We’ve all been very relieved about the good news on the cancer front. Of course. I got big hugs from both the teenagers which nearly made me cry, as it only then sank home what it all really meant.
Later that evening one of the boys suddenly turned to me and said “So does that mean you’re going to start doing our laundry again?”
I’ve been on strike since a particularly bad week somewhere near the start of the chemo when the washing mountain grew and grew and my idle offspring waited for me to deal with it. It was half term, I believe, so it wasn’t as though they were pressed with other duties.
Anyhow I’ve enjoyed being on strike and see no reason to regress. In fact, I regard it as my duty as a mother to stay on strike. Their future wives will surely thank me.
Now, do you reckon I could get them to clean the loo?
Chemo days are long. They start in the middle of the night, 6 hours before the appointment, when I have a lonely midnight feast with a handful of steroids. Middle of the night feast, of course, not midnight. Do you remember those midnight feasts when you were little when you and your friends would hide away a bundle of sugar-hit goodies, and of course it was a secret and your mum didn’t know, but then you couldn’t last until midnight? Either you tucked in to the goodies at 10 o’clock, torch under the blankets, or you woke up in the morning and it was all still sitting there.
Anyhow, back to the chemo. My appointments at the moment are Mondays, and have moved from 9am to 11am. The 11am bit means I can get up at 6 to take my tablets, rather more civilised than midnight. Why not 5? Unfortunately the Monday bit means I have to get my pre-chemo bloods done on Friday, three days ahead, rather than the preferred 24 hours before. The way this drip-drip poison works is to kill off every fast growing cell it can find. Subtle, eh? Fast growing cells include Continue reading →
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.
My mad, unruly curls have all been chopped off. Shame – I’d grown quite fond of them once they’d moved on from the tight, grey, just had a perm stage. People pay good money for curls like that. But I knew they weren’t destined for a long life and my hair really did need cutting. It is now two years and about three weeks since that awful, dreamlike day when I was told I had cancer. Almost exactly two years since my hair started falling out, 19 months since I noticed the first hint of bum fluff returning to my bald head.
That’s not so long, really. All over and done with in the blink of an eye. My cancer is old history now and I’m just a statistic. I don’t think about it so often these days and I suspect most people around me don’t ever give it a thought any more. And that’s how it should be. I fully expect to be one of the 73% of ovarian cancer sufferers who survive to 5 years after diagnosis. I plan to be one of the 30% or so Continue reading →
“Have you noticed” said a notoriously tactless and insensitive male of my acquaintance, “Have you noticed that your hair’s rather curly?” I sighed. I tried to summon a suitably withering are-you-an-alien-from-another-galaxy glare. Deep breath. “Well, there are mirrors in our house and, oddly enough, I do tend to take a glance while I’m brushing my teeth in the morning. Of course I’ve noticed, you ****”.
But I suppose I’m gradually getting used to the wide-eyed stares and take-two looks from those who haven’t seen me for a while. Earlier in the summer we went to big sister’s cottage in Co Donegal for a week’s holiday and all four sisters were there at once, which must be something of a record. They (the other three) took one look at me and fell about laughing. Sisterly love, eh? Continue reading →
Hair. Or lack of it. I’ve started dreaming about hair recently. I’ve dreamt about washing it, brushing it, tying it back. I’ve been wondering where my hairbrush is and contemplating the shampoo supplies once more. This is all prompted by the No. 1 fuzz, colour indeterminate, that is currently adorning the top of my head. And eyebrows to match. New hair; it must be spring! Anyhow, there’s a good chance that it’ll grow back curly as apparently that’s what often happens after chemotherapy.
It’s been very quiet in this corner for some time now. I have no real excuse, just a jumble of reasons. It’s partly been a form of writer’s block – how pretentious! But I’ve had several posts in draft for some time and don’t seem to have been able to find the words to finish, or in some cases even start them. Perhaps it’s been more a dive in motivation. I’ve been finding it hard to motivate myself to do anything much for the last few weeks. And that has been partly due to hitting something of a low, a wall – or perhaps more correctly slumping against the wall. I think a mid term low is probably quite normal – I do seem to remember it happening with my broken ankle. I’m a real expert in these things, you see!
