Monday, 14 April 2014

Banana bender

Queensland again. Waking to a mad riff of kookaburra cacophony and the rattle of palm leaves. Rain that pours like a waterfall across the world. Cyclone reports take over the news.

Deb and John have given me a luxury guest bedroom and freedom to sleep as much as I want (today that means dozing on and off for most of the day).  They say it takes two weeks after radiotherapy finishes before you start to see signs of improvement. It is a week today and already I am sleeping better at night.

I'm reading Barbara Kingslover's Flight Behaviour. As much as it is the story of Dellarobia, an Appalachian farmer's wife with two small children and a head full of hopes and dreams, it is the story of the Monarch butterfly, known locally as King Billies. I want to turn my whole garden over to swan plants next summer.

I also read Fiona Kidman's latest novel which tells the story of Jean Batten, who was the first woman to fly from England to New Zealand. Both author and subject have connection to Rotorua and Dame Fiona used the Rotorua
Library heritage collections while researching Jean's life. The book, The Infinite Air, is well worth reading.

And for something completely different, I also recommend a book by Jennifer Dubois , A Partial History of Lost Causes. There is a good review in the NY Times here. Oprah called it a brainy book, which kind off damns it, but it has a great story line as well as intelligence, so that's ok. Irina's father dies of Huntington's and gene testing confirms that she has the same fate. Aleksandr is a Russian chess champion who is campaigning for the presidential election against Putin. Their lives are linked by a letter written by Irina's father and Irina goes to St Petersburg and becomes involved in the campaign.

I am using my tablet and not having much success with getting images or links into this post. Sorry.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Counting down

Only four more radiations to go now. Tuesday next week is the last zap, then I'll be thrown out of the nest to fend for myself. Me and my mask get to go home. Though what I will do with the mask I'm not sure - a ritual bonfire would seem to be the most appropriate. I saw Barry taking his away. He had been admitted to the hospital in his last week and he'd been brought down from the ward in a wheelchair. I imagine him incorporating his mask into a fabulous artwork once he gets his strength back.

I got a new contraption to take home with me today - a humidifier. The nurses 'found' one for me to borrow. I won't be able to take it to Australia with me next week though. Hopefully Queensland humidity will be as kind to me.
The humidifier is Fisher & Paykel Healthcare innovation.I have had it on all afternoon and other than making me a bit too warm, it is really comfortable. The first thing I did was sleep for an hour or so. I imagine I'll really appreciate it during the night. I means I'm attached to a small machine and a drip stand. The tubes in my nostrils feed in warm moist air.  It is not obvious that you can hire one easily so I am lucky that I have use of one of only two machines that the hospital lends out. Those nurses have been so good to me. They also 'found' me a supply of an effective 2-pack mouthwash that is no longer funded by Pharmac (in their wisdom). It is really good stuff and has helped me get through the second round of chemo with no new mouth sores other than one large blister that came and went without too much pain. So all in all I'm in really good shape.

I'm looking forward to getting home on Friday.Last weekend I stayed with Margaret and Keith here in Hamilton. Deborah flies in to Rotorua on Saturday. Ha, she gets to take care of the housework that will need attention after two weeks, then we'll come back to Hamilton for two days, and on Friday next week I'll fly to Brisbane with her and stay in Buderim for as long as it takes to feel like being on being on my own again. At the moment it feels reassuring to be around others.

You would think that having 7 weeks to focus on nothing but one's own health would plenty of time to reflect on what changes need to be made to get on with a fulfilling life after cancer. Yet I am no closer to having any real plans. I am grateful that the Council is able to hold my position for me. I can go back to work whenever I am ready, and for whatever hours I am capable of, to a point.

I am thinking that one of the changes I will make is to stop eating so much animal fat. Not a very profound change I know. I'm leaning towards a vegan diet, nothing extreme but just avoiding processed foods and fats as far as I reasonably can. (Who knows how long it will be before I can even eat at all, given that at the moment the only thing I can manage is porridge.) It will be 3 months before I have any idea about whether treatment has worked, but I feel very optimistic. Maybe life just stays in holding pattern until then, the focus being on keeping the mouth and throat healthy and rebuilding some stamina and strength. I have always made plans, but right now I seem to be OK with just letting each day unfold in its own time and watching clouds roll across the sky.