Day 22: The best thing to happen this year.

The best thing to happen this year was going to London to see Billy Elliot the musical at Victoria Palace Theatre. We stayed in a swanky hotel and had a meticulously planned itinerary for the two days we were there (Friday and Saturday). It was paid for by the Willow Foundation, a charity that organises days off for people dealing with cancer. The best part about it was that my parents could come along, so it was a treat for them too.

You can see what happened on the Friday in this older blog entry:

https://mrsnox.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/day-15-timeline-of-your-day/

For the sake of completion, and for the sake of the blog, I will tell you what we did on the Saturday, though we didn’t stick to the itinerary, so I can’t note the exact times.

SPECIAL ITINERARY DAY 2 (minus the exact times).

Checked out of Plaza Park hotel!
I was too excited to sleep a wink, I confess. I ordered room service to stave off my hunger at some time around 2am Saturday morning. I ordered chips and a chicken salad sandwich and the chips were heavenly. I also had the misfortune of drinking absolute vodka NEAT. Which was an interesting experience for my poor throat, I can tell you. In any case, due to the lack of sleep and surplus of alcohol, I had a stinker of a headache the next morning and was unwilling to wake up. But I did, and before midday- yay! We left our luggage with the concierge and headed out- the fresh air and bright daytime waking me up.

Room service from Plaza Park hotel. Yum.

Room service from Plaza Park hotel. Yum.

EXPLORING TIME!
The itinerary allowed us a few hours to look around London, and I won’t pretend to remember what times we did everything, but I do remember the order we did it in.

London Eye!
The first step was a taxi to the London Eye, which my Dad really wanted to go on. We were cunning and went in the morning, which meant the queues were low and the tourists were pleasant morning people. I met a lovely couple of ladies from Texas, who were as friendly in person as they come across on television. We both joked about how useless our politicians are. Apparently, US politicians “take the cake” when it comes to uselessness. XD! We managed to snap a few photographs and take in the sights from the moving carriage. Then we visited the gift shop and I found what I’d been hoping to find during my stay in London, a hardback photo book of the city.

360 degrees photo book.

360 degrees photo book.

Inside page 1 of photo book.

Inside page 1 of photo book.

Page 50: Millennium Bridge.

Page 50: Millennium Bridge.

Sealife Aquarium!
We saw sharks! And a crocodile! And giant swimming turtles! And so many weird and wonderful fish, many that I recognised from playing Animal Crossing. Best of all, Dad got to see the penguins. I think the best part for me personally were the sharks and rays. Hammerhead sharks rule! We got a photograph of ourselves taken, which is amusing, and headed for the exit. Luckily there were lifts and a few places dotted around here and there for me to sit, but I’ll be honest, they could do with a few more places to park your bum. My feet were very sore by the end of it. There is a lovely crepe/pancake/hotdog cafe conveniently (or strategically I should say) placed just as you are leaving the centre.

Sealife Aquarium in London goodies including photo book and guide.

Sealife Aquarium in London goodies including photo book and guide.

Victoria Station.
I was beat after this, so we headed for Victoria station earlier than planned, and chowed down at McDonald’s. There were people there in cosplay drawing the attention of absolutely no one, much to their dismay, lol! There wasn’t even a convention, I think they were just trying it out or something. Even when they stood u and chatted right in the middle of the food court- though they’d no reason to- no one so much as battered an eyelid. One older man asked why they were dressed like that, but he was genuinely curious and not being rude. We shuffled towards the shops shortly after the cosplayers and popped into Lush to get something for Quinn, Jesse and Orion. We also got them a collectible souvenir set with Lindon themed objects (taxi, post box, bus).

Train home!
I slumped over the thankfully larger train table and tried to rest on the way home. I think I did more exercise in these two days than I’ve done in a whole month! Once again, the whole trip was paid for and organised by the Willow Foundation! They are angels! Thank you! And thanks to our neighbours for looking after and playing with the cats while we were gone. :3

I’m cutting it close to the mark this time, so I won’t have time to look for the photos or things I bought, but I’ll add them tomorrow, so check back when I update with the next blog, because I’ll be updating this first,

Noxie~

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Day 20: A difficult time in your life.

Cancer.

I was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of this year. Before I was diagnosed it was quite stressful, because I had no idea what was going on, and was worried people would think I was just exaggerating. When they told me, I don’t remember feeling anything or crying. I was numb, the same way I am when I hear any bad news. I had to look over to see how my parents were taking the news, because I was more worried that they would be really upset or something. I didn’t really react to my illness until my hair started to fall out. But I will say one thing about the day I found out- once I knew I really was sick, that the last few months were not all in my head, and that there was a treatment plan, I felt reassured.

