Monday, 30 April 2012

DAY 30

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DAY 30

Energy level: Some bounce detectable
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Throat - sore and swollen, not quite so tired

Welcome to Week 6
Hope you all had a nice weekend. Mine was pretty busy - for me! I had a visitor on Saturday - my friend and colleague Tracy, who brought me up-to-date on news from work and also brought me some Malibu Pineapple Curd. She thought I might like the taste. I actually tried some on toast this morning and it is very nice :-) Thanks Tracy!

Also on Sunday I went to Cheadle and saw my parents and my brother Dom and his wife Sharon. It must be weeks since I've seen them. It was nice to have a catch-up with them too. Feeling a bit more sociable now. My dad showed me some photos from when he was undergoing radiotherapy for his prostate cancer - and I recognised the lady he was hugging. She is still working there. He gave me a couple to take in to show her. We only stayed an hour and a half but I was exhausted by the time I got back. Another afternoon of snoozing and snooker :-)

There was a bit of delay today, as the waiting room was pretty full. I think one of the machines had been out of order for a short while and they were trying to catch up.Bob was a bit out of sorts and fed-up of waiting - he is missing Harry and another chap who used to be there everyday. We managed to get him talking though - and I think he's bonding with the Hairy Biker guy, who is really friendly.

When my turn came I gave the radiographer my card - and the two photos were inside. I asked if the lady on them was working today - and she said yes - her name is Chris. They all had a look and were reminiscing about when they worked in the old department. They recognised my dad and the other chap with him. They were there in silly hats with balloons because it had been my dad's last day of treatment. That was back in 2007.

So I had treatment number 30 and they reminded me that I had to see Dr Gahir today. I hadn't forgotten. We went to the main waiting room and it wasn't long until she came out to call my name. We followed her into her consulting room and she asked how I was doing. I told her I thought I was doing okay. She asked me to lie on the bed and she had a look in my mouth, at my suntan and my PEG. She said everything looked as it should and that I was doing well. She said it was unusual for someone to have a PEG fitted and not use it. I was pleased that she said my throat would get better quicker if I was still eating normally. :-) I do hope so!

Seems I don't need a blood test as they aren't going to give me any more chemo (yay!!) and the next time I go back it will be to see Mr Hughes back in the Head and Neck Clinic in about six weeks time. They are going to give me some time to recover before they examine me again. That is good news. Outpatients has just moved into the new building - so it will be quite exciting. Then in two or three months I will have another scan - to see if everything is clear. I think that is going to be the most stressful thing so far. Waititng for the results of that one is going to be hard.

When we came out of Dr Gahir's room, Chris was waiting for us. The other radiographers had told her that we had photos of her - so she asked to see them. I showed her a picture of her hugging my dad in his hooded dressing gown - and posing with two of them in their silly hats. She laughed and said they used to have some parties in the old department! I think my dad got told off for being a bit noisy once. But when you are going through something like this - visiting the hospital and seeing the same people each day who are going through the same thing - is part of your social life. It's good to have a chuckle - it diffuses the tension. :-)

Three more and counting......

Friday, 27 April 2012

DAY 29

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DAY 29

Energy level: Just a little bit bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Throat - sore and swollen

I am glad that we are getting to the end of this. Week 6 is over and Week 7 is only 4 days. :-)

I had a quick visit today - as there was no-one there. The LA4 Machine was being serviced today so all the DGC had the day off. I was in and out in no time. Although they did have to change the board underneath me - they didn't realise it was wrong until they had me strapped down in my mask. they had to release me again and lower the bed and let me off while they changed it. Once I was strapped in again it didn't take long. They told me that I have to see Dr Gahir on Monday. I haven't seen her since a couple of days before my treatment began, back in March.

She wants to see how I'm getting on after all this treatment and will make another appointment for a couple of weeks time.

Got home and dozed some more while watching snooker. I don't have the energy for anything else! Hopefully I will perk up a bit over the weekend. I have a visit from Tracy to look forward tomorrow. Can't wait to catch-up with all the news and gossip from work :-)

I need a lie down....

