Friday, 31 July 2015

The Results Are In...


After weeks of hell, not knowing whether the lumps I have on my neck are cancerous, or not; all the scans, xrays, blood tests, a rather challenging morning at the cancer clinic in the haematology department followed by day surgery for a biopsy, I finally have a diagnosis.... I DON'T have cancer (phew!) I DO have 'reactive lymph nodes' that will need further investigation, but I can't tell you how much weight has now been lifted off my shoulders. To top it off, I've just seen my cardiologist and although he confirmed my heart murmur there's no immediate need to operate (another phew!!) I'll need to have annual scans but that's easy peasy.

I am a very lucky girl indeed, and it's things like this that make you sit up and take notice; appreciate what you have and focus on living life to the full. Right, I must now book my travel insurance - España, aquí vengo...! 

Should re-name this blog Life Begins at Fifty Three and a Little Bit...!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Has Anyone Seen My Mojo...?


I appear to have lost it somewhere between the middle and the end of July.

Juggling work schedules, a hectic social life and numerous NHS appointments has certainly been keeping me very busy these past few weeks, but now it's all caught up with me and I need to slow down and allow my body, and mind, to recover ready for when I have to return to the cancer unit to be told the results of my biopsy. 

The good news is that I've now got the stitches out of my neck, and with the dressings finally off I can begin boring everyone rigid with the phrase "Wanna see my new scar?!" Every cloud has a silver lining...

Monday, 20 July 2015

Day Surgery...


Even 'minor' surgery can be an ordeal, not just physically but emotionally as well. I'm so lucky to have wonderful friends around me who offer up their valuable time to take me to hospital appointments, even at the crack of dawn, and who are also kind enough to stay with me throughout the entire procedure.

It's not just the hideousness of going under the knife that's hard to deal with, but when it's a biopsy the mental strain of knowing that this is going to be what decides whether you have a potentially life-changing disease, or not, is a lot to take on board.

I'm so grateful that I didn't have to face this scary day on my own, and I know that although the two week wait for the results is going to be mental torture, I'll be well looked after. Some things really are priceless, and genuine friendship is one of them...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea...


There's something quintessentially British about indulging in Sunday afternoon tea at a fancy hotel restaurant, surrounded by traditional English meadows; which is exactly what my friends and I were doing this sunny, summer afternoon.

Pots of freshly brewed tea arrived as soon as we were seated, along with milk jugs and a bowl of sugar cubes (haven't seen proper sugar cubes for years!) The sandwiches were sliced to perfection into identical sizes with crusts cut off (obviously), and carefully placed on the bottom of a 3-tiered cake stand. My eyes almost popped right out of my head when I saw the array of cakey treats and scones; thank heavens for elasticated waistbands! Everything from strawberry jam and cream to the moistest (yes, that's a word) carrot cake I've ever eaten were all very much a joy to the taste-buds.

Wow, thank you to my fabulous friends for inviting me. Next stop, The Ritz!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Spoilt Rotten...


What a truly amazing day I've had, courtesy of my gorgeous, grown-up twin daughters. I met up with them mid-morning, close to the local railway station, from where we travelled to a place I hadn't been in donkeys years. It was my first time on a train in over 9 years and I was stupidly excited. On arrival we headed straight for the town centre where browsing market stalls and girly shopping stuff was the order of the day.

Lunchtime we went to a really lovely 'gastro pub' and I was treated to the most delicious sandwiches on earth. They then surprised me further by presenting me with the most fabulous solid gold ear-rings! We then did more shopping and ate yummy ice creams before heading off to a nearby waterfront where we admired glorious boaty things until it was time to make the return trip back home. 

I can't even begin to explain how wonderful it felt to be given such a lot of very happy memories to take home with me. I love my special girlies as big as the sky. I always have, and I always will...

Friday, 17 July 2015

Say Cheese...


A phone call from the hospital on Tuesday meant a visit to the ENT Department less then 48 hours later to 'have a chat' with a surgeon about my reactive lymph nodes. Wasn't expecting him to almost immediately shove a camera up my nose and down my throat and I have to admit that it stung somewhat. How I managed to avoid sneezing or gagging I simply don't know.

He had the obligatory poke around and announced that he was adding me to his urgent list for a biopsy on Monday morning. Just like my GP and the cancer consultant at the haematology unit, he told me that he 'suspects' a lymphoma, but the only way to be 100% certain one way or the other is to remove one of the lumps and send it to the lab.

Got to admit that it's all feeling very real right now but I'm choosing to consider it a positive thing that the NHS is acting quickly so that I'll at least know the diagnosis sooner rather than later. With any luck, I'll have the results before I see my cardiologist at the end of the month. The excitement never ends...!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

More Tea Vicar...?!


I was just minding my own business, walking along with my camera down to the local quayside, when I heard the sound of bicycle bells ringing and people whooping loudly. As I turned round I couldn't believe my eyes. There were a large group of over two dozen men and women riding bikes in various stages of nudity! Instead of boats and barges I ended up photographing boobies and bums - blimey! (Not entirely sure the bell ringing was absolutely necessary in order to gain attention, given that their rude bits were all hanging out in public!)

The last time I saw so much genitalia on my birthday it was a rather raucous affair in a pub of ill repute during my hedonistic youth, so seeing so many dangly bits on my birthday, right outside tescos, was something I never could've anticipated in a million years - how fabulous!

Well done to the World Naked Bike Ride people for the birthday surprise. Goodness, that made me feel quite unnecessary, pass the brandy mother...!

Friday, 10 July 2015

A Very Happy Birthday...


The sun was shining, the sky was blue, so off we went on a pre-birthday trip to the coast! As I'm an outdoorsy person there really was no better way to celebrate than to be treated to an entire day of all things boaty and watery. We laughed at novice windsurfers, ate lunch in a fancy restaurant and walked miles along the sand; discussing everything from beach hut colours to wondering what the mini-pontoons were for, while avoiding stepping on jelly-fish.

Being chauffeur driven to lovely places and spoilt rotten all day long was an exceptional treat indeed, and a happy memory I'll always cherish. I'm so very lucky to have such wonderful friends, and it doesn't go unappreciated. Sometimes, the best gifts don't come wrapped in fancy paper...

Thursday, 9 July 2015

NHS Merry-Go-Round...


It's not easy dealing with unexpected medical woes while trying to avoid taking any time off work, not to mention maintaining a busy social life, but somehow I'm managing, despite undergoing more tests and xrays. An emotionally challenging appointment with a lymphoma consultant this week means I'm now on yet another list; this time waiting for biopsies. Well, that's something new and 'exciting'!

I'm fully aware that I'm extremely lucky to have the support of my wonderful friends and family during this particular saga, who cheer me up when all I want to do is mope. Endless blood tests have made my veins a tad sore, but thanks to 'Team Karen' I'm actually in a really good place mentally. I'll give you all a great big hug ... once my arms are better.

Now, my birthday is looming and someone mentioned cake...!