Weekly Blog No 121 – Mediterranean Cruise

@msccruises

@msccruises

Mr Zebrakat & I have just been on a mediterranean cruise. It was my birthday gift from Mr Zebrakat and we celebrated on the cruise 5 years since my cancer diagnosis.

If you are a sun worshipper, I wouldn’t recommend the month of March to do a mediterranean cruise. Although we were able to wear short sleeves, it was quiet windy and did rain a couple of days.

Mr Zebrakat chose MSC Cruises after we had watched an episode of Jane MacDonalds cruise Channel 5 programme. The cruise was an eight day cruise embarking & disembarking in Barcelona, Spain, however you could have embarked/disembarked at any of the ports. This is the first cruise we have been on were all the passengers have not all embarked and disembarked at the same location. The cruise involved 4 countries in 8 days and 5 ports.

This was the itinerary:

Day 1 – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona the capital of Catalonia, the best port in Europe to discover the wonders of this vibrant region of Spain. Barcelona is one of the largest cities of the mediterranean coast. Establish the history of Gaudi and Picasso. Immerse yourself in the medieval and gothic architecture.

Day 2 – Marseille, France

Marseille the typical vielle ville (old town) of the French Riviera. Enjoy the old port, Palau’s du Pharo or Notre Dame de la Garde.

Day 3 – Genoa, Italy

This Mediterranean port will amaze you with elegant architecture from the 17th & 18th centuries. Take in the magnificent Cathedral of SAN Lorenzo consecrated by Pope Gelasius 11 in 1118 and completed in the 14th Century.

Day 4 – Civitavecchia, Italy

The port of Civitavecchi is one of the largest in Italy. Amongst the most important monuments to visit is the Fort Michelangelo, built by Bramante in the 16th century, the ancient walls of the old port and the fountain in travertine marble by Vanvitelli. There is a host of bars and restaurants for a taste of seafood cuisine.

Day 5 – Palermo, Italy

The perfect chance to visit the regional capital of Sicily. The port of Palermo displays of Norman art and architecture, Baroque churches and medieval streets.

Day 6 – Valletta, Malta

The fortress city and the capital city of Malta. The city has historical and artistic heritage and over 300 monuments. Beautiful architecture with colourful balconies to houses.

Day 7 – At Sea

Day 8 – Barcelona, Spain

Mr Zebrakat and I only went off the cruise ship in Valletta, which I will blog about next week.

A total of 1798 nautical miles was achieved on the MSC Meravilglia ship. 19 floors, approx 4400 passengers and 1500 crew. 19 passenger lifts, a shopping promenade, thermal spa, water park and the list is endless.

Here is a few photos of the ship.

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Weekly Blog No 120 – Latest Update – 5 Year

I recently informed you that I had a scan at the local hospital and I felt the Radiologist was basically blindfolded when writing my report. As suspected he or she was, my Oncologist reviewed the scans and informed me that I still have disease/tumours in the peritoneal, mesenteric and the liver. I know scans can be hard to review sometimes but even I knew I wasn’t out the woods. I must admit, I was hopeful that my previous op had eliminated all the disease from the peritoneal and the mensenteric . Never mind, the dandelions endeavour to take hold of my body but I shall keep attempting to eliminate them if the opportunity arises. I think this ‘Kat’ has nearly exhausted her nine lives.

On the 11th March 2013, I was rushed into hospital in tremendous pain with no suspicion of what was going on. Early that morning I was operated on, and later informed that I had bowel obstruction surgery. The surgeon sat on my bed informing me I possibly had cancer and I would have to wait for the pathology report. That day changed my life, nothing seems more important than family and friends at that moment. How was I going to break the news to everyone. One of the biggest things I’ve had to do in life and it started with Mr Zebrakat. This was the day that I decided to continue to be positive and whilst speaking to the universe, please give me 5 more years at least to achieve some things in life.

