Saturday, 30 September 2006

Deer, oh deer

This morning, I was on a mission. I was going to get up at dawn and head over to Richmond Park to take some pictures of the deer as the sun rose. That didn't go quite according to plan because at 5.30am this morning, south west London was in the grips of a quite spectacular thunderstorm. So I reverted to plan B and went back to sleep! However, by 10.00am the sun was shining so I, along with the OH and The Lurchers headed over to the Park.

It's just coming into rutting season now and that makes for an eery walk with the bucks bellowing and calling from every direction. You have to be very careful as you never know where the deer are going to be. You keep your eyes peeled but the deer do like to hide themselves in the bracken. I'm not sure who was more surprised when this fellow popped up not 10 feet from us! My heart was in my mouth!

A bit further along we came along this handsome beast. OH and The Lurchers kept well out of the way whilst I photographed him. The deer aren't by any means tame but they are used to people and you can ger very close. But if the deer were in full rut, I wouldn't have been within 200 yards of him. Actually, I wouldn't have even been in the Park because they can be very unpredicatable when the hormones are flying!

"Who you lookin' at"

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

So far so good

Had the ultra-sound scan at the Royal Marsden this afternoon and the great news is that there doesn't appear to be any thyroid growth, at least, "nothing worth doing a biopsy on" was the radiologist's comment. Mind you, last time I had ultra-sound and a biopsy the radiologist said it didn't look like there was anything nasty there and it turned out to be very nasty indeed so I'm not counting my chickens just yet but am allowing myself to feel just a bit relieved!

Also had some more blood tests and will get the results of all the tests from the consultant next week.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006


Possible side effects from the Thyrogen injections, as listed by the company that makes the drug are, among others, weakness and fatigue.

They are not wrong.

Monday, 25 September 2006


So, off to the see my local Practice Nurse for the first of my pre-scan Thyrogen injections this morning. Never having done one of these injections before, the nurse studied the instructions carefully. I noted the same blank look on her face that must have been on mine when I read them.

Me (fearing the worst) : "They don't say where to give the injection do they?"

Nurse (confirming the worst): "No, but as it's intramuscular I'm afraid it's in the bum"

Me: "Oh"

Nurse: "Hold on, I just need to find a bigger needle"

Me: "Oh crap"

You'd think that after almost 15 years of having needles stuck in me that I'd be used to it by now wouldn't you? I mean, the last stay at the Royal Marsden resulted in them trying to get blood samples out of my feet because the veins in my arms had closed up in protest. Let me tell you, needles in the feet hurt. But no, needles still have the ability to turn me into a quivering, shaking wreck. And just to add to my misery I had to bend over with my jeans around my knees with my bum bared to the world.

And guess what? I have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

I have returned

Parents returned safely from their holiday and as they have now taken back possession of Millie the Whippet, I made my way back to London yesterday.

I had my first photography evening class last night. I've not been to an evening class before but it I had guessed the first class would be a bit vague given the need for everyone to introduce themselves and for the tutor to do all the necessary stuff like Health & Safety and where the toilets are, and I wasn't wrong. What worried me was that the tutor seemed too easily distracted and was flitting between different subjects faster than a bee collecting pollen. We had a basic outline on shutter speeds and apertures with promises that he would be going into each in more details at a later date. I hope he does because there were a lot of blank faces about me. Thanks to the chaps at Pixalo, I have learnt a few basics about shutter speeds and aperture sizes and just as well because without that I would have been completely at a loss as to what he was talking about. I think he told us about three different things we'd be doing next week but finally seemed to settle on low light photography and those that have them should bring along their tripods. Seems a little cart before horse if you ask me, but hopefully it will all become clear.
Other than that, the tutor is a really nice and approachable chap (even if I can't remember his name) and I enjoyed myself!

Monday, 18 September 2006

Rick on the Roof

As I took The Lurchers and Millie the Whippet out for stroll yesterday evening, I noticed a chap sitting on his roof, surrounded by signs which appeared to detail why he was sitting on his roof. I walked swiftly on trying to get the gist of the signs without actually appearing to be looking (why do we do that? Why do we have a pathological fear of being trapped in conversation by the local nutter?). I didn't get much other than something about being made bankrupt. He was still there tonight and I also noticed that he has a tent up there! No one-off protest this then.

Overcome by curiosity I trawled the net and this chap actually has a website. Rick on the Roof. So he isn't the local nutter but just some poor chap who, if the webste is to be believed, has suffered a massive injustice at the hands of a "corrupt justice system". Doesn't it come to something when the only way to get attention in this country is to camp out on your roof?

In other news:

JG and Dakota both rightly decoded OH's message! Quite why he is bemoaning the lack of kisses on a text message when in all the 13 years we have lived together he has never told me he loves me nor seemingly wanted to go out of his way to help me is really quite baffling!

Had a lovely walk on the beach with the hounds this morning. I grew up by the sea and every so often I hanker to get back to the waves, so it was nice to get my fix this morning.

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Greetings from Wales

Well here I am in sunny (for the moment) Wales.

It's a funny thing about coming to Wales, you can drive down the M4 in brilliant sunshine but as soon as you get to the Severn Bridge, it immediately clouds over and starts raining. Odd that, but at least it explains why Wales is so green and didn't have hosepipe bans like the rest of does rain a lot.

A very uneventful journey apart from having a front row view of the big huge plume of smoke emitting from what looked like a very serious fire in Langley. I did have my camera with me but decided, probably sensibly, that stopping to take photographs on the M4 was not a good idea.

