rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Earlier this year, one of my colleagues was in a play at the ADC, An August Bank Holiday Lark, which is set in a Lancashire town before, during and after the First World War. Morris dancing features extensively, and the play's programme credited Manor Mill Morris for teaching the actors.

I was thinking vaguely about taking up a new exercise of some kind once my degree was over, and I love group dancing e.g. ceilidhs when I get the opportunity, and here there was a women's side, practicing very close to my home, late enough I can reasonably get there after collecting and feeding children, best joined in the autumn ... it felt like the universe shouting at me HERE TRY THIS.

I missed the first two possible weeks, due to boring family logistics, but I finally made it to practice this week, and I enjoyed it very much. It's hard in exactly the right way - I have so much fitness to gain and so much to learn, but I know it's the kind of thing I can learn - and it has all the extra joy of dancing in a group and getting that buzz when everyone ends up in the right place at the right time. The social aspect felt good too - I was the youngest by some way and it has been a very long time since I was either the youngest in a group or in an all-women group, let alone both - and one of my neighbours was there too.

I'm kind of really excited and in love with my Shiny New Activity, and a bit worried that something will go wrong and I'll end up dropping out and then feeling stupid for being so excited about it. But mostly the former.
rmc28: (boozing)
I'm too tired right now to make a year review post, but that's TWO years of being alive thanks to The Wonders Of Modern Medicine etc.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I finally completed the Memrise Beginner's Finnish course, so now in theory I know 550 words in Finnish.  I promptly found and started 2 more: (Basic Finnish & Finnish Street Phrases).

I drove a car this evening for the first time since Before Cancer. There was a meeting about transition to secondary school on the other side of town, theoretically cyclable but not really on top of a work day. So I got the zipcar. Mostly it was fine, although it turned out halfway back I'd managed not to put my lights on :-(
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I was commenting last night to a couple of friends that I was not as fatigued by the holiday as I had expected.  And then as I got back to our apartment in the early hours this morning, I felt that familiar drag set in.  Spoke too soon!   So Tony is getting the 'night passes' for the rest of the con and I'm going to be pulling bedtime cover with the children.

(This holiday so far is being an excellent illustration of just how much we have life-at-home optimised for everyone's needs and just how much work it is to cope without those optimisations.  I'd thought my physical stamina was going to be the limiting factor on what we got done; instead it's the family's collective emotional comfort level with being in new places and Doing Stuff.)

Before staying up too late talking to lovely people, last night I danced my legs off at the Clipping concert.  Clipping's hip-hop Afrofuturist dystopian concept album is up for the Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form, and the con managed to persuade them to come over and play a gig to a bunch of geeks.  The queue for entry was long, and the room was set up with seating, but the band basically said "ok, we're not allowed to get rid of the chairs - we asked - but there's a lot of space here at the front", which was enough to get [personal profile] ceb up and dancing, and I followed.  It was ace.  I think that about 90% of the population right in front of the stage was female-presenting (and within that, mostly white, and mostly around mid-thirties or older).  I am not sure this is Clipping's usual audience demographic? I had a moment of looking around and realising I was dancing in the vicinity of a number of amazing women who I admire greatly and just feeling overwhelmed and joyous and incredibly lucky to be there at that time.  (Speaking of,[personal profile] mizkit also liked the gig.)

So I not only danced at a Clipping gig a few metres away from Daveed Diggs, I had a short appreciative conversation with him in the bar afterwards, and my internal squee may not stop for days.

Totally worth being shattered today.

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
A bit less than two years ago, I was in a hospital bed creating a googledoc named Helsinki, with https://www.seat61.com/Finland.htm open in another tab, starting to build up the shape of the holiday we could have using Worldcon as an anchor.

Now I'm in an airport hotel room, about to wake up the children and go get our flight to Helsinki.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Last Sunday (after Saturday's epic dog chase where I lost my keys) I woke up feeling the most hungover I have in years.  And I didn't even get drunk first!  I did manage to pull myself together by early afternoon, and we successfully hosted Nicholas's birthday party at the Little Gym in the late afternoon.

Yesterday was tiring, but for a much more pleasant reason. I took Nicholas to see My First Ballet: Cinderella at the Peacock Theatre, and for icecream at Ruby Violet afterward. We walked to Ruby Violet through pouring rain with bright new umbrellas, and had the whole shop to ourselves.  By the time we'd finished eating it was bright and sunny for the return walk to Kings Cross.  This morning I was thankfully free of hangover symptoms, but did (need to) spend the morning in bed again.  (Reading fanfic and re-reading All Systems Red; there are worse ways to spend a Sunday morning.)

The shiny new phone runs Pokemon Go and on Friday I let Charles talk me into installing it and going for a daily walk with him. The first evening, we passed the charity shop and saw the biggest Angry Bird toy I have ever seen.  Charles bought it at opening time the next morning.  Today our walk took us past the noticeboard in the park - where someone had hung my lost keys!  About five minutes later, we met one of the people who'd put them there, who said they'd found them about 5 minutes after I'd gone home last week from grumpily trawling the park!  I thanked them profusely and asked them to pass it on.

Nicholas says he wants to be called Nick rather than Nico, and I'm slipping up far too often, but at least making sure other adults taking care of him are made aware, and giving him some standard reminder phrases to use on me and others. (It's really not my preferred version of his name, but it's his name not mine, so I need to get over that.)

School has finished for the summer, and in less than two weeks we will be in Helsinki!  I have so much to do between now and then ...
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I'm forty years old today. My second birthday Since Cancer.

I've not done much about it: cakes in the office yesterday & I may get a takeaway tonight rather than cook.  I am vaguely thinking of doing Something on the weekend that includes 1st October (my arbitrarily-declared Happy Being Alive Day) but I haven't worked out what Something will be yet.  In the meantime, a good friend is holding a party on Saturday so I'm going to enjoy being part of their celebration instead of organising my own right now.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Last weekend we made a family visit to the inlaws in High Wycombe, for some low-key hanging-out time together for the cousins to play together and the adults to gossip.  It was Too Hot, but at least every train on the way home had aircon, as did the taxi.  We experimentally departed from Cambridge North, as we are roughly equidistant from the two railway stations.  Advantage: not going through the centre of Cambridge. Disadvantages: only one direct train per hour to London on the weekend, no cafe or shops (yet), slightly more expensive by taxi.  But it was worth conducting the experiment to be sure.

We all struggled with the heat this week.  This house does a good cross-breeze when such a thing is worth doing - this week that was usually from approx 9pm to 7am, so a lot of opening and closing windows and doors according to temperature and people being awake.  We acquired a standing fan to help. I did a lot of waking up about 5am to open things and then droop back on my bed waiting for the breeze to help. I think I'd be a lot less resentful of the lost sleep if I'd been able to be productive with the time, but no.

I went out to a PARTY yesterday and enjoyed catching up with people, and being introduced to Subjective Guess Who?  This is played using the standard board game set, but you can only ask questions which have no objective answer - some memorable ones from last night included "Have they ever played World of Warcraft?" and "Are they a morning person?".  The kibbitzing from the audience is the best part.

