Tuesday, 28 February 2012

My week - it's been a good one!

So much for my resolution to update this blog regularly - a week has gone by since I last wrote anything!

It's been a week filled with exercise, really - after trying Pilates last Tuesday (not a raging success; I felt as if it was all a bit too slow and not active enough for me), Amy and I trotted off to cardio-box, an exercise class based on (yes, you're there already) boxing! After the warm-up, we did about thirty minutes of shadow boxing, repeating arm movements and bouncing on our feet, ducking, etc. It was all going so well till we had to move our arms in double time while keeping our feet at the same pace  That's when I got my feet and arms completely out of sync and ended up dancing in a vain attempt to copy the instructor and the rest of the class! At least it kept Amy amused, watching me pretending that what I was really doing was floating like a butterfly while stinging like a bee. We then worked our way round 10 stations, doing press-ups at one, tricep curls with weights at another,  sit-ups etc and as part of this, we got the chance to don the boxing gloves and hit that punchbag. I found it much easier to co-ordinate my hand and legs when I was hitting something (watch out, Neil, when I want to practise my moves!). By the end of the class, I really felt as if I had worked harder than in any other class I've been to.

Thursday brought the excitement of a replacement hose for my Henry vacuum cleaner (you can tell my world has shrunk somewhat when a bit of plastic tubing gives rise to such heady pleasure). I'd like to point out that nothing in the previous sentence is a euphemism, by the way. Inspired by this foray into domestic excellence, I decided to bake some teabread. I was commenting to Neil this evening that I really enjoy being at home because I feel so much better now - while I was at home for most of last year, bar the first few months, for much of that time I felt so dreadful and weak that I couldn't enjoy it properly. Now, feeling stronger each week, I am loving the chance to cook at a more leisurely pace, to keep on top of housework, to free up weekends to spend with Neil, to be able to go to the gym and exercise classes during the day, to catch up with people and generally not to feel everything has to be crammed into Saturday and Sunday. That's not to say that I don't want to return to work - I do - but not full-time, since I think I need this balance and not to be at work every day to keep me fit and well, not just physically but mentally as well. I can see how easy it might be to get sucked back into that long hours culture and end up undoing all the good I am doing myself by focussing at the moment on getting fit and healthy.

Our weekend was a very sociable one. On Friday evening we were invited over to our friends', the Dodds, for supper and an evening playing board games. What fun! We played Old Maid, Pit, Qwirkle (yes, I have spelt that correctly!) and Chase the Ace. I'd forgotten how much enjoyment there is in playing simple games, no computer or fancy games console involved. We enjoyed it so much that first thing on Saturday, I ordered us Qwirkle and Pit from Amazon so we can do more of this kind of stuff at home. I really liked playing cribbage with Adam over Christmas and playing Jenga etc on Christmas Day. What was especially nice for me was that the last time we were over at the Dodds' house, I had no appetite and was terribly tired, but this time I was eating properly and  had loads more energy, so we were able to stay until a respectable time (and I tucked away a respectable amount of food!).

On Saturday, our friends Steve and Gwen travelled up from their home in the New Forest to visit. Steve's back garden backed onto Neil's, so they have known each other since they were knee high to a beer bottle. We haven't seen them for a couple of years, so we had a lot of catching up to do. After lunch, we sat around chatting and, as often tends to happen, coming up with solutions to all the world's problems :-) They left in the early evening, which was perfect timing as I was aware that I would feel really tired the next day if I carried on talking for much longer (it's still the thing that makes me most tired, talking - ironic, eh?).

Sunday, after church, for some reason I started feeling a bit low. The sun was shining, so it wasn't weather-related, as often happens with me, so I think it was just a bit of a dip with no apparent cause. Neil spotted that I was a bit despondent and suggested I put my running gear on and went out for a run. After a bit of grumbling (I'll be too slow, I won't enjoy it, people will laugh, yada yada yada), I did as he suggested and went out for a run. I ran the same route I ran the previous week, didn't have any walk break and ended up shaving a few minutes off my time, so well done, Neil - you knew exactly what I needed to do, as I came home with a smile on my face and feeling much better. I am so lucky that I have found a medication that is totally natural and chemical-free - exercising helps me so much.

