Well Well Well........

Well........ I have not blogged for a while - and in truth I am not too sure why.  The summer was such a weird time that it all seems like some sort of bad dream which I am trying hard to forget - although there are times when I don't want to forget it - why would I want to forget a reminder that life is so precious?

I started a new job at the end of September - why did I do that at such a topsy turvy time in my life?  In truth I guess that why not??  Mind you - this job was in my mind a step backwards to give myself a bit of breathing space - not that I explained that too well to my new employer who has bombarded me with 'stuff' to do and now I certainly don't feel that I am taking it easy!  I no longer have responsibility to manage other people and to be frank that is a big plus for me!  No more moaning about salary, windowless offices and career progression - or lack of it!!

I think its fair to say that I am now more thankful than ever for my family - my kids have kept me going through some tough times and I think I love them even more, if that is at all possible!

Well aside from the new job, I have got back into playing Golf!  Well I still have a loss of feeling in my right arm so its quite theraputic to play and keep my arm moving - more interesting than gym exercises (which I am also doing with the help of an evil personal trainer!). I think I am making improvements to my game - certainly there are times when I think I have cracked it......... only to be faced with another 'round of shame' where I mess up completely!

We have had lots of visitors since I blogged last and not only is it tiring to have people to entertain when you are also out of the house from 7.30am to 6.00pm, it gets very expensive with all the extra alcohol and food (you see the order of importance there....well at least for the sort of guests we have!)

Its also that fab time of year when the weather cools down so in the past months we have been for 3 days to the Abu Dhabi F1, the Race to Dubai (Golf), the Dubai Rugby Sevens and of course the concerts from the F1: Kylie, Nickleback and Eminem.........so time has been running away with me!

On the knitting front I finally finished my Wingspan - but its still waiting for me to block it!  I also designed a cowl based on an idea from the book "The Night Circus" and was part of an 'along' with the Playfulday Ravelry group.  I also finally finished off the pattern for the shawl for the Dubai Knits Club - more on that once the club kits have been received and I can show some photos!

However amongst all that I managed to break my hard disk on my Macbook by accidently dropping it on the marble floor. What a disaster!!  I was backed up on my Time Machine - but unfortunately due to some sort of glitch and the fact that the repair shop put the new Mac software on the repaired machine, I managed to 'lose' all of my photos - about 3000 of them :(  I am hopeful I can eventually get them back, but I was devastated.  The Time Machine had been playing up but I never got around to fixing it - lesson learned........

So anyway here area few photos to share of the Reveurs cowl and my favorite knitting spot overlooking the 9th green at Abu Dhabi Golf Club - which is soon to be hosting the likes of Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and maybe even Tiger Woods may be persuaded to come again! (I am marshalling this year so look out for me on the TV - might have to plan to wear a handknit so you can spot me!!)

If you want to download the free pattern for the cowl it can be found here on Ravelry

More Unexpected News!

Well well well............

I was prepared for my journey - I had packed my bag (figuratively speaking!) but then my trip got cancelled!!!

That very cryptic sentence relates to my trip to the hospital to get my eagerly (not sure that is really the word!) awaited results of my pathology following the mastectomy.

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather - turns out they took 18 (yes 18!!!) lymph nodes and all of them (yes all of them!) were clear.......!!

As well as that, pathology showed that the cancer was not in fact invasive, but I just had A LOT of cancerous cells, taking over over a quarter of my breast - BUT they were not invasive - just a huge amount of DCIS (Ductal Carcioma In Situ).  So from Stage III cancer I was downgraded to Stage I.

The question was raised as to whether I really needed the mastectomy - but the risk was that conserving surgery may leave some of the little devils and that from being Stage I, it could very quickly end up being Stage III again.

Chemo may or may not be appropriate - am waiting to hear on that one after some more tests - radiation would be useless since each little tumour is so tiny.  BUT I will start Tamoxifen at the very least.

Of course my heart did sink a bit when I found out that one of the side effects was weight gain - honestly why on earth are side effects for me ALWAYS weight gain!  I struggle to keep my weight under control (and fail mostly) - I have a massive issue with it........ comes from many years of ballet where you have to be stick thin....... and our teacher used to weigh us each week, we were rewarded for losing weight! Honestly I am soo f**ked up over my body image ever since - and I am 49 now :(

Anyway less about my demons but more about the fact that this was the best news ever - but also in many ways the most shocking!  Now, having got my head around chemo and the long journey ahead, I have to get my head around an easier journey - a journey of course, but without the difficulty and uncertainty, and I have been finding it difficult - yes mad I know, but just goes to show how in many ways Cancer messes with your head!

Off to hospital on Sunday to get fitted for Frank the Falsie and then in a few months time it will be time to think about reconstructive surgery - hopefully to a more managable C cup rather than the E cup crowd pleasers I used to have (hated having big boobs......reference stick thin ballet dancer syndrome above!!!).