Thursday, 26 April 2012

DAY 28

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DAY 28

Energy level: Quite bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Mouth - slightly better, not so tired

I went into the LA3 waiting room today with a black bag. Said hello to Bob, then sat down. I took off my scarf and coat and then reached into my black bag and took out a HUGE parrot, which I sat on my shoulder. Waited for Bob to look over - and then nearly choke on his water when he saw the size of my parrot :-) There is a new member of the DGC, to replace Harry I guess. He looks a bit like one of the hairy bikers, with an impressive white beard. He asked me if I'd been given it by the radiographers - so I had to confess that I'd brought it in from home just to make Bob jealous.

When the radiographer came out to collect me - she thought is was brilliant and went and told the others that I had rivalled Bob's parrot. My mum gave it to me - it is like a Beanie Baby - but about ten times bigger. I'm glad it cheered everyone up.

I had a quick session today, then had to go and wait to see Catherine. She popped out to collect me - but Nathan hadn't even come in yet - he was still queueing to park the car! So I went into her office - she had a student with her today, just lolling on the bed for some reason. Anyway, Catherine asked how I was and whether I had been eating properly. I told her I had - and she asked me to get on the scales. I did, with some trepidation, but it turns out I had put 2lbs on! She was very happy with that. She asked me if I'd tried the prune juice and I told her it had been an immediate success. She said it's like a miracle cure :-)

She said that most people who have a tube fitted do end up having to use it - but that I had done very well. I was quite pleased. I only have to see her once more next week - then that is it! This time next week I will be done!

I was walking out of the main entrance when Nathan was just coming in. I had been so quick. He had to get a new parking permit though - as we only noticed yesterday as we left that our latest one was about 4 days out-of-date! Luckily no-one in the car park had noticed. So we got another week's permit - our last one :-)

Wasn't too tired today - lay on the sofa for a bit watching some soothing snooker. I enjoyed that - though I may have had a little doze when Mark Williams was on. Am going to relax now and drink a glass of Shloer Rose - and pretend it is wine :-)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

DAY 27

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DAY 27

Energy level: Not quite bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Mouth - slightly better, very tired though

Today is the day that I finally saw Bob's parrot! Yes - when I got there today he had already got his dressing gown on and there it was sitting on his shoulder. Very colourful and cute. I think he sweet talks the radiographers. :-) It was also Harry's last day! He was very happy about that - although Bob was pretty grumpy because he's got loads to go yet. Hopefully, I might be able to cheer him up a bit tomorrow with a little surprise of my own - watch this space....

We wished Harry all the best - it won't be the same without him and his wife. They've been very friendly since the first day I started my treatment. it turns out they only live up the road from us - so we may bump into them occasionally. I told him that my dad had gone through the same treatment five years ago and he was fine. I hope Harry will too :-)

Also saw Frank - he had to come in for another mask fitting as his original one no longer fits as he's lost so much weight. He only has 5 to go - he finishes the day before me. He still hasn't had the blood test results so still may have to have his chemo - if it has recovered.

I was expecting to see the nurse today - but was told it might be tomorrow or Friday. But tomorrow is Catherine day - when I have to get weighed. Frank suggested that I put stones in my pockets before I get on the scales. I was already thinking about that - heehee!

I have eaten well though - this evening Nathan made me his famous Tagliatelle Carbonara - full of fattening things like pasta. egg yolks, cream and Parmesan cheese. It tasted really good still and has to be worth a few extra pounds on my hips :-)

I remember when I went for my mask fitting before all this started the Radiographer in charge told me that towards the end of my treatment I would be going in, getting it done then going home straight to bed. Today was the first time I've had to do that. I slept for three hours solid. It certainly takes it out of you!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

DAY 26

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DAY 26

Energy level: Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Mouth - slightly better

I think my blood count must be coming up again as my mouth seems slightly better on the inside - so it must be managing to heal again. By the end of the week I may be safe to go out and be among people again. Thank goodness.

