rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
And I'm still here[1], hurrah for medical research[2] and care.

A good day I think to post the updated How You Can Help list:.

Direct help
  1. Offer me lifts to/from Addenbrookes. I'm going to have a lot of outpatient appointments there between now and February or so, potentially any day of the week. Of the half-dozen so far, one was an hour, one was 3.5 hours, the rest were about 90 minutes. A number of lovely people have already offered and helped, but if you have a car and are willing to add yourself to their number, email me with a rough idea of whether there are typical times you could manage and how often you'd be willing to do so - and also whether you'd want to do a one-way trip or to wait around and do both ways. (I get reduced car parking as an outpatient, if needed.)
  2. Take one or both children out to play for an hour or two at weekends, e.g. at the local playground. Best arranged by emailing me.
  3. Invite Tony to things: pubs, cinema trips, parties, etc. I can't do these things right now, but he can, and could use a bit more social time outside the house. Best arranged by emailing him.
My preferred email address is rmcf @ cb4.eu
Tony's is dot @ dotat.at

Indirect help
  1. Financial donations to the following:
  2. Blood donation. I've already had multiple platelet and red blood cell transfusions and will need more over the coming months. (This comes with the caveat that not everyone can or should donate blood, and I strongly feel that no-one should feel guilty for not doing so.)
  3. Bone marrow register.  (Anthony Nolan Trust runs one, as does the NHS; they work together).  I should not need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant ... but if I do, the registers increase my chance of finding a match.  This comes with the same caveats as blood donation, only even more strongly because marrow or stem cell donation are a rather more serious commitment and procedure.

I also want to thank everyone who responded with pictures and gossip and visits etc to the list Tony posted for me soon after I was first admitted. I was greatly comforted, and very touched.  I feel tremendously grateful for the wealth of friendship and family support we have had revealed.

[1] The morning the consultant let me go home, he said cheerily "These days, most deaths from this cancer have happened by this stage if they're going to."

[2] This
paper summarising "state of the art" treatment for APL, i.e. what I am currently following, was published in 2006.  Twenty years ago my chances would have been far worse.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Cambridge people: can you recommend to me?
  • a window cleaner
  • a general handyperson (competent with drill and screwdriver, simple painting, etc)
  • an electrician
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  1. They got (just) enough material from the biopsy.
  2. They were able to confirm I am in remission (much reduced quantity of cancer cells).
  3. All my blood counts are back to normal.
  4. I start my next round of chemotherapy tomorrow, in the day unit E10.

This round will be four doses, ideally on consecutive days, but that will depend on capacity on E10. They would only give me tomorrow's appointment today.

I will then have to go in regularly for monitoring over the next few weeks as my blood counts fall and recover again, until it's time for another biopsy. If I'm careful and avoid catching anything nasty, I should be able to stay home throughout.
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Thursday's appointment in the day unit (E10) was long and tedious.  I was paranoid about traffic, so we arrived far too early, and then of course my appointment started late, and then there was discussion about me needing yet another prescription, so we had to wait until that had been phoned down to the pharmacy before we could go.  Louise was incredibly patient and good-humoured throughout.  I met and caught up with several fellow-patients from my time on D6, including the Other Rachel, whose hair is still delightfully purple.

The biopsy was both the worst and best yet - most painful so far, but on the other hand they gave me gas+air which made it considerably more bearable.  A+ will ask for again.  I had cunningly packed some of Hotel Chocolat's finest offerings, courtesy of a couple of generous friends, to restore my good humour afterward.  When we finally escaped, I got burger and chips for a late lunch to complete the job.

I was in a fair bit of pain from the biopsy Thursday and Friday, but I have prescription painkillers "to be used as needed" and did so. I spent much of Friday in bed reading, but was pleased this morning to find everything considerably better, and movement much easier.  I even spent a couple of hours today on gentle admin at our desktop computer (bringing Calibre up to to date with recent acquisitions, correcting metadata on LibraryThing, that kind of fun), and another hour on my new OU course.  It doesn't officially start for a few more days, but I thought I'd take advantage of feeling energetic while it lasts.

We watched My Neighbour Totoro for family film yesterday evening, at Nico's request.  I think the sick mother plotline sails over Nico's head, but not the rest of us; bit of a weird feeling watching it this time.  (Not a surprise; I've seen the film tens of times and know pretty much every line; just a bit weird.)

I am trying to wait patiently for Monday's appointment, and hoping very hard for better data this time.
rmc28: (books2010)
The good:

Ghosts of Home by Sam J. Miller
What if houses had spirits that needed to be placated when they were left empty (say, by banks evicting people for non-payment of mortgages in a credit crunch)?  Who gets employed to do that kind of work?  I really enjoyed this story, and have put it on my Hugo placeholder list for next year.

