Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reading and sleeping

Day 15: this is my first day of a third week without chemotherapy. The side effects were getting so bad that I have been given a week's respite this time. Yesterday was a bad day with no energy and I spent a lot of it sleeping, but today seems to be starting OK. The neuropathy is no better. It is a strange phenomenon. Pain and temperature is preserved, as is deep touch, but fine touch has gone. I think also there has been a loss of propriaception though this is harder to self measure. It is of characteristic 'glove and stocking' distribution, extending up my legs to halfway up my calves. It also involves the front two thirds of my tongue. It has affected my taste too. I have really gone off sweet things, especially strawberry, which I now loathe. However, some milk chocolates are very helpful, both for calories and for soothing my stomach, though very sweet chocolate is not welcome. I have a craving for savories, especially bitter things. Apricot, rhubarb, gooseberries all find favor. I dare say that a pint of bitter would go down well, though I am off alcohol.

We were promised a scorching summer, but July has been rather wet after Wimbledon. What has characterized this summer has been the wind. Living on the coast we normally experience cooling breezes to ameliorate the heat in summer, but this year it has mostly been too cold to sit out in the garden. Today is another overcast, showery day.

I have been reading John Le Carre's "A Most Wanted Man". It is a despairing look at modern life. Set in Germany, it explores the modern world of espionage directed against the Islamist threat. Germany is depicted as weak and ineffectual with one half of the Intelligence services in thrall to the Americans, and the other half part of the Human Rights mafia. America is clearly the villain; they do terrible things including extraordinary rendition, but are excused as being ignorant as Johnny-come-latelies to the spying game. The British are the worst, as they not only do terrible things, but they know what they are doing.

The reader is obviously meant to sympathize with the oppressed half Chechnyen/half Russian who has been tortured and imprisoned by both Russians and Turks, and with the rather naive British banker and German lawyer, but I am not sure whether I do. It seems probable that the Chechnyen was involved in terrorism albeit against the Russian beast, the Brit was a failure as a banker, husband and father and what is more acquiesced to his own father's money laundering. The young female German lawyer sees good in bad people and turns a blind eye to their crimes. In the end a man responsible for funding atrocities and assassinations is scooped up by the Americans to the disgust of one German group that wanted to turn him and use him to destroy Islamist terror from within.

Overall, the story presents a picture of how complex the 'War on Terror' is. Nothing is black and white and people have different opinions on shades of grey.

I spent some of the time reading the book in the garden on our swing chair. When the sun shines the garden looks very well with the hydrangeas all in full bloom as well as the lavender and potentillas. Buddleias are attracting bees and butterflies and the large tubs are overflowing with red, pink and white begonias. Smaller pots house white, red and orange double begonias. The fuchsias have been poor this year but patches of orange montbretia liven up the green, for green is everywhere. There is no sign of brown on the lawn, which is more meadow than grass, having seen a crop of daisies, then clover and now a yellow vetch.

I have had to take out one of the yew trees in our front hedge as it had died on us. I hope that the two adjacent trees will bridge the gap in time. Still, we have a new gardener who will, I hope, know about these things.


H Paul Garland said...

I sure hope you are feeling better Dr. Hamblin.

It was a real pleasure reading your summary of John Le Carre's book, and your comments on the weather in Southern England this year.

Your garden sounds beautiful!

Wishing you the very best,

Paul Garland

Marcia said...

I, on the other hand, appreciate your description of neuropathy. It took me a long time to decide that is what I was suffering from, but your description would have settled it long ago! I trust you will have the good fortune to be gradually released from its grip. I have been exercising more (finally have energy) and my legs work much better and sometimes feel almost normal! I do still have trouble once in awhile figuring out where my feet are, and I stumble a bit.

I also enjoy the review of your garden.
God keep you!

Deb Light said...

Glad you are able to sit out in your beautiful flower garden and enjoy a good book!
Sorry you are still having problems with feet and hand numbness.Praying that will resolve itself soon!
Hang in there!
God Bless,

Anonymous said...

Your account of neuropathy is interesting to me because I have lived with a congenital spinal defect (very mild) obviously all my life. It is called a tethered cord and these days I would have had surgery as an infant to detach the cord.

Luckily, the only effects so far are what I call 'dead patches' on my thighs. It is odd, because they sound very much like you describe. So now I know a bit more about what you are talking about, I think.

About Le Carre, I loved his older books, but his very liberal attitudes have taken me a bit off of him of late. I think the last book I read of his was "Our Game" I think it was called. It was OK.

Still, he is a master at writing about the spy game. His greatest books, the George Smiley books, are an absolute pleasure to read. And the miniseries with Alec Guinness are absolutely not to be missed.