Thursday, 29 September 2011

There are others out there...

So today whilst undergoing my 3rd (only 27 to go - YAHOO!!) lot of radiation therapy, my lovely Mummy struck up a conversation with a man who we had seen every day since we started, who was waiting for his wife.

His wife, as it turns out, had a brain tumour removed on the 31st of July, exactly one month before me.  I'd imagine she is quite some way into her radiation and it will be lovely to speak more about it when, no doubt, we will meet tomorrow.  Although I know it's a horrible thing to have to endure and wouldn't wish it on anyone, I was almost a little bit excited to hear that she is a brain tumour patient also - after feeling like I was the only one around... not so lonely little me after all!  Mum thought that she may have had the same surgeon as me so we could even share 'spunky Dr' and 'amazing Wellington Hospital' stories.

On a slightly crazy note, my beautiful bestie Nicci, who has proven herself to be an amazingly strong cancer survivor and Mummy of two beautiful babies... well, she text me this morning to tell me that her last lot of radiation therapy for her last cancer occurance began last year on exactly the same day that mine did... very spooky but kinda funny all at the same time... we flatted together and have looked out for each other for years and it was such a weird coincidence - Love you Nicci!

Really looking forward to Conference this weekend - I have missed my wonderful ladies at work, and it will be great to go and tautoko (support) them with the waiata after each speaker has spoken - since Palmy is hosting it this year!  I will endeavour to do as much of the day as I can, really miss my job and I think it will be a good inspiration for me to be back into it - even if it is just a day for the time being!

Anti- nausea drugs are downed, as are a couple of panadol for good measure - due for day three of Chemo drugs in half an hours time approx.  Feeling a lot less apprehensive about this as I was a few days ago... I was really nervous about them making me ill as I knew it was 6 weeks worth and was quite uneasy about this.  when the pharmacist at the hospital tells me not to touch the tablets before I put them into my mouth because they are so toxic - yet I still have to put them in my mouth and ingest them into my body... didn't, and still doesn't sit well with me but at least thus far they aren't showing their toxicity to any great degree on the outside - thus far and hoping for the best!

Arohanui xx

Monday, 26 September 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

Soooo... last blog said I was really ready to get on with treatment...Sunday afternoon we got the phonecall to let us know that today was the start day.  Right.  Not really ready after all.  Kinda wasn't expecting it to be quite this soon, thought we might have had another week up our sleeves!

I've started to plot the countdown on the calender and the 30 treatments will take me (us) through til the beginning of November - give or take a day or two.

The radiation and losing my hair I'm pretty sure I can cope with and feel comfortable about that bit.. I know I'm going to howl when it starts to fall out, but in the grand scheme of things it's the least of my worries!  The anxiety for me stems from the Temodol - my chemo tablets.  It is likely to make me nauseous and although we will be provided with anti-nausea stuff, it is such an unknown and I know it's 30 days worth to have to endure IF it does make me ill.

I do completely understand that there is no other option and I WILL do this thing.  This is the next step in the forward journey to beat this nasty and appears to be the standard 'next' step for brain tumour patients worldwide so here we go...

On a slightly exciting note - we went wig shopping yesterday... VERY cool!  Not at all as hideous as I thought it was going to be and even tried a human hair one - I was a bit creeped out at first but it really did feel lovely so we will see... back this afternoon for another look!  They were all very realistic and you'd never know I was pretending.  Just have to decide now which one.. there was really so many to choose from!  I am grateful for the government allocation for patients with permanent hair loss - it is quite generous and I will be able to surprise you all with more than one!

Enjoy your day, appreciate your loved ones, and savour the small wonders of life


Friday, 23 September 2011


Is something I'm not very good at.  Although we've had a pretty busy week, I am very aware that time is ticking on and I'm really ready to get started with this treatment.  I know it's potentially going to be a rough ride, but my family assures me they will be there to push me up the hill when needed - so to speak!  I will need them, and I am grateful they will be there for me every step of the way.

I don't know how many of you watched the Million Dollar Tumour doco on TV the other night - I found it half way through by fluke, but this was a pretty amazing story of a guy called Dave Bowman who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the early 2000's.  His was a grade 4 and he battled the drug company Pharmac to get 'Temodol' (brain specific chemotherapy tablets that I will be taking) subsidised for NZ sufferers.  He won this battle eventually, however because he was already a sufferer of a tumour he did not qualify to receive the drug subsidy... pretty stink.  He did eventually lose his battle with his tumour - his was a grade 4 (again, I'm grateful mine is only grade 3) but his legacy lives on with the rest of us brain tumour lot who get to receive the drug because of him.  His website is  and is well worth a look - very very courageous battler, in many senses of the word.  When his time was precious, he spent it thinking about others.