And so we come to Monday and the start of a new week. I popped next door to have a cuppa and a catch up with my neighbour and went into Redhill in the afternoon to sort out my mobile phone upgrade. I like to look at and feel the handsets, so need to go into the shop, not just do it online. One spanky new iPhone 4S and pair of trackie bottoms later, I returned home, a happy shopper. Legs, Bums and Tums with Amy last night as the first of this week's exercise classes - not sure I'm seeing much difference in any of those parts of my anatomy, but my stamina is good!

Today, Tuesday, I've spent a total of three hours at the gym, starting with an early morning session at half six with Neil. I had a really good, comfortable run on the treadmill and did lots of resistance work, squats, sit-ups etc. Later in the morning I had Zumba (always a feel-good class) and this evening I did Pilates. I'm glad to say that this evening I "got" Pilates - I felt much more at ease in the class and understood properly, not just conceptually, how valuable this kind of class will be to complement all the aerobic and active stuff I do. In fact, today, for the first time since last April, I almost managed to forget that I have been ill or that I have facial palsy. Apart from the fact that during some of the positions in Pilates I had to be careful of my shoulder and neck, I haven't been limited in any of the activities I've done today. I chatted to several people at Zumba and Pilates without feeling the need to explain (apologise for?) how I look. I think this is real progress for me and I hope tomorrow is the same. I do understand that it might not be as good as this every day, but just realising that I can feel like this at least once is really positive.

I am sitting here this evening feeling pretty good. I value the preciousness of life and the fact that I have a second chance at it. Maybe the realisation that I am in remission is finally starting to take effect. It may be that now it's starting to feel real and I can leave the limbo I have found myself in for so long. Whatever it is, I wish I could bottle it and then uncork it whenever I feel the need - and not just for me, but for others who need it. Wouldn't that be brilliant?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Face Off....

Sometimes my life is so full of glamour that I can scarcely bring myself to believe it. Take yesterday, for example  - my morning consisted of clearing the remaining detritus from Adam's bedroom so the new carpet can be laid later this week. This final clear-up operation resulted in a trip to the municipal dump and to the charity shop, where I deposited, respectively, rubbish and recyclable clothes, books and glassware. On returning home, I could no longer avoid the slightly pungent odour from the kitchen sink and had to don the Marigolds and clear the drain outside. This is a job normally undertaken by Mr S, but as it's dark when he returns home from work, I don't think it's fair to expect him to rummage around in the dark. No need to go into details, but let's just say job done.....since I was obviously in clearing/cleaning mode, I then cleaned my shamefully filthy car. I can confirm that its true colour is, in fact, silver, underneath all that grime and mud.

I felt quite grubby after all that de-griming activity, so after a long soak in the shower and a fruitless attempt to tame my increasingly independent hair, I had a quiet afternoon, with some desultory tidying up and a bit of ironing to stop me getting too comfortable on the squishy sofa. Amy and I did a legs, bums and tums class in the evening. It involved quite a bit of work with hand-weights and of course, that's sometimes quite tricky for my left shoulder, so from time to time I just used a weight in the right hand and only did the movement with my left arm. I am hoping this doesn't mean that I start to look even more lopsided, as muscles develop more on the right than on the left! Please, give me a break!

Zumba this morning, which is always invigorating and fun, even if I get totally unco-ordinated at times and end up going in the opposite direction from the rest of the class! I think what happens is that when I look at the instructor, who faces the class, I copy what she is doing but not as a mirror image. Everyone else seems to reverse what she does, so if she is moving her right leg, they move their left, but I move my right in exact imitation of her. Is it to do with being left-handed? I don't know, but I've noticed before that when I point out to anyone that they have a bit of food or dirt on their face, for example, I automatically point to the corresponding part of my face, but they always mirror where I'm pointing and start wiping the other side of their face! Maybe I am just a bit odd (no need to comment on that suggestion, by the way!).

