Saturday, 27 February 2010

Saturday morning

It is 10h07 on a grey Saturday London morning. Had to get out of bed for two reasons: Morse was calling for his apple and I needed to eat in order to take my pills. Great news: after an entire afternoon and evening of hiccoughs, they stopped around midnight. This might be due to the two beautiful blond nurses who were with me (photos to be uploaded)...Before your minds start wandering, they were not alone, they had two male escorts (not the type who charge, though) and it was an innocent dinner. Anyway, I kept expecting to wake up with the hiccoughs but somehow, they didn't return and haven't yet (cross fingers)...Anyway, had my new favourite breakfast: soft egg on potato waffle with a drop (read bottle!) of mayo (thanks Alex for corrupting my previously healthy breakfast routine). Not exactly cholesterol lowering stuff but at this stage, who cares? My new motto is: if it tastes good, eat it!

Had an inspiring tea/coffee yesterday afternoon with Georges, a brilliant Belgian coach who did the same coaching diploma as I. Couldn't believe how much milk he kept pouring into his coffee! :) And I got spoilt by him: a huge packet of salt and vinegar crisps! We are working on a joint project and it is always motivating to get out of the house and exchange ideas with stimulating people. This is something I am noticing a lot: if I stay indoors too much, I just focus on my hiccoughs or general malaise. But, if I get out and meet people, then I feel motivated. Some of you may know that I wrote an Ebook last year, got all excited about it, showed it to a few people and guess where the book is now? On my computer! Lack of confidence? Procrastination? Laziness to finalise it? Not sure, but yesterday's and last night's chats have motivated me to do something about it.

This morning, I looked at myself in the mirror in the lift and tried to see if I was ill...sounds silly, but just looking at myself, I wondered if I would be able to "see" if I was ill. And that's the thing: you can have this toxic waste churning around your insides, feel like puking up a pregnant elephant, yet if you look in the mirror, and smile, you see a healthy individual, someone normal (well as normal as I will ever be!). So, how do you translate or transform this external normality to the depths of your white-water-rafting belly? I guess I could eat more sensibly (i.e. not fried eggs and waffles and mayo), eat foods that won't contribute to indigestion (like spicy lamb byrianis), eat 5 small meals a day, stagger my pill taking...I guess that I should perhaps plan better for the next double dose...I must say that I am considering stopping the steroid because I think that is what causes the hiccoughs. This will mean that I won't have much of an appetite but which is worse? Endless hiccoughs or forcing yourself to eat smaller but regular portions? Perhaps someone out there has some ideas? Hey, does anyone from ISSA know how I could find Katie Walton? I am sure she became a dietician specialising in people with illnesses?

Something I have noticed about this illness, is that actually having cancer is something you can ignore or pretend isn't happening, but once you have the chemo, it all comes back. I was speaking to an older lady at the treatment centre last Wednesday and she was saying that each time she has chemo she says it's the last time. But, as awful as it is, it does help! And the doctors and pharmacists keep saying that it is important to note how you feel afterwards so they can tweak your post chemo meds. So, either I must insist on adding one pill (largactil) to my collection to stop the hiccoughs, or I must drop the steroid. Or, I must just get over the fact that hiccoughs will be part of the first few post-chemo days. Choices...why can't it just be like a box of chocolates?

Now, before you all start thinking I am sinking into some kind of depression over a few days of hiccoughs, then think again! I have a huge coaching opportunity starting next week, I have a huge posse of friends and family supporting me, I have lots of positive energy...the list goes on. So no, I'm not down, I'm just thinking out aloud about ways in which to improve the situation. Like a true coach, I want to focus on solutions, not more problems.

Morse is trying to eat his way through my sheep-skin slippers (yes, I love them and if you lived in cold London you'd have a pair too)...I think he is intending to commit GBH on me...don't know why, after all I gave him his apple, his blueberries, his potato, a scrunched up ball of newspaper, a used toilet roll...some parrots are just not happy, I guess. I shall miss my feathered friend as I return to Slum Norwood later today but I am very much looking forward to being home again, with my crazy mix of couchsurfers (friends) and my loft room.

Thanks for reading this rather long entry...feel free to comment, write to me, drop me a line or just a smiley :)

Wishing you all a great weekend

Le goose!

