Sunday, 6 March 2011

Learning to Live with It

The week accelerated towards the end, sprinting for the finish line. Wednesday was parents' evening, where the kids' progress was assessed. Needless to say, they were all working in character. Mel is improving loads, despite the dyslexia and is top of the class for maths. Donny is working three years ahead of the average for literacy. Saskia lives in 'Saskialand' according to her teacher (we always called it Planet Sasky, but I guess it's the same place) and consequently has a great imagination and a total lack of grasp on logic/reality/current events. Eartha could be top of the class in everything but refuses to do anything she doesn't like doing and will only do it her way, even if she does! Bit of my dad in that one, I think!

Thursday, after doing the library books for S&E's class, I got to take Mel and friend Dan to a maths workshop at another school. They are part of a group of eight primary school kids developing a maths treasure trail around Bewdley. It's going to be a spy story and they have to write clues for people to work out. It will be on sale from about Easter in tourist info.

I spent most of the workshop sitting outside in the cold. The cough I've had since the weekend moved into my middle ear, making the world spin madly. It was a horrible feeling and lasted most of the afternoon. I finally blasted it with Sinutab on the way home from Donny's Strings group.

XX finally had her appointment to see what the thing on her pancreas is. We had to go to the big hospital in Birmingham, where she tootled off for a relaxing sedative and snooze, while I sat in the foyer, listening to Capercaille on my headphones. I did spend some time wandering around the University, but it was a lonely sort of trudge down memory lane. I'm not part of the place anymore. It is nearly a decade since I graduated with my PhD and whilst it looks the same, people have moved on.

So, I sat in the foyer for a couple of hours and wondered what exactly it is I should be doing with my life. I don't think I came to a conclusion, really, but I toyed with a whole load of ideas. I mean, I'm middle-aged. Surely I should have sorted out a career by now?

Well, the fact is, I've started on two (Scientific Research and Teaching) and walked away from both of them for different reasons. Did you ever read Somerset Maugham's book 'Of Human Bondage?' The main character, Phillip Carey, tries out a wide number of careers before he finds the one that suits him. I think he managed it before he got to my age though.

Anyway, finally XX came out of recovery and the doctor debriefed us. He pointed out that the mystery item is 'definitely a tumour' but they are trying to find out if it is cancerous or not. This is an example of the incremental drip-feeding of information that comes out from the NHS. Up until this point I had assumed that there was still a chance that it was some sort of cyst. Clearly, they have never held that opinion, but were keeping the information to themselves for whatever reason.

I know what malignant pancreatic tumours mean. The prognosis is about 3-6 months. Pavarotti managed a year, whereas Patrick Swayze lasted a phenomenal 18 months. My friend's mother died with a week of diagnosis.

There are times when everything is OK and I can put it to the back of my mind. After all, my days are filled and busy enough to be distracting. Other times I am consumed with fear. It creeps into my mind like a fungus, its hyphae infecting every pore of my being. XX is very philosophical. She says you have to die of something and everybody does it. She says she is not bothered in the least, though how much of that is for my benefit, I don't know. I find it tricky to be so calm, when the possibility of so much loss and grief are heading for me like a train wreck.

So, I did some washing, climbed the Malverns, discovered that my newish printer has stopped working (add that to the list of defunct electrical items in my house) and generally tried to get on with the business of being alive. Learning to live with it. I don't think I have enough time left to be able to learn to live with it. Things move faster than my internal state.

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