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The 12th of February.

Where to begin? I have been reluctant to start this because I feel like it might dilute the memory or I’ll forget stuff.

The journey down was nice and straightforward. The chap was even there with the ramp when we arrived at Euston! We got a taxi to Jen’s in Highgate, where I was going to try on fun clothes in order to find an outfit for the show. I was shown into a little room, one wall full of clothes, one full of shoes, plus a rack of dresses, the floor covered in more shoes and bags and jewellery behind me. First I picked some favourites to try one, because I had to be selective. I looked at four or five in the end, but eventually decided that the first one I’d worn was the best. A navy blue midi dress from Libelula covered in sequins with pink piping, plus some Nadia Vodianova shoes and massive clip on earrings and a two-finger ring. I left with a promise to leave it at the hotel reception in the morning.

We had lunch at the nearby Cafe Rouge (saw so many good dogs), then another taxi to the hotel. When checking in, we each were given a fresh warm cookie, which I ate on my bed very messily. Unpacked, then collected what we needed for the show. Next stop, Union Chapel!

When we arrived, we rang a buzzer and were met by Bea, who works the evening shows. She showed us the backstage/dressing rooms, the facilities, and of course the chapel itself. They had built me a massive ramp to get onto the stage, and I met the sound guys so handed over my old iPhone, plus the cable and power pack.

There was no point going back to the hotel, so I sent Mommy and Daddy to get coffee, then it wasn’t long before the Anthony Nolan team and Christine arrived (separately). I finally met Lucy, then she and her colleagues set up all their tables and banners, and I got changed into my spangly dress. I had a practise run up the ramp, then got talking to lot of Anthony Nolan volunteers, remembering some from previous events. Then the doors opened and it was time to meet my public! For a while, I just watched strangers coming in which was brilliant because they weren’t obliged to come, they were just supporting the cause. Then I started seeing people I knew, like Emmer, Charlie, Denise, Amy, Joy, Lauren and Hannah. Mark and Shereen came over and I gave him a huge hug. I’m so glad he could come. Acaster arrived, then Suzi and Flick, and I went backstage with them. Soon Nish appeared, and before long, it was time to start the show! First up, aside from our lovely host, we had James, during whom Sara arrived, and then Felicity. Nish then introduced me, and I drove up (nearly off) the ramp onto the stage, giving a royal wave. The cheer was immense, and I had to tell them to stop because I was going to cry. I said most of what I’d planned, plus I gave Mark a shout out because he deserves to know what a hero he is. In hindsight, there are things I wish I’d said, but no matter. Everyone said I did really well, and I was happy.

In the interval, I gave Josh the bear for his baby, and met the Anthony Nolan patients who’d come backstage and lots of photos were taken. Josh opened the second half, followed by Suzi and Sara. Everyone was brilliant, it went better than I could have hoped. I said goodbye to the people who had waited at the end, and Nish, Sara and Suzi.

So many hugs. And it was all over. I put my socks and boots back on, and we made our way back to the hotel. Pyjamas, Graham Norton, wind down, bed.

The 13th of February.

I didn’t fall asleep until about three, and woke up at seven. Made myself a cup of tea, and got everything packed back up. I left the garment bag for Jen at reception, then we had coffee next door at Saint Espresso. Breakfast was required, and as it was pancake day, we went to The Diner nearby. We went past The Breakfast Club and its huge queue, but found The Diner nice and quiet, where I had buttermilk pancakes with bacon, maple syrup and whipped honey butter. So good, but I couldn’t finish them.

A last cab back to Euston, where I got another coffee, and we trundled home. This afternoon, I have put all my warm clothes on, curled up in my armchair. So happy.

 

The 25th of January.

I have had to take lots of deep breaths today, which means I am tired. I’m taking a Zopiclone tonight so I get a good sleep. I woke myself up whispering angrily in my sleep because I was dreaming that I was having an argument with someone from The Biggest Loser.

So I have spent pretty much the entire day sat in the same position, doing the same thing. First, I was doing a blog post, then I carried on with the doily and my hand aches. I’m on the penultimate round, so I’ve at least been very productive. Hopefully I get it finished tonight.

Mommy was out with Grandma for ages this afternoon, so I had a long tv binge – Riverdale, then Black Lightning (I’m going to give it a couple more episodes before I pass judgement) and Carrie, which I recorded at Christmas. To be honest, I fast-forwarded the first half, because I just wanted to watch the bit where she gets her revenge. No need to see the bit where she gets tormented.

Ugh god I want it to be bedtime.

The 26th of January.

Zopiclone didn’t work. Sometimes that happens. No reason, but it means I’ve had little sleep and a drug hangover that’s made me feel like shit all day. Bleah.

