Monday, 25 August 2008

2008 Aug 23rd - Are the Eyes Related to the Paranormal?

Saturday morning was bright and sunny, and despite a late night I had a good feeling about the weekend ahead. After making a packed lunch and picking up the birthday girl. We ate our lunch in a layby on the A1. Parking at Cockfosters as usual, we got off to a good start by finding a ticket seller with a REAL sense of humour. He was making it like a quiz showing asking us questions to get the right tickets, and then said "That'll be £148 please". I imagine the look on my face was worth him turning up for work that day. It was really £28 for the weekend all zones for us both.

After finding the hotel and dumping our bags, we hit Oxford Street. After finding a nice John Rocha top in Debenham's sale we went to Selfridges. Angela says that when Holly Golightly says that nothing bad could ever happen in (Breakfast at) Tiffany's, that sums up how she feels about Selfridges. Now I understand why! Basically, we got free make up and perfume and hair straightening just by walking through the store. I did actually buy some of the products but only stuff I already wanted. We had our eyebrows waxed and made up again too so all that was left was to get dressed for the evening and eat! Obviously we had to go to the Champagne bar for champagne and oysters and then to the food hall to buy olives and a selection of healthy stuff from RAW. We scoffed them back at the hotel, tweaked hair and make up slightly, washed London off our feet and got changed.

By the time we hit Covent Garden it was pushing 11pm! We'd had a quick drink in Tottenham Court road and then really struggled walking round the cobbles of the Garden looking for somewhere that was still serving. In search of a cashpoint we found Navajo Joe's where I was keen to revisit because the barstaff throw the cocktail shakers around properly and serve tasty snacks! Access DENIED. The doorman said they were closing, and even after debating that 11pm didn't sound like a "late bar" as the sign said he just didn't want us in there. We were getting desperate, the champagne buzz had worn off and it was looking like a very sensible night ahead for us. It wasn't looking good, since everywhere had queues outside and the thought of joining them in heels wasn't terribly appealing.

More cobble hobbling and we found a decent place, paid for drinks and miraculously found a seat. It didn't take long before we were joined by some rather boring but pleasant enough bloke who took a shine to Angela, said comedy things like "You both look very alike", "Have you been here before?" and mispronounced every place name that came up in conversation. When he, AT LAST went to the bar, girly chat took place and I started yawning when he came back, Angela went to the ladies and I got talking to four very nice, but VERY young lads all aged 19, rather than talk to our new "friend" who was from Persia (he doesn't like saying Iran). They confirmed that everywhere was about £15 to get in, but at their tender age, having been ID'd on the door, couldn't recommend anywhere in particular. Angela tried to ditch the Persian by saying I was tired (remember my stage yawns) but he was having none of it, insisting that they walk me back to the hotel then they go out again! Then he tried to persuade me, as a friend that I should agree to this since she said it was mean. I said it was mean and that we'd come out to have fun together but he'd hogged her company all night. He showed no signs of giving up at all so I pulled out the Cancer Card. I said she wouldn't leave me because I'd had cancer and was still recovering (well it's not a million miles from the truth). The git didn't believe me!! I offered to show him my scars which he declined. But he did at least let us leave on our own. We were looking for somewhere to hide from him in case he decided to follow when a long haired French man appeared from nowhere and asked if we'd like to go to a club. Oh YES, but how much? £7 each.......DONE.

The club was called Salvador & Amanda and was Spanish. After initial apprehension, mixed with relief that we'd escaped Mr Dullsville, we walked down the steps into the basement club. It was already a great atmosphere, it was cosy not gloomy and not too big. We sat down and I had to fend off conversation from a rather dull, but probably very nice bloke from Norway who looked very out of place. We spotted a girl from Angela's village who even sat at our table, after checking the seats were free then ignored us and didn't acknowledge she knew who we were! Weird! There was a group of four dancing near us, really having a good time so we went for a wander and somehow got bought tequila slammers...........we spent the rest of the night chatting to Spanish and Mexican chaps who were just lovely and friendly. They weren't sleazy or anything, just well, NICE! I have a few photos on my phone with most of them in and outside the club which to be honest, I don't know who took!

