Liz's colonic journey

Archive for January, 2012

Quantum Leaps and doings

Warm tonight, init? I’ve been putting off posting till I could get work out my new cellphone upgrade – Galaxy SII. I did the research comparing cellphones. Basically I got it because it’s slim, lighter than the other smartphones, and I needed to get a handle on Android – being up to my ears in Apple at the moment. Actually the camera was another temptation!  So I was trying to work out how that worked and get some lovely pics before I posted. I took a fabulous pic of Kathy coming up the last hill in Bosse St (there are 5) two kms from the end of the Pinetown and Districts Athletics Club 25 km race. Unfortunately I pressed the button that took me back to the home screen rather than the shutter button! (How many in this generation will even understand the term shutter in relation to digital photography? There’s history in everything – I’m quite pleased to know that!)

Unfortunately, it’s taken me three days to work out how to make an actual phone call!

I have mastered messaging and even had a great conversation with Robyn, my niece on What’s App. I like Swype – my word but it makes texting so much easier than finger taps with fingers that have got a bit de-sensitised and clumsy from the chemo zings.

Hand/foot syndrome brought out another delight yesterday – skin peeling. I looked at my feet this morning and the skin is coming off in skeins! Probably had enough of trying to deal with the toxins. It’s just a light layer, like you get when you’ve been sunburned, and it doesn’t hurt. It just looks ghastly. The recommended treatment, according to chemo support blogs, is to slather your feet in aquaeous cream and where closed shoes until they get over it.  So I apologise in advance to those who will have to deal with me and the odiferous presence of my takkies!

I’m chuffed that I’ve been to work two days on the trot. Ok, so yesterday was only 2 and a half hours in the sense of being present at the work place (as you know I’ve been doing most things electronically), but what a joy to be talking with the e-Learning team (the unit previously known as Ed Tech – a new identity but possibly more accurate) all in one place, all fit and all as enthusiastic as ever. After my absence, and I thought I’d kept up with stuff, it fried my brain to observe the layers of complexity that are involved in working at the university. It was a unique experience and one that’s worth thinking about more.

The institutional issues, the Faculty issues, the Centre issues, the unit issues, the personal well-being issues and the power plays and territories that go with these. And that’s even before you think about what students (and their families) are going through and what they are doing! Tis the season for protests about student funding and accommodation – I wish that issue would go away!

I’m particularly impressed by the e-Learning team’s way of commiserating with frustrations, facilitating each other’s growth and of dealing with things as a team in ways that are strategic and constructive. It truly is a blessing. It’s no wonder that people working at universities get stress-related illnesses and pick up bad lifestyle habits that are not understood by the people not in academia. They’re not really conducive to well-being. One has to do all that the 16th century scholars did, plus all the bits that have been added on by cnturies following.

I’m forgiving myself for being tired and understanding why in the third week of term – some people are already looking less well than me. No wonder I was tired, which probably explains why I rode up the curb on the way home via Bwalya’s! Thank goodness for Squashy’s big tyres.

Today, I went into work after having my blood tests. And was blown away by Liza’s work on her Masters. It was exhilerating to see her mastering her data and making it speak. What an honour to watch the process of quantum leaps that make up post-graduate study. I can’t remember where I read it but we tend to think of Quantum Leaps as big things, but they’re not. They’re quantum beyond microscopic, so the leaps I’m talking about are the tiny shifts of position that make these huge changes in thinking and articulating insights – changing the very being of the person as they do it. Elation – is the only way to describe my experience of being an observer.

So it was no wonder that I was bouncing when I had a lovely lunch with Delysia at Churchill House – what a delight of restaurant. I’ve now let the cat out of the bag. Very well worth a visit. We talked lots of Academic Development stuff – projects and ideas for projects that interlink and feed each other, peppered with anecdotes of people and things to celebrate and frustrations and obstacles to try and address. It was work as it should be – love made manifest. I’m wondering why I’ve always been a person who pretty much was tethered to my office 8 hours (or more) a day.