We, however, are looking forward to only thinking about ourselves tonight, with a nice dinner date booked!  We have been under a wee bit of stress (can't think why!!) lately and it will be nice to enjoy each others' company somewhere out of the house and be grown ups for the evening... followed by the rugby somewhere afterwards I'm sure!!

Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

I forgot one...

Celebrate, appreciate and be grateful.
Celebrate the little things... the time you spend with family, the certificates brought home from school, the success of a day doing 'jobs'.  Appreciate smiles, hugs, and tender touches.  Enjoy the weather - ANY kind, it's a good thing to be here!
I am grateful again for the small things - the taken-for-granteds that really were just that in my life before diagnosis... my friends, my family - how lucky I really am to be here after learning about the terror that was growing inside my head.  I was two weeks away from having a stroke... how lucky was I? 

I am grateful.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Things I have learnt...

It's hard to believe that in a few short days will bring a life-changing month to a close.  We have strengthened as a family unit, Tim and I as a couple, and we really, really know who our nearest and dearest friends are -  arohanui and thank you to you all.

We have learnt some valuable lessons along the way, and although I know the real journey is just beginning - the new perspectives we have gained on life already have defined the path we will travel on from now.

Don't sweat the small stuff
Because in the grand scheme of life - does it really matter?!  I was never a stressy person anyway, but this illness has put a whole new slant on my attitude to life, and I feel relaxed and grateful for everything I have, no matter how small - I have it, it's mine, I'm here and I'm grateful.

Never miss an opportunity to say 'I love you'
You cannot hear it too many times.  Simple.  If you feel it, say it.  This is something that I am grateful for.  I have always felt loved by my family, my parents - now we tell each other every day and it means so much to share these words with each other.  I am loved, and I've always known this - but to hear it really is something special.

Get insurance - life, medical, mortgage protection... anything would help!
This is something that I never worried about and really should have... please - don't think that it won't happen to you (I hope it doesn't) but some sort of insurance would really help right now to square things away and to provide peace of mind for poor Tim.  This interim treatment time of 6-8 months is an unknown as far as my work capabilities will be, so lack of income for the short-term is quite possible for us.  I have yet to meet with the bank regarding mortgage insurance, that could be a whole other story!

Research positives, don't scare yourselves
There is so much doom and gloom on the Internet and these diagnosis websites - not to mention Wikipedia - that it is easy to get scared and let the negative vibes begin to infiltrate... WORST enemy ever.  First thing I did was google Surviving Anaplastic Astrocytoma because that's what I am going to do - I found a cancer survivors network... okay it was American, BUT there is proof out there that people with my condition are surviving and kicking butt long after the Doctors have predicted.  At the end of the day all Doctors can do is predict, they don't really know.  The averages they hand out to people like me are based on PAST research and data collection - who knows over how many years.  Medical science has come a long way in a very short time, and new things are discovered ALL the time, so I'm not paying too much attention to these average time frames that have been handed to me. 

Be Pro-active
We left the initial meeting with the Oncologist with nothing... no information for further support networks, no phone numbers for people to call to help us deal with this news we'd been given... we didn't know what to do next, and I must say I was surprised that no extra support was offered.  This is something that I will endeavour to suggest as a potential alteration to their news-delivery regimen - it took our GP to refer us to the psycho-oncology programme - a free service provided by Massey University for cancer patients and their families for psychological support.  Information and registration could have been offered at this initial meeting, which would have been a safety net for us to know they were taking care of us as whole people, not just the nasties in my brain.
I have signed up to forums (NZ and overseas) for cancer patients, survivors and their families.  I have yet to introduce myself on them, however now I have this blog to share I can post it up and people can get to know my story.  If it helps only one person feel more positive, then my job is done - I know it's helping me! I have purchased books from Amazon - one in particular 'Anti-Cancer: A new way of life'  The author is a physician and a 15 year survivor of brain cancer.  It came highly recommended on one of my forums, so it had to be mine.  I will begin to read it today.  I have already decided to take EVERYTHING that has and will be offered to me - at this stage I feel I probably don't need the psycho-oncology service but will meet with them to see what they think and what the next steps are.

