Saturday 24th December, 2012

My Birthday - 21 (for the 3rd time)

My Birthday .. and as the message in my Birthday card from Sue says, "Isn't it wonderful to be able to celebrate this day!"

Just over 4 months ago as I entered hospital in a wheelchair and was given the initial diagnosis of stage 4 bowel cancer, I had serious doubts whether I would make it to this, my 63rd Birthday. Today, thanks to the Grace of God, the power of prayer and medical advances, I enter my 64th year with realistic hope of many more birthdays.

On Thursday night on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show, the ex jockey Bob Champion talked about the "pit of despair" when he was diagnosed with cancer. I can honestly say that I really didn't experience this, except maybe for an hour or so after the diagnosis. God came to me that same evening and told me to place my trust in him. That did not mean that I knew immediately that I had a realistic chance of a cure, but it did give me peace and a feeling that, whatever happened, it would be fine.

Today, after 6 rounds of chemo-therapy, I am feeling pretty well and optimistic, but I need to be prepared for news from my scan in January which is far short of a complete cure. I am still confident that, whatever the outcome, it will be appropriate.

Two people from the world of swimming, who have suffered illness in 2011 have commented

"Unfortunately the year I and others have suffered mean I detest Christmas even more. Can't wait to see the back of Christmas and 2011 in general."

"I will raise a glass in one hand to toast the arrival of 2012, and with the other hand I will raise a middle finger to 2011, which I can honestly say has been THE WORST year I have ever had, with no exceptions. Good riddance."

I can honestly say that the last 4 months have in many ways been the BEST 4 months of my life. I have been given the gift of time. Time to spend with Sue and time to spend with God.

Actually today, I didn't feel wonderful. I had a bad night with a lot of pain from my hip and I have had quite a lot of discomfort in my digestive system.

The hip pain was my own fault. I forgot to take my morphine tablet before I went to bed last night. Now I know that it is not yet time to give up the morphine completely.

The problems wit my digestive system are, I think, temporary. During each cycle of chemo-therapy, I take lots of different drugs, all of which mention diorrhea and constipation as potential side effects. The drugs change from day to day, so knowing what dose of laxative to take each day is guesswork and today I think I got it wrong.

This morning was spent doing some initial analysis of the entries for the Bluefins New Year Meet. I knew that the event was oversubscribed. A flurry of late entries, just before the closing hour, meant that the problem was worse than I expected. There will be a lot of disappointed people, who will no doubt send us emails begging us to make exceptions.

Cathy arrived around 11:30 after a very easy drive from Norwich, with nowhere near as much traffic as she expected. Chris came round in the late afternoon, so that was when we celebrated my birthday with some lovely presents and a birthday cake with 3 candles (representing my third 21st birthday?).

One of my presents, a new Sony Touch eReader, is going to give me a bit of a challenge. I had an older model which was loaded with just under 150 books. I assumed that it would be possible to transfer them to the new one, but Sony didn't provide any instructions, only a link to the Sony eBook Store, which was not actually working. I just needed to find a period of time to go looking for an answer on the web.

Sue, Cathy, Chris and I went out for dinner at The Hatch, where I dad a 20% off voucher, valid on my birthday.

As is our habit, we finished the day by going to St. Mary's for the midnight communion service, which actually started at 11pm. I used to be very concerned that we were celebrating too early, but at 10pm the TV was showing live pictures from Bethlehem. The actual time doesn't matter; starting Christmas Day on the right note certainly does.