And from Churchill House I was ‘available’ in so many ways via my iPad and my new phone (except it ran out of battery life). I think this has to be my strategy for managing the weakness and tiredness related to chemo and to get things done. a) Schedule a max of two big work things a day  – which means prioritising and dropping peripheral interests and distractions (email!) and b) making sure to enjoy mobility and company productively whilst experiencing Durban with remarkable people. I realise that I can’t do big thinking, reading and writing stuff at work. That I’ll save for the ‘couch days’ when I can sit in front of the computer without moving or lying in the new recliner (to be delivered tomorrow) with my iPad.

I can tell you that leave applications are a bugger when the side-effects are so unpredictable! Luckily DUT’s online system makes that aspect easier, no forms to fill in and to run around and get signatures. We’re gradually reducing the need for people to physically run around between campuses, in this heat, with pieces of paper and requisition books! Long may the improvements continue – good job to the IT team at DUT.

My goodness, this is my 50th post and probably the longest. I didn’t realise that I had so much to say – opionated git! – and not one pic. I think my next post should be a collage – and I’ll let pictures speak to save your eyes.

Here’s a pic – and looking forward to another ‘wheatgrass happy dance’ tomorrow, the 4b round of chemo and 6 hours to think deep thoughts in one place.

 

 

 

 

 

Post-chemo week -Gadget Queen

I keep hoping that I’ll be able to predict how I’ll be feeling on specific days in this chemo journey. When I’m feeling yuk, I don’t really document it – so it makes it quite difficult to keep track. Doesn’t help that I’m so busy during the day, that I don’t remember what day it is. I’m just doing what comes next. I did note the wobbly knees this time, that’s cleared since last I posted, and the leg weights are working well. The nasty this time is the tummy cramps that started on Wednesday, along with the burps again. (I seem to remember that happened with 2a last time. I can’t imagine what it was that I ate – if indeed what I ate was the cause. The tummy cramps are still with me though Buscupan is muting the pangs.

I meant to join the RWFL crew on their beach walk at 6. I had this notion that I might be able to make 2kms – going slowly. I think I could have if the cramps weren’t plaguing, so I decided to just take it easy. Yesterday was pretty much a couch day because probably I hadn’t slept well. The aircons were installed in the bedrooms yesterday. They are better than great art! Pat’s not going to have bags under her eyes – cos she’s actually catching up on years’ worth of sleep deprivation. Of course, it’s started to get a bit cooler now – just in time, but we are enjoying the fan that filters out the pollen and other noo-noos.

I got my new cellphone on Thursday, it’s taking me ages to work it out. Joan C called today about a potential conference venue, and I couldn’t work out how to accept the call! I had to wait for it to stop ringing and call her back! I got the Galaxy SII cause it’s slim and light and has more features (battery life)  than either the Blackberry or the iPhone 4.

I’m a bit off Apple at the moment.  Seems that things have slipped a bit since Steve hopped it! My trusty ipod shuffle (now 3 years old) turned up its toes. You know the one, the silver one that Mari called Techno Bling because I always have it around my neck?  It only had 1Gb of memory but that was all I needed because I was constantly changing the podcasts and audible books. We bought Pat the new version at Christmas – smaller and with 2 Gb of memory. The only problem is that she can’t handle headphones that are earbuds in her ears. A lot of people have that problem I think – but who wants to walk around with the heavy earmuff kind of ‘phones – looking like a Martian?

Ok so why am I cheesed with Apple (note the food metaphor!) because I bought (in my withdrawal desperation and at vast expense) an iPod Nano (can’t even guess what generation it is). It’s very pretty – lovely graphics etc – you apparently can watch videos on it. Unfortunately, my pc, iTunes and the Audible downloader can’t actually ‘see’ it most of the time. Then when it does get seen one can’t actually synch your iTunes material with it because it tells you that files are not found or that the OS is corrupt. How is that possible in a brand-new device? Other people must have the same prob -right? So I scoured the internet for a solution – all the Apple support blogs (never answered by Apple people, and even YouTube which is filled with video cries for help with this problem dating back to 2008 when the Nano was first launched – and not a peep from Apple. Not even an acknowledgement that there is a problem. Perhaps the disposable mindset has gotten into their heads.i.e. just buy a new one. No! A good design works as it is supposed to with useful clear instructions (Apple is really bad at instructions and the quick start guides are all about what not to do eg don’t drop the device in the water, Samsung has the same disclaimers. Who knew that the little hole on the side of the iPad2 and the mysterious piece of wire that came with the packaging was actually for releasing the mini-sim card tray?) )

Not only are clear instructions and diagrams you can read absolutely essential, but quality things that work should last – not have built in or unpredictable redundancy in them just to make people buy more.  Why is this concept so hard for gadget manufacturers to understand? Steve understood. I miss my ancient shuffle! The nanos 8Gb isn’t enough of a incentive to like it.