I had a PICC line in my arm for months, from entering hospital to my last chemo session.

I had a PICC line in my arm for months, from entering hospital to my last chemo session.

It was unnerving having to live away from home in a foreign hospital environment, and irritating having to wait so long before I could start chemotherapy. I also had to have a tube sticking out of my side to drain my bile into a bag. I called the bag “George”, because I’m quirky like that. It sounded hilarious saying “I’m in the bathroom with George!” when the doctors and nurses came in to check on me.

The reason they had to drain my bile was because one of my lymphomas was blocking my bile duct and causing me throw up everything I ate. It’s also why I was jaundice (yellow) when I was admitted to hospital. I went for various tests and had blood taken frequently while I was there. The worst test I remember was the bone marrow test. They gave me a lot of anaesthetic, but I was wide awake when the female doctor drilled into my back. My Mum held my hand but looked horrified. The sound and feeling of the drill in my back were not pleasant, but it didn’t hurt too bad. It just felt really strange- I’ve never felt anything like it.

Side room 4, my room in the Graffham ward. I also had an ensuite bathroom.

Side room 4, my room in the Graffham ward. I also had an ensuite bathroom.

Trying to sleep at night seemed impossible, and I was often irritable over a lack of sleep- not to mention the hospital food, restricted movement and the dreaded commodes. Beeping machines, late fluids, back pains at night and observation checks were all a nuisance. One thing I do miss though- pethidine. Pethidine is a STRONG painkiller they used to give me at night when I was having bad back, and especially the nights when they tried to unclamp me from George- also known as “the nights of hell”. It made me feel like I was floating on a cloud and had no cares in the world. If I could feel like that all day every day, I would. 😉

When I was on the bed, my parents had many arguments over who got to sit on the comfy chair.

When I was on the bed, my parents had many arguments over who got to sit on the comfy chair.

I had a Japanese lady in to cut my hair, so it would stay attached longer, but it wasn’t to be. One morning I woke up, went to the bathroom and brushed my hand over my head. I took a handful of hair with it, and left a bald spot. I have exactly the same reaction when I think of that now as I did then- I get cold goosebumps from head to toe. I got more depressed after that, until I finally asked one morning if I could stay at home now I no longer had “George” on.

I felt more comfortable after I was allowed home. Being at hospital was the hardest part, and thankfully I wasn’t there for too long (three months) and while I was there, the nurses and doctors were all good to me. I even got to have my own private room, which helped matters tremendously, since I am introverted and need my own space. Chemotherapy was much shorter than my hospital stay, but came with many side effects. Soon I had no energy, I was drained of energy by 8pm and had ulcers and numb shaky hands. Muscle pains continued throughout my hospital stay and treatment.

They would attach fluids to this machine, which would measure the drip rate and "BEEP!" all night long.

They would attach fluids to this machine, which would measure the drip rate and “BEEP!” all night long.

I’d like to say I was relieved when they said I was in remission, but I was just numb again. I put on a smile for the kind professionals who helped to cure me, but I was at a loss to be honest. I feel guilty for not being one of those happy people whose lives are changed forever from surviving cancer. I wasn’t expecting bells to ring or trumpets to sound- but I wasn’t thinking everything would be exactly the same either. Turns out, I am exactly the same person, no more brave or wise than I was before, the same politically and ethically. I haven’t been shocked into “finding my passion” or “making life choices”- I’m just as confused and lost. I feel cheated in a way. I want a shirt with “I survived cancer and all got was cancer” on it.

Since getting home I have been trying to stay occupied with the things I enjoy. I’ve been able to do things at my own pace and I’ve been looked after well. My legs are still weak and my ankles are fused like a permanent ballerina, so I have to hobble about. Over the next few months I am going to exercise and get them to walk flat again, and strengthen my legs. I’ve been demotivated and depressed, but I will keep trying.

The ensuite bathroom in room 4. The sink had a hi-tech panel that looked like something out of a sci-fi. Out of sight, to the left of this photo, where the back of the chair is, was an easy to use shower.

The ensuite bathroom in room 4. The sink had a hi-tech panel that looked like something out of a sci-fi. Out of sight, to the left of this photo, where the back of the chair is, was an easy to use shower.

