Happy New Year!

Page 6 7 & 8 sHello!

I hope everyone is doing well.  I hope too that you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2016!

I knew I had been neglecting my blog but i didn’t realise it was four and half months since my last post!  I guess I just needed some space to get myself together after the cancer treatment.

The Bongo!

On the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis (mid-September) T and I did something exciting and possibly crazy, we spent a lot of money and bought ourselves a Bongo.  In case you don’t know what a Bongo is here’s a picture of ours:

Bongo! s

It’s an old vehicle but it’s in really good condition and it has everything we could possibly need for our planned adventures.  Inside it has been converted into a campervan and has a fridge, 2-ring gas stove, sink, loads of cupboard space and the seats convert into a bed. The roof also lifts up and there is a tent/bed up there too.  It also came with an awning/tent which can be attached to the vehicle, when it is parked up.  We think it will be perfect for us and it’s great to drive, so far we have only been out for day trips, but we are looking forward to going camping in it in 2016 once the warmer weather and longer days come back.

Making a space for another vehicle

Having got the Bongo I needed to create somewhere to park it.  There was space to park one vehicle on our land and I needed that for my car. While I am working I still need to keep my car. So T had to sacrifice a piece of the garden so I could create another parking space. It took me about a month to do that and it was REALLY hard physical work – digging out shrubs, removing about 4 car loads of soil and transporting them to the local landfill site, then building a low retaining wall from heavy blocks and filling the space with 1 tonne of gravel and more blocks.  T offered to help, but I was worried he would put too much strain on his heart so I did most of the work on my own.  Here’s the end result, unfortunately there was not enough room to make the new space for the van so my car is now parked here and the van is parked where the car used to go.

Here’s the space after the fence was removed and most of the soil taken out:

DSCF7602 s

And here is it finished:-)

DSC00321 s 1

This is the old parking space where the Bongo has to be parked now, I also built that wall along the side of the path.  The garden used to slope down to the path, and by building the wall I was able to level out the garden with some of the soil I had to remove for the new parking bay, that saved me a couple of trips to the local landfill site, but boy oh boy those blocks were heavy to move about!

DSCF7597 s

All the while I was doing this work the weather was great, in fact perfect camping weather but I had to get on and finish the project and by the time it was done (mid October) the weather was much cooler and the nights were drawing in. So still no camping for us.

Taking a break from the local history group

In mid October I stood down from my role of Chairman and committee member of the local history group, Ryde Social Heritage Group I am still a member of the group but I felt that I needed a break from the total involvement I’ve had with the group since we formed it in 2002 and I’ve been Chairman since 2007.  I started the group with two friends in 2002 and have seen it develop and grow into an award winning group.  It’s something I’m really proud of, but after 13 years of it being a high priority for me I realised that I had left much of ‘normal life’ for T to sort out. It just wasn’t fair to expect him to carry on doing the lion’s share of the house and garden work. It felt like we needed to be spending more time together.  But I am confident that the people remaining on the Committee are as committed to the success of the group as I was, so I know it’s in safe hands and will continue the good work started all those years ago.  I have quite a bit more space in my room now that all the history stuff has been handed over, but I must admit it’s still untidy and chaotic in my room and there is still far too much ‘stuff’ in here!  That’s something I shall be addressing in the New Year (she said).

Decorating

After a short rest following the building work I decided to start another project and we redecorated our living room together: we stripped the walls, repainted the ceiling and woodwork, then repapered the walls.  We finished that job just before Christmas. Actually there are still some shelves to put up but we finished it enough to be able to use the room again over the Xmas holidays and at least it is looking fresher and cleaner now.

In Remission:-)

I had another meeting with my oncologist earlier in December, it was a good meeting and I was told the usual ‘Everything looks OK, come back in three months’. It had been bugging me a bit that other people I know who have been treated for cancer have been told that they are in remission but no-one had ever said that to me.  So I decided to ask the doctor if ‘Everything looks OK’ means that I’m in remission and she said ‘Yes it does, I’m sorry but I can’t promise you that you will never get cancer again but at the moment there are no signs that you have it, so yes you are in remission’. So I left the hospital feeling considerably lighter and happier.

