Job of the week

I am not a completer finisher.  I have even been know to start sentences and

Up until now this finishing trait hasn’t caused me too many problems (if you count my previous marriages as challenges, not problems).

But I had no idea this personality ‘defect’ would be inherited by my body, which has enthusiastically decided to do anything other than finish building its’ immune system this week.  It seemed, however, to have enough time to make countless new grey hairs, layers of subcutaneous fatty tissue and excessive leg hairs. 

As my final chemo is now long overdue, I, or more accurately my body (we have stopped speaking to each other on account of above) has decided against returning to the chemo ward this week and after today’s shabby blood results, it is highly likely to put it off for another week. And before you ask, it’s pointless asking me to have another chat with my body about all of this. I have come to the conclusion that it’s got even worse at listening than Andrew Lansley.

So, I have decided to recruit an interim body to finish this one off for me.  And a rather generous package awaits. Any applicants will get:

  1. a week or 2 in bed
  2. a bag of legal drugs
  3. a free acupuncture and reiki session
  4. a slice of cake and a badge

Applicants will need:

  1. Good bone marrow
  2. flexible working arrangements
  3. love of needles
  4. love of daytime TV

I thank you. x


Chemo cancelled, someone please tell the weather…

“Rachel, Rachel, Rachel, what are you doing back here?” asked Doctor Needles this morning as if I were an alzheimer’s patient looking for somewhere nice to sit down.

When I sheepishly confessed I was hoping my blood had recovered enough from Friday to go ahead with my last Chemo as planned today, he tsk’d loudly and said I would have more luck stuffing an octopus with ADHD into my handbag or words to that effect.

Sadly his predictions have proved more accurate than the coalition government so far and I was packed off home to put away my balloons and celebration cakes for another week.

Which means I know have an empty calender to fill and am busily taking bookings!

lol x

Cancer staging and the Daily Mail?

Table 8 at The Falcon in High Wycombe is fast becoming my favourite lunch spot. Glamorous it ‘aint. The inmates seem to think it most natural to drink pints at 11am, the fruit salads have as much fruit in them as beef tomatoes have beef and the wine comes out of taps, but it’s a lot of laughs and I am in danger of returning again and again like a hand to a biscuit jar!

My new chemo friend introduced me to this gem and shares the same aversion as I do for support groups, but we have luckily stumbled upon our own version which is a whole lot less earnest as we spend most of the time laughing like hyenas.

This week we dissected the personalities of our surgeon and oncologist after discovering we shared the same double act.  I was disappointed to discover that my memory of our shared surgeon massaging my feet at the foot of my bed was more likely to be a morphine moment confused by the post surgery stockings rhythmically inflating and deflating on my legs, then the tender moment I ‘remembered’. 

Now as everyone is aware, the medical profession is vigorously trained to gasp silently to avoid alarming the patient, so naturally our oncologists inability to dignify a question with an answer (if you don’t count “I wouldn’t worry about that” or “let’s wait and see”), was viewed with narrow eyed suspicion. However, after playing  oncologist snap, we agreed in the case of Dr W, this was less a case of deliberate suppression of bad news and more likely to be a reassuring positive personality quirk.

But the biggest epiphany was the link between paper readership and cancer staging.  As both of us had been Guardian/Observer readers, we concluded that had we been lifelong subscribers to the Daily Mail, our cancer would not have reached T4!  The Mail’s daily dose of cancer doom/cure stories would have seen us camping out in the waiting rooms of our doctor’s surgeries demanding attention long before we eventually turned up blissfully unaware that our colons were on their knees!  

Meanwhile a visit to Dr Needles (aka the Bulgarian vampire) confirmed what I had always suspected.  Not only that my white blood cells were once again on strike and my final chemo on Monday is now in jeopardy, but check out Dr Needle’s unorthodox method of extracting blood.  You can’t tell me these are not teeth marks?

Back in Monday for another attempt.  I have decided that my blood will hit a comfortable 1.7 and am visualising like mad. x

Stuck in neutral

Over the last 12 days or so I seem to have alarmingly slept IQ points out of my body. I would like to say my dog sleeping on my bed has soaked them up, but he looks as vacant as I do still.  My Brain is as empty as a whistle and I am stuck in this twilight world between being sick and being really well and just need to find the strength to jolt myself back into gear!

The one thing I have learnt over the last couple of weeks is there is no amount of telling myself I will feel fine again in a week or so which will really convince the real me that I believe myself.  Yes I did have to reread that sentence a few times as well…

Of course I can reread my posts and listen to countless people wiser than me informing me I will start to feel normal soon, but knowing something and believing it are two very different states of mind.

The best advice is to be patient and remember that nothing stays the same for long. I can see that now as I am emerging from the fog and nausea.  We all live in a constant state of flux and hanging on to one state too long or worrying you are stuck with it is futile.  I just need to go with it and be ready for the next phase when it comes along, as I now believe it will and make the most of it when it arrives!

