Showing posts from November, 2016

My Brain, Ballooning and Breaking Point.

I've touched on this before here, the brain is an extremely powerful entity.  We are all different, all gods children as I say. Our minds can and do reach breaking point.  We all deal with our situations very differently. 
Today I got a visit from one of my fellow flying buddies Joe Daly.  Joe flies the Waterford Hot Air Balloon and this year was the meet director of the annual Irish Hot Air Ballooning Championships in Loughrea. Joe drove up all the way from Waterford this morning, the oldest city in Ireland to say hello and catch up with me. It was while chatting today with Joe and discussing how I'm handing and coping with this sudden health blow, that the jigsaw in my mind of how I'm actually dealing with my tumour seamlessly floated into place. 
You see, some people (well rather a lot) that ask me, assume I'm lying awake at night, stressed out or worried about what I'm going through at present. When infact this is a million miles away from reality. I sleep sound ever…

Sailing the ship.

What's it like to be me right now ?
Well, I'll tell you. 
It's like being the ships captain, sailing a large vessel thru uncharted waters. The ship is large, difficult to handle and there's only me on the bridge.  The ocean is expansive, with the odd unsetteled parts I need to sail thru.  I know I'm given the job to sail it, and it's my gig, no handovers. 
I've just hit the hay for the night. I was up for most of the day so now in form for a lie down.  Aoife is in bed. I say goodnight to her through her bedroom door and I get back the sweetest  of the sweetest tones with the most sincere "Goodnight Daddy" and with that, the tears roll down my face.  It's difficult to explain, but it's like the ship I'm sailing just sailed through a choppy area of the ocean.  And then, it's all calm again, I'm out the far side of it, the ship now stable again.  Aoife all snuggled up, snoozing away, dreaming of what Santa is bringing. 
I've just taken my…

Dream Big little girl.

This post content has been lingering in my mind, over the last 10 days or so. Probably from either hearing or seeing the first wave of Christmas TV/Radio advertisements. You know, that background atmosphere that plants that subluminal seed of the current impending festive season in your heart and of course your mind too. 
I want this Christmas to be a beginning, a new look at life and by that I mean, look at what nearly happened to our little family, and how we escaped. My world from then/now on will always be viewed and of course appreciated differently and so it should. 
But I've being having this thought.  And this thought can be a haunting one, so I'm facing up to it and addressing it right now. I'm going put my hand up straight away and admit I'm going to get emotional writing this.  But I want to do this, I need to do this and now, not later or nearer Christmas week. 
Yes I have a Gastro tumor, yes I am on a definite course of treatment, where the intention is to reduc…

A weekend of Porsche, Helicopters and Hammers

The Stunning Porsch Panamera
Well, this weekend flew by, literally !! (More about that F word later). 
Saturday evening saw my cousin Brian and friend Declan show up and bring me out for a beer and bite to eat.  What better way than to be chauffeur driven and in a stunning black Porsch Panamera. A car I could certainly get used to but not sure about retrieving the balloon in it. 
My first time to be out for a meal and draught beer since I got sick. Thoughts did go thru my mind, even paranoid thoughts, who will see me out? will people I know come over and say hello to me? Do people who see me out understand I'm good and on the road to beating this ? I need not have worried.  We went to the Snail Box. A big shake hands from Stevan the manager and Philip the owner coupled with a warm and genuine 'How are you doing Aidan, great to see you" from both of these gents.  We arrived there at 4:45pm. I really enjoyed the tasty food and draught beer number 1 since I got ill, but by 6:30pm m…

Mind over Matter, and it's the Weekend !

This week was a mixed one to be honest. It was a week where things probably caught up with each other.  Like my mind catching up with my body or my body catching up with my mind. One is busy chasing the other at present and I'm not quiet sure who's turn it is now to be honest !  
It's from going super healthy to having Gastro Cancer in the click of a finger.  It's from my mind been able to think in one flavour to totally having to recalibrate, launch again and find it's feet on a whole different plain. Yes, there's a lot going on upstairs at present.  I just have to slow things down in the grey matter cog wheel department, but that's easier said than done, for my mind anyway.  You see, I don't turn off. My friends will tell you there's always something going on 'upstairs' with me.  Alison will testify that I do talk to myself, but I always did that. Do they call that the first sign of madness ?
So when my mind landscape changes as it is currently, I&#…

Be nice on the way up, you might meet them again on the way back down.

