Posted by: John Colby | Friday February 15 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 59 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 59 of 126

[07:00] Fruit, fluids, porridge.


[08:00] Meds.

I’m off to work.

So far it’s a copy of yesterday.

Work wasn’t bad. The group I had today wasn’t bad. Just chasing those that are missing.

When I phoned Sandy, I found that she had been doing things round the hgouse. Not much, but it’s what she felt she could do and wanted to do.

Shopping on the way home. Sainsbury’s has a new scanning system. It’s been a couple of years in the coming in that store, so there are expected to be teething problems. One of those was when I bought a chicken, and it said that it was some sort of Greek mixed olives. The price was right, though. Now don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen an olive go cluck.

Staff alerted, duly noted. I kept my eye on what I was buying and found it OK, but when I got to the end and reviewed, found that the price had altered. Sainsbury’s put it right. Someone’s got the database screwed.

Home, cook for Sandy, dogs, cook for me, sit down, Zzzzz!

[21:30] Meds.

The dietician phoned because she won’t be there when we see the consultant on Tuesday, so she checked up. Can’t fault them for care.

I mentioned to Sandy that I’m doing less for her. She agreed and said “good”.

I mean, I really am doing less because Sandy’s able to do more for herself. And that is good. I like being this sort of redundant.

Plans for tomorrow include making bread, typoing (yes, meant that) and taking the dogs out. Please to say I can now make plans like that. Been a stressful three months, two of them on Chemo duty.

And there’s a great vid on Facebook of Faye’s mum knitting. At normal speed. Seems like things may be working there as well.

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Posted by: John Colby | Thursday February 14 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 58 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 58 of 126

Sandy sent me a text today just before I went in to teach.

Feeling much better, more awake, livelier and stronger.

A previous text said:

Taste buds on strike today.

Which means she has no taste. Can tell that. She married me.

[07:00] Fruit, fluids, porridge.


[08:00] Meds.

I’m off to work. Teaching the good group. Had them last term as well and they just get on with it. Other than that not a lot else to report about work.

Sandy has another CT scan, a regular one after three chemos – they phoned an offered it to her for tomorrow, but she know I was teaching, so it’s Sunday, in time for the next consultant appointment on Tuesday. NHS – who’d have ‘em? WE WOULD!

When got home found that Sandy was perky and sewing. And cheerful. And she laughed at one of my jokes.

Out of sympathy, no doubt.

I did ask her if she’s slept today, and got a bit of an apologetic reply, saying yes, but she didn’t mean to.

The Valentine’s day meal was a Sainsbury’s Chinese as requested by Sandy. Just like a regular takeout Chinese, but without the immense amounts of chilies to disguise a lack of flavour and about half the price.

[21:00] Meds

Then sleep in the chair. Then dogs.

Sandy read a friend’s post (the friend who is being much too kind about these blogs) and replied, mainly about the time she was on the carer’s journey for my cancer.

Sandy’s view to Faye

You both need positive support. What you are both going through is tough and there are good days and bad days. When John was going through his treatment there was a sign on the walls. “Cancer is a word, not a sentence”, and that stuck with me then and now. It’s okay for people to ask how you are but it must be in an upbeat way and they should realise there are good days and bad days for you both.
I count myself blessed and lucky that all I get is positive support and understanding that some days are better than others. I can understand your anger. When John was diagnosed a work colleague of mine at the time said that he hadn’t really got cancer, it was only cells. Give your mum all the best from me and ignore those who are ignorant of what we feel. Smile even if you don’t feel like it.
Laugh at the silly things in life and cry if you want but above all love who you both are as that won’t ever change and you are both better than those who are negative.

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Posted by: John Colby | Wednesday February 13 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 57 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 57 of 126

Sandy’s “feeling a lot better” phase continues, thankfully. She has more energy and strength, but neither anywhere near normal levels.

[08:00] Fruit, fluids, porridge.


[09:00] Meds.

Me working again. Sandy pottering again. And I was ousted from the kitchen.

Had to go out to get food, and discovered that a pub about eight miles away which has been refurbished a couple of times, the latest quite extensively and expensively, but never opened as a pub, is now up for sale for redevelopment. Someone’s had to cut their losses.

