A Thankful Sunday

Me: You had a lovely time in the activity field, didn’t you?

Nell: Yes, it was delightful to be out together after the last few days.

Me: I’ve decided today should be a Day of Thankfulness.

Nell: I see.

Me: If this difficult time has taught me anything it is to appreciate all the love and support that surrounds me.

Nell: Good.

Me: People are being so kind. It’s overwhelming.

Nell: I know.

Me: I hope they realise how much this means to me.

Nell: I’m sure they do.

Me: I’ve been talking to cancer survivors over the last few weeks and they’re so brave and generous with their advice. Do you know one of them contacted me every single day?

Nell: Really?

Me: Yes. Sharing her journey and gently telling me that I could do this and to be kind to myself.

Nell: So thoughtful.

Me: I’ve been worried about being seen as self indulgent and I’m sure some will not agree with what I’m doing but I think it’s right for me to share this with you all.

Nell: I agree.

Me: And I know for a fact that there are people who have finally gone to see their doctor about worrying symptoms since I started posting about this.

Nell: That’s very good to hear.

Me: I’m going to have my first shower since the operation today, by the way, as the dressing is coming off.

Nell: It’s going to make you feel so much better.

Me: Today is a good day.

Nell: Well, we could have done without Poppy turning it into a Vegetarian Sunday.

Me: Why did she do that?

Nell: Healthier for you. David has had to lie down in a darkened room since he heard there’s no roast for lunch.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.


Trouble Sleeping

Nell: It’s far too early again.

Me: I can’t sleep. I was just looking at photos of you all on the beach. Do you know that one was taken in December? Isn’t the sunset beautiful?

Nell: You should be resting. Put your electric blanket on and go back to bed.

Me: I don’t think I can afford to do that, Nell.

Nell: You have to stop worrying about money.

Me: I can’t help it.

Nell: Everything will work out. Just concentrate on getting better.

Me: I’ll do my very best.

Nell: Right that’s it. I’m going to ask for help again. If people could buy you a cup of coffee, or rather an Earl Grey, you might stop worrying so much.

Me: They’re already helping me with their supportive messages.

Nell: Remember they told you to remind them. The link to support you is pinned at the top of the Conversations with Nell page.

Me: I know it is.

Nell: All I am doing is looking out for you. Now go back upstairs and get into bed. We will talk later.

Me: I might make myself a cup of tea first.

Nell: Well, do it quietly, please. We don’t want to wake everyone.

Me: No, we don’t.

Nell: Try not to fall over a llama. Once one is awake they all follow.

Me: What are they doing in the kitchen?

Nell: Night fears.

Me: Weren’t they supposed to be sleeping in The Barn with the other large animals?

Nell: They were scared of the dark so Gladys brought them back here.

Me: I understand. Everything always seems more worrying in the dark.

Nell: You’re going to get through this you know.

Me: Yes.

Nell: We are doing it together.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So, let us help, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


We Have Hope

Nell: It’s very early again.

Me: I couldn’t sleep and I wanted to let people know what happened yesterday.

Nell: That’s understandable but you need to rest.

Me: I will later.

Nell: David is not supposed to be up on your chair.

Me: We’re watching Masterchef Australia, Nell. We always watch it together.

Nell: Anyway, you had better update everyone.

Me: I was really scared but all the messages of support kept coming in so I knew I had to be brave.

Nell: And you were.

Me: When I arrived at the hospital the doctor I saw last week was there too.

Nell: Why?

Me: She wanted to examine my lymph nodes before the operation.

Nell: They were worried the cancer had spread.

Me: I was terrified about that too.

Nell: I know.

Me: Anyway, she spent some time feeling my neck and under my arms etc. and then she said ‘I think we caught it in time.’

Nell: That’s wonderful news.

Me: I burst into tears.

Nell: Of course you did.

Me: Then they removed the skin lesion under local anaesthetic.

Nell: Did it hurt?

Me: The injection hurt a little but then it was just tugging. One of the nurses chatted to me the whole time.

Nell: Good.

Me: We talked about you, actually, and all the people supporting me.

Nell: It helped, didn’t it?

Me: I can’t even begin describe how much.

Nell: So, what happens now?

Me: They’ll do tests and I’ll probably have to come back for at least one more operation.

Nell: Right.

Me: They need to be sure they’ve got it all.

Nell: Yes.

Me: And then I’ll be monitored closely.

Nell: But we have hope now.

Me: Yes we do.

Nell: And those are happy tears for a change.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The Journey Begins

Nell: We’re posting very early this morning because you and Kev have to drive to the hospital for your procedure.

Me: Yes. Dave looks awfully worried. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Maybe Poppy can make him a bacon sandwich to cheer him up.

Nell: He’ll be fine. Don’t worry about him. We have other things to focus on today.

Me: Yes, we do.

Nell: This is the start of your journey back to good health.

Me: I hope so.

Nell: Finally things are starting to happen and the fight begins.

Me: I’m a little bit frightened to be honest, Nell.

Nell: That’s completely understandable but try not to be. You are in safe hands. They know what they’re doing.

