C.R.A.P. and the Joy of True Recycling

No, I don’t like the acronym either – CRAP is not a pleasant word in any way, sounds harsh, sounds coarse and creates unpleasant mental images  – however, just at the moment, I’m looking at the word a lot!

Why? Because this is the title acronym for Conserving Resources Associating People, which in the title is followed by an Area and is a Facebook page. So here, in Cornwall, there are at least eight that show if I search Facebook for C.R.A.P. – but I do not know if it is a country-wide phenomenon like Freecycle (which I don’t like for its ‘pleading your case – why you deserve this free item’ and ‘having to choose who gets it’ aspect – or is this only me) or just Cornwall and spreading. They referred back to ‘the first one set up’ Falmouth and Penryn (now with 5,400 members I see!) – so it may only be down here at this time.

Basically it is to save stuff going to landfill. Stuff that is still usable but not necessarily saleable – or stuff that’s good and usable that you’d just rather pass on than bother selling.

As we are downsizing in a major way – and have LOTS to get rid of – and then on top of that, quite a bit of the stuff I have hoarded kept safe was kept because it had been too good to throw away (to create landfill)  but not good enough to sell or to donate to charity for them to sell – this site is a blessing.

The local C.R.A.P. group has been running just over a month and has over 900 members already! Some giving, some finding, some doing both, some just watching until something catches their eye! And ‘local’ is important too, as members need to be close enough to pick-up the stuff.

It also encourages Up-cycling and Community efforts using recycled goods to help where needed.

You would be AMAZED at the stuff that goes – because it is so true – one person’s unwanted junk is someone’s ‘just what I need’.wp_20180917_22_21_53_pro

Unbelievable? You want Examples? Here you are then: an assortment of mixed glasses – went to two different people – both for crafting (glass painting / glass etching) 1950’s loo & hand-basin – to a retro loving home, 1980s grey loo, to become a planter, and to someone else, the handbasin – just what was needed.

wp_20180920_11_34_42_proScrolling through the page recently I’ve seen shoes, bowls, plates, lamps, rugs, old tables, cupboards, boxes, artificial flowers, table ends, woolly hats and comfrey roots – all go!

I called this the JOY of True Recycling because it is far more joyful than the necessary recycling of the waste we bring into our homes (plastic, card, glass and paper) and especially as the sort of stuff we can gift on this site is precisely the stuff that still goes to landfill – and there is a JOY in giving things away that you no longer need and knowing someone else can use 🙂

Off to take some pictures of the next pile of ‘treasure’ to give away …

Are you into recycling in this way?

Any good schemes where you are?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

X  Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

Sharing:

Burlesque, Deportment and Wet-Day PE lesson

burlesque-georgina
Georgina Gale

We had the fabulous Georgina Gale from Art of Dance, Plymouth, come to talk to our WI last week about Burlesque.  Not a usual topic for WI you may be thinking – but maybe you have the wrong idea about burlesque – or the wrong idea about WI ?  🙂

Burlesque is more about the suggestion of sensuality than about sex : WI is about women having fun while learning stuff together.

As Georgina talked it was noticeable that she wanted women to ‘own their space’ to be ‘certain and proud of being a woman – and show it’ and that this was aided by a few minor alterations to how we walked, how we held ourselves, and how we used whatever props came to hand.

At one point I found myself flooded with a memory. A memory that was of a lesson I learned when about thirteen or fourteen and have generally tried to follow – when I remember.

It was a wet day, a really wet day and it was not only PE but our PE teacher was away and so the HE (Home Economics) teacher was covering the lesson. Worse, with only one Gym, the boys and the girls had to take turns on these wet days and it was the boys turn – so we were relegated to the hall. The hall was used for some sports anyway – it had a badminton court marked out on it.

Back in those days teachers were not expected to have lesson plans ready for another member of staff to pick up and use if they were away – so the HE teacher was left to her own devices.

She chose to teach us a little deportment.

Now this may have been usual in some schools (maybe in the nearby Princess Margaret-Rose school for instance) but in our mixed secondary modern it was not on the general curriculum.

She started with walking – as did our Burlesque teacher last week – getting us to walk around the hall following the painted badminton lines, placing one bare foot in front of the other, on the line, as we went. Placing was a good word for it, toe – heel, toe – heel. Those who straddled the line were put right – one foot in front of the other! We were walking with grace – not clumping along.

Then she upped the stakes.

She’d brought along a pile of soft-backed old HE books and now we were to balance one on our head and continue our perambulation. Head up, eyes forward, looking at the line now in the distance. How it straightened backs and shoulders! It sounds stuffy but we had fun – it isn’t easy, that balancing the book on the head stuff – especially when you turn – so there was laughter too!

