Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Forum Boredom

When you don't have to go in to work, the kids are at school, hubby's out and about, you do tend to have a bit of time on your hands.

Some people, with all this time, would have a spotless house. Mine is worse than ever, which confirms that maybe it is me, after all, that makes all the mess.

With my spare time, I have become a computer potato.

I have joined a poultry forum, where people chat about their hens. Its great. I have answers to my many questions now - like, 'How can I stop our hens from wandering off and being found in a neighbours bedroom 200 yards away from our house?' (I didn't have to make that one up)

I have also joined a graphic design forum. I am not a graphic designer, but I'm doing a canny job of pretending to be one.

And recently, I have done what I said I would never, ever, ever, in a million years EVER do.
I have joined a cancer chat forum.

I read a few of the posts. I got scared at a few of them, I got sad at a lot of them and even got a bit of support from a couple of them.

I decided to do a post of my own on there - the 'War of the Worlds' question. I'm really interested to know if I'm the only person in the world who would like a grand piano in the foyer of the new cancer centre, original colourful artwork on the walls of the waiting room, and whether people thought it was a good idea if there was a wood burning stove there too where you could get warm on blazing cancer leaflets and posters that are in plentiful supply on the walls...we'll see.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Play Up, Play Up, and Play the Game!

Managed another coaching session with the cricket Angels last night. It felt great.

We spent the evening in the nets, practising our bowling and taking it in turns to get padded up for a slog with the bat.

EVERYone has really improved, but every now and then, the ball will do strange things when you just want it to go straight down the wicket and hit the stumps. I even managed a wild full toss that nearly broke my team-mate's finger!

We have 16 - yes, 16 fixtures throughout the season, starting in May against experienced teams that will probably whack us all around the pitch - (but only if we manage to bowl a straight ball at them!)

I'll probably have to miss the first one due to the bloody chemo, but should manage most of the dates after that - but only if I get selected!

The hockey will have to take a back seat for now - a bit too boisterous for me at the moment - but I'm looking forward to the sound of leather against willow in a lovely English setting, with the sun warming my face, the dainty cucumber sandwiches....and a decent pint of beer with all my lovely cricket pals after a good slaughtering!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Is There Any Room in the Inn?

I arranged to meet an old school friend at the end of last week. She was visiting her parents for a couple of days, and I said I'd come along to the house and see her mum and dad too.

'Can you remember how to get to the house?' she asked.
'Of course I can bloody remember,' I replied.
The 'R's' house was EVERYone's house back in our schooldays.

It was only a 35 minute journey from my house, and a very strange thing started to happen on my way there. I started to cry.
'What the hell are you crying for?' I asked myself, and quickly managed to stop the tears. They started again, I stopped them again, and so it went on until I landed at the doorstep. The familiar 'driiiing' of the doorbell and my friend opened the door. More tears, a bewildered friend, hugs, snot, and then finally, calm.

Everything was exactly how I remembered it in my adopted childhood home. Tidy clutter, a mission control centre for my friend's dad, with remote controls, telephones, and alarm clocks beeping every few minutes for no apparent reason, and the furnishings - all as it was 30 years ago when we were just 11 years old.

I was reminded of the night that a friend's flicky-fringed boyfriend had crashed out under the Grandfather clock - only to be woken every 15 minutes with a tuneful chime. I remembered the hundreds of nights we all crashed out in the loft after eventful trips into town. I even remembered exactly where I sat when my friend and I sang our way through the entire Tina Turner album, Private Dancer - very badly, and very loudly.

I love that house - and I love the people in it. Being there was like someone wrapping a blanket round my shoulders, giving me a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate and a big hug.

Before I left, my friend's dad fetched one of their prize possessions to show me. It was a small Christmas card in a frame. Mary and Joseph were pictured clip clopping along. At the top of the card was a speech bubble coming from Joseph's mouth, drawn in in biro, and in my scrawly handwriting he was saying - 'Divvent worry, Mary, there's always a bed at the R's hoose...'

Friday, 26 March 2010

Its a Fine, Fine Life!

The step back in time to the olden days was brilliant.

I'm sure you'll agree, the mums all looked like finalists in the Miss Victoria contest (pictured!)
The 9 year old looked like Mark Lester, (the original Oliver) and all his pals looked fantastic in their various Victorian outfits - proper little scruffs! Even the tourists were stopping to take pictures of the rowdy gang of urchins marauding around the site. I think they thought they were all part of the 'show.'

The best bit was the Victorian-style lesson in the school, with the very scary teacher. She managed to tame all the Artful Dodgers in 5 seconds, and they were all immaculately behaved. They did handwriting from the inkwell, chanted their 9 times table, and completed some very tricky arithmatic.

I could see their 'real' teacher hastily taking notes, planning a classroom re-arrangement with desks in a row, and eyeing up the cane for all those pink bat bashing moments...

