Liz's colonic journey

Archive for October, 2011

The weekend

I was quiet over the weekend – at least online. I think I was a bit taken aback to learn that chemo hurts. At least it seems to hurt me. Happily the nausea of Friday seems to have mostly passed. The part that surprised me was these sharp pains in my side, under my ribs, and my midriff area. They feel like the stitch you get from running and breathing too hard, so I thought my pains might have been from gas build-up or something. The sister at the oncology treatment centre said it was probably the cancer lesions objecting to being killed off. I can live with that. I’m metaphorically jumping up and down with glee every time I experience an objection.

I have been trying to avoid taking extra tablets. What with the Eltroxin for hypothyroidism, the whatsit-statin for cholesterol and the hrt for menopause, I already feel like a walking rattle. I got to talk to my mum in Oz, which really worked for me. The time difference means that the time to Skype is in the middle of the morning flurry of activity, so I hadn’t had a chance to talk to her since the port was inserted.

Sioux and Paulette popped in on Saturday along with half of Woolworths. They reminded me of the PaperHeaDs policy – ‘take the pill’ – rather than suffering.

I’m a wimp about pain. Harrison’s Hypothesis – tested with PaperHeaDs, walking friends, family and numerous others, remains almost a law for me. Women who have experienced childbirth have totally ridiculous ideas of what a pain threshold is. I think some kind of chemical brainwashing occurs at the point of production. The rider to H’s H is that men and women who haven’t done childbirth are more reliable indicators of what might actually constitute pain/discomfort. So my walking friends know that I whinge about the slightest hotspot or muscle ache, whilst they carry on without noticing their own discomfort. It’s remarkable.

This is a long way around trying to say – don’t worry about any pain I might report – because it’s my way of noting that something’s happening – and as Jeremy says in Terry Pratchett’s “Thief of Time”, “I have medicine”.

Sioux and Paulette also put our brand new food processor together. Pat and I bought it last week, and it’s sat in the box all week. I was amused to see Paulette taking the lead on this, with advisory support from Sioux on what widget fitted what thingamijig and for what purpose. They know stuff these two. I also found it amusing that, as with Pat and I, the instructions were only consulted as a last resort and involved some scrabbling for spectacles in order to identify widget A and gadget B. (Or is a gadget a conglomeration of widgets – the collective noun for thingamijigs, whatsits, gizmos etc?) I so enjoyed that giggle.

The painkiller I took knocked me out after that until 3pm. Then Karen R called to find out if she could visit. Great to see her, and to chat while she and Pat enjoyed a well-deserved G and T. As previously mentioned alcohol is not talking to me at all. Another change is that I’m really not tempted by all the ‘wrong foods’. Lettuce now smells delicious as do any fresh fruit and veggies.  I apologise to lettuce for all my denigrating remarks about it just being a plate filler.

It was this conversation about food and what to do with the now assembled food processor that caused Karen to return on Sunday morning with trays of vegetable seedlings, a juicer she said was spare, a pile of recipe books and a stack of comedy DVDs. She proceeded to get Pat to make a carrot and cucumber juice, which tasted delicious – and almost miraculously perked me up. Pat was delighted at the ease of the process, and the fact that the pulp left over from the juicing will go onto the compost heap. No mess no fuss. It also looked like fun.

This is all grand, because apparently the trick is to get food that tumours don’t like e.g. carrots and beetroot and asparagus into the system. Juices seem to have the required roughage etc and move through the colon as quickly as possible, not lingering and encouraging the naughty cells to misbehave. Certainly I can report that things are moving well. We’d welcome any juice recipes (the Courtyard’s Carrot and Ginger juice springs to mind, if any of you have that one).

Everyone is feeding us. When Pat picked up her new pc from Godfrey, she returned with 4 fresh eggs from his fowls. Such abundance. The new Liz is finding it hard to understand old Liz’s diet – of a big protein and 3 veg meal at night with sandwiches in between. It hasn’t been a hard switch to make from that to fresh greens and fruits mostly raw. Let’s face it shop bread tastes like polystyrene! The only downer is not being able to go into the fridge, and Pat having to run around anticipating need. She’s also becoming an expert on pool care.

