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Twists and turns

Every good story has its plot twists, going off at unexpected tangents. It’s the way of things. Life does the same. It’s that unexpected promotion, the accidental pregnancy, the gift that makes a difference to your days and so on. The twists can go either way, but, in the end, they end happily (or have a really good moral).

Ok, waffling over. I’ve been asked what this is about me moving yet again after swearing that I’d be in my little flat for a good few years. I loved that flat. It just wasn’t to be in the end. I’ll start the plot twist chapter with a recap for some (sorry to bore you) for the benefit of those who are truly perplexed.

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Yep. That’s my zimmer frame. Because of the pain walking caused and the weakness in my right leg, I resigned from my job at Age UK. It was the kind of job that needed mobility… something I was losing more and more of as time passed. The morning after my last day at work, I turned from taking down my laundry and tripped. I found myself lying on the floor unable to get up at all and in terrible pain. I called Tat who came over with Ste and lifted me into a chair. She called an ambulance and my latest hospital saga started. At first, they wanted to give me anti-inflammatories for a torn muscle and send me home, as they couldn’t find a problem in my hip and knee x-rays. One doctor came around and asked why my femur hadn’t been x-rayed and a good thing too. It turned out that 9cm of my thigh bone was a spongy mess. It was a miracle that I hadn’t had a serious fracture yet. The decision was made there and then to operate. They put a titanium pin down my femur secured with screws in the hip and knee. That sorted the fracture possibility out.

The follow-up MRI showed no further cancer in any of my organs. A bone scan was done, but I’ll only have the results for that tomorrow. So far, it only appears to be in my femur. What does this mean for me? Firstly, the orthopaedic surgeon said that bone won’t regrow and I’ll never be able to put weight on it. I am determined to prove him wrong. Of course bone regrows! Thus the need of a zimmer/walking frame. I’ve graduated to crutches now, which give me a lot more freedom of movement and I have a rented wheelchair for outings.

I loved my flat, but not being able to do stairs, living on the second floor was somewhat impractical. To go to my hospital visits, I needed a 4-man specialised ambulance team to get me downstairs and back up again. I sadly made the decision to move. Poor Tat was being run ragged between her flat, my flat, and work, spending her spare time caring for me. It’s so frustrating not to be able to do anything without help. It is also a time of firsts, much like a baby. My whoop of joy when I finally managed to put my own socks on was something to behold… if I curl my toes up just ‘so’, I can just reach the enough to slip the opening of the sock over them. It’s the little things. Still, those four flights of stairs were prohibitive, so we made the decision for me to move back in with Tat and Ste, which will make it so much easier on my poor carer – at the very least, it cuts down on the amount of back and forth travel she had to do. They’ve gone out of their way to make me feel at home, though much of my stuff is stored in their loft. I have my name down for a ground floor flat or a single-level house, but that could take a while to come through, as they’re in demand.

Tomorrow, I have my first post-surgery oncologist appointment. I can’t say much about it, as I’m in the dark as well. I know they’re planning radiation, but that’s all I know so far. A lot depends on the bone scan, though my gut tells me the rest of my bones are clear.

It has been a scary, frustrating month. I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without the help of friends and family, especially Tatiana, who’s put her own life on hold to care for me. Thanks to Ste for his support and playing taxi, to his parents and brother for help with the move and their support as well and to Anne who rushed to my side to help and be my shoulder to cry on and bring much-needed laughter to our world when we needed it most. There are so many more thank you’s. Everyone has been wonderful from the hospital staff (from cleaners to surgeons), the ambulance guys (who each need a medal) who kept me laughing through awkward and often painful trips to the hospital, all the support staff who’ve kept the neighbours wondering, the lovely neighbours themselves who kept everyone smiling and would send up treats and flowers. I could go on, but you get the picture. My support system is still strong and help has come from all sides, often unexpected too.

On to the next chapter….  :)

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in cancer, healing

 

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A picture of grief

grief

As many know, I work in a charity shop. It goes without saying, that we get many very interesting donations coming in needing to be checked for quality and pricing. Just before Christmas, a bag of books came in. As I was checking the books for resale value, this note fell out. It had me choking back the tears. Such heartbreak! To me, it came as a grim reminder that not all who are alone have comfort, that loneliness is very real. Not all are as lucky as I am to have people who care enough to call. It’s a call to reach out to those who are alone and hurting.