And so it was in our Burlesque evening (without the books – but with shoes) plenty of laughter but then suddenly we were looking far more confident, all looking taller. You could see how someone walking like that would draw attention, someone looking so confident somehow makes you believe that they know who they are, what they are doing and where they are going – and that confidence is attractive.

It made me think – how often do we as women duck our heads, look at our feet, slouch, unsure what to do without arms? Giving the impression that we are not confident in the world. How much of this is learnt behaviour, learnt ‘feminine’ behaviour? That maybe we have lost some indefinable female power by ignoring, or deliberately turning our backs, on elegance and grace of movement. If you ever watch dancers, off  stage, they still have it – maybe we all need a few lessons.

How often do you see young women ‘clumping’ along (as my teacher put it) like a boy – but with the rest of the body language that says, ‘don’t listen to me, don’t look at me, I don’t know what I’m doing here’ ?

Maybe a little deportment should be taught – maybe under another name? Positional empowerment?

Whereas back in the school hall the teacher finished off by teaching us how sit and how to get in and out of a car elegantly without showing your knickers no matter how short your skirt – very useful in those early mini-skirt days! Georgina added how to stand, so that you are comfortable, your back well supported, (she’s also trained in Pilates), your hands poised in a relaxed position that allowed you to stand tall and look confident – comfortably. (Plus a few cheeky poses and the removal of … gloves 😉 )

What do you think?

Positional empowerment lessons for girls?

A load of old-fashioned nonsense?

Love to hear from you

best  –  Ann

Ok, you can admit it now – you went and got a paperback or magazine and tried walking with it on your head, didn’t you?   😉

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

 

Sharing:

Healing from Breast-cancer Lumpectomy update (my)

So here’s a catch-up on the healing process of my breast cancer lumpectomy. I know I promised a stage by stage report, but as you will know, a few spanners fell into the works – and then my blog/internet disappeared for a while. Well, back on track – here are some pictures to join the dots.

May – this was the last one I showed you …wp_20180428_07_30_40_proJune – by mid June the bruising had expanded and went all round the breast – making it swollen and tender.. wp_20180527_08_44_07_crop-proJuly – by mid July the swelling had gone down – but there was still the feeling of a hard knot under the scar – and the scar seemed rather pulled in. wp_20180629_08_21_48_proAugust – by mid August this had ‘filled’ in again and the ‘knot’ seems to have loosened – leaving the nipple slightly looking aside, but the breast feeling smoother.  wp_20180829_08_46_13_august-2018-pro

Now the ‘Other interesting Developments’ I mentioned at the end of my last post.

Well, when I returned to see the surgeon after surgery he said I would receive radiotherapy after my surgery had started to heal, followed by oestrogen blockers – but after I left him I was approached by a research team nurse.

She explained that this hospital were doing a phase three research study into whether radiotherapy did more harm than good in cases where the removed lump was, a, under 2 cms, b, early stage, c, oestrogen receptive, d, non-aggressive. In which case the treatment would be via oestrogen blockers only

I was asked if I would give permission for the lump to be examined for suitability, while I could read up about the research programme and the statistics. Armed with plenty to read I gave my permission for the lump to be tested.

When I returned to the hospital for my first appointment in the radiotherapy department the results were not in, so the research nurse appeared again and apologised (explaining that I ought to have been ‘caught into the research programme’ just after my biopsy – so the lump would have gone straight off) so now they would process me as if I was having radiotherapy … but not go ahead unless I decided not to enter the programme and it was required.

I was concerned about what would happen is I reacted badly to the oestrogen blocker. The common side-effects are to put you back into menopause symptoms. Having gone through them ALL, for five years ‘cold turkey’ (no HRT)  I wasn’t too enamoured with the idea – add to that, I had a friend who had, post breast surgery, reacted badly to oestrogen blockers of various kinds, living in a ‘brain fog’. I was told, that there were a variety to choose from, and that if one did not suit a different one could be prescribed. AND I was told I could begin right away, so that by the time I had to make the actual decision – I might have an idea if they suited me. That seemed like a good idea to me.

At the next appointment in radiotherapy with the consultant radiographer we were joined by the research team. Now I had to make my decision. Did I want to be on the programme?

Now I’d had plenty of time to consider. I had looked at various information; I had learnt that a phase three was considered ‘pre-clinical’ as in the last programme before it became recommended (that it was looking at much larger numbers to iron-out anomalies, but that it was showing great promise)

I already knew that they would be following me up with a mammogram a year for ten years – so that if anything occurred or reoccurred it should be spotted early. That 25% of women who have radiotherapy suffer long term, sometimes life-long, side effects, including marked breast shrinkage, constant pain or tenderness, burning sensations. One in 4 is a high number!

I had initially had a few weird feelings when taking the oestrogen blocker – but after a week these had disappeared. I was getting hot feet at night – but then the weather was quite warm anyway, but none of the other menopause symptoms like full-on flushes or brain-fog that I had feared. I decided to say YES.

