originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

dreaming of misted mountains...

I laced up my freshly polished boots on Sunday, and meandering along the back lanes, it occurred to me that these boots walked 100km in Nepal...
Then I realised I was wearing the proofed fleece, gloves and hat I was so grateful for at 3,500m...
So although this body (now) struggles with traversing 100 yards briskly, this will change.
Who knows where my boots will take me in the months to come?
Bestare, bestare... (Slowly, slowly...)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

strange and personal inspirations

'Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing...'
from 'Farewell', Walter de la Mare

A visit to the North Devon coast to check out a potential venue for our volunteers' training weekend was real soul sustenance...

I had to clamber up a sand dune to get this pic. (Where has my physical strength gone? And so lucky the Himalayas aren't as sandy as this - it's bloody hard work walking in soft, thick sand!)

Yesterday, I polished my walking boots - which I've been meaning to do since I got back from Nepal, but they got muddy on my last long walk round Longleat (pre tx).

But now they're ready for the off again!
And so is my work space. I wish I could keep my desk as clear as this...

I've still made a massive improvement on both desks and my bookcase (though I won't post pix of those as well, there is a limit to self-indulgence, even on a blog!)

Hep C Update

Great to see Anita Roddick is campaigning for greater hep C awareness and has become a patron of the Trust – not so good to discover she has the virus; nor that, in her 60s, she’s had the virus for 30 years, and already has cirrhosis. But I can’t tell you how inspirational I found some of the excerpts from her various media interviews… thank you, Anita! (and thank you, Sam, for drawing my attention to the fact the links were on the Trust website).

My personal hep C (or treatment) update is good and bad.
I’ll start with the bad, because it’s brief and I then end on a positive note!
The bloods taken before Barcelona were so low as to prompt yet another med reduction; this time the peginterferon. I missed a message from Sarah to organise collecting my meds and go for more blood-letting; necessitating an unexpected charge back from a work reconnaisance trip - from Bristol to the North Dorset coast and back (via Charterhouse in the Mendips) - to give me time to dive in my car and hurtle off to Bath…
But this week’s bloods were better, and I feel pretty good – which I can only ascribe to the joy of travel and the positive effect of gentle but stamina-testing exercise over four days (of which, at least three are usually required rest days!)
I couldn’t have managed the Barcelona jaunt without Carole, and I’m so glad I went (though I so nearly cancelled through anxiety about whether I was overstretching myself).

Staying positive is hugely enabling – but that is a real challenge to maintain while you feel like a bag of shit. I understand now Jeff’s obvious concern about my support network when we spoke on the trek about my imminent tx (I’m getting fed up writing the long version!).
Work colleagues and acquaintances who know are supportive, but unless they know quite a bit about hep C and tx, it’s difficult for them to fully understand the impact of this experience on an individual.
I understand Petra’s insistence that to get through, the Hep C Trust helpline is a lifesaver (it is - Sam’s regular reminders to give them a call if I needed to eventually motivated action there!)
My specialist nurse is lovely – knowledgeable and receptive, she doesn’t rush me. I know how busy she is, and really appreciate her time, practical advice, insight and encouragement.
I get great support from CAAAD – which includes Anne’s weekly full body acupuncture treatments (making a real difference to symptoms) and a weekly check-in with Nigel (which makes a huge difference to managing symptoms alongside life commitments and stress).

Again and again, I’m reminded that when you commit fully to something you have faith in, the universe moves to support that, as Goethe so lyrically stated. A multiplicity of connections around me to concentrate and support the healing process!

I'm very thankful for the support I've already been blessed with and continue to be given an abundance of along my life journey...

Listening to Satchmo’s ‘Wonderful World’ to close…

Re-stocking the well

In addition to the wonderful visual stimulus of recent weeks (plus the auditory and neurochemical stimulus which I’ve written less about!), there has been more ‘re-stocking of the well,’ as Julia Cameron might put it. I'm reading - which often feels like addictive escapism (and like TV, often is!) but is also an essential to continue polishing the wordsmith's craft.
Even (quality) TV can help nourish process - 'Prison Break', for example, has such an intricately crafted narrative (as well as Wentworth Miller's intricately crafted tat to ogle! as I write, the repeat due any minute…) that you can't fail to admire the writer's skill and inspiration, and wish to produce something a fraction as good... I'm getting a fantasy buzz with the wacky slapstick 'Bonkers' and the time travelling 'Life on Mars' (which I missed first time round - but remember scriptwriter Matthew saying that at the end of the first series, they still hadn't decided where they were going to go with the explanation, a faith in organic process which I loved).

And of course, there's poetry... Karen gave me a poetry calendar for Christmas, so it was inevitable I'd make this the year that I tried to read daily poems.
And, so far, I have.
Haiku and free verse, sonnets and (probably sestinas, if I could remember what they are - which blogger's 'ABC' function is oblivious of, so I feel a little less thick!), quotes about the absolute necessity for poetry in a poet's life, experimental forms, classics and contemporaries, new names and interesting biographical details.
I've missed the day's poetry quota (from the calendar and 'Poem for the Day' volumes I & II) for a variety of reasons, but I've made sure I've 'caught up' as soon as I can.
Personal poetry links have been stacking up; Crysse’s blog with treasures - an update on the Frome Poetry CafĂ© (which of course I missed, having driven from Bristol to London that day), her chosen quotes and a link to Howard’s posting of ‘onamatopoeia’ on YouTube – check it out! It’s one of their live and Lippy multi-media collaborations.
Hell has signposted me to other poets, Sam at the Trust forwarded the article on MacNeice from the Inde to me…
Tracking this process against what else has been happening for me in my life is illuminating.
I feel as if I'm beginning to connect more fully to the healing process alongside the commitment of working through treatment.
And I'm very thankful for the support I'm being given along the way.

