Monday, January 29, 2007

aspirational magazines...

V & T got me a subscription to Marie Claire for Christmas - they know my taste for aspirational magazines... March's issue came in the post today - with an Ollie and Nic brolly - ace!
Only trouble now is wrestling the mag off PP...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Su Doku madness

In a sad attempt to keep my brain cells a little active, I have been giving Su Doku a go. So far, it's driving me bonkers, and I'm not even doing the 'Expert' or 'Advanced' puzzles as the photo suggests - just the easy ones!

Thanks, E for the book!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Look at the snow!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Creme Eggs in January?!

Who's complaining? Yummy! Thanks, PP! X

lovely flowers

I love flowers so much - when I was in hospital (or these days I prefer to say 'the clink' or 'the can' for some reason) and shortly after, I was barraged with beautiful flowers. It became a daily experience - the flat was like a wee florists. Then the flowers stopped arriving and things seemed sparse again. Until the last few days when I've had another lovely run of petals - thanks to M, V, V&T and E! Thank you so much. X

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

hammer time

Yesterday evening I went to my first metal jewellery class. I almost didn't make it cos I was feeling very tired. PP convinced me to pop along, at least for a little while, and I'm glad he did because I had a brilliant time. The tutor is excellent, and the group is small enough for us to all get a lot of individual attention. It was really fun annealing (blow-torching), quenching, hammering (the room sounded like a Stomp rehearsal), measuring, cutting, filing, bending and pickling (yes, pickling... using 'safety pickle' to clean the metal of dark oxides and grime from heating and handling). I've almost finished my first ever silver ring! I'm not sure if I'll be able to go to all the sessions, but my aim is to at least finish this one piece in ten weeks. Here it is:

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hair and underwear...

My pals Luke and John of Nizlopi fame were supporting jazzer Jamie Cullum on his European tour when they heard the news of my diagnosis. Luke's gf Kate suggested they write me a song, and she filmed it on a wee handycam. Sadly, later that evening the camera was stolen, and I had wondered whether the footage would someday anonymously turn up on You Tube...

Luckily for me, you, and the whole world, Igor, the French production manager, also filmed the song, and Luke sent it to me last week. He's given me permission to post it on You Tube and share it with you. So here it is (sorry if your browser is showing it all spilling over to the right - for some reason blogger doesn't obey my HTML!):

P.S. I have black hair and I like wearing pants.

Monday, January 15, 2007

National Portrait Gallery

PP and I went to the National Portrait Gallery on Friday to see the David Hockney Portraits exhibition - it was ace! We also popped into the Chinese Families in Britain exhibit - had a go on the etch-a-sketches...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

prickly fingers and toes, horse pills and tiredness

I am starting chemotherapy in three-week cycles. I'm going to have six cycles and a CT scan and see what my oncologist has to say.

I go into the cancer centre for an infusion of a drug called Oxaliplatin - although the actual drug infusion only takes two hours the whole day is taken up with waiting for the hospital pharmacy to make it up with extra drugs I need (steroids and anti-sickness medicines) in sterile conditions, talking to the nurses about the treatment and checking my blood results from the previous day, eating sweets and drinking tea and hot chocolate, chatting to PP. By the end of the infusion I have for the past two occasions felt 'woosy' and nauseous so I've had to hang about while it subsides. My eyesight is also affected - I get a strange 'blacking out', a bit like when you get up too quickly and there's the weird black fuzz, but in slow motion. It's a bit disturbing but it's only occasional so far and lasts for just two or three days after the infusion.

Me getting my Oxaliplatin infusion

Once I get home I start a 14 day course of Capecitabine - three horse-pill sized tablets twice a day. It isn't so bad - I'm getting used to the routine, the tiredness, nausea, weird prickly hands/toes with the cold (most are side effects of the
Oxaliplatin), but it's a great feeling when the fourteenth day is approaching and I can see the packet emptying. I'm still taking my post-operative medications for pain - morphine and paracetamol, and two good anti-sickness tablets. So the drug regime looks something like this each morning and evening:

Day 14 is coming up, so I'm going to make the most of it before I have to go in for the liquid again.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Back on the Blog

I’m back. For now, at least. For some time I had considered deleting this blog: I certainly hadn’t thought of starting a new blog, yet alone continuing this one, but somehow it feels right to return to this one. I hope this will help me (and maybe some of you) in the future. Feel free to add your comments - I’m sure they will be added to the no doubt plentiful spam comments I will receive. I can’t promise to blog a lot or respond to questions and comments – my energy is limited and my time is valuable.

