pollygosh_i-robot

I, Robot

We’ve been staying with my Dad (Sainted, Sainted, Chief of All Saints) for a while now. For matters of convenience and loveliness mostly, and the small fact that car journeys make me want to vomit, but mainly for reasons of loveliness.

 

I’m not sure if it’s because there are more mirrors here, or they are in places where one actually look in them (a mirror I wouldn’t look in!), or if it’s because our flat is smaller, so there, you can’t get so far away from them, for a more ‘overall’ look. At Dad’s they seem to be hung perfectly and I’ve discovered that from the waist up, my body looks like a battle field. More so now I have my PICC line in.

 

When I was little I remember Brother, painstakingly plotting, designing and executing vast battle grounds in our bedroom. Duvets, pillows, stuffed animals became landscapes for Lego, StarWars, Transformers and the odd Ninja Turtle to do battle over. Brother was quite advanced, I remember one such scene-scape actually having a soundtrack.

 

If it wasn’t so Avant Garde and frankly, creepy, I’d strip to the waist, lie on the floor and allow many a Lego battle to use this scarred and beaten ground to do there worst. I feel I’ve been doing that a lot lately, for any medical practitioner who wants.

 

There’s the red scars beetling their way across my armpit and left breast – thin, precise, skilled but angry looking and out of place, to me, having lived without them for 34 years.

 

There’s also the lack of symmetry, I find it far from pleasing. I’ve been giving it some thought and the only way to describe it is thus; imagine a marble bust, imagine a chisel aimed at 45 degrees at the bottom of the Busts bust. Now take that stroke. That is my left breast. Again perfectly rendered, skilfully done but not the body I’ve been used to for number of years now. Topped with an as yet still blue nipple – faded like a loved pair of jeans but blue enough to be Extra-Terrestrial.

 

I am feeling a certain kinship to the Mavel Comic Heroes. Iron Man or Captain America especially, thanks to the new PICC line. It’s a tube that leads from a vein in your arm to inside your chest cavity – about 2 feet of tube FYI. It’s clever and disturbing (let’s just say I’ve also been feeling for Wolverine of late) how they how they insert it. It helps preserve your veins from the rigours of Chemo but subtle it ain’t, unless you like the stares of small children, long sleeves are a must. Which is annoying because I have a lot of weddings to attended this summer.

 

So I say Yes to Battlefields, wars waged inside and out, I believe, according to someone in the 80’s Love is a Battlefield also. I can tell you, I think it takes a certain, strong kind of person to tell you, you are beautiful while one is dealing with all this (or even be prepared to lie about it). I’m frickin’ lucky with the Iron Men in my life, I’m too vain to do it without them.

 
 

Side Note – Chemo 1 is done. I don’t want to talk about it at the moment.

PollyGosh!-CA

Reality Check

I had a reality check yesterday, a very timely one. I’ve lost count of the number of obvious statements I’ve made on little blog but here comes a corker – I am not doing all of this for fun, my Doctors and the people I love are not just insisting I do this, so I have more fodder for the my writing. While I don’t want to over state it, this has to happen because if it comes back, I may not get so lucky and that’s important to remember, the serious, not to be messed with, point to all this.
I’ve been I bit complain-y the last few days, confronted by everything that’s going to change, feeling out of control. Basically feeling sorry for myself and forgetting the Bigger Picture because Doctors don’t like to dwell on the Bigger Picture and that sometimes makes me forget it.
Don’t get me wrong, you could slap me with a kipper and call me Tuesday, I’d still be more gobsmacked by just how far reaching a Cancer diagnoses is. I’ve also, as I mentioned to Dad yesterday, not been able to find one actual fun part of that diagnoses. To qualify that, I’ve made some most excellent memories lately, I’ve felt very loved, laughed a lot and (I know I bang on about this) am incredibly lucky but in terms of actual diagnoses and treatment – slim to none in the enjoyable department.
So, in the face of the next 4 months, it is easy to get and hard to shake a vicious case of the “Why ME’S?!”. There are times when trying to tackle that unanswerable (e.g don’t go down that rabbit hole) question, when I get what A. likes to call a ‘vacant worry face’ – basically I stare of in to the middle distance and my lower lip twitches, it is deeply, deeply attractive.
Anyway, yesterday I had a rare moment of clarity. For me, it’s that feeling you get when you’ve hiked up a massive hill, it’s been tough, it’s hot and dusty, you’ve forgotten why you’re doing it and you’ve drunk all your water. There’s sweat sticking your shirt to your back and you’ve probably banged up your knee and you’ve got a grazed palm from where you’ve slipped a bit – it’s throbbing.
But then you’re up there, you look behind and see just how far you’ve come. It’s shocking because you still don’t remember why you started it and it seems such a long way, for no real reason. That fresh blast of air hits you, raises those hairs on the back of your neck, soothes that throbbing hand and cools the sweat. You reach in your pocket and yes, there’s a Mars Bar (no longer recommended). You look out, munching – neither behind and or in front – but straight ahead, the view is incredible, it’s so silent and so still – it’s a tiny moment of peace with everything.
Of course, you know, if you turn your head, you going to see six more peaks to climb, with six more troughs to go with them. They’re ahead of you, in your way, no crafty short-cut but a moment of clarity is all it takes some days.
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We are doing this, I am doing this, because I only want to do it once. I don’t want the white noise of being told the un-hearable, I could do without telling my loved ones again, without tests and needles and operations. I doing this so I can do this once. Then we move on. You hear me Universe? THEN WE MOVE, THE FUCK, ON.