Anyway on that bombshell................

I finished my Purple Wurm which I love - not for chemo anymore (well probably not anyway), but maybe when I finally play Golf in a colder climate!  Great, simple pattern and I think I may well knit it again for gifts!

And finally......

These were beautiful flowers from a beautiful lady and colleage who lives and works in Sweden - was supposed to be going to Stockholm to see her just before the op - hopefully I can get there again soon.  Not that its an easy journey from Abu Dhabi - its not direct so takes about 16 hours........

Next thing on my to do list is to figure out where I go with my career....I am over HR and I so want to do something with craft - but it will be hard to figure out how to manage without my salary coming in - so there is a lot to be thinking about - but having had such a close scrape with my mortality (again!) I really need to re-evaluate my priorities.......but thats for another post!

Let the Games Begin..........

Well I guess a very lose reference to the Olympic Games - happening in my home town in less than a month......yikes!  But really its a reference to the fun and games about to start in my life!

My Boobs and I went out for a last fling outing before the big day........... Fred got an awesome facepaint at the same time - fairly rubbish iphone photos though!!! (and yes he got in trouble for the bunny ears!!)

So I went into hospital at 6am on Thursday 21st June for my Radical Mastectomy of my right breast - sounds so clinical doesn't it! Well it was really.......

Now I have had 19 (at the last count) surgeries small and large requiring General Anaesthetic (and his friend Major Surgery was sometimes present....) but most have been done in the UK at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital (which I grew to know very well indeed!) and so having my care in Abu Dhabi, where as a western woman I have a number of local customs and practices to get my head around - I was a little concerned.  However my choice was to have my care here, with my family present, to cause the least amount of upset to the kids and to be able to continue to live with some kind of normal!

I need not have worried.......the hospital is modern and spotlessly clean and I know all about cleanliness of hospitals, having been in and out of a few - and the staff have been brought from all around the world - my surgeon is from the Czech Republic, my anaesthastists were from Russia and Australia and my nurses from Egypt, Phillipines, India and Korea!! So we made a fine global team! Yes, there are fairly strict rules about mens and women's areas - but I really don't worry about that, much prefer to hang out with the ladies!!

I went down to surgery at 7.30 and was back on the ward (well my room) by 11am - honestly slept for most of the first day, poor Keith sat patiently waiting for me to come round, but I was quite happy sleeping (as always!!).

View from my room!

All went ok and I was feeling pretty ok by the next day - the kids came in and Flo kindly took a photo of me!!!  Infact I was so well that I was taking iphone photos myself whilst wandering around the room bored........!

Flowers from work!
My uncomfortable bed

I finished Fifty Shades of Grey (not the most suitable reading for a regular mastectomy patient, but then I am not that normal...) and The Knife of Never Letting Go (read along in the Playful Day Rav group!) - I love my Kindle!!!

Home a couple of days later and a couple of days after that, drain free!!  Hurrah!!

Now just for the path results which I will get on 3rd July - which also happens to be my 19th wedding anniversary - lets hope for a good present!  Although to be honest clear or not clear.......still have to have the chemo.........!

Have been knitting myself some chemo hats in anticipation of a bald head!

First one is from a pattern called Felicity which I loved as its so simple and cute - then I added a little pink breast cancer bow (an idea I had seen on another Ravellers project!).

Then we have Slabe which is a pattern I have been wanting to knit for a very long time!  I used so stash yarn - Louet Pearl - but actually, although the yarn is lovely and soft, it did not give me the sort of definition I would have liked.  All the same I am pleased with it and I think I might make another one because its easy to wear!

Finally I have been enjoying the garden for 30 seconds at a time - think 45C heat....... but I have some lovely flowers to look at and of course cannot wait for the scar to start to heal so I can get into the inviting pool......

I will sign off now and report back on the Oncology visit......... in the words of Christian Grey (and for sure you all must know who HE is now......) Laters.....

A Plan that I had not Planned for.........

So I guess I feel its time to talk a bit about the main focus in my life right now - Stupid Cancer!

After many mammograms, ultrasounds, cytology and finally biopsies, I have been diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Cancer - Grade 3.  That all sounds a bit technical, but essentially means that although my first Surgeon thought I had DCIS - in situ, meaning the cancer had not spread - actually now I have cancer that has spread - throughout a quarter of my right breast.  So now I have to have a full mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy...... this was not on my radar and I have been floored by it all!

Now I am a strong person, I have been through many horrible, yes truly horrible, health issues in my life and I have already been given 3 months to live - 15 years ago - before my kidney transplant, but somehow I never even considered that I would get Breast Cancer.  I don't smoke, I breastfed, there is no incidence of Breast Cancer in my family ......... so its a huge shock and one which I am not too sure I have got my head around.

