changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

catching up January 9, 2013

Someone sent me a note of slight concern today as I’ve not been blogging… they were worried about me being bogged down by my chemo.

Actually its quite the contrary… the last few days (maybe as much as a week – lucky me)! I’ve felt pretty much normal… the urge to try and fit three weeks worth of life into a weeks worth of having muchos energy has been almost over-whelming.

But no…. I know to try and conserve my energy… as I start to run up stairs I say ‘no -walk!’ to myself…. and remember to eat proper regular meals – we don’t want all those additional calories to go to waste before they are really needed, do we?

Feeling chipper has made me realise just how little I’ve been out of the house (other than for hospital appointments). So highlights of the week have included a visit from ‘he who shall not be named’ bringing Christmas presents, bonhomie and a trip out to a local pub for a sandwich. (and a slice of white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake).

An overnight stop at Annies for veggie sausage, chips, fried egg, cheesecake (can you see a theme here?) and a game of charades and general larks. Can’t remember when I last laughed so much… the boy at supper time asked who was the prettiest person at the table (bear in mind three gorgeous teenage girls were present)…so I put my hand up and said I was and with perfect comic timing he quipped – “not you baldy!”

And then yesterday Meg and I went and brunched at our local bikers caff (or ranch house as they prefer to be called) and stuffed ourselves with a build your own breakfast, mug of tea and a piece of excellent key lime pie (wot no cheesecake!?!) each…. I felt totally food satisfied and even braved baked beans!

…and then today… back in for my third chemo session (hopefully that puts me at a hypothetical half way mark)… I can feel the poison creeping round my body already (no morphine to numb or distract this time). When I got home I took the dog for a short walk…. it could be my last walk in the fresh air for a week (though i have the treat of IT chemo tomorrow back at the hospital).

deep breath…and round we go.

Feels horrid… feeling so healthy and then having to go down into the cycle again.


oh! December 10, 2012

Filed under: cancer,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 8:12 pm
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Thursday was quite an exciting day all round…. Jane buggered off to London for some Christamssy shenanigens and my c-s-b came to visit.

Now he doesn’t like being mentioned in my blog being a shy retiring creature but I can’t get round this day without mentioning him as he was the hero of the hour… so just forget you saw his initials and if you see him don’t mention it and certainly don’t poke him with a stick if he looks at all as if he might be deep in hibernation.

We spent a pleasant afternoon of me snoozing and him picking blu tac off the bedroom ceiling [seriously never come over all liberal parenty and let your kids put posters on the ceiling]!  and generally wiffling and catching up.

He even got the boy into Beavers on time and in a respectable state of dress (ie without holes in his trousers, wellies, or a dickie bow [which was admittedly just hiding the hole in the first pair of trousers]) whilst I gave it some much needed zzzs.

Just before beavers ended i decided to take my temperature for the day….

38.2 degrees

Emergency systems are go.

As soon as you top 38 degrees there is a phone number to call and in this case they told me to go straight to A&E…

So my days helper dashed off to retrieve the boy and to knock on my neighbours door to see if the boy could stay round their house.

No neighbours…. so speedy dash to the pub (good guess on my part) to retrieve neighbours whilst I packed a swift bag and stuffed some even swifter food into the boys hand.

Then off to Peterborough (via the chip shop)… journey not helped by me not being very good at navigating in the dark on morphine… but we only went round in one circle…. one. once. a quite big one.

A&E – and I have a handy laminated card that says my life may be at risk which I was being very British with and standing at the back of the queue holding it… it seems if you push straight to the front (as we did once my car parking attendent got back) they even see you in front of people with children in their arms. (but as any fule knos most children taken to hospital in their pjs at 7pm on a thursday night will be running round the waiting room with an airoplane made out of a ‘has your child got concussion?’ leaflet within ten minutes of sign in.) {i speak from experience and can quote that leaflet in several languages including cornish and orkish}

Anyway…. long story… Jane decided the ’emergency’ part of  ‘I’m going to hospital it’s an emergency’ was worth dropping her lesbian poet christmas bash for and came home.  (I was amazed she’d gone at all as her remaining cat from the three she had when we met had to be taken to the vets today and was put down at some point).

