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Facing the week

19/11/2019

Good morning all,

This is really starting to feel like trench warfare! Whether I like it or not, even on weekends I am up early and getting started with food and drugs. Because I need a certain amount of time before I start the Chemo tablet for food to roll through my stomach. And anti nausea in middle as well. It’s driving me nuts.

I am trying to get in a fitness activity daily which makes it a bit hard when I had a day like yesterday, forms, forms and more forms!!! I think that sick people do more forms than people in Defence! What gives me the irits about these forms is that I know some are for nil, but they have to be done. I hate wasting time, and this is the pinnacle of it.

My drivers and I am back on the roundabout of appointments this week, with support from multiple parties to get me to and fro. This part of my life still drives me crazy. And I mean nuts. Having no ability to be able to get myself around is a hopeless situation to be in. Just think about this, the next time you go to jump in the car and do a task. Stop! Put your keys back on the rack and have a long hard think, so what do I do if I could not drive myself.

You want to get frustrated, welcome into the party. I hate it. And worse still I have a passion for all things mechanical, and truly do feel that vehicles have a soul and a lifeforce (my name is Nathan and I am an engineer, …!). I just love cars, bikes and trucks. So to not be able to interact with them and drive and ride is as close to the worst thing going on with me at the moment. And I know that some may think that is a dumb thought for the day….

In fact it shits me so much, I might start complaining about it….

I suppose I do have something to moan about, my leg is starting to play up again at the foot on eft side. I can now trigger a small seizure by placing and holding my big toe at a certain angle. The mongrel starts wobbling all over the shop. It is crap, because then I can feel the electricity roll up and down leg, a bit like the signal is going on a bypass circuit or something through the whole muscle top to bottom. It is a ticklish to pissed off feeling, I will let you choose.

But on the positive side I am still needed around the house. Christine still needs me to do up her dress zip, so bam not all is lost. Just when you think all is lost, I still have a purpose around here.

I have had the chance to chat with a lot of friends recently. And on Sunday afternoon I had a chat with a long time mate and his wife. I have known her since she was super small, they now have their own small gorgeous person, that is how long we have known each other!! He has just got some shit health news too, and is doing it tough. Here is todays life lesson. I am not special, yes I have brain cancer and have a few issues going on, like a bit of my brain removed and a crap leg and a few seizures.

But we all are special, and have those things called feelings and emotions, no matter how much you meditate. These bad boys are hard to control, as none of us have time to become that Tibetan monk we all hold on high as the pinnacle of control! What I am saying is that we are all going through shit, every day, and not all days are awesome (mine are, but I am extra special….).

Get outside your own bubble and don’t think that just the major things are worthy of thought about your mates and co-workers. Our busy lives can lead to a build up of stuff and you can pop at the worst times, like in a meeting, or towards family when your guard is let down. I will say again like I have before, there is nothing wrong with spreading a bit of love. Simply asking ‘how are you’ is always a solid start. A kind non-judgemental ear and a coffee away from the stress is just the best mental fitness break to get us back in the groove of the day.

It’s easy to listen about that wayward school kid not studying hard enough with a heap of potential, the crazy spouse driving them nuts, or a work deadline that appears insurmountable. Sharing can not just lighten load, but as humans it is incumbent upon us all to help out our mates, and leave the place better than we found it, including our friends existences!

Finally, I have hope that there is still good in the world! I got to meet a great bloke yesterday. Our floodlight out front, blew out of roof, and was dangling by wires. I contacted an electrical company and they sent a guy out. We had a cancellation and a re-schedule. And clearly this bloke was a senior fellow and supervisor. He was just here to do a quick look and give us the news that they couldn’t do job as they had a few big jobs that were emergencies to send resources to.

After a quick chat and me explaining how deficient as a guy I felt that I couldn’t even get up a ladder and place a few screws back in, due to my current condition. He said, do you have a ladder and a few screws? So we got out ladder and my screw kit, and up he went. I was allowed to be useful and hold the ladder….. He gave us some good advice on a new light fitting that we needed to get a bit more light out front on porch. And he is off getting us a new light now and will be back to install as soon as he gets one for us. He will even use same circuit so one switch both lights!

