Tuesday, 31 March 2009

it’s that time again

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Funny, after all the whining in the last post I have felt really great! Bitching must be good for me :o)

I went to Portugal to work there for a week last week. It was SO good to be in a warm place - I swear it makes me instantly cheerful to be in the sun for longer than 3 minutes per month. Fabulous to sit at the sea front and be HOT! And of course as usual everyone made a fuss of me [oh yes, I am spoilt when I go there]. Dinners and lunches with friends cheer me up so much. I think it's also down to all the vitamin D you get in sunny weather - and thus I have started eating a supplement to make up for the distinct lack of sunshine in the UK. Vitamin D. Supposed to be excellent. Ghastly weather here. It actually sleeted on me on my way back from Gatters...yuck.

Also, all week I did NO exercise apart from walking and a cycle ride along the seafront [that was great! wooden board walks make a wonderful sound as you zoom along them on a bike]. So I didn't have lots of belly ache. Therefore [she says] I am convinced all the pains are from the circuit class. So I am now determined to carry on doing the class until the pains STOP. Because that should mean my muscles are strong.

Yesterday I had the bloods done for next Tuesday's 3 month check up. This time I had a nurse who really knew what she was doing. Found a vein no problem and I hardly felt it. You never get used to being stabbed with a needle, but you certainly know when the nurse is not very practised at it. Anyway, no exploding pumps this time. Yippee. And a nice big bruise today as usual - but most of the red and blue marks are from that horrid stuff they use to stick the bandage in place afterward - I am going to take my own elastoplast next time. I don’t like the stuff they use. I think my arm hates it.

So, seven days to go, and I feel ok. So much drama with my computer that I don't have a lot of time to think during the day. GOOD! Usually by this point I am having fits. Just goes to show how quickly the brain gets bored with dealing with constant levels of fright. It won't. After a while the 'Scary Thing' becomes the 'Not So Scary Thing'. Because it's just too exhausting to keep on being so stressed.

So I am pretty chilled. For now anyway.

This is Lu, my Brazilian friend in Portugal - we were at a dinner party at another friends place, Tony & Salome. Great food, lovely company - no wonder I feel so much better.

being in a bad mood

Tuesday, 14 March 2009

Eee - this last week has been a Pain in the Proverbial in many ways. But the worst thing has been the belly ache. First it was just my lower left belly [I never understand this – I had the massive cyst removed from the right side, which is where all the chopping and delving went on, so WHY do I have all the pain in the left?? Is this a good thing? Or not?]. Bloody cancer. Hate it. I really hate it. CANCER so completely SUCKS!! [oh and you fools who call it 'the C word' - I would beat you all insensible if I could]. 'The C word'...Jesus wept…I understand it's scary, but honestly, you should NOT say that. At least never in front of anyone who’s had cancer [see, it's not hard to say, is it?? Cancer - two simple syllables]. It’s like saying: "oo you have the 'F' word" to people who has flu. Completely inane.

Cancer really takes over your life for a while. It's a pain in the ass. Every little thing becomes a BIG thing. You become a hypochondriac and that sucks. I have always been really irritated by people who ‘always have something wrong with them’. So. Now I am one of them - aaaargh! I hate it!!

I have never had much time for people who won't work because they have a headache, or they have 'flu', or they are 'tired'...or whatever. Usually they need a kick up the arse, and they've never had anything serious wrong with them in their lives. Thank goodness. But they don’t seem to see that? I would not wish this on anyone, but really - people; get real. Flu is NOT a runny nose...a headache is not a reason to stay home; tiredness is something you can quantify - how tired are you really? A real illness completely debilitates you to the point where actually MOVING is hard. Don’t take the Mickey - it could bite you in the ass.

Anyway, back to the bellyache [which is what I am doing - belly aching]. Uff. On Sunday I did a lot of gardening. Monday I had circuit class - with a million 'explosive lunges'. I hate explosive lunges too. Probably because they are good for me. That's always been a deterrent to me...and explosive lunges are actually quite revolting. Your gut [all of it] seems to hit your rib cage. Over and over. It’s horrible. But apparently it's good for us [those who have had most of our insides removed], so I do them. I do them like I am having a form of torture imposed on me - every one of them, I keep thinking: 'people have been through worse than this, so get it done'. And it's a small thing to do. IF it helps me. And it seems to [this is very grudgingly admitted I might add].

