Saturday 27 February 2010

The Diversity of Friends

Photo copyright: Maggie May

My good friend, Hetty and I meet up every now and then. Recently it has been quite regularly. When I am fit enough we go for a walk together. She usually picks me up in her car and we walk in some part of Bristol or other because there are some lovely places to do that. The picture above is a woodland walk which we went on a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling stronger than I have been feeling lately.
Hetty and I always have much catching up to do and talk nineteen to the dozen. We seem to get on to some really bizarre subjects and I feel that I can say anything to her and she does the same with me. She is never judgemental.
This week I didn't feel well enough for a walk but Hetty decided to come round to our house anyway for a chat. I think that she was expecting me to be quite ill and maybe, poor company. However, it wasn't long before we were in hysterics, just like teenagers laughing fit to bust and some of the things that we talked about were OUTRAGEOUS and not suitable to print here. All that laughing did seem to lift my spirit and I felt it did me the power of good, though Harry made some excuse to go out as he obviously thought we were quite mad.

Another friend, known as Squirrel came to see me during the week. She and I have great empathy towards one another because Squirrel has an auto immune disease that makes her very ill indeed and she had to undergo chemotherapy a few years ago to try and halt it. Sometimes Squirrel (who is young enough to be my daughter), just likes to sit and have me stroke her hair. I think she looks on me as a mother figure. Sometimes we laugh a lot on her good days but more often than not we just commiserate with each other.

I was thinking a lot about how different my friends are one from another and wonder what draws us to one particular person with one type of personality and yet we can be equally drawn to someone else with a completely different one. I doubt whether any of them have anything in common and probably would not really get on with each other. The same goes for acquaintances and lesser friends. Any ideas why we do this? Are we attracting these different types of people or do we choose them subconsciously? Maybe it is just coincidence that friends seem so diverse, or is it because we are all so very unique?

On Friday I went to see my brother, Eddie Bluelights and he was doing very well following his hip replacement, I thought. He has a slightly swollen leg because he managed to get an infection in it by knocking his hip against the handles of a commode (portable loo) in hospital. Sorry if I gave out too much information, Eddie!
He is slightly pale but you should see him shoot up the stairs to his computer in order to check his email. He was up there in a flash, using sticks too.

Harry put on a face mask in the car and drove the 12 miles to where Eddie and Maria live. I can assure you we got some very funny looks and everyone gave us a very wide berth, but that was fine by both of us. Probably thought we had the plague. Its quite common to go around in a face mask in Japan, so my son informs us, but to do so over here causes amusement or panic.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Spouting On

Photo copyright: Maggie May

As you know, I have been feeling quite yucky this week, when I should have been having my treatment. Apart from the rag jacket making and very short walks I haven't done anything at all in the hope that I would pick up. I was also eating foods high in zinc as I have researched that zinc is supposed to help build up the white cells.
Harry started with a hacking cough yesterday, sneezing everywhere and I was obviously worried about the potential to disaster if I caught it. I am not normally paranoid about infections but when you have an immune system that isn't working properly it makes you wonder where it could lead to.
Harry was also upset in case he gave me a lethal dose of infection, so he put on a face mask (which had my visitors creased up with laughter.)
Because he can be very thoughtful, he decided to sleep downstairs last night and I must admit to having slept really well and it was about 6am before I realised that he was missing! Unfortunately, he said he didn't sleep very well at all. We will have to rethink that situation.
Anyway, today I feel my body is picking up and I know I am recovering.
The Minister from our church came round to see me yesterday (when I was in a much more negative frame of mind) and she did help to make me feel better and I have been practising giving my worries to God and leaving them there with him. Not easy when you are genetically predisposed to worry.
So three cheers for helpful people. Thank you everyone for prayers and positive vibes or whatever you are sending me. I do realise that I am leaning heavily on other people while I am laid low. It isn't always easy to pray for myself just now. It all seems very profound.