Right, let’s briefly catch up on past events…

Since doing the Race for Life in July plenty has happened… Trying not to be too flippant about it, the very major things were: (1) I handed in the complete manuscript for my first edited book, (2) I was ill and off work for weeks and what we thought might have been some strange tropical disease turned out to be bowel cancer, and (3) I got married!

(1) The Book

After working hard on an edited anthology of wartime Mass Observation diaries from October 2005 to June 2006, I sent off the full manuscript to KS at the Folio Society. Since then, it has been checked and copy edited, pictures have been selected and proofs made. I’m sending my copies back next week. We’ll see a finished version in the coming months – it will be available to buy from the Folio Society in June – friends can get copies through me - let me know!

(2) The Cancer

I had stomach cramps for some weeks, and August, September, October were months filled with vomiting, pain and sleepless nights. PP was working full time in a new job and nursing a sick partner at home – it was not ideal. I had a brief spell in south London with my Dad and younger brother A (Mum was in Mauritius and China seeing family), during which I had some great chats with my Pa.

I also spent many occasions on the phone to my GP, who referred me to a gastroenterologist at the local hospital. While waiting for an appointment I spent a lot of time waiting in doctors’ waiting rooms, having blood tests, poo and wee tests, trying different anti-sickness medications, all to no avail. There was even a short spell at the A&E department which didn’t help to shed any light on my mystery disease.

Once I did get to see a consultant gastroenterologist, he examined me and ordered numerous tests to be completed within four weeks – comprehensive blood and stool tests, chest x-ray, ultrasound of my abdomen, gastroscopy and colonoscopy. I didn’t get to experience the last two tests because the week before I was due to have them I was called in for an urgent CT scan because my ultrasound had shown some ‘shadowing’ on my liver. The CT scan showed a tumour obstructing my bowel and secondary growths in my liver.

The next day I was admitted onto the digestive diseases ward at the local hospital and the following morning (Thursday 9 November) I had an operation to remove the obstruction. I stayed in hospital for twelve nights.

Shocked, upset, numb, stunned, scared, dumb-founded – a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts ran through me, PP and our families. I was so very lucky to be cared for by the excellent staff on the ward who kept me feeling positive and looked after me with such care and humanity. I can truly understand why people develop Munchausen’s syndrome, the people are so lovely…

I also got moved to my own room with a sea view! En suite bathroom, fresh towels and bedding every day - like being in a hotel with drugs on tap! The only let-down was the food - you'd think being a ward full of patients with 'digestive diseases' that they might have tried harder. Sadly, not. Packet soups, limp salads, overcooked food and jelly and ice cream. It was sad cos the people bringing the food round were very sweet and kind, and I always accepted with an embarrassed smile... Thank god for build-up drinks - I recommend the chocolate milkshake ones.

Oh, and that first overboiled, dark brown cup of tea after being Nil By Mouth for a couple of days - blissssssssssss! Better than morphine.

PP helped me to send an email out to friends while I was recovering from the operation and I asked people to write to me with their news. It was a great comfort to read the letters – to my delight there were many – and the dedicated keep the epistles coming these days.

The best thing that happened while I was in hospital is PP asking me to marry him - I said 'Yes', of course!

I'm now undergoing a course of chemotherapy to slow down the growths on my liver. There’s clearly much more to say about this and life with the big C - more will follow with inevitable photos.

(3) The wedding!

PP and I got married on 1 December 2006. It was the most wonderful day of my life, ever.

Future posts on 'How to Organise a Super White Wedding in Just Two Weeks' to follow...