Liz's colonic journey

Archive for December, 2011

Summer Lovin’

Once a year in the summer, a man appears at our gate and asks to borrow Rocky for the day. He has a female Golden Retriever. Rocky’s getting on, but apparently he still has what it takes in terms of making Rocklets. I don’t think he was very successful last year, when the lady retriever came to visit us for the day. Possibly Rocky had too much fur and was more interested in swimming. He was shattered for three days after that visit!   Yesterday was his day – he’s gone off up the road to Padfield Rd for a day of summer loving. He hadn’t even eaten his breakfast yet – so I hope he gets other kinds of treats to keep his energy up. Maybe the puppy cut will help too.

I felt good yesterday despite a threatening sore throat and post-nasal drip. I had pineapple and beetroot juice and squeezed grapefruit for later. I’d planned to quickly vacuum because the dustbunny build-up is getting aggressive – they’re starting to follow us around the house! However, Joan C popped in to visit, which was much more fun in the heat!

I tried out my new pressure cooker– it’s a monster – all digital with a space age lid. It switches itself on and off like a microwave. All you have to do is remember to turn the knob to ‘exhaust’ before you open it. I just did veggies – not having a ham bone handy – due to dogs. I suspect that I’ll have to feel very bad to be tempted to eat the soup – though Pat was quite keen! It’s been frozen into little tupperwares, as was the leftover potjiekos. All those vegetables have to be good.

 I enjoyed the Skype calls with my mum, and Andy and,when I Skyped Sam, I enjoyed seeing Dougal sprawled out over Cleo, Sam and Hamish’s retriever,  and hearing the Felice Navedad Santa that Lou sent him. The best was the sweet little “Thank you Mummy” for his digestive biscuit! Hamish was chatty and took the Pad on a tour of the house to show me around. It really is lovely, and so spacious.  I had a glass of red wine on Xmas day. Luckily for me, my tum is moving slow – so I only felt dizzy on Boxing Day!

Sharon came round to walk Pepper, or is that to be walked by Pepper? I was out shopping (I really had to talk hard to myself to go out!). When I got home I just saw the very happy Pepper and the exhausted Rocky. 

Today, we went shopping for camping chairs because Noreen, a walking friend of Pat’s  is organising for us to go and watch the barn swallows, near the new airport, at sunset one of these days. Remember the concern when they built the new airport that these birds would be displaced? Seems like they don’t mind jet competition or do they? We splashed out and bought the fancy ones with the high backs and cushions, very sturdy. Pat finally got her hair cut – it was driving her nuts in the heat – while I waited in the Wimpy drinking a decaff latte and reading some proofs on my iPad. I was a bit tired already, but happily not feeling sick or crampy. It really bothers me that I can’t walk to the gate without getting heart palpitations! I’m much stronger than I was two weeks ago – so that’s good. I’m putting it down to mincepies and Xmas pud.

 Pat had her favourite Wimpy breakfast, then we finally achieved the purchase of a hoe at the hardware store. We’ve been in twice in the last two weeks and selected the handle and the head, but got distracted and ended up leaving them behind. The store was still out of stock of watering cans. Last year it was fly-traps. Something wrong with their stocktaking systems!

I had a nice nap when we got home. I got up full of intention and used the new hoe to extend and weed the veggie patch. It was rainy today with only a 2 UV rating, so it was nice to be out there and getting soil under my nails. I planted the two lavender bushes that Joan C gave us. They and the marigolds that I threw in, seem to be warding the noo-noos (but not Rocky’s landmines) off the swiss chard!

Sharon flew in this afternoon, very excited because she’d found a mini-loaf of gluten-free bread at Woollies in the Pavilion. She had to bring it straight to me. So kind. And how exciting to have actually tracked the stuff down!  See how lucky I am in the amazing people I know? I was trying to work out exactly what plant materials are gluten-free and considering getting a bread maker. With all the juicing, smoothing, pressurising, if I got another kitchen gadget I’d have to change my name to Nigella!

Then Ruth and George, popped in for a visit on their way back to PMB. We had some good laughs and reminiscences. As they were leaving, Kathy arrived bearing a lovely bouquet of daisies and bright gerberas, on her way to walking. Pat couldn’t con her into a G & T, but it was nice chatting about her recent trip to Scotland, potjie recipes and what her cats are up to.