T’s health is still not 100% he has been off work for another two months and we are not sure he will be able to return to work, but most of the time we are both doing OK and mood-wise at the moment we are fine.

The strange Christmas Tree

I decided not to have a Christmas tree this year as I had seen this really cool idea on Pinterest so on the weekend before Christmas I went out in to the Cemetery (my house is just inside the cemetery gates) and collected a load of holly, ivy, yew and spruce cuttings and then spent a day decorating my dress form.  So for Christmas we had this headless and armless ‘festive’ lady standing in the corner of the room.  The cats were not sure what to make of her, but then Billy Kat discovered he could get underneath her skirt and there was a magical cat cave inside:-)

Christmas 2015 1 s

Unfortunately I didn’t realise quite how heavy all the greenery would be and by the time Christmas was over the skirt had dropped a bit, but apart from that it did look quite effective.  If I do it again next year I’ll make sure I fix the rabbit wire skirt more securely to the torso so it will stay in place.

Art

The building and decorating projects, health issues and my return to full time working have meant that I have had very little time for art in the past 4 months, but I consoled myself that I was nevertheless still being creative even if I wasn’t making ‘my art’.  The project with my radiotherapy mask is still ongoing but it was stalled for a long while and is not complete enough to share at the moment.

The image at the top of the page is from my small journal (6″ x 9″) and was completed in April 2015 when I was having radiotherapy.  Because I had to travel to the mainland for the treatment, it meant there was a lot of hanging around waiting for ferries, buses and treatment so it was good to have a small journal and some pens with me.

Here is what the 3 page spread looked like before I played about with the pens:

Page 6 7 & 8 collage only s

So that’s all my news, in a long an boring post!  Don’t suppose anyone has managed to get through all that text (I wouldn’t have) but that’s OK because this blog is for me more than anyone else.  So that in a few years time I’ll be able to look back and say “Oh that’s what happened in 2015”  as I will probably have forgotten.

Hope all is good with you in your part of the Universe.

Big love AJ:-)

xxxxx

 

 

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lost!

Thoughts are not facts

Hello friends

I hope you are all keeping healthy and happy.

I haven’t posted on my blog again for ages, I’m not sure why but it just hasn’t felt right for me to do so.

The truth is that I am still feeling somewhat out of kilter and discombobulated (isn’t that a fabulous word)?  Physically I feel pretty good and,  as people keep telling me, I look ‘really well’ but the truth is my head is in a mess.  Maybe I haven’t  posted because I don’t want to sound miserable and I don’t want or need sympathy, it’s just the way things are at the moment.  It’s no great shakes just something I need to work through.

I really thought that once I had finished all the treatment and started to feel better physically everything would be just hunky dory and ‘back to normal’ in no time at all, but that’s not how things are. Right now I feel like I don’t know where I am and half the time I’m not even sure who I am.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  But that’s the nearest I can get to describing this feeling of being lost.

I am pretty emotional too and I can’t seem to keep myself on an even keel.  Sometimes I am sinking into depression for no reason that I can think of.  I don’t mean the crippling “can’t even get out of bed” type of depression, but the just the sensation of everything being flat and uninteresting.  I know it will pass and it does, but when it happens I don’t really want to have to interact with other people, and that’s tricky when I have to go to work and help to sort out other people’s problems.

I remember when I was first diagnosed with cancer the nurse told me that it was going to change me.  I had no idea what she was talking about and I think I just dismissed it. BUT now I completely understand what she meant, it’s just that I can’t really explain it to you.

I think partly it is down to confidence (or lack of it), having 8 months of treatment has certainly bashed my self esteem a bit, and I don’t feel that confident in my ability to do things as well as I used to.  There is also the uncertainty as to whether the cancer will come back or not. I always try not to worry about bad things that ‘might’ happen, because in my experience they usually don’t and worrying about them is just a waste of time, besides if they do happen you just have to deal with them anyway.  I try not to worry, but I don’t always succeed.  I think probably the longer it goes with things being OK the more assured I will feel.

