Wednesday 29 December 2010

Christmas Day, Boxing Day and more

At the risk of sounding like the BBC, it was great having everyone home for Christmas.  For once, Jack's train from Bristol wasn't cancelled or delayed, so he arrived safely in time for our first family meal of the festive season on Christmas Eve.  

Christmas Day was relaxed (i.e. lazy) with all of us enjoying a long lie in and a late breakfast, followed by present opening which took us more or less up to Christmas dinner in the early evening.

On Boxing Day we were joined by Katie's friend Emily to blow the cobwebs away with a walk through the snow along the Thames to the Perch for a glass of two of mulled wine, before heading back home to Steve who had decided to stay at home and watch others playing rugby, rather than be active himself!

We were joined for tea on Boxing Day by our friends Jon and Sally and their daughters Gabby and Gina - so pleasing to see everyone together!

The house seems unusually quiet now - Jack went back to Bristol on Monday and Katie returned to Yorkshire yesterday.  However, the festive get-togethers continue.....We met up with the extended Green family on Monday night, back in Oxford from Bali, including our first view of young Balthazar who is nearly one year old - what a delight!  Many congratulations to proud grandparents, Ian and Ruth who are celebrating their "Ruby" wedding anniversary today, and to Anne and Colin who are celebrating their "pearl" wedding anniversary on the same day!  Have a lovely day :-)

There's New Year's eve celebrations to look forward to soon, and the Wride family meal still to be rescheduled from before Christmas, when it was postponed because of the snow and dangerous driving conditions.  Today, most of the snow has disappeared to be replaced by a blanket of dull fog which I find rather depressing. Time to put on some music I think to lift the spirits!

"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth." 

Friday 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Freezing temperatures, snow and associated travel problems and illness have presented us with a few challenges in the run up to Christmas this year. Although my swollen face is now back to normal, my temperature hasn't dropped below 38C for the last 10 days, in spite of two courses of antibiotics.  After the disappointment of having to call off the big family "do" in Bristol last weekend and a meal with friends on Monday because of illness, weather and travel problems, I'm hoping that a relaxed, chilled out Christmas will do the trick and get both temperature and energy levels back to normal to make the most of the festive season

Social events are not the only things that have been postponed recently.  We have now been advised by the solicitor that the court has adjourned Steve's damages case management conference until 28 January 2011.  The particulars of Steve's claim are being amended to include the potential additional sources of exposure to asbestos that have emerged since the original claim was submitted. Whilst maintaining a complete denial of responsibility, it seems that the defendant has objected to further testing for asbestos being undertaken in the building where Steve carried out demolition works as a student back in 1971. It will be for the judge to decide what happens next.  

So much for the challenges of the last few weeks. Now to be positive and look forward! This is the 100th blog of 2010 - just in time for Christmas Eve!  

Almost all of the jigsaw pieces are in place to make this a very special time of the year.  With help from a neighbour, we managed to dig the car out of the snow on Wednesday and are now stocked up with food for the festive season. Postal services have resumed, with bundles of cards being delivered these last three days. It has been wonderful to catch up with everyone's news! There are presents under the tree and the house is now all dressed up for Christmas.  

George will be leaving us shortly to spend time with his family, and Jack is due to arrive in Oxford by train from Bristol this evening.  Here's hoping they both have safe and hassle-free journeys!  

Unless the temperatures rise unexpectedly, the snow which is still blanketing this part of the country will be here when we wake up tomorrow, so it will be a white Christmas, even if nothing falls from the sky.    

Around this time last year, I wrote that unspoken, but there in all our minds, were thoughts of how Steve would be for his next Christmas, the second since he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.  I am so delighted and relieved by the fact that his condition remains stable.  May it be so again next year, and for many years to come!  We both appreciate how fortunate Steve is to be in this position and our thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones over the last 12 months, for whom Christmas will never be the same again.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, we wish you a wonderful Christmas and send you our love and best wishes for 2011! 

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Lighting a candle on the winter solstice

Few symbols offer more comfort than a candle blazing in the dark, especially in the bleak mid-winter when everything is blanketed with snow (at least here it is....).

Today, I lit a virtual candle for Steve and all those affected by mesothelioma, whether victim, family or friend. The candle will burn for the next 48 hours. To visit the website and read the dedication, read the thoughts of others who have lit candles or to light a candle of your own, go to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) website which you can access from the link on the right, under "Find out more about mesothelioma" and click on "Light a candle Community".  Our candle is identified by the initials LW.

Since it started, some 10,692,400 candles have been lit by people from more than 240 countries, including over 14,000 in the last two days.  We are a large, worldwide community providing beacons of hope and inspiration for each other.  

Sunday 19 December 2010

snowed in...and a change of plan

A conundrum for you:

The christmas tree is is the garden and we want to bring it inside.  However...
The wellies and spade are in the garden shed.
The shed is at the far end of the garden.
The only way into the garden is through the french doors in the kitchen, which open outwards.
There is rather a lot of snow lying right outside the kitchen doors stopping them open.

Mmmmmmm!  I think we are snowed in....

