Saturday, 6 September 2014

Seconds out ... Round 2

Painting a little picture here first... it's 4.00am on Sunday morning and I had my second lot of chemo or what number one calls The Chemothon on Friday afternoon. I am currently at the 'pumped full of steroids' stage which means that although I have taken the strong sleeping pills, I have had the princely sum of three hours sleep and now have been wide awake for the last three hours, reading, working my way through the next bit of the plot for my second novel and listening to my beloved breathing heavily, but blissfully not snoring.

Quick update now on matters since I last wrote. I now have, I think, some sort of handle on how the next five bits of Chemothon are going to work. I was poorly for eleven days in various ways and, to be honest, part of this was self-inflicted. Not deliberately, of course, but I am a carpe diem kind of girl and when I was feeling ok for small parts of a day, I dashed about being the old me and paid for it big time by mid-afternoon and by tea-time was utterly miserable. All of this I had been warned about (especially by the intrepid granny - sorry, Mum) but a new plan was called for which works like this: I still wake up early - old habits etc (though not as early as this!) - and feed dogs, do ironing, walk dogs etc. Then I work till lunchtime unless I am lucky enough to have a visitor (but only one and only in the mornings please). Then I take the phone of the hook, shut down every kind of communication device (number 1 says I am imagining the level of my own popularity here but it's a bummer when you get woken up to be sold PPI) and go to bed. This has the effect of me feeling better in the evening, actually doing some cooking and not working my way through my entire and extensive vocabulary of swear words to my nearest and dearest.

During the 10 day hiatus of feeling better (not the old me but at least someone I recognise) various things have happened and some of them were very special. When I signed up for this journey into unknown and hostile territory, there were two dates that I wanted to be well for ie in week 3. One was the wedding of the beautiful daughter of one of my oldest friends who was delightfully marrying the eldest son of other very close friends. I knew I couldn't do the whole wedding 12 hour marathon but I wanted to be able to manage the church, drinks reception, wedding breakfast and speeches - and I did. But before I could do that, I had to have something to wear. The rest of my life - and appearance - may be going to hell in a handcart but I am going to look good on the way, while I can anyway. So children 2 and 4 who have the combined fashion knowledge of a year of Vogue came shopping with me. I think I tried on 18 dresses, picked, zipped, admired, unzipped etc by the two of them in a two hour period in Harrogate. And then I spent THE MOST AMOUNT OF MONEY I have ever spent on myself. Coat, dress - if I'd bought the shoes I would have been LK Bennett's favourite customer of the month - I just swallowed hard and pressed the code of my credit card.

So togged up on Saturday lunchtime, having spent a couple of extra hours in bed, I am ready to go and just patting (not even brushing, mind) my hair into place when it started falling out. Hands covered in hair. This is the worst time for this to happen. But it's not noticeable my beloved assures me and aside from the thought that I am going to sit in the marquee at the wedding going bald, I take my courage in both hands and we go. Slight other problem is forefront in my mind as we drive to the wedding in the Land Rover - a slight problem of humungous proportions in my head. Lovely Basil of Low Graythwaite Hall (finest B&B in the Lake District) will be there and his customary and affectionate greeting to me is always to ruffle my hair. If he does this, my hair may well come off in his hands as it came off in mine. Frantic texting. He is headed off at the pass by my friend Louise and hair mostly stayed on my head.

We had arranged beforehand that I would be collected by number 2 child and taken home when tired so that my beloved could party on, guilt-free, because I cannot expect him not to party for a year just because I can't. The plan worked perfectly - or so I thought that evening. Safely home in my bed and blissfully asleep until 6.30am on Sunday morning when I woke up and thought I'd check on the whereabouts of the party animal who had promised to come home in a taxi in the small hours. Not in bed with me, not in the spare room, definitely wouldn't be in number 3's bedroom which smells like teenage boy and no one, however drunk, would voluntarily sleep in there. Not in either of the bedrooms in the barn and not occupying any of the sofas downstairs. So I assume that he is tucked up in the spare room at a friend's house because someone will have scooped him up and taken him home. Apparently people did try. But no, the man who now appears to have morphed into my fifth child, slept in the Land Rover in a field gate in Kirkby Overblow and staggered dishevelled through the front door at 7.30am and went to bed. As number 3 so succinctly put it, as he berated me for not giving my beloved a proper bollocking: "You would have taken my car keys off me for a year!" Not an option in this case sadly, though he spent all day Sunday keeping a very low profile.

Meanwhile on Sunday I managed to play a few short sets in the village tennis tournament and although not even placed this year, I loved it and though there won't be much tennis for a while, just hitting the ball amongst some of my favourite people did my soul good. Maybe somehow, in the third weeks, a little social tennis may have to occur - because it's a tiny bit of the old me that I can hang on to.

The most important event of the week though was yesterday when number 4 went off to university in Edinburgh. Her first choice, the course she wanted so badly on a spanking new campus and she and I have wept on and off for three days. She came bravely with me to the Chemothon on Friday. Tough call but her choice. It can't be nice seeing mum in pain being pumped full of stuff that makes you ill in order to cure you. But she did (with number 1 and my beloved). Then yesterday morning she left. My beloved took her because a six hour round trip would have been too much for me so I couldn't help her unpack, see her meet her new friends and hug her in her new home. But I am so proud of her. She will make the most wonderful paediatric nurse because her tender care of me for the last two months has shown me all I need to know. I hope she will love every minute of her new independence and she will be in my thoughts and my heart every day. Very, very proud mummy.

Then number 3 decided he would also make me proud. Iffy day, weather-wise, but cricket was on and we (number 1, Alex the boyfriend and I) went to watch the boy bat. And he certainly did us, and the team, proud. Seventy eight runs, top scorer, four sixes (two, alarmingly over the roof of the pavilion where I was sitting) and a truly brilliant knock. Only one match left before he too leaves home to go to university.

The other stuff to report on a less jolly note is that despite two painful four-hour sessions with the cold cap, I am losing the hair battle and am now moulting more than the dog. Number 1 had the happy task of telling me that I had a bald patch just before we went up to cricket. I didn't succumb to a hat because, well, I've known the cricket team for such a long time and certainly the adults on the team are good friends and some of them are still balder than me. So toughed it out and wouldn't have missed my boy batting so well for the world. But as I type I have to pause to brush the hairs off the keyboard. I may have lost this battle but I will win the war.

 My beautiful youngest daughter.

Me and Basil - not ruffling my hair! 

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