It’s been a busy day so I’m feeling pleasantly tired as opposed to chemo heavy. Much better.




Happy feet, full tummies and tidy closets

I love the slowness of the actual Christmas holidays: Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The days feel long and leisurely and full of potential to me. It struck me yesterday that although we’ve been bond-holders on our house for 8 years, I haven’t really lived in it before. We’ve enjoyed it, especially the garden and the pool, but always been so busy that the only times that I’ve lolled in the pool on hot days, have been at Christmas and maybe those few days after New Year. I remember a particular PaperHeaDs meeting that didn’t happen because everyone suddenly couldn’t make it, so Paulette and I lolled and chatted the afternoon away. Moving slow has it’s benefits. And it’s always at Christmas that I seem to think of weird things to do. Here might be Pat’s take on the day.

“So Pat, how was Christmas?” – “Lovely”, she’d say, without mentioning what I put her through e.g. standing over a fire from 7 am in the morning, making a potjie for the first time, in 32 degree heat. It was hot and humid on the porch yesterday morning. We were up at 5.30, partly because it’s our ritual on birthdays and Christmas to be up early and partly because Rocky and Pepper were looking at me. They stand quietly by the bed willing one of us to wake up – it’s irresistable – no matter how tired or hungover you are, they will wake you. At least they don’t bat one’s face and mieow like cats do, when their owner is being inattentive. Such joys you have to look forward to, Sioux (new kitten)!

We then spent a happy hour opening gifts from our family. I was thoroughly spoiled with amongst others: a new fleece (royal blue) and tracksuit pants (fleecy for those days when the cold hits), an incredibly soft new summer bathrobe, codeword puzzle books, a new pressure cooker (which needs a pilot’s licence to drive it). Pat loves her Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall DVD. It’s been a mission keeping her out of CD shops for the last two weeks! She does love her music.

Which doesn’t really explain why we started the potjie so early. We wanted it to cook slowly – so even though the recipe said it would be done in 2 hours, we went slowly, with my iPad on it’s stand so we could follow religiously until we didn’t (going with Andy’s recommendations). So it was getting a little fire going – enough to make an ongoing series of little coals, which you add and subtract as you need the heat very energy efficient. We added pearl barley, chicken spice and peas to the recipe and used chicken breasts rather than thighs (bit fatty). I think pumpkin would also have worked also in it. It was delicious by the time we ate at 2pm, with all the flavours of the veggies separate (the mushrooms!) yet working so well in combination with the spices. The best was that it was so easy on the tummy because everything was so tender. We had it for supper as well! And there was enough to freeze for a little meal later if the tum is playing up.

This was a number one pot. What we enjoyed about the whole process, was the smell of the fire that wasn’t overly polluting or energy intensive – like a braai, the sound of the pot hubbling and the smells that rushed out every time we opened it to have a look see. We will be doing potjie again!

Pat was the one feeding the fire and loading the pot in the required layers – it was pretty hot out there – while I was Skyping the Willisons in Nelspruit, the Harrisons in Edenvale and my mum in Adelaide. Between us, we still haven’t mastered the conference call yet. We spend a lot of the time asking whether the other person can see/hear each other, and we forget the delay that’s always been a feature of long-distance calls. For all that, being able to see loved ones, animated and busy about their days, is wonderful. Not to mention rude remarks about the windiness in Pinetown that were the likely effect of lentils in the potjie!  iPad to iPad Skyping is an absolute joy. I wish I’d been able to capture Dougal saying “Thank you Mummy” for his biscuit this morning. Such lovely manners in a two year old. He didn’t want to do his Felice Navidad dance for Aunty Liz, but I figure after two days of socialising with his Oz cousins and friends, he’s pretty knackered. Sam and Hamish look so well!

