Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Closing in on a year

Yeah, man, well it's been almost a year since my mum died. And it's been almost a year since I could quite bring myself back to this page to blog again. I've been dabbling with Tumblr and of course busy with Facebook.

But maybe it's time to come back to blogland.

There was a time when this blog was filled with Gallows stuff. And there's a lot going on in Gallowsland right now, so maybe that can be the impetus I need.

Let's start with the new Gallows video for "True Colours".



And here are the lyrics (as I hear them):


If it looks like a snake
It moves like a snake
If it writhes like a snake
Then all the world knows it's a snake.

True colours shining through
Your true colours shining through
True colours shining through
Your true colours shining through.

Like a 4th of July
Like a 4th of July
Like a 4th of July
Like the 4th of July.

Get your free download of this new track by clicking here.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

It’s over.

No words.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Feeling sigh-y

I was just telling a friend in a Facebook message how my mum is doing, and it kind of depressed me. And at that point I realized that that is why I haven't written here for a few weeks. And it's why I haven't replied to my cousin's email of last week asking how she's doing.

Because I'm a bit in denial.

If I don't go visit my mum, I can be oblivious to her hair loss and her mobility issues.

If I don't phone my mum, my brother, my sister, my dad, then I can't be told stuff I don't wanna hear. Right?

If I don't think about it or talk about it or write about it, it's not there. Right?

I'm like the three wise monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. But the "evil" is cancer.



That sounded a bit more clichéd and melodramatic than I had intended, but you get my meaning, I'm sure.

This is what I wrote to my friend:

"[My mum is] seeming quite tired, and her memory is letting her down a bit, and she's getting crotchety at times. It's quite disheartening and depressing talking to her on the phone most times now, and it makes me sad."

I can go on at greater length here, so I will.

Often when I speak to her, I have to repeat things about three times. I know this is sometimes because she has the TV on or because there are a couple of house guests, so she is distracted. But sometimes I'm fairly sure that the reason is because the cancer growths are fucking with her brain and affecting her hearing. Maybe that's not the case. But I've kind of decided it is.

And -- selfish fuck that I am, obviously -- it can be frustrating for me to have to keep saying the same thing several times. But also for her, I'm sure, it must be annoying not to hear what is being said and so to have to keep asking for someone to repeat himself.

There's also been some talk, between the younger family members (those of my generation), of prognosis and whether or not it is good for her to know if her remaining time is particularly short. We are anticipating a timescale of less than six months. While this seems very negative, it is the best guess we can make with the information we have gleaned so far, from brochures and online sources. Thus far, the doctor has not given any prognosis.

A family friend in Italy lived through a similar dilemma with her father, so my other half will ask her about that process and whether they feel they made the right choice, keeping him uninformed.

What do my blogpals here think? If the doctor thinks six months, is it better to tell her or not to tell her?

We think the prognosis will come at the end of next week, at her next meeting with her oncologist. So if we decide as a family that she is best not knowing, we need to inform the doctor before the meeting. But of course we as a family probably ought to know.

This is bullshit.

I hate thinking about this stuff. I hate writing about it. I hate talking about it.

And yet somehow, at its best, blogging about it helps me to distance myself from it. But I don't know if that's good or bad.

She's gone away for a few days now, with her husband and my eldest cousin local to her. Just a few days in a friend's caravan at a seaside caravan park. She's been looking forward to it, so even though I don't think it was the most sensible decision, I'm sure she'll enjoy it as much as is possible. And it will probably do her good not to have to deal with phone calls and house visits several times a day.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Fuck’s sake.

Maybe I'm in a minority -- and certainly I can't speak from a smoker's point of view, because I have never been a smoker -- but what the fuck possible reason can there be for someone diagnosed with brain cancer continuing to smoke?

When my mum was in hospital, she was there for just over three weeks, and for the majority of that time she didn't smoke. Towards the end of her stay, however, she had a craving for a ciggie, and a nurse told her, "Well, one won't do you any harm." (This from a medical professional; don't even get me started...)

That one turned into a few a day for the last few days of her hospital stay.

And she has continued to smoke several cigarettes a day since being discharged on 29 July.

We -- those family members who don't smoke -- suggested she should stop. Stop now before she becomes addicted again, undoing all the good work of not smoking for almost three weeks. Some other family members -- the smokers -- suggested, well, it's not going to make much difference.