I am still being creative but for some reason at the moment I don’t feel like sharing what I’m working on, and I don’t know why that is either.  I’m working on my radiotherapy mask project, which is turning into something of fairly epic proportions!  It’s still not anything like I’ve imagined or planned it to be but I think I just have to go along with it.  Rather than me trying to shape the project I just need to let it guide me where it wants to go because it’s going to go that way anyway…

I am also working on another project with a bit more ‘depth’ to it and I probably won’t share that or much of it until it’s finished either (this one could take years). What I want to do is work through something, I’ve picked a theme and I’m just seeing what ideas come to me around that theme.  Then I am going to look at some other artists who I really like and see if and how I can use their work to influence my own art.  I’m hoping that this will help me progress and grow. It think it might also be my route for re-finding myself – the ‘where’ and ‘who’ I am. Wish me luck!

I’m back at work full time now, but because it’s such a struggle I am using up all my leave from last year so I can take breaks when it gets too much.  Like for example today I couldn’t face going in because I’ve had a really crappy weekend, with a very low mood, so I contacted my manager this morning and told him I needed to take emergency leave.  Fortunately for me he is an incredibly understanding and sympathetic person so that seemed to be OK.

T is still off work and having major problems with the cardio medication, but fortunately he finally got to see a GP who understood and between them they are working things out, it’s just taking a bl**dy long time!

I did eventually get around to writing to the local hospital to explain why I insisted on staying under the care of Southampton hospital when the radiotherapy treatment finished.  The feedback I gave included the good as well as the bad things I had experienced at the local hospital.  Last week I went in to meet up with the Specialist Nurse and her manager to discuss my rather long letter of feedback.  They seemed to take it all very seriously and were very apologetic, hopefully they will use it to make improvements to the service that people receive there.  I hope so anyway.

Two good things came out of it for me one is that I am now enrolled on a Surviving Cancer Information Programme (SKIP) which starts at the end of October and I think that will help me to cope better, and in the meantime I have been referred to a psychologist for support prior to the programme starting. So hopefully things will start to improve for me soon.  I think I could probably work things out by myself over time, but I am worried that I am messing things up at work and letting people down so I think I need a bit of support to get me through this tricky bit of fully getting back into the swing of things.

The page above (completed in May of this year) is from my small journal (6″ x 9″)  and below are the before and after penwork images.

Thoughts before and after penwork

Take good care of yourselves my lovelies

Big love from me

AJ xxx

PS if you see adverts on my page and you don’t like them I highly recommend you start to use AdBlock.  I never see any adds on here or on FB:-)

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Everything works out

Everything works out

 

Hello friends

It’s almost a month since I wrote anything on my blog so it’s time for another update.  I hope all is well with you in your part of the universe.

Here things have settled down and we are now on a more even keel.  We are both out of our depressive moods and getting on with things.  T still has to get his medication sorted out as something is making him feel very unwell at the moment, but he’s seeing his doctor next week so hopefully she can make some changes for the better at the moment he is still on sick leave.

I have started back at work which is good.  I’m taking things slowly.  The first week I did two and for the past two weeks I’ve done 3 day weeks and I am gradually working up to being in full time work again soon.  It will be good to finally get back to normal again but at the moment I’m struggling a little with my time management.  I suppose that after 8 months of having very little to do and all the time in the world to do it in, I’ve gotten used to not doing much at all, but I’ll get back in my stride eventually.  Anyway it’s so good to feel healthy again and I’m feeling optimistic about the future.

Next week I should be working 3 days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but on Wednesday I have booked leave as I am travelling to London with a couple of friends to receive another national award for Ryde Social Heritage Group.  We are going to have to leave VERY early in the morning to be able to get to London by 10am and then at some point in the day I have to give a short presentation to lots of people, but I’m looking forward to it very much.  We have to leave London by mid afternoon in order to be able to get back to the Isle of Wight by early evening.  It will be a long but rewarding day and I’ll have all day Thursday to recover from the travel.

I’ve started working on a project with my radiotherapy mask.  At the moment I’m not sure how it’s going, definitely not quite as I expected. I think I just need to keep at it and see where it goes. The project involves papier mache and wheat paste and I haven’t played with those for a long time so at the least I’m enjoying the process and that’s more important to me than the end result.

Apart from that I still haven’t found much time for doing any other art so the page above was completed in my small journal in March this year, below is the before and after image:

Page 4 before and after

Stay healthy and happy and I’ll see you soon

Big love AJ:-)

xxx

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

More Challenges!

 

Challenges

Hello friends!