Me: Yes, you’re right.

Nell: And remember you’re not doing this alone.

Me: No.

Nell: We are all with you in spirit.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And Kev will be just outside the hospital waiting to bring you home to us as soon as it is over.

Me: I know he will. He’s being absolutely wonderful.

Nell: It’s ok not to be ok, you know.

Me: I just wish I was braver.

Nell: You are much braver than you think.

Me: I’m trying to be.

Nell: Unleash that inner warrior of yours.

Me: I will if I can find it.

Nell: It’s there. It’s always there. You just need to look hard enough.

Me: I hope people know how much their support means to me.

Nell: They know.

Me: I really appreciate the love coming my way. So many kind messages. It’s overwhelming.

Nell: There’s plenty more waiting for you whenever you need it.

Me: I can do this, can’t I?

Nell: Of course you can.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No sorries. Not today. Now, go and do this. We’ve got you.


Nell is Playful and Sara Gets it All Wrong

Me: Harriet said you and Dave were playing together.

Nell: What’s wrong with that?

Me: You don’t play. You’re not a playful sort of animal.

Nell: Everyone plays now and again.

Me: You left Harriet out of your game.

Nell: It was Tickle my Chin. Only two can play.

Me: I think you should play with Harriet next time. It’s awful to be the one on the sidelines.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Watching sadly while others are having fun.

Nell: Harriet is absolutely fine.

Me: She looked a little low to me.

Nell: Stop imagining things that aren’t there. You do it all the time.

Me: Yes, you’re right.

Nell: If it makes you happy, I will ask Harriet to join me in a game of Bridge this afternoon.

Me: I used to play Bridge when I lived in Africa.

Nell: I know you did but we don’t need any other players. My friend Dorothy will be joining The Cat and Harriet and I will make up the other team.

Me: So, now I’m going to be the one watching all alone from the sidelines.

Nell: You don’t need to watch at all. If you want to do something useful you can help Poppy bring out the cake and sandwiches halfway through.

Me: And stand and watch you all eating? I don’t think so.

Nell: What are you talking about? Of course you won’t watch us eating. Afternoon tea is for everyone.

Me: Oh, I misunderstood.

Nell: Well don’t. This game of Bridge was arranged weeks ago. There’s only a place available because Rupert dropped out at the last moment.

Me: Why didn’t you ask me?

Nell: I was going to until you suggested Harriet was feeling left out.

Me: Oh, I got that all wrong, didn’t I? Sorry.


Taking in the View, or Not

Me: You know that quietly enjoying the view thing that Kev and I enjoy doing?

Nell: I certainly do.

Me: You lot aren’t very good at it.

Nell: I wasn’t aware it was a skill and don’t call us ‘you lot’.

Me: Dave sometimes gives it a try but he’s not really sure what he’s supposed to be looking at. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: David is a trier and likes to please where he can.

Me: And Poppy stares fiercely around her like she’s ready to go into battle.

Nell: She is.

Me: Harriet doesn’t do quiet contemplation. She’s usually off running somewhere or rolling on the ground.

Nell: Nothing beats a good roll.

Me: And you just do your own thing.

Nell: Of course I do.

Me: And take your own time about it.

Nell: I’m a senior labrador. I’m allowed to take my time if I want to.

Me: Yes, you are but the view is truly amazing.

Nell: I know.

Me: Did you see the colour of the sea? It was almost green nearer the beach and then it turned darker blue with lots of white horses.

Nell: What on earth are you talking about? I didn’t see any horses.

Me: If you’d looked properly you would have seen them.

Nell: If horses are allowed on the beach then we should be.

Me: We will be from 1st October. The restrictions are lifted then until May so we have the whole beach back again.

Nell: I’m not sure I want to share the beach with horses.

Me: They aren’t real ones, Nell. They’re what we call breaking waves as they look like manes and the sound of them crashing against the beach is like the thundering of a thousand hooves.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.


Sara Makes a Surprise Appearance

Nell: I’d like a word with you, please.

Me: I don’t think anyone could look more adorable than you with a tennis ball in your mouth.

Nell: Never mind that I need to talk to you.

Me: Doesn’t it makes you want to cough?

Nell: No. Now, do you remember that I told you to take it easy?

Me: Yes. Talking of taking it easy, Nell, could you ask Harriet and Poppy not to keep quite such a close eye on me at night?

Nell: Why?

Me: I woke up sandwiched between them like a piece of bacon.

Nell: Why bring bacon into this?

Me: I couldn’t move.

Nell: Anyway, I turned on the television yesterday lunchtime and what did I see?

Me: It could be anything. ‘Escape to the Country’?

Nell: No. You.

Me: Ah, yes well I can explain that.

Nell: Sitting at your desk with your laptop talking about a BBC television series called ‘Shetland’.

Me: Only briefly.

Nell: Your laptop is supposed to be there for writing. Quietly. Not broadcasting on the BBC.

Me: So, here’s the thing. BBC Points of View emailed me a while ago about recording something for them about the ‘Shetland’ finale.

Nell: Why?

