So now I am less of that pooh stick and gradually I am reopening the doors which take me back into parts of my life lost and unvisited during my illness. These new experiences (though not really new - just long missed) are so special and important. And added to that, there are genuinely new things in my world, and I love breaking new ground, trying stuff for the first time. Not all experiences have been in the 'pleasant' category and not all those doors are yet open but each day I reach out a little further towards the horizon.
I am impatient, of course, because I want to be able to do everything I could do ... and more. Anything less would be out of character for me. But I am still having treatment and some of the stuff that I am taking will be a part of my life for a long time to come, and some for always, and all these drugs have side-effects as well as keeping me (hopefully) on an even, healthy keel.
So what's new? The properly, properly new stuff is mostly wedding-related. We now have two lots of arrangements on the go. The November bride (number 2 child) seems to have everything in sight nailed down except for the bridesmaids' shoes (don't ask...) and her father's ensemble (ditto!) and the April bride is nearly there with the marquee and about a million ideas are floating round like wedding soup and some will make it to the final day and some will not. No ideas, however bohemian or unlikely, are discounted until all interested parties have considered them. Watch this space...
I had an absolutely joyous time deciding on my wedding ensemble for the November wedding. First a trip with Lady H (my wardrobe advisor for all major occasions) to the marvellous Jillian Welch www.jillianwelch.co.uk who is making my outfit. Having seen the utterly heart-stopping outfits she has made for my friends, I know it will be fab. So I explained (badly) what I was looking for and she drew fantastic sketches and produced some amazing fabric. Meanwhile Lady H bought a stunning dress... Then the following day, the November bride came with me and gave her official seal of approval. I am so excited!
Whilst we are on the subject of appearance, I also had my hair cut for the first time by the oh-so-fabulous David at The Story of O. The last time I went to see him, a year ago, it was to cut my hair short a la Robyn Wright of House-of-Cards-fame so that the dispiriting falling out of my hair wouldn't seem so bad - there being less of it, as it were. And now I'm back! As David cut my hair I kept thinking: 'don't cut much off, it's taken all year to grow it!' but he did it brilliantly and I am now a little bit blond rather than gun-metal grey and I feel more like me at last. And the transformation from cue ball in November to someone who actually looks like she has a hairstyle (though short) is nearly complete. Thank you David. It's not just about the hair, you're good for my soul.
Less pleasant however, was my first mammogram since last June. Always uncomfortable and sometimes downright brutal, I know it must be done and it's important and I have never missed my session in the caravan in the car park at Morrisons in Boroughbridge. But this one was at York Hospital and my beloved very kindly came with me in case it was a 'results on the day' event. Now it's one thing having your boobs crushed by hard plastic plates when they haven't been traumatised by surgery but it's quite another when there's loads of hard scar tissue and train tracks of stitching. After a few attempts with the radiographer asking me if I was ok and me responding through closely gritted teeth, she announced that she had enough film but would I wait in the waiting room just in case. So I waited and back she came saying she needed to do more. Cue my heart completely in my boots. "There's nothing to worry about, I just need to get further under your armpit," she said. And more boob-clamping and crushing on the damaged side took place. Am I worried? Well, my heart is somewhere mid-thigh now as I figure that, although they say you won't get your results for four weeks, if there's something wrong it will be sooner and this was nearly two weeks ago.
On to more enjoyable matters. It was miserable not being able to play any sport for nearly a year. Not hitting a tennis ball, most specifically. Not running or cycling or going to the gym or doing pilates or learning to play golf badly. Just not. And gradually I have been picking these things up again though neither pilates nor golf have yet made it back into the schedule. Yet. Running hasn't been high up on the scale of activities for a few years other than in the gym on the running machine because road running made my knees cranky and endangered the all-important tennis. Though I do have a few 10ks and a couple of Great North Runs under my belt (just saying...) But whilst we were in Portugal, Little Norm encouraged me to 'jalk' ie jog and walk, with him on several mornings and more importantly, used his very persuasive powers to get to me try the Park Run on the Stray in Harrogate. Number 2 daughter is already a regular and number 4 does the same in Edinburgh and anything where I can have fun doing sport with my children is very near the absolute top of my favourite things to do.
So numbers 2, 4 and I went off to do the Park Run early on Saturday morning. The best thing about the first week is that you are definitely doing a Personal Best. Well, we had three PBs that morning with 2 and 4 lapping me (three circuits of the Stray to make up the 5k). Week 2 and another PB because I would not be lapped! But still I had to walk four times en route to get my breath back. Then week 3 and although I only walked once (and not very far either) no pb. So I will be back with renewed determination next Saturday. No walking at all (hopefully!)
And finally a first for number 3. Back in the winter when things were pretty bleak we (number 3, myself and Lady H) went to Kippax Bats. Peter Kippax was a fine cricketer, playing for Yorkshire and Durham. He is sadly very unwell now but before he became ill, he set up Kippax Bats which is a hand-made bat company which produces bats for the some of the finest international cricketers in the game today. Through Lady H, we arranged to visit Kippax Bats and purchase one of these amazing bats for number 3. We learnt so much that day about the craft of bat-making and the willow for number 3's bat came from willows planted in Tockwith. It was an unforgettable experience learning how the bats are made by hand and which of his cricket idols used their bats. And then this Saturday, number 3 hit his first century with his Kippax bat and was 107 not out. A great triumph for him and a really special achievement of which we are all so very proud.
Not the century last week but one innings last summer.