Sunday 29 January 2012

Ending the week on a high

It's been a mixed week, for the most part normal but with a few more interesting events.  

The normal pattern of day-to-day life was interrupted by Steve's annual hospital check-up on Thursday afternoon to see what's happening on the arthritis front, including how his replacement finger joint is doing. As there has been no change for the last few years, he's been signed off for two years now. So it's official - he's got to be around in January 2014 for his next appointment at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre!

There was some good news on the photography front, with seven images accepted for various exhibitions in Holland and the AFIAP application (Artiste Federation International de l'Art Photographique) finalized and posted off at last.  

The week ended on a high, with our friends Anne and Colin staying over on Saturday night. We visited the Ashmolean Museum and had lunch out at Oxford Castle yesterday, followed by an evening meal at home catching up on news and setting the world to rights over a few bottles of wine, well into the wee small hours of the morning. We blew the cobwebs away today with a circular walk north along the Thames, across Port Meadow in the mist, through Jericho and Walton Manor to the University Parks then back home via the city centre, the Isis and Christchurch Meadow, following the Thames towpath around to Osney and home. A longish walk, but taken at a leisurely pace.  Steve managed without any apparent problem, which is great. Thanks Anne and Colin for being such wonderful guests!

I heard today that my appointment to the Guernsey Planning Panel has been confirmed.  I'll be taking up the post in March and spending 4-6 days a month with my "Planning" hat on, mainly working from home with an overnight visit to the island most months to chair the tribunal which decides planning appeals.

Snow is forecast tomorrow morning in Southampton.  Let's hope it's all gone by the afternoon when I'm due to fly over from Southampton Airport to the Channel Islands for my induction training in Guernsey. I shall have to get my brain in gear.  I'm not sure what Steve will get up to while I'm away. You'll have to drop by next weekend, when normal service resumes, to find out!

Monday 23 January 2012

Gung hay fat choy!

The Chinese New Year of the Water Dragon is here - Gung hay fat choy!
Traditional Chinese New Year Decoration. Image credit: Fanghong via Wikimedia Commons.

While trying to find out a little more about the year of the Dragon, I came across predictions for the year ahead for other Chinese signs.  This is the prediction for those born in the year of the Pig, like Steve.  

The year of the Dragon will be a little fast-paced for the Pig but you should take initiative to stay in the game. The Dragon will shake things up for the Pig in his relationships, but this may not be a bad thing. The Pig has seen good health and good wealth in the past two years, and this trend can continue if the Pig stays smart and takes some risks. 

Got that Steve?  Stay smart and take some risks!  

Sunday 22 January 2012

Labours of love

We are back at home after five days hard labour in Bristol.

Sorry, I exaggerate ....Five days of scraping, filling, sanding and painting; fitting and fixing; sorting, clearing and recycling; researching and shopping....We'd forgotten just how demanding DIY can be - we're exhausted!  However, when it's a labour of love for family and/or friends, it's all worthwhile. 

Now we've got our eye in, we need to keep up the impetus and start an early spring clean and re-decoration at our own house. Why is it so much easier when you are doing it for some else?

Having been away for the best part of a week, it will take us a few days to catch up on post, e-mails and social networking.  Apologies if you have been in touch recently - we will get back to you sooner or later. Promise :-)

Since my last post, Steve passed the marker of 2 years and 7 months since he was diagnosed with mesothelioma on 16 June 2009.  I'm delighted to say that life goes on as "normal".  Great for us, but a bit boring for you I imagine.  I will continue to post, but just a brief weekly update for the time being unless life becomes extraordinary, for one reason or another.  

In the meantime, we are thinking of all the other meso warriors out there who are living through more "interesting times"....Stay positive and focussed, our precious friends. We are traveling this journey together.

Friday 13 January 2012

just getting on with it....the joy of a "normal" week

This week we have been getting on with things...

....Steve has picked up his new specs  (jolly good they look too)

....I have been blood-doning (my small bit to help someone else)

....we have sorted out travel arrangements for trips in February and March (more things to look forward to..)

....the social calender is filling up quickly (seeing friends always lifts our spirits) tax return has been filed online (hurrah!) and Steve is working on his (nearly there)

.... I've been doing some photo processing (at long last) 

Just a "normal" week, except for little reminders - like having to check whether Steve's Industrial Injury Benefit and Disability Living Allowance are taxable - that life will never be quite normal again....