Going to the party was utterly self-indulgent given the state of my studying since the election. Today will probably not include much studying either, as plans already include: taking C to see Transformers: The Last Knight, attempting to get some sandals beforehand, getting in my weekly call to my mother before she gets on a bus to San Francisco, and making the cheating version of Tudor costume for C's class trip to Kentwell this week.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Politics. On Thursday night I posted that I expected nothing but disappointment from the election, and it was ... not quite that bad! Locally I am gutted for Julian losing. Purely selfishly, the size of the Labour majority puts it well into "we need to reevaluate the whole campaign" territory, not "we just needed to work a bit harder", which means I don't feel personally guilty for not doing anything.  (For clarity, I don't mean "oh the LD campaign was terrible" - I claim no insight into any of the local campaigning because I wasn't doing anything political - just that it's important to figure out the reasons why the change in vote was so dramatic.)  I was also really pleased to see Jo Swinson re-elected in Dunbartonshire, and Layla Moran elected for the first time in Oxford West & Abingdon.  I'm afraid I'm still in distantly-watching mode where politics are concerned; if the LibDems were likely to be offered a coalition or similar agreement I'd be clearing the decks to go to the members' special conference, but that doesn't look like it'll be happening any time soon.

Wonder Woman. Tony encouraged me to go see this with him when I wasn't feeling especially keen on it, and I'm SO GLAD he did.  I enjoyed it very much, I had very strong emotional reactions to Themyscira and the No Man's Land scenes in particular, I thoroughly enjoyed the slow-mo OTT action choreography and creative use of shields in combat.  (I want ALL the fanfic about current-day Diana comparing shield techniques with current-day Steve Rogers.)  I guessed one "plot twist" almost immediately but the other took me by surprise. It was a lot funnier than I expected too!  It's not perfect, but it's very very good and I'll be preordering the dvd as soon as that's possible.

Trailers and adverts. There was an advert for England Women's Cricket team before Wonder Woman.  I can't remember ever seeing such a thing before.  Was the thinking "women + athleticism" perhaps? Anyway I am in favour.  The Spiderman: Homecoming trailer makes me want to see it even though I'm still bitter about it bumping Captain Marvel back a year when Spidey already had LOTS of films. Transformers: The Last Knight has Anthony Hopkins delivering ridiculous lines in the trailer, and Bumblebee doing something cool enough I gasped aloud and I actually might agree to see this in the cinema if the 10yo Transformers fan so wishes.  And finally I managed to see the Black Panther trailer this morning and am very excited and that is one for me to see in the cinema.

Working (musical). I went to London to see this yesterday afternoon and really appreciated it.  It's 90 minutes without an interval, and it's "just" a series of vignettes in dialogue and song, based on a book of interviews with the US workforce, originally from the 1970s and updated with interviews from 2007-8. The vignettes themselves all have something to reveal, and how they're placed next to each other does interesting things too.  This production has the main parts played by six experienced actors, and a "chorus" of six new actors (as it happens, each of them in their first professional part), and the choreography, of movement as well as dance, was as delightful to me as the music. Two songs were added to the musical for the 2012 version, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and I carefully didn't look up which they were in advance so I could try guessing them.  I got one right, and completely missed the other but it's obvious in retrospect.  Annoyingly, I can only find a cast recording of the original version of the musical, without the LMM songs.  I liked the Southwark Playhouse too - it's small and friendly and relatively easy for me to get to: one train and one tube from Cambridge.

Fatigue. I am paying for all this fun today though.  I started off yesterday feeling tired, and despite taking it very easy both ways to London I had to go to bed early once home again. Today I can barely get out of bed and it's taken me half a day to pull enough brain together to write this.  If I'd gone to just one of Wonder Woman or Working but not both, I would probably be in a better state today, but it was probably worth it.

 
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
  • Emergency shopping for bread (for C's lunch), beguiled by Nico counting to 100 in 10s, 5s and 2s.
  • School run
  • Cast my vote at my local polling station
  • Last minute-revision
  • Cab to exam, to be kind to myself
  • Exam
  • Cast proxy vote 1 very near exam (with bonus meeting with [personal profile] dearheart & family!)
  • Cast proxy vote 2 on way home
J has offered to babysit so I could go to the pub this evening ... except I really don't think I'm up to it. Bah. Instead I think I will have a quiet wibble in a corner once the children are asleep, and then try to sleep before any exit polls are out.

I don't expect anything but disappointment from the election results, but I have work tomorrow, and a date in the evening with [personal profile] fanf to see Wonder Woman, and on Saturday I am Self-Indulgently Going To The Theatre In London with [personal profile] ses and [personal profile] wildeabandon .  And on Sunday I need to get back to my last remaining OU course ...


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I had planned a fairly low-key long weekend, involving some studying, and taking the children swimming as much as possible.

However, I got a migraine on Saturday evening which was not shifted by sumatriptan, and which didn't really clear until Monday evening.  So we had an even lower-key weekend. Charles made a cake (over two days, because we ran out of ingredients), and Nicholas watched/listened to/sang Mitch Benn's Very Hungry Caterpillar rock opera song repeatedly, and spent ages engrossed in a puzzle book I later realised was marked "7-10 years", and Tony gently herded and fed everybody and got retweeted by Mitch Benn, and I spent most of the time in bed.  Though I did go food shopping yesterday afternoon, which for reasons meant wandering around Aldi in one of my more glamorous dresses and a huge pair of sunglasses.

This morning I had an appointment with my cancer consultant at Addenbrookes, and decided I was still too tired to cycle, so I went by bus which takes about twice as long, but at least it's reading time? All my results are still clear, including the DNA tests which were backed up for ages, but are now getting turned round quite fast - even my most recent stabbing results are back, and completely clear.  I'm now nearly half way through follow-up.

I mentioned feeling like my recovery had plateaued, and she listened, but pointed out I'd had multiple colds over the winter, and it was a bad winter for cold viruses around here apparently, and viruses do cause fatigue.  The physiotherapy department is offering a newish "exercise for recovery" programme, and she's going to refer me. From previous experience of stuff like this, I don't expect it to tell me much new-to-me, but I'll give it a try anyway. I said something along those lines, but she said "well, I want to know if it can help my patients, and you can tell me what it's like if I refer you".  I agreed that I probably would be able to report back on who would be helped by it, even if I wasn't.

My reading time on buses and in the waiting room was spent on All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries), a novella by Martha Wells, which [personal profile] fanf read recently and recommended, and which I'd seen multiple people on DW and Twitter enthuse about. I loved it, and I would happily read many more instalments of adventures of the grumpy socially-awkward soap-opera-watching security android who stops pissing about the moment something dares to threaten its humans. I have not previously read anything by Martha Wells, but I see she has quite the back catalogue, mostly fantasy. Anyone who has read both All Systems Red and her other books, are they similar?
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
The temperature went over 20 degrees C this week, at which point I discovered all the things in my wardrobe that aren't really suitable for hot weather. One of my favourite Svaha dresses is too lowcut for me to wear without something underneath, unless I can figure out some kind of insert to the neckline. (Or possibly go to a professional alterations place and get them to do so.)  Another of my staple dresses (from Evans) is beginning to wear out. I have had a spendy month and ordered a bunch more Svaha dresses, which will turn up at some point when shipping and customs get around to it.

cut for mention of weight + body image )

The weather also prompted me to actually get my hair cut.  It was getting increasingly shaggy and annoying me; while it was just long enough to tie up off my neck, I really wanted to get it tidier.  The post-chemo curls were also a constant reminder of having had chemo. The more recent growth seemed straighter, but I wasn't sure if it was just being pulled straight by the weight of hair below.  Spoiler: nope, my hair seems to be straight again (photos at Twitter).  I am quietly delighted and enjoying having my hair back again.

(I promptly spoiled the lovely blow-dried effect by letting C persuade me to go swimming yesterday afternoon, but my hair seems to still be straight.  Woohoo.)