Civilization by Vylar Kaftan
Choose your own adventure political system.  I thoroughly enjoyed this, thought it seemed vaguely familiar, and then realised I'd read it in the Glorifying Terrorism anthology where it was originally published.

Given the Advantage of the Blade by Genevieve Valentine
I didn't precisely enjoy this story about all the fairy-tale women you can think of having repeated massed fights - I found it too depressing - but I think it's cleverly done and constructed, and other people may like it more.

Read more... )
The book reviews have me convinced I don't want to read Wesley Chu's Time Salvager or Ken Liu's Grace of Kings, but I probably do want to read N.K. Jemison's Fifth Season and Daniel José Older's Shadowshaper.

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Mostly for my benefit, content notes for medical procedures, weight loss, etc.

Read more... )
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Lots of hurry up and wait, and much faff with prescriptions, but eventually all sorted.

I am currently working on staying awake enough to eat enough to take my evening meds before I go completely splat.
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I lasted an hour or two yesterday on the sofa, and occasional wandering around "to see what I can do".  First time walking up stairs for nearly six weeks was weird - no problem doing it but my leg muscles felt very strange.

Then I went to bed for the rest of the day, apart from dinnertime, sleeping for some of it.  I sorted out a week's worth of medicine into my shiny pill organiser, which was quite the experience.

I slept pretty well overnight, but was amused that I woke up at 2am as if I were in hospital and about to have my 4-hourly observations done.  Once I realised where I was, I fell back asleep again no problem.

Today has also featured a lot of being in bed, resting on the sofa, and getting used to figuring out what I want to eat from the selection "in the house, meets hygiene restrictions, easy".  Rather than "what is on the menu" and "what will get brought to my bed by the caterers or the nurses".

The microwave broke a few days ago.  My priorities: by the end of breakfast (cold cereal rather than the porridge I would have preferred but was not up to making on the hob), I'd looked up the Which? best buys, picked one, and ordered it for next-day delivery. 

I have managed to make the necessary phone calls to confirm (possibly create) my Essential Unmissable outpatient appointment on Monday.  3pm in Oncology.  Usual Addies problem: lovely people, rubbish bureaucracy.

Probably time to lie down again now.
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I am sat on my own sofa in my own home writing this.  I am HOME and it is wonderful.

There were mutterings yesterday, and this morning the consultant declared I could come home, and I was basically free to go about lunchtime.  The housekeeper insisted I ate my hospital lunch before leaving.  My mother and mother-in-law played porter and we got a taxi from the hospital and now I am very slowly directing unpacking of all my bags and thinking about retreating to bed before C gets home from school.

The doodle visiting schedule is no longer applicable.  I think it will take me a week or two to get used to the new normal of being an outpatient and work out how visiting me at home might work.  All the same things apply: no-one who is ill (or who has been in the last 48 hours) should visit me, and hands should be washed with soap and water before any contact with me.  I will be avoiding large groups of people for the duration of outpatient treatment.

I have to go back into outpatient clinic on Monday (to a named-person clinic without a location or a time, but apparently I will probably get a letter with more detail).  But I get to spend the weekend at home.  Hurray.
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One of the consequences of getting me more interested in the Hugos, and especially this year's nonsense with slates, is that I've started actively looking for new short SFF so that I can collect a list of good short stories, novellettes, novellas to nominate.

(I am firmly of the belief that you don't need to have read "everything" to nominate, out of some idea that you have to know "what's best".  Just read stuff, and when you find something you think is amazing and would like others to read a) talk about it at the time b) put it on a list to nominate so you don't forget.  If you're really lucky you'll end up with more on the list than there are slots and then you'll get to choose from that.  But the whole point of a crowd-sourced nomination process like the Hugos is to get a shortlist of things that lots of different people thought were amazing.)

So, where do I go to read new stuff?

Lightspeed Magazine (winner of Best Semiprozine Hugo for 2015)
I have a 12-month ebook subscription, and the entire back catalogue, thanks to backing the Queers Destroy SF kickstarter earlier this year.  However, Lightspeed also make the short fiction and non-fiction available freely online, releasing in stages over the month of the issue. They also release podcasts of the stories, if that's to your taste.

To quote their About page: "Our current publication schedule each month includes four pieces of original fiction and four fiction reprints, along with two feature interviews and an artist gallery showcasing our cover artist.".  The fiction is equally split between SF and Fantasy.  They also give word counts and publication dates, which makes working out what a story is eligible for much easier.

Again, I have an ebook subscription to this magazine, this time via Patreon.  Again, the contents are published online for free each month, and again there are podcasts of the fiction, which get released in stages over the month of the relevant issue.  There's a mixture of new fiction and reprints, and Clarkesworld describes itself as a "science fiction and fantasy magazine".  Again, they supply word counts and publication dates, which I find very handy.