While we have been getting on with it, as usual we have also been following the fortunes of other meso bloggers, and....

.....thinking of Mavis (and Ray, and Louis the dog) as Mavis starts more chemo, and hoping that it will knock her "Mr Nasty" back for a lot longer

.....thinking of Jan, and hoping that the heaviness in her chest is "just" an infection, rather than the meso growing on the membrane around her heart

....thinking of Amanda and Ray and hoping for good news after Ray's PET scan at the end of the month

....celebrating with Tess, whose condition is still stable after two cycles on a drug trial - and long may it continue!

....thinking of Debbie, who always manages to pack SO much into her life, and hoping that all goes well on her chemo journey which starts next month

We didn't know any of these people when I started writing the blog, and we've still only met a couple of them face-to-face since. However, our lives are now bound together by the threads of mesothelioma.  What touches them, touches us. And I know it works the other way round too.  

At times I wonder if it's worth writing anything on the blog at the end of a week like this.  However, just being able to say that we have been getting on with things in a "normal" week is likely to be a comfort to someone out there with mesothelioma going through a bad time and wondering whether they will ever have a "normal" week again.  Take heart - you will!

Friday 6 January 2012

The twelfth day of Christmas

There's a stretch of the M4 motorway which we jokingly refer to as the "black hole." There are many miles between junctions through scenery that seems to change little, if at all - it's a bit like driving on a treadmill.  We tend to glaze over, go on to auto-drive and occasionally ask each other "where the hell are we?" 

The period from the twelfth day of Christmas leading up to Steve's birthday in early March feels a bit like the M4 black hole. Other than the bright spark of Valentines Day, we usually have our heads down and grind through the long hours of darkness, gloomy weather, winter coughs and colds, while waiting for spring to arrive.  However, time is too precious to waste when you know it's likely to run out sooner than expected, so this year we are going to try to do better!

Although we can't influence the weather or change the hours of sunrise and sunset, we can use of the next month or two to continue sorting out the house, now denuded of Christmas decorations; be sociable - a visit to, or from, friends always lifts the spirit; get well organised for our treat week away in February; make some progress on photography which has rather fallen by the wayside over the last few weeks and make the most of any clear, cold crisp days to get out and about while the light is good.  Well, that's the plan anyway!

When you get yourself into a positive frame of mind, you begin to see little things which make you happy which you might otherwise miss. In my case, I noticed today that there are buds on the clematis Armandii which look like they will be opening soon, studding the dark green leaves with small white stars all over the back of the house.  The birds are singly loudly, beginning to claim territory for nesting - always a good sign! The people who recently moved into the house next-door-but-one to us have invited all the neighbours to tea and biscuits on Sunday afternoon - how kind is that?  

Steve is making good progress clearing his work room, sorting out papers and getting everything ready to do his accounts. He also had his eye test this morning and ordered some new specs - very cool :-)  I've completed my "dossier" of exhibition acceptances in support of my AFIAP (Artiste Federation de l'Art Photographique) application, which is another small step forward on that front. 

For a change, we're looking forward to the time after the Twelve Days of Christmas; not a black hole but a bright tunnel into spring.  Steve's next assessment isn't until mid-March, so plenty of time to do something positive!

Sunday 1 January 2012

Looking forward to 2012

We kicked off the New Year by dancing until 4 am.  Not surprisingly, the rest of the day has been very quiet as we recover......

There is much to look forward to in the coming year - our first visit to Rome in February and Steve's birthday in March, both before the next hospital assessment.  
In 2012, I am going to try very hard not to get so stressed in the run up to these appointments, like I did last year. When time is precious, it's stupid to get so hung up about the possibility of bad news in the future that it spoils the present.

As long as Steve feels well, I think we may well look a little bit further beyond the three month time horizons that we have allowed to restrict our plans over the last two and a half years.  If nothing else, we need to give some thought about how to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in May!  

Whatever 2012 brings, I know that we will not be facing it alone. Support from our family and friends is priceless and we treasure it accordingly. Thank you all so much.  We look forward to seeing many of you in the coming months. Time to get the calender out and pencil in some dates!