Monthly Archives: November 2013

She ran into the sea in her tartan tights…

During the second of our beach walks – one of us (that wasn’t me) made a sudden dash for the water, peeled off her boots and waded into the crashing waves of the sea….Apparently she had told her work colleagues that she would paddle….Not sure how the tartan tights have fared…apparently it was very cold in the water (fancy!)

Being outside has been great and hugely restorative. Although tired I am glimpsing the life I may have back again soon…Nothing that makes me feel more alive than these wide empty beaches, the violent tidal waves, the briny wind against my cheeks and the sound of seagulls…Just fantastic!

Now returning to the spa for the steam room and a swim…I have managed 2 or 3 swims whilst here and my stamina is better than it was…even if only marginal!

Last night’s entertainment was much more muted – keyboard player and quiz…which we won – probably because one of us knew that when the Rolling Stones were busted Marianne Faithfull was found with a Mars Bar.

We are going “out” for dinner tonight so may only catch the end of tonight’s cabaret or whatever it turns out to be….

Breaking out…

So my blog has come on location to North Devon and I am writing from my commodious accommodation in Croyde Bay.

We arrived yesterday afternoon and found ourselves the “newbies” – the only guests who weren’t a part of the 5 day Christmas coach trip from Canvey Island. Fortunately we had missed the Christmas days but joined in with the “New Year” celebrations last night. “Dinner” was served at 6:15 which comprised an interesting set of choices including triangular shaped fish, ratatouille, broad beans in a sauce (which we could not agree what it was), chicken and ham pie, mashed potatoes, chips, sausages…This was served minutes after our broccoli and Stilton soup and minutes before a selection of gateaux (sic) – mandarin cheesecake leading a pack of creamy options that we didn’t have! By 6:45 dinner was over and it was time to rev up for the entertainment!

It was a lively 4 games of bingo – one “full house” game won by a member of our party with a cash prize. It was then time for the main  event – Elvis…who, it appears has been alive (and looking very unlike himself) and living in Devon for decades! White suited, he strutted his stuff and made us laugh for some time.

I left before New Year came in and when I got up this morning the Canvey Islanders had all set off for home…leaving us the only guests until later today, so prime use for us of spa facilities!

Feeling well so far so may also try to have a walk by the sea!

The finish line begins to flutter in the icy breeze

Last pre-chemo consultant appointment today. Last chemo next Tuesday (3 December). Post-chemo scans booked for 20 December.

It seems like the end…or the end of the beginning (at very least) is at last drawing near. I daren’t get too excited – much though I would like to sail through these final stages, I am now well aware that cancer keeps its own tenacious grip and does not dance to anyone else’s tune and so it may have its own curdling plans…but fingers crossed…

The medium/long-term treatment starts on 24 December which will be the 2 targeted drugs I have been having with the chemo, Herceptin (Trastuzamab) and Pertuzumab, but will not  should not cause the side-effects I have been suffering. By the year end I should be regaining some energy and, hopefully, getting my hair back.

Whilst I psyche myself up for the last treatment I am also doing the spadework for getting better by taking a mini-break. I am hoping to take my blog on location for a few days at the end of the week – to Croyde Bay in North Devon…I am literally willing myself well enough to go and enjoy.

A new experience

The great outdoors has been rather limited in recent months – intense tiredness dictating what I feel able or unable to do. Some days inevitably feel better than others although I am often misled into thinking I can do more than I actually can as my recent swimming attempt  showed. However, when I realised that it was May (6 months ago) that I last went shopping in the city centre – surely I could now manage that…?

Off I set (in company) on the bus and everything felt very familiar, there were no problems getting in the groove, the shops easily luring me in. However, inevitable exhaustion descended fairly speedily and instead of ducking in for a coffee we went to a nail bar. This may not sound very radical to most of you, but I don’t have nails to shout about and although I have been talked through nail bar culture and encouraged to visit by my cousin, I had not to date crossed any threshold.

I had a very basic treatment but it involved sitting for half an hour, having my nails titivated (for want of a better word) and hands massaged – what’s not to like? I was very quickly drawn to the allure of the longer nails and their different shapes (who knew there was a shape called almond crescent?), colours and designs but know this will be something for post-chemo. There is also a nail “language” to master as well – the terms acrylic, gel and shellac seemed to be bandied about as if I would understand…it was like going back to the early days of coffee culture when you didn’t know what anything meant. But I’m a quick learner, or pre-chemo I was, I am sure I can overcome any obstacles! Those long patterned nails did look attractive!

On the downside, I found that even with my short nail treatment there was a bit of an issue tidying up the garden the next day. What happens if nails are longer than stubby, how do you garden? There may be many other activities that are affected as well…hmmm….I am thinking that nail bars may issue certificates to excuse you from certain categories of domestic tasks because of your nails…

We did continue the shopping after this sideshow and I did manage to do a small amount but by the time I got home I was exhausted. Slept 14 hours that night and still have leaden legs. I have been becoming aware that there is a level of fitness to regain post-chemo but I hadn’t really thought the regime would/could involve shopping!

