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Life changing magic

Life changing magic
The Life Changing Magic

A look back on November and some goals for December

November was pretty quiet round here and I'm sorry about that. I had plans to write all sorts of posts during my time off after chemo but in reality, when it might have been possible to write, I found myself staring into space thinking about nothing. Really productive I know. 

But November wasn't all about the chemo. It's kind of felt like it has lately but its hasn't been. It started with a bit of IVF egg harvesting (such a gross phrase and I will get round to telling you about that at some point), there was some Christmas decoration making with the WI, lots of fun puppy walks, one sick puppy after he ate a mobile phone, a lovely evening with old friends in Harrogate, an awesome trip to Manchester with Toni, a fun overnight trip back to my old party home town of Leeds with Jim to see Brian Fallon. There were dinners with friends and cronuts and grilled cheese and french toast (not all at once you understand)

Now, onto December! 
We're having a bad Christmas jumper photoshoot with Flash and Melle and their people puppy cousin, Daniel, in a few weeks so new festive jumpers seem to be in order. 
I've inexplicably got myself 3 puppy swap packages to post out - 1 to Australia, 1 to Canada and 1 to the UK and then I'm taking part in Janet's Thrifty swap too. I love swaps, but the postal times are bothering me. 
We're hosting a festive wine and cheese evening over Christmas but I've spent too much time on Pinterest and now I have dreams of grandeur. 
I had plans for a Christmas diy gift and then I went and did a dry run and it was a disaster. A huge disaster. And a bit costly. So I have abandoned that plan and I'm diy-ing something little instead. 
I've got one treatment this month and I'm refusing to let it interfere with my plans for the month! That's the best way I can think to handle this whole thing! 
With the dark nights finding fun weekend spots to walk the dogs is important because they love going on adventures and I love taking them on them!
With our ever increasing bar, it seems like we ought to have a festive house cocktail to enjoy this Christmas - have you got any suggestions? 

And obviously I'll be christmassy-fying the house but that goes without saying! Right? And now tell me what are your plans for this wonderful festive month?

And we're off. Chemo no. 1 has started!

I started my first chemo session on Monday and I think we can say the steroid induced insomnia has well and truly kicked in as I've been awake since 3 these last couple of night. Thank God I'm only on them for 3 days and there are puppies to cuddle and instagram to scroll through whilst I'm awake!

So now I'm facing the aftermath of the drugs. On Monday night I started experiencing what I can only liken to the worst hangover you or I have ever had and it's not gone away yet (and I have had a crap load of shot induced poor decision hangovers!) You know those nights when you forget the 3 shot rule exists for a reason and end up drinking a bottle of some cheap ass tequila that someone brought back from a Mexican holiday. That sort of hangover. I got the remnants of the sort of night out I had 10 years ago without any of the fun or the good stories of falling down and making a fool of myself to tell from it. I've also got an attractive red face from one of the things I've take in the last 72 hours - I could not tell you which one though.
So the actual chemo session was pretty boring, kind of an anti climax after all the waiting for it. The day consisted of a lot of sitting about whilst my oncologist came to see me (it's been awhile since we last chatted due to the prolonged ivf. More on that another time) more waiting for my bloods to come back and my chemo drugs to be sent up, then more waiting for anti sickness and steroids to kick in whilst they put the cannula in my hand. The up side to having gone through Bupa with work is that I get a private room to do this all in.
Then came the cold cap. I'm not sure if you'll be familiar with the cold cap but it's a -25 degree riding helmet looking thing that you wear to trick the chemo drugs into missing your hair whilst they hit your body. I decided from the start I'd try it. We've no idea if it'll work but I might as well give it a go. And I'm giving it the full go. I've bought the Simple shampoo I'm told I can use, the wide tooth comb brush I'm to only use every few days and a silk pillowcase is on the way. I might as well try. I've also got some serum on the way to try and protect my eyelashes and eyebrows because there is no drawing those things back on with my make-up abilities.

Anyway, the cold cap is on for maybe half an hr before treatment and the same after. It wasn't as bad as I expected to be totally truthful, but it was still bloody cold! And now I just have to wait and see if it's worked, although the rate my hair sheds as it is, I might not actually notice if it starts falling out slowly.......

Then comes the hard stuff. The chemo course I'm on is called EC90. Which means I get a dose of 2 different drugs each time I go in. The E stands for Epirubicin and the C for cyclophosphamide. The Epirubicin is a red drug that has to be pushed into my veins by my oncology nurse to make sure it didn't spread from the veins, and by my nurses account this is the drug that can cause the big issues like hair loss and the tiredness. It also makes your wee red which is a nice little side effect. The cyclophosphamide is given through a drip in to my hand after the Epirubicin has gone down.
And then, after the drugs had done their thing, and the cold cap was removed, I was sent home with a huge bag of medicine to see me through the next few weeks. And yesterday I headed back in to the hospital for an injection to make my white blood cells reproduce quicker, which should stop me getting fluey, from the low blood cell count. But because it's making your bone marrow work harder, it can make you achy and tired. It's just a barrel of laughs isn't it.

But we've started. There's no going back now. There are now only 5 more chemo sessions to do and 5 is so much more doable than 6 isn't it. Plus now I know the immediate side effects I'll be far more prepared! I might just go in drunk so my next hangover is justified!