At the moment the only time I go out is to the hospital each day. Today I was making lunch ready to go off at 2pm when I got a phonecall from the radiotherapy department telling me that my machine - the awesome LA3 - was broken! They didn't know how long it would take to find the fault and mend it - so they asked if I would come over around twenty past five. So, at least I didn't have to rush lunch. i did some home baked French bread and had it with hummus. Was rather tasty - and I managed the scratchy bread just fine. :-)

I had a nice surprise through the post today. my lovely sister-in-law in York - Jan sent me one of those Buy a Gift Experiences. It is a Couples Photo Session - where you can go with your partner and get made up and styled and have photos taken in various outfits. It sounds like a fun pampering thing to enjoy. I will look forward to that - although I might wait until my radiation burns have disappeared first. Luckily it lasts until next February. :-) It's so cool to have nice things to look forward to.

When we did go to the hospital the place was deserted. We got into the car park without having to queue and wait, there was no-one in the waiting room and the receptionist had to tell us how to let ourselves out as the doors would be locked when we were finished!

There was no DGC, sadly. I bet they wondered where I was today. I guess they would have seen that my machine was out of action, as it would have been put on its whiteboard. Anyway - I had only just sat down when I was called in. They had managed to fix the machine - so I was on my usual one. Didn't take many minutes and we were on our way home again.

I am still trying to build myself up - by eating lots! I am actually feeling stronger today. I had some rather nice fillet steak (lots of iron :-) and a rather tasty stuffed mushroom. I find savoury things taste nicer right now. That was delicious! I tried having a cup of tea again - just to see if I like it again yet. Tried it first without milk - not nice, with milk - okay and then with added sugar - just about drinkable. Not enjoyable though. It used to be my favourite refreshing drink. Maybe I should try coffee which I hated before all this. Perhaps that tastes like nectar now - heehee!

Anyway - only 7 more to go.

Monday, 23 April 2012

DAY 25

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DAY 25

Energy level: Bouncy is coming back
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Mouth - ow, ow, ouch!

Welcome to Week 6 of treatment.
I went in today to discover that the Dressing Gown Club had missed me on Friday! I was touched :-) Their machine wasn't being serviced so they'd all been there at the normal time - wondering where I was. I explained that I'd been in early to use LA2.

It was nice to be back to the normal madness though. You are never going to guess what Bob had in his Black Bag today. Well, the usual - his flask of water, his snazzy red dressing gown and.... a parrot. That;s what he told us all - but he wouldn't show us. He said the radiographers had given it to him and told him he had to wear it on his shoulder during treatment. I wasn't sure whether to believe that - but then another person came back from their machine with a furry parrot attached to their card! I got called in then - but Nathan says while I was gone he saw the parrot :-)

With all these stickers and furries - the Radiographers certainly keep our spirits up. I actually got to the very bottom of my first page - only 8 more to go. I had thought there was a Bank Holiday next Monday - but there isn't - so I will actually finish on next Thursday.

I have to say it won't be a day too soon. The skin on my neck and chin and shoulder and back is all very red and raised now and peeling in some places. It's like you've got bad sunburn - then keep going back for more!

That doesn't hurt too much - but it is a different story on the inside of my mouth. Eating is quite hard and I have to stay away from anything too fruity or sour now. I can't taste much sweet at all. I really fancied chips and mushy peas over the weekend - but when I tried them their taste had changed too. Last time I had some wasn't many weeks ago and they tasted great then.

So I am on to softer foods like Weetabix, Ready Brek, trifles, custard, mashed potatoes and gravy. Not a lot of variety - but I need to put weight on by next Thursday or Catherine will put me on tube feeding!

Friday, 20 April 2012

DAY 24

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DAY 24

Energy level: Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Some Appetite and a bit more Energy

Well today has been a bit of a topsy-turvy day. Firstly we had to be at the hospital by 8.50am. Actually at that time of the morning is was all fresh and cool and sunny. It felt nice. The reason is that my radiotherapy machine - LA3 was having a service today - so they had to put me on LA2 early - before its usual customers came in.

It even has a different waiting room. When I got there is was pretty full. I noticed they had a stereo, some biscuits and jigsaws in this one - as well as the usual cricket and golfing magazines. I didn't recognise anyone there - so I don't even get to find out what was in Bob's Black Bag today. There were one or two Dressing Gown clad men - but they obviously don't like to show their legs - as they still had jeans on underneath!

