Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
On a lighter note I had a welcome diversion this morning when one of the other-half's sisters, niece, great-nephew and great-niece popped by. It was great to see them all. The great-nephew (age two and a half) took a shine to the cat ... it would be fair to say that the cat was not equally keen on making friends.
Monday, 27 February 2012
Sunday, 26 February 2012
Oh before I forget (and get my ears chewed off by the other-half) I have an exciting newsflash. The jigsaw has been finished (by the other-half). Evidence below. As a result tomorrow will be declared a national holiday. When I say the jigsaw is complete I mean minus the two pieces that we think the cat ate (could have been worse, he could've eaten five pieces).
Saturday, 25 February 2012
Friday, 24 February 2012
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Today has not been a happy day.
- I started on a new anti-anxiety drug today which has made me feel truly dreadful (at least I assume that’s the cause). I’ve been in bed for most of the day, missing out on my appointment at The Haven at Hereford.
- I got the date for my first lot of chemo – 15 March. That’s four weeks since I saw the oncologist (and was told my case was urgent and chemo would start within two weeks). I am pursuing this obviously but am now in limbo waiting to see if my pushing will speed things along.
If you want to know the meaning of grumpy come to my house.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
If you read yesterday’s account of my trip to the GP (and if not, why not? Don’t you realise that the world revolves around ME?) you’ll know that the consultation didn’t leave me entirely happy. Yes, yes, I got the drugs, but the GP’s demeanour added to my already sky-high anxiety levels, leaving me chewing the carpet, bouncing off the walls and leading the other-half to consider ordering a straight-jacket.
So it was an absolute godsend, later on last night, to speak by ‘phone to someone I’ve ‘met’ on an on-line forum for people with breast cancer. Now I know that ‘meeting’ people on-line has a very bad press. I can’t think why. I’m sure the Nigerian prince I sent a small fortune to a couple of years ago will come good in the end with the promised $1,000,000. But cynicism aside (and yes it is me saying that) last night’s conversation was a lifeline. The woman I spoke to also has secondary breast cancer, has had chemo and is coping extremely well with her very busy life (full-time demanding job, husband, kids, dogs – you know - life). I can’t think of a smart-arse way to finish this paragraph – so I’ll leave it with my sincere thanks to the woman I spoke to who was, quite simply, fantastic in my hour of need.
Today was simply a giddy social whirl, my darlings! I am now a lady who lunches. Firstly we met up with tip-top chums (who patiently listened to me whinge although I'm sure they wanted to set about me with a rancid halibut) and went out for lunch to The Royal Oak, Cardington. God, the portions were huge - and delicious. I'd like to type something snarky (that being my way) but it was lovely.
In the evening we met up with Sister No 1 (back from her extensive hols). It was good to see her but even more so when I realised she was clutching a bottle of duty-free sherry. Then we all trecked off to Sister No 2 for another yummy dinner. The other half and I may now never need to eat again. Wafer thin mint anyone?
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Today was looking at wigs day. I went to the recommended hairdresser and was ushered through to the back room – very hush hush. I felt like I ought to be buying black market sausages or nylons or something. I expected a room full of wigs but it was mostly a room full of catalogues. And what catalogues. Some of the wigs were OK but there were an awful lot that would’ve gone down a storm with the cast of Crossroads. The deal was that I select three, they are ordered and if I don’t like any I don’t have them and we start again. This could run and run. The ones I chose (the non-Crossroads selection as I like to call it) should arrive at the hairdressers in seven to ten days. Seven to ten days! By that time I could be laid low due to chemo (although still no date for that) so it could be tricky. I’d better order some head scarves pronto. Anyway, the woman helping me was very nice having been through the whole yucky process herself umpteen years ago. By the way, did you know there is such a thing as wig shampoo? No, nor me, but now we are all a bit wiser.
While I was typing the above the other-half escaped to the barbers. He volunteered to have his hair clippings collected to start on his own version of a wig for me, also involving an old swimming cap and some chest hair (his not mine). Truly I am blessed.
