Sunday, 26 May 2013

Getting there

Pauline dropped me off early morning on Wednesday 15th for my overnight stay in the Western, I did warn her that she might get a text to pick me up if my blood count was down and they would postpone my chemo but all was fine, I even got a "Well done!", there's been a lot of folk having to delay their treatment but I was full steam ahead. 

No different from last time, loads of fluids first, loads of peeing, and just get on with it.  I was in a room with just one other lady, Carol, she's was quite down when she came in, last time she had chemo she went home with pneumonia and ended up with a hospital stay in her local hospital in Dumfries but after speaking to the Doctor she did perk up, we hit it off and had quite a laugh, even listening to the hospital radio, the nurse laughed at us sitting in bed with our earphones in dancing to "There's a moose loose aboot this hoose!"  It was patient request evening and going by the music selection I think must have been the youngest inmate but they did play Clash of the Ash for me, so all was fine. 

I didn't sleep much, with the fluid bags getting changed through the night and having to get up to go to the loo but I wasn't worried I could catch up with sleep when I got home.  When I left Carol said one of the nicest things, besides the lovely to meet you, we've had a laugh. Her parting words were "I hope I never see you again!"  I replied the same. 

I planned a very quiet weekend, going to the Fling after my last chemo wiped me out for a bit but it was worth it, this time I think my reserves would be a bit lower so I wanted to conserve my strength.  It didn't quite go that way, my cousin contacted me to say my Uncle had had a stroke, Pauline and I went through to Kirkcaldy's Victoria to see him on Friday night, we went along to his house on Saturday afternoon to tidy up, it looked as if there had been a fight, furniture and stuff all over the place, he'd fallen in the kitchen but got himself to the living room where the phone was.  He is my Mother's brother and my Uncle so he does have the fighting genes too.  His speech is ok but his arm isn't, if you have some spare prayers and vibes could you please send them to Brian, you don't know him but you may have seen his face, I think I look like him at the end of 24 hour races.

I felt a bit guilty leaving Pauline to it on Sunday but I was tired and needed to rest, she's already done her fair share of hospital running around and visiting.  On Monday I planned to drive myself over the Western for my radiotherapy but in the morning every time I stood up I went light headed, I was a bit better after my breakfast but I didn't want to drive through, a quick text to Pauline and she'd pick me up no problem.  It was a slow day with delays and we were late back but I rested when I got home.

Tuesday I felt ok , no dizziness so I text Pauline to say I'd be fine to go myself, there are road works on Queensferry Road and it was very slow going, noticed the car temperature going up and up.  Bugger! I pulled over, stuck my hazards on, phone the hospital, they said not to worry, they'll treat me when I get there.  Phoned for a nice RAC man and waited and waited, lucky for me I don't do stress-bunny.   I eventually got to the Western and my treatment, only two hours later!  The nice RAC man said that the fan has seized and I'd get home ok as long as I didn't have to sit in traffic. 

All these things were starting to take its toll and by Wednesday my mouth had gotten very sore and I’m now taking painkillers and another mouthwash which has an anesthetic in it before I eat, I’m not eating too well, in the morning it’s taking me around an hour to get in two Weetabix and a banana, I’m heating the milk too to make it nice and soft after that I’m just having milkshakes, soup, yogurt and ice cream, it’s just too sore to attempt anything else, even a cup of tea is a chore and sore to swallow but I’m still managing to maintain my weight at the minute.  My skin on my neck and face looks sun burnt from the radiotherapy,  it’s itchy and sore where my clothes touch, in the house I’m wearing wide necked t-shirts but outside I have to keep my skin out of the sun, lucky for me I've loads of Buff Scarves.  I thought I should change my name to Rosie Redbeard but Pauline thinks I look more like Bradley Wiggins

I am pleased that I got to half way through the fifth week before things got really tough, just five more radiotherapies to go then things will start to settle down.  They are saying it can take a couple of weeks after the treatment stops before this happens and I’m now thinking that if I’m still in as much pain on the weekend of the Skye Half there is no point going,  but I’m not ruling it out until nearer the time.  If I have to miss it Pauline and I will go another weekend and I’m sure we’ll have a good time and have a run in the Quiraing instead. 

I still have other goals and stuff to look forward to and friends have been very generous and given me goals and offers I’m not going refuse. My head is up and I’m looking ahead, I will get through this.

Hands up, chin down

Monday, 13 May 2013

Over half way.

Today was my sixteenth zap of radiotherapy, fourteen to go.  On Wednesday I have a sleepover in the Western for my second and last chemo.  I’ve been feeling ok, not doing anything really, resting and some gentle pottering about the house, well, nobody dusts my Goblets but me!  Actually, nobody else ever dusts in this house!  My Goblets do look a bit stoory, but they can keep. 

I've been sitting with purpose, now that Mel has a granddaughter, I've dug out my knitting patterns, one wee pink cardi done, a white lacy matinee jacket and matching bonnet done, now I working on a lilac cardi with daisies embroidered up the front, the last time I did these it was for Erin nearly eighteen years ago.
I have deliberately been taking it easy, reserving my strength for the last haul, also I don’t want my blood count to go down, if it does, my treatment will be postponed and I don’t want that. 

Over the last couple of weeks when the doctor looked in my mouth, she could see it looked a bit raw with a couple of ulcers, the radiation causes this, and asked how many painkillers I'm taking.  I answered none, she replied that I would be soon, and when I saw the dietician she said the same.  I still haven’t felt the need to take any but I will when I feel it’s necessary.  They don’t know me or that I have honed my discomfort management skills over nine WHW’s, five 24hour races, around thirty “wee” ultras and over thirty marathons.  Also it’s not the level of pain that matters but the way you think about it.  When running you can’t expect to reach the finish without some physical grief, it’s all part of the adventure.  In 2007 my first thought when I heard that Jane Tomlinson had passed away was “pain is a luxury for the living” and when completing the luxury of a big ultra, the more pain the more alive I have felt, it is a privilege.  The discomfort from my treatment is good, it is all part of the curing process. 