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From last weekend until 8th June is literally the busiest I will be all year: 2 OU courses with exams on 6th and 8th, and a third that just started and will run until September. I knew I was going to be stressed and overloaded and wrung out for about 8 weeks and had basically made my peace with it as the price for getting done this year rather than next.

And now 8th June is a general election, and I have no time to campaign, and have to fight the guilt gremlins that think I should surely be able to carve some time out magically, somehow, and funnily enough being even more stressed does not increase my productivity, or help me sleep.  This has not been the best week!

I've now logged out of Twitter and Facebook on my phone, so I can't take the stress with me everywhere.  I've devoted the weekend to resting and sorting out money (thus removing some other stress).  I'm behind on everything, but Facebook reminded me that I wrote this time last year about being behind on everything. While I'm still perpetually running too close to my limits, those limits have expanded in the last year.  I'm routinely working a 5-day rather than a 4-day week, I'm studying at a higher level, and my fitness has improved a little.

So I'm going to trust that if I take care of myself, I can get through this.  At least by 9th June some of my stressors are guaranteed to be gone.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
This was originally going to be an excuse for a family trip to the Cutty Sark, but Charles had a cold so everyone else stayed at home and I went by myself.

The band Show of Hands is (as I write!) holding a concert in the Albert Hall, as they did five years ago and ten years ago. I knew I wasn't up to attending that. However, they were launching a lovely coffee-table book of a photographic history of the band, and holding a launch gig at the gallery of the publisher yesterday - order a book, get one of a limited set of tickets to the gig. So I got one of those tickets and off I went to Greenwich yesterday.

I enjoyed the music very much, and the experience of being in a small group of keen fans (the singing-along was top quality). I was also delighted to get to spend some time with [personal profile] jae afterwards. I was a bit of a nerd and diverted from the most direct route home in order to go look at the being-rebuilt Victoria Palace, so now I know my way to Hamilton for when I go next year.

I was away from home less than 8 hours, and I don't feel like I was especially energetic - even my cycling to and from the station was deliberately paced to not get sweaty - but I went to bed early and took a long time to get moving this morning.  I can only imagine how much more tired I'd be if I'd been co-wrangling children and seeing a bit of a museum as well as going to the gig.  I guess I need to dial back my expectations of our epic nordic holiday a bit more.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I took Nicholas to see the Northern Ballet production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears at DanceEast in Ipswich. Partly because the tour wasn't coming to Cambridge, and partly to see how feasible the journey is if I want to see other things on at DanceEast.  It's an 80 minute train journey each way, but the train wasn't crowded and I enjoyed looking at a landscape I haven't travelled through in years.

It took us about 20 minutes to walk from the station to DanceEast, but that was at a four-year-old's pace.  We took a path alongside the river which was a bit scruffy but quiet and very pleasant in today's sunny spring weather.   It's not very wide, so I spoke quite firmly to my fearless four-year-old about walking sensibly next to me, and the undesirability of falling in.  We made it both ways without incident.   Overall, it was probably a bit longer than going to a theatre in London, but considerably less crowded, noisy, polluted or stressful.

The production was excellent and Nicholas was very focused on it.  An adaptation of it will be on CBeebies next weekend, and I shall try to get a recording, as last year's is still among Nico's favourite things to watch.  I did notice that the audience was very noticeably gender-skewed, both children and adults, which made me a bit sad. 

Back in Cambridge, I took advantage of having to change buses in the centre anyway to take Nico for passport photos.  As we weren't in any hurry, I indulged his desire to ride all the escalators in the Grand Arcade and John Lewis.  We just missed a bus home and I opted to spend the twenty minutes before the next one on a gentle walk across the park to the next stop on the way home, which did the trick of keeping the child of infinite energy entertained. It did not noticeably tire him out.

I, however, am very tired out and have done almost nothing since we got back, but I think I will be ok tomorrow.  Go me, matching my exertion to my available stamina.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
My youngest brother arrived Christmas Eve and was drawn into a conversation with Charles about Transformers before he even put his bag down.

Finding all the presents I'd hidden as I bought them over the past half year, working out what was for who and whether there was a reasonable balance between the children.  Then wrapping them all.  I had managed not to go as overboard as in some previous years, but wrapping still took far too long, even with Tony's help towards the end.

Failing to wake Nico for the evening meal after he'd nodded off with his uncles earlier in the day.  Being interrupted about an hour after the meal by a furious and tired Nico, and spending some interminable period trying to help him through the meltdown enough to try the merits of warm milk and a cuddle.  And then staying up with him until after midnight because Christmas is too exciting!

Tony tweeting: "Father Christmas brought me four packs of coffee and a book of Cambridge barber shop tales. What is he trying to suggest?!"  (It is an open secret to everyone but Nico that I am Santa in this house.)

Calling Charles away from Minecraft to ask if he would like sparkling orange juice for elevenses like the rest of us.  He walked right up to me, paused significantly, and said "No."
"How about salmon on bread?"
"No"
"How about opening your presents?"
"Maybe"

Opening presents together: 4 adults, 2 children, approx 90% of the gifts by volume for the children.  So much fun.

Lovely food by Tony.  Pulling handmade crackers from my aunt as we all sat around the table.

Remembering that I took my last (ever, I sincerely hope!) ATRA dose last Christmas Eve.

Taking a little walk around my local streets in the evening to stretch my legs, and enjoying the variety of decorations on display.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
My brain is definitely still adjusting to the correction. I was highly distracted at collection by the way everything around me was Suddenly Much Sharper, and also Bent Slightly Wrong. My proprioception is a bit off still: on my walk home I began to feel as though I was about a foot shorter than usual, and stopped a couple of times to touch things for reassurance. Even now (some hours later) my laptop screen appears to be a trapezium rather than a rectangle. I am assured this will pass in time ...

A couple of obligatory phone selfies behind the cut (which also showcase my luxuriant wavy hair)

Read more... )
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I saw my consultant again today.  She is pleased with me, says not to worry about my recent run of colds "there's just a lot of nasty things circulating, and your bloodwork is completely normal" and is giving me six months this time before seeing her again. She reminded me as always that I can always call the department if I am worried.  I told them that I still remember very clearly what it was like getting ill in the first place, and I certainly will get in touch if I think it is happening again.  After all, my confidence in my knowledge of my own body has been borne out, if not in the happiest of ways! 

Bone marrow samples will continue at 3-monthly intervals until three years after "end-of-therapy".  We are now at 11 months after end-of-therapy, so nearly 1/3 of the way there.  I asked if I was right to assume that they would call me if there was anything to be concerned about in the bone marrow samples, rather than waiting for my next appointment, and she confirmed that this is the case.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I lasted until 8:30am before accidentally finding out the result of the US presidential election (in that the people running the Economist app thought pushing a notification onto my phone was the best way to share such news).

I think I am less shocked and upset than I was by the Brexit result in June, but more scared. In June, I found it extremely helpful to follow my usual routine: take care of the children, go to work, fix things. My studying went off a cliff though, perhaps because it didn't immediately affect anyone but me, unlike my work and home obligations. Luckily the module concerned wasn't one I needed to do more than pass, so handing in one duff assignment didn't matter too much (and no, I wasn't going to ask for an extension or accommodation for "I am deeply upset by Brexit").

"Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on." For me that means sticking to my ongoing efforts to recover my health and effectiveness, take care of my family and finish my degree. Do the job in front of me, as best I can, and (re)build my capacity to do more in the long term.



rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Between the end of the cold, and last week's travel to see family, and working full time this week and getting an OU assignment in, I am pretty shattered. I declared it a weekend off, or as much as I could manage, when I got home on Friday.  Yesterday I took Nico to dance classes and a birthday party and then went to bed for the rest of the day.  Today the only thing I have to do is take Nico to gymnastics.  Charles is having a friend over, but Tony is in charge of supervising them.  I may get some of my to-do list done, but only if I really want to.  I may just read this week's acquisitions: The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London 6) and Penric's Mission (thanks [personal profile] davidgillon for tipping me off to the latter).

Dance classes plural were because Nico took a trial tap class after his existing ballet class.  He was a bit reluctant to go in, so I sat in the studio with him (with the teacher's permission).  He joined in a bit and then came back to me and said tap was great but he couldn't join in again until he had his own tap shoes that fit properly.  I rewarded this excellent negotiation with a trip to the dancewear store and the entire tap class uniform, not just the shoes. 

The dance school is on the top 1.5 floors of a 3-storey building on our nearest main road.  The dancewear store takes up the other half-floor, and on the ground floor is a cafe and a paint/wallpaper store.  All the businesses are independent, but being a student at the school gets a 10% discount on dancewear, and (I discovered yesterday), spending money in the dancewear store gets us a 10% discount in the cafe.  That made me smile.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
  • I still have a cough.  I've progressed to the point where I am no longer stupid ill with it, I just ... cough a lot.  I'm not getting enough sleep as a result, but I'm definitely getting better.  Just slowly.
  • I went for my quarterly bone marrow sample on Wednesday; it was probably the least-unpleasant experience yet.  I got the doctor who is particularly skilled at taking them.  I'm pretty certain if there was anything to worry about I'd have had a phone call by now, so I am not worrying.
  • The children had half-term off school, and we sent them to holiday club for 3 days and took 2 days as family holiday to Sheffield where the newest and tiniest cousin is.  As usual, the highlights of Sheffield for the children were, in order: a) trams b) Ponds Forge swimming pool c) their family (especially tiny cousins).
  • I took the children swimming twice in Sheffield.  Charles's birthday party earlier in the month was the first time I've been swimming since getting ill, and I had almost forgotten how much I like it.  Taking them to Ponds Forge is more walking-around-in-water than swimming, especially as I was solely responsible for non-swimmer Nico, but it was fun anyway. 
  • Between cough and holiday and sleep deprivation I am behind on everything and have an assignment deadline on Thursday.  Essay crisis ahoy!
rmc28: (grouchy)
The children have had a day each off school this week due to getting a cold - in both cases a day of rest at home has been more than enough to get them recovered.  Tony seems untouched.

I've been ill since Tuesday night, no improvement in sight, and as of this morning I've lost my voice.  The children found that a lot funnier than I did.

One of my friends from work, who had a similar leukaemia to me several years earlier, told me that she still finds colds hit harder and take longer to recover from than before the cancer.  So maybe it's not surprising.  But so so tedious.  And I keep having to talk down the bit of my brain that panics when I get breathless climbing the stairs, because honestly brain it's much more likely that I'm breathless because I have a stinking cold than because the cancer has come back, and I wasn't breathless climbing the stairs before I caught this cold.

It's not flu and I'm not running a temperature, I'm just bunged up and stupid and fed up.



rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Seeing In The Heights was amazing a couple of weeks ago (see babble in previous entry), but it also left me completely shattered the next day.  It was both frustrating and kind-of encouraging because I haven't felt that bad in a while. It did make me realise how far I've come that my current "normal" is so much better than e.g. the "normal" of my holiday in May.

This week I caught a cold and had to take two days off work because I had No Brain.  I went back Friday but I was s o  s l o w.  Again, much more like me-several-months-ago rather than me-now.   I have survived helping to run Charles's birthday party today but I've managed little else, and soon I'll have to go to bed if I don't want to feel deathly tomorrow.

Getting enough sleep is really really boring and really really essential.

One practical consequence is that the best day for me to go see In The Heights again is a Sunday.  The show is at 6pm so if I cycle to the station rather than taxi I could be home by 10:30pm.  Of course, that's a school night so not entirely ideal, but more so than the Tuesday matinee, which finishes bang in the middle of rush hour.



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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Last August, I arbitrarily declared every day after 1st October 2015 "a win, a gift of medical science and care". What have I been doing with that gift in the last year?
  • I successfully completed chemotherapy!  I've had three follow-up tests, which continue to show me clear of leukaemia.
  • I returned to work, and have been working 4-4.5 days a week since April thanks to judicious use of accumulated annual leave. I am about to start working 5-day weeks routinely, and feel reasonably confident about it.
  • [livejournal.com profile] fanf and I did a short course of couples therapy with a Maggies Wallace counsellor, by way of preventative maintenance.
  • I completed a year of Open University study at nearly full-time load, and enrolled on another full-time year to complete my degree.
  • I have recovered a lot of the fitness lost through 5 months of chemotherapy: by no means all of it, but steadily improving week on week and month on month.  For the past few months I've made deliberate, targeted use of my fancy fitbit (ironically, bought less than a month before I began chemo) to measure and motivate myself.
  • I've recently got much better at getting enough sleep, also through use of my fitbit.
  • I've done the necessary admin to get our children into the school and childcare we wanted for them, and the extra scheduled activities each of them wanted.
  • I've just about kept our finances under control, and spotted a pattern of overspending in time for both of us to stop it being a disaster.
  • [livejournal.com profile] fanf and I have kept the children's routines going steadily, and the house just about under control.
  • I've built up a good set of reminders on Regularly to keep most of the plates spinning approximately at the right frequency.
  • I've fallen in love with two musicals, been to the theatre multiple times and taken my children to the ballet twice.

I've said before that my big revelation from serious illness was that the life I'd built was bloody good thanks and I wanted it back.  I think I'm doing a good job of getting there!  Two smaller revelations/reminders were the importance to me of music, and of learning.  In hospital there was a period where I got through each day with a specific playlist and as much Duolingo as my brain would take; even now I try to spend some time every day listening to music, and some time every day learning.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
(Because I know I'm not meeting any of my goals any time soon, but if I take the time to look up the earliest possible date I could, it stops my brain running in circles and me obsessively checking the fitbit history.)
numbers )

I am reaching feeling-overstretched again, and I really need to buckle down and be a study-hermit. (Exam in 13 days, EMA for a different course due in the same day, new course books arriving any minute for the officially-starting-1st-October courses.) I've had three migraines in 16 days, and it's a mixture of overdoing things, struggling in the summer heat, and the perennial favourite of Not Getting Enough Sleep.

The fitbit number I am paying most attention to at the moment is the hours of sleep. It's still too low.



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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
We've been holidaying in York this week, just the four of us.  At some point I may post photos but right now I never want to move again.  What we did:
  • visited York's Chocolate Story
  • found a local playground for the children
  • found a man blowing enormous bubbles near the Minster
  • had lunch in the basement cafe of the Treasurer's House
  • found our way to Rowntree Park, and back again via the Millennium Bridge
  • took an evening boat tour
  • visited the National Railway Museum
  • took the bus to Castle Howard and spent a lovely day wandering the grounds
  • had a delicious meal at Mason's with an incredibly nice server
  • visited all three of the Barley Hall, Richard III Experience & Henry VII Experience, and walked around a large portion of the city walls
I couldn't help comparing with Bristol a year and two weeks earlier: short version is I was much less breathless, but much more easily tired.  However, I did at least have more stamina than in Llandudno 2.5 months ago.  I did crash one day mid-week and had to spend most of an afternoon and evening zonked out on the hotel bed.  Sadly that was the day we went to the NRM: I left early and got very little out of the time I did spend there, so I think I will need to go back again sometime.

