Liz's colonic journey

Parallel Lives

Karen, my friend in LA, said it perfectly as she always does. Most of what I know about actually doing writing is due to her generosity. She says, this is the “new normal” and that  “Right now it’s raw and new —  for you and everyone else”. I think it’s about trying to find a position to stand.  I keep having the strangest feeling of snapping out of my real life into a rather nightmarish unreality.

Friday night was rather ghastly. I probably shouldn’t have had those two glasses of wine. I’ve been off red wine lately – which is tragic – though clearly alcohol is not a Good Thing (as my mum would say – she can say capital letters without having to use hand gestures to insert ‘air quotes’) for a compromised liver. The downside was that everything down below closed up, causing me to feel headachy, panicky and crampy, in the wee hours. Not something you can really talk about in the middle of the night, though Pepper and Rocky were very solicitous.


Pat had crashed – understandably –

she fought sleep as long as she could, and was pretty pale when  I ‘ran away’ at 9ish. I needed to have a good night’s sleep before my walk with Kathy, Joan, and Sharon (old normal). We both could probably have done with a sleeping pill a lot earlier. I awoke at 1.30 feeling like Liz for an instant and then the nausea and cramps reminded me that I’m now “Liz with cancer”. Trying to understand this forced repositioning made things pretty grim and in any case how can it be understood? In the quiet of night I think edges blur, and new stories come to mind. I can’t deny that one of the ‘stories’ was, “I wish this was over” because quick, sudden grief is easier. The ‘story’ of victory seemed very far away. I think I must have drunk at least a litre of water in the hope of shifting the blockage. I thought of texting the girls that I wasn’t going to walk, but decided that I would if I could. I eventually fell asleep listening to a BBC4 podcast called Ramblings – this one about walking in the Yorkshire Dales.

Then I felt normal again when my cellphone alarm went off at 4.50. Sharon was picking me up at 5.40 and normally I need a long run at getting into a day, unlike Joan who seems to be able to get up and jump in the car in 15 minutes, and Shirl has been known to jump in in her nightie and change en route! Hard for Sharon to be the first to see me since the shoe dropped, we had a mini-weep and moved on quickly to the route and things that are happening in the ‘normal’ life. Meeting Kathy and Joan pounding down the road towards 45th Cutting having left Westville at 5.30 was fun. The walk was fabulous. Beautiful day, coolish morning, pragmatic conversation about what’s happening in each of our lives, some joking and some silence. They adapted to my pace imperceptibly and with such unconscious grace. I loved that the conversation went on with no one thing being given more importance than others. Kathy and Sharon took celebratory pictures.


 I’d sort of been worried about meeting everyone from the ex-Pinetown Run Walk for Life branch, at Wimpy, and being a downer, but the morning was ‘normal’. Light conversations about the new branch, new achievements in weight loss and fitness and plans for new goals.

It was back to the ‘new normal’ when Joan dropped me off at home. As I walked in Alphaeus looked at me speechless, so much so that his usual cheery greeting was delayed. I understood that he was shocked that someone ‘so sick’ could be bouncing in, in takkies and exercise clothes. Victoria has been there so many times with nursing kids and family with HiV that she was not surprised. Pat had had The Conversation. She’s so brave. She was looking strained.

This lifted when Sharon bounced in looking spruce after her interview, followed by Paulette with half of Woollies in her hands. She’s decided that I need “feeding up”. She even brought bananas! For a banana-phobe that is remarkable. We know we are loved! The flowers are gorgeous. Paulette was in shock at having had ‘healthy food’ in her shopping basket (though I swear it must have been a shopping truck).Our fridge has never seen more vitamins and antioxidant food! It also has never been so full.  I’m not really sure what to do with blueberries but I’m sure that Pat will find a recipe, between trawling the web, and her friends Cathy and Cynthia’s advice.

A full day of no medical bad news, the Sharks won, and we got the pool clean (still to cold for my tastes even with the 34 degree Berg Wind) and had a nap in the afternoon. A very good day making the new normal kind of special.  I slept well last night, though Pat had the nightmare sleeplessness, I think.

I’m hoping to speak to my mum and Sam in Oz now. Love technology!


Comments on: "Parallel Lives" (9)

  1. P bought bananas?? Oh my word!

  2. Liz, all I can say is you sound like you have a wonderful attitude and that you are a fighter. Keep fighting and keep it up as long as you are able. Good days are wonderful, treasure them even good moments are great and each one is ” a pearl of great price”, you are too. Treat yourself to a small glass if you want, and a huge one for Pat too. You are riding the biggest Cape Roller ever, enjoy every tiny moment of it.
    My love to you both. xxxxxxxx

    • Thanks Judi, and thanks for being so there for Pat, even at a distance. The Cape Roller is an apt description – though I’m thinking of swimming in the sea rather than a fair ground. The terror of being dumped is pretty real. You know that feeling when you make the decision to dive under a huge wave, and see all the water being sucked up into the wave just before you do so?

  3. Hi Lizzie – so glad yesterday was good and hope today was fun too. Mandz and I had a slap up breakfast and then idled away the day, doing not much – but we sent you and Pat loads of love as we chatted and put the world to rights. We’re about to start dinner and raise a glass to you – you may have given up the booze but we’re doing our bit on your behalf by toasting you on an alarmingly frequent basis. Here’s to a restful night for you. XXX

  4. Hey Lizzi, even though I won’t comment each time (you know I am the quiet type 🙂 I am here regularly – reading your words that stream like a full river with beauty and humour, always…no matter how harrowing the subject. That is a gift! I am just really grateful for your blog, it does so much for keeping us close.

    I am waiting for Sharon to come and see me here at home, it’s crunch time for her this week, doing focus group with students. Hope you might be able to ‘drop in’ on the TUT/SATN webinar tomorrow? Should be exciting. Love Mari

  5. Sounds like yesterday was A Good Day! (Learning to do the Caps thing from your Mum- It does add gravitas, doesn’t it?) Here’s hoping that today is Another Good Day. Maybe the water will warm up enough for a dip? I’m determined to face the beach this summer and actually swim in the sea. You won’t believe it but the last time I did that was at a PaperHeads Getaway at Thomson’s Bay.

    Mandz and I have had a slap-up breakfast (entirely devoid of vitamins and Other Good Things that the Powell was so bewildered by) and are now at our laptops trying to do some work – and thinking of you and Pat, of course.
    Lots of love

    • I think my last sea dip was after Sharon, Joan and I did a race in ‘Toti, and just jumped in with our walking togs and all. Then we sat in the coffee shop on the deck eating slap chips and dripping on the passers below! The plus of chemo over radiation is that swimming is a possibility, apparently, if the water isn’t too cold. Hope the work is fun!

  6. Joan Conolly said:

    Dear Liz

    I am so glad that you had a such a Scintillating Saturday, after Frightful Friday!!! Thank you for sharing your parallel lives. I just loved the piccies of the Midnight Counselors! Well done, Pepper and Rocky!!! I am trusting that Sunday is Sensational and Monday is Magnificent!!! Because I know that you are going to moderate this before it goes public, may I ask if it is OK to start a prayer circle? I really would like to invite folk to set aside a time every day when we can all hold you in our loving thoughts together. I send rafts of prayers, heaps of hugs and loads of love, Joan.

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