Friday, 29 February 2008

A writerly Post today ('bout time!), and 'The Discourse of Blood II' - a sequence of poems from my MA

It all stacks up

Been doing lots of work on the novel/PhD this week, in unseen, unquantifiable ways...

A thought here or there,

A note, a whisper in the ether,

A dream, a sentence, a realisation.

If you feel you aren't making any progress, perhaps stacking up everything you've done so far, will help. And I mean in a very physical manner. Print out those hidden and long forgotten files on the pc, collect up the notebooks, the scrawlings on napkins. I couldn't believe how much work I've done - and it's far beyond the 50 k on the word counter. More worthwhile are the chapter ideas and outlines I'd done. I've also got around 40 A5 diaries I wrote whilst living in Spain, knowing I would want to write a book about it one day - a little treasure trove of memories and cultural observations. So go on - stack up your work and you'll be amazed at how much you've done!


Some Poems I found on an old Cd-Rom from my MA Course a few years ago. They were about adoption, and came not long after finding my birth family. It was a time of confusion and conflict, and of letting the dust settle.

The Discourse of Blood: A Series of 5 Linked Poems (with commentary at end)

IIa Drift

IIb The Discourse Begins

IIc Triangles

IId Complex Things

IIe Resolution

Rationale for 'The Discourse of Blood II'*

Derived from Maggie O'Sullivan's performance of 'Red Shifts' (Rose Theatre, Lancs, 2003), and her on-line sequence poem 'Murmur', my work combines words, art, and mathematics in an attempt to signify adoption issues.

The adage , 'Blood is thicker than water', is a central theme. Red represents the birth mother, blue the adopters, and the resultant purple is for the adoptee. The sequence mirrors the undulation of the discourse and ends when all else is left unspoken, unresolved.

The piece would not have been possible were it not for O'Sullivan's work, and represents a radical change in my thinking with regards to poetry. I worked with a 2B pencil and water-colours on cold pressed water-colour paper before scanning and printing the originals.

*Note: 'The Discourse of Blood I' was a sequence of more conventional poems I did for my undergraduate course-work, and was written pre-reunion.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

CT Scans, Ladies who Lunch, and Elusive Pheasants

I had my CT Scan today.

They didn't come out with the ghastly gastrografin, so I thought fantastic, they're not going to dye me.

But they did.

A very sweet male nurse looked all proficient and then promptly ruptured my vein. "Oh look," he said to the other nurse. "There's a balloon forming." So out it came, and tap tap tap they went looking for another vein. Meanwhile I'm lying on the couch thing with my eyes squeezed shut saying, "Ow!" and "Bugger, that hurts," which probably didn't help. I know he has to learn, but I wish he'd learn on someone who doesn't mind needles - like a heroin addict for example!

In the end, the two nurses had a little conflab in which they slagged my poor veins off (too small, too thin, chemofied(?!), before finding a more senior member of staff who popped it in without a problem. Ha! thought I. Crap veins indeed!

But it still hurt for the full half hour while the dye went in, and the molten copper in your veins effect came on. And they wouldn't tell me anything even though I ordered them to get back in there with a ruler and measure the damn thing on the images I just know they can see immediately! (Okay, maybe they can't.)

"We just take the pictures, I'm afraid," they said.


Before the scan I went for lunch. It is nice being able to go for lunch, but you know, when I'm better, I'm still going to make time for lunch. Well, we always did lunch at work, and I quite miss that. Lunching is nice. Thank god I can still do it.


After the scan I went to my parents-in-law's house and tried to take a pic of the beautiful pheasant in the garden. But the bugger hid as soon as it saw me coming.


I gave up fairly quickly, but then on the way home saw two pheasants in a field really close to the roadside. I turned around, found a safe place to park, and got the camera out...

But they saw me and they can't half run! So fast I only managed to snap one of them while the other one shot across the road. I thought, that's why you lot always get squashed - you don't look before you cross...

One left

Oh well. I'll never make a wildlife photographer, will I?! Here's one I took earlier... not!

Taken from The English Country Garden
(where they can take pictures of these beautiful birds!)

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Giovanni does Kylie Minogue

This is what happens when you let your husband go on a climbing holiday with his friends! Meet Giovanni - the hedgehog bridge builder extra-ordinaire. The video was made by hubby - budding director/producer!

Of course I'm only jealous because my holiday snaps were so boring by comparison!!!

Their photos are truly stunning! And perhaps you can see why I didn't go with them, but instead got my kicks on horse back in sunny Andalucia!!!

Four intrepid climbers on Marmolada


Glacier - they climbed this too (nutters!)

More high uppy stuff!