He is a fellow motorcyclist and he took the time to talk about my bikes and my story of sitting on my BMW just before going into surgery crying my guts out. You always know a fellow enthusiast, and bike people are the best people. He didn’t charge a thing for getting up on the roof, and he also gave me his card and said if I need anything to just call him and he will be out.

There is good in the world and you don’t need to look far to finds it, open your eyes, your heart and let your guard down. It is likely right in front of you.

Stay awesome, get stuck into your day, and hug that fam bam,

Bullet

How’s Yo Saturday?

16/11/2019

It was a slow start to mine. Mornings are starting to be not my best time of day. A lack of food overnight I am sure is an issue. I can no longer eat big meals, but need a continual supply of small meals to make up. So by time I get to morning, my tank is dry and chemo drugs are killing me.

If I gorge on an awesome meal, well, I am stuffed and stuffed. That is I get even more nausea than without enough food. And I mean serious nausea like right on edge of it all going a serious case of south. Really quick.

I hope that everyone made the most of the day. Canberra turned on a great day, only a little breezy, but otherwise a glorious 25 degrees and sunny. I got a great 30 mins on the bike while watching the best documentary I have seen in quite some time, and a further 1.7 km walk around suburb with Christine.

I have to stay fit, even though I could opt for a spew. And I am not spewing until I really have to, as I hate it. So the choice I am making is to get out and walk or do something as well as potter about the house. A sleep and a walk are a good combo for now.

Back to the documentary….. Please take some time from your day to watch one of the smartest blokes I have heard in a long time speak. This is not a facebook 1 min hit. This bad boy is 1h and 44m of investment in your future and that of your kids and grand ones, if you are here to meet them. In my case I am planning on coming back as my own grandson or daughter to William or Zac to exact revenge, oh sweet justice is what I say!

In all seriousness, this fellow blends science into economic argument to make a few smart points about not just how dumb humans are but an eye on hope towards future and some incredible opportunities available to save the place, or even some tid-bits if you are smart and can join a few dots on how to make a few bob in the new digital age.

Your welcome….!

Stay awesome, get out tomorrow and walk or go for a ride, and hug your fam,

Bullet

Week 3 update

14/11/2019

Good morning folks!

I have been a little absent recently from updates. My apologies, but we are now into week 3 for radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and I have been a little distracted. In fact I have been drafting a few articles I have been thinking about, but as I am not creative, I have had to focus on creative writing…..

This has been about the only computer stuff I have been doing and in fact I have enjoyed the digital detox…. The last few days I have been reading a book too, that is really good, I will give a review of that soon. But as I suck at reading it won’t be quick…..

I am not going to lie the last few days have been a few ups and downs. As Christine hates me talking about poo, I won’t. But I can say that the Chemo drugs are really bad for septic systems…. And I am learning more about butt draino (drugs) than I had hoped or thought I would, unless I re-trained into the medical profession.

Apart from that issue, I have been getting a little tired from the combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Which has been making me drag my feet. I have been supported though by a few mates in getting me around to appointments. Thanks Dion, Nicole and Jenine, as well as Dad for the trips around the place!

I try to get my drivers to pop in and I scare the hell out of them seeing the radiotherapy machine and me getting set up. It can be a little confronting. But the technology is a bit cool, so why not share!! So if you want to have a look, let me know I can slot you in. But, Fridays are out and I save them for Christine as I am usually stuffed by then! And I need her to help me that little bit more than a friend can! Usually a bit emotionally too. Last Friday I was a train wreck and crook most of day.

But C’est La Vie…..!

Also a huge thanks to everyone because holy cow we have surpassed the $5,000 mark for brain cancer research through our tripper’s team. I can’t believe it. I thought $1,000 would be a big deal, but to get to this amount< I still can’t believe it. It is a bit humbling, and I am thankful to you all for your support, as everyone these days is asking for your money, so thank you.

I have to get back to these few pieces, and hope to pop them up soon.

You know the drill, stay awesome, crush your day and hug four fam, …oh and today your co-workers or coffee person at your coffee shop, as we all need love!

Bullet

An awesome team and outstanding effort!