Really, as bad as it could have been, it has actually gone as well as anyone could hope. I was lucky to get such a treatable type of cancer, and to have such a great support network. So I think it would be an injustice to all the people who have looked after me, and a misrepresentation of all the good days I’ve had, to say this was the most difficult time in my life. It has been emotionally difficult, and there have been a lot of physical challenges too, but overall I’ve been able to sit back and leave things to the experts and charities who have helped me. Again, my family have been awesome, and I don’t feel the strain and upset is any different to what I normally feel. It’s been hard, but I wouldn’t say it stands out as the hardest time in my life (looks at secondary school).

Thanks for reading, and if you’re going through the same thing, I wish you well and much love,

Noxie~

More photos!

By my nephew. He apparently did this without being asked, to wish me well while I was in hospital. Aww. :) From left to right: Wolverine, Sonic and Spider-Man.

By my nephew. He apparently did this without being asked, to wish me well while I was in hospital. Aww. 🙂 From left to right: Wolverine, Sonic and Spider-Man.

Cards from my friends and family. They were great. <3

Cards from my friends and family. They were great. ❤

Sink panel. Buttons on left and right are touch sensitive. You can also swipe your finger along the dots to make the water cold or hot. To the right is hot, to the left is cold. The water out of the tap was SO strong.

Sink panel. Buttons on left and right are touch sensitive. You can also swipe your finger along the dots to make the water cold or hot. To the right is hot, to the left is cold. The water out of the tap was SO strong.

My call button. A lifeline.

My call button. A lifeline.

I want one of these. Easy to move into any position you want, this is one handy lamp.

I want one of these. Easy to move into any position you want, this is one handy lamp.

Something to plug my DVD player, games consoles, laptop and phone into. Various plug sockets. Also has emergency equipment.

Something to plug my DVD player, games consoles, laptop and phone into. Various plug sockets. Also has emergency equipment.

View outside my window, and evidence that the windowsill was a dumping ground for snacks. Cheerios are snacks.

View outside my window, and evidence that the windowsill was a dumping ground for snacks. Cheerios are snacks.

Thanks for looking at my other photos. ^w^

Day 15: Timeline of your day.

You’re not going to believe what good timing this question is. Today just happens to be the best day I’ve had all year so far! This trip away was planned for me by the wonderful “Willow Foundation”, who help those dealing with cancer have some time away with friends and family. I chose to take my parents and we’ve had a blast so far, so thank you Willow Foundation! I even have a step by step itinerary from them for today and tomorrow, which is what makes this blog challenge question so easy, but also a such a fatefully weird coincidence. I am perfectly prepared, and the question came at an ideal time. Normally I would have nothing much to report except for playing video games and making myself sandwiches, lol.

Needless to say, I am in London, and have just got back to my hotel room after seeing “Billy Elliot: The Musical”.

It was FAB-U-LOUS!

Guess where I am. ;)

Guess where I am. 😉

SPECIAL DAY ITINERARY!

10.56 – Got on train
Bognor Regis to London Victoria has the typical train “neighbour passengers”, including man-constantly-on-phone and talks-to-herself-lady. I also did word searches. I got sharp pains down my right side while travelling, particularly my right hip, thigh and back, but we got there and had seats, which was the most important thing. The Willow Foundation paid for our tickets. Much love!

12.50 – London Victoria
You could spend a day shopping at London’s train station. It’s weird, but I think I’m going to suggest we do that tomorrow after Dad and I have been on the London Eye. There were coloured stripes on the floor leading to different areas. The black one led to the taxi rank, where our “Addison Lee” hire car was waiting. We’ve been driven around by them all day and they have all been friendly and prompt. They text my Dad at the scheduled times to remind us they are on the way so we can get ready each time. It’s all very efficient and easy. The Willow Foundation also paid for the hire car costs. :3

1.15 – Checked in to Park Plaza Hotel
Before I say anything- DOOR SERVICE! This hotel has a pair of door service people to help you get your luggage out of your car and open the door for you. The man who helped us had a top hat on and black suit with fancy tails. There is a huge revolving door and the moment you enter the hotel you feel surrounded by class already. The decor does nothing to change this. Polished floors and suave decor, a bar area and huge check in desk give off an impressive feel. We got to the hotel early so only one room was ready, but it had more than enough space for all of us to wait and relax in. I thought it was the double room and that I was waiting for my single, but it turns out this is my room. It is mega posh. Mini bar, massive television, great bathroom and comfy chairs. The bed is springy and soft. Plenty of pillows and lovely matching chocolate decor, including an impressive piece of oriental wall art. My parents informed me the view was average, but the window is huge (it basically takes up the whole wall) and you can see out to so much of London. Not the usual tourist spots, but a great urban/ city landscape nonetheless. There is even writing paper in the desk draw, and writing on the carpet. Do I need to say how impressed I am with the hotel/ room?