Another laugh of the weekend – was finally resolving the float/sink debate – thanks to Karen in LA and her access to an authoritative guide on the subject. In order not to offend sensibilities, I think I’ll not post the details of this resolution. For those of you wishing to know I’m happy to via email.

Now time to phone the insurance broker and set up an appointment, and get the timetable for appointments and activities organised. We had a hoepoe in the garden this morning. The last time that happened we were still in Caversham Glen 2006. I think it’s a sign. Lekker dag everyone.

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Second and third day chemo

Pat took me in to the treatment centre yesterday to get my ‘take-away’. This involves a half an hour drip treatment, then being hooked up to the bubble which comes home and dangles around my neck on a lanyard. The whole thing presents a logistical problem with all the pipes, but I worked out that I can put it in my pocket, then when I’m sitting or bathing or sleeping I can just place it next to me. Sleeping is OK except that I can’t lie on my right side. Lou, my sister, gave me one of those travelling neck pillows a while ago and that works great to stop me rolling over on the pipes or the sore side where it’s still sore from the surgery. I think this might be a useful tip for anyone else going through this. Bathing is a challenge – impossible to get a razor in around the pipes. The social presentation part of me has visions of me having to get Pat to make braids to keep things socially acceptable!

There’s also the social identification issues related to how you wear the darn bubble.  You know how you see the new first years arrive in their best clothes from Christmas at the beginning of the academic year and then by July, they have become much more casual in order to fit in? Well it was a bit like that walking into the centre yesterday. Should I wear my bubble outside my clothes – loud and proud – or under my shirt with the pipes discretely tucked in? I noticed that most people hide their bubbles until they’re actually in the serene space of the treatment centre. As previously noted, I’m not good at closets but I think there is something in the discourse of cancer that is about not making other people feel uncomfortable, and/or positioning oneself as a victim.

This is a strange thing. I’m calling it a ‘thing’ because I don’t feel like a  ‘sick’ person.  I’ve been walking around with this for two years, without really noticing. And though I struggled last year on the Dolphin 50, I did finish it.  My legs and arms and head are strong – it’s just the plumbing that isn’t working too well. I guess this is how ‘disabled’ people feel. Cancer is definitely an illness, in the sense that something isn’t right and it can definitely can kill you. Then again so can driving a car or eating too much.

We got back from the treatment centre at 11, chatted to Lou, and tried to catch my mum or Sam in Australia on Skype, but missed them again. I slept for a while and got up just before Carol arrived for a visit in the pouring rain and mist. So lovely to chat lightly and about the Rhodes doc week and what is important in life. Pat made a fabulous tuna salad with pannini for dinner – and I polished everything off.

I had some strange pains in my tummy and couldn’t face the movie (American Violet) with Alfre Woodard about a young, single mum threatened with the removal of her children if she didn’t cop to a charge of selling drugs in a schoolyard. I can’t watch movies about abuse of power – am in total denial about human nature maybe? Funny, I  can handle it in science  or historical fiction, but not in novels. Probably because I can pretend it’s not real. Anyway, I withdrew and read a Brother Cadfael story (Ellis Peters about a Welsh monk, ex-crusader, in the 12th Century – always a murder mystery – but always gentle and forgiving of  human foibles). In my quiet time between 8 and 8.30 I realised that the pains were probably a Good Thing indicating tumours protesting at being attacked.

I’m trying to avoid taking the anti-nausea pills because they make me sleepy. This morning though I was feeling rather flat – sore shoulder, sore tummy, a little nauseous. Whinge, whinge, whine. Pat wouldn’t let me drive to the centre in case I got the wobbles. Funny how I felt better as soon as I sat down in there. And Pat went into action mode detailing all my minor woes and asking how to handle them. I felt very protected. The serenity and the lightness, the friendliness of the other people having their treatment made me feel quite teary. There was a doctor there – all hooked up – and yet still talking to his patients on his cell, being caring and concerned. He is in his third year of his fight and said that the secret is to hook up with the “endorphin family”, through exercise, laughter and noting the beauty of life. He called it ‘taking care of the spiritual body’.

