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...


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