Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Number Thirty Two: The Pirate Trap

This is a child's costume-
the adult ones were all far too busty for us mono-boobed pirate types

There is a real danger whether wearing a bandana or going bald headed of accidently looking like a pirate. I am not joking when I say that looking in the mirror and asking myself ‘Would I look at home on a boat?’ is now an important part of my morning routine! The chances of this happening are seriously increased by the current nautical fashion that seems to be lingering this season- stripes, anchors and rope trim seem to be everywhere! So here’s my step by step guide to avoiding looking like you should be swabbing a deck or hunting for treasure whist coping with your lack of locks. ‘Arrrgh!’

  1. Go easy on the vertical stripes and definitely never wear a striped scarf on your head Ooh-ahhh!
  2. Being bald is quite a masculine look- you’ve been stripped of your feminine locks and some people think it’s a good idea to balance this out with a pair of large girlie earrings… No no no! You’re in dangerous ‘Me hearty’ land with this theory!
  3. Large belts and buckles… all a bit piratey for my liking when teamed with a bandana or bald head!
  4. I’m a huge fan of dresses over leggings but find myself thinking a parrot on my shoulder would complete the look whenever I wear my boots over those leggings! Much safer with flip-flops- thank God it’s summer!
  5. If you’re in need of a weapon avoid swords
  6. hopping is preferable to sporting a wooden peg leg
  7. No rum…at all!
  8. I think avoiding Jolly Roger motifs altogether goes without saying!

One last thing land lovers… just thought I should mention the irony of the fact that back in 2005 I had a pirate themed hen weekend! Seriously!
November 2005... oh what I'd give to have plaits right now!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Number Thirty One: The Paraphernalia

Wow… there’s a lot of hairy stuff missing from my life right now!

I spent the other morning having a belated spring clean of my bedroom. (I could see for bedroom floor for a few hours but it’s gone again now!) During this tidying frenzy I came across many an item I won’t be needing for a while! Take a look…

A small sample of hairy paraphernalia!

I was a bit fascinated by how much hairy paraphernalia I actually owned- this is just a small selection!
It’s now all boxed up ready for the hairier times that lie ahead!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Number Thirty: The Mirror

Do you ever catch your reflection and think it’s someone else? I heard recently about a woman waving to her mother in a shop before realising it was a mirror! I constantly forget that I have no hair- I’m so used to it now that it takes me by surprise every now and again.
Yesterday I had two driving related bald-headed incidences.
  1. A van pulled out on me on a roundabout- realising his mistake he glanced at me and then instead of either speeding up and getting out of the way or stopping to let me go he slowed down to almost stopping right in the way and gawped at me… mid roundabout! I think the sight of my bald head rendered him unable to drive! Hilarious!
  2. I saw a bald lady driving and I had to resist the urged to beep at her and point at my own bald head! A bit like when drivers of the same make of car acknowledge each other! Why would I want to do this? Maybe I’m in need of a bald friend!
Anyway I digress… the mirror- every now and then I catch glimpse of my own reflection and see…
The Leech boy from X-Men… this is the one I am reminded of most often! A real similarity- I think it’s the eyebrows!
A manikin- thank you to my sisters for pointing this one out! It was noted how easily I could have fitted in to the camping display in a shop last week! (Minus a boob maybe!)
Alien Nation- a memory I didn’t even realise I had! In fact I couldn’t remember what the TV show was called- I had to describe it to my husband. ‘You know, it was on TV when we were young…orange bald head… pink splodges!’ ‘Alien Nation?’ he replied… ‘You do not look like that!’ How kind of him but it’s definitely one of the things I’ve seen in the mirror lately!
The Observer from Fringe- I see him in the mirror ALL the time- think I’ll be seeing more of him as I lose my eye brows and lashes with the change of chemo next week!
Natalie Portman- yeah right! I wish! Ha- maybe when my hair starts to grow back? I can hope can’t I?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Number Twenty Nine: The Forks

My reflection in a fork- taking this photo was the biggest challenge of my day!

