Let The Dying Live!

Painting by Iain Vellacott at www.inoils.com

Painting by Iain Vellacott at www.inoils.wordpress.com

“You’ve got this life and while you’ve got it, you’d better kiss like you only have one moment, try to hold someone’s hand like you will never get another chance to, look into people’s eyes like they’re the last you’ll ever see, watch someone sleeping like there’s no time left, jump if you feel like jumping, run if you feel like running, play music in your head when there is none, and eat cake like it’s the only one left in the world!”
~ C. JoyBell C.

 

This post is the next in my Wednesday series on death and dying…

Many years ago, my friend Pixie was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. It was caught late because she was breast-feeding, and doctors kept telling her she had mastitis. It was only her continued urging that led to her ultimate diagnosis. Despite using both aggressive traditional and alternative medicine the cancer continued to progress.

With her initial diagnosis and surgery came much attention from friends. But then Pixie’s illness dragged on.

And on.

Friends stopped calling. Family came much less frequently. The immediate crisis had been averted, and other folk went back to their regular lives. Some also stopped visiting or calling because they didn’t know what to say, or what to do. Chronic and terminal illness can be very lonely.

I was also seriously ill. So it was logical that Pixie and I should keep each other company. She would go to my house, or I to hers. We talked a lot about life. We talked a lot about death. Both of us had been given a poor prognosis. Both of us had experienced physicians tell us that we were dying.

Eventually I found a new doctor, and a new regime that seemed to promise better outcomes. My outlook improved. But Pixie continued to decline. Soon she needed a cane to walk. She was frail, and tired easily. She could no longer drive. Her life became an endless round of medical appointments and resting at home.

One morning she rang me. She’d had more bad news. There were no treatment options left for her. Her doctors could only suggest pain management and palliative care. Could I come over for a visit? Yes, I could. (this was back in the days when I was still driving!) Dress up in something pretty, she said. Wear a nice perfume. We are going out!

I drove to her house, and Pixie shuffled to the door to greet me. Instead of her usual dressing gown and slippers she was wearing a pink dress, pearls and flats. She had a scarf tied over her head where only patchy hair had ever regrown. Closing the house door firmly behind her she took my arm. Come on, she said. I’m taking you for coffee!

Are you drinking coffee, I asked, surprised.

I am now, she laughed. And so are you. Today we are ordering like we are living, not dying!

We ventured a short distance to a large local plant nursery that had a gift shop and a cafe attached. Taking my arm, Pixie and I walked slowly through the gardens and rows of plants for sale, and then took a seat in the little cafe. It was still so early that the staff were busy watering the plants and sweeping the paths, ready for the day ahead.

A waiter came and took our order and very quickly two excellent coffees arrived.

Pixie picked up her coffee, inhaled and smiled rapturously. I sipped mine tentatively. It was delicious. Neither of us had drunk coffee for the longest time. It wasn’t on our cure-everything-diets.

We were quiet for a moment, perusing the menus. None of it was the food we’d usually eat. The lemon tart looks amazing, Pixie said. So does the eggs benedict, I added. We got both, with extra side plates so that we could share. Pixie made sure that her lemon tart came with cream and ice-cream.

What’s the occasion, I asked, once the waiter had left with our orders.

I’m sick of dying, Pixie said. I’m still alive. I’ve been alive for ages and I’m going to be alive for a bit longer yet. Hopefully. So I’ve decided to live while I’m alive. Dying is overrated, and it isn’t any fun!

We were both quiet for a moment, sitting with the truth of that.

It is so easy for dying to sneak in and rob the colour and the pleasure from life while you’re still alive.

For the eight months before Pixie became completely bedridden and shifted into that final stage of life we continued to have little outings, or on days when Pixie wasn’t up to a car trip I’d bring the world to her via treats, flowers, conversation and news.

One of our most precious days was when I wheeled her bed out onto their patio so she would feel the dappled sunlight and smell the fresh air of the changing seasons. She could look up through the pergola and see green leaves and flowers. She could see trees. She said it made her feel connected to life in a way that she couldn’t experience from between the white walls of her room.

My dear friend taught me something very important about dying.

Even when you are dying you are still living. That time is precious. There can be so much pleasure and value in it if it is lived and savoured.