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Marathons

I thought I’d better punctate this short post with calming photos. As I learnt recently in Chemo School  - no sadly I’m not joking (seriously, don’t ask, I am unable to be funny or even half way polite about it yet), visualisation is a handy technique, we were told to imagine a beach, So I’ve given you a beach. Enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think mindfulness is a useful tool. I would just reason, telling a roomful of soon-to-be Chemo patients to “imagine the wind in their hair” is not a terribly sensitive exercise. grumble grumble.

Anyway news over in these here woods is I start Chemo Round 1 on Wednesday – let the Marathon Commence! The hair is not going to stick around and due to the PICC line I need I will not be able to swim – it’s seriously a toss up as to which of the above statements receives most of my wrath at present.

I still can’t get my head around the whole – pump myself full of chemicals, feel shitty, when I feel perfectly OK now – thing.

Obviously, I do and I trust my Medical Team when they say that this is the best course of action. I’m just being petulant and teenager about it at the moment.

It’s just the unknown is scary and from what I understand of Chemo, Your Unknown is very different to someone else’s unknown. You just have to do the research, expect either nothing or everything (I’ve not figured it out yet) and do it.

So here’s another beautiful view to mediate on and here’s to the next 4 months.

Incidentally, if anyone watches Orange is the New Black – Season 1, Episode 1, pretty much how I’m feeling right now. Although, I’m pretty sure I’m innocent, though perhaps not Karmically speaking…..

pollygosh_hair

A Day of Firsts

Yesterday was a day of Firsts, the First Time that I’ve cropped my hair – it is now the shortest it’s ever been, by a good few inches. It was a pre-emptive, two stage strike (to put it in vaguely army lingo – at least from the explosion films I’ve been watching).

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I’m going to try cold-capping (I have mentioned my vain streak, right?) which I believe will be easier with short hair. Silk pillowcases help too apparently and work with the Princess Vibe I’m going for….

Imagine the trauma, as well as the mess, if cold-capping doesn’t work or I bottle it (it’s deeply unpleasant apparently – a real test of vanity) and I started losing very long hair. I am not the best at brushing my hair anyway, A. is constantly teasing me, my moulting clogs up the vacuum – magnify that to the power of 100! I’m fond of our vacuum.

When this whole thing started, I’d been growing my hair, it had just reached chest length – ironically enough. It was the longest it’s been for at least 10 years. I thought it would take me and others (my Dad mostly) time to get used to shorter hair again. So I’ve cut it in two stages, with an option to buzz-cut later on…..

Incidentally, the above photos are to serve as a public service announcement – I managed to scare the crap out of my Brother in a crowded cafe (where he wasn’t expecting to see me), having neglected to mention I’d had the first cut…. I shall never forget the abject terror on his face, as he tried to place the person hurtling, too fast, towards him.

That first cut was a sort of cropped bob thing, that description does nothing for the actual miracles my haircutter D worked, sorry D. This, turned out to be the emotionally trickier cut. The cruuu-ack, cruuu-ack sound of scissors cutting off my ponytail – not a sound I’d care to hear again.

The second cut, I feared the worst but I actually handled it better. Having had a month to get used to shorter hair and bringing Miss Z along for company helped. Last time I’d sent A. off, as I thought if we made it a big deal, it would be worse. If you’re doing this yourself, take someone, it’s a distraction if nothing else – providing their poker face is up to it.

D.  turned the chair around to face Miss Z, so I was only dimly aware of what was going on. Does anyone else have that thing, when sitting at the hair-dressers, staring at your own face – it just becomes a jumble of features and you can pick out each and every flaw? After 34 years of this, I’m pretty convinced that my eyes are wonky and I have more pores than anyone else, ever.

I feel very grateful that I have D. as well, he’s been cutting my hair for 4 years now, so I trust him.

Yesterday, was also the First Time I noticed how much long, flippy hair is out there – cropped haired females are out gunned by a good 25:1. This could be because I was walking home through prime University real-estate, the Bristol Uni girls always seem to have the fashionable crows nest thing going on, they’re mostly blonde too or ombre (surely this has died a death now, you are not a t-shirt from the 70’s).