It’s Mommy and Daddy’s wedding anniversary today (38 years!) so the first thing I did was give them their card. Then breakfast, coffee, hairwash. I tidied up the back of the doily I finished last night, then wrote the notes on the patterns for the Christmas dudes I am starting.

I spilled water all over the table again because I apparently have no muscle control, and it went much further this time, so Daddy and I had to spread everything out and dry it with paper towels. I’m going to stop being allowed beverages without lids.

After lunch, Mommy and Daddy went to see Darkest Hour (I know, so romantic) then they were having dinner, so I have had the house to myself for the afternoon. I have pretty much made the first Christmas chap, Claus the candle, while watching films. The Host, which I recorded ages ago and was meh, then Captain America: Civil War because Black Panther comes out soon and I needed to remind myself of the “previously on”.

Domino’s for dinner. What else?

The 19th of January.

Kittens are gone! I am sad, but they’re going to a happy new home and the adopters have promised to send us photos of them in their new burger beds.

A much better night, no wind to wake me up. I spent the morning writing up a blog post, and sending a couple of Anthony Nolan emails. I also managed to spill my coffee in the kitten room and all over the table in the living room, staining it, because I am a dickhead.

After lunch, I started working on a crocheted bunny, and I filled in all the paperwork for the adoption this afternoon. They arrived quite promptly, having apparently been counting down the days. We got Autumn in the carrier first (although she escaped on our initial attempt), then we nearly got Ava but she wriggled out of Mommy’s hands. Amber did not get away, so we popped her in, and finally we lulled Ava into a false sense of security before giving her a big hug and putting her in the carrier with her sisters.

I am going to miss them, but they’ll be fine. We’ll get some new ones!

The 20th of January.

Birthday eve!

I didn’t have a great night; I kept waking up because I was cold, and I had a dream someone was trying to molest me. Not pleasant.

Amanda (Cats Protection treasurer and adopter of Harvey and Hugo) came round this morning to collect a bunch of cheques and adoption paperwork, and gave us an update on how they are. They have apparently become enormous. I do hate it when they grow up. Much prefer the tiny cats. Then I did some crocheting of the bunny I am making, so now it has a head, a body and part of an ear.

After lunch (which included a cinnamon swirl for the first time in ages because the boy who normally works in the M&S Bakery and can’t do them wasn’t there this week), Daddy and I went to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. We would have seen in last weekend, but the timings were no good. Thankfully, it was still on and at a convenient time so today was our day. I had to spend the first half of the film breathing through my scarf because the man in front of us had some sort of strong cologne on which assaulted my throat, so I needed a filter if I was going to not cough constantly. It’s such a good film – I kept seeing tweets saying how great it was and Christine saw it ages ago so I’m glad we got the chance. I laughed, I cried. Frances McDormand is excellent. It probably won’t be in cinemas much longer but if you get the chance you should see it.

We got home at six, and had about fifteen minutes before we went back out to Nosh & Quaff for my birthday dinner. I had a mimosa (in the drinks menu they say you can have an orange bellini but if you order that, they get confused), then some mac’n’cheese bites to start. They were delicious, although the cheese inside was very hot so I cut them all open to let the steam escape. There was a bit of a wait for the main courses, and I had ordered the Double Dutch chicken waffle. However, I took one bite and realised I was in trouble. In the menu, they do not mention that the coating the chicken is covered in is spicy as fuck and my mouth could not tolerate it at all. So much pain. So when the waiter came over to ask if everything was okay I was like “I have a problem”. He was very nice about it and brought me another menu after taking away the offending meal. I thought the hot dog sounded okay and he said yes that had no spice and he was correct. Just a good hot dog in a soft bun and no pain to endure. In all, I would call it a success, and would go back, but would check exactly how each dish is seasoned before ordering.

Tomorrow I will be 27 and it feels like a big deal.

The 30th of December.

Is today worse than New Year’s Eve? I think so. The tv is definitely very poor – I had no interest in any of the films on today. I have set Carrie to record tonight but that is not for festive viewing.

This morning I wrote up a blog post, then watched Raymond Blanc dick around on Saturday Kitchen while crocheting the never ending shawl.

After lunch, I had a hairwash, then sat and watched three episodes of Black Mirror while the kittens ran around the room for the first time. First up was Crocodile – thought it was good, interesting premise, to see how far Mia will go, nice twist. Next, USS Callister – I really liked this one. The contrast between the 70’s Space Fleet and the hypermodern present in which the characters and game exist was great, and there was just the right balance of psychopathy and emotion. Really smart. Last I saw Hang the DJ – this seems to be the one most discussed in promo so I was a little bit wary but it lived up to the hype. I loved Georgina Campbell in this role, a much more likable character than the ones she played in Broadchurch and One of Us. I just really liked the concept and the ending. Good work, Brooker. I’m saving Arkangel and Black Museum until last because I think they’ll be the best. We’ll see.