Sandy is still dozing in the afternoon, but it’s not as ‘collapsing exhausted” as it was. I was working at my desk, and listened to snoring in stereo, one dog and one human. I knew that Sandy was awake when one of the stereo pair stopped, as I could see that Kerry was still sleeping.

Supper was more extensive as her appetite’s returning. She still has to take it slowly, though.

More typing, more typos, more discovering just where I’ve hidden the answers. They’re in a file somewhere. It’s in which particular directory that’s the issue.

[21:00} Meds.

There’s a lot less holding of breath to see if they’re going to stay down now. Sandy’s regaining her ability to swallow. The chemo journey is certainly rocky and varied. You never know what’s coming. Chemo destroys the sensation of taste, and it’s varied. Sometimes Sandy can’t taste anything, sometimes, as she’s described, things like meat tastes yuk, but fish is OK. It’s allying the taste with the lack of heat, which means no chilies, as heat makes the retention worse. You just have to live with it.

The taste of fluids is something else. Coffee and tea are a no-no at the moment. Water tastes foul, or at least it did. Milk comes up or stays down, mostly down at the moment, Coke’s OK, some fruit juices, the less acid type. She has to keep her hydration up to give her kidneys a chance. Knowing how is the challenge.

Just had the news that a friend’s mum has started her third round of chemo and here’s hoping for them.

I’m in work tomorrow with classes and admin, s dogs soon.

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Posted by: John Colby | Tuesday February 12 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 56 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 56 of 126

Sandy sent me this last night just after I’d published yesterday’s effort.

Sandy’s view 2
Felt better than I have for a few weeks. Energy levels are up and I’ve had 3 nights good sleep. Planning sewing and knitting and jobs to do round the house, aiming to do one job each day. Decided to keep off meat for foreseeable future as it doesn’t settle well and even the smell makes me feel nauseous and I like fish and vegetables anyway.
Drinking plenty and eating lots of fruit. Just wish I could drink coffee again as I really miss it. Aim, in the summer,  is for a coffee on the seafront at Sidmouth. Also decided that I’m going to have a go at paddle boarding at Marazion. That’s another goal to aim for along with a proper pasty at Balowal Barrow overlooking Sennen cove. I will do it.
The one thing I don’t like is being so dependent on John for most things at the moment even though I know I can’t do them myself. Not being able to drive doesn’t bother me just not being able to have the energy to do washing and tidying annoys me. I know it will come and I know I’m improving as I’m beginning to get impatient!

[08:00] Fruit, fluid, porridge.

[09:15] Meds

Sandy has much more energy today. She’s moving faster, speaking more clearly and able to do more. I’m working from home today, chasing students who are missing and then typing more workshop notes,

Dogs are being walked, lunch is had, more typing and making sure that questions I’m asking are (and can be) answered.

Lunch – I was instructed to move over and let her get it.

More typing.

Supper – I’m elbowed out of the way.

[21:00] Meds. Quick.

Dogs and more typing.

Just thinking of the difference from a week ago.

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Posted by: John Colby | Monday February 11 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 55 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 55 of 126

Before the account of the day – text received from Sandy just after lunch.

Energy levels have gone right up today and am feeling so much better.

[07:00] Fruit. Fluids.

[08:15] Meds.

[08:30] Weetabix.


Work, which today was two teaching sessions and a waiting for students to show up session. One of the teaching sessions was very low attendance. I can see some letters coming on.

The road improvements near the University, having taken more than a year, are actually improving the traffic flow.

The highlight of my day was getting Sandy’s text, quoted above.

When I got home, I found she’d been active. A clear corner of the kitchen where there had been a deal of chaos this morning. And she’s moving better and faster, and speaking better, a great and surprising improvement.

More eaten for supper, and although she dozed this afternoon, she’s more awake this evening. And the kitchen sink showed signs of plenty of eating throughout out the day, judging by the number of dishes used.

For those who have experienced the brutal effects of people undergoing chemotherapy, all this is significant, and very much a relief. We can only hope for a continuation.

Dogs are being fed and walked. I wonder if I can get a desk chair that will accommodate both myself and a dog?

{21:30] Meds. Quicker. Less objection from her stomach.

Tomorrow is Location Independent Working. Typoman will be out and prowling. A student found one today in the proofread and published work, as is almost inevitable. A quick republish solved that one. More, unfortunately, will appear to embarrass me.