My First walk home with cropped hair, was a bit of an eye opener, there I was feeling completely exposed but sort of brave and it turns out I’m invisible. As a long flippy hair person, I found, people generally make room on the Zebra Crossing or the pavement at least, and cars slow down when you cross the road. The world seemed to be drinking the kool-aid of the long flippy hair. D. told me that, it was very rare for people to cut their hair from very long to very short. It’s just not done.

When I was 14, I longed to cut my hair off, just like Winona Ryder but I knew I’d be ostracised for doing so (Mean Girls). That feeling has stayed with me for 20 years. If I hadn’t been pushed, I doubt I’d ever done it.

As a female. there’s a confidence, a self belief you need to cut off your hair. It takes balls and a strong knowledge of who you are. I don’t have that at the moment, who I am changes hourly. So yesterday, armed only in the knowledge of who I was - long, floppy hair person – and who I thought you had to be to rock short hair. I turned myself invisible.

I don’t mind being invisible, especially not at the moment. If I do lose my hair completely, from what I remember from being around mum, invisible is preferable to the stares and the pity.

I hope my sense of self rises from the ashes. I hope I can do the crop proud.

Oh, also, yesterday was the First Time I’d ever come across a rotten egg – argghhhh – I could of gone another 34 years without that. It was the First Time I’d ever discovered yesterday’s pants in my trouser leg too – while out in town no less. I guess I was more nervous than I thought.

I’m actually grateful for these Firsts, it meant yesterday wasn’t all about hair.

 

Top Five things I’ve discovered, so far, about short hair

Swimming feels amazing.

First time ever my hair looks better now I’ve slept on it.

You can save 10 minutes of drying time (imagine what I can do with that*)

I can now get rid of all hair bands. A. is most pleased about this, my hairbands used to multiply colourfully, all over the flat.

I can spend all the shampoo money on lipstick

* list to come

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Soothing trauma with Sorbet

No need to adjust your screen I am indeed writing about food. Again.

So, I can’t lie, Friday was pretty rough. To be clear – it wasn’t my first Chemo Round, it was a pre-appointment but for one reason and another it was the wrong appointment. I was a little traumatised, truth be told, no-ones fault and I’ll talk more about it at another point because it’s an important issue. One I want to spend some time on.

Huge thanks need to go out to A. and Dad who steered me through and helped me keep my cool (if barely). I don’t really have the words yet but let’s just say it took a double bill of mindless explosions to vanquish the day. I can now recommend Edge of Tomorrow – yes, even though it has Tom Cruise in it. He doesn’t really smile that much, so it’s Ok – is that just me?

Anyway back to Food. Food (cake) is a huge part of what I love about life. There’s really no getting around the fact that diet can help support your system / elevate the symptoms, while you are going through Chemo. A lot of my favourite foods (cake) are going to have to get an overhaul / take a back seat from now on. High Sugar is the devil, people. Let’s not forget it.

I’ve STILL not done enough reading around all this – even if I didn’t prefer losing a few hours to Donna Leon (food and crime, in Italy – why is this not considered  high brow?), it’s a difficult issue.

There are people, who claim that a Raw food diet is helping them to keep Cancer at bay, used instead of Chemo…… For me, there’s quite a bit of guilt wrapped up in all of it too. I discovered, you can get “the Guilt” at any time about a whole range of issues – my love of cake for instance. No, I don’t believe Cake, per se, got me into this situation but perhaps other elements of my diet did. See, tricky.

I will write further on all this, share my views, once I know what these are (do I really need to state what a complete layperson I am?).

What I will say is, when I decided to go down the Chemo route, it seemed appropriate (for me) to overhaul my diet as well. I feel, I need to try everything to improve my odds of beating reoccurrence or what is the point of putting myself through Chemo? Also I think the healthier I can be through it all, the better I’ll hopefully feel, the faster I will bounce back.

A. and I are trying to eat cleaner – more organic, less meat, less bleached/stripped food, less cane sugar – less sugar in general, more water less wine, upping the veges and the fruit…. No Less and healthier Cake (sigh)

Let’s see how we get on and apologies if we seem grumpy. Though I think it’s going to be a 80/20 affair.

So weirdly I’m kicking all this off with a sorbet recipe…… Really healthy, right?

The reasons for this is Two-Fold. 1) It reminds me of our recent holiday, inspired by our lovely hosts, our lovely final meal and 2) It helps to keep your mouth cool during Chemo. Which is important to keep the cells healthy and stop infections. Mum always did this and I think it helped. Though they don’t seem to openly tell you about this at the hospital, so I guess you do this at you own risk.

Sorbet seemed like a cool, non-dairy, easy transportable option (I’ve just invested in a thermos, I’m hoping this will help keep things cold/frozen). Though it can be sugar heavy.