I hope you are all doing well.  I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been in a bad head space for a few weeks, life continues to throw challenges my way, and I haven’t been coping that well.

Soon after my last post T developed flu-like symptoms and was clearly unwell and spent much of the time in bed.

On 26 May it was my birthday, you know one of those ‘big ones’ with a big fat zero at the end.  It wasn’t the best birthday, T was very sick and although I did get a couple of visitors to be honest I really didn’t feel that sociable.

Our holiday was booked to start on 29 May and the night before I suggested to T that we cancel and stay at home instead, but he insisted he felt a little better each day and wanted us to go.  So we packed up and went as planned.

I knew that we wouldn’t be able to do much in the way of walking or activity but I thought all we had to do was chill out and take things easy.  I packed a whole bag of art supplies to keep myself occupied so it wouldn’t matter of we didn’t go out at all.

The cottage was exactly as advertised and the area – near to Lyme Regis in Dorset – is lovely.  The weather was not brilliant, in fact it was a bit chilly at times but the cottage had good heating so that wasn’t a problem.  BUT it was not a good holiday, in fact it was stressful and difficult for both of us.  T became really unwell physically and mentally and we both really struggled to cope.  We both ended up depressed and despondent and it was definitely not the rest and recuperation I had been hoping for.

Before T became unwell I was feeling a bit flat and lost as I’d come to the end of months of treatment but had no idea whether or not it has worked. I’ve joined a cancer forum online and found out that this often happens to people when they reach the end of treatment .  All the while you are being treated it feels like you are doing something about it but then it stops and you feel like you are left in limbo all on your own. So I was already feeling low and then when T became unwell it was like a double whammy and I fell apart a bit.

Over a week after arriving home things are finally slowly beginning to improve for both of us. We managed to see a local doctor earlier in the week and he told us that heart surgery can sometimes trigger depression in patients and the heart medication might be affecting the other meds T takes for his Bipolar Disorder.  It’s certainly been a rough old ride on the emotional roller-coaster recently and neither of us have dealt with it particularly well.

It’s a bit of a shame that the medical profession seems to treat symptoms but not the ‘whole person’ in retrospect it’s pretty obvious that heart problems are going to trigger a bipolar episode but we had nothing in place to deal with it when it did.  I just wish I was better at dealing with it, but when T is in that big black hole of depression, even though I know it’s not personal, I can’t help but feel alone and depressed too.

So, anyway I didn’t get to do any art while we were away apart from the lettering on the page above.  The atmosphere was just too tense and not conducive to being creative. I tried really hard to put into practice all those things I know about being mindful, not listening to the thoughts going round and round in my head and just deciding to be happy. Writing that quote in my journal was a message to myself that I don’t have to be defeated by the stuff life throws at me. A few times I was successful and managed to lift my mood, but most of the time, despite my best endeavours, I felt defeated and despondent.  Clearly I need to practice a lot more!

While we were on holiday I went out a couple of times on my own and I discovered a fantastic cafe in Bridport called the Soulshine Cafe  there is a lovely vibe there and I found it just at a time when I really needed some sunshine for my soul.  I also saw a fantastic exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre by the A Level students of Colfox and Beaminster School.  It was really good, so much talent!  I spent ages there looking at the art and browsing through the students’ sketchbooks and then had a long conversation with the lady who was volunteering at the exhibition.

On the Monday after we returned from holiday I went on my own to see the Oncologist at Southampton Hospital.  He examined me and asked me some questions about how I was and said things ‘look OK’.  After a bit of a discussion about whether or not I should return to the local hospital he made me an appointment to see him again at Southampton in 3 months time.  Before that I will need to have another CT scan and on the day I’ll have a blood test, so hopefully I’ll find out more then.  At the moment it seems we are playing the ‘wait and see’ game.

I am so pleased that all the treatment is over now. Physically I feel good and I’m not overly worried about my health at present. I know it’s early days yet but I’m really hoping that it’s all over now.  Next week I will be starting my phased return to work after almost 8 months sick leave and I’m looking forward to getting some normality back into my life. I am a bit anxious because I’ve been away from the work environment for such a long time, but my employers have been very understanding and my colleagues have been keeping in contact with me, it will be fine and fun once I get back into it, all I have to do is ‘get up, dress up and show up’ and start getting on with the rest of my life now.