This whole ‘stop you in your tracks’ ‘life altering’ shocker that is the cancer bombshell has certainly prompted me to reflect a lot. About the decisions I have made in my life so far and about how I wish to live in the future. I’ve looked back on how I got here- the decisions I made (good and bad) the directions I took at various forks in the road. I can not express enough how happy I am to be exactly where I am today- I feel pretty lucky to be in this position- I have the love of my life husband, a job I enjoy and two of the cutest little boys ever! It’s not many people who get to have all the 'big' things go their way and so I often wonder how I got here.

I suppose we should start with how I found myself in the world of teaching…
When I wasn’t playing cards in the common room or being one of the founding members of ‘Anti-geographers united’ in sixth form I was reading that big book of jobs- Opportunities I think it was called. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and so looked at my options. Each free period saw me set my sights on a different career but none stuck. I ended up applying for speech therapy degrees because my mum quite liked the idea! I guess this, added to a distinct lack of interest in 2 of my 3 A levels is what then found me a couple of months later going through clearing. There I sat with my UCAS book phoning up endless universities inquiring about completely random courses- actually anything that sounded a bit arty (but not just art because how was that going to get me a job ever?) no, an art degree would not have been supported by my parents at all! Art with education caught my eye- I phoned up about a course in Lancaster but it was full- they offered me geography with education in Ambleside instead. Hummm I hated geography at A’ level and got a D. I’d loved everything art forever and got an A. I’d been on the phone for hours and knew my mum and dad would like a weekend trip up to The Lakes so I agreed to an interview. And the rest as they say is history! I can honestly say that I’d not exactly given ‘becoming a teacher’ a second thought! On my first day, meeting my housemates it did begin to dawn on me as Grainne showed my her ‘teaching practice shoes’ and Leanne talked about how she had a teacher when she was 7 who was fantastic and so she’d wanted to be a teacher ever since. Hummm. Teaching practice shoes? Teaching practice full stop? Hadn’t really considered that! Why did I want to be a teacher? Did I want to be a teacher? Hadn’t really thought about that.
So the first big thing that I got right in my life I can take no credit for what so ever! I fell into it! It chose me? I’m not sure but I think it’s more fun than most people’s jobs!

Once qualified, the next big decision was where to work… I went through the Milton Keynes NQT pool and was accepted- just had to wait for a school to phone once the details were released a few weeks later… I hoped one would! Well… on the day the details were released I came home to 14 answer phone messages from headteachers inviting me to look around their schools- 14! I kid you not! Wow! I made 5 appointments in one day to look round the ones I liked the sound of best. It was a completely manic day… school one- OK ish. School two- Loved it. School three- I pulled up, met the head teacher at the door and explained politely that I didn’t have time to look round anymore as I had two more appointments to get to that I liked the sound of more than her school (I cringe just remembering that I did this!) School four- not great and School five- loved it! I clearly remember being sat at my kitchen table asking my mum how I would chose between the two schools I had equally loved. ‘Make a choice and then make it work for you’ was my mum’s advice. I look back on that decision with great fear right now- what if I had chosen any of the other four schools? (Or the other 13 that had originally left messages?) Because as it turned out- this was not just my first teaching job- Oh no- this would be the place I found my perfect, love of my life husband (not to mention two of the very best friends any girl could ask for and now godmothers to my sons!) How different my life would now be if I had made a different decision at that one fork in the road! Scary!

The next huge decision was about having children and more importantly when to have them. Number one son came along and once he got to about 18 months people started asking about number two. Let’s do it! OK! Err actually I’m loving the life of part time teacher… let’s hold off on number two. … Oops too late number two is on its way. Oh well that’s exciting news! And maybe that was fate… I look down at my ‘almost not a baby anymore’ and shiver at the thought of waiting… waiting could have meant the beast breast was discovered before he was with us and that could also mean that he would never be! It’s no secret that cancer treatments all affect fertility so thank God number two made it in time!