Strange Horizons
This is mostly funded by an annual fund drive (currently in progress) although they seem to be trying out Patreon too.  Strange Horizons is a "speculative fiction magazine", published entirely online, which updates weekly on Mondays, with a mixture of fiction, poetry and reviews.   Almost all its published work is available in the archives.  No word counts though.

I tend to prioritise the first two, as I've paid for them, and then Strange Horizons.  I'm also collecting a list of other places that publish online, mostly through finding places where authors or artists I already am interested in are getting published, but I'm not yet really in a position to recommend them, as I barely keep up with the three venues above, before I get onto these others. 

I will however mention Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which was a non-slate finalist in the Semiprozine category for the Hugos (alongside Lightspeed Magazine and Strange Horizons), and whose sample in the voting packet I rather liked.  It describes itself as publishing "Literary Adventure Fantasy" and publishes every two weeks: two new stories, and one from the archives, plus podcast versions of (some of?) the stories.  Issues can be read online or downloaded in a variety for formats.  Funding seems to be by donations or Weightless Books subscriptions.   A quick look suggests publication dates but not word counts are provided as a matter of course.  I think I'm adding this to my list under Strange Horizons.

Finally, there is an interesting Kickstarter running right now: Long List Anthology which aims to publish the "longlisted" short fiction from this year's Hugos, where it's available for reprint.  It's already made its base goal, so supporting it at the $10 ebook level is essentially pre-ordering a lovely-looking anthology.
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 My neutrophil (white blood cell) count is above 0.1 (of whatever the unit is), which means docs are willing to say it is rising. I can go home when it is above 0.5 if all else is going well. Translating that to an expected day or date range ... the doctor will check with the consultant for tomorrow (also we'll have tomorrow's counts so better data).

I've asked about requirements for taking the did-chemo-work biopsy, as that's not the same as going-home requirements, but is also something I'm really keen on happening. Should find out tomorrow what those are too.

I think this uncertainty is one of the hardest things for me to get used to. I'm very used to planning my time: timetables, calendar appointments and deadlines. This, I suppose I should call it data-driven planning, is clearly the right approach for my circumstances but it doesn't fit my usual approach at all. And so I'm slowly learning the right questions to ask: what are the thresholds of interest, what happens when we reach them, what are today's results, what is the trend.
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I have a bit more energy today - I've actually achieved sitting up and firing up the laptop.  This morning's doctor visit included the information that my blood cells aren't rising but "they look as though they might be about to".  There is a threshold above which the doctors will consider them definitely rising and I haven't quite achieved that.

I am still "spiking" a higher temperature about once a day, and I have a horrid mouth ulcer (apparently very typical on ATRA), and we are trying an option of 3 days of steroids to encourage it to heal fast.  This carries some other risks, which the consultant talked me through, and we agreed were acceptable/likely to be minimal.

I want, so very much, to get well enough to go home.  It was 5 weeks ago that I walked into ambulatory care thinking I was just having a few tests done, only to spend all day there and be admitted to the respiratory ward that evening.  Even though becoming an outpatient is still going to mean a lot of day visits to Addies, I'll at least get to sleep in my own bed and see more of my family.  And if I can get home by Saturday it'll be much easier to keep up with LibDem Conference.

I probably need to get a pill organiser for home, given the number of different things I'll still be taking each day, without nurses to track it all for me.

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I spent most of yesterday lying down with my eyes shut, whether asleep or not. Today is looking similar. But apart from the complete lack of stamina, I'm feeling pretty good.

medical details )
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I read three books this week!  All are historical romances by Rose Lerner, essentially because two of them have been on my private wishlist for a while, and the third (although the first I read) was on sale at 49p and sounded fun.

A Lily Among Thorns is about Serena Ravenshaw, former exclusive courtesan turned innkeeper with a terrifying reputation in London's crime underworld, and Solomon Hathaway, shy chemist and tailor.  Solomon comes to Serena because she has a reputation for finding things, and some heirloom earrings have been stolen from his family.  As they look for the earrings they get sucked into international espionage on the eve of Waterloo.

I enjoyed this very much; I loved that Serena was prickly and frankly scary at times, and that Solomon was shy and gentle but kept finding his courage to stand up to people being rude to Serena.  I also loved his ongoing obsession with people's clothing, and that he keeps not responding to Serena the way he expects (his response to her cross-dressing at one point is absolutely priceless).  The romance and the conflict between them felt real, and arising from their very different personalities and experiences.  (Oh, and there are some non-white and non-straight secondary characters, which is always a breath of fresh air.)

Sweet Disorder and True Pretences are both part of the "Lively St Lemeston" series, that being a small country town in which they are set (and another book to come later this year, I gather).   [personal profile] skygiants has written great reviews of them here and here, (which is why they were on my reading wishlist) but I'll have a go.

