Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Like it says Merry Christmas. Wendy and I are having a phone and web free Christmas so greetings are a little early.

A very short post this one, just to say how amazingly lucky I am to be here. To have another Christmas with my beautiful family is a blessing I wasn't always sure I'd get. Not everyone is so lucky and my heart goes out to them, there is often someone worse off than me and I hope they can find solace and peace in the arms and hearts of family and friends.

For now I'm going to curl up on the sofa with my girls and grumpy dog and a glass of something suitable. The love and support we've had this year has been amazing and makes me warm inside, along with the mulled wine!

Have a great time, love to all.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Some traditions hark back to a distant place in time. Others we start. Last year Wendy and I went to the Showroom to see it's a wonderful life. This year we did the same, does that class as a tradition? Anyway I sobbed, I thought I was sobbing quietly but according to Wendy I wasn't. The bit that got me was when George Bailey comes back to being (he's granted a wish by Clarence (angel second class (got no wings)) that he'd never been born), so he's just seen the world as it would have turned out if he'd never been born.

So he'd seen his wife as an old maid, he'd seen the town he lived in turned into a corrupt little town in the pocket of the old miser in charge and he'd seen his mother broken by grief when his younger brother drowned as he'd not been alive to save him.

So to come back into being and see his children and to see and hear and hold his wife was such a joyous occasion for him it set me going. I hadn't been taken by an angel and I haven't changed the world I live in but I have experienced being unable to hold my children and being unable to hold and see and hear Wendy. To be given a chance to do that again has been worth all the time and drugs and injections. How much time I have on this planet is unknown but it is all so precious, it is worth more than anything money can buy. My life now is simply amazing.

To add to the traditions we went to the panto again, this year Sarah and Geoff were late through no fault of their own, they battled through snow and ice to drive from Wigan to see some bloke in a dress........ We were also joined by Debbie and her daughter Alicia, the cousin we didn't know about but now can't imagine living without and her daughter who I taught at school. Then to round out the extended family was Shelly and her bloke Dave and his God son Nathan. Sixteen in total with mum and dad and Viv and family. Carys was the loudest by far but the laughter that came when the dames boobs slipped was worth the entry fee alone!

Whether the ice skating in the peace gardens makes it into tradition I'm not sure but the post panto curry may!

Walking the dog this morning was a chilly experience, four out five of the glass milk bottles had broken this morning as it was so cold and the new washing machine refuses to work as the water feed to that is frozen too. But as my nasal hair, newly acquired and it was sorely missed, froze in the cold air my heart sang in my chest as being alive is just bloody brilliant.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Show time

Sometimes children's school shows are a little bit wearing, songs that have been rehearsed to death in the home, recorders out of tune and pushy parents taking up the front seats.

Sometimes they're not. Carys' was a lovely event last week, she was a narrator with a line of importance. It went well, Carys said her line well, with clarity and volume and we sat there pleased as punch. Anyone who's ever met Carys won't be surprised at her performance as she's a young lady who can be a star in her own lifetime if she so chooses.

Georgia has been a different child recently, she's grown into her own skin with a confidence that I worried she would never find. Her sense of humour is wickedly quick and she has her own identity in a world that could be described as bland. She even volunteered to be a narrator for the Christmas play!

This is something that neither Wend or I would have ever believed could happen, volunteering to stand in front of a room full of strangers and speak out loud. Well today was the day. We went with baited breath and sat in the hall on chairs that are way too small for my rather large backside.

There was the traditional waving and smiling and thumbs up as the kids came in and sat in their pre-show places. Then it was show time, the first people on stage were George and two other narrators. There she stood holding on to the hem of her t-shirt a little smile on those lips and a sparkle in her eye. Then she was into her lines, clear and loud and so perfect. Wend had tears in her eyes and I had a massive lump in my throat. It meant so much, after the past two years there she was our Georgie pickle stood with confidence narrating her lines in front of parents and peers alike.

She's just gone to bed and I can't put into words how proud I am of her, so I told her just that.

The show was brill, even after George had sat down, there were shadow puppets and costumes and singing that was way better than it should be for a junior school show. To say I felt warm inside is a massive understatement. What a fabulously lucky man I am.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Other peoples stories

Like I commented last time sometimes it's about other peoples stories and their experiences with cancer and the subsequent treatments. Sorry that's wrong, it should be other peoples stories and their experiences with life. Life is a common theme running through all of us and how we live it and how we see it is entirely up to the individual.

The snow has been an incredible boost to the community, it's slowed people down, it's made people think of others and for me it's been wonderful to see people working together clearing snow and talking about something new.

Mark and I went to the NEC for the motor bike show, I was a little nervous as this would be the furthest I'd driven for ages and it was also minus six as we cleared the car off in the morning! It was minus eleven by the time we were on the M42 towards Birmingham, I thought it was meant to get warmer as the day progressed!

We made it with no incidents, other than the screen washer jets refused to thaw, not surprised really I wouldn't work strapped to the bonnet in minus eleven either!

