Friday, 31 December 2010

Resolutions 2011

When I was at school I learnt to play the clarinet. I played for six years. It got to the stage where the theory associated with the inevitable and interminable music exams got too damned difficult for this right brainer. It really put me off. I gave up.
And I haven't played again.
In fact other half doesn't really believe I play at all. This is partly because I haven't been seen with it for years. It is ( I think and I hope) locked in a filing cabinet in the garage. Go and get it? It is locked. Not sure where the key is. Looks like a new year lock breaker.
I am determined to find it and play it. If I can't find it ( and that would be awful) I will get another one. I am really excited about it.
I also want to start singing. My voice has never been brilliant. It has never been trained. It is ok- describable as a 'good choir voice'. So I hope to join a choir too. I want more music in my life.
At the moment I can't imagine ever feeling well enough to sing or blow into an instrument but I know it will come in time. And the thought of it makes me feel happy.
Happy New Year to all my bloggy pals,stalkers and occasional visitors. I hope 2011 is peaceful, healthy and prosperous for all of you

Monday, 27 December 2010

Over optimism, great expectations and differences

Peter and Santa Peebles 2010
Much is written every year about how many of us have too high an expectation of the festive season. I think I fell foul of this a little this year- and I think I can definitely be forgiven.
As regular readers know, this was the Christmas I wasn't supposed to see. And if it had been left to the local oncology team I definitely would not have been a participant. Making it through, therefore, is an odd experience, and I suppose if you haven't been through it I think it would be hard to imagine quite how it feels. I suppose a reprieved prisoner on death row might get it... that's as close as I can think of. I have sometimes felt like a last minute guest: delighted and surprised to be invited to a party which I really wanted to be at, knowing that the invitation only arrived in the nick of time.
So, expectations? Other half, teenager, mum and I were booked into Peebles Hydro Hotel in Scotland for Christmas. Four nights. 23rd- 27th. It is a great place to spend Christmas. Lots to do for everyone- an easy place to relax. The trip became the family goal, the light in a dark world, something to be aimed for and get excited about. Something for me to work towards as I convalesce( ARE YOU GETTING THE PICTURE........?)
I suppose you know what's coming. All of you who have similar 'damn and hell' type of festive seasons. Can you hear bells ringing?
Thursday 16th December Midnight. I woke up with teeth chattering violently, followed by dramatic soaking sweats. Sky high temperatures. Not good. Down the drain goes the three day break to visit other half's family in the North East. I had a wound swab taken and a water sample. The surgery rang to say the latter looked dodgy so I had to go straight away onto MORE antibiotics. I duly did so, and immediately developed an intolerance to them. I will spare the details. Needless to say they had to be stopped.
I crawled on through the weekend temperatures roaring and appetite gone again. Boy- was I feel sorry for myself? I looked like hell. I felt like hell. I felt the pressure mounting. And I was so tired ......... all those last minute jobs were not being attempted. I had ground to a complete halt. In bed. Asleep. Again. No appetite and brimming with self pity.
Monday limped around and daktari was on the phone again. He had some good news ( really?). No urinary infection. Brilliant. So could it be flu then- it certainly felt like it? No- 'it is a wound infection' he announced cheerfully. Welcome to new and different antibiotics. I was relieved that at least I knew what the problem was, but daunted that we were just starting to tackle it on 20th December. I continue to sleep, sweat, shiver and grumble... and grumble.... and grumble.
23rd December lift off to Peebles. I felt like death warmed up. I felt like hell on wheels. I looked like something from ' Night of the Living dead'. Other half had done all the packing. I had pointed weakly from packing pile to case. But I was DETERMINED to get there. After all..... this was the big pay out. The reward for being a good patient. This was going to perfect? Er........
And we got there. Brilliantly navigated through the wintry weather by other half. We made it. But inwardly I fizzed. I raged. I didn't feel much better. And I was so convinced I deserved to be better. It was nearly a week, but still I limped on with boiling hot face, or shuddering freezing body. This was my holiday in Peebles. And I was ill again. I felt guilty to be an atmosphere hoover to the others, sorry for myself and as angry as hell that I was missing out. Great expectations. Dashed. I slept on. I ate very little. I sulked.
And then on Christmas morning, I felt a lot better. Was I starting to recover at last? We opened our presents, we had a lovely day. I saw Santa. But I didn't finish dinner, and was in bed by nine. I missed the music and the dancing. Small but slightly optimistic sulk.
Boxing day. I woke up full of life after a lovely long night's sleep AND NO TEMPERATURES. No flannel on the face, no fantasies about rolling in the snow naked, no more layering myself up with woolies and hot water bottles when the cold struck. And energy. After a week of absolutely none at all......I could feel it fizzing through my veins. A song in my heart, a zest, and a bit of appetite....
So I sprang ( well....) out of bed. Breakfast ( yes food- finally!). Festive flower arranging. Fab. Sugar craft mice ( picture tomorrow- very proud of). Brilliant. Quick rest. Bar. Dinner. Cabaret. Coming to life and ready to start the holiday. 27th December. Check out. Home. Bah wretched humbug. I was starting to get into the swing of it all. And like Cinderella......... home too early.
And to cap it all we came home to very heavy snow. Sigh. More snow.
So, what have I learnt from all this? To be honest that is still percolating. However, I do know for sure that I had a massively over- optimistic view of how well I would be by Christmas. I am still amazingly frail and susceptible to bugs and beasties. I am glad I have an cheerful and determined outlook but sometimes it can trip me up and give me false perspectives. This can lead to disappointment. I don't ever want to become someone who always expects difficulty ( self fulfilling prophecy) but sometimes I need to be better at just accepting and enjoying things the way they are. I need to get better at letting go of frustration and irritation, and be more accepting and cheerful of the situation as it is. I have given the Grinch a run for his money this year- unattractive behaviour and not fun to be around. Understandable and forgivable, but toxic all the same.
To finish on high note. One thing I haven't had to worry about this festive system is overindulgence. For once, no post festive remorse and diet plans for me. A blessed change. I have lost lots more weight.I am getting to be quite the sylph. My liver is healthy and smiling as I haven't been drinking. I will enjoy looking at the sale clothes- for once I can shop anywhere.
The other thing I realise, having had a nasty blip, is how far I have come since 29th September... how much more independent and sprightly I am now compared to those first dark days. Much stronger, much more resilient, and hopefully wiser.
I hope your festivities went well. I hope the bugs and beasties, bad weather and lack of parcel deliveries didn't spoil your fun.
I will continue to get well again......I need to get a spring in my step for New Year's Eve.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas drinks 2010

Wonderful friends
Wonderful husband

Last night some lovely friends of ours invited us to Christmas drinks at their beautiful hotel the Linthwaite House Hotel ( staying in the Lakes? stay here. Fab views, fab decor and fab food). I had a very weary sleepy day yesterday and didn't think I would make it ... but I was so determined that I got dressed and thought 'I'll give it my best shot'. I am so pleased I did. I had a wonderful time.

