Day 51 – ‘A sense of normality’

Yesterday was quite a monumental day in terms of my recovery, for the first time in 7 weeks I ventured (albeit for one day) back into the work environment.

Ali and I debated this long and hard, and whilst it does not represent a full time return it was nevertheless a major event for me, if nothing else as it represented a symbolic return to normality (pending commencement of chemotherapy)

What I have learnt from last time is that at certain stages during the chemo cycle (generally week 3) there is relative normality in terms of ability, I called these the ‘green weeks’, the others being amber and red. I also learnt that being active both physically and mentally also helps in getting through this torrid time.

My full time role is not one that I can dip in and out of , that just doesn’t help anyone, especially my relief. Discrete project work that is not time barred, but is nevertheless required by the business is something that I can do, and yesterday saw he start if this.

Getting up at 6 o clock was a distinct shock to the system, including Ali who had company at the breakfast table, there was however a sense of pride putting back on the ‘uniform’, something that I have to admit to missing these last few weeks.

Living in the South West effectively means that everywhere is a ‘drive’ it is the acknowledged price we pay for living in a great part of the country. Yesterday’s work commute was no different and was a good 3 hours in the car.

This was the first source of concern by both of us, up to this point the longest I have spent in a car is 40 minutes. If I’m honest I was more concerned about food and fluid intake than the behaviour of Little a Simon, who I was hoping was going to behave.

The second source of concern was the fact that there was to be 3 hours drive at the other end of the day after a day on site. Was I up for it? How fatigued would I be?

One hour into the drive and all good so far, motorway driving is helpful in that respect, in so far as physically it is not very taxing (having an automatic is also helpful).

Around the two hour mark I put my hand down to gauge ‘how full the bilge tank was’, alarmingly the bag was getting close to capacity.

Without panicking I came off the motorway st the next services.

Collecting my fully stocked ‘man bag’ from the back seat of the car I stridently headed for the disabled toilet. Armed with my RADAR key I opened up the door to the facility. I learnt for the first time the passive/ aggressive prejudice you get when using a disabled toilet ‘not with any obvious physical disability’ . The two people stood outside said facility actually stopped talking and stared as I opened the door, you could almost hear the spoken thought of ‘why does he have a key?!’

Undaunted I preceded to ‘do the deed’ inside.

The space afforded inside does allow the spreading out of the various wipes and paraphernalia required to affect a successful emptying. It does not however legislate for the stupidity of the operator……

Obviously up until till this point I have not been wearing a tie, why would I? I mean MrsC & I relaxed the dressing for dinner time many months ago.

Now well versed in the art of stoma emptying I adopted the optimum stance over the toilet and commenced the operation.

Without warning, and as if in slow motion my beautiful spotted silk tie fell forward straight into the flight path of the effluent….


Startled with incredulity I frantically tried (without the use of a third hand) to double handily clean the bag, seal the bag and carefully quarantine the tie whilst going through my entire repertoire of swear words.

Addressing the staff with a tie covered in excrement doesn’t set the right tone, apart from the fact it is a minor health hazard. A quick re-scrub in the sink was therefore essential if I was to get through the day with my credibility intact.

Thankfully the tie washed out pretty successfully, and in no time at all, the next challenge I faced was drying it.

Casting my gaze around I identified the hot air hand dryer (which due to being in a disabled toilet was mounted at wheelchair height)

A forlorn and tired ‘Warner Howard Air Force’ unit sat to the left of the sink. If ever I wanted a hand dryer to be hot and forceful it was now.

‘God there’s no button, it’s a bloody automatic one’

Crouching down and offering the tie underneath the bottom of the unit it eventually coughed out a feeble stream of COLD air.

How bloody difficult can it be to produce a dryer that actually dries hands.

2 seconds later the feeble stream stopped, adjusting the tie causing it to spark back into life.

This staccato waltz between me and the dryer lasted for a full 12 minutes when eventually the tie had dried sufficiently enough for me to leave the premises without any further stares from the baying masses outside.

The day went well thereafter, I felt I had achieved something, fulfilled that it had been worthwhile.

That evening far from bring fatigued I was still ‘hyper’ from having an enjoyable day.

I need to remember days like these in the forthcoming weeks, the dark periods of chemo when I really need to dig deep.


Day 47 – ‘Getting my hopes up’


‘The day before the oncologist’


  1. Gill

    Good for you Simon. Well done!

  2. Steve Boot

    Simon, I was delighted to read today’s blog because it had so many achievements in it. Lots to feal proud about and a really appropriate title to today’s post. So, a good day; which is lucky for you as I might otherwise have called it a shitty day but I would, of course, have spelled it “shit tie”

  3. Rosemary and Francis Polglase

    Well done…what an achievement xx

  4. Mark Bullard

    Hi Simon, Mike had mentioned you planned to work. I was shocked and worried for you.
    To do a full days works is an amazing achievement, let alone a 3hr drive at either end. So I had nothing to worry about apart from the tie issue which I have to say was not what I was worrying about.
    Do look after yourself and don’t over do it.
    By the way I have a little project you can work on, design a hand drier that actually dries hands. If the human race can go to space and dive into the very depths of the deep sea surely the drier that turns on and blows hot air when required is within the realms of achievable.

  5. Belinda higgs

    You do make I laugh!! Next time someone gives you the evil eye, just get little Simon out! X

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