Sweet Disorder is the one about an election where there's a widow who can give someone a vote if they marry her; at first she's not interested but then her sister gets into trouble and she needs money.  Essentially, both candidate campaigns offer to bribe her to marry someone on their side.  The Whig is nice but utterly unsuited; the Tory has a young daughter who likes to read, but has horrible politics (and doesn't listen to her); and of course she's actually more interested in one of the matchmakers.

True Pretences is the one about the Jewish con-artist brothers, the younger of whom (Rafe) wants to go straight, so the older one (ash) finds a nice heiress (Lydia) who can't access her money to continue her political work unless she gets married.  All his delicate set up work gets thrown away when Rafe says "hey, so how about a marriage of convenience eh?" and she says "well, it's an interesting thought but actually I might prefer your brother" and Rafe says "fair enough, would do him good" and Ash is all "what? no, it's your nice marriage of convenience" and then the brothers have a big argument and Rafe leaves, but not before angrily telling Lydia about the Jewish con artist part too.  And Lydia thinks about this and says "still need to get married, how about it Ash?"    

And that's just about the first third of the book and the rest is Lydia and Ash convincing her entire social circle that this is totally a whirlwind romance and definitely not a marriage of convenience, and comparing notes on swindling vs political persuasion when you can't vote, and eventually the brothers' wicked past coming back to bite them.

All three books are a lot of fun, and generally warm and engaging and not too much outright villainy.  People are flawed and human rather than Good or Bad.  There's a bit of a theme about sibling and friend relationships being as complicated and difficult and worth sorting out as romantic relationships.  I could see rereading all three of them but think A Lily Among Thorns is my favourite.

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Content notes: blood, medical procedures, needles

trouble on t'line )

More general updates:

My view really is good, If I sit up not only do I have a nice view of hills etc, but I can also see the railway line and all the trains going between Cambridge and London.  I amuse myself counting if they are 4, 8 or 12 cars, and guessing by the colour which ones they are.  I could look them up but haven't yet bothered to.

I'm continuing to improve: over the last two days my appetite's increasing, I feel more like myself, I have more focus.  I'm still running high temperatures some of the time, but the overall trend is definitely down.  I have no stamina whatsoever and will fall over tired after talking too much or getting washed, or writing a blog post, but what I can do in my short bursts of activity is becoming more complex, if that makes sense? 

I read two more books, and managed a phone discussion with C about possible after-school activity clubs, and a longer chat with Louise about screen time and bedtimes and what my ideal would be if I were there, for her to talk over with Tony (as they're the ones that have to enforce it, and I'm not).

I think I'm due yet more platelets this evening but they haven't turned up yet.  I have now reached the point of losing count of how many transfusions of platelets and red blood cells I've had: more than 3 and less than 8 of each, more platelets than red blood cells.

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I have had yet another bed move, this time into a private "side room" again.  This is because one of the many (many) samples they have taken from me has been found to contain MRSA, and so I need to be barrier-nursed and kept away from other patients.  I have yet to ascertain whether I'm allowed to leave the room to shower (there being none in here) or whether I get to "enjoy" a bed-bath from an HCA.

People can still visit, though you should be extra-vigilant about handwashing both on arrival and departure and should probably minimise physical contact with me.

On the other hand: private room.  The bay I was on had got considerably more bearable recently: the confused old lady has been moved on to another hospital (and I sincerely hope it has better support for her) and for the last few days I've had three grandmothers of similar age who like to chat genially with each other, in a way I found easy enough to wash over me, and wasn't obliged to join in much with.

But it has been utter bliss this afternoon in my own space, with only my mother with me at intervals, and not feeling the need to self-censor.  Also the view is nice and includes the hospital helipad for occasional excitement.

As you might guess, I also seem to be getting over the MRSA or whatever-it-is that has been giving me a fever for most of the last week.  I've had a normal temperature for entire hours at a time.  It's been very clear how my brain starts turning to sludge as my temperature goes above 38 degrees and starts working again when it falls back below  (you can write your own snark about the pressure group).  I read a book yesterday and today!  I literally could not do that all of last week.

I'm still throwing high temps at times, but the trend seems definitely downward.

Oh, and I am shedding hair on everything like a cat, but there is clearly lots to come out before I start rocking the bald look.
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I am full of cold symptoms and exhausted by them. Assorted tests are being run, drugs applied, treatments sought. But mostly I'm drifting in and out of sleep and feeling rotten.

The earplugs are helping: they don't completely block everything, but enough that I can sleep through things that used to wake me.
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Overnight I've developed a temperature and cold symptoms, and am on IV antibiotics and fluids to combat them. This would have been much scarier at home.

I find this bay on the ward very wearing. I can't avoid hearing everything going on at each of the other 4 beds, whether it's loud daytime TV or people's diagnoses, arguments with family, biological functions, etc. And I'm highly conscious that the same applies to anything I say or do aloud.