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Posted by on January 3, 2016 in people

 

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Muddy waters

As I face the New Year, I feel I’m ready for a new beginning. I know that each new day is a new beginning, but, with what’s gone by this past year or two, I’m thinking that a Big new start is in order. I want to reconnect with all my friends I’ve neglected in my year-long slump and infuse energy into my work and play. This involves a lot of deep work for me. One thing that keeps popping up is the subject of forgiveness. I’m fairly sure there are a slew of people needing to forgive me for wrongs and perceived wrongs. I hope they’ll have the courage to confront me, so that I can apologise and make amends. From my side, there is one huge forgiveness challenge that I know is going to hold me back, but I don’t know if I’m big enough to let it go. Yes, I know forgiveness isn’t about approving of someone’s behaviour, but I’m afraid that forgiving will open me up to more of what the person is capable of handing out.

Jurgis was very involved in doing family research in Lithuania while we were volunteering in Ireland. This was costly, but he considered it well worthwhile. The payback for us was huge and life-changing, but it was also done for other close relatives who had asked for the information. Jurgis, at the time, was desperately trying to rebuild bridges with the relatives in question, as we hadn’t had contact for so many years. One day, he broached the subject of all the bureaucratic costs relating to the research he was doing and suggested the relatives contribute to those costs, as they were also benefitting and we weren’t earning at the time. One relative replied scathingly calling Jurgis a beggar and many other nasty things. Anyone who knew him, knew he’d give the shirt off his back for you. He was heartbroken and confused at her words. My feisty, caring daughter took up defense of her father and got a similar tongue lashing from this relative. I still have those messages saved. Yes… I know…. I shouldn’t, but I do. My suggestion to my little family unit at the time was that we just distance ourselves, which we did, though Jurgis still made weekly international calls to his relative. No one ever called him.

Jurgis died. Funny how death affects people. It wasn’t long after his death when the relative that slung abuse at him added me on Facebook. I have spent this past year ignoring that add. As I’m facing my New Beginning, I’m having to face forgiveness, but I don’t know if I can forgive. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I’m clearly a holder of grudges – not happy to admit that! Oh what to do… what to do?? I know what to do, but am I big enough?

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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in family

 

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A window into the darkness

g fa - alone

Some days I don’t need to try and life is good. Some days, it’s all I can do to just get out of bed and feed myself. Other days, with a little effort, I manage just fine and feel better for it. One of my biggest challenges is words. They are swirling in my mind constantly and keep me awake for hours at night, but the moment I try to put pen to paper or keyboard… it’s all gone. Blank. For someone who was a prolific writer and blogger, I now never write. Putting out one sentence for something like Facebook takes monumental effort, so I’m grateful to others who write.

A while ago, I stumbled on a poem by Hannah Nicole that very eloquently describes what I know many are feeling and experiencing.

Depression does not always mean
Beautiful girls shattering at the wrists
A glorified, heroic battle for your sanity
Or mothers that never got the chance to say good-bye

Sometimes depression means
Not getting out of bed for three days
Because your feet refuse to believe
That they will not shatter upon impact with the floor

Sometimes depression means
That summoning the willpower
To go downstairs and do the laundry
Is the most impressive thing you accomplish that week

Sometimes depression means
Lying on the floor staring at the ceiling for hours
Because you cannot convince your body
That it is capable of movement

Sometimes depression means
Not being able to write for weeks
Because the only words you have to offer the world
Are trapped and drowning and I swear to God I’m trying

Sometimes depression means
That every single bone in your body aches
But you have to keep going through the motions
Because you are not allowed to call in to work depressed

Sometimes depression means
Ignoring every phone call for an entire month
Because yes, they have the right number
But you’re not the person they’re looking for, not anymore

And yes, I have been guilty of avoiding answering the phone. I don’t do that anymore, but I’ve been there… when my heart was too full and my mind was dark with no windows to the outside.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in life, poetry, thought

 

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Hummingbird

hummingbird bluegreen

The hummingbird goes way back for me. One of the delights of Brazil was our garden that seemed alive with these industrious little birds. Jurgis was particularly taken with them. It became almost an obsession for him to be able to capture a hummingbird in a photo. We moved away from that first house with its lush garden. Our next home was the turn of the bem-te-vi, a bird that also gave us a great deal of pleasure. We saw few hummingbirds after that. We tried putting out feeders, but weren’t in the right area for them. Still, whenever we spotted one while out, Jurgis would be captivated all over again.