Luckily I was called in almost as soon as I got there. I was taken into the room and it was entirely opposite to the one I'm used to. Everything was the other way round. Luckily I noticed before I tried to lie down on it the wrong way! Otherwise once I had the mask on it felt pretty much the same. They did seem to have the radio on playing some U2 I think. Then I leapt off and couldn't find my cardi and glasses on the chair - as I was on the wrong side. Eventually I was dressed and out :-)

There we go - the end of Week 5! Only 9 more sessions to go - that is in single figures now! The radiotherapist did say that the burning on the outside has gone through to my back now - so I need to put the E45 on there now too. But it's not too sore.

I have been having a bit of a constipation problem due to all the anti-sickness medication I was taking last week. The Dietician suggested prune juice - which I have to report tasted rather nice (but then my taste buds are pretty messed up - heehee!) Also - it works :-) Just think of that as a Public Service Announcement. I share my indignities to help you too :-)

I had another appointment today - a telephone interview with the Occupational Health department of the council where I work. It had to be via phone as I am in my low blood count phase after chemo and I could easily pick up an infection if I mix with other people.

I wasn't too sure what to expect - I have been off since 31st January when I had my radical neck dissection. I was called by a lovely nurse called Tracy who was so helpful and understanding. It did feel quite exciting to be talking about going back to work :-) Imagine going back to a normal life!

We talked about all the treatment I've been having and whether I will need any help returning to work. Obviously I have less mobility on my right arm and shoulder - as so many nerves were cut. Some feeling won't come back but I can pretty much move it as usual. It's only slightly restricted. I may be able to get some physiotherapy through work to help with that. Also, once I've recovered from the radiotherapy I will be able to have a phased return - to help build up my strength and overcome the fatigue. She worked out that the earliest I might return could be mid-June. I am really looking forward to that!

She asked how my mood was - I told her I was pretty positive. I have a great network of family and friends - and that I'd had so many cards, letters and calls from my customers that they keep my spirits up!

What a lucky person I am :-)

Tell you what though - I can't wait to be able to go out and about and socialise once more.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

DAY 23

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DAY 23

Energy level: Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: More Appetite

Today is Thursday so that means Dietician Day! First I had my usual treatment - the DGC were on good form and were pleased to see that I was smiling. Bob - one guy who comes on his own always brings his own flask of water in his large black bag. Maybe he doesn't trust hospital water. They have a rule for the DGC - they have to drink a pint before they are allowed onto their machine. There are some pretty pained expressions if there is ever a delay - I can tell you!
Anyway yesterday in Bob's black bag he had...five boxes of Maltesers. It seems he was off to visit his cousin after the treatment, and she lives in a small village and can't get them.
Guess what Bob had in his black bag today?
Two meat pies!
He said there is a Pound Pie Shop in Newcastle and he'd bought them for his tea. I wonder what he'll have in there tomorrow?

Anyway - my treatment wasn't delayed so I was  soon out in the main Waiting Room until my name was called to see Catherine. It had been a fortnight since I saw her. She weighed me first. I warned her I must have lost some as I'd had a horrible chemo week while she'd been away. I had gone down from 10stone 2lbs to 9 stone 7lbs. I thought that was pretty good - but she wasn't too happy. She asked me to list what I'd eaten in the last 24 hours. Then she decided to prescribe me some shots! Not injections - no! Sadly not alcoholic shots either, but little shots of high-calorie drinks, I told her I only like the taste of banana at the moment and she said they actually do it in that flavour!

She managed to locate Dr Gahir, who had to sign the prescription, then we had a nice little walk in the fresh air up to the Pharmacy. The sad news is that all the banana had gone so I am stuck with strawberry. I have to have one four times a day. I can add them to milk shakes or any other food really. I might start them tomorrow :-) At least it is stuff I can drink - I don't have to put it down the tube!

So hopefully it will build up my strength a bit. We are close to the end of Week 5 :-)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

DAY 22

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DAY 22

Energy level: A bit Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: More Appetite - a little  fatigue.