This afternoon I went back to the GP. For drugs. By the time I write these blog posts (usually late afternoon/early evening) my mood has settled a bit, but I’m afraid that, due to anxiety, up until around 4pm I am a total, to use a medical expression, basket case. OK I may be overstating that a bit, but it’s fair to say that I am not the happiest of bunnies in the morning, as my poor put-upon other half would testify. While the GP came up with the goods – stronger prescriptions and instructions to mix them together and include alcohol if I like* (and no, the doc’s name is not Pete Docherty) his comments about how my anxiety was entirely justified given the seriousness of my situation did not exactly lessen my worry. Also he told me that the type of chemo I’m starting on is Big Serious Stuff and will probably make me feel truly grotty. I know I should appreciate his honesty (and I do, to a point) but sometimes I could do with more fluffiness and less reality. Almost every medical person I’ve seen since the start of this whole palaver has been to the Doc Martin school of reassurance.
Oh well, my first dark and stormy of the evening (dark rum and ginger beer for you lesser mortals not ‘in the know’ about Bermudian drinks – ta to Sister No 1 for introducing me) is going down a treat and my usual, happier evening-self is emerging, hurrah!
(* I should point that the doctor didn’t actually recommend mixing medication and boozing my socks off. He just said that the drugs wouldn’t interact with each other in a bad way and one or two alcoholic drinks wouldn’t be a problem.)
Monday, 20 February 2012
Back in 1980 I lived in a shared slum in Manchester (for about 2.8 seconds when I thought I wanted to do an HND in Business Studies at Salford Technical College, what was I thinking). Anyway my fellow slum-dwellers and I had a party. And although the party was a good one, my abiding memory is of the two useless gits (never identified) who threw up in the house. One vomited into the spin-dryer (only discovered when I went to use it several days later) and the other through the letter box – from the outside in (OK, that was quite impressive I suppose but still revolting). This experience of 30-odd years ago was one of many that made me come to the conclusion that quite a lot of people are, at best, utter, utter twonks.
Since my recent diagnosis I have had to revise this opinion. I have had so much niceness from so many people that I don’t know whether to blush, cry or do a lap of honour. Both my and the other-half’s families have been brilliant, friends rallied round and even friends of friends of friends offered their help and advice (some having had the misfortune to have experienced this crappy disease themselves). To everyone – thank you. Thank you for the cuddly cat, for the soup, for the chocolate bunnies, for the visits, for the meals, for the flowers, for the booze, for the emails, for the phone calls, for offers of lifts etc etc etc – in fact thank you for being such all round bricks. That’s bricks with a B.
Just in case you think I’m in danger of disappearing into a vat of mushiness let me assure you that, although I’ve been sincerely touched by everyone’s kindness, I still think the mystery vomiters of 1980 are a pair of arseholes. So I’m not entirely a fluffy bunny yet.
Sunday, 19 February 2012
After a bit of a slow start (too much thinking time, stop it brain) we got going and headed out and about for a walk at Winsley Hall in Shropshire. It’s a private house which opens its grounds each year at snowdrop time. So had a bit of a sedate stroll and, what’s more, the entry fee was in aid of the Lingen Davies Cancer Appeal, so that may well benefit me too. Talk about charity begins at home. I’ll not be getting any prizes for selflessness that’s for sure. Anyway, the walk was very pretty, restful and, unsurprisingly, snowdroppy.
After that we drove around the countryside for a bit, over the Stiperstones, and had a good old-fashioned Sunday lunch in a good old-fashioned pub (The Crown at Wentnor), which also included a pint. All of which has induced a lovely feeling of mellowness. I suspect the booze is mostly responsible, now if I could just get a lager drip set up I’d be fine. Gratutitous Shropshire scenery shots:
I'd like to tell you that the fact that I could not get the two countryside photos to sit in a straight line on the page did not bother me one bit, for I am a free-spirit who laughs in the face of conventional formatting rules. However, the truth is that I will need extensive counselling to deal with the trauma.
In other news:
Cyril’s house arrest has seen him so bored that he too has taken up middle-aged pursuits (even though he’s only two) and is helping with the jigsaw in his own Cyrily way. There may be tears before bedtime. Maybe I could get him on to the sherry instead.
P.S. On a medical note
I know I've confused a couple of people (well, the thick ones) with my clumsy explanations of what is wrong me. For anyone interested here is a clearer version of what secondary breast cancer actually is from the MacMillan website.
Saturday, 18 February 2012
Not only does my three-legged cat, Cyril, have views about which TV programmes I should watch (see above for his disapproval of The Simpsons, stupid cat) but he has tried to escape again.