However, now I had to give permission for them to look at the results to see if I was eligible. . . .

Ten minutes later they came back to say I WAS – the results from the lump met all the criteria and, when the formula was applied, I was given a 3.2 % chance or re-occurrence, meaning I could go on the research programme.

Since then I have had a bone density scan (as oestrogen blockers also make it more likely to suffer from osteoporosis – though remember I’d be on these anyway)  which came back as ‘normal’ and I now have a GP cancer-care follow up appointment lined up.

The hard scar tissue in the breast has softened, and though the nipple looks a little sideways now, the breast feels good and the cleavage is still smooth (well, as smooth as any at 64 years!)

So, here we are on my breast cancer journey – basically just getting on with it, taking the oestrogen-blocker pill everyday, trying to get back to my pre-2016 healthy lifestyle, exercising, eating well (basically low carb, including fermented foods, a few supplements (like vitamin D [October to May], omega3 oil, gulcosamine, and, of course, the borax maintenance dose and magnesium glycinate for the LS)

AND

Time to get back to writing, to being an author – and editing and running my business. Time to start living life again and trying out lots of new things.

Let me add – this is just my experience. I couldn’t find any early stage breast cancer stories on blogs – so decided that I would do it – for others who want to see what this stage is like ( as opposed to the drastic cases usually written about) Being positive, being informed, and getting on with it, is my way through.

Hope you found something useful – and if you want to share your experiences please do use the comments.

Best – Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

Sharing:

Into the Internet Black Hole

What? Oh Hello!  Where have I been?
LOST – Lost in a black hole called black-hole– ‘our service provider didn’t organise things properly’… As in, we have moved … all the way to … next door. ‘Oh, yes, it is all organised,’ they said, ‘we will cut your phone off at the old address and have you connected (new line required) and all you will have to do is take the equipment – plug it in – and there you are – only one day disconnected’

They said.

Oh, you’d like to know who? TalkTalk.

Now, I had only recently gone over to them, mainly because BT were being really intransigent. It seemed that I had to take out a new contract with them as we would be moving to a new address, so we would be seen as a new customer … however, as we were already with them at our present address we were not eligible for any of the reduced rate offers open to new customers … because we were a current customer.

UM? So on one hand we are a new customer but on the other we are not? Talk about having your cake and eating it … that is BT – not us!

So we looked around – and took recommendations – and checked prices – and rang and asked questions. And switched to TalkTalk. All went well and smoothly initially, their router arrived, we plugged it in – it worked fine, phone continued as usual … until the move about a month later.

First someone at TalkTalk didn’t actually book OpenReach to come and do the line connection when the move was ordered. Fortunately, as we hadn’t heard anything we chased TalkTalk up. Apparently the notes were there – but the booking hadn’t been made. The operator then said he’d booked it for the day of our move – 1st May. However, we later got an email from Open Reach confirming an appointment to connect us up on the 9th, however we had organised to move out of the old house on the 1st, so the move went ahead. (meaning – 1 week without phone or internet – instead of one day)

On the 9th of May, in the  last half hour of the afternoon slot, an engineer turned up. He connected up everything in the house, went to connect up outside and then told us – he couldn’t. It seems that Open Reach (a different part if it)  hadn’t done some of the preparation work. He said he would report it and that we should see someone within a couple of days, but that we needed to tell our service provider to get them to pass on the problem, and to tell them ‘it needed two men and a cherry-picker to take the new cable through the trees’.

We contacted TalkTalk to tell them, they said ‘we will order an engineer to come to connect you’ whereupon we told them what the engineer had said, they said ‘we will order an engineer’. We were given a booking time, Friday that week – no one turned up at all.

(two weeks without proper internet – or phone.)

So back to TalkTalk – trying to make sure they really understood that it was preparation work that was needed.

Eventually, another (single) engineer arrived, saw the problem – but he DID arrange for the work to be done the following day. Then we should have been connected!  Or not!

 (three weeks without internet or phone connection)

It seemed there was some kind of problem in the actual line further up towards the village. He put in a request for it to be looked into … and nearly a week later … we were actually connected. (four weeks without internet or phone)

Nearly a month after the move! On top of that they have not retained our old phone number! The one we’ve had for over 40 years.  This because … when I eventually got high enough up the ladder to speak to someone who could ask WHY BT wouldn’t let us keep our number – it turns out that the County Council hadn’t notified Royal Mail that the address we had verified two years ago was verified – and so didn’t appear as a ‘proper’ address to allocate a phone number to – unfortunately getting to this point meant that by the time this was sorted out and Royal Mail had added us to the verified address list – we were now so long disconnected that TalkTalk could not now apply for our old number back! You just couldn’t make this up!