The page above is in my small journal and here is what it looked like before the penwork:

Page-10-before-and-after

That’s all for now, take good care of yourselves, and I promise I will work on improving my mood before I post again.

Big love AJ xxx:-)

And here is a video of another old journal:-)

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Ups and Downs and Ups!

My poster made at Gonzo Design Workshop

Hello friends, I hope all is good with you.

More health issues but not me this time!

Life definitely gets weird at times, at least it does for me.  Just as I was beginning to feel a bit better and my mood was lifting after the month of radiotherapy T ended up in hospital! From Monday 11 May until Friday 15 May he was in the acute ward of coronary care unit at the local hospital.  Then on Friday morning he was sent over to QA Hospital on the mainland and later that day he had an angioplasty.  He came home on Saturday 16 May.

He was awake and watched the operation on a screen while it was happening and the doctor explained what he was doing.  I had no idea that any of this was possible.  When I thought of heart surgery before I imagined something really major resulting in a big cut to the chest and lots of stitches, but the only wound he had was the cut in his wrist where they fed in the wire up his artery and into his heart.  If you are interested you can see a similar operation here, it’s fascinating!

All the while he was in hospital he was pain free but pretty bored so he was pleased to get home again.

While T was in hospital I had plenty to keep me occupied: looking after the garden and greenhouse and keeping his precious vegetable seedlings alive, making sure the cats where fed and cared for, keeping the house clean and tidy, feeding myself and visiting the hospital once or often twice a day.  For some reason he didn’t want anyone else to visit him apart from me.  I also decided to repaint the walls and ceiling in the dining room before he came home.  It’s exactly the same colour as it was before only it looks a bit fresher now.   I also washed the floor, rug, curtains and blinds and put them back.  I didn’t really feel too anxious about him being in hospital because he was pain free and actually looked quite healthy while he was there, but I just wanted to keep myself busy while he was away.

Now he is home I am helping him to sort out the garden so he doesn’t get  too tired, his chest is still a bit bruised and he is on loads and loads of new medication at the moment which is slowing him down and sometimes affecting his mood.  Still I think we are doing OK at the moment.

Anyway it looks like we are still going to be able to get away for our short break, but we will be forced to take things very easy as I don’t think he will be able to walk very far.

A Treat for me!

Yesterday (May 20) I decided to give myself a treat and had a day trip to London see an exhibition by artist David Shillinglaw and attend a ‘Gonzo Design Workshop’ run by him at Morgan in Clerkenwell.  I had a great day and it was lovely to meet David.  He is very inclusive, welcoming and chatty as well as being a sensational artist.  After being quite nervous in the beginning I soon felt at ease and at home. In the workshop we made posters either about ourselves or about something we wanted to protest about. The materials we had to use were Design magazines, scissors, glue sticks, tissue paper and marker pens.  I was in my element and it was fun to just play around.  I nearly always create my art on my own and there is a whole new dynamic when you create with other people.

The image above is the poster I made about me:-) and here are a couple of pictures from the day.

Workbench at Gonzo Design Workshop

Workbench at Gonzo Design workshop with David Shillinglaw at Morgan Furniture London. Finished posters hanging in background/

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

David Shillinglaw and Me!

After months of being ‘chemo’ bald my hair is finally beginning to grow back!

Here is a video of the workshop:

Today I must admit I am feeling tired, but it’s worth it to have had a fun day yesterday.

Take care of yourselves and I’ll see you again soon.

Big love

AJ xxx

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Courage

Courage

Hello friends

I’ve been away from my blog again for a while so I hope you are all doing well.  What a lot has happened since I was last here!

My health

During the last couple of weeks of radiotherapy treatment I was getting quite tired and often went to bed as soon as I got home, apart from that I didn’t feel too bad although the inside of mouth was sore a lot of the time.  The final treatment was on 29 April.  I thought I would feel euphoric at reaching the end of treatment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  After the treatment ended the sores in my mouth became worse, my tongue felt like a piece of old carpet, I lost all sense of taste and eating was very difficult.  For a few days I suffered from what I assume was depression.  I was still functioning and being creative but I became even more introverted than usual and very emotional.  Thankfully things are now beginning to get better, my mouth is no longer sore and my taste is gradually coming back (I had no idea how difficult it would be to eat when there was no taste).  I’ve got a red mark on my face where the beams targeted the mandible in my jaw bone and I look like I’ve just been slapped, but that doesn’t hurt, it just looks a bit odd.