She was even persuaded to visit the hospital en passant… though missing my favourite part of the night which was the man putting my canula into my hand whilst telling me about a book on serial killers he’d bought his girlfriend as a surprise. I like discussing favourite serial killers whilst someone in white takes blood out of my arm. (we agreed Dennis Neilson came a worthy second place)

Jane dashed on home to collect the boy from the neighbours and eventually I persuaded my star of the day that it was okay to leave me to the tender administrations of the NHS as he had a long drive home ahead.

Onwards into the system into an isolation room hastily set up in emergency short stay…. well… they put a sign on the door and I believed were doing their best until it even filtered through to me that they just weren’t giving me the drugs my consultant had told them to give me….

luckily on Saturday night they moved me up to the more hushed and civilised climes of Haemo/Onc… actually still on the ground floor but from the window i could see the sky come the morning – thanks to a shallower internal well aka a garden outside.

Not just my own room and own bathroom but my own airlock 🙂 And drugs…. as many as they could reasonably fit into the remaining hours of saturday to make up for the dry period that started early that morning.

And then home tonight…..

Two of the household went into emergency medical care on Thursday and at last the second of us came home…. I have to say not being mentioned on Janes ‘my cat died, sad day’ status until about comment 23 was a little hurtful…. and if i get a Norwegian Forest Cat Onsie off her for Christmas I shall definitely begin to think she perceived the cookie crumbled all wrong last Thursday.

Edited to add… I was neutropenic… not a good thing at all.


What a pain! November 24, 2012

Filed under: cancer,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 4:56 pm
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s’been a wobbly week painwise… being sent home with paracetamol from the hospital… having it upped by a GP to low strength co-codamol…. followed the next day by my usual GP upping it to high strength co-codamol.

By Thursday I hadn’t had much sleep… I ended up spending much of Thursday night (having realised I’d already gone over my days tablet limit) in pain and lying in the dark popping my hernias back into place.

I’ve since decided they come back out even if all I do is lie still so unless they really nip I leave them be…. there’s only so much space in there and something has to give.

Friday I went back to my GP and he upped me to tramadol… which if I try and just take the drugs and live a normal day/night pattern don’t work.

I’m finding my days rhythm… take a tablet…. cop two or three hours sleep, wake up, eat and drink and wander around until tired (about the time it takes to make poached egg on toast and eat it) then go back to bed and read or watch tv with the boy or whatever until the next tablet.

This means instead of lying awake in pain waiting for the dawn last night I got up made buttery toast and hot ribena, pottered round the kitchen and miraculously the pain eased. Went back to bed and read and computered until I could take another tablet.

Its only a matter of days until my chemo starts and as each day passes I can feel Grendel growing, putting more pressure on my insides… so whatever it takes is what I need to do… and if all else fails there’s still morphine to take.

Supposedly the relief from shrinkage can happen even after the first bout of therapy…. I bloody hope so.

Oh and did I mention the day of my first chemo session is also the official opening day of the Peterborough City Hospital…. William and Kate will be visiting.. like me they are spending the whole afternoon there. Deep joy: I get injected with chemicals AND the chance of being cornered by royals. The hospital rang to remind me to take my appointment card or I won’t be able to get in!

But more importantly on the visitor front my daughter is coming down to sit with me for the first long session…. she has some reading to do for an essay and heard there was free food. 😉



A long sleep… and some medical stuff November 20, 2012

Filed under: cancer,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 9:24 pm
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…. so… too distraught to ask for the siren on the ambulance (dear Jim’ll Fix I’d like to ride in the back of an ambulance with the sirens on….preferably to a hospital you’ve no dodgy links to).

The nice ambulance men decided gas and air wasn’t suitable as I’d been vomiting and suggested morphine…. as i never knowingly say no to morphine in a legally acceptable format I said yes…. and the ride was long enough for a second yes that made sure i did say “Wheeeeeeeee” being wheeled out of the ambulance and forget the word ‘tenuous’ and have three nurses trying to guess it becuase it was really important.