This is another thing I am so sick of [didn’t take long eh? Yes, I am in Moaning Minnie mode today. Stop reading if you don’t like it.] – trying to do things that will 'help me'. For example, the circuit class, BC I wouldn't have considered going to a special class to get fit, now I need to. And I want to, don’t get me wrong. BC I would not have been to the GP for every lump or bump - now I do, he doesn’t seem to mind, which is good. I think. Maybe he needs to give ME a whack round the ear.

BC I certainly wouldn't be gobbling all sorts of supplements every morning to the point where I wonder if I will soon begin to rattle.

Hopefully this will fade as time moves on. Maybe I will have a happy lapse and forget I even had cancer? Amnesia could be handy here?

Friday, 27 March 2009

earth hour - do something in the dark!

This looks fun! I am slapping a sneak post on because this is pretty important. And it’s as simple as the flick of a switch!

On Saturday 28 March 2009 at 8.30pm, people, businesses and iconic buildings around the world will switch off their lights for an hour - WWF’s Earth Hour.

WWF want a billion people around the world to sign up and join in. Sign up at the WWF site to show that you care about people, wildlife and the planet, and that you want the world’s leaders to take action to tackle climate change.

Watch the short film to find out more about WWF’s Earth Hour.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

More on the technology front…gosh this is tedious

Tuesday, 14 March 2009

Well, the pc is with Pete. He is going ballistic, as the drivers won’t load and I have to get them from PC Man No. 01. Problem is, PC Man No. 01 is rather illusive. But! Once we have those, hopefully things will simplify; Pete has offered to install ALL my programs too! Incredible – this would cost me a fortune, so I am a very happy sister! He’s going to meet me at Gatters on Saturday to collect all my disks – then I will meet him again when I return, hopefully to collect a working pc. So great to have a techno fiend as a brother! Lucky for me. I detest installing programs, as they ask you so many questions that always seem so deranged…and I always seem to give the wrong answer. Or load them in the wrong order. Or something.

In the meantime I am now using two computers – one that is a dinosaur, but ok for this [internet etc, but SOO SLOOW], the other is my laptop, but that had a clean reinstall a few weeks back, so I’ve been going mad trying to get it ‘back to normal’ whilst trying to work on it at the same time. I have to take it to Portugal when I go on Saturday [for a weeks work] so it’s probably just as well I am working on it now. But the blasted screen is so small – I need my specs!

Thank goodness for the My Book thing – it has allowed me to access all my files from the laptop [the laptop has a tiny brain, so I can’t store much on it]. So, this week has been a chaos of trying to get two pc’s working, trying to work and also wondering why my stomach is so sore. That’s sort of become a background thing, as I am SO sick and tired of worrying. Now I am at the point where I just think ‘sod this, I will see at my next check up’ – check ups come round quite quickly. This time I will have yet another list of questions…more than usual, as I really need to understand what’s going on in my groin area. What ARE all those lumps and bumps anyway?

Still no word from the mammogram people. That news would be good too.

More on the technology front…

Tuesday, 14 March 2009

After I dropped my pc at mum and dad's I came home to a husband who was off out for drinkies with his mates. Oooo - home alone! Heh heh - lucky for me, Mum had made a spaghetti cheese, ALL for me. I brought the casserole dish home in the footwell of the car. Stuffed it in the oven and waited for my treat. With a nice bottle of red wine [which His Nibs thought was white, as he put it in the fridge?]. So, babbling away on Facebook with the girlies and eating spag cheese - and red wine…very chilled thank you!!

Check it out…scrummo!! Note the cute casserole dish - I remember this from my childhood - it used to have a lid!


Saturday, 14 March 2009

Ye Gods and Little Fishes - this week has been a trial to say the least!! Firstly - my desktop pc conked out. Secondly I have had stomach pain that would wake the Kraken…

This is not funny! No pc??? It simply died, black screen, and coughing noises, poor thing. So, I had IT Man No. 01 round to fix it. He couldn’t. And he built the damn thing!! But he managed to get it running so I could at least back up my data. Thank goodness for that. I must add that I have been using this pc for 4 years with not a single problem, and considering the amount of data I shuffle about, that’s good going. So PC Man No, 01 is rather good. BUT now I have a huge problem, we shall see HOW good.

