Take the Life Expectancy Calculator Quiz and find out! To be honest, I’m not sure I want to live to 87, but ask me again when I’m 85. 😉
For ages this was the only image I ever had of Lee, from her Facebook page… and I came to think of her as this sassy Raggedy Ann chica. Then at long last I had the chance to meet her in person when I was in Madrid last January. She was still quite weak from cancer treatment, but was up for going out to have lunch, and we spent a lovely afternoon together.
Lee said she thought of me as her “cancer sister” because reading about my various struggles with cancer on my blog helped her when she was diagnosed. We could compare notes, as it were, and although our situations were very different, Lee felt like I would at least “get” what she was talking about. And yes, I think I did. I also got to enjoy chat sessions with a bright and funny woman, who loved cats as much as I do. I was also thrilled to meet her beautiful boy Tony during that last visit.
Anyhow, this morning I was out at that gastronomy event by the river and was randomly going through messages while enjoying a beer in the sun. Then I saw a message request on FB from someone I didn’t know. I clicked on it, and it was Lee’s dear friend Chris, telling me as delicately as possible that Lee had passed away a few days ago. And since then I haven’t known what to feel. Because the feelings are all so mixed up, the happy and sad ones, the scary and hopeful ones. And the worst one of all, the one I can’t yet accept – that I won’t ever be able to talk to Lee again. So for now, that’s all I can say. Except… be sure to hug someone you love today, and let them know how much they mean to you, how much you love them. xx
Lee and I enjoying a fabulous lunch at Tandem in Madrid
I always like to take advantage of the summer and winter sales here to stock up on basic stuff like sheets & towels, so today I went out to see what I might find and ended up with a whole whack of towels and one new set of sheets for me. I thought I was being quite decadent until I checked back on the blog (so handy that) and saw that the last time I splashed out on new sheets was in 2013 (I honestly thought it was much more recent). Then I was shocked to see that my last new towel purchase was a year before that! Well, judging by the state of my towels I shouldn’t have been that shocked, but whatever. Now I have lots of everything, though I still want to get a second set of new sheets for me.
What’s weird is that for at least the past 25 years or so, I have never bought patterned sheets. Or coloured towels. I’ve always had a thing for white or off-white when it came to sheets and towels (and nightdresses too, come to that). Okay, a little embroidery was fine, but no colours, other than in quilts and duvet covers. And suddenly today I wanted these happy bright poppies on my sheets and deep blue for the “guest” (actually roommate) towels. Roommate also got new sheets along with the new bed in May, so I am feeling totally up-to-date in that department.
So what to do with the massive pile of old towels and sheets? Well, what I always do with old clothes and such. I wait until after 8 pm and leave them next to the bins up on the main road near me, in unsealed bags so people can easily see what’s inside. And they are usually gone within an hour or so (municipal rubbish pick up is long after midnight).
I don’t even know what’s “normal” when it comes to stuff like this, buying new sheets and towels. Once a year? Every two years? Three? Also, as I said in another blog post, this has never been a huge priority for me. I always prefer to spend my money on experiences. How about you?
So yeah, the BIG NEWS is that I’ve decided to take a couple of weeks off, and possibly longer. Well okay, not exactly OFF in the sense of not working, or going away somewhere, just not doing my tapas tours for awhile so that I can focus on getting caught up on my other work (massive backlog of blog posts and photo editing) as well as work on some new ideas for We Love Tapas. Re: the latter, there are a couple of things coming up this autumn that I think will be very exciting, but I do need some time to get those going properly. Yeah, I know my Trip Advisor rating will probably suffer as a result, with all the posers racking up fake reviews on a daily basis but, to borrow the pithy words of the Divine Marina O’Loughlin… “I don’t hate it because it enables reviews of and tickets for cruel animal attractions, or for its climate of blackmail-enabling entitlement. I hate it because it’s shit.” Suggest you read this article.
