Tag Archives: cancer

A trip to Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary

Saturday evening I’m lying on my favourite sofa propped up by a mountains of cushions all set to have a quiet evening with the love of my life.  It’s 8pm and I turn and look at Steve, don’t feel too good, I say.  I can feel my tummy erupting like a volcano, gurgling and burbling .  I slowly ease myself of the sofa and head to the bathroom.  MADE IT JUST IN TIME.  Boy it wasn’t pleasant, I know no-one passes perfume, but the aroma was the stench of the septic tank when the pipe was ran over by the farmer and it leaked into the back field, believe me that day wasn’t pleasant either.  Although it was minus the tummy pain and all that came my way over the coming week.

From 8pm till 10pm the running to the loo got more frequent, yes my lanreotide is half way through, and I get diarrhoea, but it hasn’t been this bad for a long time.  I was exhausted.  I dropped off to sleep.  An hour or so later I woke up, feeling freezing, the pain in my tummy so bad I felt I couldn’t move.  I remember whimpering like a baby, and thinking to myself get a grip woman.  I just couldn’t.  I looked over at Steve.  He said While you were sleeping I had to run to the loo too, we both must have a bug.  I managed to get myself to the bathroom again, it was fleeing out.  oh no, here comes the sickness.  The first thing I could grab was granddaughter, Alexandra’s Potty.  I opened my mouth, no effort; out came the most horrendous vile and obscene volume of brown sickness.  Once it started I could not stop.  I began to sweat.  The next thing I remember Steve picking me up in the hall, all I had on by this time was pants and a cami vest.    Back on the sofa at last.  I felt safe.  I had the potty by my side.  Thank goodness it has a lid.  My head is banging, pain in my stomach, thumping in my chest; palpations like I have never had before.  I drifted back to sleep.

I suddenly wake, Its roughly 2am.  I have this crushing pain in my chest.  Feel like Im going to suffocate.  The pain moves to my shoulder.  To be honest, I don’t know if its two seconds, two minutes or ten minutes later.  All I know is I’ve never had pain like it and its frightening and very very lonely.  I thought I was going to meet my Maker. I lay quiet and let it pass.  My tummy was so sore, fortunately I had a pad on, one less thing to worry about than waking up on the toilet floor and poor Steve trying to deal with that too.

Before I know it its 7am.  I say to Steve, You need to call a Doctor, I really don’t feel well.  Steve called 111, spoke to the advisors, they decided the paramedics needed to come.  The ambulance came quickly.  The paramedics were super.  I can’t remember too much about them, but what I can and what Steve tells me, they were kind, caring, super efficient and very professional.  The one thing I do remember is I felt in so much pain and so sick I couldn’t hold the gas in air to my mouth, the paramedic  gently placed it and held my hand and told me I could press the button to release the gas for pain relief.

 

 

edinburghroyalinfirmary

 

 

I believe A & E was busy but with being brought in by ambulance in total agony, having a temperature on 40.9, having low blood sugar, I was very irritable and confused and that was all before routine blood tests,  I got treated and seen right away in immediate care.

For me the day came and went, my voice was Steve.  They took blood.  I had elevated white cell count, elevated neutrophils, high troponin, low potassium, low magnesium, abnormal ECG.  I needed to be admitted to a ward and to a room of my own.   Within minutes of the results the bags of potassium and magnesium were intravenously going into me.  A nice big dose of IV morphine to keep the pain at bay, an intramuscular injection for sickness.  An IV dose of hydrocortisone steroid replacement.  With ECGs every 3 hours.    They got me settled in a bed and ready for transfer to a single room.  Steve drove home for some personal things for me and came back, he is such a support, he goes that extra mile for me all the time; what a star.  He is my shining light.  When I woke up and he wasn’t there what an empty feeling I had inside me, then I just closed my eyes thought about him and once again it felt like we were together.

The staff had a lot to do to get me comfortable, once I was all settled in a bed at the Medical assessment ward, they got me moved to the appropriate ward.  I was moved to ward 207.  Where they were prepared for me, had my single room sorted and its a ward that is used to patients with artificial feeding which is great.  207 is Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s busiest ward.  I spent one whole week in the ward.  My next blog post will be my weeks experience.

