I think this will have to be it for the summer everyone.
Keepyerhairon will be 'closing down,' at least for the summer...but I'll be hatching a new blog for the autumn I hope.
Without going all soppy and writing terrible cliches, these last few months have been incredible. I started the blog initially as my own little diary/journal - something to focus on...and I now have over 80 entries and LOADS of fantastic comments from friends, family and even people I've never met.
Knowing that you were all reading this, has kept me going, kept me writing and kept me feeling great.
Its been the worst few months of my life, but I can honestly say that it has also been the BEST. I hope that comes across in the 80 blogs, because I don't think I could begin to explain why in just a few words!
Thank you everyone for supporting me throughout the last few months. It doesn't seem to have mattered that many of you are miles and miles away - it really feels like you've been standing right next to me for the whole darn journey....I'm so grateful to you all.
Have a wonderful summer. I intend to. And I'll let you know when a new blog emerges...with hair!
It's been a fabulous few days since the last day of zapping on Tuesday. Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but every day has been so jam packed that I haven't had a chance to sit down and tap on the keyboard. At the moment, the kids are watching an old Batman movie (from the 70's) so I have a window of opportunity! (I suppose I should mention here that the 6 year old isn't just watching the film, she is in the film. She is dressed in woolly grey tights with the gusset hanging down to her knees, and wearing the 9 year old's batman costume, mask and cape. She looks great.)
The leavers assembly was brilliant. The school hall was packed full of parents and kids, and we were all thoroughly entertained by the happy, grinning Year 4 kids. They sang songs, told us of their memories at the school, played violins, danced to 'Its the Final Countdown,' and had us all whooping and cheering in the audience - no tears!.....until the head teacher stood up.
Mrs B. is a fabulous headteacher, and I was fully expecting her to stand up and say 'well, parents of Year 4 kids - time to say goodbye - thank God, because this class have caused nothing but mayhem since they set foot through the school doors 6 years ago...'
But she didn't. She admitted that this was a 'difficult' class, but explained that she thought it was for 'all the right reasons.' She described them as a class with LOTS of big personalities and LOTS to say. Hard work for the teachers, but rewarding too. She then stopped talking and her eyes filled with tears.
'And some of these children have had a lot to deal with this year.'
Well, that was it. The whole place started sobbing.
I looked at my little grown up lad on the stage and felt very, very proud of him. He's been a rock for me in the last few months.
And then I looked at his friend - the little lad whose foster mum died from cancer this year. Him and his 2 little sisters have been staying with their childminder since then, but in the next few days, they are leaving to join a new family - about an hour's drive away.
'This'll be my 4th mum,' he'd said to my 9 year old a couple of days ago. He's a talented little footballer, a cheeky little worky-ticket at times, but I've always had a soft spot for him - ever since I sat next to him on the bus on a school trip back in Reception class when he was 4 years old. He had stared at me for ages before saying - 'why have you got such a big nose?'
After the assembly, whilst all the kids were getting cuddles from their mum's, dad's and grannies, he was sliding up and down the hall on his knees. I went over to him, and asked if it would be alright to have a cuddle. I fully expected him to say - 'Get lost, big nose,' but he didn't.
'Yeh alright,' he said.
I gave him a hug, and babbled something about being good for his new mum, working hard at school, enjoying his footy and looking after his sisters.
'Yeh, ok,' he said, then went off sliding on his knees again.
He's a very brave little worky-ticket.
This week has been full of 'for the last time's.'
Cancer treatment for the last time for me on Tuesday, First School for the last time for the 9 year old on Friday, Year One for the last time for the 6 year old...and lots of last times for my 9 year old's little pal...new challenges lie ahead for us all, and hopefully lots of fantastic 'first times'.....
It's the 9 year old's last assembly tomorrow. He's been at his first school for 6 years, and he now looks like a giant compared to the weeny reception kids. It's time for him to move to the middle school.
When we go to their assembly tomorrow, all the mothers, myself included, will need to take a big bag full of hankies. I just hope I don't do one of those 'out loud hiccupy sobs' like the 6 year old does.
Its also the last day of term on Friday. Hallelulia, praise the Lord - we can lie in, no more packed lunches to be made out of nothing to be found in the fridge, no more school uniform to wash....well, for 6 weeks anyway!