Something else that happened this morning, which made me think - a friend commented on the fact that I was brave to link from Facebook to my charity fundraising page and a photo of my face. I was a bit puzzled by this, because I still don't feel ready to share what I look like with the wider public and would have thought very long and hard before deciding to put up a current picture. I checked and it is, in fact, an old picture of me, from about a year ago. My friend thought my eye looked a bit different in the photo and had assumed that this was a more recent photo. So, should I be upset that when I had my old face, I might still  have looked a bit assymetrical? I don't think so - what purpose would that serve? I suspect, looking at the photo, that I might have been squinting into the sun, but perhaps I have allowed my memory to cultivate the belief that I used to look considerably more symmetrical and "normal" than I actually did. Maybe I don rose-tinted glasses when I look back at how I used to be and somehow imagine that I looked different from how I actually did look!

The last thing I want is for my friend to feel bad about this mistake, so I mention it here with the intention of sharing my reaction and wondering if it's reasonable: initially, I was a bit taken aback (that sounds terribly dramatic, but I don't mean it to be) but then I thought - actually, if I am going to do anything at all to help myself and other people with facial palsy, I can't be reacting as if somehow I am ashamed of how I look now and getting upset if someone thinks an old photo of me pre-surgery looks as if I have some assymetry.  Isn't the point of getting involved with a charity specifically to support and educate about facial palsy to make it more acceptable to have a "different" face? To make it somehow less "shameful"?

I have now amended my fundraising page to make it clear that the photo is of the "old" me, the one whose face pretty much worked :-). Having said that, my face does still work - I can eat, drink, speak, smile (in a lopsided fashion!), blink, cry and show emotions. It just doesn't work all over in quite the way it used to.

One day soon, I think I will be ready to show a photo of how I am now. Those of you who have seen me know what I look like - if you haven't seen me since late 2011, I hope you would notice an improvement. For those who haven't yet seen my new face, when I do post a photo, you will get more of an idea of how it's changed. I just need to be brave enough to say "Look, this is how I am now".


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Breaking news - I am getting better at this running malarkey :-) Those of you who know me through Runners' World, and others who know me well, will know that returning to running has been a really important part of my recovery, marking quite a milestone. Apart from the psychological benefits of exercise, it's the return to normal that it represents which is so meaningful. I've been doing a little running on the treadmill at the gym this week; managed 20 minutes on Wednesday morning and 30 minutes on Friday morning. Today, it was such a beautiful wintry morning, sunny and cold, that after church I decided to go for an outside plod - my first proper attempt at running, my first time out on my own (apart from running around the block a few weeks ago) any my first run outside.

There's a process to follow when going for a run - for me, anyway. I'm sure most runners just throw on their running gear, lace up their trainers and head off but oh no, not me. First there is the dilemma of what to wear - layering is key when it's cold, but I don't want to get too hot so I need to think about whether to wear a sleeveless top under a long-sleeved one, or a short-sleeved top under a long-sleeved one, or a short-sleeved one over a long-sleeved one, or a ....well, you get the picture! Then it's whether to wear calf-length leggings or full tracksuit bottoms. Then it's the trainers - should I wear my lovely new ones and spoil their pristine whiteness with some muddy badges of honour, or should I wear some older trainers which have been through mud, horse poo and puddles? (I told you it's a dilemma). In the end, I went for the sleeveless top, long-sleeved top, leggings and older trainers ensemble. The mandatory hi-viz gilet (anywhere else, this would be called a sleeveless jacket, but we're in Oxted, darling) on top, thumbs tucked through the thumbholes of my sleeves, hair screwed back into a tiny pony-tail and phone placed in pocket and off I went.

