Hello World. Yes I might actually be back. Despite my absence for 65 days I did not in fact forget about you I just had a bout of computer phobia. When my M.E. related depression gets bad I get anxious just thinking about turning on the computer. I won’t even nip on my mum’s which is almost always running to check email. So all my online activities have suffered from my complete absence. It is quite amazing how many emails you can stockpile in two months.
While I’ve been hibernating there have been many developments. Today’s cumulative good news is that my sister is now officially a doctor of philosophy in Psychology. She submitted her corrections a week ago or so. Her confirmation letter came in the post this morning and she is on her way to collect her certificate this afternoon. So we now have a doctor in the house! 🙂
In other news my mum has completed her radiotherapy sessions and is now dealing with the aftermath. Her arm is still very sore from the surgery at Christmas. But at least she is not having to go the hospital every day as she was for the radiotherapy treatment. Otherwise she has weathered this storm with her usual unruffled grace.
As I attempt to drag myself out of my winter cave I find myself tripping over Open University textbooks. My first assignment is due in on the 20th March. Amazingly in 2 days I have completed 60 marks out of 40 so have a presentable assignment already at this stage. Of the remaining 40 marks one question looks relatively simple and the other one looks like my worst nightmare. In fact the question heading says ‘tests your ability to select and relate material from various topics’. Arr! 😦 There is also the ‘note you should not need more than 600 words’ warning flag. I absolutely hate paragraph or long answer questions. Give me a diagram to draw or convert, or code to write and I’m happy. Ask me to ‘briefly distinguish between terms’ and I’m looking on the question of doom. Still I shall solider on and at least attempt to put some sentences together I might be able to pick a few marks.
On the topic of putting together sentences – work on my novel halted back in November. I haven’t yet come out of my cave far enough to resume writing. However I have been the recipient of another writers brainwave. I have been pondering fairy stories again. This time what would happen if the evil fairy at Sleeping Beauty’s christening instead of wishing for death at the pricking of her finger on a spindle simply wished that all the other fairies’ wishes came true precisely. What if your skin actually was as white as snow? Perhaps as cold and wet as well? I’ve been having an interesting time thinking about the impact of those seemingly benign wishes. Now I’m working on why the different factions of fairies/witches might exist and what the king’s reaction is going to be to all this. Anyway it keeps me entertained as I lie on the acupuncture table each week and before I drift of to sleep at night.
So this week I have had my first physiotherapy appointment; an awards dinner where my mum got an award for her work for charity; my usual acupuncture appointment and my sister put in her very first job application last night. Still to come my sister has her viva tomorrow and my mum is making hospital visits for her pre-op tests. Honestly it is completely manic in out household.
My physiotherapy session went really well. I was stressed out beforehand but Faith was really nice. She gave me some positional breathing exercises to improve my rib muscle strength. Hopefully this will increase my deep breathing ability increasing my blood oxygen levels and so making me feel a bit better. I also asked her about Graded Exercise and she suggested using the Wii Fit Balance game so I shall be trying that out once I’ve recovered from this week!
The awards ceremony was amazing. My mum was nominated as a Community Champion for her work helping parents get the right support for their special needs children in schools. It was wonderful to see her go up and be recognized for the fabulous work she does. The pictures from the night aren’t up yet but I shall post one when they are.
My sister held a family pow-pow to get her job application read and checked by all of us before sending it off. We are excited and nervous for her. Of course we would love for her to get the job. It would be an amazing opportunity for her and only about 90 minutes away from home. But I would be a little sad as well as she would be moving out. I love our evenings of watching tv together and they will be sadly missed. Still we are in the earlier stages at the moment. We are hoping she will get shortlisted and get the opportunity to experience going to interview and what the process is like even if she doesn’t get the job.
Today all eyes turn to my sister’s viva tomorrow. At least 2 hours maybe as many as 7 hours being grilled on the contents of her doctoral thesis. I’m not worried for her. I know that she did amazing work and that it is well written. As long as she can string a sentence together and has a reasonably good explanation of her work she will pass with flying colours. Still we can’t help be a little bit nervous!