The number they have given us is just weird – no location has a number starting with 2 in the whole of the Liskeard area code!  So, rant over – I now face making sure all our contacts have this new number.

wp_20180622_13_27_06_proLastly, just as we get online again, my dear mother, who has been in poor health for a long time with sever vascular dementia, lost her ability to swallow.
Imagine – no one knowing our new number yet trying to call us!
Since then I have been in a different black hole – this one created by the whirlwind of seeing someone very close pass away and organising all that must follow.

 

So, dear, patient readers – thank you for being there and for reading even though this blog has been beset with long pauses and gaps this past year or so.

PS

I will update on my healing process and other interesting developments soon …

Best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

***

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

Sharing:

A touch of Spring and The Follow-Up

I wanted to bring you a montage of Spring (flowers, pond videos etc) to entertain you all before I went back to my stage 1 breast cancer journey tale. If you’ve just arrived the first instalment is HERE and the second HERE. 

So here is Spring – Cornish style (well in my garden anyway)

You can engage in some peaceful Newt Watching  [click here if reading on email  ] and just listen to the birds in the background! Or a wriggle of Tadpoles [click here if reading on email]
and just look at the flowers – all late – but here they come – and a nice bumble-bee too –  new life – JOY !

wp_20180425_18_04_22_pro wp_20180425_18_00_40_pro wp_20180425_18_00_10_pro wp_20180425_18_03_24_pro

And so now, in a relaxed and positive frame of mind, on to the second part of today’s blog, my stage 1 breast cancer journey continues …

The Follow-Up

Maybe I had over-done it at Belly Dance the Thursday before – but my breast was a bit tender and the bruising was still changing from blue through those wonderful yellow shades, so didn’t look a pretty sight (see below) Not that it would bother the surgeon, I’m sure. He was mostly interested in the healing of the incisions … which was good 🙂

He then went through the results: No cancers cells detected in the margin of ‘healthy’ cells they took out with the tumour. (GOOD NEWS) No cancer in any of the 4 lymph nodes that they took from under my arm. (Extra GOOD News!)

Of the tumour – a total of 22mm – the central 9mm was Grade 2 stage Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – the outer layer ‘intermediate* grade’ Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) (*as in between 1 and 2) Not such good news – as the grade 2 is invasive –  and had already broken out of the milk duct it began in.

To mop-up any stray individual cancer cells – or other cells in the breast that were planning on turning cancerous – 3 weeks radiotherapy was recommended. This is not without risks, varying from minor to major, from as common as one in four to very rare, and can be very uncomfortable and tiring at the time and for a while afterwards.

Then he told me that the cancer was Oestrogen Positive. {often written ER+ because the Americans spell it Estrogen} This means that the cancer uses oestrogen to stimulate it’s growth. Now, being past menopause – you would think there wasn’t too much oestrogen kicking around anyway – however, there’s enough to be a problem! So the recommendation is a five year course of oestrogen blockers ‘hormone therapy’ – that stop the uptake of oestrogen by the cancer cells.

Which – hang on ladies – can throw you back into all those menopause symptoms you thought you had at last got over! Yep! Hot flushes, night-sweats, brain fog – whatever was in your bag. And after doing five years to get through it ‘cold-turkey’ (i.e. no HRT – one thing that is shown to increase chances of breast cancer) is a teensy bit annoying.

However – there are more than one ‘family’ groups of oestrogen blockers – and if you don’t get on with one – say after 6 months (because it takes at  least that long to settle into it) you may be changed to another to find one that does suit you. They say it is rare that someone doesn’t get on with any but with my reactions to so many medicines (and anaesthetics!) I’m a little trepidatious but I intend to take it up…

WHY? well, because taking the oestrogen blocker stops the cancer cells getting hold of their growth boosting ingredient – and this is shown to give a better chance of surviving after having breast cancer treatment.

The doctors will use a tool called Predict – to tell you what your long-term chances are if you ask (that is – five years and ten years after surgery and whichever treatments you have).  Once you have all your details you can find it for yourself here :  PREDICT

The difference that oestrogen blockers make in an oestrogen-positive cancer patient with my details (age, how detected, size of tumour, HER2-,  grade, treatment plan) is 2.9% after ten years (from 79.2% still alive after 10 years, to 82.1%)

So … watch this space – as they say … quite a while to go yet though – radiotherapy first … and I’m not really looking forward to that either having watched Dad go through it all not so long ago!

Oh, I promised you a picture of how it is healing up? … hang on … there – healing well – complete with ‘interesting colours’  🙂wp_20180428_07_30_40_pro

Let me add – this is just my experience. I couldn’t find any early stage breast cancer stories on blogs – so decided that I would do it – for others who want to see what this stage is like ( as opposed to the drastic cases usually written about) Being positive, being informed, and getting on with it, is my way through. Hope you found something useful – and if you want to share your experiences please do use the comments. If you want to praise the bounties of Spring – you can do that too!  🙂

Best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Sharing:

Plan of Action and Operation

primroses-with-redIn the last instalment of my stage 1 breast cancer journey – I had just received The Letter – and had an appointment to go and talk with the surgeon about my treatment.