Well, what a beautiful day to be out running! Clean, clear air, bright sunshine, muddy fields and wildlife - just perfect. I did one of my old running routes; it's about four and a half miles and I ran all of it except for one tiny bit where I walked. I ran all the uphills, though, which I was very pleased with. I had to manoeuvre round a recalcitrant horse, which was firmly placed right by the stile between two fields. No way was it going to move - there was a couple out for a walk, just in front of me, who were trying to persuade this horse to move, but he was having none of it. Another couple on the other side of the stile were also trying to persuade it, but to no avail. I got fed up (impatient? me? Nooooo) with the slightly ineffectual hand-waving and "Here, boy"s that were going on, so eventually I just said I thought I could squeeze between the horse's head and the stile and hopped over. I wasn't going to let a horse stop me doing this blessed run, no way!

Now I know I can run outside, I can do more of it - I know I won't be able to do any long training runs for the VLM, but if I can get up to about 8 or 9 miles over the next 7 weeks (eek!), then at least I will feel I have the ability to run parts of the course, even if I walk most of it. And do you know what? there's no shame in that at all, despite what some running purists say. For me, the important thing is just getting to the end and proving that I have put the past horrendous 12 months to one side.

The rest of the week, since I last blogged, has been busy and good. I met with another friend on Wednesday for a catch-up and to talk about work and she gave me some very helpful advice about developing our new charity. Straight home from meeting her (in London) and met up with my friend Di in Oxted. She had an operation on her feet a few months ago and between her being immobile and me not being 100%, we hadn't had a chance to talk face-to-face for a while, so we had a grand old chat over tea/hot chocolate/latte in Caffe Nero.

On Thursday evening, I ventured back to the Elders' meeting at my church. The Elders basically work with the Minister to run the church, and are elected by church members. I hadn't been along to the monthly meetings since I got ill, so this is another step towards normality. I timed my return well, because it was our church secretary's birthday and there was cake! It did feel good to be back and getting involved, especially as we have had so much support from people there.

We had a guest for the weekend - my friend Dave, who lives in Derbyshire. It was just too difficult for me to entertain the idea of entertaining (!) overnight guests all through last summer so, because it's a long way to come just for a couple of hours, we arranged for him to visit now, when I am so much better. He came down on Friday and left on Saturday afternoon, so we had ample opportunity for a good catch-up, putting the world to rights, reflecting on being middle-aged gimmers, etc.! He even had the opportunity to come with Neil and me to a meeting of the Head and Neck Cancer Support Group at Medway Hospital (it moves around between Medway, Maidstone and East Grinstead Hospitals). You might remember that Neil and I went to our first meeting of this group in December and we won the quiz. Guess what? Yes, we won it again!I do like quizzes and my competitive streak comes out big-time. We won a bottle of red wine and then won a bottle of white in the raffle, so those two bottles have joined the serried ranks of bottles in the dining-room, none of which I can yet drink, since all wine still smells like vinegar to me!

I think that's me up-to-date now. It's been a good week, catching up with friends, and I deeply appreciate them making the effort to see me, especially when it involves travelling some distance. Neil, Amy and Adam are all fine - spoke to Adam on the  phone this afternoon, Amy has been working hard over the weekend looking after one of her favourite charges so his parents could go away overnight and is now in bed, shattered, and Neil has spent today working at ExCel, where his company was exhibiting. It's good to have him back home, relaxing on the sofa and perusing the Sunday papers. As for  me, once I finish this blog, I shall settle back on the sofa, cup of tea in hand, and luxuriate in the Sunday night televisual delight that is Call the Midwife - perfect easy, but well-made, viewing.

Toodle pip, y'all

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Boom, boom, boom, boom!

What do you do when you think you might get bad news, you prepare for how you might react if you get bad news and then, when it turns out the news is good, you haven't thought about how that might feel? That's just how I feel, even today, four days after getting my fabulously welcome news about there being no signs of cancer in me.