I stopped climbing a year or more ago. You can read why here!


Rode today and did 2 foot uprights without falling off - hurrah!!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Flowers and more flowers, you can never have too many!

A Perfect Rose

Last time I was in hospital for the big infusion, the I'm terminal! lady 'M' (who I hasten to add is NOT at all terminal) also went on about flowers.

M said: As soon I was diagnosed, everyone sent me flowers.

So far so good...

She continued: They sent me huge bouquets! In vases and everything. All colours, all types. You've never seen so many flowers.

Pink Carnations from Amanda & Roy

White Lilies from Jane

How lovely! We other three cooed...

M looked at us, stone faced: I threw every last one in the bin! Reminded me of funerals!


Tulips from D & J

Rest assured I am not one for throwing flowers in the bin for any reason, and if anything, I'm guilty of trying to keep them for too long!
I love flowers. Far from making me miserable, they cheer me up and remind me how wonderful nature is, how clever and beautiful it is. Okay, so it's transient, but we aren't flowers and hopefully have a much longer life-span than 7 days - though less admittedly if someone cuts our feet off and sticks us in a (big) vase.

This week is the first week since diagnosis I've been without any fresh flowers. The last lot was a bunch of beautiful blood red roses from my brother-in-law, but sadly their time is passed. There was only one thing for it - buy some more!

So these are the ones I bought. I think I fell for the colours.

from me :)

So go on! What are you waiting for? Go and buy yourself some luscious flowers - or get someone else some if you have a decent excuse like hay-fever!


The Blue-Berry Muffin Cake also turned out brilliantly, although if you have a sweet tooth, add more sugar. We got the recipe from here.

Yummy Healthy Blue-Berry Muffin Cake
(but add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth!)

Monday, 25 February 2008

Disraeli Avenue

Not much to say today so thought I'd better tell you about Disraeli Avenue, a novella by Caroline Smailes.

Now I first met Caroline through blogging, and went to the launch of In Search of Adam, a wonderful novel you should read if you haven't already. It is wonderful not only because of the way it is written, but because it deals with difficult subject areas; abuse and self harm. Yet don't let that put you off, as it is inspiring, courageous, and hopeful in its approach.

One in Four of us is affected by these issues, and so Caroline has written a novella and put it out as a free download in the hope that you will donate something to the charity One in Four.

Okay - so that's a Free Download from HERE

And then donate HERE

Enjoy x

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Knackered still and little visitors

Saturday was a bit of a wash out I'm afraid, and I've been a grumpy cow all weekend - well most of it - so didn't have anything to say unless through gritted teeth. Oh dear.

I visited the baby horsie, which was lovely, but was so tired afterwards I slept the rest of the day away. (Why?! All I did was drive the car, drink a cup of tea and have a chat for half an hour, stand and look at the horses over the fence, and drive home again.) My friend said she's found the perfect horse for me - but I can't have one till I'm able to look after it myself, and I can't do that until a) I've had surgery or whatever else we're going to have to do to cure me, and b) I've learned enough about horse care and riding to be able to do the job properly and not kill me or horsie! Am working on it though, in a shortie-long-term-plan kind of way. At the moment I'm too tired to look after my socks, let alone a horse...

And that's the thing about chemotherapy... the tiredness. Apparently it's cumulative, so in the coming cycles it will get even worse. They give me steroids for 3 days to combat it, which must be why I'm okay (if we ignore the nausea) until the Friday, and then crash out for the first weekend, only to be wiped again by the following Monday's dose! I am trying to be patient with myself, but am not known for my patience. (Maybe this is one of those lessons I'm meant to be learning... I am a damn sight more patient than I was 6 months ago, I can tell you!)

And it's hard on everyone around you too. They don't want to hear that you're having a crap day, that you feel really shitty, that the pain is driving you nuts, or that you're so exhausted you really can't be bothered putting a front on.

But it doesn't last long, I today that little grey cloud has lifted bit by bit. We got the paints out this afternoon and all had a play. The Big one learned that water-colour is not scary at all, and that she's actually quite good with them, and the Little one learned how to use pastels. Plus Big one has pulled out all the stops and the house is spotless, so at least if I feel like giving in and being miserable, I can do it in a lovely dust free, tidy environment (though it is difficult to be cross when the house is looking so loved!).

I spent an hour de-lousing Little one again and wonder where on earth the blighters keep coming from? Do other parents not do their children's hair every week with a louse comb and conditioner? And if not, why not?!

Also spent a fair bit of the afternoon reviewing stories from various places, and did a bit of work on my own novel (expect that word counter to start moving this week folks!), so all in all, not the end of the world to have a few hours 'down time'.