Woo! Look at that - 22 out of 33 - that means two thirds of the way through!
Only 11 more to go.
Today the Dressing Gown Club professed themselves "sneaped" because I went there in my new starry Vans - that is a pair of soft pumps :-) They didn't hear me coming at all. I will have to think of something special to wear for my last day. Maybe my highest heels - or some spiky boots? Heehee - will need to impress that day!

No delays today - so I relaxed to Ticket to Ride by the Beatles, while the machine did its work. Then I was told that the nurse wanted to see me - just to check how I was coping with the side-effects. So we had to wait around a little while in the main waiting room.

We got in and saw the nurse practitioner that I'd seen once before at the beginning of my treatment. Turns out she likes to see everyone once a week - but she'd been away for a while. She asked how I was doing - I told her about the grotty week I'd just had - she said it was early days as it was only a week since chemo. It takes a while for it to leave the body. She asked if I could still swallow - and I told her I could eat pretty much anything. She was impressed that I'd had chilli con carne last night. She asked if I had to take painkillers - as she looked in my mouth and said she could see that it was pretty sore. It's not that bad - I don't need to take anything yet.
She said "Have you got a really high pain threshold or something?"
She said that she'd give me 10 out of 10 so far!

I did mention the noises in my ear too - which are pretty loud right now. She said it should reduce once the chemo clears - but if not they will refer me to an audiologist.

So it is all going well :-)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

DAY 21

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DAY 21

Energy level: Almost back to Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: Some Appetite - some fatigue.


At last there seems to be some slight improvement in my condition. I actually got up before 7am and got myself some breakfast because I was hungry! I managed a WHOLE one weetabix (not just half!) with some skimmed milk. I am actually supposed to be having full cream milk, fortified with powdered milk and ice cream (I kid you not - it's in my booklet!) but that is far too rich at the moment.
Later in the morning I had some fresh pineapple - but sadly my mouth is getting a bit too sore to cope with that.
Then, before I went to the hospital I had a slice of hot buttered toast with a spoonful of beans in the middle. That was actually quite tasty. Followed by half a banana. Quite a big lunch I think you'll agree :-)

When I got to Radiotherapy all the DGC said I was looking much better than yesterday - which made me feel much better too! They said I was very pale and withdrawn yesterday - but a lot more talkative today. It does make a difference to have some sustenance inside you. I guess I haven't eaten for the best part of a week.

So I think I am over the worst - hopefully will get back on track for the rest of my radiotherapy.
I had some chili con carne for tea this evening and am having some banana milkshake for supper. I did try some Tropicana orange - which I usually love - but tasted horrible today. Also tried some Pomegranate drink (full of good anti-oxidants!) but that tasted of metal. So looks like it is milk for now - to build up my strength.

So I feel happier and not so wobbly. Here's something else that made me smile today too :-)

Monday, 16 April 2012

DAY 20

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DAY 20

Energy level: Not quite Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic 
Physical Condition: No Appetite -very tired!

Had a bit of a bad weekend. I don't have any appetite and all I want to do is sleep. I guess it is the reaction from the chemotherapy and all the anti-sickness drugs. I just need a bit of energy and I'll feel much better. In the meantime I have just given into it a little and slept.

However, here we are at the beginning of Week 5 - and into the 20s now :-) That's got to be good!
Unfortunately we were rather delayed at the hospital today - not something I really needed, but these things happen. I got there and a Radiographer was just writing on the board that LA3 had broken and three burly men had just turned up to look at it. Also on the opposite wall LA4's board declared that it was running 30 minutes late too.

I was in for a long wait and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep again! Still the DGC were all in good spirits and looked concerned that I wasn't my usual self. It was nice to have some sympathy :-) Also the delay meant that I caught up with my buddy Frank, who still hasn't had his chemo from last week. His blood count has still not risen so they have abandoned chemotherapy for now. He is pretty relieved - he said it was just a precaution anyway and he really doesn't want any more. It has knocked him for six too. We were marvelling at how people go through several cycles of it for months - I don't know how they get through it.

I am so pleased that I've had my final session. I just hope I can start eating again soon - or the dietitian will have me tube feeding when I see her on Thursday!