Pat had to dash off to a client, as soon as we got home. (Her pc is still not sorted.) It was a relief to have the bubble disconnected, quite freeing. So I hopped into Squashy and headed of to Pinecrest to the pharmacist and to Woollies, where I bought the most garish underwear I could find. They make me laugh. I tried again to reach the folks in Oz, darn the time difference. What a joy to see the latest pics that Sam has sent of all of them. Dougal on the other end of a chocolate cake experience made me laugh out loud. I’d love to share them, but I’m a bit wary of publishing them openly, without Sam’s permission and seeing as his Oz cousin called him Google at birth, that might just be too early for him to be establishing an online identity – he’s not 2 yet.

I haven’t been sure what I was going to blog about today, because I didn’t really want to dwell on feeling a bit grotty, especially as the first round of chemo is supposed to be the easiest.  Just as I was booting up my laptop – the MPR crew popped up on Skype: throwing big words like pedagogy, epistemology and ontology with happy abandon. I hadn’t got the camera and mic hooked up but I could hear the laughter and the challenge and the intellectual excitement going on. It was so nice to chat to you guys: Delysia, Bwalya, Mabongz, Mary, Shubs and Anisa. Made me feel much better.

Now sitting on our comfy couch, with my best friend and mate sitting beside me quietly, surrounded by love and caring of friends I count myself one of the luckiest people in the world.

Chemo: the first day

I call this picture Still Life with Chemo Paraphernalia:

Pat took this photo this morning – so excuse the pjs. The black blobs that seem to be wound around Rocky’s head are a little cooler bag, a scarf and a pair of mittens. The cooler bag also contained a bright orange fridge magnet which reads “Beware: Cold Front Ahead”. Next to that is a teddy bear with Sharks scarf, and in front are lip balm, hand cream and a massage lotion. The meds are anti-nausea pills for three days after I’ve finished this round of chemo, there’s another batch of anti-nausea pills for while I’m actually processing the stuff. Then there’s all the very well written literature on how the chemo drugs work and how to manage them – not in medspeak. I’m holding up the ‘chemo bubble takeaway”. My LA Starbucks coffee mug signifies that I’m still allowed to drink coffee. As you can see there’s a lot to explain.

My blood pressure was a bit high, when we arrived at the treatment centre, natural tension said the excellent staff: Kulsoom, Tamsin and Aniesha. They checked that the port was working – basically that blood comes back and mixes with the liquid. That hurt because it involved the needle being stuck through the wound from the surgery, and the saline flush burned. After that there was just the background ache of the surgery bruises.

 They sat me in a leather Lazy Boy, one of 20 in the room, (just like the ones that Cedric and Joan have – must really get one!) except mine had the remote control doofy for raising my legs and sending the backrest back. Intensely comfortable. They warned us that it was a 6 to 6 and a half hour procedure. I sent Pat off to Godfrey before they hung the first anti-nausea muti unit on the stand. Her computer hard drive crashed this morning and work is backing up and she’s getting seriously tense. Godfrey still has the pc which I think has died. He’s trying to recover 15 years’ worth of files of it. Do not say the b*ckup word.

 I chatted a little bit with the other denizens of the room, and eyed the coffee machine, but didn’t move. I wasn’t sure that I was allowed to do that. I pretty much switched on my ipod shuffle – and listened to Val McDermid’s “A Distant Echo” – until I couldn’t stand her torture of the characters another minute. Excellent thriller but I didn’t feel like being thrilled. I was napping in between (apparently the chemo makes you feel tired as you are going along – but this was just the anti-nausea (2 units) and anti-neuropathy (1 unit)). They only started the Oxy – wotsit muti at about 11:30. I napped some more listening to Katherine Neville’s “The Eight” which is about the French Revolution and chess. I now know that I need to take a blanket because I definitely felt cold when the muti started dripping.

