Liz's colonic journey

Archive for May, 2012

When there are no words

I’ve been quiet digitally lately, mostly because I’ve been lost for words. I’m going to try, now, two weeks later.

My heart is aching for my good friend, Sharon and her hubby Dave, who lost their eldest son in an accident the Friday before last. There was nothing that Robert and Warren were doing wrong, or could have done to stop a truck veering across three lanes and hitting them on the opposite side of the road. A speeding possibly tired long haul driver, alcohol, and a flat road removed all their choices. Stupid, ridiculously unfair, tragic and leaving  a huge horrible hole in the lives of the parents and wives of two precious sons.

S and D’s  pain puts any other sorrow from living into a deep deep shadow. I think it’s made worse by the generous way they both are in the world. They are Givers …constantly. If living is love made visible these are the examples. They’ve been towers of strength for me and many others. I wish I could make this nightmare go away for them and their family.

This tragedy makes everything else seem very petty in relation to it.

I  could have done without that reminder that life is so incredibly fragile and precious and may not be here tomorrow. From Sharon and Dave, and Robert’s venturesome life I’ve been reminded.

I can love and be loved. I don’t think that is going to change whether I’m physically here or not, because it is the most important thing I can do – now.


Busy Lizzy

Mari pointed out to me yesterday, that she doesn’t know how I’m really doing, if I don’t blog, even though we work together, because we talk about work at work.

I’m doing fine. Truly. I’m feeling strong and don’t miss my noodly legs at all. The only thing that really reminds me that I have cancer is the numbish/ pins and needles in my finger tips and feet. I’m aware of them when I type. I sometimes miss-hit keys especially on the Mac – which I’m still getting used to – and my cell  though using Swype and a stylus helps a lot. It’s a pity iPads can’t use Swype unless you ‘jailbreak’ them and thus mess up the security of the Apple operating system.

Walking isn’t a problem because the numbness is more related to texture than to pressure, so I can feel if I’m standing on something  from the pressure, but not necessarily what it is. I kind of miss the texture of grass or carpet under my feet. Let this be a warning though:  my pedalwork in Squashy can be a bit strange at times, so if you are in traffic with a silver Qashquai around be aware that there’s a nutty woman who’s foot might slip off the clutch if she’s not concentrating!

When I’m not busy with something, I go into ‘monitoring mode’ and become hyperconscious of any teeny pang or pain and angsting (Lee’s word) about whether the mofos are growing again. Rationally, a pain in my shoulder is more likely to be about old age or lugging my laptop than my liver, I think, but one does worry. I’ve come up with what I call a ‘full-stop mantra’ for those moments when anxiety threatens and I can’t believe that I’m feeling so well.  “I live!”.  Short and sharp. It has the effect of making me thank my lucky stars and looking at what counts in this moment.  It’s basic but it seems to be working. The downside for Pat is that I buzz around ‘doing stuff’ to keep from dwelling on things, which may be what got me in this pickle in the first place. It must be tiring for her.

Anyway, I’m determined to avoid going back to Dr Landers until my CT scan appointment on the 12th of June, and to make the most of being of the chemo. I’ve put on 7kgs since we left for Australia. This became really obvious when I hopped down the corridor trying to pull on my Gloria van der Bilts the other day, and failed to drag them over my knees – much to Pat’s mirth.

I did manage to sit through some tv programmes on Sunday, between flopping back to bed. That was tiredness – the ordinary kind, if there’s such a thing. Mary and John invited us a while ago to Quiz Night at the Royal Yacht Club, and we went on Friday night. Our team of Mary, John, Shirl, Clifford, Sharon and Dave came 4th. I learned that the singing trio that got their name from the Tintin books was the Thompson Twins. Which made me think that British education standards went downhill a long time ago – numeracy for one!  Of course when I asked Sioux that question she got it right first time and nog al, proceeded to sing a couple of their hits. G-Town has a lot to answer for.

We got home at 11.30. I was up at sparrow’s beak crack to join the walking crew for breakfast after their 8km walk to celebrate Kath’s birthday. What a pleasure to have the yummy grub, including lovely (gluten-free) mielie bread warm from the oven, without having to do the work!  How nice to sit on her lovely porch with the early sun, chatting and laughing and watching Elaine trying to wiggle out of the plan to walk 30 kms from Suncoast to Umhlanga and back.

