Coming round after a Lost Weekend…

It’s been a long time since I posted, but I’m sure you understand why! Last weekend was my “Lost Weekend” after the second session of chemo.

For my own benefit really, but for anyone who might be interested, I want to record how I felt, and what I did/ ate in that weekend.

THURSDAY: Chemo session. Got home at about 18.00, had a cup of tea. Went to bed. Slept.

FRIDAY: Nurse came for injection to boost white blood cell production. Day spent sleeping/ listening to podcasts in small chunks. Drank about 1.5l of cranberry juice/water through the day. Breakfast: slice of marmite toast, half a cup of coffee. Lunch: slice of marmite toast. Got up round 18.00. Dinner: half a tiny baked potato and cheese. Felt sick. Went to bed about 19.30. Slept. Moulting started in earnest overnight.

SATURDAY: Day spent sleeping/ listening to podcasts in slightly larger chunks/ some activity on FB. Drank about 1.5l of cranberry juice/water through the day. Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + tomato soup. Got up round 17.00. Dinner: small amount of pasta, sauce & cheese. Felt less sick. Went to bed about 20.30. Slept. Moulted.

SUNDAY: I meant to get up earlier, but couldn’t be arsed.  Morning spent sleeping/ listening to music, or podcasts/using FB.  I got up around 16.00, finally having a shower (Mr FD was probably quite relieved about that!) but not getting dressed. Wrapped myself up in PJs, fluffy dressing gown and thick socks.Generally still very dopey, so snoozed, half watched some TV. Went to bed about 20.30, slept reasonably well. Moulted.

Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + mushroom soup. Dinner: A small amount of gnocchi and pasta sauce, yoghurt with jam

MONDAY: Got up around lunch time, morning spent sleeping/ listening to music, or podcasts/using FB. Got dressed. Afternoon spent on sofa, snoozing, watching daytime TV. Went to bed about 21.30. Didn’t sleep well. Drank reasonably well – about 1.25l

Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + mushroom soup. Cereal bar and pineapple in a pot. Dinner: A medium amount of a sort of “sausagiflette” – like tartiflette but made with sausages.So basically, potato, mushroom, onion, sausage, spinach and raclette cheese. Yoghurt and jam.

TUESDAY: Because I’d slept badly the night before due to a sinus headache, Mr FD was a bit worried. When the Nurse came to take blood for my weekly blood test he asked her advice, and they decided I should go to the doctor. An appointment was made. Marie-Laure (Nurse) had the usual difficulty taking blood – it is very lethargic, my blood, and it’s really hard to find a vein. She tried two places and finally squeezed out just-about-sufficient for the blood test. Went to doctor in afternoon, sinus infection diagnosed, and – due to low blood cell count – everything was thrown at it: anti nausea tablets, anti biotics (dissolvable ones. BLEUCH. Plus, as they are strong, likely to cause nausea, and diarrhoea. Yay!), yeast (dissolvable in water. BLEUCH! to restore gut bacteria destroyed by the antibiotics)

It was a difficult day – lots of crying. Fed up with moulting, and my pillows are covered in hair. I wake up with moutfuls of hair. It’s NOT FAIR! Mr FD got the worst of it from me. God got complained to. Felt dopey for most of the day, but perked up after dinner.

So do Fat Dormice!

Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + marmite.  Dinner: Smallish portion of chicken, pasta, sauce; cereal bar, pineapple in a pot. Took yucky antibiotics. Went to bed about 20.30. Didn’t get to sleep until about midnight; woke regularly and for long periods of time. Usually with mouthfuls of hair, despite wearing a hair-covering.

WEDNESDAY: Took horrible medication with large glass of cranberry juice/water; took anti biotics dissolved in water (BLEUCH!) quickly followed by a large bite of marmite toast!  Morning spent doing some paperwork on computer & reading blogs. Mr FD shaved my head, as I am fed up of moulting like a cat!

Breakfast:2 slices of marmite toast & a banana. Took yeast + a chocolate Dime sweet crunched up immediately! Lunch:Antibiotics. followed by handful of strong flavoured snacks, 2 slices of cheese on toast, cereal bar. Afternoon: walk to post office & around the block (about 500 m) followed by 20 minute snooze and some afternoon TV.  Dinner: Antibiotics followed bgy strong flavoured crisps, medium sized bowl of chilli + garlic bread, apple compote, chocolate biscuit.  Yeast taken with Dime sweet. Bed at 22.30. Slept through (almost!) until 7.45.