So it was back to the Primrose Breast Care Centre and there I was met by a Primrose nurse and, having dis-robed my top half, was decked in a pink mini-cape. The surgeon then joined us to examine the problem.

To start with, I think the amount of bruising was exceptional, the Primrose nurse said ‘Oh my’ and she must see it all. I was asked twice if I was on any blood thinners – like aspirin. I am not.** see below **

I have to say that there were now two hard lumps, one about the size of half a marble, the other slightly smaller, that had come up with the bruising. I had put this down to the two sites of sampling, but when the surgeon said that the cancer sites (lumps) were quite palpable I had to say that they were not until the biopsy!

From the scan they had looked quite deep, but I was told they were here, where these two  ‘now palpable’ lumps were, therefore not far beneath the skin.

What can I say… if these, not-deep cancers, were not able to be felt – what chance to feel any deep-set ones! Yet the mammogram found them! So, as I said last week, if you get the call to the mammogram – GO!

Once dressed we met again to discuss the treatment, which had already been discussed with the medical team and a recommendation made. This was to remove the two lumps (a lumpectomy) along with a margin of cancer-free breast and also to remove one or more sentinel lymph nodes from just into my armpit.

Both the lumps and the nodes would be examined to check that there were no cancer cells, a, on the clear margin around the lumps and b, in the lymph nodes. If this is the case then, after time for healing, we can go forward to the next stage of treatment –  three weeks of radiotherapy.

** I thought I would look up the non-prescribed supplements that I take – in case any of these are blood-thinners… Cod liver oil, Vitamin D (used from October to May – while the sun isn’t strong enough to make vitamin D in the skin) Glucosamine and Chondroitin, Magnesium glycinate (half daily recommended dose) 3mg Boron, Vitamin B complex. The internet offered so much that was confusing and contradictory that I had another idea! No. 3 son is the one with the PhD in microbiology and works in a business that works with pharmaceutical companies – so I asked him. He came back with ‘there a whole lot of stuff that’s contradictory out there’, but, Chondroitin and Magnesium have scientific evidence of acting as blood thinners. Nothing wrong with this usually, but not good if you would like to avoid bruising. So I cut out both for a week before the operation **

The Operation Day

Another early morning – I really don’t do early very well but I was up early enough to shower and eat my usual breakfast one-egg omelette (breakfast was allowed as long as it was eaten before 7 – as my operation wasn’t until later in the afternoon).

The Husband dropped me off at the hospital at about 7.45am (about the time I start to wake up usually) and I made my way to my first stop – the Primrose Centre. I was armed for my waits with my kindle and a downloaded copy of Terry Pratchett’s ‘The Fifth Elephant’ – something easy to read, funny and distracting. I didn’t have much time to get stuck in as, within a couple of minutes of my appointment time, a nurse took me through to go through paperwork with me – mainly about the exercises to do after the operation and when and how to remove, or have the dressings removed, when the time came. A few minutes more and it was an ultrasound scan – from the same radiologist – who then drew on my breast to indicate the precise areas of the lumps as guided by the scan.

From there I had to head down to Nuclear Medicine – where a blue radioactive dye was injected into my breast so that it would flow through to the sentinel lymph nodes – whereby they could be made visible to the surgeon.

As it happens, I then had a two hour wait until I was due at my next appointment venue – the ward where I would go through all the preparations, checks and paperwork prior to the operation itself. It was a beautiful sunny day, if with a cool wind, so I set off to walk down behind the hospital to where I had seen a pond marked on trips with my Dad to the lowest areas of the hospital where the radiotherapy department is tucked away. The pond had both tadpoles and fish, which were diverting to watch for a few minutes, and a seat in a sunny spot that was ideal for reading, and chuckling, over Pratchett’s story.

wp_20180426_12_40_23_pro
my ‘bit of brightness’ dressing-gown

Later, after waiting between being ‘seen’ (that saw me reading and chuckling to myself – over the book I was reading – other waiting patients probably thought me mad) and after blood-pressure taking nurse, chat with surgeon, who further annotated my chest with arrows pointing to armpit and breast, and finally the anaesthetist, it was – get changed! Oh yes, and pop on these pressure stockings! SO tight to get on – even when I read the tiny instructions and did it the right way – yes, I have well-developed calves!  Then the usual, oh so elegant, hospital gown and then, my flash red ‘silk’ with-Peacocks-and-Chinese-blossoms-all-over-it dressing-gown, to cover it all. Well you have to look bright sometimes … and off we went for a little walk to the prep-room, to be administered the anaesthetic  >>> . . . . .  .   .    .     .       .