I’m not sure how many Skype calls I’ll be making on my Galaxy – or how many digital books I’ll read on it. I still have to find the camera, which is why I haven’t taken photos of the beauties in the garden at the moment or the tasty veg growing beautifully in the planters or the airconditioners that are revolutionising our lives and our breathing – Samsung’s as well.

We’re off to the Reeds for dinner now in celebration of Karen’s birthday. I can’t get over how many Capricorns and Aquarians I know! Happy Birthday all of you, I think I’ve been able to wish you all personally.

And tomorrow, Pat, Shirley and I will be at the top of the last hill in Bosse St at 7am,cheering on Kathy and Joan and the other PDAC walkers. It’s a nice race and I wish I was doing it. Still, when I see their faces tomorrow from the comfort of my deckchair I might feel differently! Hopefully I will have found the camera on my phone by then!

 

 

 

Quick updates: Achievements

The most exciting thing today was the delivery – expeditiously, effectively, efficiently on time, with 15 minutes to install and brief me by Andrew of HomeOrganics. This young man has a philosophy I can live with – veggie gardening should not add to your chores – and not interfere with texting or sitting on the porch enjoyment. That’s a recipe for business success if ever I heard one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How lovely do they look?

Other doings were: I reviewed a journal article for HERD (and considered reactivating my associate editor status – which I temporarily suspended when I got my diagnosis), read Nalini’s article for FAC – it’s going to be splendid and maybe the start of a D, Nalini?  I managed to connect the dots in terms of funding for the travel arrangements of our Transforming Educational Studies workshop in March thanks largely to the ever supportive and effective, Shubs. And finished upgrading my pc – it’s amazing how one gets to know one’s own machine – and how one takes for granted the programmes that one has accumulated. I went though 41 Gbs of data and programmes deciding on whether to chuck or keep them. I hope I haven’t deleted anything important! Housekeeping.

I now just have to remember my DUT password – chemo brain seems to have deleted it from my consciousness. Fortumately, my iPad seems to download work email without the security settings so I’m still in touch. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that but I did think maybe Vijay might want to know that tablets have different security abilities to PCs.

Adrian and Cynthia did a fabulous job of plastering the previous holes in the wall from the removal of the old airconditioners.

And lastly, I walked about a km with Pepper, very slowly, wearing my 1kg ankle weights. This in the effort to build up my leg strength. I was knackered when we got back. Strangely the extra weight on my ankles made me feel more stable and my knees were less wobbly.

Are you having fun yet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funtabulous

It’s been a funny old weekend. I was tired on Friday after the chemo bubble removal and a brief  pharmacy and vet visit. I pretty much slothed around. I’ve mentioned how the weak knees worry me because it feels like they are going to collapse. Yesterday I was walking in sympathy with Madiba. You know, stiff legs, careful placement of the feet, no bounce in the ankle or hips. Apparently it’s part of the chemo neuropathy – that and feeling dislocated in space. I’ve got used to the zings now and they don’t worry me so much, the weakness did, `i felt convinced that my legs can’t have forgotten to be strong so quickly.

It’s the peripheral nervous system not sending messages properly – apparently. Happily Karen R came round to visit and we had a lovely, gentle chat, which didn’t need me to be moving around to forget my self-absorption, and she very kindly walked slowly around the garden with me. I had to show her our veggie patch since she was the author of it. Arriving in her old bakkie loaded with seedlings as she did (which has since been stolen – I have to believe that what goes around comes around and the person who stole it will pay the price – for robbing her of her vehicle of grace and generosity. Karen isn’t carrying it. She’s remarkable.)

She was excited as we are about the imminent arrival of our veggie planter tables which are a part of the patio renovation. The planters come tomorrow – the patio is only being done on the 6th. We’ve got time to get them well started with seedlings.