The walk, albeit only 500 m or so, took me about 20 minutes, and required two sit-downs on the way. The sit downs were partially to enjoy the sunshine and breathe some fresh air, but it was hard work!

I think my eating is back to normal, albeit smaller portions, but I still have the horrid anti biotics/ yeast combo to take for another 6 days – it makes my stomach fizz, and feel bloaty, but (so far) I’ve not had the expected diarrhoea. The other interesting thing is how my tastes have changed: while I still enjoy sweetish things, I am certainly not eating so many. During the first few days, I didn’t want any strong flavours, except for Marmite (as one can see from the amount of marmite toast I’m eating!), and the smell of cooking was horrid! And coffee, which is my go-to hot drink, has a rather unpleasant metallic taste – I can have the breakfast coffee, but after that it is not at all appealing. I’m not really enjoying any hot drink – tisanes taste too weak, or just not-nice. I’m not a tea drinker, but I’m thinking I might try a cuppa, just to see if I enjoy it. I do need to try to drink a bit more, as the Nurse said I need to aim to drink at least 1.5l a day, and I don’t think I’m doing that.


I’m not looking for sympathy here (though it’s always nice to have some!) but I thought you might be interested to read what a “Lost Weekend” is like – although this one has come with the added joy of the sinus infection! It’s also useful to have a record somewhere.

I have 1 more session of FEC 100, which is this current cocktail of poison, and then I go onto another regime, which will have different side effects: judging by the amount of anti-nausea medication that is prescribed, they are expecting more sickness. Plus this will affect my nail beds, so I have to put on a special kind of nail varnish, and rub an ointment around my nails twice a day. Stupidly, I’m already looking ahead and dreading that: sufficient unto the day…and so on!

We have booked to go on the Cycle Club short break, down in the south of France, which is the weekend after my next session. I will be tired still, but eating OK. I’m planning on spending the 5 days relaxing in the sun (while being fully covered, as I should avoid sunlight apparently) either in the holiday village, or on the nearby beach. Some reading, zentangling, and other relaxing activities will take place.

I’ll try and post tomorrow – I have a book review and three, yes, THREE, blog appreciation awards to acknowledge!!! Sorry it’s taken so long.


Hooray for me!!

As you might know, French bureaucracy seems to be one of the biggest nightmares for many people living here – including the French themselves!

About this time last year, I was contacted by a (possibly new) organisation called DIRECCTE (Direction Regionale des Entreprises de la concurrence, de la consommation, du travail et de l’emploi ) (No, I don’t know either!!) that informed me that because I was providing training I had to have a “registration number” and in order to get this I had to provide vast swathes of paperwork, including an entire Course Plan (IN FRENCH – so I had to translate my planning for an entire course of 30 hours training into French. A very useful waste of several hours). Thankfully, the very kind Director of ILS, one of the companies I have teaching contracts with, helped me to complete the appropriate forms.

Now, a year in, I have to provide a Bilan Pedagogique et Financier – basically giving information about hours teaching, and money earned in doing said teaching. It needs to be done by the end of April, but I had set myself a reminder for the beginning of March telling me Not To Put It Off (I know myself well!) but to start looking at it and working out what to do. As I know I won’t be working in April, I thought I could get on and do it.

Thanks to some fairly assiduous record keeping (most unlike me!) I think I have completed it correctly – although there’s a couple of sections that I’m unsure about. However M. Khodri (the very kind Director) has said he’d check over it for me on Wednesday. I’ve got to go to Clermont for an opthalmologist appointment, so I can pop into ILS then.

But just the fact I’ve got myself into this almost-finished position, well ahead of time, is very pleasing!!

….Not this time, I’m not!!!


On other news: I’ve got an appointment at a wig specialist tomorrow, and Friend Alison is coming to help me choose. I will post a picture.

At the party on Saturday, someone remarked that I still had my hair.

“Yes,” I said, “it is still firmly attached!” And took a handful and pulled to demonstrate. Except, I demonstrated that it wasn’t quite as firmly attached as it had been! I’m beginning to find that it’s starting to come out – not in great swathes, but just the odd few hairs. Hey-ho; I knew it was going to happen, so I’m okay about it at the moment. The time when I have to face a Baldy Dormouse might be a bit difficult, but I know it will grow back (though possibly greyer than it is now!) and I know it’s a sign that the chemo is doing its job, so I hope I won’t get too upset.


I was right!

Yesterday I told you that we were going to a birthday party, and wrote: “Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!”

