Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Simple Woman's Daybook

This week has gone a bit manic. WeightWatchers meeting, meeting up with a new friend from Ravelry, going to Cambridge to celebrate a colleague's birthday, going swimming with the kids, an orientation evening for I.'s ponytrekking week in Wales in May, o and a bit of work thrown in for good measure, and an almost 8 year old who let me know this morning that he needed a bit more in the way of TLC than they get in the course of a normal day (tears, tummy-ache). I decided that we'd give school a miss today and spend a bit of quality time together, and he seemed a lot happier by the end of the day.

Just two things I did want to say. First of all, I was very shocked and sad last Saturday when I found out that Elspeth Thompson died last week. I didn't know her personally but had been following her blog for a couple of years, specially because she and her husband had been doing up two disused railway carriages near the south coast. In one of her last posts, she wrote about her plans for the garden, which she'd started last summer, with no hint of the depression she was suffering. I'll miss her posts and her beautiful photographs.

And secondly, I just wanted to say thanks for all the lovely messages of support I've had in the last couple of months or so. They mean a lot to me. Let's hope that in two weeks' time, I can start to blog about more normal, everyday things.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I'm feeling a bit downhearted at the moment. I had a tough weekend last weekend, but managed to pull myself together a bit on Monday (after bursting into tears at WeightWatchers!) and started to feel better. Looking after myself fairly well, making sure I eat well, get some exercise (have discovered yoga for relaxation, works a treat before bedtime), get enough sleep. I've started to take Kalms to keep the nerves at bay which is helping, but I didn't sleep that well last night and I think it's contributing to me feeling a bit low. The kids are with J. all weekend and I'm missing them, and knowing that next week is going to be an odd week with less time with them than normal makes me miss them even more.
It is also odd to plan things with them like their birthday party (N. will be 8 on Thursday and I. will be 11 the following Monday), when my mind is completely elsewhere - they don't know everything that's going on with mum and therefore their lives just go on as normal, apart from me going to Holland more often.
Work is a real distraction, specially going into the office. I've been there almost 15 years, the longest of all of us in the department, so I've seen a fair number of people come and go, but we have a really good team right now, and I very much look forward to going to work. I won't be going in for a couple of weeks now, apart from a birthday bash, as mum's scan and the results are on days that I'd normally go to the office.
The long waits between tests and scans and results aren't helping either. I get very frightened of what we might hear, but then slowly that fear fades away to make place for more normality, only for the fear to strike at unexpected moments where it will make me stop and take a sharp breath. When I feel optimistic, I can't help but think 'but it could be bad news', and when I feel frightened, I think 'you've got to remain positive'. Whatever you do, it never feels like the right thing. There probably isn't such a thing as the right thing to do or feel in these circumstances.
I spoke to mum's sister this week, who hadn't known until now that we'd been through several tests and wanted to know if she needed to be worried. She told me how much my support means to mum. Dad had offered to go to hospital with her this week for the MRI, but I really wanted to go myself anyway, and having heard how much mum appreciates it, makes me doubly determined to go. And it's not just that I'm doing it for her, I want to be with her for a bit too.

I know Holland is only a short plane flight away, just a short ferry crossing, but lately it has felt like I'm living on the other side of the world. And that feels very, very far away.

ETA: I went for a run after writing this post and that's made me feel a bit better. Now installed on the bed in pyjamas, with laptop, tea and some biscuits. Only the cat's missing ;-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Monday 22 March 2010

I almost didn't write this post. I'm not feeling very strong at the moment and thought I wouldn't be able to write about small, everyday things. But I'm trying very hard to think positive, to be strong, and realised that keeping up the routine of stopping and looking at ordinary things and writing the Daybook, would help in that. So here goes. It may not be the cheeriest post, but it is here.

Outside my window... is sunshine and wind. It feels a little warmer each day, yet it is very windy (perfect laundry drying weather!) which makes you realise that it is only just Spring. I took off a layer of my bed last night and slept with a window open, and woke up cold. Patience!

I am thinking... there are so many thoughts whirling round in my head right now. Mostly worry thoughts. At times I manage to push them out, like you are told to do with negative thoughts. Sometimes I don't. It helps being with other people and being distracted. The kids are great at keeping negative thoughts at bay. Even better is that they don't know they're doing it.