My quest for something nice to drink has taken lots of twists and turns. I took the good advice of friends and tried mineral water, flavoured mineral water, Schloer - all of which taste nice for the first mouthful - but then I can't seem to drink much of them. Then I remembered what I used to drink when I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for a year. Iced tea! It was the ONLY refreshing thing that helped when the heat and humidity were high over there in the summer. So, I brewed some up, lots of sugar too,(just how they sell it in the malls)  then let it cool and poured some over ice.
Pretty nice :-) Hopefully it will give me some energy!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Day 19

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DAY 19

Energy level: Almost Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: No Appetite - just tired!

Heehee - I tricked the Dressing Gown Club today. I tiptoed round the last corner into the LA3/LA4 waiting room so they couldn't say they knew I was coming! They looked surprised when I appeared and then accused me of cheating! One said he could still hear me at the Main Entrance! They thought it was pretty funny anyway.

No sooner had I sat down then the radiographer popped out and asked if I was ready. She was accused of favouritism, as we were both girls - although I was actually the only one there for Machine 3. The DGC all go into Machine 4. They were all in a very jovial mood. Must be because it was Friday! I'm happy to get to the end of Week 4. Wow - where has that time gone? Although I have to say chemo weeks are a bit longer. I do feel so wiped out.

This morning my special cancer nurse, Wendy, called to see how I was getting on. I haven't bumped into her for a while so she was checking up how the chemo went on Tuesday. I was raving about the benefits of EMEND and she was glad to hear it. She said it is a new drug and she was happy to know that it works. I don't think she's had one of her patients on this before. Nice to give it a go first :-)

In the meantime I am having a real hard job to find anything (at all!) that I enjoy drinking. Any suggestions? Firstly - alcohol is out - as this makes the radiotherapy side-effects worse. Also tea tastes vile, water tastes of chemicals, fruits juices don't taste of anything, coke gives me heartburn. I need to drink a lot to flush out the chemo drugs - but I can't find anything that tastes even vaguely nice. I know my taste buds have been knocked about a bit during this treatment - but here must be something else I can try. Milk shakes were tasting nice - but since the chemo on Tuesday they don't really settle very well in my stomach.

Hmmm - hopefully I'll stumble on something soon....

Thursday, 12 April 2012

DAY 18

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DAY 18

Energy level: Almost Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and very happy
Physical Condition: Not sick - just tired!

I am happy to report another sickness-free day today. I haven't much of an appetite and keep falling asleep - but that's not too bad :-)
I had a nice quick trip to the hospital, dodging the hail showers, to get there. As I turned the corner into the LA3/LA4 waiting room all the Dressing Gown Club turned to me and said "We knew it was you coming - we recognise your footsteps now!" They claim to have been able to hear me clip clopping along right from the main entrance! I think they're having me on :-)

Today as I lay on the machine, mask fitted tight around my face and shoulders I was treated to Bonnie Tyler singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" It actually made me giggle a bit as I always remember seeing the Literal Video to it. Click that link if you want to see something very funny. Warning - you'll never be able to take the song seriously again!

I didn't have an appointment with the dietitian this week as my usual one, Catherine is on holiday (Somewhere nice I hope!) They said I could see someone if I needed to - but I'm not having any problems eating - in fact my tongue has got a bit better. So no need for the feeding tube yet :-) That means that I don't know if I've lost weight this week or put it on. I did try to feed myself up a bit over Easter - ready for the lack of food this week. So I guess I am exactly the same :-)

Time for a snooze....

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

DAY 17

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DAY 17

Energy level: Slightly Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and very happy
Physical Condition: Not sick!

Hasn't it been a lovely day? I hope you enjoyed it whatever you were doing. Yeah I know it rained and hailed etc - but I have really enjoyed NOT being sick! So far - and we are quite a way through the day now - I have been absolutely fine! Touch wood - and everything else.

Nathan got a call from the Cancer Centre much to his surprise they told him he'd won a bottle of French Brandy in the "Name the Sheep" Competition! We picked it up after my treatment today - he got one or two enquiring looks as we walked through the hospital with a large bottle of alcohol :-) And the name he picked from the list of sheep names? Brenda!