This is also valuable advice to any parent with teenagers!  Admittedly the units of time you measure these good moments might be nearer to attoseconds (shortest time now measurable) rather than Olympiads (4 year cyles), but you get the point. Blinking during these periods is obviously not advisable.

As they say “Change is inevitable.  Unless you use a vending machine”.

Just when I was getting ready to give up on my bone idle bone marrow…..

David you were right! 6 attempts needed!

I was totally caught out this morning when my white blood cells stopped acting like French air traffic controllers and finally got back to work.  Granted they dragged their little white blood cell feet and needed 6 attempts to tempt them back into the chemo ward today. But I can now look forward to 3 weeks absence from needles, having sported more cotton wall buds these last 4 weeks than your average reception art class.

Which goes to prove you must never give up; “It’s always darkest before the dawn,so if you are going to steal your neighbours newspaper, that’s the time to do it” or perhaps more suitably from Winston Churchill, “If you are going through hell, keep going!”. Life is anything but predictable at the moment and it does me good to remember faith and loads of love is the key to getting through this.

As we descend back into winter this week, I am consoled by the weeks of enforced rest I ‘endured’ basking in hot sunshine like a job lot of beef jerky.  All I can look forward to over the next 12 days is my body and face swelling back up like an air bed and the aversion to anything cold which has started already with my knife and fork causing my fingers to tingle and swallowing food becoming a dangerous sport with my throat going into spasms.

Oh well, see you on the other side!   zzzzzzzz

I will remember this weekend for ever

This weekend when our weather knocked cheating celebrities and other matters of national security off the front page of our national newspapers, I went to Brighton with my teenage son, Joe.

Used to conversing in complete sentences of only one word, it was a brilliant revelation to find we could hold detailed and long conversations about all manner of subjects from black holes to Bear Grylls; How many bears can Bear Grylls grill if Bear Grylls could grill bears?  Bear Grylls can grill one bear on his grill as he only has a one bear grill.  Or something like that.

Joe’s sceptical attitude to everything and everyone around him was hysterical and I am now totally ‘teenaged’ up on what’s cool or not.  (Apparently for reference, just about any make of car other than Aston Martins or Bentleys are gay, as are most clothing outlets with the exception of Superdry or Bench and many other items, too long to list here including the humble ice cream).

Sadly after the best weekend, we had to come back (him to school and me to the chemo ward), but not before we attracted the attentions of a ‘strange’ individual on Brighton Beach who locked onto us from the thousands around us, like a heat seeking missile.  After a rapid fire exchange of information in which we learnt his weight, height, leg injuries, number of sit ups he could do and his prediction that Birmingham will become the new capital of the UK, we made our escape before my left temporal lobe threatened to detach itself completely.

With all the delays to chemo, I have felt quite normal for the last 3 weeks and had quite forgotten what it feels like to be so ill, which goes to prove my point about short memories where treatment is concerned. But off for the 4th blood test first thing and if neutrophills are go, I will be spending tomorrow afternoon being nuked.

When I re-enter the real world again, I will plot a similar outing with my nearly teenager daughter Lois!  And more treats have been lined up; with a bit of luck we will be back in Brighton in a couple of weeks with Lauren and Jo.  Can’t wait.

Joe shortly before someone threw a cigarette but from balcony above "nearly setting light" to him!

Cancer and a lesson in patience!

Before cancer, I had never considered myself in any way a control freak and was happy to let chaos theory take over my life.  However once I began my new full time occupation of visiting men and women in white suits, something strange happened and to my amazement I tried to think ahead and build a plan encompassing occasional treats, visits and even possibly a bit of work.  This has proved more wasteful and pointless than the British water industry.

So here’s my advice to anyone trying to plan ahead; think of a number, add 7, triple it, take away the first number you thought etc etc.

You might by now be gleaning that today’s 2nd attempt at chemo didn’t go according to plan and my blood has played yet another or it’s hilarious practical tricks on everyone.   It started with an early visit to hospital to extract more blood to see if my count had raised enough overnight to hit the minimum quota.  Despite Mary Holloway my brilliant reiki lady encouraging me to drink more water, Dad making up even stronger Chinese herbs, Mum pumping me full of protein and Sam (she is without doubt top Needle nurse) hitting the portacath spot first time again AND Jenny turning up to be chemo cady, the neutrophils still said no!

Now if you can imagine getting all the little jobs out the way that you know you will not feel up to over the next week or so (and yes this does include tackling the endless, some might say equally pointless stream of parent mail) and then adjusting the dimmer switch inside your head to 75% off energy saving levels, you will understand the frustration of being told “if you could just do that all again next week, we try again”.  So now my plans for seeing Bear Grylls with teenage son next Saturday and possibly the end of treatment holiday celebration on 1st June are looking a tiny bit unlikely.  Grrr, grrr and double grrr.