Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

January is named after the god 'Janus' who had two faces and could look forward to the new year and back on the old one. Once more I find that I will be glad to see the back of this last year. It has been a year of ups and downs and for a time there I wondered if I would ever get through it. Like everything though, 2008 too, has passed and like a shares chart (and unlike our economy) I find my stock rising after one of my lowest ebbs.

At the start of the year (and for a good few months) I was dealing with the emotional fallout of the preceding year. Looking back I now realise how emotionally drained I was and I honestly do not know how I didn't have some sort of breakdown and quite frankly I think the old joke is true: I just didn't have the time or the energy to have one. My relationship with my family is still distant and I am still persona non grata with my brother (and that suits me fine actually as I have come to realise that I actually do not like him). 2008 has been a period of time where I have been deep in review and have examined many things that I once held true. I have changed the things I could not accept and accepted the things I could not change. It has been a long road but I have travelled it and I am STILL here.

I could not accept the stress of my last job (sabotage of my projects, covering for my boss who was off ill with no support, long hours etc.) and so I dug my escape tunnel and changed jobs in July, and hell I even got promoted. I also got my MBA Masters Degree after 5 years of studying. I have come to accept the situation with my family and the things that happened in 2007 (so much loss, so much meanness, so much pain). I have come to accept that I cannot change the way they behave and so I have healed relationships with all but my brother who refuses to behave reasonably. I accept this too though I do not like it. With acceptance has come the first feeling of inner peace I have felt in a very long time.

I already know that 2009 is going to initially bring me something unpleasant in the shape of surgery (9th Jan), but that will be the end of Hector (my thyroid lump) and I am hoping for good news once the test report comes back from the path lab.
I will also celebrate a milestone birthday and rather than dreading it, I intend to celebrate with a big holiday somewhere. The rest of it I will make up as I go along and I hope to be better equipped to cope with anything else that is thrown at me. I am certainly stronger a year on than I was at the start of the year.

I am sincerely optimistic that 2009 will be a kinder year and that my stock will continue to rise. I do not make New Year resolutions but, like Janus I do face the coming year with hope and the resolve to put 2008 behind me where it belongs. I wish all of you a prosperous New Year, filled with health, wealth and happiness, especially for those of you whom I know have also had difficult times. I wish it for myself too.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas...

...the NHS did give to me, an appointment for surgery.

This wasn't exactly what I was hoping for and it wasn't on my list to Santa, but on Christmas Eve I received notice that I am to go into hospital for surgery to remove Hector (my lump) and half my thyroid where it resides. As experience days go I do not think it will catch on as a gift idea somehow:

You have been given an all expenses paid trip to hospital.
Your experience day will start at 7.30am prompt where you will be assigned to your ward, and includes an overnight stay in one of our beds. You will receive one surgical procedure and path lab report and the anaesthetic is included in your gift! We will provide a stylish backless gown for you to wear and meals during your experience, but don't forget to starve from midnight the night before!
We are looking forward to seeing you on the 9th January.

Don't get me wrong. I am pleased that things are moving quickly as Hector is growing quite quickly and also if it is a tumour I'd rather they took it out sharpish and treated me. I'm just quietly dreading going into hospital. I hate anything medical and I hate sleeping in rooms with strangers. Luckily if all goes well I should only have to stay for one night.

My other gifts were much more pleasant. I had a gorgeous necklace with amethyst, garnet and tanzanite cut stones set in white gold (thank you M), I got some curling tongs, a cosmetic bag (useful for going into hospital), a couple of DVD's, a fun book from CrazieQueen (hugs - also useful for hospital), a beautiful calendar from Old Old Lady of the Hills (thank you dear Naomi) and a selection of wonderful Molten Brown shower and bath gels (they smell divine). All in all I had some lovely gifts and it is always nice to receive a gift from someone as it's nice to be thought of. It gives me a warm feeling :) It counteracts the hospital related fear a little.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas Tree (Dec 2009)

I love Christmas. I always have. I believe it's because I have such good memories of Christmas as a child. I love the good old Christmas songs, carol singing, trimming the tree, giving cards and presents (note the skating nun wrapping paper !)and receiving them too and just the whole warm feeling I get this time of year. I love the sight of brightly wrapped presents under the glow of the lights from the Christmas tree. I just love Christmas.