We arrived just after 8.00 and were one of the first there. We greeted our friends and then stood round like a couple of lemons – both Mr FD & I are introverts and useless at starting conversations. We drank either beer (Mr FD) or a wine-based cocktail (me). Lots of platters of pastry based snacks were being passed round, so we ate quite a lot of those, and we chatted together. Finally I was getting tired, so we sat at our table, until an English friend arrived and joined us. She knew another couple (Franco-Hungarian) and so we chatted to them too. Then Jean-Luc (the Birthday boy) and his band played a few numbers. Finally at about 10.00 the first course appeared – oysters! One of the few things I really don’t like (to me they are like eating snot in sea-water) and also raw shellfish really isn’t a good idea for someone with a dodgy immune system. I had a piece of bread and butter.

Then Jean-Luc and his band played a few more numbers…and the fish course arrived – marinaded salmon and green salad. It was really like raw fish, but cured in its marinade. I wasn’t totally sure about eating it, but I was getting a tad hungry. It was actually very nice, and I have suffered no ill effects. But I was getting really tired.

At 11.15, with no sign of the meat course, I had to throw in the towel. I was falling asleep in my seat. So, despite Mr FD urging me to see if I could stay for a while longer (I think he was still hungry too!) I had to insist we went home. If we were going by the rhythm of the rest of the evening, it would have been meat at 11.30 (at the earliest), cheese at midnight (or later!), dessert at about 00.45, champagne and cake at 01.30 and dancing until whenever.

Of course, when I was in bed, despite being so tired, I couldn’t get to sleep for ages, and Mr FD woke in the middle of the night with terrible acid indigestion from too much beer with not enough food!

It was lovely to be invited, it was great to catch up with our friend who we haven’t seen for ages, and to celebrate Jean-Luc & Traudel’s birthdays…However, I do wish French parties didn’t go on so long into the night!! I can’t manage them, even when I’m fit and healthy (although I might have held out until the end of the main course!)

Bits and bobs and 40 Acts (21 & 22)

Hello dear ones – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. They really helped me, and I appreciate the fact that you all took time to post a commernt. If you haven’t seen the comments from other people, I encourage you to go back & read them: they might help you too.


Yesterday I went for a short walk – a walk I’d probably do in 10 minutes took me about twice that time, and I felt quite breathless by the end of it. I will do the same today, straight after I’ve finished this post. I’m still sleeping more than normal – usually 10 – 11 hours a night, especially if I’ve taken an iboprofene. The “front door” is causing me some discomfort/pain when I lie on my side, I think because it’s getting squished up and pressed into the flesh, but that’s the side I feel most comfortable to sleep on. If I sleep on my back I get backache; if I sleep on my right side, my arthritic hip hurts! The iboprofene makes everything more comfortable, so I sleep better, but I don’t feel happy taking one every night!

Tonight we’re going to a birthday party – a 120th birthday party. But not for a very old person, but two 60 year olds! Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!

Even though birthday cards aren’t really a French tradition, I have, of course, made one:


I hope they like it.

I don’t want to be too late to bed either, as I hope to make it to church tomorrow as well. A friend from church came over on Thursday, bringing me three hats she’d knitted for me – so, together with a lovely one that Michelle knitted, I am all set. Except my hair is showing no sign of falling out yet! I’ve got an appointment at a coiffeuse/wig shop on Tuesday too, but at the moment everything seems to be anchored to my scalp! Which might be a good thing aesthetically, but it makes me worry that the chemotherapy isn’t doing its job, as it should be killing off all the fast-growing cells, which include hair follicles and cancer cells. Oh well, I can always check up with the doctor on Thursday before my next session.

Onto 40 Acts:

ACT 21:: ACTION: Three weeks in – we’re halfway there! By now, generosity is probably sinking a little deeper into our lives. It’s a great time to put action behind our words. Think of moments when you’ve read or heard about something generous and thought, ‘That’s a nice idea,’ but never get around to doing it. Now’s the time. Only one act for today: What act have you put off over the last few weeks? What sounded like a good idea at the time, but you never got around to doing? Put it at the top of today’s to-do list.

Well, for me, the main act really is donating to Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced Persons

This is a fantastic but tiny charity, started by one man, James. The website says: James came up with the idea while volunteering at the refugee camp in Calais known as The Jungle.  After talking regularly to people within the camp he realised that phone credit was a lifeline for many – and something he could help with from his home in Norfolk!

In the beginning, the process was very simple. James created a Facebook group, and added all his friends and some of the refugees he had met while volunteering. His goal was to have his close contacts provide phone credit to the handful of refugees he had come to know so well.

