Cold (and flu) 
My hair is back. Since it's new hair, it's quite fine at the ends. I'm liking the soft furry look, but I know if I try to keep it like this, the next cut will look like a hedgehog. At least it's grown in time for winter.

I've spent a while down at the church sorting out the network. OK, the jumble of cables slung over door frames and across carpets. It started off when we found we couldn't upload anything. Fixed that. Then they wanted wireless access through the whole building, so I spent a while working out how to free up the wifi box in order to move it. This afternoon I spent a couple of hours underneath the sound desk trying to sort out the jungle of cables and thinking "Hmm. We haven't used THAT for quite a while now". Looks like I might be there a while too.

Spent three days in Christchurch at the annual youth work conference. Everyone said it would be cold, so I brought the coat I'd bought last time we were in England. Plus a woolly hat and gloves. I was fine. Also brought a cowboy hat, neckerchief and braces for the hoe down on the last night. Didn't think I'd be able to keep up, but it seems I made quite a scene. Was pretty shattered once I got home though!

Got the flu shortly after that. Probably got it from everyone else in the family = we've all had it! It was bad. It was so terrible I actually had to break into Bronwyn's extensive cache of painkillers. I'm fine now.

Quite a storm last week, apparently. Snow down to 100m and cold winds. Hmm. I remember when the North Sea froze, and that hasn't happened here ever! It was rather wet and windy here for a day or two.

We've had some people round replacing rotten wood around the house. It's been quite a while since we did any sort of renovation, and it's going to get painted as well. So alas, we'll no longer be a target for film crews looking for dilapidated old farm houses any more...

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Getting hairy 
I'm now on "active observation". Basically, the treatment worked, but I'm on three monthly checkups and monthly blood tests. My hair is growing back, but it's only the fine wispy stuff at the moment. I have quite a bit of fur on top. I've had a couple of colds, but otherwise I'm attempting to get fit again. Planted potatoes. That sort of thing.

Things have been quite busy. Sarah needs new glasses. Specially tinted varifocals. And braces. It'll cost quite a bit, but the tax refund should be through soon. Bronwyn is taking Rachael and her friend Emily to the Autism conference soon. She's also been planning the Big Trip in January. Meanwhile, I've had a very busy month at work. This month will be quieter. Hopefully not too quiet.

Getting cold, but only one real frost so far. We've had a rather wet summer and autumn, and the grass is very green. The pukekos have also been doing well. I think they're referred to as purple swamp hens elsewhere, and they're common in southern Europe and south Asia. They like to pull up plants and eat the roots. Or just pull them up in some vague hope that one might be edible. They also like persecuting the chickens and shrieking loudly at anything that moves. We had a friend round to dig over the garden. Bronwyn told him about the pukekos and so he brought a rifle and got five of them. Allan got three shortly after. Our friend came back to do firewood, and got another three. Bronwyn spotted nine in the paddock today, shrieking at each other. There must be hundreds out there, and they just move in to fill the gap!

Had a good concert with the brass band too. Packed to the back. It was a joint performance raising money for the local school, so many of them were parents, but quite a few others too.

For Sarah's birthday, we taped streamers over the door. For Rach, we did baling twine and an exercise ball strung to the doorknob. Sarah had a movie night with some friends, and Rach had a family do.

Still got some cake left.

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Hair today. More tomorrow 
I survived! I'm now past the worst from the sixth and last chemo, and already my hair seems to be making a comeback. It's not supposed to start growing for another 5 weeks, but it's already getting a bit dark on top.

As I mentioned last time, I'm doing a reverse Shave For A Cure. Sponsor me, and guess the date when most of my hair is 10mm long. The prize won't be of much use to you if you're not living locally however, but you're welcome to pick a date. According to all the advice I've had, the hair should start to return 2 months after the last treatment, which was 19th April. However, I note that most of the patients in that ward were 80 plus, and secondly that some of my follicles have never really stopped. So it could be earlier...

While I've been recovering, the rest of the household has had an action packed fortnight. Bronwyn took Sarah and two other girls down to the Intermediate Easter Camp (eCamp). Rachael also went as a leader, partly as part of her Duke of Edinburgh's award, and partly because she liked it so much when she went a few years ago and wanted to go again... somehow. They missed the cyclone, and all went smoothly apart from a few showers and an overturned can of coke in the tent. All cleaned up now.

Rachael then went off on a five day camp around the northern tip of New Zealand, also as part of her D of E award. She came back hobbling somewhat. But undeterred, they all went off again to someone's holiday house for an overnight retreat. I stayed at home - I wasn't feeling too good from the chemo.

But I'm feeling a lot stronger now. Just as well; I've had a massive amount of work to do, and I didn't have enough energy last month. So I'm catching up a bit this month. Now that I've got my energy back, there's a list of jobs round the house as well!

I shall be posting weekly photos of my head. Maybe I could try stringing them into a time lapse video of my hair growing...



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An update! 
I've given up Trump news articles for Lent. It's been hard. As far as I can tell, nobody's shot him yet, because the articles keep coming thick and fast...

Been quite a while since the last post. Basically, I haven't had a lot of spare energy, so I've been focussing on priorities. Fortunately I've been able to keep working apart from a day or two where I realised I'd be better off sleeping it off!

