Saturday, September 15, 2007

"The falling leaves drift by the window………

The autumn leaves of red and gold........."

5th September 2007

It is the end of the summer and winter is on the way.

The utter kindness of the staff at the Marsden brings me very close to tears. I am feeling vulnerable this morning and I am 45 minutes late for my mammogram (well, half mammogram!) and have also forgotten to bring my blue hospital appointment card!

My apologies and excuses for these misdemeanors due to nervousness about being here, and the London traffic game of snakes and ladders regarding parking; congestion charge; finding a meter; having enough change for a meter; trying to dodge a ticket whilst you are buying a Daily Mail in order to get change for the meter, have just been waved aside by a warm receptionist with a kind smile and an “Oh don’t worry, dear”.

I settle into the charming newly decorated calm blue waiting room with fresh green plants for only two minutes before being collected by a smiling angel called Rosa who whisks me through to her Mammogram X ray room, and, having manoeuvred me into precise position like a ballerina at the bar, squashes flat my remaining boob and X-rays it while I chatter on nervously about why I am nervous and what I plan to do if they find anything. The plan would be to immediately ‘have it off’ (the other boob Russell!) and go for a double reconstruction, which I keep being told can produce boobs better than your original ones – though, may I say without modesty that in my case that would be quite hard to do!

Rosa, I know, is not allowed to tell me much, but from what I got out of her psychically, I’m pretty sure, fingers crossed, that there is nothing to be concerned about and I shall have my results on Friday when I go for my next Herceptin drip and see the doctor.

I am now free to go home and still feel a bit tearful – trying to work out what I’m feeling, I find there are so many different emotions stored up. A year ago, the axe came down and I sat in this same blue oasis in terror and shock. I dare not, not be worried this time! What a year it has been. What sort of a year lies ahead? In spite of my emotions I feel intuitively, that it is going to be a good one.

Rosa and her young man are into holistic healing and have a very good website – why not check it out on

September 15th 2007

I am feeling battered. After a battery of tests and needles this week plus an aching tooth, I am not my usual cheerful self. In addition to the Mammogram, I have been injected with radioactive fluid so that my heart action could be assessed by a huge scanning machine, I have had my 3 weekly Herceptin drip and I have had two teeth removed at the dentist – one of which he could not numb completely to make way for the bridge that is being prepared and which will rest on two titanium implants that were put in 6 weeks ago. Neither tooth was suitable to carry the bridge.

Thankfully, all the results of the tests were clear when I saw the Oncologist on Wednesday. I also told her that I couldn’t face the thought of going back on the Arimidex with the resulting muscle aches and pains which were seizing me up and she has switched me to another drug called Tamoxifen. She spent a good hour explaining the different way each drug works. The Arimidex kills any oestrogen hormone that the body is manufacturing so that if by any chance I had a cancer cell still in my body it couldn’t feed on oestrogen and grow. The Tamoxifen which I have switched to has a slightly different approach in that it blocks the receptor pockets on a cancer cell and prevents oestrogen from entering the cell to feed it. Both have very good results and more than halve the 20% risk of cancer returning, but I would definately rather be blocking the hormones I am making in my body than killing off what would appear to be a natural process, so I will report back on Tamoxifen and any side effects in a couple of weeks. I can expect hot flashes which will hopefully wear off in time.

Something rather interesting took place at the Boot Inn, though, in the midst of this post holiday, anti-climactic week.

An Icelandic family consisting of Árni Daníel Júlíusson and his two attractive teenage children Ari and Maria, came to stay and took two of my rooms. Over breakfast one morning as I was making Arni his coffee and light conversation, I mentioned that my father had been in Iceland during WW2. He was there to defend Iceland from the Germans who might have used it as a strategic launching pad, however, apart from the odd air raid, no serious attempt was made and the troups had rather an easy war and had to find ways to amuse themselves when they were not digging bunkers (in case). Apart from editing a newspaper called the Iceland Times for the men and a large intake of alcohol, it seems, my father enjoyed the company of a young Icelandic girl called Asta. He had kept all the love letters she wrote him and they were sweet and charming and full of funny gramatical errors and of great interest to Arni Juliusson, because of the descriptions of those times which apparently there is very little record of in Iceland.

He asked if he could copy them and take them home with him and I of course agreed. He also said that he would be able to find Asta as the population of Iceland is only 300,000 and there was a database of everyone on the Island. Also Asta lived in a very small village quite near to his home. He said he would call his wife and see what she could find out. It was very exciting and I was all set to fly immediately to Iceland and embrace this elderly lady who had known my father so well, but very sadly Arni came home with the news that his wife had indeed tracked Asta down, but she had died last year in her nineties and had gone blind in her latter years. I suddenly felt very sad. Silly because this old lady had mean't nothing to me the day before, but suddenly, with the chance of finding her, she became real and I felt a sense of loss for a day or two.

Arni who appeared to be the straightest, and most respectable man you could meet later informed me that he had been a punk rocker in the 80's and has sent me pictures of himself in one of his bands. There is never a dull moment at the Boot Inn and you never know who you are going to meet next. He is pictured on the far right in stripes!

Friday, September 7, 2007

All Shall Be Well, and All Shall Be Well, and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well! (Julian of Norwich)

A wispy breeze moves the pink sprays of bougainvillea that now proliferate up one side and along the top of the terrace.