The dogs had a lovely Christmas too. Though from their point of view it was just a nice day with lots of ‘in the moment’ moments. They had their tripe chewies while we were doing Christmas presents. Then Sharon and Dave popped over with two lovely gammon bones (and other goodies) on their way to lunch with family. These disappeared with speed! So nice to sit on the porch, watching Rocky swim, with the fan blowing on us. Sharon and Pat had little G & Ts while Dave and I went with ice cold coke zero, while we chatted about family, christmas, bike-riding and how things are going in general. Lovely, light and loving, so nice to see them. Happily the zings didn’t cause the colddrink to freeze my throat – probably because of the heat of the day. It was great to be in cargo shorts and a t-shirt with flip flops.

Both hounds were involved in the potjie pot clean-up. We were able to get this pic of Rocky – Pepper does everything fast! Hope that doesn’t offend anyone. I promise that the pot has been thoroughly cleaned with vey hot water since!

On Christmas Eve, Friday, was it? I had a new side-effect. You know how your feet burn after hours of shopping or walking a long race? Well this made walking on Friday quite sore. Thanks to the internet, I was able to learn that this is called HFS – hand and foot syndrome, which is apparently caused by the little blood vessels in the feet bursting because of the chemo.  I learnt that I could deal with it  by slathering my feet in E45 aqaueus cream, then covering them in loose socks, then that keeping them elevated would relieve the burn (just as in race-walking – RICE works- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).  Apparently there’s a story of a guy on chemo who’s hands lost their fingerprints because of this side-effect. He got detained in the US and now has to carry a letter explaining this weird side-effect.Talk about an identity-crisis ! 

Because of my foot immobilisation, Pat had to do all the last minute shopping and she did it with incredible speed and efficiency. She found it interesting that it was the food shops that were crazy-crowded, not the mall shops with consumer goods that can only be ‘consumed’ by one. She was looking for all-spice for the potjie – sold out. What spice is allspice anyway? I know it goes in mince-pies. We put nutmeg in the potjie instead – our own twist.

Happily my feet were blissful yesterday and able to be in flip-flops not socks and slippers. I’d have had to walk around nekkid (as Karen puts it) if I’d had to do that, because of the heat. Might have disturbed the neighbours to have me in the buff with only socks and slippers.

The potjie – delightful as the whole experience of cooking and eating it was – was not the end of the things I inflicted on Pat yesterday. I was puttering in the laundry when it struck me that we really needed one of those flip-fold laundry folding gadgets. I saw one on Oprah years ago, and figured that they wouldn’t be available in SA for awhile and forgot about it. Lou mentioned that they are available now in SA, but it being Christmas Day, that didn’t help me at that moment. And moments are to be lived in. So it was that Pat ended up cutting out pieces of cardboard from my Russell Hobbs Pressure Cooker box, for three hours, while we sat on the porch watching the evening draw in. (Instructions on how to make a flip-fold). And then of course, we had to try out our creation which involved going through our closets and folding all the clothes that we weren’t chucking!

This is kind of classic for me, and Pat has gotten used to it over the years, but she was pretty knackered by the time we’d finished watching the cartoon movie about the origin of Iditerod sled dog race last night at 11pm.

We ended Christmas Day with full tummies, happy feet, and tidy closets. Not much more one can ask for in a day, what?

Living in the moment

Do any of you remember Giles’ cartoons? They are one of my secret pleasures. His cartoons are full of life, and my favourite is Granny Giles, of the padlocked handbag, and penchant for horseracing.  Aunty Vera is always sniffing in the background and Butch, the dog, always is embarrassing at Crufts.

Here’s my Christmas choice of Giles cartoons, proving that in actual fact not much has changed since1982, except Skype and Blogs and FaceBook and smartphones….

Beware of where you put the mistletoe this Christmas!

I’ve been off-blog because I’ve been living in the moment with the Willisons. It’s been very entertaining for the last 3 days – I think I’ll ask Lou to do a guest blog and she can tell you from her point of view.

She has been feeding me up, the roast chicken and trimmings she made on Tuesday was delish (I had two helpings) and the braai that Brian selected and Tyler cooked on Wednesday, pork chops, was nicely complemented by Robyn’s excellent salads. I had lots. Then we went to the Blockman last night, and I steered clear of garlic – and went with a lovely fresh salad which I polished off with alacrity. Actually the bruschetta, smoked salmon and avo that I had at lunch time yesterday was brilliant too. I’ve put on 3kgs since last week’s famine. It really is quite peculiar.