Had things gone to plan, by now we should have been on our way to Bristol for the Wride family festive gathering, where sons and daughters-in-law, grand children and partners and great-grand children all descend on Steve's mum bearing presents and food for a wonderful meal. After hasty round of phone calls last night, the consensus view was that we should postpone the gathering until weather and travel conditions improve. Better to have it late, than someone get stuck in the snow or involved in an accident trying to get there today. 

I don't think we would have been able to move our car anyway. Even if we could dig away the snow behind and in front, there's nowhere to put it without blocking the footpath or the bit of road we would need to drive over to get out of the cul-de-sac where we live.

Nevertheless, our daughter Katie and partner George are determined to travel south today from Yorkshire where they are based, to spend some time with us.  So now it's an anxious wait*, hoping that they have a safe journey to Oxford, albeit one that will be very much slower than usual. 

At least we have plenty of food in the house which had been destined for the Bristol gathering! And a bit more time to work out how to get the tree inside, finish wrapping presents and put up the decorations...

I have now finished one course of antibiotics and the other course will finish tomorrow. It's taken the best part of a week for my swollen face to subside to something approaching normal, although I still feel shattered.  Thank goodness Steve's cold didn't come to anything.  The supplements he takes to help boost his immune system must be having an effect!  Perhaps I should try some.....

* It's teatime and the Christmas tree is now inside, drying off from the melting snow.  Katie and George are home safely.  We can decorate the tree together!

Thursday 16 December 2010

18 months and still going strong

I'm glad you can't see me as I write.  Believe me, you would be frightened.  I look (and feel) like I've gone six rounds in the boxing ring - a horribly swollen face and half closed eye caused by a massive infection in the root canal of one of my teeth.  Poor Steve has had to look after me, do the running around and present wrapping that I would normally do, or at least help with, at this time of year.  

I've been so bound up in my own misery these last few days, that the date had almost slipped by without remark. It's 16 December 2010, which means that it's now 18 months since Steve was diagnosed with mesothelioma and he's still going strong!  Only last week, the oncologist confirmed that there's no sign of any disease progression. How wonderful to be stable in a condition that has relatively little impact on day-to-day life (although the emotional roller coaster goes up and down as usual.......)

Still nothing from the solicitor about Steve's damages case. Perhaps he doesn't want to break bad news in the run up to Christmas.  No matter. The case will either go forward, or it won't.  

We have more important things to sort out and do! However, making plans is difficult when I have no idea how much longer it will take for the antibiotics to have an effect, and traveling this weekend might be tricky given the weather forecast.  I think we'll just have to wait and see how things pan out in the next day or two.  We're far more relaxed about doing things last minute now, having learned over the last 18 months about how to make the most of opportunities as and when they arise, and to take each day as it comes.

It's been lovely opening Christmas cards and reading of your news!  I hope our cards and letters arrive safely (oh dear, just remember we have still to deliver cards locally by hand)  Ah well, perhaps the swelling on my face will have gone down enough to venture out soon without scaring children and small animals!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

you think everything is going OK, then......

Just when we thought we were making good progress on Christmas preparations, I have succumbed to an infection which has put me on a diet of pain-killers and a course of antibiotics.  Not just any antibiotics - the sort which you should not take with alcohol.  With three festive gatherings lined up between now and next Monday, that's a sobering thought!

It's not just me. Other members of the family have been afflicted in one way or another; Steve is fighting off a cold; the Bristol flu bug has pounced on Jack and some members of the wider Wride clan.  Let's hope we will all be over our ailments by Christmas, preferably sooner.......

The weather is also looking risky. The snow showers forecast for the weekend is not good news for long distance travel.  Better make sure we pack a blanket and emergency supplies - just in case........  

Here's hoping for rapid improvements on all fronts!  

Thursday 9 December 2010

Christmas comes early!

The approach to Steve's assessment is always an anxious period.  This time it has coincided with the run up to Christmas and a very intense period of work for me, so stress levels have been rising ........Which is probably one reason why we set off to hospital this morning without taking the paperwork for Steve's X-ray and appointment with the oncologist. On realizing this, we turned around and went home to pick it up, only to get stuck in a huge traffic jam where we could do nothing but sit and watch the minutes tick by, past his appointment time.  Had a horrible feeling this was not a good omen......

However, Steve was seen quickly in radiology when we finally arrived.  Then it was almost straight into the consulting room in the clinic, where the oncologist called by briefly to say hello, shake our hands, remark on how well Steve was looking, before moving on to this next patient and leaving us with the new registrar.  Smiles all round and a huge sigh of relief from us as she gave us the good news that the X-ray showed no sign of progression and Steve's condition is still stable!  

So Christmas has come early in the Wride household! What better Christmas present could you wish for?  We can now throw ourselves into enjoying the festive season and will be breaking open a bottle of fizz tonight to celebrate :-))  Hope you will join us in a virtual toast, wherever you are!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Oh happy day :-)

There are some days when things seem to go right. This looks like being one of them!  OK - nothing life changing, but the cumulative effect of little things going well is enough to brings smiles to our faces :-)

Steve was whooping with joy first thing when he heard the news of England's decisive victory over Australia in the Ashes test match in Adelaide!