Great day, great memories...oh, and not a hair out of place, despite the mizzley rain and the gentle breeze!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I Am Not Amused

Tomorrow, I shall be accompanying the 9 year old and all his fellow classmates to a large outdoor museum. They are learning all about the Victorians this term, and this museum is fab for bringing the 'olden days' to life.

To add to their experience, of course, the evil teachers have told us that not only do the kids have to go dressed in Victorian costume, but the parent helpers do too. Bloody hell man.

So what are the options?
Well, I could go as Jackie Charlton with a lovely comb-over hairstyle, but he's still alive, and definitely not Victorian.
I could blacken my face, and say my hair had been singed away whilst sweeping chimneys.
Concentration camps were in the 2nd World War, so the stripey blue hat's out.
I do have 2 other wigs, as modelled in the photos - one is my longie-darker wig from the wigshop, the other is the Dolly Parton wig from the bottom of 6 year old's dressing up box.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

War of the Worlds

I had to go to the brand new multi-million pound cancer centre yesterday. It's where Dr. Hard Hat and Wheelbarrow lives, and I had to see him for my half way check.

I didn't think it was necessary to drag anyone there with me - Husband is away on business, mum was looking after the kids, and most of my local pals were working, so I went on my own.

Camped out at the entrance of the very grand building, were a group of pyjama-clad baldy patients attached to drips, sucking on cigarettes. They scared the life out of me. I felt like I had entered a scene from Schindler's List. Hollow eyes and despair looking straight at me. One lady, unintentionally I'm sure, even seemed to look angrily at me. I wanted to turn on my heels and run.

The lobby inside is spacious, airy and light. Its a bit like a railway station, and people look like they're checking train times - but they're not - they're anxiously reading the signs for where the hell their appointment or treatment is. Women cling onto their husbands' arms. They're trying to look brave, but you can see that they're scared out of their wits.

Fortunately, I'd been here before so I knew where I had to go. Turn right down a corridor, past the hats, scarves and turban shop on the left, and through the door into the out patients waiting room. I checked myself in - it looked pretty quiet - then sat myself down.

It was then that I realised that the little 'I'm going to cry' gremlin had made an appearance. 'GO AWAY!' I yelled in my head, but he wouldn't, and big tears whelled up in my eyes.
I hastily grabbed a hanky out of my pocket, stood up, and made my way over to the wall of glass that looked out over a nice courtyard area. Other walls of glass looked out over this courtyard, and I could see patients standing at their windows looking across to where I was standing.

I moved away from the window, and took a seat as far away from anyone as I could. I composed myself, told the little gremlin to bugger off, and decided to focus at the walls. There were posters - 'Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.' Bloody swine flu. There were rows and rows and rows of leaflets - 'Don't ignore bowel changes,' 'Detecting Mouth Cancer,' 'Preventing Cervical Cancer,' 'Its Cancer, You're Bound to Have Questions...'

I tried to look away, but my eyes kept drifting back to the walls - Cancer, cancer, cancer - everywhere you look. You've had cancer, we're treating you so that it doesn't come back, but just in case you weren't scared enough - Welcome to Cancer World, where we scare the crap out of you to make sure that you can't get away from the fear!

I got up again, sat down again, got up again and paced up and down. The waiting room was starting to fill up - more victims piling in. 'Don't forget to grab a leaflet,' I wanted to say - 'Just in case you weren't quite terrified enough.'

My name was called 2 or 3 times by a very quiet, neat little Indian man, and with relief I followed him into the consulting room. He was Dr. Hard Hats little helper and he was lovely. He flicked through my notes, had a chat, said 'oh yes mam' a lot, looked inside my scabby cardboard-tasting mouth, then said that he'd see me a couple of days before my last treatment. I was in there for about 2.5 mins.

I didn't exactly sprint out of Cancer World, but I left very rapidly, trying not to get captured by the cancer guards at the front doors. I did, however, take the stairs 3 at a time up the 12 floors of the multi-storey carpark to get to my car. 'Let's get the hell out of here,' I said to the gremlin.

You'll not believe me when I say this, but as I left the city, the heavens opened and it POURED with rain. As I got closer to home, I could see blue sky and sunshine ahead. In the rear view mirror it was BLACK. I drove into the sunshine, just in time to follow the school bus into the village. The 9 year old was waving to me madly out of the back window.

is my world, I thought, - no matter what anyone else tries to tell me.

Monday, 22 March 2010

A Matter of Taste

Being in Haltwhistle hasn't been so bad; usual side effects. Some of the drugs contain steroids though, and so, strangely, after a day of feeling totally yucky, you get the most overwhelming appetite where you could eat a house - or is it a horse?