It was only a couple of days ago that I posted about the panic he caused me. Well this morning he did it again. This means that he is now under house-arrest until such time as we can get the height of the garden fence increased (by about 10 foot!) or employ full-time border guards.
While I’m writing about my endless trials and tribulations I should also point out that my post about the extreme youth of my oncologist has led to everyone (ie 4 people) I’ve spoken to about it deny ever having heard of the awful Doogie Howser TV programme, making me doubt my sanity. One friend even managed to get it slightly muddled up with Hong Kong Phooey – note to self: must get more intellectual friends. Anyway you doubters made me google and lo! - Doogie Howser DID exist (well the TV character did). Here’s the proof. I suspect you just blanked it out because the reality was too dreadful to remember. It’s my duty to make you face the truth!On the domestic front the other half continues to snuffle, cough and sneeze for Britain. I left him, pale and loitering, on the settee today and headed into town for anti-viral hand wipes, disinfectant and the like – although I suspect I may be shutting the stable door after the horse with man-flu has bolted.
Friday, 17 February 2012
The plan today was for a trip into Wales. That got the kybosh due to the other half’s poorliness (he’s got the lurgy, hence yesterday’s attention seeking coughing fit at hospital). So instead we thought we’d stick closer to home and head off to Church Stretton and do a bit of walking round Carding Mill Valley. Well we got there. We parked. We walked for about 15 minutes then the other half turned a whiter shade of pale (my most hated song ever by the way) so we gave up and came home, but at least I took a photo (and got some fresh air).
And that’s about all there is to report on the ‘doing’ front. I’m afraid today has been a bit of a wobbly day for me (though not as wobbly as for my other half who is now, 5.15pm, tucked up in bed with a bottle of Night Nurse and the latest Wickes catalogue). I know I’m going to have ups and downs with this whole cancer malarkey – it’s just that I want someone to write me a note to excuse me from having to do the down bit (or indeed any of it).
Anyway thanks to those who helped out this morning when I was thrashing about in a pit of self-pity. I think the upshot is that sitting around in my dressing gown every day until the early afternoon just thinking, thinking, thinking is not doing me any favours. Not least because said dressing gown is held together by toothpaste stains, cat fur and assorted other dirt and may well kill me by giving me Ebola or something similar before anything else gets the chance. So thank your lucky stars that today’s photo is of a nice Shropshire hill rather than my revolting dressing gown – it was a close run thing.
Well, tomorrow is another day. Hopefully I’ll be a bit more up and at ‘em and even if I’m not I promise I’ll try to get that dressing gown in the washing machine. Or maybe ceremoniously burn it.
Thursday, 16 February 2012
It was a back-to-the-hospital-day today, this time to see the oncologist for the first time. He looked about 7 years old but was absolutely the right mixture of straight talking/humour for me. So I’ll forgive him for reminding me of a non-blonde version of Dougie Howser. I shall call him the Anti-Dougie.
(For those too young or intellectual (yeah of course you are) to remember, Dougie Howser was a diabolical tv programme about a 16 year old genius who had been through medical school and was a practicing doctor as well as being a teenager. Vomit inducing as you can imagine.)
Anyway, back to my hospital appointment. The bottom line is that the Anti-Dougie firmly explained that secondary breast cancer (that’s breast cancer that has spread to another organ, lungs in my case) in incurable. The best I can hope for is that it can be controlled. He was unable to give me a prognosis as it depends on how I respond to treatment – I expect all of you to cross your fingers and toes for me on that one.
I’ll be starting chemotherapy in a couple of week (maybe sooner). I’ll have chemo three times (once every three weeks) and then have another CT scan to see if it’s having any effect. If it’s working then there’ll be more chemo with possibly a mastectomy and radiotherapy to follow. If it’s not working then they’ll try a different sort of chemo. Although the Anti-Dougie couldn’t/wouldn’t give a prognosis he declared himself “fairly optimistic”, which will do for the time being I suppose.
I have had some very helpful and kind messages from fellow cancer-sufferers and I intend to try to be as positive and feisty as they are – I particularly liked the message from a relative who is determined to die of over-use of alcohol and golf courses rather than boring old cancer. I’m with him – apart from the golf obviously. Golf – I ask you.
