The worst is over…

These are the words that one of the nurses said to me (if I understood her correctly) as she hooked me up to the new doses of poison on Thursday.

“Huzzah”, I thought, as the first FEC100 treatments had been perfectly bearable.

“Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” I thought as on Saturday my legs started to feel like someone was simultaneously pressing hard on bruises, pushing red hot skewers into my knees and ankles, joyously pricking me with pins & needles, and occasionally tapping my bones with a toffee hammer. This spread to my wrists, hands and forearms too, while my shoulders, ribs and neck were feeling as stiff and painful as a very stiff and painful thing. (Sorry, I’ve run out of metaphors)

I was writhing in pain on my sick bed, whimpering like a puppy. Searching on the internet suggested taking Claritin, and moving. Which I didn’t feel like doing, but I did – and it helped. I also had Tramadol to take for the muscle pain in my shoulders – which is most likely caused by the injection to boost the white blood cells.

On Sunday, during the day, things went fine, but overnight I was woken every couple of hours by the pain; the same on Monday, and then on Tuesday night it became every 15 minutes or so. I was SO tired. It seemed that lying down, and not moving very much made the pains worse. I was really dopey, through tiredness, and burst into tears a few times, just from the sheer relentlessness of it. The pain had decreased by now, but was still there with a shooting pain, or a quick toffee-hammer thud, or a dull ache, just to remind me.

Yesterday Mr FD made an appointment with the doctor, but she basically said there wasn’t much to be done, except increase the pain killers. So I did…and last night I had a reasonable night’s sleep. I still woke up with pain, but about 3.00 am I took more medication, which enabled me to sleep through until 8.00. Millie gave me a lovely snuggle in the hour it took for the painkillers to kick in.

Today, the pain is still there, but it’s in the background. Thank goodness.

The other side effect is that I’ve almost completely lost my sense of taste. There’s still the periphery of sweet or spicy, but it’s hardly there. So you can imagine food doesn’t hold much allure – and my mouth hurts when I eat. AND it feels like it’s full of cotton wool – a bizarre dry feeling.

Yesterday I managed a cheese and pickle sandwich and half a bowl of porridge. The day before, was another sandwich and a piece of fish-and-rice (with a strong sauce) Mr FD is a tad worried, and so is going to “force” me to eat more – I had bread-and-honey for breakfast, and I could taste the honeyness of that. We’ll see about lunch. I haven’t lost a sense of smell though – his omelette last night smelled good, and I can definitely smell when Pomme has been in her litter tray!!

Finally, my nails are being affected too – I have a very greasy ointment to put on twice a day, and I wore ice-mittens while having the chemo, but they are starting to feel weakened, and a little hurty too. Sigh.

I’m not telling you this for sympathy (though that’s always nice) but partly as a record for myself, and partly for others who might come across this while searching for info. It does pass (though I’ve read of people still getting this neuropathy a year after chemo has ended. Please, God, no…) and painkillers are a wonderful thing.

Hey, ho. I hope to continue with a more cheerful post tomorrow.

 

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Telling you about Tuesday (and Wednesday!)

On Tuesday, Mr FD couldn’t decide whether to go cycling or not in the afternoon, so while he was making up his mind, we drove to visit Les Salins, which are former sea salt works. Salt has been “created” here since 4 BC, until about the 1990s. It’s now a bird reserve, where one can see herons, egrets, flamingoes etc. But sadly, not on Mondays and Tuesdays, as that’s when it’s closed!

So, having rattled gates and tried to find alternative entrances, we ttook a photo from the vierwing platform, and decided that instead we would wander along the beach for a while, just enjoying the sunshine, and being with each other.

We headed back about 11.00, and I had a read and a snooze until lunchtime. For lunch there was something, but I can’t remember what! Nope. It’s gone…no idea!

Mr FD had decided that he wanted to go cycling, but not up hills, so he went out with just one other cyclist, along the coast. The others headed inland to climb up hills. I decided to explore Bormes-la-Mimosa, a village about 15 minutes away.

I knew there was a park there, so I hoped to find something to paint, but there was nothing that inspired me. I passed this house, covered in wisteria, which I considered painting, but there was nowhere to sit.

Having wandered through the park, I then explored the village, coming across more picturesque sights:

I treated myself to a banana ice cream (yummy!) and then did a little bit of window shopping in the boutiques and craft shops.

Nothing really caught my attention, so I didn’t feel deprived! This cat was quite photogenic – but not very friendly

Bizarrely, when I returned, there was still a cat sitting by the pot – but it was a different cat! I suppose they must take it in turns to sit and be photographed!

I got home, and Mr FD and I sat on our balcony for a while, in the late afternoon sun, reading. This is the view that we had from our balcony:

At about 6 o’clock we went down to the bar to partake of a couple more Grimbergens & to chat with people.

