Each week seems to get busier and busier. Instead of lounging in the garden, we have appointments, workmen and all sorts of admin to catch up with as well as continuing to unpack boxes. We have some new bookcases arrive which means emptying of more boxes which is good but also rather tiresome. It’s a job Mr Mason has taken on and is doing it well. The roof is finally finished. Alex and Dale come over to put the chimney pots on with the reknowned lime mortar. The weather is fickle and goes from sunny to windy with a hint of rain and they are concerned about the lime mortar setting well. They sit in the van for a while to see what the weather will do and then announce it will be OK, they have actually finished. There is a lot of chat as we thank them and they thank us for the work. Off they go in the van and half an hour later a huge storm crashes overhead with thunder, lightning and hale – the whole works. Suddenly their little white van re-appears and they rush up ladders with a tarpaulin while the rain lashes down. They were a few miles away and were worried that the storm would damage the lime mortar so, even though they had finished, back they came. They come down the ladders wet but smiling. The lime mortar has set sufficiently so the rain will not be a problem but I am rather blown away by their attitude. Having finished a job, they worry about the storm sufficiently to come back and make sure everything is OK. It’s an excellent service and not one I can imagine happening in many places. Another tick for Lincolnshire attitude.
I am still investigating the support network for cancer patients in the area. In London, it was pretty straightforward. There was the wonderful Maggie Centre at Charing Cross and I had a dedicated Macmillan secondary cancer nurse. There was also the Mulberry Centre at the West Middlesex Hospital where I could have massages or reflexology. The Mulberry Centre was a bit strange. The treatments were fine but it wasn’t the sort of place you could go in and just relax. The volunteers who staffed it were very eager and wanted to know why you were there and to engage you in conversation. I never found it a good place to go for anything except reflexology or massage. One member of staff got rather obsessed with Dog and would insist on coming to see him if he was in the car. He had to be brought out so she could shriek over him. What is it with people who shriek at dogs? They don’t like it. Here, there isn’t an obvious place to go so I reluctantly get in touch with the local Macmillan nurse who, as you will know, turns out to be marvellous. She is really intent on getting me hooked up with everyone so when I need something, I will know who to go to. I get a call from the local hospice who make me an appointment so I can go and be assessed. They provide all kinds of complementary therapies including breathing classes (which I think might be really useful), a choir and Reiki. I sit down to fill in the form I am sent and immediately it sends me into a dark place. So many questions I don’t want to answer about how I feel physically, emotionally and spiritually. Half way through it, I give up and go and help Mr Mason with the books, so depressing does it feel.
In fact, while I think of it, there has been a very black streak running through the whole week. I have decided to do lots of admin which means I can be productive whilst sitting down. Some of this is just letting people know of our new address and some of it is looking at finances and pensions. It’s the pension bit that I find hard. I have to make sure Mr Mason is nominated to receive my pension in the event of my death but then there are the new rules which came in last year meaning I can take some or all of my pension early. This means there are lots of conversations and emails discussing my health and forthcoming death, whenever that might be. I am desperate that Mr Mason is left in a good position financially and that there is nothing messy or complicated for him to be dealing with when the time comes. I hate thinking about it and there are quite a few tears. Luckily there are boxes of tissues in just about every room in the house so I am well prepared. I decide to engage a financial adviser who has been recommended by Mrs Hurley and think I will hand the whole kit and caboodle over to her (the adviser, not Mrs Hurley) and she can help me find my way through what feels like a mine field. I eventually get back to the hospice form and complete it, shoving it back in the envelope and deciding not to look at it again. I also get a call from a nice man called Aaron who runs fitness classes and regimes for people with cancer. He even sounds fit (in the literal sense) over the phone and he will come and see me, assess me and then become my personal trainer, helping me to do excercise which will benefit me, taking into account my health and maybe link me up with some groups. It sounds good. The community nurse also calls and asks if she can come over to introduce herself and explain what she does and what she can offer. Another strand in my support network. Very different to London but I am starting to feel more secure.
On Friday we go to see Virgil and he is still rather stressed. Maybe this is his style in which case I will have to hypnotise him to make him more laid back. He has had more information but still not really enough and the date I was given for an echo was not one I could make. He sighs quite a lot and then says aloud everything he is entering into the computer system. We drag out of him that I can have chemo at Pilgrim Hospital instead of going to Charing Cross which is actually quite a relief. I love seeing the people at Charing Cross and at Maggie’s but it’s so tiring going there and back in one day. He says he will see me in 3 months at which I raise my eyebrows and explain at Charing Cross I am seen by the oncologist every 3 weeks. He thinks again and then agrees he will also do this. I also query with Virgil why the stickers on my appointment slips still have my old address on. He waves it away, saying it’s fine. When I get home I find a letter redirected from our old address asking me to attend the appointment I have just been to. I also have a letter from Charing Cross addressed to me at our new address with a copy of my oncologist’s letter.I start to wonder how much experience he actually has but know I have the safety net of my previous oncologist to fall back on. He can’t get through to the chemotherapy suite on the phone so walks us round there – Mr Mason later says how impressed he was by my turn of speed – to find out what time my appointment will be. Apparently, although there was a slot on Wednesday available earlier, it has now gone. They can give me an appointment on Tuesday. I know my previous oncologist would have waited until the following week but I feel I have said enough about what my previous oncologist would have done so say it’s fine. The lady on the desk already knows who I am because she has just prepared a file for me and a pharmacist arrives and says “Oh, is this the lady on Kadcyla?” I am the only person in the hospital to be treated with this drug so I cause a bit of a stir. The staff are incredibly friendly and give us a card to put on our windscreen so we will not have to pay any parking charges when we visit the hospital. I just have to make an appointment at the GP’s to have my blood taken and we are all set.
I also have a very exciting appointment to attend. Before we got Dog, I had decided I would like a whippet. Then we saw Dog and were smitten so took him. He is a sighthound, like whippets, but distinctly bigger with his Saluki parentage. We decide before we move that we will get another dog. Mr Mason jnr always says to Dog “We’re going to get a better dog” which is a mean thing to say. We would normally get a dog from a rescue but with the way things are, we decide to buy one from a breeder. I research breeders carefully through the Kennel Club and find one in Louth who has been recently inspected and breeds whippets and deerhounds. I email to see if she has any whippet pups available and get a response saying they are expecting a litter later in the summer but have 2 9-month old puppies if we are interested in a slightly older dog. To me, this sounds perfect. The dogs will have been house-trained and have basic training so we make an appointment and go over to see them. First we catch sight of the deerhounds who are magnificent and have won prizes at Crufts etc. They are huge and simply stunning. Both the whippets are gorgeous and have different temperaments. One is cheeky and ready to jump into trouble at the first opportunity whilst the other is quieter and more shy. Dog pretends to ignore them while we walk about in their run. He wees on everything we can see and the cheeky one, Leia, is desperate to smell his bottom, so much so that I fear she will get a wet head. The other dog, Lark, is more reticent and sticks with her sister for a bit. After a while, they all calm down and do a bit of chasing around, a bit of woofing and a lot more sniffing. Dog seems quite happy with them and we then have a difficult decision to make. One dog is a brindle and the other is white with brown spots on. The breeder points out which is better from a showing point of view although she knows we are not going to show the dog. It is very tricky to decide. But I’m all blogged out so I’ll let you decide which one you would take with a sneak preview. Photos courtesy of their breeder, Sue.