Well - LOST is on, so gotta love you and leave you!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Overdid it again - but had fun!!!

I didn't write an awful lot today...

... but I did review my chapter outlines...

... and I did swim 20 lengths, although afterwards I realised I'd overdone it, mantra or not, and it took me a good half hour to get dressed after my shower. I was drinking ginger beer in the changing rooms and a lady came and asked me why I was drinking beer (it's in a brown glass bottle). So I explained, "I'm on chemotherapy...blah blah blah... and then another lady came over and said, "We know all about chemotherapy in my house - my little girl has been having it for 17 months, for cancer of the bladder. She's 8." I was stunned. I know about the children but I only see the grown ups in my ward. We talked for ages while I guzzled my ginger and the old shakes stopped. It was lovely. Someone else at the health club said it was great that people talked about it because the word cancer was losing its power the more people shared their experiences. And soooo many people are surviving now, if only we can catch them early enough.

After the pool I went to see my friend who has the pleasure of sharing her garden with these two sweet-hearts - aka original Shrek Donkeys - so I had a brew and chat, and got my equine fix for the day!

This evening we all got in the kitchen as a family and made Blueberry Muffin Cake, so I shall show how it turns out tomorrow provided it doesn't kill us! The lady who's little girl has cancer said that this illness had taught them all what mattered in life, and that is certainly the one perceivable bonus I guess. And if anyone saw the Channel 4 programme last night called My Street the same thing was said by the two families affected by cancer there too.

Life is worth the living, and we really ought to appreciate it without needing the sort of kick up the backside a life-threatening illness gives us. I wish I'd learned that sooner.

Anyway, as promised, here are my first two attempts at Mandalas.

Number One took hours and was an ambitious go at geometrical shapes, but I haven't painted in so long that most of the colours has dried up and and and excuses excuses excuses:

And this is Mandala 2 - and I like this better and it took all of 5 binkin' minutes!

Go figure!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Wonderful day - back on the up!

Today has been - or rather is - a wonderful day!

Firstly, it was raining, which made pretty patterns on the window, and also made the air lovely and fresh.

Mr and Mrs who live on our bedroom windowsill seemed quite pleased with the rain.

Hubby brought me gorgeous toasted bread full of seeds and whole-grain, and ginger and lemon tea, and best of all, I didn't have to take any nasty tablets apart from the prophylactic antibiotics (- as in preventative of getting sick as opposed to pregnant).

And F came to see me and we had a brew and a chat, and I felt all normal again!

So I cleaned the kitchen. Bliss. Not that I like cleaning, but the floor was getting on my nerves, and as I cleaned I imagined all the cancer cells being cleaned away. Okay so it wasn't the Mandala - still working on that - but it was taking control of my life in albeit a small way. I was shaking by the time I'd finished the floor, but the fridge is immaculate and the old poems are making way for the new...

My favourites are the Scot's ones - daren't take 'em apart though!
Please note little'uns poetry in pink and white bottom left!

Later on, J called in for a brew and I sat on the couch wiped out wondering how on earth I was going to make my lesson...

But I did - so I went riding. Which of course, I love!

Little chat before tackling some little jumps!

Winnie was in a funny old mood today, and took objection to the new fence in the outdoor school, even though she's seen it before! She spooked and played up a bit - bucking instead of going into a nice smooth canter transition, but soon settle down when she realised I wasn't going to let her scare me. Or fall off.

This time I dragged poor NeeNee down with me (so she could drive me home again when I'd inevitably overdone it) and made her take pics, and the lighting was weird so we got some lovely artistic shots. Poor woman shivered and snapped away while I took my jacket off after 10 minutes because the sweat was pouring. Chemo does seem to kill your muscles off (my hands are very weak at the moment, for example), and my energy levels mean that 25 minutes of hard riding are as much as my body can take. No matter - soon get fit again when this is all over.

Anyway, the lesson was wonderful, as always. I learned loads about dealing with spooks and bucks, to keep riding through and win the argument, and a bit more about jumping. Today we did two jumps in a row, and I started learning about counting strides and lots of technical stuff. Oh I love it! I'm such a baby beginner but I don't care - it's all so exciting!

I hope you're not expecting a big jump - we only did ickle ones!

Mind you - even little jumps feel quite big on top of a Winnie! If I'm honest though, I can't wait to try something a little bigger now! I've done an upright (a horizontal pole across the top of the white blocks you see in the picture) and there's no tummy lurch like there was when I first did it.

Isn't it fun learning new things!?

Isn't it fun being alive!?

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I will I will I will...

It's a full moon! Hurrah! Not that I'd have noticed unless Moondreamer had told me about it!

