Cancer Blanket Tree

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Rows and rows of stitches – a repetitive exercise for the brain
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Tree wrapped in a Cancer blanket

I have always been a bad knitter and hate repetitive tasks; I have always been envious of yarn-bombers.

To help recover from gaps in my memory ‘chemo brain’, I was advised to keep doing repetitive tasks, until I had mastered them, then take up another task as a way of re-training my brain.

I bought wool oddments and decided to knit a blanket while watching television. I had to relearn from scratch. I cannot tell you how many stitches I dropped and how much unravelling I needed to do. But it worked – I got it right and can knit better now than before my chemo treatment. I had visions of my ‘Cancer Blanket’ becoming some sort of heir-loom.

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I got the idea from this little warmer in Vienna when I visited in January this year.

I loved the blanket and felt a great sense of achievement, but alas, everyone else in my family hated it. So, as part of the dejunking, when deciding whether to donate it to the charity shop or put it straight in the bin, I recalled a blanket that I took a snap of in Vienna. It wasn’t your usual yarnstormer – it was  as if the crafter wanted to warm up a cold building by wrapping a blanket around a thigh of one of its columns.

But it gave me the idea. I took my blanket and wrapped it around a sad tree I knew of near a corner shop where passers-by continually dump their rubbish – cigarette packets, beer and wine bottles, unwanted take-aways, broken umbrellas and the occasional mattress.

Oddly enough the area was recently cleaned, but the blanket was left. Since then people have stopped throwing their rubbish there.

I am now on sailing knots.

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Dumped mattress and square of hardboard and naked tree

UPDATE 28th October 2016:

The blanket has now been removed. People have been dumping their rubbish again including a mattress.

 

 

Unto Cowes and Come Home

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From Shamrock Quay along the River Itchen and under its bridge into Southampton Water

Regular readers will know that I am going to live on a sailing boat  with my husband as we have to move soon. We are selling or giving away worldly goods and doing up an old Maxi 95 sloop.

As it has been 15 years or so since I did any sailing, and pre-cancer/chemo, I thought it best to go on a refresher sailing course with a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor.

Last weekend I got on a run as a team of five of like-minded individuals also honing their skills. We sailed from Shamrock Quay in Southampton to the Isle of Wight, where Cowes Week brought sailing boats from all over the world.

 

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Plain sailing on the Solent

The severe treatment for my Hodgkin Lymphoma left my body and brain somewhat disorientated. I describe my brain as living in a town where a bomb has hit and roads have been blocked off. I have had to find detours and rebuild. I had been having terrible balance problems since the treatment, but following a number of NHS exercises I have not had any accidents for about a year now.

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We anchored just off Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This was Queen Victoria’s favourite residence and this her own private beach. It opened to the public 2 years ago.

Although I was used to sailing I had been extremely nervous about going out, especially onto the Solent, which requires strength, skill and alertness due to its tides, geographical structure and the many number of different vessels using its channel.

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The marina on the Isle of Wight was busy for Cowes Week and took great skill to moor four abreast

This weekend course really helped me to regain my confidence and sort out what I could remember and what I needed to practice.

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Ready with a slip-line returning to port

I feel brilliant!

The Battle

 

Where am I?

Faced down,

It’s hot.

I’m parched.

Dusty ditch?

Roadside gutter?

Whose territory?

What war?

What uniform?

What happened?

Missile, land mine?

Shock

confusion

exhaustion

eyes closed

attached at wrist?

Gun?

Can’t feel my body

Voices nearing

don’t flinch

play dead.

 

English words

sigh with relief…

women hurry

to my aid

turn me over

place mask over mouth

I breath

They leave

I pass out

Waking later

gagging, coughing

alone

in hospital room

attached to breathing apparatus

hooked to a drip-stand

get up and fight

never give up

It’s a battle with Cancer

© Southampton Old Lady 2013

I often wondered why people referred to it as a “battle” with Cancer.  It is very much fight or flee combat. While staying in hospital and undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma,  I hallucinated that I was at war. Two nurses arrived and put a breathing apparatus on me while I was semi-conscious then left.  I heard muffled instructions but awoke hours later with the mask still on.

As you realise, I survived and lived to tell this tale.

Valentine’s Day

This is a dedication to all those who grieve over loved ones on the 14th of February.