So, if you, or someone you know has a chronic or terminal illness, think about how to have more shared experiences of living. This goes for people who are aging too!

Take Pixie’s hard-earned wisdom and let it shape your life. Celebrate and live life. For yourself and for your loved ones. Let the dying live. Help them to live while they are still alive. It will enrich life for both of you.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole ❤ xx

 

The Very Valid ‘Not Coping’ Style of Coping

teapot portrait

Image by Lauren O’Neill. You can view her work here: www.laurenipsum.ie/projects

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”  ~ Anne Lamott

 

Hi. Lovelies.

Gee. It’s been one of those weeks.

So, I was sitting in my lounge room yesterday morning, crying. Not blogging.

Crying because I was in agony. Crying because all I wanted to do was pee and when I did it felt like I was pissing razorblades. Crying because everything hurt. Because I was herxing from the antibiotics for my urinary tract and assorted other infections, and these same antibiotics were playing havoc with my Lyme bacterial load. Because of constipation from the pain meds. Because my stomach was so grossly bloated that none of my clothes fit. Because I’d been vomiting from pressure on my stomach from my wildly overgrown fibroids. Because I’d begun to be attacked by Gorn, after two years Gorn-free and hadn’t slept all night.

Crying because of constantly leaking urine like one of those dodgy teapots that always dribble from the spout when you pour.

Crying because it was only three more days until surgery, and instead of dreading it, now it couldn’t come soon enough.

Everything was hard. I was exhausted. Broken. Pain-wracked.

Miserable.

I’d wanted to blog but my brain was empty. I’d thought to maybe do a little work, but I could scarcely sit upright. All my plans were out the window. It was all just mess.

“I’m not coping,” I sobbed to the empty room. “Not coping!”

“NOT COPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed that one.

After which I cried some more.

As I calmed down from heaving sobs to simple snivelling, I realised something quite profound.

It wasn’t true.

I AM coping. Not very well, and certainly not with any great elegance or panache. It’s fair to say that I am just limping along right now – held together with duct tape, spit, snot, drugs, meditation, cobwebs and sighs.

Is that coping? Well, I’m still alive. I’m making it through the day. I’m hanging on. When I thought I was at the end of my rope, after a while I saw that the rope was longer.

So I stopped snivelling, wiped my face and laughed at myself. Kind laughing, mind you. The sort where I patted myself on the back comfortingly, seeing myself as an overtired and distressed child. I was flooded with compassion for myself. It’s a completely shit space I’m in, and it’s totally okay if my style of coping is a not-coping style right now.

I want to let you know that it’s okay for you too – if you sometimes find yourself in a not-coping/coping kind of a space. Life is messy and hard and unpredictable. Sometimes we ride the crest of the wave, high on life. Sometimes we are deep beneath the suck and pull of a massive tsunami.

I’m not alone, I reminded myself. I prayed to my loved ones who’ve crossed over to look out for me, and I called on all of my Guides and Angels and God to look after me and my husband and all of our family and friends. (That’s you too, of course!)

Then I went and made myself a cup of tea.

 

Later that same morning, my kind friends Bek and Lizzie popped round for an hour. They brought pre-birthday treats and balloons, and we had a sharing of troubles and laughter.

The balloons themselves had a special message for me. Yesterday would have been my beloved Nana’s 101st birthday. Not only that, each year when I was little, Pa would give me a special balloon as one of my presents. A marbled one of pinks and blues and whites, in an era where most balloons were just one colour. Nana would always have sticky bun, as well as cupcakes with pink icing for me.

My friend Lizzie brought me some of those same balloons Pa used to give me. Bek brought me cupcakes and sticky bun. Coincidence much?

cool party candles

Check out how cool those candles are. The flame is the same colour as the candle!

“If you can’t laugh when things go bad–laugh and put on a little carnival–then you’re either dead or wishing you were.”
~ Stephen King

balloons and cake

Yeah, I know. Those balloons look like weird inflatable boobs. Did I mention it’s been one of those weeks?

I was in pain and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck the entire duration of their visit. But my soul was happy. My heart was full. And after they left I lay down and slept for a few blissful hours, feeling my grandparents watching over me.

