31 March 2009

living in gratitude 41 : final hours of treatment

I am coming into the final hours of treatment. Tonight at midnight, I will be unhooked off the machine which has been healing me (see above with my sweet toes poking out).

Woke up this morning at 4.30 am feeling in pain and with nausea. I thought with dread, not another day of feeling crap again... Fortunately by 9.30 am I was back into managing the pain but still feeling a bit on the fried side...

I had two lovely visits today : in the morning, Ben Lee (an australian friend who is on tour and performing in Paris tonight) , brought his beautiful presence and was gorgeous company in between treatments (my visits can only be maximum 40 minutes between every 20 minute treatment).

In the afternoon my younger brother David (he's 22 years old) visited with my mum. It was the first time he had seen me since I was diagnosed, he looked rather perplexed at seeing his big sister lying on her back hooked up to this machine with a yellow-black RADIATION symbol on it.

I asked him, "is it difficult to see me like this David?"

He responded: "Why is this happening to you Nathalie???"

I told him there were two ways of looking of it :
one was, that I got the HPVirus and that it is a STD which becomes a cancer tumor when not surveyed with yearly pap smears. And I was telling him this so that he knew how important it is for the women he knows to have pap smears yearly.

The other way of looking at this was : everything that happens in life is karma... With every action there is a reaction.
I went onto say that this is part of my journey and however hard and arduous it has been, I have been learning so much about myself, about my own truth, what I understand to be important + right for me, becoming more aware of my emotional landscape and above all, I have been, for the first time in my life, deciphering and truly listening to my needs (rather than responding to a "gotta be a good girl syndrome/ gotta do things right/ gotta do what is right by certain standards -").

The karma explanation didn't go down so well, and I didn't know how to explain it further to someone who is spiritually curious and open and learning such concepts.

David and mum then to the latin quarter and AMMAZINGLY Ben passed by a taxi, with the window open...David called out, Ben heard and they waved to eachother ... The surrendipidous encounter made me smile.

So this really is the countdown, I have been feeling fuzzy in the head all day and tonight after having a long conversation with D in NYC, I had the strong feeling that "I have everything I need for the next chapters of my life," that going through this gruelling experience has been a very strengthening journey. One thing which really stuck for me in the conversation was "you don't need to change anything, just be aware of it."

Tonight at midnight, the radiation machine is turned off and I am unhooked !!!! no more radiation !!! Then at 6 am tomorrow I get woken up to go into the operating theatre, for 8am to have the apparatus removed from my cervix. So tonight I'll sleep with the apparatus inside me but it does mean, that for the first time in 6 days i'll be able to lie on my side for longer than 5 minutes ! and will even give a go at lying on my tummy !! how lovely!

I'll spend the rest of tomorrow getting over the general aneasthetic and then, all being well, head home around 5pm.

The next challenge will be to climb the 5 flights of stairs (I have no elevator) to the appartment... After not having used my legs for 6 days that may be a very very slow climb...

A final note, during treatment today, as I have been feeling a bit off most of the time (I literally feel that my body is cooking... too much radiation and too much medication for the little body to cope with), I have visualised myself surrounded by the cooling rays of the moon... so I'd love to have some support of the cooling and loving light of the moon around me. So please keep visualising !

I won't post anything on Wednesday - be back on this blog on Thursday from the comfort of being able to sit up in my own bed...

30 March 2009

living in gratitude 40 : 27 hours to go

A much better day today, I demanded no more morphine as the secondary effects were driving me bonkers. And today I have felt calm (phew) and been painless... it took me all this time to get to this point of pain management (which was the biggest part of these last days).

rose visited and dropped me off a new sketch book (I had filled the other one all up). New pastels (and new colours) were also delivered.

Today Edo + Jo sang some really beautiful and calming songs for me for an hour via skype (live from Bondi). They have sung in many different places but it was a first to do the skype-Paris hospital connection.

massage oils - I get massaged 3 times a day by the nurses. It has been my favourite moment as it is the only time in the day I get to lie on my side (it only lasts about 5 minutes but it is like 5 minutes of bliss).

