Toot Toot Chugger Chugger

Jan 31 2010


After weeks confined to hospital ward it was really important that we could just get home and spend lots of time just being a normal family, and doing normal things in the house. So that’s exactly what we did, hardly going anywhere apart from work and school for Lucia.


Lucia is only at pre-school but even at this early age she has been given the odd piece of homework to work on between sessions. This week she was tasked to do a spot of Twitching in the back garden. As Nanny Pat lives in a more rustic area it was decided that the exercise should be based upon the birds in her back garden. So, on Tuesday I took Lucia to school along with her Bird Watching homework; it wasn’t until I handed the sheet in that I realised that not only had Lucia and Nanny looked for the birds requested by the RSPB, but Nanny had added an appendices with at least another eight species of winged beast, all illustrated with clippings from various magazines found in Nanny’s archive. The teachers at school must think Lucia is brilliant; with an effort like that surely a scholarship to the best schools is only a matter of time.

Talking of exercises; this week was the week that I decided enough is enough. My waistband is still a comfortable 34” but the muffin top peeking over the top of my belt is increasing in size like a Michelin star soufflé. I’ve decided on two actions: firstly, I will no longer be tempted by the hops during the week; it’s now purely soft drinks or the odd Gin and Slim line Tonic, on the rocks of course. Secondly, I made my first trip to the gym since before Christmas. I decided that it would be best for all parties if I saved my trip for a quiet period, so as I slid through the door I looked around at the apparatus to decide what to tackle first. Weights? Yeah right, you don’t get bingo wings and pipe cleaner sized forearms by pumping iron. Treadmill? My moobs may cause too much excitement amongst the handful of other participants if I stepped on too early. Rowing Machine? Well my belly would be hidden by my arms and knees, I wouldn’t have to get hit in the face by my beautifully formed breasts and I could slip the dial round to “freaking easy” and make it look like I was thundering down the lane like Redgrave in full flow. Rowing Machine it was, and my god I felt good. I did actually tackle some of the other more exposing machines during the visit, only because a guy walked in with twice the moob quantity of me.

Camille’s walking is improving by the day, and we now have a regular “walk between Mummy and Daddy” game which she really enjoys. Hayley and I sit a few yards apart, and little twinkle toes walks quite competently between the two of us, with the widest most excited smile you have ever seen. Lucia of course wants to be involved and help, so after a few lengths where Lucia pretty much rugby tackled her before she reached her destination, we decided a more consultative approach would be best from our elder daughter. So, as Camille is striding between the two of us, Lucia is sitting on the sofa shouting out her approval (or disapproval if Camille stumbles) in the style of Simon Cowell.

Camille went to have her blood levels taken on Saturday lunch time as she was getting close to needing a blood transfusion and as expected, her levels had dropped enough to require one that day. By the time the blood was ordered and the lead time for it to arrive back at the ward it was 17:00pm and I was getting hungry. A blood transfusion lasts about three and a half hours so we were guaranteed that it would be at least 20:30pm before we could get out and go home for a lovely, sweet and sour tasting Chinese. Hayley and Lucia went off to do the shopping while I stayed in the hospital room and watched the Wiggles VHS three times. I wouldn’t have minded too much, but you forget how long it takes to rewind the VHS tapes back to the beginning. Camille didn’t understand the need to rewind the tape, as far as she was concerned I was busting her chops and stalling so that I didn’t have to watch Toot Toot Chugger Chugger Big Red Car again. The question is, how do you entertain a grumpy two year old in a very empty hospital room while a VHS groans slowly backwards in the antique video player in the corner? The answer is simple, take one soiled nappy, use the sticky bits to wrap it up into a spherical styled shape and then go on to show your two year old how Premier League footballers catch a football behind their heads. It would have been a little uncomfortable but the warmth of the pee was really soothing on my neck, almost like a wheat bag.

We did get notification of Camille’s next scan through the post earlier in the week; when she has the scan it will have been two full cycles since the last one. It is difficult not to get too hopeful about what results could come out of the scan taking into account how much ground Camille is making on her walking and talking and mobility in general. I’m going to try and set my expectations really quite low so that I don’t face the risk of being disappointed. We don’t know how much pressure was being placed on the brain by the tumour when she was diagnosed. It could be that a lot of pressure needed to be relieved before the tumour visibly shrinks on the scans; it could be that the constant weakening of the Tumour itself is just as important to Camille’s treatment programme as the noticeable shrinking on the scans. Whatever the situation, we’ll know more in a month.

Camille has more chemotherapy this week, so another stop in hospital. Hayley mentioned earlier that you do get used to the constant visits to hospital, which is very true. Addenbrooke’s and the staff and other parents there are as bigger part of our lives as going to work or having a pastime.