I’m sure they put steroids or feel-good muti into the chemo, because I’ve felt so strong this week. Four hours in Gateway yesterday, Christmas shopping, is proof. I must ask the onco sisters. It makes sense that that would encourage people to go back for their chemo, apparently a lot of people just don’t show up for their treatments especially at this time of the year. (Are any of you avoiding Eastenders’ cancer plot line as much as I am at the moment?)

I think I’ve managed to do all my Christmas shopping. Thank goodness for online shopping. It’s not that it takes any less time – you still have to think carefully and focussedly about the person you are wanting to treat, but at least you don’t have to walk miles and battle the crowds. The secret is knowing what to look for – always the challenge.

Pat and I are giving each other a recliner for Christmas. I ordered them today. They’ll be delivered at the end of January. And the tree is up with Karen’s lovely gift of the Elvis figurine from her trip to Memphis and Graceland. Our tree is full of interesting memorabilia. From the faux suede little boots that are a the remainder of the first little treelet we had in Olive’s flat, to my dad’s Xmas lantern lights which he religiously checked every year and marked with the date and time he checked each bulb (and spares), to the Seven of Nine figurine that reminds me of my active time in the Xenaverse, when I got to know Karen, and the apple decs with the names of loved ones, some gone, some still with us.  Many stories in our tree, capturing the year gone by and the years before that.  It doesn’t have to be balanced, it just needs to tell our stories.

Our tree pleases me – even if it doesn’t smell of pine.        

The routine seems to be that I’m strong through chemo, I even suggested hiring bikes and trawling the Durban beachfront yesterday – perhaps it was a bit hot at 33 degrees and 80% humidity? The suggestion of a cocktail at Moyos pier end didn’t seem to entrance Brian. We shopped instead. Gateway was a pleasure. Pity it’s so far from Pinetown. Paulette couldn’t believe that we were mad enough to be there at 2pm!

It’s seems to be the time after the dripping that the side-effects start, as soon as the bulb is empty. Zinging fingers and toes this morning. And perhaps a bit of tiredness.

I’m hoping that this time round the tum is not going to play up, because I’d like to go on the picnic with the A & B walking teams on Wednesday.

Pat and I are planning to have a Christmas potjie this year. We’ve never made potjie in our lives, but the idea appeals, if the tum is playing up. Seems that the weather gods are going for rainy this Christmas Day, so it should be an interesting experience. We’ll let you know how it goes!

Thank you for all your care and thoughts, and staying connected through texts when I’m not blogging. Happy Christmas Eve, and may your thoughts of loved ones here and gone, please you. May the sadnesses be replaced by the moment of meaning.

Oh yes I nearly forgot – This one from Annie gave me some good belly aerobics! Aren’t you glad it’s summer in SA?







Holiday happy

I meant to blog yesterday, but shoppingonline took up nearly as much time as going to a shopping centre. Good though because it’s not as tiring as moseying with the crowds. Apparently the Pav was madness yesterday.

So Brian,Lou, Robz & Tyler tried to go there to shop, I did not. I love this heat but it got too hot outside even for me. I stayed inside in the cool and took a lovely nap, after having done the blood test and bought doggie supplies for the holidays. Lugging 12 kgs of Hills joint mobility food tired me out I think. I don’t want you to think that there wasn’t able and willing help, I just didn’t think about it. One of those ‘remembering the new normal’ things.
Also I ‘ve been feeling so good the last couple of days, and especially good having the Willisons here. I want to post a picture of Lou having a shot of wheatgrass, with me in a sympathy action, in the morning! It is a fabulous laugh. She’s done it twice in a row. That’s brave!
Unfortunately I can’t post any pics or the great visual joke I’ve had recently, because I’m writing on my iPad, this while I’m having my chemo and I forgot to upload them into Dropbox where I can get at them. Trust me that it is funny. Lou, Rob & T brought me in this morning. You’ll have to ask them about their impressions of the whole set up here.
Lou and Rob made us a scrumptious dinner last night of Roast chook, baby potatoes and salad. I had two big helpings – and a non- alcoholic Bavaria apple beer. We sat on the porch in the warmth laughing and being serious, solving the problems of the world till 9 last night. Well I did. Pat sent me to bed then – probably a good thing. The night before we were up till 11 chatting and eating pizza. I even had 2 tiny G&Ts in celebration of their arrival.
I think there is a plot to feed me up after last week’s feeling grotty and not feeling like eating. I do look rather bony from the weight loss. I don’t think I’ve ever thought so much about food in my life. Luckily the chemo hasn’t changed my taste experience too much, so this time of mince pies, christmas cake, nuts and dried fruit to nibble on etc is a delight.
The smoothie menu yesterday was blueberry/pineapple and today was strawberries and blueberries, with Bulgarian natural yoghurt, a squeeze of honey and low GI muesli. Quite good to banish the wheatgrass taste.
So just letting you know, we’re all good and having fun.Hope you all are feeling so blessed.