I wan’t allowed a drink at all so I tasted all nice and vomity and thanks to the morphine my mouth was drier than a camels arse in a sandstorm…. so I wasn’t naking much sense. When I tried to tell them I’d had a laproscopy it was close to them thinking I was fitting.

Anyway… sooner or later a doctor comes along who is high enough up to say I can have water as long as I spit it out.

Eventually…. I guess about six in the morning they rolled me down loads of corridors… very Brazil like (the film not the country) and then to a ward (some sort of back stage miscallaneous emergency triage? – I have no idea) just as it was waking up for the day.

So I went to sleep…. woke to be prodded…. woke to look at a tuna sandwich and eat a small trifle….woke to be visited by lots of consultants (including my ‘right now’ favourite consultant who tells me to eat aggs and chocolate if thats the only way i can get calories in at this stage) and woke for a brief visit from jane and the boy…but mostly I slept.

They gave me tramadol becuase I complained my pain relief wasn’t working…. and the nice lady with the trolley gave me a sleeping tablet…. so I slept through the night too.

I woke and had the worlds chewiest piece of toast and a cup of tea and then went back to sleep.

They woke me up to tell me I could go home…. I’m wondering if there was an option implied there?

The thought of just sleeping and being woken to nibble at food sounds like a good way to spent the next x number or weeks….

oh…sorry… the medical bit… hernia…. either straining to poo (thanks to a change of pain meds last week and a very out of condition colon) or possibly vomiting hardcore stylee on Sunday night… or even possibly, one doctor hazarded, becuase of the camera they shoved up my bum some weeks ago- I’ve blown a gasket… my weak point where post natal muscle knitting never quite happened.

Bad news is they didn’t prescribe me tramadol like what they promised (well it did make me feel very sick)…so sent me home with just paracetamol – which is a pain relief two step back movement.

But the good news is the my old friend the squits are back.

Is that enough information yet? 🙂


Edumakashun October 15, 2012

Filed under: out'n'bout,thinks — eclectic chicken @ 10:31 am
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I’ve long been a believer in education dumbing down…. and now being back in the throes of it, first hand, for the first time in erm…26 years I’m beginning to get a real sense of it.

The massage course I’m doing is supposedly ‘A’ level standard…. I began to suspect this was not ‘A’ level standard as I remembered it when we were given our first piece of homework.

‘How much shall we write’? we asked.

“There’s no set amount just remember you are ‘level 3’ students” came the reply.

“Yes but what does that mean”?!?

“Well I want at least a sentence for each question”.

At least a sentence!!!!

So I probably over wrote as my homework came in at just over 1100 words for perhaps a dozen definitions of skin conditions, diseases and disorders. But I got interested, enjoy writing and want to do well.

The course has three levels of achievement. Pass. Merit. Distinction.

I’m not aiming for anything in particular, I’m just trying to do the best I can as i’m a tad rusty on the academic front… some of the stuff we are being pointed towards to learn is pretty tricky… cell structure, physiology… and then at the other end of the spectrum stuff that you could teach monkeys like be nice to clients and a plug wire is a trip hazard.

It feels like a course you can approach from pretty much a wide range of academic ability bacuase, after all, it’s a massage course and there is a large practical component.

So… last week we were given our first assessment piece… plenty of clues as to what the questions meant and we’ve done lots of exercises in class that fit in with the assessment… its about professionalism and client care.

We were shown the grading criteria… pass, merit, distinction.

The class was divided into those who had heard of Harvard referencing and those who needed to be patted and told a bibliography was all that was required. And again we are told there is no word count requirement… but being level 3 students we shouldn’t be just writing a sentence. (ooooh a step up from homework)

…and then at the bottom of the criteria sheet was the phrase.

“certificates will just show a pass” (or words to that effect)

So…. those who work hard… are academically inclined… just get a certificate that shows a ‘pass’ even if they get a distinction. Its not even a different colour certificate? There’s no reward for hard work or intelligence?


There’s self satisfaction.

hmmmm…. I get that. And being of a concientous bent (my school reports all said so) I’ll probably be doing my best regardless of outcome.

But….it galls me… that theres no acknowledgement for hard work…. intelligence… diligence… no distinction between a pass and erm… a distinction.