Me: I’m not entirely sure but it was as the writer of ‘Conversations with Nell’.

Nell: You never told me.

Me: No, it was all around the time when I heard about the cancer.

Nell: I see.

Me: I forgot about it but then they contacted me again asking really nicely so I sent them a short video never expecting it to be broadcast.

Nell: But it was.

Me: Yes. You were probably rather surprised to see me.

Nell: Could you let me know the next time you decide to be on the BBC, please?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Spoil Sara Sunday

Nell: You do realise it’s 6am, don’t you?

Me: I couldn’t sleep any longer but I did sleep well last night.

Nell: I was sleeping really well until you woke me.

Me: You told me I could always talk to you no matter the time.

Nell: I did, didn’t I?

Me: I’ve been re-reading all the kind messages people sent me. They’re such a comfort.

Nell: Good.

Me: I’m so glad we went for a walk on the beach yesterday.

Nell: So am I.

Me: Poppy says today is Spoil Sara Sunday.

Nell: You didn’t wake Poppy too, did you?

Me: She was already awake. She got out of Sandringham Palace first thing this morning and joined me in bed.

Nell: I wish you wouldn’t call Poppy’s bed Sandringham Palace.

Me: Poppy has two palaces. Buckingham downstairs and Sandringham upstairs.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Anyway, Poppy says I’m allowed to choose the roast and can have two breakfasts today. Cereal first so as not to wake everyone.

Nell: Too late for that.

Me: And smoked salmon and scrambled eggs later.

Nell: I didn’t know we had any smoked salmon.

Me: The Cat brought it over for me yesterday.

Nell: How unusually kind.

Me: The Cat can be kind.

Nell: It doesn’t usually share its smoked salmon with anyone.

Me: Poppy also said you had come to a decision about Myfanwy.

Nell: Yes. In view of the difficult times we’re all going through at the moment we decided Forgiveness was called for.

Me: Does that mean Myfanwy is back in the Welsh Corgi Choir?

Nell: It does.

Me: She must be delighted.

Nell: Yes, and so is Rupert.

Me: Do you think he still has a thing for Myfanwy?

Nell: I think we should just enjoy the sunrise.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Difficult Night But A Beautiful Morning

Nell: You didn’t very sleep well last night, did you? I heard you walking around upstairs.

Me: I’m afraid I got myself into a bit of a state after yesterday and ended up reading.

Nell: It’s perfectly understandable. You’re bound to get overwhelmed now and again.

Me: It was lovely to look out at the view this morning though.

Nell: Good.

Me: The early morning mist was absolutely magical rolling in across the fields. We’re so lucky to live where we do.

Nell: Yes, we are.

Me: I will never take it for granted.

Nell: I know. So, we should update everyone on your visit to the hospital yesterday.

Me: Yes. I saw the consultant who confirmed that it is malignant melanoma as far as she can tell.

Nell: Yes.

Me: They couldn’t take it out there and then so I am booked in for surgery on Thursday morning.

Nell: Yes.

Me: They will cut it out and send it away for testing.

Nell: You may need further surgery after that.

Me: Yes. It can take up to four weeks to get the results.

Nell: And we will just have to get through that.

Me: I’m finding the waiting so hard.

Nell: I know you are but there is nothing we can do.

Me: Kev is being wonderful but even he had a moment of fear in the car on our way home yesterday.

Nell: Of course he is frightened. He loves you. We all do.

Me: I need to say thank you again for all the kind messages of support. They really do mean so much to me. I read every one.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I’m afraid I lost my inner warrior last night, Nell.

Nell: Only temporarily. She’s back now. We can do this. Together.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


You Can Do This

Nell: We’re posting a little early today.

Me: Yes, we are.

Nell: That’s because you and Kev have to leave here soon for the hospital.

Me: Yes. I finally have an appointment to see the consultant about my skin cancer.

Nell: And we’re hoping they will remove it today if they can.

Me: But we don’t know if it’s possible. I may have to go back another time.

Nell: Let’s just see what they say. One step at a time.

Me: I’m a bit frightened, Nell.

Nell: Of course you are. It’s perfectly understandable. Anyone would be.

Me: I wish I was braver.

Nell: You’re doing really well. You went to the hairdressers and you had a serious conversation with Sophie.

Me: I did and she said she’ll be there for me if I need her.

Nell: And in the meantime your hair looks wonderful.

Me: For now.

Nell: Remember what I told you about catastrophising?

Me: I know.

Nell: We all do it. Our minds jump to the worst conclusion.

Me: They do.

Nell: Which actually stops us finding out what’s really going on.

Me: It does.

Nell: Not knowing is far worse than having the facts in front of you.

Me: Yes.

Nell: It’s much better to know where you are.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Once we know what we’re dealing with we can do something about it.

Me: You’re right.

Nell: And you’re not alone with this. You have Kev and us and your family and friends. A whole army beside you.

Me: I’m very lucky to have such support.

Nell: So unleash that inner warrior and go and do this.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I’ll be there when you come home. You and me. Always.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No sorries. This isn’t a sorry sort of day.