I had a feature piece recently printed in 'Aerostat', the glossy magazine that's published bi-monthly by the British Balloon and Airship Club. The article was called 'Disowning Disability', about not accepting NO as an answer and ploughing on to achieve what you want and when you want it. I was writing about my flight training versus my sight in one eye, but that's not my point here, but I ended the piece with the following last words: "When the lift drops you off at your floor, send it back down for the next person"
Let me now pull you back in time, lets go back over 30 years. I was a teenager (yes, it's making me feel very old thank you). Dad was hunting with the Ward Union Stag Hounds, and I was out following the hunt with my late mother Ann Murphy. After the hunt, as is customary, most of the hunting field would retire to a local hostelry and enjoy a hot toddy after their afternoons jumping over the expansive Meath ditches. That's when '…

The Golden Crew, The Friendly Farmer, It's all about teamwork.

When NASA put a man on a missile and shot him into space.  If I was ever asked what my definition of Team Work is, that's the personal answer I would give. 
I picked that answer above on purpose, because in my opinion, it's the ulitmate definition. 
From my wife Alison, dug down, stuck in and taking stock and responsibility for a lot that's going on in our small family unit right now to my 8 yr old daughter Aoife, being so grown up and mature for her age, helping Alison out at every beck and call and then this week getting plaudits from her teacher during our parent/teacher meeting. This is just a snapshot of the Team work ticking by in our home.  Aoife is of course getting her teamwork apprenticeship at an early age, but dare I say it, well capable of it. This young lady is growing up fast. I'm not and don't pretend to be an expert when it comes to rearing kids, but in Aoife's case, I can solemnly swear, you reap what you sew. We certainly did.  --------------------…

All Go at checkup and Mrs Doyle says Go On, Go On, Go On...

This morning was check up time for me in the Bons Secour. My blood levels were low last week during my chemotherapy and the powers that be were keeping me on a tight rein. I need not have worried, the levels today were up in the high greens which was great. In English, this means my body is standing up to the chemotherapy and not dropping and drowning in its own immune system because of it. 
Jakki, one of the senior oncologist nurses who looks after me was all smiles, as she tells me "We're giving you a good dose of chemo Aidan, so this is excellent news". 
With the experience over the last few days, I wanted this boost. I needed this boost. Now I got it. My body is not letting its fence down. I said quietly to myself, "C'mon the Murf, you've got this, keep that blood count high".  This now means my daily tablet chemotherapy routine can recommence straight away.  We are good to GO !!

I'll Find My Way Home.

You ask me where to beginAm I so lost in my sin
You ask me where did I fall
I'll say I can't tell you when
But if my spirit is lost
How will I find what is near
Don't question I'm not alone Somehow I'll find my way home

With this blog update, this one is not for me, this one is for you ! I want YOU to plug in (with your headset if you can) and take 5 minutes (exactly 5 mins)  of your time and listen/view the piece. As you can see, I opened the blog with the opening lines of the track. You probably haven't heard this particular version of this track before as it does not appear to be common, but I think you will like it. 
Click this URL to launch A lot of the lyrics in this posted piece happen to resonate quite strongly with me. That coupled with a whole different view on the vocals. If I were asked to choose a 'blog soundtrack', this exact track and version would be it, without question.  ----------------------------------------------…

It's OK not to be OK and that's a wrap !!

I'm sure like me you have heard (more than read) that statement 'It's OK not to be OK'.  For me this statement has been bouncing around in my head as of late.  As my cousin Brian said in passing to me one day last year "Aidan, how well do you know your job" I tell Brian, "Yep, pretty well, I'm good, I'm on top of it" Then Brian asks me "How well do you know your own mind?" I pull the brakes and I pull them hard. That was a very sobering question I was just asked and it touched on a nerve with me if you like. Dare I use the royal 'We' phrase. How well do we know our own mind ? 
But lets just step aside and build a picture of where my thoughts and indeed mind were focussed over the past two weeks:

This last few weeks saw different things happening with my grey matter.  There was a variance in the turning of the cogs and in a whole new direction for me.…

Oh No I won't !!

Pantomime season will be among us soon, but I borrowed the title of this blog for an unfortunate different reason. It's a sad fact of life that there's a lot of  'Cannot Do' out there. We've all come across it and here's the deal, it's not going to stop. I find myself, more often than not, sitting on the boundary with people or indeed situations I find myself getting into, so I tend to attract my share of this negativity over the years. 
So before you read the piece below, which incidentally happened to me yesterday, I want to point out and make clear that in these situations, it's not about right or wrong, so you need to remove that perception from your mind straight away.   It's more about doing the right thing, not necessarily in a jump to attention fashion.As I always say, beggers can't be choosers. Ask nicely, be polite, mindful they have and you want and generally things tend to work out.  Or so you would think.. 

