Today I washed my hair for probably the last time in several months. Tomorrow Gail is coming round to cut it all off. Right off. Gone. Hair today, gone tomorrow (sorry!). It’s due to fall out in the next few days and I’m not going through that trauma again. I’ve bought some hats, which I may or may not wear. I’ve ordered some buffs, which I’ll probably wear. I’m in the process of choosing a wig, which I’ll keep for best, otherwise known as “not standing out from the crowd”.
The week in hospital was most definitely a detox week, the sort of system clean out that I suspect people pay good money for. Flush the system out first. Then remove anything unsavoury followed by several days of clear soup and a spoonful or two of porridge. Definitely no alcohol. It was one way to lose 6kg but perhaps not one that I could recommend.
Toilet paper manufacturers of Great Britain can relax. I won’t be dispensing with their services just yet. In fact, the way things are right now, I might even consider buying shares. It was two weeks ago today that the knife went in and I’ve been home from hospital a week. The staples are out – if I thought I had a long line of piercings last time, they were even more impressive this time around.
It sounds like they had a good guddle around while they were in there. It turns out that CT scans aren’t hugely reliable – I had been warned about that beforehand – and so, although they found the lump that had showed up on the scan, they also found all sorts of other undesirable stuff. They had gone in, this intrepid duo, with the intention of clearing out 100% of whatever they found, whatever it took. I’d been warned. In the event, they found lots of tiny spots of ovarian “disease” (sounds so much more manageable than cancer, doesn’t it?) all over the peritoneum and what was left of the omentum. This was very typical of ovarian disease, they reassured me. Did I find that reassuring? Take a guess. They took out as much as they could, around 95% they estimated, and figured the chemo would nail the rest. I spent some time trying to identify the good news in all that but without much success.
I realise I’m very scared. I’m really quite fit at the moment, and well although the CT scans might indicate otherwise. By tomorrow evening I know I’m not going to be fit for anything and, once the chemo starts, it’s going to take months to recover. I’m assuming of course I will recover but I also realise I have no idea what’s going tohappen.
Tomorrow seems to be the start of a whole new phase of my life, and I’m not in control. That’s why I’m scared.
I spend most of my life in, on, under, beside water of one sort or another, so Water as this week’s theme for the Gallery seems particularly apposite. It is raining at the moment. It has been raining non stop for about three days. However, it has not all been rain this summer and so to celebrate the fun days I thought I’d show you some of the watery things I’ve been up to.
Common Dolphins in the Sound of Canna – they have to bring a smile to your face! There were seals and puffins on Skokholm, although I swam around underwater wondering if it might be one of the last dives I would do. It won’t be but I was feeling particularly mortal at the time. And then it rained in Edinburgh. Torrential rain, hailstones, forked lightning over Arthur’s Seat, thunder and lightning every few minutes for over an hour, floods in Morningside. We sat outside the dive shop waiting for the rain to ease so that we could sprint across the road.
It might have rained in Edinburgh but it was sunny in Donegal when we dashed over for a few days. 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.
My father took this photograph of me (I’m the little one at the front) and my older sister and brother, just about to set off for school. It must have been roundabout 1960, when we lived in Kuala Lumpur. Don’t you just love those school baskets? We had cute little straw hats for going to church on Sundays. And the sandals! I think the shoe shop was Batu Shoes.The car – a Zephyr, I think but I might well be wrong – is classic rather than vintage but let’s not quibble.
I’m not sure why I’m looking so cheerful in this picture. My earliest memories of school Continue reading →
Oh, I’ve been so complacent. So complacent that I could be accused, quite rightly, of being smug. Cancer? Pah! Caught early, had the treatment, done and dusted. No one was expecting it back; I was one of the success stories. I would go for checkups at 3 month, then 6 month intervals, saunter in unconcerned and saunter out again a few minutes later with a date for 6 months hence. At 3 1/2 years, I was really starting to put it all behind me. Fit and well, getting on with my life, rarely thinking about cancer, happy with my lot, telling anyone who asked that it was gone.
Had I missed the point, that check ups are for a reason? They wouldn’t be doing check ups if there was no risk. Continue reading →
I now know that I am a heathen. Possibly a blaspheming one. I recently came across this passage, an extract from a learned tome by Pope Benedict XVI. Read it all, no cheating.
“JESUS‘ RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD
The appearances that we read of in the Gospels are manifestly different. On the one hand, the Lord appears as a man like other men: he walks alongside the Emmaus disciples; he invites Thomas to touch his wounds, and in Luke’s account he even asks for a piece of fish to eat, in order to prove his real bodily presence. And yet these do not present him simply as a man who has come back from death in the same condition as before.
One thing that strikes us straightaway is that the disciples do not recognize him at first.Continue reading →
Easter weekend was a lazy few days spent lounging in the sun in Grandma’s Somerset garden. Hot, hot, hot! We played croquet and badminton, did the crossword and ate too much. There were dragonflies hovering over the pond, hoping there might be some water. No such luck. I did go for a run along the river, and was foolishly enthusiastic when the boys decided to come too. It was sweltering, even in late afternoon, and they ran the socks off me. Life is so unfair.
And on that note, I’ve been doing loads of running recently in this wonderful weather. Last night a group of us ran around the There and Back tracks around Bolton and Gifford; a lovely route through woods, by fields, alongside rivers. There’s a wooden finger post on one of the paths that points There and Back again; one of these days I’ll get a photo. Today I plodded up to Fa’side with Lynne and Jeanette for fantastic views across the Forth. It would be nice, just for a moment, to feel that it was having some effect and that I might be losing a pound or two of the post-chemo excess weight. Life can be very unfair.
So here are my April photos for this week’s Gallery.