Hence a rather rushed visit to PC World for an external drive [after a speedy look at Mappins - more expensive and NO stock?]. Yay - I now own a 'My Book' [£70.00!!] - a great drag and drop back up of 500GB. It actually looks like a little book. Cute. My Dad has one that’s a TERRA byte!! My word… Phew - sigh of relief! Everything is safe. Photos, work data - you name it. Almost the whole 500GB of data. I am now a ‘back up’ artist. Every time I do something I back it up. “Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland…”

BUT I then sent the pc [on Friday - dropped it at Mum and Dad’s, they then ferried it to Brighton] to my brother. He is a serious IT Genius. Supposedly I sent all the discs for a clean reinstall [these supplied by IT Man No. 01.] It appears that the floppy disc for the RAID is broken...ah, good. NOT!!! So, Pete can’t install windows without the drivers…I might kill IT Man No. 01. Actually, I will kill him…just a bit. So, a lot of murderous thoughts here this evening. But, good thing...my pc is with my brother, so I know when it comes back it will be perfect!!

In the meantime, waiting for the belly ache to go away. I am SO bored with worrying about every little twinge…

Thursday, 12 March 2009

a nice thing

We all know I have a fitness trainer, Julie - well, this was from her the other day to cheer me up when I was so stressed when my pc went in fatal meltdown. I was VERY stressed!

Oh, plus a lot of BIG cakes...ehehe. That ensured I went to class! Cake! Brilliant - but the little Primrose will be in the garden for years to come reminding me of how nice people can be...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

the mammogram

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Well, on Monday I finally had the mammogram I thought I was having weeks ago. And after everyone telling me how painful it was, how horrid it is and various other interesting stories, I was a bit nervous I must say. But I was determined to have it, as it is another ‘control mechanism’. For me, any way I can take control of what my body is doing, is a good thing.

So at lunchtime, off I went - I arrived early by 30 minutes - and here is where everyone goes crazy. The RD&E hospital is amazing. I have had nothing but brilliant treatment there so far and I have absolutely no complaints about it…EXCEPT FOR THE PARKING!!! It is a total nightmare. Our jolly government are always trying to force feed us ‘public transport’ use. Yes, theoretically it sounds marvellous. But in reality, it sucks. It would cost me twice as much to catch the bus [not to mention changing in the middle of town, meaning standing around in the freezing cold and rain for ages] and anyway I hate being at the whim of bus drivers. They are never on time. And as for the bus stops? Ha! In the UK it is ALWAYS raining. So what do they do? They remove all the shelters with sides, and give us trendy plastic roof thingys that the rain can get to you from all angles. Idiots. They are about as useful as a third buttock.

Right - arrived early - it took me 40 minutes to find a space!! I had to stop in the middle of the parking lot and call the ward, as I was so stressed I was shaking like a leaf, worrying that they would think I was a no show and cancel my appointment. They were so calm…'not to worry – we know you’re here so just arrive after you find a space'. Oof - what a relief. And of course, 2 minutes later I did find a space. Then raced to the ward and sat in the nice serene waiting area. Yay - NO television!!

I do not understand why they put televisions in waiting areas? They are usually showing some idiotic program that makes one wish to shoot the screen or beat the person next to you over the head with a book. Non stop drivel or, [even worse], ER?? What?! Grr. Better to spend the money on a nice big bowl of Help Yourself Valium for the magazine table. Far more use to all of us stressed out and demented patients.

I hate television in waiting areas. Stop that. Have a library. And free tranquillisers. And a multi story car park.

But as usual I digress. I blame the chemo brain. So, on to the mammogram. It was not at all painful I am glad to report! A tad undignified having one’s boobs yanked about, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I seem to have ribs that get in the way, but apart from that, no worries. Here in the UK we have the ‘4 picture’ version. Good, more pictures, more conclusive results.

The Process. You go into a little room, and change out of the top half of your clothes [good to wear separates girls] into a Bat Woman cape. Of the UGLIEST fabric you ever saw. WHO are the Evil Designers of hospital garb?? As a designer myself, I would like to have a rather sharp word with them. Then. All your kit goes into a shopping basket! Hilarious. Then the radiographer knocks on the door, and off you go. With your trusty shopping basket. She is explaining a lot of stuff whilst shuffling you about into the machine, but mostly I was eyeing the machine and wondering what was going to happen, so she was wasting her breath, poor woman. Both boobs go into the machine twice – once straight ahead, and once on an angle. So four photos. It doesn’t take any longer than about 2 seconds for each photo [if that], so even if it had hurt [which it didn’t] it would have been easily bearable. Especially if it saves one from having a mastectomy.