I think that was the last time I will ever book all four of us into a single family room for more than one night; we all need more alone time than was possible to achieve, and I'm giving up on all but essential plans for the weekend as a result, plus it gets ever harder to get the children to sleep when we are still awake in the same room. (And they still wake up at least an hour before I want to.)  I think either adjoining hotel rooms or holiday cottages / apartments are the way to go, even if it does cost more.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Today's appointment with my consultant went well: my blood counts are apparently "perfect" and the marrow samples show nothing under microscope. (They are still waiting for the specialist unit in London that does the DNA test to return results.) My next appointment with her will be in four months, a little upgrade from the three-monthly pattern we've followed since I finished treatment.

I cycled to hospital and then on to work, and I stopped at the M&S in the hospital to buy nice things to share with my colleagues, as tweeted:



I still get overheated when exercising and am finding it actively unpleasant when the temperature rises above 25°C (I used to like the heat once, when I was a lot less fat). I've taken to carrying wipes so I can literally mop my brow when I finish walking or cycling. But at least these are problems of being active and mobile!


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
These probably all deserve their own post, but it's highly unlikely they're going to get them.
  1. I loved the new Ghostbusters, which we finally saw last night. It is made of joy and friendship, and I was highly amused by the villain's motivation and the response to his monologue of justification. Chris Hemsworth was clearly having the time of his life.
  2. I am enjoying being sociable and enabling the children's social life so much that I have slightly overscheduled myself and had to ask Tony to take over something for me this afternoon so I can remember the pacing myself part of recovery.
  3. In October I am going to get very busy indeed with studying (it eases up in June next year) and expect to have essentially no spare time outside work, study, and family commitments.  I am currently in the glorious summer break between being a hermit for cancer & recovery reasons and being a hermit for study reasons.  (Some of the children's social life comes with social life for me, and I am declaring date night with Tony and a monthly pub visit as also essential family commitments.  So not a complete hermit, but a lot more hermit-y than the last couple of months.)
  4. I lost patience with trying to work out how to upgrade my cheap spare phone from Jelly Bean for purposes of enabling C's desire to play Pokemon Go, so I have an even cheaper PAYG smartphone preinstalled with Marshmallow arriving today.  I don't think I need two spare phones, so if anyone is more keen on navigating the thrilling world of rooting phones than I am (or just could use a phone and are willing to use an older android version) then let me know and you can have the older one for cost of postage. (Old phone now claimed.)
  5. My dad came for a short visit and I managed to schedule him most of a day each with each of his grandchildren, and they all seem to have enjoyed the experience. 
  6. Adventures in smoothie consumption continue: I have discovered that I do actually prefer yogurt + milk with my veggies, rather to my surprise. I have built up a little collection of frozen veg and fruit in the freezer to make prep easier / avoid wasting fresh veg that goes off before I eat it.  The little blender does struggle if more than half the content is frozen, so I've taken to making up a bottle of ingredients in advance and leaving it in the fridge to defrost overnight.
  7. I've managed to get my fitbit goal up to 7,900 steps; we walked both ways to the cinema yesterday (with a stop at Mee and I for dinner on the way out) as well as me taking children around earlier, so I hit double that.  My legs are letting me know this morning that they are Not Impressed.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
This week has been full of them: the first day I realised something was definitely wrong with my breathing during/after exercise, the first time I saw a doctor about it and had a suite of blood tests ordered, my first ECG (which came back normal).

This weekend last year I packed to go on our family holiday to Bristol, knowing something was wrong with me; but also knowing that blood test results would take a while to come back, my blood pressure and ECG were fine, and anyway Bristol has a large hospital if I got suddenly worse. 

I'm really glad I made that decision to go: we had a great time, we visited the zoo and Clifton Suspension Bridge and @Bristol and the SS Great Britain; we found lots of Shaun-the-Sheep models and followed various trails around the city to find them, and although I kept getting weirdly out of breath, it just slowed me down a bit, it didn't stop us. 

We made a lot of memories of having fun together as a family that week. I never got round to posting here about Bristol, because I ended up in hospital a couple of days after we got back, but the holiday memories were a comfort then and now, the last golden days before I got really ill.

It's nearly another fortnight to the anniversary of my diagnosis.  I see my consultant a few days before then, to get the latest bone marrow test results.  I'm glad it's that way around.  I'm pretty confident about the results: I still feel like I am getting continually, if slowly, better.   Today I cycled Nico to a party over in Fulbourn, 10km each way, which I'd have found mildly challenging before I got ill.  I might have to spend the rest of the day in bed, but it was worth it.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Work:
w/b 13/6 - planned day off 16th
w/b 20/6 - planned day off 23rd for election, off sick with migraine 21st-22nd
w/b 27/6 - planned day off 28th for my birthday
w/b 03/7 - planned day off 6th & 9th
w/b 10/7 - planned as a full week, off sick with migraine afternoon of 14th & all of 15th

Two migraines in less than a month is a bit concerning, although the first was blatantly stress-related and the second almost certainly so. I've been having trouble sleeping the last couple of weeks, which won't have helped. I have acquired a prescription for sumatriptan which should at least make them more manageable, and promised my doctor to work on my sleep and my stress-management.

I have been social! As mentioned previously I went to a party and saw lovely people on the 18th. On the 26th I ventured to London to meet up with [personal profile] kaberett AND [personal profile] recessional which was just wonderful (both the company, and the strangely giddy feeling of travelling around London alone, responsible only for myself). On the 2nd I had birthday drinks in the Carlton which was pleasingly well-attended and delightful, if also an exercise in pacing myself and presenting a good front. On the weekend of the 8th-10th the four of us trekked over to High Wycombe for my brother-in-law's 40th, taking in a ballet for children on the way there, and a related ballet workshop for tinies on the way back.

I've also been ferrying my children around for their social lives and engagements (there are a lot of summer birthdays) and the next couple of months are pretty booked up with one thing or another.

I've changed my fitbit daily steps target from the default 10,000 to something I'm actually achieving most of the time (currently 6,000) so I get the positive feedback of hitting that target most days rather than hardly any. I then worked out a nice nerdy systematic approach to increasing the target so I can work back up to 10,000 in a sensible way. (No more than 10% increase a week, no more than 3 weeks out of 4, and no increase unless achieving the step target on average over 28d AND on at least 23 of those 28 days).

Tomorrow is my next bone marrow sample, and I will see my consultant for the results in a few weeks. This time a year ago, I was just beginning to notice an odd shortness of breath after running up the stairs, and had had a mysterious run of migraines. I still can't run up the stairs.


Today's bird: Hen Harrier
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I had birthday drinks in the pub this afternoon with many assorted lovely people.

I am so tired now, but it was utterly worth it.

*goes flop*
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Content note: weight changes, body image
(This one is a bit more fraught for me than yesterday's, but I still want to note it.)
Read more... )

Today's bird: Shoveler
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
This morning I snipped off the last bit of cracked thumbnail.  Each of my rounds of chemo left a thinned, weakened strip across all my nails, which moved slowly from nailbed to tip, and when it reached the tip, it would crack very easily.  I usually keep my nails short, but that wasn't enough to prevent cracks and even small pieces snapping off under even mild pressure.  Just another tiny indignity of the whole process.