“Living dyingly”

That’s what Christopher Hitchens called it as he lived with throat cancer

I wondered whether it was dying livingly instead.  In which case, the phrase applies to everyone. It does feel weird to be constantly on the border as it were. It’s surreal to get up in the middle of the night and see one’s self in the mirror and to find oneself asking if this is what dying looks like?

I always fancied myself as a “hedge witch” as Terry Pratchett describes people who work on the fringes of realities, but I’m not sure I like being a  walking reminder of mortality.

Which all goes to the happenings this week, since I last posted. My friend Karen comforted me by saying that I was probably having a couch week, which is apparently well documented in accounts of early chemo experience. It was a couch week for sure. Going in to have the Ct scan on Monday with it’s good news was very hard . I could barely put one foot in front of another when Pat  and I went to that lovely cafe opposite Mitchell Park for coffee, between the scan and the consult. I couldn’t face coffee which was very disturbing. I managed an hour of shopping, and the two hours getting to and talking to the psychologist on Tuesday, though I worked hard to get up the stairs. Wednesday I was a wreck, with cramps, nausea, constipation and the scariest of all the ‘sulphur burps’. (Excuse the graphic details but I did warn you with the title of this post!) I’ve worked out that the burps are part of the chemo general build up of gasses. They become sulphurous when the tummy isn’t processing food fast enough and stuff in there starts fermenting. It made me feel like I was breathing death,which is certainly in the antisocial category of human behaviour.

Needless to say I didn’t want to inflict myself on others (Pat is the hero here) and I didn’t want to eat – not even Ensure or juices – fruit juice or anything sweet like carrots or beetroot just made me feel sick. Probably because sugars contribute to fermentation! So I pretty much didn’t eat for 3 days, and was totally surprised to find that I couldn’t walk to the gate. Strange that!Rocky and Pepper were extremely solicitous with one or another of them practically sitting on my feet throughout. Rocky gets night duty it seems, because he goes to school and gets a break in between. Must ask Cindy if he’s sleeping more at school!

I confess that there were moments when I wished it were over with the least amount of worry, trauma and unpleasant bodily fluids to deal with. My heart wanted to be able to go for lunch with the TES crew on Thursday, but even if someone had fetched me, sitting up was an effort. I put my breaking out of this down to Sharon B visiting on Thursday with the lovely goodie bag that the Cowies Hill Run Walk for Life team put together for me. Liz B was I believe, the creator of the very lovely cushioned lap table. And the nuts and dried fruit became appealing on Friday. Just talking to Sharon made me feel again like I could connect again to the real world and get outside watching every bubble and burble that my body was making. (By this stage I’d decided to take a probiotic and Buscupan for the cramps -thanks to advice from Anisha, the onco sister – which led to extreme diarrhoea). Who knew that a general painkiller like Genpayne doesn’t address gas induced stomach pain, and in fact makes it worse?

The one goal in my mind was to get to the PaperHeaDs Christmas breakfast. On Thursday night I was thinking of crying off if my legs were still so wobbly. But lo! I had suddenly an appetite enough to eat a cup of potato and leak cupasoup and half a piece of toast. The relief in Pat’s eyes made me want to cry. What we’ve learned is that we need to have little tubs of frozen soups ready for these times where sweet,acidic, difficult to process grub is not an option.

