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- Page 7

  • Reflection via Shameless Plagiarism

    People periodically ask me what it's like at the chemo sessions: is there a sense of camraderie or even community they wonder.  I think the honest answer to that is no, but there is a sense of solidarity, which is not the same thing, but it is good.  I always make a point to smile at people, to say hello and goodbye, to thank the nurses, and usually there is at least one person who appreciates some conversation, especially those on herceptin who are there three-weekly for a year, and often there all day to be monitored.  Mostly I am the youngest there by ten to twenty years, though yesterday there was someone three years younger.   It would be wrong to say everyone is cheerful or upbeat, some are angry or sullen, some are really not very well, but most are broadly positive and making the most of life.  Most of the time we are all women but now and then there are men sharing this particular hill climb.

    As it happened, yesterday as well as two people coming to terms with their hair loss there were two on herceptin coming to terms with its re-growth and the curls they hated.  One was about six months into regorwth and had what looked like a lovely head of hair, her curls had settled into a gentle wave and what looked like a very expensive cut (it wasn't!).  She observed that her husband said she looked great but she wanted her proper hair back, and it was still some way off.

    Another feature of the chemo treatment area is the background muzak... some end-to-end FM 'gold' station that plays songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s; I guess the eras of most of the patients.  Yesterday among the many familiar tunes was this from Eric Clapton...

    It's late in the evening; she's wondering what clothes to wear.
    She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair.
    And then she asks me, "Do I look all right?"
    And I say, "Yes, you look wonderful tonight."

    We go to a party and everyone turns to see
    This beautiful lady that's walking around with me.
    And then she asks me, "Do you feel all right?"
    And I say, "Yes, I feel wonderful tonight."

    I feel wonderful because I see
    The love light in your eyes.
    And the wonder of it all
    Is that you just don't realize how much I love you.

    It's time to go home now and I've got an aching head,
    So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.
    And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
    I say, "My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
    Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight."


    In the wee small hours when St Eroid did his worst, I found myself palgiarising it shamelessy as I reflected on the day and the journey up Mount Chemo so far.  Not saying which bits are about me and which are observations of others.


    Wonderful Travelling Companions

    First thing in the morning, she's wondering what clothes to wear,

    Slaps on the E45, covers her hairless head,

    And as she wonders, 'do I look alright?"

    A voice whispers, 'yes, you are wonderful today.'


    She goes for her treatment, people look up to see

    This beautiful person, sharing the chemo journey

    And as her face says, 'will it be alright'

    A nurse smiles, 'yes, you are wonderful today.'


    It is wonderful because we all see

    The courage in your eyes

    And the wonder of it all

    Is that you just 'do what you do because you're you'


    It's time to go home now, with a bag full of pills

    Walking or driving, flopping or bed

    And now I tell you, as I lie in the dark:

    My sisters (and occasional brother) - 'we're all wonderful tonight.'

    'My travelling companions, you are wonderful tonight.'

  • All OK

    Just for checker-uppers... all OK today.  Snow certainly affecting staffing but everything done that needed to be, and everything OK.  Could bore you with the details but you don't need them!

    Melt-water on top of hard-packed ice on pavements not good for walkers... jay-walking was safer!

    PS, St Eroid is a corruption of steroid... I seem to have confused a few people with my warped humour.

  • Baptileaks

    HT Julie for this one.

    It helps if you have a reasonable knowledge of BUGB life, issues and history, or at least UK Baptist life more widely.  You need a sense of humour... and it promises to be great if it proves sustainable.

    A dream team of David Pawson and Michael Taylor for the LBA ... priceless!  Go read...

  • Yeay and Amen!

    Check this post from David Kerrigan at Hopeful Imagination. 

    I promise not to talk about a dead Jesus this Christmas!! 

    (PS David have you been reading my sermon notes on John the Baptist which pick up some similar thoughts?  H Sp active alert!!)

  • The Penultimate Bend

    This was set up to advance posted so that I could have a leisurely start to Friday.  Or so I could do the jobs that I need to do before I head off to the hospital.  Or both perhaps.  I had forgotten that St Eroid, the patron saint of insomnia, was watching over me last night, meaning that by 5 a.m. I gave up trying to get back to sleep and got up instead.  Some people evidently do lots of St Eroid induced housework or eating rubbish ... I try to avoid too much of either!  In any case my neighbours wouldn't appreciate the sound of nocturnal vacuuming.  So, what follows is mostly what I wrote last night, with a few tweaks in the stillness of the early non-so-bright (though a bird with insomnia was singing at 5...)

    Today is the fifth and penultimate dose of chemotherapy... the second visit of the Angel Docetaxel... must be an angel it ends in El!  Maybe the Hebrew scholars can assign an interpretation to it?!  Carcino-zapper-of-the-lord maybe..?

    I am delighted that I've got this far without having to delay a dose due to low blood count or infection.  It's come close on the blood count a couple of times but always recovered in time.  Psychologically hitting 31st December for the final dose is still a big target... and still not guaranteed.  I have to keep being good and careful for another few weeks yet.  To finish this phase in 2010 would be good though.

    Way back in September Mount Chemo, as I've named it, seemed utterly enormous - uncharted territory with lots of scary possibilities.  Now I'm most of the way up I am secretly quite pleased with how I've coped... OK it's not a secret now I've said it.  In some ways it feels as if it's gone quickly but it's had its dragging moments too. Anyone who did 'O' level (or 'O' grade I suspect) maths in the 1970s will vaguely recall the concept of the sigmoid curve... starts slowly at the bottom, then rises steeply, then flattens out again.  A bit like a quarter of a sine curve.  Anyway, that kind of reflects how it's felt speed-wise.

    The worst bit, for me, so far, was the venous pain with the second two doses of the first drug cocktail... coupled with the unknown of if it would go or if the veins would recover; I am fortunate both arms are now fine and the very last of the tenderness is going from my left wrist.  Some people are left with permanently stiff arms; I am glad my oncologist told me to use my arms anyway even if they hurt as it is the temptation to mollycoddle them that causes permanent damage.

    I have been very fortunate to have lots of excellent support through this phase... people on standby to give me a lift if I needed it (so far I've been able to walk to and from all my appointments), people who are willing to hear me bore for Britain on my most recent experiences (like you, gentle readers), people who have sent emails or cards, and people who, above all, have treated me the same as before and occasionally remind me that I'm still the same person.  I kind of am and kind of am not the same, but it's nice to be reminded of the 'am'.

    Being almost up the climb is not the end... there's still a way to go yet, still the possibility of unexpected stiles or boggy ground, still the potential for surprise views before I reach the top.  This is one uphill climb I'll be very pleased to reach the end of... it will be nice to be able to celebrate by eating the things that have been prohibited or proved problematic; it will be nice in 2011 to begin to have hair again (and in time hair long enough to brush); it will be nice not having to wonder what new side effects might be lurking.  But it hasn't been anywhere near as bad as I feared it might be and so as I round the penultimate bend, the fifth of six, and as I reflect on the benefit that has been gained, it is with a sense that the climb will soon be completed and has been worth the effort involved.

    Of course after a little rest there are new adventures on this journey but I'm not going to get ahead of myself.  And for all mymany and lovely checker-uppers I'll post something later to confirm I'm still OK :-)  (Who needs Facebook or Twitter when you've got a blog?!)