The world we live in

What a fascinating world we live in.

Scotland 2010 171

Last Monday morning, I was sitting in the departures area of Yangon airport, checking email and sipping a cup of tea when my eye caught sight of what was to become the subject of a major gecko rant.  On the other side of the world, as my day was getting underway, night had fallen where the post had originated. As my day progressed and I travelled to my next door country, my thoughts kept returning to the inappropriate nature of this post and little mini rants formed in my mind.  By the time I had checked into my hotel room in the evening, these had gathered speed to such an extent that I had to activate the offload and download function in the form of a rare, sweet rant. Within ten minutes, I was quickly reviewing the words on the page, and pressing “publish”.  I immediately felt better for this being “off my chest”.  In more ways than one! In a matter of nanoseconds, my rant was online and visible right around the planet.  Our side of the globe was in darkness, and the day was beginning across where the original post had come from.

What an amazing world we live in.

What happened next was dizzying.  I realised that the rant was attracting interest and attention by the way the stats started to rise.  However, it was late and I was soon tucked up in bed and nodding off, preoccupied and focused on the coming day.  After my usual night time bathroom visit, I peaked at the stats to see if the rant was still being read and was astounded to see that the hourly views reported hundreds of visits per hour.  Hundreds?  Mine is just a modest little blog which has a cosy space in the blogosphere.  I am delighted to have days when there are over a hundred visits, and more usually have tens of visits.  My previous record was 398 in one day and that had been a very happy day!  Now I was seeing more than that in an hour!  I almost wanted to press some magic “stop” button as this was starting to feel rather scary and out of control.  I am not sure what constitutes “viral” but I would class this as at least”ballistic”!

What a surprising world we live in.

It is not very often that I slip off my comfortable spot on the fence in this space. I much prefer to share thoughts, inspirations, experience and reflections which are less contentious.  But sometimes, there is just no choice, A rant is all that will do and rant I will.  What does not fail to surprise me however, is the attention which my rants receive in comparison with posts and writing which have been far more carefully  considered and composed.  I usually spend time thinking before writing and reviewing my blog posts, gently refining language to convey just what I wish to say.  Whereas the rants take shape very quickly and with not enough review and revision.  So for this particular one to reach so many parts of the world was overwhelming and dizzying. How ironic that a rant rattled off the keyboard in ten minutes than attracts far more attention than carefully composed poetic reflective prose.

What an intriguing world we live in.

Most of Tuesday I was offline as I worked my way through the hospital checks, so I was even more surprised that evening to see that the blog had not been at rest at all while I was disconnected.  I watched the stats soar through the evening as visits from all around the world were being logged.

Zizzing around the world

I continued to check with one wary eye into Wednesday and the stats continued to rise.  My regular viewing numbers had all but disappeared against this sudden and unusual high level of activity.

stats

In that first day alone, there were over 4000 views.  This continued and within 3 days the rant had ranted in over 60 countries (the figures below are a 24 hour snapshot). Astonishingly there had been more visits in those 72 hours than the blog had welcomed in the whole of 2010! I have to admit that I was really rather relieved when the views started to slow down.  It is a strange sensation knowing that your words are being read by such a variety of people and you realise just how vulnerable and exposed we are online.

# Country ↓ Last 24h (21:00 – 21:00) Current Hour Complete Interval
Pages Hourly Pages Cities Pages
Min Pages Max Pages Avg Pages Min Cities Max Cities Avg Cities
1  Vietnam 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
2  United States 2,647 10 273 110.29 7 174 75.92 157 107 2,804
3  United Kingdom 284 0 53 11.83 0 32 7.13 33 16 317
4  United Arab Emirates 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
5  Turkey 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 1 1 5
6  Thailand 42 0 11 1.75 0 2 0.54 4 1 46
7  Switzerland 15 0 4 0.63 0 3 0.54 0 0 15
8  Sweden 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 1 1 2
9  Spain 7 0 3 0.29 0 3 0.25 1 1 8
10  South Africa 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
11  Singapore 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 0 0 4
12  Puerto Rico 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
13  Portugal 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
14  Pakistan 3 0 1 0.13 0 1 0.13 0 0 3
15  Oman 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
16  Norway 3 0 2 0.13 0 2 0.13 0 0 3
17  Nicaragua 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
18  New Zealand 8 0 2 0.33 0 2 0.33 0 0 8
19  Netherlands 11 0 2 0.46 0 1 0.42 1 1 12
20  Myanmar 17 0 6 0.71 0 2 0.38 0 0 17
21  Mexico 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
22  Malaysia 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
23  Lithuania 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
24  Korea, Republic of 4 0 2 0.17 0 1 0.13 0 0 4
25  Kenya 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
26  Japan 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 0 0 4
27  Italy 11 0 4 0.46 0 3 0.38 0 0 11
28  Israel 10 0 7 0.42 0 1 0.13 0 0 10
29  Ireland 11 0 4 0.46 0 3 0.33 1 1 12
30  Indonesia 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
31  India 5 0 1 0.21 0 1 0.21 0 0 5
32  Iceland 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
33  Hungary 3 0 1 0.13 0 1 0.13 0 0 3
34  Hong Kong 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
35  Guyana 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
36  Guernsey 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
37  Germany 12 0 3 0.50 0 2 0.42 0 0 12
38  France 12 0 3 0.50 0 2 0.42 0 0 12
39  Finland 3 0 2 0.13 0 1 0.08 0 0 3
40 ?? Europe 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
41  Egypt 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
42  Dominican Republic 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
43  Denmark 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
44  Cyprus 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
45  Costa Rica 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
46  Chile 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
47  Canada 145 0 20 6.04 0 14 4.75 1 1 146
48  Bolivia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 2
49  Bermuda 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
50  Belgium 27 0 10 1.13 0 6 0.88 0 0 27
51  Bangladesh 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 0 0 4
52  Bahamas 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
53  Austria 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
54  Australia 37 0 7 1.54 0 5 1.17 2 2 39
55  Afghanistan 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1

