I can now see why people draw up wish-lists in John Lewis or Harrods before sending out wedding invitations.  I have been deeply touched by the offers of help from friends and colleagues on receiving my news. But it is hard to know what is really meant by “Is there anything at all I can do?” and even harder to know what to suggest. At the beginning, I found myself resorting to the absurd: “Well, the front path needs re-laying” or “You could find a very quick cure for this particular cancer”, perhaps out of embarrassment or dismay at finding myself in a situation where I need help.  The equivalent of a John Lewis dinner service or a set of crystal wine glasses from Harrods has been Manel, on an overnight visit, getting up early, going shopping, and making meals for the freezer for days when Nurse J and Matron A are too exhausted to cook; or Bobbie just being there (with marzipan chocolate) at my bleakest moments; or a group of our neighbours inviting us round for coffee and cake and setting up an easily activated e-mail list; or American visitor, Ann, taking the saw and secateurs to the back garden; or Sian in Scotland sending lovely long  letters; or Jane taking me to medical appointments when I’m too jittery to drive; or Cigdem sourcing raised loo-seats; or Kate doing preliminary coffin research or Candida lending me the perfect black dress. And for all this help and the very many other offers, I am hugely grateful.

So the attack of sciatica that made sight-seeing in Rome a little tricky turned out not to be sciatica at all but pain resulting from a lesion.  A lesion caused by the spread of the giant cell tumour that isn’t meant to spread anywhere, let alone to the pelvis of my so-called “good” side.  And which didn’t show up in the last scan. Nurse Jackie and I received the news in rather stunned silence. I asked a few questions in a voice that seemed to be coming from a very, very long way away; mainly whether there were any treatment options (unfortunately, no) and whether I’d be around to help Seb with his UCAS form for nursing, and get to Matron Anna’s graduation next July (hopefully, yes).

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The dropped curb was clearly not a priority for the Roman or Renaissance civil engineer. But I have a feeling that Nurse Jackie (whose body is now a temple) is secretly relieved that he is able to keep to his fitness regime as he hauls the wheelchair up steep steps and out of tram tracks and gaps in the cobbles as we make our way by train to Sardinia. A badly timed flare-up of sciatica, which has made walking almost impossible, has meant I am very definitely getting my money’s worth out of our newly acquired travel wheelchair, originally intended just for the long walks at railway stations. There has been the odd very cross word (mine) as Nurse J boldly pushes me across pedestrian crossings at which drivers clearly consider it cissy to stop. And the odd yelp of pain from people foolish enough to change course or stop suddenly in front of us. But apart from that, we are having fun; doing a bit of sight-seeing, sitting reading in cafes and drinking beer at lunchtime. Tomorrow morning it’s the two-foot drop from the platform and the traverse across several sets of railway tracks to get to our train to Cagliari. Nurse J is putting on a brave face. As am I

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To those of you who very kindly voted for Interpreters for the People’s Book Prize despite the hugely complicated voting procedure (I lied when I said it was pretty straightforward) THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  It won!  I am delighted and very grateful for all your support and the very many lovely comments I’ve received since winning. 


So now it’s back to life in Amputee World where I’ve regressed to hopping around on one leg as I await a new socket. But on the plus side, I’ve sourced some very cheering Lycra (which oddly matches our loo seat) for the obliging prosthetic technicians to do their magic with.  Watch this space…