Family is it.
Upon hearing the news, my beautiful sister is finishing up in Perth and will be joining us here in New Zealand within the month.  Thankfully she had just finished up with her job, and now is coming home to be a huge help and comfort to us all... including possibly a taxi driver for me!  It will be wonderful to have her home, it's been a few years since she lived in New Zealand and I know that we all missed her dearly - thank you Cherie, I can't wait to see you. We will do this together and this thing will not mess with us, we are forces to be reckoned with!

We are currently awaiting a treatment start-date - I was scanned and masked and scanned again this week just gone, and have been told it will be 2-3 weeks for planning before they'll be ready for me.  I am picking that when the time comes I'll be well and truly ready for them too.

Finding a new path to travel on and watching it change...

So this past week has found us adapting to a new post-surgery routine and taking in the instructions for the next steps in treatment... for the most part we have felt incredibly blessed to have made it through diagnosis and brain surgery without any problems.  I have no more headaches, and apart from some wicked black eyes and a bit of superficial swelling it wasn't long before I was feeling back to normal.

The Consultants in Wellington informed us that due to the fact 10% of the tumour was still in my brain, some follow up treatment in the form of radiation would be necessary to ensure correct control of the remainder.. this was not a problem and we were more than prepared to do what was necessary to get rid of the over-stayer that was over staying.

Up until the meeting with the Oncology department last Thursday, I had stayed away from Google and the web diagnosis side of things - I didn't want to frighten myself, and knew that the histology wasn't due back for 7-10 days after surgery so was prepared to wait for a correct diagnosis.

Thursday was the day it all changed.... again.  The Oncologist (I think was Russian) in his very matter of fact manner explained the results of the histology and told me I have something called an Anaplastic Astrocytoma.  This was explained as a grade 3 brain tumour on a scale of 2-4 in adults, and has a very agressive reoccurral rate even after treatment - we were told there was a 90% chance it will return in the same part of my brain and for some reason (my thoughts had become fuzzy by this stage), and there was a reason, they could only do radiation to the same part of the brain once... The kicker of a prognosis came next - 'on average people with your condition live 5-10 years'. I had the overwhelming urge to get up and leave the room - but didn't.  Tim had asked the Dr three times to repeat what he'd just said as he thought he'd misheard him completely.

Sadly this was not the case, and after a numb farewell from the office and a promise to meet again to answer any questions we may have, we were left to each other and out into the very big, momentarily terrifying world.

Had we totally underestimated what we were dealing with?  Should we have researched the intermediary diagnosis on my discharge papers?  Did the team down in Wellington think we were stupid for being so upbeat about the whole brain tumour thing?  What were we going to do?  How was I going to tell my Mum?  My Dad?  My brothers?  My beautiful sister in Perth?  What about Toby?  What about the baby we were trying for?  What were we going to do?

We drove straight past our house in a fog and ended up at the beach.  Tim took Toby for a walk and I broke the news to Mum first, then Dad as he arrived home from work, then each of my brothers as they arrived at the house also.  We decided that Toby and the big boys need not know about the gory details until such time that they may need to, only that I needed some more treatment to make sure the bits that were left got fried up and went away.

Mum was and is amazing, offering her support and loves and cuddles and not ready in any way shape or form to let me go anywhere anytime soon. My Dad cursed and wanted to take my place straight away - denial was his course of action - 'he must be wrong, we'll find someone that knows what their talking about'.  My brothers were stoic and offered their condolances... my sister still didn't know and I didn't know how to tell her.  This was something that needed to be done in person and there was just no way of doing it.

As we returned home that night there was a text message from my sister Cherie in Perth, asking how the appointment went with Oncology... I had to tell her.  I replied via text and heard nothing... expected to hear that she was on a plane and heading back to us straight away...  nothing.

We held each other that night.  Not sleeping, not speaking, just being.  I struggled with letting Tim out of my sight, and the anxiety within me was unbearable.  What was I going to do?  I am too young.

Next day brought sunshine, brought cars driving past, cows in the back paddock, Toby off to school... life carried on as per normal.  We were tired, drained, emotionally weary and frightened, but carried on through the motions of the day as Tim left me at the beach with Mum while he drove to collect his boys from Hawkes Bay.