After we left the club we went in search of food and found Mohamed who sold us some good coffee and falafels. Yum. Just as we were debating how to get back to the hotel in heels at 4am with a pedotaxi driver I sort of lost my footing on the kerb and erm.....fell off it. I was in a LOT of pain, so it must have hurt, given I'd have a few drinks. I couldn't get up........but I'd landed with the coffee upright and didn't spill one drop. The driver picked me up and made me sit on the seat of the trike. He took us (OK, should have seen this coming) to his mate's cab office. We did haggle them down a fiver.......and sauntered into the hotel at some ungodly hour. The guy on duty in reception greeted us with "You like dancing ladies?" I guess by the state of Angela's dirty bare feet, heels in hand and me limping it was obvious we'd been up to something.

We woke up after a few hours kip, and Angela eventually had to steel herself to check what the squeaking was just outside the window near her head, fearing a family of rats.

What she saw was one fat ugly baby pigeon and a scrawny weedy looking one. Little rat with wings was pecking the big one saying "Stop eating all the food you fat git", making a right old song and dance. Nearby was the gnarled remains of a dried up dead pigeon. I'm not sure if fat pigeon ate him, or just his food or if the weedy looking one nagged and pecked him to death. We reckoned the mum was squatting and had rung the council to take the dead one away but, well you know what they're like! She looked like she was probably on crack anyway (yes I know she was a pigeon but we'd had a lot of tequila the night before and they sort of developed human characteristics).

Despite the swelling on my right foot, the pain in my right hand and the HUGE graze on my left knee I was determined we should complete our weekend with gallery visits as planned.

So, hobbling like Tiny Tim along the riverside towards Tate Modern, a strange man dressed in black with a curly ginger ponytail slowed his pace to mine (my "mate" was steaming ahead forgetting I was lame) and asked in a mysterious low foreign accent

Man: "Are the eyes connected to the paranormal?"

Me: "Erm, no"

Man: "So you do not have second sight?"

Me: "Um, no, I don't think so"

He nodded and walked off.........then paused, turned around and came back to say

Man: "I once saw a king cobra dance to the tune of a flute, he had two blue eyes on his back".

He then gave me a knowing look and a smile, a nod and disappeared.

Weirdos, I draw them like water to a sponge. Dirty bath water.

Hayward gallery was pretty good - it was Psycho Buildings exhibition. We spent a well earned rest on the floor inside a plastic bubble with people crawling around on a suspended plastic shelf above us. We also spent, what felt like forever wandering (very slowly and painfully in my case) round the Tate Modern - as thought provoking as many of the works were, I was still pretty damn relieved to get to the top level - the overriding provoked thought being that of pain and the need to lie down and not move for a very long time.

More hobbling and limping required to get to the tube - Southwark station - and we just kept getting the giggles. To the point where we thought we MIGHT lose control - pelvic floor kinda control! Just as we stopped doubled over laughing at me hobbling twenty paces behind Angela and how pathetic I looked and felt some men across the road pointed and started taking the mickey. One of them was loading up a van with equipment and started chatting, asking if we were pissed. Another disappeared then reappeared with a bottle of cold water to hold on my swollen ankle. I was getting first aid in the middle of London from a man with a FILM CREW name tag.........they were apparently filming a new series of Minder where Shane Richie plays Arthur's nephew (well someone's nephew, maybe it's Terry's nephew). Sadly we didn't see Shane but two rather nice looking men in expensive suits got into a chauffeur driven car. They were probably famous.

All in all it was a pretty damn good weekend with a lot of laughing and I believe the laughing probably helped tone my abdominal muscles more than the two weeks at the gym I've missed because my ankle and wrist were too painful!

I can't believe it's taken me so long to get round to finish this. I think it's because I've been busy! Oh and I went out on a date with a man. For dinner. He's very nice!

2008 Aug 25th - Another busy week.

Having spent a week in Spain, you'd think I'd have a quiet week last week?