.    .     .    .   .  .  .  . . . . . … and woozily I was called back to the world. And the fun began. I had said to the anaesthetist that I didn’t do well with general anaesthetics – well the last time I had them – over 24 years ago. I was, confidently, told that anaesthetics had moved on since then.

Hmm, not for me it hadn’t. So they gave me an antiemetic (anti-sickness drug) to dissolve under my tongue – then tried with the sips of water again …. OOops  no go!! I guess, finding me coherent, if still sick, they decided I was fine to go into the next stage of recovery, where, nibbled ginger biscuits and sips of water were tried … OOoops! no go! So it was that they gave me an intravenous antiemetic … then a cup of tea! Down in sips – and …. OOOOps out again!

Seems my body still doesn’t like anaesthetics! By now the woman who came in well after me was happily feasting on tea and sandwiches! So – this aspect is just how it affects me! They decided they’d call the Husband anyway as it was getting late  … which they did … and sent me off with him, a couple of packets of pain-killers and a sick bowl!

Next morning I was fine – managed to eat quite happily! I also polished off the rest of the Pratchett as I didn’t feel up to doing much else! I took a couple of pictures – so that anyone interested in what the operation looked like at this stage can compare, should they need to.breast-after-op-crop Not much additional bruising to be seen, just in two places. The dark bruising towards the nipple is still what remains from the biopsy – and nothing to do with the operation. (note: my phone doesn’t have a ‘selfie’ camera, just an away facing one, so it makes taking these pics tricky!)

This is also the morning to begin the exercises – and though the dressings pulled the skin they were attached to – these were fine, not actually hurting. Certainly worth doing to make sure flexibility and strength are maintained!

The First Six Days

All week it has been sore! I’ve been taking one paracetamol and one ibuprofen every four or five hours – and that includes half-way through the night when the ache/pain woke me. A few days I found I just had to go and lie down, and easily slipped into a doze. An hour later I woke feeling much refreshed. Maybe this is the effect of the painkillers (medicines I rarely take and then usually only one at a time or they knock me out) or the healing process I do not know – but it’s good to listen to your own body and follow it’s instructions!

Wearing a bra overnight is weird – but recommended and I would say it does help support, and therefore not pull, on the operation sites. A bra-extender was recommended to counteract the tightness of your usual bra brought on by the swelling from the operation. As I’d not thought about it until a bit late, I constructed my own from an old bra, cutting the two fastenings off and sewing them back together – it has worked really well, making the bra far more comfortable! For anyone who thinks about it earlier they are easily available on eBay or Amazon.

DAY 7

I was told to remove the waterproof dressings on day seven . Options were given a, do it yourself, b go into a practice nurse to have it done, or c, if you were worried or had extensive surgery (like a mastectomy) to go back into the Primrose to have it removed. I opted for a.

Then, in the shower, the steri-strips all peeled off. Leaving the naked lines of the cuts visible. Not too bad looking, though the one under the arm feels lumpy, and the waterproof dressings had started to irritate my skin and cause a rash. breast-dressings-off-cropBoth cuts are about 5 cms long. The bruising from the operation has also faded a bit now – though there’s still some from the biopsy. Whether this was because I’d cut out the magnesium and Chondratin or because there is less force in an operation, I do not know.

So this is where I am, recovering …

… and I hope that this has been of some use to anyone facing the same level of diagnosis. As I said – I’m blogging this experience to help anyone else going through it, now or in the future, to have some kind of comparison – as most blogs seem to be about the worst cases – rather than the early ones.

Thank you if you emailed me with kind words, they are appreciated.

Thoughts, Comments, Questions – All are welcome, you know I love to hear from you.

Best – Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Sharing:

And Now This …

And now this … those of you living near me probably know already … as I have roles in so many local groups that I found I had to tell a lot of people (so that I didn’t let anyone down at the last minute).

wp_20160424_15_37_05_pro
primroses

Oh! Why?  

Glad you asked, well, my three-yearly mammogram came round about six weeks after Dad’s funeral. I went along – as I always do – quite happily, being sure that I felt no lumps or anything unusual – and I do check.    . . . First a bit of history …

Back in 2003 a mammogram had found something suspicious … that call-back, followed by a biopsy a couple of weeks later, resulted in a diagnosis of Micro-calcification. (poem from the time below)

Evidence of micro calcification

I find myself aware of life, all life
taking care not to harm
even the ant. Just as when expecting,
an un-thought, instinctive  
seeking wholeness and health.

I ask, ‘worse case scenario’
tuck away pieces of terminology
seek little more, seem un-worried
but later, research thoroughly
– the odds work both ways.

Biopsy; as always, do as I’m told
be as still as I know how
the conscientious student
the un-worried patient
put it all at the back of my mind.