This is my bed. 0___0

This is my bed. 0___0

That vodka looks tempting. Or the Mars Bar.

That vodka looks tempting. Or the Mars Bar.

You know you have a good eye for interior decorating when the hotel bathroom has the same colour scheme and similar tiles and fittings to your own.

You know you have a good eye for interior decorating when the hotel bathroom has the same colour scheme and fittings as your own.

2.30 – Dropped off at Covent Gardens
We were dropped off just outside the restaurant that the Willow Foundation booked for us. This was so we could get our bearings and have some time to ourselves before eating. We wandered around Covent Gardens, which had so many shops. Unfortunately most of them were clothes shops, and I’m betting not many of them catered to poor plus size girls like me, but I found some good swag anyway. I love my new bag and graphic novels, and the postcards and ornament bus were obligatory souvenirs. The sights of London in the taxi were wonderful, but this was time to stroll around some tourist shops.

I was drawn to this bag, it was definitely the nicest thing in the store. Not bad for £20.

I was drawn to this bag, it was definitely the nicest thing in the store. Not bad for £20.

I was desperate to find a book shop, and Dad finally found a Waterstones! So here's some reading material for the train journey home. ;)

I was desperate to find a book shop, and Dad finally found a Waterstones! So here’s some reading material for the train journey home. 😉

Look at the destinations. Love that detail.

Look at the destinations. Love that detail.

3.00 – Street Performers
Not on the itinerary, but very enjoyable. We saw great statue performers, followed by a magician who made a 5 pound note signed by a random member of the audience appear inside a lemon. He had to CUT OPEN to get to it. He also swallowed a long inflated balloon whole. Fantastic. Don’t tell me how it’s done, I don’t want to know.

4.45 – Garfunkel’s Restaurant
I was defeated here, and only managed to eat a starter and a main, and a couple of bites of Dad’s banofee pie, which was SO tasty. Oh, did I forget to mention I had two starters so it serves me right? Haha, I’m still recovering from eating all that now, at 1.36 in the morning the next DAY. I had a garlic break, tomato soup with rolls and spaghetti bolognaise. The staff were all friendly and helpful. They have a disabled toilet too, on the ground floor, which was appreciated. The Willow Foundation told Garfunkel’s to put up to £75 on their tab for us, which means that after our meal we only had to pay £1.99. :0

7.00 – Victoria Palace
There are three entrances to this place at least. I found out why later- because to squeeze the audience out through just one set of doors would be impossible and chaotic. And there were hundreds of audience members- hundreds. We were sat on the ground only a few rows from the front, and I had a clear line of vision to 95% of the stage. There was also a higher tier above us and a couple of expensive posh seats to the sides. It really is a beautiful theatre

7.30 – Billy Elliot!
This musical is immense. SO immense. The dancing, the singing, the emotion, the stage props and writing are class! The writing is even better than the film, and that’s saying something because I love the film. They stuffed so much in there and made it exciting and unpredictable even for people who have seen the film so often they know all the words. It is hilarious one moment and then tense or heartbreaking the next. The leads of Billy and Michael? Boy could they act and dance! The whole cast was talented. My favourite scenes included the use of a wire, where younger Billy danced and “flew” in the presence of (what I’m assuming) is an older Billy; and the famous “anger scene”. I managed to poke my parents into buying a CD, and Dad also got the programme, which includes a written piece by Elton John. I loved this musical- I thought it would be brilliant but it turned out even better! The Willow Foundation paid for our tickets too. Thanks so much!

Some pamphlets, the programme and a CD of the original cast recording.

Some pamphlets, the programme and a CD of the original cast recording.

10.45 – Hotel!
We arrived back at the hotel- thanks again to the Willow Foundation and Addison Cars- just in time for me to settle down and make a blog entry about the day. Seriously, I am wiped out, but shall do my best to be up and ready for tomorrow. We’ve decided to go on the London Eye- minus Mum- and then look in the gift shop.

Past midnight – Sleep!
I’ve had some ups and downs this year, but to be able to go out with my parents who have looked after me all this time, and do something I knew they would enjoy, has meant a lot to me. I feel like this trip is as much for them as me, because after how supportive they’ve been they deserve it! The Willow Foundation were amazing to do this for us, and I’m really grateful! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rest up for tomorrow. I may or may not drink the little vodka bottle in the mini bar. YOLO?

Noxie~

Want to see what happened on Saturday during my trip to London?
Check out this blog entry: https://mrsnox.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/day-22-the-best-thing-to-happen-this-year/