I phoned our wonderful new GP who agreed to see me after hours that evening, as I felt I needed something to help me sleep... I  knew that if I could sleep, my thoughts would become clearer and I would feel stronger to face this enormous hurdle ahead of me.

I tried to sleep in the sunshine at the beach, curled up with Mum and the dogs on her bed, all that came was tears... tears and visitors, well-wishers and lots of cups of tea.

I missed Tim, he'd been gone only a few hours but I needed to have him with me.

Toby came home from school and life had to return to the norm for his sake, we did some homework and read some books on Nana's bed in the sunshine - all very normal things to do... even for a girl with brain cancer.

Tim arrived home with the big boys. It was a relief to see them - again another sense of normal, and I think they were pleased to see me as it was the first time after surgery and they could see that I was okay... on the outside at least.

A promise of takeaway tea had the boys behaving beautifully in the waiting room, while Tim and I met with the GP to discuss the oncology news and what we could do about it.  We left with a script for some sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety stuff which would hopefully get me through the next few tough days processing the news.

They did, and I'm pleased to say I do not NEED them now (8 days on) but I know they are there if I do.

I got an email from my sister who didn't receive my text - I replied to her email (second worst way to deliver shitty news) and hoped she would be okay.

As the bruises on my face and swelling on my head have subsided, my resolve to fight this has strengthened.  I have researched for positive stories, treatment options, survivors, forums, chat networks, and I have found that HOPE is NOT lost and I will NOT lose HOPE.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

So here's the deal....

When I say Welcome to my world, I'm kinda welcoming myself into it too. 

The world I used to know has changed dramatically in the space of 23 days and will never be the same.

My name is Wendy and I'm 30 years old.  I have a fiancee, Tim, and between us we have 3 boys, aged 10, 8, and 6 - Mr 6 lives with us full time.  We live on a small block of land in the Palmerston North area, and have a farmyard of animals to keep us busy.  Up until my world turned sideways I was a part time preschool teacher and full time student - I'm 12 weeks out from finishing my diploma of teaching ECE... how's that for timing?!  As you will appreciate if/when you read on things on this front are currently on hold, but I am sure that it wont be too long before I am back to work and get this study stuff completed... I WILL graduate with my girls early next year.

This is my story from the last 20 odd days... it's a lot to take in. I am aware that some of you may know already, and some might just be joining me, so bare with me and if you get through it all - thank you and I hope you will continue to join me on my journey....

After suffering for the best part of 7 weeks with progressively worsening headaches and nausea, 6 return trips to the GP (prescriptions for 18 tablets a day to manage my pain which was NOT ), two to the osteopath and two to a Bowen therapist it was the insight of my Mum to book me into an Optometrist to have my eyes looked at. On the 24th of August 2011 I fronted for my appointment and the problem was immediately evident with the first test undertaken... he could see that the optic nerves in both eyes were under considerable pressure which clearly wasn't normal and the possible cause of my headaches.  We continued on with the testing and on the bright side I didn't need glasses however he said he'd inform my GP of what he'd found.

  Within half an hour of leaving the practice that afternoon I received a call from my GP informing me that the Optometrist had phoned and demanded I be seen, so I headed immediately to them where my eyes were examined for the FIRST time by the GP in the 6 visits I'd made.  She agreed that yes there was some swelling and ordered a CT scan for the next day.

I returned to work next day as normal and awaited a time for my CT scan appointment.  At 2pm Mum came to meet me at Broadway Radiology, as she was in town and thought moral support could be needed (thank heavens!) and we waited for our turn.  The staff were lovely and the scan very straight-forward and not at all stressful... until the Radiologist came in followed by a gaggle of people - with Mum - and my heart sank.

  I was told VERY gently that "there is something going on in your brain" and that they needed to get me to the hospital so an ambulance was on its way.  The rest of that moment was a blur, with me needing a wee lie down and Mum heading away to try and make phone calls - Dad was working in Wanganui, and Tim was in Wellington on an overnight business trip.  Us girls were left to sort it for the mean time and the ambulance arrived faster than I'd ever thought.  Everyone was being so gentle with me, frighteningly so... almost like they were expecting me to drop dead in front of them.

 The Radiographer's hands were shaking as he delivered the news to us in the CT room, and everyone was visibly shaken... clearly not an every day occurrence for the team.  My hands managed to stop shaking enough for me to dial my best friend Nicci so Mum could tell her what had happened and please could she meet us at hospital for extra girl-power.  Poor Mum also had to ring Tim and ask him to come back from Wellington - a drive he said he 'barely remembers', and poor Dad who arrived pretty quickly too.