One crack, on my left thumb, kept extending itself back down the nail: I would catch it on something, and back it would go, down into the apparently-normal nail growing after all the chemo was over.  All the other weak patches were gone months ago, but that crack just kept renewing itself.  I've taken such care over that nail the last few months, trying not to catch it on anything, keeping it trimmed short, and finally, finally the very bottom of the crack has reached high enough up the nail that I've been able to cut the last of it off.  Normality restored at last.


As for my hair, I never lost it all, but it thinned out dramatically during chemo.  I estimated about 80% of it fell out. I'd leave hairs on every pillow, like a cat shedding.  I was so glad I'd had Tony clip it short in advance, it would have been unbearable to leave shoulder-length clumps in the same way.  Hair went from the rest of my body too - arms, legs etc.  Not hairless, but very thinly covered.

In January, after the last round of chemo, it started growing back.  My head felt like a dog with a winter coat growing in, two distinct lengths. I remember trimming it all back very short just to make it tidy, and then again (a little longer) when it was shaggy and unbearable.   I want to grow it out again, at least back to shoulder-length, so I've gritted my teeth and got through the shaggy stage and it's suddenly settled into something that is acceptably tidy with no effort from me.

And suddenly I've discovered that my hair is curly and springy now, instead of straight. It looks quite good (see userpic) and I don't dislike it.  It just feels unfamiliar, all the time.  I'm still waiting to feel like it's normal.


Today's bird: Merlin


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I did absolutely nothing for the local elections last month, apart from go and vote. 

A couple of weeks ago I decided to volunteer a very limited amount of time for today's referendum (for my local LibDems, who are campaigning for Remain) and took the day off work, as part of my ongoing "burn leave to keep effectively working part-time" plan.  So I have done two shifts of telling today: the first was in muggy but dry weather; the second was in pouring rain, including a very nearby lightning strike at which I screamed rather embarrassingly.

I am now back in bed and would rather like to sleep from now until the result is clear tomorrow.  At best tomorrow I will feel a faint sense of relief rather than anything actually positive about the whole exercise, and at worst I will feel extremely worried and miserable.  (And then I'll pick myself up and carry on because I still have Stuff To Get Done no matter what happens.)


Today's bird: Coot



rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I went to a short meeting at school to confirm arrangements for Nicholas's start in September.  They are being more flexible than when Charles started: for the first ten days of term, they are offering half-day drop-ins for the new starters, but leaving it up to parents which days and how many sessions to sign up for, suggesting a minimum of two.  Then they are starting the children full time, in three waves.  Nicholas is in the last wave, presumably because he's among the youngest.  So we are able to start sorting out logistics, what days off we will need, giving notice at nursery, and so on.

Charles's class ran an assembly for the rest of the school, showing what they've been working on.  One of those things was filming and editing montages of themselves doing sports, and Charles's montage was one of the ones selected to be shown.  I was terribly proud :-)

Tony and I began our couples counselling with Maggie's Wallace, which seemed to get off to a good start.

I went out and socialised last night with lovely people.

Although I was very tired this morning, I have managed to be sensible and pace myself and get essential things done but not exhaust myself.



Bird of the day: Lesser White-Fronted Goose
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
This is the first time I have done such a thing since I got ill last summer.

I had three days of training (in Cambridge city centre, so pretty convenient) and then two in the office.  I am not actually meeting my criteria for trying to work full-time yet: my study hours are still less than they should be and my Regularly dashboard is still mostly in the red, but I failed to organise taking a day off in good time, and decided to treat it as a learning experience.

I learned that it was survivable but pretty exhausting. I must make sure I book a day off next week.  I also decided to drop T'ai Chi for the rest of the term as I have made it to half the classes so far, but too often by Friday lunchtime I am just too tired, and it's one less thing to worry about.

I have at least been keeping up my daily Duolingo habit much better in the last two weeks.  I decided to add Swedish, because while a Finnish course does not (yet?) exist on Duolingo, Swedish is an official language in Finland, so I will at least know something when we go there next year.  I also discovered a Welsh course has been added sometime in the last few months so I failed to resist adding that too.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
We just got back from a week in Llandudno, in this rather nice pair of holiday apartments, with my mum, stepdad and my younger two brothers.  It was spacious and nicely presented, a short walk from the station and almost next door to a well-equipped play area.  I know the area fairly well from many childhood visits to my grandmother, who lived in Rhos-on-Sea, and I'm enjoying introducing my own children in turn.

We originally planned and booked this holiday last July, when we were all at my mother's home for a long weekend, and not even the earliest signs of my cancer had appeared.  I've been looking forward to it ever since it became likely I would be well enough to still go.  It was a little experimental: we've not done a holiday in this mode with extended family before, and there was a bunch of admin and planning beforehand to make sure things went fairly smoothly, but I think it paid off well.  An adult:child ratio of 3:1 definitely made things easier!

Highlights for me were:
  • a trip on the Ffestiniog railway to Porthmadog, where we spent a few hours with my aunt and her partner, who'd driven over from Machynlleth
  • seeing Bill Bailey at Venue Cymru
  • spending several afternoons in bed resting/sleeping, knowing there were lots of other adults to play with the children, and feeling so much better as a result
  • discovering a little model railway on the West Shore
There were a whole load of other things I would have liked to do were I fully fit, but I am working on accepting my current limits and it was really very easy to rest and relax and sit around talking with my family and all that good stuff.

One less fun thing that happened was that Charles got temporarily lost while I was on the way to the seafront with him and Nicholas one day, but he did exactly the right thing once he realised he'd got separated from us.  He went up to the sales desk in a large shop and asked to use their phone, gave them my mobile number (which he memorised some years ago), and got through to me to tell me where he was.  The shop turned out to be signed up to a lost-child protocol for the whole town, which meant shortly after I arrived at the shop, so did the local police.  They noted our details and gave me some very polite but firm advice about keeping my children close in a busy tourist town, and agreed with me that Charles had been very sensible.  I was moderately embarrassed on my own account, but very proud of Charles and made sure he knew it.

The other less fun thing was that I had an OU exam in Cambridge on Friday morning.  I came home alone on Thursday evening to get a good night's sleep, and went straight from the exam to the railway station.  I left Cambridge yesterday lunchtime in grey gloom, and arrived back in Llandudno in glorious sunshine just in time for dinner.  Nico and Tony met me halfway back to the house - I heard a small voice shouting "Mummy! Mummy!" and was then obliged to carry an armful of excited three-year-old all the way back while he told me in detail and at volume all about his day.

(I also ended up getting into a really interesting and pleasant conversation with the person sitting opposite on the train from Chester to Llandudno; I love it when that happens, and the journey flew by.)

I'm quite tired now, after the third long train journey in as many days, but hopefully I'll be fine again after a good night's sleep.

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I think my physical fitness is still gradually improving - my cycle and walking commutes are getting a little smoother and faster and less tiring each week, and it's perfectly reasonable to cycle to hospital and then to work.  What I'm finding though is that exercise, work, childcare, study and housework are all drawing from the same pool of energy and that seems to have stopped growing.  "Pushing through", like I did to get the essay in a few weeks back, is like going overdrawn and then having to rest even more to replenish the shortfall.  I'm still going splat at least once or twice a week.

I seriously considered requesting a formal short-term reduction in work hours, to the point of working out how much it would reduce my take-home pay.[1]  That turned out to be quite a lot.[2]  I'm pretty certain we could cut back enough to cover the gap, but that in itself becomes more work and stress, so it's not as helpful an idea as I first thought.