Well it was 5 years on 11th March 2018 and I was Genoa, Italy 🇮🇹. Let me explain, last week I went on a Mediterranean cruise, which was a birthday gift from Mr Zebrakat. It was initially booked to go on the day before my birthday so that we could celebrate on the ship, nevertheless my body had other ideas and he postponed the trip until March.

It made me nervous in many ways, even though I was feeling better. I still had issues that were still being addressed via medication. You can take all the precautions in the world but no one day is the same. I could be swinging from the ropes one minute and be considerably unwell within the next 5 mins. I’m sure anyone who has be fine one minute and sick the next will understand the rapid change in health. It’s not ideal but I have learned to live with it and to just take day by day. Mr Zebrakat of course makes everything more bearable and is never agitated or inconvenienced by my health issues. I’ve never known someone to be so chilled and who naturally goes with the flow. I guess Mr Zebrakat has adapted too and is grateful I’m still here. The story could be so so different as many of my cancer friends who were diagnosed the same time as me are no longer here. RIP all of you. 🙏

Unbeknown by Mr Zebrakat, when postponing the trip he didn’t realise that it was my butt dart week. It’s always hell going into it and hell coming out of it. As we had left very early on the Friday morning and my injection wasn’t due until the Monday, the earliest I could have had the injection was Saturday. Oh hell, what am I going to do was my thoughts. I did speak to my dear cousin, who’s a very experienced ER (Emergency Care) Nurse and who occasionally works on cruise liners. She gave me some invaluable advice. This is what I took from our discussion. 1. Make sure you take plenty of morphine with you. 2. If the butt dart was given by the medical team on the ship, it sounded like a lot of red tape. Therefore the responsibility fell on Mr Zebrakat shoulders with my guidance and no precious training of injecting intramuscular. I was a little anxious and of course he was too but he didn’t show it. Superstar ⭐️

I have to say my current nurse is lovely but I can feel the pain and have some blood on occasions from the injection. She has made my easier in many ways, crossing the line to get me assistance, therefore I’m reluctant to let her go.

Mr Zebrakat was so gentle, which is hard to believe when the diameter of the needle is like a nail, maybe a slight exaggeration. There was no pain and no blood and just a sheer relief from both of us. I think now that he’s ok with it, we will have greater freedom and not necessary be committed to being available for my butt dart appointment. Oh Mr Zebrakat, I forgot to tell you, the next one is due Easter Monday when the medical practice is closed.

Now this is the part I’m kicking myself about, I do consider myself to be very well organised. In fact I’m proud of my organisation skills and it’s a quality that Mr Zebrakat will always comment on. Well remember the good advice my dear cousin gave about morphine. Well I failed miserably by forgetting my morphine. This is a lesson for anyone taking medication, you must double and triple check everything. Mr Zebrakat said he never ask me, because he knew I was always so organised. Ha ha not this time and I paid for it too.

When my last morphine was dispensed by the chemist it wasn’t dispensed in original box. Yes it had the appropriate label on the white box but the contents were made up of left over packets. I know that is fine but when dealing with customs etc who have inquisitive minds it could look a little bit suspect. Therefore my plan was to take my morphine in an original box and the contents to be full strips of medication. Makes sense right, but I forgot to do it and brought no morphine. My cousin is most probably saying now, what did I tell you, I know lol. Well I went into withdrawal and tried to manage the pain with off the shelf pain meds throughout the trip. Being the tough cookie I am, I’ve got by but it did prove a couple of things to me. I can stop morphine when needed, clearly not the appropriate way. I’ve done it many times before including my recent visit to hospital, nevertheless I’m always put back on it for pain control etc. Holy smokes!!! when pain is not managed it is hell and withdrawal is diabolical. Lesson to everyone, double check your medication before leaving for a trip.

We knew that this trip, we would treat it like an all inclusive floating hotel. Not necessary get off the ship due to symptoms but enjoy what the ship has to offer and relax. We did theatre shows, fine dined, drank cocktails, enjoyed spa treatments & used thermal spa, watched movies, read books and went to the casino to have a go on slot machines. (We walked out the casino up in money). I will blog about the cruise next week.