So yesterday was a bit of a couch day. Light in spirit but heavy legs. This morning was better. The two litres of filtered water that I drink every day, seems to help. Dinner was leek and potato soup.

This morning I was up early as usual because of the Rocky stare, followed by tail wagging that shaakes the bed and crowing because I cracked an eyelid. I have no idea why he picks on me – he leaves Pat alone – which seems unfair to me. It was fine though, I made their breakfast in time for 7am, and then sat on the porch with my decaff coffee of the day (Jacobs) – I even had half a cherry and sunflower seed rusk, while I watched the canaries and mannikins at the feeder,  and an Egyptian goose bullying a hadeda off Jimmy next door’s roof. Then I started upgrading my pc from Windows xp to Windows 7.  When Pat got up – it was starting to get hot on the porch, so I stuck my head in the swimming pool, fabulous – then I  changed into my bathers and got in up to my waist – with Rocky swimming as well. He was really sweet and waited for me to lean on him getting out. So I didn’t actually swim but strangely the cool/warm water made my legs feel stronger. How weird is that?

Then, I decided to do something with the two bags of grenadillas that Pat bought the other day on the strength of a craving when she fetched me from chemo  – she passed on the litchis and guavas the side of the road vendors are currently selling in Durban.  I suspect that she was looking for sour flavours not sweet- sweet. I got quarter of a jug of  grenadilla juice from about 20, then I juiced a carton of mango slices, some grapes and left over fruit salad. A Spritz of lemon juice and half a litre of filtered water  made a delicious drink full of roughage!  At least Carol and Pat said it was tasty and it spoke to my wobbly knees. You will have gathered – intelligent folk that you are – that Carol T came to visit – popping in becaause she’s up from GTown- and what a lovely conversation we had. I was sorry she couldn’t stay longer, but as always the time was divinee and the conversation stimulating as we talked of Victorian views on health – Madam Blavatsky and Mary Baker Eddy.

Then Pat and  I decided that we were hungry and that nothing in the fridge was talking to us, so we went up to the Heritage Market and had breakfast (at 12:30)  followed by a slow mosey around the fresh food market there, where I was fascinated by the bees swarming aunnd the baklava (yum). We watched the last balls of the South African innings, bought nuts, mint and mangos – should have bought melon but forgot.

 

We stopped at Mr Price sport and bought some ankle weights so I can do lite sitting on the couch leg exercises. Both of us were then struck by an urgent need to get home to the facilities – I guess my juice of the morning did the regularity trick!  We both collapsed for an afternoon nap at that point – rain had interrupted play in the cricket match – so it was a sign. In the meantime my computer was finding itself a new identity as a Windows 7 machine. I hope I haven’t lost any data. I did back up to my external hard drive. I’m typing this on my iPad which is a bit of a pain because the bluetooth keyboard is so light. As I learned to type on an old Remington stand up ribbon typewriter – I tend to be heavy on keyboards! So forgive any double letters I’ve missed in this post.

Last discovery of the day before the sun went down was that Jim and Jean – two gymnogenes are nesting in the palm in the front driveway. Much squeaking and high pitch wwhistling as Jean directs nest building operations. This is the 5th season a pair has come to roost here. We feel quite honoured even though the drive will take on the same Jackson Pollock look that the side of the house has from the fruit bats’ bombing runs. 633 Squadron has nothing on this!

 

My computer is still defining itself with updates and downloads – and that’s my excuse for not working on the paper today, Joan, Thenji and Kathleen!  Pat’s car goes in for a long overrdue service tomorrow at 6:45, then the veggie planters will be arriving along with Adrian and Cynthia who are doing the last ancient aircon extraction tomorrow. If the legs are strong I hope to go into work – otherwise I’ll be Skyping in – to avoid the hot knee weakness – still no aircon. With 30C+ heat and the humidity adding 5C not to mention all the computers in the lab and the fact that the building sits on the aqufer that feeds Currie’s Fountain – comfort is key to productivity. Love technology!  I feel a bit like an Ed Techie today, nice feeling.

And just for the record – I still don’t feel like a sick person – maybe I just haven’t noticed!