And, of course, the smoking will help with the stress.

It's hard to argue that latter point, sure. And nobody wants to argue with someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer, getting them all upset and shit.

But we did manage to get her to agree to stop smoking once the radiotherapy started. She said she would stop then. Her husband said he would stop, too, to make it easier for her to quit.

You know where this is going, don't you?

I've just spoken to her. She is four fifths of the way through her radiotherapy. Just one appointment left.

"How's the non-smoking going?" I asked.

Silence; then: "The what?"

I said, "I suspect by that answer you're still smoking."

"Well, yes. Nobody has told me I should stop or has even asked if I'm smoking. I'll ask about it when I next speak to a doctor."

Aside: I know this will be in three weeks' time. Ergo, she is gonna keep fucking smoking for another three fucking weeks. Despite the promises. Despite the fact (perhaps unknown to her, but nevertheless) that radiotherapy is less effective in those patients who continue to smoke throughout the course.

What fucking part of a cancer victim's brain shuts down when it comes to smoking? Can you tell me?

Like I said in the title: fuck's sake...

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Between work and a hard place

With work being mad at the moment and us being in the process of selling one house and buying another, as well as processing/dealing with my mum's illness, it's a fucking crazy time right now.

No more so, necessarily, than millions of people go through every day, so I'm not getting all "woe is me" on anyone, y'know. If anyone should be woeful right now, it should probably be my mum more than me.

But she's pretty upbeat. Inappropriately upbeat? Maybe. In denial? Maybe. Who can say? And who am I to deny her that?

She's heading off for her first dose of radiotherapy today (not yesterday as we had thought previously). She's probably getting it pretty much as I type this, actually.

She texts family and friends every morning, letting us know how she slept and how she's feeling. This is the text she sent out this morning:

"Well this is it then, the next 5 [days] will decide my future but i know it will be alright and I will come bouncing back feeling better and fitter than I have for months xx"

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Word from Birmingham

Yesterday afternoon we finally received word back from Birmingham. The doctors there agreed with the original diagnosis of metastatic brain cancer.

Before the day was out, a phone call was then placed to my mum, inviting her to a "planning appointment" on Monday, which will be followed by her first session of radiotherapy.

Subsequent sessions will take place over the following days of the week -- that is, she will receive treatment Monday to Friday next week.

This is not really the news I/we were hoping for. But it is at least some sort of forward movement. Something is finally happening beyond simply waiting.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

There’s always hope. But beware false security.

Thanks for all your comments to my previous posts, folks. I know it's hard to know what to say. Equally, there's not much I can say in response other than thank you. Your thoughts and well wishes are appreciated.

I was up visiting my mum Thursday to Saturday, and the latest info is this.

Oddly, she seems much, much better than she was two weeks or so ago. I know this might be down to the huge number of drugs she is on. But equally, she is walking better and the numbness she had in a full half of her face is retreating somewhat.

She is also much more able to retain information. By that I mean: a couple of weeks ago, if she didn't get a thought out of her head immediately, she would have forgotten it within seconds. Now she is able to have a thought and remember it while other people are talking and then say her piece a couple of minutes later, just like any of us would in a normal conversation.

Her face is getting a bit rounder because she is now eating a lot more. She's not eating that well by normal food standards, but the Macmillan nurse told her that it's important she take in high-calorie foods as and when she feels she wants to eat, rather than necessarily sticking to set mealtimes. So she's eating soups and jelly (that's like Jell-O for you American types, rather than jelly as in PB&J) and canned fruit and cream etc etc.

Most of her pain has now gone, although she does suffer with stomach cramps once a day, usually about an hour after falling asleep at night. She is taking Oramorph for this -- a low-dose morphine suspension by mouth -- and that seems to do the job.

She's also very positive, but I think that's because some of the drugs she is on are uppers... Probably no bad thing.

It was good to see her looking and feeling so much better than she was a couple of weeks back.

We are still waiting for the experts in Birmingham to get their opinions back to Mum's hospital. But right now, I don't think I'm alone in feeling cautiously optimistic. And my mum's local hospital has a terrible reputation for fuck-ups and misdiagnoses. That said, I don't want to get lulled into a false sense of security, y'know?

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