Once I walked into the hallway I started to perk up. Such lovely decorations. Such lovely smells. Such a lovely welcome. Before long I was sitting with a bacardi and coke, with energy rising by the moment.

When our friends invited us to join them for supper at a local bistro we decided to go along. And again- had a great time. It all felt very festive. And as these folk all have boys in teenager's class we never run out of things to talk about. The boys are all very good friends and through them the parents have become very good friends too. I love it. For the record I had a very nice seafood and spinach pancake and salad.

Thanks so much to Gail and Simon, Wendy and Tony and Lilla for a very happy evening. Thanks to Wendy for the photographs.

I savour every moment of a nice time these days- not one drop passes by without me relishing it. I would never wish serious illness on anyone but it certainly does make you stop and appreciate the good things in life- especially lovely friends and a wonderful family.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Life savers

Teacher was teaching about taste using Lifesavers sweeties.
The children began to identify the flavours’ by their colour:
Orange ............... Orange
Finally the teacher gave them all HONEY lifesavers. None
of the children could identify the taste.
The teacher said, 'I will give you all a clue. It's what your
mother may sometimes call your father.'
One little girl looked up in horror, spit her lifesaver out and yelled,
'Oh my God! They're ass-holes!

The teacher had to leave the room.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Wellingtons ( thanks to my aunt for this one XX)

(Anyone who has ever dressed a child will love this one!)

Did you hear about the Pre-School teacher who was helping one of the children put on his wellie boot's?

He asked for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little wellies still didn't
want to go on. By the time they got the second wellie on, she had worked up a sweat.
She almost cried when the little boy said, "Miss, they're on the wrong feet."
She looked, and sure enough, they were.
It wasn't any easier pulling the wellies off than it was putting them on.
She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the wellies back on, this time on the right feet..
He then announced, "These aren't my wellies."
She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, 'Why didn't you say so?' like she wanted to.
Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting wellies off his little feet..No sooner had they got the wellies off when he said, "They're my brother's wellies, my mum made me wear them.’
Now she didn't know if she should laugh or cry.
But, she mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the wellies on his feet again.Helping him into his coat, she asked, "Now, where are your gloves?"
He said, "I stuffed 'them in the toes of my Wellie's".

She will be eligible for parole in three years!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

No waiting!

Last year mum and I made these penguins at Peebles hydro hotel where we spent Christmas 2009. We had such a happy family Christmas. I never dreamt I would have such a traumatic and turbulent year in 2010. I didn't realise that 2009 could have been my last Christmas. We never know what is round the corner- good or bad. Just as well I reckon! We booked last year for this year- Christmas 2010. At times we thought we would have to cancel the trip but we didn't. And now, against all odds we will go again as a family AND I AM SO EXCITED. I have never taken my wonderful family for granted. Since I lost my dad in 2001 I learnt that nothing lasts forever. But this year I love them more than ever and value them more than ever. Not only have they all put in a tough emotional and physical shift on my behalf, they are without doubt the focus and priority in my life.

Through the grace of God and a million prayers from all over the world I will see this Christmas after all. I felt odd about Christmas for years after dad died- I found it so hard to feel happy without him there. But someone pointed out to me: would you like teenager to feel the same way about Christmas if you died? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I want him to celebrate my life when I die and feel happy and grateful at Christmas, valuing friends and family and having a great time. My dad loved Christmas and I have now promised myself that I will throw myself into this time of year whole heartedly as long as I am here to do so. I am sorry that I was sometimes down and miserable and negative about it. Never again. He is happy and at peace now ( and if heaven is all about doing what we loved to do - he will be at the Ashes at the moment with other half's dad!!!)
A friend suggested we have a low key budget Christmas this year. I told her she must do what she feels is right for her BUT FOR ME NOT A DAMNED CHANCE. I am going all out to have a ball. No budgets, no economies, no quiet and no low key for this girl. I feel like Scrooge after the three spirits- it's all out.
Much as changed for me since last Christmas. I am now vegetarian on doc's orders ( though I can eat fish thankfully). I now comb M@S shelves for veggie ideas. Also, I now longer have a bladder!! Now that's a bit different eh? I am now known as a urostomate which means I wear a urostomy bag to catch urine. Its a big transition and I really knew nothing about it pre my operation. But every cloud has a silver lining. I don't have to get up to the loo in the winter nights, I never have the urge to go to the loo at an inconvenient moment, and I have a ' NO WAITING' card. This explains to long queues of people that I should have immediate access to the toilet in the event of needing to get in there ( in case the bag needs replacing or emptying - then it is damned urgent let me tell you!), they should step aside graciously. I have only used it once thus far ( today in fact) and everyone was really lovely. I was nervous but there was no problem. I thought - I guess there has to be some compensations. And having no bladder means it can't cause me anymore bother, pain and nuisance. And that suits me just fine.
Enjoy your preparations and take a moment to think. If you knew this Christmas was indeed your last, would you view in differently?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Tales of the Royal Marsden and the road to recovery part three

Before I say anything else in this post I must announce that we have had the first snow of this winter season. I opened the blinds and there was Narnia. All white and freezing cold. And since then we have had a few more snow showers just to keep levels up (but not enough to shut the schools or close the main roads) and we are waiting (according to the forecast) for more arctic blasts. Some parts of the UK have been affected really badly and it's not even December yet. It doesn't take much here for chaos to reign. The joy of rural living.

I went down to the Royal Marsden a few days ago. The first visit post op. I was supposed to go a few weeks ago but was so pole-axed with anaemia I had to wait til my blood was topped up. It went well. The surgeon is pleased with my progress. I need a lot of physio and time before my leg will be ok to drive. A few nerves muscles and blood vessels went the journey during the operation and there is no saying yet what damage will be temporary, and what permanent. They think there maybe cancer cells still around ( likely because of the scale and complexity of the op) but nothing that can be seen by the naked eye or a scanner. Pretty amazing- a miracle really. Any of you who have had dealings with cancer know there are no promises. Living with uncertainty is something of a skill that has to be learnt.

So three options: chemo ( but we have established it doesn't seem to work for me; radiotherapy-but they would need to target carefully and there is nothing to target or measure; or leave me alone to heal and get strong. Their decision is the latter. Thank God!!

So onwards and upwards. I need to go for a baseline scan on 18th December and all progress will be measured from that. Nerve -wracking but then scans and results loops are and I should be used to it by now! I was hoping to avoid any more London trips until after Christmas but the consultant seemed pretty set on the idea. He also suggested that I stuck to veggie food from now on ( easier on the bowel which has been rather chopped around I think) which suits me fine as I can't bear the thought of meat at all. I can have plenty of fish though.

And one more thing.... he is pleased that I have lost weight but would like me to lose more. I have lost two stone post op, and could do with a couple more off. Mind you- I would be fine with two more gone. It's all on my tummy!! Classic apple shape.

So nice veggie recipes please?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Rules for being human

The Rules for being Human

When you were born, you didn't come with an owner's manual; these guidelines make life work better.

