Last Wednesday, I went to Liverpool to visit my mum, who has recently had a host of horrid hospital stays and visits for various things, most recently for an operation on a suspected tumour in her thyroid gland. Fortunately, we heard the other day that it is totally benign… huge sighs of relief and joy abound. She is now considering and feeling up to making a long-overdue trip to Florida, which is great news. Just heard, she’s booked to go on Mon 18 April… that woman sure can get things moving when she wants. Fab news!!!!!
We had a lovely meal out in the evening at a local bistro-style restaurant that seems very popular, where we bumped into a few people she knows. She was pleased to be looking as good as she did, so they could see she is back and kicking on the streets. LOL! Hopefully word will spread along the grapevine. Such are the benefits of small community gossip. 😀
One nice thing for me was that I actually wanted to eat and enjoyed the food I ordered. I have been struggling a lot recently with poor appetite – not feeling inclined to eat at all. So, big hurray!!!!
On Thursday, I went up north to Horton Women’s Holiday Centre (Horton Women’s Holiday Centre) – a wonderful, relaxed and relaxing holiday centre for women and children in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The building is an old Victorian vicarage, which has two shared/bunk dormitories and two rooms for just 1-2 people.
I was lucky to get one of the individual rooms called Sweet Pea, so called because it has two or three mattresses on the divan base, requiring clambering into bed, but leaving you feeling like the princess from the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea”. Needless to say, even though I was on my week off drugs, I still sleep like I’ve been knocked out, so no disturbance from a pea or even the incredibly loud and just-above-our-heads thunder storm that occurred on Friday night – or so I was told the next morning. I heard absolutely nothing.
On Thursday evening, my friend and I went to the local pub for dinner. I was having a miserable “no appetite” time, so didn’t feel like eating anything. In the end I went for scampi and chips as the least offensive option. Meanwhile, my meat-eating friend got very excited and enjoyed a ‘lamb Henry’ (I really don’t think that was the lamb’s name – hope not!) 😀
As we finished eating, a young farmer came in, with his trailer sitting outside. The barmaid shortly went outside and looked in it. Being the curious soul I am, I had to go look too… a ewe with two young lambs, apparently only one hour old, already on their feet and wobbling around, the mother looking very concerned about my interest in her babies – so cute!!!!
While I was at the Holiday Centre, I met a young woman, Rhiannon, who coincidentally also has a blood cancer, called Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma. She is currently receiving chemotherapy in Leeds, for which she has to go into hospital for a few hours every other week. She is 24 years old and her cancer is considered a “good” one, i.e. it’s curable! Let’s question the “good” and “bad” in cancer language too!
As well as the coincidence of meeting her, she also follows Sokka Gokkai Buddhism and chants “Namyo Ho Renge Kyo”, which my brother does too. I have also chanted with a friend in the past, so that felt like a nice connection too. I sat in with her and her mum while they chanted in the lounge.
Her hospital experience sounds like more fun than anything, what with an i-pod juke box, pool table, comfy chairs and other groovy, inspiring people to chat with and share experiences. I checked out with my nurse and apparently we have similar facilities for younger people in Nottingham. When I asked about what older people get, she kinda shrugged and said “there’s internet access”… 😦 What’s that all about? As an older person, do I not warrant, deserve or maybe I should be too old to understand how to use an ipod juke box…? Boo, not fair! Maybe I’ll just sneak in with a hoodie on…! LOL!
When I go every two weeks to the clinic at the hospital, I only get to speak to the doctor/consultant and/or nurse. The other patients are generally a good 15+ years older than me, none of whom have inspired me to approach them for a chat. In fact, the first time I went to the clinic, I cried… I was feeling particularly weak and frail, hobbling in on the arm of my friend, seriously considering getting a walking stick.
Looking around to see only elderly people on sticks and in wheelchairs was very depressing. Made me feel old, ill and alone and at the end of life. Where are the other younger, rebellious, “crazy sexy” (to coin a phrase from my American book) MM patients? No wonder I prefer to hang out and chat with people who are already friends with or without health problems, rather than join a cancer or myeloma support group. I can’t imagine anything worse to be honest!
Anyway, Rhiannon and I had a good sharing about our differing experiences and there was great excitement and awe for me when I heard she has a Hickman line in place. I don’t know if it’s bad form, but I couldn’t stop myself from asking “Can I see it?” Cheeky?
Very obligingly, she showed me her line and it looks just like the photos I’ve seen (and posted in my previous post on the subject). I think I was hoping it might look different (read ‘not as scary’). But she said it was actually ok, apart from having to get used to sleeping with it and being concerned about pulling it if she turns in her sleep. I can really see the benefits of sleeping like a knocked out log now. 🙂
We swapped blog URLs and I hope we’ll stay in touch. I’ve included her blog in my blogroll, if anyone wishes to read another perspective on living with cancer.
On Friday, it rained in the morning and remained grey and a bit gloomy later on, so I didn’t feel like going for a walk. Instead, my friend and I went off for a drive up to the viaduct, then Hawes for late lunch and wound our way back on little steep windy roads, loving the bleak moorland views and checking out the cute new lambs in the fields.
On Saturday, after the thunderstorm, it was brighter and warmer, so we decided to go for an easy walk along the river – no uphills to make me breathless. It was a lovely calm walk. I got excited at one point when I saw a stream running through clay. I wanted to reach down and pull out some clay to use for my ceramic work. I’ve done that before with clay from a cliff on a beach in Greece and made it into an earthenware-fired bowl. Maybe I’ll have to go back, taking a bag with me and fetch some.
We stopped in the village church on the way back, before going to sit out in the sun in the garden for the afternoon. My friend decided to chop some kindling, while I watched on… the joys and laziness of not being able to do heavy physical work. LOL!
Later that night, Karen, the worker at the centre, made up a fire outside and some of us sat around chatting and watching the flames. I started to fade around 11:30, but some women stayed up till about 2am.
Sunday morning was taken up with packing, cleaning and making up the bed afresh for the next guests, before driving leisurely home to Nottingham.
All in all, a good relaxing break. Hope to go again before the summer.