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Anyone who has ever had these long-term will know that it is not pleasant. Mine kicked in at 2am and eventually stopped at at 4.30am. Nothing you do will stop them so please don't offer me advice like standing on my head, getting a shock etc...NOTHING except time and patience (and a medical drug called largactil) will work (and of course, I don't have any on hand).

This morning, on the tube back from Tony's, the hiccoughs started again much to the inital amusement of the fellow passengers (they weren't amused 20 minutes later!). Suddenly I heard this voice say: "Hey bru, are you alraaght?" It was a saffa bloke, East London, concerned about me in a packed tube. Felt homesick for the sunshine! It was lovely to chat in between hiccoughs and took my mind off things.

Home to a warm welcome from Morse, the mad parrot. He is currently eating his way through yet another CD box (cardboard) after knocking on the wall trying to get a response from the neighbour (I think I now know what she shouts at him...going to have to wash his mouth out!!!).

The next few days will be challenging but still full of fun and distractions. Moving back home on Saturday to be with my "kids". Although I have loved being posh in Liverpool St, I am looking forward to my loft, piano, 'cello and more regular company.

Hope you're all having a great day.
A bientot

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Chemo 3, 2nd cycle

After a lovely evening spent with Brandon, eating steak and salad, chatting and just kuiering as us Africans do so well, I popped my magic pill that the doctor gave me. It did not take me long to sleep and I woke up this morning feeling ready for my 3rd chemo. Nova arrived with a bag of croissants, pains au chocolat and strawberries (guess what got eaten first). I got cannulated quite painlessly this time and off we went. I felt so relaxed this time round that despite the slight burning sensation of the chemo going in, I was absolutely fine. Nova's baby-sitting duty was relieved by Adam who was just in time to grab the trolly dolly who had the magic crisps: salt & vinegar. Always works a treat. I also grabbed some salmon sandwiches and a banana (not to be consumed in public, of course). It was kinda sad saying goodbye to Adam cos he is going to South Africa for two weeks so now I have to find someone else to sponsor my weekly Pret-a-Manger soup and Caffe Nero cappuccino (that's the sad but LOL) :) Nah, I will actually miss having him close by but he deserves his break in the sun! After my second bag of chemo, I had a reiki session, compliments of the NHS. It was very relaxing and a nice way to end the chemo session. I am now at the home of a great doctor friend where I shall await to be pampered (one has to milk this illness) once he gets home. However, as he is a psychiatrist, he just might see through my shamming!

Lots of pills to take as of tomorrow but also lots of fun to be had the rest of the week. And, even more exciting, starting work back in coaching possibly as soon as next week. Cannot wait to get back to working with interesting clients.

Thanks for reading and please keep all those wonderful positive vibes coming. Trust me, I can feel the love and support coming my way and I am truly humbled by it all.

Keep smiling, laughing, and shaking your bottom (large or small) to Brenda Fassie's song: Vul'indlela :-)


Monday, 22 February 2010

Oncology appointment

Today, I was due to see the oncologist at 15h so I went early as I also had to have the pre-chemo blood tests. Unfortunately, the consultant was running at least 1 hour behind so I had a very long wait. What is one supposed to say to an oncologist who beams at you and says: "what a pleasure to see you again"??? I'm hardly comfortable saying that is also a pleasure seeing him again; after all, I'd rather not be a patient in an oncology department of the hospital. But, he is a good doctor and certainly gives you the time of day.

Good news: the MRI scan that I had on Saturday shows that everything is normal (there was some concern that the cancer was moving up there). Bad news: there was no evidence of a brain, just loads of pumpkin seeds :(

The consultant has given me more anti-sickness tabs for post-chemo as he said I shouldn't have to suffer any nausea at all. He also gave me a new treatment to try to stop the coughing. The only bad news is that I am going to have to eat branflakes and prunes, if you get my drift! He also gave me a pre-chemo magic mushroom so I won't be stressed about it. He seemed rather generous today. However, paying for three items on prescription is not so great.

Still have all my hair. Yes, ALL my hair! Have lost 1kg but not where I'd like to lose it, i.e. the belly...but time will tell, I might just get that 6-pack one day. However, I am one step away from the 6-pack because after being at UCH from 14h15 to 18h00, I stopped and ate McDonalds (second time in 3 days!) at Liverpool St Station. I normally avoid fast-food like the plague but lately...well...