There is an older woman who can't see well and is a bit confused, and she never remembers the nurse call bell, just calls out again and again. I want to be compassionate and understanding but at times I quite hate her :-(
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The nurse came to tell me that the consultant overruled the registrar and said no I don't get to go home after all.

I don't have words for how gutted I feel right now. (also deeply unimpressed by who gets landed with giving the bad news)

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I'm having some unpleasant digestive TMI (which nurses and docs are clearly trying hard to address), as well as missing home, as well as feeling the utter lack of privacy on the ward quite hard. 

In an attempt to address low blood pressure I have been given a delicious milkshake with ice cream - which I promptly spilled down my nice clean hoodie. Bah.

My comfort-reading stash is getting quite the workout this morning, and I have visitors to look forward to, so I won't be grumpy forever :-) 
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Now expanded to 7th Sep as "can reasonably expect to be in at least till then, but maybe not long after": http://doodle.com/trxc2pkak5fnnyfp
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The short version:
I have finished the first round of chemotherapy treatment, but I will need to stay in hospital for probably at least two more weeks. When and how I get to go home and what happens next is all a matter of wait, watch and see. I have daily blood tests, and those results are what’s being watched.

Long version: Read more... )
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Apparently to be expected at this stage. Also yet another bed move, which seems to have been driven by changes to the gender mix in the ward. I'm by a big window at least, with a view mostly of sky and concrete.

I'm also having platelets transfused as I type this. My first receipt from the National Blood Service, no doubt not the last.
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I wasn't planning to watch them live, that would be ridiculous in this time zone, and hardly a low-stress option.

Except my body is apparently WIDE AWAKE.  Hurray for liveblogging (my reception in hospital isn't up to the full video stream even if it wasn't antisocial), and on with the excitement.

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Clare's made me a visiting schedule for next week on Doodle; if you want to visit me, please write your name in and tick the slot that suits.  Only one person (or couple) per slot please.  No children but my own.

I am up to seeing people but I am not very up to tracking who is coming when, so we thought we'd give this a try.
rmc28: Rachel speaking at a lectern with microphone and part of the slogan "Stronger Economy Fairer Society" in shot (libdem)
My hair's going to start falling out in another week or so. I decided to reduce the inevitable mess by cutting it short ahead of time, so this afternoon's exercise has been going back to the 9mm trim of 2013.  (also bonus less effort to stay clean and non-sweaty between now and Fallout Time)

Tony has tweeted a set of photos in-progress, and here's my hospital-bed selfie:

Haircut selfie

Charles enjoyed helping cut it; Nico wasn't that interested but has commented cheerfully that "your hair short like Daddy now".  Tony did all the buzzing :-)
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I woke up with a little morning burst of energy, and my wardmate persuaded the nurse to bring us some food (real breakfast turns up around 9am).  OJ & toast fuelled me through a shower and clean clothes, and my bed was freshly made by the morning nurse.  Now I might have a little lie down on it to recover before second breakfast :-)

I inhaled a new paranormal romance book a couple of days ago: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Lauren Esker is a warm, sweet romance between a were-sheep and a were-wolf from feuding families in rural USA.  I liked that the romance itself was straightforward and the conflict was real and external and not contrived by no-one having an honest conversation (there were some very touching honest conversations too!).  Also the wider family on both sides were great, especially the were-sheep granny matriarch.  It's 99p for about another day, I think.

As it had been so exactly the sort of thing I want to read right now, I signed up on the author's mailing list and have just bought her new release: Handcuffed to the Bear.  I'm a few chapters in, and enjoying it very much (it opens with the protagonists coming round from unconsciousness, handcuffed together on a remote island, wcpgw).  It's also currently 99p.

Lauren Esker is a penname of Sholio, who also happens to write some of my favourite MCU fanfic too :-) 

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A short appropriately-themed (i.e. death and medical advances) Discworld fanfic, now at AO3


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 Some photos on twitter from yesterday and this morning, but I'm back to being mostly horizontal again it seems.

Edited to add:
Also apparently for moving beds. I'm no longer in H4 by myself, but on a 2-bed bay with Other Rachel, just off nurses' reception. Clearly doing too well :-)
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[personal profile] stephdairy said something lovely in a comment on one of the medical posts that I wanted to share more widely:

I always wondered what the defining characteristic of the future would be. It's not flying cars, it's not a moon colony, hell it's not even that you have a stonking chance of beating this thing... It's that you have people there even when they're not, that community, caring, and loving can span the globe.

It is so true. My physical world is very small right now (mostly in bed, though with a newly-decorated wall to look at and a reasonable view out of the window).  But my emotional/mental world is wide and sustaining, and I am incredibly grateful.