I didn’t think much of the hummingbird after that. I love all birds, my personal favourites being the blackbird and the robin. They played a huge part in lifting my spirits during some dark times.

I will never forget the night Jurgis died. It had been a couple of hours since we’d turned off his life support when I finally pulled myself together long enough to get in touch with his brother in Australia. It was while we were talking when he broke in with, “What the…?? A hummingbird just flew into my pc!” On my end, I went cold all over. To me, that was no co-incidence. I believe in signs and this was definitely a sign. Hummingbirds don’t just fly into pc’s.

As happens when someone dies, we began receiving cards from friends from all over the world. It meant so much to us. Each card was heartfelt and helped to wrap us in love and care. No one card meant more than the other. In saying that, however, as I write this, two cards stand out for me. One came from a dear friend in Australia. Inside was… you guessed it… a hummingbird! That little golden hummingbird now lives in my purse. Another came all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

legend of the hummingbird

Since then, the hummingbird has appeared regularly and often in the most extraordinary place, though, to be fair, never a live bird. Some believe in signs. Others don’t. I’ll take it as a sign, a sign that he’s with me and watching, a sign that “life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and laughter is life’s sweetest creation”.

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in animals, jorge, spiritual, symbolism

 

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Moving forward

At least, in one area of my life.

I know that there are many out there who will be thrilled (ok, that’s perhaps a rather strong word) to hear that I’ve made the decision to go for my radical mastectomy. It’s a huge thing for me, so I’ve planned it for the start of June, which gives me time to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and practically.

Physically, I need to work up fitness, particularly in my chest and arms. I’m also preparing myself for the possibility of lymphedema, the most frightening part of this whole deal and the main reason I’ve put surgery off for so long. Right now, I’m learning as much as I can about the prevention and management of that ghastly, incurable disease (yes, there are worse things than cancer – at least, in my book). Practically, I need to gather a front-buttoning, comfortable wardrobe. My shirts and blouses are all pullover. Not that I really need much encouragement to go shopping lately. Shopping, for me, is very much out of character. I’ve always been the Scrooge, thinking twice before spending a penny. This brings me to the mental and emotional part of all this.

This past month has been awful on so many levels. My first lone wedding anniversary was one of the toughest times I’ve had to go through. For many years, we didn’t celebrate birthdays or Christmases as a family. Our wedding anniversary was the Big Event of the year. Much was made of it. Tat and I did our level best to be out there and busy on that day, but it was still rough. The nights are the worst. I rarely sleep more than two hours at a stretch. My scans not long after Jurgis died showed a substantial shrinkage of the tumour. No surprise there. I was militant about my protocol, following it to the nth degree and he helped me, continually encouraging me in my weaker moments. After he died, I seemed to have lost all will. My protocol slid and became erratic. This has shown itself in my scan results. First there was no shrinkage. The last lot showed growth and the tumour isn’t looking ‘healthy’ anymore, so yes, I’m giving up, though not altogether…

The plan is this: Aside from my wardrobe issues, which are really minor – the joys of working in a charity shop are that clothes are easy and inexpensive to come by – there are a few more practical plans to make. I want to make pouches for the drains that I may have to wear for a couple of weeks. I’ve seen examples of these in US and Australian stores. I’ve not seen anything here, but am not worried, as I can make them. It will give me something to do during those long, sleepless nights anyway. After surgery, I’ll stay home for about two weeks before phasing in going back to work. I plan to go back to my anti-cancer protocol after the surgery, though I’ll probably cut back on the number of supplements. I do need to go back to a cleaner diet *sigh* That’s been the biggest factor in my health changes.


It’s rather hard to find a non-gory image to illustrate the surgical incision and the drain bags I plan to make holders for. The holders are to prevent them pulling out of the surgical area when sleeping or going out.

I’m sorry I disappeared. I’m sorry I shut my friends out this month. I could barely deal with myself, never mind actually having to make meaningful conversation. At work, it’s easy. Simple customer service and possible chat about the weather. My evenings and nights have been a long marathon of watching TV series and online shopping (a rather troublesome side effect of my emotional state). Having said that, I do now have a couple of purchases that give me immense delight like the little fan I bought to help cope with the brutal hot flushes at night. It’s a bright, sunny yellow and just totally cool, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Onward and upward. It’s a long road, but I’m used to long roads by now, right?

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in cancer, healing, health, jorge

 

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Some days….



 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in jorge

 

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