It’s the modern…everyone gets a prize just for taking part method…. several goes at handing your work in to get the best mark possible… and then… however much effort you put in, chances are you ‘just’ pass.

I can hear my teenage self saying ‘what’s the point’?


chick and chocks away! September 18, 2012

Filed under: out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 9:23 pm
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My eldest chick has flown the nest again for another year at Uni… this year even more than last year feels like her really leaving home. Although I miss her company I like that she’s gone – becuase she’s happy being independent. She is well ready for it and yet (I hope) still knows where to come if she needs something.

Knowing her she won’t need much….she’s resourceful and can cope with most things life throws at her… though sometimes she needs to take a step back..have a good ponder before getting her head down and getting on with task in hand.

Nice to to see that student houses haven’t changed much over the years… its a bit rough and ready. But thats fine… she’s lived in rougher and not so ready. Strange for her generation she grew up sans central heating and mostly televisionless… though I think she might pine away and die now if her playstation or computer doesn’t work.

The trip up to Sheffield went well… we drove a car each and it made me hark back to our early days of cycling where I’d cycle behind her and pull out earlier as a human buffer…we drove the same way… me pulling out and making a space for her to fill. I missed her being in the passenger seat as we do good car journeys together… she can even read a map.

It was a bit of a shock to find that my hand-brake really wasn’t operative as I pulled up at the first hill top roundabout and attempted a hill start…. teatime traffic crawling out on the long uphill road out towards Glossop really wasn’t fun… I shouted quite a lot at people who thought I’d stop for them to pull in…. or school kids thinking I might stop for them crossing.

Luckily our final destination was only on a slight hill… and like any decent student house there were a couple of bricks in the front garden as a riot starter kit…or handy chocks for my wheels.

Being the only girl in the house she brought a coffee table and rugs to the house…. and coloured crockery….a food mixer… tea pot…. cake stand… yanno… girly touches.

Catastrophe soon soon hit in unpacking the first box in the bedroom… she forgot it contained her sea monkeys and was distraught to upset it and to see them sinking into the carpet along with their watery home…


…and a housemate ran for a spoon whilst we watched them wriggle into the carpetty void.

Frantic scooping and some fresh water and we saved a couple of sea monkeys (both with egg sacs) – so hopefully her sea monkey empire will grow once again.

A cup of tea… and time to leave her to it.

Chocks away!!!!… and the journey out of Sheffield was luckily all downhill.

Home and tired…. and unable to just eat ‘instant food’ I made noodles and smoked tofu with pak choi… dry fried with soy sauce (thanks Annie)… it was yummy… the sort of thing I’d have thoroughly turned my nose up at before… but now?

Lovely stuff.

I’m becoming scarily vegan 🙂


Travels with a dog September 10, 2012

Filed under: out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 9:35 pm
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I had a lovely long weekend in Cheshire… I travelled by train. Something I hold out and try not to do – something to do, I think, with being stuck outside Leicester for about two hours on a train once and taking much of a hot sunny day to travel accross country.

This time…. just to make the journey truly awful, I took the dog who is likely to be sick.

But it was fine…. two and a half hours including a change and the dog was perfectly behaved.

Fine? Well…. not totally fine… but it’s still a form of public transport. ie. may contain members of the public.

On the way there I sat opposite an elderly white bearded man who worked his way through a box of fresh cream puffs. Having been marrried to a beard wearer once upon a time, were I in charge of public transport, the country or even the world, bearded people would be banned from eating anything containing cream (or custard… or copious amounts of sugar frosting) in public.

This goes double for when they sit opposite me and my dodgy gall bladder who havn’t tasted a cream cake in nearly two months (appointment to see the specialist in about three weeks).

Also starring in my journey was a young man sat accross the aisle who spent an hour writing a letter to an (ex?) girlfriend entitled “THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU”…. once purged of his venom he put the full side of A4 in an envelope and put his head in his hands for the rest of the journey. I almost felt like telling him ‘she’s not worth it’… but I wasn’t 100% sure he wouldn’t turn round and twat me one.