We were dancing up and down a few hours later on hearing that both Steve and I have had prints selected for the 2011 Royal Photographic Society's Members Exhibition which opens in February next year.  

Shortly after that, Jack phoned to say that he had accepted a quote to install new heating in his house in Bristol - even better, they are starting on Monday!  Great for our son who has been suffering horribly during this prolonged cold snap, and good news also for his visitors, including us!  

And now the freezing fog has cleared, sun is shining, the sky is blue and the frost on the trees is looking wonderful.....

.....Let's hope this run of nice things is a good omen for Steve's next hospital assessment on Thursday!

Thursday 2 December 2010

Telling it her own words....

Top right you will find a link to Mavis Nye's blog.  Mavis developed mesothelioma as a result of washing her husband's clothes, not knowing they were covered in asbestos fibres.  Not only does she write a blog, today Mavis announced that her book "Meso Warrior" was published two days ago and is now available at Amazon as an e-book.  Proceeds from the sale will be donated to Mesothelioma UK.  

If that wasn't enough, her story appears in the Christmas edition of Yours magazine.  

What a woman - well done Mavis!  You do the meso warriors proud!

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Feeling rather festive!

We have spent the last few days getting into the festive spirit in Brussels (the city not the vegetable) where we stayed with Angela, a friend gong back to school days, and her husband David. 

The Eurostar whisked us from St Pancras to Belgium in a little over two hours, via the snowfields of Kent.  On arrival, Angela whisked us from the Gare du Midi into the Grand Place in the heart of Brussels, via wonderful galleries full of chocolatiers whose windows were groaning with chocolate St Nicolas figures and other Christmassy things.  

We enjoyed a short Son et Lumiere show which animated the facade of the amazing Hotel de Ville with snowflakes of light and a tumbling Father Christmas and peered into the full size nativity scene with real sheep, before warming ourselves up with mulled wine and a waffle at a historic hostelry nearby. Then it was on to Angela's house on the metro, with advice about how to navigate the system and use the ticket validating machine - so much easier when someone who knows the ropes shows you what to do! David was waiting for us when we arrived home and it was not long before we were sitting eating a splendid meal and catching up on news before bedtime.

In the days that followed, we did some sightseeing around the upper town where many of the grand public buildings are located, took in some culture at the Musee Magritte, not just the familiar surrealist images but much more besides. We also did a tour of the home and studio designed by Victor Horta, probably Belgium's leading art nouveaux architect - which was stunningly beautiful.  And took our first trip on a Brussels tram!

The next day we ventured off exploring on our own, visiting one of the city's best flea markets  - a sort of cross between an antiques fair, car boot and jumble sale.  Might have been tempted to stay longer, but for the icy winds.....On to the metro and up to Heysel to see the famous Atomium, a gigantic structure originally designed as an exhibit for a World Fair.  

We ended up back in the historic core as it was getting dark, eventually finding our way to the Christmas market in Place St Catherine, where the square was lined with hundreds of stalls and there were roundabouts, an ice rink and a big wheel.  Even better, the tented cafe in the centre was wonderfully warm and we were able to thaw out with vin chaud, before making our way back to Angela's house. 

The snow was falling thickly as we emerged from the metro, but that didn't stop us walking to a lovely local restaurant nearby for a meal out later that evening with Angela (David having gone to Finland for a work-related meeting). Thank you so much Angela and David - you are wonderful hosts!

Our journey back on Eurostar gave us wonderful views across the snowy landscapes of Belgium and northern France, and blizzard conditions in Kent as we emerged from the tunnel. Luckily for us, most of the snow had disappeared by the time we reached Oxford, so an easy journey home from the station.  

Although the pre-trial hearing took place while we were away, there was no news waiting for us from the solicitor on our return home so we still don't know what has happened in relation to Steve's damages case.  Let's hope that no news is good news.....

No matter....our trip to Belgium has ignited the Christmas spirit!  The advent calendar is on the mantlepiece and we have opened the first door/drawer (and eaten the chocolate inside!) Steve has finished designing the Christmas card today, so ready to start printing. I have been out braving the cold to start buying Christmas presents (and to pick up my bus pass - so an easy trip home with a heavy back pack!) One of our neighbours has invited us to a "winter warmer" on Friday week, and another friend has suggested a get together on New Year's Eve, so the social calendar is gathering some more momentum. 

I came back to the good news that four of my images have been selected for publication in an international photographic magazine - that's four issues in a row, so I'm well pleased!  Have to get on and look at the photos we took in Brussels now.....Steve was delighted to have received an unexpected phone call from Graham Sherlock-Brown just to say hello, how are you?  Graham is a fellow meso survivor whose PETAL philosophy (blog 20 June 2009) set us on the right track back in the early days post-diagnosis. He is now trying to persuade meso warriors to take up the pedometer challenge (double your steps over a specified time period). Maybe when the pavements are less icy......

I'm hoping that all the festive season preparations will help keep our minds off Steve's next hospital assessment which is fast approaching.  Keep your fingers crossed that it will bring good news for Christmas x.