Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Number Forty Two: The Mes (old and new)

Old Me Vs New Me
So, one thing that happens when you get the life changing cancer news is exactly that… your life changes. There’s a new perspective that focuses you on the fact that life can be short. Yesterday I uttered ‘I’ll live…’ before carefully adding ‘I hope…’ This thought would never have entered my head before. It really doesn’t matter how positively you face this or how determined you are to beat it, there is still a huge dark question mark hanging over your head that wasn’t there in your carefree pre-cancer days. (Beware- this question mark can cause unexpected and unwanted wobbles at any time!) All this results in a split personality- the new me verses the old me. There are some good things about having a new me, equally some negative aspects but I will definitely say that keeping two personalities (well two separate trains of thought anyway!) going can be exhausting! Sometimes I wish the new me would get a grip and shake the old me, other times I wish I could find and secure the old me in place! Confused? You will be!

The return to real life: The old me was pretty confident, sometimes open to self criticism but sturdy most of the time. The new me feels a bit vulnerable- timeout means I have missed things, everything’s moved on and this is a bit unsettling. New faces are welcoming yes, but so much change makes me nervous- new routines, equipment, procedures. How will I ever catch up? (I know this feeling- it’s happened once before… during my first maternity leave APP was introduced- ugh! I’ll always feel like I’m catching up where that’s concerned!) I have to make it clear here that I have the most supportive work place in the world but unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that I was, at one time one of the most experienced members of staff and now I’m a bit floundering and wondering where resources are kept!
I’m thinking that the old, more confident, energetic me will, in time surface and guide me!
Old me 1 : New me 0

The image: This is an odd one- it does depend on my mood. I don’t want to sound too full of myself but the old me was pretty enough- ok face, nice hair, on the thinner side of fat. I really had no complaints! (Maybe a nose job but only on an insecure day!) The new me does not have this luxury! In my opinion the whispy regrowth looks even worse than the clean bald head and the moon pig face with the lopsided body to match is pretty gross. That all being said the really funny thing is that as long as I avoid mirrors I am totally oblivious to what I look like- The confidence about our image must somehow be hardwired from how we grew up. I am sure that if I’d always looked this way I would have serious issues about my image. I may just exist in a small dark room and never see the light of day! Knowing it’s all temporary must obviously help too. You could have knocked me down with a pair of GHDs, a year ago if someone told me I’d be wandering around looking like this… not caring about my appearance.
All this is well and good but I am really looking forward to the old me reflecting back at the me one of these days!
Old me 2 : New me 0

The important things in life: This is a no brainner- The old me spent hours worrying about what people thought of me, the new me spends hours planning good times! The old me stressed out and had melt downs- the new me still does but then remembers that life is short and moves on whilst the old me would still be obsessing!
Old me 2 : New me 1

To be honest it’s very draining keeping up with the new me because the old me is obviously the natural/true me. The new me’s attitude has to battle and squish down the old me in order to take its place!
I guess the bad parts of the new me will subside- I will find myself at work again…my hair will grow…I’ll have reconstructive surgery…I’ll slim down.
I guess the good part of the new me- the part that sees what’s important in life will remain. It’ll go AWOL at times but now I’ve found it I’ll not let it too far out of my sight. And if I can reach that all important ten year mark then I actually think that brooding question mark might fade slightly too- here’s hoping!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Number Forty One: The Nostalgia

It may well be down to nothing more than my age but I’m getting more and more consumed by the past at the moment. I have spent the summer either visiting places we went as a family during my childhood or daydreaming about days gone by!

An evening playing Singstar with my sisters brought back many memories as we decided on which songs to download- I may well have lost every song but I was the last lady standing at the end of the night- unheard of!
Songs have that knack of taking you back instantly and Radio2’s golden oldies are starting to chime with me- see it must be my age! I’ve got two vivid memories of pop music from when I was really little- the first is me dancing in the neighbour’s house to Uptown Girl and the second is me and Jeneen having a full blown row in the back of the car about who liked ‘Red Gold and Green’ the most!

Last weekend’s bike ride for Cancer Research (you know the one where I won a bike!) also brought memories flooding back- as a child most summer evenings were spent on family bike rides and the route of this charity bike ride went right behind my childhood home- cue me yelling Erin and Claire stories (the place where we met on the way to school, the place where we walked on the iced over canal-idiot girls!, the place where we had 'biker birthday') to Rob who was furiously peddling and dragging along the trailer with both boys in! I think my stories made it all the more enjoyable for him!

