Cancer update: I had my appointment with the oncologist last week, which confirmed the news I already posted two weeks back. The chemo has largely worked: it is holding the cancer where it is, though it is not notably diminishing it. As I’m no longer having any problematic side-effects, it seems sensible to carry on with ‘maintenance’ chemo (with two of the three chemo drugs that I was taking) for the indefinite future. So this is my new treatment regime.
I’m off the critical list, but continue on twice-daily morphine (to hold stomach pain at bay), and shouldn’t expect energy levels to rise (I’m sleeping a lot, and returning to bed after any activity). So – cause neither for celebration, nor for tears. Until the cancer bites back (which I should expect in the next year to two) this is my life.
I’m not working much, and am far from bedbound, so that leaves me with the usual question that people face on retirement: what do I do, day to day?
One answer I’m exploring is househusband. Gill works, we still have three children living at home (ages 22, 18, 9) so I can do more of the cooking, cleaning, washing, washing up, getting Raffie (the little one) ready for school, getting cups of tea for people in the morning, even sewing buttons on shirts (which I just did! Feeling so pleased with myself! Even if it did take an hour and was my own shirt so scarcely selfless.) Doing all those jobs that the good Mum does to keep the household rolling along happily.
(I hear Gill (my wife) scoff in mocking disbelief. Her view is that she continues to do, say, 90% of the tasks, whereas mine is that I’m now up to around half. It seems that this is just an Irreconcilable Difference of Perception (as nicely explained as the availability heuristic by Daniel Kahneman is his great book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’). Also I’d better acknowledge, we do have a cleaner coming in once a week as well. And I should also apologise for nesting my brackets, which comes as second nature to mathematicians and logicians but is not permitted in the grammar of written English (see Nunberg’s The Linguistics of Punctuation). It is a pity it is not allowed, but it is not.)
The househusband role is puzzling me. I’m used to seeing my work as contributing to knowledge, in the noble academic sense, or to company profit, as hallowed by economic theory. Both of these are quantities where ‘more is better’, where time is a limited resource, where one dreams or more time to make more knowledge/profit. Househusbandry isn’t like that: it neither has a theory to give it grand status (as feminists have long been saying) nor is there more to do once the house is clean etc. (OK, you can always find more jobs, but once the house is cleanish and tidyish, I say enough!)
Time … as Larkin put it “What are days for?” (Days). Now that I’m (semi-) retired, knowledge and profit are no longer answers. With that, I head off for my birdsong walk
[[Interlude as I walk]]
The birdsong is at its most wonderful just now, outside our front door between 4 and 5 a.m. on a March morning, before the seagulls start drowning out the songbirds. It is a daily treat, with visual delights for most of the last week too as we have had clear skies and a full moon.
Househusbandry, and birdsong walks, and talking with friends through this blog and via other means (more on that in a future blog) – not such bad answers to Larkin’s question.