I would like to send out a huge thank you London Luton Airport for assisting me with my illness. I managed to go through priority queues through security and the airline. A service they offer passengers who don’t require a wheelchair assistance but have an illness. I did feel a little guilty because I look ok but my symptoms are not. I actually did get a few stares from passengers and I’m suspect people just assumed I was a staff member as I walked passed them. When I got to the cruise ship, I had paid for priority boarding to avoid queues. You know and I know, queues at airports and cruise line boarding is always long and time consuming therefore priority boarding was a great start to my holiday. I do feel a sense of achievement for getting to the cruise and for being on the cruise.

Written whilst sailing across the Mediterranean Sea until next time. Love to you all.X

Weekly Blog No 119 – Cancer Update

Cancer Update

Yesterday I went to London, to see my Net Consultant(Oncologist). My Consultant was being a host for two Consultants from another country. Therefore even though he asked my permission, which I agreed, the meeting didn’t go as I initially predicted. In principal, I did envision the responses to some of my questions. It was a very weird meeting in some respects as my Consultant was going in one direction but I wanted him to take another direction. My quizzical mind needed answers to my enigma.

He did advise me that they had debunked my body of tumours but I’m not tumour free. My liver is giving me a run for my money at the moment, which I believe to be tumour pain. The reason I can say this is, as a result of liver pain before I had a liver resection op, which involved removing tumours.

I had a recent local CT scan, which was totally useless as the Radiologist appeared to be blindfolded when viewing the scan to report. Therefore I’m going back to London for Ga68 Pet Scan for a better prospective. I had a series of bloods, some new meds and I will be back to see him again at the end of April. I shall look forward to seeing the results but as we all know, not all my tumours have shown up on any of the previous scans.

In the meantime, life goes on and I will continue to be proactive. I do believe the latest surgery has bought me time and I’m so grateful for that. ❤️

Weekly Blog No 118 – Winter Olympics 2018

This time 4 years ago, I was watching the Sochi, Russia, Winter Olympics in Canada. This year I’m watching the Pyeongchang, Korea, Winter Olympics in the United Kingdom.

Great Britain are not as fortunate in the Winter Olympics for medals as they are blessed in the Summer Olympics.

In Sochi 2014, Great Britain won 4 medals in total. One gold, one silver and 2 bronze.

Liz Yarnold – Gold – Skeleton

Men’s Team – Silver – Curling

Woman’s Team – Bronze Curling

Jenny Jones – Bronze – Snowboarding

I read in the media at the beginning of the Olympics, that Great Britain’s goal was to win 5 medals. I’m glad to report as of today, only day 8 of the Winter Olympics we have won 4 medals. One gold and 3 bronze.

Liz Yarnold – Gold – Skeleton

Laura Deas – Bronze – Skeleton

Don Parsons – Bronze – Skeleton

Izzy Atkin – Bronze – Skis Slopestyle

Congrats to Liz Yarnold for achieving her second consecutive gold medal in the skeleton. Hopefully Team GB will exceed their goal of 5 medals in this years Winter Olympics.

Weekly Blog No 116 – Goodbye 40’s and Hello 50’s.

I had previously mentioned in a blog that when I was diagnosed with cancer, I put out to the universe, to please let me reach my 50th Birthday. I’m glad to report, I made it. I do believe its a combination of a positive attitude and gaining a knowledge on Carcinoid Cancer.

The last decade was a mixture of excitement and emotions. We moved to Canada experiencing everything Canadian. Then I suffered with my spine and endured 4 surgeries. To add to the emotions, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Yet my husband & I continued to enjoy Canadian life with such amazing friends. 3 Cancer ops later it was time to go home to be nearer to my family in UK and Ireland. We have no regrets but my heart is still in Canada. Therefore goodbye to my forties and hello to my fifties.

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has been telling me I look mid to late 30s. I have to thank my parents Irish genes for that one because its nothing I have done. I haven’t had any invasive beauty treatments or used any special beauty products.