I often listen to the radio while I am in bed and listen to Five Live....... which is a talk show. It helps me to sleep and to ignore my tinnitis that has become very loud since chemo. I find music is too stimulating and wakes me up. This Radio Station (at night time) discusses anything that is topical in the news. Some subjects are obviously more interesting than others. However something I heard recently made me really cross.
The subject was *infidelity* and I am already reeling from the amount of people who have been *dumped* lately. Seems to be very much on the increase.
Well a woman rang in to say that she had been preparing the family wash and checked the pockets (as you do) of her husband's trousers, only to find a letter from a woman saying that "I am really glad to be carrying your baby." Just like that..... after what she considered to be eight years of happy marriage. Obviously, this woman tackled her husband about the letter and he admitted to an affair but said that it was over. The wife was (very generously I thought) thinking that there was still a chance of carrying on with the marriage when her husband then went on " but I am seeing someone else now."
This phone call was followed by a whole series of others and one from a man who said he had been cheating on his wife for years and she didn't suspect a thing. Several other men implied the same thing. What is going on? I am sure there are plenty of spouses who are completely faithful. However I am very disillusioned right now. Am I alone in that?

Saturday 20 February 2010

Rag Jackets

Photos copyright: Maggie May

I have just come back from oncology where I have had my pre assessment and unfortunately my immune system has dipped so low that it doesn't register. So I will have to delay having my chemo for a week.
The doctor told me that 52% of people cannot cope with this chemo and he might stop at four. I am a bit devastated but he did say I was already in remission.
Don't things change in a week? I have gone from elation to despair!
So it looks like I will have to get on with the rag jackets as I won't be going anywhere.
I have offered to make Sam's friend a jacket now as I find it is therapeutic sewing on these little strips. How pathetic is that?
At this rate I shall be providing half the Morris Dancing team with jackets........ NOT!
I shall have to take great care not to get an infection.
I feel tired this month and slightly sick but all my other bloods are fine. Perhaps I do need a rest. I have had a busy month.

My Grand Children.

Photos copyright: Maggie May

I just loved Millie's colourful collage that I put on the fridge door.
She has settled in her Reception class very well. She especially seems to love Art and English.
The picture at the bottom of the post seems typical of much of her art work. She draws lots of friends holding hands and this picture represents her friendly nature.

She has a thirst for learning that is hard to describe.

Amber is also very good at reading and spelling. I find it hard to imagine her coming to England unable to communicate in English only two years ago. She has many friends and seems to be going to parties regularly. A real little all rounder.

My oldest grandson, Rick (who has autistic spectrum disorder) has now received a statement at school, which will mean that he gets 21 hours a week of extra help. He really needs this help as without it he tends to mess around and doesn't get motivated.
He is fairly intelligent and just needs to be guided, though his social skills are very behind average.

Dean, his younger brother, just loves Sam, my son, who he looks to as the father figure that is lacking in his life. He just won't leave him alone when he comes over from the east coast.
The two boys were here last week and they had such a good time when they all got together. The cousins spent hours on the wii in the attic and were no trouble at all.
I am so proud of all my grandchildren and they give me so much pleasure. Their photos are everywhere about the house.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Light After Shadows

Photo copyright: Maggie May

After walking in the shadows for a good while I now feel that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
I went to see my consultant today to see what the results of the CT scan were. I was told that I was in a very good position as the chemo was doing what it was supposed to do without upsetting me too much. The cancer has responded to it very well and there is only the tiniest bit left. So it was a communal decision at the hospital to press on with the chemo and
session four will be next Tuesday 23rd Feb.
Although they cannot give me any guarantees, (in fact they can never give anyone any guarantee that their cancer won't come back), they did stress that I am in a very good position.
She said some people get worse with chemo as the time goes on, but some people have better times as they get further into chemo. I am hoping I am one of the latter as compared to the first two treatments, I was not as badly afflicted last time.
I am still very busy making rag jackets for son and granddaughter for May Day. There is a lot of work in making them and it isn't something that can be done overnight. So I will press on with that as it gives me something to do while I am incapacitated.