I worry that I might seem blase about the news - believe me, I am anything but! I am immensely thankful and deeply, deeply grateful to our wonderful NHS for the care they have taken of me at every stage of this frightening, turbulent process. It's just that I still feel a bit - well, "numb" is the best word I can think of to describe it. It's almost as if I have schooled myself over the past year not to expect the news to be good, so when it is, I have forgotten how to feel!

That makes a kind of sense to me and I suspect it's a kind of protection mechanism I have built up around me so that I didn't/don't get disappointed when the news turns out to be not so good. I am pretty certain that at some point, the reality will kick in and that's when I will react. It might take the form of manic giggling, or a bit of a sob, or even a snivelling snotfest of crying, but it will almost certainly happen at some point. In the meantime, I'm just getting on with things and starting to plan a bit further ahead than I have done in recent months. Without wanting to sound defeatist or morbid, for a large part of last year I couldn't see beyond Christmas 2011, simply because I wasn't entirely convinced that I would be around after that time. Don't judge me, don't call me pessimistic, don't think I had lost the will to live because I absolutely hadn't. I just couldn't get my mind to behave differently. It's great to be able to think "Yes, I can look further ahead and plan for 2012, 2013 and beyond."

Right, enough of the introspection! What has happened since hospital on Friday and my good news? We had a lovely guest for the weekend, a Norwegian friend of our daughter's, whom she met while backpacking around SE Asia. We didn't see that much of either of them over the weekend, as they were meeting up with other friends from their travels up in London and staying up there on Saturday night. Our house was the meeting point for some of these other friends too, so there were plenty of young people around over the weekend to infuse the house with energy and laughter! I think Maddy enjoyed sampling a cooked English breakfast and a roast dinner (I was under strict instructions to make Yorkshire puddings, bread sauce and roast parsnips! Being a good mum, I did as I was told, of course....). Maddy left today and we hope she'll come and see us again - her English is superb (and infinitely better than our Norwegian!)and she drinks almost as much tea as we do :-).

Neil and I went out for a lovely, celebratory meal on Friday night and then were out for dinner again on Saturday, at our good friends' home. Ample amounts of fizzy were sipped over the two days, as we marked the milestone of Friday.

Yesterday I went to visit a friend who has broken her ankle/leg really badly and has to spend all day with her foot up on a stool, hobbling around on crutches only when necessary. She was very good visiting me last year when I was convalescing at home, so I was pleased to be able to do something in return. I do think that when something happens to you that makes you feel unwell, upset, restricts your mobility or independence, then it is a huge upset in your world - sometimes people have said to me over the past year that what's happened to them is nothing compared to what's happened to me, but I don't agree. I think that we are all affected to different degrees by the events in our lives and what might seem trivial to one person can be devastating in its effect on someone else. I hope that I never start to think "Well, you think *you've* got problems? Wait till I tell you what *I've* been through!" because that would mean that I had lost a degree of compassion.

Today - and this is where the "Boom, boom, boom, boom" comes from - we held a drumming workshop at my church for local school-children. I went along to help and ended up taking part ("Oh, surely not?", you murmur....). I ended up banging on the big bass drum and also the tom-tom drums. Great fun!

Of course, it's Valentine's Day today, when we tell the one we love how much they mean to us. I cannot find words enough to tell Neil how much he means to me. He has been my emotional foundation and rock over not just this past year, but our entire marriage. I couldn't be without him and I feel like this every day, not just Valentine's Day.

Oh, and I joined Twitter - thought about it long and hard and decided that it might help me get some more exposure for this blog and hence raise some awareness of what it's like to deal with cancer and facial palsy. It's good to think yes, I am a cancer survivor. And my face? I had surgery to save my life and it left my face a bit wonky. It is the better alternative!!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

..and the award goes to.....