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's the only thing you are sure to keep for the rest of your life.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called "Life on Planet Earth". Every person or incident is the Universal Teacher.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation. "Failures" are as much a part of the process as "success."

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. It is presented to you in various forms until you learn it -- then you can go on to the next lesson.

5. If you don't learn easy lessons, they get harder. External problems are a precise reflection of your internal state. When you clear inner obstructions, your outside world changes. Pain is how the universe gets your attention.

6. You will know you've learned a lesson when your actions change. Wisdom is practice. A little of something is better than a lot of nothing.

7. "There" is no better than "here". When your "there" becomes a "here" you will simply obtain another "there" that again looks better than "here."

8. Others are only mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another unless it reflects something you love or hate in yourself.

9. Your life is up to you. Life provides the canvas; you do the painting. Take charge of your life -- or someone else will.

10. You always get what you want. Your subconscious rightfully determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract -- therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have. There are no victims, only students.

11. There is no right or wrong, but there are consequences. Moralizing doesn't help. Judgments only hold the patterns in place. Just do your best.

12. Your answers lie inside you. Children need guidance from others; as we mature, we trust our hearts, where the Laws of Spirit are written. You know more than you have heard or read or been told. All you need to do is to look, listen, and trust.

13. You will forget all this.

14. You can remember any time you wish.

(From the book "If Life is a Game, These are the Rules" by Cherie Carter-Scott)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The mountain goat

After a tough few years and recent months of defying all odds, I often describe myself as a tough old mountain goat.

I love this link. Hope you can pick it up ok.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Paraprosdokian anyone?

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.

Ø I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Ø Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Ø I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

Ø Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Ø The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

Ø Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Ø If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

Ø We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

Ø War does not determine who is right -- only who is left.

Ø Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Ø The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Ø Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

Ø To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Ø A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

Ø How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Ø Dolphins are so smart, that within a few weeks of captivity they can train people to stand on the edge of the pool and throw them fish.

Ø I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted a paycheck.

Ø A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it.

Ø Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "In case of an emergency, notify - - -", I put "DOCTOR."

Ø I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Ø Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?.

Ø Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?

Ø Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Ø A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Ø You do not need a parachute to sky dive. You only need a parachute to sky dive,,,, twice.

Ø The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

Ø Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

Ø Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

Ø Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Ø I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.

Ø Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others, whenever they go.

Ø There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

Ø I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

Ø When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

Ø You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Ø To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Ø Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Ø A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as opposed to when you are in it.

Ø If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?

Ø Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Ø When something works just fine,, DON'T fix it !!!

Ø Insanity is contagious, you get it from your children.

Ø Hire a teenager,, while they still know everything.

Number five by Lynette is my favourite!

1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY? (written by kids)

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10

-No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
-- Camille, age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-- Derrick, age 8

Both don't want any more kids.
-- Lori, age 8

-Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
-- Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)

-On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-- Martin, age 10

-When they're rich.
-- Pam, age 7

-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- - Curt, age 7

-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
- - Howard, age 8

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-- Anita, age 9 (bless you child )

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
-- Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is.......

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
-- Ricky, age 10

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

oops I did it again

There is a new post under the previous one about the charity fund raise- I forgot to change the dates on the new one which I had in drafts. One day I will learn..............

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Louise Shepherd is fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

Louise Shepherd is fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

Please have a look at this page folks. My very dear and oldest friend Louise is walking for the Royal Marsden Hospital and we are trying to raise a £1000. We started with a target of £300 and smashed it. And now we are being ambitious. My friend Bobbie is walking with Louise for company too. We are going to go down to watch and cheer them on. Even a couple of quid/dollars will help. Thanks XXX

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tales of the Royal Marsden and the road to recovery part two

I have pinched this great picture from my good pal and fellow Geordie Clippy Mat. Check out her most recent post about emigrating to Canada many moons ago. It reminds me ( and lots of others) of our own story, and we were just moving 120 miles to the lake district. It is worth a look. Oh and by the way, for those of you not in the UK, a Geordie is a person who ( and there is much debate about this) was born in Newcastle or not far from the river Tyne. Look at google for the definitions. I was born less than a mile from the river Tyne ( North side) at North Shields ( near the Tyne mouth) and I constitute the real thing for sure. Pride Pride.
I confess I have been neglectful of my blog and I will do better in the next few days. I have a few mitigating circumstances. My blood level ( HB level) got so low I had to go to hospital overnight for a blood transfusion. Since then I have been a different woman. My energy is so much better. Before I felt like a dishrag- no motivation and asleep most of the day. Now I am buzzing and have a bit of colour ( rather than being as white as a ghost - white lips to match the skin tone).
Inspired and full of beans I got up on Sunday to do a long blog post but our internet had crashed. We had to wait for a powerpack which came yesterday. Wi- fi back on now and normal service is resumed again.
I try to do a few little jobs every day. This has involved all sorts of stuff such as thank you cards and replies to emails, cheery little texts in reply to all those I got in hospital, ordering bedding, starting on line Christmas shopping, sorting out teenager's incredibly busy diary, sorting out a new bathroom ( walk in shower etc), ordering a radar key for access to disabled toilets which are locked, getting a sweep organised ( pre -real fire season), getting a decorator to quote, ordering some grab rails for the front door ( I am no good with steps and won't be for a while). And the best bit-I am strong enough for visitors now and I am catching up with my wonderful friends. IT IS SO GOOD TO SEE THEM AND THEY ARE THE BEST MEDICINE. I am sure you love your friends folks and I am sure they are lovely, BUT MINE ARE THE BEST EVER!!!!!
I haven't watched much TV. I don't have a tv in my bedroom ( and have no desire to have one) and have enjoyed just sitting on the bed reading mags or facebooking. However, I have struggled through to the lounge for Downton Abbey ( fabulous), X factor, recorded cookery programmes watched with my mum ( we like the Barefoot Contessa), and the football ( of course). I sleep a lot too still but not nearly as much.
I have been out shopping at Marks and Spencer - it was wonderful. I have been out for two lunches too. We don't stay out for long but every minute is such a treat. Slowly but surely, I am gathering my strength.
And of course, I haven't forgotten about the 'no bladder' post!! Coming soon at a Lakeland Jo blog near you.............

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Home. part one of my adventures at the Royal Marsden

Isn't this a great shot of Derwentwater? I love the lighting

I am finally home. Arrived back from hospital on Sunday night after one of those 'will I ever get out of here?' difficult mornings. I was in there for eighteen nights.It was a five hour journey and mercifully it went pretty well. I slept for most of it.