As this is my first Sorbet foray, I’m not messing with the basic recipe too radically. I just searched for the recipe with the least sugar in it and then switched it out for a very dark brown variety as opposed to the bleached white stuff. Probably just to make myself feel better. I figure by making it myself I can at least control what else goes in etc blah blah etc *don’t I sound worthy, while eating sorbet* etc

The two books I’ve been using, sort of…

pollygosh_PeachRoseRaspberry

I used little Donut Peaches, for no reason other than their cute credentials…

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Add a little of Rose Water and a Cup of Raspberries…

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Skin those little suckers, look how pretty they are!

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Chop, Chop, Chop – then Blend!

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Been freaked out by Chemo? Then it’s A Peach, Rose, Raspberry Sorbet kinda day…

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What you will need:

1 Simple Syrup (cooled) – heat to dissolve 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar, don’t boil!

5 Small Peaches or approx 2 cups – stripped, pitted and chopped (poor things)

1 Cup of Raspberries

Rose water to taste

Pinch of Sea Salt

 

What I did:

Freeze your ice-cream maker bowl, at least overnight, it’s amazing how many times I forget this step!

Make your Simple Syrup and cool it.

I then dunked the peaches in just boiled water, just for a few minutes, it helps you to easily peel them. Chop and and pit them. 

Use a blender to, you know blend, the peaches, raspberries and a drip or two of rose water (you really only need a little bit).

Beat the Syrup and the Blended Fruit together, preferably in a bowl, then fridge it for about 2 hours-ish…..

Add a pinch of salt.

Then I just followed my ice-cream makers instructions on making the actual Sorbet.

It will keep about a week, I’m hoping I can holdout until A. gets home.

Top-Tip: Freeze the container you will keep the Sorbet in, helps it keep frozen. Did anyone else have a Mister Frosty in their youth? I wish I’d thought to do this  way back when. All that grinding of ice just used to become a puddle – an actual sorbet maker, a plus point of adulthood.

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Letters 3

So back with a bump from my sunny, sunny orange grove. I’ve the post holiday blues. Well actually it’s more than that. I meet the Chemo people tomorrow, it’s just a meeting but it’s the first step of the next marathon (as A. says “it’s a marathon you didn’t even sign up for though!”). I’m scared, really scared of this next bit. I’m sure I’ll be pithy and cheery soon, even about being scared but all I’ve got at the moment is this two line non-sentence. I’m scared.

 
I’m counting all the stars in my sky because I have people to help me forget these fears for stretches at a time but A. says he can still see it in my jaw, so I’m not fooling anyone.
 
Until tomorrow, when I can turn the light on and see that this Chemo Monster is really just a coat in the corner (fingers crossed), I leave you with my Mother’s wisdom.
 
I keep finding her letters at opportune moments, I was meant to be tidying when I found this one – let’s not tell A.
 
I like the bit about making friends, I’ve heard it can get chatty in the Chemo wing. Presently, I’m not very good at making friends in the C-Club, it reminds me I’m going through cancer (if that isn’t the silliest reason) but I think I need to get over myself and learn from their wisdom. I’m very grateful to Miss B, my FB C-club friend, she’s a little life line – thank you Miss B! 
 
For the record 1) Yes I was really that unhappy for a whole month my first term at uni – I am a big scardy cat, I got over the homesickness and then Mum was diagnosed the first time, 2) can we forgive my Mum for thinking that I am awesome, I think that’s a Mother’s duty and it works better for a pep talk, 3) Sappy as it sounds -parents write to your kids, actual letters, they will find them useful someday, 4) Kids keep those letters, they will come in useful someday…….
 
 
 

Dearest P

 

Well darling I hope you’ve recovered from the bout of homesickness you had on the phone last night and that your lectures were a bit interesting. 

As I said just take one day at a time, look your best, smile a lot and I’m sure friendship will come your way. Being a lively member of the group (any group) is always attractive – your natural bubbliness and sense of fun will pull you through and your sensitivity to others will keep you interested and interesting…. No situation is ever perfect for long – that’s what keeps us all striving and no bad situation stays that way – that’s what gives us all hope. 

Remember that ‘prayer’ ( I don’t think its a particularly christian one) – “may I have the strength to accept what can’t be changed, the courage to change what can be and the wisdom to know the difference” I don’t know if it’s relevant right now, but it’s a good maxim to know.

 

Eat well, exercise your body and mind and relax before sleeping. And for goodness sake – go to a counsellor and tell them your fears.

 

As I said everyone has fears at this stage – it’s a learning stairway – you’re discovering it early in life and you’ll learn to recognise it and accept it and control your terror very soon. Good for you. 

 

Nothing worth knowing is easily learnt. Nothing worth having is easily acquired – at least, not in adulthood, I’ve found – I sometimes think walking was the only thing I learned easily – the rest is struggle!

 

M is having a hard time enduring the music of the Whitebear. Dad is busy with lectures and tutorials and I’m like a headless chicken already – no fun here!