I have graduated to sitting up and using my laptop for short periods, rather than pecking things out on the phone or tablet.  This is so much nicer

I am more up to short visits now.  [personal profile] ceb is going to help me set up stuff to schedule it, when I get back to her :-)

For now, if you are in the area and want to pop in for a few minutes (on the understanding I might say "sorry, please go away" or be asleep), I am in bed H4 on D6 (it's signposted) and visiting hours are fairly relaxed.  Don't make special visits yet, because of aforementioned random may-be-asleep-or-antisocial.  Ironically I seem most awake first thing in the morning, which is when the staff here are busiest.

And please, please don't come if you have anything at all communicable.  That's probably the most important thing, not just for me, but for everyone on this ward.
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Content notes: bodily functions, medical procedures, morbidity and mortality, weight loss
Read more... )
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Admin: medical posts are public and behind cuts. Too much work to maintain a filter, and too many people with an interest and no DW account. I'll put future medical detail in its own posts in the same way.

Basic update: I've had a rough start to treatment, docs have worked hard to mitigate and I slept really well last night and am making use of this burst of energy to write this and catch up on messages etc. I've a minor procedure this afternoon which might knock me back again, so if I go quiet that's why.

My mother is in town for a couple of days and keeping me company. She's going to be visiting on a regular basis for the duration. Tony's mother has reorganised her life and is coming to live with us long-term from this weekend, which is utterly amazing of her and should give us a bit more capacity to cope and to make use of the many generous offers of help, and move out of day-to-day crisis management. Tony and the children have had a badly-timed bout of stomach bug but hopefully I will see Tony tomorrow.

  1. All the support and offers of help, really feeling loved and supported and appreciative.
  2. NHS treatment free at point of delivery, and my employer's generous sick leave policy means we don't have to worry about money on top of everything else.
  3. This cancer is curable (yay science) even if the cure isn't much fun.
  4. The staff here are all very kind and I'm managing to learn names (never my strength).
  5. I have a room to myself, which suits me.
  6. Internet and smartphones :-)
rmc28: Rachel speaking at a lectern with microphone and part of the slogan "Stronger Economy Fairer Society" in shot (speaking)
 Gossip, photos, fic recs, podfic recs. All welcome here.

I'm currently sleeping a lot, listening to ybeb podfic and intermittently checking email (inc comment notifications) and twitter. Reading anything longer or writing much probably going to wait.

See also: http://fanf.livejournal.com/135958.html
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Thank you all for the lovely messages of support, I'm all emotional and feeling the love, and I'm hanging on to them when things are hard. It may not feel like much at your end but it's making a real difference at my end, I promise you.

I started treatment last night and it's already Officially No Fun and exhausting so again apologies for slow/no response. I am reading and appreciating.

Tony came today and has a list of things you can do to help, which will go up at [livejournal.com profile] fanf as his domestic duties allow. There's some stuff about visitors in it because I'm to tired to deal right now with schedules.

Cancer sucks. Science is great. I need to lie down again.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I have a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Bad news and good news: I have acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL), a type of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). It is curable. I will be undergoing chemotherapy for about the next six months, the first month or so as an inpatient, the rest as outpatient but making regular visits.

I'm now in ward D6 for the rest of my inpatient stay. I will be grateful for visitors in hospital if people are able (but I'm going to have lowered immunity so not if you've anything communicable).

I'm still coming to terms with this, so I might be slow to respond to comments. I appreciate every one of them.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
 I've been told very firmly by a doctor that I am to stay here today. Tests this morning, and probably more this afternoon depending on results.

The parallels with my day job (analysing and fixing software errors) are especially strong today.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Keeping me sane and grounded this week (see previous public post):

Ursula Vernon (as T Kingfisher): Bryony and Roses
Lois McMaster Bujold: Penric's Demon
Lia Silver: Laura's Wolf, Prisoner (and no doubt Partner shortly ...)
The Economist magazine
[archiveofourown.org profile] dsudis : assorted works
[archiveofourown.org profile] copperbadge :assorted works
[archiveofourown.org profile] Philyra : I Came To Win / I Came To Conquer
[archiveofourown.org profile] Feather : your blue eyed boys specifically the podfics recorded by [archiveofourown.org profile] sallysparrow017
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
That's been my life the last few days. I've now got some certainty so I can say what's going on.

I'm currently in Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge, I've been signed off sick until the end of next week and it's quite likely I'll be off longer. I've gone from being "a bit of a mystery" to having my illness identified, but the cause of my illness probably won't be known for another week. There's a range of possible causes from minor to scary, but even the scary ones are treatable. I am not worrying in advance of the data.

So still lots of uncertainty, but enough certainty to talk about now: I'm going to be on bed rest for at least another week and I'm not going back to work soon, but I'm also unlikely to get suddenly worse.