 What we hadn’t considered was the need for food. I’d shoved a jungle oats bar into my bag as a kind of afterthought, but that wasn’t enough to keep the hunger pangs at bay. When I started contemplating mugging Mr Naidoo (9th cycle of the same treatment) for his cheese roll, I realised I needed to send Pat an SOS.  As she got on it, the Discovery Medical Aid ladies arrived and presented me with the cutest teddy-bear, which I surreptitiously cuddled for the rest of the day. Amazing how comforting it was. Another fellow there was starting today and he just shoved his bear aside. I wondered if he didn’t feel like cuddling it – or whether he wasn’t ‘allowed to’. 

Necessity must, and I discovered I was allowed to move around when my bladder started saying, “Howzit?”.  That trip to the bathroom, wheeling my stand, led me past the coffee machine – heaven. (The sister who connected my port told me to stay away from anything alternative labelled ‘antioxidants’ – which thankfully means saying goodbye to green tea. I’ve been doing the green laxative tea – which frankly is quite foul. I’m not an aniseed/liquorice fan. She said coffee is fine. I’m taking her at her word – with joy.) This antioxidant thing is a mystery to me still, I’m reluctant to look up anything to do with it on the ‘net. Yesterday I heard on one hand,  that tumours love oxygen – that’s why they make blood vessels to steal the nutrients and what not from the rest of the body. On the other, stay away from anti-oxidants that don’t come from normal food. The rules seem to be: stay away from fats, dairy, refined foods and large doses of sugar.

 I was napping when Pat arrived with a lovely whole wheat cheese, tomato, cucumber and lettuce roll from Bread Ahead. I wolfed half of it down, before noting that Pat looked like she was about to mug me. We shared the rest. 

It all wrapped up at 3.30, when Kulsoom connected the take-home bubble to my port and presented me with the previously mentioned goodie bag. Apparently the chemo causes an extreme pain reaction when skin comes into contact with frigid air. One guy told us he’d been ‘frozen’ for 5 minutes of agony.  It’s going to be hard to remember that – I’m usually the food preparer, but I can’t go there anymore. Poor Pat – her whole life is being turned upside down. I’ve got to train myself to not automatically go to the fridge to take out fruit, milk, nibbles without thinking and to remember to ask Pat to take things out ahead of time – so that it’s at room temp when I need it. I find myself snacking at all hours of the night – usually fruit – to Pepper’s disgust. I suspect this might be a problem when it gets hot and fruit flies reign. I wonder if that’s what the mittens are for? I’m a bit scared to try it out after the story.

For me it was quite restful to lie there imagining the Oxy-muti zapping the naughty cells, followed by the Avastin zipping in and nipping off the greedy blood vessels that these tumours initiate for themselves. I exercised my best classroom management skills, explaining to them that such subversive behaviour was not acceptable and has caused the society of my body to reject them.  I felt quite gleeful. The staff stayed energetic and happy throughout the day but you could see that they were becoming really tired at the end. Constantly checking reactions, blood pressure, joking with people, soothing others and giving advice must be exhausting. I thought students were hard, but maybe we, educators, should be thinking that what they are doing is kind of a life/death exercise? Not so immediate possibly. 

I asked Aniesha how she could do this job day in and day out with such lightness. She said it’s a calling and personal experience adds empathy to her medical understanding of cancer. There are certain people who can do it, and some that can’t.

Pat was shattered – she still had to come home sans pc and collect Rocky, and think through dinner and anticipate needs for the next 18 or so hours.

Meantime I was delighted to be home and having a bowel movement that looked real without any pain. That’s probably TMI, but I’m feeling triumphant.  Pat had to hear the full dimensions and character thereof – count yourselves lucky. The issue of whether floating or sinking is more desirable remains a mystery.