Even the more recent past has been on my mind- we drove past my old school the other day and I told Ben that that was where mummy and daddy met and fell in love.
‘Why did you love him Mummy?’
‘Because he was so funny and gorgeous.’
‘But mummy… now Daddy is a Doofus and you get angry with him!’
Ha! Out of the mouths of babes! And could anyone advise when this endless questions- why? Why? WHY? Stage ends? I’m sure as a teacher I should be embracing his inquisitive nature but my goodness it can be tiring!

Today in the chemo unit- I was only there to have my line flushed (line removal day has been named as this Tuesday! Woo-hoo!) I met a couple who turned out to be the parents of a boy I was in sixth form with- so I had a little impromptu wander down memory lane with them too!

This nostalgia business may have a lot to do with the fact I have a family of my own now- Ben is getting to the age where my first memories begin and I keep finding myself telling him things that I did when I was little. It also makes me think lots about my mum- I’m re-seeing my childhood from a mum’s perspective rather than just from my own- I guess that wouldn’t have been possible until now.

Well radiotherapy seems be going smoothly enough (save the parking ticket!) I’ve had a parking space everyday no problems- 8 sessions down- 7 to go. It’s starting to hurt and, this afternoon I just slept but still feel exhausted so it’s taking its toll. I am actually beginning to laugh at myself- I always think I’ll be fine- no matter what symptoms others tell me about- Pah! Not me I think! I’m made of stronger stuff! (Not sure what exactly- cancer riddled rubbish stuff so far!) so I’m not so surprised that the traditional Radiotherapy symptoms have gripped me after all. Note to self- stop setting yourself up for a fall by thinking you’re the best one!
Being back at work has made me feel really happy- it’s great being back in the real world! Being part time means I have restful afternoon where one son naps and the other watches Cbeebies for a while- this mean I can rest or even knock up a quick maths plan- genius!

So very soon the line will be out and healed, meaning I can go to Whittlebury Spa for a little overnight stay in half term, the radiotherapy will be done meaning I can get properly to grips with my new routine and new role at school. Although I do think I’m going to miss the extended time I’ve had with Chris Evans in the mornings on my drive up and down the motorway- this could be nostalgia too- only now he’s on Radio2 instead of on Radio1 like when I was at school! Again this makes me feel old- my sisters hate me listening to Radio2- their time will come! Shame my day off is a Friday really- now I have to sing ‘Candyman’ on my own instead of with Mrs Bassett- it’s really not the same!

Maybe when your future becomes that little bit uncertain you pause to have a little look back- not sure but, erm…I’m really hoping that all this nostalgia is just me appreciating my life and not in actual fact my life flashing very slowly before my eyes- now that would be disappointing!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Number Forty: The Twittering

It’s impossible to explain to a non-tweeter the wonder of Twitter! I tried it last night at a party...
‘Isn’t it just like Facebook?’ They ask.
‘Nooooooooo, it’s really not.’ I reply.

Facebook is used for showcasing, gloating and letting people know what they’ve missed out on. It’s also used for sharing thinly veiled digs at people. Many a row has been caused by Facebook.
I really don’t think the same can be said of Twitter… I have found Twitter to be a source of comfort and reassurance and also a fountain of knowledge! Sometimes it can just be really good company! It’s a support network- mine is full of teachers who are happy to share their ideas and good practice. My twitter world is also full of tweeters currently undergoing various cancer treatments- this can be really useful when they are having similar treatment to me but are a week or so ahead- they let me know what to expect which helps prepare me for the next stage. A surprising amount of the people I ‘follow’ are both teachers AND cancer survivors! Worrying?!
Hopefully I am equally as supportive to the people who are bored enough to want to follow me- I do try!

I’d like to introduce you to a special few…

Chez @ScouseChez I first ‘met’ Chez on the breast cancer care forum- we were diagnosed within days of each other and had the same reactions- to share our stories with anyone who’ll listen. Chez checks in whenever I go quiet- she picked up pretty quickly that quiet is not a good sign! Thanks for being there Chez!

Caitriona @ol_cait I stumbled upon Cait’s blog through one of someone else’s tweets I think. She’s living in Ireland, is younger than me, has two young children and another on the way- sounds perfect until you factor in the stage 4 breast cancer. I could echo all the bravery and inspiration comments but I think she’s probably just dealing with what life throws at her as she has little choice and awful lot to live for! Hence the title of her blog… http://butiwannaliveforever.blogspot.com/ Cait recently tweeted that her wig was getting a little past it, so knowing that I was never going to wear mine I sent it over to Ireland where it is now hopefully far more useful- sitting on Cait’s head rather than on my wig stand! How fab Twitter is then that it put me (wig waster) in touch with Cait (wig needer) Gotta love The Twitter!