Then one waits outside in the hall whilst the radiographer checks that the scans are good. After that, off to the little room, get changed and off you go. Four weeks max for the results to arrive. OK! Good work for Monday!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

the 5 year clock - and a thank you

Monday, 02 March 2009

Today is the day that I had 'The Surgery' last year. The beginning of the most peculiar, difficult and enlightening year of my entire life. As it says at the beginning of the blog; "I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, stage 3b in February 2008 at age of 46. I've completed 6 cycles of chemotherapy and had a total hysterectomy and oopherectomy. It wasn't very funny, but I'm still laughing!"

The total hysterectomy and oopherectomy would have been today at 12.30pm - I still remember how relieved I felt to be going under the knife. Madness. But I'd feel the same today. The relief was immense.

And I was relieved to have the chemo too, even with all it's horrific side effects and unpleasantness. It was a relief. Just to know that IF there was any cancer left, it was being killed. Nuked to death. Yeah!! Go chemo, go. Bloody cancer - I hate it. I really hate it.

The date has made me remember some funny things and some awful things. They are all mixed up together and in a strange order. I thinks that’s down to a mixture of the anaesthetic and just chemo brain.

I remember...My dear friends Penny and Rhonwen in South Africa, texting me cheery messages in the hospital [I shudder to think what it cost them!]. Mum arriving with a big bag I got her full of lots of M&S grapes – looking rather fraught but trying to be really chirpy [and succeeding!]. Getting into the lift with the nurse to go to surgery and watching Aj disappear from view between the closing doors, then crying and trying not to, as I felt like I might never see him again. Laughing when the nurse and I arrived at the operating theatre and no-one was there – it was tea break! I had no slippers on. We had to linger in the hall like miscreants. The nurse was very cross. I was feeling stoned. Crying as the anaesthetic took hold. Being told my blood was amazingly oxygenated. Coming round into anaesthetic shock, but realising there were no tubes in my nose, and that the surgery had only taken about an hour and a half [good news]. Being frightened that Aj would see me like that and have a fit. Trying to walk by hanging onto Aj’s back pockets – just so I could get the horrid catheter out. My blood pressure dropping to idiotically low levels. Being hideously thirsty. The epidural not working but the pain nurse being like Superwoman and sorting it all out in no time [and she was cross too, not with me but with the anaesthesiologist]. Wondering what the great big chop mark was going to look like. Worrying that my identification bracelets [I had two] would fall off, as they were so big. Being SO grateful that I had my own room and my own bathroom. Having a shower and almost screaming with frustration, as I could barely move my arms, and I didn’t want to get the dressing wet. Andrew’s face when he was trying to help me shower, and I was crying and being a compete bitch. My sweet friends in Portugal texting and calling me. Being well enough to get my breakfast in the cafeteria for patients with Mum. Stealing the miniature heart shaped Marmite pots for Patty. Because she absolutely HATES Marmite. Not feeling like a cigarette at all. The relief of knowing I could go home. The trip home in the car, wondering why the roads were suddenly so bumpy.

So many things – I am sure there are more, but my brain won’t compute them right now.

And now I am looking at my five year clock – we have decided [me and the other OC girls] that the clock starts after the last chemo. Mine was on the 22 July, 2008. So I am in a 7 month remission so far. So far. So good. So good, so scary.

But, scary or not, I say this from the heart – thank you so much, all of you who have been there for me this last year. You have no idea how much it has meant to me [and still means to me]. You can’t have any idea unless you have had cancer – it’s the most aggravating thing! But on the other hand, it has shown me a lot – I know my priorities, and they are different now. And I know my friends – they are different now too. And I know my family are great!!

But of everyone that had to put up with me, bear with me and accept me as I was, my husband has to be the one person in a million. He had to put up with my ‘every single day’ dramas. He had to look after me. He was worried. And still is. He has no-one to tell how he felt, no one to say ‘don’t worry, I will take care there’ while he did something else. He was alone in this, as I was. But he was there. Every minute, every hour, every day. And he’s still here now – I am so lucky. And I love him so much.

Monday, 2 March 2009

thoughts on being a 'hypochondriac'

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

This post is especially for those of us who are 'post everything'. I.e.: surgery and chemo. Everyone thinks you are better. We all hope we are. And we are. But we are all afraid we aren't. The surgery is done and pretty much healed. The chemo is finished. Your hair starts growing back [into hilarious styles I might add - in my case anyway!]. Your energy levels are up. The days of Fatigue Attacks become fewer and shorter, in fact when I get an FA now, I wonder why I'm so tired...then I remember! This has got to be a good thing. The mind is amazing how it can just "put things away" if you will. I am sure it helps the body heal, not to be thinking about all that horrific stuff. Thanks Brain!