Colourful – Quick update

So as you know, the bloods were good, so Pat and I trotted down to the Onc Centre to meet Dr Landers and to go forth with the chemo. Dr L was lovely as usual – so nice to have undivided attention – he refuses all interruptions and phone calls (which makes him unpopular with some GPs and surgeons), but his focus is on his patients. I think it makes a difference. The exam just found a little tenderness over the liver but he was chuffed that it’s not swollen or enlarged.

I’m scheduled for another CT scan on the 20th Feb, after I finish round 4b of the chemo. If there’s further reduction in the liver metastases and he can actually see what’s going on, he’s recommending something called radiofrequency ablation to zap the tumours in the liver with heat. Having a liver resection (where they cut out the bad bit) is not an option since the lesions are throughout my liver – I’d end up with a liver like a colander. Pat is sort of relieved – the idea of surgery to that extent terrifies both of us! RFA is apparently an outpatient procedure http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=rfaliver and has had good reports – not of cure but of extending life.

So the thing to wish for is that all of the tumours stay under 1.5 cm and the radiologists can zap them directly!

Met a fabulously inspiring woman at the OTC. Her name is Wendy and she works for Discovery a) I was impressed by how upbeat and well she looks b) her sense of humour is Pratchettian – suggesting that they have poledancing entertainment in the chemotherapy room – which she says is ideally set up for a class act because of all the mobile drip stands. She decided that belly dancing wasn’t an option because most people there are too skinny c) by her concern as an administrator for the patients that she works for  c) that she is still working but doesn’t do finance stuff ‘cos she doesn’t want to mess with people’s finances as a result of ‘chemo-brain’ d) that she was dressed in pink from top to toe. I need to shop for colour!

Wendy is on her second go-round with cancer – she finds it very unfair that she didn’t get a second ‘dread disease payout’!

I discovered that she spent a lot of time in hospital last year – at least 3 blood transfusions because she’s anaemic and a big chunk of colon chopped out. She has a 14 year old son who knows all. (She did mutter about rationale for ‘justifiable homicide’, but gets her revenge by hugging him in public.) She made me laugh for two solid hours despite the fact that she is one of the people who feels grottty when she’s ‘dripping’. We had a real coffee klatch without the coffee – and were scolded by the sisters for not noticing that our bags had finished causing air to get into our lines. Add her to your prayers if you would – this woman is pure life force – and uplifted the two very sad people there just with her patter.

It was an honour to meet her.

Chemo went well, with just a couple of 5 minute naps. I’ll have Avastin tomorrow making tomorrow’s session longer but it made today’s session shorter. Pat and I are getting good at the timing. Tamsin the onco nurse told me “Two bags left”, I do a quick calculation (very rough) that that’s an hour and I had 15 minutes for contingency and my ‘takeaway’ hookup. I sms Pat to pick me up at 2.45. I walk out at 2.42 and sit on a stone under a tree on Ridge Rd, and Pat rolls up at quarter to three. How good are we?

So I’m dripping along merrily as I type – pretty amazed that although my knees were wobbly this am – stronger than yesterday- which I’m putting down to the scrambled eggs we had for dinner last night, they are feeling remarkably stable tonight. And no, they don’t put feel-good muti into the drips – just the mild steroid for antinausea. I asked. I’m just one of the incredibly lucky ones that doesn’t feel bad when they’re dripping – I get the couch days a week later. I always was slow.

Which reminds me of Robert Graves poem The Cool Web, subject of the first English Lit assignment in first year, which I nearly failed – I think I got 52%. If I could give a percentage to today’s experience I’d give it an 80% (the ‘what next’ question is still too open to rate 100%). Hope you guys are all doing well and for those of you on FaceBook – check out the magnificent mosaic coffee table that Portia Redmond has made!

Till later –

 

 

Weird, wobbly and awol

My word work is a bugger isn’t it? It really messes up one’s social life. Actually I had every intention of going in to work yesterday. And I woke up feeling pretty strong and able, thanks to the poignant Rocky gaze at 6am. He gets so excited when I crack an eyelid that he crows! By the time we’d done the feed, the brush and the walk to school I was knackered, so I was back in bed by 8.30. True I was up again at 9.30 and worked flat out on the proofs for the book until 1pm. Then I got dizzy from concentration and took to my bed again until 3pm – out for the count.