What an astonishingly interconnected world we live in.

Scotland 2010 171

If I had been diagnosed ten or more years earlier, there would have been little or no online community.  My breast cancer world would have been so much smaller and more contained.  Now we have Facebook, Twitter and all manner of communication on devices which we carry around with us.  With one click, a thought or rant is sent over the blogosphere, scattering and sharing the words we key in, to land in the most unexpected dusty corners of the planet.

What an incredible world we live in.

After Words

I was astonished by the level of interest and response to my “thanks, but no thanks” rant last week.  I was in part reassured to know that I am not alone in the physical and emotional space and that these “afters” and “sides” of cancer and its treatment are very real and encroaching.  However, at the same time I was saddened and frustrated that so many of us are struggling.  Often silently, because we do not want to appear ungrateful or to upset family, friends and those around us.

From the outset in this cancer experience I have always reminded myself that there are many things which are not in my control, but many which are.  And how I live the cancer deal is one of those in my control.  I would rather be flippant and feisty, and poke fun at cancer than dwell in the doldrums and feel unhappy with my lot.  It just is what it is and I get on with it.  Mostly.

What came across clearly in the comments and conversations prompted by the rant, was the fact that amidst this weariness, we feel compelled to maintain a positive outlook and we feel guilty when we sometimes want to scream and stamp our feet.  Well perhaps not stamp the feet as they hurt too much!  There was a widely shared sense that we do not allow ourselves to have off days, and times of frustration or anguish.

I have been adjusting to these side effects of these meds for some time, and last week reached the point where I lifted my head out of the sand and realised that the pain and discomfort are such that there are many things which physically I can no longer do.  I have had to acknowledge with some resistance, that the break I have booked for next month will be far more physically challenging than I have prepared myself for and that is beyond frustrating.  This is not about inconvenience, this is about debilitating physical effects which are stopping me doing what I have long taken for granted.   For example, one of the favourite parts of my work, visits to our project sites are increasingly difficult – I used to hop on and off of boats, sit on the floor in villages and walk for days in the Himalayas.  Much of that is now too painful, unsafe or, sadly, beyond my capacity now.

That is when I reached that tipping point and this rant took shape.  I feel better for venting, but nothing of course changes the physical deal, the side effects are still there, and I still have difficulty walking. But it is what it is.  I deal with it. I get on with it and adjust as far as possible.  Mostly with a smile, but sometimes, it just gets too much and I weep.  Not often, but sometimes.

These past weeks have been tough ones, and the prospect of more of the same in terms of side effects feels heavy.  But I do work hard to balance this and make the most of what I DO have, and carpe that diem.

Most days I am incredulous that I have been able to realise my dream and ambition to live and work overseas, in such extraordinary places.  I have now been in Asia for 13 years, and am humbled and moved by the incredible experiences I have been through and the wealth of inspiring and amazing people I have known.  I love my life, and I have no significant regrets.  There are of course a heap of things I still would love to do, sitting in my wish bucket.  But, I have so much to be thankful for and if someone called “time” tomorrow, I would not plead for the chance to do that something I have not managed to get round to.

Even as I sit here, looking out onto the lush garden, the wind whispering in the mango tree, frogs croaking as more rains approach, I still have that sense of naïve wonder and fresh enthusiasm at being in such a place.

However, some days it just takes that extra energy and determination to get on with the day to day, and I find that the reserves have run low and it is just out of reach.

It is what it is.

Sometimes even geckoes have to rant.

Image

Afterwords

I was blown away by the response that my eggshells rant produced last week.  That s why I have been a bit on the quiet side – I have been reading your thoughts and replies, listening and thinking.

Rather than begin another rant and repeat the same sort of things I want to just pick out some key messages that have come through for me from everything I have read and heard over the past week.

  • Thank heavens for the internet!   We are so not alone and what a dialogue we can have across the globe.
  • It is just as hard not knowing what to say as it is hearing what you don’t want to hear!
  • As much as we are united by our cancer diagnosis and share many common reactions, we are all different and the things which makes us prickle differ just as much as we differ.
  • Cancer invades the lives of those close to people who are diagnosed, as powerfully as those themselves diagnosed.  (I found this post very thought provoking – it goes further and suggests that those around us are also cancer survivors).

And a parting thought.  There are indeed silver linings and blessings which have come out of my cancer diagnosis, and I am truly thankful and appreciative of these.  However, it does not make me hate cancer any the less!