And so it was that Pat and I sallied forth to the Freedom Cafe yesterday morning, in sunshine and light, to a morning of laughing and talking about anything andeverything’s in a lovely space. I can’t express how much I owe to this amazing group of scholars and strong women – my PhD, and understanding of what care means are just two. Paulette’s framed picture of our wedding day, Ruth’s beautiful and hand made crackers and carefully chosen books, Nicky’s thoughtful and community aware scarf in a tin, the book exchanges are a artefacts of a much deeper caring.

Most exciting for me, was being able and willing to wrap myself around a plate of organic scrambled eggs, mushrooms and sour dough bread. I’m pretty sensitive to salt at the moment and often find bought food too salty, but this was perfect.

It’s true that I was very tired when we got home, and that we both slept for two hours,a difference  to the spirits?! Dinner last night was a couple of sips of ” Spicy Hot ” v8 veggie juice – we decided that the Tabasco in it might bedangerous. Pity because without the pepper it would be the perfect end to a day of balancing food nutrients. I had freshlyjuiced apples and a piece of Andrea’s delicious homemade Christmas cake gift.

This morning you see me, happy that my legs can make it to the gate, enriched by an hour long conversation on Skype with Sam and Hamish on Kangaroo Island, South Australia ( yay iPad!) and ready to set forth to buy a new pressure cooker.

Literally, we’re out of the shadow for the moment and Living. As Hitchens put it, one of the downers of cancer/treatment is becoming “self-involved and solipsistic”. Writing helps. It’s a new day.

The trouble with garlic…

This weekend seems to have been a whirl. Time is flying by so fast. Christmas is just around the corner. I’m pretty sure I’ll be relying on online shopping, but more importantly I’m looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree. I love Christmas trees. Not the tree so much but what it and it’s decorations represent. In my youth “looking like a Christmas tree” was code foroverdone bad taste. I like overdone kitsch in a tree. The more colours,lights and decorations the better. I’ll write more about this later, I digress. I’m supposed to be writing about garlic.

I love garlic, unfortunately it seems that it does not like me very much at the moment.  My niece, Robyn, and three friends stayed with us on Saturday night. They’d had a helluva adventurous week, having comedown for a post-exam blitz  and the Ballito Rage. Unfortunately their week involved dealing with a motor vehicle accident which trashed their car, tow trucks, insurance and intimidation from the guy that hit them and tried to escalate the situation by making the youngsters angry. They kept their heads and all their gear and managed to have a good holiday anyway. They are all fine.  This happened last Sunday. They didn’t want to bother Pat and I in the midst of the nuptial celebrations or with the other stuff that was happening. So sweet – though I feel bad that we weren’t there for them. I’m incredibly proud of them for negotiating it all so well?

We went out for dinner at Pinetown’s excellent Blockman restaurant. Brilliant steaks, fabulous sauces , yummy veggies – though not really a vegetarian option for dining. Pat  hadn’t had red meat for two months and I think was looking a bit peaky.  It was great to see them all tucking into good food with such verve. I had dorado topped with prawns – at least I had half of it. The sauce – mushrooms, prawns, cheese etc?  And garlic. Fabulous going down, but my goodness, my tum objected and still is today. Just too harsh for an abused tummy lining, I think. It was great to spend that time listening to young thoughts, ideas and enthusiasms. We really enjoyed having them to stay.

After we dropped them at the airport,  we stopped by Suncoast Casino for a coffee and a flutter for  Pat. Just an hour and some success on the 5c  machines for the spouse! The garlic was fighting you see. Frankly, I felt really grotty. I did couch potato for the rest of the day. I think a part of what was worrying both of us was the Ct scan that I was going for today at 7.30 this morning. The purpose of the scan was to see if the chemo is working, to compare my liver lesions now to what they were when we started, so anxiety was understandable.

Of course, today would be a day that I was feeling particularly gruesome  with nausea and cramps. Poor Pat had to deal with me slumping around like a depressed gnome as she got me to the centre and full of that dye muti in prep for the scan. Once again I salute the professionals who work in this field. They were charming and appropriately upbeat depending on the energy levels of their patients. They got the scan results to Dr Landers in an hour.