Of course the major back of the head worry at the moment is my mum. She went in for one round of pre-op tests today with another lot tomorrow. I shall be joining her at the crack of dawn as we trek off to the hospital to undergo such joys as an ECG and blood taking. While I’m not worried about the actual cancer I am concerned about the stress of the process we’re going to go through. Thankfully we’ll have a break over Christmas while her wound heals from the surgery before radiotherapy begins in mid to late January. I’m feeling pretty calm about her outcome but stressed about the details. A day spent waiting around for tests is not my idea of fun! Still I intend to be there to hold her hand and entertain her regardless of how early I have to get up. 😀
On a lighter note, yesterday was the first day of snow this winter! Apparently it fell in about 30 minutes and was really only 1/2 to 1 inch in depth. But it caused chaos on the roads as everyone slowed down and then the snow melt caused road flooding which was interesting. It took my sister 1 hour and 45 minutes to do a 20 minute journey. Worse news is that we are forecast snow again tomorrow so we shall have to set off extra early. We are planning to leave an hour to do a 20 minute trip and hope for the best. If we don’t encounter any problems we shall just sit around and run my sister through her practice questions until we need to leave for the hospital.
Yesterday was the big day – my mum got her news. Bad news – yes it is breast cancer; Good news – it is Stage 1 which means there is no sign it has moved to her lymph nodes. It is highly treatable and survivable. Women in the age bracket 60-69 have the highest survival rate of all diagnosed groups; 90% make it to the five year mark. She is scheduled for surgery to remove the lump followed by radiotherapy after that.
We are all in shock at the moment. My mum thought this might be the outcome but the rest of us were still thinking happy thoughts. It’s hard to say how I’m feeling. Stressed I think. Trying to think ahead to how to help her the most. I’m afraid but mostly because who wants to see their mum sick and in pain? Overall I’m not worried. Everybody dies. I would be personally devastated if we were to lose my mum now but I am going to lose her eventually. I could lose her anytime she gets into her car so this is not so different. I wonder if cancer is actually more survivable given the risk of injury and death on the roads. Now we just have to make doubly sure that she knows we love her and will always be here for her.
On top of all this my sister still has her Viva approaching – a large source of stress in our household. She is making good progress but still it does seem like everything comes at once! Of course after a day like yesterday I’m in pain mode today but I shall be crawling back into bed soon. Dark is best. 😀
Yesterday I felt like the world was on a roller coaster. As long as I kept my head still, eyes open and no flashing lights I just felt mildly dizzy rather than like I was on a teacup ride. Surprisingly I’m not feeling to bad today. A bit more headachy than usual but not horrendous. I even managed about 45 minutes working on checking my sister’s thesis. She wants me to do some basic checks in the run up to her viva. She now has a date so it is all steam head. 11 days and counting!! Eeek :-S
It is now only 48 hours until we will know the outcome for my mum’s test results. As calm as we have all been so far I think the tension is going to ratchet up as the hours tick down. Certainly I’m expecting to feel pretty nervous on Wednesday. Given her history the lump is likely to be benign but she is a high risk group for breast cancer so we really have no idea. Whatever happens we’ll be there to support her but still it is a little scary to contemplate all the possible outcomes. We shall keep praying for good news.
And then I’ll fall over. As part of my family duties as the best oldest sister ever I went along with my family to check out the University of East Anglia yesterday. My sister might apply for a job there and so she wanted to have a look around the campus. So I dressed in as many additional layers as I could and headed out. It is a reasonably long drive from our home. Plenty of time for me to start and finish a medium length novel on my Kindle. Due to evening obligations we had to be back early so this mandated an extremely early start. I am not accustomed to eating breakfast at 07:30 anymore. My school days are long behind me!!
The campus itself was inoffensive it was just large. I took my stick and plodded my way round. We had plenty of sit down stops but my feet still felt like I was walking on hot coals. It took 2 hours of lying down before they lost their heat. On the last stretch when I could see the car so near and yet so far away, I thought I might actually be sick my stomach grinding away as I tried to catch my breath. My sister followed this ‘mammoth’ trek with a night at a laser shoot-em up evening. Sort of like paintball but in the dark with lasers. I went to bed and stayed there until my stomach demanded food!