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Posted by: John Colby | Sunday February 10 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 54 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 54 of 126

Damp dog smell after the early morning walk. Wonder if damp humans smell the same way to them?

[08:30] Fruit, fluids, blueberry muffin. Me, croissants, as I didn’t make bread yesterday.

Getting my act together, not supremely successfully.

[10:15] OOPS! Meds time. Nearly missed.

[10:45] Bread making. After clearing up enough to find a space. Strong flour, salt, yeast, sugar, water. And time. And then remembering that you have proving dough before it overflows the bowl, or, for the second prove, the tins. That’s the problem, with me at least.

And the thing about breadmaking is that the length of time for proving is an inexact science. Depends on the ambient temperature, the amount of start you -gave to the yeast, the humidity and the length of time you left it kneading in the mixer. It also depends on the exact water temperature. 45 degC is the limit, and downward variants of that affect the time markedly.

Sandy says she had a much better night and has plans for sewing today. That’s encouraging. Wonder if she’ll be making me a Typoman cape?


Lunch – no problem. Dog walk – missed the rain. Blue skies appeared over us, and it wasn’t too cold, although breezy in exposed places.

Domestics – washing and ironing. Did enough shirts for a fortnight.

Lamb and bean casserole for Sandy (and me) today, long slow cook. Then with couscous, which is a short minimal cook. So I could get on with the domestics whilst that was happening.

[20:30] Meds again. Been a long day of domestics and dog walking.

When you’re used to being active and going out at will, being confined by medical necessity comes as a bit of a shock. We’re not quite at the half way stage yet. We can’t have people to visit because of the risk of infection. There’s only me coming into the house, and I’m maintaining my distance. So cabin fever is a real possibility. Sandy fortunately recognises that she’s just got to put up with it and entertain herself as best she can. The first few weeks were the worst, and she couldn’t really do anything, but now she’s sewing a bit, reading quite a bit and putting it down when she gets tired. She hasn’t lost the online shopping knack, though. TV also helps.

My cabin fever is alleviated by being able to go to work. But for both of us there’s the restriction in what we can do. The only trying to do is to adjust accordingly.

Tomorrow is teaching. Hopefully some more are going to turn up than did last week. Those who don’t will feel the power of the inquisition. I do not intend having people fail by not doing anything. Summonses for formal interview are the first step.

Dogs later.

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Posted by: John Colby | Saturday February 9 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 53 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 53 of 126

Neither the dogs nor I had to expend much effort on the early walk – we got blown round thanks to Erik.

[08:30] Fruit, fluids, croissant. First thing she’s had bread-like for breakfast for a few days.

[09:45] Meds

Lunch which we didn’t have in the fridge was requested, so up to the local emporium (think Auntie Wainwright-ish). I’ve been putting Big Data stuff together.

Next dog walk was also a tad breezy.

After lunch off to see friend whose birthday is today. Got hoovered by their dogs. Got hoovered when I got home as well.

Supper requested, tuna and pasta bake, and prepared. After that is served, I’m taking dogs out and feeding them, then getting mine.

Domestics tomorrow. This includes ironing, my least favourite domestic. However as I need shirts then it’s an essential. And the washing I should have put in the machine and washed today has just gone in – an overnight was will start later.

Summarising, Sandy is improving. She’s not ‘better’ by any means, as it’s a long struggle. But her appetite is returning although her taste buds are on work to rule. She’s been able to sit at her desk for a short time today, and after having had a better extent of sleep last night. I could tell she’s getting better, she watched both rugby matches this afternoon, and has is feeling less tired. Still tired, but she’s not exhausted by a night of fitful dozing.

Plans for the England match tomorrow.

My domestic “to do” list is better fixed in my brain, and there’s more of the “have to do that” rather than “Oh sh1t, that isn’t done!”. Having one person doing domestics and the nursing are thing that you really don’t consider until they hit. You’ve worked as a team for many years and when one member of that team is incapacitated then everything falls to the other member. We’ve both been on the caring side, Sandy when I was being treated for prostate cancer and me now. We know ”in sickness and in health”, but when it does hit you really are unprepared, yet you just do it.

I haven’t had any alcohol since mid-December when we started, since we didn’t, and still don’t, know when urgent hospital visits are going to be on the cards. I did dry January, and it’ll be dry February, March and April as well. Do I miss it? Occasionally I think I’d like a beer, but there’s no craving. We’re just getting on with it.