Still… the journey there was better than the way back in which I got thrown out of WHSmiths at New Street for having a dog… there was a sign that said ‘no smoking’ on the window (a bit superfluous as we all know smoking in enclosed public spaces is illegal)… but nothing to say dogs aren’t allowed. And there was nowhere to tie him up outside…. so I took him to stare at the sandwiches and salads in the Camden Food Co. shop instead. They didn’t throw us out but I still didn’tdare buy any of their healthy food ‘just in case’… but I enjoyed the acceptance and close proximity to a haloumi cheese with chilli panini.

I also ended up on the platform sat next to a woman so drunk her child had taken the day off school to guide her round the country. Slack jawed and incomprehensible she caused general consternation on the train when the trolley man served her alcohol. I think when it takes several attempts to understand she’s saying ‘woodpecker or strongbow’ it’s probably a sign she shouldn’t be served.

The weekend itself was lovely…. its very, very definitely Autumn… and I love Autumn. I walked the dog along Nantwich canal about eight ‘o’ clock on Saturday morning, the sun was breaking through the mist and the boatees greeting the morning were clutching mugs of tea to ward off the nip in the air… the leaves are turning… I could smell woodsmoke in the mist and when I walk now I feel I can walk forever… all’s pretty good in the world.



silver lining August 20, 2012

Filed under: home stuff,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 11:43 am
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the weight is still dropping off me on my enforced low fat diet….

I just spent a very happy half hour in the dressing room trying various things on that i’ve thrown to the back in disgust over the last year or so…. everything fits. In fact many things feel like someone elses clothes.

Confidently I advanced to step two…. flicking through for all the things I bought because they were lovely, AND cheap even though they didn’t fit me. Like a pale blue Kew skirt from TK Maxx for £3 (that must have been in anticipation of my going blonde)…or a black dress from the Monsoon quarter price sale which is sort of lolita meets Italian grandmother.

…and yes…. they fit!

That means I’m the size I was pre-the boys birth for the first time since.

Step three however was a step too far…. I found the suitcase containing the two skirts I’d kept from when I met Jane and kept to remind myself how slim I was… and no… I’m nowhere near. But then that was when I ran every other day and was mid marriage break up.

In other good news at Annies party the other night I held Rafes buffet plate for him and the smell of fat made me feel sick… maybe…just maybe post gall bladder I’ll be able to stick to some new good habits.

I’m not going to join Jane Fae and Kate Moss in the ‘nothing tastes as good as feeling skinny’ but I’m certainly revelling in getting back to a weight that gives me more energy and the ability to button up a pair of 32inch Levis without having to lie on the bed.


gall bladder dietry advice August 19, 2012

Filed under: cancer,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 12:54 pm
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When I visited my doctor and had gall stones originally diagnosed about a month ago she suggested I’d be wise to eat a low fat diet.

So I did.

Another flare up and the doctor in Ipswich A&E tells me I need a zero fat diet…. at which point finding food becomes a nightmare… bread has fat in it…. brown rice for chrissake has fat in it, even baked potatoes which the doctor said were good – have fat in them.

So I eat salad…with O% fat natural yoghurt and with extreme trepidation add quorn fillet or prawns and a spoy of mango chutney… and fill around that during the day with fruit. I suspect bananas have fat in them as they taste too comfortable to not have.

Now home (eventually- as we went back to Annies for a belated birthday party) I google and find the NHS guidance from various trusts for dietry advice when suffering from gallstones.

It looks, compared to what I’ve been eating, pretty high in fat.

I wish when health professionals give advice they’d make it clear or dole out a leaflet that does so.

To me, being told zero fat means…well…. don’t eat ANY fat.

It was the same when Jane had her heart attack, many years ago now, they gave out dietry and excercise advice that was aimed at the elderly, the extremely unhealthy, the uninformed…. basically lowest common denominator stuff.. where cut down on fat means have one pie instead of two or three.

The Norfolk healthcare trust’s advice sheet suggests low fat alternative to full fat milks and cheeses, to trim fat off meat, eat 95% fat free ready meals.

95%? surely that leaves 5% fat? thats quita a lot… I’ve been trying to eat things with less than 1% fat.

I know I’m literal and pedantic… but when someone says zero… I aim for zero.