Oh - and today is also THE LAST DAY OF MY TREATMENT.
Now that's a canny good 'last' isn't it?!
My dad is running me in to the hospital this morning for my 11.10am appointment. I'll be laid out on that bloody uncomfortable bed for ONE LAST TIME, zapped, and then THAT IS IT! NO MORE!
We then plan to go out for lunch, and maybe a little glass of something.
So - go on! Have a glass of something sparkly tonight - I know its only Tuesday - but its a very special Tuesday....
I feel like a walking nuclear power station with all this radiotherapy at the moment. But I've only got 2 to go.
I had the most fabulous hour in my little allotment this morning. All those seeds I planted back in March are producing a wonderful harvest. The greenhouse is like a tiny tropical rainforest with gigantic leaves filling every bit of space. Cucumbers, courgettes and tomatoes are growing in abundance, and the garden is overflowing with raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, cauliflowers, peas, french beans, onions...its wonderful.
Meanwhile, our 5 hens - Rihanna, Henny, Sandy, Fluffy and Duffy are laying eggs like mad - they are very happy hens.
There was something very satisfying about gathering in all the produce this morning. I made a lovely tea out of it (well I thought it was lovely - the 9 year old twisted his face in disgust when he saw so much green on his plate)
The 6 year old and I even made 5 jars of raspberry jam this afternoon. She designed some lovely labels, and we cut out little disks for the jar lids out of a couple of my bandanas! We recycle lots of things in this family - even baldy head-covers!
As I surveyed all these lovely home produce things, I felt a satisfied little ready brek glow all around me....
It was Sports Day yesterday. An afternoon of joy, disappointment, achievement and anguish. I snapped away with the camera for the whole 2 hours and looked through all the photos as soon as I got home - you can spot all four of those emotions on the pictures - on the faces of the children...and some of the parents.
We just want our kids to be happy.
Tonight, I held my little 6 year old as she sobbed with that hiccupy-style crying that you just can't seem to stop. She had dropped and broken a precious object on the kitchen floor - much to her daddy's fury - and he had yelled at her.
The 'Apple of Dad's Eye' crown doesn't often slip, so she flew upstairs, howling - broken-hearted.
After a while, she crept downstairs to find her mum, and buried her head into my chest. She was sorry, she was very, very sorry, and she needed me to cuddle away the tears.
Of course I could. Within minutes, the hiccups stopped, and she was fine again.
At the hospital today, after my zapping treatment, I went to visit my old PE teacher. She's not too good at the moment. After-effects from the stroke are giving her excruciating pain down one side, and they are trying to control the pain in hospital. She's been there for a couple of days.
She's in her own room, and when I got there she was fast asleep. Her mum was with her.
When my teacher opened her eyes, she saw me, and as she slowly recognised me, we had a good bit of smiling and laughing. She can't speak, so she couldn't ask me why the hell I was wearing a Buff scarf with a cricket cap on top. Instead, I carefully showed her all the little bits and pieces that my 6 year old had made for her. They were in a little shoe box with her name written on it.
She dozed off again, and minutes later, she woke up suddenly, her face twisted with pain. Her 84 year old mum jumped up, and held her 54 year old daughter - she desperately wanted to make her feel better.
She couldn't - and it was heartbreaking.
'It should be me there,' she whispered, stroking her daughter's hair, 'not her.'
We'll do anything for our kids to be happy.
I came away from the hospital in tears, of course. I passed the nurses on my way out - chatting about flights from Newcastle, and what they were having for tea tonight.
'There's a mother in cubicle 13 who can't make her daughter feel better!' I wanted to shout. 'Why the hell are you talking about holidays to Magaluf? Why don't you care?!'
Instead, I walked the hundred miles of corridors to my car and drove home. I looked through all the sports day photos again. That's all I could think of to do to help make me feel better.
I can't explain this one. I can't make sense of this one. I can't think of anything wise or clever to say...I just had write about it.
I'm over half way through the radiotherapy now. 8 down, 7 to go.