I am thankful for... the tissue that Helen, my WeightWatchers leader, offered me when I burst into tears this morning when she asked me if I'd had a 'naughty week'.

From the kitchen... came the smell of boterkoek this weekend. Not made it for years but it smelt good. Will be making it a couple of times again this week.

I am wearing...
a mishmash of things as it is one of those days again where everything I really wanted to wear, was in the wash.

I am creating... another baby i-cord beanie. In shocking pink this time. B. did ask very diplomatically what on earth I was knitting (you can't tell at the moment that it is a hat). After that it is on to some baby bootees and then maybe the Aestlight Shawl as I've been wanting to knit that for ages.

I am going... to start following FlyLady again. The house is a chaotic mess and I'm fed up with it. FlyLady does a great job of kicking you up the backside, stopping you from wallowing in self pity and motivating you.

I am reading... nothing at the moment. I might treat myself to an issue of The Knitter tonight, if they have one when we go and do our supermarket shop.

I am hoping... only one thing: please let this MRI scan show that there is nothing to worry about.

I am hearing... The Archers on Radio 4. I haven't listened properly to it for ages. I was a big fan but can't be bothered at the moment.

Around the house... are lots of flowers. The kids bought me a bunch when I last came back from Holland and they're still going strong. Last week we bought some reduced price flowers from Mother's Day, and the ones that had fallen off, are in glasses on the table. And this morning N. picked a pale yellow primrose and put it in the kitchen for me as a surprise.

One of my favourite things... was discovering on Friday that some yarn I'd bought just because I liked the look of it, matched my coat perfectly.

A few plans for the rest of the week... a couple of days in the office, a coffee with a friend on Wednesday, parents' evening appointment for N.

Here is a picture for thought I'm sharing...

This is Felixstowe, taken last summer at the beginning of the school summer holidays. I wish I lived a bit closer to the beach. You can't beat a beach for blowing cobwebs away.

Instructions for the Simple Woman's Daybook can be found here

Friday, March 19, 2010

Not what we wanted to hear

Mum went to the appointment with her surgeon on her own yesterday. Both mum and dad managed to convince me that I wasn't really needed, that she could do this one on her own, that I needed to save my energy for when she really needed me. It was a quite early appointment too, where I'd run the risk of being late if there had been an accident on the way, and it was an appointment he had squeezed in as he was already fully booked for that day. I was getting quite tired with all the travelling and also wanted to be back here by the weekend as it's my Saturday with the kids - I would have been shattered come Saturday night. Dad reckoned she'd be out of the hospital in 5 mins with an appointment for 3 months' time. So, I stayed home, slept in my own bed, dreamed of the ferry, anxiously watched my clock and jumped to my feet as soon as she rang me.
But it wasn't really what we wanted to hear. The radiologists have decided that they want to do an MRI scan of her liver. The words chemotherapy/radiotherapy have already been mentioned. It is the oncology nurse who is taking care of the appointment for the scan. It might still turn out to be nothing, but it all seems to be getting more serious now.
I'm trying so very hard not to panic. The only way I can manage that is by keeping busy and by not thinking about it. If I do, I get so frightened.
The scan is going to be in 13 days, the day before Good Friday, N.'s birthday to make matters worse. For weeks, he's been saying he's 'basically 8' when you tell him he's seven. When you're 'basically 8', your birthday is a big thing. And now it looks like I might not be able to be there with him. I feel torn in two - I want to be there and make his birthday special, but mum needs me too. My only consolation is that I know J. will try and make his birthday extra special if I'm not there. Mum has gone on a list of cancellations, so if a scan becomes available before next week, they'll let her have it. The results are due a week later. At least I can come back to Britain and be there for I.'s birthday and organise her sleepover which she wants as a party.

I just want to go to bed, pull a duvet over myself and pretend all this isn't happening.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Monday 15 March 2010

Outside my window... are definite signs of Spring arriving. Crocuses, budding daffodils and if you look closely, little buds on trees.

I am thinking... how much I'm enjoying the kids growing up. They made Mother's Day really special yesterday and all of their own accord, not because they were told they had to.

I am thankful for... the fact that my not so old laptop was fixed easily. I really don't need the hassle of expensive repairs right now.