Thank you Moondreamer!

So - I love a full moon, and tonight is particularly crisp so should get a good view from here. When I lived in Spain I used to move through time, from one full moon to the next, and I'd make a wish. And 9 times out of 10 it came true... so I know what tonight's wish will be. And I bet you know too!

Just popping a piece of Green & Black's Organic Milk Chocolate into my mouth. Loverly! And ethical too.

So, today has been quite good. Still low on energy but able to get out to the shops and buy berries. Tons of berries. Blue, Rasp, Black and Straw. Yum Yum.

Then I came back and started painting, but got tired and never finished it. I was trying to do a Mandala, having been inspired watching a film called Kundun, about the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. Stunning cinema, I have to say, and very moving - a Scorcese job. I thought how lucky I am to have some of his books sitting on my shelf, and how I should re-read them, and I looked up the Tibetan sand paintings that they showed being done so painstakingly (and then erased?! Ah! Transience - you see - nothing lasts.) I found a beautiful website on my travels, filled with the most gorgeous Mandalas for health. You can see them here if you have a chance (choose Mandalas in the centre and follow the gallery - look at those under Health to start with). I am trying to do one, and will let you know how I get on (well, first attempt today is crap, so will share tomorrow's attempt if it's even marginally better!).

A Writerly Note on Journalling and Journals - because this blog is not just about the cancer - ha ha!

On the writing front, the novel is coming on once again. I've not been writing in my private diary as much since blogging, I've realised. The blog has become is a kind of public diary, after all. And I've been anal enough to print out the entries once the comments have settled, so I have record of it now too. But I still journal.

And journalling is crucial to a writer, I believe. I tell my writing students they must keep a journal, and jot down ideas, keep sentences, collect words, snippets, images, whatever comes by. A journal allows you to treasure it all for later use. And like a fine wine, journals can brew and mature over time.

Which is why I spent the morning (in bed waiting for the anti-nausea tabs to kick in) reading over chapter outlines and notes I'd made and long since forgotten about. Little gems lay on the back pages, hidden away. A heading for a story I'd discarded as rubbish at the time, that now, now seems perfect. I also found myself inspired by myself, which is lovely when you feel a project is flagging because it's been so long since it's inception.

My novel is a labour of love, and so it will take time. And that's okay. It is also a work of gratitude, to say thank you to a whole heap of people who first met me when I was very broken in every way possible. It is a thank you, and a thank you of such immense importance, that I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't make this tiny little endeavour to show them all... (When the novel is written you will know what I mean by all of this - I promise).

So this is a note - a promise of completion - to;

The Novel Racers - who I joined last January and still haven't caught up with!
My PhD Supervisors (the poor poor people!) - who WILL get their successful candidate eventually
The NRG - who I WILL be meeting with as soon as I am well enough
My family - who have been waiting for this writer to get cracking since I was 3
And last but not least - ME!

Oh. And I booked a riding lesson tomorrow - jumping no less - so very excited about that too!

Must be the full moon! X

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Force 10

How many tablets???

I started this second cycle of chemo in high spirits, and feeling very positive, but I'm afraid the nausea and the exhaustion have been horrendous. I'm still struggling to keep my head in an upright position for more than a few minutes (which makes typing interesting I can tell you!), before the old stomach kicks in again, and I have to get horizontal again. Bugger.

Talk about the bitterer the medicine!

I've been on lots of meds too. I hate taking tablets, but the about list is impressive by anyone's standards! We've got stuff for pain (the numbness has gone in my arm, and been replaced with feelings of 3rd degree burns - this is a good thing I tell myself as at least the nerves are working again, but it bloody well hurts), and stuff for the nausea (nothing seems to be able to get rid of it all together), and antibiotics, steroids, and laxatives. Lovely.

And here comes the stuff I was going to tell you about weeks ago and didn't.

Out of embarrassment. If you've got a weak stomach, look away now.

The wind. Is awful.

I can't bear to be in the same room as me at the moment, let alone anyone else. Hubby is lighting Joss sticks and he HATES Joss sticks. It's a good job no one smokes because a naked flame and it could all be over. Little'un is turning green at the foul stench that is coming from... where? ME?! Oh dear God. Dignity and illness are not things that sit together easily (especially as dignity is retching from the smell of illness' bottom!). To make it worse I've had to take laxatives to counteract all the bloody codeine. What fun! I hadn't realised quite how, er... backed up things were. Oh well. Live and learn, eh.

Surely it cannot get any worse?

*Looks around and over shoulder before taking that comment back* It can always get worse, and having seen all the others, my lot is not that bad. (You listening up there?! Fate or whoever you are!)

