T + 739 Back to school

Posted by raetsel at Sunday, September 26, 2010

A non-medical post, which must be a good sign. However for those who hang on my every word of my medical condition: This week I came off the gabapentine nerve pain killers completely and have had no twinges from my shingles which themselves are fading fast and barely visible as light blemishes around my middle.


Back to School

Some of you may know that I did a degree with the Open University in the late 1990s in maths and computing subjects. Well I am now back with my old Alma Mater but this time doing my first course where the code for it begins with an A indicating it is in the Arts faculty.

Specifically I am embarking upon A215 Creative Writing. This is a second level course but it does not need any pre-requisites as long as people are used to or can cope with studying on their own. Having done a lot of self-study not only with the OU I should be able to cope with the demands in terms of managing my time.

After completing NaNoWriMo to write Reunion last year (did I mention I wrote a novel? ) and a couple of other short pieces of writing subsequently, I decided I needed to have some external stimulus to help me get into a more regular writing habit. I also recognised that rather than finding things out the hard way in terms of what works and what doesn't in my writing I might be able to short cut some of that process by studying the craft of writing.

The course is aimed at beginning writers and after covering ways to get into a writing habit it covers three areas Fiction, Poetry and Life Writing.

My main interest will be in fiction but I have been known to pen the odd poem though not for a long time. The area of life writing is the least appealing to me but I'll approach it with an open mind. It may come as a surprise to people that I am not interested in life writing as a few have suggested that I turn this blog into a book.

I guess my reasons for being less keen on life writing are two-fold, firstly I suppose in one way I already do that via this blog though it is hardly the most literary of endeavours and not the main purpose of the blog. Secondly, whilst I enjoy telling anecdotes about my experiences to people in a face to face situation the thought of writing them down for others to read has less appeal because one of the joys of writing for me is in the creation of something new, something that I don't already know as it were.

Finally I can't imagine it being particularly interesting to anyone who doesn't know me and those of you who do have this blog anyway. That last point is stated very frequently by people in relation to writing about their life. Why would anyone be interested? What's so special about my life? This is stated by Stephen Fry in the latest volume of his autobiography that I have just finished listening to him read on audiobook. The way he phrases it, and perhaps this is the big difference, is that his life is no more or less interesting than anyone else's.

I guess it comes down to the telling as much as the content but let us wait and see what I make of it when I come to that section of the course.

One downside to doing this course is that I will not be able to enter the NaNoWriMo this year as I know I won't have time to complete it whilst also studying A215. Maybe next year.

Finally I recently wrote a Drabble which is a story of exactly 100 words, this is available on my ABC Tales account but as it is only 100 words I thought I would reproduce it below as well.

House Arrest - A Drabble

I knew it was a risk going out in daylight but I was desperately low on supplies.

As I turned the corner of my street I saw the dark, menacing outline of one of their vans patrolling.

Would my neighbour cover for me?

I just couldn’t risk it.

I was on my last warning.

I sprinted down the alley.

Lungs bursting, heart pounding, I vaulted the garden fence and crashed through the back door.

Was I safe?

I looked up the hall and saw with dread, there on the mat, a small card:

“We tried to deliver a parcel today…”

T + 730 Now We Are Two

Posted by raetsel at Thursday, September 16, 2010

Today is the second anniversary of my Bone Marrow Transplant. Or if you prefer it is my immune system's second birthday.


Two years on and things are going really rather well. Apart from the little hiccough with shingles last month, since the beginning of this year there has been a steady reduction in medication and a steady return to normal life.

Looking back to this time last year things were a bit rough as the steroid withdrawal was causing a problem and I had the beginning of my under active thyroid taking effect. Even so over two years I've only been back in hospital twice ( by a strange coincidence both in August almost exactly a year apart. Trust me I do not use the Queen Elizabeth hospital for my Summer holidays. )

I also passed another small milestone along the way. The 12th September was 900 days since I first started chemo in preparation for the transplant that was to follow a few months later.

By this time next year I really should be back to being as normal as I am going to get ( you can interpret that a number of ways of course but I am just referring to medical matters. ;o)






T + 715 Croeso i Gymru

Posted by raetsel at Thursday, September 02, 2010

Welcome to Wales


The end of my convalescence was spent with a relaxing weekend in Wales. By happenstance Gareth and I had already decided we were going to go away for a short break somewhere over the August Bank Holiday and it coincided nicely with the end of the sick note for my shingles.

We stayed at the Plas Morfa Hotel in Llanon, Ceredigion overlooking Cardigan Bay. As you will see from the pictures the sea was literally a stone's throw from our hotel room.

We arrived on the Saturday and just walked along the local beach and had a very nice meal in the hotel on the evening. On the Sunday we did a four mile coastal path walk into the small town of Aberaeron which according to the sign was just four miles away. It was quite a hilly path and I thought I coped pretty well really. It took us 90 minutes to do the walk but later that day we got the bus back and it took 9 minutes. ( Though the view wasn't that good).

We had a fish and chip lunch on the front at Aberaeron and after returning to the hotel via said bus we drove into Aberystwyth on the night for a look round the town and delicious meal at the Olive Branch Greek Restaurant overlooking the pier.

Monday we drove back via Devil's Bridge and took in eponymous bridge and the stunning nature trail along the valley by the spectacular Gyfarllwyd Falls on the Rheidol river.

Pictures of the trip can be seen here and here.

There are also a couple of videos. One of the rather windy start to the day on the Sunday and one of the waterfalls at Devil's Bridge.



Back to Work

Tuesday saw me back at work and I went in to the office so I could get a clean break from my stay at home as it were and also as after three weeks at home I was missing the day time company. It was a tiring day but I was glad I did it. I was able to work from home yesterday and it was easy to get back into the work groove.

Today I was back in the office and tomorrow is a usual Friday working from home.

My shingles pain is still very up and down but overall improving and I can go almost a whole day without any significant twinges.

Sunday