 

Love you very much
Mum 

 

X

pollygosh_musings

Musing on My Mother, from an Orange Grove

I’m writing this sitting with A in a hammock in an orange grove in the South of Spain. It is as idlic as it sounds, not a cloud in the sky.  A is reading a book about science, it is my lovely lot in life to be surrounded by men, with a love of science. Every few pages, A looks up with a ‘huh’ waits expectantly for me to ask ‘what?’  He then reads me a section. I feel I am reading the book as well, which works out nicely because I always meant to.

Until it occurred to me a minute ago that this is probably one of those moment I’ll want to remember, I was reading also.  My book is an autobiography about a woman who hikes the Pacific Coast Trail, alone, after her mother dies (no I did it know that fact when I bought the book).

I’ve just read a line where she’s scared on the trail, though she knows she’ll always be safe because her mother has died and that was the very worst that could happen. It made me smile and think about Miss E, my fellow motherless duckling and taker of wonderful photos. Quite soon after I was diagnosed, she had shared how shaken she had felt – “I mean, I thought we were bullet proof.”

I understood the sentiment but somehow my brushes with mortality had the opposite effect. I saw potential hazards everywhere. I became fearful for all my loved ones, practically driving A away with my constant worrying. I never worried about myself however.

I’ve switched locations, I’m now under an umbrella by a lovely turquoise pool, still surrounded by orange trees. The air has that scorched land smell and we have fresh squeezed juice for breakfast. Perhaps because I’m in a place this lovely, perhaps because I feel so warm and safe, or because of the book I’m reading, or maybe because it was inevitable but I’m allowing myself to think about my mother.

When my Mum died, I slowly and painfully became aware of the life events she wouldn’t be around for, the solicited or unsolicited advice I’d not receive, the fights, the love. I’d never get to fully understand what made such a complex woman tick. We’d never ‘do’ weddings or babies – I just never thought that cancer would be another thing on that never ‘do’  list.

Not being a mother myself, I’m not sure how it feels when your child is ill. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a mother, so perhaps I’ll never know. Either way,  I’ll never be able to phone her up exhausted and apologise for everything I put her through. However, I never banked on knowing how it feels to live  with cancer or what it takes to get through Chemo either.

There have been times recently, when I’ve been cut to the core at how little I understood about all this, how draining it is emotionally and physically. How all encompassing and how white knuckle scary it is. How sick you can feel (and this is before chemo, fertility treatment and my Ops have been enough). She must have hid a lot, I thought I knew it all, I was 19 and I thought I’d seen all her illness. But I see now that I was still her child and she hid things.

Sometimes I hide things, A always makes me promise that’ll wake him if I wake in the night. I never do and then he’s mad the next day. I always point out, there’s is very little point Us both being awake, he can’t physically do anything and it’s best he’s rested, to deal with everything he deals with in the day. Besides just having him near is soothing, asleep or awake.

Quite soon after her death I went through a phase of worrying. If something else horrendous happened, how could I believe my mother was watching over us, protecting us, as everyone had been at pains to tell me. I reasoned if something bad ever happened, I’d feel like she deserted me twice.

I eventually mentioned this to Da, who kindly and softly reminded me that this is not what we believed. No matter what a comforting image it was, she was not on a cloud, margarita in hand stomping out all mountains in our way. The only way she watched over us, remained with us, was through the love we had for her – the conversations we shared, the life we had all lived together. I am lucky, I have emails, letters and birthday cards too.

Ma taught me a lot about how to deal and some times not deal with cancer. Her dramatic personality, coupled with pretty hardcore steroids, occasionally had explosive consequences. It was her grace, I admired most.

Grace, was the first word I thought of,  when I was trying to imagine how to plough on with all this. My Mother was also the founding designer of Cancer Chic, she rocked Cancer Chic hard. Unless it was a really bad day, she was always up and dressed, she always put on a little makeup too. Even in hospital, she requested I come and help ‘put her face on’. These may sound like small achievements to some but trust me, some days they are huge.

Ma kept a journal, hers was a lot more private than mine, but I think it helped keep her sane. She started on a path towards a Masters degree too. Gosh she was strong and smart to boot.

Like animal species the world over (A’s book rubbing off on me) I watched My Mother, to learn the Art of Survival. It was just, at the time, didn’t know I was doing it.

PS there’s now a traditional Spanish trumpeter playing in village below, his music drifting up to us. Oh, I’m wearing a coral red on my toes called ‘Macbeth’ too. Today is a good day.

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Truth Speaking aka Golden Rules Vol. 2 – The Grumpy Edit.

Yup, I feel sick, hormonal and bloated (darn you fertility treatment, should I ever use these eggs, my future children had better be; sweet-tempered, genius, rock-god, bastions of love, peace, the environment and live in the worlds of Science and Art or I’m sending them back to the freezer).

I thought this would be a perfect time to reveal more golden truths…. A lot of these revolve around social media, ick. I know I could just not look but a) where is the fun in that? b) some days, it’s my only view to the outside world, please don’t blame me for wanting to make the view better or out another window….