From the kitchen... I can smell the smell of soup. Leeks, cauliflower, celeriac. There will be quite a bit of celeriac featuring this week as I got given 12 of them yesterday...

I am wearing... too many layers. It's still quite cold outside, but the sun is shining and warming up my conservatory. And earrings that I. made me as a present.

I am creating... some potholders with hearts as a birthday gift.

I am going... to try and stop worrying and stop putting my life on hold. Started this morning with a swim, then weigh-in at WeightWatchers despite worrying about the damage of last week (turned out not too bad: 1/2 lbs gain. Having exercised last week must have helped), and planned the meals for this week.

I am reading... several Dutch magazines. Just light reading. Have just finished On the Beach by Nevil Shute and loved that.

I am hoping... so many things. A quiet week with no overnight ferry. An end to waiting. Some answers soon.

I am hearing... snatches of You and Yours on Radio 4.

Around the house... are lots of Easter decorations. Easter seems to be a bigger thing in Holland than in Britain, where it is more of a religious event. We have a bunch of branches with papermache eggs dotted around, some little fluffy chicks, some Easter napkins. I may just have to go back to the Hema next time I'm over.

One of my favourite things... is the laundry on the line flapping in the wind. The first lot of outside laundry this year. Appropriate considering the weather forecaster told us this morning that today might be the warmest day of the year to date.

A few plans for the rest of the week... finding some recipes to use up all those celeriacs. Knitting. Enjoying being with the kids. Exercise, healthy food and early nights - I have been thinking that treating myself was the way to be kind to myself. It doesn't work. I feel so much better if I look after my body.

Here's a picture for thought I'm sharing...A photo from the walk dad and I took through Amersfoort on Friday.

Instructions for the Simple Woman's Daybook can be found here

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One step forward, two steps back

It seems that every test they run on mum, throws up something new...
She had an appointment with her surgeon on Thursday to talk about the results of her PET scan the week before. It was at a really awkward time so I had to spend 4 hours in the hospital before the appointment. Was getting increasingly nervous and irritable with other people - well, who thinks it perfectly normal to sit and sing songs in the waiting area for the IC ward?!
Anyway, the results were a bit of a mystery. The abnormality that they saw on the CT scan a while back, didn't show up on the PET scan, so that is not malignant. We don't know what it is, but we don't really care - it doesn't need sorting. But, oddly enough, they have found abnormalities near her liver, above her womb and in her thyroid. When he said liver, my heart was in my mouth. Pancreatic cancer + liver = not a good combination. But when I asked if we needed to worry, he said he couldn't tell if it was benign or malignant. The abnormality in her thyroid is not something to worry about, but they do want to see what the other two are. So, on Monday, the radiologists from the CT scan and the PET scan are getting together and will discuss the images, and decide on the next course of action. This could be all sorts of things - another scan (you'd think we've had them all by now) which this time will be an MRI scan, or a biopsy, or a wait and see approach (with another scan in a few months' time). We have another appointment next Thursday with the surgeon, unless they decide on an MRI scan, in which case that will be done first and then we'll have to go and see him for the results of that.
Annoyingly, mum's symptoms (abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea) still don't correspond with what they keep finding, and with her history they have to be certain that what they find, is not malignant. I just have this feeling they'll do an MRI scan, rule out these two abnormalities but find something else yet again. I'm glad that they take it so seriously and seemingly don't leave a stone unturned, but it is emotionally very draining.
I'm on my way home again now. It's Mothering Sunday tomorrow in the UK and I. had a few things planned and I really want to be with both kids. And at the moment I can't do anything in Holland anyway. If the appointment on Thursday goes through, I'll go over again, as I want to make sure she emphasizes her symptoms and possibly gets a referral back to the 'internist' (specialist in internal organs, who treated her originally).
Yes, it is tiring, but I seem to be running on adrenaline right now. I do collapse - usually the evening when I come back. The waiting areas in the hospital are full of mothers and daughters. Seems we women have a strong sense of duty. It's not just a sense of duty though - I want to be there with her and for her. I just wish the waiting, waiting, waiting was over.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For 8 March 2010

I can't believe it's almost a week since I wrote my last Daybook entry. In an odd way, time is both going very slowly and very fast at the moment.

