Posted in Flowers, Photography

Celebration …

I finished my radio therapy treatment on Thursday last week. The final four treatments were ‘booster’ treatments, which I found quite terrifying. No goggles, no holding my breath, just a really big machine zapping a very targeted part of me at close quarters. I almost asked for the goggles back, then realised I could just shut my eyes to avoid being confronted by the bigness, closeness and scariness of the machine.

Each treatment was over quickly though and Emma would drive me home while I felt a little more shell shocked each time. I have no idea what I would’ve done without her.

It was fabulous to have Emma stay with us (Photo by Tim)

I’d somehow forgotten about, or perhaps thought I was immune to, the side-effects though. Apart, of course, from fatigue.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Karen, my radio oncologist, told me about the potential for them, as did the breast care nurses, and others I’ve spoken with who have gone through similar treatment. I even wrote about them on this very blog a few weeks ago, yet I was still caught off-guard.

A sunburn type response.

Redness.

Swelling.

Peeling.

Pain.

I wrote in that earlier post: ‘I might get all of these, some of them, or none.’

I got the jackpot – all of them.

The good news is that they probably won’t last more than a week or two (or maybe three or four).

And the other good news is that I’ve had company since halfway through my treatment – others to share my daily annoyances with. Probably not good news for them, but I’ve appreciated having Emma (who stayed an extra week with me) and now Deb to whinge to.

I also had the foresight to take some sick leave and I’m very pleased I did. I couldn’t have coped with going to work on top of everything.

But this is getting boring now. And if I’m bored by it all, I’m sure you are too. So I’m not going to write anymore about it.

****
On Sunday, Alison (aka Number 6) decided to spend the day with us, celebrating ‘me’ – my birthday earlier in the month and the end of my treatment.

Alison knows that I love to photograph flowers and so we went to the Queen Vic Market and bought loads: carnations, daisies, bluegum leaves, wheat that had been spray painted, and others I have no names for.

The outside table was strewn with flowers and leaves and twine and special scissors for cutting the stems and ribbon; palings from a fallen-down fence were put to good use as a backdrop and a surface; a tabletop was perched on the backs of kitchen chairs so we could shoot against the white wall under the clothes line; a shiny black tile and a sheet of black cardboard was set up in the kitchen as a different kind of photographic space … in amongst this chaotic space Alison managed to create a beautiful bouquet, and a delicious dinner.

It was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon!

Yellow daisies

 

 

These are beautiful even though I don’t know what they’re called

 

Gorgeous lilac roses

 

Spray painted wheat

 

Alison’s bouquet

These are just some of the shots I took – and if the wind stops I might take even more.

Thanks Alison! Let’s do it again some time.

Posted in Life

A hiatus

Finally, life is back to normal.

I’m driving again, I’m back at work (and actually doing work), back at the gym (even doing some upper body work and this morning I ran almost 2kms as part of walk club), and I’m attending a photography course two nights a week plus doing the requisite homework for it.

My scars are healing well – one of them is virtually invisible (and in a spot that no one besides me would look anyway) and the other one is still a little red but otherwise fine.

It’s been four and a half weeks since my surgery, I’ve been to the final post-surgery checkup with the breast surgeon and she’s happy with my progress.

It feels like normal life and that feels good.

Except … I now have a schedule of radiotherapy treatments covering some of the fridge poetry I composed last weekend. Beautiful poems of tenderness and fragility.

Okay, I lie. The poems are words flung together with barely any thought and consequently are absurdly nonsensical.

Absurd nonsense on the fridge

You can only imagine how horrid the ones being covered are!

But the covering – the sheet of paper obscuring the absurdity of my fridge poetry – reminds me that life is not yet back to real normal.

I’m living in a hiatus. And I like it.

I can pretend that this particular episode is over and normal life has resumed … apart from the times I venture to the fridge, and when I have other appointments. Like the one on Tuesday last week.

I received the schedule on Tuesday last week when I went for my radiotherapy consultation. It started with a meeting with the finance person who gave me a patient card and explained what I needed to do with it, a parking permit allowing me to park on the hospital grounds for free during my treatment, and a hefty document explaining how the treatment will be financed.

I was startled to hear that it’s amazingly expensive – $24,000 to be precise although there might have been a few cents added in just to make it look like that wasn’t a number plucked out of midair. Thankfully we live in Australia and Medicare pays most of it. The out of pocket expense is a lot less, but still a substantial amount of money. I signed the forms and then was introduced to Katrina, one of the radio therapists. Until that particular moment in time I had never realised that was an actual job title.

Katrina led us to a part of the hospital we hadn’t visited before – I don’t think there are too many of them left – then into a cubicle where I had to take my clothes off – from the waist up – and put on a gown (opening at the front please). I put my clothes into one of the blue patient bags, handed it to Tim and followed Katrina into a room with a big machine in it. I lay down, put my arms above my head and held the handle bars as instructed, I was wriggled into position, then drawn on, wriggled into a slightly different position, lowered, moved backward then forward, raised, had some sort of cube taped to my stomach,  drawn on some more … I have to admit to feeling like one of the drawings on Mr Squiggle.

I put on the goggles as instructed, then watched as the yellow bar raised and lowered as I breathed. When I took a particularly deep breath the yellow bar went into the blue box at the top and turned green. I practised breathing and holding the green bar in the blue box (holding my breath), as instructed, then breathed normally. Okay, we’re going to start the first scan now, says a disembodied voice close to my right ear. Breathe normally.

