Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ignorance is bliss

Well if I was sh*t no one told me!

I very nearly didn't go in, then once in the car I very nearly drove straight past. Once in the building and past people wishing me well I found some of the wires needed changing over before my computer would show the lesson I wanted to do.

I left my water bottle at home, but I found a spare in the car. I got really nervous but then I remembered that I'd done all this lesson before.

I had Wendy's spirit with me telling me I am a good teacher, well it was a text message but I guess it's as near spiritual as some folks get.

Mark's voice was there in the back of my head reminding me that once you've done something you can do it again and again, well except dying but that was hopefully not on the cards for today!

When I was growing up mum and dad had graffiti wall paper in the bathroom, they bought the paper like that! It had little ditties on it like karl marx's grave was a communist plot and alas poor yorlik I knew him backwards. But the one that sprang to mind was 'if you do something today and like it then you can do it again tomorrow!'

I like teaching, no, I love teaching. Getting information into someone else just through your actions or words is amazingly gratifying. Then when little Johnny goes 'oh yeah sir I gerrit now'. Then that's like a big fat pay cheque landing in my account.

The lesson went ok, no one died, which is a bonus. I remembered pretty much everything and I even remembered some of the kids names which amazed me and them.

Yes I was tired after but the adrenaline was awesome and I'm really looking forward to going back on a staged return after Easter. I know now all the groups will respond as well as this one did but then that's part of the challenge.

Bring it on.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Scared of being sh*t

I'm not sleeping very well at the moment, I keep waking up having nightmares about a class full of kids that I can't control.

It's funny that in all my years of working I've never dreamed about waking up at work naked. I've woken up on the counter of a department store I used to work at in my pyjama's, in my dream i hasten to add. Never naked though, a blessing for all to be honest!

I'm going to teach tomorrow, just periods 1 and 2 and only because it's a new group on the rotations. As a technology teacher the kids rotate round and come to you and then you teach them your specialty. So it wouldn't be fair on the kids or the member of staff if I missed the first lesson but then went in after Easter and said we're scrapping what you've started and doing this instead. It's just not cricket. So I have to take my balls in my hand, figuratively speaking, and man up. Put aside the fears that run around my head, the nagging voice that says I've forgotten where I have stored all my files, the voice that says that I've forgotten how to teach. I have to remember how to tie my tie, which key fits which lock and where the gents is.

All this worry sits on my shoulders and to be honest I'd find it easier and less stressful going for another CT guided biopsy. Just the process mind, not finding cancer and having all the associated garbage that goes with it!

Wend, as always, puts it in perspective for me though. I'm reminded that she's returned to work twice from maternity leave and she didn't make as much song and dance about it as I am. Well I'm not exactly singing and dancing more huffing and puffing and I'll blow you house down. Oops sorry too far.

Right, lets sort this out. I have my white board pens and my laptop. I have a rough idea where the files are but I have time to sort them. My new shoes are killing me so I need to do something with them and I know where my bag is. Ok I can do this, right where did I leave my balls..........

Something that cheers me up everytime I watch it: (borrowed from youtube, OK GO here it goes again)

Monday, March 22, 2010

From one furball to another.....

Living, not existing.

It sounds odd but it can be a really hard thing to do, to live your life. So many people, including myself, have a routine and just get on with it and then at the significant moments like birthdays and celebrations realise it's been a year since the last one. There is a perception that there isn't time to feel the rain on your face or smell the autumn leaves or just to stop and tell someone how much they mean to you.

I've had a massive kick up the arse which has snapped me out of that routine. It sounds really cheesey to say that everyday is cherished but in a way it is. I have had my life measured, it became a finite object with a start point and an end. It was always that way, death and taxes are the only guaranteed events in our lives, but how close the end is was under debate for a while.

I guess that brush with mortality focus's the mind and gives a certain clarity about what is important to you. To me it's about being a damn good dad and as good a husband as possible, no I'll never be tidy but I try....... So to that end I have been talking to school about my return and going back 4 days a week. I love teaching and it gives me a real buzz when little Johnny says "I get it now sir". That to me is better than a fat bonus at the end of the year, yes I'm bonkers but that's me.