The Can't Do because I co…

The Side Affects Story.

Part of the world of old wives tales and dare I say, the bits that certain people love chatting about, (these would be the people that never had any direct experience with chemotherapy you understand) are those dreaded side affects of the treatment. 
To date, the loss of energy is my own biggest hit. A feeling of tiredness that's connected to time.  Come 2-3pm, my batteries are dipping, so that's when I listen to my body and pop my head down for a rest.  Remember science class in school: "For every action (Chemotherapy), there is an equal and opposite reaction (the tiredness). As I'm on a side course of steroids for 3 days post IV Chemo, it's going to slow down my sleeping habits till later in the week, there's that science rule kicking in again. 
On my current cocktail of meds, I'm still waiting on the 'metallic taste' in the back of my mouth to arrive.  It hasn't arrived yet, but I appear to have developed an obscure variant of it. When drinking c…

Captain Chemo strikes again.

Although on a daily oral dose of chemotherapy, I'm also on a 3 weekly course (every 3 weeks) of chemo that's delivered in hospital and by an IV line. Before any IV chemotherapy is given, my bloods are checked first. My oncologist needs to know are my white blood cell counts high enough.  Remember what we learned earlier?  Too low a blood count and I will start attracting infections which can put a delay in treatment as this chemotherapy pulls the count down further, presenting a totally unwanted situation that needs to be avoided at all costs.  Today's lucky blood count number was drawn on a red ticket with the serial number LUK.  OK, so maybe it didn't happen exactly like that (welcome to my sense of humour), but the blood count number was 0.1 above what would initiate a hold on today's treatment. So today we were good to go, albeit balancing this with a temporary halt from my parallel daily tablet intake. This whole thing is a very finely produced balancing act. 

Radio GaGa.

Sometimes there's a story hidden beneath a story. 
I was invited down to our provincial radio station LMFM today to be interviewed on their popular 'Late Lunch' show with broadcaster Gerry Kelly. This all came about from a message I received from a freelance journalist 'Louise Ferriter' last week. Louise had my contact details saved from 2 years previous when she wrote a newspaper article about my jeep been stolen and having it recovered that same night. Louise saw my new mission and asked if I would chat about it on radio. 
My new word for today is 'synchronicity'. Although this interview was planned and set in stone last week, close friends of mine, Barry, Helen, Lea and Scott Colgan (unknown to this), wrote a letter into this radio show which they got this morning. What a lovely way to introduce the piece. All unplanned but perfect. 
No questions were off limits (my choice) but it did have the affect on me of not knowing what's coming next.  I need not h…

More than just a number in a game of figures.

When serious illness strikes a family, apart from the stress of the illness itself, another major concern can be the relationship between employee and employer, but more about that further down in this particular blog. On a resonant note, if the person who is ill has paid up front for airline and hotel accommodation, unless one has travel insurance in the back pocket, one tends to be goosed. 
Navan Travel, exceptional customer service. 
The latter has happened to me. My travel insurance had lapsed 2 weeks before I got sick. My next trip overseas  was not till mid December, so in my own mind, it made sense to renew just before then, any sooner and I'm renewing early, any later,  I'm abroad with no insurance cover. It never dawned on me that this insurance cover might be needed BEFORE I leave the country. I had a mental picture of needing it only when away.. the 'Travel' part of Travel Insurance, that was my mental perception. Inevitably, I had no choice but to cancel my s…

The Italian Connection.

St. Pio in flight in Northern Italy, with the shelter of the Italian/French Alps in the background
As most of you know, both myself and St. Pio have an ongoing friendship that we developed over the past number of years. This stems from a devotion my late mother Ann Murphy had to Padre Pio. It's from that devotion that I got this balloon (pictured above). It was a stock envelope meaning it was already pre-made so both the specification and entire colour scheme was set in stone. I also ordered an out of sequence aircraft registration mark for it. G-PPIO was born. 
Based in Italy, on it's maiden flight here and on packing it away, I glance behind the semi deflated 90,000 cu. ft envelope, and there is a large sign made up of 15 foot high individual letters perched on the rooftop of a building. The letters spell the word 'CHRIST'. Nothing more, nothing less. On another occasion while travelling out to Italy to fly St. Pio, my Aer Lingus passenger booking reference was '…