The bubble thing on the lanyard around my neck is really not awkward except when Pepper gets curious.  I did take the anti-nausea pill at about 10 last night, and it seems to have sent me off to sleep very nicely. I had one of Paulette’s bananas (is that a contradiction in terms?) at 3am. The flow of chemo is presenting me with a mathematical challenge. The label says that it contains 60 mls and has a flow rate of 2mls per hour. Which I calculated would take 30 hours to complete. It was started at 3.30 yesterday and when I got up at 5.20 had already finished running. Supposing it had just finished running that would be about 15 hours – so the flow rate was actually 4mls per hour, right?  I’m to go in  at 1pm to get the refill – should take half an hour. I’m going to try and convince Pat to let me drive myself. I’m missing driving Squashy.   

Meantime here’s a shot of the Cape Whiteye baby that was learning to fly in the garden on Monday. Pat managed to take this pic – so fragile at only about 3cm tall, and surrounded by dangers of cats, dogs, predatory thrushes etc, yet with a strength of life instinct that is indomitable.

 

Musing on health system experiences

Kathy suggested that I share this email conversation we had. She asked about my experience to date, in comparison to that I had experienced with my dad 2 years back.

My health system experience is definitely a bit more upmarket, it’s interesting doing this in English, not Sotho or Afrikaans! Yet I think the system is not that different. Bara’s context was a bit grim, yet it’s kind of communal, so you see walking skeletons sitting around on the grass with their drips and bags, while they have a smoko. Can’t see that happening at Westville, which is lovely and clean and airconditioned. The communication issues are the same it seems. The departments don’t seem to speak clearly to each other. Lou reminded me of how often my dad got lost and one particular occasion when he was being scanned and everyone kept calling him a different name, until he bellowed in his drill sergeant’s voice, I am not Mr XYZ, I am Mr Harrison! Bit like them phoning Pat and my GP to find out where I was for the colonoscopy, when I was lying in the ward waiting!

Why is that do you think? I’m suspecting it’s caused by bureaucratisation – with lots of little segments but no overview to hold it all together. Also, I suppose the memory of a patient is a short-term thing, on a half hour to half hour basis, and there are so many of them.

It is interesting in a Foucauldian sort of way!

There are so many layers to this experience. Philosophical, physical, spiritual, sociological, psychologiceal. Yesterday I was a bit whacked by the day before’s surgery. A single Mypradol (painkiller) knocks me flat, so there was no way I was going to take the two that the doc prescribed.  Ruth popped in for a visit which lifted me out of the doldrums, and got me out of my pyjamas and washed! I keep wondering whether I’ll be able to enjoy a hot bubble bath once I’m on chemo. Apparently one of the side-effects is skin-thinning and ultrasensitivity to temperature. Just in case, I’m going  to have a good one  now with the Badedas that the walking crew gave me for my birthday.

Joan and Delysia asked Pat and me to lie quietly together for half an hour while they had a healing session last night. We did. We felt much calmer after and have decided to make that a regular thing for us, just to meditate and connect.

Lots of thoughts to capture – but my bath is priority now. Thank you to each and every one of you for your care, prayers and light-sending. There’s no question that you are holding us up and keeping us together.

 

Moving fast

As you know from my last post, things moved very fast in what was supposed to be a leisurely and centred day yesterday. I’d just popped into the webinar, when the surgeon’s rooms called to ‘remind me’ that I was going in for the port insertion at 1pm. I would need an authorisation number from the medical aid and these were the Procedure, ICD and Practice Codes that would be needed by the Medical Aid.  I’d just finished that call when Discovery called to tell me that the chemo treatment has been approved (I had thought it already was) and that it would cost R328 172 and that my plan would cover R192 722. (There was a little confusion with thousands and hundreds until I asked her to read out the numbers one at a time. As most of you know I get confused when there are more than three digits in a number.) My brain couldn’t process this lot. I did wonder whether such expense was justified and kicked myself that this is the reason I’ve been paying med aid contribs all these years.

I confess I panicked a bit, visualising extending the bond and selling all my worldly goods, then remembered the Dread Disease cover on a policy I’d forgotten taking out in the 90’s. When I called the agent – they’d lost track of my contact details (which tells you how long it’s been since I thought of these things). Luckily I had the policy number and she’s now working on updating ‘my portfolio’ and sending me the claim forms. Then I realised that of the balance of the costs not being fully covered, I only get to pay 20% (if I’ve read things right see previous post about the skill of reading T and Cs).