It sounds like a long time but it went pretty fast. I remember very little of the first week particularly, I was in ICU for most of that. All I can remember of that part really is hallucinations, and Pete visiting and having to wear a pale pink apron which caused some smiles amongst the family. ICU ( intensive care unit) is like Star Wars. Just a lot of screens and machines and wires. It is very alien and odd. The care is one to one 24 hours, and so specialised. Like being a new baby again.
One morning two teams of doctors came in at the same time. I was drifting in and out of the scenario, but i remember it well because there were so many of them, and all I could see were peering faces. I felt like 'exhibit a'. Two of the more senior doctors were having a disagreement about something. I forget what now. Lots of people were loading notes in laptops. Most of the doctors didn't look much older than teenager to me. All peering at my wounds and discussing them.
I was lucky regarding the aforementioned hallucinations. They were very weird but I wasn't frightened by them which I think can happen to some people. Caused by all the different medicines and drugs, they sure do alter the mind. I told my mum (who was with me during the ICU period bless her heart- just sitting patiently with me) that the nurses bay outside was a toy shop, a book shop and then a chocolate shop. I then decided it was a library. I could see a lot of space type figures wandering around (especially stormtroopers), and I also decided that we are all really IPODs and all we need to get better at things is to be upgraded regularly ( i.e. - if you want to be a tennis pro, get an upgrade. Learn Italian? Get an upgrade etc). It would be good if life was as easy eh?
It must have been hard for the family to make sense of me making sense of my world in there. Other than the strange visions, I also used to use the wrong words to describe what I wanted, and would regularly fall asleep mid sentence, totally denying that we were on the subject when I woke up again.
The operation I had was huge. I can't really say exactly what it was because the title is a paragraph long full of latin phrases. I did ask for a short version and was told the nearest is ' a total right side pelvic re-section'. I think that will do. It sounds general and large scale enough. Lots of people do ask about it and its good to have a simple short reply- not that it really explains a lot. Lots of slicing, strimming, removing, and painstaking work. Oh yes- and I now have no bladder. This will be a different post altogether ( I bet you just can't wait). The tumour has completely gone. That was the complex bit- so near the sciatic nerve and 'involved with' so many different parts of the area, it is a miracle they got it.
Those of you with a less medical disposition can avoid the 'no bladder' post but I want to be honest and open about it all in the hope it may help someone else in my position. Anything that supports someone else is worth writing about. If it raises awareness and helps us all know and appreciate what others are dealing with, or could be, then it's worth writing about it. As regards the bladder I wasn't sorry to see the back of it. I had done me great service but latterly it was causing me some really big problems. It had to go and I have accepted it. Now I have something caused a urostomy bag. Another post that one. I was told I may end up with a colostomy bag but didn't in the end: that was very fortunate. I was pleased when I woke up and found out.
So now I am waiting for the district nurse. The post surgery/ wound dressing circuit that I am sure a few of you maybe familiar with. This afternoon the stoma (urostomy support) nurse is coming to see other half and I. That will be good. We would like some help- it is a lot to take in and learn.
And I will relax like I did yesterday. Spend time with my beloved mum ( she is bringing me a latte in from Costas!), hang out with teenager who is on half term, read blogs and play on facebook. And most of all enjoy looking out of the window at the autumn colours, appreciating that I am alive and feeling better every day. Thanking God.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Life in the Royal Marsden

Thank you first of all for your kind comments in response to other half. It is so appreciated. And I know all the positivity and prayer on the day of the op were essential to it's success. I would like to do a lovely long post but because it's being done on the iphone, that makes it a bit tricky. Suffice to say the plan is for me to leave for home on Sunday. So next week expects some long sagas.
In brief, it's been a roller coaster and the week post off was the longest of my life. A real physical slog with lots to come to terms with. But above it all has been the feeling- I made it, and the operation was a success. Wonderful. Everyday my progress improves. I am sleeping again after last night, I am starting to eat again, and my stitches and staples are all gone. I haven't had time to be even remotely bored, and celebrated my 46th birthday in hospital yesterday with a glass of fizz.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Operation...

Its finished!

At 9:45pm the surgeons called and told me that the operation was finsihed. The surgeons were happy that they had been successful and believe that they have been able to remove all the tumour. Plenty of tissue samples have been taken and sent for analysis to confirm everything has been taken out. This is a result beyond our wildest dreams. Jo did extremely well during the op, I'm sure proud of her!

In all the operation took about 13 hours and Jo will be recovering for a long time. Knowing Jo as I do I urge you all to keep an eye out for new posts from Jo by Saturday or Sunday.

Finally, as a person who is known to you all as 'other half' can I express my sincerest thanks to all of you for the constant support you have given Jo. As a community you are all important to Jo and I know Jo draws a huge amount of strength from you all. Jo and I talk a lot about all of you and the connection Jo has with you is hugely significant to her. You are her 'public' and extremely important to her and therefore important to me - please keep the connection and the support going.

Other Half

The Operation

An update on Jo's operation.

As of 5:45pm this evening the operation going very well with no complications. The surgeons have removed lots of tissue and lymph nodes for anlysis and all samples have come back negative, indicating no spread of the disease. A good result!

Jo is stable and her condition is good.

The team of surgeons have been working slowly and steadily in the pelvic wall area remving the tumour millimetre by millimetre. This is the area with the greatest risk, lots of blood vessels and nerves. So far so good.

The surgeon I spoke to said they expect to be working for atleast another 5 hours, so expect to see another post later.

Can I ask everyone to maintain their strong positive focus for Jo throughout the night. Your thoughts and prayers will all be received by Jo and your strength and energy will be used by Jo in her quest to overcome this.

Teenager, mum and other half are doing well, just having a quite day.

I will post again later with more news.

Jo's Other Half

Monday, 27 September 2010

Where to start?

Where to start? Last time I posted I was under the weather with an infection. A lot of rapidly moving water has been under the bridge since. My lovely friend Bobbie turned up for a visit ( from the US) but after one day of her arrival it was clear that I was skating on thin ice as regards a possible hospital admission. Since I was due in hospital in London for more tests and scans the following week my GP suggested that a local hospital admission would 'put a spanner in the works'. Too stressful to contemplate. So I left my friend holding the fort with mum and teen,and other half and I came to London. This meant if I needed admission I could go straight to the Royal Marsden. Luckily I avoided admission and the tests and consultations proceeded as planned.
Bobbie, abandoned by me in the North, had a lovely time with teenager (her Godson) and my mum. Luckily she has since followed me down to London so I get to see her after all!
On Thursday I finally got the decision about the operation. It would take an age to explain why but the answer was No. Total devastation. I have never felt so wretched and low. However, remarkably and through the power of prayer and patience, on Friday the decision was reversed. Joy.Sheer joy.
On Wednesday the operation will go ahead. It will take 12-14 hours. It is very risky. They may not get all the cancer out. I will have quite a bit removed partially or totally. I will be in hospital a long time. Recovery will be slow. There are absolutely no promises. But I have been given a chance. That is all I have ever wanted. A chance. To see my boy get to eighteen. That is what I am focussed on. If I don't make it at least we gave it a go. Took the bull by the horns. I gave it my best shot. I have looked the cancer in the eye without fear. I will take my chances. I am at peace knowing I have done everything I can. Now I trust in God and what will be, will be.
Pray for me on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The good news and the bad news

Take one look at the picture. It gives it all away. On Saturday I came down with an infection. It could be one of many things but I have spent the week so far either shaking with cold, fainting with heat, fast asleep or taking some tablet or another. It is now official I rattle when I walk. Mum as ever has been completely steadfast. Sitting with me, bringing me coffees from Costas ( my passion is going out for a coffee often with mum, so she has collecting one for us instead), trying to improve my increasingly grizzly mood. Other half has been insisting that I eat ( it is not a good sign when I don't fancy eating- I am such a bon viveur), bringing me a continuous supply of ribena ( which I crave) and generally calming me down.
I need to make progress. I need to get better for London next week. I get my decision a week on Thursday. Will they or won't they operate? I will find out on that Thursday. So it is tough at the moment- no point dressing it up.
But I am so blessed to have a lovely family to support me, and friends who shower me with cakes and flowers and cheery texts.
And the good news- my pride and joy passed his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award, and continues to be my inspiration and strength.