Right, Morse (the parrot) needs my attention. He has been alone all day and wants to chat. I will not, however, tell him if I have or haven't done poops as he keeps asking. I will write more after chemo on Wednesday!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Chips (crisps) and chemo

Now, most of you will know that I am a little short of the grey matter in the head sometimes. I have even been nicknamed "die malletjie" (the mad one) by some lovely friends. Anyway, when the oncologist was telling me about chemo, I said: "can I have mine in a separate room 'cos I'm a sympathy puker. If someone pukes, I have to puke with them" and he said, "but where are you going to see people puking?" Well, when we watch movies, people having chemo seem to puke all the time so i just imagined this room full of puke buckets and everyone retching. He found this rather funny. Anyway, my first chemo arrived and I was accompanied by Vojta and Alex. I could only have one friend there so Vojta (with great relief) dashed off. I got chatting to a young person next to me and the first thing he told me was that I would lose my pubes within a few weeks! Eish or Yaw/Joj (as the saffas would say)!!! What? A brazilian/back-sack-and-crack all done intravenously? He also told me that he used to love red wine but doesn't really enjoy it anymore. Moi? The red wine connoisseur, not drinking red wine? Anyway, he proved to be a comforting source of inspiration (?) throughout the slow dripping of the chemo. A visit from Adam (my best friend) was also much appreciated. I went to the loo and was scared to come out in case Alex was hiding behind the door to freak me out! He wasn't, so me peeping out behind the door attached to a drip was a little embarrassing.

Now for the chips/crisps: I decided that I felt ill and was going to puke. I didn't want to tell Alex cos like me, he is a sympathy puker. I asked Alex to call the nurse over. I told the nurse: "I think I'm going to puke, can I have another bag-full of anti-sickness". He looked at me and said "No you're not!" and turned around and left. This called for self-medication so I reached for a bag of salt-'n'vinegar crisps, my favourite, and started munching on them (having had some prawn crackers earlier)!!! The strong flavour made me forget about wanting to be sick and I just continued munching stuff for the rest of the chemo. There is a lady who comes round with a trolly of goodies and it's all free...chockies, crisps, sandwiches and coffee that will take the hair off your loolahs faster than chemo would!!! Alex insisted on trying it despite our vast source of information to our right attached to his bag of poison.

For those who don't know about chemo, basically, you sit in a room with loads of people in similar or worse health than you, they stick a cannula ("sharp scratch" my arse!) into you, fill you with anti-sickness, then "flush" you out with saline (as they do this a few times you spend the entire night peeing), then put your first bag of poison in, followed by more "flushing" then more poison. Depending on your treatment (the type of chemo), you could be there all morning or all day.

I went home with Alex wondering if I should use this as an opportunitity to legitimately puke on the tube (unlike the time I did it after too much red wine thanks to a certain Peter Sapsied!!). Got home, ate some soup, tried to sleep, couldn't cos I had to pee, took my meds, dinner, felt fine and thought they'd given me a placebo as I didn't feel any of the side-effects. Then came Saturday evening...involuntary and intractible hiccoughs (hiccups for the uninitiated) and the yuckiest feeling you could imagine...

Let the games begin....until next time, have fun!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

You have cancer

On Monday 26th January, I was told that I had lung cancer and that it was too far gone to be cured. I took the news calmly and clinically, and asked a lot of questions. When I finally left the doctors' surgery 2 hours later, the first thing I did was call my best friend Adam and try to tell him the news. Many people, him included, knew that I had gone for the results of my latest endoscopic biopsy. After being so calm in with both doctors whom I saw separately along with their entourage of "supporting" nurses and counsellors, I broke down. I paced up and down between Warren St and Goodge St stations, undecided whether to go to my medical friend John's place, or to East Finchley where I was house-sitting, or to Rob and Alex (very close friends), or to my own home to be with my lodgers to whom I felt really close. In the end, I caught the victoria line to London Victoria and got hold of Rob and asked him to meet me at the station. Sitting on the train, I kept crying, then stopping, then crying again. I am not going to go on about the myriad emotions I and my friends went through that night or the next few days as I told other friends and family, but suffice it to say, the support was and still is, amazing.

I have since had 2 sessions of chemotherapy, something I would not wish upon my worst enemy (not that I have any). However, I should not complain as I am in the best hands, have the most amazingly loving and supportive friends and family. Everyone has been just great and this is a journey that I shall not have to travel alone.

My next chemo session is on Wednesday 24th February.