I have of course made bad decisions, things I am not proud of and am very sorry for but it’s been said that everything you do leads to where you are today and I’m very happy here so I can’t say I have regrets. I just hope that the big things (my health aside! Ha!) continue to go my way… fingers crossed!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Number Twenty Eight: The Flood

Better to count the rainbows than the raindrops!

I’m happy again for now but there’s no doubt this whole treatment business is playing with my emotions. It’s either the treatment or the whole hugeness of the C word being in my life full stop- I suspect the latter could actually be the case. I’ve always had an overactive imagination; I can easily torture myself playing out emotional scenes in my head or rehearsing how I will phrase bad news or just imagining the worst in crystal clear detail.
I don’t cry very often but it seems that lately when I do cry I find it hard to stop! (Little and often would be way more practical) There was a day last week when I went to bed feeling tearful- It all seems to be very much linked to my baby turning one. I felt sad that I was missing lots of him growing and changing and was angry that my diagnosis had come at such an awful time. I was still feeling slightly teary the next morning but it started big time the moment my eldest was dropped off at pre-school...The Flood! And it started as most of my sob-fests do- with a well meaning hug! What is it with people being nice? Kindness-the key to my floodgates! I managed to conceal my glistening eyes as I left but was sobbing by the time I got to the car. I’m fast thinking that having children to look after is a god send for keeping an overactive imagination otherwise occupied. It’s when everything is quiet that my mind runs wild.
Back at home I switched between trying to get a grip of myself to thinking a good cry was probably what I needed- a release. The flood truly had a grip of me- every time I got my breathing under control the whole cycle would start again. Sob-tissue-breathe-sob…
Later that day things got really out of control in the waiting room at the doctors- I was fine until a new mum came in with a baby so new it didn’t even have a name yet… instantly I felt the tears threaten. In my head all I could think was; that was me… that was me this time last year… this time last year with my new baby all happy…I was just over the moon with my amazing birth (I was THE best birther!) my baby was perfect…the sun was shining…I had no idea what was about to happen.  I had sat waiting in the same seat to see the same doctor that this new mum was sitting in. I was so happy then and now some days I don’t even have the energy to go down and see my baby boy before he’s carted off be looked after by someone other than me. It breaks my heart that my husband, mum and mother-in-law can spot changes in him that I’ve not witnessed. So I sat in the waiting room and sobbed some more- so much so that a lady came to hug me- uh-oh! Now I definitely couldn’t shut the floodgates! I sat there being hugged and could think of nothing to say to this kind lady- where would I even begin to explain? I quickly tried to dream up some simple explanation… I’ve lost my phone… my guinea pig died… my car won’t start… I just kept saying ‘I’ll be alright’ (which also makes me cry because I guess that’s not really as certain as it once was).
Needless to say I was a wreck by the time the doctor saw me. He was kind and said it was important not to give myself anything else to deal with at the moment- just focus on getting better and try not to worry about anything else. I guess only mothers know about mother’s guilt!
I’m not sure what finally sealed the floodgates on Tuesday; I might just have run out of tears but by the evening I was feeling much better. Better than I’d felt before the flood- which made me wonder about the heeling power of a good old cry… maybe it had been just what I’d needed?
I am ridiculously tired after this third round of treatment and I guess tiredness and tears just go hand in hand.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Number Twenty Seven: The AWARD

Yesterday I wrote about the kindness of strangers- it’s a powerful thing! I smiled lots yesterday as I received messages about strangers being kind- one of my friends has even been inspired to be a volunteer at the hospital in a bid to spread kindness to strangers- isn’t she lovely!

Then I got a message…

Sarah Mac said...
Erin, you always make me smile even when I feel I should cry, how do you do that? this is for you http://peopledonteatenoughfudge.blogspot.com/2011/06/lordy-lordy.html I hope it makes you smile.