10/11/2019

What a fab day we had on our walk 4 Brain cancer cure. Had a heap of my mates from JSF Division in the RAAF come out and walk with me, and also friends who are supporting and we have known for a long time. We appreciate you all. I am sure that our team funds raised, a cracking $4634 will go to some great research!

I also spoke with a research lady on the day, and I would fit into a special trial in the USA next year after we finish up with treatment here depending on how stuff goes, it is along the lines of gene therapy stuff. She has invited me to visit her lab at the Australian National University. That would be engineering cool!!

If anyone has some more pics from the day please pop them up, and lets see them

Special mention to Fiona Poole who even baked some awesome cookies for us too!

Weekend Update, Made it through week 1.5…

09/11/2019

G’day trippers…

I had a pretty good week, and sorry for a lack of update towards end of week, but I started to get a little knackered. And by Friday, I was crook. Such bad nausea, and had to have a lie down. And to then get your head locked down while wanting to spew is an unpleasant experience…!

But this week a special shout out to a few mates that got us through so that Christine could get to work, Dad on Tuesday, Dion on Wednesday and Nicole on Thursday. I am very glad in the end Christine did Friday as I was to have a few other appointments, but they all got cancelled due to just being not on top of it all.

I took dad and Dion in to see machine and how I get locked in, I hope that I did not scar them too much, I am sure that it can be a little confronting, which I forgot a bit as I have to get through it every day, no question, even if I am crook. I am sure it makes us all appreciate life, as the pictures showed, but I am sure in person it can be a bit of a different picture.

On a family note Zachary (#2), turned 15 this week, so we had a small family dinner, and he had his mates over playing video games all night last night. Success, thankfully Christine sorted it all like mums do!

In large part I am feeling pretty well. Head is getting a bit hot. if I even sit in sun coming through a window, and it needs lubricant daily in fact a few times a day. Moo Goo is the bomb here. As it has no metals in it like most other softeners and moisturisers do. Luckily still have hair, as little as I like of it. But as we go through radiotherapy I am likely to lose some across top where the treatment is aimed.

Whatever, its only hair, I have bigger fish to deal with anyway. If you are that caught up in hair, you may wish to think about that like good health and how lucky you are today, and go out and use it. As it is taken from you all too quickly, but we have already had that discussion…..

What is coming up? Well holy cow we have done an incredible job with raising funds and I am so thankful, and proud of you all for chipping in, as at right now we have collectively raised $4,037. I can’t believe your generosity and drive to help with research funding for brain cancer. Which in large part does not get the same visibility or effort that breast cancer,, or heart disease seems to pick up.

I want to make special thanks to my old mates from 41 Intake who I joined the RAAF with in 1987! A number go to an annual golf day, and they raised over 350 for me and our efforts this year. Thanks lads, I really appreciate you. Also the Icon Cancer team who put on a Sausage sizzle on Friday that coincided with a Hawaiian shirt day too. Thank you a heap. They are a great team to have with you.

So thank you. You have time to still donate, please go to our page, and for those locals see you tomorrow: https://my.walk4braincancer.com.au/canberra-2019/bu11itt-s-tumor-trip/donate

Week 2 and 3 of radiotherapy kick into gear next week, and while I remain hopeful of feeling shit hot, it is likely to start to take a bit more wind out of the sails. I am looking after myself as best I can to get through as unscathed as possible, especially the nausea part, as it sucked bad.

So stay awesome, get out into the weekend and just do something, and hug your family,

Bullet

Fearful vs Fearless

06/11/2019

Over the last few weeks I have certainly felt fear.

But what is fear? Like we all do I googled it, and I found that it is ‘An unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.’

This is interesting as a descriptor. I would like to provide some context and perhaps insight as to how you cannot just control your fear but maybe remove it from holding you back. I now understand how fear has held me back, over many years, think of ideas like impostor‑syndrome, taking the next step in career, life or otherwise, fear of getting into a lift or other small spaces and the like.

I would like to start by giving my opinion on why we are fearful, which leverages the definition and that is around perception. This will be difficult to get your head around unless like me. you find yourself asking a few bigger questions in life, due to something like a terminal illness, or on a path of deep self-development. Why do I say deep, well, you will need to be extremely open to understand this concept.