Friday, 10 September 2010

It's been a while.............

A year ago teenager did his practise Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. A year later it is finally the real thing. And much has happened since then.
Thanks for all the good wishes while I was in hospital recently. It has been a whirlwind. I ended up in hospital for two weeks including a transfer my ambulance from Barrow to London. 300 miles, and actually it wasn't as bad as I thought. I was looked after very well by two lovely ambulancemen: Trevor and Alan.
I had two operations under general anaesthetic within a week. One to find out the source of the bleeding, and one which was a scheduled exploratory at the Royal Marsden as part of the ongoing tests to see if I can have what I now call ' the big op'.
While in London I also had a PET scan which is the final piece of the jigsaw. I haven't had the results yet. I get these on 23rd September, the day I find out whether the hospital is in a position to do the 'big op'. It is stressful waiting but it seems to be the way it is... forever waiting for some test or result. The life of a cancer patient.
When I got out of hospital in London, and waited for the scan., I stayed with my lovely friend L who has been my dearest pal since we were at school. We met when we were eleven- quite a few years ago............ As comfortable as a pair of slippers our relationship. As soon as enter her home I feel relaxed and comfortable, and she is a lovely hostess. Perfect for relaxation and recuperation. Aren't I so blessed to have such a dear friend in London so near the hospital? It is such a relief.
And now I am home. Three weeks later I am back. It is lovely to be home with my boys and my mum, and in such a lovely inspirational place. I plan to rest and build my strength for the next part of the adventure.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The long stay

I am posting from my iPhone! So this won't be a long post. Just to say I have been in hospital since last Thursday! I won't go into the gory details here. Suffice to say there is unstoppable ( at the moment!) bleeding going on. So I am having lots of care and transfusions, and staying in Cumbria until next Tuesday. I will then be taken to London in an ambulance on Tuesday! That's 200 miles folks! From next week the Royal Marsden will look after me. I am being well looked after and will blog when I can. Xx

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The second opinion

Since my local hospital had told me that my tumour was inoperable and incurable I came to the decision that I needed a second opinion. It may sound odd, but I did not come to this conclusion quickly or easily. I suppose I have been in shock.
My GP suggested I go the Royal Marsden, a cancer hospital in London with a wonderful reputation. It is a long way to go, but worth every mile.
I have been three times now, and every time I have been impressed. They are friendly, efficient and knowledgable. It is such a relief.
Yesterday they told me that they DO consider me to be a candidate for surgery. I need to have another detailed scan, and more exploratory tests so it is not definite yet. However, if these further diagnostics go well I will be operated on mid September. A major operation. Complicated and challenging, but I feel so blessed to be even given the chance.
I am pretty shellshocked by the news. So is my family. I want to get excited but don't want to get my expectations up too high until I have had the tests which happen at the end of this month.
My advice to anyone out there who isn't happy with a first opinion on a medical matter, take all your courage in your hands and ask for another opinion. Another pair of eyes. I am so glad I did.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The trip to God's own country

We have been to the North East of England for a few days. We were staying with other half's family. We had a lovely time. The weather was pretty moody, but on Thursday it was pretty good so we went to the beach. This is Tynemouth beach and it is very near where I grew up in Tynemouth village.

We went paddling and here is a picture of teenager with his cousin.

We also went to see NUFC ( Newcastle united) at a training session. It was a free event and thousands turned up.

Teenager got his very first season ticket. This means he can go to every home match. He has been over to Newcastle on the train with his friend, so he is hoping to go to lots of matches.

There was a first team player signing session and teenager got lots of autographs and photos, including this one with new signing Sol Campbell.
I love living in the Lake District and can't imagine every moving from such a beautiful place. I am always so happy to be back and inspired every day by the beauty and peace. But Newcastle will always be home.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Two great books

My good friend Ann has lent me these books. I have read them both. They are excellent and I found them inspirational. The sort of books you can't put down. Has anyone read them? Let me know your thoughts if you have.
Since I stopped working I have started to read voraciously again. I am really enjoying it. I would love to hear about any books that you have enjoyed and would recommend.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Regrets.... I have a few....

There is nothing more sobering than sorting out pension paperwork and realising you probably won't be around to take advantage of all that saving up and sensible planning. It makes me think- so what is all about? Life.
As you can see I am in philosophical mood today.
We have been burning old financial paperwork and filing important stuff away. I found a large box of photos and started sorting them out and labelling them.
There are some wonderful ones and I can wait to start scanning so I can start posting a few.
Everything from me at sixteen, college shots, shots of our engagement and teenager as a teeny boy. Holidays, parties, nativity plays and weddings. Where does the time go?
All over in what seems like the blink of an eye. And so much change right in front of my eyes: people who have moved away, people who have died, people who we don't see anymore, people I can hardly remember, people who have divorced, people who have re-married. Fascinating.
And all those different haircuts, and fashions... and remembering how I felt and what I was doing at each stage of my life. What was important, what motivated me, hopes and fears. Memories captured on paper, bringing back lots of different emotions.
It makes me realise what a great life I have had. I have made mistakes and have taken wrong turns, but perhaps these things have made me what I am today. Perhaps they were all part of learning lessons.
The bad things seem miniscule and irrelevant to me now. They are firmly in perspective now. In fact, my main regret is that I worried as much as I did.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Jo update

Teenager in Chicago- summer 2010

Teenager had a wonderful time in Chicago. Here he is at a Chicago Cubs match at Wrigley Field. How lucky is that! I am glad he had a lovely time. Chicago is such a fab place. Thanks again to my very good pal Expat Mum and family.

I have been for a second opinion consultation with the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. It was impressive. Organised and friendly. I felt happy to be there. I told them I had been very poorly after my last lot of chemo and that I wanted a break. They agreed that since it does not appear to be working, I should have a break. They advocate listening to your own body and instincts. Refreshing and hurray. They want to try a different regime further down the line, but not now. What a relief. Chemo is ok if you know it is making a difference. I feel instinctively that this is making no difference at all other than making me ill and down hearted.

Royal Marsden continue to consider options to get me the best possible outcome. To help this I go for a scan next week down in London. I am going to stay with my friend Louise. We were at school together and London flatmates in earlier days. It will be like old times. It will be great fun to be girls together again- shopping and eating I hope... and going to the cinema.