I may get to go home this week (tomorrow even!) because I can bedrest there, but anyone familiar with this hospital and its discharge administration will know to believe I'm going home when I'm going out the door of the ward, and not a minute sooner.

I have internet and my ebook, audiobook & music collection. I'm currently in a room to myself (with ensuite!) and the food is adequate but not exciting. I'm bored and visitors are welcome, but text my mobile first in case I'm going home (message me if you want my number). Ward N3, visiting hours 2-5pm & 7-8:30pm.

Medical detail at great length will be available in a filtered post or an email: let me know by comment or message or email if you want to know, but I'm not putting it in a public post.
rmc28: (smile)
Continuing my recent habit of buying/supporting more short fiction than I can read, this lovely Kickstarter for Uncanny Magazine Year 2 drew me in with an amazing list of authors/artists. I'm boosting in case it also appeals to you (and to increase the chances of getting the stretch goals).
Creator list under cut )
rmc28: (books2010)
First I dug out the remaining published shorts by Iona Sharma I hadn’t already read:

Ur by Iona Sharma
The setting for this story is Ur, a joint colony between humans and aliens (the people of Earth and the people of Xi Lyr). The plot follows the household of a government minister as Earth takes a vote whether to continue the colony project or not; it’s about that, and it’s also about language and people and change.

One-Day Listing by Iona Sharma
This story has another humans+aliens setting, this time with a recent disaster having taken place; the story doesn’t focus on the disaster, just the background stress it puts on everyday activities. It’s very much a day-in-the-life kind of story and I enjoyed it as I have everything else by this author.

[I had an idea to go track down short stories by Hugo nominees I hadn’t hated, specifically Kary English and Rajnar Vajra, but couldn’t find anything recently published by either not requiring a purchase to read. Which is fair enough, but I’ve already got oodles of bought books/magazines to read, so I postponed that plan for now, and went back to things I’ve already paid for.]

2 from the current edition of Clarkesworld:

Today I Am Paul by Martin L Shoemaker
What if medical robots could pretend to be people on demand, when caring for dementia patients? This is a neat little story about that scenario, playing out with one old woman. I was reminded of my paternal grandmother and thought the story was done well.

It Was Educational by J.B. Park

This story was rather less to my taste, being a reviewer in a simulated “historic” education game, which is definitely at the gory end for me.

2 from the current edition of Lightspeed:

The Smog Society by Chen Qifan, translated by Ken Liu & Carmen Yiling Yan
I was impressed by the invocation of the smog-covered city, and all the little technological defences against it; I was less impressed by the man-pain of the old man who keeps ignoring his wife until it’s too late. It’s a bit of a depressing story, but one that will stick with me, I suspect.

To See Pedro Infante by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This was also rather depressing: a young woman with the ability to send her mind into other bodies, living a fairly miserable life with a crush on a celebrity.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
(I totally have more to say about emotional labour, but this is a quick thing I wanted to mention in passing)

A couple of people on That Metafilter Thread wrote about Facebook and how it makes a lot of emotional labour easier.

I really don't like Facebook; I killed my account when Charles was still a toddler, and the steady stream of stories of privacy violations and monetisation and manipulation of feeds etc has not really encouraged me to return.

But, I have two new niblings born in the last ten days, and the parents of those babies, like much of my extended family, use Facebook to share baby photos and keep in touch.  It is work for me to rejoin Facebook; it's also work for them to remember me specifically not being on Facebook and to find some other way to keep me updated, and that is not really work I expect anyone to do for me ...  once I frame it as work.   I find it is work I'm willing to do, once I acknowledge it to myself as such.

So I have a Facebook account now, and lots of baby photos to coo over.

(and good grief, Facebook really really wanted me to give it my email address book; the search function is rubbish without it; eventually I googled my brother's facebook and got started from there stalking finding more of the family)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Tony and I will be in Bristol next week with the children.  We know about Shaun in the City and we're probably going to visit the Zoo.  We would welcome recommendations of places to eat and things not to miss, suitable for including an 8 year old and a 3 year old.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
We went to see an early showing of Hot Pursuit, which has Reese Witherspoon as the by-the-book cop escorting criminal witness Sofia Vergara to testify against a drug kingpin.  Things go wrong, and they don't get on, but have to work together to survive.

It is not a surprising film: it hits the mismatched-partnership comedy-movie beats you would expect, but it is done very well and is frequently very funny.  Although it gets a bit cringeworthy in places, it stayed on the right side of unbearable for me.   It reminded me a bit of The Heat which is also a police comedy hitting well-known beats but with women in the lead roles.

Witherspoon is awesome as Cooper, who is small and fearsome and takes everything very literally, and was apparently raised by a single-dad cop who carried her around in the back of his patrol car all day (which is in the opening few minutes of the film , and was ringing my "possible child endangerment" alarms.  Spoiler: the child is not harmed.)  What I particularly liked is the daddy issues are only briefly referenced after that - they've been established, we spend very little time dwelling on them.