I do have this strange sense of being left in limbo though.  The last 6 months have been really difficult, but I have no idea if the treatment has worked or not.  I don’t go back to Southampton hospital until 8 June and I’m not sure what they will be able to tell me then as I have no scan or blood test scheduled before then.  The oncologist I saw at Southampton did tell me that after that appointment in June all subsequent appointments would be at my local hospital.  I was horrified and told him I didn’t want to go back there as I was so unhappy with the way I was treated.  We are going to talk about my concerns when I see him in June.

The face mask

At the end of my treatment I was given the mask to bring home, I also asked if I could have the ‘dreaded’ gob-stopper, they thought that was an unusual request but gave it to me anyway along with the piece of thick pink wax which was helping to protect my skin.

I think it needs to be turned into a piece of art eventually.  I’m not sure what I could do with the gob-stopper and the wax so I might just hide them inside so I will know they are there even if no-one else does.

 

Once I start to feel better physically I’m sure my low mood will improve as I generally work on the principle that if I feel OK then I am OK.

The death of a friend

cheesybitsThe friend we visited at the Hospice on 29 March sadly passed away on 15 April he was at his sister’s house and surrounded by his family when he died.  We attended his funeral on 27 April (2 days before I finished the radiotherapy treatment).  We were not very close friends and we hadn’t seen him for a few years before we visited him at the hospice, but he was part of our history. Back in the 1980s he played in the same band as my husband. He was an absolute giant of a man with a cutting sense of humour, but he was always lovely to me and I liked him a lot.

I think his death really brought home to me that people don’t always beat cancer and that probably has contributed to my anxiety and low mood at the moment.

Rest in Peace Dave “Cheesybits” Bowater and thanks for some great memories.

The earthquake in Nepal

Durbar-Square-KathmanduOn 25 April there was a massive earthquake in Nepal, a poor country where life is normally hard for the people.  The devastation caused by this earthquake has left 8,413 people dead, 17,576 injured, 260 still missing and many thousands of people homeless.

We spent time in Nepal in the early 1970s, it is a stunningly beautiful country and the people are welcoming and generous.  It breaks my heart that the people are suffering with this devastation now and I’m giving what I can to the relief fund.

The building in the image is one of the historic buildings in Durbar Square Kathmandu now destroyed.  That is sad but right now it’s the people who need our help.

Other news

On 2 May a royal baby was born and apparently the ‘whole’ country celebrated.  I’m not sure I did celebrate though, I mean I am pleased for them as a family but it’s just another baby and I’m sure there were lots born that day throughout the UK.

Then yesterday we had an election, perhaps you heard about it?  I’m just too pissed off to talk about it really.  Things are about to get even tougher for the poor and disadvantaged of this country and it does not make me proud to be British today.

Right, that’s got all that off my chest so now for something cheerful and positive:-)

Holiday

I’ve booked our accommodation and the ferry for our holiday at the end of May and I’m just looking forward to getting away and having a break for a few days before I start my return to work.  I won’t even mind if it rains for the whole week because I’m just going to be chilling out.

The artwork

The page above is a page from my Tikis and Totems journal which I did last week, here’s what it looked like with just the collage:

I cheated with this one and I downloaded a totem pole from the internet, it was a colouring sheet for children to colour, I cut all the different parts from collage instead of colouring it in and then did loads of penwork over the top.

Before-and-after

That’s all for now folks, sorry this was a long one.

Stay well and happy.

Big love

AJ:-)

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Tea!

Teatem Pole

Hello friends!

I hope all is good with you, we are currently enjoying some lovely spring weather here, a bit of sunshine and warmth makes everything look and feel pretty good.  It probably won’t last so I’m making the most of it while I can.

I’m now a third of the way through the radiotherapy treatment and I can’t wait for it to be over.  I think my head must be expanding because I swear that mask gets tighter every day!  I really hate being encased in it, but I’m a good patient so I don’t make any fuss about it, I try and keep calm while it’s on and breathe a mighty sigh of relief when they come and release me from it.  Still I’m sure it’s worth it and it will soon be over.