Of course it’s great that while I am “away” I can steer my clients towards We Love Tapas, because the team is going to be working all summer long. Meanwhile, my summer getaway plans are still going ahead, with Galicia Getaway booked for the end of August, though I may swap San Sebastián for London, not sure. Or do them both?? Really no idea at this point. All I know is that for the next week or so I am on “hols at home”, which is mostly about doing a lot of research and writing. But it feels great, and I’m also focusing on healthy light eating at home. Feel very privileged that I can work like this, doing things I love, in the way I want to do them. Anyhow, watch this space…
I woke up with my head full of all the changes I had planned, feeling optimistic, feeling a bit nervous too. But I love Mondays. They always feels like a fresh slate, a brand new week to get started on new projects and plans. Then I reached for my iPhone to snuggle back under the duvet for awhile with Morcilla, and began scrolling through Instagram pics… and I read the news. It floored me, it made me catch my breath, it made me so so sad. Just 69, fucking cancer. An amazing life ended. I don’t know why it felt so personal, though I know thousands of people felt the same. Anyhow, I also felt somehow moved to make sure those changes I’ve been planning happen. Because, dammit, life’s too short.
This photo was taken in May 2009 showing off my brand new chemo port. I remember how happy I was that they fit me in for this procedure before I had to resume chemo. Memories of collapsed veins and painful arms and hands…
Today I went for my monthly port cleaning and, while nothing wrong with that, I’d hoped that by now they’d have taken the darn thing out already. When I joined the five year club in November it felt like onwards and upwards. But I’m still waiting to have this thing removed, and I also need to have a colonoscopy this month (the 23rd) before the oncologist decides on what my future monitoring will be. PET scans every year? Every 8 months? We shall see.
Anyhow, I got a taxi over to the hospital this morning (a luxury I allow myself as I really HATE going to the hospital, so at least I can go in style and hang the expense). I was running a bit late today, though I got there at 12.40 (port cleaning hour is between 12 and 1 o’clock) and suddenly there was Manolo standing in the doorway when I skidded to a stop, arms crossed, tapping one foot, giving me The Look. So I said “WHAT? I still have 20 minutes!!” and then Manolo broke into a huge smile and led me to The Chair.
The procedure only takes about five minutes, but sometimes the port doesn’t cooperate and then I worry about blood clots or the nurse pushing air into my veins (I do, seriously). My favourite nurses are Manolo and Macarena. The latter because she is totally no-nonsense and the former because he always makes me laugh. Plus they are skilled at doing this – trust me, when I get a newbie I am a nervous wreck. Anyhow, there was Manolo scolding me for coming at the last minute, and I told him he was going to miss me after they take the port out. “Who else is always going to remind you to take care of the air bubbles??” I asked him. At which point Manolo burst into song, apparently something from his native Córdoba about a difficult “niña” (who, me?) …. and then it was done.
Then another nurse poked her head around the corner and said “another port cleaning!”. And I said to Manolo – “HA! I was not the last one and I expect you to scold this other latecomer as much as you scolded me!” I even made sure. As I was walking out and the other woman was walking in, I turned to Manolo and gave him the hand slicing gesture, winked at the woman, and Manolo went into full Manolo mode saying “what do you mean showing up at this time? you always get here LATE!” and we were all laughing. So I ended up leaving and really hoping it was going to be my last port cleaning, but also knowing I was going to miss Manolo.
You know that crumbling teeth anxiety dream? Well, it happened again – except I wasn’t asleep. There I was eating something totally innocuous (greek yoghurt) and suddenly half a molar fell out. Well, a filling that had previously been filling half a molar fell out. This makes the fourth one in the past 2-3 years, which is kind of getting ridiculous, as well as harder to ignore. Why ignore them you ask? Well, at the risk of sounding morbid, I just didn’t think that repairing teeth at great expense was a priority if I was going to end up back on chemo and/or dead in the next year or so. But with my (hopefully) final “six-month” PET scan coming up in September/October, I may have to start taking action. The deal is, if I get the all-clear next scan and they move me to annual PET scans – and remove that pesky chemo port – then I will finally feel less like I’m on death row and living between six-month reprieves, and more like, well, I don’t know anymore. But I will definitely get my teeth fixed! Or pulled. Whatever.
It suddenly occurred to me around 9 pm last night that I am ON HOLIDAY!
This doesn’t mean that I’m not working as much as always, just that there are fewer tapas tours this month and that I have also made plans to travel here and there in Andalucía doing research for my new trip planning biz. So how does this qualify as being ON HOLIDAY you ask? Well, the main difference is not feeling any pressure to have to be anywhere or do anything at any particular moment. So I can just get up in the morning and deal with new things as they come up, go to the gym or takes walks whenever I want, and also comfortably get on with updating website stuff… at my leisure. Just writing this makes me want to stretch like a cat.
H – O – L – I – D – A – Y – S