So we are focussing on symptom control and having a happy and fun time at the moment. Especially during August when teenager is off school and on holiday. Not only do I need a holiday- the family do too. Having some normality will be good for all of us.

Meanwhile, three friends of mine are in hospital at the moment. What's going on? Wherever I look someone seems to be struggling.

I am so glad I have my faith. I don't know what I would do without it. I went to a worship session at the Keswick Convention last week. It was uplifting and comforting. When nothing else seems to soothe me my faith brings me peace. Be still, and know that I am God.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Reality time

( Picture taken by my fab photographer sister in law Karen at Christmas 2009- they are both much taller now!) Teenager and his cousin.
I like to post pictures of teenager when I am in need of focus and inspiration. And it has been one of those weeks where I have needed a large dollop of both. Post chemo wasn't much fun for a couple of days. I will spare you the details ( too much information!) but the positive thing is that I feel a lot better and brighter today. Back to fiesty self just about. Sleep is a blessing and I have spent most of my time asleep. I feel like I have come out of hibernation. The weather has been helpful- wet and grey- I haven't felt like I have missed a thing on that front.
And I have had my mum here to look after me. It has been a real comfort. She has been my inspirer and chief caterer in charge (the whims of the chemo patient are pretty astonishing).
And... my letter arrived today from the Royal Marsden Hospital. My appointment is next Friday in their Chelsea hospital. It is a reality now. Trains to organise, accommodation, logistics and diary changes. It starts now. Already, we have time clashes all over the place- this is when keeping focussed on the priority is helpful. And this is it- the priority. So all systems go to make it happen.
Teenager's holiday continues to go brilliantly with lots of exciting treats including water trampolining in Indiana. He leaves Chicago on Monday, and back to mum and dad, jet lagged no doubt on Tuesday. I can't wait to see him. It has been a joy hearing what a great time he is having.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

where has she been?

Picture taken in San Juan islands near Seattle on last year's holiday.

I am afraid that google/ blogger decided to lock me out of my blog for a while. It kept saying that my password or user name was wrong. Eventually I tried the 'forgotten password' route and it has worked. Very odd. Anything like that ever happened to anyone else?

Anyway, quite a bit has been happening at this end. I spent a few days last week in Newcastle ( upon Tyne) seeing other half's family. It was a lovely trip. A couple of nights with my mum in law, and then a couple of nights with our friend Martin who has a flat in the city. Other half was working so I had a chance to hit the city centre for a few hours alone. I had a lovely time. Lunch in Yo Sushi, a chocolate shot at a chocolate fountain at Thornton's, coffee in a fab coffee shop called Central Bean, visited a new part of the Eldon Square shopping centre... bought books and clothes. Found out that Jo Malone is coming to Fenwicks, and that White Company is already there. Heaven.

Ok, so I overdid it a bit. Walked further than I had for an age, didn't take as many breaks as I could have done, didn't take enough heed of the warm temperatures AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. WHAT A TONIC.

We had a nice meal out in a restaurant called the Black Door brasserie. Very good. We had lunch in a vietanemese restaurant called Little Saigon. All in all, very successful.

It was hard to walk into chemo again on Monday morning after all that fun and sensory delight. But I did it and day two is now complete. One more and it's done for another four weeks. Reaction to chemo has been mild,so that is great news.

Meanwhile I have a referral to a hospital in London. It is the Royal Marsden and is the main cancer hospital in the UK. A second opinion. I am hoping for a consultation date soon so fingers crossed and prayers this way please. It has been a big decision because of the logistics but I feel I need to seek some more answers and perhaps some other avenues. What will be, will be, but I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Teenager is in Chicago with Expat Mum and is having a ball. She is a good friend to us. What an opportunity for a fifteen year old. He is very happy and settled and I get to chat to him every day on facebook- easy and relaxed. Bless it- for all the criticism of it it has many advantages.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Fabulous sunset

I took these photos the other night from my bedroom window.

I was amazed by the beautiful sunset. Breathtaking. These pictures only give a hint as to how lovely the sunset actually was.
Inspirational and comforting at once.
I am feel blessed that I can look out of my window and see such a stunning sight.

School's out and off on holiday.........

Teenager ( far left) on the last day term June 2010 with his pals. And now his case is packed and he is off to stay with Expat Mum in Chicago. She is a good friend to us and I appreciate it XX
Other half and teenager are setting off tonight, staying at the airport tonight ready for the flight in the morning. I will miss him such a lot, but I know he will have a lovely time.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sports Day

Teenager and I at his sports day on Tuesday. What a great day- full of fun and laughter.
Lots of fresh air and sunshine was had by all.
And teenager's house 'Strickland' won the competition this year.
And yes- that is still my hair ( just!) after three cycles of chemo.
I am now chemo free until July 12th and making the most of feeling like a human being.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Food for thought

( Picture- Seattle 2009)

Maya Angelou

'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'

'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life.'

'I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.'

'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back...'

'I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.'

'I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.'

'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back...'

'I've learned that I still have a lot to learn...'

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

Saturday, 26 June 2010

a tag from Expat mum's page

I found this meme on Expat Mum's Page. Hope you fancy joining in.

1. Which do you prefer city or country?

Countryside but near nice stuff to do like shopping and restaurants. I crave quiet especially at night.

2. Do you feel old?

I feel as old as I am -no older, no younger!

3. What was your most embarrassing moment and can you share it?

Meeting Pele the footballer, not recognising him and not knowing who he was when I was told.

4. What was the best thing you ever did at school?

Enjoy it. I really did. I had some really good friends. Also I won a drama prize. I am still proud of that.

5. Who do you most aspire to be like?

Not a particular person. I admire traits in many people. I like to notice what people do well and try to model it if I admire the gift.

6. Do you think you are ambitious?

No. Not anymore. I was once. I don't value the same things as I used to.

7. If you didn’t do what you are doing now what would you like to have done?

I think I definitely ended up in the right line of work. No regrets. Politics perhaps if I had a tougher skin!

8. What would be your most perfect meal?

Not so much what to eat but where. Paris or Nice with other half, and lovely wine.

9. Have you ever broken the law?

It's impossible not to break the law in Britain these days-there are so many laws to break!! Hopefully that will change now. I have had the usual run of parking tickets and speeding fines. Nothing else springs to mind.

I went on a speed awareness course a few months ago. I was very sceptical about going and went instead of getting points. In fact, I learnt a lot and haven't done any speeding since. I am especially careful in built up areas.

