Monthly Archives: December 2013

Old Mother Hubbard

Whilst my cupboard is not exactly bare (that would just be too scary!) – new supplies are coming my way later this morning. Patrick in the Ocado Apple van will be arriving before too long with a new selection of goodies for New Year’s Eve….and beyond!

I thought that this would be a good time to do a bit of an end of year catch up on blog threads that may seem to have been left dangling.

  • My nails (following the nail bar experience) are doing OK and remain unbitten
  • I have thought of many more things that I don’t want to do before I die but may blog about this separately. However, I cannot believe that I forgot to mention my bête noir in my first list – “fruit teas”. These beasties can really catch you out. They can sound quite interesting (even when you know better) BUT neither taste of any fruit I have ever encountered nor have any tea content  – so what’s that all about? I have smelled more varieties than I have tasted as I cannot understand why you would want to taste after inhaling the smell….If I never encounter another “fruit tea” it will be too soon!
  • I did seriously contemplate the eyebrow tattoo for perfectly shaped eyebrows…but somehow I just knew that  my own eyebrows would grow back quicker than any other hair…and in a different style & direction to the “perfect” version. This would not have been a good look
  • My hair has started to grow, or at least there is a fuzzy felt covering on my head which is promising (especially as it is dark in colour).  I understand that it may still take some time…so more waiting. “April” the wig, my alter ego,  remains unworn, sitting on her stand in our spare bedroom to entertain guests.
  • My back isn’t better. In fact it is feeling more painful since the chemo stopped. I continue to do the daily exercises in the hope that I can keep this particular medical issue at bay.
  • Eyes are working, even if not as well as before. I have appointments at 3 different clinics at Eye Hospital in the coming month so may find out what is going on…or hopefully, what’s not going on!

I am sure there are other unfinished stories to be completed but I still only have a partially functional brain so have either forgotten them or don’t yet know what will happen next…Just as well eh?

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Goose down!

Fortunately we were not hit by the worst of the Christmas storms and seem to be well out of the eye of the next one that is moving in…..So…the festive days have passed in a flurry of goose and turkey…very delicious…and our spoiled cats have also been “lapping up” the special menu, which, inevitably has, yet again,  raised expectations. The fridge is not quite as full as it was but still yawns with options (phew!). I now need to turn my attention and preparations to the next culinary adventure which we are hosting on New Year’s Eve.

I had my first non-chemo treatment on Christmas Eve. The day treatment unit was packed and, whilst the staff were absolutely remarkable (bringing round Christmas fizz, cheese and biscuits and presents to all patients as well as managing the medical care with good cheer) I couldn’t help but find it depressing to clock just how many people are living with cancer. Knowing how widespread it is and seeing it on a personal level are two completely different things and very sobering it is to see the scale of this iniquitous disease. Wish I wasn’t one of its number…

BUT…the good news is that there don’t seem to be any side effects so hopefully it won’t be long until my brain capacity picks up and I can attempt to regain some stamina. That said, I still feel pretty exhausted and flaky most of the time at present. The evidence of this (or perhaps it is medication side-effects?) was demonstrated pretty well as I finally found something to watch on the “bumper” Christmas TV schedule – and it was…..”Carry on Cleo”…I was howling with laughter at a very camp Kenneth Williams playing Julius Caesar – good to be laughing, but at a Carry On film…what hope is there?

Is my goose well and truly cooked?

It is the shortest day of the year – my annus horribilis and as I nudge towards its end I can’t help but reflect on what a helluva year it’s been…not the sort of year I had planned for or hoped would ever happen. Probably just as well we don’t know what’s lying in store for us round every corner. I will certainly be glad to see the year out but am nervous of investing too much hope in the coming one. It’s still little steps…

I had my scans yesterday which will provide the evidence for what I imagine is my medical high point – being so close to the end of chemo…I will find out what that particular picture looks like a couple of weeks into January.

But…far more significant (in a short term way) is that the Christmas food shop will be delivered tomorrow morning. I have had a brief flurry with the current fridge contents to assess what space I can make available but we seem to have a bit of a champagne glut going on which, fortunately, is a problem that can be easily resolved.

We are “out” for Christmas dinner – although I am roasting and adding a goose to the festivities. Of course the whole joy (?) of the Christmas extravaganza is the leftovers. I am having to prepare the leftovers in a somewhat non traditional way of cooking some turkey especially so it is then “left over” for the Boxing Day sandwiches to accompany sausage rolls, stuffing, pickled onions and HP sauce – a house special!

I am looking forward to welcoming the turkey and goose to my fridge (or…as seems more likely the empty fridge of a neighbour). The madness can then all commence after I have had my first post-chemo treatment on Christmas Eve.

A question of semantics

Whilst thinking that I was progressing well, slowly, but well…I had not taken into account how fried my brain is.

Yesterday was our reading group’s Christmas meeting. Food and drink are obviously (it is obvious isn’t it?) a key part of this and we were all asked to bring some cheese. Earlier in the week I was reminded that I wasn’t bringing cheese but crackers. I put together a selection, (oat cakes, bran biscuits, digestives, seedy fingers…) feeling chuffed with the variety I “happened” to have in my store cupboard. Upon arrival I scurried to the kitchen to offload my contribution and ask where to put it but I was given an odd look (this in itself is neither unusual  nor rare these days), but I caught on that something was amiss, and it looked like it was to do with me. When I heard “So, where are the crackers then?” the penny eventually dropped in that fuzzy felt head of mine. I remembered (not before time) that I had been in charge of crackers – Christmas crackers, rather than biscuits for cheese.

Fortunately, I did have the correct crackers back at home so they were collected and I was able to contribute both crackers and crackers along with providing the laughing stock element of the evening!

