A recipe for living with cancer.

Posts tagged ‘Ireland’

Guinness for your health!

Our last official vacation night in Ireland and we have found a small piece of heaven. Driving out into the bucolic wonder of the Irish countryside Tom reminds me, “you are on the wrong side of the road.” But the road is barely wide enough for one car.  Stay to the left he admonishes, the left of what?  One lane and the sides of this country road are 8 feet high with grasses and vines and quite impenetrable.

It brought to mind Harry Potter in the labyrinth, looking in every direction, unable to find which way to go, hoping to find the exit. With no sight line, not sure how far we need to go and winding like a slithering snake had made the road, where would I even go should another car come at me?  We kept going and Tom kept muttering I don’t know about this Barb, we are in the middle of nowhere.

I found Carrygerry Country House on the Internet. G-d bless the Internet.  A young couple Niall and Gillian Ennis bought this old house, and then their adventure began. To say they will ever “finish” renovating is questionable, think of your own home needing a repair, on steroids!  They have done  a lovely professional job and it is comfortable, clean and enjoyable. There is also an award-winning restaurant run by the husband.
So back to our circuitous journey to heaven. Tom suspected this journey was never-ending, and if it did end it would be with woeful results I think he was certain our money was lost and we would need to find another place to stay the night.

Suddenly the grasses parted and there like Moses in the basket stood a jewel, Carrygerry Country House.
A huge antibellamish mansion surrounded by acres of farms, horses on the right, cows all around and a picturesque small lake in the distance. We rang the bell and were greeted by Niall, the owner and  she led us up to our room. Huge four-poster bed, antique chairs with marble top dressing table and a spick and span en suite bathroom. It was so far superior to our previous lodging I immediately felt my shoulders drop four inches and the stress of driving on the wrong side of the road for three hours evaporate.

I walked the grounds met some of the horses and enjoyed a delicious breeze. There were two gorgeous horses in one field and I walked over to a sign that read: THOROUGHBRED HORSES KICK AND BITE.  In other words, leave the damn horses alone, so of course I went over to them!  A male and a female, the female came over to check me out and as I talked softly she put her head over the fence and I pet her nose.  Zelda loves horses so I’d put the video on and captured it all.  There was an electrified line around the top of the fence and the curious lady inched toward it.  I kept telling her no, no, don’t touch that and she sniffed just a tad to close, got shocked and bolted out into the field.  Not sure whether that line was actually for the horses, or the humans, for had I leaned on the fence and draped my hands over, I would have bolted as well.

I decided to explore the house and was immediately taken by photos of the chef and his two young sons working in the kitchen. I am a sucker for kids and chatted with Niall about the boys and how rambunctious they can be.  She asked if I’d like anything to drink… I have been jonesing for a Guinness all day while driving. I have never been a Guinness drinker but have found a real enjoyment of it while here.  A (wee) Guinness would be great I said. She poured me a glass or 1/2 pint.  She slides down the lever and releases a cascade of white foam to fill a glass, this she sets aside. Then she does another pull and fills the glass with white foam exactly, precisely, and with grace that says she’s done this many times before– to the rim, not a drop overflows. This she sets aside and waits. The bottom of the glass starts to turn dark and from there up a firestorm of activity, a collision of molecules so simple yet complex is mesmerizing. The storm clears and there sits a chocolate-colored elixir topped with a perfect layer of nutmeg colored creamy foam. Done right and the layer of foam will last until the last drop slides  gently down your throat.

When finished the sides of the glass are painted with foam with a modern artists rendition of life’s fullest delight and deepest sorrow. The delight of the first cool sip producing an invisible foam moustache to sadly the last with its promise of more to come.  I am so glad to be alive, to have survived breast cancer so far, Guinness for your health, cheers.photo-2photo-3


I panicked the morning of our trip to Ireland.   I rarely panic before a trip and I  have traveled a lot before my breast cancer.  I don’t love flying, the bumps and jolts and noises the engine makes going through its motions makes me hesitate and listen and worry for a moment.  High pitched whines suddenly change to a low moan.  Did the engine cut out, why does it sound like we are slowing down, was that the landing gear crunching like that, is that normal? Then I remind myself when the plane door shuts I relinquished control to the pilots, flight attendants, the weather, fate and perhaps G-d.  I do hate and panic during turbulence, but most do and when the flight attendants look calm and continue walking the aisles I release my vice grip on the arm of the seat, or Tom’s hand if he is sitting within reach.

I panicked for this trip because of a small card which I did not have.  I am very focused when I travel abroad, medications, ointments, tinctures, trappings, band aids, the right socks, a snack, gum, mints, you would think I was traveling to the depths of the Amazon not Ireland.  I just find when we need something, to have it on hand is so much easier than to try and get it.  Because whatever it is that we need, it is usually 3 AM when we need it.  Have you ever needed an antihistamine or preparation H at 3AM?

The card I was missing was a disclaimer card from the company that makes the skin expanders from my breast surgery –explaining that I have two magnets, one in each breast.  If the metal detectors go off, I get pulled off to the side, i raise my arms and get wanded and I still beep, before they take me into a room and I get strip searched and who knows what else,  what do I do to explain?  Sure lady you have a magnet in each breast. I whip out this “get out of jail free” card and all is well.  The doctors office was “out” of this card and the nurse said she would get more and send me one.  I called to remind her but never received the card.  I meant to call again but got side tracked.

I was dropping Sophie off at the Golden Bone Kennel when a bolt of lightning hit.  The thought just exploded as if a laser shot the idea into my brain.  I don’t have the CARD. Why did this suddenly come to me and what triggered the memory? No clue.  But I immediately panicked.  Throughout breast cancer therapy I have maintained my breasts have not been the focus of my sexuality, I am more of a leg person.  If this upcoming surgery is unsuccessful I have already decided to be flat.  Were it not for Tom I would already be flat, or so I thought.  As I panicked the thoughts racing through my mind were quite telling. What if the sensors go off, what if they wand me and it goes off, will I be taken in a back room, will I have to undress, will they touch me, would they only believe me once they saw the 6-8 inch scars on my breasts? I started to cry.

On this trip I will go through security four times, four separate flights, oh the inhumanity. Tom, ever calm, said don’t worry there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

We get to security and  I went through the revolving door machine, you know the one, stand on the yellow footprints, put your hands up just like this hysterical graphic in front of you…3 seconds, then get out and step aside.  The woman said wait here since the film (showing my age–image) takes a few seconds to develop –then she says I have to pat this spot.  I turn around and there was a yellow square on the icon right above my left breast.  I start to explain, cancer, expanders, magnets and pull my shirt aside and she says, no no I just need to pat this spot. She pats below my collar bone right on the top of my breast. Says its fine and then says, those things don’t usually trigger the machine…. hmmmm you are fine go on.

I momentarily forgot I am one of thousands with different stages of breast cancer therapy who walk through these machines.  Thousands who are worried, upset, angry, depressed and grateful for recovery who may need to stand aside and wait.  We beep, we ping, we stand aside, we wait, we are accustomed to waiting for results.  We hope for the best and to be told we can go on.  I have three more times during this trip to see what happens, will I beep and need to wait.  And there are more trips in my future.  Much like breast cancer I will need to wait to see what happens, but tonight, tonight I get to taste my first real Guinness in Ireland–we’ll worth the wait.

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