I am pleased to be able to tell you that my brother, Eddie Bluelights, has now come home from hospital and is resting. He seems to be made of strong stuff and is galloping about on two sticks. He will get back to the blog as soon as he is able. In fact his computer has automatically posted something new,so go over there if you can.
All for now..........

Saturday 13 February 2010

Eddie Bluelight's Hip Replacement

Yesterday, Friday, 12th, Harry and I went to lunch with my brother, Eddie Bluelights and sister in law Maria. It was good to be able to catch up on all our news and as usual, Maria put a lovely meal on the table that we really enjoyed.
Actually, when I come to think of it, none of us are in particularly good health right now but Eddie is the only one who is having problems getting out of a chair or walking across the room and it is awful to see him struggling like this, in pain, as he is normally such an active person.
He was due to have his operation today.

I have just heard from Maria, that Ed had his operation this morning and was the second on the list.
He is apparently sitting out of bed eating a light supper! Hows that for the path to recovery? Marvellous I think.
If there is any different news, then I will add bits onto this post. I will leave it on for a few days.
My daughter and grandsons are on their way, so I have been informed by phone.
Have a good weekend everyone, mine will be busy!

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Harbingers Of Spring

Photos copyright: Maggie May

For some reason I awoke feeling really down hearted today. Not sure why.
I miss work and then there is the uncertainty of the different procedures that I will be following these next couple of weeks. Different from my normal chemo three weekly sessions. Sometimes everything catches up.
As I was feeling so much stronger physically, I put on my wig with a knitted beret over the top for extra warmth, scarf, gloves and heavy coat and decided to walk away the blues.
The weather had been so lovely last week when I was too ill to go out during my last bout of chemo but this week it went back to winter again with bitter winds that seemed to cut right through to the bone.
Today I was ready for it and felt quite comfortable as I decided where I was going to go.
I opted for quite a long walk that lasted for a couple of hours and I went right into another area.
I would love to say that the primulas in the photo above, were taken in my garden but unfortunately there is nothing there that is worth snapping at present.
I happened to pass a lovely garden shop so took the photo there.
Similarly, I took the picture of the Garrya Elliptica as I passed a garden en route and the catkins did entice me to capture them forever.
By the end of the walk, I felt in a different frame of mind altogether and came home with tingling face and feeling energised by the effort of the walk and the cold.

Later this afternoon, I went to the city Hospital for my scan on the bus. I had to arrive early and drink a pint of yellow water (that looked like urine) over the period of one hour. I was then taken to the scanner where I had to lie down and have a cannula put into a vein (my poor veins almost collapse with shock when they see a needle now.) I was later injected with dye which made me feel very hot. I had to hold my breath for long stretches of time, several times in succession. I now know to take in a very deep breath as I felt near to suffocation the first time I had it done.
That was it. Over.
There is little point in worrying now, as I will not get the results until the 17th when I have to see my surgeon.
Que sera, sera...... whatever will be, will be..... as the old song goes.

My daughter and grandsons are coming for a few days from the weekend until next Tuesday as it is half term for them. It will be good to see them again while I am feeling well. Lets hope that it doesn't snow or ice up the roads because I know that Deb doesn't like to drive in those conditions and may well cancel if the roads are bad.
Today we had flurries of snow here but it was too warm for it to pitch.
Lets hope it stays that way.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

The Circle Of Friends Award

This lovely award was given to me by Ayak whose blog is named Turkish Delight. In order to accept this award, I have to say five things that I like doing and then pass on to five different people.
I am notoriously bad at doing these memes and I must admit that I don't always follow them through.
Today I am going to break my rule and get on with the list.
I like doing so many things that it is difficult to pick just five.