When I was in on Friday, a nice fella called Ben asked if he could sit next to me. He was 61 and having treatment for prostate cancer. I think he fancied a chat cause there were plenty of empty seats. I didn't mind. He was a really nice man. He used to play cricket, so we talked tactics for a while, and he admired my cricket cap which I don't think I've taken off since I got it - my initials embroidered on in gold.
'This whole cancer thing makes you think a bit doesn't it,' he said.
'Well, it does I suppose,' I replied, wondering where he was going with this conversation.
'I've been really horrible to my wife over the years,' he said sadly.
'Oh?' I said, thinking that he didn't look like he'd be horrible to anyone.
'All the huffs and sulks. And I've been a right miserable bugger. I don't know how she's put up with me.'
'Well she has, and you can change things from now,' I said. 'Get some holidays booked, some weekends away, organise some nice treats for you both.'
He looked very upset suddenly, and I could tell that he had many regrets whizzing around in his head. It had taken cancer to wake him up. He doesn't want things to go back to normal after the treatment. He knows he has to change things.
As for me, well, I'm slowly returning back to 'normal.'
My body, despite being radioactive, is emerging out of the chemo fairly well. I'm not sniffing and dripping any more. I can frown now with the help of eyebrows. I can make a slight breeze with eyelashes when I blink, and my legs are like Kielder Forest again. Best of all, I managed to get 47 runs on Thursday before collapsing in a sweaty heap - every muscle and joint in my body groaning with pain.
I want to be back to normal - and, I didn't realise until that cricketing performance, just how much my lovely husband wants me back to normal too.
'Straight off the radiotherapy bed and she scores 47 runs!' I heard him boast to his cricketing friend the next day. He was bursting with pride. If his mother was still alive, she would have been reminded of the day that he had asked me out.
'He came bounding in,' she would describe, imitating him brilliantly... I always loved hearing her tell that story...(it was her favourite, and she told it many times.)
Now I know what she meant. I've seen it with my own eyes now. I've witnessed that bounding, bouncing and beaming lad - just as she described. The weight has begun to lift off his shoulders as he sees the old me coming back again - 16 years older than when he first clapped eyes on me - but its me - almost back to normal - and I'm glad that's the way he wants me.
I'm supposed to see a doctor every Tuesday after the radiotherapy, so I asked the very miserable lady on the desk where I had to go. She waved her hand over to a different waiting area. 'Hey hinny,' I wanted to say, 'try and smile a bit, man,' but I didn't, and just sat down. I did as I was told.
One hour later, I was still sitting there. In that time, my mum had painted a massive silk scarf with the nice proggy mat lady. Meanwhile, I was wishing that I'd brought a ball and a set of stumps so that I could practice my bowling down the corridor. It would make an excellent practice area there, and I'm sure if I brought a bat then some of the patients would love to join in. I suggested it to a couple of them, and they had a laugh.
There was a little old lady sitting with us who had been waiting for an hour and a half. She was absolutely fed up. My mum decided to take action and marched up to the desk to see if the miserable lady could give us an idea of how long we'd have to wait. She managed to summon a nurse for help.
The nurse came over and asked for our names.
'Ah,' she said, embarrassed, 'the doctor is on holiday. Weren't you told?'
'Er...no.' I said politely, my tummy rumbling like hell. It was 1.30pm.
She then said something which made me really laugh.
'The machine should have told you that the doctor was on holiday.'
The machine? Who the hell was the machine? Did she mean the grumpy receptionist? Was she really a robot that had malfunctioned and forgotton to smile and give important information out? I glanced across at grumpy pants. She ducked down behind her computer screen.
'Who is the machine?' I asked nicely.
'Well, yunno - there was supposed to be a note on the computer for them to tell you.'
'Who's 'them'?' I asked.
The nice nurse was genuinely sorry for the mistake. She was kind, she was caring. She didn't want to blame anyone...but I followed her eyes...to grumpy pants.
'I see,' I said calmly, and looked at my little friend, the little old lady who had spent her whole day waiting. She was really tired. She had been ready from 7am this morning - waiting for her hospital lift that was 2 hours late. She had been at the hospital for 3 hours and would now have to wait for who knows how long for her lift home....
I looked across at the reception desk.
'I think I know where we'll set the stumps up tomorrow, Patricia....'
I had an early appointment this morning, and for the first time managed to navigate myself to the hospital without the use of the sat nav. The car is learning to find its own way there.
