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My First Blog Post

Have I really agreed to this?

So this is my very first blog and, my first venture into the world of blogging so if I ramble on or don’t say enough – please tell me!

As all good stories go, I had better start at the beginning…..

In 2004 I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on my left leg, located just on my knee. It was a mole on my leg that had always been there and then one summer’s day in 2003, after a holiday in Greece, I noticed it had started to bleed.

I can’t say I rushed to the GP or that I was immediately terrified – I’m not sure I actually do ‘terrified’. But I did take my self off to my GP who referred me through to a plastic surgeon in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. This was August 2003. The letter arrived from the hospital pretty swiftly but the consultant appointment was for September 2004!

The 2019 me would have picked up the phone and started creating a noise about the waiting time, but 2003 me just thought that if they weren’t in a hurry, then I shouldn’t worry.

When September 2004 actually did roll around, things moved pretty swiftly. The consultant diagnosed the mole visually but obviously a biopsy was required. This was done within a week. Again, completely oblivious to the seriousness of the situation, I headed over to the UK on a girl’s weekend. Only when I received a call from a nurse in St Vincent’s telling me that the bed was ready for me in the ward and I needed to be back that night, did a small light bulb go off in my head that maybe this was not panning out so great for me.

The melanoma was 3mm under my skin which was extremely serious at the time. My sentinel node was removed in my groin to check where else the melanoma had spread. Not if, but where.

Times were different and there was less of a rush to move patients back home then. I was bandaged completely on both legs as a skin graft had been taken from my right thigh for the wound site. I stayed in hospital for three weeks. I was blessed with incredible friends who crossed the city to visit me every day.

Finally the oncologist came to see me in the ward. As he pulled the curtain around my bed, it finally sunk in that I was in deep trouble – I know, I can be slow on the uptake!

However, as it turned out the oncologist announced I was the luckiest person he had ever met. The melanoma had not spread. Whilst I would be monitored for the next five years, I would require no further treatment. When he left the ward, the nurses crowded around me and said they thought I hadn’t understood the consequences of malignant melanoma – they were probably right.

I spent the next month on crutches due to the location of the wound site, but I was home and I was cancer free!

During the next five years, I never once expected any of my follow up appointments to be anything other than routine and once that last appointment was done I can truly say it never occurred to me that the melanoma might return.

And yet, here I am in 2019. I will continue on my next blog……..

Waterville, Co Kerry. The Wild Atlantic Way

Words I never thought I’d say

Apologies yet again for the lack of blogs. I’d merrily write every day but I suspect you don’t want to hear about my daily TV viewing, my current crush on Boxer in White Lines, or what I’ve cooked for tea whilst trying to resist drinking wine every night.

However, I do think you want to know about THE TRAMPOLINE. Yes, said fancy trampoline arrived and OH literally could not wait to assemble it. I’m sure he was looking forward to hysterical laughing fits over the various comedy injuries I was about to sustain.

For those of you wondering why I would want to put myself through this, it is apparently incredibly good for moving fluid through your lymph system. Because so many of my lymph nodes have been removed due to the melanoma, I have developed lymphedema in my left leg. That means that my leg swells at a fairly alarming rate every day. Cast your minds back to when we were allowed to fly and sometimes your ankles would swell on the flight (or in the heat of the holiday after too much alcohol – so I hear!!). My left leg does this every day and can become really quite sore as the skin stretches. It’s also tiring as it feels so damn heavy.

So that’s the joy of lymphedema & I have basically decided I will do everything I can to alleviate it.

Just to be clear – me & exercise are not close buddies, we’re not even acquaintances. I had a brief spell of visiting a gym when I was single in my 30s. But that was more about putting on the leggings, prancing about for a while and then lounging in the sauna. I soon packed it in when OH suggested we might want to attend the gym together! There was even talk of me picking up weights! He didn’t know me back then.

Anyhoo, I digress. There are different exercises that can be done on the trampoline. You can go hell for leather, bouncing for a solid 20 minutes. I recommend this is done in private. A beetroot face and sweat pouring off you is never a good look. You can also do a more gentle exercise where you place your hands over different areas of your body – your spleen, your liver, your heart & notably your lymph system. Again this takes about 20 minutes of gentle bouncing, but you really do feel refreshed after it.

I know the answer you all want to know. Has there been any accidents – either of the injury variety OR the embarrassing type. Well I am happy to report that, other than discovering you must wear a sports bra, no injuries have been sustained and no embarrassing mishaps either.