On Sunday, I just fancied an old fashioned dinner of mince, tetties and yorkshire pudding. I slaved over the stove, and managed to produce a Masterchef-quality dinner. Even John Torode would have said 'well dan mate, thet's ixcellent.'

As the family tucked in to this rare treat, I piled my plate high, and scoffed - waiting for the lovely juicy tastes to fill my mouth....Unfortunately, everything, and I mean everything tasted like cardboard.

I looked around the family to see if they had realised that they were eating an old shoe box too. The 6 year old was quietly shovelling in large pieces Yorkshire pudding with gravy running down her chin. Husband was eating as if he'd never seen food for a week.

'Is it nice?' I asked.

'Lush.' said the 6 year old.

I didn't have to ask Husband, as he was already onto his second helping.

I managed to eat the rest of the cardboard dinner, and, thanks to the steroids, later polished off some cardboard jalfrezi crisps, some cardboard yoghurt, some cardboard ginger snap biscuits and some cardboard ham.

This morning, I wondered if the cardboard-tasting phenomenon would still be present. I nearly succumbed to the steroid temptress who wanted me to make a full English breakfast - but instead, I followed the sensible chemo nurse's guidelines and filled a cereal bowl full of bran flakes....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Welcome to Haltwhistle

I woke up to the sound of birds singing, hens clucking and a glimmer of sunshine through the window. Spring has arrived, and it feels good.

Then I remembered that today is a chemo day.

Bloody hell.

Another tray full of syringes.

A couple of days of feeling sick.

A week of feeling flat, looking washed out, watching crap TV and eating bran flakes.

But then I'll feel better again, and I'll enjoy the sunshine, the lambs, the daffodils...

...and I'll be half way.

If this was a cycle ride from Lands End to John O Groats, I'd be in bonny Haltwhistle!

Technorati Code: RBUSUZ93NF84

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Angels With Dirty Faces

It's the local town's music festival this week, and today, the 9 year old and all the other urchins in his class were taking part in the 'choral singing' section in a Methodist church .

Me and some of the mums sat nervously in the audience. We were nervous because for the last 9 years, the school has won the trophy, and the pressure was on. How on earth could a group of pink bat bashing, teeth smashing, breath holding little hooligans successfully defend the trophy???

They were competing against a class of posh, fee-paying schoolkids with lovely blazers and stripey ties, and another local school who were keen to get their hands on the trophy after 9 long years. Both these schools performed beautifully, and as our kids trooped onto the stage sporting an assortment of tatty trainers and wild hairstyles, we held our breath. (But not long enough for anyone to pass out!)

The sound that came out from that stage was fantastic. They belted out the hymn, 'Lord of all Hopefulness' and a lovely song called 'People for Peace.' Goosepimples were everywhere, and the mum who cried at the cricket match had a good cry here too.

After rapturous applause, the Simon Cowell man took to the stage and announced that our little darlings had won. The breath-holding champion was handed the trophy, and we all cheered.

We stood outside the church proudly, full of Hopefulness and Peace. 'Weren't they gorgeous!' we crooned.

Our angels filed out of the church. 'GET IN!' yelled one of the little lads, and squirted the church windows with his water bottle.

Well... they were gorgeous for a little while...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Blowin in the Wind

Its a very, VERY windy day today.

Question is - do I hold on to my multi-coloured stripey skirt...or do I hold onto my hair?!! I really don't fancy the idea of my hair blowing into the branches of a tree and some little sparrow thinking they have an instant home.

Seriously though - the wig is going down a treat. I took the 6 year old to the local leisure centre on Saturday, and as I stood in the cafe waiting for a pot of tea, the girl behind the counter said - 'OOh you look REALLY nice today.'
I hardly know the girl! Admittedly, I'm always at the centre with the kids, so she'll recognise me, but I was quite taken aback. Her comment may have been triggered by a number of reasons -

1 - Prior to the wig, she may have thought 'Oh God here's that wifey again, she looks an absolute sight with that scraggy heap of curls. I wish she'd do something with her hair.'

2 - Some kind hearted person may have tipped her off - 'See that wifey? She's wearing a wig. Tell her it looks great.'

3 - Or MAYBE, it was none of the above, and my trick hair does actually look good enough for random people to comment!

Whatever the reason - she made me feel great, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mr Trololo's got the X-Factor

The 9 year old had a fabulous night at the X-Factor show yesterday with his pal.

Jedward, Stacey, Ollie and of course 'Awa Joe, mey little stah, Eym so proud of yew McElderry' was there crooning to his home audience.

Personally, I think the fella in the clip should audition for next year's show. He's got some great qualities, but might just need to brush up on his miming skills. If you can bear it, stay with him to the end cause he has one or 2 little x-factor moments throughout his magnificent performance.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Hat or Wig...YOU decide!