I actually quite like spending this time in the car. I had a good blast of Fleetwood Mac this morning, and sometimes, you see entertaining things out of the window. Today, there was a lady with 2 young dogs waiting at a pedestrian crossing. She was holding one of the dogs in her arms, and the other little dog was on a lead, proudly holding what looked like a tree in its mouth. There's been a good bit of wind recently and a big branch, about 15 times the size of the little dog, must have got blown down - much to its delight. Its tail was wagging like hell... A bit like me when I found the magnum of champagne from my brother in the greenhouse. Far too big for little me...but hey, lets give it a go...
When the green man lit up, the lady set off across the road, but her dog just couldn't balance the branch properly, and refused to move. I could see her trying to rationalise with her little pet. 'Come on, my darlin -just leave the tree.' He would not let go. She was running out of time and was beginning to panic. The beeps were ringing out loudly. She had to act before she was flattened by 100's of impatient commuters.
Struggling to keep the other little dog in her arms, she somehow managed to lift the branch. The determined little dog still wouldn't let go of his prize though, and he ended up hanging from it by his mouth - all across the road.
They made it. She was happy, the dog was ecstatic, and everyone seemed to be having a damned good laugh in their car - me included.
I drove home from the zapping without a hat, scarf or wig on. As I got closer to home, I passed my hubby on his way to a call in his car. He was travelling in the opposite direction, and was past in a flash, but I could see he was grinning. He rang me up.
'Hey baldy,' he said cheerfully, 'I'm turning around - let's have a coffee.'
They warned me that the radiotherapy bit would be tiring and that the travelling would be a pain in the ass - but hey, sometimes you can meet some canny people in your car - today was one of those days.
It was Transfer Day yesterday for all school children in the county.
For the 6 year old, it was straightforward - she would spend the day in the year 2 classroom with a teacher who I know she will adore. She has been looking forward to transfer day for weeks.
For the 9 year old, however, BIG CHANGES are afoot. He starts Middle School in September, and will be sharing a building with enormous 13 year olds. His day was to be spent in unfamiliar surroundings.
As you would imagine then, the day began with a big shouting session. The 6 year old could only find 3 odd shoes, and I nearly had to send her off to school in her wellies. Thankfully, she found both of her silver, sequined party shoes and was delighted to be hoyed on the bus with those on her feet.
The 9 year old was as cool as a cucumber - lounging in front of CBBC without a care in the world.
'Here's 3 pens. You'll need them,' I said flitting around manically, 'and a pencil.'
'Yeh,' he replied, not averting his eyes away from the TV.
'And here's your PE kit, and look, I said look, I'm putting a rain jacket into your PE bag.' I stuffed his little cricket cagoul in the bag.
'And you'll need to hand this form in to your new teacher. See it? I'm putting it in your book bag.'
'And this is the form you need to sign.' I wafted a piece of paper under his nose. 'You're signing to say that you wont abuse the internet.'
'Oh right,' he replied, 'what does that mean?' He scrawled his name in tiny writing in the space provided.
'It means that you musn't go on ebay or Amazon, and you musn't send rude emails to your mother.'
'Oh right, ok,' he nodded.
'And this,' I said waving a small envelope in front of his eyes, 'is your dinner money. It contains a cheque for £30 to go on a dinner card. If you lose the card, you have to pay £2 for a replacement, and if you lose it more than twice, I will make you pay for it yourself out of your egg money. Do you understand?'
'Uh huh,' he replied, completely and utterly bored now with his ranting, neurotic, lecturing mother.
When we finally arrived at the school - other frantic, neurotic mothers were clustered around the class lists that were sellotaped to the window - ensuring that their kid wasn't in with Horrid Henry or Dennis the Menace.
'See ya, mum,' the 9 year old said, strolling nonchalantly into the school.
'Bye darl, have a great day, and don't forget...'
'I know,' he smiled. 'Bye mum.'
He left me there, and despite all the chaos and the fussing of other mothers, and knowing exactly where I was...I couldn't help but feel a little lost.
He's growing up, the little lad. I'm so proud of him, and can't believe that he's about to start middle school. It only feels like yesterday that I was at middle school myself!