The next thing I’m going to tell you is probably the most shocking. I have been swimming in the sea! Even though swimming is about the only vaguely sporty thing I can do, I would never have thought I would have the confidence to swim in the sea.

I mean the sea – actually it’s the Atlantic Ocean – it’s huge, it’s magnificent, it’s a little bit terrifying. But, again, I have been told it will do wonders for my lymphedema. The actual lapping of the water against your skin encourages the lymphatic fluid to move.

With that goal, we trotted off to the beach on Saturday. Here in Kerry we’ve not been blessed with the amazing weather a lot of you have been having, but I’d made up my mind I was doing this. OH had already said he wouldn’t be doing it so he was like I usually am at a funfair – left with the coats & bags. I had decided I would wear my swimming costume and a t-shirt as I only intended to go waist deep. I also thought I would freeze, turn blue, die of hypothermia- you know, nothing too dramatic.

It turned out that the minute I was in, I wished I’d left the t-shirt behind. It was AMAZING! It is so exhilarating. The waves roll at you and slap you on your body. Even though it’s loud it’s both exciting and peaceful at the same time.

When I came out, not only was I not cold or blue or hypothermic, I was buzzing. I didn’t need the thick fleece I’d brought with me. I felt alive.

The following day the sun decided to visit Co Kerry and we headed to the beach again. This time I didn’t bother with the t-shirt, straight in with just my cossie. The water was actually warm. I don’t mean just in random places where someone might have had a tinkle – come on, we’ve all done it (although OH insists he never has) – this was actually bliss on my skin.

I have no idea if all of this is having the desired result. I’m only just starting out. But I do know that whilst Mr T & Mr M are still kicking my ass every now & then, I finally feel like I am taking back control of my body.

OH is being pretty smug about the whole exercise thing being good for me – he’s about a millimetre away from saying I told you so. Time is ticking on and June will be here soon when it will be scan time to make sure nothing else has spread anywhere.

I can totally see how people become addicted to sea swimming. The sea has always been a magnet for me so maybe it was just waiting for me to discover it properly.

Here are a few snaps OH took. Probably not my most glamorous look but I hope they capture my joy

As an added bonus, I won €20 on the euro millions on Saturday – put that positivity out to the Universe and it responds. Obviously, a couple of extra zeros on the end would’ve helped but a win is a win!!! Stay safe.

Good days, bad days and tribulations of the sea

Haven’t put ‘pen to paper’ for a few weeks & I thought I’d better catch up with you all. I’ve always tried to make this blog as positive and upbeat as possible but I am aware that a Pollyanna attitude can be annoying if you’re having a bad day. With that in mind I thought I’d just share a little snippet of what OH has to put up with – obviously this is EXTREMELY rare….!

As you know, since my op I have suffered with lymphedema in my left leg which means I have to wear a very attractive compression garment to keep the swelling under control and make my leg feel less like a lead weight.

As I’ve started to feel so much better in myself, I’ve equally started to resent this garment and try to go a couple of days without wearing it in the hope that all this damn exercise (more on that later) will prove a miracle cure & I can throw the damn thing away.

Anyhoo, it’s a bit of a palaver to squeeze yourself into it each morning, especially if you’ve lolled around in your pjs for a couple of hours before getting dressed – no judging please, I know you’re all doing the same in lockdown life.

Swimming, or even just being in the water, is a great help towards easing lymphedema. As pools are closed, that’s out of the question but we do happen to have the Atlantic Ocean on our doorstep. The beach – any beach – is my favourite place to be. OH isn’t that keen, he prefers woods and mountains, but he has long given up that fight.

Probably because he is sick of me moaning about ‘my fat leg’ he is keen to get me in the sea. Or he could be planning an ‘accidental’ drowning. So we have been heading down to our deserted beach for a paddle which he knows I love. In my defence, we generally go every other day and do a different walk in between (can you already tell I’m making excuses for my bad behaviour?).

We had been to the beach the previous day so this particular morning I had already squeezed myself into my garment of torture & was dressed, ready to walk. OH waltzes out in his shorts, towel under his arm, geared up for a paddle. It was a waltz too far. As I stood in my odd socks (one foot has a sock, the other a compression) and a muffin top (garment pushes everything up), ‘why couldn’t you tell me that was the plan today’ (we never really have a plan) & ‘you’re so thoughtless’ (he so isn’t) followed by ‘I’m sick of looking like this’ (he always says I look lovely). He then made the fatal mistake of ‘but you loved it yesterday’ – well that was yesterday pal (I didn’t actually say that out loud) !!

