09th Jul2009

We’re going on a holiday

by Dutchcloggie

Not yet unfortunately but in August! Yay! 2 weeks away to France. My sister is hoping to give birth to kiddie No2 then as well so once we are on the mainland, we can just drive on to Holland if she is kind enough to deliver whilst we are in Europe.

Other than that, the plan is to go camping in Brittany and cycle parts of the Nantes – Brest Canal. That is a nice and flat route to keep AB happy, and nice and cycling to keep me happy. We have ordered a nice book from Amazon about the canal and a map of Brittany so we are all set. Now all we need to do is decide where along the canal we will set up camp. We won’t cycle the whole thing but just day trips here and there. I am BEYOND excited.

In other news, JD and I have gone back to the gym for the first time since the end of the radiotherapy and I am SO proud of JD. She was focused, put effort in, sweated loads and even signed up for a 6-week fitness plan specially put together for her. Last time we went to the gym, she was unable to concentrate for more than 2 minutes, kept stopping and did not sweat at all since she put no effort in: lost concentration before she even got going.

All these little things make me feel really positive about the future: she’s really getting better. Yay. Bring on the holiday!

19th May2009

Keep it simple

by Dutchcloggie

Things are indeed getting better I feel. Maybe the fact that JD’s hair is now growing back in earnest makes me feel very hopeful of this all being over someday soon. I love touching the fuzzy hair on her head and stroking it. Last night we went to a rugby tournament that we both play in over the summer (Touch Rugby so no need to worry) and the girls in the team (who had not seen JD for a week or so) all said: Wow! Your hair is really growing back fast now. It made me smile. That is, until they started playing and I realised it will be a long time before JD will be back to the way she was before the radiotherapy treatment started. She looked confused and slow to react to what was happening on the pitch. But she said she was really enjoying herself so that was great. Maybe the tactical talk we had before the match helped her.

In touch rugby, there are only 6 players on the pitch and they have no specific task and decisions are made in a split second; exactly the thing JD is struggling with at the moment. So I suggested that instead of doing that, JD should be the only player with only 1 specific task on the pitch so she could focus on that one thing. So all the players on the team knew what JD would and wouldn’t do.

It seems that worked really well and JD played quite well. It still made me cry a little though.

We are getting her a free bus pass because last week her driving licence was revoked due to having had radiation to the brain and some focal minor seizures. It is the right decision but it made JD quite upset. The emotional impact of loss of independence is something that can not be underestimated. It is different if YOU make the choice not to drive. It is not nice when you are told you are unfit to drive.

But things are getting better. Slowly. But surely. The only thing to find now is: how far does the progress go and when will any permanent damage become obvious?

24th Apr2009

It breaks my heart

by Dutchcloggie

Last night, JD went to training at her fencing club. She used to love fencing and was quite good at it, winning a handful of local and club competitions. Fencing is physical chess. Perhaps not the best sport to do when your focus, concentration and handling speed have been severely affected by radiotherapy. But it is also important that she keeps busy and involved with ‘normal’ life. So I take her to training every week. The people at the club are starting to understand what the problem is with her and are taking care when they fence her. They don’t fence at their normal speed and slow things down greatly, turning it in to more of a lesson and play-session than a genuine fencing bout.

As I sat there watching, I felt my heart break. I realised I was watching someone with brain damage trying to do things that are no longer possible (well, not until the side effects have gone). She just stood there with her foil pointing forward. Her own fencing clothes fit no more so she’s wearing ill-fitting club-kit that is 4 sizes bigger. She hunches forward. She has no handling speed, no concentration, no ability to react to her opponent. Imagine watching a fencing bout in slow-motion. Her opponents are considerate and slow down as well, leaving her time to decide on a reply to a move they have made. But it is not fencing. It is something different altogether. She forgets to salute the opponent before and after the bout (a mortal sin in fencing), she walks away without shaking hands (another punishable offense); She is slow to get ready so that everyone else has already started their matches and AB is still putting her helmet on, making her opponent wait and wait.

I cringed every time it happened because I was afraid that people who did not know her problem would think she is a rude woman with no respect for the fencing rules. She isn’t.

Surely she is aware of the fact that what she is doing is not really fencing and that people are ‘letting her win’? Or perhaps the lack of emotional response is currently a blessing in disguise: she doesn’t seem too upset about it. Maybe because she is not really able to sense many emotions.

I have tears in my eyes thinking about it again. What has happened to my beautiful wife? Funny, sporty, quick witted, caring, loving, considerate, articulate. I miss her. If I was convinced this would all be temporary, I would not be so upset perhaps. But some things are permanent. We just don’t know which things. And how bad it will remain.