Of course, Christmas is not really Christmas without an appearance from Santa, and mine takes a well earned rest under the tree.

My tree is trimmed with fruits in reds and gold with garlands of berries and ivy. If you look closely you will also spot the odd glittery star and some birds. In fact a white dove of peace sits atop my tree. (A wider view of my tree cna be seen on my photo blog).

One of my favourite things is to sit with only the lights from the tree and mantle piece on with a nice glass of wine or port and watch a film or read. In fact that is exactly what I am going to do next this Christmas Eve. I've even bought some Belgian chocolates as a treat.

And so as I take up my glass I make a toast to all my wonderful blog friends who lift my spirits when it is flagging and make me smile. Goodwill and peace to you all and wishing you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No news...

Artwork by Charlotte Ahlgren

I'm in limbo. Or at least that's how it feels. I went to see the consultant only to be told that the results of the test were inconclusive and that they would have to remove Hector to find out exactly what sort of lump it is. Apparently, this is often the case so it begs the question: 'If FNA's are often inconclusive in cases such as mine WHY ON EARTH DID YOU SHOVE A NEEDLE INTO MY THROAT?! Personally I would have been happy to forego that experience and go straight to the surgery seeing as that was always on the cards anyway. It appears that in this case, no news is...well... no news.

So, I will be going for surgery in the New Year where they will remove Hector and the half of my thyroid where it has taken up residence. Once removed Hector will go to the path labs for tests. If Hector is benign then that will be that (other than a blood test to check my half-a-thyroid function). If however Hector is 'suspicious' then I will have to go in and the other half of my thyroid removed and undergo radio-isotope therapy and go onto hormone therapy for the resdt of my life.

My plan is to try and put the whole thing out of my mind as much as possible until after Christmas, but at the moment I'm still a bit miffed. I do not like not knowing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For what we are about to receive...

... May the Lord Make us truly thankful!

Prairie Dog ~ Bristol Zoo, December 2008

I go to the hospital tomorrow for my test results and finally find out what kind of lump Hector is. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by or sent me good wishes, thoughts, prayers and positive vibes since Hector took up residence in my thyroid. Even if Hector didn't take the hint immediately they all helped to buoy my spirits and were truly appreciated.

The photo of the prairie dog was taken on a recent day out at the zoo. The Prairie Dogs had recently been fed and I enjoyed watching them squabble over choice bits of food. I snapped away as they dined and when I got home I noticed that this little fella had his eyes closed. For all the world it looked like he was saying Grace.

I'll post again when I have some news. I'm hoping and parying for the good kind.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another message from our medical correspondent

It’s a fact. I can confirm that Doctors lie. I saw the consultant the other day who sent me for a Fine Needle Aspiration and an ultrasound. He told me that it was no more painful than having a blood test, but in my throat rather than my arm. The consultant who did the FNA also confirmed this and so, I was ready to believe them. They fibbed. It hurt! The needle going in was fine, it’s when they took it out. It felt like I had been viciously attacked by Chuck Norris with a karate chop to the throat.

Obviously this procedure angered Hector the lump. He's still a little sore and afterwards it was painful to swallow. Harumph. Note to self, the pain scale that doctors use is way different to that of the general populace.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound has confirmed that Hector is not a simple cyst but that it is a hard sizeable nodule. The next step is to get the cytology results back so we know what kind of cells it is made of. This leaves me with two options:

Rock: The Hector nodule is made of normal follicular cells and I go in for surgery in January to have it removed along with half my thyroid.

Hard Place: The Hector nodule is made from ‘suspicious cells’ and I go in for surgery and potentially have the whole thyroid removed, possibly followed by radio-isotope therapy and then go onto hormone therapy for the rest of my life.

This news left me a bit subdued. I was hoping for the most likely and the simplest to cure option of a cyst. Neither option thrills me. I hate hospitals and the prospect of staying in one with ill people and where I must sleep in the same room as strangers fills me with quiet dread.

I find out the cytology results next week. Until then I find it hard to get my head around Hector being anything else but benign. That kind of thing only happens to other people, right?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Super PM

Our Prime Minister has been keeping a well kept secret...up to now, when he dramatically revealed his secret identity as Super PM! I wonder if he wears his underwear over his trousers? What a horrible thought!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bagpuss & Co. Say Goodbye

Bagpuss and Oliver Postgate editing

As I was driving home from work today, I was listening to the radio when I was saddened by *this story*.