Did I climb down off my high horse and apologise? Was OH left wondering where he went wrong by offering to take me to my favourite place? What do you think? Or did OH end up apologising for something he has no power over whatsoever??

My point is, we all have bad days and days we are way too hard on ourselves which sometimes manifests itself as being bad tempered, moody and snappy with others – usually the ones we love the most. I think the important thing is, is to examine what’s brought it on and then remind yourself how much better you are than a few weeks or months ago. It’s probably to apologise as well, but hey ho…

In amongst all of that, I have paddled in the sea and dug my feet (both feet) in the sand for the first time since last July and it was absolute bliss. I am seriously considering buying a wetsuit and going all the way in! My health is improving each day and my BP has gone to a fabulous 135/78. Mr M & Mr T still make themselves known with a smash of nausea here & there for no apparent reason, maybe just to remind me not to get too complacent.

I had intended to tell you a story of an unfortunate incident in then sea in Portugal but I’ve babbled on enough, so another time! Next week is bloods and ECGs again.

Keep safe, not just from the virus but out in the sun. Please don’t burn for the sake of a tan. It is really not worth it.

First paddle since July 2019

Spreading a little joy

Today I am spreading a little joy for those of us that are feeling a bit fed up, lonely or maybe just a bit wobbly because of everything going on around us at the moment.

That comes comes to you via my favourite pair of Converse. Here they are:

Obviously they are pretty fabulous in their own right without me saying anything else. These beauties have been all over with me – Canada, Greek Islands, Spain, not to mention most of Yorkshire and County Kerry.

But their fabulousness is not the reason they are bringing joy today.

Last April I started on this melanoma journey. It was the trip to my GP who subsequently sent me off to hospital to start on the whirl of biopsies, operations and immunotherapy.

Since then, I’ve not been able to wear my favourite converse. Firstly it was too difficult to bend down to do the laces and OH refused to tie them correctly (I had to be shown a few years ago the cool way to wear converse). Then, when I could finally bend down to tie them, my foot had swollen too much to get them on.

The joy I bring you today is that, thanks to compression garments and a bit of dedication, I am proudly sporting my favourite converse. They’ve taken me for my first walk in them for nearly nine months and I loved every minute of that walk.

In the big scheme of things, I know that this may seem very small. For me this is a huge victory. I’m returning to ‘normal’.

I am seeing a lot of ‘this soon will pass’ with regard to the virus. If you’re going through a tough time with treatment, or with any problem at the moment, remember it will get better. There was genuinely times last year when I thought I’d never be back to ‘normal’ and that ‘normal’ has still been altered as I will forever be on the wheel of check ups and scans now. But always congratulate yourself on your personal victories. Write a diary if it helps you remember and compare how you felt at your worst to how you feel today.

Enjoy your weekend and remind yourself how well you are doing.

Cocooning, shielding – call it what you will

I’ve been struggling to think what to talk about, hence the lack of blogs, but I see that people are still looking back on old blogs so I thought I’d better check in.

Since my last blog, I was due to have my usual clinic appointment at CUH but, obviously, that couldn’t go ahead. But I did need my bloods to be checked. For this I would have to risk a trip to my GP.

With everything going on, I haven’t ventured further than the end of my road for weeks now and it felt really weird to even drive the car. OH has been driving it constantly and I had to do a swift switch of music. I kid you not, he had been playing a Christmas CD.

The fantastic GP receptionist had asked me to ring her when I got to the back door. She was fully masked & gloved up and ushered me into an empty office. Next thing, the nurse arrived in – obviously masked & gloved – and had that needle in my pathetic vein before it had time to argue. I was in & out in less than 15 minutes. I felt like the Man from Uncle!

I’ve not heard anything subsequently, so I have to assume all is well. More good news – my blood pressure is levelling out at 118/78. Either my body is finally getting used to Mr T & Mr M or I really liked being smuggled in & out of the doctors!

OH has become my personal shopper and, whilst he takes this mostly in good part, it does mean I have to confess when the wine/mini eggs/hobnobs have run out. It also means there is an increase in fruit, veg, gluten free bread and bizarre fruit juices in the house. I suppose he has to be given brownie points for trying.