The show was great with a notable exception, Jason was meant to be meeting us there as we'd bought him the ticket as a birthday gift. Due to the weather he'd lost a couple of days work that week and then the forecast wasn't so good so he decided to stay home. It was a damn shame as he works hard and I haven't seen him for ages and it would have been nice to catch up. But this is what I mean about other peoples stories and experiences with life. No it wasn't life or death and to many it would be just a motor bike show but to Jason it would have been a day out and to me it would have been time with two of my best friends. So it was annoying and disappointing but not to be helped.

Mark and I spent plenty of time sitting on motorbikes, some way out of our reach some that could be within reach and some that I wouldn't touch with a barge pole but it was fun to try anyway. There was a large number of scantily clad ladies brightening up some stands and there was a large number of overweight sweaty blokes dulling the effect somewhat with their leering and over large cameras. I guess sex sells!

Me making a big bike look average! (yes that's facial hair too!)

Mark going reet fast!

The following night was a curry with the biking lot. I don't like calling our christmas do for some reason that makes it less relaxed than just going for a cuzza! Again the weather had an effect, although some of the party had been skiing on a local dam wall and some had been snow boarding further into the peak, some couldn't risk the journey due to kids and babysitters etc. Pete and Rosie made it up from Bristol though and it was fab to see them both, I think in the years I've known them I've ridden with them once, but I've shared pints and tall tales over curry with them several times and it's always a joy to catch up. I had a great time and even without Jim and Nic and Baz and Lucy there were 16 of us which meant plenty of chat and banter flying about.

I came to the conclusion at the end of the evening that if I ever go on a biking holiday with Pete I'll have to be careful about my alcohol intake as there is a massive chance of it getting very messy!

Life is great. I had a check up on Friday, just gone, which went ok except for me having a bit of a cold. So I couldn't finish the tablets which has been a bit of a blow, in fact they gave me some more antibiotics which are great for the cold but not so good for the sleep and the stomach! Sitting in the waiting area at clinic is always interesting trying to work out the dynamics of relationships. Listening to the couple next to me, it was hard not to! It was touching hearing the husband making small talk but adding in the odd reassurance to his wife. She was obviously quite stressed about being there and the reality of starting the cancer journey, she turned to me an asked how I could read in the waiting room. I didn't say it was a cover for people watching, as I was reading! For me I have been there so many times and I feel so relaxed about my situation that I can concentrate on a good book. (I've started re-reading feet in the clouds about the little known sport of fell running and have found my legs moving faster as I walk the dog!) We started talking about the surreal feel of the initial news and the over riding feeling that someone will pinch you and wake you up from a horrible dream. It would have been nice to talk for longer but then my name was called so another meeting of people came to an end. Who knows how her story will pan out, or the young couple who were holding on to each other so tightly, or the young mother who came in with her boisterous toddler or the guy playing on his phone?

It got to me somehow, knowing what I've experienced, I just hoped that they would have an easier time of it. That their story wouldn't be long winded and quite such a roller coaster ride.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Am I so transparent?

Writing a blog has been a fascinating process for me, being honest with my feelings but not pushing my opinion, it's been massively emotional for me and an incredible release. Reading the little comments has been a boost as well, it's been a real support to us knowing people are out there rooting for me.

Reading Gwyn's comment on the last post was like looking into my head which was weird! I'm not known for my patience but I, mistakenly, thought that I was hiding my desire to be back to normal! Obviously not.

It's been a strange couple of weeks with some real highs and some mind focusing lows. The low's have mostly been due to an inane ability I have to look at the negatives, sometimes I just get caught into a spiral of negative thought. Why I don't know, how I break that spiral is never clear to me until Wendy points it out, I have to break a cycle. Usually it's a physical thing with me, go for a walk or go in the cellar and hit stuff, it's a combination of busy head and a body that isn't ready to do all the things I want it to! The recent spiral was broken with a mixture of walking the dog, doing my physio rehab and also sorting some paperwork out. Now this last one is a new one for me but I found it very rewarding, even though it took me a full morning to fill in a form and write a letter!

I called in to work last week and had a wonderful time for a couple of hours, then I crashed and just had to leave. It was as quick as that, one minute happy and chatty next minute I'm quiet and focussed on leaving. It was weird but it was also a good sign that my head isn't anywhere near ready for going back, that said it was fantastic to see staff and kids alike and the positive vibe that the majority of kids gave me was brilliant.

Physically I'm getting much better, it's unusual now that I sleep in the day, my hair is trying to come back (everywhere, which is surprisingly nice). I've been playing in the snow today of which we have a ridiculous amount (14inches) which has been fab. Playing, throwing snow balls, sledging, building a little igloo/snow tunnel and rugby tackling people all without getting out of breath or having to give up five minutes in is just incredible considering I've only been out of hospital for two months.

This is a fact I have to hold onto. I'm lucky like a lottery winner, talking to a guy at the physio sessions he was in isolation for six months, having infection after infection. He went from 16 stone to 10 and has lost so much muscle tone he has to walk with a stick to save him falling all the time. He doesn't seem to want sympathy but he just wants to be normal, I guess that's a common theme with people who've been through an experience like we have.

My normal is being a dad and a husband and a teacher who bikes and runs and does stuff. As it goes I feel like I'm getting there with the husband and dad bit, I so want to be teaching again it makes me ache but first I need to be fit, physically and mentally. So, Gwyneth, I'm going to take Nick size small steps...........way slower than I'd like but probably better in the long run.