The ambulance staff were amazing, very kind and gentle - and once at A&E they waited with me as Mum was ushered urgently through the door.  I had managed to call work in the ambulance and let them know I wasn't coming back and that I didn't really know what was going on but it was serious, but up until that moment in Broadway Radiology I assumed I had a sinus infection gone wrong and that I'd be back at work to finish the day as I had been for the last 7 weeks.  Nicci arrived shortly after Mum, and brought her two beautiful children which were a wonderful distraction in slightly stressful times.

The Registrar arrived promptly and put me through a series of tests and observations - I'm not stupid and gathered immediately they were testing me for stroke symptoms so I kinda figured it was a pretty big deal.  The prognosis was pretty urgent - the team at Broadway Radiology had notified the neurosurgeons in Wellington before they had broken the news to me, so it was a case of awaiting their decision although talk was made of a chopper ride down that afternoon for surgery.

Thankfully the call was made to the team in Palmerston North and I was started on steroids to reduce the swelling in my brain and I was admitted for the night with plans for an MRI in the morning.  Hospital stay is average... the staff were amazing even though I was woken 2 hourly in the night to make sure I was still remembering who and where I was and that I hadn't had a stroke - nurses truly do not get paid enough - in my whole stay in both hospitals I NEVER got a bad one!

The scan next morning(Friday 26/8/11) brought some excellent tranquilizing drugs and I actually have to say I enjoyed the experience... go the IV Hypnoval!  The same Radiologist from the Broadway practice came to oversee it, and was just as wonderful as the day before - he took Tim in to show him what they found and described what he assumed it could be - a Glioblastoma Multiforme - and what the next plan of attack could be which was reassuring for both of us.

The next plan was waiting for transfer to Wellington to the Neurosurgical team which happened on Sunday afternoon, and within the few days in Palmerston North I was inundated with visitors and the positive spirits and attitudes were amazing.  I felt ridiculously healthy to have a tumor inside my head, and had no evidence of a headache (due to the steroids I'd imagine) for the entire time.

 Transfer to Wellington was via St John Ambulance - one volunteer and the paramedic was working overtime just so they could get me down there... again another service that deserves recognition.  This was a much shorter trip than I had expected and I know that Tim was a bit disappointed he didn't get his chopper or fixed-wing ride, but we got there safe and sound and in time for dinner!

 Within an hour of arriving in Wellington we were met by a Neurological Consultant by the name of Tim Killeen who arrived with his ipad and showed us the scans (which brought it home for me why the medical team were in a panic in Palmerston North) and outlined what their plan could be.  He was very informative and explained with no stress and no bullshit about whether we were dealing with a problem, or a major problem.  He explained that I was approximately two weeks out from having a stroke which would have had definite neurological deficits attached, but he also said that if any brain tumor was lucky to have, the position and the 'lobe' it was in was the best place to have it - in terms of surgery access. This put is at ease somewhat, and we were informed that surgery would probably be Tuesday, but the Surgeon would be around in the morning to discuss it further.

Monday morning rounds were an eye opener - the surgeon was a human precision instrument - Calvin Klein from head to toe, with his consultants and minions falling over themselves to be in his presence - very young - although I've never met a neurosurgeon before so I'm not sure what I was expecting... I'm also told he drives a motorbike!,;jsessionid=7B760786C970468503B6316252EF5695?service=70499

He delayed my surgery by a day to conduct a 'stealth' scan - a fancy MRI to plot image guidance for surgery... his concern was because of my being left-handed and the tumor being on the right side of my brain that he didn't want to affect my motor function by removing too much or poking around more than necessary - he explained that it would be during surgery when they decided how much of the tumor they could safely remove, weighed up against me waking up still me... as the right frontal lobe affects mood, memory and personality - and of course my left handedness.  So that afternoon my head was shaved in patches and some foam 'fiducials' (tap-washer things) were added to my head in order to act as markers in the scan and surgery.  I braved the public cafe that afternoon to have some non-hospital time with my amazing family - the surreality of the situation was evident for each of us... nobody could believe it, but we remained positive and upbeat, just wanting to get the 'job' of surgery over and done and that would be the big problem out of the way.