On a serious note, I am incredibly grateful to be living with someone who can do these things for me. It must be so difficult for those living alone to have to ask for help now. It would be far too foolish to risk a supermarket. The people we are seeing in the news, not heeding Social Distancing, are being so selfish. As I said before, we might not look poorly but here is the practical truth of it. There is a triage in place and if I was to catch the virus and require hospitalisation, a lack of ventilators would mean a doctor would have to make a choice to give that ventilator to me with a much shorter life expectancy or to someone without my medical history. These are the things you need to keep in your head.

I always worry on these blogs that I will tell you the same story a second time & if I go back to read old ones I get distracted and don’t post a new one, so I’m hoping I’ve not told you this little dip into my past.

OH reminded me of this as I was trying to persuade him to buy me the newly produced Apple Jameson Whiskey. I really am quite partial to a whiskey and don’t like it mixed with anything other than a couple of ice cubes and a roaring fire.

We visited the Jameson Distillery in Dublin with a group of friends visiting us from Yorkshire. I think it’s moved venues now, but still worth a visit when we’re all out of lockdown.

At the end of the visit you go to a tasting session where you can volunteer to taste six different whiskeys & bourbons. Obviously I stuck my hand up. Myself and about 5 other tourists were selected and we sat down at a bench table with an A4 piece of paper in front of us. There was six different shot glasses. The tour guide talked us through each one and asked us to taste them.

At the end, she asked us to put our favourite into the circle in the middle of the sheet. Only when I looked around at the other ‘tasters’ did I realise that you were only supposed to taste each drink. I had drunk them all.

I had nothing to put in the middle circle! The American lady next to me supplied one of her bourbons so that I had a middle drink. Then the tour guide said ok, go ahead and drink that one…..

Dear Reader, it was only when I went to the toilet in the pub next door that I realised just how drunk I was. I pushed open the door and apologised to the lady behind the door. Except it wasn’t another person, it was a mirror and I was apologising to my reflection. Three ladies at the basins sniggered quietly at me.

That’s me done for today but let me finish by saying please don’t feel alone or afraid on your own right now. I am only sitting at home, so if you want to message me here, on Facebook or Twitter, please do. I will respond and maybe make you smile about something.

Take care & stay well. Here is a little photo for your pleasure – the wonders of Snap Chat, covers up the teenage acne!

Mother’s Day – A weird one

I always find Mother’s Day a bit weird. Our mum passed away a long time ago. I don’t say that to be vague, we’re just not the type of family that remembers dates, anniversaries and things like that. It’s not a lack of respect, it’s just how we are.

I’m the youngest of five children (they stopped when they reached perfection). We don’t speak to each other constantly, we have an occasionally used WhatsApp Group, but we know we all love each other without anything being said. I guess that’s the gift our parents gave us. We are independent, we don’t get in a huff when someone doesn’t call or forgets a birthday (lucky in my case as I can be a bit hopeless). When we do get together we have a great time.

Our parents taught us how to love life, every bit of it. They taught us how to party too!

When I think about my mum now, I realise she must’ve been quite a risk taker. She was Scottish, born & bred. My dad was Welsh.

Any other previous suitors would’ve been Forces related because of where they lived. And she opted for a Welsh bank clerk who really wanted to be a vicar. Her poor parents!

Her risks went on throughout their married life. My dad worked for the Civil Service and they lived in Scotland, England & Wales. Can you imagine hoiking your 5 children, dog and 2 cats the length of the country when you can’t drive yourself?

Then another big risk – my dad decided to take up the one thing he had always wanted to do – become an Anglican vicar. As a younger man his father wouldn’t let him join the church, he wanted him to earn a good wage.

He went off to Theological College and mum kept everything going at home. As a teenager I’m quite sure I wasn’t the least bit impressed by this. But I am now. What a woman! And what a great wife.

There were never any blazing rows in our house. Well not between mum & dad. Me and my maths homework may well have lead my dad to raise his voice more than a little.

The best thing we all learned from mum is our sense of fun (and possibly how to flirt outrageously). I think I told you before, when my brother worked abroad, she would take a huge amount of enjoyment driving his Fiat X19 around without the roof, waving at other X19 drivers – mostly young men. She loved it. The sound of her stilettos could strike fear into any young teacher’s heart on Parent’s Evening – she wasn’t to be trifled with.