 

Advertisements

The Tattoo

Folks have been inking their bodies for much longer than anyone can imagine.  The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC.  Today many people get a tattoo in celebration of the birth of their child, remembrance of a loved one, and of course expression of art.  Me myself, I have never been attracted to the idea of tattoos in the slightest on myself, however, I have no objection to anyone else having artwork on their skin.  In fact I rather admire the work the tattoo artist work does.  The first male love of my life, my Dad has one tattoo; he got it when he was in the army, it has a thistle on it and the name of my mother on it.  I used to kiss it and look at it lovingly and rub his arm and think to myself if someone loves me like my daddy loves my mummy I will be one lucky lady.  My And yes people for the record this has happened.   My hubby does have three small blue tattoos on his tummy, they are markers the radiotherapy he underwent for his testicular cancer.  In 1996 this is the way they set up the simulation and marked the skin and the patient is left with permanent reminder.  Mum and Dad were married for 60 years before Mum died, Steve and I have been married since 1986, following in their footsteps; happy with that.

Both of my brothers, Albert and Brian have tattoos, and my sister Helen has a tattoo.  After my our Mother passed away.  Albert had an image of Mum on his arm.  Helen got a tattoo in remembrance of Mum too.  We all cope in different ways with death and honouring loved ones.

I have a few friends who particularly liked to express themselves one way or another.  Whether it is eclectic dress, many colour hair changing, piercings, and the main discussion of this post getting a tattoo or five.

One of my friends particularly likes to get tattoos.  Louise is a very close friend who has became one of the family.  Lou and Keith, got one of Buddy and Bella’s pups from the first litter, he is the image of Buddy, they call him Gunner.  When the second litter came along goes without saying another puppy had to join their household.  Harris, now one year old may look like his Daddy, but majority of his characteristics are of his Mummy, Bella.  Lou, has been wonderful over the last three years, visits plentiful.  Giving lifts to hospitals.  Helping with fundraisers for Scotland’s Net Cancer Charity – The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.  What fun we had at The Tea Party and The Music For Nets Night.

Lou is a busy lady, but if she says she is going to help – I can guarantee you she will be there.  The one thing I found harder than anything else was asking for help.  When I had to give up driving the reliance on getting a lift is essential.  The spontaneous hypoglycaemia and exhaustion means I like to plan outings in advance.  Not living on a bus route isn’t ideal.  But Ive got to admit, car travel is usually the best form of transport. So asking for help….. with Lou, you don’t need to ask.   For Many things, hubby Steve and I go together.  Both our sons, Tony and Stuart assist as and when needed.  My sister hazel helps out when she can too, which really lightens the load.

Lou messaged  me one morning Ive got something I want to show you.  Its a present.  But its only for you to see.  I really hope you like it.  I asked if she liked it.  She answered, oh i’m pleased with it.  Left me a tad bamboozled and yet looking forward, as always to her visit.

Later that morning In comes the smiling face, Buddy and Bella run up the long hall and cover our guest in a mountain of blonde hair while dutifully competing for a slobbery snog.  The kettle goes on as always.  I wait in anticipation for the ‘surprise’.   As I bring through the teas and coffee Lou takes off her sweater for the unveiling.    As I catch a glimpse of what I can see on her arm I almost drop the cup.  On her arm she has had a tattoo.  And what is it?  A Zebra.  I see her lips move, I can hear the words come out in an almost muffled way,  I got this for you.  For the first time in my life I can almost say I have a tattoo.  My heart skips a beat and brings a tear to my eye.  I had no inkling, what a lovely thing to do for me.  And to raise awareness for net cancer.  Thanks Lou.

FullSizeRender

Why did she chose the Zebra?

In medicine, the term “zebra” is used in reference to a rare disease or condition, like Neuroendocrine (NET) Cancers. “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” … This because in the medical community the term zebra is universally used to reference a rare disease or condition.

You can find out much more about neuroendocrine tumours, net cancers.  And particular support in Scotland by visiting Scotland’s Net charity.  This charity was set up by my consultant and a patient,  at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.  Her name was Ann Edgar.  The charity can be found at http://www.taect.scot

Its The 10th of The Month Woo Hoo !!

