Still got the Lurgy

Oh how the tables have turned!

This week, it’s me who’s had to be careful around people because I’ve been the infected one not wanting to pass it on.  What started as a scratchy throat spread quite painfully to ears and nose, with clear evidence (even to a colourblind person such as myself) that this thing was bacterial.  It took a gradual escalation in the severity of symptoms by Sunday evening (the day after the previous blog) for me to consider calling the chemo hotline.

The medic who received my call didn’t sound impressed and slightly irritatedly enquired as to why I hadn’t contacted an out of hours GP because my temperature wasn’t quite high enough for the to be worried.  I offered to do this, but suggested that it would be useful to know if I should continue taking the chemo tablets whilst taking the antibiotics I’d inevitably be prescribed.  This at least prompted the promise to find out and I waited a couple of hours for a callback.  When this came, I was a little surprised to be told that they were arranging a home visit, given that I’d essentially been told off for time wasting on the previous call.

It turned out that this was the point in the chemo cycle where immunity is often low, so my case was being treated with some seriousness after all.  I was able to sleep quite blissfully in my own bed that night and only once wake up to take more paracetamol.  For this particular lurgy, it is quite effective and really takes the edge off.  And then at around 9 the next morning, low and behold, not one but three medics, one of them a doctor, arrived with what was essentially a mobile A&E to poke, prod and take blood tests.  I didn’t even need to show my photographic evidence of used tissues to prove that this thing was bacterial – they concluded that I needed some antibiotics, prescribed them on the spot and gave me a week’s supply there and then.  I’ve had some frustrating times in the hands of the NHS but this wasn’t one of them.

And ever so slowly, these things started working.  I was still needing to pop paracetamol like it was candy but by day 3 of antibiotic week, I had a reason to want to get better.  Because the kids band had been invited by a charity to play at the NEU conference in Bournemouth.  Of course we had contingency plans, but I really wanted to be there.  It took a very expensive morning taxi ride to the coach pickup and a lot of drugs to take enough of the pain away, but I made it with my bass trombone and 1 1/2 blocked ears to a seaside conference centre and we gave the passing crowd of assembled teachers more than a passable performance, with some lovely comments afterwards.  Given my limited reliability, I wasn’t responsible for anything like logistics or behaviour management but no one needed to worry – the place was full of teachers and the kids couldn’t get away with anything!  It felt most gratifying to be able to do this gig and for once, I’d say I earned my ice cream by the beach as much as anyone else that day.

The next day, even though I needed a few recovery naps and didn’t do much, things really kicked off, courtesy of the publication of May’s edition of Runner’s World Magazine.  I’d had a couple of previews, but this didn’t dilute the experience of seeing myself all over my social media, emails and post box.  In case you haven’t seen it yet, I’m on the cover proudly displaying my Macmillan Tshirt and green trombone, then in the 8 page/3,700 word feature I wrote for them back in December.  Having spent the February photoshoot shivering was suddenly worth it with some brilliant photos that were so vivid, quite a few people asked if they were produced by AI.  Having spent a day running around 100 times past a camera in the three exact locations pictured, I can guarantee that they were definitely real.

I got out for a couple of walks around Hainault Forest with a couple of friends who have cancer stories, trying not to go on about my new found minor celebrity status.  Let’s not get carried away – I’ve not been spotted on the street at all apart from one encounter with someone who recognised me but also her mum knows me through music, so that doesn’t really count.  Anyway, I’ve enjoyed opening my copy that arrived in the post as well as signing more copies in shops.  I’d recommend buying the mag not just for my feature but quite a few others including a really heartwarming story about a refugee running club and a bit about orienteering for those who like that sort of thing.

With the weekend came two Filthy Militia ska punk gigs in a row in Kingston (West of London, not Jamaica) and Canterbury (Kent, not New Zealand).  Given the band name, my muddy forest walking trousers were perfect, as long as we ignore the pocket my phone goes in splitting and me spending half the night fishing it out of the lining around my ankle.  The music was pretty good too and I felt like I wasn’t just an add-on but playing a useful part in a band that is making a really good sound.  They also let me do a couple of charity plugs so the donations kept coming in.

The journey back from Kingston was made very easy, courtesy of a lift off of Calvin from running club, who happened to be there on family business, watching his grown up sons in another band (they were so good I brought their Tshirt!).  I certainly wasn’t going to say not to cutting my journey in half and was most grateful for cutting my return journey time in half as well as putting the education system to rights with Chris.

The next day, I got up and made my way to Canterbury to see Jude the nurse, then get ready for another Militia gig.  Wanting to see the American headliners, I booked a hotel and made a night of it – well, as much of a night as you can have on Diet Coke, but it meant the performance was fullllll of energy.  I heard something about a train strike the next day but figured I’d sort something out…

…Well, in the cold light of an early spring Canterbury day, I really did have to figure something out and after finding that the station was completely closed and the busses fully booked, I was able to get on a local bus (only £2!!) for an scenic hour’s drive to Ashford, where the HS1 line was miraculously running.  I got on an almost empty train and made it all the way to Stratford.  I’d started live updates, thinking this would be an epic 10 hour journey but with all the tubes and overground running, making it to Croydon for the evening’s gig seems (I’m writing this on the train). To be working out ok.  I even found myself with a few hours to kill and walked about 5 miles from Stratford to Tottenham along the river Lee.  It was quite pleasant actually – a bit like the Canterbury river walk I’d taken in the morning to shrug off the indulgent pancakes.

So lots of music and running related stuff, but not quite at the same time.  I suppose I’m going to have to just wing it on the day and trust in what my body used to be capable of and that my muscles just about remember how to get through 26 miles.  It’s not like I can do much about it now, besides keep pushing for donations.  All sorts of PR people have been in touch so let’s hope this trombone marathon business gets even more exposure.

Oh and this feels like the right time to announce my special offer for this week only:

A £20 donation will get you a signed colostomy bag.

A £50 will get you an unused one.

Now if that doesn’t get you reaching for your card details, I don’t know what will!

The next blog will probably full of the pre-marathon nerves which will kick in eventually.

Enjoy that too!

1 Comment

  1. So pleased to read that you are perking up. That is wonderful! And to reach the cover of a magazine that 80+ year olds never read…well done!


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