Up to speed

Some housekeeping is overdue!

I have been remiss in caring for the bloglet, and with updating on news from my end.  The last thing I remember, I was packing bags on January 2 and heading for Bangkok for the additional and scary review with Dr W2.  Now it is January 13 and I am not sure what has been happening in between times.

That is not entirely true, actually.  Life has been happening.

As soon as I arrived in Bangkok, I swung immediately into the “preparing for the tests” mindset with the gritted teeth and clenched knuckles that accompanies and characterises that tense time.  I moved through the checks like an automaton and was spat out the other side in one day.  Exhausted, numb and emotionally drained.    The main things to check were the clottability factor due to the embolism and of course, the dreaded tumour markers. In a nutshell, I have been released back into the wide world again and will be reviewed again in another three months.  The cloattability is pretty stable which is fine, although I do have that checked regularly in Yangon too so was not hugely concerned about that.  It was the tumour marker which was stressing me.  The important thing about the markers is the trend rather than the individual result, so it is important to see this over a period of time and a number of tests.  I knew that a further increase would be the most worrying scenario and was very glad that although the markers are still above the reference range, they have decreased slightly.  So now we just have to see how a trend plays out over the coming months, but I do have some reassurance and can breathe out for now.

That gave me a day in Bangkok to do around a week’s worth of chores and tasks and before I knew it I was back at Bangkok airport waiting to board the return flight to Yangon, along with a number of friends and colleagues also returning after the seasonal break.  I arrived home without incident, unpacked, ate, went to bed all set for the first day back after my break.  And indeed, before very long the alarm woke me, I forced myself to get up in the pitch dark, put on my swimming stuff, and some warmer clothing and shake the dust off my bike in a return to my morning routine before work.

The days have thus been full, with the early start in the cool (and now even cold) Yangon mornings and intense activity at work so my first weekend has been very welcome although it has brought quite a backlog with it.  Hence a game of catch up and a need for bloggish housekeeping.

While I was in Bangkok, I took advantage of the superfast internet and uploaded a few photos.  I decided to change the background picture here, and decided eventually on this image.

Angkor Birthday

This is a photograph from my visit to Angkor (Siem Reap) in Cambodia last year, a wonderful adventure and a truly confidence building exercise.  I loved the ruined temples, and especially the way nature and the temples have evolved with tree roots holding the structures together in some places and dividing them in others.  I was continually struck and by the resultant impression of man-made and natural elements in complete fusion.  As well as being a photograph I like, it has particular happy associations and that is how I would like to set the tone for the on my background.  There are many more photographs on the sister (photography) blog.

As we move into 2013, I remain enthused by my three word mantra (focus, treasure and design) and am embracing the coming year.  I am taking the time to focus in on what I want to achieve and draw up clear goals for my year.  And in a beautiful and unexpected gift I received from a friend and colleague, I have the perfect reminder.  A pair of stunning Feisty Blue Gecko earrings, something to keep me focused, to treasure and of an intricate and precious design.

fesitybluegeckoearrings

So with a galloping account of hospital visits, early mornings, plans and goals, Cambodian temples and opal earrings, I trust that I am now getting back up to speed.

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Anticipation and reflection

“Harmony, Vitality and Adventure”

When I chose these as my guiding words for the year, I didn’t realise how often I would refer to them.  And here I go again!

My visit to the UK was over in a flash, and although I managed to get around the country and see my family, there was little time for reflection or relaxation.  I know that is the deal though, I have been overseas long enough to know that home leave is home leave and not a holiday. The special time with family and friends is accompanied by a crazy logistics-fest to get around the country and spend time with people.  I also find that the backlog of various tasks such as bank stuff, correspondence, immunisations, hair colouring (note how I just slipped that in there – oh yes, that is a subject for its own post), phone conversations and stocking up on various essentials and goodies which I can’t get my hands on is always takes far more time consuming than I realise.  Every year!

This time my visit was shorter, and I was sad that I was not able to connect with many special people.  However, this year was different to the general home leave schedule.  Two years ago I did not manage to get back on home leave, for a number of reasons.  The biggest one being the unplanned encounter with Breast Cancer.  Nuff said!  Last year, my visit was at the end of the treatment  and for the first time I did not even attempt to get around the country as much as I usually do and spent a good bit of time on a remote Scottish island.  Looking back, I realise how frail I was and how “cancery” I probably looked.  Being bald helped that image.

So this year has been very different.  Having my checks just before the visit gave me a wonderful peace of mind before travelling.  I also felt confident about travelling on my own.  In fact the main challenges I have found have been relatively minor.  There is the continual “faulty thermostat” issue – being too hot, then too cold, then too hot again (repeat ad infinitum….) and the yucky crumbly nails.  The faulty thermostat is no different in cooler climes I have discovered.  I just have more layers to remove and replace and often in more crowded spaces! I think the nails have probably been affected by the travelling – carrying bags, and putting my hands into handbags for passport, purse etc has resulted in 8 of my nails being quite badly damaged.  That is 8 of my fingernails, and not including toenails, so quite a high proportion!  One thumbnail has been particularly damaged and tore off eventually far enough down to cause bleeding.  Not nice.  I am not sure whether this is still the after effects of chemo, effects from Tamoxifen or both.  In any case, when you add the travelling factor, it has resulted in quite a combo.

So I flew back to Bangkok on Friday/Saturday and when I woke up this morning I had absolutely no idea where I was, what day of the week it was and what time of night or day it might be.  Slowly it came to me that I am in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for the first time in my life.  Despite living in the region for many years, and having had a fascination to come here, I have never quite got here.  Till now.

I am in that beautiful phase of “anticipation” now with a new place to explore and discover.  Planning for and anticipating the coming days for jungles and rainforest temples.  Enjoying the harmony of these surroundings and the break.  Feeling so much healthier and with a sense of real vitality.  And embarking on another adventure!