80% or more is the healthy alkaline stuff, and 20% is acid producing.)

Today has been the best day so far... everything's been calm with the old body; not too much pain anywhere, no nausea, able to go out looking at laptops (hmm!) and had a visitor to boot. I was in a very good mood...

... and then I checked my email and realised that the novel racer's meet is next week and I can't go to London because I can't even have a riding lesson, or drive for more than half an hour, and I need a nap in the afternoon still.

Bugger! Next time!