10. What songs would be in your Top 3?

She's Gone. Daryl Hall and John Oates

Every Little Thing She Does in Magic- The Police

World in Motion- New Order

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Anyone who knows me well will understand that my favourite tipple is wine. I love red wine, I love white wine, I enjoy the odd glass of bubbly. I used to be in the industrial quantities league (in my thirties) but for the last few years I have been able to say that I stay well within my healthy number of units quota ( boring health stuff that the GP always nags about) without my tongue going black. Not because I care a fig for the government's need to scrutinize and nag about my intake, but because I just can't get through the stuff these days. One large glass and I am usually done.
However, looking forward to a glass of wine is still one of my true great pleasures. It is therefore pretty miserable that the chemo schedule has put me off the grapey stuff for the large part. Sometimes the thought of it makes we wince, other times I just feel ambivalent to the point of putting the kettle on instead.
So.... imagine my surprise yesterday when I was overwhelmed by a desperate urge for Guinness. I am not a beer drinker by any stretch of the imagine but all I could think about was...... It hadn't gone off by yesterday evening. I could not think of anything else! Eventually husband and teen set off to the supermarket in the village, returning with some tins. I had a half. It was nectar. It was heaven.I enjoyed every drop.
I am going to have another one tonight. I can't wait.
Apparently is is good for iron levels and is seen to be a tonic by some. Whatever works- bring it on

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Feel sorry for myself- me?

An innocent picture of the teen at the school's Midsummer Ball last night.

But if you are eagle eyed ( or not as the case maybe) you will spot he is on crutches.

On Friday, as I was settling down to my post chemotherapy sleep the phone went. Teen had sprained his ankle badly. Could I take him to urgent care to get an xray? The school nurse was concerned- it was badly swollen. Perhaps broken?

Ever had a moment when you wanted to scream and yell and shout NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

This is the second bad sprain in three weeks.
Ever feel like it's raining, it's pouring. I fancied having a tantrum. Instead, it was off to the urgent care centre and an xray. They are hoping it isn't broken but can't tell til Wednesday this week because of the swelling. He seems happy enough and isn't in pain. He is missing work experience but is getting to revise for exams next week instead ( every cloud?)....
He still got to the Midsummer Ball. He danced on crutches. As you do. It's just a question of getting on with it isn't it? Looking for the best in a challenging situation.
Onwards and upwards. It is scan and results week for me- please send prayers for a good outcome. I will post at the weekend.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A new post but showing up in the wrong place

I have put another post up. Please look at the one before the FBI job post. I can't work out how to change the date on a post that has been started on earlier. Help on this please. Thanks. Enjoy the meme.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Job at the FBI

Job at the FBI

The FBI had an opening for an assassin.

After all the background checks, interviews
and testing were done, there were 3 finalists;
two men and a woman.

For the final test, the FBI agents took one of
the men to a large metal door and handed
him a gun.

'We must know that you will follow your
instructions no matter what the circumstances.

Inside the room you will find your wife sitting
in a chair .. . . Kill her!!'

The man said, 'You can't be serious. I could
never shoot my wife.'

The agent said, 'Then you're not the right man
for this job. Take your wife and go home.'

The second man was given the same instructions.
He took the gun and went into the room. All was
quiet for about 5 minutes.

The man came out with tears in his eyes, 'I tried,
but I can't kill my wife.' The agent said, 'You don't
have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.'

Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the
same instructions, to kill her husband. She took the
gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one
after another. They heard screaming, crashing,
banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was
quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the
woman, wiping the sweat from her brow.

'This gun is loaded with blanks' she said. 'I had to
Beat him to death with the chair.'


Women are creative problem solvers. Don't mess with them

Saturday, 12 June 2010

a meme- thanks to French Leave

( Picture- Mount Rainier- Seattle from our holidays last year- fabulous eh?)

I got this from a blog called French Leave and thought it was rather interesting. Anyone else fancy a go?

What music/tribe defined you as a teenager?
I loved ( loved!) the Police and Sting, and punk.

Urban or rural?
Rural mostly but not too much. I wouldn't like to live anywhere too remote. What I like about where we live is it is a great combination of scenery, but there are lots of shops, restaurants and things to do. We can be in fabulous remote countryside in five minutes, or busy madness by the lake in the same amount of time.

Worst relative story?
What? On a public page? Hardly!
Seriously - I have a very small family and they are all lovely. Very lucky

What are you reading at the moment?
Load of books on the go. Even more than usual! Here's a few:

Shattering the cancer myth - Katrina Ellis - lots of good information

Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen

The White Witch- Phillipa Gregory

Who pushed/inspired you to start blogging?

Expat Mum

You have her to blame- heh heh ( and it was inspired)

Are you a learner or a teacher?
I don't think you can be a teacher if you are not a learner. I would like to think I am both. I have 'taught' for a long time, and have always been committed to my development.

What is your pet hate?
At the moment it's the horns on the World Cup matches- sounds like a hive of bees. So annoying.
Millionare socialists get on my nerves as well. Spouting about social conscience and fairness with thirty million in the bank.

Swanky bars, and sawdust on the floor affairs?
Former always. Dislike latter immensely.

What will you be doing while the football world cup is on?
Watch it mostly- but those horns are putting me off!

What picks you up when you're down?

My mum. Spending time with my other half and lovely teenager. Coffee with my friends. Going to lovely shops. Wine! Talking to resourceful positive and optimistic people

Indian or China...we're talking tea here, not economics...

I like both and drink both

What do you value most about blogging?

It is like a diary for me. I love it when I find out family and friends are reading ( even if not commenting). I love my longstanding blog buddies. It is a really supportive community.

What can't you bring yourself to throw out of your wardrobe?

I love leggings. Too old for them for sure- but they are sooooooooooo comfortable! And handy

Would you rather someone didn't ask your views on controversial issues?

I don't mind a bit. As long as they don't mind a controversial answers!

Do you recommend people..and then wish you hadn't? A couple of times I have recommended colleagues who I trusted to clients and it turned out to be a disaster. But usually it works really well. I have learnt from it.

Do you own up to reading light novels, or hide them under the cushions if visitors arrive?

I don't read them. Not snobbery but I just don't. I like mags like Hello and OK though

Content with your own company or gregarious?

I am very gregarious but increasingly happy with my own company.

One thing which would noticeably improve your life.

Better health. But really I am very blessed indeed. I have people to love and people who love me. It doesn't get any better than that.

My questions are:

  1. If you could only visit one foreign country which one would it be?

  2. Ironing or hoovering?

  3. Football or rugby?

  4. Have you kept any soft toys from childhood?

  5. What is your favourite film and why?

  6. What is your idea of an entertaining evening?

  7. Do you have a favourite place?

  8. Extravagant or thrifty?

  9. What is your favourite shop?

  10. School day memories. Happy or sad?

There's more than a grain of truth in this...........

This is funny & obviously written by a former Soldier ....

I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I'm too old to track down terrorists.
You can't be older than 42 to join the military.
They've got the whole thing backwards.
Instead of sending 18-year olds off to fight, they ought to take us old guys.
You shouldn't be able to join a military unit until you're at least 35.

For starters:- Researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds.
Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a day, leaving us more than 28,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

Young guys haven't lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier. 'My back hurts! I can't sleep, I'm tired and hungry'
We are impatient and maybe letting us kill some ratbag that desperately deserves it will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.