This is another page from my Tikis and Totems journal.  I decided to do something completely different and I made a Teatem Pole instead of a Totem Pole.  I’m British and we are famous for our tea drinking so I think it’s appropriate that we have a Teatem Pole to honour our heritage:-)

I didn’t do too much penwork on this page, here is the before and after images:

Teatem Pole before and after

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love AJ:-)

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Totems

Totems

Hello friends!

How are you doing?  I am doing well and all is good here.

The page above is the first page inside my Tikis and Totems Journal inspired by the Artstronauts Club.  You have to be a member of the club to see the full contents of the website, but it’s not expensive to join and it’s mega-value for money:-)

I have started with the radiotherapy treatment now, I’ve had three sessions so far and now I’ve got the weekend off.  Next week I have 5 sessions, then the week after 4 sessions and in the final week 3 sessions.  Each session takes about 20 minutes, but I am away from home for several hours, because of the travel and the inevitable waiting around, but that’s OK.  I am doodling at every chance I get:-)

Having the face mask on is REALLY claustrophobic and I have to concentrate on my breathing (and silent chanting) to stay calm.  It’s just about bearable because I know that it will soon finish, but it’s definitely not pleasant.  That mask fits my face REALLY tight.

I have had so much time off work that I am finally going from full pay to half pay this month. That’s a bit of a blow but fortunately I do have savings so we will be able to manage until I get back to work.  It must be really difficult for people who don’t get sick pay, who are self-employed or who don’t have savings.  Dealing with cancer is difficult enough as it is without having to worry about money as well.  I am so lucky that I don’t have to worry about our finances at the moment.

It looks now like I will be returning to work in the second week in June but we are going to get away for a week before that.  I have booked us a self contained chalet on a hillside somewhere on the south coast of England and not too far away from home, for the first week of June,  I’m really looking forward to a week off-line and away from normal life before I start my gentle and phased return to work.   We don’t really have anything planned just a week away with just the two of us.  Luckily a good friend is coming to house/cat sit for us so The Boys will be looked after while we are away.

I am guessing that even when I return to work I will still be monitored to see if I am and remain clear of the cancer, but I feel pretty good so I don’t think I have too much to worry about on that front.  I am looking forward to getting a normal life back though, it’s been pretty tough this last 6 months.

Here is my page with just collage compared to finished page:

Page 1 before andafter

 

Have a good week and I’ll see you soon.

Big love AJ:-) xxx

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Move the Universe

Move the Universe

 

Hello friends

I hope things are good with you, I’m feeling good at the moment (because I’m between treatment) and feel like I am achieving some things.  I got signed off work for another two months which will allow me to have the radiotherapy treatment and give me time to recover before starting back at work (hopefully) in June.

I sent off one of the ‘give away’ packs to Sanje Sofar this week but I’m still waiting to hear from Lucydragon and Isisimaginings so I don’t know where to send their packs too.  If either of you read this please see my last post and let me know your snail-mail address so I can send you your packs.

My computer screen died earlier in the week, at first I thought it was the computer itself but eventually I worked out it was just the screen.  T tried to fix it for me but was unsuccessful so I went out and bought a new one.  I love it, it’s a bigger screen than I had before and everything looks much better now:-)

Today we went to the local hospice to visit a friend.  I have never been there before and was a bit anxious about it.  Obviously he has been very unwell but things were not quite as bad as we had possibly expected. Although still not good. He was dressed and up and in remarkably good spirits. He is hoping to be able to go home again soon so that’s good. I’m glad we went because we haven’t seen this friend in a long while and it was good to reconnect and hopefully let him know that we care.

I have to go back to the local hospital this coming week to see a consultant in the Maxillo Facial unit.  That’s where I had the biopsy taken and was given my diagnosis before being transferred to the Haematology Department.  The two consultants I saw in MaxFax were both very nice so I don’t have any concerns about going back to see them this week, I’m just not sure why they want to see me again but I’ll find out when I get there.  While I’m at the hospital I will also try and find out if there is any help with the cost of travelling over the mainland for 17 days for the radiotherapy treatment.