As we got older, she had various office jobs. Again, unnoticed by me at the time, money must have been tight. She made friends with a fabulous group of ladies who all shared her wicked sense of humour. Their cheese and wine parties on a Sunday afternoon were the thing of legend.

She never batted an eyelid when a boyfriend might turn up for me or my sisters, only to have to cover for us as we were out with someone else. Actually, she loved to have a chat with them in the kitchen all about their lives.

So when I say I find Mother’s Day weird, it’s not that I miss her, it’s that I’m really sorry she wasn’t around long enough to see us grow up enough to realise what a great woman she was.

At this terrible time when we can’t be with our loved ones, make sure you have a chat with your mum on the phone today if you’re lucky enough to still have her around. If not, just stop and remember some great times together, not in a sad way but in a joyous celebration of their lives.

I’ve a heap of photos below. I tried to pick the ones that showed her personality and how lucky we were to have her as our mum

1948 apparently

1953 on her wedding day
Says on the back of this The Two Glamour Pusses!
1973 in Scotland – I’m the cute one obviously
There’s the twinkle in the eye!
Right in the middle of all the fun – probably just heard a rude joke
Probably the source of half of my problems melanoma wise but look how happy we are. Also the holiday I leaned I liked alcohol!
Looking gorgeous

Happy St Patrick’s Day…a very quiet one

It is indeed, a very quiet St Patrick’s Day here in Waterville and across the whole of the Republic of Ireland. This time last year Roger was being forced into his shamrock bandana and I was digging out my shamrock boppers – yes, I do have head wear for every occasion.

This year is so different. No Rog, no parade and probably only a very small amount of drinking later this evening and that will be at home.

Myself and OH disagree on many things in life – he literally could watch an episode of Only Fools & Horses, switch channels, watch the same episode and still laugh his head off at the same joke he watched an hour earlier. He would rather watch the same film over & over than risk a new one he might not like. I like new films and new programs, a new plot with a twist – yes please. He likes pineapple, I think it’s the devil’s work. I could go on forever, but the point is these are the small things. On the big stuff, we generally sing from the same hymn sheet.

Immunotherapy was a big decision and one that we really didn’t agree on. OH is a fitness, healthy type. When I first met him he used to drink raw eggs – the thought of it turns my stomach. Thankfully he didn’t stick with that for too long. But he does believe fruit & veg can cure all & it has been hard for him to watch me go through these side effects without saying I told you so. But he has done it, is doing it, and has been incredibly supportive (even if I suspect he is now sick of discussing teenage spots and annoying coughs).

The other big thing we do not agree on is the Corona Virus. Here in Ireland the schools are closed, the pubs & restaurants are closed. The roads are virtually empty as more & more people are choosing to stay at home to stop this awful thing spreading. I completely agree with this and am really shocked the UK is taking so long to act.

OH thinks we are all over reacting and being lead by the media. This has lead to several heated discussions in our house! Whilst he is happy for me to stay away from everyone, he can’t seem to grasp the enormity of the situation. Believe me when I tell you, I am a great arguer. Truthfully OH doesn’t stand a chance against me once I get going but I know he is just keeping his opinion to himself now in order to avoid my wrath.

So for those of you in the OH camp, let me say this. I don’t look poorly – well apart from the spots and I’m not great without makeup to be honest – but my immune system is compromised by Mr T & Mr M not to mention recovering from a rather major operation. I am not in the minority. So many people don’t look poorly but deal with their illnesses quietly every day.

Our immune systems cannot fight this horrible virus without hospital assistance. Much as Cork Hospital has saved my life, I have no desire to be back there any time soon.

Please think carefully about your actions. Think who you might be coming in contact with. We can all get through this just fine if we keep on thinking of others.

To get off my soap box and leave you with a smile I will tell you that I have eaten all the mini eggs OH thinks he stashed secretly – he can have his opinion in his own time, not mine. That last egg was particularly delicious.

Happy St Patrick’s Day – next year will be an enormous celebration.

The one thing I can still do is go out walking in our wonderful countryside. Here is a little photo for your pleasure. The beach & the sea is still my favourite place but this beauty is a very close second

A delayed International Women’s Day

This time last year on International Women’s Day I gave all the ladies in the office an envelope and some paper. I asked them all to write a compliment about the other ladies in the office and slip it into the envelopes on their respective desks. It was a lot of fun, the buzz around the room was like a Friday before a long weekend! Some people commented on physical things like fabulous hair or well shaped eyebrows. Other people wrote about how a smile lights up the room and how much a cheery word is so appreciated; how much a moment of support had meant to them months before. It was such a great day.