Turns out its actually quite bad for you to have a zero fat diet…even WITH gallstones.

So I’ve just blown the boat out with some seared tuna and noodles with soy sauce on…. and for the first time in several days I feel like I’ve eaten something.

I’ve going to have a baked sweet potato with tomatoey chickpeas later.

Maybe even bake some bread with olive oil in it.


A series of unfortunate events but a cracking holiday regardless.

Filed under: cancer,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 12:28 pm
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So…. Annie (of last years Whitby ‘fame’) and the boy and I set off on our summer holiday. Annie’s big Landrovery Discovery thing was pretty well packed, Henry dog was in half the boot and Lucky was on my knee with his head out of the window… the sun was shining…. the sky was blue….

…..and the car broke down just outside Peterborough.

We had a visit from an AA man… who suggested another man with a big tow truck would be a good idea… we saw some horses in a field and Rafe had his first poo in the open air (since he used to run naked and pre-toilet training incontinent in the garden).

The tow truck, driven by a very nice man drove us back to the start of Annies journey…so the boy and I were going away from holiday at that point.

The garage Annie uses lent us a courtesy car….a smaller car… so we moved our gubbins from one car to the next… jettisoned some things we hoped wouldn’t be neccessary for a week in Suffolk… pondered briefly where we’d put Annies daughters (joining us down there) on the way back…

…and set of again for Suffolk.

We arrived at dusk and the house was lovely… its in a village I used to live in, but a part of the country Annie didn’t know at all.  It was lovely for me going back… lovely with a dollop of poignancy.

I took the dogs for a walk up the track by the cottage and immediately met someone I used to know… unsure she’d remember me after a decade I cautiously said hello – to be greeted with a hug and a five minute fast pace highlights of the doings of the parish council – of which I used to be a fairly bolshie member it would seem.

Back to the cottage and a sleep in the true darkness of a rural night with only the distant hum of the overnight harvesting.

Oh yes…. and as I unpacked I realised I’d forgotten my purse with all my bank cards in! (second disaster?)

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we went to the beach in Thorpeness… my local geography came back fine and the boy and dogs (yes even the aquaphobic Lucky) frolicked in the waves.

The boy ate iced-cream, we saw the house-in-the-clouds and the mere and then on returning to the car discovered we had a flat tyre… not a bit flat…. but totally flat, with a ruddy big twig through the side-wall. this must be the third disaster… I reckoned we could change a tyre between us and set to. It was at the point where I was winding up the jack fairly ineffectively and had just broken a nail down to the quick that Annie managed to achieve eye-contact with a male of the species and reeled him in with her damsels in distress routine.

Gallant man he was too…. dressed in his towel from the beach he did indeed change the tyre, whilst we chatted to his wife and small boy.

I wish I’d got their name and email as that small boy promised if he ever found pirate treasure he’d give me all the diamonds. 🙂

The next day Annie’s girls arrived and the week became a lovely holiday of continual sunshine, beaches, a castle, visiting old friends and neighbours, celebrating Annies birthday and generally kicking back into the slower pace of life Suffolk brings.

Oh… except for Wednesday.

Wednesday Annie drove me to A&E with another gall bladder flare up… where I spent two and a half hours waiting to be seen. The doctor, as my GP said, did offer to refer me to a surgeon but I’d end up with an out patient appointment in Suffolk ; sooooo… she gave me some drugs, anti-inflammatories, anti-spasmodics and anti-biotics… or rather she gave me a perscription and a half hour wait in the hospital pharmacy (when we eventually found it).

And then… like all good things the holiday came to an end. I hadn’t managed a walk on the common, there just wasn’t time.. there just wasn’t time in a week to see all my favourite things… and becuase of my restrictive diet no reason to visit my favourite foodie places down there like the Orford smoke house, Swiss Farm sausage shop…. and only the boy got to eat chips in Aldeburgh as they are cooked in beef fat which kinda put the vegetarians amongst us off.

An early rise on Saturday morning… I hailed the morning with the dogs on a last walk and spent a few minutes wondering howcome I ever left and then into the car, mostly packed the night before, and the last bits of luggage packed around us in any available scrap of space and we headed home.



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