Tag Archives: carcinoid

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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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 💕💕

First Steps To Writing A Care Plan

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I had an appointment at the Western General Hospital with a consultant I have never seen before.  The Team she is with is The PACT Team.  This is Patient Experience and Anticipatory Care Plan Team.  The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss my health problems and for the consultant to take notes and later write up a care plan which can be accessed by A & E staff and out of ours doctors, to better understand my health problems and my preferences.  Once the plan is written up a copy will be sent to my consultants, my GP and myself.

 

It was rather a daunting experience, chatting about any possible imminent admission to hospital.  The consultant was lovely, and she explained everything.  It gave me every opportunity to talk and ask questions.   We discussed what brings me into hospital and what is best for me and what staff would benefit from knowing.   She asked me some very personal questions and I gave her truthful answers.  It was easy to chat to her, she was kind and caring.  She turned the computer screen round so I could see what was type written about me.  There it was in black and white: various medical conditions that affect every day life.  Just for a moment it was once again like hitting that brick wall.  I looked at the screen the words were a blur.   Seconds later we were chatting…………

 

Do I think I will benefit from the care plan?  Hell, Yes!!  The Doc took note of all the problems; e.g. carcinoid syndrome, profound hypoglycaemia, labile blood pressure,  gastrostomy feed tube (leaks), poor co-ordination, photosensitivity, hydrocortisone replacement therapy, lanreotide injections every 21 days etc. etc, etc.  And she made a note of what staff need to have available for me.   Fingers crossed Im not in anytime soon.

 

Dedication of my nurse & new dressings

Eleven months ago I switched from nasogastric tube feeding to gastrostomy tube.  After a lengthy stay and several other stays in hospital with complications, sepsis and months of continual leakage.  It is apparent that the surrounding area is never going to totally heal.  The health professionals have tried their best.  I am lucky to have such a dedicated team. We have tried many different creams, ointments and dressings.  My tummy at times resembles an active volcano and erupts a molten lava of gastric fluid leaving my skin red raw, blistered and very sore.  After the trial and error of creams the best one and the one to stay is the cavilon lollipops.  They act as a barrier, and its a wonderful life saver I can tell you.  As for the dressings, well many have been tried and tested.  At one point I looked like I had been shot.  I was covered from my breasts to my waist.  The nurse on the ward thought it best to keep it all sealed.  This didn’t work, after several dressings later, we realised I am allergic to micropore, elastoplast,  dressings, and good old fashioned crepe bandage.  The dressing that worked was the foam dressing.  A hole was cut in the dressing and it was wrapped round my peg.  The only trouble with this is the amount I leak out.  The dressing takes the leakage but after a time it starts to sit on the dressing and then build up on my tummy.

 

 

My nurse, Evelyn, that comes in and changes my dressing at home noticed this.  Evelyn is a dog with a bone.  One day she came in with a booklet and a different dressing.

Do you fancy giving this a go?  She asked me. Can only give it a try was my answer.

So she sat me down and we went through the booklet together, she demonstrated how she was folding the dressing and how she was going to apply  it.    This dressing is designed to absorb the leakage.  And guess what – it does it so well 🙂   I have even noticed a reduction in the odour.  The combination of the barrier and the new dressings, my skin is much improved.   Its far from perfect and it will always leak.  But with the perseverance of Evelyn on the look out for a more suitable dressing life has become more bearable and a tad less painful.  Cant see me  shifting from the Keramax dressings in a hurry.  And as for my nurse well she is a star.