I haven't posted much this year because I have finally been getting my life back together. (Significant developments listed below.)
1. I am driving again after a two year suspension following my brain surgery in 2009 (it will be three years this coming March since I received my second diagnosis of Ca to the brain). My consultant passed me fit to drive in May this year but his report is still with the medical team at the DVLA. They apparently have a very long back-log, implying that there are a lot of people with brain tumours and other neurological disorders applying to take to the highway again. They did, however, give me permission to get behind a steering wheel while my application is pending, so I've been rediscovering Cornwall in my baby Mercedes - a brand new Smart I'm leasing in exchange for the mobility component of my Disability Living Allowance. Every couple of weeks or so I contact the DVLA about the progress with my new licence but they keep on reassuring me that I am covered by the note they sent in May. I doubt I'll be getting the real deal, mug-shot and all, until well into 2012.
2. I'm travelling again, this year to Budapest (seventh visit coming up in February 2012), Milan and Como. I also met up with my mother for a week end in Bristol in the summer. I hadn't seen her for well over two years because she abandoned me after my second diagnosis and extended hospitalisation in 2009. I was dreading meeting up with her again, but my daughter thought I should, so I did. In fact, it turned out very well because it cured the emotional mess and bitterness I was stewing in and showed me that I'd got through all this on my own (with a lot of support from my friends - gratefully acknowledged) and didn't need to depend on maternal bonds that were never there before in any case. My mother and I have a tentative but mostly positive relationship now via e-mail.
3. I am writing fiction again and have just completed my fourth novel, Not Waving but Drowning, which should be out next year.
4. I am teaching again for the Open University.
5. I am singing again and have resumed my weekly lessons with my teacher in Redruth - the excellent Joyce Robson. When I went back to Joyce and she coaxed out my voice from the place where it had lain dormant for the past two years, I felt myself filling up with joy and exaltation. Singing is the best healing present I can give to myself.
6. I need fewer hospital visits. In October my consultant put me down for six monthly clinics (instead of three) although I am still having three-weekly infusions of the miraculous monoclonal antibody. Herceptin - this will be my seventh year on this drug, and I am still taking Tamoxifen. Dr Wheatley told me he had no way of knowing if the treatment was hitting anything now or if I was cancer-free, but being a cautious man, he's keeping me on it. He didn't want to give me another MRi scan because he said he'd just done that with another patient at a similar stage to me and the 'poor bugger' had been suspended from driving again after just getting his licence back! Duncan Wheatley saved my life in 2005 and has kept me going since with all his lotions and potions (see previous posts in 2005/6/7/8) His swift intervention with emergency steroid treatment when I was falling down all over the place (spectacular fall outside the US Embassy in London) and his referral of me to Mr Paul Fewing, neurosurgical consultant at Derriford Hospitial saved my life again in 2009 because without Mr Fewing and his team, I would have been dead by July that year, instead of recovering in hospital. It's been a very long and very laboured recovery. Was it worth it - yes it was. I'm still here.
I hope to be writing about these developments in forthcoming posts for 2012. Some of them - especially the car/driving story, are quite light-hearted! In the meantime, if I still have any followers left after this long, long hiatus, I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy new year.