For most people the 10th of the month won’t mean very much.  But for us folks lucky enough to be involved with The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust  (TAECT) up here in Edinburgh we have chosen to have our Net Natter get togethers on the 10th of the month.   The meetings don’t only take place in Edinburgh, amongst other places folk get together in Aberdeen and Glasgow.

NET Natter Meetings are informal support meetings which offer an opportunity to meet with others in the (reasonably) local area who are affected by Neuroendocrine tumours  and carcinoid syndrome – patients, carers, friends and family.

I’m particularly looking forward to going to this support group today.  Since I haven’t seen most of my chums from the group since I organised the music event to raise money for the charity in November.  Its these guys that understand how I feel at times, take time to listen.  Don’t get me wrong not that other friends and family don’t offer love, support and give great advice at times , but the mutual understanding of fellow ‘netters’  is rather unique.

Since I have been involved with TAECT I’ve had a fairly bumpy ride; in and out of hospital.  The usual scans and blood tests.  Trips to  The Royal Free Hospital in London.  Nasal Gastric tube insertion.  Gastrostomy tube insertion.  Sepsis, with ten week stay in hospital.  During all this, amongst other things, the guys I’ve met at the meetings have messaged and telephoned me to see how I am.  Visited me at home.  Visited me in hospital.  Helped me organise the successful tea party.   And much more…….

Since November our life has been pretty hectic.  My hubby, Steve, who always supports me, is by my side regardless.  Has had 5 operations on his eye to try save the sight.  Steve has had a detached retina.  It has been problematic and not gone the way it should.  Here we are in April five operations later and hoping that he will only need to wait another 8 weeks and then get one more surgery.

Needless to say we have found life fairly difficult. After surgery Steve is restricted in driving, after one week as long as he doesn’t get double vision and he can pass the vision test he can drive.  This helps a great deal, both physically and emotionally.

Tomorrow morning I have Evelyn my nurse coming to the house to change my dressings and service my peg feed. It will be so good to say to her that we have been to the Net Natter meeting.

 

 

 

Netty-in-Kilt

 

You can find out more about The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust here

 

 

Making The Most………

Wow its been a while since my fingers have tapped out a post.  To say I haven’t jotted down anything would not be true.  However, everything I have written recently has been very personal and Im not quite ready to share these thoughts.

It’s the beginning of July the last post was published in March.  Quite a lot has gone on in my life in the last 4 months.  The puppies have all grown, and gone to new homes.  They have left a footprint on my heart – they were jolly hard work but oh so lovely to have.  We kept one from the litter.  A stunning young lady.  We named her Bess.  And yes she is turning out to be just we hoped; a great combination of mum, Bella and dad, buddy.   Bess is already taking note to sit and wait when nurse Evelyn is attending to me.  She is intrigued in all the help that a grown up Labrador parent can be.  

We had the honour of attending and celebrating Sophie’s first Holy Communion in May.  What a wonderful day that was.  Alexandra and Grace were ever so happy to get into their dresses and drive through to Glasgow.   What a day to remember.  So happy, full of laughter and love.  Quite a memory.

Sophie trying to beat Stuart’s time completing the rubix cube. 

Sophie with Alexandra and Grace at her Holy Communion Celebration.

I felt far from my best in the last few months.  Seen my consultant, dietician, several hospital visits.  My wonderful nurses come to the house and cater to my needs.  I’ve lost weight which is a bit of a bummer.   My gastrostomy tube snapped which was slightly annoying- lovely staff from the hospital came out straight away with a new part.  Now that’s what I call service.   There has been a fault with the batch – there has been a run on broken tubes 😂 

On the 10th of each month I get the chance to meet up with net cancer patients.  Through the charity The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.  We have a great time blethering away, sharing stories.  10th June my sister hazel drove me to haddington to meet up with the others for a coffee on a Saturday afternoon.  July 10th Steve and I went in style on steves BMW motorcycle to the evening meeting.  The meetings help me a great deal.  They give an opportunity to talk, share experience and most important be YOU.   Looking forward to the next one.  