As a small child I grew up with Oliver Postgate's creations. He and his friend, Peter Firmin co-created loveable and strange charaters in familiar and yet strange worlds where they would act out heartwarming tales for (or so it seemed as I watched entranced in front of the television) my pleasure. Characters like Bagpuss, The Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog among others. Even as adults these characters have stayed with the generation(s) that grew up with them; who have held these characters close to their hearts as childhood friends. I know several friends who have their own 'Bagpuss', a character that always especially appealed to me, having developed a love of cats (and indeed all animals) at an early age through my dear long departed grandmother.

A few years ago I read Oliver's autobiography. It was a touching, humourous, interesting and sometimes sad read but most of all it conveyed the life of someone who loved his family and making programs for children and enjoyed what he did. His characters are his legacy.

I have posted a video of The Clangers below for (hopefully) your enjoyment. The fact that I grew up loving these characters perhaps explains much about me :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

A message from our medical correspondent...

Last week was a bit of a medical related week for me. I started the week off with a bit of a sore throat which rapidly descended and set up home in my lungs. Breathing shouldn't be something you have to work at so I knew it wasn't a good sign. Anyway, having suffered with a really bad chest infection that lingered for weeks a few months ago I was eager to nip this one in the bud and send the bug squatters packing before they could claim rights. So, off to the doctor I trot who prescribes me the chemical equivalent of a fly swat in the form of antibiotics and steriods for my asthma and gives strict instructions to stay warm and rest. Happily this all seems to be doing the trick.

At the end of the week I had my ultrasound appointment to check out my thyroid lump, Hector. As usual when I get to the hospital it is like a rabbit warren and the sign posting is apalling. I spend several minutes wandering around and trying to follow complex directions from various people which I had no chance of remembering, but through a serious of asking and following and asking again I managed to home in on the ultrasound department just in time.

I need not have worried however as the appointment clearly included a 'long wait' in their lavishly appointed waiting area (plastic chairs and copies of magazines which are months out of date) where I languished for 50 mins. This explained the extortionate amount of £2.00 for 'upto 3 hours' I was charged in the car park. They obviously realised a short stay wasn't on the cards. The ultrasound was over quickly however, and now I just have to wait until next Wednesday to see the consultant. Fingers crossed.

Monday, December 01, 2008


As a child my nose was always in a book. Even before I could read properly I would look at the pictures and tell the stories from memory. I got my love of books from my parents who would read to me at bedtime. Books became some of my most treasured possessions and I have always had great difficulty parting with any to make room for more. They represent knowledge, ideas and possibilities. They are full of experiences that otherwise would never be open to me, they offer the thrill of danger from the safety of my sofa and I get to travel on a journey with people whom I get to know as the story unfolds.

When I was studying for my MBA I had trouble finding time to read for pleasure. My spare time was taken up with essays, projects and reading text books and journals as well as finding time for everyday matters. I studied for 5 years and in that time I probably only got through a few books. I am now getting back into reading for pleasure. For me this is very different to the type of reading I do for studying or work where I scan read for pertinent information. When I read a book for pleasure I like to digest every word, to catch every nuance and build a picture in my mind of the land I am visiting and the people I meet there.

It seemed apt then, when I came across this meme at the lovely Diane's at Forks of the Moment (a blog well worth visiting). Taking part is simple:

Display the badge on your blog and pass it on to five other bloggers. Tell them to open the nearest book to page 46. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The closest book, not the coolest, or the one you think will sound the best. THE CLOSEST!!!

The book next to my bed is currently 'The Winter King' by Bernard Cornwell. It is the first book in the Warlord Chronicles Trilogy and according to the cover it 'sheds new light on the Arthurian legend, combining myth with historical accuracy and the brutal action of the battlefield'. Cool. So here is what is on page 46:

'I have been instructed ,' she told Morgan, and when Morgan shrilly demanded by whom, Nimue just smiled. Morgan was double Nimue's size and twice her age, but when Merlin had taken Nimue to his bed the power in Ynys Wydryn passed to her and in the face of that authority the older woman was helpless. She still objected to my going.

If you want to know more then you'll just have to read the book, but it is a compelling read with a great feel to it. Isn't escapism great?

I am not going to tag anyone but if you would like to do this meme then feel free and I will come and take a look. Don't forget to display the lovely button!