This year I found myself struggling to find the right thing to put on Facebook/Twitter to really express how much International Women’s Day really means to me. I am always in awe of the ladies who hold down a job whilst bringing up their families. How do you get children to school on time and yourself to work, with make up & hair done? I’m hard pressed to get myself there without turning up in my pyjamas!

Since starting immunotherapy my twitter has changed from following mostly dogs & cats to finding lots of people going through a similar treatment. It’s not quite as much fun as cats & dogs but it is informative sometimes and always supportive. Today I saw this and it was exactly what I wanted to say about International Women’s Day.

Sometimes friends text me with problems they’re facing and then say they’re sorry because they think what I’m going through is worse and they shouldn’t trouble me. Not so! Every problem is always easier solved when you share it with a friend. Share away, that’s what your friends are for. Besides, I have a heap of time on my hands so a real life problem is much more interesting than a binge watch of Dawson’s Creek (current guilty pleasure).

Whilst the corona virus is, indeed, very serious, it actually afforded me some very good news. Because the hospital has cases of the virus, my appointment could not go ahead and my scan results had to be given over the phone. Ready? My scan was ALL CLEAR! That means that there is no further spread and Mr T & Mr M are doing their job. It means that all these side effects are worth it.

I continue on with the treatment and regular scans to make sure Mr T & Mr M don’t start to slack in their duties.

For now this incredible news is dulled a tiny bit as fatigue is this seasons side effect and is wiping me out but I know a good thing when I see it and I may have shed one or two tears of relief when I put the phone down.

Listen to your own advice

I’m currently killing time in Costa. This week I have done A LOT of killing time. The house is sparkling clean and numerous episodes of Dawson’s Creek have been watched but, mysteriously, none of these activities have made the phone ring with the results of my CT Scan.

The young doc from last week did, in fact, ring me on Monday. But he rang to tell me he didn’t have any news. It was nice of him to ring me and I do appreciate he has hundreds of other patients, but it still left me in limbo.

So I have done the middle of the night ‘has it spread’ conversation. I have done the ‘I think I feel a lump’ – in fact my bear, Barry, is extremely well versed in Dr Google and what else is probably, almost definitely (by 3am) wrong with me.

I’ve now moved on to the no news is good news thought as I know there won’t be any calls over the weekend and any other line of thought will drive me bananas.

I was looking through my photos to put a suitable motivational picture up, nothing was lighting my candle. Then a lovely friend of mine sent me a photo of something I had given them about three years ago.

I was so impressed they had kept it. It’s so easy to forget how you might have touched someone’s heart as you drift in & out of people’s lives.

The words were really important to them today but they had no idea how important they are to me today as well. Keeping on thinking about these results won’t change the outcome.

So enjoy your weekend dear reader and try not to over think the things you cannot change

FYI – this is Barry. He is the same age as me. That’s right, age unknown. However, he is wise beyond his years and an incredible listener

Always find the joy wherever you can

I’m sure you’ve guessed, dear readers, that the lack of a blog means I’ve had a few dark days. A mixture of side-effects, terrible weather so not much walking, an outbreak of more teenage acne and no ginger prince have all culminated in me being a bit of a miserable mare. Add to that, the lead up to the much anticipated CT Scan – yep, I’m a positive joy to be with right now.

However, I do appreciate the requests for blog updates – thank you for keeping me going!

As I’ve told you before, I really do enjoy a private concert in the car. It’s just over two hours drive to the hospital so I usually have a playlist ready. Due to the current funk I’ve been in, Wednesday’s trip to the hospital was a full on pity fest – we are talking Neilson, Céline, Mariah and my very favourite, Barbra. Oh yes, I was going for it.

Two things happened that stopped me in my tracks, both physically and mentally. Myself and Barbra had just finished a fine duet of Woman in Love, the applause was fading, next up? Bing Crosby sidles in with Mele Kalikimaka!!! I must have ticked it by mistake from the Christmas tunes and there he was. In the midst of my melancholy, even I could see this was very funny and it felt so good to laugh.