An 18-year-old doesn't even like to get up before 10 a..m.
Old guys always get up early to pee so what the hell.
Besides, like I said, 'I'm tired and can't sleep and since I'm already up, I may as well be up killing some fanatical son-of-a-bitch.

If captured we couldn't spill the beans because we'd forget where we put them.
In fact, name, rank, and serial number would be a real brainteaser.

Boot camp would be easier for old guys..
We're used to getting screamed and yelled at and we're used to soft food.
We've also developed an appreciation for guns.
We've been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house, away from the screaming and yelling.

They could lighten up on the obstacle course however.
I've been in combat and didn't see a single 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do any pushups after completing basic training.

Actually, the running part is kind of a waste of energy, too.
I've never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him.
He's still learning to shave, to start up a conversation with a pretty girl.
He still hasn't figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm's way..

Let us old guys track down those dirty rotten coward terrorists.
The last thing an enemy would want to see is a couple of million pissed off old farts with attitudes and automatic weapons who know that their best years are already behind them.

How about recruiting Women over 50 menopause!
You think Men have attitudes! Ohhhhhh my God!
If nothing else, put them on border patrol....
They'll have it secured the first night!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Looking for trouble or looking for blessings?

Another fab photo taken by our very good friend Martin- thanks for letting me use it.

My mum and I often laugh about the fact that we don't have to look for trouble in our family because it always finds us easily. Anyone else know that feeling?

What we have learnt over the years is that it is easy to look through the prism of life and experience one problem and challenge after another. It is very daunting. But we have always learnt that if you look for blessings these are there too. Every day and even in the most trying of circumstances. It is a much better frame through which to see life. No doubt about it.

Some examples. Yesterday evening I found out that my chemotherapy has been delayed another week at least because of my blood count. This happened last time. I should be going in today as an inpatient for chemo cycle number three. So teddy and toothbrush are unpacked again. I told quite a few folk straight away as they were involved in the inevitable logistics of the week, and I received lots of texts and messages saying how sorry people are for me about it. I appreciate their kindness and concern. They think I will be keen to get on with my treatment,and to some extent they are right... but....

There is an element of disappointment and frustration in there, but it is just an element. It is is what it is, and what will be, will be. I decided at the beginning of this stage of the journey that I would just go with the flow, just float along in the river of life and not cling to the sides too much. It is a strategy that is working well for me. It is less tiring and frustrating than fighting every inch of the way.

My wonderful friend B is here to see me from Seattle ( yes- Seattle USA- she came over for a week to see me and her son). The postponement means I get to spend another day with her. She was our matron of honour and is teenager's Godmother and one of my oldest friends. It is a great support for me to have her here. We can spend more time catching up and drinking coffee. Excellent. She leaves on Thursday.

The delay is much better for other half. He is around much more next week and will be here while I get my treatment which takes pressure off the system all round. Much more relaxing for me while I am recovering from the impact of the treatment. Much less strain on him.

I get the chance to look after teenager while the rest of this exam week works its way through. I will be here to pick up, drop off and cook lovely healthy brain boosting food.

I can spend time with mum going to drink coffee at Blackwell House or Marks and Spencers. I can drive about and feel vaguely normal for a while longer. My brain is sharp, and my energy is great. I will still have hair for at least another ten days or so. I can go to Church on Sunday. I can have coffee after school drop off with my school mum friends tomorrow, Friday and next Monday.

And next week, I will probably get my treatment. It is waiting for me, and next week I will even more prepared, and stronger.

Sometimes it takes a magnifying glass to spot the privileges and benefits in a diffcult situation. I know this very well, but I getting to be a master at it, and it is definitely the best way and the only way to live in my opinion. Call it silver lining spotting, call it frustatingly optimistic, call it deluded. It maybe all of those things, but it really works.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

High and Low Pressure

For those of you who have visited the English Lakes, it doesn't take me to tell you that we are rather blessed with amazing scenery. Walk around the corner, or drive around the next bend and your senses are assaulted by something fabulous and inspiring. It is no surprise that folk travel from far and wide just to soak in all the marvellous sights.
However, there are disadvantages to living in such a great place. The first one is tourists, but it goes with the territory of course. I am pretty sanguine about it at the moment, but ask me again in's not the people ( mostly), it's the cars and parking. Sigh.
The other disadvantage and 1000x worse than the tourists is the low pressure weather systems which come in and hang around. We have had a lot of low pressure here recently. Grey cloudy skies that feel if they are touching the top of your head, and a heavy soporific atmosphere which seems to encourage pro-crastination and irritability. It was a pretty rare situation when I lived on the North East coast- the sky always seems higher and more expansive, and the winds kept everything very fresh. But here sometimes..............inertia. It is unpleasant. It is a 'being surrounded by lakes and mountains' issue.... but....
It was very much like it yesterday............very wet. very dark, unpleasantly sticky and heavy. Everyone seemed to be moping about. AND THEN SUDDENLY- it lifted. At about eight pm. The sun came out, the skies lightened, the rain stopped and energy lifted.
So much so that other half and I decided to go out for a walk by the lake. We met some friends who have a cafe down there and they had suddenly decided ' to do some late evening jobs'. There they were with tool kits and drills happily doing bits and bobs. Families were milling around feeding ducks, tourists were out with cameras. It was busy. It was buzzing. On the way back we saw two more friends in their car with two cups of tea. They had put cling film over the top of the cups and had driven down to the lake to enjoy the view, rather than sit in front of the tv. We had such a laugh.
We got back in at half nine. It was spontaneous and fun. Unexpected after a draining energyless day.
And it looks like the high pressure is back again today. Better get going...........

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Round two- over!

I am sitting early on Saturday morning, looking over the already pleasingly sunny and bright garden. Teenager is at a sleepover party ( I will never get used to it...) and other half is away to work today.
I am looking forward to a day of post chemotherapy rest. I have had another three sessions this week and that is the second one finished. I was very glad that my blood count was ok to go ahead this time as I was ready to get on with it.
It was not an uneventful week. Last time I had one of the chemotherapies ( cisplatin) in 2006 I had quite a serious allergic reaction to it. I ended up in hospital after the last dose. Unfortunately, the allergic reaction has started again, and after I had it on Wednesday I ended up with a puce face and a spreading rash. When I went in on Thursday they nearly admitted me but after some more drugs and observation I perked up enormously. I am much better now and look like a human being again, rather than something from out of space.
So, next time I will be going in as an 'in patient' the night after the cisplatin day so I can have IV anti- histamine and hydro -cortisone, and be observed. All lot more relaxing for everyone concerned.
Just another little interesting challenge. The fact I have been able to tolerate it at all is a miracle really so every cloud has a silver lining.
And now, I have at least three weeks of re-cuperation ahead. Today I will take it very easy. Maybe go out for a coffee with my mum and sit by the lake, and sleep this afternoon. I am storing up all my energy and strength for the Cartmel Race Meeting next weekend ( bank holiday). We are members of the race-course and it is a lovely happy family time with picnics and friends and lots of fresh air. I am determined to be there putting my bets on with everyone else. Let's hope for great weather.