  1. Nobody can tell from just looking at you: your mood, your idiot-tolerance level, or how you are feeling mentally and physically. This means you may have to tell them, try and do so politely. I should really get a t-shirt.
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  3. Only A. can get away with calling you Eric Bana, even he will need to tread carefully.
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  5. Incidentally, you will now totally get the line in Avengers Assemble, when Mr Bana reveals the secret of controlling the Hulk.  “I’m always angry”. I can only control the ‘Pulk’ for so long, try and read the signs people, save yourselves.…
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  7. Signs include: one word answers, growling, overly sarcastic comments, no signs of humour – at all, actively ignoring you and lastly, actually walking away – ps. don’t follow.
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  9. It is truly eye-opening just how many ways the universe will conspire to piss you off.
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  11. It feels really good when you bite your tongue, you generally like people – there have been no rage induced incidents yet. This feels akin to winning the Noble Peace Prize, I am often surprised I’m not thrown more parades.
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  13. You are so competitive you will compete with anyone for the title of best patient – it is a self given award, nurses won’t pick sides (you’ve tried) …
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  15. …You will spend many hours wondering how insecure you have to be, to need this level of love from everyone treating you.
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  17. Dad and A. are titans, saints and wonders. Try to remember not to push them too far, especially not just because you are in a bad mood.
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  19. Remember your P’s and Q’s, you are not the soul owner of the difficult day.
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  21. That being said: Please, please, please, reader, think before you write on Twitter or Facebook about your bad day / worst news ever. Really, REALLY? You are STRESSED about a meal are you? Train late, is it? You have a COLD!! – I going out on a limb here but there are worse things happening to people and I don’t even mean me particularly. I repeat – I can only hold back ‘Pulk’ for so long…
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  23. You will sometimes write things on your Blog that will make people concerned that they will say / do the wrong thing. When they tell you this, it will make your heart melt because those who are worried, they are probably not the person it was aimed at.
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  25. Some people will surprise you in the worst possible way. You will be better about dealing with it for you. ‘Pulk’ will be roaring on A. and Dad’s behalf.
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  27. To follow up, A, Dad and I are the same people we always were. Please treat us as such, if you count us as honest to goodness friends, don’t get weird on us now. It’s more hurtful than you could ever possibly know.
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  29. Naps, naps, naps are the elixir of life. Take them often.
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  31. Sometimes you are just too tired to do everything you want to do, learn to say No.
  32.  

  33. Just because you are reading this doesn’t mean you can’t ring me too. As my friend Miss H says, “I can read your blog or I can ring and ask you how you are, I will always prefer to ring.” This is why she is your friend.
  34.  

  35. You will need to work harder to feel grateful and lucky but you still are, so jolly-well work harder.
  36.  

  37. The sentence “if you get through this, you will be a stronger than ever” is only ever going to extract a long expletive heavy response along the lines of “ How much stronger do you want me to be?”
  38.  

  39. Also FYI not cool to use ‘IF’, you may think it shows your cool, “I’m not going to sugar coat or mollycoddle you” credentials, I will only hear “I am a moron”.
  40.  

  41. Please don’t feel the need to reference everything thus:  “it’s not nearly as bad as what you are going through” or “sorry to rant about something so trivial”. I do want to hear your news, and what’s important in your world but I reserve the right to call bullshit if it really is a storm in a teacup / easily solvable.
  42.  

  43. I am getting bossier and bossier the more restricted I become. It’s like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but instead of murders – I’m solving people’s lives.
  44.  

  45. A certain type of selfie really annoys me at the moment. Take a picture of something amazing instead or a person you really love. I don’t care if the pout or toplessness is ‘ironic’ – you look like a chump.
  46.  

  47. The round-robin “post if you know someone with cancer” status up-dates, are weird. They say a lot more about your need for drama than about any cancer sufferer’s plight.
  48.  

  49. FYI if we do meet, I am not as grumpy as I seem here, I do not have to talk about it constantly, I will not cry.
  50.  

  51. This summer is meant to be a hot one (yay) – don’t come anywhere near me if you have sunburn. I will beat you. YOU NEED TO APPLY SUN PROTECTOR (Factor 20 or above, yes even in the UK), often several times a day- shock, horror! It works, if it doesn’t, it is user error. Do you really want to be the loser who can’t even put lotion on themselves? I mean that’s pretty remedial stuff right there. I will beat you and then tell you all about my cancer treatments as punishment.
  52.  

  53. Reader, please, don’t let life drag you down. Do just one thing to change whatever it is that makes you feel despondent. I wish I’d done more of this. IF you get sick, you will have plenty of time to think about what you’d have changed and feel grumpy about it.
  54.  