Yesterday I had more chemo. I was in the hospital half a day to swallow 5 innocuous looking orange pills. The appointment was for 1.15 but the blood clinic was shut until 2pm. That's organisation for you. Shall know for next time. Anyway, my bloods were all normal despite the fact that I feel as though I've been run over with a steam roller, so must be doing something right.

I had such high hopes for today - weather is lovely - cold but bright and crisp. I could have written another chapter, gone riding, or to the gym... In the end I think it's going to be another day of trying to get through without throwing up, peeing oneself, or gassing the household!

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Fart on Cisplatin and everyone falls unconscious :(

Sunday, 17 February 2008

still sick :(

I've been composing this in my sleep because I've been too bloody ill to move. Have decided to rant today.


So this morning I cracked and had a little whinge. It's just too frustrating. That Blue Bladge I felt fraudulent using? Yesterday, I could hardly make it around one shop and back to the car. I think my counts must be crashing early so that I spent the day sick and breathless, and moving at a snail's pace. I didn't sleep all night due to the pain in my left arm, and the old costochondritis feeling like a heart attack...

I still feel like crap, so not blogging much today either. I'm not curled up in a ball, but not far off it.

This is too utterly annoying and depressing for words! But before you get all bloody sympathetic with me, forget it! It'll only make me worse! The only thing to do is to keep going and I keep hearing about the bitterer the medicine, and this chemo lark, is certainly bitter. It's like the accounts I was reading in the Lance Armstrong books before I started - and they've all been there too. I'm not the first, or sadly the last.

I kept a diary last cycle and was equally screwed at this time the first weekend, so it should clear again by tomorrow. And the pain - at least the medicine is working and the nerves are coming back to life, eh!

Yes. Tomorrow is going to be a good day and I will do something nice.

Maybe even get some bloody writing done, eh! PhD novelist blog. HA HA HA! What a larf!!!!

Friday, 15 February 2008

A learning curve...

I've been reading over my diary from August last year, and thinking about an email I got from one friend about what I could learn from being ill.

I've had time to think about it a bit more, so here are some thoughts:

What I've learned/am learning:

1. Patience

I'm not known for being the most patient person in the world. Tis true, even though I don't like to admit it. I have my way of doing things, and I (was) always in a rush to get everything done as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Don't get me wrong, I was/am just as impatient with myself, so it's a big deal to learn to back down and give people the time they need to do things! The house-work will have to wait, and if it gets me down, then I'll have to learn to not let it affect me so much, as it isn't bothering anyone else!

With myself, I have learned that I have to slow down at times. I can no longer jump out of bed in the morning, and start hurtling around the house putting a wash on, or emptying the dishwasher. Now I have to wait for toast and anti-nausea pills to arrive, and ginger tea. I have to accept that the 20 lengths I did today at the pool, may mean I need a nap later!

2. Anger Management

Anger makes your immune system fail eventually, so I'm learning to be calmer, and happier (as much as possible!). This means that when I get cut up in the car, I say in a calm voice, "Please, with all the peace and love in the world, would you kindly F*** off!"

3. Mind Control/Thought watching

The little voices in our heads can be sooooo mean, so I've been learning how to re-train them. I've followed the advice given in The Barefoot Doctor, and stand on the balcony of my own mental St. Peter's Square, looking down at the infinite masses of my many babbling selves. And then I say, "Ssssh!" Very nicely of course, and now they do. And then I get us all to think positive thoughts together. It's working because when I woke up this morning at 4.45 am, my first thought was, "I'm going to survive this," and that's a vast improvement on the thoughts I'd been getting around the Christmas and New Year period, I can tell you. There are tears, don't get me wrong - would it be normal if there weren't? - but the terrors have passed for the most part, and I'm starting to see what others mean when they say that having cancer ended up being the best thing that ever happened to them. Sort of! :)

4. Pain control/Nausea

This bit is crap and is really taking me a long time to master. I will keep working on it, but have found that swimming through the pain threshold leads to less pain later on, for longer. So thank god I did all those years of half contact martial arts when I was younger, and learned to keep going beyond the desire to!

5. How much people care

This is the best one of all. Not that everyone turns out to be wonderful overnight, or anything ridiculous, but just seeing who does care is amazing, especially if you are as blessed as I have been. And there was I thinking I was just some weirdo who did everyone's head in most of the time! Turns out I'm loved, and this has been a revelation of sorts. The biggest surprise of all really, because I'm not known for having the largest amount of self-esteem, having been bullied through school, suffered some disastrously destructive relationships, and other stuff that doesn't do your ego much good.