1. I love starting a new project. No matter what it is..... if I am in the mood to do it, then I just cannot wait to get started. However I do believe that finishing a project is probably more important. There is a saying that I was taught when I was a child...... *Great is the art of beginning but greater the art of finishing.*

2. I love receiving handwritten letters. Letter writing is a dying art now but I believe that a handwritten letter is much more satisfying than an email, text or possibly a telephone call because the letter can be held and reread over and over again.

3. Sometimes I get a burning desire to write something and I get no inner peace until I have managed to get an idea down on paper. Everything goes on hold when I go through a phase like this. I would also put down blogging and photography in the same category as writing.

4. I love the sound of seagulls when visiting the sea. In fact I love to be near the sea. Please note that this doesn't mean that I like being on the sea or in the sea as I cannot swim and hate the water. How complex is that?

5. I suppose the next answer will have to be *settling with a good book,* in relative peace and quiet. I do enjoy my family as well, but it is lovely to shut myself away sometimes with a good book and lose myself in it.

Well, that is it. Now I am supposed to pick out five people to do this meme and that is where I am going to opt out and tell people that if they would like to do this meme then please take the award and let me know......... choosing 5 other people. Don't forget to list the 5 things that you like doing!

After round 3 of chemo........ I noticed that I felt very tired but that I hadn't had such a bad amount of neuropathy (nerve pain in the limbs) this time nor did I get the chemo brain. My digestive tract feels as though it has been scoured out with a brillo pad though and the ends of my fingers and toes are quite numb.

I am also a bit unsettled by the uncertainty of my CT scan and the prospect of whether I will need an operation or not...... as well as not knowing whether I will be having Chemo 4 on the 23rd as planned.
Not very good at uncertainty..........

Thursday 4 February 2010

Sewing Strips

Photos copyright: Maggie May

In my last post I was saying that I would be resting in front of the gas fire while I recovered from chemo. Well that just didn't happen. The weather turned out brighter and it wasn't cold. This time I felt quite reasonable till day three, so I was able to get on with a few things.

My son, Sam had announced that he would be requiring a rag jacket for his Morris Dancing on May Day.
So it was with this in mind that I had bought a *job lot* of suitable colours from a Charity shop some days ago and thought that it would be therapeutic to cut them out into strips and to start to sew them on to the green shirt we were using as a base. The object is to completely cover the shirt with strips of different colours (predominately green). When dancing, the strips twirl about. Some of the dancing can look quite aggressive with sticks and poles and one occasion Sam received a blooded nose as well as various bumps to the head.
Anyway, it did turn out to be therapeutic, cutting and stitching until day 4, when the going got tough. However this time round, I didn't seem to have the chemo brain syndrome, so some things went much better.
When this jacket is finished, I have to make one for Amber, as she had to borrow one last May Day. Now she has decided that she wants her own.
Go here if you'd like to see May Day last year and get a glimpse of the raggedy jackets.

It was good to see the sun streaming through the windows while I was recovering this time round and although I won't feel really well for a few days, I know that things will improve.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Gas Fire

Photo copyright: Maggie May

I am writing this on Monday, after my pre assessment for treatment tomorrow.
I have been declared fighting fit and will be all set for chemo 3 in the morning.
The doctor is very pleased with me and says that after my CT scan, on the 10th, I might need a small amount of surgery before they go on with the treatment 4. (As a preventative thing to stop spread) I suppose they mean to take tissue away from surrounding areas. I have complete faith in these doctors and I believe I have the very best, so will definitely do whatever is recommended.

Anyway..... you all know the ropes now. I will be too ill to post or comment for a few days & my mind will get more confused than normal. Bear with me. I will be back. In the mean time, I will flake out in front of a cosy fire. It has gone cold again and the treatment makes me feel the cold more anyway.
'Bye for now!

Everything went well today, (Tuesday) and I have been infused with Chemo 3. Just got home and needing to chill out!

Is there anyone out there who did not know that my brother, Eddie Bluelights, has interviewed David Mcmahon on his Sunday Roast. David is a Melbourne journalist, author of best selling books and a professional photographer. Why not pop over and see what you might have missed.