Saturday, 26 November 2011

No news is good – or at least not bad – news

Over the last three weeks, C has been quietly recovering and getting stuck in to some needlepoint, knitting and daytime TV – antiques and property porn mostly – while making the odd forays out and about.

The stent was a success – C has barely felt sick since, and has recovered some of her appetite.

Friday, 4 November 2011

She's home!

C has just got back from the hospital with normal blood sugar and temperature and a brand-new stent.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

another bulletin

C very much better today, has managed to eat and drink without throwing up for the first time since Sunday. She's taking notice and haranguing the hospital staff, which is a good sign.

As I suspected, she won't be home until Sunday at the earliest, as they insist on getting her system stabilized first.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

brief bulletin

C had an endoscopy procedure today to remove the plastic stent and put in a metal one. I saw her immediately afterwards, and she was understandably a long way from mid-season form, although the fever has apparently been brought under control.

We'll find out tomorrow, I hope, how long she will be staying in hospital. She's hoping to come home tomorrow, but I fear those hopes are bound to be dashed.

I'll post here as soon as I know

Monday, 31 October 2011

This morning C felt well when she woke, and then she started to feel nauseous and throw things up. After she found she could not keep water down, we rang the GP. She (the GP) immediately saw that C was becoming jaundiced: because I see her every day, I hadn't noticed, but am cursing myself for not having checked. Dr S suspects that there is a problem with the stent that was keeping her bile duct open. She also discovered that C is running a temperature and thinks it likely she may have a urine or kidney infection. Half an hour ago she was taken away in an ambulance.

I have rarely felt so desperate, but without her here to help keep me focused in the present, I'm having a lot of trouble stopping the future from intruding. She may well recover from this, but there's an abyss of loneliness opening up in front of me.

I'll post more when I know more

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Sweet and low

A dear friend wrote to me about this blog that "It must be bleak at times. But the photos tell a different story and they are beautiful and full of light." (I'll write back soon, J, I promise.) There haven't, in fact, been that many bleak days, although there have been times in the last week when bleak would have been a blessing.

C started to take a steroid in the hope that it would shrink the swelling around the tumour, and so alleviate 'Squeezed Stomach Syndrome' which is probably behind her all too predictable bouts of nausea. Unfortunately this, combined with C's recently acquired habit of taking sweet drinks – and indeed eating sweets – because they were a good way of boosting her calorie intake in the face of the nausea and lack of appetite, tipped her over into Type 2 diabetes. A community nurse came to check her sugar levels on Tuesday, and they literally sent her meter off the scale, a result that induced a panic in the medical staff assigned to her – C's GP, for whom we can find no praise sufficient, immediately came out to check her over, blood tests were arranged, we had the Doctors on Call service calling us...

As it happened, it was that very morning that a parcel had arrived containing £70-worth of goodies from  the finest online sweetstore in the land, which I thought would keep us in stocks through to next year. So it goes...

A combination of yet more drugs, stopping the steroids and not eating any sugar, or indeed much of anything at all, has brought the readings down, but still not low enough that a nurse doesn't pop in every day to check. The whole thing has dispirited C utterly, and left her feeling exhausted and utterly depleted, although she is slowly bumping back up. Just to add to the general joys, her ME and accompanying viral flare-ups have returned. As you can imagine, I didn't take many pictures.

It seems such a long while ago, yet it was only last Sunday when, inspired by a sudden shaft of sunshine, we went out to Shobrooke Park, just a couple of miles away, to enjoy a lovely autumn day, with C managing to get around the whole mile or so circuit, including several stiles, with very little trouble and much enjoyment: she was wearing a lovely velvet skirt, one of many glorious garments that have been hidden away for years on the grounds of being too good for everyday wear, at a time when every day was seemingly everyday. C was thrilled to have got out, thrilled to have made the circuit, thrilled to be alive and wreathed in smiles.


A tense moment in the fishing competition
Kez and C striding out
The skirt in full effect
The ruined boathouse, Shobrooke's equivalent of Dave Trippas's house
(that's confused all but about three potential readers, I reckon)
Wreathed in smiles, like I said: would I lie to you?

  The following day, the Monday, was grey and damp, so I followed the advice of C's dear, and unfortunately late, friend Terry, who prescribed baking as an ideal way to cheer up a miserable day. Without the wherewithal for cake, but with a pile up of loaf-nubs, I went for bread pudding, and put it in the oven just before we went into Crediton to harass Boots for more drugs. When we came back, throwing open the kitchen door from outside, the blast of warmth, fruit and sweet spice was just heavenly.

I don't have any pictures of the bread pudding, so here's
something else rich, dark and full of fragrant goodness

Thursday, 6 October 2011

more holiday snaps

as promised/threatened in the last post, more of our day-trip to Dawlish.

One of the main reasons we chose to go to Dawlish was that we could get a train that dropped us virtually on the beach, after a spectacular riverside ride down the Exe Estuary, followed by a run of a mile or two between the cliff and the surf. C had never made the journey before, but I often came here in the 70s and 80s as my pal Jim's parents lived there, and I was invited for the odd holiday.

We walked to Coryton Cove, an old stamping (and indeed splashing) ground just beyond the Big Red Rock (quite how it got this name when the whole town is built on red rocks, many of them a lot bigger than the one that bears its name, is moot) to find the tide was seriously out (it was a new moon close to the equinox). C is the small black dot in the middle of the pic and I am only up to around my calves in the water this far from the shoreline
calm down, ladies, he's taken

As far as we know, K-Dawg's first trip on a train, or public transport of any kind. He behaved impeccably, but absolutely refused to go anywhere near the water. When I put a lead on him and attempted to drag him in for a paddle, he planted his paws and lowered his head so that his collar threatened to come off over his ears.