6. Learning to be less judgemental

I'm learning to be less judgemental myself too, because you never know why the person in the queue ahead of you is acting so oddly, or moving so slowly. I look quite normal on the outside, but then on days when I woke at 2 am and couldn't get back to sleep - chemo-induced insomnia they call it - I am slow moving and look like a junky! Especially when the nausea kicks in.

I get dirty looks from old women when I use my Blue Badge, and am waiting for someone to say something, so that I can say, "Please, have my blue badge, but you have to have my cancer with it!" because there are lots of days now where I can't walk that far for that long.

Now I realise that we don't know what is wrong with people, and there by the grace of whatever goes us!

7. And er... shouldn't really keep putting stuff off that you want to do...

Carpe Diem (is that how you spell it?!) and all that! Seize the Day before something seizes you first!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Catching up with Cancer on Radio 4: Cancer reform in the UK

I've been listening to this series on Radio 4, called Catching Up With Cancer

It is very interesting, especially with regard to catching cancers early on, which is, after all, key to improving our survival rates. The problem is that in what the medical profession call "the worried well", cancer just isn't suspected. Take my case: regular visits to the doctor from July onwards, and being told I was well. Just costochondritis. Or a strained muscle, or stress. And it was costochondritis, but that condition - inflammation of the rib cage - has a root cause. My GPs were treating the symptom and didn't look for a cause. It was only that I kept returning and demanding more tests that we ever found my cancer.

So don't be worried and keep quiet. If you have a dark voice in the back of your mind, get yourself checked out! I had a clear chest x-ray, and clear bloods, and still had a niggling voice telling me something was very wrong, and that it wasn't just gallstones either.

And cancer sufferers are getting younger all the time, so it may be worthwhile thinking about organic food, pesticides, the pollution in our atmosphere, etc., before it's too late!

But get a balance, eh! Don't become a hypochondriac either!!!


And on a lighter note, my youngest has a rash on her torso, so has been shipped of to the docs in case it's something I can catch! Looks like chicken-pox to me, which she's had already, but you can get it twice I'm told. Let's hope it's a couple of bug bites, eh!

Don't think I'll make the gym today! Still queasy, and been awake since 2.30 am, so would probably just drown mid-length if I went swimming!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Are you sitting comfortable... then I'll begin!

I've had a better day today, sickness wise. After a horrendous afternoon I rang the chemo triage nurse and got some different anti-nausea drugs, and although they didn't kick in until this morning, I did get a full a night's sleep after the vomiting ceased - there was, after all, nothing left to bring up!

So this morning I woke up to tea and toast, and took the pills, and didn't move for a half hour. That seemed to do the trick, and I managed to drive down to my mum's, go shopping for mouthwash (to prevent the dreaded ulcers) and seaband things, which I have to say are fab! I had a few visitors, and have even managed to eat dinner - so all in all, doing okay.

Monday was interesting. My dad took me this time, and stayed until after lunch when I got hooked up/plugged in. The line hurt this time, but not enough to warrant moving it, so eventually I learned to cope with it. Given that one of the woman opposite (P) was in agony despite tons of oralmorph(ine), it put my sore wrist into perspective.

Funny, all the different perspectives/attitudes of both patients and staff. Opposite me was J, a lovely 72 year old woman with cancer in about 3 organs, and she never stopped smiling - well maybe between bouts of vomiting, and when the doc said she couldn't go home, but otherwise she was as cheery as you get, and we had such a giggle. P was in pain, as I said, but still managed to join in with J and me as we tried to keep our spirits high - she hardly complained and it was me buzzing the staff every five minutes in the end on her behalf because she didn't want to be a bother! And then next to me, in my old bed from last time, was M who never stopped complaining! "I'm terminal," she kept saying, except she bloody well isn't at all! She had one tumour and it's already been cut out, and is on follow up treatment!!!

M did end up keeping us in fits of giggles if for all the wrong reasons. When dinner arrived she kept licking her lips and saying how wonderful the food was. "Better than Chester," she said. "That was awful." J screwed her face up to me, and said, "God help them there then!" and p winced the same reaction across through her spasms!

All M's stories began with such promise, and then ended on a downward spiral. There was baby talk, and comparisons of morning sickness, so M tells us she had 4 wonderful pregnancies, with not a hint of sickness. When she had her first, she told us, there was a girl opposite who had the most beautiful baby you ever saw. "I said to her, what a beautiful baby you have, and she started crying. Turns out she was only 11, a slapper full of make-up, and I wouldn't have minded but my baby looked like a chimp... ugliest thing you ever saw. She was bent double breech. You'll see her if she comes in later - still an ugly thing she is!" She went on to tell us about the fabulous family pony who came into the house and had carrots.... and then nearly killed her daughter! And then about the RSPCA who she gave money to for years for all the work they do... until she "found out they murder animals for no good reason!" Talk about material for a novel - eat your heart out!

