Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Note to self.....

Note to self. Do not attempt to say goodbye to one relationship, start another and prepare for major surgery all at once.

So much has happened in the past week - since I wrote that last post - that I hardly know where to begin. But to cut a long story short, regular readers of this blog may have noticed that Mr B has been away for a long while, and during his absence, life has been extremely tough. Several weeks ago I met the lone sailor. Just over two weeks ago we had lunch. We'd only seen each other a few times when I realised that this had a chance of going somewhere, so I told Mr B.

Breakups are always so very hard, particularly when you really care about each other. But our parting was as amicable as is possible in the circumstances, and we hope to remain the true friends that we are, once the dust has settled.

So while I have been grappling with the raw grief associated with saying goodbye, I have also been dealing with the uncertain wonder that comes with getting to know the new man in my life. And, of course, preparing for hospital.

I’m always being told off for doing things too quickly, but recent events have broken all my previous records. Both of us are walking round, stunned and astonished. By last Saturday I felt so overwhelmed by everything I had a complete meltdown, so apologies to anyone who I may have upset by weeping and wailing by phone or email.

A few days on and I feel much better about life. Yes, my stress levels are pretty high, which is understandable, but they aren’t through the roof, as they were a few days ago, and while there is a huge amount of emotional stuff to process, at least the three major events sort of balance each other in a way, and stop me worrying about hospital too much. There’s so much to think about I can’t possibly do so - the only way is to take small chunks of each at a time.

But in all this, the Lone Sailor has been unfailing kind and patient. After all, he has to process this stuff as well. He is currently repairing my second puncture in two days, and preparing for my last appointment with the specialist tomorrow when we may know more (a terrifying prospect).

He is calm under pressure, though, and departed yesterday with two of my hospital leaflets, entitled “Your Hysterectomy” and “Pelvic Floor Exercises,” - both of which he threatened to read in the pub.

The other day, he asked, “Do you believe in fate?” I said I thought things happened for a reason, if that’s what he meant.

“I think I’ve come into your life to help you through this,” he said. “I’d like to do that, and let’s see where we go from there.”

I am stunned at such generosity. No one could possibly ask for better than that. So while life continues to be a roller coaster - as ever - just think: my convalescence couldn’t be coming at a better time. I can use it, not only to recover, but to process the massive changes in my life.

And for now, the lone sailor is not alone any more.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Comings and Goings

This is the super yacht This Is Us at Pendennis marina a few weeks ago. How the other half lives.....

Life is always about comings and goings, but over the last week I’ve had several notable ones.

First my oldest friend Lin - we met when we were 4 at the school gates - has been living in Australia for the last 30 years. She’s over here on a flying visit as her dad has just died, bless him. Sadly I won’t be able to go to the funeral owing to a plethora of hospital appointments, and the last time she came over I couldn't see her as Pip was too ill. But we had a lovely long talk the other night - “just like being kids again,” she said happily - and will do again before she leaves. And we are definitely meeting up next time she comes over.

After that (this is in date order), another Falmouth friend came back from a month in India. On her own. I haven’t seen her yet but sounds like she had a fascinating time and I look forward to hearing more about her adventures. Good and bad.

Mr B is due back next week after a prolonged absence, and he and Al are determined to get me back into tip top condition for spring, and in particular for racing Snap in Falmouth Week. I have no idea how they intend to do that, and have a feeling it won’t involve anything medical, but it’s very comforting to know.

Right now I am making the most of every precious moment. There is a lot to fit in - stockpiling articles for work, several parties, a chance meeting with someone who used to work on super yachts and is now running a restaurant, who I will interview - enjoying a rare day of sunshine on the Lizard with the lone sailor, and catching up with friends. Then on Monday I went to a wake of someone who died of prostate cancer in his early 60s. I think you can imagine how I felt about that.

Besides cramming as much enjoyment into my life as I can, and resting when necessary, I am planning. Packing a case. Going for another scan tonight then on Thursday a pre-op assessment. Next week another visit to the gynaecologist, by which time we might know a bit more. All those things happen to my other persona - the one who I will become, in a few weeks. The one who’s about to go through something too massive and life changing to even contemplate. It’s like walking in the shadow of Everest. I know I’ll have to climb it, soon, but right now I just have to prepare myself (and cling on tight to those hands that hold mine).

Someone who doesn’t know me suggested that these cysts might be seen as a wake up call. To what? The fact that I love my life? Like anyone there are several aspects of my life that could be improved upon, but nothing’s perfect.

It’s difficult trying to imagine a poorly me while I am still bouncing round, full of beans and pain free. Enjoying life to the full. So I take each day as it comes, and will do that for as long as I can. In fact, it’s a much better way to live.

But I know that my friends are the best in the world. You give me enormous strength, and I count myself very fortunate to feel so loved and cherished.

And lastly, I can solve the mystery of the two bunches of daffodils left on my doorstep on Saturday night. It was suggested I might have a secret admirer, but I couldn’t think of anyone. Although of course if they were secret, I wouldn’t know. But I’ve just found out they were from my dear friend Emma. Bless you, Em.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Stormy times

I found out last week that I had been misdiagnosed by the nurse who did my scan a few weeks ago. To cut a long story short, I’ve been told I need a full hysterectomy, and it will obviously take a while to recover. There’s more to it, but now is not the time to dwell on that. The surgeon was very positive and said, “you’re young and fit and it’s my job to make sure you get back there.”