From the bath I rescue
both silverfish and spider, for once
pray for myself instead of just others.
Then the letter, and my relief reveals
to me the degree of my anxiety.

Ann Foweraker

Nothing to worry about after-all !

Then a few years ago I had a sort-of sore feeling in my left breast when I lay on that side, nothing to feel lump-wise, just sore – a bit like an old bruise that still hurts when pressed. The ‘soreness’ didn’t go away, so after a few weeks I saw the GP, who referred me for a mammogram just to be sure – it showed nothing to worry about at all ! (and the soreness went away too after a little while)

Then this latest mammogramand the call-back. Immediately I checked again – I still couldn’t feel anything untoward! So set off in a hopeful mood – that this would also be a false alarm

In Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital we have the Primrose Breast Care Centre – here everything for breast care is drawn together so you don’t have to wander around the hospital, going from department to department. It is a charitable foundation working with the NHS to provide the best breast care experience and, completely coincidentally, something that one of the groups I’m involved with had recently voted as this year’s charity to support.

First it was in to take another set of mammograms – to check the area they were concerned with – though they took scans of both breasts – perhaps for comparison.

These must have been sent almost straight into the Radiographer, for that was my next port of call, within a few minutes. The doctor then did a ultrasound and told me, in a kind way, that there were two patches, right beside each other, that, in his opinion, looked very like cancer, and that he was usually right 19 out of 20 times. So he would need to do a biopsy.

There’s me thinking I would have to wait of a couple of weeks for this, as before – but no, within a minute or two he and the nurse were ready to perform the biopsy, the skin numbed and the needle guided by the ultra-sound scan. It wasn’t too painful – an odd tugging feeling in the breast as the needle ‘clunked’, twice, and it was done – the nurse pressing down to stop the bleeding and then putting paper-stitches and a waterproof dressing over the wound. After a meeting with another Primrose nurse to fill out forms, I was ready to go home.

Apparently the pressing is supposed to stop bruising – all I can say – is it didn’t work very well for me! I know I bruise easily – I’m always finding bruises on my hips and shoulders where I’ve caught something, so lightly I can’t remember doing it – but the bruise is there anyway.

breast-cropThis photo is after three days. You can see the site of the biopsy, where the tape was – it left un-bruised lines, and even the water-proof dressing curbed the depth of bruise – but the rest of the bruising spread far and wide! (Don’t be alarmed – it looks a lot worse than it felt – actually the main soreness was around the site of the needle insertion – the red dot)

 Then – about a week later – The Letter. ..

I’d definitely been diagnosed with breast cancer … and a trip into the Primrose Unit again beckoned, this time to discuss treatment with the surgeon.

My reaction? Well, to be honest – pretty miffed! I was just ready to get going again on so many fronts. Yet, somehow, not altogether surprised as I have seen, over the last ten years or so, so many people who have cared for others (often with cancer or another life-threatening, or debilitating, condition) who have then gone on to develop cancer themselves. . . it almost seems as if it is catching – but of course – it isn’t.

My next reaction – research! No point in panic or upset – I’ve just got to get on with it – but find out all I can! That’s me 🙂

Why? Oh Why? Am I blogging this?

Well, because my cancer is (provisional) stage 1 (Early – invasive ductal carcinoma) and, luckily HER2 negative (so, not aggressive) and when I was researching I found that there are many, many blogs out there about aggressive, or late-discovered tumours – but few about the early ones, therefore few to compare with.

AND because I couldn’t feel ANYTHING that would have warned me – even when I had the re-call letter and gave it a really thorough checking out! ONLY the MAMMOGRAM picked it up. So I want to say, when you get the call for your mammogram – GO! I’m only glad my call came this year – not in another couple!

One thing I know – there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who have had breast cancer – survived – and living life to the full – so if you’d like to share here – please do – as always, I love to hear from you – on this or anything else…

And that’s me for today … Best ~ Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Sharing:

Apples and Memories

This week, on a warm day I went into the apple store and realised, by the fermenting aroma, that it was time! Time to sort out all the remaining apples and chuck out all the mouldy ones.

Now a really organised person would have been doing this all along – they’d have done this every time they collected apples – not dashing in, grabbing a few and flying out again, often at twilight, when sorting apples in an unlit shed is not easy.

Red admiral - telling us the apples are ready!
Red admiral – telling us the apples were ready!

As I stood turning over each of the apples that still looked good to check for damage, and chucking the obviously past-it apples into the bucket, I remembered picking this crop. We did it over a number of warm days, the butterflies dancing and tasting apples that had already fallen.