But, now that all those hospital visits are over, apart from the 3 monthly check-up, the Helpful Brain starts a new trick. It's called "Imagining The Worst". The hospital visits were a comfort zone [why?? all that happened to me there was painful and scary?]. Maybe because you know that someone else is looking after you, checking you, making sure every little blip is a 'norm'. Once the last chemo is over, it’s: "off you go, have a nice life". Which is great - they are obviously confident that you will.

BUT what happens next is almost the most difficult part to deal with.

Every single little thing that happens, be it a stomach ache [it's returned on my bowel] or a back ache [it's on my lungs!] or a foot ache or a headache [definitely a brain tumour]...everything makes you stressed. Everything makes you wonder if the cancer has come back. Everything makes you scared.

And that is SO frustrating!!!

As a person who hardly ever went to the doctors BC, for me this seems an insane life of seeming hypochondria.

Well, I finally gave in and went to see my GP about that stomach pain I had. Of course by the time I rang to make an appointment, I was pretty stressed, and when the secretary said the earliest appointment would be next week, I felt sick. So I explained the situation, and she was really very good. She said she’d get my GP to call me, he’s see if he felt I should be fitted in. Sigh of relief.

He called me back in 10 minutes, and fitted me in half an hour later! How good is that? And I did mention to him that I feel like an hysterical hypochondriac with my constant wittering on, and it was him who said that this bit is now the most difficult bit and that I am actually managing well. Oh, and that I am definitely NOT a hypochondriac. Good.

Trying to cope with having had cancer that is, according to all the newspapers etc, quite likely to recur, [and of course this month the hype is worse than usual] is hard. Especially in the first few years. You want to be 'better' and 'get on with it'. But you also want to put something back, spread awareness, try to help other women with the horrors of dealing with this stupid disease. So you can’t just turn over and go; "excellent, I’m better now, ciao amigos". Because all the time, you are worrying about the Dreaded Recurrence.

But anyway, I’m fine - seems I may have had an infection - apparently once you’ve had all your guts hauled out and mauled around, they are a lot more sensitive to anything like that. And he also explained what all the lumps and bumps are that are going on inside my stomach [I now know where my liver lives]. It’s weird – I never once examined my tummy before last year, and when I do now I wonder what the hell is going on in there? Nothing is ever in the same place - and the GP said that it’s pretty difficult to examine yourself anyhow, as the minute you raise an arm to do it, something tenses somewhere.

Oh and I also know where my aorta is. Aorta? Did I want to know that? Er - no. Very interesting, the things I’ve learnt this past year!

So, it seems I am going to be a multiple personality for a bit - one of me getting back to 'normal', looking forward to the usual things, working, gardening, holidays [yay! Venice!] etc - the other one doing what erstwhile would have been totally out of character things; like the circuit training, Relay for Life, trying to support other women like myself who are going through all the terrors I did. And of course trying to get the message across to other women about ovarian cancer.

Hopefully, at some point, both these people will arrive at an agreement for time sharing, and I’ll be in my fab and groovy new single persona! At the moment though, it can be a bit confusing.

little things can make a big difference

Monday 2nd March 2009

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month here in the UK - and it appears to be 'Tea Party' time.

If you'd like to show your support, look out for Tea Time Treats which offer donations in selected BOOTS stores [this is not in ALL the Boots stores, so check first]. To find out which Boots stores are selling food and drink items with a donation to The Eve Appeal, telephone the Boots Careline on:
0845 120 1511.

If you buy any product in the Boots 'Original Beauty Formula' range in March, Boots will donate 10% of the selling price to The Eve Appeal.

You can help The Eve Appeal by holding your own Tea Party as part of the 'Make Time for Tea' campaign - see here The Eve Appeal, or see Ovacome to download the fundraising pack from either site.

Here's the little Tea Pot keyring from Boots - I have one, it's made of what appears to be enamelled metal - it's quite cute!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month [UK]

Sunday 1st March 2009
I am starting to seriously LOVE Electrolux! Check out the site HERE

Send a T-shirt to all your girlfriends, March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month in the UK, so this is a good way to remind everyone.

Send a virtual T-shirt to a friend and you'll be joining the on-going 'T-mail' campaign to help spread awareness of this important cause.

Every day you log on and send a T-mail, you'll be automatically entered for a chance to win a Turquoise Sky Washer and Perfect Steam™ Dryer inspired by the brightly-hued teal ribbon that is the symbol for Ovarian Cancer.

Way to go Electrolux!!