Can't be said too often

Friday, 30 September 2011

Today we went to the seaside...

And we had a lovely time.

More photos later - I just couldn't wait to share that one

Saturday, 24 September 2011

randomly in july, pt 1

A gallimaufrey of inconsequentialities:

This charming Chaddy spaniel guarding the Sportsmans Arms, the pub where we dropped in for lunch on our trip to Slapton Sands on July 4
I took this pic to scoff at these holidaymakers, but I have to confess they were better prepared than us. Cabin fever had so fried our brains that we set off on this journey – down through the Teign Valley, swerving gracefully past Torbay and going down a coast road that lyrically reminded C of her childhood holidays in the South of France, an untroubled sea showing blue against the pine-topped red headlands – with the wrong footwear, no cozzies and an insufficiency of comestibles.

A swift return to the gastro glories of the Lazy Toad


After the tiring trip to Slapton, C's health slipped, and it took a week or so for the medics to get her stabilized again
Espesso floats at Ashton's Coffee Lounge. She's knitting me a scarf

Yes I Still Love Her

C celebrated her 64th birthday on 26 July.
We went to lunch at the Lazy Toad, a wondrous gastropub in Brampford Speke, a village on the Exe a few miles north of Exeter. It was beautifully (and unpredictedly) sunny, and we ended up, naturally enough, in the garden.

a pre-prandial stately totter down to the Exe. C is wearing her new summer dress, bought in Exeter a few days before.

we looked at the river, and the river looked back

some say that life looks better through the bottom of a glass

a transcendently fine smoked haddock and saffron risotto
designated driver
The Days Are Just Packed...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

July 1-3

At the beginning of July, some golden sunny days that saw us spending most of our time in the garden, enjoying the upsides: chief among these, at this time, is that C, no longer having to/choosing to worry about melanomas, can indulge for the first time in a long while her Leonine propensity for lying in the sun, toasting her bones and crisping her skin. One morning, we went swanning about Big Cred, ice cream espresso floats at Ashton's Coffee Lounge, and on the evening of the third went on an adventure to Morchard Bishop, where we sat and smoked in secluded seats in the ridgetop churchyard, headstones made palimpsest by time and lichens as the timeless, tree-moulded hills roll and fold.

morning mail

Lookit me, I'm Sven Nykvist!

Size 3

C was cutting a new country bunch from the garden almost every day
A cameo appearance from the author. Or at least his feet

That's the bedroom window top left. It's as old as the house, the landlord thinks, perhaps 17th century.

Morchard Bishop churchyard

Home in the late evening of July 3rd, what would have been my parent's 69th wedding anniversary - I wonder what would have been an appropriate gift? - and the sun is off the garden, which is shaded by the hawthorn and hazel hedge, but is still spilling over the parkland behind. C - or at least her ashes - are to be buried under the oak tree on the left.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

what we did at the seaside

C has recently expressed a desire to swim in the sea again. Not that this was something she’d often done in out time together; all those childhood hols in the South of France, and a young adulthood in various druggy beach havens in Goa and the Balearics meant that she took rather a wan view of the more bracing qualities of British coastal seas.

Thirty years of living with Mr No Passport have brought about a gradual change, though, and yesterday she drove us – she, me, and our dog, Kez – down to Sidmouth, a favourite haunt she first discovered with her elderly friend, Terry P, more than a decade ago. It has the twin attractions of a beach that allows dogs in the summertime and some first-class artisanal ice cream from Taste in the old town.

The weather gloomed over as we left, but as we slid around Exeter and dashed across the pebble heathland towards the coast - Lo! – the clouds parted. We parked in a restricted zone at the West end of the town and went to  negotiate the shingle at Jacob’s Ladder beach. Both of us went in for a swim. In fact several. C was a little disappointed at how weak she was, that she did not manage more than a couple of dozen strokes, but was and remains thrilled that we did it.

After successfully wriggling out of her swimsuit under her dress while sitting on the pebbles, C needed my help in getting to her feet. I stood in front of her, legs a little apart and feet planted further down the slope. We linked forearms, and, on the count of tree, I lifted her up: or, at least, that was the idea. Instead, C was propelled forward, surfing slowly down on her backside until she bumped against my legs. This gentle impact, combined with the feeling of the shingle shifting slightly beneath my feet, led me to fold gently over the top of her to brace myself on the slope behind. As my glasses and various other pertinent items cascaded out of my top pocket and C began to howl with laughter,  I was moved to inquire if anyone in the vicinity had the number of Laurel and Hardy’s scriptwriters.

I had, though underestimated the power of the Prankster to summon up a punchline. With that keen canine intelligence that is so much a hallmark of his personality, Kez deconstructed the chaos unfolding before him and immediately came up with an applicable action: he wrapped his front legs around C’s shoulder and, lipstick waggling wildly, started shagging her arm.

Friday, 12 August 2011

moving right along...

C spent most of June either having treatment or recovering from it. While it was frustrating for her that the stent had not given her an immediate flood of energy in the wake of the tide of bile thus released, there were the twin consolations of Wimbledon and the occasionally sunny day in the garden, where she could toast her bones in the joyous freedom of knowing she needn't care about melanomas any more. Towards the end of the month, we started to get around more - on fairly short trips as C was not comfortable in the car.

We moved the armchair from my study to the bedroom to cope with the stream of guests
first crop

This was taken on 30 June, the 23 anniversary of our first wedding (a longer story than fits in a caption)

C is making a point of wearing all the fabulous clothes and jewels she has been saving for special occasions, which is why she is wearing silks and linen in the garden, and flaunting her collection of insect jewellery around the local coffee shop. I bought C the dragonfly brooch a few years ago, but she rarely wore it because she was afraid of losing it. She did not wear the blue linen dress that often, because it gaped at the front. One problem solves another.