Some of it has been brought on by having to admit to myself that I really am a lot more tired these days. It’s all very well trying to carry on as usual, but Continue reading →
This is going to be a very selfish, mean-spirited, churlish, curmudgeonly, whingeing and Grumpy Old Woman sort of post. There. You’ve been warned. For more enlightened, friendly, positive, cheerful reading you could try some of the links on my blogroll instead. Iota’s started posting again about life in the States and she’s always entertaining and currently much more enthusiastic than me. Or there’s Reluctant Memsahib who writes about homeschooling, schooling of the boarding variety but mainly day to day living in the Tanzanian outback. And you could try Potty Mummy, Mother at Large and Pig in the Kitchen for general entertainment and cooking tips. Oh, and I nearly forgot Fidra books who are offering to give away books to schools. I hope you’ve all gone now so I can complain in peace.
Well, brother-in-law got engaged at Christmas. Good news! Exciting news, even, as his fiancee only appeared on the scene in September; Mother-in-law had, I think, secretly started to give up hope of any more grandchildren and suddenly hope came galloping into our Christmas celebrations. Sister-in-law to be, who keeps Continue reading →
I’m getting good at this. Wearing my wig, that is. I had a meeting to go to today so wore my wig instead of my much more comfortable buff. I detoured on the way home to buy Christmas cards and have a coffee, and bumped into a couple I knew in the queue.
“Oh you’ve changed your hair style! It looks really nice!”
“Thank you”, smiling sweetly.
“Is it easy to look after?”
“Oh yes, very easy” trying not to smirk.
“It must be great for swimming.”
Aloud: “Definitely easy for swimming”. (Thinks: I could just take it off and stuff it in a bag. If I could go swimming, of course.)
In fact, it goes on at such a pace there doesn’t seem to be time to write blog posts. And that’s with no significant work to do for a week or so. Bliss! Christmas shopping and meeting fellow bloggers without feeling that there’s something else I should be doing. Make the most of it. It won’t last.
So, in the last ten days I’ve had my second round of chemo, which was no problem, although I think it took a little longer to get over than the first. I did manage to get myself along to the EduBuzz meeting but was feeling slightly spaced out so I’m not sure I contributed anything coherent. In fact, I may have agreed to write something; it’s rather akin to agreeing to something at a party or with a pint in your hand. You wake up the next morning thinking “I said I’d do what?”. Anyhow, as I’m fairly certain I haven’t said I’d swim the channel for charity, I’m sure it’ll be fine.
4am. That’s an hour of the night that really doesn’t impinge upon my consciousness. I like to be wrapped cosily inside a totally unmemorable dream at 4am. I appreciate that there are folks who have to function at that time of the night or for whom 4am means breakfast but me? Well, I generally only see that hour when there’s a low spring tide to catch in a Shetland mid-summer and, of course, being Shetland, the sun has barely dimmed. But 4am in an Edinburgh November is a cold, dark moment and the only place to be is bed. So you’ll understand that it was something of a shock to find myself setting the alarm for such a secret time last Friday, and sneaking along to the kitchen for toast and tablets. Yes, this is when the chemo started. Ten steroid tablets (that’s right – 10) to be swallowed with food at 4am. Admittedly they were only very small tablets – perhaps they wouldn’t work if they were scrunched up into one big one, surface area:volume ratios and all that – but somehow it didn’t seem quite legal. It’s just a good job I’ve decided to give next year’s Olympics a miss.
“You’ll never get back to sleep” was the advice from many quarters but it was too cold to read so I snuck off back to bed. And suddenly – 7.30am. I’d overslept. 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.
There I was thinking 2007 couldn’t get much worse. Oh dear. I’ve just been told I have ovarian cancer, early stages so prognosis is good, but I’ll most likely need chemotherapy. I’ll find that out on Thursday. So I might be doing the Great Edinburgh Run next year in a wig, and I might be walking it, but I sure as hell plan to be there. As sister no.3 has just asked “why is it the clean living one of the family this has happened to?” Positive thinking starts here and I think I’ll start looking forward to a good 2009.