Or not. Mon I went to work as usual, Tuesday I worked a half day from home over the course of the day because I had a check up with my surgeon. I have some "issues" still which I don't really want to broadcast but they have been contributing to my general unhappiness. Things may, or may not improve. He did make me feel a bit better by telling me I wasn't having a DRE (oh goody) but he did give me a bulky brown envelope.......containing some consent forms and the dreaded Picolax (bleugh). Yep it's disappearing camera time again! On the 4th of September after 24 hours of a very limited light diet and another of clear fluids only I get to be sedated again. This will be the first time I've actually had a full colonoscopy. Until now, I've only had the lower part of my colon, or where it used to be, examined. This time he's going to check the rest of it too for any precancerous cells, polyps etc and whip anything out if it's there.

Wednesday, back at work again and then a physio appointment on Thursday morning, followed by a trip to Lincoln for a tattoo. I always wanted to have some sort of commemorative tattoo to mark getting through the battery of tests and treatments, poison and surgery. Originally I was going to have the Beating Bowel Cancer logo somewhere where I could see it as a reminder, but really - how could I forget. In the end I decided to have something decorative over the most visible part of the 10" scar which runs from above my navel down well below my bikini line! I know butterflies and the whole rebirth theme is a little trite but they are pretty. I'm really pleased with it, the scar just disappears now, with just the small one from the ileostomy reversal still quite red. I may get some extension done in a few months time when that scar has gone white, but for now I don't look at at it and think "Oh look that's where Mr A ripped me apart and had a good rummage for a few hours". I think "Oooo pretty!". I didn't notice anyone staring at my scars on the beach in Spain when I was in my bikini (something I'd never do in England) but now I can bear my midriff with a little more pride. Lord only knows what Mr A is going to say when he sees it - I fear he'll tell me off because his stitching WAS amazing and for a scar it was bloody minimal, but I hope he'll understand.
It's just starting to peel a little now, but I'm putting Bepanthen cream on it twice a day and, like the others I have, you can't tell it's new. I went to a place recommended by two friends who have been there a few times already so I knew it was clean and safe and they know what they're doing. I saw the tattooist and the senior blokey (who is booked up until Christmas and a grandfather so has many years experience and a lot of happy returning customers).

I watched my big sister get married on Friday, to a man in a skirt. No, only joking, it was a kilt - he is Scottish after all! She looked beautiful, as did everyone else in the wedding party especially the bridesmaids (my nieces and her best friend's daughter) and it was a lovely day. They are a lovely couple and they are obviously very happy together, no one could escape noticing. The speeches were quite moving too, especially the groom's words about them being a family and how important it was that the children were also happy. When the two girls also made a little speech I was really struggling to hold back some tears. I have to say, I really don't usually like weddings. Possibly because after my own marriage which ended over a decade ago I just can't imagine being in that situation. Watching my previously shy, slightly inhibited sister throwing some shapes on the dancefloor with her new husband as though no-one was watching was an eye opener. It just proved to me how right they are for each other. It was also the loneliest moment I've had for a long time in a room full of people. I was sat alone, although I was related to people in the room, none of us are close because my mother moved me away from them before I started school and it's just not the same. I'm pleased to say I managed to stay until 10pm (and the buffet for yet more yummy food) before the drive back to feed Alfie and Skittles. I had another bag to pack for a weekend in London on Saturday.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

2008 Aug 19th - It's been a while.....Ola Tossa!

I've been slacking, I know. Consider my knuckles rapped.

I thought I should mention my physiotherapy (can't remember if I already have...?). I started with weekly visits for the burning, tearing pains in my heels caused by achilles tendonitis. Initially I had ultrasound therapy and some manual jiggery pokery (I'd say massage but it hurt) and was given exercises to do at home. I've progressed to having more exercises to try and mobilise my nervous system and have bought a Therapy Top or wobble board to improve general leg strength and balance. I'm supposed to exercise three times a day - it's very time consuming and I do forget but it seems to be helping. Last visit a couple of weeks ago I had some sort of laser treatment and had to don a pair of incredibly UNsexy BLUE tinted goggles, just in case whilst lasering the back of my heels while I lay face down on the bed.......a stray red beam goes in my eye. Health & Safety - the opposite of the Fashion Police eh?