I am fortunate that the love-of-my-life and I will be together to celebrate this day which will hopefully be a happy occasion, but I am so aware of those who find it difficult to cope on St Valentine’s Day. You might be widowed, have a a family member snatched away by Cancer or grieving for someone who is still alive but gone from you. My heart goes out to the parents of those massacred by bullets that commemorate this day.  Whatever your grief this is for you…

YouTube link to David Bowie singing Valentine’s Day: https://youtu.be/S4R8HTIgHUU

CHEMO BRAIN QUIPS No 3 – Venice

William Turner's Venice
William Turner’s Venice

chemo brain buttonMy chemo-brain quips have been improving since I have been doing this blog – I haven’t had many for a while. Mainly I get names mixed up now. I was able to correct typos about floods in Columbia instead of writing Cumbria.

I have been obsessed with Venice too for some reason lately. I actually booked a flight to Venice instead of Vienna where I will visit friends – that proved costly; I called a woman Venice instead of Veronica, and on New Year’s Day, I announced that we were having Venice pie instead of venison pie

Chemo Brain Quips No2 – Blue Plaque

chemo brain buttonAfter reporting a plaque missing from a one-time Ford (Hendy) building that was requisitioned as a factory for Spitfire parts during WW2 (currently the Voodoo Lounge and Buyology) in Vincent’s Walk, I have been on a mission taking photos of all the plaques I see in Southampton, in case they are stolen by metal thieves. There are a number blue plaques on homes from Emily Davies (feminist activist) to R.J Mitchell (aeronautical engineer designer – famous for the Spitfire). 

I had a call yesterday from a gentleman to tell me that my ‘blue badge’ was ready for collection. (A blue badge is a special disc to put in the car, so that a disabled person with mobility problems can get parked closer to the shops or on limited, designated places in busy areas).

But my chemo-brain could not link this thought thread, and in my head my blue plaque was ready. I told the man kindly that although I had made enquiries because it was missing, I had not actually ordered it myself. He assured me that someone else could collect it on my behalf if they filled out a form. I checked that it was for the Spitfire factory, but he assured me that it had my name on it!  Fame at last? All sorts went through my head until the council worker reinforced the words “blue badge” at least nine times before I realised my disabled parking disc was ready.

He had no sense of humour, when I apologised and pointed out that I suffered with cognitive disorder.

Buyology was used at a Spitfire parts factory from 1939 when it was a Hendy (Ford) garage. It was taken over by F.W Woolworth until  the early naughties and since then has had a number of different  owners.
Buyology was used at a Spitfire parts factory from 1939 when it was a Hendy (Ford) garage. It was taken over by F.W Woolworth until the early naughties and since then has had a number of different owners.

Chemo Brain Quips – No.1 – Peliquins

 

chemo brain buttonWhile sat with the family at dinner, my husband offered my daughter a glass of Malibu This was a tease, as she had bought herself a bottle of this cocktail on her coming of age and now feels sick at the thought of drinking it. I mentioned that at one time, I had been to Malibu beach in California. My daughter was surprised that a place called Malibu actually existed. I started to describe the beach and how it was frequented by pelicans (or at least that is what I thought I described, I had actually said ‘penguins’) – Penguins! They fell about laughing.

“Is that what I said? – I meant peliquins!” – even more laughter until I eventually managed to say,’pelicans’.

penguins beach

Haiku in a Hampshire Garden

This is my first attempt at Haiku. I spent time taking photos in a beautiful English garden in Hampshire. These are my results:

The scent of roses draws insects to petals. I want your softness
The scent of roses
draws insects to petals.
I want your softness
Tender bleeding hearts pollenated by bees. Tread careful, my love
Tender bleeding hearts
pollenated by bees.
Tread careful, my love
Lavender and vine Stretched along the red brick wall. Sleep, drink and be mine
Lavender and vine
Stretched along the red brick wall.
Sleep, drink and be mine
Autumn comes early to some lives in the garden. My Summer is over
Autumn comes early
to some life in the garden.
My Summer is out
I rest by the wall. Mistletoe orbs on tree tops. Kiss me at Christmas
I rest by the wall.
Mistletoe orbs on tree tops.
Kiss me at Christmas

All photos and words © southampton old lady

(permission usually given to reproduce with credit, when requested)