No time for flagging

Although energy levels seem to be stuck at the very low end of the spectrum, I do seem to be feeling better. I feel tired all the time but am starting to be able to do things. This week I have entertained visitors (maybe I didn’t exactly  “entertain” them but was certainly compus mentis!), been out for lunch and taken myself off to Oxford city centre and the Christmas market. The only worrying aspect of this is that I was disinclined to actually “shop” – looking seemed to suffice, even in the bookshop! I am usually a tenacious shopper so think this may be a bad sign – maybe I have become de-skilled over the months at home or I have re-programmed my brain to only be able to shop via a computer screen. I really don’t want to be the identifiable cause of a triple dip recession!

Next week sees the start of my Christmas activities – not least ensuring that my Christmas online food shopping list is kept up to date for delivery in just over a week. No cause for alarm in the interim as my fridge remains well stocked and I thought I might even venture off for a top-up Marks & Spencer food shop tomorrow….I know I have a neighbour’s fridge I can use (in addition to my own) over the Christmas period so no need to hold back! My shopping instincts obviously are still kicking in at some level.

Next week also includes trips to the dentist and to the hospital for MRI & CT scans. I won’t get the results of the latter until the New Year. Then on 24th I start my post-chemo treatment which is Pertuzumab & Hereceptin given intravenously every 3 weeks. I am relying on the information that there should be no side effects so I should continue to gain strength (and, hopefully hair!)

Hair raising

I must be starting to feel a bit better as I have been craving baked beans  and my brain is starting to function, albeit in rather bizarre ways. (Not sure that the two are related!)

As you will have gathered I am more than a little obsessed about regaining a full head of hair and whilst I realise it is early days I can at least put it on my horizon now (even it is at the vanishing point end). So….what style will it grow back into? Do I just go with the flow of how it sprouts and at some point discard the headwear and expose myself and my “new look” or is there some protocol for this?

I am hoping that hair has a memory and, even if it grows back grey and curly, kinky even (rather than dark and wavy…yes…it really was still naturally dark) it at least resembles a familiar style…or will it just grow fast (?) and loose in every direction. I can’t see that whatever the growth, there will be enough to be tempted to go to the hairdresser to have anything cut off for many months, even if it means that a visit may cause it to grow into something resembling a regular “hair-do”. What’s a girl to do? It’s a serious worry. You may imagine that I have bigger fish to fry than this insofar as worries go but truth be told, this does dominate.

A lot of people lose their hair during chemo but it doesn’t seem that they are wearing their heart on their sleeves about this issue, which I am finding troubling. Just me then, huh?

What on earth did I do to Montezuma?

Not sure how I rattled Montezuma’s cage (since when was Oxford his patch?) but I obviously did and his revenge is pretty dire …This is not how I saw things panning out…so in the week when I imagined I would be gaining strength I am running (not in a good way!), bleeding (delightful gushing nosebleeds), bruising AND being sick. What a fab combo (not). And…just in case anyone imagines there are some pauses in activity to re-group – these have been filled with my diabetes playing up…so wall-to-wall entertainment for me.

Yesterday, during some non-bathroom moments I went to do my daily back exercises (as my back, too, is causing me grief) and I managed to fall asleep on the living room floor (for 40 minutes) whilst theoretically doing the exercises. I have a frightening amount of stamina to re-build at some point soon. No space to worry about that just yet but it is starting to impinge at the edges of my consciousness.

In the brief interlude between paragraph 2 and 1 I did manage to get to and eat Sunday lunch at the local pub so there are seeds of hope but still a way to go.

I had hoped (maybe rather madly) that I would now be entering a new period of “hale and hearty” (rather like in pregnancy) when I started to look glowing and fresh-faced, growing long, thick lustrous hair and hey..maybe I will. It is, after all, not yet a week since chemo but patience, particularly after this last round, is hard to summon up and I just want to forge ahead into healthier days now.  Cavorting through wildflower meadows with sunshine on my face and wind in my hair was my plan for this week, but it looks like those scenes may have to be shelved for the moment.  Weather girls also seem to be in on the conspiracy as they don’t seem to be forecasting warm summer days imminently – or at least not on the local forecast!

You make me feel…

CANCER

You make me feel

mudslinging, gun-toting (?), tear-jerking, brain-dead, trapped, comatose, sick (both kinds!), half-baked, defenceless, weary, nibbled away at, ambushed, cross, furious, enraged, unable to do what I want to do, frail …but still trying not to be faint-hearted

You also make me see

the joy in small things and what a wonderful crowd my nearest and dearest is…

Lurgy in the house…

I am getting masses of e-mails from all my “supporters” – thank you so much …Unfortunately, I am sluggish and feeling really low from this chemo so am unable to respond very well. We have a lurgy in the house which probably isn’t helping but think this may be a case of chemo revenge for doing better on the last round – how mean eh?

Hope to come back to life again soon…bear with!

‘Twas the night before chemo…the last chemo…

I am home after my mini break in Devon and straight back down to earth. Steroids started this morning then went off for blood tests which I hope (?) give news that I am fit enough for tomorrow’s chemo session. The thought of any delay now would be a major blow but, as ever, will have to go with the flow…Hate being so out of control in this process.

I am finding it incredibly hard to stay in the moment and not to start thinking about the next stages and its multiple waiting rooms. However, I have my own Pandora’s box of nasties in store this week and need to be strong to face these demons first…but for the last time! I hope and cling on for an easy ride but expect the volatile white knuckle experience to remind me that it is only the first stage of this journey that is drawing to an end and that cancer can and does do as it wants despite my roaring…