The group grew and grew, with his FB friends adding more friends, and they added more. Now over 64,000 members chip in when they can, donating £5, or more, to give credit to those who are desperate to contact their families left behind, or to contact aid agencies. This phone credit has saved the lives of vulnerable people, especially minors and women, so often targeted in camps.

Every Friday there is the Friday Conga, where everyone who can comments and donates (if possible), doing something important with FB algorithms that helps the group. I can’t always donate, I often forget to comment. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to start doing so. My Act 21 is to start saving 2€ coins, and when I have 10€ to make a donation. Can you afford to give a one-off donation to PC4R? This tells you how:


ACT 22: VALUED:: Today, a guaranteed way of making a difference. Talk up a service staff member. It’s such an easy chance to make a difference in someone’s day – but ask any service staff member, and you’ll hear how rarely it happens. Don’t let fear of insincerity put you off. A simple ‘You’re amazing, thank you for that!’ goes a long way when it’s well meant.  

I actually completed the Green task a couple of days ago, contacting the restaurant where we’d eaten on Saturday to compliment the waiter who had been very attentive to us. I certainly used to do this in the UK:  if I had received good service from a shop assistant I’d go to Customer Services, and say “I will complain if I receive bad service…” The face would fall “So equally I want to compliment good service…” The face would smile, and I would explain who had been helpful etc.

Sadly, France is not exactly the epitome of good customer service, with requests for help being met more often than not with a surly shrug. But I can still smile, and be polite and say Thank You to everyone who helps me, whether they do it with a smile or a shrug.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Thank you for reading!!

Feeling bad about 40 Acts

For those who have just started following, or reading my blog, 40 Acts is a Lenten challenge – 40 Acts of generosity over the 40 days of Lent. Not giving something up, but taking something on. You can read more about it over here.

I really did mean to follow 40 Acts as well as I could this year, but what with the chemotherapy wiping me out for days at a time I really haven’t felt “up for it” this year.


I have also found the challenges a little more challenging – but that could be my state of mind. I remember reading one challenge, Act 12, which read: Hospitality, the real thing, can be a blast: joyful, freeing, and hilarious. But it can also be a sometimes-painful sacrifice: of private space, of our priorities, of our food budget and schedules. Today we’re embracing both sides. The joy of hosting guests, and the pain of some stranger’s socks in the washing machine. Open your hands, open your doors, open your home.

As I had just woken from a long night’s chemo-induced sleep I just thought “Piss off”, turned over and went back to sleep!

But, as I have told a friend who has struggled with 40 Acts this year, it might be that the Act of generosity is to be generous to oneself, and not worry if there has been an #Epic Fail in completing them.

I am doing what I’m able to do – sometimes!

So, I engaged, a little, with today’s Act: ACT 20: Right now, send a quick encouraging text, out of the blue. And I sent a WhatsApp to a dear friend in Milton Keynes, and to my Godson

ACT 19: Yesterday was “Whinge Tin” – Complaint attracts complaint. Put a moaner in a workplace and by the end of the week they’ll have befriended every gossip in the office (and the lunch room will know about it…). So how do we do the opposite, and spread infectiously generous language? Try a simple first step: the swear jar model… I’m not sure about this, but I am certainly trying to show gratitude and thank God for what I have at the end of each day, although I do sometimes fall asleep before I’ve finished!

ACT 18: PERSIST: You’ve been praying. Hard. But you’re tempted to give up. Instead, push in. Rally yourself to pray gutsy prayers. What if today’s the day when your sixth lap of Jericho turns into a seventh, and the walls come down? This one is a personal reminder for me.

Although this is what I posted on the 40 Acts FB page:

As Emma writes: “God helped the Israelites, but not in their time and not as they had expected. ” Oh boy, don’t I know it! I have been aware for a while that I haven’t been trusting God, or feeling as close to him as I should be. And so I prayed that I would be able to find a way to feel closer to God, to learn to trust him more, to rely on him. And look!! I find myself with cancer!! But actually, it has been a good thing because yes, I have learned a little more to trust him, I do feel closer to him. But I can’t help thinking I’d’ve preferred another way of learning!!! Our God is good, but I wonder about his sense of humour sometimes…😏

