Friday, June 26, 2009

Childer Award Presentation

Here's the local newspaper's report about the Childer Award Presentation at the Town Hall last week. Jaime received a medal and is in the middle of the group photo.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What changes?

In between reading episodes of Nansen's attempt to reach the North Pole (eventually setting out from his ship at the third try), I am rereading a collection of academic papers with the title "The Central Biland Al-Sudan" presented at a conference at the University of Khartoum in 1977. Geographically this area stretches from eastern Mali across the Sahel to western Sudan (Darfur).

In one paper relating to the life of a Muslim cleric in the early 19th century who promototed a militaristic concept of jihād. The author (Omar Jar) admits he does not have the answer to the rise of this aspect of Islamic philosophy but suggests:

"The European invasion and occupation of most parts of the Muslim World, which resulted in large numbers of Muslim leaders and scholars leaving their countries to take refuge in the Holy Land."


"The activities of the Ottoman [Turkish empire] agents [read today al Qaeda, Taleban etc] who took the opportunity of the pilgrimage to call for jihād against the infidels - the European powers who tried to dismember the [Ottoman] Caliphate. Hence the idea of Pan-Islamism advocated by many reformers and jihād leaders."

I don't make my views about Western innterventions in Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Far Eastern politics explicit on this blog. Regular readers will have a general idea. But ...

When will Western leaders (since pig-ignorant popes in the time of the crusades) learn from the lessons of history?

This post is dedicated to all the medical workers in crisis zones throughout the world.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Evenin’ all,

(…and apologies to anyone (a) under 40 and/or (b) not a Brit as that cultural reference will have gone over your head without parting your hair. Yes I am over 40. I realise that is a shock. I should break these things to you more gently, I know.)

I’m into the final furlong of my week at the Christie, the end is hopefully in sight, and I get out tonight. (Sweet Bird of Space, hurrah!!)

It’s been a mixed week – mostly the choice being which meal shall I barf up next?

In addition, I had a ‘fabulous’ Friday wherein I hurled myself out of a bath and nutted the (very sharp) edge of a hazardous waste bin. Yup, a drama queen to the last, huh? Clearly I wasn’t getting enough attention throwing up, so I decided to throw a faint for a change. One moment I was towelling myself off, the next minute I was flat on my back with my heels in the air (if anyone dares say ‘no change there, then’ I swear I shall SUE your asses), surrounded by nurses asking me how many fingers I could count.

I am now sporting a fine scar, picture attached (only if you have email – sorry Myspace friends, I’m so not posting it). I think the dopey grin is sheer relief that I didn’t faint while I was IN the bath… hmmm.

But my week has improved dramatically since then (could it get worse?) when I discovered that I could order halal meals – yes, CURRY!!!!

For some bizarre reason I thought the halal menu was for Muslims only, but no, not at all. Since then I have been stuffing myself cheerfully with real food. Rice! Veggies! Biriani! Wheee!

.. And I’ll be honest, I think one of the reasons I’ve been so bloody queasy is that the hospital food, though ‘nice’, is nothing like the food I eat at home. And it has been difficult for me to digest anyway… even without chemo to help it on its way.

So my lovelies, take care out there, and Nil Illegitimi Carborundum.

Rosie xxxx

IV Bag Lady


Is that really me?

I've been off work from Monday to Thursday last week with malaria so haven't been blogging. I woke up on Monday feeling like shit. Not fit to drive to see the work doctor, not fit for the work driver to come and get me. Our doctor wouldn't send me Coartem (artemisin) without doing a blood test so I ended up testing at the local health post and as the local pharmacy didn't have Coartem ended up taking the Taiwanese anti-malaria campaigns recommended treatment of amodiquine/artesunate combination which everybody in the country says makes them feel even shittier. Still feeling it two days after completing treatment.

But that's not the subject of this post - I'm going bald! Quackery not a solution.

In the days of my father there were two hair styles for bald men. My father who went bald in his twenties chose a monk's tonsure. My English literature teach chose to grow a long wisp of hair from the side and brush it over his bald-pate (didn't fool anyone).

Since birth I have had a genetic trait (from my mother's side) of a double crown which led to taunts of early baldness. Didn't happen.

But now it's happening. Sympathy for Kezia and Rosie who lost their hair through chemotherapy.

What's the answer?

Certainly the skinhead crewcut of the '70s and '80s which typified fascist, racist thugs of the period. And certainly not the tonsure/wisp styles of my forebears.

Some (my brother and our doctor) have reverted to the crewcut (no longer so associated with fascism). So am I.

Good to be blogging again!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back in the USSR - er, the NHS

Morning campers!

Or evening, or middle of the night depending on which time zone you’re in… yes, that would be me showing off at how far flung my friends are. Ahem… Hamburg, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Dallas, San Francisco, NYC, Buenos Aires, Sao Tome (look it up, you lazy lot), Winterville GA (honest, not making this one up), wonderful wonderful Copenhagen – not to mention glamorous Widnes and even more glamorous Salford!

Right, showing off completed – for now (he he he).

