Friday, October 29, 2010


I knew it was bad news when the phone rang and it was David Peake, my oncologist at about 10 o'clock this morning. Oh hello how are you I say, as you do and he asks the same of me and then says that the radiology doctor had alerted him because one of the blobs in my right lung that neither the Germans or the chemo got is wrapping itself around my spine and this is not good news as it will bugger up my nerves and my legs and maybe make me poo my pants. Well I didn't thank goodness despite the lurch in my stomach, and rushed off to the hospital to start immediate radiotherapy thinking that I have been going on about the pain in my shoulder by my spine for some time. In fact I had stopped going on about it and put it down to RSI from my new obsession with Scramble on my Iphone - my score is 98 and if I don't get it to a 100 I will not die a happy woman.

When I say immediately have radiotherapy I got to the hospital by about 11.30, waited to see himself, saw the pictures of the snake around my spine, had a natter, signed my life away and then had to wait for the processes to unfold. Number One was an IV jab of steroids. This may make you feel as if you are sitting on nettles she said and yes it did. Two days before, the jab in the scan had gone straight to my rude bits and being a bit weird I quite enjoyed it, this was slightly more disarming, is this a pleasant or downright horrible, sado masochistic type experience. It went straight down there and was like being beaten by razor wire, not that I ever have been of course.

Then eventually up for another scan to get the target just right, and tattoo me. Just a ragged blob, no Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for me, well I am not that good on motor bikes or computer hacking or indeed sado masochism, so what can I expect? That was over at 2ish and then we had the long wait till about 5.00pm when I had my two second blast under the machine. I must go back tomorrow, round the back, because it's closed really and for the next nine days. This is a pre-emptive strike says David but we don't talk about what will happen if it doesn't work or only works for a while.

So spine tingling stuff, we drop a bit in the morale stakes but have just been out for a curry and half a bottle of wine and tomorrow I will get that magic 100 despite all of it being a bit of a pain in the neck.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keep smiling through

It's going from bad to worse on the hair front, a few weeks ago friends told me I looked like Julie Driscoll once my hair started to grow back on but now I have all these grey curls, Jess ruffles my head and tells me I look like Melanie Phillips. Now the only good thing about Melanie Phillips is her hair but that is not saying much as she is a peculiarly unpleasant, Zionist, gender betraying, misanthropic scumbag. Ok Julie D was a bit of an airhead and wore too much makeup but she didn't turn your stomach. I plan a visit to the hairdressers to tidy it all up and maybe dye it purple. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The journey back was uneventful, we met a nice bloke called Thierry who at 1.45am in a pretty depressing service station was cheerful and jokey, perhaps he was on drugs but he managed to make us smile and sold us some Diesel. We were all knackered, me mainly because every time I dropped off we went round one of the zillion roundabouts on the road up through Normandy or I had to be nudged awake to pay a toll. Right hand driving has many downsides. Since then we have been catching up on creche duties and falling in love with our grandsons all over again, Danny has been transformed into a talking, biddable, beaming boy while we have been away. Which with my curls means we have a lot to smile about. You know smiling Melanie, it's when you feel good about things or something makes you laugh and your mouth turns up. And it's infectious .. try it sometime.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't panic, don't panic

Sarkozy, aka Sarcoma, says don't panic so of course we are. Tonight we will make a mercy dash with our precious full tank of Diesel in the dark to the Eurotunnel, booked for 6.45 tomorrow morning because Sarcoma aka Sarkosy, is going to bring in the special forces and that is bound to cause more trouble, the French lorry drivers will love the challenge. My scan is next Wednesday and although I don't really want to know what Sarcoma, (this time not aka Sarcozy but I wouldn't be surprised if he and his like were resposible for that too) is up to with its wicked devices, I suppose I have to face up to it and rally my forces against it to block its progress and cut off its fuel.

At least the rush to pack and clear will take my mind off leaving this lovely place. Next time we come to France it will be to see our new twins. I fear they will have to work till they are very old but if they are chips off the old block, they will be blocking the roads and telling the future Sarcozys where to get off just as I hope their Nan can tell Monsieur Sarcoma next week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Talking about my generation

The Who famously sang "hope I die before I get old", I am part of that generation but never signed up to that hell cat sort of sentiment and while I am still far too young to die, I fear I have missed the " hope I die before I get old" boat already. Let's look at the facts. I am collecting my pension although these days you don't have to queue up at the post office but just watch as it glides, almost unnoticed it's so teeny weeny, into your account. I have hardly any clothes that don't have dinner dropped down them, parts of my body that once had skin so smooth it made men go weak at the knees would now only set a rhinoceros or other pachyderm atremble. I am half deaf, I have to have the subtitles on and in conversation find myself guessing words ridiculously wrongly like my Mom who was convinced our friend Chris was called Fritz. Last time I had my eyes tested they had to point me at the chart because I could hardly make out the top line and try as I may I can't get up out of a chair without a sort of strangulated bellow erupting from my lips, if lips you can still call them.

