Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fitter and Fatter, but not necessarily Wiser

I started writing my blog whilst in Vietnam several weeks ago.  I had great plans to enlighten you all with snippets of my days there, but best laid plans as they say ....
My attempt at saving a document whilst in Vietnam on the net book clearly came to nothing so I will start all over again!

I have always wanted to go to Asia and see a different culture and Vietnam was definitely a different culture.  It was a fantastic holiday, complete with temples, pagodas boat rides along the Mekong Delta, walks and cycle rides through paddy fields in the shadow of towering limestone
outcrops, beautiful palaces and gardens
full of lotus flowers, flame trees and the 
incredibly fragrant frangipane, museums and propaganda, tropical rainstorms, and blood curdling heat and humidity.  I never thought whilst I was undergoing chemo, that I would ever again have the energy to go on such a holiday.  Thankfully I was wrong and the only problems I had were related to my back problems - not being able to walk as far as I wanted to without a lot of pain.  We ate masses of noodles and rice or rather Dave did.  It was soooo hot that I lost my appetite and came back half a stone lighter. (I have put it all back on again unfortunately)

I bought a large extra light  roomy suitcase for the holiday just in case we wanted to bring anything large back.  I easily managed to fill it,  as Vietnam is famous for its dressmakers and tailors. (I didn't of course pack them into my suitcase). Unfortunately Dave was a wee bit poorly with holiday tummy on the day we were in Hoi Ann  which as luck would have it was not only a lovely beach resort, but also the best place to have clothes made.  The hotel we were staying in had bikes available for guests.  So naturally I got on my bike, cycled to the town and spent many happy hours in the shops and dressmakers.  All items were delivered to the hotel the next morning - thank goodness for the big red suitcase! Here are a few photos of our holidiay there.


Now we are back in rainy, but wonderfully cool and less humid England and planning (well I am planning) another trip away.

On the medical front I have had some injections into the nerves in my back which has relieved some of the back pain.  Can't say it was a pleasant procedure, but it seems to have done the trick and am enjoying walking again without pain.

Best of all I had another scan with contrast which shows, together with my blood tests, that the cancer is stable.  This is apparently something of a record as normally chemo is needed every 6 months as the disease spreads quite quickly when one has stage 4 (there is no stage 5 for those who were too polite to ask).  I have now had just over a year's remission and am hoping for lots more.

Another little interesting snippet is that for the last eighteen months, I have been organising a big fund raising orienteering event in Canterbury for the Pilgrims Hospices there.  Dave has spent two years surveying and drawing an urban map and the event went ahead last week-end.  We managed to get some publicity in the the local newspaper by relating my interest in the hospice organisation.  The article that was written has a wonderful banner headline 'Gran battling cancer plans map challenge' Makes me sound ancient.  Following publication of the article a television production company contacted me.  They want to make a programme for Channel 4 based on 6 people with a terminal prognosis and asked me if I would be interested in taking part.  The idea is that they get 6 dying people in a room discussing death.  Sounds riveting I thought and might even require a new outfit so I jumped at the chance!  Not that I have let this bit of fame and notoriety go to my head, but when gardening late into the evening a few nights ago, Dave wanted me to come in and hit upon a wonderful way of getting me to down spade and slug pellets quickly.  He tapped on the window, whilst holding the phone and mouthed 'its the BBC on the phone for you'  Of course I rushed in immediately, only to find it was my mother on the phone and his way of getting me in to make the dinner!

Before going off to make tonight's dinner, I recently found a letter I wrote when both daughters were living at home - been clearing out cupboards.  I thought I would reproduce it here as it still makes me squirm when I think about the reason for the letter.

8th January 02

Floor Manager, Ladies Fashions
Next Retail Ltd
Victoria Centre
Tunbridge Wells

Dear Madam,

Beaded Hem Dress

It is with great embarrassment and absolute humble pie that I am writing this letter about the above dress.  You will probably remember me in your shop last Saturday 5th January (I am sorry I have lost the slip of paper with your name written on it).

You may also remember that I was returning two items I had bought in the sale on 28th December.  I was certain that the black beaded hemmed dress that had a Cherry Pie label in it was bought at Next.  As I had in fact bought a black beaded hemmed dress on that day in your shop.  However you pointed out, as did the store manager that no such dress could have been sold.  You were absolutely correct and I was absolutely wrong.  I must explain how it happened before I am carted off to a funny farm!

My 17 year old daughter wanted a posh black frock for a New Year's Eve party.  I saw something which looked suitable, although not in size 10, but thought it would be okay.  I didn't look at it too closely.  I just noted it was black and beaded.  I bought some other things in the sale and rushed home.  I left most of the goodies in the bag as I had people staying that week-end.  When my daughter arrived home, I told her to get the black dress out of the bag and to see if it was okay.  She took it upstairs to try on.  She told me it didn't fit, but didn't bring it down to put back in the bag.

On Saturday when I was able to return to Next to bring back the items that didn't fit, I asked her to find the black dress.  She told me she had left it on her bed.  I ran upstairs, grabbed the black beaded dress off her bed, put it in the bag and dashed into town.  When I got it out at your shop, I was convinced it was the same dress I bought the week before, but of course it wasn't.  When I arrived home and explained the problem I had in Next to my daughter, she took the dress out of the bag and promptly announced "but that's Sarah's dress - I tried that on too.  You were meant to take back the Next dress weren't you?"  I am sure you have guessed by now that several black evening dresses were scattered liberally about my daughter's room and the one I grabbed off the bed was not the correct dress.  I didn't even notice the others.  Anyone who has teenage daughters will probably be able to envisage the scene in the bedroom and I should really have insisted that my daughter retrieve the dress in question rather than get it myself.  It didn't occur to me that she would be trying on her sister's dresses as well.  (In my defence, my oldest daughter has been away for six months and I had forgotten she also had a few black party frocks!)

Now I have found the dress in question, I can see they are not even similar, except for colour and beaded hems - the Next dress is much nicer and when I tried in on, amazingly it fit me - so I am thinking of keeping it anyway.

I can only again apologise profusely for all the fuss I caused.  I keep getting flashbacks to my conversation insisting that I bought a Cherry Pie dress from Next and how you all managed to keep your cool and were even helpful when confronted with this mad lady who couldn't tell one evening dress from another.  If I wasn't a middle-aged teacher, who knew better, I would blame the whole thing on my untidy recalcitrant daughter, but I had better take the blame fairly and squarely like a grown up.

I look forward to shopping in Next again, but might be too embarrassed to come into the Tunbridge Wells branch for quite a while yet!

With warm regards

Anita Kingdon
(A hassled mother/shopper)

It is amazing how much I have changed over the years - or have I !!!!!

Until the next blog .....