And the results show a 20% reduction in the liver mofos, which means that we carry on with the chemo for another 8 cycles, with a work around when I go to Oz to see the family there. What I so appreciated was the warmth and boyish excitement of Dr Landers. He deserves his holiday. He even gave Pat advice on how to catch Grunter from a boat in the bay. I will stay on dry land for that one – us Harrison’s battle with travel sickness at the best of times!


So from feeling so grotty this morning to a sense of elation and gratitude to all of you for your positive thoughts and care, this day has been good. It feels like the last 8 weeks have been a cross between a roller coaster and a marathon. I’m couching this afternoon, while Pat has to go to work. We’re both feeling good psychologically though.

Thanks you guys.



On Tuesday, Pat and I decided to get a new bed for the spare room, and arranged for Alphaeus to grab the old one before the weekend. Then suddenly we needed another spare bed for this weekend. So I went bed shopping this morning, and told them they don’t get the sale if the bed can’t be delivered on Saturday. Strange how tiring bed testing can be, considering that all that is involved is lying around on one bed after another. Would that my youth had been so energetic!

This round of chemo has been OK, except for the piles. I’ve actually feeling better than I have in a long time, even better than the three previous rounds, which are actually 1 and a half rounds, as I discovered from the doctor on Tuesday. Cycle 1 consists of 1a and 1b and Cycle 2 of 2a and 2b. I had 2b this week. My wrinkles seem to have plumped up, even though I’ve lost 5kgs, though I wouldn’t recommend this as a diet. In fact I regret every moment I ever worried about carrying extra ounces and want them back! I seem to be eating more than I ever did before! I do confess to a craving for the verboten jelly/jam doughnut every now and then (deep fried and extremely sweet – insert blarty noise of a bad gong a la Stephen Fry’s IQ show).

At this point I have to reveal my weird sense of humour and tell you about a BBC podcast called Comedy of the Week and particularly a quizzy type of show called Dilemma. The one I downloaded is now no longer available (only available for 7 days) but it had me snorting with laughter in the Oncology centre on Tuesday, much to the puzzlement of the other people in the room. The blurb says: “Sue Perkins puts four guests through the moral and ethical wringer in this show show in which there are no “right” answers – but there are some deeply damning ones”. The intro caught me with “Welcome to Dilemma, the show where we untangle the moral and ethical hair of mankind using the shampoo of silly questions and the comb of increasingly tortured metaphors.” Podcasts are great when you are sitting around!

This funny from my brother, Andy, had me cackling because it’s so Andy. He’s a philosophical whizz in the applied sense, and a ‘mensch’, calling me regularly to see how I’m doing, making me laugh and always presenting an alternate perspective on things.

The third day of chemo seems the worst for some reason, when I’m no longer dripping. I think they must put stuff in the chemo that makes you feel good while you are having it put in, then the side-effects start when that stops and the body starts working it through. The nausea and tiredness hit me just after I got home from the Bed King and made boiled eggs for Pat and I along with beet, carrot, apple, squeeze of lemon and smidgeon of ginger juice. Drinking lots of filtered water helps.

I guess I’ll be slow and sitting for the next couple of days – but that’s OK. I received the edited proofs for the book of my PhD on Sunday, so have to go through them for typos and to check all the references are in the right place. (I’m now regretting that I wrote so much!)

I had a nice nap, but wasn’t up to walking around the block with Pepper, Sharon and Joan tonight. They’re so kind to come round and do that after work, even tonight when it was just about to pour with rain. Pepper loves the sight of Sharon’s car. She even refrains from making deposits when she walks with Sharon, so there’s no poop-scooping necessary. When it’s me I always get a large and usually sloppy pile! Should I be worried?

Rocky’s borrowed guinea pig fleas are under control, but he’s on prednisalone for the allergy/hot spots, so he’s starving, despite all the peanut butter sarmies he eats at school.

With all the funnies, and things to celebrate, knowing that today was N’s memorial ran a ribbon of sadness through the day, yet I know she’d have enjoyed my day as much as I did. I know the service will have been a comfort to the family and I’m thinking of them tonight.