The other half managed to have an impressive coughing fit during the consultation which saw both the nurse and the Anti-Dougie running around getting him glasses of water and being generally concerned for him. Gawd, it’s all about him isn’t it!
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
At the risk of sounding full of self-pity (me?), I’ve got enough to worry about at the moment without added palaver from within the Discombobulated household.
Nevertheless this morning Cyril, the three-legged cat, decided to cause me to have what my dad used to call ‘a set of jug handles’.
(I’ve just googled ‘a set of jug handles’ and got nothing. So I suspect that my dad might well have made the saying up. He did stuff like that. For example, I have happy memories of dad wandering around the garden singing ‘they’re off said the monkey, they’re off said the monkey, they’re off said the monkey, as he sat on a circular saw”. I digress.)
This morning Cyril, the three-legged cat, caused my already incredibly high anxiety levels to reach the stratosphere.
The reason for selecting a three-legged mog from the rescue centre last year was that we live near a Very Busy Road but have a small garden enclosed by high fences/walls. A cat with a missing corner we reasoned (foolishly) would be unlikely to attempt to make a bid for freedom. Especially seeing as the ungrateful blighter is allowed free access throughout the house, sleeps on our bed, has a diet of Sheba and Dreamies and is worshipped by me on a daily basis.
This morning, just after Cyril had been let out for his morning constitutional, he disappeared from the garden. This caused me horrible, horrible panic. I threw on a revolting selection of clothes (over my revolting jim-jams), chucked on my wellies and ran down the street screeching ‘Cyril … Cyril’ in an increasingly desperate wail as I headed nearer and nearer the Very Busy Road dreading what I might find. My other half meanwhile also quickly put clothes on over his pyjamas (only his jim-jams are from Fatface rather than Matalan, let us discuss the unfairness of that another time). He spotted the escaping mog in next door’s garden and called me back from my panicky search.
After much apologising to the neighbour (who was entirely gracious given that he was trying to get off to work) and general faffing about in the neighbour’s garden Cyril decided to launch himself at the fence and managed, in an extremely ungainly fashion, to get back home. Cyril is now only allowed supervised access to the garden. The other half is thinking of building a watch tower. I am collapsed in a heap, hyperventilating. Cyril is asleep on the sofa looking innocent. Where did I go wrong?
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
I didn't like to puncture her balloon by telling her that never has middle-age suited someone as much as it does me. In fact I've made three exciting discoveries lately which I was too narrow-minded (ie young and foolish) to try before. I'll share them here in case someone hasn't yet tried them. Go on, have a go, you know you want to.
Cocoa - Proper cocoa mind. None of this sweet drinking chocolate nonsense. It's a bit like milky mud. I'm hardcore me - I don't add sugar at all but you can if you're a bit of a wuss.
Sherry - This stuff hits the spot. So far I've been having dinky glasses of it. But I'm tempted to say sod it and just stick a straw in the bottle and get on with it. It's like cough mixture with a kick. I recommend it.
And finally, and most shamefully:
Jigsaws - They're brilliant. What's not to like? Sorting
the straight edges from the completely wiggly bits (you have to do the outline first or the four horsemen of the apocalypse will be released, everyone knows that), fending off the cat when he wants to sit on the puzzle (or worse still use the box with the as yet unsorted bits as a litter tray) or just snapping at your jigsaw companions (you know who you are) when they hoard the good bits and leave you to do the sky. And just in case you don't think I mean it, look - evidence of a work in progress. It's tricky, I mean it's got a reflection in a lake and everything. I thoroughly recommend hot jigsaw action.
There. Three things to change your lives. No need to thank me.
Monday, 13 February 2012
My second favourite word is espalier but that doesn't fit into my current situation at all. Unless there's some vile treatment (on top of all the other vile sounding cancer treatments) which involves being pegged out flat against a garden wall. I'll let you know if this turns out to be the case.
So the master plan is for me to use this blog to update people on how things are going with me - that way people can find out for themselves as and when they please, rather than have me send moany emails. Acutally a select few will still be receiving the moany emails. So maybe it would be more truthful to say that this blog will just give me another outlet to whinge. Of course it may be that I quickly lose interest in posting (or feel too grotty to bother). Who knows? I bet the anticipation is killing you.