31-May-2015 Do Something

A funny old week this has been – it really is very strange to have no gig schedule… the natural rhythm of life that has become so well established has been dismantled, and has left a gaping hole. But what are holes for if not to be filled (the inimitable Jake Thackray certainly had a song on that subject matter).

keepcalm-dosomethingSo how do you set about filling such a hole? Well, you DO things, you catch up on stuff that you’ve been meaning to do for years, you talk more, you listen more, you email people more, you phone people more, you chat on Facebook more, you read more, you even watch TV more, you walk more (health permitting), you sit in the sunshine and fresh air watching a game or two of bowls in the park more, you attend hospital more, you sometimes have to lie down a little more (on off days), you might even cry more, but – strangely enough you can also laugh and smile more, appreciate people more and be more grateful for the love and warmth and generosity of friends.

Sunday was a case in point – we walked down to the local Co-op corner store to do a bit of shopping and, by the time we got back, Jimmy was a bit puffed out but, rather than couch potato or have a nap we decided to take a leisurely stroll across the road to our local park. There was a bowls match being played and we sat at the edge of the green watching the game unfold while we caught snippets of conversations about competitions, leagues, hotels, car parking and all the stuff that we’d never thought of in relation to home and away fixtures. After half an hour or so we felt quite refreshed and walked home again after the match (we hadn’t a clue who had won, but that didn’t really matter).

Monday we had the pleasure of a visit from long time musician friends Andy and Cath (ItsAcoustica). We talked about everything under the sun with topics ranging from the education system through recording techniques, the joy of music and it was quite something to watch and hear Andy play some of Taylor guitars family. He graciously asked, as he’d not heard at least two of the guitars, if we would play something for him and Cath. We happily obliged with our own “Different Picture” and Lindisfarne’s “Meet Me On The Corner” with Andy acting as harmonica-holder-in-chief. Thanks, you two, for a lovely afternoon and for giving us a nudge back into playing.

Tuesday was mostly a frustrating day filled with more phone calls than should have been necessary – doctor, hospital, district nurses, Macmillan nurses… we were trying to tie up some loose ends and ensuring that the left hand knew what the right hand was doing, and that everybody was up to speed with who had requested or referred or authorised or whatever. Don’t get us wrong here… we have nothing but admiration for NHS staff and the service and care that they provide – it’s just that sometimes the communications admin lags behind and so not everyone is aware of the latest. And then the Tesco Direct website wasn’t working properly, refusing to accept perfectly valid login details and steadfastly failing to send an email to reset password details etc. But that was all sorted with a friendly phone call to the support team, albeit the number quoted on the website was incorrect and I had to re-dial to get through to the correct people.

Wednesday brought about some resolution to many (but not all) of Tuesday’s calls, and then we got a phone call asking us to attend Freeman Hospital for a follow up regarding a scan Jimmy had four weeks earlier. Well, we thought that had all been dealt with in a couple of phone calls weeks ago – but, no, could we go in for a chat. We were convinced it was another of those admin/communications errors but agreed anyway. In the evening good friends Jim and Allyson came around to see us and invite us out for a meal, but we had to decline – Jimmy wasn’t really up to it and he does tend to tire much earlier in the evenings than he used to. So we drank tea/coffee and put the world to rights. We appreciate how difficult it must be to know what to say to us in our present circumstances, and it must be frustrating not knowing what to do to show support, but we are grateful to such friends for keeping us in their thoughts and for being there.

Thursday‘s hole was filled with action (although some of it was just waiting around). We headed off to the Freeman Hospital, and got there early (car parking isn’t easy there even though there are hundreds of spaces). Sure enough we had to wait, but that’s to be expected, and we don’t have a problem with that. The professor wasn’t available – he was in theatre doing surgery and we were seen instead by his senior registrar. Sure enough, it turned out to be an administrative error. The doctor who had given us the formal diagnosis hadn’t noted it on the case file, and so our trip and concerned anticipation was totally unnecessary. However it wasn’t a wasted trip as the registrar explained the results in a friendly and supportive way and answered all our questions with honesty and respect. I then took over driving duties and we headed into Newcastle and ordered a TV and soundbar and additional external aerial for the bedroom – who’d have thought it, TV in the bedroom?

Friday started off being very organised – hanging canvas prints we’d had made from some of our thousands of photos, having a bit of a clear out and taking stuff to the local recycling centre, and then popping in to a local cafe for cream tea with disgustingly delicious scones and clotted cream and jam. On the way back we called in at our local Boots The Chemist and picked up part two of Jimmy’s repeat prescription… just as well we had the car, two boxes full of fortified milkshake drinks (63 of them, 7 flavours, 9 of each)! The evening turned out to be really special. Anthony John had been requested to include “One More Song” in his set for that night’s show in Denmark, and Julia phoned us so we could hear the performance, swelled by 80+ voices joining in with “One more song to sing”… priceless! How very very special and generous. Five minutes later the phone rang again… a woman had said to Julia that it was her favourite song, so Julia phoned us so that the lady could tell us in person. Well, what can you say? We were bowled over at Julia’s kindness and also when the lady thanked us “The song means so much to so many people – thank you for writing it for us”. Wow, wow, and double wow. Life is good, very very good.

Saturday was not the best of days. Jimmy was tired and dizzy for a lot of it, spending much of the day lying down upstairs – but he did manage to get up when the man came to fit the new kitchen blind, and also when Curry’s delivered our new tumble dryer. He also lounged on the sofa to watch the FA Cup Final… no he’s not a supporter, but it was a pleasant enough diversion.

On Sunday we were visited by long time friend Barbara. We don’t see each other very often and it was good to catch up with what’s going on in her life. OK, so we did talk about hospital, and chemotherapy, and tiredness and diet/appetite, and not performing, and holiday restrictions and all that stuff… but we didn’t want to let it dominate the conversation. We chatted about the children (hers and ours), shopping, decorating, music, TV, kites, real chips, cars, satnavs… where does the time go? And so, exchanging hugs, she set off to find her way back to Sunderland and the sea at Roker.

So there you have it – hole well and truly filled, and only one bad day out of seven. Can’t be bad.

Health update:

We’re now on the Macmillan Nurses list, and should be hearing from them on Monday.

Huge decisions still pending.

2 thoughts on “31-May-2015 Do Something

  1. John Jeffrey

    Thank you so much – in that we are both able to keep up to speed with your progress – it means so much to us that we know how you are getting on. You are both, very much, in our thoughts. Much love John & Eileen xx


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