The CT scan last week was entirely uneventful. That was the first bit of good news. GPD met me on time at the clinic, despite a little detour through the wrong part of the hospital. That was the second bit of good news. But the headline news was that the scan was clear and the CA 125 was normal. Turns somersaults of joy!
We’re celebrating, but in a slightly muted way. A friend has just asked “Is it joy or is it relief?” It’s relief, I think. Of course it’s wonderful that I’m in remission again. The consultant, though, was at pains to stress that the cancer WILL come back – we just don’t know when. The longer I have clear the better, as the more chance there is of another round of treatment being successful. My body needs time to recover from this lot, for starters. We’re into the wait and see, with check-ups every three months and the knowledge that I’m unlikely to revert to six month intervals, let alone ever be signed off as clear. I am still coming to terms with the fact that I will be living with cancer for however long I last; I suspect that this may be even more difficult for the rest of the family to accept.
One of the problems of finishing chemo, that I remember so clearly from last time, is the transition Continue reading →
So my hate – hate relationship with the CT Scan Department continues. My first encounter with this smiley, all singing dancing department is buried in the mists of that inital diagnosis four years ago. Buried but not lost. I remember vividly the absence of any suggestion in the letter I was sent that might have warned me I would be spending several hours in the department. I also remember waiting for maybe an hour in one of those unflattering gowns in the equivalent of a corridor with no idea what was going on. I particularly remember leaving in the early evening in a truly foul mood, worrying about the children I’d abandonned for far longer than planned.
Scan No 2, last summer, was more straightforward but perhaps more fraught. With No. 1 they weren’t expecting to find anything and indeed it was clear. No.2, on the other hand, was most definitely looking for something and sure enough, they found things. Ho hum. Hardly the fault of the CT Dept, of course – they were only doing their job, finding what shouldn’t have been there. But a smile or even some eye contact from the receptionist might have helped things along.
Scan No 3 came in the autumn, following the clearing out of all unsavoury abdominal bits. For the benefit of readers Continue reading →
“Stoma” he said. “We have to talk about stoma.” Stoma? Isn’t that a little hole on a leaf for plant respiration? I’m sure I picked that up during a botany class. The only problem is that this was the gynaecologist talking, the one who’s about to cut me open to remove whatever has taken root on my pelvis. Oh dear. I knew, when I was first told that there was a chance the cancer had relapsed, that they had taken out everything disposable four years ago. There’s not a lot left in there that I don’t need. I suppose I could spare a kidney at a push and maybe the appendix could go. Other than that, I’d like to hang on to all my bits, thank you very much.
There had been a minor moment of relief when the oncologist showed me the CT scan with something showing in the pelvic area. Nothing enormous, not spread everywhere, didn’t seem to be attached to any major organs, operable they thought. That relief evaporated a few days later when the surgeon began to talk about the bowel. The bowel which might just have to come out, to be replaced with a snazzy little bag. The must have accessoryof the colorectal ward. Panic, panic. My life revolves around activity – diving, running, swimming. This sounded like the start of the end; was everything going to grind to a halt? Would I be able to dive again? It seems it was a good job that last autumn I ticked manta rays off the list of Things I Still Want to See. Whale sharks are still on the list, though.
Neglect. As in My blog has fallen into a state of neglect. I haven’t written anything. It has accumulated spam comments (now deleted, I hope). There are real comments, including some from Reluctant Memsahib, one of my favourite reads, and I haven’t responded. I’ve been busy. I’ve been away. I have lots of excuses. I don’t really like excuses, though. My sister has taken me to task. “Why doesn’t your blog work? It won’t load” she asked. I think it’s sulking.
It’s not that there’s a shortage of material. The holiday, for instance, is begging to be told. Stories about the fading American lady in Fiji Continue reading →
I’ve discovered a wonderful support group of friends. You know deep down they’re there all the time and it really doesn’t take much of a crisis for them all to rally round. G and I sat and chatted not long after the cancer was confirmed and decided my hair had to go. Not completely – its demise would come in its own time, maybe three weeks into the chemo – but as its days were definitely numbered, it would be easiest to start with it short. Smaller handfuls when it goes, you see. And maybe less of a shock. So the girls came round with the tools of the trade and cut my hair by good humoured committee. I now have a stylish new look which shows off all my earrings; it’s just a shame it’s not going to last too long.
