Liz's colonic journey

Archive for April, 2012


I thought this post would be reflections on the land Down Under, but I think it will be more about the effects of Down Under and especially of being in the midst of family who love you and would even if they weren’t scared of you dying.

This is what I looked like sitting in the first class section of our flight over There:



Rather scrawny and death’s headish I thought (I avoid mirrors!). Lou, my mum and Sam didn’t faint when they saw me. Lou reckoned I looked much better than I did at Christmas  – she’s so kind. If it had been her looking like that I’d have burst into tears.

This is what I looked like two weeks later after a day in the Barossa Valley…this is one of the sculptures we couldn’t make sense of but which provided a good resting spot before the trek through the rest of the display on the side of a rather large hill.


My new R30 pair of size 10 Gloria van der Bilt jeans no longer fit me without pain!

Today the onco sister said I was ‘glowing’ as she took my blood – unnecessarily it seems, because while I was waiting for the results I saw Dr Landers, who sent me upstairs for a CT scan. Then Pat joined me for lunch at La Bella while we waited for the scan results. The result – I’m stable. His recommendation – no more chemo for 2 months unless something goes wrong. This is good news for me because I wasn’t looking forward to the bubble and the side-effects after two weeks of feeling normal again, and feeling my muscles growing back after all the walking and wrestling with Dougal. This is Lou doing the wrestling thing along with Cleo, Sam’s retriever in support role. (If you are wondering why there are no pics of Pat – she doesn’t want me to post them!)

Dr L is taking a gentle approach, and saving up the chemo while it is still effective, for in case/when the mofos start misbehaving he’ll still have that weapon in the arsenal. As he put it – in their current state , “the tumour in the bowel is not going to kill you, nor are the lesions in the liver or the two nodes on the lungs”.

He didn’t shout at me for indulging in a glass or two of the excellent South Australian red wine that Hamish and Sam picked out. What can I say? The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. It was worse than going to Stellenbosch – the range and variety was boggling – I remember Jacob’s Creek, Seppenfield (because we went there) and Coonawarra as labels but not the style or vintage of those I tasted – just that they were delicious.

So my hair is thicker and I can shop as well as walk through conservation areas for  3-4 hours.

Sharon and Dave with typical generosity insisted on picking us up at the ridiculous work week hour of 8.00pm. We were punch drunk from the nearly 24 hours of being awake having got up at 4am Adelaide time. Rocky and Pepper were delighted to see us when we got back, Rocky bouncing higher than I’ve ever seen him. (Cindy from school bought him an anti-anxiety collar because he was so depressed the first week we were away. It seemed to work. Pepper was a lot more blase apparently. Both were spoiled rotten by our housesitter – they are now on diet!)

It’s taken the weekend to kind of get back in synch with our SA life. The dogs have had a walk every night since we got back. Yesterday we went down to Suncoast to enjoy the beautiful morning. It’s nice to be home and it’s nice to know I can get involved in things with some predictability. It’s going to be weird knowing that each day will start with the normal work routine again. Lots to celebrate at work – Sumi’s graduation (yay Dee!), Mari’s poem published and my book – all done at last. I’ve got some M students to chase for proposals – that’s going to be fun.

Love it!


Before Easter and since

5th April:
I have a moment to blog along with the energy! Hamish has just gone to pick Dougal up from school. Today was the day of the Easter Egg Hunt. The kiDs have been prepared for this by doing a concert for Grannies, Nannas, Nonnas, Nans and Gogos last week, which featured a bear hunt. As anyone who has been around kids knows, easter eggs are much more dangerous than bears!

Sam poor soul, has been back at work this week. Can’t be easy having your household in a state of chaos with visiting family creating tons more washing than two adults and a two year old make. She handles it with such grace and goodwill. I know that if I were her I’d be wanting to collapse on the couch with a glass and an adult tv programme, rather than watching another episode of Dora the Explorer, and chats with holidaying rellies, when I got home from a long day.