The 31st of December.

2017 has been a weird year. Physically, I spent the first half of the year feeling like shit with pneumonia and constantly coughing. The second half was spent waiting for appointments, trying to figure out why my arm is still the same, desperate for pain relief for my back, and discovering that the diminished lung function I’d been experiencing since the pneumothorax is permanent.

Emotionally, it’s been pretty miserable. Feeling like an invalid for six months was incredibly depressing – it had been a long time since I’d felt so weak, like I was going to die every time I did something simple. Needing oxygen purely to exist felt humiliating. Then as I started to improve, Dean was going downhill, and we lost him. I haven’t been hit so hard by a death for years. We made no progress on my arm for the entire year, and everyone is still baffled. My back continues to decline, to the point where now I can barely stand. And my lungs are a disaster, so much so that an anaesthetist won’t put me under for even a short procedure.

There were some high points. Taking Mommy to The Ritz, Machynlleth, John and Maddie’s wedding, the Anthony Nolan summer reception, Regina Spektor, my ten year diagnosis anniversary, Amusical, meeting Peter and Sophie’s twins, Christmas at home.

Those were all lovely, but my memories are marred by my body’s myriad of problems. It’s really hard to enjoy things when everything is a trial.

I just want 2018 to be bearable. I’m not hoping for miracles, I just don’t want to feel wretched all the time. I’d like to definitively know what is wrong with my arm and whether we can fix it. I want to be able to move around my house without such immense difficulty, so one of my resolutions is to start exercising again. Nothing vastly energetic, but I know I can build up some muscle mass to at least make things slightly easier. I want to read at least two books a month – I am just accumulating them and they continue to mount up without me making any sort of dent in the pile. I am going to crochet an item of clothing I can wear that is not a hat, scarf or pair of mittens. And I am going to take more photos with people at happy times. I have no photos of me and Dean and it devastates me.

I ended the year the way I always do, or at least the way I always want to – champagne and Christmas cake with my family, in front of the fire. Grateful to be here.

The 26th of December.

Bleah, bad sleeping again so I’m having Zopiclone tonight. Therefore, I have only had one glass of champagne today – sleeping tablets and alcohol are not the best mix. I still felt kind of wibbly this morning so thought it wise not to drink too much again.

I put my twosie on (I am so warm) and spent my morning writing about yesterday, watching the rubbish on tv and it has been mainly rubbish today, unfortunately. The Shaun the Sheep film was on, and I remember seeing that with Daddy – such a mistake. Wouldn’t put myself through that again.

Lunch was about half one; Boxing Day ham, then chocolate mousse for everyone (except Taid, too much sugar). Then for the rest of the afternoon I have been reading How to Stop Time, and have finished it. I had started it before, but when I knew I was getting the illustrated version, I stopped. So I picked up where I’d left off, and read the last 125 pages. Next will be one of the enormous books I got yesterday.

Tonight we are having cheese for dinner. Awesome.

The 27th of December.

Welcome to the Merrineum – the period between Christmas and New Year when all the cosy clothes come out, the television options before rather desperate and there isn’t much to do but eat.

So today I have watched Turbo, The Princess and the Frog, Moana and Big Hero 6. It’s been very animation-heavy. While I sat on my arse, Mommy and Christine returned Taid’s room to a state ready for kittens, and Daddy has been driving Taid back to Wales and should be back in about an hour and a half.

I’ve been crocheting a shawl, so worked on that. I think I’ll finish it this evening, then my next projects are things for people’s babies. I need to look and what wool I already have so I don’t waste money on more – I bought rather an expensive jumper in the Farfetch sale yesterday so going to have to be a bit frugal for a while (except on my birthday).

The Zopiclone I had last night worked, thank god, so I had a much better sleep. Let’s hope that’s a return to usual form. Podcasts all night is not what I want to become my norm.

The 25th of December.

Merry Christmas!

I had a dreadful night, didn’t fall asleep until past two, then woke up multiple times in the night before getting up about half past eight when I could hear people moving around. Christine came into my bedroom, and we opened our stockings – I got some socks with reindeers on, Snowman shower jelly from Lush, Jelly Snowbabies, Lindt bears and reindeers, and little dog page markers. So cute.