Humans are very complex beasts (who’d have thought!). And right here is where I place a disclaimer, all of this discussion comes from an engineer who has no qualifications in psychology or the brain, just years of observation and now like I said a different perspective than most. But back to the story, the most complex body component, apart from your digestive system, would be your head.

It’s my observation that we roll around this earth and life in our own little bubbles. Happy as Larry, feeling as though we have full control of our destiny, and in our happy spaces. We work towards our qualifications by slogging out TAFE, school and university. We develop relationships with new partners, and get rid of old. We create wealth, or not. We go on holidays because we save, and we build a cave (happy home) to raise a family. We maintain personal fitness and health.

We do all of these things and more, to our own standards, but we all do it thinking that we have this control, and if we do it, we will achieve a positive outcome. Or at least the outcome that we set and aim for.

Here is a random thought for you….. yep buckle up, this may not sit well with you. If this were all true:

  • why would you lose your job, if you are qualified and competent?
  • why would you have a heart attack while out on a long bicycle rides if you had not relented and had salad and made wise dinner choices, and were fit?
  • why are you overlooked for that promotion at work, as you have worked so hard and long for your organisation?
  • and something close to my heart, why would you get a terminal illness, like brain cancer when I rarely even suffer a head ache, and had put in so much effort to be fit and healthy???
  • how could you have a serious accident, that was not planned (either to you or a close relative)?
  • why would we have an early death of your best friend?
  • how did a member of your circle of friends or family have an addiction to drugs or alcohol?
  • why do we have babies that have a severe disability that are such a tough path for support and finances to your family, or
  • how did that one decision that seemed rational and calculated bring us such hardship that we are left destitute?

I will tell you why. You do not have that control, that you thought you did! People often say things happen for a reason, really that is a shit partial descriptor to make us feel good about a totally crap situation.

Here is the rest of it. We do not have control of that thing called our lives nor our destiny like we think we do, FACT! And trust me here right now, as I am happy to entertain that debate, for real. Here is the thing I want you takeaway, as these things will happen to you and we all know that we never plan this stuff in our lives. No one plans these and more hardships and life turns as we grow up from a baby to a teen to an adult, but they will happen.

So why be fearful about losing your job? Why worry about that terminal illness that may or may not happen (sorry for the doomy wake up), bringing a child into a crazy world, taking a career leap of faith and changing jobs??

Folks if it is going to happen it will. You will deal with the hand you are dealt with, if and or when it happens. But there is another option which does affect most of our daily lives, and which also leads to two places, analysis paralysis (read: we choose to do the nothing option), or mental health issues, and we waste, and I mean waste, a shed load on counselling and psychologist appointments. Trying to understand why, because we possess, or remain attached to the thoughts about what could happen to us, rather than accept what is happening now, today, in this moment.

Rather than be the being the best we can now and every moment, we think about outcomes far or close or worse still, continue to work over past situations, and get lost and we create an internal dialog that is largely untrue. Even if it were true, so what? Again if it is going to happen it will….

You can sit wondering what the next meeting at work will bring and all of the bad outcomes or trying to second guess your management on why they called this one on one meeting, am I going to be fired? Or you can do your best now and be happy with that.

Because (no shit) if they don’t like you, your gone anyway. And, … that was meant to happen. Seriously you got this job, you WILL get another. Yes, it will be a pain in the arse, but guaranteed, you will grow from the experience. No, it’s not easy, but deal with it! Get out of your head and into life.

If you were meant to deal with emotional pain of losing a loved one when unexpected, it is never easy, but you will grow, and learn from this experience in some way. If you were meant to have a different path than one you had held onto as a goal for years, well sorry but that will happen.

I am not saying that you should be happy about being stuffed around, nor not feel the pain of loss or suffering. But if you know in your heart you did your best, then take the life turn and get on with it.

This is how you overcome fear. The future will be. Just think about that. If you’ve done your best. The worst thing you can do is create an attachment to a comfortable existence. Because your next life turn is just around the corner.

Embrace the now.

Be in the moment, and look to the future with an eye on opportunity.

Whatever is going to happen, will.