Dinner was a themed “Fish Night” – so it was Provençale Soupe de Poisson (fish soup), served with grated cheese, croutons and rouille, a slightly spicy, red mayonnaise. I haven’t had fish soup for ages, and had forgotten how much I enjoy it! In fact, it was more “Shellfish Night” as the choices were Moules Marinière, or bulots (winkles). I like mussels, but shouldn’t be having shellfish, as I have lowered immunity at the moment, and shellfish can be a source of problems. Happily, there was a non-fish choice, and I was happy to have duckling instead! A bit of cheese, and a chocolate éclair…Then, tisane, and “The Bridge” before bed!

On Wednesday, we left about 9.00 and drove home, pausing at one of our favourite places for lunch – Aix et TerraWhenever we go south, we try to schedule it so we can stop for lunch either on the way down, or the way back (or both!!)

It’s both a factory, making delicious dips, and tartines, and spreads, and a restaurant, with dishes that showcase the products.

There was an amuse-bouche of black olive tapenade, and then we shared a starter of tartines and crostini. The tartine was a dried tomato paste with coppa, and the crostini was an artichoke spread with melted cheese. Then we both had a burger, served with carrot chutney, and the most delicious chips I think I’ve had in France!

Finally, I had a café gourmande – I have to say, if ever I see this on a menu I usually choose it, as it gives the opportuinity to try several desserts. This one came with a little salted caramel financier, a tiny lemon meringue tart, and a crème brulée au thé des 13 desserts (This tea blend is made with the flavours of the traditional Provençal 13 desserts, eaten on Christmas Day: dried fruits, nuts, marzipan etc) Delicious!

We got home just around 4 o’clock, charged with looking after our friend’s dog, Marvin. Here he is being taken for a walk this morning

 

 

Three Days: Three Quotes challenge :: Day 3

I was nominated for this challenge by Bev…You can read more about it on my post fromp a couple of days ago.

Today’s qutation is from Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, or Laozi, is a Chinese philosopher from the 5th or 6th century BC, and he is credited with creating the Taoist school of philosophy.

This quotation is one that Revd Canon Mark Oakley used in one of his talks at the Vocational Discernment weekend that I went to in November. The weekend was entitled “This is my Son: Listen to Him”. He was talking about how who we are, what we believe about ourselves, will affect not only what we think, but the decisions we make, and how we react to others, and to God. As an extreme example, if we have been brought up in an abusive family, constantly told we are unloveable, we will find it hard to believe that God loves us. But there are so many, less extreme examples too…

But, if we can let go of those perceptions that we have of ourselves (that I’m unloveable, that I can’t speak out in public, that I’m not good at that, that I’m not worthy of this…etc…etc…) then that will allow us to begin to percieve what our possibilities are, and to start to become what we might be…

 

 

This second part of the quotation – which Mark didn’t mention – reminds me of the quotation from the Gospels “He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
God calls on us to be generous with everything – our possessions, our love, our time, our life – and not to hold back. If we cling onto Stuff we become obsessed by it, by wanting more Stuff, by making more money, by grabbing more things. If we can learn to “let go”, then our lives will become simpler, and we will receive those good things, gifts from God. This is what 40 Acts has been about: giving and not counting the cost. Being generous. Opening oneself up…

Becoming what God wants us to be.

Three Days: Three Quotes challenge :: Day 2

I was nominated for this little challenge by Bev – you can read the rules etc on yesterday’s post…

Today’s quotation is actually rather similar in feel to yesterday’s, to be honest. Maybe this is because I have felt the need for life affirming quotations recently!

This one comes from Julian of Norwich.

Quoting from Wikipedia: Julian of Norwich (c. 8 November 1342 – c. 1416) was an English anchoress and an important Christian mystic and theologian. Her Revelations of Divine Love, written around 1395, is the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.

If I remember correctly, Julian longed to understand the love of God, and the suffering of Christ more deeply, and prayed that she might experience this. She became ill, and as Julian was lying on, what was thought at the time, to be her deathbed she suddenly she saw Christ bleeding in front of her, and saw a series of visions. Through these visions, she received insight into Christ’s sufferings and his love for us. Julian’s message remains one of hope and trust in God, whose compassionate love is always given to us. In this all-gracious God there can be no element of wrath. The wrath — ‘all that is contrary to peace and love — is in us and not in God. God’s saving work in Jesus of Nazareth and in the gift of God’s spirit, is to slake our wrath in the power of his merciful and compassionate love’. Julian did not perceive God as blaming or judging us, but as enfolding us in love. (from the site The Julian Centre)

The quotation above is reasonably well-known, but I like this version that adds more of Julian’s words:

“There is a Force of love…that holds us fast and will never let us go…”

This is what I have been experiencing through these past few months. I pray that you, dear Readers, will experience it too.