If not-coping coping is the best you can do, then that’s enough. And remember, you’re never alone. Reach out to your loved ones, to the Angels, to your friends and family.

I’m thinking of you, and sending love,

Nicole ❤ xx

 

 

Today’s Sunday Planning Session And Some True Confessions

2016-04-24 18.24.41

“Live in the moment but just be mindful that you are working towards something.”
~ Eric Zaccone

 

I know, I know. It’s Sunday. And on Sundays I don’t blog, and I don’t go on the internet and I don’t do any work.

Except that on this particular Sunday I am!

I’m taking some time over a cup of tea to revisit my yearly goals, my One Big Thing and my support focus areas using my Year of ME Planner. I’m thinking about the months ahead, and the plans I had for August, and how I might need to amend them or juggle them around. Plans are what hold me together in rough seas, and right now my sea is rougher than usual.

As you might know, I am scheduled for major surgery on September 5. Seeing I’ve shared such embarrassing issues as vomiting in public places and incontinence here on my blog, I figured I might as well continue in that same spirit of disclosure! I have an old problem that was put on the back-burner a few years ago because my heart was failing and I wasn’t up to surgery at that time. Other health  issues became a bigger priority. Most people with chronic lyme disease have similar stories – they have multiple serious health issues over time, rather than just one thing…

Just a few weeks ago (well after my holiday had ended, thank goodness) I was revisited by reminders of this old problem. I suffer from fibroids, benign tumors in and around my uterus which have caused pain and heavy menstrual bleeding for most of my adult life. Three years ago my doctors chose a method of halting those symptoms while we dealt with my heart and my other ongoing issues that were of more pressing priority.

The treatment for my fibroids worked, and the problem slipped to the back of my mind. My doctors and I were hoping that menopause might slow the growths or shrink them and that we could avoid surgery. For the past few years I’ve been symptom-free.

(And before I receive an avalanche of helpful advice about natural cures for fibroids… I have been doing them all for thirty years, and none of them have worked. I’ve also had surgery three times previously. Believe me, I have never wanted to get to this point, and have done everything in my power to reverse this. All those other methods have failed. All of them.)

From my latest scans it is apparent that I now have nearly thirty of these fibroids, including one that is 15cm x 4 cm, and a 20cm x 30cm new growth that is enlarging rapidly, and which has become involved with some of my other organs and internal structures.It will be long and complicated surgery to remove and repair all of these things. The growths in my belly are causing me a lot of pain and discomfort and a small amount of worry.

There. Now you know what’s going on with me.

Anyway, life goes on. It’s Sunday, and Sunday is my planning day. So I am planning. I hope you are, too!

I pulled this week’s oracle card for some guidance, and I thought I’d share it with you so you could see my process. No, I don’t use the little book’s meaning for the card. I let the card speak to my intuition instead.

2016-08-12 12.17.24

I love this card. It’s optimistic. It’s hopeful and positive. Here’s the fox, sitting on the egg of all her hopes and dreams and potential. It makes me feel like she is guarding those dreams carefully. That resonates for me. I was drawn to her soft, vulnerable underbelly and her complete dedication to her task. She gives me a sense of strength and direction.

She is also gazing intently through her telescope. A telescope brings certain things into clear focus. What things do I need to focus on right now? Into the future?

The telescope was the key image for me this week. Narrowing my focus. Bringing things into clear perspective. Keeping my eye on the destination and not being distracted by all the bombs going off around me.

Miss Fox is being watched by the moon, and by her unseen loved ones. She feels protected and very loved.

The word OBSERVER reminds me not to get caught up in my head or my emotions. Detachment is a useful skill.

The numbers 4 and 9 are also significant for me this week, although often I pay them no attention at all. 4 speaks to consistent work and steady effort. It’s a number of organisation and systems and attending to plans. 9 is for the completion of cycles. I am taking that as my personal good omen! Both of these numbers give me direction and a lift in my spirits.

I may not be able to barrel forward at my usual rate of knots this week, or in the coming months. That doesn’t matter. I can let slide whatever isn’t important. I can ask for help. I can delegate. I can do what I CAN do, and I will keep my eye on the prize.