..me! In all the excitement of my results yesterday, I didn't find time to mention on my blog the fact that I was nominated for a Liebster Blog Award. This is a "pay it forward" award scheme, where bloggers nominate up to five other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, to increase readership and share their blogs. I was very touched and honoured to receive a nomination from Single Married Mum.

My nominations for bloggers to receive the Liebster award are as follows:

Mme Lindor - for her honest blogging, not pretending everything is always sweetness and light, but sharing the challenging times as well. Also, for her immense capacity to care about injustice and unfairness towards other people.

Sophrunning - her descriptions of helping her young AS daughter are an incredibly moving insight into the love between mother and daughter and the sheer frustrations faced by her lovely Grace on a daily basis, frustrations shared by her mum as she challenges the educational system.

A bit of a cheat now, as I am going to nominate the same blogger twice, for two very different blogs.

Geves. This first blog by Geves is a searingly honest and haunting account of how she dealt with the worst thing a parent could face; the death of her beautiful daughter. Geves's strength - and weakness - are brought before her reader in an unforgettable way.

The second blog from Geves is here. In this blog, Geves recounts working as a volunteer in a men's prison, helping them use creative writing to express themselves. I love the insights Geves gives to her own reactions to the men and the dignity and respect she affords these men, some of whom may have never felt respected in their lives.

My final award goes to staranise - as a fellow grammatical pedant and avid reader, I feel she is a kindred spirit!

Thank you to Single Married Mum for nominating me - her blog is here -a real insight into being a forces' wife and mother.

Bloggers of the world unite and pay it forward!

Friday, 10 February 2012

...and breathe!

Very quick blog post today, just to share with you the news from my scan - no sign of cancer cells anywhere!!! This is the best news we could have had and, while accepting the usual caveats that accompany such pronouncements, I feel incredibly relieved and immensely grateful, to the dedicated and skilled doctors and health care professionals, to our wonderfully supportive friends and to my amazing husband and children, without whom I would have been floundering every day.

I still feel a bit numb, to be honest. It's as if the news hasn't quite sunk in. I think I had prepared myself to deal with bad news, rather than good, so I don't quite know how to deal with it! In the absence of any other plan, I have resorted to the tried and tested glass of fizzy (and very nice it is too!). We're going out for a celebratory dinner shortly, but I think there is room for reflection too, given what's happened over the past year. Time to think about what is precious and valuable to us, perhaps.

I do feel as if I have been holding my breath for the past goodness knows how long and finally, finally I can let it out. It's a good feeling.

Live life, love life.

(any spelling or grammatical errors are the result of unaccustomed intake of alcohol!)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Good things, bad things, good things, bad things.....

One of the side-effects of being ill and the various treatments I've had is that I lost interest in a lot of things I had previously been very involved with: activities for my professional institute, church life, pretty much anything outward looking. I seemed to retreat within my little safe haven of home-hospital-GP for quite a few months.

I knew I was on the road to recovery when I started feeling an interest in things again. I've been along to a committee meeting for our regional conference, for example, and am off to another institute meeting this afternoon. I'm thinking of going on a course offered by my church, which might help me understand what on earth I am supposed to do as an Elder!! I'm also hoping to volunteer half a day a week at the Orpheus Centre, where our daughter works. I need to structure my weeks now, otherwise there's a (strong) risk I will fritter my time away and get to Friday afternoon with no noticeable achievements from the week! I also hope to return to part-time work - although it's a bit quiet out there at the moment!

One way I have been spending my time, and which I am very excited about, is helping with the charity that's being set up to support people with facial palsy, whatever the cause. We hosted a small meeting at our house on Saturday, where we discussed what we would expect to find on the website from our perspective as users of the charity. People travelled some distance to come to this meeting, from Portsmouth in the case of one couple, so there's obviously a lot of passion and interest in this. It felt good to be with other people who understand what it's like to feel "different" and to know that no one in the room was thinking that my face looked a bit odd, because we all had some degree of facial palsy - and all from a number of different causes, which makes each of us unique, I guess, and means we learn from each other too. Our lovely speech therapist, who specialises in patients with palsy, gave up a big chunk of her Saturday to come to the meeting and keep us on track, for which we are immensely grateful! It felt good to see everyone getting enthusiastic and excited about what we might be able to achieve - it made me feel good, for sure!