Yours in philosophy, but totally unqualified,

Bullet

Mindful vs Mindless

04/11/2019

G’day again trippers, I have had a bit of a digital detox, and been thinking about what to share. So I thought, why not do a few mindful things, and hey presto it came to me, share it with you all!

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day to day and the concept of relaxation. Mindfulness is now becoming a buzz word/activity. But what is mindfulness?

A number of years ago when I started meditation, I realised that I had been practising mindfulness in an activity that was totally left field, and that is motorcycling! I am not referring to the morning commute. I am talking a favourite activity of mine, long distance touring. Whether on the dirt or preferably tar as you can focus a little more on road, than keeping bike from sliding around! As I got past the first half hour (about normal for a commute), I found that the normal random thoughts stopped jumping around (the rabbit mind!) and I found a place in my mind where it was just me, the road and that line.

Now as I am facing a serious illness head on and I am doing more breathing meditation (over 30+ minutes at a time), I know that mindfulness is creation of a space where the activity is a focused place, where all thoughts are on the activity at hand, not on thoughts or feelings/emotions.

What we need to understand is that there is a difference to doing a mindful activity and a mindless one. And perhaps I will be controversial, but a ‘relaxing activity’ is not always a mindful one. I will get straight to it, especially if you had been like me, sitting relaxing and tuning out after dinner, or at breakfast in the early morning getting that rush of endorphins from the number of ‘likes’ or ‘hearts’ on a social media platform is not doing a mindful activity.

How can we apply this to our day I hear you ask? Because as I said there is plenty of people telling us that we should be doing mindfulness, but how do you get there? Because, not all of you have a bike license or a bike! I thought I would help you out and jot down a few ideas, some of which you may not think are that mindful now…..

Here is what I think are a few great ideas to get you started:

  • Meditation – an easy start! This is the best thing you can do for your head, end of story. All you need is 10 mins a day as a starter. It really is as easy as focusing on your breath as you breathe in and out.
  • Play an instrument – I am not talking Eric Clapton, simply 10 mins a day doing simple chord changes, or practising scales on your instrument of choice. It will do two things, you will get better, and you have a no choice but to be in the moment! Slightly more forced than meditating which takes a bit more practice.
  • Bushwalk – go for a walk in the bush, away from mobile phone reception, post your Instagram picture in the evening after you get back! Feel the ground under your feet, smell the trees and grasses, focus on the tingle of the cold air on your skin, and the sense of each season. Feel the different textures of tree, and plants, smell the leaves. Find a spot and just sit and watch the wildlife go about their day. Reflect on how your day compares.
  • Puzzles – When I got sick, in a few care packages I got a different types of activities that included word-search books, Sudoku games, and a mindful games book. These types of games take time to do, I am not talking about doing one and stopping. You need to focus your energy and effort on each piece of them to finish. As well as mental agility, they are fun if you are task oriented!
  • Christmas list – yep do your list. It will get it off your mind and focus your thoughts on those that matter!
  • Long Drive – but you know I will say get your bike license! Beware the car drive, as you have distractions like Spotify, the radio and Bluetooth to fill your head. Caution: remember to stop each 2 hours to revive and survive your drive (a public safety notice).

The bottom line, is this is an investment in your mental fitness. It is weird that people go to the gym and think they are done with fitness. The world is focused on mental health. And with that comes stigma, to be frank. I do not understand why we do not talk more about our mental fitness as a holistic component of just plain being fit, and strong.

The ball is in your court. The good news is unlike a gym membership (that is a costly wasted), most of these ideas are free, and it is likely that you will already have the tools and items in your house to do them now.

Invest in yourself. You deserve to be a better you, and so do your work colleagues, but more importantly your close friends and family.

Radiation Update

Why did I feel it important to write the above? Because today after only three treatments in that frigg’in awful mask, with the aid of these activities above (obviously not riding a motorbike…..), I was able to do my radiotherapy without any drugs and keep my head under control. I cannot believe how big a deal this was, and in fact after being with me the whole time my radiation nurse couldn’t either!!

The pic below is my view (before mask) of the radiation space. On the screens (blacked out) is my personal information (to make sure they are radiating the right person in the right place!!), and on the other screen is the dose and where it is being aimed.

Stay awesome, get back to it tomorrow, be mindful and hug that family!

Bullet