Sunday, 26 February 2012

A Touch Of Red

Photo Copy right: Maggie May

During the last few months I have been practicing singing in the largest community choir in Bristol. Practices are held in four very different venues on different nights plus one afternoon, so people can choose which one they want to join or (for no extra cost) go to all of them if they really wanted to. Of course, each class is run by the same man, who used to have his own band. He is a very charismatic kind of leader and his musical abilities have no end.
It isn't often that the four choirs get together, but we are all learning the same pieces and when we do regularly do a concert, the only place big enough to take all of us is Bristol's Colston Hall.
So this is where I went last Saturday.

I'd had a virus a few weeks previously and my main concern was getting one of those awful irritating coughs while sitting trapped like a sardine in a stall on view for all to see and feeling helpless and ruining it for everyone else.
So I went armed with tiny peppermint Tick- tacks and a bottle of water just in case. However, I needn't have worried, except perhaps for my teeth that might have suffered while I shovelled those tiny sweets into my mouth.

On formal occasions like these, we wear all black with a touch of red, so I wore a small red scarf and a matching flower in my hair. The photo makes the flower look pink, but it is very much a crimson red. I did wear black things as well...... not just the red scarf and flower!

It was good to see my son and the grandchildren in the balcony together with his girlfriend and her two children. My Millie and her Jessie came down to talk to me during the interval and I am beginning to feel that I have an extended family and they all look so good together from where I was sitting and the children get on so well too. A non Christian friend surprised me by suggesting that perhaps Sam's new girlfriend might be an angel in disguise sent down in order to put everything right in their lives that have been so turbulent recently.

Fortunately, to join this choir, you don't need to be an outstanding singer, just to be able to sing in tune. It isn't necessary to be able to read music as CDs are given in the part that is to be sung, in my case an alto.
Even when during the smaller rehearsals there sometimes seem to be grisly mistakes made, when we finally get together on the night of a concert, it really does take off and there is a really good feeling of belonging to a greater group that is making a good sound. The fact that we have to learn it all off by heart and sing in many other languages makes it challenging but a very enjoyable experience. No music is allowed on *the night.*
I think singing has helped to get me through some very difficult situations over the last year or so. I believe it is very therapeutic and is helping me to stay focused, especially when our health lets us down and causes worries. I can sing in the choir and forget the problems for a while and feel better.

My blogging friend, Mimi, from MimiinDublin makes up aromatherapy preparations and she sent me some while I was having chemotherapy a while ago. The preparation helped me to sleep then and I was really pleased to receive another little container the day before the singing and it was marked, *Peace and Calm.* So before the singing started, I rubbed some on my palms and breathed in the vapours just in case I didn't feel that way while on stage worrying about my cough. I think this really helped, as everything went well and I really, really enjoyed the evening very much.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Good News and Bad News

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Life seems to be made up of good things and bad things, yin and yang, light and dark, good and evil........ whatever you want to call it.
I suppose everyone's life is made up like this but I feel that mine especially seems to be all about swings from good news to bad or bad to good.

Well I will list the good things first.
I have had fairly good news that I will not be needing an operation and that the neurology unit have inspected my recent CT scan and have said that some of the abnormalities on my coccyx and pelvis are probably due to radiation damage. Therefore, they will not be needing to see me and I can just go for my 3 monthly checks at my usual hospital.

Spring seems to be in the air. Snowdrops are flowering and other bulbs are pushing through the cold soil.
The weather today is good. Sunny and pleasant.

Friends and son rally round and help and support me.

My daughter came over for the weekend with the grandsons and we had a lovely time.

My son has a lovely new girl friend who seems to like the family and is very kind, in fact exceptionally kind and the granddaughters seem to be really bonding with her. She is the type of person who makes you feel that you've known her a long time.... sort of exceptionally easy to be with. I realise that I'm using the word *exceptionally* an awful lot.