Whilst I was on that phone call the landline rang, with Busi from the Oncology Treatment Centre calling to tell me that the treatment had been approved, and that she was so pleased for me. (What a lovely lady.) Again there was confusion to clear up. The treatment that they were all talking about is the addition of Avastin (a biological) to the Oxaliplatin (the chemo). Getting approval for Avastin (which I see has also been used in macular degeneration) has been difficult.They got it for me. Apparently what it does is ‘bind’ to the tumour receptors cutting off the blood supply to the tumours preventing them from growing. Then the Oxaliplatin zaps the tumours. This seems like a very Good Thing to me. Busi also told me that it’s not usually approved or even applied for, if the oncologist and the scheme don’t think there is a good chance of resection. I felt very heartened by this. She asked when I could come in to start treatment and I told her about the port insertion. “Great,” she said, “that will give us a chance to order your drugs – so 9.00 am on Wednesday, then?” I said yes.

Then it was off to Westville for what I thought was a day clinic procedure.  The part that I don’t understand about the processing is why everyone asks the same questions and fills in a different form, even though there’s a file that goes with you. Moreover, all the details were the same since I went for the colonoscopy, three weeks ago, with the same surgeon. Think of the forests and the time that could be saved if they just had a decent, accessible database. Waitrons can handle mobile data units…?

There was a definite disconnect between Reception, the surgical ward and the theatre. I won’t go into detail here – just that most of my communication with the various, very caring folks I encountered was about what time Pat could fetch me. It was a day clinic procedure after all.  The lass in the bed next to me had been lying in the ward for nearly 2 full days waiting for her surgery. She was still there when I was wheeled down to theatre at 3, and only left for theatre just after I got back at 4. I thought she was rather calm about everything.

While I was waiting the Discovery liaison lady bounced in to welcome me to the oncology programme and to answer any questions I might have. I asked her about the costs of the diagnostic scans I’d had before getting onto the oncology programme and she assured me that I could claim my co-payments back and that she’d email the forms. That was a relief. Also I asked about upgrading my scheme and what the implications were. I thought that was a nice touch – to have pragmatic soothing before surgery. Apparently there’s another Discovery liaison person at the Oncology treatment centre. I’ll meet her tomorrow. That was the clearest communication I had all afternoon.

It became quite funny. I was afraid that the nurses would find me ‘bolshie’, when I got back to the ward, because  I asked for the anaesthetic thingie to be removed, because I was going home now. They were under the impression that I was staying the night and might need it again. I was a bit irritable because my boob was hurting, where the port cable lies just under the skin, so moving my right arm was difficult. (Ever tried capturing a chunk of ice with your left hand when your arm won’t bend because there’s an unconnected tube in it? Satirical, especially if you add the fact that I was lying flat!) I went to the loo – and suddenly things started happening. (Did you know  that that is the secret key?) 

A stern sister came in and said a) you can’t go home until you’ve eaten supper b) until the surgeon tells you that you can, and c)you can’t have a painkiller until you’ve eaten your supper. I had visions of looking at the ceiling for 18 hours. Pat arrived at 5 having been told, when she called at 4:30, that I was still in theatre. I’d heard the phone ring and the answer given and wanted to yell, “I’m here!” but didn’t because everyone else in the ward was asleep. She’d decided to come anyway and stuff the visiting hours rules. She thoughtfully had packed an overnight bag with all the necessities for my sleeping routine – including my goy.

