Alive and drying out

Posted on January 24, 2021


I owe many of you a huge apology for being silent for so long. I am sorry. The truth is I’ve not been well and have had zero appetite or the means to be able write. So a brief update.

Home is Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand where I have been drying out from my dive career. I have put down roots close to the mountains and I am immensely happy here. I have a core circle of beautiful Thai friends who I consider family and I live a simple no frills life and eat like a Queen every day.

Yoga, cooking, studying Thai, painting and hiking consume my days and my heart with huge fulfillment. I am also writing an autobiography centered on my adventures around the world all linked to food. This is retirement at age 45!

While last year was cited by the vast majority of people as the worst year of their lives, for me it was one of the happiest. I found a home and likeminded people who care about me and respect me. I also managed to find things to do out of the water that stretch my creative mind, my academic brain and physical body. I surrounded myself with non drinkers and smokers something vital for a recovering alcoholic. I get up at 0530 most days and hit the pillow well before 10.

I completed my Yoga instructor training November 2019 as I knew the cancer was not going to allow me to dive forever and sadly that has come faster, much faster than anticipated. My health while stable is on the downward slide. I’ve had three blood transfusions in less than five months and will be due another one in a month or so. I’ve refused chemo. Not interested in having my immune system destroyed. I’ll take a shorter happier life. I already spend far too much time in bloody hospital.

The transfusions are not a panacea and come with risk. The effectiveness falls each time I have one. I got an infection just before Christmas which was very depressing a few days after I’d be pumped full of fresh blood. So there you have it. It’s not a miracle drug. It’s just plasma. But the boost does comes eventually maybe for about four weeks and then I’m on my knees again begging for another one.

My haemoglobin and white cells are falling. The fatigue that hits me is chronic. I am floored some days and never see daylight. Imagine permanent jet-lag. I feel like I am carrying wet cement all the time. A heaviness to everything I do and I have brain fog. My flat is covered in post-it notes and I have to write stuff down all the time like a 90 year old. My Thai friends call me Khun Yai (granny).

I struggle to get through an entire day without sleeping in the middle of it. Yes I am very active but tiredness is very, very different from fatigue. And when my bloods drop carbohydrates have the same effect as Rohypnol. Give me a potato and I am on my back in 20minutes. I can wake up after 10 hours and feel exhausted all the time. Caffeine and concealer are now my two best friends.

But despite this I have found ways to cope, like interval training, I pack a lot into short time slots and then kip. So yes life is good but only because I refuse to be a victim. I do not want anyone’s pity. So save it for someone else!

I have no unnecessary stress. I am fully in charge of my own happiness and routine and don’t depend on anything or anyone to be happy. I am grateful for deciding to remain in Thailand while my family and some friends were screaming for me to get on a plane before lockdown 2020.

I knew Asia would be better placed to handle a respiratory pandemic as I had covered so many stories on SARS and MERs. And during these types of situations you need a nation who can follow civil obedience without being a risk to everyone else. It breaks my heart to hear from dear friends who have been pretty much isolated and alone for almost an entire year. Su Su, as the Thais say. Basically keep fighting. Or chin up I suppose would be the British equivalent.

So this is just to let you know I am ok. Still alive just licking my wounds because I can’t teach diving anymore but learning like everyone to manage my expectations of life and my dreams. Stay safe and I will be reaching out to those I have promised soon. Xx

PS I cut my hair last year. Embracing my natural curls.

Posted in: Asia