Things have now moved quite quickly and my surgery is scheduled for a week today - one more week of my boob left - I wonder how we are going to spend our last days together!  Well.....we are off to a Brunch on Friday and then I have booked 2 rounds of golf since I think it will be a while before I am able to swing a club again :(

I will get through this - there is no other option - but I really really wonder why me?  Why, when I have had so many other hideous health problems, do I end up with yet another one.......  But the more I think of that, the worse I feel, so best to forget about that and more about the journey ahead.

Looking on the bright side (because lets face it thats the only side to look at....) I have been blessed with some lovely friends and family who are very supportive - yes I might lose my hair (lets be honest I WILL lose my hair) but there are opportunities in that for more knitting (think cute chemo caps) and shopping (think gorgeous silk scarves for head covers).

Of course there has been lots of speculation and advice about staying here in Abu Dhabi as opposed to going back home to the UK for treatment - well my decision is to stay - I have my family here and I don't want to be away from my kids.  The sun shines everyday and the Doctors are all trained in the UK or the US and the hospital treats the Royal Family - and to be honest, Abu Dhabi probably puts more money into healthcare here than I can even possibly calculate in my head!!! Billions of $$$$.

And in my mind Mastectomy is Mastectomy at this stage, no matter where it is done.  Breast reconstruction down the line might be an option for which I go home for, but again, in terms of cosmetic surgery........the UAE has it covered.......!!!

Lets just get these next couple of months out of the way and then I will decide........

June and Jubilee

Well June has started with a bang! Of course everyone back home has been celebrating with the Queen for her 60 years Diamond Jubilee, which has been wonderful.  Hmm apart from making me really really homesick - so much so that with a glass or two too many of bubbles at our Jubilee Brunch at the Golf Club - and all the British music playing in the background, I blubbed for most of the meal - much to Keith's embarrassment - Fred escaped to the kids playroom!  Not too sure what it was all about - think that yes I was indeed homesick, but also the worry and the waiting over my breast cancer situation probably did not help!

Anyway on that front I had the core biopsy yesterday just to confirm from 99 to 100% that it is DCIS - can't say it was the most pleasant thing I have ever done and today I am quite sore and wearing one of those bras which were clearly made by a construction company rather than a lingerie designer :(

Thankfully the biopsy was move to yesterday from Sunday - so I was able to go and see Madonna as planned.  I think its fair to say I have mixed views on her performance...... Firstly she was an hour and a half late coming on stage, with no apology or information as to what was happening.  Thats all well and good but we were therefore waiting for over 2 hours in the hot and humid outdoor arena - and this is Abu Dhabi remember......so 38 degrees with about 90% humidity and thousands of people......all of whom were drenched in sweat - no opportunity to be glamourous and certainly not many people dancing......just impossible in the heat!  Anyway the show was of course very over the top and fantastically produced - but the first couple of numbers where she was running around with guns and images of blood flashing time and time again over the backdrop just seemed a bit unnecessary! Given that she banned her daughter for coming on the tour as a backing dancer because she caught her smoking, it all seemed a bit hypocrytical - we don't need her to shock us anymore - we are over that!!!!  We left before the end because Flo had school next day and of course I had hospital.  I am glad we went, but next time not in June in an outdoor arena.

Well finally to knitting!  I finished the Cedar Leaf Shawlette, which I loved in the end as the mistakes I made at the beginning all came out in the wash!  I have not properly blocked it yet but below is an Instagram photo I took with my iPhone (I love Instagram!!)

In other news....... I am working on something I still cannot mention - second test knit at the moment!  Also I have ordered some yarn from Loopy Ewe for a project which I am very excited about......more to come on that in a later blog.

Finally I am on the home straight of The Killing - loving this series so much - a really different twist on the murder/cop/mystery thing, as its all about the effect a crime like this has on others - and the twists and turns are amazing - would also be interesting to see what the US version is like - but not sure it could ever catch the atmosphere of cold, damp and dreary Copenhagen in November.  I have been there in the wet and mist and yes it really is that dreary........

I may be in Stockholm next week if my Doctor agrees......... hopefully then I can see what the Nordics are like in the summer!!

Anyway there were not too many photos in this post so here is one of Fred with his new guitar after his first lesson........... (Instagram again!!!)

Tra La is May - the Lusty month of May!

Well to be honest its nearer June by now, but May has always been one of my favourite months - well in the UK that is..... here in the Middle East its when life starts to get hot, hot and even hotter!  Temperatures soaring into the mid 40's (centigrade that is!!) and so most time spent indoors with the air con switched on - as it will be for the next few months!

The title for this week's blog comes from the fact that I have been turning back time by looking through old photograph albums.  I found some photos of when I was in Camelot - had such a laugh, I was sooo skinny, and some of the costumes were absolutely hideous!!  Think cones on heads with chiffon attached to the back or pointy boots a la Blackadder the First!!  Thank goodness they are not digital!!