… I did watch the wedding. I couldn’t quite resist it although there were plenty of better things I should have been doing. Aren’t there always?
I sniggered a few times. “There’s Big Ben, dominating the London skyline as always” intoned Huw Edwards, struggling to fill the gaps. I instantly conjured an image of Big Ben, a little tired of domination, taking the afternoon off. And a little later “What a wonderful spectacle” just as an aerial shot showed a procession of white minibuses travelling down the Mall at funereal speed. Immaculate timing, Huw!
The pundits all wondered what Kate would bring to the Royal Family and I couldn’t help thinking some new blood, maybe? A little less inbreeding?
They all said how relaxed William looked as he arrived at the Abbey, tugging at his collar, adjusting his belt, Continue reading →
It’s the week before Christmas and Tara’s Gallery theme is Sparkle. I don’t have time to write a new post and in any case these are my sparkle pictures of the moment – phosphorescent waves lapping on the shore in the Maldives. I don’t feel too guilty rejigging this post from a few weeks ago as the phosphorescence was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a long time and not many people spotted this post. So here’s my offering for Sparkle: Dancing on Stars.
It was our last night on holiday. Our bags were packed. GP2 was already in bed. We wandered out onto the beach for the last time. The full moon we’d had all week was now waning, and was still hidden behind the palm trees. We could see the Milky Way above us on this dark night with no city glow to disturb us. But down at our feet, the waves lapping on the beach were shimmering bright blue, tracing chains on the sand like strings of Christmas lights or necklaces of sparkling stones.
I’ve been wandering along beaches most of my life but have never seen phosphorescence so bright or so blue. We paddled in the waves and as we lifted our feet the tiny algae attached to the soles cast an eery glow over the sand. We dragged a reluctant son out of bed and he was soon jumping in the wavelets with us.
We tried to take photographs in the darkness but, without a tripod to hand, we were taking pictures of blackness. It was a magical moment, dancing on stars.
Is University education all set to become highly parochial?
Fees of £9000 a year in England. Currently free in Scotland. Will any Scottish students ever go to university in England again?
Something in the paper the other day about the low numbers of ethnic minority (or maybe it was AfroCaribbean) students at Oxbridge. I bet there aren’t going to be many Scottish students applying for Oxford or Cambridge in the future.
No, there hasn’t been a huge thaw. No, I haven’t finished the report I’m working on. Yes, I should be working not visiting my blog. But the clip below really made me smile. I’ve borrowed it from Retired and Crazy.
We’re not really snowed in but we can’t really get out. At least, not in the car; we’re saving a lot of money on petrol. There was a brief thaw at the weekend and the icicles regressed but the cold has come back with a vengeance this week. The icicles are now 2m long and there’s an inaccessible glacier teetering off the gutter immediately above our phone line. -13° C this morning. I know that’s not really cold, in the global scheme of things, but Continue reading →
Just 18, he passed his test in July and already, of course, he’s a far better driver than his mum. Never mind that the car is buried under a 3 ft blanket of snow and hasn’t moved since the weekend. Don’t worry that all the roads are single track and covered in slush, with cars abandonned all over the place, and as soon as the plough goes through and clears the path new snow fills it in again. So what if the AA has had 18,000 breakdown call outs and that the temperature is predicted to drop to record lows tonight? Even the buses are struggling to reach the village.
Tara’s Gallery theme this week is Black and white which seemed too good an opportunity to miss. This photo of a sea anemone is one of my favourites and my Facebook comrades will recognise it from my profile picture. I took it years ago in the late 1980s on an expedition to St Kilda. There is an underwater cave about 25m down, right below the peak of the island of Dùn in Village Bay; the roof of the cave is covered with sheets of these white cluster anemones (and I’m sorry, we have to do Latin here) Parazoanthus anguicomus. This photo might not win prizes or be technically the best but I like it. It evokes for me a wonderful dive site and some great trips to the very edge of Scotland. Happy times!
This little anemone (each one is about 1cm across) is always found in good places. It lives along much of the west coast of Scotland, although it doesn’t make it further south than the north coast of Ireland, but the brightest, whitest ones live in the clear offshore waters, and particularly on the specatacular underwater cliffs of St Kilda. It has a yellow sibling species, which, preferring warmer waters, only makes it as far north as south west Scotland; rather like Will and Ed the Grundy brothers, the two are only rarely seen in each others company.
Anyone who has dived in British waters will know that they frequently have to justify their strange proclivities to the unbelievers of this world.
“Oh, it must be so cold!” Well yes, it can be, but so’s skiing. You just have to wear the right gear. “And surely there’s nothing to see. Isn’t it all dirty brown?” So, just to show you that it’s not all black and white and dirty brown in underwater Britain, I’ve put in a few other sea anemone-type photos.
And in case this counts as cheating, here’s a post I wrote early last year which has some proper black and white photos. I was contemplating writing something using these pictures when I remembered that I’d already done it.
I was at a fundraiser last week where, amongst the various attractions, there were several women giving massages of various types. (Now stop thinking that, it was all highly respectable.) And there was a lovely girl doing Reiki and reading cards. “Why not?” I thought. I’ve never had a card reading but it was all in a good cause! And so she read my Angel cards.
I do find it difficult to take these things seriously and keeping a straight face was most definitely a challenge. But I took it all in good heart. She told me various things about myself and, as with all these things, it’s always possible to find something to relate to amongst the generalisms. So apparently I’m very caring and would make a good counsellor. Hmm. Not sure about that one. I should make more time for myself. Now that I like but so, I imagine, would most mums. And I should be more decisive.
More decisive. MORE decisive.
So, I wonder, does that mean I should turn from Bossy to Bully?