The page above is from my new small journal and this is what it looked like before the penwork:

Before and After

And if you have 8 minutes to spare here is another video of an early journal:

Well that’s all for now folks see you soon

Big love AJ:-) xxx

 

 

 

Love is the Flower, And the Winners are…

Love is the flower

 

Hello friends

I hope all is good with you and as promised today I’ve made the draw to see who will be the recipients of my packs of paper and craft stuff.

I wrote all the names on pieces of paper and put them all into my ‘beany hat’ that I’ve been wearing at home for the last several months (ever since my hair fell out about two weeks after starting the chemo therapy).  My hair is beginning to grow back now but there is still not enough of it for me to go out without some sort of head covering, but I’m looking forward to the day when I can go out without a hat.  Anyway I digress, I put all the names into the hat and drew out three pieces of paper.  So the winners are….. (imagine drum roll here) …

Lucydragon

Sanje Sofar

and

Isisimaginings

Congratulations! If you could let me know your mail addresses I’ll get your pack off in the post this week. You can email your address to me at subagua@gmail.com  (the first word is subaGua, i.e. a G not a Q, but in lowercase)  I don’t normally check this email box as I generally tend to use it for people who I think will spam me with lots of stuff I don’t want or need, but if you send me your address to that email address and then leave me note below in the comments I will be sure to check so I can post you your goodies.

Today has been a lovely sunny day and I did some gardening, well actually T did some gardening and I held some posts while he banged them into the ground with a big sledge hammer.  I also mowed the weed patch that has a few blades of grass in it and pretends to be a lawn and dug up some weeds from the borders.  That’s not proper gardening but the front garden does look a bit better now.  We used to just have a lawn and borders in the front garden but I’m really not good at looking after lawns (and that is my job) and, as T was always saying he didn’t have enough room to grow all the vegetables he wanted to grow, I persuaded him to put some raised veg beds in the front.  I foolishly thought this would mean all the grass would be eliminated and I would no longer have to mow it.  But now on the rare occasions when I do get the lawn mower out I have to cut around the raised beds, it’s awkward.  Still at least I got some fresh air and exercise today so I mustn’t complain.

Last week I went to Southampton Hospital to have my mask made.  That was an experience!  First of all I had to have the mouth piece made that will hold my mouth open. It was a tube (for breathing through) wrapped in some sort of gum which almost filled up my mouth. I had to put it in my mouth and bite into the gum to make an impression, then wait until it hardened.  While this was going on they soaked this hard plastic sheet that would become my mask in a hot water bath.  I had to lay on the bed thing while they got me in exactly the right position. Then when I was correctly aligned they laid this hot but not unbearable plastic over my face and clipped it to the board behind my head, then they moulded the whole thing to the contours of my face.  There is a mouth hole in the mask so I can breath through it, but no eye holes.  The plastic is opaque so once it’s on my face I can ‘t see a thing.  Fortunately they spoke to me all the time telling me what they were doing so I felt reassured.  Once the mask was contoured to my face they put ice packs on it, so it went from being quite warm to being very cold which hardened the plastic and eventually they took it off.  It probably only took about 20 minutes.  It was weird but just about bearable.

After that I had to go and have a CT scan with the mouth piece in and mask on again. The scan didn’t take long.  Definitely not the most pleasant experience but I will have to go through this every time I have the radiotherapy and I will be able to cope with it.

I also got my schedule for radiotherapy which starts on April 8 and finishes on April 29. So for most of April I’ll be travelling across the water on a daily basis (except weekends) to have the treatment.  I guess that will be good practice for getting back into the routine of getting up for work every day.

I’ll be recuperating for most of May and hopefully finally starting my phased return to work in June.  That’s my plan anyway unless something else crops up in the meantime.

Also I am hoping we can get away for a short holiday at the beginning of June just because I think we both deserve it.  We just have to try and work out how the cats will be looked after while we are away and book up somewhere to stay.

The page above is from my new small journal and I thought I’d show you how it changes between the collage and when I’ve added all the penwork:

Collage                                                                                          Penwork

Collage & Penwork comparison

 

That’s just about all my news for now.  I hope you are all well and happy and, if you are in this part of the world, enjoying the beginnings of Spring.

See you all soon

Big love

AJ xxx