Supper was chicken maccaroni cheese and quite tasty –  I was starving – though I did wonder how they knew I wasn’t a vegetarian. Chicken is a vegetable. right?  That wasn’t a question, of the many, that was asked. Pat tried to get me to eat the gem squash and the jelly and custard, but that was just too much – big meals cause blockages! I ate it and then got dressed – takkies and all. The surgeon came round and asked if I’d manage at home and Pat and  I said yes resoundingly. They took the anaesthetic thing out and the sticky lead connector on my side, did a final blood pressure test and I waved goodbye to all the nice people, still wearing my wrist tags and carrying a plastic bottle with spare parts in it. I figured it’s like when a mechanic changes the spark plugs and they give you the old ones back to prove they’ve done the job. Nothing to sign. It was clear that peeing and eating were the main criteria for passing the ‘go home’ test.

The couch in front of the TV has never looked so inviting or felt so comfortable. Definitely better for my headspace and Pat’s. We looked at the spare parts and decided to photograph them. Profound decision, but symbolic of a victory day I think.

All change!

Seems I may not be attending the webinar today. Just got the call from the surgeon’s rooms. I’m going for the port insertion this afternoon 1 o’clock. And I’d just finished a delicious breakfast of meusli, bulgarian yoghurt, blueberries and honey – thank’s to the P’s kind offices. Apparently this is not going to cause problems! Pat’s day of work of course is now disrupted – glad I talked her into eating breakfast with me.

 

Monday in the new normal

How can one not feel very lucky when sitting on one’s own porch with this view? I noted that Gnomeo needs a new set of clothes. This is Pat’s job because, as previously mentioned, when I paint anything everything gets painted! This occurs when I attempt a home hair-dying job also.

It’s kind of weird to be at home and being leisurely at this time on a Monday morning. Usually I sit on the porch in my jammies, then Pat joins me for a coffee, all clean and fresh from a shower. Then she walks Rocky to school. (This is the pre-school across the road – he insists on going – he loves kids, and bunnies and guineapigs etc – and if he doesn’t show up a teacher and a child come across and ask why he’s not coming to school today!) Then I rush around doing email, showering and getting to work by 8.30. So the leisure lies in not taking on traffic and being aware that my bath is slowly cooling while I write this post.

View from the porch

With all this light and life, it’s almost impossible to feel down. The porch is a great place to sit and meditate on the day and to make a list of To Do’s. As I write this at 8:05, I’m thinking: Must do the home filing – I usually do that twice a year in July and December or when the drawer with stuff in it starts jamming. It’s now become imperative that we find out what our financial status is. This means tracking down policy documents and reading all the small print in insurance policies, retirement annuities, pension fund and medical aid documents.

 
I’ve always been amazed at how much a modern human being is expected to know and master, aside from the skills and knowledge of their profession. Like recognising symptoms, reading policy documents is a definite skill, not to mention understanding what they mean. Talk about obfuscating discourses. Thank goodness Pat’s early career was in the pension industry and she has the art of it.  However, instead of leaving it to her, I need to read through and ask questions – so we can plan. Because she knows what this stuff means and knows basic accounting, she could get very frustrated explaining it to me. As frustrated as I have become trying to explain the nuances of ontology and education over the years.  Why the one set of skills and knowledge has more status than the other is a continual mystery to me.  Let’s not even think about the mechanics/hydraulics of cars, airconditioning, plumbing or the botany/geography of  a garden, or the chemistry of home cleaning materials.
 
Today’s To Do’s then go onto – popping into the SATN webinar, reviewing some work by PG students and a grant application. For those of you who are worried that if I don’t go into the physical space of work, I’ll get bored, fear not! I have about 100 journal articles and books that I have saved for later reading, and I really want to spend some time playing with the software for designing learning scenarios.
 
Meantime, we are waiting to hear when I’ll be going in for the procedure to implant the port under my collarbone. The port is basically a funnel that delivers the chemicals to my blood stream. The idea is that it saves the nurses from having to stick needles in me all the time. It’s temporarily in place for the chemo regime, and means that I can actually move about after the first dose, by having a bulb of chemicals which are pumped through my body by a pump which clips to my waist. I do remember that my dad (who had the same kind of cancer that I have) complained that the designer of the pump and made a ‘shenzy’ job of it. I hope the design has improved since he used one. The port insertion and test is a day clinic procedure done by a surgeon. We’re hoping his slate is clear for one day this week.