Recent Reads this Autumn



It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about what books I’ve had my nose in, but I think it’s about time to write up some of my recent reads. This started as a bit of a mammoth post with 8 books in it, but it was so long I've split it up for you, (and taken out a couple, that as I wrote about them, I realised I'd really not liked!). I don't want anyone falling asleep during it!

I read this book in one sitting whilst having a bout of insomnia. I started reading as something to help me go back to sleep, but that was a mistake. I couldn’t stop reading.
The book follows two sisters from the beginning of world war II through to the end, showing us how their lives change and showing us the impact that women had on the war effort in France. The book is based on the true stories of women during the war, but this isn’t a ‘true’ story.  

As the book starts, one sister, Vianne, is in her late 20’s, living a happy life with her husband and daughter, she is a schoolteacher in rural France. The other, Isabelle, is in her late teens, being thrown out of yet another boarding school and running back to their absent father in Paris. As the war escalates, Vianne’s husband is conscripted and Paris is under attack so Isabelle, against her wishes, is sent to live with her sister. On her journey to her Vianne’s  she meets a young convict, Gaetan, who over the course of their journey starts to shape her future for the rest of the war! Vianne on the other hand is coping with the fact her home has been commandeered by a German officer, and she is increasingly becoming alarmed by the lack of food available and the increasing antisemitism, as her best friend is Jewish.   

The Nightingale follows the way that the war affects both women. From Vianne’s journey where protecting her daughter is the her top priority to Isabelle, where helping the war effort, and making a difference is her top priority.
I know the book isn’t 100% factually correct, but it’s a novel, not a history book. It had me gripped. I couldn’t put it down because all I wanted to do was find out what had happened to the sisters. And oh my, the ending, it had me in tears. But that might have been the hormones I have been pumping in my body recently
I think this was a 99p kindle download, which of late has been pretty hit or miss (hence the removal of a few books from this post when I started thinking about them) but it's one of the ones I enjoyed. It's the first in a series so I'm sure there will be more of them banded about!

The story is set in the Scandinavian Archipelago islands, predominately, Sandhamn, and feature police detective Thomas, who grew up in the area, and his childhood friend, Nora, who is on the island for the summer with her family

Thomas is sent to Sandhamn to investigate the discovery of a body washed up on shore, in a fishing net. The body is ID'd as Krister, a man who has been missing for a few months and afetr a short investigation, the death is thought to be an accident. Until the cousin of the Krister is also found dead on the island under very different circumstances. Neither of the dead seem to have any connection to the island, so the mystery is to figure out why they have both died there
 
I really liked how the book drew me into the island - it sounds like the sort of place I'd like to hang out (lots of sailing, cute houses and beaches - who wouldn't) and I really liked the two main characters, Thomas and Nora, even if it is SO obvious that these two will be getting together at some point. I 'll be honest, I had an inkling about who the murderer was pretty early on, but still it was interesting to read and to see how the investigation unfolded and brought in more characters!

I 100% bought this book because of the cover. I knew it was a thriller type book from the amazon offer email it came through on, but if i hadn't I'd have expected some sort of trashy beach story (which I love)! 

In real life the story is about Paul, a writer, who had written a less than best selling book in his 20's and has been dining out in it's (lack of success) since. He is a liar, a chancer and a thoroughly unpleasant man, who when we meet him, is living rent free, house sitting for a friend, and moving from one young woman to the next. By chance, he bumps into an old uni class mate who invites him to dinner. Thinking he might be able to get something from the dinner, he accepts and ends up meeting Alice. 

After some months of playing Alice, Paul is invited to spend time with her, and her friends from the dinner, at her villa in Greece. It turns out the villa is located in a town that Paul had already been to, and had met this group of people at before, but he was too drunk to remember. It's also the town that at the same time they were all there 10 years before the 13-year-old daughter of a friend of Alice went missing on the island, a mystery that has never been solved. As the hot summer unfolds, Paul's lies begin to catch up with him and, as more crimes are committed on the island, he is shocked to find that the police have him in their sights.  


The Back Road
The Back Road is set in a small English village, Little Melham, and follows the lives of some of the villagers after a teenage girl, Abbie, is left for dead in a hit and run accident.
The main characters we see are Ellie, an intensive care nurse, who cares for Abbie. Ellie lives with her husband and twin children in their fancy house, which was her childhood home that has been remodelled with inheritance from her mother’s death. And then we have her half sister, Leo. Leo is a life coach, who hasn’t been back to her childhood home in years after she was treated badly by her step mum. But all is not great when we meet Ellie and Leo. Ellie is trying to deal with the unwanted attention from a stalker, and she is worried that her husband might be having an affair, so with this in mind, she is happy to have Leo there to distract her. 

As Leo arrives, the night after Abbie’s hit and run, Ellie and Max are preparing to throw a dinner party for their friends. Many of whom were out in their cars, driving the ‘back road’ when they should have all be elsewhere, and all these people have secrets to hide. One of the dinner party guests is Tom, a former detective (I have since read that there is a series of books about him) who has moved to the village for some peace and quiet. As the book goes on, and he is drawn into the story and begins to believe that there is more to the hit and run than it being a tragic accident! 

I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. I really liked the story, and I loved the twists that it threw in, and I did really enjoy some of the characters, but I also thought that some of them made such dumb choices in life, if they were my friends in real life I’d have stabbed them in the eyes with a fork. Which made it hard for me to really love the book!

What have you been reading recently? What should I be picking up? I'm going to have some reading time on my hands soon, so hit me up with your suggestions! Please!