Instead, at least for now, Tony is going to take on rather more than half of the housework, including taking back the weekday evening meals which I've been doing since the start of the year. The pressure to get the children fed as soon as possible after 6pm seems to have eased up, so eating later (which has happened a few times recently when I've been too tired to cook) seems to be fine.  I think we'll still try to keep weekend menu planning / shopping list generation going though.

I am going to use the time Tony is giving me to rest more, and to study more consistently, which will in turn make me happier and less stressed.  I would rather reduce our income than give up studying; one of the things I learned from being ill was that learning matters a lot to me.


[1] It took me a while to find a calculator that could reproduce my current payslip with the various deductions I have going out.

[2] Woe woe, the diamond shoes of my high income are pinching, I know.
rmc28: Rachel with manic grin holding up wrist with new watch on (watch)
Consultant appointment today: still no sign of cancer :-)

Also fatigue is to be expected and I'm doing well to be doing as much as I am.  Next visit in August.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
That Open University assignment I took two half-days off to finish so as to avoid an all-nighter?  I ended up needing both the time off and most of a night.  I got 2 hours sleep and was surprisingly functional on the next day, but it was pretty horrible.  Luckily this came just before a 4-day weekend, but it's been an instructive example of what happens when I try to "just push through" being tired all the time.  It is remarkably like what happens if I try to keep typing through an RSI flare-up without any mitigation: short-term goals can be achieved, but only at the expense of a much longer recovery period.

I am just now beginning to get over that nearly-all-nighter, after a lot more time in bed over the last two weeks than I'd like.  Fatigue is cumulative, and I was pushing up against my limits even before the essay crisis.  So, I'm pacing myself very carefully, and I'm ignoring everything that doesn't have to be done now and doesn't have to be done by me.  I've booked another tranche of 4-day weeks at work (I'm definitely sure now that 3x full + 2x half is the right pattern for that) and am just hoping I can recover enough to think about working full time before my leave runs out.

Things I haven't the time to write about:
  • I saw Captain America: Civil War and on the whole liked it.  Not as much as Winter Soldier, but a lot more than Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • Our weekend routine is now pretty settled, with activities for both children over both days.
  • My mother and stepfather came for a visit :-)
  • We took Charles to his first theatre production that wasn't aimed at children (A Winters Tale at the ADC, by the ADC) and we will probably take him to some of this summer's Cambridge Shakespeare Festival as a result.
  • This article about how it's not possible to see/read/listen to all the good things, and different approaches to coping with that.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
The ongoing return to work
Two more 4-day weeks at work have gone quite well - this is the Tue+Thu afternoons off model.  I have got quite a lot done, some of it urgent and important, without getting especially stressed.  I'm not as fast or as good as I'm "used" to being [as in, pre-cancer], but I'm being good enough, I think.   I have another two 4-day weeks booked, next week with Friday off, and the following week with Monday off.  This will let me find out which pattern is easier. 

I expect I will book another run of 4-day weeks after that though.  I'm still spending large chunks of my weekend days in bed, and rather more of my weekday evenings falling asleep early or sleepily hitting refresh on things without getting either OU study or Duolingo done, or even much reading.  I am really fed up of slow-motion OU essay crises, but I'm in the middle of another one, basically because I was too tired to study for too much of the last fortnight month.  Also, I use the app Regularly to track various self-care and housework tasks (which all need doing at some point - we're not talking make-work here) and I'm in the red on an awful lot there. 

So I'm regarding that as great honking warning signs that I'm running too close to my limits.  I plan to keep on doing 4-day weeks until I get my study hours back where they should be, and my Regularly dashboard back to mostly yellow and green.  I have enough leave left, together with things already booked, to do this until September, so I may as well take advantage.


Physical fitness
I had my second session of beginner's T'ai Chi today, and I'm really enjoying it.  It feels very gentle but focused; I've learned I can do it in a comfortable tunic and leggings, which is what I wear a lot of the time at the moment, and it's gentle enough I don't need to change.

I'm managing the cycling to work via nursery, and walking home via school okay at the moment.  I still get out of breath but no longer as boiling hot; I think I'm gradually getting faster, and it's becoming more routine.  On Monday I cycled to the hospital and back from work for an appointment, and on Wednesday from nursery to Hills Road and back on top of everything else, and wasn't completely flattened as a result.  Even so, like work, I think I'm doing enough right now, and shouldn't look to add anything else until study/Regularly tasks are under control.


Medical
Monday's test was a bone marrow sample.  It was moderately painful and I needed longer to recover before I felt able to go back to work than I would have predicted.  On the good side, they told me they got a good sample without apparently having to work too hard for it, unlike certain of the previous samples I've had taken.  I see the consultant on 10th May (it got moved back, I think because my test was later than originally planned) and as far as I know I won't hear anything before then.  All the external evidence is reassuring though.


... and this has taken me long enough to write and I need to do another chapter of study before I fall asleep.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Last week: 1 Bank Holiday, 1 intended half day that I took off because of migraine, 2 half days and then a full day to finish the week.
This week: 2 half days and 3 full days.  This is the first week I have actually worked 3 full days since returning to work, and it was more bearable than I'd feared.  I could track the cumulative toll by the effect on my after-work achievements:

Monday: made supper, did my Duolingo, did lots of studying
Tuesday: made supper, did my Duolingo, did some studying
Wednesday: made supper, did my Duolingo
Thursday: made supper, wrote a blog post in bed

Today was the second half day, and I spent the afternoon resting in bed, with a pleasant interlude catching up with my mother on our ~weekly phone call, before doing the evening nursery run.  I then made supper but have returned to bed shortly afterward. I may yet manage my Duolingo. Tomorrow is busy, with multiple things for the children, and a date with [livejournal.com profile] fanf in the evening, so I am deliberately taking it easy this evening and Sunday.

Next four weeks:
w/b 11/4 & 18/4: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off
w/b 25/4: Friday off
w/b 2/5: Bank Holiday off

They're all four-day weeks but I expect the 4 consecutive days to be harder.  I'm going to review again on 4/5, or sooner if I get another migraine or other indication I'm overdoing things.


Other notes
I have my first follow-up bone marrow test on 18/4 and my review with my consultant on 26/4, so I will probably be extra-twitchy between the two.  Objectively I am continuing to improve steadily, there is no plateau or reversal of progress, and I've even stopped needing to change my clothes on arrival at work.  But I'm extra-aware at the moment of every time I get out of breath when cycling or walking or climbing stairs; I am 99.9% certain it's because I'm pushing just hard enough to keep improving my fitness, but the 0.1% is fixated on "breathlessness means cancer".   Charting my progress in these posts is one way of keeping that 0.1% in check.


rmc28: (BRAINS)
As well as all the caring-for-sick-child, I woke up this morning with a migraine.  (I am only managing to type this with the brightness turned way down on my laptop.)  Not entirely surprising after multiple disturbed nights and higher-than-usual amounts of exercise, but entirely frustrating as well as painful.

I suppose ... at least I'm well enough to overdo things enough to get migraines?  The last one I had was in Bristol the week before I went into hospital last summer. 

*scales back immediate plans even further*


Right now I don't even know if I will be able to work tomorrow; plus I need to check with nursery about when Nico can return (I expect not until the antibiotics are finished, but not sure, and not going to cycle there to find out.)

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/628362.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2 half days, 2 full days and thankfully a bank holiday.

It's the first time I've worked two full days in the same week.  Monday went fine, but I was seriously struggling Wednesday afternoon and went straight to bed and splat once I got home.  I was really glad yesterday was a half day for me, and that I now have a long weekend and then a very easy week, before I try again at the multiple full days the week after. 