Cynthia and Adrian came over to take out the old airconditioners and brick up the holes in preparation for the new silent ones we’ve ordered . What a great team they are, such good friends and so strong despite Adrian’s own health struggles – really inspiring. Coincidentally it was a rainy day, which is what Pat and I have always worried about saving for – so it was appropriate that we were finally getting our comfort levels sorted!

In spite of their work I was completely undisturbed in my naps which told me that these last days of a post-chemo round seem to knock me out the worst. I felt so horribly lomp – the afrikaans word for limp plants – boneless.  The tomato and beef soup that Pat and I had for lunch with pita bread (I didn’t actually eat any of the beef – Pepper enjoyed it though) seemed to put some voema in my legs, because suddenly at 4pm I felt like going for a walk so off Pepper and I went – managed the full km around the block. She get so excited and clearly wants to run but she seems to know when it isn’t an option. I wish I could have taken a pic this afternoon when Sharon came round to take her for a longer, quicker run. I swear she was leaping 6 feet into the air with joy when she saw Sharon’s car pull up. I did catch them on the way back, when they picked up Rocky from school. For a dog, Pepper is a very happy bunny!

Back to yesterday and then I’ll talk about Sunday. So after my walk and sitting on the porch, I really was quite lively. I could have gone to work then, but it was already 6pm. I got caught up with some emaily things including ordering a planter stand from Home Organics (spending the life insurance again) http://www.homeorganic.co.za/html/new_products.html. I love the look of them and plan to arrange them over the new beds we’ll have against the wall when our patio is restored, that’s oneof the few places in the garden that has full sun – such a pity to waste it on weeds that invade the patio!  We know this because the Mandevillia that was a stick on the other side of the garden and then got squashed when the neighbour came through the wall, is now magnificent.

So full of yellow energy and it’s talking to me – could it be that it’s because yellow is associated with the chakra closest to the stomach etc? Bwalya and Liza will have to forgive my amateur cellphone photography. I need to get my new phone I’m sure it will make me a better picture taker.

Janet came round for tea – looking fabulous in her lovely turquoise outfit including the lovely jewellery that she makes from really interesting beads. That colour really spoke to me too. She was on her way to walking. Nice to catch up with her too. It reminded me that we all had some serious bumps and lumps in 2011, yet we’re here and doing and being what we are. Janet is an inspiration.

See the new bed is essential, although the veggie patch is looking great – I’m eating more greens than it can produce even though we’re taking only a leaf at a time from the plants and eating everything that the celery delivers including the leaves.

The new seedlings that I put in two weeks ago are starting to stand up by themselves – the carrots, kale and chard. Unfortunately the gems turned up their toes/roots – they definitely need more sun. I know the feeling – that’s how I felt on Sunday when we went round to Jackie and Brigitte’s for B’s 51st birthday curry afternoon. What a wonderful afternoon, with friends and kids all in and out of the pool not worrying about dripping. And much laughter and fun as B tried on her new sporting lycra. The sounds of ‘Marco Polo’ reminded me of my youth in Edenvale on hot summer days we were in the pool constantly.  I remember working out at 16 that I’d be 40 in the year 2001 (we were then dealing with Orwell’s 1984 coming up!) and I loved the movie soundtrack. I was quite sure that I’d be dead by then,  because how impossibly old is 40?

Also entertaining were the antics of Zara’s new Jack Russell pup, Toffee. Chewing Fudge and a bone that was seriously ambitious! What a cutie and thoroughly fearless despite her wobbly legs – a lesson!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve just worked out why I suddenly was revving from 4pm yesterday. I’d drunk three of those Woolworths vitamin waters including the Dragonberry purple one, which is my favourite. I think the chemo slows processing so all those vitamins probably only hit at then!  I was still wide awake at 11pm last night which was weird considering how tired I’d felt earlier and how wobbly my knees were.

Going into work today was on the cards but it was another lomp, wobbly knee day so I just sat at my desk and worked on the book proofs. The good news of today is that the book proofs, index and all went back to the publisher and the bloods are all good for tomorrow’s chemo. I was a bit worried that the wobbly legs were related to red cell counts but clearly it was just the last of the drips from last week passing through.