I also liked how they had fun with the physical contrast between the two women, and with stereotypes and perception.  It is not a Serious or Life Changing movie, but it was a lot of fun.  (I note that Rotten Tomatoes et all seem to wildly disagree with me and hate it.  Oh well.)

We then wandered into town deciding where to eat, and I said flippantly "Isn't there some new foodie/hipster place we haven't tried yet?" and Tony laughed and then said "Yeah, actually there is!" and so we ate at Butch Annie's.  We had delicious burgers which we ate quickly - it's not really a place for lingering over the meal, but the food was very tasty indeed.  (And I checked about the tips if I pay by card, and the server gets them, once a month.)

So we then stopped into the refurbished and renamed Architect on the way home and had a pleasant hour or two alternately talking with each other or tweeting or reading, and eventually toddled home at closing time.

(where we discovered Nicholas was wide awake and ready for Toddler Midnight Party, happy joy)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
It's too late now to vote for the Hugos. But if you have a membership of Sasquan you can buy a vote for the 2017 Worldcon. It is somewhat faffy: [personal profile] ceb has clear instructions here and it took me something over an hour (including time to wrestle with a printer and a scanner and email) to get mine and [livejournal.com profile] fanf's done and emailed off.  (Yes, Tony voted and signed independently but it's really not much more work to wrangle two ballot papers than one, so I did that part.  Also it turns out we are in complete agreement in our ranking of possible sites, which amused me.)

The deadline for site selection is 24:00 PDT on Monday 10th August 2015.
rmc28: (books2010)
Almost like a reward for getting through the Hugo voting, Kameron Hurley posted her second story funded by Patreon, which handily completed another set of six stories for me:

The Judgement of Gods and Monsters is a thoughtful story about how a society creates the balance between being fully peaceful in peacetime, and being able to defend itself in wartime; how it deals after the war with those who committed violence within it.

I like the main plot of the story, but I also like how some of the background details (family structures, command structures, current technology) are not like the current white Western default, which builds the sense of this being a different place very effectively.

Archana and Chandni by Iona Sharma
Indian wedding … in space! I loved it, from the convincing portrayal of enduring culture into the future, to the spaceship sibling, to the wedding couple and the feeling of family. Just lovely. I have to thank [twitter.com profile] karaspita who linked to it. (and now I have Yet Another source of short fiction to fail to keep up with, yay!)

Alnwick by Iona Sharma
Also brought to my attention by [twitter.com profile] karaspita; this time about a bureaucrat in a British space program getting called out of a tedious party to respond to an accident affecting one of the key staff. I really like how the characters and the background culture feel completely real and believable, and the overall feeling is optimistic.

(and at this point I looked up the author’s website, realised that Nine Thousand Hours which I wrote about last time is also by Iona Sharma and think maybe I rather like this author?)

Noise Pollution by Alison Wingus
I really like the worldbuilding this story, where music is magic and there’s evil/chaotic noise that has to be fended off with singing, or at least a walkman playing some good music. Lots of fun. (and oh hey the author also writes comics)

The Totally Secret Origin of Foxman: Excerpts from an EPIC Autobiography by Kelly McCullough
It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: another variant on the superhero origin story, complete with former friend/nemesis and unexplained arrival of powers, but done well and interesting me enough to stick the imminent novel-in-the-same-universe on my wishlist.

Kin, Painted by Penny Stirling
I read this because the accompanying artwork was by Mia, whose work I adore. I’m often find highly stylised writing puts me off, if I’m noticing the style more than the story, but I think here the style and the story work together well and I enjoyed reading this, and admiring how Mia’s painting fits it so well.

(And Lackingtons looks interesting, if by its focus on stylistic writing, somewhat outside my comfort zone. I didn’t have enough short story publishers to keep up with, clearly!)

rmc28: (books2010)
You totally wanted 2000 words of my voting choices and reasoning, written as I went along, yes? In case you didn't, I cut it.

I do rather resent that the racist misogynistic political campaigns calling themselves Sad/Rabid Puppies drained a lot of my pleasure and enthusiasm for Hugo-voting this year, so I fell back on bad habits of being deadline-driven. However I think I’ve managed to look at and form opinions in more categories this year than I ever have before.
Read more... )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
(Maybe I’ll expand on these at some point, but on past experience probably not)

Acoustic Festival of Britain in June: I met [personal profile] jae  and really liked her! I saw Show of Hands with her! I enjoyed listening to live music and also a night and a day responsible to none but myself. I was really impressed with young Welsh singer Kizzy Crawford. I also realised I really don’t enjoy long-distance driving any more, but I did at least have the audiobook of Ancillary Sword to keep me going.

Read more... )


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Rachel Coleman

October 2015



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