The second thing to happen was a multi coloured sheep. I take the most beautiful route to the hospital and I’ve tried to take a few photos of my journey but my camera really doesn’t do it justice. Each time I drive past these sheep I always think of my friend in Yorkshire who I am certain would paint her sheep this colour if she went into farming. Not that she would, as we have both proved ourselves to be ridiculously soft over our animals and inconsolable over their recent loss – probably not the best personality trait for a farmer. I pass these sheep often and they rarely take any heed of me, even when I am edging past them in the car with Barbra blasting out. This time I stopped to take a photo and spread the joy.

Pretty fabulous sheep!

The ladies in the blood room must have been cursing me this time round as I was their last victim, sorry, I mean customer, of the day. My veins decided this would be a great chance to disappear. Three nurses later and several attempts on both arms, I finally parted with a bit of blood. I’ll spare you the photo of my bruises today. Completely my fault as I hadn’t considered that I was fasting for the Scan later and I hadn’t been keeping myself warm either. Won’t fall for that again.

The nurse in the CT Scan room also needed a vein to get the dye in. It was an abdomen and pelvic scan. This is checking that Mr T & Mr M are actually doing their jobs.

As you’ve probably lost track of the various scans, this one is the delightful one that makes you feel like you’ve wet yourself when the dye goes in. A bit like when you first experience leather heated seats in a car. I know it’s not just me! You’ve also drunk a load of weird liquid for an hour before the scan, so it’s a genuine concern. Anyway, thankfully I hadn’t wet myself and the scan was over really quickly.

The following day was the ‘oral chemo’ clinic. I still hate calling it that. Obviously too soon for scan results, so the young doc (they are ALL young) had to listen to my woes about spots, coughs, headaches and exhaustion. Poor lad – probably put him off marriage for life.

The good news is that my Blood Pressure was right down. The bad news is that it’s now on the floor. It does mean that I can stop one of the BP tablets immediately, which is great news.

As I was in Cork for two days I was able to stay with my friend for the night. Back in the day, we have shared many a mad night that usually ended in the realisation it was daylight. This was much more sedate and yet, equally as fabulous. Yet again, it’s all about finding the joy. My Cork trips have brought us right back into each other’s lives.

So now it’s just to wait. Scan results sometime this week…

My favourite view on my journey home

More spots & fancy ankles

Several people have asked me how successful my new compression tights have been. I have to tell you – they are flippin marvellous!

I have no nails left from dragging the tights on every day and a huge dinner is out of the question whilst wearing them, but as you can see from the photo, my ankle has pretty much returned to the original size. A couple of my toes are a little bit swollen and the top of my foot is a little bit podgier than the other one, but I am delighted. I can get my boots back on and, more importantly, back off again without OH having to prise them off like a tug of war every day in the kitchen.

These are such huge leaps for me. I can’t tell you how depressing it is not to be able to get a particular shoe on. Equally the corresponding constant dull ache that accompanies the lymphodema. My foot no longer hurts.

Obviously the lymphatic fluid has to go somewhere and while my trampoline is still to arrive to assist this, my thigh seems to be the host for the fluid. This can feel really heavy – generally you will find me watching the telly on an evening with my leg up in the air or at least hanging off the back of the sofa. It’s very attractive.

I’m hoping to get in touch with a lady who specialises in lymphatic drainage massage in the next few weeks, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

Years ago, we were on holiday in Turkey with my sister and her family and went to a Hamman. That’s a Turkish bath to any of you that haven’t been there.

We were instructed to get up onto these marble slabs and lie down. Two huge guys arrived in with buckets and goat hair flannels. They scrubbed us from head to toe – don’t go if you’ve had a spray tan for your hols, gone instantly. We were then told to stand up at the end of the room where they lashed ice cold buckets of water over us. They probably laugh their heads off at stupid tourists afterwards. We then went off to have massages.

We lay down on our beds in a line, me and my sis with the boys further down the room. Beautiful Turkish men then came in to massage us. Well, dear reader, I can only tell you that the men who massaged us were probably more familiar with my every nook and cranny than my beautician or any surgeon! The boys were finished way before us and drifted off to get shaved. When the massagers had finally finished with us they disappeared and the two of us stood up to discover our bikinis were half hanging off. We didn’t know if we’d had a fabulous time or been taken advantage of! My skin was glowing though.

I suspect lymphatic drainage massage won’t be quite so much fun.

There’s also a slight improvement in the teenage spot situation. A witch hazel face mask and some Swedish soap given to me by a fabulous friend in America seems to have helped enormously.