Nuns get it, apparently. Non-smokers get it. Ovarian cancer, that is. I can make no claims to anything in the nun department, despite the nunhood clearly being my destiny at 7 years old. Seven year olds are notoriously fickle, though, so by the time I was 8 I had the medical profession in my sights. Given recent events, I suppose some might say I still do. But smoking, that’s another matter entirely. I was such a boring wuss as a teenager I wouldn’t even try a cigarette, not even the ones that created the strangely scented cloud that enveloped all teenage parties in Jamaica, home at that time. Although, if I were a politician, I would probably have to admit that I’d inhaled. Apparently Jamaican villagers gave (?give) crying babies spoonfuls of ganja to lick; the West Indian equivalent of a baby bottle filled with Irn Bru, perhaps? Did you need to know that? I have never smoked. Not once.
My blog is fast approaching its first anniversary and I find myself in a place I couldn’t have dreamt of a year ago. As a family, we seem to have experienced a Series of Unfortunate Events this year, starting with the death of my father-in-law in January (we all hated those books, by the way). On the other hand, there have been plenty of highlights – that whoop! when GP1 saw his Standard Grade results, doughnutting on Coll, learning (perhaps too generous a term in my case) to surf, the end of week concert at NYBBS – there were lots more.
Whilst my blog began as a commentary on the boys’ goings on at school, it has evolved into a much more personal online diary, with random mutterings about family, work and, more recently, illness. Whether or not anyone else reads what I write, I have found being able to write extremely therapeutic
I’m not sure how I ever had time to work. After the excavation of my insides, the physio said “You’ll need at least 6 weeks off work. Maybe 12.” My comment: “So that’ll be 2 weeks then. I’m self-employed.” I could in fact have started work again last week (make that 1 week) but I’ve been floating in a sort of limbo of not knowing, which hasn’t done a whole bundle for my concentration. OK, OK, I know – Limbo has been cancelled, but I’m sure you know what I mean.
I thought maybe once Monday was out of the way I’d be able to move on so, in a fit of positive action, I unpacked some videos I need to analyse on Monday morning. When I say I need to, I should have done them weeks ago but events somehow intervened. Needless to say, it’s still all sitting there and very little progress has been made (I do hope Tom’s not reading this!). There has just been no time – there has been far too much talking to do. Perhaps I should be getting on with it now, rather than blogging, but I desperately want to write everything down before I forget. There’s been no time even to blog up to now so the videos will just have to wait. Just a little longer.
Patientline is the communication system that is installed at each patient’s bedside in the ERI. It provides a personal telephone number, television, radio – and internet! Woo hoo! It took me a day or so to discover the internet function and a little longer to get onto Edubuzz (I like the new look, by the way!) and guineapigmum. So I saw a couple of good wishes people had put on my blog and it cheered me up.
Once the morphine fog cleared a little, I thought I’d have a go at responding – and then it all ground to a halt. Interminably slow connection speed, a keyboard with letters that didn’t work, most of the blogs that I read regularly blocked and a brain that wasn’t functioning. What, I wonder, is wrong with Mother at Large, Not wrong, just different and Reluctant Memsahib? Are they full of scurrilous material, likely to raise the heart rate of patients to a dangerous level? Anyhow, I gave up and resorted to less challenging pasttimes – the Archers and the insufferably perfect Nigella (although I have made the chicken pie she demonstrated since coming home, and it was pretty good).
I wondered, though, if this is what it is like trying to use the internet in schools. Slow, broken and blocked. I hope not.
Home again, and recovering, I’m the owner of a line of body piercings that a punk would be proud of or a Goth would die for. I knew I was on the mend once I started composing blogposts in my bed instead of trying to work out which body part hurt least and so could be moved first. Unfortunately, once the morphine wore off, those wonderful essays I’d written did too, so I’m starting from scratch again.
Thank goodness for S1 Biology. I’m prompted to write this as I was told that I didn’t put enough information in my earlier, rather too oblique post, so I thought I’d fill in some of the gaps. Read on if you dare. S1 Biology fortunately made telling the boys what’s going on a lot easier than it might have been. During GP2’s (boy, 12 yo remember) cross examination of me last week, we had this exchange: Continue reading →
Life just isn’t fair sometimes. I mean, I know I half expected to be hit by a bolt from the heavens as penance for missing GP1’s birthday. But I didn’t really anticipate taking a full on blow. And for goodness sake, I’m here after all, at home, not away. I am going to make a birthday cake today and another next week for GP2. The birthday present is already secreted in the house and next week’s is in the post. So it can’t be that.
But it is most definitely not fair. Just as I was getting myself going again after sitting around on my behind most of the summer, I find that I need to endure more bed rest courtesy of the NHS. Last time they gave me some extra bits to take home. This time Continue reading →