So now as part of living my life I need to get back to work, my fitness is coming as is my stamina. I'll return on a phased return doing a bit at a time and making sure it doesn't wipe me out but also making sure I get my lessons to the standard I know I'm capable of. It excites me and fills me with dread at the same time but the excitement far outweighs the dread.

On the list of life things to do I can start preparing to tick off going back to work. I can also tick off something Wendy and I have thought about for ages, getting a dog. It's been an unbelievable number of conversations and umming and arring but we've decided on a blue and tan border terrier pup, going by the name of Bertie. Hopefully this furball will give us less trouble than the last one!

Bertie.......yes he's well cute!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A fuller picture.

Ok so the dust has settled and my head is a bit clearer than it was on Friday, alcohol or no!

We had a two hour wait for our appointment and it wasn't because we were really early! Weston Park is one of those places that requires patience, people are going to the clinic not knowing what has happened to their world, other than it's a different way up to how it was a week ago or a month. It's a fascinating place to be though as cancer is a great leveler and sooner or later you get talking to the people next to you or opposite and tiny conversations start and then pass just as quickly.

Then the call comes, Nick Hart, the heart skips a beat and the legs go a bit odd. Sort of 5 pints odd, you're in control of them and you know they're your legs but they don't react as quickly as normal. The hands that have been slowly getting tighter around the curled up jacket start to become clammy. All that because someone shouted your name!

We were shown into a new consultation room and were asked to wait there. Five minutes later another nurse comes in and tells us we're in the wrong consultation room! So we go to another waiting area and then shortly after sitting down we're shown into one of the usual consultation rooms! My great Aunty Con calls these things anti irritants, the little annoyances take your mind off the enormity of the problem facing you. It certainly broke some of the tension for me!

The consultation that followed was a mixed bag. The PET scan has shown that I am in partial remission, which is good. The PET scan also showed that there is still an area of activity where the tumour was, which is odd. This activity could be the radiotherapy still having an effect, it could be the cancer still being alive or it could be that I had an infection on the day of the scan and it chose to show up there!

The problem with PET scans is that although they are very clever and very good at showing activity, they are so new that understanding the data and learning when to send a patient for a scan is all still being improved upon. To this end Linda, my consultant, wishes I'd not had the PET scan as it has left a level of uncertainty which we could have done without.

For me it did leave a slightly sour taste in my mouth. I wanted, in true Nick Hart fashion, a fat lady singing and cheerleaders with pompoms oh and a big plaque to put on the wall stating that the cancer is dead and done with. But as with so many things we don't always get what we want but for me I'll take the next best thing. They say I am in remission, they don't want to see me for three months and if the PET scan hadn't have been invented then there wouldn't be this uncertainty.

I now say I had cancer.

One word that makes such a difference, had, not have. It's a week later now that I'm writing this and it still hasn't fully sunk in yet. I had cancer.

So then starts the process of telling the world. Mum and dad were at our house as Wendy's dad was coming up and so they were going to let him in if we ran late. We walked in with very dead pan faces, not on purpose nor for any comedy value but just because we'd had incredible news and we couldn't process it. Because of the faces mum and dad didn't know what to expect, so almost came as more of a surprise when we told them it was good news.

As the kettle clicked Wendy jumped up and rushed out of the door, how he does it I don't know but Bill had arrived, I think he smells the tea bags from about fifty miles! It was what Wendy needed, a hug from her dad.

Then it got really busy, I was on the phone ringing my sister and work and friends, Wend was talking to her dad and her sister. Mum and dad and Bill and Bron were chatting. Wend then went to the florists with mum to get flowers for the girls teachers. They have been superb in keeping the girls busy and being flexible when either have been emotional or stressed. But it's a massive testament to our girls that they haven't had time off for any reason other than they've been poorly. The routine has stayed the same and they have got on with life, we're so proud of them.

We didn't half look funny walking up to school with five big bouquets. We told Bill and Bron to hide in the bikes sheds as the girls didn't know they were coming up, won't be the first time they've hidden in the bike sheds I'm sure! We walked into the yard where the infants come out to and waited, everyone looking at us stood there hardly able to see over the flowers.