[21:45] Meds. Punctuated by an urgent summons to deal with a massive spider crawling across the kitchen floor. (Massive in this vase being less than an inch across.) Spider duly trapped under pint glass, then meds consumption resumed. When consumption over, spider despatched to wood pile in garden, with instructions to behave.

If spiders are around then it’ll soon be insect time.

And today was the 25th anniversary of my mum’s death from bowel cancer and complication arising therefrom. RIP Daisy Dora Lily Colby, 14 March 1914 – 9 February 1994.

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Posted by: John Colby | Friday February 8 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 52 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 52 of 126

From yesterday, where I said:

I’ll quote from a text I received from Sandy this afternoon, “Still yuk but a better yuk.”

On another platform, a friend responded: “I read that as yak.”

Specsavers calls …

[07:00] Up fruit, fluids, the usual.

[08:00] Meds

Sandy’s feeling a lot more alive, though tired. She’s not sleeping very well, and naps throughout the day.

I’m in work, student appointment, who has done what I asked. Good job I was sitting down when I found out.

Teaching today. They’re finding just what I’m expecting and … Well let’s just say that it may be more intense in terms of work. It‘s not a woolly module by any means.

Shopping on the way home, with Storm Erik making its presence felt occasionally.

Then cook. Too tired to do much else except the usual dog sprint.

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Posted by: John Colby | Thursday February 7 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 51 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 51 of 126

I’ll quote from a text I received from Sandy this afternoon, “Still yuk but a better yuk.”

That summarises things quite well.

In more detail:

[06:45] The alarm goes. It’s too darned early!

[07:00] Sandy up, fruit, fluid.

[07:30] Dog sprint.

[08:00] Meds.

Then off to work. And amazingly the laptop works. However, I’ve discovered that it’s rather power hungry and I must remember that I need to take the power supply wherever I go. After half an hour the battery was down 25%.

So dual computer – Windoze laptop connected to the projector for the workshop, Mac doing some actual work and working with students. Some of them don’t realise that they have to actually do something by themselves to get a degree and this may be the first time that they’re been asked to read quite a lot of words without being shown everything. I;ve designed it this way. At the moment the workbook for the semester stands at aboutn70,000 words, most of which are a series of “how to”s. I have this problem every time I present course of this type – I aim to be thorough. Interesting to see today that some of the students, those I’d expect, were helping those “not used to reading”, as it were.

I take from past experience the students who have got placements because they know about analysis to know that the method works.

Apart from that it was the usual today. Admin, crossing “i”s and dotting “t”s, or something like that. And fighting printers. And being drawn to the coffee pod.

They’ve nearly finished the roadworks near work and it’s better. Pity it’s taken eighteen months.

Came home and cooked for Sandy – steamed salmon, oven French fries and some stir fry veg – fusion cooking, I think it’s called. It worked. She took her time and ate it all. It’s getting better, hopefully.

She’s certainly sounding much better.

[22:00] Meds.

Dogs, sprint, bed.

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Posted by: John Colby | Wednesday February 6 2019

Sandy’s Chemo – day 50 of 126

Sandy’s Chemo – day 50 of 126

Sandy has been feeling increasingly better during the day – or maybe we should say less yuk.

[10:00] Meds and KCl fizz (effervescent potassium chloride)

Typoman in action and today completed lecture slides for next week and the handout. I have written module that’s straightforward but detailed, so need to reflect the detail in the lecture and the notes. As it’s Excel, precision is required, so I’ve had to tell Typoman off on numerous occasions.

We both managed healthy salad for lunch, Sandy by choice, me by default as there was an excess in the fridge that needed using up.

[16:00] Had to wake her up for fizzymeds. These three times a day for three days.

Dog sprints – one of them is sixteen this year so she’s moving well still.

[21:00] Meds and fizzymeds.

Today would have been my maternal grandmother’s 128thbirthday. Born in a pub in Ugborough – for those who know the area it’s the one that closed a few years back.

This is her with her mum in 1891.


With my great uncle, her brother, in 1902 when he was back from the second Boer War, where he served in the Yeomanry. In World War 1 he was in the Navy.


When she married my grandfather in 1912.


And with my mum in 1914.


Their family in about 1926. Grandad was a Petty Officer, R.N.


With my mum in about 1930.


And with me in 1952.

End of indulgent posting.

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