Monthly Archives: September 2007

“Keep buggering on”

Elaine’s ability to move around has greatly deteriorated over the past couple of weeks or so. Last night, she only made it up the stairs with an extreme effort, and with me doing everything I could to help from behind. But at the top, she finally lost her remaining strength, and just lay down in the corridor. I couldn’t get her up, and we decided it was a job for the paramedics so we called an ambulance. They were terrific, and soon got Elaine to the bathroom and then back to bed.

Yesterday morning, we had been visited by A, the occupational therapist who is sorting out a hospital bed and all sorts of aids for Elaine. But it is very doubtful whether there is going to be any solution to the stairs problem.

Elaine decided a couple of days ago that sadly there was no way she would be able to make the journey to Cambridge. So Kate will come over and stay while I take Morgan down to Cambridge.

I’ve just read this to Elaine and she replied, Churchill had a saying for this: “Keep buggering on”.

Changing rooms

The arrival soon of a hospital bed for me has necessitated that I have a bigger room. Chris had suggested he give up his large office room before but I hate re-arrangement of furniture etc so much I’d said no to it. What an idiot I was !

They spent 9 hours on the job yesterday whilst I stayed at Kate and Jonathan’s flat (thanks again, guys)

The transformation is quite incredible. It has made me feel so loved both the work they’ve done and the uncomplaining way in which they‘ve done it.

No more chemo

At Cookridge today, Dr F took a deep breath before saying what deep down we already knew. Elaine is too weak to be offered any more chemotherapy. They will still treat her, but only symptoms.

Elaine is finding it very difficult to walk or climb stairs, and gets breathless from activity. She is now very thin, having lost 3-4 stone in the past three years. The Macmillan nurse has successfully treated Elaine’s nausea. But the breathlessness is being aggravated by an enlarged liver pushing on the lungs.

Although we both feel pretty miserable this evening, Elaine’s first thought was “Thank goodness I didn’t buy the wig” (The next round of chemo would have led to hair loss).

Elaine is still really hoping she might find the strength to travel down to Cambridge in two weeks time.

More student appreciation

Elaine continues to be buoyed up by messages from former students and their families as they learn of Elaine’s illness.

Today she received the following:

“We were so sorry to hear about your health problems and that you were leaving ***** School. Z was particularly upset as he has the utmost respect for you as a teacher and really appreciates how much you have done to make English an enjoyable subject for him. His father and I never thought it possible that Z would ever actually enjoy creative writing as he has always been so resisitant to trying it and he now freely admits that he finds it very satisfying. He also now voluntarily contributes to the ***** School Times which we find amazing. We feel that this is all down to you as his teacher, you have brought this out of him and inspired him. We want to thank you so much for all that you have done and let you know how much you will be missed at ***** school.”

Tomorrow, we go to Cookridge for an assessment of how Elaine is doing and whether she is strong enough for the next round of chemo.


It’s a couple of week since the last post. Elaine has days where she is fine, sociable and relatively normal, but she also has many days where she is incommunicado. That is she just wants to sleep, and won’t talk with visitors or those who phone. But even when she is fine, she is currently suffering from breathlessness from any physical activity. There was a thought it could be anemia but a test last week showed that her bloods were fine. Now there is a question about whether there is some fluid on the lungs. We should know more when the 23 August scan result is available. We’re waiting to hear from Cookridge about when the next round of chemo is going to start. I suggested chasing them up, but Elaine indicated she was in no hurry!

This morning she sent me something written by a former student, now in her thirties, which continues the theme of the previous post. Here’s one paragraph from the message:

“I owe a lot to you, Elaine. If you had never taught me for that year at ***** College, asked me to consider myself as having a talent and ability and, through your teaching, opened another world up for me, I probably would never have become so academically-minded, never done my MAs, and never even thought that I could possibly write. In short, I would not be the person I am today. You set me on my path, and I am so very grateful for that.”