It's going well, apparently. I had a full CT scan (that's allegedly 70mSieverts of X-rays, or about 70,000 banana equivalent doses). All lymph nodes are either normal or returning to normal, particularly the one that were initially the problem. Nothing else detected (and there'a no secrets with that machine)! So everyone else is celebrating. I'll celebrate once I'm past the last treatment and feeling better again! One more to go, which will be just after Easter.

There'll then be about 4 days of feeling tired and full of chemicals. Then about 4 days of feeling tired and a bit sick. Then about 4 days of feeling tired, run down and catching infections. I've now got a stash of antibiotics and antivirals, tablets, skin ointments and eye drops plus a few steroids, which should last me for the last treatment. After that, I'll have a week or two feeling a bit stronger, but with my hair falling out and itching like crazy.

I still have some furry little curls on top. Rachael complains that I can't even 'do bald'. I'm told the hair will begin to grow back after two months, i.e. about 5 weeks after it stops falling out for the last time. I'm also told that it will be very thick, possibly curly and possibly a different colour. There's a popular charity thing here called Shave for a Cure, where people get their hair cut off for the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer Foundation. They happen to be the one that have been supporting us, providing parking vouchers, leaflets and helping the girls understand what's going on.

I'm planning to do a Grow for a Cure instead. Sponsor me to grow my hair back, and if you can guess the day when the bulk of my hair reaches 10mm (I still have a few curly bits remember...), you'll get a prize. Haven't quite decided on the prize yet.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn has been doing some amazing stuff as childrens' leader at church. She spent the first week or two going through the cupboards, throwing out crates of ancient stuff and collating vast quantities of art and curriculum materials. We're suddenly not short of paint and cardboard. She's also been on a couple of training courses and has brought in some fresh ideas as well as a bit of discipline. I'm told the kids enjoy it a lot more now! The church did want her to do a bible college paper as well, but she's only supposed to be on three months trial at the moment so she decided to wait and see how much workload it was going to be first.

The youth pastor also resigned at the end of the year, and one of the ex-youth is basically running things. A little haphazardly, but she certainly seems to be coping quite ably. The leadership is still looking for a combined youth & childrens' pastor as a part time (0.8) role. So far with not a lot of success! I suspect we just need to raise a decent team to support the leaders we've currently got.

Rach had issues with quadratics last week. She weedled her way out of an internal assessment, on the condition that she lets me know in advance if there are things she doesn't understand. So I've been looking up the general solution to quadratic equations, and explaining it to her. Didn't know it was first documented in India in 628AD, and probably came from the Babylonians. Meanwhile Sarah has been doing research on plastics, and I gave her a lesson on how to copy a Wikipedia article and mangle it into her own words...

Still quite warm here. The cyclone is due to hit us on about Tuesday, although it's rather humid and rainy now. We've had good rain over the summer, so the grass is green. We are now a two-lawnmower family. The old one sits in the shed. It'll start after about half an hour of trying, and the belt will fall off as soon as it tries to cut anything. Probably need to phone a scrap dealer. The other one was probably Claire's (Bronwyn's not sure, it appears to have been abandoned in our garage!) and the battery needs replacing but once it's started it seems to go fine.

Lost a pet lamb and cow recently. The cow (Angel) had already lost one eye due to a tumour, had had issues calving, and had got quite sick. The lamb was from a friend and had got fly strike (where flies lay eggs on the skin and ... maggots ...) It can get bad quite quickly, but it's usually treatable if you catch it quick. Bronwyn regularly checks on the sheep as she goes down the drive.

Plans are already well underway for next January when me and Nick will be 50. Ulp. Nick will be over with our mum and Esther. Plains, trains and automobiles, plus a spot of camping. Should be good!

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Last of the holidays 
Hot and sticky. I'm supposed to measure my temperature daily to make sure I don't get a fever. It's tricky to tell in this weather. We had at least 10cm of rain last week, and it's currently holding us in a muggy sauna while they battle bush fires down south.

The kayaks arrived! Rach and Sarah spent several hours out on the dam yesterday, and will probably be out again this evening. Everything arrived separately. We're still awaiting the second rain cover.

Had a quiet weekend in house over on the east coast. It belongs to a friend of ours. It's an old holiday home, sandwiched between multi-million dollar houses, and build when the east coast was only ever occupied by farmers and holidaymakers. Spent lots of time on the beach, hunting crabs, collecting hundreds of shells and stones, and studying geology, The cliffs have layers of sand and mudstone separated by various layers of volcanic ash. The sandstone itself has micro layers in it, and cracks filled with a variety of other rocks. The layers also flow and change direction, and in one spot there's a 5 metre thick layer that's been completely folded back on itself, and the resulting gap filled with loose mudstone. I'm guessing it was a tsunami. Must have been a big one - it came from the west!

The girls are back at school, and already I'm fielding questions about oxidation states and line graphs. At least it's better if we deal with it all in February rather than October!

Three treatments down, three to go. I'd like to call it half way, but I'm still suffering from the last one! The specialist very carefully felt the left side of my neck. He then wrote a note saying that there was no evidence of the cervical lymph nodes. I didn't want to interrupt at the time, but I thought I'd better ring and say that they're actually on the right. But apparently he's still happy with the progress. Right now I'm suffering more from the treatment than I ever did from the disease!

I'm missing my daily dose of Trump. It all seems to have gone quiet lately. I hope they hurry up with the next episode...

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