Okay, time for me to finish my planning session. How about you? What’s ahead for you in this new week? Where would you benefit from putting your focus between now and the end of this year?

Thank you too, for all of your messages of love and support. It has really buoyed me up.

See you tomorrow.

Big love and hugs, Nicole xx

This Dawning Day

“Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.”
~ Oscar Wilde

 

I woke earlier than usual today. 3am. The night air was cold, the comforter pulled right up to my chin, warm and snug around me. Outside it was raining. Cities are so different to farms. I could hear the occasional faint slick of tyres on wet roads, the sounding of a train’s horn and then the click and clatter of the rails, the muffled roar of a jet engine as another plane lifted off and headed for far away.

In the dark beside me was Ben’s rhythmic breathing. My ankles were pinned by the weight of Nurse Bert’s heavy head. Harry Dog stirred, crept up from the foot of the bed, and then nestled in behind my back. Too early by far to get up yet, but not to meditate. I eased myself up into a sitting position, reached for my mala and began.

An hour later it was still dark. Still raining. Around me everyone slumbered peacefully in the pre-dawn quiet.

I would have liked to creep down beneath the covers and go back to sleep, but my mind filled with busy-ness. I knew there would be no more sleep today. Instead I slid out of bed as quietly as possible and shuffled for the door.

I’m always so stiff in the morning.

As my feet made tiny halting movements in the dark, more sliding than stepping, I suddenly knew my grandmother’s body as my own. This is the way she would walk, old and frail but stubbornly independent. There are not many mornings I haven’t shuffled in the past twenty years. Most times I move freely once I warm up. But sometimes I hobble all day.

On the way to the bathroom I do my daily check. Glands up. Morning fever. Throat not sore this morning. Good. Pain? I note all the places. I rate them on a scale of one to ten. I rank my fatigue. My level of alertness. Can I form thoughts? Is my memory there or gone?

When I hit the light switch I wait to see if my vision stays blurry or whether the world around me becomes clear.

Not clear.

I still have limited vision from my left eye. It’s been three weeks now, this latest stretch. A lyme thing. To be one-eyed means that the world around me softens and shifts to two-dimensional. I have no accurate way to judge depth or distance. You’ll know if I have an eye thing. I’m always covered in bruises from where I misjudged the edges of my world. Thank goodness Ben drives me where I need to go, and helps me cross the road or navigate obstacles.

I have a host of coping strategies, and once I get out of my mind and my body and into my plans and dreams I am just fine. Life rolls on. I have found so many ways to thrive and keep going despite current circumstances. Overall, my health has been steadily trending in the right direction. I remind myself of this. Much, much better. I am much, much better.

It’s still raining. Still cold.

Harry Dog has snuck downstairs now to keep me company at my computer. I cradle a mug of ginger tea to warm my hands and my insides, and he curls around my feet and goes back to sleep, one ear cocked for any possible sign that it might be Cafe Time.

I’m on edge today, as much as I am trying not to be. I am off to the hospital this morning for scans. An old problem. One that sat in the back seat with a band-aid solution as my doctors and I worked on more serious issues – like heart failure and multi-organ failure, all of which are now sorted. Health problems are always triaged. I understand that. But this one has caused me no grief for a few years. I’d almost forgotten it was there.

I admit it. I’ve had a crisis of faith these past few days. To enjoy an overseas vacation, to feel health and energy and strength in your body, to feel almost normal, and then…

…and then to have increasing pain, increasing fatigue, a sudden recurrence of old problems. For these problems to escalate and then keep escalating. For your doctors to be suddenly concerned and taking urgent action – more scans, more bloods, more tests, more scans.

Well, it’s taken me a while to get myself back on solid ground again. For me to drag myself off the floor and be ready for whatever comes next.

I’m up now. I’m ready. Or I tell myself that anyway as I sip my ginger tea.

It is ironic, I think, that at the moment when it all goes to shit for me (again!) the pipe in our city house bursts, the rooms flood, things become a soggy stinking mess requiring immediate action. And it has been a glorious distraction. Thank goodness. Maybe that was perfect timing after all. Symbolic too, of everything needing a major clean-up, re-install and renovation.

I’m okay, and I’ll be okay.

That’s a well-used mantra in my house. It works. Trust me.