So…as new experiences go I give the nail bar experience 5 stars!….I fear I may have broadened my horizons in bizarre directions through this cancer treatment.

Dorothy Parker comes to mind ” Don’t look at me in that tone of voice”!

The 10 things I don’t want to do before I die

Not sure what the opposite of a bucket list is…but I’m thinking about it a lot. During the course of a lifetime one does a lot of things and I find it rather pointless conjuring up a list of things not-yet-achieved when there are so many things out there that we are glad never to have done or may have done, by mistake, and know they are not experiences to be repeated.

I don’t ever want to:

1. Face my fears (eg fear of heights). Fear is your body telling yourself something, why would you fight it?

2. Indulge in any team-based sports event – EVER!

3. Climb a rope (I recognised this when it was suggested it would be a useful thing to learn, aged 10) “useful”? for whom? for what? I have never had occasion to regret this lack of knowledge and suspect I never will…same applies to wall bars and vaulting horse

4. Wear a long dress, heels and be required to ballroom dance

5. Eat insects, road kill or anything spiny

6. Do any sort of needlework or handicrafts

7. Go camping and/or attend any outdoor music “festival”

8. Say no when I really meant yes – I mean yes all the time now

9. Do anything because I “ought” to

10. Decorate in neutral tones or use louvre doors in my home.

*I was going to put have a tattoo – but tattooed eyebrows are starting to look quite attractive these days

These are the first 10 things that spring to mind – I am sure I will think up others as I mull it over…so I may return to this topic and expand the list

In the fitness doldrums

Tired but quite perky this morning…skin infection fairly low grade…breathing OK…blood sugar OK…thought it would be good to “do” something. Got swimming bag out, got to pool. Already a host of achievements …and yet more to come…negotiated new lockers..AND got changed…but then the problems started.

Slipped (?) into pool and set sail on length one with great confidence (and great joy)…but it took ages. Length 2 – 2 for goodness sake seemed to start challenging my breathing and I only just made it to the end of 4 lengths. I am mortified…4 lengths…4 bloody lengths and then I had to sit down for 10 minutes to summon up enough energy to get showered, dressed and home.

Have accepted illness and treatment (sort of) but this level of atrophy of (not exactly high level)  fitness is not good…I was swimming 20-30 lengths only a month ago with relative ease…Yet another area which I am going to have to push myself ….Noooooo…..I seem to have developed ever more wonderful and unexpected ways at rendering myself taciturn.

Hairless…brunette…grey…or PIEBALD?

If I avoid anything reflective and feel my head, it seems like there is soft growth all over – a light feathering of loveliness. Unfortunately if a mirror is brought into the picture the two senses of touch and sight do not appear to harmonise. There is indeed some low level growth (rather like a bad lawn), but there is a glaring gap where my fringe should hang, and a sparse mange-like area –  a definite piebald effect…Oh joy…what a look! I know the chemo isn’t finished yet and I am supposed to be taking one day at a time but it would be so great to have a head of hair for Christmas…or New Year…or Chinese New Year (think that is the first New Year after our own). Maybe I need to be re-seeding (or aerating?) now, in preparation…?

Wonder when the eyebrow growth will re-start. I am getting quite casual about drawing on my expression for the day…will it be the painted-on, surprised look today…the, take no nonsense heavy, surly look or the chuckling Mutley (from Wacky Races)? – I am still experimenting. My limited artistic abilities have not encouraged me to venture into drawing a wispy fringe in eyebrow pencil yet…but it’s something to think about alongside mulching.

Re-entering the Ring

Hurrah…I am out of bed…not fit for anything much, but out of bed. My brain seemed to lurch out of the post-chemo torpor quicker than my body this time round…and of all things, it was for worrying about the cats’ worming programme! Can’t imagine why that was bothering me…however inevitably there was more than that to fret about (once I got going) so I was also tussling with Christmas shopping – of the food trolley not gift variety (as you might imagine) and what the provenance of the Christmas goose should be….Good to know my problems are only goose-sized (or golden-egg sized) for today at least! Whatever the strange machinations going on in my head, they have well and truly roused me.

So…here I am…out of bed. Dealt with the worming issue, booked my Waitrose slot for Christmas week and now I can return to a semi-somnolent pose on the sofa with an evening  of England v Chile football to watch. I will have to hope that doesn’t provoke a random sequence of brain distress!

Time’s up…

Monday morning, murky and rainy and I am back in the medical groove.

The more the chemo continues, the more side effects I have been experiencing…which makes the prospect of the next round tomorrow somewhat harrowing. Yesterday was a good day, apart from the fact that my blood sugar plummeted in the evening (when I was out) which meant I had difficulty getting home (despite help) and that I woke with a pounding headache which will last most of the day. I feel tearful as I start dosing myself with the steroids I need for the chemo tomorrow – these will raise my blood sugar to astral heights…Dealing with the chemo and the diabetes whilst feeling unwell is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

So – now I need to get myself dressed and down to the GP for blood tests to check if I am “well” enough for tomorrow and bizarrely I hope I am. However bad it is, it would be worse if it had to be delayed…so let’s hope I am “well”…