Thursday, April 29, 2010

Testing times

Going back to work has hit me hard, harder than I thought it would but it's also come at a bad time. I've been having some cracking good pains in my left arm and elbow. Me being me decided it's due tot he amount of poison that was shoved through that arm when I was on chemo, unfortunately my consultant doesn't agree.

It may be a circumstantial thing as i have been sat for a really long time over the last year doing bugger all and even less with my left arm as i'm right handed. Which ruled out Mark's theory that I'd been bashing the bishop too much. I'm reasonably ambidextrous but not that good!

So the testing has begun again, 6 xray's of my upper spine and shoulders which may have been inconclusive as I went for a MRI scan last night. It's weird, when the NHS needs to move quickly it can and that has made Wend and I all the more anxious, when you get a phone call at 7.45pm asking you to come for a scan the day after next it just takes me right back to when all this started almost exactly a year ago. The phone calls, the hurried appointments, the uncertainty and the surreal feeling that we were going pinch each other and wake up and out of the nightmare. The girls know something is going on, we've told them as we always do, that I have to have some more scans. Looking into their eyes and telling them that we don't know what's happening is one of the hardest things. I can remember the utter joy and relief of telling them I was in remission and now all I keep thinking is what if, what if it's back, is it the same, is it different, is it better or worse, do I have the physical ability to do treatment again. Do I have the mental ability to do treatment again.

I don't really have a choice. I have too much to live for.

I appreciate that my head has been full of rubbish but I've been taking it out on the wrong people, the people who are closest to me get the grumpy miserable git who snaps and is generally bad tempered. The dog has had short shrift on a few too many occasions, but we're closer than we were, he's sat on my feet as I type this. Why is it that I can't take it out on something else, an inanimate object, something that doesn't have feelings. I try to be so careful at work, there are so many opportunities for the odd snide remark but then I would become the teacher that I swore I'd never be.

In a weird way I thought going to a funeral would help my head, not any random funeral as rent a crowd but a relatives. It was one of my mum's cousins and although we'd never been close I wanted to go for his mum, Connie who is an absolute hoot and my mum who has supported Connie through many trying times.

Well I was wrong. The vicar or bod who does the service read a preprepared script about someone who I knew not. A popular person who'd worked hard his whole life and was excellent with kids at parties. Now this wasn't the person I had met, maybe it was the families memories but I could feel myself getting more and more irate and had to stop myself asking who are they talking about!

Then my mind decided that it'd had enough of listening so started working overtime placing me in the coffin and Wend and the girls in the front row. I decided there and then that I wasn't having them go through the rubbish I'd just had to sit through so I started thinking about my own funeral and how it could be and the Indian food feast afterwards and the music and the bikes and bikers and then the Shadows started playing Apache. Although I like the track and it was on the first ever album I bought, on cassette none the less, I thought you can bugger off you're not playing that at my funeral. They weren't, it was actually playing at the crem that bright and sunny afternoon. I so wanted to do air guitar down the isle but I refrained, just.

I get the results of the MRI scan next Wednesday and fingers and everything else, that will cross, crossed that it's nowt to be worried about it's just the damaged muscles and veins repairing themselves.

It's easy to type but it's bloody hard to keep the fascade going. But it's life and it's there for living so until someone stops me I'll keep on, hopefully in a better mood!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Well I'm back.......

I made it. I'm getting back into the groove of getting up going to work coming home and going to bed. No I'm not working all the hours sent to me just two in a morning but it's knocking me very sideways. I feel better when I've been swimming or for a bike ride so it's not a physical thing. It's a head and heart thing.

There's no point being a teacher if you're rubbish at it, the kids will eat you alive and then you get stressed and no-one smiles then.

It was a lovely welcome to morning briefing, people saying hello and welcome back and just being really nice. Then it was mentioned in briefing that I was back and people clapped and cheered. It was an unbelievable reaction, I haven't done anything to warrant such a reaction, but it was an honest and unprepared emotional response which gave me an incredible feeling inside. I managed to keep my emotions together but it was a close run thing!