Outside my window... I can see a very dull, grey day, with bare branches, some dark green ivy leaves and no hint of Spring that we had during the weekend.

I am thinking... that I should go and have a lie down on the sofa to stop the terrible tiredness that hits me every evening around 6, when bedtime seems such a long time away still.

I am thankful for... the gloriously sunny weekend we had.

From the kitchen... must come supper tonight but I have no idea what to make. I have lots of vegetables in the fridge but every time I find a nice recipe, I am missing a vital ingredient. And I'm not very good at cooking without a recipe.

I am wearing... several layers. It's been cold here again, and despite the heating being on, the corner where the pc lives, is the coldest of the house. Combine it with sitting still all day and you get cold to the bone.

I am creating... a little baby hat. One I've made several times before but it is fun to knit and looks so cute on a slightly older baby.

I am going... to the library this afternoon. Long overdue. Our fantastic library has moved for a year or so while the building is being refurbished. We now have a much smaller selection, but oddly enough, the kids seem to prefer it at the new location.

I am reading... still The egg and I. I heard it serialised on Radio 4 a while back and much preferred the radio version. The book is entertaining but not so much that I can't put it down. Also the new WeightWatchers magazine. Always good for new recipes and some motivation.

I am hoping.... that the overnight ferry to Holland this week is going to be the last one I need to take for a little while.

I am hearing... snippets of the Afternoon Play on Radio 4. The radio is on pretty much all day and usually it's just background. Sometimes you catch a very good play and you have to stop whatever it is you're doing. I've been known to have to turn the radio off as I couldn't concentrate on work any longer.

Around the house... the dust bunnies have been replaced by all the Playmobil the children could find. Not sure why the Playmobil suddenly had to come out again, but they've been having lots of fun with it and I've let them get on with it, not insisting that they tidy it up again at the end of the day.

One of my favourite things... is chatting in real life about knitting with someone who enjoys knitting too. Their eyes don't glaze over.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I must ring the joiner for a quote for my bathroom window which was broken during the burglary. Trying to get a bit of exercise in before I go to Holland as I don't know how long I'll be away for and exercise often doesn't happen when I'm there. Making sure I get enough sleep.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

hopefully the end of winter

Instructions for the Simple Woman's Daybook can be found here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For 2 March 2010

Outside my window... I can see the sea. I am typing this from the ferry between Hoek van Holland and Harwich. Lots and lots of blue sea with a light blue sky over it.

I am thinking... I'm quite tired from yesterday.

I am thankful for... my dad helping out wherever he can at the moment. If it wasn't for him, I'd not be able to go and see mum so often.

From the kitchen... I have several sandwiches which both mum and dad have made for me for my return journey. Seems you can never stop the looking after which comes from being a parent.

I am wearing... a beautiful coat that mum bought me a few months ago in the sales. It's quite possibly the nicest coat I've ever had, it fits perfectly, is warm and it seems to suit me, so it makes me feel pretty. O and handmade socks and my Ishbel scarf.

I am creating... the last few inches of Ysolda's Peaks Island Hood which I've really enjoyed knitting. I knitted for several hours yesterday in the hospital. Nervous energy! Most people in the waiting room were awaiting a scan and therefore a bit nervous. Me knitting seemed to break the ice somewhat, as lots of people commented.

I am going... to start knitting a little baby hat as soon as the scarf is finished.

I am reading... The egg and I, by Betty MacDonald. And last night I read most of Little House on the Prairie. Which I've read countless times and it's still charming.

I am hoping... the next 8 days are over quickly.

I am hearing... the throbbing of the ship's engines (this makes it sound as if I'm on a cruise liner!)

Around the house... will be lots of things from Holland to sort out.

One of my favourite things... is the Hema. It is my all time favourite shop. Even this time I managed to squeeze in two visits. My favourite buy was a little Easter bunny wearing slippers with bunny ears...

A few plans for the rest of the week... nothing spectacular, a few days at work, lots of rest. Lots of waiting mostly!

Here's a picture for thought I'm sharing...

Will add this later as I haven't got access to my camera cable right now! (and the camera has a few lovely sea pictures on it).

Instructions for the Simple Woman's Daybook can be found here.