The blue and white 'specially for baldy chemo people' stripey cotton hat that cost 44, yes - 44 quid has gone in the wash today, (as modelled by the nice lady on the left) and so I am sporting the shorty wig. (Thats me on the right)
Actually, its not as itchy scratchy as I thought, it hasnt blown off in the wind, and no-one has sneaked up behind me and pulled it off - all the things that I thought might happen when I did my shopping at Aldi today.
I expected random people to come up and say 'Is that a wig?' But no-one did, so that's good.

My dad asked me the other day if the blue and white stripey hat was from Auschwitz, so maybe I'll stick to the wig! Whatchathink?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Angels of the North

I hope the physio wasn't watching last night!

I chucked my rehab equipment (the hoover, the duster and the iron) in the cupboard, and joined a few of my pals for cricket training! 67 days since the operation, and there I was - running, throwing, catching, bowling and slogging the ball. It felt GREAT!

Just before discovering the dreaded lump, a few of us had gone to 6 weeks of cricket coaching with the idea that we could maybe start a ladies village team. We were all pretty rubbish, and in an indoor tournament we got absolutely STUFFED by a team of under 15 county players. It was so terrible, that one of our team cried and rang for her husband to come and collect her!
I really thought that would be the END of our dream - but not so! We are a determined bunch of 40 something year old wifeys, and with enough spirit to fill a vodka bottle we have now secured sponsorship from the local boozer and will be entering a team in the ladies summer league!

It all feels so Julie Walters-ish, and I'm imagining some terrifying encounters with the under 15 county whirlwinds and the big butch lass from a rival team who stares across with disdain at us at training. She's scary - really, really scary! COME ON THE ANGELS!!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my gorgeous 8 year old, who is now a 9 year old.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Always Read The Small Print

Here's a couple of things they didn't warn me about with chemo

1 - Without hair, it is bloody freezing!
We have had nothing but frosty mornings since my hair fell out, and I am permanently cold without it. I now feel sorry for all the blokes in the world who are bald.

2 - I have a permanently runny nose!
Nobody told me that my nasal hair would fall out too! This has given me a very runny nose - especially with all the frosty mornings! Meanwhile, I still have hairy legs - what the hell is that all about?!

3 - I have developed body dandruff
They told me that my skin might feel a bit dry, but they didn't say I'd be a walking snow shower! Every time I strip off, there is a cloud of skin dust - YUK! I've bought gallons of baby oil which my skin is drinking greedily. What a 'mare!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Patience, My Dear

I used to really love being off school for the day. I would snuggle up on the settee with my duvet and a couple of Beano comics for company and watch Pebble Mill at One over a bowl of Heinz tomato soup with bits of white bread floating in it. I'd play 100's of games of Patience with a grubby old pack of playing cards. My mum would keep checking on me, and I managed to perfect a croaky little ill voice to say that I was alright, but needed another pillow, or another Blue Riband biscuit.

I was reminded of those days slightly yesterday. They did warn me that I might feel tired at times, and that I should just rest. I've never actually believed them up till now, but despite all my efforts, I had to wave a white flag of defeat yesterday and take to the settee. I had the stove pumping so much heat, that it was threatening to melt the entire house, and the crap on TV was endless. I know everything now about the value of Samurai swords, and I've decided that I like the Oxo lady best on Loose Women. The highlight of the crap TV day though, was 2 episodes of The Brittas Empire - so silly, so mad, but they made me laugh out loud.

Did I achieve anything today? Well, I didn't score any goals, I didn't paint a beautiful picture, I didn't go on a glorious frosty walk, and I didn't even tidy the 6 year old's room. I'm hoping, however, that my little body did achieve something, thanks to the rest I gave it. Patience. Thats what I need to learn - my new, achievable goal!

Monday, 1 March 2010

A Bit Flushed

Well this shot of chemo has flattened me a bit this time. But I did have a good laugh when someone suggested that it wasn't the chemo.
'You don't think it was that massage, do you?' they asked.
'Urmmm, I don't think so,' I managed to reply, thinking of the 4 million syringes of cleaning fluid that were flushing through my veins.

Life at school, meanwhile, has improved for the 8 year old, and I was glad to hear that he has learned of a new way to knock a class mate to the ground, without resorting to a pink cricket bat.
Whilst the teacher was out of the classroom, a few of the kids decided to have a competition to see who's face could go the reddest. My 8 year old did pretty well in the heats, and managed to get himself into the final against a little lad who had broken his arm a couple of days ago whilst sliding down the bannister head first.
In the final, the other boy was elected to go first, and was doing a fantastic job of turning a deep shade of crimson, when suddenly, he blacked out and collapsed onto the ground, bashing his head on the threadbare carpet as he landed. Fortunately, he came round almost immedietely - with the sound of cheering classmates and a very sore head.
Gallantly, my 8 year old handed victory to the boy, who was crowned 'King of the Red Faces.'
It's great to see them getting on so well again...I think