Yep, Sarah Mac, blogger of ‘People don’t eat enough fudge’ had won an award…well done her! As a result of this she was charged with nominating her top three blogs with under 100 followers…because they’re new to it not because they are crap at it! (I’ll tell myself anything to keep my spirits up!)
Sarah describes herself as ‘Scatty with a pinch of madness.’ Which could go a long way to explain why she picked me…I’m not complaining though!

Being picked certainly did make me smile…we’ve already covered what a sucker for praise I am! The Best One! So I’ll now say a very gracious ‘Thank you’ to Sarah and will get on with nominating three blogs that have been a comfort to me over the last few months…

The title struck a chord with me immediately… I don’t find being a mother easy peasy but I do find loving my boys comes naturally. I believe that ‘mothering’ comes more naturally to some than others and I think the guilt factor could be hugely diminished if we all felt we could be more honest about the difficulties- a heads up during pregnancy would be nice- especially to working mothers who have been successful so far and are heading for a shock!
I’m impressed by this particular blog because it’s written by Pooky- an impressive lady as she manages to maintain two blogs (she has a educational based one too) as well as being a teacher AND a mother of two!  

I’m fast becoming a fan of ‘let children be children’ and I think a huge part of childhood is about the outdoors. Juliet should not only be commended for promoting outdoor learning- she should also be recognised for the fact that she is doing this ‘Up North’ (where it’s rainy and cold) believe me four years in the Lake District qualifies me to have an opinion! Grey a lot of the time but stunning when the clouds break. I also love this blogs because it’s inspiring me to get back to work and make beautiful creations with children for our already beautiful outdoor areas.

Again it was the title the chimed with mw initially (oh how I could relate to not being able to hear the caller!) but I continued to be gripped by Penny’s hilarious tales of her work life balance with a 3YO and 1YO- you can see how I can relate! Penny makes me feel proud to be a working mum and comforts me by putting things into perspective… I’m not the only woman who struggles to have a conversation on the phone. Or a conversation with another adult at all in fact!

Reading Sarah Mac’s blog has opened a whole new load of blogs I love the look of… it would seem I’m going to have even more to juggle with when I eventually do return to work… the blog/life balance has already replaced the work/life balance!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Number Twenty Six: The Kindness of Strangers

The people I am close to have been overwhelmingly supportive and I am truly grateful for this.
So why then does the kindness of strangers feel so powerful?

A couple of days ago I noticed that one of the blogs I follow had a new post- the title was ‘For Erin’ We’ve already covered the fact that my name is quite unusual- not so much recently- Erin has become a lot more popular- people clearly took a while to catch on to the brilliance of the name! (Or they just didn’t watch The Waltons like my mum?) So I immediately wondered if I was theErin’ was me. Could I be the Erin? It turned out I was…

My smile was massive! Not to knock the kindness of those I know- don’t know what I’d have done without them, but lets be honest they’ve got a vested interest in me getting better and being happy! My future is their future! Our lives are entwined! But I’ve realised how amazingly powerful the kindness of strangers can be.

So thank you findit13 you’ve inspired me to do something thoughtful for a stranger today. Anyone fancy joining me in the quest to make a stranger smile massively?

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Number Twenty Five: The Warnings

It’s getting on for five months since I found out about the Beast Breast and I’ve learned a lot (mostly about what not to do) so here’s a list of warnings for you…

  1. An epilator is no friend to the bald head.
When your hair falls out you are left with some hair- I envisioned a smooth head but was disappointed. A stubbly head? Oh no…this will not do!  (You are advised not to wet shave because of the risk of bleeding) Now, I’ve never used an epilator before but it would seem that the stubbly headedness should be the perfect opportunity for me to start! I am an idiot! Do NOT go there! I carried out this ridiculousness a few weeks ago and think I still have a slight graze on the patch of head I tried!
Moral- epilators and bald heads- not a match made in heaven!