At the start I compared my treatment to running a big ultra and on Friday Pauline said “That’s you coming in Tyndrum.” I totally disagreed, running the WHW isn’t easy but it is loads more fun.   This is different and I'm using all the skills I've learnt through running, like eating when you don’t feel like it.  Eating is a chore and a lot of things now have an awful metallic taste, coffee is ok but tea is only ok if I put sugar in, something I would never normally do, everything has to be soft, but I'm making sure I'm getting all the nutrition I can, if I want my body to be strong it has to be fuelled even if it takes me an hour to eat a bowl of pasta! Soup is a favourite, although I’ve always made my own, I’m also buying cartons of fresh soup for variety, is it just me but when I make a pot of soup there’s usually enough to feed the street. I'm restricted with fruit, it nips a bit, the last time I had a glass of  fresh orange juice it felt and tasted like a mouthful of barbed wire. I was told I would lose weight and it is part of the challenge to prove them wrong.

My treatment should finish on the 31st May and I have a goal for soon after, I entered the Skye half marathon months ago and it’s on the 8th of June, just a week after.   I might be cutting it fine but I don’t doubt my determination, I won’t be daft and if I'm not able to do it I won’t but if I can walk/jog it in around three hours or so I will.  I've been going up for it since 1993 and in 2005 it was very special, it took me around two and half hours that day, it was my 100th half marathon and just seven weeks after I had the brain haemorrhage and hopefully this year will be just as special.

I will look after myself well for the next three weeks; Pete is doing a grand job too.  I want to get to the end in the best shape I can, I'm going for a knock-out in the final round.
Hands up, chin down.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

A great day out.

I wasn't running the Fling any more but I didn’t want to miss it so after Gillian had picked up Pauline she got me at 4.00am and we were in Milngavie for 5.00am, I felt ok with not running knowing there was no way it was going to happen.  It was lovely to chat and be hugged, I wanted to wish folk well but with it being busy I didn’t get round everyone.  Pauline registered and got herself organised then it was time for the start.  This year everyone went off together in the biggest herd of ultra -runners I've seen!

Gillian and I waited and watched the start of the relay then headed off to Rowardennan, we were helping with the drop bags.  Mrs Mac was in charge and Alan and Robin had started laying out the bags, it wasn't too long before they were all laid out and more helpers arrived when runners were coming through thick and fast.

Now there is no right or wrong thing for eating in an ultra, it is very much go with what feels right for you but my jaw dropped with variety and quantity.  Fair enough, have a choice of a couple of things if  you're not sure what you might fancy but I thought some folk must have been feeding a legion! After runners had been through and finished with their bags we gathered together all unopened food and placed to the front if anyone fancied something different,  I wasn't really surprised that no fancied the pack with two giant scotch eggs, the large tub of pasta or a whole Soreen loaf!  At least The Wilderness Response Team took all the energy gels to be used later.  Rabbit the Bruce was in charge of Pauline’s drop bag, its contents, a wee Twix and a dinky can of coke.

It was great fun being there, shouting at folk and getting sweaty runner hugs, even modelling the Blizzard Jacket for the Wilderness Response Team (a brilliant bit of kit, and about the size of a couple of slices of bread when vacuum packed.)  
                                         Not sure if it was me or her drop bag Alyson was pleased to see

When there were only a handful of bags left Gillian and I went on Tyndrum for the finish.  I'm sorry I missed Robin, he had headed off to do a bit of support but before he left he gave Julie a wee present to pass on to me, a wee pair of pink boxing gloves, Lee fastened them to the zip on my jacket, they're still there and I think a perfect place to keep them. Thank you Robin. x  (I heard you had a great day too, kissing all the girls at Crainlarich!) 

We began helping Ellen hand out medals, what a view looking down that finishing straight.  Watching and encouraging everyone reach their goal, some looked very painful, some were sprinting, some were an infectious emotional achievement, other's I shouted at to stroll faster! 

Discussing my treatment with Ellen, I wasn't sure I should be hugging and kissing everyone with my immune system being a bit suppressed, but we're family and what a boost I got from all the "Glad to see you out and about!" and "You're looking well."  If I'm a tower of strength it's because you guys are the mortar between the bricks. 

Eventually I think Ellen took pity on Pauline and Gillian standing waiting for me, and I eventually listened when she said “Right you, you've done more than enough, time to go home."  I'd had a brilliant day, I felt ok and I didn't want it to end, so we said out goodbyes and was walking away when Ellen called us back, they were just going to do the prize giving and Pauline got 3rd old dear, Mel got 3rd not so old dear so a wee bonus before we headed home.

I planned a lazy Sunday and had a bit of a lie in but as the day wore on I got even more tired and kept falling asleep watching the telly, I was totally wiped out and on Monday and Tuesday, I asked Pauline to drive me to the Western both days, I felt fine to drive myself on Wednesday, but I still feel tired but it was worth it, thank you all for making my day.

That's nearly the second week of radiotherapy done, my mouth is getting sore and food is starting to taste funny but almost a third done. I do feel more tired than I thought I would at this stage of my treatment, but I’ll just go with the flow and not force anything, this is a six week ultra and one thing I'm good at is my pace judgement, it is going to get a lot tougher but I'm focussed on the finish.  Hands up, chin down.