Downstairs for Christmas breakfast in pyjamas! Game pie, breads, meats, cheeses, eggs – I leaned on my egg to break the shell and ended up sort of crushing it. Thankfully it was hard boiled enough to not make a mess. Then I made my final coffee of my advent calendar, and returned upstairs to get dressed. My dress this year was a very pain one, a green chenille midi dress from Zara, so I embellished with my Tatty Devine glittery holly and Christmas tree shoes. Still a very snazzy bitch.

Mommy and Daddy picked up Grandma, I positioned myself on the floor, the champagne was poured, and the present distribution could begin! I try to go around the room, one per person, until we run out. I got four books (Gnomon by Nick Harkaway, Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King, The Invisible Child and the Fir Tree by Tove Jansson, and the illustrated version of How to Stop Time by Matt Haig), and Alice in Wonderland moleskine diary for next year (they’ve stopped doing The Little Prince ones, rage), a small pouch to put all my medical stuff in for my handbag, a festive mug from Anthropologie, a fleecey cat twosie (SO SOFT AND COSY), a jar of Seville marmalade, the holiday wreath Pandora charm, an umbrella with dogs on, a Hasbean voucher, the StylPro brush cleaner, and a Christmas dogs garland which I will definitely have up in my room next year.

Lunch was ready about two o’clock. If I could have just parsnips, pigs in blankets and tiny carrots with bread sauce, I totally would. Then a small rest while the pudding finished cooking, and I had some chocolate mousse because I hate Christmas pudding.

We decamped into the living room while Daddy and Christine did the washing up, and put on the obligatory BBC animation made for the day to relax and pass the time before the Easts descended upon us for Doctor Who. Auntie Hilary called on Facetime, and she got passed around the room so Merry Christmases could be exchanged. Becky, James and Jonathan appeared just after five, with the rest following shortly after, and gift swapping commenced. Becky gave me some lightning bolt earrings, and Alison gave me a crochet set to make a little donkey and a book of patterns to make animals wearing clothes. Many projects for the future!

Daddy sorted out beverages, and those of us who wanted to watch settled down in front of the tv for Doctor Who. I was happy to see Bill for a final time, but I’m still annoyed that we only got her for one series. I don’t want Bradley Walsh. But I suppose Jodie Whittaker makes up for it.

They returned to their respective homes for Strictly, and Mommy and Daddy took Grandma home too, as time was getting on. When they got back, we had Christmas cake while watching Christmas Bake Off. Oh Selasi, how I have missed you. I would like him on all the Bake Off series forever, just saying things and making faces in the background.

I have had much wine, and am hoping the cosy glow will help me sleep. I got everything I wanted, but the best part is being at home, healthy as possible, surrounded by warmth and people I love. Nothing is as important to me as that.

The 11th of November.

A long day of much driving but a lovely afternoon at our destination.

We set out early as it’s a good three hours to Wimbledon, where Hilary and Jeremy live. I took the opportunity to give the new Taylor Swift album a listen on the way – I like it, but I think I need time to love it. I also listened to the song from the trailer for The Greatest Showman multiple times – that, I love.

We arrived just after twelve, to find Christine had got there not long before us. We had a quick sit down in the living room, but before long, lunch was ready, so we went through to the table in the kitchen. It was a perfect day for cottage pie, and Jeremy was very appreciative when he joined us from his morning on the river.

After we’d finished, Peter and Sophie appeared with the twins! I was given Grace, who remained asleep for the entire visit, waking only to yawn and fart. Such a chilled baby. Henry was passed around everyone, I think – he likes to wriggle and gets uncomfortable, and he becomes tetchy when he is too warm. When he started to cry, they’ve learned that soon it is food time, so it was time for them to go home.

We stayed until about five, talking about Christine and Tilly’s Morocco trip, our current kittens, and I found out that Jeremy’s cousin is a Duke. Just casually drop that into conversation. We drove pretty much straight home, bar a stop for petrol, and the kittens were ready to climb the walls.

The 12th of November.

Good and bad night. Good, because I had a Zopiclone, so I had a pretty deep, unbroken sleep. Bad, because I dreamed that I was in hospital, my cancer had come back, I thought it was getting better when in fact it had spread everywhere and everyone had been lying to me about it.

Not a brilliant start to my day. Equally then not helped by me putting my leggings on inside out. Nitwit. Once they were on the right way round, I spent my morning typing up two blog posts. The second one was hard – to write, to edit, to share. I don’t want to elicit any specific reaction, I’m just saying how I feel.

For lunch, we replicated Nigella’s brie and parma ham toastie (minus the figs, ugh), then this afternoon, I sat and crocheted while watching The Blacklist. Then Mommy returned from Grandma’s, and we’ve caught up with X Factor, Only Connect and Masterchef.

I am looking forward to bedtime, despite knowing that post-Zopiclone sleep is very hit and miss. I just want to curl up.