So maybe after Christmas I might be losing my sister to grown-up life. Her own rented house and a well paid job while I stay at home and try to convert my father to watching my shows with me. Oh well, she does say she’ll still commute home to watch Strictly Come Dancing with me when that comes round again. Can’t watch couples dancing without someone to critique them with.
Otherwise life goes slowly. National Novel Writing Month has so far been a bit of a bust. I just haven’t been able to get to my computer what with all the other activities I’ve had going on. We are still counting the days until my mum gets her news – 4 days. But my headaches have been low and apart from my feet and legs from yesterday I’m not feeling to bad.
Well it turns out I’m blind as a bat. Well actually worse than a bat since they actually have good daylight vision. I had my most recent eyesight test on Monday 19th (Nov). Once again I have lost more vision in both eyes. I’m now on complex lenses and so get free eyesight tests! I know that it shouldn’t bother me but I get frustrated. 1) my lenses are really, really expensive so buying a new pair every year is a pain. 2) To get laser surgery you have to have stable eyesight for 3 years – I’m lucky I’m testing only yearly. If I could get laser surgery then I could decrease my perscription so the expense of glasses would be less so that changing them wouldn’t be so painful. But of course first they have to not be changing in the first place!
When I was 16 and having 3 monthly checks I was told that by 21 most people have stopped having changes in their prescription Then at 21 I was told by 25 I should calm done. I’ve given up hope now! Youthful changes in prescription is suppose to be due to the shape of your head changing as you grow up. Either my head is still changing shape or I have dreadful eye muscles!
To give you an example of how bad my vision is I was asked to take off my glasses, look at the top letter and then walk towards the eye chart. I was supposed to stop when I could see the top letter clearly. From the testing chair I can’t even see the square of the chart except as a white blur. I get an arm’s length away before I can even see a black blur. A foot away and I can sort of see a letter shape but only the top letter none of the others. It turns out I have to be about 30cm away to be able to see the huge black A on the digital screen. Still looking somewhat fuzzy around the edges though.
Anyway looks like there is a new pair of glasses in my future. We are still counting down the days to my mum’s results – 5 to go. We are trying not to worry but it does creep up on you every now and then. Still there is nothing to be done so we are just enjoying each other’s company.
Wow, it’s just been a week of adventure. Well two weeks I suppose since my blood test palava was ten days ago now. Yesterday was one of the those musical cars days. I had a medical appointment (my cbt) and my mum had a medical appointment and my sister had to be in uni by a certain time. So I go off to my cognitive behavioural therapy session chauffeured by my sister and my mum gets to take my dad to her appointment.
I wasn’t that worried about my mum. She was going in for a check on a pain in her breast. She thought she strained it a while back but the pain didn’t go away so she mentioned it to the doctor. He sent her to get a mammogram as a precaution. She has had a couple before because she is a ‘lumpy person’. She has has several cysts removed before so we weren’t concerned about this scan.
We should have been.
She had the first scan and then they needed to do the other breast as well. Then she needed multiple scans of both breasts. Finally they took FOUR tissue samples from the lump in her breast. They don’t know yet but she had the scan nurse, a doctor and a specialist nurse giving her attention. It ramps up the worry factor.
It will be two weeks before we know the results of the biopsys. Two weeks of telling ourselves not to worry. There is nothing we can do to change the outcome now whether it is good or bad. I am so glad we were all there though. We ended up meeting up in a supermarket cafe. All four of us making sure that mummy knows we love her. She has been getting lots of extra hugs.
So now the C word has been bandied about in our house. I honestly don’t know what that would look like for us. I know we would adapt and cope because we always do but my mum is the rock in our family. My dad totally freaks out when she is sick and my sister gets very stressed when the people she loves are in pain. So now we wait and hope and try not to worry because it won’t change anything. Somehow that doesn’t seem to make not worrying any easier. 🙂