I breathed normally watching the yellow bar float up and down, my arms starting to tingle from being held above my head for so long. The screen in the goggles went to a white square and static-like lines criss-crossed it.

Silence.

I lay still.

We’re going to have to stop there, said the voice.

Apparently, the CT scanner had stopped working. They turned it off and back on again but then engineers were mentioned and I wondered if I could put my arms down. When it was decided that getting it going again would take quite some time, I was able to put my arms down, remove the goggles, but before I could get up they did a tracing of all the drawings they’d done on me. When I say ‘drawings’ I really just mean crosses. The tracing is in case the crosses wear/wash off between now and my treatment.

Can you come back in on Thursday morning so we can do the full scan? Sure.

The crosses had washed off by Thursday so the tracing proved its worth. Less wriggling, fewer drawings, scanner at full power the whole time, yellow bar turning green as it moved into the blue box, breathe normally again thanks Sharon. Apparently I’m very good at the breathing! Years of experience, I tell them.

There’s a blood vessel at the bottom of the heart that falls in the zone of the radiotherapy treatment, as does the bottom of the lung, so holding my breath means the blood vessel and lung are lifted out of the way. It’s a simple yet clever innovation in treatment which not every radiotherapy clinic offers.

Second scan complete, I pick up the new schedule, drive home and put it on the fridge, a reminder that it’s not quite over.

Because of the delay in doing the scan, my treatment will now start on Thursday 21 February at 8am. That’s the day I’m running a new staff induction day at work. The induction day is sure to take my mind off the beginning of treatment and plunge me back into work reality – at least that’s my hope.

I don’t really know what’s in store for me as I go through treatment, but I’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the hiatus.

Photo by me

 

 

Posted in Flowers, Life

Time for Sunday Stills

I can’t believe it’s Sunday again. The time between when I created a post for last week’s Sunday Stills challenge and now has whizzed by!

As I have lots of other things to do – mostly marking university assignments – I thought I’d procrastinate a little longer and think about time for this week’s Sunday Stills challenge. Once again I’m inspired by my sister over at Deb’s World. Deb has a brand new granddaughter who is 7 weeks old already – and she thinks time is moving fast. My second eldest grandson turned 18 on Friday – boy oh boy, where has that time gone?

You might have noticed, if you’re a regular visitor here, that I take photos [that was weird … I was going to write “I’m a photographer”, but I felt a bit strange calling myself a photographer so wrote something slightly awkward … I wonder what that’s about??] … anyway, I take photos and one of the elements of photography is time.

Photographs stop time … they catch a moment that will never happen again. A moment in a baby’s life we look back on with fondness for ever after – the dimples around the knees, the chubby cheeks, the little hands balled into fists and, if we’re lucky, the firsts … first smile, first feed with Dad, first time nodding off on Grandma’s shoulder, first book, first Harry Potter dress. Those moments are cherished and we scroll through our photo album (no need to turn pages anymore because the photos are now locked away on our phones) to remind ourselves of the joy the little bundle brings to the whole family. 

Over the last few weekends, Tim and I have been photographing flowers. It’s Spring after all, and there are plenty around. The flowers we photographed two weeks ago won’t be there anymore and the only way we can keep them fresh for all time is through our photographs.

Photographs capture time … they freeze it. The flower and the photograph of the flower will forever be different. One fades away while the other can live on through time.

So here are a few images of flowers frozen in time. None of them look like this anymore, but I was blessed to have been able to capture them in all their glory.

The first one is especially for Deb – who loves all things orange.

Captured in time – Orange

 

Tiny, fragile and now lost to time

 

It too will fade in time

 

Time … it passes … so let’s make the most of it while we have it!

Posted in Flowers, Nature

Orange Sunday for Sunday Stills

Deb, my blogging sister extraordinaire over at Deb’s World, just responded to a weekly photo challenge.

I don’t generally do photo challenges or get involved with the blogging community … I’m not the most social person you’ll come across … but when I saw this week’s challenge was orange, I thought … why not?

So here I am.

To be honest, I don’t really know how photo challenges work – there’s info about tagging and sharing and linked-up posts and I don’t know what any of that means … but here’s the link to the Sunday Still Photo Challenge

The theme this week is Orange.

I love photographing flowers, and some of the flowers I photograph are orange:

In the garden

 

In the studio

 

I also like to do the odd conceptual photo shoot like this one, using water, washing up liquid, oil and some orange cardboard.

 

So there you have it … orange.

Sharon

Posted in Flowers, Life

368

My aunt, mum’s younger sister, came to stay recently, travelling, for the first time, on her own from interstate on the train. We had a lovely week together – a mix of busy days and new adventures, and other days of rest and calm.

A few days after she left, gorgeous flowers arrived as a thank you. Aunty Jan had told the florist to choose the flowers carefully because the recipients were photographers ‘of note’. While that’s possibly over-stating things (but thank you AJ), I did spend some time photographing them.

The flowers were predominantly yellow and brightened the kitchen beautifully. Here’s just one of them in the late afternoon light…

Posted in Flowers

365

My aunt is visiting from country NSW so we ventured to Silvan today for the Tulip Festival at the Tesselaar Tulip Farm.

What a beautiful display of flowers!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

353

Tim and I set ourselves a challenge yesterday – find some flowers (or a single flower) and take a photo.

Simple, straightforward … or so it would seem. I had a shot in mind, but couldn’t find the flower I wanted, so had to make do with some tulips!

It wasn’t difficult!!