Sunday, January 25, 2015

The musings of a human cat...

On our way to the airport departure lounge in 2010 at the top of the escalator I was met by a smiling face and large display board. I stopped as I read the words Brain Tumour...

Hi I'm Sue from a Brain Tumour Charity

Mr H, following behind with the bags, piped up over my shoulder: yes Dawn had one.

So you are a survivor. 

I told her I was delighted to see them there, dropped some money in her collection and carried on.

But those words, that title stayed with me! 

I guess without surgery I would have died. They warned me there was a tiny chance I could die during the operation; they wrote it on the consent form. Risks.....Death. 

Ten days later I remember opening my eyes after more surgery to remove a brain abscess (a complication of my tumour surgery) to see one of the lovely physiotherapists with tears in her eyes at the end of my bed. 

I cried out I don't want to die...I haven't written a will.

So am I a human cat and have I used up three of my lives?  

Before I wrote Brain Tumour Survivor on my twitter tagline I hesitated, but did it because Sue had called me one. I am not normally a sheep and Survivor was not a word I would have chosen to describe myself! So I stopped baaaa-ing and deleted the word. I don't see myself as an Epilepsy Survivor so why with the Brain Tumour? 

Instead I have learnt to live with them and their consequences. They change my life but I still have a life. I am lucky.

But dealing with Breast Cancer brought death back into the room. Not because death was imminent, not even close, but because it comes holding hands with the word Cancer. 

Once again I have looked Death in the eye. But I still have time to breath the air, watch the snowdrops peek through the soil and spend precious time with my true friends and family.

And swim. And sing....
Remember to...
Dance like there's nobody watching
Love like you'll never be hurt
Sing like there's nobody listening
and live like it's heaven on earth
William W. Purkey

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When my mind runs away...

In the last six years I have spent hundreds of hours waiting. I have waited to see a nurse or a surgeon. I have waited for a Radiographer to call me through for a scan. For my name to be called, a sign that it is my turn...

I am a practised wait-er. I would like to say an expert but I sharpen my waiting skills all the time.

When I was a working wait-er I was a do-er, I would carry notes to be read, minutes to be drafted, reports to be edited. Then I stopped work but was still in full bag mode. A bag stuffed with magazines, a novel or two. I tried to read away my rapid heart beat and sweaty palms as I waited to be called in...

Since I started writing my Blog I carry a note book too, to jot down new material or a sound bite snatched from a conversation to use at a later date. But I find that anxiety is not a good companion to writing, ideas get stuck like cars in a traffic jam. 

Today as I sit in the hospital waiting room, my mind chatters like children whispering behind their hands.  I take a deep breath and blow the air out, sometimes two of these changing breaths help me calm my mind.

But, like a rapid river, the words keep flowing....I don't know why you are even thinking of having this surgery...the Blog Award tickets go on sale today...I must get a walk in...loose some weight...remember to ring Sue....should I go ahead with the surgery or not...

So I call in Ruby Wax, who has given me a bag of tools to Tame my Mind. 

I lower my eyes to the floor, plant my feet on the ground and free my back from the curve of the chair. Then I ask myself what am I feeling? 

I lead my thoughts mindfully from my head to my toes, I stop at my belly. 

A fist like knot is screwed up tight. There sits the cause of my river of words.

I breathe into the knot then as I breathe out I imagine the knot melting away. I breathe in and out slowly and like a large cloud dissipating watch the knot reduce. I breathe in again and as I breathe out watch the small clouds start to move away. 

As I pull my breath into my lungs, my thoughts are now entirely focused on the space that was taken up by the knot. 

In its place is a beautiful blue sky...

I open my eyes and smile.

"The best cure for the body is a quiet mind"
Napoleon Bonaparte

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fallow days...

On January 1st, when the first curve of the sun appeared above the horizon I expected my energy to rise with it. A new year. A new start. Get up and go I thought. And tried. 

I feel great I told everyone, I have been cured of cancer. Now I will get on with living.

The first week we stripped the Christmas tree and packed the decorations into their boxes for another year. Back in the warm baby pool I went for a swim. I lunched at the deli. I spent a whole morning back at the hospital to have my first annual boob service! I hitched a lift to singing and sung my soul out...

But the last few days I have hardly had enough steam to get washed and dressed let alone do my daily ten minute slow amble along our lane, Like my attempt to return to work a few years ago, it hasn't gone to plan.

I moan to a friend, Jane on the phone: my energy has gone poof. It has floated up the chimney and I have spent the last couple of days lying on the sofa watching daytime TV. I hate it 

Now Jane was listening I grumbled on like advancing thunder...

I am fed up of feeling exhausted, I wish Father Christmas had brought me more energy....

Jane spluttered

For goodness sake Dawn, you expect to be back at the starting post already! With what you have been through! Farmers allow their fields fallow years! So come on. I expect you will need a couple of fallow days a week for a long time yet.

You sound alive. You are alive. I can't wait to see you...

So now I will wallow in my Fallow days. Enjoy them rather than fighting to sow more seeds....

Maybe I will finish knitting the alpaca cardigan I started almost two years ago. Crochet more flowers...

The secret of change 
is to focus all your energy, 
not on fighting the old 
but on building the new