I found myself saying "I literally should not run before I can walk" in conversation on Wednesday about exercise and how much I miss running and how I keep looking wistfully at local fitness classes.  I am still finding it funny, because it's true.   Though I do have an exercise class starting in a few weeks: a beginners tai chi class on Friday lunchtimes.  It's local-to-work and cheap, so if I'm not up to doing it when the time comes, I won't lose much money.

One of the things we covered on the Maggies Wallace course was reminding ourselves how far we've come: because I'm back at work I'm bumping up a fair bit against my memories and established habits from before I got ill.  But if I compare myself now to how I was at the worst parts of being ill (the first week of treatment; the week back in hospital in November) I'm doing really well

I've also gone through the handout on managing fatigue from a session I missed and it's essentially stuff I already know: (sleep, pacing myself, eating well, doing enough exercise to build up strength but not enough to exhaust myself, identifying things that replenish energy and things that deplete it, etc etc).

From week after next I want to see if I can manage working 4 day weeks (using annual leave)
- which also implies a cycle ride and a walk every day
- plus keeping up my studying
- plus keeping up my share of housework

... and I shouldn't look too far beyond that for now, even if I do have longer-term goals in mind.



rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
Week 4: 1x full day, 4x half day
Week 5: 3x full day, 2x half day

In practice:
Week 4: 3x half day working at home, 2 days off sick
Week 5: 3x half day, 1x full day, 1x day off to look after child

Week 6 will be 2x full day, 2x half day, 1x bank holiday.  That completes my phased return and I will officially work full time from Monday 28th March.  In practice, due to bank holidays and school holidays (leave I would have taken anyway even if fully well) I will be working:

w/b 28/3: 1x bank holiday, 3x half day, 1x full day
w/b 04/4: 3x full day, 2x half day

and we'll review at the end of *that* if I need to use more half days for the next two weeks or if I feel able to actually work full time.  I finally checked my remaining leave and I have enough left to keep up a 4-day week for several months, which definitely takes the pressure off.


Argh

2016-03-16 09:59
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I was over the cough enough by Thursday to work from home the rest of the week, and to take Charles around some Science Week things on Saturday, and to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] beckyc for Bolshoi Ballet at the cinema on Sunday (all of which kind of deserve their own post) and I was gently cracking on going to work in the actual office this week and then ...
  • I managed to take the only set of bike keys with me to a thing at the hospital yesterday afternoon, and Tony needed them to collect Nico from nursery
  • so I tried catching a bus back to work after the thing, which in theory takes about 20 minutes, and in practice after an hour in horrible rush hour Cambridge traffic I disembarked and hoofed at speed to the nursery instead, and got there 10 minutes before closing, go me
  • and then I managed to coax a 3yo to walk nearly 2km home, go both of us
  • I have an essay crisis this week and really needed to work on it yesterday evening, and the whole bike-bus-nursery palaver didn't help.
  • and then Nico would not go to sleep 
  • and then started crying like in pain and saying his ear hurt, and we checked him over for signs of illness and injury but found none
  • so we gave him paracetamol anyway, because he was in pain
  • and he did go to sleep almost immediately after that, and though he woke up an hour later pain-crying some more, he went back to sleep fairly quickly
  • and this morning he was his usual full-of-beans happy self
  • so this morning I took him to nursery and mentioned the ear thing
  • and got sent home with him because the rule is no nursery for 24 hours after a dose of paracetamol
And argh, I appreciate the reasoning, and I want the nursery to be as minimal an infection source as is possible with large numbers of small people with no sense of personal space, and I would hate it if Nico got suddenly iller and made the other children ill, but it was a sudden and unexpected inconvenience.  Mostly I wish I'd known/remembered the rule before I cycled to nursery and back.

Working from home while in charge of a healthy and active Nico is pretty difficult at the best of times (looking after an ill Nico is actually easier because he tends to be quieter and less mobile) so I am not even trying.  I have asked for an emergency day's leave instead.

(and it might mean I get something done on my essay? who can say)

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I did not post a review after week 2, but I asked for and got agreement to do two more weeks at 60% time.  I had slightly more energy in week 2 than week 1, but not enough that I felt confident taking on a full extra day's work.

Weekend 1: did almost nothing

Week 2: got rather more done at work, yay. Meals and sleep went a bit better, and I started doing some studying towards the end of the week.

Weekend 2:
Saturday: attacked the studying backlog for the most immediate deadline, went to a PARTY (gasp! socialising!) in the evening.
Sunday: was ded, barely got out of bed

Week 3:
+ much more back in work routine
+ Thurs/Fri especially I was working more intensely than I have since coming back
+ coped much better with the full day on Wednesday (though this might have been because I was working from home, because of child illness, so much less physical effort involved in the day)
- complete splat Tuesday evening: I'd done a load more cycling than usual because of child-illness-logistics, and I came in, ate something, sat down "for 10 minutes" to rest, and woke up a couple of hours later.
- slightly less dramatic splat Friday evening, in that I spotted it coming, made food for me and children early, and deliberately went to sleep as soon as Tony got home.


We had planned to attend my stepmother's birthday party this weekend; on Thursday evening I made the decision to cancel the trip. It would have been 4ish hours there and 6 hours back on Sunday by public transport, or about 3 hours each way driving - but I'm the only driver in the house.  I just didn't think I could do all that, and attend the party, and still be fit to work on Monday.  So I am being sensible and spending the weekend at home (and tackling some more of the study backlog) and trying not to be too resentful.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Good things:
+ went to work every day
+ did all my child drop-offs and pickups, and made supper as planned
+ did some work! answered questions! pointed out a useful tool to a colleague!
+ good meeting with Occupational Health nurse, who was happy with my plan and the flexibilities built into it

Things to improve:
- arrived late every day
- slept through my alarm Thursday morning, after the full day on Wednesday, and arrived really late
- was late with supper Thursday and Friday evenings
- was really tired Friday evening and am still tired today


I think I'm hitting a kind of uncanny valley effect the closer I get to normality, the more I notice the difference between how I am and how I was / how I feel I should be.  Back in January when a bicycle ride to nursery left me tired for the next day and a half, I didn't care about being late to work, or worry about arriving sweaty.

I still think I'm right to focus on building up the physical activity faster than the mental activity, but I'm feeling it today ...

rmc28: (silly)
(It is currently a few degrees above freezing when I cycle to work)
  1. Help! It is freezing cold and I can see my breath in the air! Put on coat, gloves, hat-with-earflaps, and still feel shivery!
  2. Hmm, I seem to be warming up, better take the coat off at the next traffic lights.
  3. My hands are a bit hot, perhaps I should take my gloves off.
  4. Ow! My hands are too cold! Put the gloves back on again.
  5. My head's a bit warm, the hat can come off.
  6. My hands are sweaty! Take the gloves off again.
  7. Still cold, but my hands are ok. 
  8. Actually my hands are strangely warm.
  9. Help! I am suddenly Boiling Hot all over and there isn't anything else I can decently (or easily) take off!
  10. Slow down for remaining journey in hopes of cooling down before arrival.
I have stopped even bothering with the coat, and I am doing much better on the days when I wear a long-sleeved running top for the commute and change into something more work-appropriate on arrival.  Shivery at first, but keeps stages 9-10 fairly minimal.  I need to find better gloves.  (Thinner? Easier to remove?  Maybe I need lightweight mittens or something.)

I didn't use to overheat so much.  I'm hoping it'll pass as I regain fitness, or cycling to work in summer will be no fun.

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
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