Liz's colonic journey

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.


Comments on: "Scanning the field – beating the heat" (6)

  1. So – lots of stuff happening at the moment Liz! You know what – I’m a bit jealous of how connected and rich your life is. This is a lesson to me, a wake-up call.

    I’ve known for years and years that people both professionally much admire you and personally cherish you – quite a combination that. I mean, there’s no doubt about this and hey, it’s rare. You know what else? Nothing’s going to change that.

    love to you and Pat


    • Love to you and William back, Phillippa. Thank you for your so kind words. I have always wanted to make a difference, not necessarily in grand achievements, but in the daily kindnesses – not always successful, I’m afraid.I get road proto-rage often!

      I think the daily service thing is a form of meditation from the Catholic tradition – it’s called The Little Way of Mary, where the work makes love visible. It’s something we can all do and I think most of us do. Certainly it’s what I’m experiencing from the support from my blog.

      Life is quite fun when you are not waiting for the next shoe to drop in the shoe-shop of life!

  2. Hey Lizi, catching up on your blogs after the usual hectic Christmas hosting thing with loved ones…

    then a fabulous road trip with Steve and Megs through the Freestate, Karoo, Kouga, and Garden Route…

    Speaking of nesting and empty nests, I am busy sewing on labels like a mad woman — on Sunday Megan’s off to St Anne’s for her new life as a termly boarder…think of me!

    So good to know you were at work!!! Hope to catch you there next week.

    Lots of love Mari

    PS a holiday poem..

    Beyond and Beneath

    “Stones should never be placed carelessly.” (Shinto saying)

    Beyond and beneath Storm’s River Mouth’s
    suspension bridge, a small sudden beach.
    Stout spirited waves
    tumble, retreat.

    Smaller than boulders
    and bigger than pebbles,
    countless round rocks
    rumble back down
    a steep incline
    over and over
    into the sea.

    Bound by silence
    and infinite sound,
    my garrulous husband
    gathers and stacks
    large to small
    stone upon
    flat white stone…
    to say what souls feel
    but minds cannot reach.


    Marí Peté
    7 January 2012

    • Love the poem Mari, I can just feel the warmth and hear the water. It reminds me of you and Charl and me at that Limpopo Uni visit when we went to the Debengeni Falls – What a jewel of a place. and we still made our return flight!

      How have you done with Megs away these last couple of days – Oh Label Queen?
      Hope to catch up tomorrow.

  3. Karen Read said:

    Hello there! Thank you for all the interesting posts! I have been catching up on 600 emails and all your blogs – I had an accidental but really nice internet and facebook fast over the festive season. I am glad to hear all your news! I did sprout you some mustard seeds (closest to mustard and cress) for you but have resorted to eating them, knowing I can replicate the experiment! Wishing you all the best for 2012, and love and big hugs to both you and Pat XXX (sorry to post publically, but I don’t have your email address!!)

    • Looking forward to seeing you Saturday, Karen, and finding out how it felt to be disconnected for a while. I think after CoP and all the energy you put into that, you really deserved some Me-Alone time! Will email you with my email addy, but very fine to post here – call it reconnecting?

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