Yes, I’m checked back into my glamorous boutique hotel – er, ok, the Christie.

And for anyone wanting to visit me this week, I’m on WARD 11!

A whole different part of the hospital too, so lots of exciting new opportunities to get lost while you’re trying to find me. Although this Ward does seem to be better signposted…

I miss the lovely staff on my old ward, but everyone here seems friendly so far. I guess I just got used to the faces on good old ward 4, not to mention the birthday cake & hugs I got off them…

Anyhow, it’s Day 1 of my treatment and naturally I am pretty perky after two weeks respite. I managed to wean myself off Buffy eventually (thank god) as my brain cells returned. You’ll be pleased to know that she did manage to slay all those pesky demons – I know you’ve been holding your breath over that one.

I even did some gardening yesterday! I find ripping up weeds and hacking at things with shears most therapeutic…

I thought I’d send an update now before the drugs kick in and I start feeling GHASTLY. I’ve just poked down a big plateful of veg moussaka with rice followed by chocolate sponge with chocolate custard (delightfully reminiscent of school dinners). I might as well stuff myself while the going’s good.

…and bizarrely, I have lost weight over the past 2 weeks – it hardly seems possible, considering the way I’ve been eating for England. I dunno, maybe chemo/cancer shifts one’s metabolism into a higher gear?

So, nothing profound or zen today folks – just sending love to you all.

Keep rubbing those lucky pebbles & sending Rudie Vibes (you know who you are), lighting candles, or crossing all crossable body parts – whatever it is you are doing, it’s working!

Rosie x

(Aka Barfy the Cancer Slayer)

Friday, June 12, 2009


My boss, Ken, says I work better under stress. I think he's probably right.

Current status:

- Money: status constant.

- Shipping household effects: status collected but no invoice yet (connected to above).

- Kezia's Santomense passport: status resolved.

- Flight tickets: booked but how will I pay? (i.e. also connected to first item).

- Check-in and immigration at London Heathrow: do I need an affidavit saying Nanda is not kidnapping our daughter?

- Arrival in Sao Tome: a friend who works for the airport authority has promised to get me a security pass into the baggage hall.

Future medical treatment: no oncologist/haematologist here, malaria, vaccinations ...


- the freezer compartment of the refridgerator has packed up.

- for a long the satellite TV decoder has been dead, the kids will expect a new one.

- had to sell two cars (one which my brother-in-law pronged). Nanda will want one.

- the kitchen sink is blocked.

The list goes on ...

But, needless to say, I need to resolve as much of this as possible before their arrival!

I want to ...

See my kids running on the beach ... although the cold dry season has just started and the water is too cold for a dip.

Take them for a burger or a pizza.

See them playing ... and play with them.

See Kezia riding her bicycle and buy Jaime a new one.

Meet them at the airport.

I want to ...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Health Risks of the Internet

Tom Reynolds new book More Blood, More Sweat and Another Cup of Tea (ok, I know I've been posting on this all week - but he's a bit of a literary hero of mine) has an entry on the dangers of researching your medical condition the Internet.

One of the first things Kezia's consultant, John, warned us about when she was admitted to the RMCH was Internet quackery.

Fortunately, I am both well-educated (this is not meant as a boast!) and (in somethings)sensible so I only take information from cancer charity and scientific sources. And Nanda has been sensible and practical enough to follow John's prescribed advice.

It does not help from the IT data security aspect that companies (such as Google and Microsoft) are now offering to keep your health data and records online!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

British National Party

There has been widespread condemnation of the election of two fascist and racist BNP members to the European Parliament. I also am disgusted but will not regale you with more as it has been widely covered in the media and blogosphere. But I will leave you with this poem by the German priest Martin N.iemoller.

When the Nazis came for the communists
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

Then they locked up the social democrats
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists
I did not protest;
I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

Kezia's Passport

Regular readers will recall the saga of getting a Santomense passport for Kezia. Finally, the embassy in Brussels issued a new one.

Just as I was Skyping Nanda yesterday lunchtime the postman knocked on the door with ... Kezia's new passport! Another worry over their return resolved!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


From Tom Reynolds' new book More Blood, More Sweat and Another Cup of Tea.

"My second job was a ‘classic’ – ‘Male collapsed in street, unknown life status – caller refusing to go near patient or answer any questions.’ So I rushed there and found two female police officers standing over a drunk male who was asleep in the street. I did all my normal checks to make sure that he was only drunk (as opposed to being drunk and in a diabetic coma, drunk and has had a stroke, or drunk and has been stabbed). Everything pointed to him being just drunk.

We woke him up and were prepared to send him on his way. He stood up – took one look at me, and smacked me in the mouth. I ‘assisted’ him onto the floor. The police officers and I then stopped him from injuring himself by sitting on him in a professional manner.

The police have been trained in restraint – they are all careful because they don’t want people dying of positional asphyxia. I haven’t been trained in restraint (well, not in the ambulance service) but I’m guessing that someone isn’t going to die because I’m kneeling over their arm
while holding their wrist.