I’d better dress now. Fasting bloods for me at 6.30am, and then Cafe Time for me, Harry and Ben, while Bert gets a little more shut-eye, all snuggled up on our bed.

Today will pass by in the blink of an eye and tonight I’ll be meditating again, waking in my own warm bed again tomorrow and reaching for my mala beads. I’m okay and I’ll be okay.

Much love to you all.

Nicole xx

Don’t Isolate Yourself When the Going’s Hard

“No person, trying to take responsibility for her or his identity, should have to be so alone. There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors.”
~ Adrienne Rich

 

I’ve noticed a worrying phenomena lately. People are going to great lengths to make their life look incredible for social media, while behind the scenes they suffer alone and unsupported.

What happened that suddenly we can only talk up the good stuff, instead of living truthfully in the world?

As our extended family structures break down, and we become more and more remote from our neighbours and communities, we become more emotionally isolated.

We stop inviting people through the door. We stop sharing the small everyday details of our lives. Instead, we carefully curate our instagram images and facebook feeds.

There is a power to living vulnerably and being able to be open about our feelings and our lives.

Of course I advise using your intuition and discretion. Not everyone is a safe pair of hands. But with so many people stressed and overwhelmed by life, with rates of anxiety and depression and chronic illness escalating, with many of us caring for children with special needs, or single parenting or caring for elderly or ill loved ones, all of us need that extra boost that caring human connection can bring.

Image by Black-Avenger on www.deviantart.com

Image by Black-Avenger on www.deviantart.com

It can give us a powerful injection of hope or resilience to find that someone else has experienced our situation or feeling. We become less isolated. Our problem becomes more a condition of life than some shameful thing to be hidden away behind the posts of artfully photographed meals or ‘effortlessly gorgeous’ glamour outfits.

My Nana always used to tell me that a problem shared is a problem halved. As a young girl that never made much sense to me, but I can see the wisdom in it now, and I agree with that wisdom entirely.

Sometimes we genuinely do need to pull back to recalibrate our sense of centre, but please don’t isolate yourself entirely. Find ways to reach out, to ask for help, to sit in the company of others, to be able to share or smile or laugh or cry with people who welcome you into their space and allow you the freedom to feel (rather than hide) your emotions.

If you know someone who is going through a rough patch, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re not alone. Ask them if they’re okay.

We’re all in this together, and no-one’s getting out alive. Let’s all practice kindness for self and for our fellow journeymakers and make life’s journey better and more real and supported for everyone.

Sending so much love your way,

Nicole ❤ xx

Doctor, Doctor…

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

 

When do you accept your current circumstances, and when do you keep fighting for change?

As someone who has lived with chronic illness and limitation for much of their life, this is a question I often ask myself.

I’m off to a new doctor today. Well, not so new. I’ve seen them twice before. I hesitate to write anything else at all about them, such is the culture of bullying and persecution that exists for doctors brave enough to diagnose and treat lyme disease here in Australia.

Anyway…

I saw my first lyme doctor back in 2013. They treated me with a hardcore regime of antibiotics and antibacterials, supplements and diet – saving my life and reversing many of my symptoms. But their practice was closed down fourteen months later, leaving me part-way through my treatment protocol and scrambling to find competent care.

I finally found another doctor to take me on.

Only to have that practice close down too.

I managed to cobble together a treatment plan and find other doctors who would treat me ‘under the radar’ but who couldn’t prescribe the drugs I needed to complete my treatment.

I improved a little more, and stabilised.

But slowly the old symptoms began to return, no matter what I did. Peripheral neuropathy, pain, rashes, facial numbness, exhaustion, mental confusion, neurological incontinence and lyme bladder, terrible headaches, eye pain, loss of vision, impaired balance, slow reflexes, sleep disturbance, fevers, sweats, heart problems.

Then I ended up with the flu at Easter, after which my old Lyme symptoms raged with a vengeance. My thyroid function has been almost destroyed, and my antibodies are off the chart. I have ongoing heart problems and vision disturbance which has not improved.

To have been on the road to well, and then to slide back again is terrifying.

To have gained function and then lost it again has been mental torture.

In early March, while I was in the Philipines I made the decision that I would leave Australia if necessary, to access the drugs and treatment that have been proven to lead me to recovery.