 MRI Tuesday afternoon was no big deal - very quick - and Tim was getting very good at rubbing my feet and being a goof at the end of the table to take my mind off the tiny noisy tube I was thrust inside.  Then it was a waiting game... I got to see Toby, our 6 year old, who had come down for the day when we got news the surgery had been delayed it was a great opportunity to have a day with Mum and Dad as we weren't sure how long after surgery we'd be able to see him... with my bandages and potential bruising I didn't want to frighten him by bringing him back too soon after surgery.

Surgery day was a blur, up at 6 and last medications - into theatre gown and met the Anaesthetist before we went down to theatre.  Saying goodbye to my family was the hardest part, as was the painful first syringe of anaesthetic - think my line was a bit blocked - but I was out before it was fully administered thank goodness.  I woke up peacefully - a huge fear of mine was waking up in a panic with tubes in my throat - thankful again that this did not happen.  the recovery nurses were wonderful and I felt fantastic on that afternoon - even managing a thumbs up for a photo, and a glimpse of the surgeon as he came to visit later in the afternoon.  The surgery itself went well he said, they were able to get 90% of the tumor which he was very happy with - and so were we.  I was fine, seeing, hearing, talking and in very little pain so was relieved that the hard part was over.

Thursday was the WORST day... the euphoric medication they had filled me with the day before had well and truly worn off, the right side of my face had blown up and I could no longer open my eye... the pressure bandage was just that and all I wanted to do was sleep.  I don't remember too much pain but the swelling definitely unnerved me and cold flannels and witch hazel compresses were the order of the day.
 It was an excellent opportunity for my Tim, Mum and Dad to get in some long-lost practice of spoon feeding me as I lay flat - it's been a while since any of them have fed a baby!

  Thursday was also the day that the Physio tried to get me up and out of bed... I managed to walk slowly to the bathroom, took one look at my face in the mirror and promptly fainted... needless to say I was back to bed for the rest of the day.  I think I wasn't prepared for the sight of my face, and it gave me a big fright - I'm such a big baby!

Friday was post-op MRI day - I was wheeled everywhere in the bed due to my previous wobbly day, but was feeling much better and my eye was beginning to open which was a comfort - and better for the balance. That afternoon my wonderful Mummy and my nurse Emily got me up and about 'her way' and not the way the physio tried the day before, which was much more successful and greatly appreciated by myself not to be rushed!  Toby came down for the day again to see me - he laughed nervously at my black eyes and told me I needed to stop playing so much rugby.  It was a relief to see him as I knew he'd have been processing it all in his own way, but for him to see that I was up and about, and still Mummy made me feel at ease.

The weekend was spent killing time, removing bandages and dressings one by one, and receiving visitors which we were not short of - again - truly grateful for my support network and the people that came out of the woodwork to check up on me... it was amazingly humbling and uplifting.    Noises were made amongst the medical team about transferring me back to Palmerston North Hospital for a few days come the Monday, but after assessment from Tim the Physio, Tim the Occupational Therapist, Tim the Neurological Consultant and Tim (the fiancee... obviously a popular name in that generation?!) the decision was made to discharge me into the care of my family and we were allowed to head home into the big wide world.

  I was very conscious that my Tim was in need of a big rest, having been my rock and spending every night bar one (Mum muscled him out to swap for a night so he could actually go and sleep in a bed) by my side in random chairs the hospital could conjure up, so was relieved not to have to transfer to our home town but back to a hospital.  I have since decided that if I ever come into some money I will be donating lazy boys to hospital wards for sure! 

The trip home was a ginger one - I was fine but Tim was driving and clearly nervous about his cargo... the sun was shining and after nearly 11 days in hospital I was happy to bask in the sun and snooze and begin to feel semi normal again.  Mum had prepared a delicious welcome home meal, and we had some friends to visit and join us for the meal also.  We opted to stay the night with the family, taking Toby to school and returning home the next morning.

Home was surreal... I didn't particularly want to be there but I didn't know where I wanted to be... I had the overwhelming urge to be doing something but was aware that I wasn't allowed to drive and didn't know where I wanted to go anyway.  I think that because I went from 'go to whoa' in a few short hours 11 days previous, I needed to remember that I was still a patient although I was home, and to rest up which didn't come easy.  I was pleased to see all my animals were well and happy, thankful for the farming neighbours that stepped in to feed and tend to them while we were away.

Aside from these tangible areas in our previous life, we were very aware that our old 'normal' had disappeared, and we had to set about finding a new one...