~ back to adventures in Europe :)

My European adventure began a few weeks ago with a cancelled flight and being rebooked on a flight through London to Hamburg. So I made the most of it and indulged in a scone with clotted cream and jam as well as sticky toffee pudding for lunch. After a long day of traveling and little sleep all I wanted was sugar and caffeine! This was also the first of being asked if I wanted American or filter coffee. It seems that filter coffee is quite popular, it’s strong so I like it. 

I arrived in Hamburg to weather so cold and grey that my first purchase was a hat, or toque as we Canadians say. My ears were so cold walking around the first evening in early August. I have worn my new hat numerous times during my stay. Although I am happy to say that at the moment as I sit outside typing this at a cafe having a glass of rosé it is a balmy 31C in the sunshine.    🙂

Hamburg is a wonderful city to explore. I have roamed around and taken in everyday life. There is so much history in this city. As I walk along each day amidst buildings old and new I wonder what has happened here, what was life like so many years ago. If these old building could talk, what stories would they tell? So many historical events are marked in little ways. As I walk along the sidewalks and see the brass squares with names on them my heart sinks to know that someone lost their life in that very spot.

This is a city with a strong bicycle lifestyle. So much so that there are red brick paths on the sidewalks just for bicycles. It is also important to know the rules of these pathways here since some ride very fast. There is an etiquette to riding here, one must ride in the direction of traffic and if riding the wrong direction give way to those riding the correct direction. Walkers beware, you may be struck if you walk on the bicycle path or irritate the cyclists for sure. I find myself looking both ways before walking across any red path, a habit that was formed by my second day here! Oh ya, as people are whizzing by on their bicycles I realize that I have only seen a handful wearing helmets during my entire stay. Interesting to learn that there are more pedestrian car accidents than bicycle car. Something to think about.

This trip I have explored Lüneberg, Weisbaden and taken a short cruise down the River Rhine. Had a Thai massage and visited a Hamam. Hamburg is also a very multicultural city, we have been enjoying food from around the world. I’ve been happy to dine in Japanese, Lebanese, Indian, Nepalese, Austrian, Swedish, Pakistani, Italian and Turkish restaurants. I have discovered wonderful foods that I have not had before. Since I am willing to try many local specialties, I can’t forget to mention I tried Apfelwein while near Frankfurt and an Asbach coffee while in Rüdesheim, of course I enjoyed both  😉

One thing I love about visiting my friend here in Hamburg and meeting her friends is that I always learn so much about the history of each area we visit from them. There is so much more to see that one or two visits is never enough for me. When we talk about options of things to see and do, I often say ‘next time’ because for me there will always be a next time to visit.

Those who know me know that I do not watch much television. Here we have watched a program called Kitchen Impossible with a chef from Hamburg, Tim Mälzer. I may not understand most of what they say, but I don’t need to understand the language to catch on to the camaraderie between the chefs and laugh along with them, although I did understand the universal curse words they spoke! haha!!

During this leg of my adventure I have spent time with wonderful friends, met lovely new people, visited beautiful historic places and collected a toque, sweaters, a filter for coffee, marzipan chocolates, products from the Hamam and Austrian coffee. Until next time Germany. 

Now I am onto the next leg of my adventure in Italy. Ciao!

Still Sparkling!   :)

~ walking an emotional tightrope…

For some time now I have been feeling like I am walking an emotional tightrope and am one step away from falling off into emotional darkness. 

Living in constant pain is a struggle. Each day I talk myself into being jolly and moving forward. So I work to keep my balance on the tightrope since the darkness below looks cold and unwelcoming. My preference is to stay on the bright side where the sparkles are yet the darkness keeps pulling at me. 

Today I feel like I slipped on the tightrope and am now tangled up in it. I went for the CT scan of my neck to see if there is a connection to the pain in my wrists and found out it was to be a scan with contrast, which meant another IV needle. Immediately my heart sank even though I tried to be brave. I explained to the nurse what I have been through and how my veins are not happy to be poked and to please not jiggle the needle around if it doesn’t take. He understood and tried his best but the IV didn’t work. I immediately began to cry, which totally surprised me, and said to him ‘please don’t try again, can we do the scan without contrast. Now that I am worked up the IV won’t work.’ So he spoke to the radiologist and we did the scan without contrast. Hopefully the doctors will be able to see what they need to see. 

I am still in a pretty sad mood after this and can’t help feeling that I can’t do this anymore. I am so tired of appointments and needles.   😦

It is definitely time for time away to build up my mental and emotional strength.  I need to build up some sparkle to get me through.

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂

~ another follow-up passed and onto an exciting countdown!!

Happy to say that I have passed another follow up with flying sparkles! Well for the most part. I am still having issues with my hands and wrists. To the point that I have stopped working because the pain is with me 24/7 making everything in life quite difficult. The doctor has ordered some additional tests and referral to a neurologist to examine the issue further. Side effects are miserable and these are not the only ones I am experiencing… 

Strange as it may seem, there is something called treatment induced menopause. I had been told about this in the beginning of treatment and kinda giggled at the idea. Well now that I am officially in this state I am not giggling so much. Instead I am wondering if this unnatural push into a new physical state is playing a role in the misery of my hands and wrists. With my greater concerns about this being related to bone density loss and increase of heart issues. Time will tell. Just another odd  event in this health adventure that one would never have anticipated. 

Over the last few months my hair has been growing. This is a good thing. Most people ask if I will grow it out and I get caught up in the idea and say yes!! I had thought this was a good idea until my hair reached about 2 inches in length, making it a fluff ball and looking like Blanche from the Golden Girls! The texture of new chemo curl hair is course and somewhat dry with a mind of its own. At this time my hair is super thick, I think even more so than it was before which is seriously thick! So I bought some wide headbands and was convinced I would grow it. After a lot of bitching and complaining about my hair and one day of wearing a headband followed by sincere apologies to my follicles that were cursing me, I booked an appointment to cut my hair super short! After the cut I was once again happy and came to the realization that I am the most miserable I have been through this whole experience because of my hair!! It’s now four weeks later and Blanche is emerging again…cutting it off tomorrow before I start bitching again! Sad but true! 

At my follow up appointment yesterday I shared my hair and misery realization with my doctor. She and I had a laugh about this since I have been a pretty relaxed and calm patient overall. I was relieved to learn that my hair is currently in an abnormal growth process, since it all grew in at once and none falls out! Over time the growth pattern will continue to change, perhaps in good and bad ways, and hopefully normalize. Learning this is a tremendous relief. Now I am happy to keep my hair super short and maybe even shave it again over the next few years! After all I have more important concerns with my body and state of health than my hair. 

Only a few sleeps until I depart for a nice long rest period in Europe. I am looking forward to visiting friends and relaxing. A change of scenery in my favourite places to rejuvenate my soul and enhance my healing is just what the doctor ordered.  Adventures here I come!!  

I sparkle on…one day at a time.     🙂

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