On Monday she had strategic planning at work – two words that cause me some revolt because any time I’ve been involved in such a delight it’s been dire drudgery and hard work. Sam had to stay overnight at a beach cottage at Victor Harbour. Lou, Mum,Pat and I arranged to pick her up on Tuesday. Victor Harbour is about 160kms from Adelaide and originally established whaling station, now it’s a pretty seaside retirement village. It took us a long time to get there, Adelaide traffic going that way was ghastly? I think we travelled at over 60 Kms per hour for about 20 minutes of the trip! We got there with just time to get some lunch before picking Sam up at 3.30.

It took us just as long to get back with the real rush hour traffic. We staggered in well after 6pm feeling like we’d done the Durban Jhb run. It was a pretty drive though – the countryside just like Australian novels with Kangas and wallabies, galas and cockies visible from the road.

Not deterred, Lou, Pat and I headed out in the other direction yesterday, alone in Hamish’s car (how brave is he?). Mannum, the place of swamps, is kind of the middle of the South Australia Murray and was our launch point. Last time we saw it was in 1998. Then the Aboriginal leaders were warning of the Murray silting up because of the agricultural drain up river. Victoria wasn’t being generous sharing either. Now after the floods they are more keen to let water through the series of locks and reservoirs! Unfortunately the drought of the last couple of years opened up deposits of iron pyrite which has turned into acid from the recent good rains. That and the salt leaching out of the land has pretty much shut down the bird life on the river. Sad. We enjoyed the trip, and though we didn’t see the galahs and giant cockies we saw last time, we were thrilled by the display of fishing skill by the whistling kites. We even saw a fish eagle!




On the way home we passed by the giant Rockinghorse. It was 15 minutes before they closed so we didn’t climb up – I didn’t have to trot out my tired acrophobia excuse. Realising how far we were from everywhere else was an interesting thought.

6th April:
We prepared for the Easter Bunny’s visit. Love how Sam is with Dougal on projects – so incredibly patient. Molly and Rod, mum’s friends for the last 30 odd years came round for hot cross buns and lime marmalade -a good combination. That night Pat made us a potjie without a fire, Hamish has a gas barbie, or a potjie. It was tasty but not nearly as good from the oven as it is from a pot on a fire.




7th April
We went to the Oakbank races. While it wasn’t the posh races at which we might see the incredible Black Caviar ( who is about to beat Phar Lap’s incredible record of 20 straight wins), it was entertaining. Pat and I would have been trillionaires if we’d got to the bookies with each of our race picks! Pat came home with A$30 which isn’t bad. Doesn’t equal B’s great success unfortunately! What distracted us, you may ask. Well Lou and Dougal in the camel for one and the winnings from the fairground clowns…


Then on Sunday was the Easter Egg hunt followed by a visit to the Ikea store just to see what it was like. Wow talk about retail on steroids. Sam, Lou, Pat and I put drawers together in the evening. Hamish was a crock from an engagement with Dougal in the collecting ring on Saturday. We did a good job if I say it myself. Committees can achieve things!

Yesterday we went to Gold Class movies – an experience. Only 24 patrons, recliners and waitrons to bring your meal, refreshments at your pleasure. Divine – though I did get the chocolate sauce from my Belgian waffles all down my leg, while endeavouring to not miss a single strawberry. Oh the movie was Mirror Mirror. Fun and fluffy. Nathan Lane being taken advantage of by a grasshopper – made me lol.

We did a damage at Bunnings on the way home.
Today we tried to tie up loose ends – and we’re doing Greek for dinner – yum.
No wonder we can’t remember our days. One day left and I’m feeling sad that the trip is nearly over. I’m feeling incredibly well, no cramps or nausea, legs strong enough to walk for hours. The cancer thing really feels like a bad dream. Stronger though and that’s what counts. I’m going to miss my Oz family terribly.