I suppose I should be thankful that I may be saved from sinking further into dotage to the point where I start peeing myself and muttering things about the younger generation or even worse start trying to look the same as I did when the Who were around. We had Roger Daltrey speaking at one of our conferences a couple of years ago, alongside the Prince of Wales would you believe, I didn't notice whether he had gravy stains down his shirt or was beginning to dribble but sure enough he was older and like me, can probably now pop his clogs without those immortal, dying before he gets old, words leaving his lips, if lips you can still call them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It don't rain but it pours

There is a Brummie saying: just cos yer house burns down, it don't mean yer old lady wont run off with the milkman. Well it's less PC than that but I have my reputation to think of. So I find that having cancer doesn't mean other things stop going wrong. I don't just mean my dodgy knees and the repetitive strain injury in my shoulder caused by too much Monopoly on the laptop but the trials of parenthood are catching up with us again. When young folks moan about their babies not sleeping etc we joke and say " It's the first 37 years that have been the worst". Well that is coming back to bite us as we have a very unhappy Joe staying with us. We had to go and fetch him from Sam's who had fetched him from Lille right up in the North. I find you can't put being a Mom on hold, we are weaving the family magic on him and feeding him up. Luckily he can keep working from here and we have got him fixing a satellite on the side of the house. Not sure of the aesthetics on our lovely mellow limestone, but it is bringing a smile to his face and that is all the aesthetics I need.

It seems we may be marooned here as the French are up in arms about Scarcozy ( ha ha spellcheck offers me Sarcoma or scarcity for that) wanting to raise the pension age to the dizzy heights of 62. While the world lets the bankers get off the hook I am with them all the way. The petrol refiners and deliverers are on strike and there are queues at the petrol stations, maybe the ferries wont be working and they may blockade the roads. No hardship for us of course, I can get a scan done here if I have to and we can enjoy more of the wonderful sunshine and autumnal colours, and no rain or milkmen in sight.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday

Google tells me that today is John Lennon's birthday, they seem to have missed the fact that it is also the birthday of my soul mate and daughter, Jess. She is 29 today, so the last year of her roaring twenties is about to start. And they have certainly roared, but then so did her teens and her pre-teens, in fact she sort of roared at me as we eyed each other up for the first time, when she was about 29 seconds old. Her look said "and who do you think you are". I'm still asking that question myself but she got used to me and her Dad and loved her brothers as long as they kept to their places ie did what they were told. If you were watching Question Time on Thursday she made the second comment from the audience ( I haven't seen it yet, we can't get the telly here in France) something which suggested that maybe David Cameron's multi millionaire family might not feel the loss of child benefit quite as much as the average single Mom who has struggled to get her salary up to £36K or whatever the limit is. So we are bursting with pride for her of course.

This is the first second family occasion since I was told I might only see one more birthday, one more Christmas etc. It's a weird feeling. My Mom lived almost another 29 years after I was 29; OK the last five or so were not worth the candle but if I think what has happened over the last 29 years since Jess was born it feels like almost all of my life. I know I couldn't have expected the next 29 to be quite so momentous career and personal experience wise; life is slowing down and gets a bit repetitive but I can't begin to imagine all that I might miss that I should be seeing happening. Some perhaps that I would rather miss!

I do know that Jess will carry my flag, remember everyone's birthday and cook the Christmas puds and she will keep on roaring.. because ..that's my girl.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Curly tops

My hair definitely has a wave in it. Not waving goodbye anymore but waving hello to a new curly me. It has always been dead straight. I didn't need to iron it when it fell down to my waist in the 60s; my Mom had it razor cut for a couple of years, whatever that is, in the hope that this might make a wave happen. She used to curl it round a few grips and even the odd roller in the hope of getting her dream daughter to materialise. Nothing would make it curl. Even I tried to get the Farrah Forcett look in the 70s and had a perm, but I could only afford the local salon where the old ladies went and ended up looking like a Brillo Pad.

But now the curls have finally arrived, I am really not sure what to do with them, how to live with them. Luckily it's still very short so it's not going wild, I don't have ringlets or kiss curls but wonder if it's just a matter of time. It's like getting a baby or a pet late in life when you have lived without one for ever. I may need to go to curly hair classes or consult a few of my wavy friends.

I am wondering if anything else is growing back kinked, maybe my politics and I'll start thinking Nick Clegg is a good thing or my atheism, I might start lighting candles or muttering the rosary. If you see either of those things happening dear friends, I think it will be clear that in fact I am not waving but drowning and for goodness sake, pull me back and lock me up.