So we carefully restrained him (for around 25 minutes), while he explained how he was either going to kick my head in or sue me. By then the police had tracked down a, now mortified, relative who came and took him away.

No damage done to me, although I would think that as he wakes up this morning he’ll have a number of bruises."

Reminds me of when Kezia was first admitted to hospital in the UK. She'd had so many needles stuck into her over the previous month it took three adults to restrain a two year old whilst the doctor tried to find a vein to get a blood sample out of her.

Cash Back for Christie wins

The Cash Back for Christie campaign (which we reported here) is to get back the 6.5 million pounds it lost in the Icelandic banking crisis. Press release here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Random Acts of Reality

Tom Reynolds of the London Ambulance Service has just published his new book More Blood, More Sweat and Another Cup of Tea. Published under a Creative Commons License it is available as a free download (although he deserves the dosh if you can afford the paper copy).

I spent the weekend reading it - truly excellent!

home again home again jiggety jig

Hello darling friends,

And welcome new friends who have just joined this list!

Needless to say, if anyone is fatigued by / bored with these updates, or if they just aren’t your bag, do say and I’ll take you orf.

Right! It’s a week since I got out of The Christie following the second round of chemo – and oh GAWD have I been knackered…

So apologies if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t responded, or have drooled inarticulately at you (something I do very well, apparently).

The drugs were ‘fun’ - the first one (Taxotere – you can look it up if you’re that way inclined, I am still not going anywhere near t’interweb) I don’t really notice because it’s only pumped into me for an hour. The second one (Cisplatin) is shoved into me for 6 hours, and that’s when the amusement starts. Has the dual effect of making me barf AND sleep! Luckily not at the same time… Just when I’ve got over that I get the third drug for days and days (called 5FU because no-one can pronounce it. But it does sound something like an Aztec god) which stops the barfing, but turns me into an insomniac!


So, cue inspirational power chords on guitar and Alice Cooper yodelling Poison… runnin’ though ma veins…

It was also quite a Zen week. I shared a bay with two women, who were very similar in some ways – both in their seventies, both pipecleaner thin, both with completely ruined lungs and spent most of the day on oxygen / nebulisers.


D. was sparky, cheerful, delighted to see her visitors, enjoyed little pleasures that came her way like one of the nurses taking the time to blow dry & comb her hair, or wheeling her and her oxygen tank into the garden. She told me how she used to be a real worrier. ‘But I don’t worry about anything now. I just enjoy life.’

Then there was L, for whom nothing was enough. In the week I was there she saw more doctors, health care workers, occupational therapists, masseurs, nutritionists, family and other visitors etc etc .. and yet she still said ‘no-one ever comes to see me.’

She moaned about no-one caring about her food – despite having a special diet menu made for her. She was fully mobile (unlike D.) yet, when asked if she’d like to go and sit outside in the garden in the astonishing sunshine, her immediate response was ‘I’d never find my way there.’ When reassured someone would take her, she responded ‘I’d never find my way back.’

The joys of hospital life.

Anyhow, I am back home, and am just about vertical. Have spent much of the week watching Buffy for the umpteenth time as my brain hasn’t been capable of much else… Run, Buffy, Run!

Love and gorgeousness to you,

And here’s to lumps buggering off completely,

Rosie xxxxxxxxx

Recycling Radioactive Waste So You Don’t Have To

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Compulsory MMR Vaccinations

There is currently much debate in the UK on whether MMR vaccinations should be made compulsory with, as in the USA, children not being allowed to start school unless they have had the shot.

Dr Crippen recently wrote about his reservations about this.

I have one further observation - children with immuno-suppresive diseases cannot take "live" vacccinations such as MMR so Kezia would not have been able to start school. If such a measure is indeed introduced, there would have to be exceptions.

Here children just receive the single measles jab - which is why our doctor sees so many cases of mumps.

Monday, June 1, 2009


After my last entry on this subject ... Giv - With Pearl Extract ... which has made me neither healthier, richer nor wiser (nor an avid pearl diver!) I was faced this weekend with the choice of Lux with "Youthful Essence" or "medicated" Sanitex. A difficult decision to make so I bought a bar of each.

Lux with "Youthful Essence" does explain to me whether the essence is an ingredient or a quality. I have only been using it a few days so it is perhaps too early to say if it will make me more youthful. It has an impressive list of ingredients - Sodium Soap, Water, Perfume, Titanium Dioxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Ethane Hydroxl, Diphosphoric Acid, Olive and Grape Seed Extract, CL742600, CL11710. I'm not sure which of these is the essence of youth. As an aside, it declares "Only for sale in Indonesia". So a) the Indonesians want to keep the secret of youth to themselves and b) the is an internal soap smuggling trade.

Let's move to our "medicated" and "antiseptique" Sanitex for a "HEALTHY AND SOFT SKIN". Its list of ingredients is less impressive - Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, Fragrance, Water. I cannot see any medication there unless Prince Charles believes Palm and Conunt Oil are antiseptic.

Perhaps Drs Crippen and Rant, Boots or my local pharmacist can elucidate?