The weekend brought some snow - not a huge amount and it started thawing fairly quickly but it's still lingering. I went out on Saturday afternoon into Oxted to have a cuppa with a friend and as I was leaving our house (before the snow started), I glanced over at my car, which was parked at the top of our drive in front of Neil's and Amy's car. I thought "Hmm...that front tyre looks a bit deflated", toddled off for my hot chocolate (no cream or marshmallows - perish the thought!) and by the time I came back an hour or so later, the tyre was more than just "a bit" deflated. It was totally flat! So poor Neil had to spend a part of Sunday wrestling with the wheel nuts, which proved pretty recalcitrant, and putting on my spare. It's one of those restricted speed ones, so I need to get myself off to a Kwikfit at some point.

We woke up to a white world on Sunday, which meant that the visiting preacher to our church couldn't get there. Nor could many of our congregation, so those of us within walking distance (or who had 4x4s!) made it along, lined up our wellies by the door, and a Dunkirk Spirit type service was held. It was rather nice, actually. I was helping serve communion and had to read something out, which is always good to remind me that I *can* speak in public, especially amongst friends.

Later that Sunday, our friend Jonathan came round for dinner and to stay overnight. We have done some walking and climbing with him on the North Downs and Kili, and Neil has done some other climbs with him, so we spent some time going through our book on The Munros and planning a trip to God's own country to "bag" some of them.

Monday brought my big PET CT scan at the Marsden. I was a bit anxious about driving in the snow, as my little sporty car is not the best kind of vehicle for snow and ice, but I had asked Neil to come with me to get the scan results, rather than for the scan itself, and didn't want to ask him to take time off work, although I know he would gladly have done so had I needed him. However, some kind friends at church offered to take me so there was one less thing for me to worry about - thank you, David, for giving up pretty much all of your Monday to take me there and back. Poor man, he had to wait nigh on four hours for me. His paper was read from cover to cover!

I went to an exercise class on Monday night with Amy and to Zumba yesterday morning, then to meet a friend for (more) hot chocolate and a catch-up. In the afternoon, we had a service of thanksgiving for an amazing woman who went to my church. She died just over a week ago at the age of 93 and until about two years ago, when physical frailty set in, she was still striding briskly to the top of the North Downs with her beloved dog at her side. The service was one of the most joyous I have ever been to, with so much about her insatiable zest for life and her determination to squeeze every last drop from every opportunity - a superb example of how I'd like to live my life.

I feel anxious about Friday but want to have some certainty about whether I still have nasty stuff to deal with so that I can process it. I am praying it will be good news, but feel I need to know just what the position is, rather than be constantly wondering (and worrying). I am totally deaf in my left ear and have been for about two weeks and that, coupled with the lack of peripheral vision in my left eye, leaves me feeling quite vulnerable on that side of my body. I don't normally get nervous walking on my own in the (winter) dark but I confess to feeling a bit more exposed than I would like. I do sometimes get some "clarity" in my left ear, usually when doing exercise, so I am hoping that this is temporary and caused by a build up of wax which has nowhere to go because I am still quite swollen internally from radiotherapy. I certainly don't want anyone poking about in my ear right now!

So, good things and bad things this week. Good things - celebrating yesterday the fact that Neil and I have been married exactly half my life. He has been my rock and loving support through everything and especially during the last harrowing and difficult 12 months. Other good things - the kindness of friends, the energy and enthusiasm of our meeting on Saturday, the sense that we can make a difference for ourselves and others through this charity. Bad things - the constant, nagging worry about Friday's results, the vulnerability I feel because of hearing and sight impairment and the knowledge that I can't influence outcomes.

Roll on Friday.