ACT 17: STICKS & STONES. Ever caught yourself saying something that sounded nothing like you? Then stood shocked as you thought, ‘Did I really say that?’ We get over-familiar with our words, and sometimes miss the impact they have on people. So, we’re doing a review. What words do you find yourself using more than you realise? How can you flip the vocabulary table over to generosity? The GREEN challenge was Write some sincere, kind Post-its to put around the workplace or at home. Or, write one to someone specific, with words and compliments that mean something and show them they matter.  I think my constant Ninja note leaving might fall into this category. While I was at Lyon airport I scattered these around the departure lounge and washroom areas. The campaign continues…

ACT 16: INDIFFERENT DIFFERENCES: Awkward small talk. Just not your kind of person. Today we’re making an effort to challenge our perceptions. Most of us imagine we’re not the sort of people to make snap judgements or assumptions, just that, you know, we’d get round to talking to them tomorrow… or the next day. Well, today’s that day. No, I think you’ll find it isn’t. This just didn’t float my boat in any way. So I’m afraid I ignored it!

ACT 15: IMPACT: Is there a verse or passage that’s transformed you? Got you through a rough patch? A song that gives you a bit of hope every day? Share that with someone. Even at our low points, we always have something to give away. Jesus takes that as a given: in fact, he said he’s already ‘blessed us… with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’

Oh, yes, if you’re a regular reader you’ll already know this, but for my newer readers let me repeat it:

I shared this on FB.

ACT 14: HOME GROWN: It’s far easier than you’d expect to find a great local cause, and so worth it – this day has some amazing opportunities for you to connect in to your community in a way that sticks. Find out how generosity is already breaking out in your neighbourhood and get involved. You’re already where you need to be.

Sorry, 40 ACTS, not now. I can’t commit to anything at the moment…but maybe in the future. I make no promises!

ACT 13: INSIDE: Jesus is the original chain breaker. Freedom’s high on his agenda. So, that changes how we look at those stuck in physical captivity. How can you help those in a local prison? These are people who are often given up on. Can you extend hope to them – those furthest from most people’s kindness list?

Again, this felt like an enormous commitment, which I couldn’t face, but in fact, that day, I had an Amnesty International alert for a petition to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ping into my inbox. When we moved here, I was unable to continue supporting Amnesty: however with online petitions gaining weight, I can be involved again. So I signed this petition, and will be exploring the other Amnesty “Take Action” petitions. Here is a link to the Amnesty International page should you be interested

ACT 12: FLING THE DOORS: I’ve already written about how this one really did seem just “too” beyond me. I couldn’t contemplate how I could possibly face this challenge. It’s one to be put aside for another day.

ACT 11: FAIR TRADE: Generosity doesn’t always feel dramatic and hopeful, particularly when we can’t see the effects, and we aren’t at the centre. But the generosity that shifts the course of history isn’t just spontaneous – it’s strategic, and structural. It’s the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight. Jump in, buy fair, and help bend the arc of history towards justice. There’s always a Fair Trade challenge, reminding me to try to buy FT whenever possible. But not now, thank you.

Yes, you can haz coffee – As long as it’s Fair Trade…

ACT 10: PROMPT: Faith is everything. In fact, if you look in the Bible, the only two things that amaze Jesus are people’s faith – or people’s lack of faith. So today, act in faith. Ask God how you could be generous, and listen for his prompt. But be ready: faith like this might mean a bit of waiting, and a bit of risk-taking.

Choose how you’ll complete today’s act: One option today: Purposefully walk slowly and prayerfully today. Ask God to show you what he sees and ask him to lead you into an act of generosity – ‘Lord, what do you want me to share today? How do you want me to share it, and who with?’

Sorry, I wasn’t walking anywhere today! But, in amidst the sleeping, dozing and zizzing, there were some garbled and jumbled prayers. Who or what for, I have no idea, but I trust God was able to sort the wheat from the chaff!!

ACT 9: STREETS: How much do you notice when you’re out and about? The walk to work, to school, to the shops can become an adventure in generosity. Step out of your ‘bubble’ and pay attention to the people and places you pass. Spot those opportunities to offer a helping hand, be a friendly face or offer a listening ear.

This is a “put on the back burner for later” challenge. I was in bed. Asleep.

ACT 8: I CAN: Don’t think your side hobby/ability is a gift? Take another look. It comes easily to you. There’s not much pressure or effort around it. When you step out with it, things happen faster than you expect. Sound like it might be a gift from God? And if it’s something that God’s put in your hands, then it’s something for you to give away.

This one is something I have been doing – sharing my zentangling. The most recent one went off yesterday to someone, but that’s a surprise, so I won’t mention it now. I sent this one to Floating Gold a few weeks back

and the offer is always there: if you’d like me to do a zentangle for you (almost any subject, not just wildlife!) then just let me know.