By 4 pm I had everyone in my bay on ginger beer, and the sickness was abated for the most part. Sadly, lots of people had a diccie tummy, so the loos stank of god knows what, and everyone was vomiting. Lovely. But the ward was short staffed this time, and I thought they're going to kick me out if I keep this up! Later on, J, P and M, all complained about the night nurse - that demonic woman from last time. Apparently she made P cry, so it wasn't just me she didn't like. I'm afraid I made a complaint about her on all our behalves, even though P was so frightened and didn't want to be victimised. So I told the day nurse that too! Turns out the woman is a bank nurse, and that evening, no one was asked to leave a jug in the loo!

My friend, Sue, was also in again, who I met the first time. Once again her chemo got the better of her and she was brought in with a high temp and the most horrendous mouth ulcers that left her without any consonants. But she cheered up a little, and after 15 minutes or so, she was sitting up and we chatted for a while. It really helps, I find. You start off too sick to talk, but end up coming around a bit (well not always, but mostly! My friends say they'll leave me till I feel better, but I say no, come and then I will feel better! And if I'm screwed, so be it, but at least we'll have tried!).

I met Sue's lovely hubby and daughter too, and in the evening Sue, Michelle (who has same cancer as me) and I were up laughing and joking at ourselves; Sue talking with out consonants, me holding my arm with the pain from the Potassium drip (like fire in your veins), and Michelle all sick and nauseous! We said, "What on earth are we like?" A right old state.

But whatever.

Life goes on, and we're getting through it. We are 35, 38 and 39, and all have kids. And we're all trying to eat right, fight it with the meds, and the mind. And we'll do it.

I didn't take the sedative this time, which is probably why I was so sick yesterday, but my head is clear, and so it's worth it. Better one day of vomiting and a clear head, than a week of fuzzy brains. The nurse said it can react very badly with some people, so obviously I must be one of them. M, of course, adores the blue pills and wanted some to take home with her!

Have drawn my chemo-buddies for you. They make my tummy poorly but the pain in my shoulder abated after two hours of Cisplatin, and the feeling is returning to my left arm, so it is working!!! Hurrah!!! I love my chemo!

Righto. Knackered now, so off to lie down. First lie down of the day! If I feel okay tomorrow, am going to swim a bit, or if that's too easy, I'll tackle the Jacuzzi!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


Am sooooo nauseous. Have got more anti-sickness tabs from Gp so taking a right old cocktail and still


Normal service will be resumed tomorrow - I hope - as have got sooo much to tell you!

Sunday, 10 February 2008


I have tagged myself from The Write Eye because it's brilliant. Thank you Annieye for inspiring me! It's also cheered me up because I've been a bit tearful - can't think why?!!! Plus it's taken my mind off having to go into hospital overnight again - although I am looking forward to hitting this cancer with another load of chemo (cisplatin and vinorelbine to use their full names - cisplatin is fluffy and shocking pink, and vinorelbine is bright orange and spikey - I may have told you this already? Anyway, in my head they link arms with my white cells and peacefully, but firmly, remove all the cancer cells which are gooey and black, like globules of tar.)

Enough of that depressing stuff - moving along to happy nice things:

Please feel free to tag yourself, and do let me know so I can check out your pics/choices!

Here are the destructions:

1. Answer the questions by typing your answers into Photo Bucket.
2. Pick a pic that sums it up best and paste the copy the html code (bottom left of the photo image) and paste directly into your post.
3. You can’t copy the persons answers who posted this before you!

Your age next birthday

A place you'd like to visit

Your favourite object

Your favourite place (Tis where I grew up)

Your favourite food sorry to all the cattle out there)

Your favourite animal (no prizes for guessing this one!)

Your favourite colour

The town you were born in

The town where you live now

The name of your pet


The first name of the one you love


Your nickname


Your middle name


A bad habit of yours


Your first job


Your grandmother's name (my mum's mum)


Your favourite book
("there ain't no diffrent churches in heaven 'cos everybody in heaven is inside themselves." I cheated and didn't use photobucket for this one as it wasn't there, and it is my absolute favourite book of all time! Sorry.)

You simply must read this if you haven't already!

I am now wondering who started this - it takes forever! But it was worth it - suitably sated with pleasing images now! I hope you are too!

2,000 words hurrah!

I have done it. The story is halved. Phew! Never thought I'd get there.

Now hoping I haven't totally buggered it up!

