I’d wanted to title this ‘A Message from China’ but unfortunately I didn’t have time to write my blog while we were out there. I say unfortunately, but I have to say that it was great to be well enough, and removed enough from life in England, that I didn’t really think about my blog for more than about 1 minute in total. 2 weeks away from the worries of general life, the Ball and Myeloma was a real Godsend and I don’t think I realised how much I needed it until I was out there. How much WE needed it as a family. I felt really emotional on the plane as arrived in China – It dawned on me how scared I had been that I would relapse before our trip, or that I would get ill and be unable to travel. But none of that happened and we got the most amazing two weeks in Beijing with my lovely sister and her husband.
I don’t really know what to start with. We saw loads – The Great Wall, Tianamen Square, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Olympic Park and Water Cube, the Forbidden City, the Hutongs, the Silk market (and my sister’s amazing haggling skills!) and Snack Street with its amazing selection of scorpion, snakes and bugs to eat! I’m not sure anyone else will want me to go into great detail about each of these areas but they really were amazing to see an each had elements that made them special.
The history of China is pretty spectacular and it was great to understand more about how the Emperors ruled, how they chose their concubines (!), how the coups and the cultural revolution affected the country, and a little more about how the 1 child policy affects people. Not that I am any expert now I hasten to add!
One of the things I found most interesting was listening to the 30 year old mandarin teacher of my sister. Her life story was very sad although she wasn’t looking for sympathy. Her dad had left her before she was born because his parents told him to. Her mum bought her up alone and sounded like a strong courageous woman. There is much more which I won’t share but the thing that made me sadest was that this beautiful, kind, clever young lady celebrated her 30th birthday while we were there – in China once you hit 30, you are considered uneligible if you are not married. So her birthday wasn’t a particularly happy time for her and we watched her struggle with what to do now. For a country that has created a shortage of women due to its political policies (Especially now just over 30 years after the Introduction of the 1 child policy that favours boys), it amazed me that it was still promoting this attitude. But I have only seen a tiny element of how the Chinese are affected so who knows if my opinions are right. I’ve probably missed a whole chunk of information but now feel like it would be interesting to understand it all much better.
One of my concerns out there was that I might get ill from the high pollution levels. I’m not sure how much I had really believed my sister when she told me about the pollution levels. But she wasn’t fibbing! It was amazing how you could see and taste the pollution in the sky on bad days. A feeling of haze and dust spread through the city, along with a warmth and humidity. But then the wind would blow or it would rain overnight, and suddenly we’d get a Blue Sky day where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! I was pleased to have the mask that Chris had bought me, despite the fact that I felt a little like I was insulting the locals and being a poncy westerner! But I didn’t want to risk being ill and even with the mask, I had a cough and cold for over half of our visit. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and certainly didn’t stop us doing anything that we wanted to do.
So it was a great holiday and both us and the kids loved the whole experience. In fact the kids were pretty amazing a dealing with everything that we threw at them; the 26 hour journey there, Chinese food (including deep fried scorpions!), the heat and humidity and being in major demand for photos with local Chinese tourists!! Sam in particular was loved by everyone – blond hair and being a boy was in his favour!!
So now we’re just trying to deal with the jet lag from he homeward journey. We were so proud of the kids for how they behaved on the journey – now I just have to remind myself that we’re all very tired!!
Today I’m back at hospital for my monthly checkup and I have to say it’s proving quite emotional. I’ve been able to forget everything about this damned illness for a few weeks and it seems to have rushed back to hit me hard. I’m sure the tiredness is largely to blame but China was a big reminder of how life had been without Myeloma in it. And I loved it. No-one there knew about me and I could just get on without thinking about it. Somehow, after the ball, I need to get back to that but I’m not sure how possible it is when I have made my life so public. My fault really. But I’m definitely making things as ‘myeloma free’ as possible once the Ball is over. And in the meantime, I just need to try to hold myself together over the next month which is going to be manic with organisation for parties for both the kids, and a ridiculous amount of work and chasing people up for the Ball!