ACT 7:BRAND NEW: When was the last time you stepped into something new? Wasn’t it a little terrifying – make you feel inexperienced and maybe a little insecure? Well, we’d bet that right now you know a few new parents. Or someone in a new job, new to church, moving into a new house. Think back to what would have helped you, and offer it to them.

This strikes me as a slightly strange challenge, which may, for many 40 Activists, have been difficult to complete…but it’s certainly worth bearing in mind for the future. We went to our new neighbour’s restaurant on Monday – does that count?!


So, there you are: a catch up on how 40 Acts is/isn’t going with me!! And I will be generous to myself and say that All things considered, I’m not doing too badly!




I came, I saw, I had a MAGNIFICENT time!!

All week we had been watching the weather in the UK – the “Beast from the East” causing chaos, with drivers stranded, airports shut down, villages cut off…but all the time, the little north west corner of the British Isles seemed to miss the worst of the weather. Then Storm Emma started romping up the west side of the UK…but veered over to Ireland just before reaching the top of Wales.

We had to get up early, at 5.00 am to drive over to Lyon, but I’d actually woken at 2.30 and not got back to sleep. I was actually much perkier than I’d imagined I’d be. We set out to Lyon airport hoping that the plane would not be cancelled. It wasn’t even delayed!!

Wearing a double surgical mask and latex gloves, to protect from infection – as these days were the days when my white blood cell count would be at its lowest, and I would be most vulnerable to infection – I cut a slightly pathetic picture. We comandeered a wheelchair at the airport and Mr FD pushed me through. I’m very glad, as it was quite a trek to get to the correct terminal. We went through security (surprisingly there was no queue at all) – I caused some problems as I explained about the stent for chemo, and they wanted to see proof of this. It was in my handbag, which had already gone through the scanner, so people were running aroud to fetch it. Then I had to be scanned with a hand held scanner rather than go through the walk-through scanner. It all took a bit longer than usual, but we had plenty of time. As I was in a wheelchair we were allowed through passport control ahead of others (huzzah!) and soon got settled on the plane. I plugged in my earphones and listened to a podcast for the flight. At Manchester we waited until everyone had left the plane, and then climbed the steps into the terminal building. As I entered the bhuilding I slipped on some very wet rubbery matting, and fell down: luckily I went quite slowly, and nothing was hurt, but the cabin crew and pilot who were just behind were very helpful and sympathetic.  Also luckily, a wheelchair had been left at the top of the steps and we were encouraged to use it – which meant priority going through border control!! Although we’d been so slow there weren’t many people left waiting anyway. Then we took the time to organise a wheelchair for the return journey, at Manchester airport. Later on, Mr FD contacted Lyon to organise assistance at that end too.

Mum had said she’d pay for car hire, so we went andpicked up the car, then drove to mum’s, in Liverpool. We had lunch, and then my sister arrived from Leicester (not held up by snow at all), and my brother from Stokesley (near Middlesborough) Despite the fact there was still a lot of snow on the east side of the country, he had encountered no problems with the trains getting over. It was lovely seeing them all! We sat and chatted all afternoon, as I had to take it easy, while Wonderful Mr FD went on a mission to buy, and then put in place, a new toilet seat for mum. We had dinner and then, as I’d been awake so early, suddenly fatigue hit me. I was in bed and asleep byabout 9.30, I think!

On Friday evening, we had hastily arranged a meet-up for lunch with my nephew Conor (Judy’s son) and my niece Rose (Mike’s daughter), her husband and baby, over in Manchester. So after relaxing all morning, while everyone else went out shopping for a disabled friend of mum’s, or taking things to the tip, or buying supplies of logs, we all set out for lunch.

Here we are at Croma Pizza, passing Billy the Baby round the table – except not to my end, as I had to stay away from babies (hotbeds of infection, apparently. And Billy was quite snuffly).

There were some, let’s say less traditional pizzas on the menu, but I decided to have

Baked garlic mushrooms, served with (quite a lot of) rocket and a slice of olive bread

Then I chose another starter for a main course, which was a chorizo and Bury black pudding bruschetta, with a goats’ cheese and beetroot side salad. It was very nice.

and with it, I drank a delicious Manchester craft beer, called “Manchester Skyline”

For dessert I chose a “Banoffi Mess” – basically Eton Mess, but made with bananas, meringue, ginger biscuits and cream, with toffee sauce. It was a bit of a disappointment – masses of cream, big chunks of meringue, two slices of banana and one crumb of ginger biscuit. It let down what was an excellent meal, and although I did mention it to the waiter no more was said about it.