All started well on my arrival. The key for the front door worked and I was greeted by the two resident cats who came hurtling down the stairs yelling "feed us!". The next door neighbour has been looking after them whilst the parents away so I think they were trying it on a bit. The cats soon legged it into the safety of the laundry room when they saw The Lurchers and Millie the Whippet arrive en masse.

Half an hour later I was unpacking my coolbox when I heard a very unpleasant sound behind me. One of the cats was depositing something very smelly and very runny in the laundryroom floor. Delayed reaction I guess. Although why she couldn't have taken herself out through the cat flap I don't know.

Then I sent a text to OH, who's at work, to let him know I had arrived safely, signing my texts inmy normal manner "Ax". I received a text back saying "mESSAGE received only one lips". At this stage I have to say thank heaven for Puzzle Donkey, without having successfully solved one it's puzzles about predictive texting I don't think I would have worked it out. Go on, you can work it out!! And then, like me, you can wonder what the heck that is all about.

Then, as the sky was looking particularly interesting, I got the camera out to find that the Hoya filter on the end of my zoom lense has smashed to smithereens. I have no cleaning kit with me (actually, I have no cleaning kit period.) There are particles of glass all over the end of my lense and blowing them off has helped a bit but not got rid of them. I don't want to wipe them of for fear of scratching the lense and am now stuck hoping my camera buddies can come up with a make-shift solution.

I wonder if the next few days are going to be so interesting.

Update: the cat did what she did on the laundry room floor because there was a screw jamming the cat flap closed for some reason. Makes mental note to talk to neighbour tomorrow.

Update 2: Camera now cleaned with the aid of a clean paint brush. Now why couldn't I have thought of that?

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Moving right along...

Having spent the days since last Wednesday with my emotions swinging between panic to denial and hysterics and back again, I seem to have plateaued and am back on an even-ish keel. Having been in this position before I knew it would pass and that I would, if not forget about it, at least let it slip to the back of my mind a bit. I am grateful that the Royal Marsden moves so fast but the downside of that is that it does hit the "OMG" button!!

In other news, Millie the Whippet is staying with us for a few days whilst the parents sun it up in Spain so I'm taking a few days leave next week and taking her (and the Lurchers of course) home to Wales on Sunday and staying at my parents until they get back on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to a few peaceful and quiet days with just the hounds for company. I might also try and think about where my relationship is going and do I really want it to keep going there, although I'm not sure I'm brave enough to tackle that one just yet. One problem at a time.

Monday, 11 September 2006


It is, of course, the 11th of September and my thoughts are with anyone and everyone that got caught up in the atrocities of that day.

It's one of those days, a bit like when Kennedy was shot, everyone remembers what they were doing when they heard the news. I was at the first day of my new job working in the office of the President of Cummins Power Generation. It was someone's birthday and we were in the main office eating cream cakes and I was just thinking what a great place this was, my firt day and we're already stuffing cakes! The President, Jack, was not there as he travelled the world on business a lot and on this occasion was in New York. Just before lunch someone called to say there had been a plane crash in New York, and then the details started to filter through and Jack's PA suddenly paled, Jack was at a meeting in the World Finance Centre.

Later we found out that from his meeting room, they had felt the blast of the first plane hitting the first tower and saw the second plane hit the other tower. He had also seen people throwing themselves out of the Twin Towers. I'm sure a lot of people found themselves in similar, if not worse, situations but it affected Jack deeply and really made him re-think his life. Always a philanthropist, two years later he retired and gave himself and his talents completely over to helping others.

I hope everyone involved has been able to have some closure and move on with their lives.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

It's all a bit crappy really

Four years ago I was diagnosed with Follicular Thyroid Cancer. As cancers go, it's one of the better ones, if there is such a thing, as it is fairly easy to treat. Two operations to remove my thyroid gland and a week at the Royal Marsden hospital to have a dose of radioactive iodine treatment to remove any remaining thyroid cells - that was pretty interesting as I had a week in total isolation with my very own Geiger counter in the ceiling! Since then I have had annual check-ups at both St George's Hospital (where I had the surgery) and at the Royal Marsden. The tests check to make sure that the level of Thyroxin medication I'm taking is correct and to measure for any Thyroglobulin - Thyroglobulin is used by the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormone Thyroxine - and, as I shouldn't have any thyroid cells, I shouldn't produce any thyroglobulin.

This morning I had my annual appointment at the Royal Marsden and was told that there's been a "blip" in my thyroglobuline levels, indicating that there may be some thyroid cells regenerating. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that the cancer is back with them. But it might be. And that's a bit scary.

The Royal Marsden being the Royal Marsden, they don't piss about and straight away I was sent for a chest x-ray and to book an ultra-sound scan. I'll have that scan on 27th September and on the two days prior to that, I have to go to my GP surgery to have thyrotropin injections - if the thyroid cells are present, the thyrotropin will stimulate the cells and make them more visible on the ultra-sound.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 3 September 2006

In case anyone was wondering......

....this was the shot that I finally entered in the photo competition!

You would not believe what's gone into getting to this point. 300 photographs and three evenings out wandering the streets! (Being underneath Hammersmith Bridge after dark was ermmm...interesting!) I finally realised that I was trying to be too clever and was trying to produce a shot I could see in my mind but didn't have the knowledge and experience to actually bring to fruition. So I went back to keeping it simple and I'm finally happy with this shot! It's been one hell of a learning curve but it's been fun nonetheless.

I'll post up all the other shots I shortlisted on my "one-a-day(ish)" photoblog over the next few days.