  55. Remember, approx. 98% of the time, it is how uncomfortable you are feeling that makes you grumpy and short tempered. People are not willfully trying to vex you. Perhaps yelling will help but then they will grumpy and yell at someone else – it’s the snowball affect. Breathe Deeply and Walk Away.
  56.  

 

pollygosh_uncoupling

Conscious Uncoupling

‘It is with mixed emotions that Little Blog announces that the Conscious Uncoupling of PollyGosh and Burt, the tumour formal known as Benign. Which took place on April 1st 2014. 
 

In an operation lasting one and a half hours. A team of dedicated professionals literally cut away all ties between the two parties. 

 

Burt then spent a month in Analysis, while PollyGosh recuperated quietly at home under the watchful eye of her ever patient Papa.

 

In a statement, given exclusively to Little Blog, PollyGosh wished to thank her friends and loved ones for their on going support. 

 

She is also quoted as saying; “I knew the relationship was going down hill when Burt started growing a little too big for his boots, he was multiplying recklessly and since conformation of his tumour status, I could no longer bear to touch him. This separation is right for both of us. Well, mostly for me.”

 

PollyGosh is so keen to totally purge Burt from her life, to which end, she will be seeking a chemical intervention too.’

 
 

It doesn’t sound all that amicable really, does it? I think amicable would be stretching it, after all, Burt never wrote or sang me a song about the colour Yellow.

 

That being said, in a weird way, I miss him. Only very occasionally. Like animals bred for eating, racoons and annoying co-workers, you should never nickname your tumour, that way trouble leads. 

 

Still, I grew him. For a long time, if I woke up scared and alone (which, even if there is someone lying next to you, or across the hall, you do feel)- it was Burt who was there. Perhaps I am experiencing my own form of Stockholm Syndrome. 

 

Perhaps too, I know if he was still here, the rest that is to follow would still be that bit further off. I’ve had experience of surgery and so that, for me, wasn’t so scary.

 

My lumpectomy went incredibly smoothly – I believe, I mean, I slept through it – so what do I know? From my end, it was smooth, flat out, horizontal stylee. 

 

My Anaesthetist (an amazing NZ women) gave me good drugs, a derivative of morphine. I woke up in a glorious mood. 

 

To quote Dad – in a conversation he had over my head, with a rather worried looking Brother, who I was trying to comfort at the time, with witty banter and a chipper attitude.

 

“Yes, she’s been rabbiting on like this for hours”. It could be that my mind is playing tricks but it came out a little weary when he said it.

 

I was vaguely aware, from Brother’s widening eyes, that the more I tried to reassure him, the worse job I was doing.

 

I think Dad had the most ‘interesting’ time, the day of the operation was April First,  so I kept on trying to play funny jokes. I’d then get a little peeved when his concern stopped him from laughing.

 

Anaesthetic can make me melancholy, feel rather vulnerable and nauseous. I’m not sure if this is universal or just me. My advice, that I really must take myself, don’t be a hero. Take the painkillers they will prescribe on a regular basis. It’s easier on your system to keep the level constant than yo-yo up and down. Sleep your way through it too. Sleep is the best cure all. Give yourself time.

 

For me, the pain was manageable. On a sliding scale I am not a Marvel Superhero, (it doesn’t seem to matter how many suspect laboratories I hang out at, or how many buttons I press while there) but I’ve got some game. It was standard workaday pain levels but you shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable. That is what the drugs are for. The more pain you suffer through the longer it takes to heal. So I repeat, don’t be a hero, or a martyr – the is no prize for that.

 

My biggest ambition was to leave hospital the same day. FYI – lumpectomies are considered day cases so this was not the macho achievement it may sound. 

 

I hate hospitals. Kind of an obvious one really but never the less true. I always want to leave as soon as possible. You need to pass certain tests before they will allow you to vamoose: eating, peeing, walking, dressing – no vomiting. 

 

I had nearly been caught out after an ear operation a few years back. Like I said, I am affected by anaesthetic rather badly. I always feel nauseous. 

 

That time round, I did not want to move, or eat. I was down to the wire and nearly had to stay in – it’s with thanks to Dad and A, that I didn’t. It was a bit grim. All I’m willing to say is, what happens on Woodlands Ward, stays on Woodlands Ward (but if you direct mail me I will tell you).

 

This time I was determined to get going quickly. Thanks to the morphine substitute, I got right on task. Dad discovered, that the least you had to eat to be OK’d to leave was biscuits. I ripped open the packet of especially bought Rich Teas, one handed. Pretty much as soon as I was back on the ward. Every time a nurse came anywhere near I shoved a biscuit in my face – I ate about half the packet, I am not a huge biscuit fan. I drank enough fluid to accomplish other tasks…… I got dressed, on my own. I tried to be a star patient, basically (this has a bit to do with wanting to leave and a lot to do with needing to be loved)

 

It worked. I got in and out in a day. I don’t think I’m at all special – the lumpectomy was really ok (Burt was small and in an easy to reach place, other tumours may be different). Possibly the weirdest part being the blue nipple – which I know I’ve still not fully explained but it makes A. nervous, like I’ll post evidence or something. As if I would……

 

So Burt and I are separated, It’s been over a month now. I wish that was the end of the story but it seldom is with Cancer. It was a major step though, it means that I am tumour free, which is a very comforting feeling.

pollygosh_eggs

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

I am swimming in hormones at the moment. That sort of statement normally sets my teeth on edge, I hate how flippantly the phrase “hormones” gets bandied about, normally to the detriment of womankind. However, at the moment, it is a fact – I’m injecting them all myself.