When I came home from Cebu someone in my circle directed me to this doctor, and told me they had discussed me with them, and that they would help me.

So, off I go today. I no longer even sit in a hopeful space. I am resolved and resigned. This is my new Plan A. But I have a Plan B and a Plan C too.

I know I can have a better quality of life. I’ve experienced that. And having tasted it I want more.

I’m not done fighting.

So, I’ll keep you posted. Fingers crossed this one is the last doctor I need for a long while.

Packing My Suitcase…

“Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both “at one with” and “separate from” the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.”
~ Roman Payne

 

Today I’ll be packing my suitcase. You see, I’m finally well enough to travel. (Fingers crossed, touch wood., etc..)

I’m flying out of Australia tomorrow to attend a conference in the Philippines. It’s my first trip since I was diagnosed with Lyme. It’s also my first solo overseas adventure as an adult. Usually my darling husband Ben is with me, holding my hand, guiding me places, organising everything.

Ben does so much for me, and has done since shortly after we were married. It’s not that I’m a hopeless, helpless creature by nature. Once upon a time I was fiercely independent. But my health has slowly been deteriorating since I was at high school, and for many years my cognitive function and my balance and coordination were so poor that if I didn’t rely on Ben I would never have been able to go anywhere.

I am the Queen of my Domain inside the house, and as long as circumstances are tightly controlled I totally rock within a narrow band of activities. I give the appearance of being high-functioning because I have crafted my life around my limitations.

That hit me last night. Effectively, Ben has been my human guide-dog for all of our twenty years of togetherness.

As my heath deteriorated, so did my confidence. Ben has been able to facilitate the illusion of my independence so capably and unobtrusively that even I had bought into the myth.

I keep reminding myself that I’m much more well now. My brain works. Unless I’m tired or very stressed. My body mostly does too. Still, it’s more scary than I’d realised, contemplating this solo adventure.

And that worrying chest pain, which two years of intensive antibiotics had completely banished, has just recently made a reappearance. That’s okay. I can live with that. I did for years before, didn’t I? See, it sits there quietly now and I’m still functioning and okay. It won’t be a problem. Anyway, I have health insurance and the Philippines has doctors and hospitals.

Our wonderful travel agent has organised for me to fly as far as Singapore, get off and sleep in an airport motel for the night, and then travel on to Cebu the next day. A leisurely trip. Not much to worry about or to exhaust me. I can even access one of those little buggies that takes the old and the afflicted between terminals or across long airport distances. I’m hopeful I can stride out on my own, but I’m not above asking for help if the long flight leaves me so stiff that I can only manage a limpy lurch by the time I disembark. Still, I’ve checked all the details a million times, and worried about it all.

My packing is a little hilarious. I have my laptop, notebooks, pencil case, Year of ME Planner, oracle cards and a few little crystals.And my iPad. And my phone. Yes, I need all of them. And the chargers. And the power adaptor.

I have a quarter of my suitcase devoted to herbs and supplements, medications and first-aid requisites I actually can’t do without.

And then there are the additional issues I might need to consider. Will my neurological incontinence play up? (Thank you, Lyme!) Hmmm. If so, I need to bring incontinence pads and some big-girl pull-ups. (Which induced a worrying amount of God, what if my bladder gives way on the plane? thoughts. The only way to avert disaster is to plan for it and wear something just in case the worst happens. Sigh.) Can you buy adult incontinence products in Cebu? Better pack some, just in case, although I hope I won’t need them.

Will the pain in my legs keep me up at night? Should I pack magnesium gel and some liniment? Yep, I’d better. I haven’t managed more than a night or two without these things in the past three years. Which means I’ll need to pack my essential oils too. Can’t sleep or function some days without them.

Oh. My bag is nearly full, and I haven’t added clothes yet.

Luckily the Philippines is balmy. I won’t need many clothes. Most of what I need can actually be packed in my carry-on luggage. (How ridiculous, right?)

This time tomorrow I shall be taking one last cafe trip with Harry and Ben, before we have cuddles all round and then I am dropped at the airport.

Scary good!

I keep thinking of Helen Keller’s quote – Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

I’m sure I’ll be just fine.