I've just come back from a week in Spain with one of my Best Friends. We boarded the plane and were quite excited to find two seats next to each other........until we found out why. The seats smelled of sick........some people had already moved they couldn't tolerate the stench. It was a short flight. Thankfully.

As soon as we stepped out of the plane door, whoompf! Heat. Blissful heat. And sun. Just what the Dr, oncologist, nurses and surgeon ordered.

We were a little overdressed for dinner in the evenings, the families preferring t-shirts and shorts or in one French woman's case a hideous towelling dress!!!

There were a few comedy moments - like the "underground car park". Firstly they said they had no space. Then they did. An uncertain receptionist followed us to the hire car and "tried" to remember where the car park was. She got in and, noticing my mate and me putting on seatbelts asked if she should do the same? The reply was "We're English, we like a seatbelt". Eventually after driving down a 45 degree slope which flattened out level (remember this) she got out and spent a lifetime trying to open the door. I was sent to assist. I opened it straight away and then the attempt to negotiate a 135 angle by a Peugot 207 commenced. As soon as I saw the skirt at the front about to crumple I screeched a little and made frantic "Back up!" signs. Having handed over an exhorbitant fee for the privilege of NOT being able to even access the car park we all but kidnapped the woman from the hotel to ensure we got a refund. I think they hated us from then on in.

Once I went to ask for the gym key (two bikes a pec dec and seated row machine) to be told it was shut. "Oh......what time is it open?" "9am" ......."Erm until WHEN?".......this was the same woman who led us to the carpark of word of a lie, she turned around, looked at the clock which said 7.30pm and, turning back to face me, said "7.30". Yes. She hated us.

We alternated lazing on the beach with days out, including a drive to Tarragona (I drove, my feet complained the next day but it was a sort of mission to drive on the continent properly). On the way home we found ourselves driving through the streets of the old town of Tossa (where we were staying). Now I say streets. They were approximately 12 inches wider than the bloody car. It was dark. People were everywhere. They didn't move. Quite how we got out of the maze alive I have NO idea. The car remained unscathed, however we needed a stiff drink to settle our nerves and I earned myself a hi-five for zero damage to anyone or thing.

Tossa has a few beaches, again, I SAY beaches........general conclusion was they imported tons of cat litter to put where the sand should have been. Still, it didn't get everywhere like sand does.

Generally we kept it sensible on the booze, until Tuesday night. We accidentally drank a few too many jugs of sangria (red wine, cointreau and brandy in this particular bar's recipe), followed by a beer which didn't hit the spot at the hotel bar, and topped off with a mojito whilst playing pool (much to the dismay of the barmen who wanted to go to bed). I lost at pool. My mate lost her sangria. Apparently she kept banging into my bed on her way back from the bathroom several times. Me, being the light sleeper I am slept through in my alcohol coma. Neither of us made breakfast the next day and the cleaners were turned away, the blackout curtain stayed closed. Grim. Still, we made it to Barcelona on the Thursday, a day later than planned.

The Park Guell (Gaudi's park) was amazing, as was strolling down the 2km long Las Ramblas looking at the birds and small animals for sale (well the animals in cages wasn't great but we cooed at some rabbits). We had a slap up meal in a lovely restaurant and I got tipsy on an Irish coffee and half a litre of beer. If you haven't been, I can recommend a weekend in Barcelona and just hit the park and the streets, there's plenty to look at! Plus we did a little shopping in Zara and Mango...oops.

Needless to say, as I'm supposed to be VERY careful in the sun until 12 months after chemo finished (December 2008) I used factor 40 all the time. I did colour a teeny bit and have lots of freckles. Mostly I just loved being away in the warm. No housework, no need to be anywhere at any time and good company.

I'm also having counselling - from the Cancer Counselling Trust. She thinks I need more long term counselling (again) since the maximum 9 sessions won't scratch the surface of what's messing up my head. Cancer has just been another catalyst I guess. The loneliness I had before has just been amplified, but now I feel I'm in a worse position to change things. We're working on it though.