I’ll be reading Sumi and Liza’s latest writings tomorrow during that session. I think that counts as work. I miss seeing my colleagues but am not brave enough to battle that office heat!

Scanning the field – beating the heat

I can’t believe it, 5 days since my last post! At least that’s the math that I make between the 7th and the 12th.  I’ll try and reconstruct what I’ve been up to, because every day has been full and I’ve slept well from having been busy.

8th January – Ok let’s forget about that one. Sunday was a slo-lo day with chemo tiredness and weakness kicking in. It was an opportunity to lie around and reflect though so even though I felt like the tiredness was never-ending and I’d never be able to walk to the gate without breaking a sweat, I looked at it rationally.  I had the profound insight (profound for me!) that how I positioned myself relating to the weakness was a key. If I thought of my weakness as related to the chemo then I could recognise that this is a transient thing, but if I thought of it as related to the cancer then I’d curl up and stop eating. The latter is not an option – there’s still so much to do. I decided that I’d go to work on Monday anyway. And I did.

If I’m going to do going to the office, rather than working from home, on a daily basis, I’ll probably be having to get up at 5am every day – and get going instead of getting up at 5 and sitting on the porch. This because I am moving slower and it seems to take me two hours at least to get washed, medicated (depending on what the current side-effects are) and fed. Whereas previously I’d get up at 5am and do emails or writing work until 7 – dash into the shower and be in the office by 8:15.

On Tuesday, I got to the office at 10:30, half an hour later than planned, but I did stop and pick up the Healing Meditations CD that Alison (Tyler’s mum) kindly sent me. I’m enjoying it. I have it loaded on my ipod shuffle for that hour just before going to sleep.

It was great to see Denise and Preggy after such a long time – months! Both looking so well. Denise is a stunning and chirpy as ever despite her colon surgery last year. It was quite fun to exchange our learnings on the nature of colons and how controlling they are! Preggy is looking so hot too – superfit and getting ready for his first 10/15 km run – possibly the Kearsney “Who Let the Dogs Out” race?!  Now that is a challenge – I think I did it once (I have only one t-shirt) with Sharon and it’s sheer mental strength that gets you up that hill to the Alveston tower!

I missed Gita and Mari, but was kind of pleased for them because the environment wasn’t that great, because the aircon was kaput. The aged compressor finally died – it was reported last year but not done yet, because of the Varsity shutdown or at least the closing of the procurement/repairs and maintenance budgets in late November. Also there was some awkwardness when us two walking stomachs (!), Denise and I, discovered that nobody had replenished the loo paper since last year. (Apparently this was a university-wide problem.) Given the number of walk-in wanna-be students who hadn’t previously applied and were trying to get a place in any programme they could find, the campus was very busy. I can only imagine the challenges the cleaners faced. Hopefully we won’t have the kind of problem that UJ faced. I lasted till 2pm (until I finished my litre of filtered water to keep cool) and was quite pleased to leave for my psychologist appointment.

Shaida is an onco/terminal/chronic disease counsellor, with a very pragmatic take on what’s involved. She’s very busy. I’d been wondering if I really needed the appointment. I made it a month ago after my last session, with the idea of deciding whether to have the session when I got to a couple of days before. I went. Everything about the practice and the session was positive. I dropped some of the worries I was carrying and felt better for it. It helps to talk to someone outside my context – who is not already putting a lot of energy, prayers and care into keeping me going – because there are some things one needs to discuss that people who are close shouldn’t be burdened with e.g. midnight feelings of desperation or the the need for a grieving process for the possibility of me leaving so many amazing and beautiful loved ones behind. If you get my drift? There’s a constant balance needed between being alive now- competent and able and the worst case scenario , preferably delayed as long as possible. I made another appointment for Feb.

Tuesday was  the day that Phoebe, the miniature jack russel from next door, took on and scared a young Egyptian goose. Duncan and Jorel from next door brought it over to ours to let it settle down from the shock. She didn’t seem to be injured but she was shaken I think. She took up station in the pool – and, would ‘swanned around’ it be an appropriate metaphor for a goose? – for the whole evening until 11 pm, when she got out and slept on one leg till the morning.  We took a pic but it was too blurred to post.

