Monday, 23 January 2012

Budgie smugglers

Stuffing Trev up the inside on the F1 track
Trev and Janice came out for a week to (a) help build my strength and (b) give Moniek some much needed rest. It worked wonders, and we can't thank them enough.

Although I'm officially a tourist in Singapore, I hadn't seen much. Chemo was a seemingly endless cycle of medical treatment, leaning my head against taxi windows, and staring at Ilse's ceiling.

I had lost 28% of my lung capacity. My red blood cells, haemoglobin and white blood cells were all extremely low. This meant I had difficulty breathing, processing oxygen, and fighting infections. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

A local walk (well, shuffle) now starts my day before anyone else is out of bed. I worked hard to increase my energy levels before Trev & Janice arrived, and even managed to meet them at the airport.

"Slap-slap-slap-heeeeeeeed" near Chinatown
It was time for some sightseeing and a few beers. I wore my special Singapore Sling for the occassion. I nearly split my stitches with laughter when Janice referred to such underwear as 'budgie smugglers'.

We spread out a tourist map, covered a lot of ground, and ticked off many of the main attractions. I could feel my stamina building every day. Just walking over a footbridge without collapsing with exhaustion (or chafing) felt like a major achievement.

I was scheduled for lung and blood tests, plus a CT scan for tumors on the day of their departure. The respiratory doctor was 'very, very happy' with my jump from 72% to 83% lung capacity. Dr Wong pointed at my scans on her lightbox and explained that although two of the four tumours in my lungs had disappeared, two dots remained. Thankfully, my beta-HCG count showed that - for now - the dots look like benign scars and I'm still free of Chorio. The only bad news was that my cholesterol levels had spiked due to Trev's appetite for fried eggs.

During chemo, I was tested for everything under the sun on a continuous basis. The recent 10-day hiatus actually heightened the tension as we awaited the results. We have come to realise that such tests will be the new 'normal' for at least the next 12 months. It's going to have a big impact on our lives at many levels.

Moniek and Janice in need of more Singha beer
Moniek got me through the last 3 months. I've only got half-conscious recollections, but I fully appreciate the level of care I needed around the clock. Trev & Janice relieved the pressure for a while, and Mo slept for the entire week. She finally emerged to join us for a Thai meal and wave them goodbye.

The doctors have given me the green light to travel to the UK on the 28th for Elaine's wedding. It's been my #1 objective since I was diagnosed with cancer. The feeling of joy and relief is hard to put into words. I'm bald and weak, but I don't care - I'm getting on that plane!

As I mentioned in a previous blog, this song gave me comfort mid-chemo and the lyrics haunted me during cold turkey: It's one of dad's favourites. Rick Wright (who sings this introduction and also wrote 'The great gig in the sky') died of cancer in 2008. Trev now plays it with an amateur band at his local pub. I can feel a few pints coming on ...


  1. What a fantastic blog entry to read! I know there's still a way to go yet, but the pictures really highlight your amazing recovery so far.
    Can't believe you will both be here in less than a week. We'll have to tidy the place up a fair bit, but our main focus will be to make sure the fridge & beer/wine fridge are well stocked and the spare bed has a mountain of duvets & blankets for Mo to get snuggled under to continue catching up on her sleep!
    Enjoy your last week there, and rest well as I'm sure there's a long list of people wanting to see you when you get back to the UK..... preferably with the budgie smugglers not on show.

  2. 4 days till the big bird in the sky, a particularly fine achievement. I was very surprised to hear about Trev's appetite for fried eggs, one would never have guessed.

    Great to have them both there as it certainly seemed to be just the ticket for Moniek. Clearly a well deserved break from tending to your turkey moments.

    Hope the continued recovery goes very well & that strength & stamina returns. May I highly recommend Bastogne biscuits for this (Des swears by them!).

    PS There are a lot of sparrow hawks around here so best to keep the budgies well hidden.

  3. so so so good to read about your recovery your tanacity and strengh of charactor shines threw. it would be great to see you and Mo when your back in the UK but i'm sure you already have an over flowing itinerary to get through, but here's hoping anyway.

    Love n Hugs to you both.

  4. Hey Rick,

    Mikey here, the Bangladesh rider. I have just finished reading your entire blog after coming to the H&T website to discover the horrible news. I have been alternating between tears, elation, despair and happiness that you have made it through your treatment and are now on the mend!! What a life-changing story, what an incredible experience and what a survivor you truly are.

    I wish you the best of luck and will follow your progress!! You're an amazing writer, and I'm sure that the many doses of good humour have helped you through this. You will survive, you were meant to survive, and you were meant to share this inspiration with the rest of us.

    love from Bel and I in Sydney.

  5. Hahahaha, The good old Budgie smugglers the favourite apparrel of Aussie Surf Life Savers and Tony Abbott (The leader of the Liberal Party and soon to be Prime Minister on Australia.)If you own a pair budgie smugglers you can save lifes or run the country, Which one will it be mate!
    Take care mate
    Benji & Sonu

  6. I feel a get together is in order...I do believe it's time for Lord Munro to open up the guest wing of the Manor! Fantastic to see you out and about with Trev and Janice! xxx

  7. Hi Kate and Scott here-uk to oz travellers on the big orange bus who stopped in pokhara a year or so ago...just found the blog and have been reading through. Awful news but signs are starting to look up. Best wishes for your recovery , Scott (byrneup) sez that if you are around would be good to meet up but it sounds like you have a lot to get through.Take care and get well soon-best wishes to you both-
    Scott and Kate.
    ps kate is doing her cbt soon thanks to you guys.