Love so deep breaks open a new day…

This song is from “The Passion” by Adrian Snell – I had this LP (there’s old!!) when I was at college in the late 70s/early 80s and recently came across it on YouTube. This song is a duet between Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. It refers back to words and tunes from earlier in the suite… I still really like it, even if it is a little dated.

Mary Magdalene:

Brothers, I have seen the Lord – I have seen a new day rise

Friends,I have seen the Lord –  I have seen the sun in his eyes, in his eyes

Awake, I have seen the Lord – I have seen the night-time die

Peace, I have seen the Lord  – He is the life that will never die, never die

 Jesus is alive!

Rejoice, we have seen the Lord – God has come among us

Praise, we have seen the Lord – God’s face now shines upon us, shines on us.

Jesus is alive!

 Mary, Mother of Jesus:

Risen with the sun as the early flowers open

You’re coming home your voice is clear now

My heart begins to understand- Son of the world.

Son of the world, you love so dearly

Love so deep breaks open a new day

I find you close to my heart and walking by me

I meet you in your waking people

I live on in your living word- Son of the world.

I have seen the Lord – Jesus is alive!

Hallelujah!

Award Ceremony Part II

So, yesterday I wrote about being awarded the “Leibster” award, by theNewMrsM

Today is all aboutwhich I was “awarded” by Chomeuse with a Chou

The Friendship Blogger Award was invented by: Novus Lectio

“This Award is for those we cherish in WP and to show them affection and to offer them our friendship.”  – which is one of the great things about blogging in my opinion – not just WordPress (which is what I imagine “WP” stands for) but any blogging platform. I have made friends all over the world, and hope that I have inspired someone, somewhere, with what I write. I do cherish those “virtual” friends, and want to encourage people to support, cherish, comment on other blogs.

RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the Award (Novus Lectio) and its purpose.
  • Nominate other bloggers to receive the awards.
  • List the rules and display the Friendship blogger award logo in your post on your blog.

As I’ve said before, it’s difficult nominating other bloggers for awards, as they sometimes find them a bit of a burden, what with “rules” and things they have to do, but here are three other blogs that I enjoy reading – which are perhaps a little different to the others I have already linked to at other times.

1) Deep Heart of France This is a blog written by an ex-pat who obviously loves this area of France. He is writing about the departements slightly west of where I live, and his love of the area shines out through every post. I particularly like reading his posts about Clermont Ferrand, where I sometimes work, and where my church is.

2) Kirk & Bert This is a blog started by someone who wants to explore living a more organic & chemical free life. After her husband survived cancer, the author decided to try to cut down on those things that she suspected may have had some part to play in the development of said disease. It’s full of interesting, thought provoking ideas. Not that I’ve actually tried any of them – but that’s mostly laziness on my part!

3) Unseen Beauty Now, I am not a beauty blogger, in any sense of the word. I don’t wear make-up (although I’m being encouraged to do so during chemo, as my new wig – still to be revealed – is a different colour to my natural look, and needs a stronger colour), my “cleansing” routine involves whatever shower gel/cream I bought cheaply at Noz, and some general shampoo, I don’t use anything on my face, except a bit of Yves Rocher cream when it feels very dry. And that’s it. But I enjoy reading Kirsty’s blog particularly, as it comes from the perspective of a visually impaired person.

So there are three different blogs for you to explore, should any of them appeal to you.

As an added bonus (?!) I’ll answer the list of questions that Bev, another blogger, posted for her Sunshine Blogger award:

  1. What is your most treasured possession and why? I really don’t know…I’m very much attached to a Victorian opal ring that was my “aunt”‘s (not a proper aunt, just a very close friend of the family), but there’s no one “treasured possession” as such.
  2. What would be your dream job? I’m lucky enough to love my work as an EFL teacher, but a dream job would be author, or actor. In the UK I did lots of am-dram, and while I wasn’t fantastic, I loved it! Mind you, learning lines would come more difficult now!
  3. What was the last film you watched? “Young Frankenstein” which we watched last night. I used to find it hysterically funny, and there are still parts that make me chortle – especially those parts with Marty Feldmann in – but there was one part which now actually makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, as I rewatch it…Maybe I’m being over sensitive, but in the light of the #Metoo rising, this one tiny part jarred with me much more than it did in the past. I won’t say what it is – and don’t let it put you off watching the film – but … meh.

We have recently watched Paddington, and Paddington 2 – no controversy there: loved them both!!!

4. What was your favourite subject in school? English language – what’s not to like about lessons about making your writing better?!

5. What’s your favourite thing about yourself? Bof! I don’t know…sense of humour?

6. Have you ever been told you resemble someone famous? Who was it? Not that I recall.

7. Do you snore? Oh yes! I have the family snore, which, I have been told, is reminiscent of a motorbike revving up. My sister also has it, and I would assume my brother too. Mr FD claims that not only can he hear me through noise-cancelling headphones, but I make the bed vibrate!