 

 

I had visions of her moving in permanently. Like the Egyptian goose family that moved in, goslings and all, in 2010! That was traumatic. These pics give the idea of wildlife in suburbia. We put the plank in the pool because the chicks couldn’t get out of the water once they got in. The pool turned very green!

 

I think the goose thing either triggered or was a connected world symbol for my rabid nesting instinct that kicked in on Tuesday. I decided to work at home because I was slightly tired and the thought of being in 34C temps at work did not appeal at all. Instead I launched a home fix-up offensive. Ordered the airconditioners we’ve promised ourselves for years, called a patio renovator – apparently the only one in Durban, accepted the quote for a new patio roof cover and organised repairs to the laundry roof. I did a lot of email but not much on my book proofs – though I did get the opinions of the PaperHeaDs about what cover would be appropriate. I think we’re going with this one maybe with a purple background?

In fairness, I should probably take a day’s leave for Tuesday because work did not dominate – though I read some interesting stuff about writing centres and student academic identity.

Tuesday’s visiting goose decided to depart Wednesday after her breakfast of bread around 9am. Relief! Rocky and Pepper were much happier – he because he was allowed to swim again, and she just because she objects to birds taking over her patch. Here’s a fabulous pic that Sharon took of Rocky swimming on Christmas Day for my visual friends.

 Which takes us to yesterday – the nesting instinct was over – but we had contractors measuring and muttering in and out all morning. I did hide in my study with the fan on and try to let Pat handle things, but she refused to be the victim and insisted on involving me in the decisions. It was hot work.  In between, Sam Skyped me to show me Dougal with his late arriving Xmas pressie – a Sesame Street Cookie Monster who eats cookies. He growls “Cooookie” at you and when you give him one he says “Thank you”. I think the gift was a hit because he was so engrossed that he waved goodbye before we’d really said hello. To be fair, what is the difference between a hello wave and a goodbye wave. Talk about living in the moment!

I managed to do a little bit of a contribution to Gina’s book for the chapter on Communities of Practice, and proofed the last chapter of The Book, but I was quite relieved to jump into my car (and Squashy has  fabulous aircon not available at home or work!) and go to the Heritage Market’s new La Vie restaurant for lunch with the PaperHeaDs who were available. It was the last chance to see p@c and Maureen before they head back to the frozen north.

What a lovely afternoon, lovely company and what lovely grub. I had thyme bruschetta with camembert, strawberry and walnut salad. Paulette had quiche, which invoked the interest of a female glossy starling. P didn’t notice the male mate sitting on the other side of her chair, while she chatted to beady-eyed one. This pic was taken by Fiona and what a great moment to record – I can’t remember the conversation between P and the bird but you can probably imagine a good one if you know P! Aren’t cellphones amazing? (Note to self must arrange my upgrade!) Maureen was doing interesting photographic things with her iPad as well, she’s pretty handy considering that she’d broken her shoulder on this visit to SA.

As you can see it was a fun time and as always three and a half hours was not enough time to catch up with all the interesting things everyone has been doing in the last month or so. Hell we didn’t even get half way through current events! Thank you Ruth, Fiona, Sioux, Maureen, P@c, Penny, P and Nicky for a fabulous afternoon.

A little more email when I got home – talking to Michelle about our travel arrangements for Oz – and finding out how Lou is going on and I was ready to meditate.  I slept like a rock!

Today Cynthia and Adrian have been around to talk about Adrian removing the old jumbo jet airconditioners and bricking up the leftover holes in the wall. What a talented man he is: carpenter, roofer, antiques restorer, mechanic, gardener, builder, welder, quantity surveyor…. and so active despite his own hectic colonic issues that put him in hospital last year. He’s amazing. How can people diss FET colleges and the skills they teach when it’s clear that these are the skills that are marketable?

And we’re waiting for Gordon the patio renovator who seems to have forgotten his 11am appointment. I’ll now get down to doing the proofs.

As you can see all’s well at 32 and it’s occupants including the veggie garden – will post pics soon. Hope you are coping with the heat.

Bye now.