The it started, Carys saw us and looked right into my soul as if looking for the answer to an unspoken question. Her little face was a picture, tears had obviously been flowing and yet the smile that lit up when we told her it was good news was magical. Mrs Telford, Carys' teacher, then started crying (again) as we presented her with her flowers. She'd had Carys on her knee that afternoon and it had been emotionally hard for both of them it seems.

We walked through to the juniors yard and so we got more funny looks, we'd get even more in a minute. We waited and waited and then we saw Georgia's class coming out, George is usually last out and this day was no different but her shoulders were down and her feet were dragging as though she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. As soon as Carys saw her she hurtled down to her to tell her the news. She nearly knocked George over but managed to stop just in time. We got there seconds later and then collapsed in a heap of tears and hugs and more tears and more hugs. The disbelief that we'd been lucky enough to get through it. Nothing else mattered, the gravel in my knees or the hundreds of people looking at us, me and my girls, my world.

Then Mrs Powell Georgia's teacher was in tears with her flowers and the news. Georgia told Wend later that she had made her mind up to be strong if it was bad news, hopefully she can be a little girl with little girls worries now.

We found a couple of other teachers from last year who had been very supportive when I was initially diagnosed and explained what today had brought and gave them their flowers too. Then we told the girls there was a surprise in the bike sheds for them. Carys got there first and stated that it was her best day ever, daddy's lump has gone and dan dan is here. What more could a five year old want?

So started a very surreal weekend. I felt shattered, not happy or giddy, my head was so full of mush. I slept Saturday afternoon, a deep thoughtless sleep, very unlike Thursday night! We went for Sunday lunch at the Grouse Inn at Frogatt, us, Bill and Bron, Mum and Dad, Viv and Dave and their girls. I was there in body but not in mind, I was tetchy and distant. I didn't want to be there, it was all too much. Too many sight and sounds and thoughts. It was nice to see everyone and the food was great but my head couldn't cope.

What on earth is wrong with me, I've had the best news ever and yet i'm not happy. But then it struck me, for the last ten months or so I haven't dared think about living. It has been surviving the treatment. Not living, living involves planning a future, needs and desire for the future. I haven't dared allow myself a future, just get through the now.

Today, one week on I feel amazing, I have ridden my bike and chilled and talked with Wend about our future. My head is clearing, slowly, I feel so unbelievably lucky I can't describe the feeling. I am just a very very lucky man.

Proper Cold

Bridge over non troubled waters!

My trusty steed.

I'm so happy to be me. Now I need to get on with life.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm in remission!

Like it says I'm considered to be in remission now which means no more treatment. It feels really weird and I guess I'm in shock but I don't know.

I've had a pint or two now so I'll post more when I can see better!

Thank you to everyone.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

15 Years

15 Years ago tonight Wendy and I were introduced to each other by Gwyn. What a 15 years, people have come and gone from our lives but never our hearts. Jobs have changed, hair has gone whiter, me not Wend, and my waist line has expanded, contracted and expanded again.

No-one prepares you for life, you just live it. Yes your action have an effect on the outcomes but I'm a big believer in fate and what goes around comes around. Friday is results day, what they're going to say is a complete unknown. But the results will be what they are and we'll deal with whatever is put in our path.

Until Friday it's really hard knowing what to say or what to do. I've been turning a bowl from some wood Gareth gave me, I don't think he knows how timely the gift was as it's occupied my mind for the best part of a month thinking about what to make and how to make it.

A bowl.

Anyhow it's finished now and I wanted Gareth and Julia to have it for their dining room. They've been just two of many many friends and neighbours to wish me and our family well for Friday. It's not the big statements that really count, sometimes a pat on the back and a well chosen word or two is just as heartening.

I had a major wobble on Sunday, just fear taking over, a fear of having come so far and yet having further yet to go. Fear of having to tell the girls bad news. Georgia and Carys are really feeling it, they shouldn't have to go through this, the pain and the uncertainty, they're kids. They should only be worrying about a boy looking at them at school or who's birthday party is next. Not worrying about their big hairy dad having a lump in his chest which could be the end of their world. No that's not fair.

They have been amazing with their strength and their capacity to care and I love them to pieces.

Right soppy stuff out of my head I'm going out on my bike to have some head space.

Happy 15 years Wend. Thank you Gwyn for the best thing that ever happened to me.