This is taken with the zoom from my little camera - most of the day there is a door over the window (so radioactive waves don't go outside) but in the middle of treatment I ask them to open the door so I can see outside the window... and today it was sunny!

drawing : 49 hours - the tears of a lifetime

text 47 hours : the tears of a thirty one year old, the tears of a thirty two year old..... transformation to infinite harmony, infinite peace, infinite love, infinite creativity, infinite success...

text : 50 (hours) the lake of tears overflowed, it flooded, the tears covered up the rage.

29 March 2009

living in gratitude 39 : 55 hours to go (maybe..)

text: 77 hours

In the early hours of the morning, the country's clocks jumped an hour forward : daylight saving took place in France and no-one remembered this at the hospital...

text : 70 hours - the rage

Consequence is that the machine treating me with radiation, which is being switched on by a computer every hour, flipped out when the clocks jumped forward an hour at 2am this morning... and stopped...

I woke up at 6 this morning saying to the nurse how well I had slept! And she replied with a bit of a face... " you slept well because the machine wasn't on ..." It took a few hours for the technician to get out of bed, get to Institut Marie Curie and fix the machine... it was up and running by 9am.


But this means that I have to add an extra 7 hours to the treatment and now means that I won't be off the machine now until Wednesday early morning... A few tears were shed out of that feeling when I thought I could see the finish line, then it got moved that much further... and there is that whole mind set having to abandon the expectation that I'll be off the machine when I thought etc etc...

text: the rage the rage the rage - 69 hours

It's become somewhat comical how much more surrendering to this process I am having to go through...

Physically my body is starting to react to the morphine - heavy and cotton filled head + nausea... so it's all very trying...

Drawing remains my favourite form of expression when I am having difficulty (and during the radiation I am listening to the sound therapy machine and feeling it's beautiful vibrations on my heart).

living in gratitude 38 : my nurse Lakshmi Narayani

Yesterday the new nurse for the next 3 day shifts arrived : an Indian woman named Nara, born a month earlier than I.

My nurse told me that Nara had visited my room a few days earlier, when I was in the operating theatre and after seeing the images on my wall had told her supervisor "I want to take care of her." (I have images of Goddess Narayani + Goddess Durga).

When we met for the first time yesterday, I was enthusiastic about meeting her as her colleagues spoke so highly of her, "you are Nara!".

She replied, "actually my name is Narayani".

The expression on my face must have been one of disbelief (I have never met a woman called Narayani, let alone my nurse in Paris...) as she showed me her badge and there was her name.

She responded "and my full name is Lakshmi Narayani" and said, pointing to the poster (see top photo), when I see that image, I see myself.

(check out Natalie's work, sculptor of the stunning statue in this poster - she specialises in inspired sacred sculptures)


I asked her "do you know there is a golden temple in South India in your honour Lakshmi Narayani?"

She knew of the Golden Temple as her family lives in Chennai, but she hasn't yet seen it. I told her that I have loads of photos on my computer to show her of the temple (I have photographed the temple in detail).

Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple at dawn - taken late last year.

28 March 2009

living in gratitude 37 : 88 hours to go

i dont have my camera with me today so am photographing with photobooth from my mac.
Feeling drugged out - so I will keep things short here. Drawings : of the process with oil pastels and loving it.

This first is from series of dreams i had leading up to the radiotherapy:
the house is not safe
the clan has abandoned.

This one before the treatment began : has words including :
this is a turning point ,
why me,
i don't want this to happen.
i don't want radiotherapy,
is this really happening,
this is the tranformation.


This was drawn in excruticating pain of my back today - it seemed the only way to be able to focus on something than the pain; The words integrated into image include:
dicomfort always

no relief
this is really hard

120 hours radiotherapy treament in 6 days

107 hours remain

103 hours of radiation remains

I'm still in constant pain : the word include:

103 hours
this is the hardest physical thing i have gone through
why does this feel so hard?
it hurts all the time
i just want to be able to stand
I will be OK
my back is alwas hurting
only 4 more days

97 hours of treartment left - after getting morpheine

phew this is comfot
i can be calm
no pain

88 hours remaining
thank you to all the great healers
the radiation iswhat will heal me
the radiotherapy will save my life
this could have killed me but will save me.
i am falling aseep
was given sleeping pills - they work

my tag i ripped of tonight.