Afterwards, Judy and mum went back to Liverpool, while Mike, Mr FD and I went to spend the afternoon with Rose, David and Billy.

Billy in his bouncy chair

I spent some of the time “resting my eyes” but it was lovely just chatting with them, and watching them play with Billy. I kept my mask and gloves on for the whole time, to avoid any infection. And then Mike, Mr FD & I set off for the Bill Bailey comedy gig – this was our Christmas present for Mike. We arrived quite early, but that was fine. I sat in my seat and “powered down” – that is to say, pulled my hat and hood over my eyes and just sat quietly with my eyes closed, relaxing and conserving energy.

Here we are, after my powering down, waiting for the show to start.

It was a very good show – Bill Bailey is a slightly surreal comic, but we thoroughly enjoyed the show. Here is a review of the show from The GuardianOurs was a little different, set in Manchester rather than Southend, but – ad libs aside – it was basically the same. We got home at about 11.30, and we went straight to bed.

On Sunday morning, mum went to church, but I decided it wasn’t worth expending more “spoons” than necessary, considering we had the Elbow gig in the evening. ( The “spoon theory” is a disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. … A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished. from Wikipedia) So Judy, Mike & I looked at an old photo album, discussing who the various members of our family were, as Mike has spent quite a lot of time researching our family tree. Unfortunately, while we have great grandparents who were Irish, this is not enough to entitle us to an Irish passport. Mr FD played about with mum’s computer, organising our boiarding passes and assistance at Lyon airport for the journey home.

After lunch, Mr FD and I set off for the hotel in Manchester that we’d booked for Sunday night, about a mile away from Manchester Arena, where the gig was being held. For some reason, the Sat Nav didn’t want to work in Manchester city centre and we couldn’t find the hotel anywhere. We were just about to start a blazing row when Mr FD said “Look!” and there it was, in front of us. Getting to it was another kettle of fish, due to one way systems and taxi/bus lanes, so in the end we parked the car in a carpark and walked! Again, I saved my spoons, while Mr FD went to try to get the car to the hotel – another difficult time, but he finally made it.

We took the tram to Victoria Station, which is next door to the Arena, and Mr FD went to the Box Office, while I sat with a coffee in the station buffet. We grabbed a bite to eat at Greggs (I had a cheese and onion pasty.) and then headed to the Arena. You may remember the terrorist attack that took place in Manchester in May last year. I had imagined it taking place in a large plaza area outside the Arena, but when I saw how narrow the walkway and foyer area are, it is no surprise that the effects were so devastating. There was good security – only ticket holders being allowed up to the walkway, and then passing through X-ray machines at the entrance to the Arena itself.

Again, we were early, so I “powered down” until the support act, John Grant, came on. And then – huzzah! – the main event. Which was excellent! (Review from the Manchester Evening News)

Mr FD’s photo from during “Mirrorball”


After the show we left by a fairly quiet exit, and were lucky enough to be able to hail a taxi straight away. It was a 5/10 minute drive back to the hotel. We thought about going to the bar for a drink, buit they’d stopped serving – and really, that was a good thing, as I was dropping. Even though I was buzzing!!

The next day, we had a full Northern breakfast – sausage, bacon, fried bread, fried potatoes, mushrooms, tomato, black pudding, baked beans, fried egg (which I’m not allowed to have) – plus trimmings (toast-and-marmalade, juice, coffee) and then made our way to the airport, pausing at Asda for a few last minute purchases of the DVD of “Death of Stalin”, some magazines, Zantac indigestion tablets & Tiger Balm (cheaper in the UK!)

Mr FD wheeled me through the airport, on the pre-booked wheelchair, which gave us Fast Track through security and a designated seating area in the very crowded departure lounge. I bought some huge slabs of chocolate (CDM!)

Then we were given a heads-up to the departure gate, so we were there before everyone else, and a very nice gentleman then wheeled me to the plane, so we were in our seats and luggage stowed before the usual scrum. At Lyon, we waited until everyone had got off, then were met by a man with a wheelchair, who wheeled me swiftly through the terminal. When we reached the back of the queue for border control, a quick Excusez-moi! and we were fast tracked through Passport Control. Pausing only to pick up the hold luggage, the man insisted on wheeling me right to the car in the car park. And we headed home, arriving at 6.30 pm.