Met with the others at the writing chat room thing this morning, which was lovely, and inspired me enough to work on the story - so thank you for that, Lane, Captain, Annieye, and Caroj!

Argh - just had story read and there's a word missing - an 'a' - which means it's now 2001 words. Yeegads will this thing ever be done?!!!

Right. Off to pack me hospital bag for tomorrow;

ginger biccies
ginger beer
cous cous with almonds and sultanas
pasta with sun-dried tomatoes
low-fat chicken salad
1 pad for writing on
pencil case
chapter am working on from novel
clean knickers
toothbrush and toothpaste
painkillers and heat-packs
phone (to call home and send mms pics of me if they drug me again)
file with all the hospital stuff in
Your Horse magazine (saving it especially)
Mslexia magazine

Good job I'm only in overnight, eh.

Free Range Sweetcorn - makes up for the standard bred cooked chicken from yesterday!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

30 lengths, 2,855 words, 10 stone, and Sharia Law?!

I swam 30 lengths yesterday (it's a 25 m pool). I did them very slowly and with every stroke I repeated my little mantra of, "hour by hour and day by day, my cancer is shrinking and shrinking away." Then I did the hardest of bit of all - my 25 minutes in the Jacuzzi (I'm in training you see). Anyway - feeling as though I'm doing something to make up for next week's post-chemo inactivity.

And how am I 10 stone again? It simply isn't fair.

Went shopping with the youngest today. I fear I have trained her too well, because when I tried to buy a cooked chicken, she wanted to know if it was free-range. And when the bemused woman in Tesco (other stores are available) said,"No," little one said I couldn't buy it. But I don't want to cook an entire meal from scratch tonight because my arm is hurting. (Poor little me, boo hoo - you buying this yet?) I had to sneak back for the chicken. Oh the guilt. The shame. But well done little one. I'll have to fib and say they had free-range ones in when I went back. I promise I won't do it again. She also made me put the Lilies back because I also bought a Peace Lily in a pot, and was "spending too much money." I said, "It's my money," and she said, "No, mum, it's the family's money." Consider myself told. She definitely takes after her father.

My short story now stands at 2,855. It's supposed to be 2,000, so rather than trying to increase my word count, I am trying to decrease it. Decreasing a word count is much harder I've decided, and I look forward to tomorrow when I can crack on with the novel again.

What else? Oh yes -someone (Chilli) invited me to play Scrabulous on Facebook, and that was a very naughty thing to do. I ignored her request, but then she sent me another one. And then Jenny from work joined in the asking. Am now in the middle of two games, losing very badly, and wasting lots of valuable writing and editing time trying to think words up for scrabble. Shame on you both. When I fail to produce my novel at the end of this year, it isn't the cancer I shall blame, but you two.

Just had to say something about the Sharia Law thing... (can't stop myself I'm afraid)

I was wondering if my hearing was playing up the other day when I heard on the news that Sharia Law might be a good thing in the UK, for Muslims. What on earth is going on? I wonder if we could have UK Law for those Brits living in the Middle East then? No? Thought not.

It really winds me up, this business about religious laws. If people want to live under religious law then they should bloomin' well bugger off and live in a country that already runs under religious ruling. What happened to, "When in Rome?" (Although to be fair Rome did kind of spread, and dictate so perhaps a poor example, but you get my drift, I'm sure.) Bloody nuisance if you ask me, all this religious law stuff and nonsense. We have a law, a perfectly adequate secular law, and as a woman, I for one, am absolutely horrified at the thought of the UK adopting Sharia Law. And never mind if it only applies to Muslim women. What about their right to live under the law (and protection) of the UK?

Right - just climbing down off soap box.

Have just bought some software called New Novelist, so will let you know if it's any good. Apparently it has a 'resource centre' - and besides, it was buy one get one free with GCSE Spanish (for teenager).

Oh oh... I knew there was something else...

Firefox is so wonderful. Ever since IE started telling me I have blocked cookies (when I have not) and haven't allowed Java (I bloody well have), and not letting me log into Blogger, I've been getting a tad stressed out. Posting an entry that should take a few minutes was taking hours of faffing around with settings/privacy/security and goodness knows what else. So Firefox has fixed it all - plus it has this pic viewer add-on that I am in love with, AND it has like, really cool colourful skins and stuff! Oh I am soooo excited. Should have done it years ago.

thank you for the flowers - they are gorgeous

Thank you for the flowers everyone (in the English and History Dept at Edge Hill). They just arrived and really brightened up my day! It's a shame that the photo doesn't do them justice but they look wonderful on top of the piano in the dining room.

*Wipes tear from eye*

Thank you! XXX