In past years Dad has always been the most assiduous fruit-picker in the family, he’d check the fruit, wait for the dew to dry and then set off into the orchard with a wheelbarrow full of boxes, and steadily pick apples and lay them out in the apple store all day, or until the apples that were ripe were all gathered in.dad-picking-apples-holding-on-2017

This year, ill as he was, he still wanted to help. So, over a few days, he did. I helped him walk down to the trees we were going to pick, and he held tightly to a branch and picked with his free hand, or propped himself against the trunk, and did the same. An hour or so of this and he was exhausted, but happy to have done his bit for that day, and after I’d helped him back he’d settle down in his armchair, feet up, and would swiftly be asleep. wheelbarrow-apples

trug-apples

 

 

 

 

dad-with-howgate-wonderThere had been an excellent crop, with some real whoppers from the Howgate Wonders – an apple I love to recommend as it is sweet enough for an eater, mushes down like a cooker (needing no added sugar) is a heavy cropper and keeps really well! Here’s a snap of Dad holding one, though not the biggest, of these lovely apples.

All this is going through my mind as I sort the apples, and here we are, the second week of April and I still have a range of apples left.wp_20180408_15_17_11_pro
They do not look as pretty as the chilled, native and imported, apples in the supermarket, but they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.wp_20180408_15_16_56_pro

They haven’t been waxed or coated in shellac . . . and if you don’t like the sound of these ‘old apples’ please note that *’apples you buy from the shops are usually anything from a few months to a year old’ * Times Newspaper 10/4/18

wp_20180408_15_17_01_pro

Yet even after all these months, peeled, they still taste wonderful, are free – wp_20180408_15_17_23_pro

 

 

and I reckon I have at least nine kilos left!

 

 

The mouldy and too-damaged-to-eat apples I’ve spread out on our open-top compost heap – where it won’t take long for birds to find them to have nice, unexpected, spring feast.

wp_20180408_15_22_54_pro

What have you been up to this past week?

What annual jobs in the home or garden are you tackling?

Do let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you 🙂

 

ps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

 

Sharing:

Hello Blog, it’s me – been a long time …

Hello Blog, it’s me – been a long time … I’ve missed you.

I missed a lot of things in the past nine months. I tried, I really did, but a blog a month was all I managed – why? Well, I didn’t want to write about the main thing in my life back then as it wasn’t only mine to write about, but now, now that my dear and lovely Dad has passed away, and I am just resurfacing, I can say – yes, looking after Dad took most of my ‘spare’ time and all of my emotional effort to remain cheerful and upbeat for him at times when I really wanted to cry. He always hated to be dependant in any way – and I could not let any strain show for his sake.

frank-foweraker-recent
Taken just before his 90th birthday

So we saw him though operations and radiotherapy and the realisation that the cancer had come back into his lymph nodes and that nothing more could be done. He had his last wish and died at home in our lovely old house, where he’d lived for the past twenty-seven years, having seen his grandsons arrive from all over the world to sit with him in the last days, hold his hand, talk or watch old episodes of Dad’s Army with him when he was really tired.

Yet, he was 91, an age he’d never expected to reach when he was young. He’d had a varied and interesting life and had achieved much.9781909936904-Perfect_FINAL copy Sadly he never got to see the second volume of his memoirs in print – but he did write it, and I will edit and have it published. However, this second volume only takes him from 18 years to 28, so I will have to add a little to fill in the remaining years even if only in bullet pointed highlights. This is one of my targets for this year, even if my own writing takes a back seat.

I don’t think many people expected to do a music hall sing-along at the funeral tea – but that is just what one of his grandson’s arranged. You see, Dad had been talking about this song two Christmases ago, and it was found and played to him … with resulting laughter all round. Here’s a youtube link to a video of him listening to it:

And this is the original – so you can hear properly what the hilarity is all about.(Note:it pauses half way through to turn the record over!)  Dad would have loved it, proper Cockney humour and a proper old-time sing-along!

So that’s where I have been and what I have been doing while I’ve not been talking to you, dear blog readers…

What has the past nine months brought you? Happy times? Sad?

Do share – because I really do like to hear from you

x
Ann

Sharing:

Happy Christmas 2017 & Wishing you a Peaceful and Joyous 2018

For my last blog of 2017 I’ll bring you

– a glimpse at this year’s cake (Christmas parcel)

wp_20171222_11_39_35_proA ‘how-to’ may appear in the recipes before next Christmas 🙂

wp_20171222_12_57_04_pro–  this year’s door wreath wp_20171223_15_26_22_pro– and this year’s tree (same as always) wp_20171223_15_27_30_pro

Thank you for dropping in and reading my blog over the year- eclectic and (this year – due to family illness) erratic as it has been – I hope it brings interest, information and entertainment as well as my news on the writing front- and that you’ll be dropping by again throughout the coming year.

Sending You All Good Wishes for You and All Yours for the coming year!

Best – Ann

Sharing:

Enjoyed this blog? Please share :)