Lanreotide Injection with a special delivery

As usual the run up to my injection was met with even more trips to the bathroom.  Bowels  working in overdrive.  The day my nurse suggested I get incontinence pads delivered, I was a tad reserved, now I couldn’t do without them.  Before I started getting the jab every three weeks I had total uncontrollable running to the loo, more than ten times per day every day.  Now its greatly reduced.  On a really good day, its three times a day, the week before my injection is due I’m met with a rapid increase of visits to the little room.   This week as well as my usual company of my companion dog, Buddy.  We had Bella getting up with us too.  Bella is our 4 year old labrador retriever.  Who is heavily pregnant.  And lets just say the puppies were moving around in a way that she couldn’t hold the loo in for too long.  Poor girl.

The night before my injection Bella starts getting even more restless, comes to me and gives me a big hug, goes into her large birthing box bed and starts digging the bed to make it comfortable.  She is going to go into labour.  Boy its going to be a long night.  Bella starts to pant and shows all signs of first stage labour and then second stage.

At 0045am the first pup is born a little girl.  She is a perfect fox red labrador retriever.  Just like her daddy.  Bella is so good, bites through the sack, cleans the little one up and welcomes her into the world.  I give Bella a reassuring cuddle.  And make sure the little and Bella are ok.  They are.  I take a photograph of them,  I tell Steve first of course, and then send proud messages of the exciting first birth.  My friend Louise lives three miles from me and asks if she can come and observe Bella giving birth and be of any assistance to me.  She is there for the rest of the litter delivery.

 

IMG_4444

 

 

IMG_4317

 

 

By 0725am there are 8 puppies born into the world.   Steve comes in to see Bella and is there for pup number 9 and 10.  Bella feeds the puppies and a big rest.  Despite being on cloud nine and so happy I’m shattered and feel like I can hardly put one foot in front of the  other. I get myself washed and dressed my nurse will be here this morning to check over my gastrostomy tube, change my dressing, and give me my lanreotide injection.

10am my nurse Evelyn walks through the door.  At first Bella barks, only until she realises who it is.   Evelyn pops her head into the room to view the pups, and then walks along the hall.  She scrubs up and then does all the needful for me.  As my faithful labrador retriever, Buddy, sits by my side and watches everything my nurse does.  I get ready for this painful deed to get done.   Tummy first I think she says.  The soiled dressing taken off, site all cleaned, helan cream and cavilon applied.  And then my nice new clean dressing put on, carefully with tape not to touch my skin and cause a reaction.  Evelyn  then picks up my lanreotide injection.  I get this every 21 days.  Its your left side this time she says as I slip down my knickers.  I then have to work out which way to lie so evelyn can inject my left buttock, I have enough problems with this at the best of times, put lack of sleep into the mixture and we have a recipe for disaster.  I was this way and that way on the sofa. Evelyn said, just a minute and listen to me and then lie down like I tell you,  it worked a treat.  As she administered the injection of lantreotide buddy sat a few feet away watching all, making sure all was good.  Which it was.  All done.    Everything put in the sharps box.  A good discussion between me and my nurse, as always.  Notes written.

 

 

 

FullSizeRender

 

 

Steve calls my name along the hall.  I take myself along inviting my super nurse with me.  Bella is having a contraction, and as in previous seems to want me to work with her as a team.  I rub her tummy and reassure her that I am by her side.  Come on Bella, one big push for mummy, I say to her.  I can see her body contracting, the pain in her eyes.  My lovely dog looks so tired.  I can see a little tail appearing and a foot, one last push Baby belle.  And so she did.  Out comes the most beautiful little puppy.  Puppy number 11.  Bella is exhausted, I hold it while Bella bites the chord, cleans him vigorously, suddenly a little squeal comes from the puppy.  Bella wags her tail.  He is perfect and she is happy.   Puppy number 11 was born at 1118am.   What a team, you both make.  Evelyn says to me.  I feel very proud.  Bella gave birth to 8 boys and 3 girls.  I’m so pleased that things have gone well.  My dog is well, her puppies are healthy and of a good size.  Buddy, the daddy, watches on eagerly, I know he is desperate to play with the little fella’s.

My nurse managed to see the puppy being born, she got more than she bargained for on her home visits for this Thursday.   I certainly do not doubt that she has eventful days but I guess she doesn’t have puppies making an entrance into the world very often.

 

My Shining Lights when the going gets tough!!