  1. You will forget that others have no idea.
There have been a few mega hot days recently and these always seem to prompt unattractive men to remove their shirts…
 ‘Look mummy that man has no top on!’ laughed my three year old.
‘I’m just hoping mummy will do the same!’ the topless man replied.
‘Errr, you’d get a right shock!’ I laughed.

  1. Children are stronger than you’d think!
Three yr olds ask lots of questions….why? Why? WHY? I have been honest with my little boy- if he’s old enough to think of the question then I’m going to explain as best I can. The actual word ‘cancer’ only came up recently though- in others the C word sparks dread but to a three year old it’s just a name (a bit like the other C word- never understood why people take more offence to some words than others). Shortly after a recent round of boob related questions I overheard my son playing- he doesn’t have any weapon toys but as we all know this doesn’t stop them turning any old innocent object into a violent weapon. What I heard was. ‘Pussshhtt pusht! Go away cancer!’ as he blasted away the imaginary baddy. This was one of those moments when my heart broke a bit. How unfair that my little boy was fighting cancer rather than some cartoon villain. At the same time- the passion with which he was blasting away cancer on my behalf certainly gave me a boost of strength to fight myself- there’s no better reason to want to fight on than for your kids!

Chaucer I am not but these are my tales. Now I’m off to learn a bit more, probably about what not to do!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Number Twenty Four: The Quiet

I’ve just received an email from Chez of http://chez-diaryofadramaqueen.blogspot.com/ it would seem that even the people who only know the ‘online’ me have worked out that the ‘quiet me’ = the ‘not so good me’! It’s been a tough week and a bit to say the least. When I started this blog I was feeling all positive and strong and I thought I could help others with my happy-go-lucky approach to cancer. With this in mind I really didn’t want to do a doom and gloom, whine away post. Then again I thought that an honest account would be far more useful than a fake ‘un! So here goes…

It’s not always easy to be blasé… ‘Yeah, fine thanks, blah, blah, blah…’ This week I’ve been a little angrier than that! And mostly because of the mess the botched PICC line, butchered arm business has caused. Remember the butchered arm? Well the butchery has left me with a thrombosis which has in turn delayed my chemo for a week (throwing out my carefully planned social calendar!) the clot needs treating, meaning I have to do horrible stingy injections everyday for a few months. I am mostly cross with myself for letting the crap doctor butcher my arm in the first place- I knew it was going wrong but just laid there sobbing instead of sitting up and asking for someone else. I got the impression that the nurses also knew it was a disaster and so I’m cross with them too. What makes me even more cross is that when I said it was really painful (over a week later) and it was decided it should be scanned- the SAME CRAP DOCTOR did the scan! He then proceeded to (wrongly) inform me that even though it was occluded it would be fine because I had lots of other veins and I could go ahead with chemotherapy the next day! (You can see where he earned the title CRAP DOCTOR!) I now need a line in sooner rather than later as there’s no possibility of using my butchered arm. So, on Tuesday I will be fitted with a Hickman line- after being sedated and by a different doctor! Second time lucky instead of third time? Just this once? Please…

Just to frame this whole arm butchery thing with the rest of my ‘not so good’ day… my morning had not started well… my baby (almost feel silly still calling him a baby but not quite ready to stop yet) had woken up in a cot full of sick and continued to throw up his breakfast and lunch- hate seeing him poorly. My evening ended badly when I opened my most favourite cheese ever pickle power to find a sticky, congealed lump of something yuck- not the evening treat I was looking for! So I’m thinking a rant is called for and I can be forgiven! (I’ve forgiven myself already to be honest!)

So, I always thought that if you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all- hence the quiet! But now I’m hoping that a little rant will be good for my soul! So Chez... I'm back! Thanks for thinking of me but hopefully normal service has been resumed. Fingers crossed!