Nat + goddess durga - nat stuck on her back for 120 hours

27 March 2009

living in gratitude 36 : 97 hrs of radiotherapy to go

I am writing this from my bed, flat on my back... not an easy way to eat, grab anything on my side table, to type.... Up until 4 hours ago I was in such extreme discomfort/ constant pain from my back being in the same position (there was no relief because I cannot change position and this was driving me insane...) that I just didn't know how I was going to get through another 4 days flat on my back with no movement. I was having fantasies of being able to get up and go to the loo... and another fantasy of lying on my side for an hour... another fantasy of falling asleep...

Fortunately, four hours ago, I got dosed up with morpheine and feel comfortable/mentally calm for the first time since coming out of the op yesterday. R E L I E F.

Here is a photo I took on Tuesday night before this all started and the machine was still under plastic. This is the machine which is healing me every hour .... + sitting on top of it is a little wind-up tin rabbit with a grassy back drop which we installed. The radiology technicians giggled when they found the little pink+white rabbit.

25 March 2009

living in gratitude 35 : a new colour for my blanket

I am heading in for a week's treatment to Institut Marie Curie today.

This time, I wish for the colour of my blanket to be an indigo/ white glowing with a white aura. So please wrap me up in this blanket of love when you are sending your thoughts to me over the next week.

Tomorrow Thursday is a big day as it is the next operation and the beginning of the treatment. So I would particularly appreciate your thoughts+ when you light your candles to wrap me up in that beautiful blanket of love coloured indigo-white.

This is a photo taken by Mirjam in south Germany in 07, the day after Claudio's birthday when we were tidying up the disco balls in the barn (where we had danced and projected our videos the previous night).

living in gratitude 34 : preparing for radiotherapy

Dr Jeannin treats cancer patients through acupunture, preparing the patient's body and boosting the immune system for chemo and radiotherapy before and after each treatment. He's got a fabulous reputation. He's another person in the team of people getting me better.

I laughed and said to him that he was putting a load more pins in me than last time : "this is necessary" he responded seriously, "it is to prepare you well physically and mentally for your treatment".

Mmmmm makes sense as I barely slept last night out of anxiety for what I have to go through.

I head to institut Marie Curie at 3PM Paris time today. The bag is packed with lots of creative goodies.

On a phone call earlier today with D from NY, we were looking for the positive points of having 120 hours of radiotherapy in the span of 6 days , being pinned down to a bed and unable to move for the whole 6 days ... I was having difficulty finding a positive aspect to this whole scenario(D had her radiotherapy over 6 weeks and said it was psychologically very difficult).

For a positive point she came up with the following: "this is actually great news : in one week, you are going in with cancer and you are coming out with it being treated. It's only going to take a week and then it is over."

24 March 2009

living in gratitude 33 : creating a schedule

So, how do I organise my mind when I am going to literally be 'pinned down' physically on my back (not being able to get up, nor move onto my side, nor on my stomach) for 6 days ?

I am not yet sure how the procedure works when I get the actual radiotherapy - but I will have 20-25 minutes of radiation and 35-40 minutes break every hour.

So to occupy my mind - I have :
1. books
2. ink for drawing
3. oil pastels for drawing
4. notebook for writing
5. dvds for giggling distraction (which have been lent by friends)
6. FIMO - a german type of plasticine which you can make colourful objects out of + put in the oven to solidify.
7. crocheting (am making Neridah a tea-cosy inspired by Tara's teacosy revolution)
8. camera to photograph with
9. blog to update daily (that will be interesting...)
10. paint + canvas (when I start feeling sorry for myself I refer to Frida Kahlo who spent a long time "pinned" to her bed)
11. white italian clay (which they sell here in small batches)
12. sticky tape, glue, scissors (for collage making)
13. sound therapy machine (one of my saving graces through this process)

+ meditation techniques...

Creating things makes me happy so if any one else has ideas - please send them through.