For most of us life is hard enough.  We all run along in the treadmill of life in our own way. Me, I try and make the best of it even on the bleakest day.  The last three weeks have been a struggle.  My father is in hospital, he has had life saving open heart surgery, his surgery was fairly extensive; a triple bypass, a valve replacement and a pacemaker.  He has been in intensive care, moved onto high dependency and now graduated to the specialist cardiology ward.  He still has a long hard journey ahead of him.  My Papa is made of strong stuff, he will fight all the way.   I am finding it hard, seeing him lie in the hospital bed looking so frail and lost when I am so used to seeing him going around the family home like a busy bee.  To let you understand my Dad is not one for sitting down, as you would say he has a ‘glass ass’.  He likes to keep busy, making sure everyone is looked after when they visit him.  There is always coffee and a sandwich on offer.

Ive been feeling a tad worse than usual over the last few weeks too.  On the medics advice Ive increased my steroids.  Whats keeping me going and giving me strength?  Love.  From particular special individuals: my hubby Steve, my sons Tony & Stuart and my granddaughters Alexandra & Grace.   They are my shining light, all of them fill my heart with warmth and love.   They light up my life even on the darkest days.  And make me smile – Always.  I love them so much and am so grateful to have them in my life.

 

 

 

A wee bit of home assessment from my nurse

One thing and another its been a busy week.  Started with a visit to the GP on Monday, she is perturbed that despite I’m on my new super duper feeding regime through Lavita, my gastrostomy feed that Marion from the CENT team has carefully worked out for me and I am getting food pumped into me 20 hours per day, I still have an underweight BMI and haven’t gained an ounce.   I’ve got that bloody awful feeling that I need a kick up the ass, I could lie on the floor and curl up in a ball and sleep.  The Doc was also very concerned with the fact that I have difficulty with once of the most important things – getting washed.  Our shower is over the bath, between my poor co-ordination, spontaneous hy0pogleamia, the pain I get and my gastrostomy tube climbing over the bath has caused many accidents: resulting in severe bruising and a hurt pride.  Long and short of my GP visit: bloods taken, my steroid replacements have been increased for the time being, I have to visit her again soon.  We need to get the bathroom sorted.

Its lanreotide week and boy do I know it.  The bowels are flowing more than normal and for the third time the urgency at 3am disturbs my poor sleeping hubby.  Buddy sits quietly at my feet, replacing the lovely warm slippers that I had no time to put on.

 

 

 

Evelyn, one of the nurses comes in on Thursday morning.  The dogs are happy to see her.  They know the routine and watch all that is going on.  She looks at the two of them and says well you will have a wee wait on your ‘doggy mars bar’ today.  Got a lot to get through with your Mummy.  Gastrostomy  site tackled first.  Dressing taken off, all cleaned, the necessary done, new dressing on.  Skin checked and other issues addressed.  Then onto my lovely injection of lanreotide.  It may be a big pain in the butt and cost the NHS a small fortune but it a godsend to me.  My diahrea has reduced from over ten times a day to 3.  And those awful flushes have greatly reduced.  The run up to the injection the symptoms get more problematic but nothing like before I started getting it.  I really wish it had a magic formula and helped with the malabsorption.  Injection in, all sharps in appropriate box etc.

Evelyn takes a pew.  Pulls out a white folder and talks to Steve and I.  Remember last week I asked you some questions and you did well, she said.  That was a base line for us for your mental awareness.  Steve made an off the cuff funny remark and we laughed.  Yes you can only go downhill she said.   No onto some physical questions.  It was all very thorough.  Asking me questions such as can I roll over in bed.  Do I need help with washing and showering.  A great deal of emphasis on my meds, eating, all the personal issues such as my bowel habits, aids I need and use, what I can manage and what I CAN’T.  As always Evelyn was super efficient; making me feel so comfortable and at ease and still managing to get all the appropriate essential information that has to get detailed down.    The nurse is an angel she goes above the call of duty.

It was good Steve was here for all the discussion.  Evelyn already knows how much I rely on him and how difficult things are such as showering, setting up feeds, getting my medication organised – we didn’t need to go into the nitty gritty.

The outcome; I’m an at risk patient.  BMI far too low.  At risk of falls.  Has pain.  Risk of infection.  I dolly daydream into a daze, I furniture walk without realising it.  The one thing I certainly cannot do is get up of the floor on my own. Give me a piece of furniture or better still my devoted strong man – Steve.   I love this man 💕💕