Last week, I was fortunate to have friends come and see me throughout the week. We celebrated with bucks frizz, coffee and tea. There was chatting over a variety of cakes and fresh fruit. I do love a girly gatherings because there is no subject out of bounds and the room is always full of giggles.

Saturday was my birthday and I was showered with birthday cards. Every available surface was covered with cards of love. I got balloons full of helium floated in euphoria. I had flower arrangements, salt and peppered around my house. I was sprinkled with gifts of generosity. The house was full of bliss and kindness.

I’m so so grateful to everyone who made my birthday so special. My 50th Birthday is one I shall always remember. Thank you.

Love to you all. ❤️

Weekly Blog No 115 – 1968 Facts

Historical Facts.

As I was born in 1968, I thought what a better way to celebrate 50 years is to provide some historical facts.

The monarch was Queen Elizabeth 11 and the Prime Minster was Harold Wilson of the Labour Party.

Northampton the county town of Northamptonshire is designated a new town. The prime Minister hoped it will double its size by 1980.

Baggeridge Colliery closure in the Black Country. Ends mining after nearly 300 years.

Mauritius 🇲🇺 achieves independence from British Rule.

London Bridge sold to an American entrepreneur Robert P McCulloch

The Abortion Act 1967 comes into force legislating abortion on a number of grounds with free provision on the NHS.

Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 reduces right of entry for citizens from British Commonwealth to the U.K.

Mr Fredrick West (aged45) was Britain first heart transplant patient.

Manchester City won the 1st Div, Football League.

Ronan Point Tower Block collapses after a gas explosion killing 4 people.

The Kray Twins and their brother Charlie were arrested in dawn raids in East London. 18 men were arrested for murder, fraud, blackmail and assault.

Five and ten pence coins were introduced to the run up to decimalisation.

Floods in South West & South East, England.

BBC sitcom Dads Army is aired on television.

General Post Office divides the mail to first and second class services.

The rebuild of Euston Station opens.

The M1 is completed, when the Rotherham and Leeds section is opened.

Tennis player Virginia Wade wins the US Open, Women’s Singles.

Cotton trading at the Manchester Royal Exchange ceases trading.

NHS reinforces prescription charges.

Celebrity birthdays this year.

Heather Mills – Ex Wife to Paul McCartney

Patsy Kensit – Actress

Daniel Craig – Actor

Paul Merson – Footballer

Mike Atherton – Cricketer

Howard Donald – Singer

Adam Woodyatt – Actor

Weekly Blog No 114 – Reuse Christmas Cards

I had the same dilemma last year when I had gathered all my Christmas cards. What should I do with them.

Back in the day you are able to donate them to charity like for instance “Age Concern”. They would cut them into Christmas gift tags and sell them. When I was a child my mum would have me making Christmas gift tags using pinking shears scissors, a hole punch and some string/ribbon. I did ponder should I make christmas gift tags and the answer was yes instead of throwing them in the recycle bin.

Pinking Shears Scissors Christmas Gift Tag

Pinking Shears Christmas Gift Tag

When I looked into some of the equipment to use to make the tags the cost verses new tags was questionable. As christmas gift tags are now considerably cheaper in some places, I did wonder if it was actually worth the effort. Are products too accessible for us nowadays that we no longer need to make items. It seems wrong to throw the cards in the bin, when I have the time to do something practical with them.

Another thought, do we even notice the gift tag. I know we must all read them but do we genuinely take any notice of the tag itself, maybe not.

I’m sure most of us nowadays will regift a gift bag. I will always reuse a gift bag and place on a new gift tag. As I still had some christmas gift money I thought, why not use it on some tools for making the gift tags. I bought 2 different size circle punches, twine and some tissue paper. Not a pinking shear scissors to be seen.

I will purchase plain paper to coordinate with the gift tags.

I have some work to do, like ribbons and twine to finish them off. Do you see a favourite, let me know.