23 March 2009

living in gratitude 32 : date is set + mango x 4

I received the call from Institut Marie Curie this morning :
I am hospitalised Wednesday afternoon 25 March,
operation under general aneasthetic (to insert apparatus for therapy) on morning of 26 March
commence radiotherapy evening of 26 March
for 5 and half days straight,
24 hours a day with every hour being : 20-25 minutes radiation, then 35-40 minutes break.

So pull out the mango coloured blankets (I know some of you have kept them out all this time) and wrap me in loving thoughts.

The four mangoes in the cardboard box were hand-delivered by Klemens, who returned from a trip to Brazil where he attended a mathematics conference (he also brought vegemite + manuka honey from Australia... as he + his wife T had been to oz before Brazil... he's now on his way to Cambridge then Linz...).
I opened up a mango this morning for breakfast, to find the perfect colour I imagine to be wrapped up in!

2 little medicinal drops wrapped in silk and individually stamped, brought by Anne-Marie from her recent trip to Bhutan.

21 March 2009

Living in gratitude 31: swimming between the flags

Yesterday afternoon I received the phone call from Institut Marie Curie. I will be hospitalised either this coming Monday afternoon or Wednesday... this will be confirmed late Monday morning. This means I start radiotherapy the following day, so, either Tuesday or Thursday...

I must admit, my heart sank when I got the call from Institut Marie Curie... I really thought I had another week up my sleeve to rest and get healthier...

Furthermore, having a call from them is a reality check "you do have cancer which needs to be cured by a very particular treatment". This last week I haven't even uttered the word 'cancer' and instead focused every thought on my mantra to living now + that is "I need to be as healthy as possible on every level : emotionally, mentally, physically, psychologically, spiritually."

Having the radiotherapy be brought 'somewhat forward' is another adjustment. Another reminder of how I have no control of this situation : all I can do is take really good care of every thought, every action, every thing I eat, keep up my meditation, sleep well... and surrender the outcome.

My friend stuart in melbourne referred my approach to my daily living as learning to "swim between the flags" (this is a very Australian metaphor for swimming at the beach, where the flags mark the safe zone for swimming + where life-savers are watching over...).

Slept 12 hours last night... that felt really, really good. A friend told me that in Ancient Egypt, when people were healing, they would make them sleep 12-14 hours a day, as the sleep was when the healing was taking place.

Here is the folly in the park in front of my appartment.

20 March 2009

Living in gratitude 30: sunshine, receiving + waiting

I continue to live in gratitude of the beautiful thoughts, letters, cards and gifts I am receiving.

This week: via the post - a shell from Australia ...

along with 2 poems by Tamara Friebel.

Tamara is the author of the stunning poem I posted earlier this year : http://nathalielatham.blogspot.com/2009/01/rawness-of-angel-poem-by-tamara-friebel.html

Some lovely goodies (including 2 books) from J+P in UK.

Am still waiting for a confirmation from the hospital... do I start radiotherapy next week? Or do I get another week to rest and strengthen myself?

Here are some of my favourite flowers sitting on my first-ever dvd player (yep I recently purchased my FIRST dvd player... I still don't own a tv and am playing films which make me giggle on the old monitor I used to edit on... ).

Other favourite flowers are : lilies, lotus, magnolia, passionfruit flower, jasmin...lavender...

The setting sun from the appartment this week has been awe-inspiring (sacré coeur to the right). And the the blue skies of Paris have made my heart smile.
I feel like I have fallen back in love with the city.

19 March 2009

living in gratitude 29 : enzo's 7th birthday

The very adorable and loving Enzo, (the youngest person in my book LOVE IT AND LEAVE IT) - turned 7 years old today! He and his family happened to be in Paris (they are a travelling circus family from Brisbane touring Europe for a few years with Cirque du Soleil).

So we were able to blow out 7 candles on a few éclairs au chocolats + tartes aux framboises in the park this afternoon, later Enzo showed us his Russian dancing techniques.

Here he is with his photo as the bub 6 1/2 years ago on his dad's knee in the same Buttes Chaumont park.

Here is Enzo's big brother José by my window.

José's long-sleeved NYC orange shirt which I like a lot.

And lovely Inés, the sister of the clan.