My lesson wasn't as good as the previous one, the computers had developed a glitch which had to be sorted so it was a case of thinking on my feet which was a little more stress than I'd planned for. But the kids learned a few things, I kept my calm and made it through.

As I got home I could feel myself going, I made a cup of tea and started checking emails. I got half way down the tea and didn't read the emails before going to bed and sleeping soundly for an hour or so. Then I was nearly asleep in my tea, so I made it to the royal time of nine pm before going to bed again. Apart from my old man's bladder I slept soundly and only woke when the alarm went off to do it all again.

Today was similar but different, I wasn't actually teaching but I had paperwork to catch up on and ICT issues to try and sort. But it was talking to a lady in one of the offices who's been through cancer that really brought home to me how important these two days are. They are the first steps to being normal, well as normal as I get, they are the routine I haven't had, the challenges that for the last year I haven't had to face. Yes I've had a fair bit on my mind but that was all about me and my family. Now I have things to do that have no emotional attachment to me, they are just problems to solve and in a way that is very refreshing. The emotional drain is being nice to people all day, remembering their names even if they forget mine and remembering the bigger picture. Life is too short.

Well I've made it to 9:20 just and I'm going to bed. It's amazing being back at work, being able to go back is something that wasn't particularly certain for a long time. One thing that is certain is how lucky I am to have had the support from friends, colleagues and family. But it sealed the deal when I came down on Monday in my shirt and tie and Carys beamed up at me and told me how smart I looked, George gave me a big hug and Wend just smiled. One of those smiles that lights me up inside and gives me strength, it's a smile that gives me faith in myself, if I could bottle it it'd be worth a fortune. Actually it'd be priceless.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Occy health say yes

I had a meeting with occupational health yesterday to determine if the plan to return to work was sound and whether or not I was sound to go back too! Well I must have been on best behaviour as they think it's a good plan to return on as they said they're happy with the plan.

So the plan, I'm dropping Wednesdays (completely forever done) and will start back by working the first two periods Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and see how it goes. If I'm knackered as is possible then I have Wednesday to rest. If that goes well for the first couple of weeks then I'll build up to doing all morning on those four days and then when that feels sustainable then go back in full time and see how that works out. I want to go back but I want to go back once, so I'm going to take my time and make sure that I get it right first time.

Bring on Monday morning.........I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

Friday, April 9, 2010

One year on

I don't know what I expected to feel, sad, happy, guilty but I never thought I'd feel numb. Easter weekend last year was when I had the first sign that something was wrong with my temple like body.......well every temple needs an outhouse. So with a little trepidation in the back of my complicated mind we set off for wet welsh Wales.

It was a rubbish journey down, wet and loads of traffic but we had a stop at Brian and Eve's near Shrewsbury and a cup of tea and a catch up with old friends. It almost settled the journey down somehow, breaking a rhythm set by interesting driving and loads of spray on the roads.

It would be a busy and a little stressful weekend as Jason had been the chairman of the local Round Table for a year and so it was his chairman's ball. A celebration of his year and a thank you to those who've helped him. It was busy because there were so many little things to be sorted out, in Sheffield or any big city it would be easier but in rural Wales everything takes a little more time and a lot more travelling to sort out. It was stressful because everyone wanted it to be a memorable night, but memorable for all the right reasons. For this to happen everyone had to be in the right place at the right time, then Jacob (nephew 1) disappeared for a rugby game an hours drive away, Wend and Anita went for their hair and makeup doing and I took Ryan (nephew 2) to the hotel to wait for the girls.

Totally unaware of the confusion reigning round him

The Cliff hotel in Cardigan is a lovely example of a Victorian hotel which has sat on it's laurels too long. It has stunning views, it has a brilliantly quirky feel to it with staircases that Hogwarts would be proud of. But, and it's a big old but, it needs an injection of cash and life. They're doing lots of work to it and have made a lovely spa and the roof is now watertight and I wish them a load of luck but it does have a fawlty towers feel to it.