The dainty flowers o
f a pale blue Plumbago dance gently.

There is a faint tinkling from the owl chimes – a present for Chris and Lisa, now hanging from the branch of an olive tree that stands by the pool here in Cala St Vincenc.

In front of me on the small white terrace table lies a blue bowl of diced pears and black grapes in yoghurt with a desert spoonful of flaxseed (an omega 3 must), a glass of water, various pills – mostly vitamins - and a mug of Earl Grey tea.

The doctor has allowed me to take a two week break from the punishing Arimidex tablet and my muscles have eased up again. The surface of the azure blue pool is rippling and awaits my body when I am too hot from lying in the sun.

I have no plans for the last two days of my holiday. I am alone - I am in bliss!!. All is well, All is peaceful and still - bar the twittering of sparrows in the distance on this perfect 1st of September day in Mallorca.

Aimi and co left yesterday as there is organising to do for Mia´s forthcoming school term and, I have another two days in which to luxuriate and relax after a fun, friends and family filled fortnight.

Cousin Christopher has again, most generously lent us the villa in this charming and pretty village.

I am so relishing my freedom and lack of pressure. This early evening, when the sun is at its best light (after 5pm and before 10am is always the best light, by the way, if you are into photography) I plan to venture forth to the sound of my own flip flops to capture the beauty that surrounds me without a “Come on Mama” from Mia or a “Hurry Up Mum” from Aimi. When the sun has gone I may slip into the local Karaoke bar and sing a couple of songs to my hearts content where I can be anonymous. I suddenly hear the strains of “It´s just a Perfect Day……… !"

We had a fun family last day together yesterday. Swimming in the morning, paella lunch at the Alba restaurant on the beach, followed by a session of mini-golf - complete with helpful white cat, and 10 day tattoos for the children (and for me!!)

And I am now sporting a dragonfly on my right shoulder blade (They didn´t have a boot, Russell!).

Home for supper and a vicious game of Hearts accompanied by several words that the children were not mean´t to hear from Massimo and myself.

Then a walk down to the village for a last drink where at last I got to sing “The Rose” in the Trotters karaoke bar whilst the others hid in embarrassment at the smart and trendy Art Café across the road.

The highlight of the trip was the 'Leapy Lee Flying Curry Circus'
experience at the Son Boronat Farmhouse
on Tuesday night.

Son Boronat is a romantic, rustic and crumbling old farmhouse down a long windy bumpy lane in Calvia just north of Palma and is an unique, not to be missed experience, if you are visiting Mallorca.;

After drinks at twighlight in the flag stoned courtyard and a warm welcome from dearest old friend and Aimi´s Godfather, Leapy Lee Graham, we were ushered into the candlelit dining room which housed a gigantic old wooden olive press . The delicious scent of lilies or jasmine and old wood and candles filled the air and one of Spain´s most talented guitarists was gently playing ‘Rodrigo’ in the corner.

The three large bowls of curry of varying strengths were laid out on a long table on top of burners and had been lovingly prepared by Leapy himself the previous day. We all filed up to help ourselves. Sliced banana, cucumber and onion dishes sat on our tables and piles of poppadoms were delivered from the kitchen. Even the seven year old in our party commented on how delicious the (mild) curry was and nearly everyone went back for second helpings.

Leapy in his unique and magical way, fussed round us and made each person feel special and welcome. After the meal, he picked up his guitar, and, in terrific form, serenaded us with songs and jokes. We were all encouraged to sing along and accompany him on spoons and glasses or anything else that made a noise which we did with gusto.

After a much too long gap, it was wonderful to see Loretta, his second oldest daughter again, and to meet her family.

It was worth every mile of the drive from the North of the Island to Calvia, and the children played his ’Drift Away’ cd all the way home after a very happy evening.

Frenchie and Amica and the children were here also for a couple of days when we arrived, having rented the villa from Chris the previous two

Next, Jenny Lee-Wright Evans, Robin and the triplets arrived to spend a week with us. The triplets are twelve now and three nicer pre-teenagers you couldn´t wish to meet (enjoy it while you may Jen!!!). They have been beautifully brought up and were helpful and delightful guests. I have been photographing them for their Christmas card for 11 Christmases now – ever sincethey were one year old when we propped them up on Jen´s bed with red and green balloons.

In those days when you visited you were handed a baby and a bottle at the front door upon arrival – all hands to the pump with triplets! I took this year´s picture here (below) before they left – and we have decided to do a calendar for Christmas this year with a photo for every month as they grew up from one to twelve.

Chris and Lisa also joined us for four days and we had a barbeque waiting for them when they arrived exhausted from cold and wintry uk.

The TV and Sky arial was hit by lighting during the tropical storms we had in the first couple of days and has killed the TV set, so there has been no Eastenders or News broadcasts for me or cartoons and movies to keep the children occupied.

Have we missed the TV –NO, Have I missed my computer – NO.

A phone call from Naughtiness, who has managed to escape from Fort Knox for an hour, has broken the solitude and put a big smile in my heart, and I´ve just seen a bit of pink bourganvillea hanging from the balcony, beautifully backlit by sunlight against a clear blue sky that I must try and capture, so I´ll be off now – will report back next from cold and clammy London where the dreaded Arimidex waits!!!!