Saturday afternoon was Cindy’s baby shower. Cindy is the owner of Rocky’s preschool and is having a baby girl in July. One has to keep in with one’s dog’s boss, you know? Joan C insists that Rocky is staff not student over there. Unfortunately I had a nasty headache so Pat went off on her own to do her duty. It was obviously a success because C says she’s got everything a baby girl could need until she’s at least 4 years old, including multiple pairs of bling shoes. A sign of things to come.

Happily my headache had passed (been bombed out of existence) by the time we left for the party at Paulette’s. Sam’s Lentil and Mushroom bunny chows were scrumptious. What a clever Durban party food. I was amazed at all the vegetarian possibilities, and it was nice to catch up again with so many of the Warrior Women. Not enough time though. We got home at 12ish, but I could have happily stayed another three hours.

Sleeping in at 32 Scott is not an option with Pepper and Rocky around – I think they felt a little abandoned with all our gallivanting so much petting and bribing was in order.  We vegged all day, deliciously.

Which brings me to the working week. I had had a notion that I’d work on the weekend to catch up with all the reading, writing and thinking that had built up last week. But no. I think I need to be realistic. I used to do a fair amount of work in the evenings after the working day and on weekends, but I’m limiting work to eight hours a day – unheard of in academia or teaching for that matter. Yesterday’s  meetings, exciting and interesting as they were had me knackered by 5.30. Our Ed Tech ops meeting is always interesting, and meeting with Joan C and Kathleen about our Alterations article was a fun challenge. I nearly missed seeing Pham about her masters because I’d double-booked myself. Hopefully my memory failures are just a hangover from the chemo and not a sign of something else…. I live!

And this is my avatar for living:

Happy Tuesday as Pat would say.


So I put my foot through my bedroom ceiling yesterday….  Perhaps I should explain that because I’m feeling so strong and the cooler weather has always brought out the DIYer in me, I decided to change the lightbulb in the downlighter in the shower. Simple job, right? The bulb appeared to be rusted in, which of course meant getting into the roof and trying to remove the entire light fitting. I should have stopped when I felt tired just bringing the stepladder in from the laundry. I’ve never been good at knowing when to stop. After I’d remembered the first rule of being inside a roof – step only on the trusses – I stopped, cleaned up the debris and put the ladder away.

I did Codewords for three hours to still my beating heart.

It was fabulous to do a little walk with Kathy and Sharon on Saturday morning, from the Farmer’s Market in Assegai. It felt like old good times getting up in the dark, and putting on walking gear in time to be ready for Sharon to pick me up. Like going to races and all the fun we had with those. It took me a while to track down all my walking bits and pieces. I’d even forgotten how to start my watch! K and S were very gracious and sacrificed their 8km up Alveston hill, to do a slow 4 with me. Granted they’d done 30kms on their bikes on Friday, and claimed sore legs but I know those two  – they go and go and go. It was delightful to have breakfast at the market and buy some great veggies, as we chatted. Special.

Being off the chemo is strange. We’d made such massive changes in routine and everything was governed by body functions/dysfunctions and medical visits, that it’s quite difficult to be ‘normal’ again. It’s fabulous to be able to get up in the morning and be ready for work in an hour, to walk to the gate without thinking about noodly legs and to have enough of  an appetite to plan meals. Food tastes really good and I’ve put on another kg since we got back. Yet I find myself speeding up again and not stopping to notice the light on the leaves and the flowers. I have to remind myself to feel grateful for how good I’m feeling and how blessed I am in my life. So between the gladness for strength and relative health  and the memory of the nightmare of the diagnosis, there is a place for missing the sensitivity that comes from noticing every breath. I get reminded by my fingers and toes which still tingle all the time from the chemo damage – at least they don’t zing in the cold!

Like at work – I’m kind of scared of taking on any project that requires me to be reliable, because I just can’t predict what will happen next. The team is amazing, Gita, Mari, Bwalya, Pregs and Denise have covered the gaps for 6 months and graciously have edged over to fit me back in more permanently again. Shubs, Sibongile, Bwalya and Joan have kept MPR/TES alive and well and fun. It’s taking me a while to find the rhythm again.

Isn’t Durban beautiful at this time of the year? I call them Diamond Days – clear, all the edges are so sharp, warm yet cool at the same time.

We have a new batch of lettuce seedlings coming up in our planters. I didn’t know that lettuce will grow now. Also while we were in Oz, Alphaeus transplanted tomato plants sowed by the birds into the rose planters. Both the roses and the tomatoes seem to be very happy sharing their tubs, new buds on the roses and a massive crop of jam tomatoes are on their way. The rocket and the swiss chard are thriving, and the cucumber and eggplants both have fruits growing.

There’s a season to everything.