Bad things.........
Harry is still waiting for his appointment with the neurosurgeons to discuss the CT scan that revealed a condition on the brain that we didn't know about.
Because of this condition, he cannot start the drug to help stem the cancer because it might make the condition worse.
This is really bad news as both his conditions are getting worse.
We have to wait a week before we will be told what, if anything to do next.

The grandsons' grandmother fell down four stairs and broke her hip. She was very brave to crawl to the phone while in considerable pain to get help. She lives on her own so it was her instinct for survival, I suppose that gave her the strength. She is now recovering from an operation and doing well. So maybe that should come under good news.

My daughter had to go back home............ the other side of the country. I wish she lived just up the road like my son.

I worry about the new relationship my son has and don't want him or the granddaughters hurt any more. That is as much as I dare write about it.

I wake up in the early hours every morning and cannot get back to sleep and I mull over the problems. That means that I am always tired during the day.

I don't seem to be able to lose weight and eat chocolate each day to console myself and I know I'd never be able to give it up for Lent.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Amazing Chair

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

Harry is now the proud owner of an electric chair! As I know people from the USA read this blog, I don't mean literally *an electric chair* as in execution! This is an electrically operated chair that can let him lie flat, sit upright or get to standing position just by the touch of a button. It is brilliant and was generously given to him by a friend, Sue, whose mother died last year. We are really grateful to her and it will be a tremendous help to Harry. The grand daughters love it too, on the rare occasions when they are allowed a ride!

My soppy husband, who is a real rough diamond and who has spent all of his working life on a building site, has never missed sending me a Valentine's card. How many women who have been married almost 49 years, could say that? I wonder when he sneaked out to buy it?

Karen, who lives a few doors away, called round for a *catching up* chat and brought round these lovely daffodils and when they have finished flowering in the house, they can be potted in a tub in the garden.
Aren't people amazingly kind?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Little Acts Of Kindness

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Its been quite a while since I posted. The truth is that I haven't got much to say. Gone are the days when I used to post three a week and have plenty of little happenings from the grandchildren and my work to write about. Those days seem a bit distant now, with the grandchildren growing up, not working any more and all sorts of things that are on my mind that I can't blog about. So maybe just writing about this situation is better than not writing at all.
In the meantime, I receive little acts of kindness from friends, like the little pot of cyclamen that Audrey brought to me yesterday along with a celery chew for my rabbits that they have already started to work on. More important than that, she will listen to me and let me rant.

Most of the things that are happening to Harry and me are to do with our health. Our lives seem to centre round getting from one hospital visit to the next and just coping with survival, really.

I have still not heard any news about my coccyx fracture. I have had the blow of receiving news that a fabulous free home visiting support scheme is being dropped from the NHS through lack of funds. We had got to know two lovely nurses who came to to house every month just to take time to listen about any problems we might have and to take notes which were then passed on to the doctors' practice. Because of this, Harry received a step to help him get into the bath and a seat to go across that has been very helpful to both of us. So whats new? This seems to be the way we are progressing these days, cutting back on services for vulnerable people and making do.

Harry has had very bad news concerning his health. Not only is his prostate cancer progressing rapidly, the available treatments getting less and more drastic, but now we seem to have a major problem with the results of a recent brain scan, which explains why his legs are causing such a problem and a whole host of other symptoms that he has been experiencing. So now we are waiting to see a neurologist as well.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Photo copyright: Maggie May

I guess that I have been living with uncertainty since my cancer was diagnosed in the Autumn of 2009.
It doesn't get any easier as the time goes by and I wonder if every new twinge that I experience is the beginning of a new outbreak somewhere else in my body.
I was hoping that the results of my scan would tell me that I was clear of the tumour on my spine following the radiation that I had to endure, but knowing how awkward I am, I never seem to get a black or white answer and my scan results proved inconclusive.
The Consultant just said it was impossible to tell if the tumour had gone or not but the scan revealed that I had a fracture of the coccyx (tail bone.) My scan results will be sent to a major hospital in Bristol to see if there is anything to worry about. Apparently only time will tell if the radiation has worked or not.
This waiting game seems to be the story of my life these days and I must just learn to enjoy what I have when ever I can and live for the now.