8. If you could learn to transform into an animal (but only one) which animal would you choose? Cat, definitely – though preferably a well-loved cat. Eating, sleeping, purring, and being stroked. With the occasional saunter into the garden – sounds like a good life!

9. What’s your favourite cartoon? Don’t really have one…or do you mean animated film? Which could include many – practically any Aardman film, but especially Wallace & Gromit, Toy Story, Up, Inside Out…

10. What was your favourite film as a child? Absolutely no idea!

11. If there was a film about your life, what would it be called? Again, no idea! I don’t really feel imaginitive to think of one either. “An un-extraordinary Life” ?

So, there you have it!

Thank you for the award, Chomeuse!

Back to the land of the living!

Hola, mes amis! (there’s a mix of languages!)

Here I am, generally feeling OK. And so I thought I should sign in to let you know how things are going. I’ll do an update on 40 Acts another time; today is just me. (How< self centred!!)

So on Tuesday I went to see a magnetiseur – the nearest translation I could find was hypnotherapist. But he didn’t really hypnotise me. He placed his hand on my stomach, my intestines, my throat: the idea being that these are the areas that would be worse affected by chemo, with nausea, stomach upsets etc. He then asked which side my “front door” was being fitted. I didn’t know but assumed it was the opposite side to the scars (I was in fact wrong) and he “drew” shapes on my upper chest with his fingers and blew on me. Bizarre. Well, I don’t know if what he did had any effect, but I have suffered from hardly any side effects. The “front door” has been a bit of a nuisance, as it is uncomfortable in bed, so maybe it would have been better if he’d blown on that side!!

Wednesday was the fitting of the “front door” (this is the permanent chamber fitted so that the chemo can be easily pumped into my blood stream) My appointment was at 7.00 so we had to get up at 5.30 (Yawn) Mr FD came with me, then, when I was being operated on, went & did the shopping. It was done under local so there was no waiting around afterwards and I was home by lunchtime. I dozed in the afternoon, mostly because I’d been up so early!!

On Thursday it was C-day. The day for my first chemo. I’d slept reasonably well the night before, & the taxi-ambulance picked me up at 8.00.There was a nerve wracking wait, as Dr Vincent (chemotherapist) was behind. But once he’d checked my ECG, my blood test and everything else I was cleared for commencement. Everybody – nurses, ancillary staff, other patients – were lovely and the day went quite quickly. I had a lunch of salad and meat, and chatted to a lovely lady who is an English/French/maths teacher called Charlotte. I was given a “soins des mains” – not exactly a manicure, but a gentle hand massage and dead skin removal. Mr FD popped in and we had a cup of tea together before he went for his interview…then at 4.00 my ambulance-taxi took me home. Whereupon I was like a zombie!!

I should have gone straight to bed, but I stayed up, lolling and sleeping on the sofa. Next time will be different! Then on Friday & Saturday I stayed in bed all day, mostly sleeping and listening to the radio, because my eyes didn’t want to be open! Mr FD looked after me beautifully, with just enough tempting morsels for me to eat. I felt no nausea, very slight stomach pains and that’s all! I got up on Saturday evening for a while. My biggest problem has been a bad back from staying in bed too long!!

Sunday I was out of bed and awake for most of the day – just lolling in a chair, listening to music, flicking through a magazine, watching TV – and then yesterday I got dressed too! We went across the road to see friends for about an hour – I wore a mask and gloves to avoid infection, especially as Monique has a cold. I’m still snoozing in the afternoon & actually, today, (at 11.10 CET) I feel very sleepy. But generally, this session of chemo has only affected me with tiredness. I know that others may be different, but I thank God (and the Magnetiseur!) for the relative ease of this. Mr FD has been a real star, keeping everywhere clean, clearing up after cats, encouraging me to eat, helping me do stuff I can’t manage alone.

The good news is that both my oncoloist and mt chemotherapist were perfectly positive about me going to Manchester next weekend AS LONG AS I take sensible precautions

  • wear a mask in crowds at all times
  • take my temperature regularly & if I have a fever go to A&E immediately (hmmm, with the NHS in crisis that could be tricky)
  • do not kiss or shake hands with anyone
  • wear gloves at all times
  • keep scrupulously clean – wash hands regularly (even when wearing gloves)
  • rest, rest, rest
  • listen to what my body is saying & don’t push it.

SO, hopefully, I will be going to the UK after all! Mr FD has booked us into the nearest carpark to the airport terminal, has investigated wheelchairs at the airport (as budget airlines are always furthest away!), reserveda car, and booked a hotel room less than a kilometre from the venue for Elbow. Fingers crossed that I can manage…and that I will be sensible enough to say “I can’t manage” if that is indeed the case.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers, good wishes, comments and gifts. They have been truly appreciated.