Friday, February 16, 2007

my funny valentine

I jump in the car on Valentine's Day, and Annie Lennox begins belting out 'Right by Your Side' (good choice, Tel...)

The feelings of elation I experienced when I first 'connected' to that song are always triggered when I hear it... what a lovely start to the day!

I had to smile at the hordes of hasty men queueing in Sainsbury's the previous night, with offerings of chocolate, and champagne, and red roses...

When I return home on Thursday night, of course there are no cards, just correspondence from my creditors...

But I don't care at all - I connected on Valentine's Day with the most significant male energy in my life right now, so I'm happy. Who needs a card when there is someone who knows many of your worst flaws - and yet still makes you feel special?

visual takeover?

When 'Santa' delivered my very own digital camera, his one condition was that I would continue to write...
and I will.
If blog posts aren't as prolific as they might be for a writer, it doesn't mean I'm not writing (I am, just far less than I like to stay sane-ish) neither does it mean I've lost interest and impetus now that the trek is in the place we can no longer visit except in memory, the vanished past.
It does mean process is back where it should be (the main priority), and my main creative inspiration is indeed visual right now - nourishing process...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Catalonian interlude

A bit of sun in Barcelona (after snow in the UK!)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

back to a different atmosphere, a different light quality...

After our brief respite drinking in the powerful ambience of the spectacular Bhara Pokhari, a last look at some of the highest mountains in the world (that may be Manaslu in the picture) from our camp in the clouds... and we're off again.
Looking back, that was an enormous downside to the trip, the constant pressure to keep moving, rack up the miles... And when we stopped, the social bit took over.
Admittedly, the temperature on the high plateau was hardly conducive to lounging about with my notebook - but it seems such a shame to make the effort to get to the roof of the world and not take more time to appreciate it.
It felt like being an American tourist - 'we took a week last year and did Europe' sort of whistlestop tour...
99.9% of my journal was written retrospectively - and when you're travelling, that's just not the same as unpressured 'here and now' freeflow writing to process the experience. Scribbling notes by torchlight in the tent gives a very different slant on what you write about...
Having the option of taking photos (after years of being camera-less!) was a blessing, though with an interesting impact - I seldom attempted to describe the landscape, but let the images speak for themselves. If I'm honest, trying to encapsulate such an awesome landscape in words is probably beyond my writing ability anyway...
The gaps in my visual narrative tell their own story... No record at all of the bits which were toughest - fully occupied with concentrating on the terrain, or recovering from exertion at altitude, to manage the camera...

Writing about the most tricky part of our descent from the plateau will have to wait for another day...

a bit (more?) self-indulgence...

Karen is down from Cumbria this weekend. It was lovely to catch up with her and Mike yesterday - I was talking about hep C and my approaching 12 week PCR, and hoping it's negative after going through treatment so far... and he said 'at least you got the trip of a lifetime out of it!'
He's absolutely right. If I hadn't had a positive diagnosis, it probably wouldn't have occurred to me to attempt a trek anywhere, let alone to the Himalayas... (our intrepid trek leader, Jeff, is apparently off to Everest base camp with a party of 40 round about now).
That old saw about how you interpret your experience - is your glass half-full or half-empty?
I think mine is three-quarters full... (last week, I thought there was only a dribble in the bottom!)
Karen came round today, too, joined by her son, Sam.
It seems impossible that those great strapping lads of ours were once toddlers taxing our patience with their bickering and fighting... And so unusual to see them together now that they're so huge; I had to take a couple of snaps of them.
Last week, Karen sent me a card, one of 'the interesting thoughts of Edward Monkton' series: 'The friends can connect in a mysterious way without even speaking. Perhaps they have AMAZING MAGICAL POWERS. Perhaps they are both just PECULIAR IN THE HEAD.'
Says it all, really...

travelling by proxy

Crysse has just come back from three weeks in Chile so we had a catch-up on Tuesday evening. I'm struck by many similarities between Chile and Nepal - rapid changes in culture, mass migration to Santiago, where such a high proportion of the population now live; so like Nepal, with its mass migration to Kathmandu... and of course, there are the mountains...
For evocative descriptions (and fabulous photos) of the Chilean landscape, check out her blog on crysse.blogspot.com

an interlude of February sun

A bit of brilliant sunshine works wonders to lift the spirits... I snapped Trinity Church on my way to Carla for my shiatsu on Friday - it looked so striking in the morning sun... as did the lane down the hill to her house.
The rest last week - which felt interminable at the time, as if that would be how I'd feel for the duration of treatment - has made such a difference to how I've been this week. I feel miles better - nearly normal at times! - and have been able to do shedloads more... (Umm, yes, I really do have to watch that impulse...)
On the other hand, this week has provided several sunkissed highlights, and a real sense of spring... though of course, that's a sign that all's not so well with our world either - it's still only February!
But I'm not going to add anxiety about global warming to the queue of negative stresses. Time enough for worrying about that when I'm through treatment! I do what I can to minimise my personal impact - and anyway, it would be wicked not to enjoy the sunshine, as it's here...

I had a look at my Rebetol leaflet this morning, and was quite startled to find that the dose I've been on since before Christmas is that usually recommended for children and adolescents who weigh between 47 and 49kg... (I weigh about 65kg).
Gave me much more of a wake-up call than comparing the dose amounts (down to 600mg from my starting point of 1,000mg).
I need to oomph the self-care!
Lovely sunset this afternoon...

About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...