Today I’m a little fatigued, but not too bad. I slept until about 8.30, when the nurse arrived for my weekly blood test. I wonder if it will show my white blood cells are down?

It was the most amazing weekend. Mr FD was a complete star throughout, looking after me, organising everything and allowing me to just rest and to enjoy myself. Even if I have caught an infection (and I was very careful, using hand sanitiser after every bathroom visit, in between bathroom visits, after touching stuff…Etc etc. Plus my double mask protection and latex gloves in crowds & public places) it was worth it!! It did me the most enormous amount of good.

And thank you all so much for your positive messages of support – they have been very much appreciated.

2018 40 Acts :: 4 :: After You

Hello Dear Ones

I hope all is well with you. I am coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be going to the UK – thank you for your sympathetic messages – but I haven’t quite come to terms with everything else around my treatment yet. This morning I went to the chemist to collect all the drugs. It is a carrier bag full! I’m going to spend some time today putting them in bags, and labelling each bag, in different colours. These are for nausea, these are for mouth ulcers…etc etc. I think by doing this, I’m taking charge, and not letting everything overwhelm me. But it is still a bit scary…


Yesterday’s challenge changed its form – I had considered leaving some euros at the coffee shop counter at the hospital, but I was worried about how to explain in French what I was doing. So finally, as I had to stop off to buy cat litter on the way to the hospital, I picked up two boxes of reduced stock chocolates, at a bargain price. I gave one to the woman at the admissions desk. In France, before going to one’s appointment, you have to go through the admissions process, where they check your details and give you any papers that you need. There are about 6 counters, and they process you fairly quickly, but I imagine it’s not a very exciting job. So when I was explaining to the young woman who was dealing with me what I was doing “Um…c’est pour Careme…Vous connaissez Careme?…J’essaie de faire des actions…um…de gentillesse…Um…Ici…j’ai acheté des chocolats pour vous et vos collegues…pour partager…Um…” She was a bit taken aback, but pleased nonetheless, as was her colleague who quickly wheeled her chair out of her cubicle to see what was going on (obviously needed a chocolate fix!)

After my ECG (they found I had a heart!) I dropped the other box off at the Receptionist desk – this is where people go if they have questions about where to go, and there’s usually a couple of elderly-ish volunteers hanging around to take you to the right department – The woman there was also rather touched too. In fact there was a moment or two’s open-mouthed staring before she said thank you.

I also continued my programme of leaving Ninja notes in various places – so the Cardio dept waiting room and toilet got hit, as did the lift, and another toilet area. They’ll know who’s doing this by tracking the appointments – Who was in cardio today, but in the oncology department yesterday?!

So, on to today.

Putting ourselves first comes incredibly easy to our culture – just think about a group of strangers jostling to get on a train. Today, we’re taking a firm 180 on that me-first tendency, and finding a couple of practical ways to put others first. Expect surprising results.

GREEN: Whether you live in a bustling city or somewhere more low-key, take the time to say ‘Good morning!’ to people you meet today, letting them go first through the door, or in the queue.

AMBER: At home or work, do someone’s chores before they do. Put them first by getting there first.

RED: Are you in a situation where your desires clash with someone else’s? Prioritise their wishes above your wishes, even (especially!) if they aren’t in line with yours. Budge on the stubbornness. Make the sacrifice.

You can read the full meditation (which I really liked) here

Well, here in France a cheery “Bonjour messiuers-dames” when you go in a shop is almost obligatory, but I did my best, on this dreary wet morning, to be extra jovial in the boulangerie today. Green challenge “Tick. V.G.”

But the Amber challenge made me squirm a little. You see, I have been rather milking this cancer business. I know that I can’t do lifting with my right arm – so ironing, lifting shopping, moving cat litter trays are all things I can’t do, and have to leave to Mr FD, who has done all these things without complaint. I know that once chemo starts, and my immune system is shot, I certainly can’t be touching cat litter, or doing dirty jobs. I know that when I’m feeling fatigued there’ll be lots I can’t do.

But at the moment…well, I have rather been leaving jobs that I could do, knowing that Mr FD is being so good with doing stuff around the house, and thinking “Well, I’m sure he will do them eventually…” Cleaning the bathroom being one of those jobs. No heavy lifting required, my immune system is fine: there’s actually no reason why I shouldn’t do it. So today, I will heave on my Big Girl Pants and clean the bathroom so that Mr FD doesn’t have to do it.

As for the Red challenge – well, I think that one needs to be an on-going one. There’s nothing really at the moment that springs to mind, but it may be that God is storing this one up for me. As he does.