So, fertility treatment, another fun off-shoot of getting cancer ‘young’.

What to say, what to say?

Well, I lasted the first week, no side effects at all, that I was aware of. Day 8 found me in tears for no real reason (I’ve been on the verge of a sob-fest ever since), I coupled this with eating, scratch that, inhaling a box of chocolates, in a sitting. I did not share those bad-boys, no sir.

It is PMS on crack. Made worse because I have an awareness of what is causing it all. I can’t be all indignant when A. gently points out, that the problem is hormones and not the fact that the world secretly hates me. This takes the wind out of my ‘right to be emotional’ girl-power sails, because it so IS. I am not emotional, I am OVER emotional, the awareness factor really is no fun for me. It’s probably better for those around me, I am trying to curb my stroppiness, some what.

I’m also really, really tired. My month of freedom and busy social whirliness is having to be punctuated by naps, a lot of naps. I can sleep all afternoon and then sleep some more – I’ve become a Sloth or a Koala or something. Hence why I’m actually writing Little Blog more at the moment. If this blog serves as nothing else, it is at least record of how changeable this whole Cancer thing is – like we didn’t know already.

I am also relearning basic biology. I tried to bluff my way through the first 2 appointments and then needed to admit, I have very little memory on how my body works. It’s so shameful to admit you don’t know, yet relearning is so fascinating at the same time – plus none of the boys in my class are punctuting the lesson with gagging sounds.

I am presently growing 19 egg follicles, 19!  The average (after fertility treatment) is between 9-13. I was proud of over-achieving until it became obvious that, I am dangerously close to Hyper-stimulation. 1 more follicle and I’ll be needing blood tests. I feel, for some reason, like a octopus with lots of egg sacks. Sexy.

They’re not small either (well comparatively), is it a surprise to anyone else, that they will be ‘harvested’ (yuck) at 17mm? That’s nearly 2cm, and there are 19 of them! Where am I finding the room? No wonder I feel fat at the moment……

I need to salute those out there, who inject themselves daily, often for long periods of time. I was full of admiration before, but I know exactly what it takes now and I am a chicken. It doesn’t help that my belly looks like a pin cushion.

The needles I use are the finest, thinnest kind but I’m still finding it counterintuitive to push one into my skin. It’s that puncturing sensation that I don’t like. It doesn’t hurt, hurt – but it stings a bit, the level of discomfort changes day to day with little or no reason, that I can find,

A is in charge of prep, neither he nor Dad could really stomach (boom boom) the actual injecting. I’d also feel, irrationally, resentful of them sticking me with a needle twice a day. Better just get annoyed with myself.

A and I run through almost the same script every time, it resolves around me hovering with a syringe millimetres above my abdomen and A. attempting to bribe me to take the plunge.

A: Ok, you can do this, there’s a cotton ball in it for you….

PG: I don’t want a cotton ball.

A: There’s a cup of tea too.

PG: I don’t want a cup of tea.

A: A pony?

(A will bribe me with anything but not a puppy….. proving these are empty promises – I’d have a field of ponies by this point if they weren’t. I do always get the cotton ball and the tea though)

PG: I don’t want a Pony, I don’t even want children. Let’s stop all this.

A: I know it’s not easy, but you can do it, you’re getting so good!

PG: I am not. We’ve been sitting here for 3 minutes.

A: Come on now, it will be over quicker than you know. Do you want me to hold you?

PG: NO

A: I’ll dance for you.

PG: Please don’t make me laugh, I can’t use my stomach muscles.

A: Ok, I’m going to get the cotton ball (exits)

PG in the meantime injects herself….. Can’t remember how to hold the needle and push the syringe at the same time.

A. returns to find PG with a needle in her belly and an exasperated look.

A: Do you want me to push the syringe in?

PG: I can’t remember how to do this.

A: Slowly!

PG finally sorts herself out, administers the injection. A hands over the cotton ball.

There’s really not any blood or anything from the punctured skin, but we still do this every. single. time. It’s our new tradition, I prefer our cocktail traditions, or movie night traditions more…..

Hopefully though, by Friday, my little octopus eggs (imagine if they actually were, there’s a shock 2-3 years down the line!) will be chillin’ in a freezer somewhere and I can go back to normal, well, normal-ish.