Ali @theotheralig I can’t remember how I found Ali but I’m so glad I did- we started chemo at the same time but she won the race to final chemo day due to my week delay (stupid botched line!) She calls herself my chemo sister and has been there every step of the way… we both start back at work in the morning after long breaks from our schools- good luck with your new class Ali.

Harriet @misshbond I think I discovered Harriet through Ali but I’m not too sure. Harriet was an NQT last year and is about to give birth to twin baby girls- I’ve loved following her twin tales. I realised how important twitter had become recently when I found myself worrying a ridiculous amount about Harriet’s lack of tweets- was she OK? Back in hospital? Were the babies OK? Turned out I’d missed the tweet that said… ‘I’m going on holiday- won’t be tweeting, see you in a few days!’ Nothing to worry about at all then! It’s really odd that I’m looking forward to hearing about the safe arrival of these’s babies when I’ve never even met their mum! I internet is truly weird!

I honestly wonder how I’d have filled my sick leave without the internet and more specifically twitter. Twitter has advised, supported and accompanied me through a rubbish time- thanks for joining me! Next I’m on a mission to get the staff at my school twittering!

Oh and by the way…hands up who thought I’d make it to Number Forty! Anyone?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Number Thirty Nine: The Holiday Highlights.

I posted before the summer about what I hoped to achieve over the six week break… The Summer
Now it’s nearly over I’m looking back to see if I can tick everything off my list!

Brightest highlight- seeing The Wilsons- having been gone for a year it took less than five minutes to feel like they’d never been away but it seemed like a whirlwind visit and of course they’ve gone again now. I thought I wouldn’t cry but I did! And I blame Mr Wilson for this- catching me off guard with his uncharacteristic kind words… honestly I thought nothing could break that man’s shell of sarcasm but inside he’s a softie- right?
Biggest let down-Cars2- ugh! What an awful film! I just felt so cheated- We loved Cars SO much and was not prepared for this poor sequel.
Best day out- Bowood House and gardens- photos below say it all! I had been there on a school trip when I was nine- had amazing memories and now I have even more!

Most important improvement- My boys are more settled, happy boys and are changing every day!
Most time consuming change-The house- it’s been painted, organised and cleaned. But it would seem that once Rob starts painting it’s difficult to get him to stop. We even have clean sofas now! (They look so good that Sarah thought they were new ones this morning!)

So here are the select highlights of our summer- gotta love photos- it looks like our summer has been perfect (clearly we didn’t capture the rows, sickness, moods, rain and tantrums on camera- odd that!)

If you Don’t like looking at other people’s photos (Rob) then turn away now!

Day one of the summer was all about bike riding, week one was all about learning to ride a two wheeler- the rest is history!

First treat for us grown ups was going to see Harry Potter- I just loved it! I was so worried that the cinema would be full and we’d have to sit at the front that I told the waiter in LaTasca that we needed to order and eat really fast- we were out of there in 17 mins! Can anyone beat that for mealtime speed?

The beginning of the holidays saw the facial hair finally go and I have to say that I really wasn’t prepared to feel quite so sad about this. I’d dealt so well with the head hair loss that I didn’t give the lashes much thought- this was a mistake. Having no facial hair made me look ten million times more like an ill person! (Facial bloating hasn’t helped either.)

We made the super find that was ‘Start the Art’ at MK Gallery early on in the holidays. It was super messy fun for the under fives and my boys loved it! They organised fab indoor and outdoor activities- just sad today will be our last one until half term now!

The majority of the (non rainy bits of the) holidays were spent in various parks. The monkey boy Ben continues to love climbing- and Harry is following closely behind- the mountain goat boy!

When we weren’t at a park we could be found eating out (this could explain some of the weight gain!)

And just a few ice creams…


We had a couple of trips to see Nana and Grandpa chickens…always very relaxing and loads of fun for the boys- Rob’s parents have kept every single toy their four children have ever owned- brilliant for retro toys!

A bit of dressing up!

And a lot of playing in boxes…

…and what should have been a relaxing summer and actually been ridiculously busy and left us all feeling a bit like this…