I have also started to listen to 'Fifty Shades of Grey' - lots of hype about this book and it's foray into the world of S&M.  However the first 3 hours were VERY tame and I was fine with audio - until this morning when on the bike at the gym and it started to steam up - JUST could not bear to listen and had to switch off and then download to the Kindle instead to hide my embarrassment!  A 49 year old on the bike at the gym is not a pretty sight anyway, let alone a 49 year old on the bike listening to someone narrate kinky sex........hahahahaha!

Well as for the knitting - have been doing ok on that front aside from one mess up which I will reveal later!

Firstly I finished my Tidal which I really enjoyed knitting - although I had to do lots of skein changing to make sure I did not have too much pooling.  It seemed like the finishing took just as long as the knitting - but its a lovely pattern.

I must take a photo of me wearing it as the photo does not really do it justice and its much brighter in 'real life'.

The next FO was the Knitted Postcard which I did as part of the UAE Amiras swap.  I always knew that I wanted to do something with knitted flowers since I really love the Knitted Flowers book I have and knew I wanted to do something out of that.  I was pleased with it, although took a lot longer than I thought it would - there is no getting away with a few flowers.....you have to knits loads!!  Anyway I passed over to my swap partner last week and she liked it so hurrah for flowers!

Then the last knitting news is that I have cast on the Cedar Leaf Shawlette and boy oh boy have I made a right royal mess of it!  Due to not reading the pattern and just complete knitting incompetence!  Frogged twice already and now I realise I have been doing the short row shaping with the wrong number of stitches.......DOH!! but I am half way through now so I think I will just fudge along with the leaves.  Its not as if its not clear on the pattern - Alana writes such fab patterns - I just did not concentrate on reading.  I blame The Killing which I am addicted to, which requires me to multi-task, ie watch, read and knit!!

Finally a quick update on my health situation - new surgeon wanted a biopsy which has been a bit of a pain since firstly there was some problem with the insurance, and then when I finally went along for the procedure, the Radiologist decided that she cannot get to the right parts so I have to have another more complicated procedure, which apparently sounds as if I have to spend 2 hours in a mammogram machine whilst being skewered with needles - going back to the Camelot/Blackadder theme it sounds like it would fit very well into a Medieval torture chamber (hmm a bit like Fifty Shades of Grey too!!)

I would like to dedicate the song below to my body - who has treated me a bit like a cheating lover over the last few years......


Speak soon

So I have not written for a while - and so much has been going on ........... too much in fact!

So we will start with the good stuff!!  I have been knitting quite a bit and thankfully making progress on my WIP - so much so that I have finally finished the Atelier ..... yes, yes I know, I started that over a year ago, BUT I can finally tell you that I have Finished it!! Hurrah!  Very pleased with it and actually had occasion to wear it on my trip to Paris ...... more on that to come....

I also managed to knit up two pairs of fingerless mitts - one pair to match the Courtenay (see previous post) and one plain pair for Fred as an addition to his costume for Oliver! - which incidently was about the best children'r production I have ever seen - and I have seen a few!

Atelier in Madelinetosh Pasmina - Twig colourway
'Courtenay' Fingerless Mitts
'Oliver!" Fingerless Mitts
Holden Shawlette

Then I finished a Holden shawlette - a lovely pattern which I did in Malabrigo sock yarn.  Its has a very Edwardian feel to it - which is very apt given my obsession with Downton Abbey!

So my knitting mojo has been working overtime!  I also finished my Harvest Moon cardigan, but photos were not great of that one - check out on my Ravelry page: Here


BUT no more of the knitting - I had a fantastic trip to Paris recently - originally I had to go for work, but I managed to persuade Keith and Fred to come and meet me and head over to Disneyland.  Not before however I had a day, yes a whole day, to myself!  What bliss!  I downloaded a walking tour of Paris and headed over to Montmatre before coming back over the Seine to St Germain - the weather was awesome and I had the best time ever before meeting the boys and having a fantastic few days in Disneyland being a big kid again.  I love Paris!


Ok so that was all the good news!  Unfortunately the bad news is that after trip after trip to hospital and test after test, it seems that I have early stage Breast Cancer..........

Seems life has sent me another curve ball to deal with!  Surgeon to see in a couple of days to decide on the next course of action - partial or complete mastectomy - which I can't say I am looking forward to.  However I have been strong before and I can be strong again.

Just a word to those of you who know me on Facebook - please don't mention it on there as my parents read my updates and for the time being I cannot face telling them - they will be devastated, since I think they (and I!) feel that I have had my quota on life threatening diseases already and I am sure that they will be worried to death with me being over in the UAE whilst they are in the UK.  However I think that at the moment I want to keep the kids lives as normal as possible...........