Wednesday, 30 December 2009


It has been nine months or so since I last checked in with this blog, most of this time spent in or on bed, at home or in hospital. I have become very acquainted with the oak tree outside my window, which I managed to rescue from decimation last year (I think there's a reference to the tree battles in the Intertalea blog), and which, consequently, reminded me of the cussedly tenacious bugger I can be when I can steel myself to keep on going.

But I seriously underestimated the power of side effects after two craniotomies and 15 doses of radiotherapy, washed down with a month or so's worth of strong steroids and a raft of antibiotics, given to check the bacterial meningitis I contracted after the first lot of surgery to my skull. The surgery left me wobbly-kneed and knackered. The steroids turned my face into a yellow moon, unable to tolerate my contact lenses. But the radiotherapy to my whole head was like going ten rounds with Mike Tyson, only wearing feather gloves since it isn't painful exactly just debilitating to the point of complete exhaustion. I was so tired, I couldn't eat, and this led only to dehydration and more hospitalisation in August. I soon perked up on the cancer ward, however. We were on the same journey after all; and all I can give to the fellow patients and patient staff I encountered in both Derriford and Royal Cornwall Hospitals is heartfelt thanks.

Boxing Day saw me, my daughter, and two wonderfully supportive friends at Hexworthy Tor on Dartmoor, which exhausted me but showed I could walk on the grass again without falling over. This morning, I played the piano and sang a bunch of folk songs without gasping for breath or embarrassing myself too much. This spring-like renewal of strength may be down to the acupuncture I've been having recently. But maybe it is down to the hope I have been so bad at summoning these last dazed months. I know that I am lucky to be alive still and have something to live for.

Thanks to all the friends who have thought of me and asked about me these past months, including readers of this blog (and especially Lesley!). I believe such positive thoughts and prayers work on the level of a mystery that no one can understand, and it is futile to try. But I have benefitted positively from these thoughts and prayers, whatever I may have done to sabotage myself with doubts and not-eating. I have been well taken care of, from the most senior consultations to the trips to hospital and back with the marvellous, selfless volunteer drivers and a great many nurses, radiographers, fellow patients and friends in between. I wish you all and every one a happy, prosperous and healthy new decade.

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