At least they want to get it done as soon as possible so I’ll be going in on 7th March which gives me time to stockpile enough work and sort out other stuff, like dog sitters etc. To say I was shellshocked is something of an understatement. Now the reality is creeping in, which is pretty terrifying, as I’ve never had anything like this before.

As I write this, it occurs to me that I’ve spent most of my time reassuring friends that I will be OK. It’s bad enough hearing the catch in their voices, see the upset in their eyes. So I’m cheerful and pragmatic. Philosophical and ‘brave’.

But actually, it’s easier to be pragmatic. This operation needs doing so I’d rather it’s over soon so I can recover and get on with my life. If I give into those fears, they will take over and that will do me no good. A few people have disappointed me, which has been really hurtful, for at the moment I need people I can rely on absolutely.

Only to those who are nurses have I been able to say how frightened I am. Thankfully they have allayed my fears to a great extent and said to ring at any time. Also, my singing lot have been wonderful - they’re going to set up a rota to bring meals round to me, and to take me out shopping and for outings as I won’t be able to drive for a while. Claire, our musical director, said, “you’ll go mad if you can’t sing, Sue. When you feel like it, we’ll have small groups and come and sing at your place.”

A few other gems include the arrival of a lovely dress that I put on and instantly felt great. Good old Joe Brown. And I was taken out for a lovely lunch last week (a rare treat) with the lone sailor. Anyone who shares their chips on a first meeting must be good news.

It struck me that the weather over the last few months has mirrored not only a very stormy period of my life, but those of farmers, fishermen and many others who are affected by the storms. I know the next few months will be bumpy but there will be calmer waters ahead, and in the meantime there are a few precious days of sunshine like today.

It’s like setting off on a difficult voyage. It’s full of the unknown (to me) but I have a very skilled skipper and crew (I like the gynaecologist very much and trust him absolutely), a seaworthy vessel, and good lifejackets.

It’s really tough doing this on my own. I do so miss having someone to hold me when I have the 3am heebie jeebies. To just be with me when I need them. And to be here when I come home, to do all the things that I won’t be able to do, like lifting, driving, cooking and walking Moll.

But I remind myself that I’m by no means on my own. I have many friends who support me and care about me, and while I need to be tough, so do those that care enough to come on the voyage with me. Those that aren’t will stay ashore and wave us off.

Life tends to throws things at you for a reason (though I have yet to figure out what that may be in this instance). This kind of experience really does make you look at your life, assess the people in it and makes you want to make the most of it. So on Monday I had a great afternoon walking near Trebah and yesterday I had a fabulous afternoon at Trelissick, and enjoyed every minute.

A friend at singing said to me, “you know how much we all love you, Sue,” which made me gulp. I guess I just hadn’t realised.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Seems difficult to believe we had such a lovely day on Sunday - this was taken over at the Roseland, near Place Manor.

I was talking to a friend last night about the strange way things happen, and are connected. How stories - and life - often go in circles. This is what happened to me last week.

Last week Mr B sent me this quote by Michael Morpurgo:

“That’s what sailing is, a dance, and your partner is the sea. And with the sea you never take liberties. You ask her, you don’t tell her. You have to remember always that she’s the leader, not you. You and your boat are dancing to her tune.”

I loved that so much I printed it out and it now hangs over my desk. And I found out it comes from “Alone on a Wide Wide Sea,” so I ordered it from the library.

A few nights later I went to Telltales, an evening where writers read out their work in a pub in Falmouth. One of them was a short story by a man about his experiences as a lone sailor, hallucinating at the end of a voyage with very little sleep. It was very well written, we ended up having a chat afterwards - he keeps his boat in Penryn which he has lived aboard, and he emailed me the next day. As a result, he’s buying me lunch so we can discuss freelance writing.

That day, I got a notification from the library that my book had arrived so when I’d finished my current book, (I’m going through an annoying phase of waking at 3am for several hours so am reading through the night) I went to the library to pick it up.

This book is, latterly, about a lone sailor. But it’s also about our journey through life. And what an incredible read it is. I started reading it on Saturday, woke in the night and kept on reading, and finished it on Sunday.

I wept my way through this amazing - and true - tale of a small orphan boy sent out to Australia in 1947 and his extraordinary battles through a tough life before finding his wife and having a daughter. Then it’s her story of how she sails back to England in the boat her dad built, to find his long lost sister.

I’m crying as I write this, “you’re such a softie, Sue,” said Sally when I told her, but it was such an inspirational story, and really makes you realise that while terrible things sometimes happen, it’s part of life.

As the hero says, “If I learned anything in this life, I've learned that you can't cling on.” He didn’t complain, or lean on anyone else, but fought his own corner. The message was that as long as you keep trying, you will get there in the end.

Talking of which, I'm supposed to be doing a dog review in Dorset this weekend - a last minute one that I was really looking forward to. However, looking at the forecast, the area where we're going is in the middle of the worst storms forecast. And gales and rain and thunder are predicted. Oh ****** or, what a shame.....

But to end on a positive note, I've just been invited to another party on Saturday, so who knows what might happen? Or to end with yet another quote from the book: “There’s room for all sorts of magic and miracles in this world - that's what I think.”