Now I love mobile phones and what they can do for you but I also enjoy being left alone, contrary little thing that I am. In Sheffield it's unusual to lose signal unless you're in Rawmarsh, in Pembrokeshire it's quite common. To be honest the first few times I went down there I wondered what on earth was happening, no phone signal, no indicators on cars, different calendars and a whole different time system. Now I enjoy it, I recalibrate myself so that every five minutes takes fifteen and when someone says I'll be there now it actually means they need to put their shoes on, feed the dog, find their keys and then they'll be there.

This relaxation of the laws of time and continuum came as a shock but it's just as normal to me as 24 hour shops and trams. The only time that it becomes a problem is when there is a specific function happening. So when Wend and Anita weren't at the hotel when they said they'd be there and they had Ryan's suit it started to be a little pressured. Well it was only pressured as Anita had asked me to go and look after Jason and stop people pouring Guinness down his neck before his speech. I finally found phone signal, why I don't know but by standing on one leg waggling the family jewels next to the gas tank at the hotel gave me 3 bars of reception. 2 bars without the waggling!

With reception and communication with the world outside restored calm soon returned. The girls wouldn't be long, Jacob had returned and would meet me and Ryan in Cardigan. It wasn't going to be the romantic afternoon in a hotel that Wend and I had envisaged, but it would all turn out alright in the end........fingers crossed.

I'm just darn lucky to be married to such a beautiful woman.

The nephews and their aunty. Yes she's the boss.

Jason, Anita, Jacob and Ryan, scrub up nice don't they.

I think some of the tension went when the soup came out, it was either leek and potato soup or liver pate for starters. Now I'm not the most well traveled person in the world but when the soup was bright red with croutons it kind of made me wonder. The waiting staff looked at me gone out when I mentioned it, perhaps Welsh leeks were red, it started to make me wonder. It turned out that a computer error was to blame, one menu had been saved under another menus title and vice versa. Like I say computer error......not the end of the world though, I had the pate anyway just be sure!

Formal functions can be somewhat stuffy and to start with the formalities of the Round Table speeches was, well, formal. Jason had to toast various people including someone from area 43 which our table decided must be similar to area 51 and were then looking for little green men.

It kind of set the scene for the rest of the speeches until Jason's, Jase isn't the sort of bloke to show his emotions readily, if ever. But it's been a hell of a year for him with people not paying, Ryan and Anita needing operations, breaking his wrist and his dad being diagnosed with cancer. To me it was an excellent speech, from the heart and honest. That for me is Jase, he's straightforward and honest and works damned hard and I for one was proud to raise a glass with him.

Speeches over it was time for dad dancing to kick in. The guy at the suit hire shop had guaranteed dad dancing was included with the suit but I found a couple of pints of the black stuff helped the moves go more smoothly, in my mind anyway!

The morning after.

Sometimes it's better not to remember a night, but this was a great night, in my opinion. I danced, I drank, I danced, I dragged Jase onto the dance floor, I dragged Jacob onto the dance floor (by his feet), I dragged new best friend forever (apparently) rugby playing bouncer onto the dance floor, I danced with a bloke in the bar (don't ask as I don't know!) and I danced til the last dance and then begged the dj for one more song.

I think I was surprised that I was alive in the morning let alone feeling reasonably human, as human as I get. So a light breakfast and then into the spa was an incredibly indulgent but civilised way to work off a hangover.

The rest of the weekend was a brilliant mixture of beaches and chilling out. A bit of rugby, more chilling and taking Stella for a walk. I don't know, as I say what I expected to feel this weekend but I expected more emotion than I had. I've been up and down like a yoyo since we've got back but then it's been busy, we're now dog owners. A bonkers little Border terrier called berty. He's good really it's just like having a toddler in the house with needles for teeth. Hard work but rewarding. Whether that's taking my mind off things or whether it's clouding it I don't know but I wish I was back on the beach! No I'm not fussy about the weather either.

One day it's stunning. Whitesands beach (clue in the name)

The next day it's stunningly windy. Newgale beach (clue in th, oh you get the idea)