This EMEND is awesome. I could go off and have my radiotherapy without worrying what might happen, It was great. Also great is the fact that I am at the exact mid-point of radiotherapy now. That means I can start counting down now - only 16 to go. I am very happy about that too.

Nathan did some research on EMEND compared with the one I had last time. The old one is only effective in just over 50% of cases whereas EMEND has a success rate over 85%. It is pretty new - and expensive. Something like £200 per tablet. I only get three - a strong one on the actual day of chemo, then one for today and another tomorrow. I am so grateful to have them. I love the NHS - can't say it enough!

I am feeling pretty tired - had an afternoon nap that lasted about three hours! But now I have enough energy to watch The Apprentice :-)

Before I go - just let me tell you about that photo from yesterday. My mum was telling me that it was the time they stayed in a Guesthouse in Blackpool and that night they put me to bed and went down to the dining room, while I slept. When they popped up to check on me a little while later, I had managed to climb up on the dressing table, get hold of my mum's lipstick and then proceeded to cover my whole face - and the bedsheets and covers with the stuff! They took me downstairs and everyone was in hysterics at the sight of me. The Landlady had to go and change all the sheets - I don't know if they got charged for the extra washing!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

DAY 16

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DAY 16

Energy level: Slightly Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and apprehensive
Physical Condition: Butterflies in abdominal area :-)

Day 16 is pretty momentous as it involves not only the 16th Radiotherapy session but also, straight after the 2nd and FINAL chemotherapy session. I can't deny I was rather apprehensive as I arrived at the Cancer Centre at 8.30am this morning.

I was soon through the Radiotherapy - they were playing Jackson 5 - I Want You Back. The radiographers are on the whole pretty young, so I'm not sure who had a penchant for all this retro music! I was feeling quite relaxed singing along (in my head - the Mask doesn't actually allow you to open your mouth.)

We saw Frank and his wife there early too - as he is meant to have chemo today too.

I walked up the stairs to Ward 202, then round to the chemotherapy pods. I got to choose my seat this time and got one by the window. I could see grass and sunshine and a very fat Wood Pigeon wandering around in circles pecking at the ground. Very relaxing.

I got the same nurse to look after me all day - the very helpful and nice Sarah. She set me up with a cannula in my wrist. I still have a sore bit where the last one went in so she chose a different vein on the underside. She said it would hurt a bit going in as there are lots of nerve endings on that side. She wasn't wrong :-) Then she put up the first 2 hour bag of saline to hydrate me nicely before the cisplatin went in.

I got chance to sit and relax and read Therapy for a while. Frank arrived upstairs and got the window seat opposite me. \however when the nurse came to him they said that his blood results weren't good and they needed to talk to Dr Gahir before going ahead with chemo. They took more blood and he had to wait around until the lab had processed them. The count had hardly gone up so it was decided that he should go home and they'd have another test later in the week.

It must have been a bit gutting to psych yourself up for this then not get in done. I was told my results were fine and was soon on the scary RED bag - which once again took 3 hours to go through. I had a few issues with the needle being on the underside of my wrist - very near to where it bends. If I moved my hand at all it set off and alarm and the pump stopped working. It seemed to happen every time I went to the toilet. Well, have you ever tried to pull up your jeans and fasten them with one hand?? Give it a go - it's almost impossible.

Sarah has great hearing and can hear one of the alarms kicking off from anywhere. She always appeared calm and collected to put it right again.

On the beach at Blackpool in my slightly younger days
So I had the new anti-sickness drug - EMEND. Also had stuff injected too - so felt pretty good during the day. I managed to drink lots of water, tried a mug of tea - still horrible and had quite a few tuna mayo sandwiches. The advice out on the Internet about chemo always says that you should never eat or drink stuff you actually like during it - otherwise it is always gong to have horrible connotations for you afterwards. So it could be that I'll never be able to look at a tuna sandwich or a grape ever again after all this is done.

Ah well, they are getting me through this for now :-)

My mum and dad have taken to sending me a card after I have completed each week of treatment. Isn't that a lovely thought? The only thing is they are trawling back through the mists of history to find some pretty embarrassing photos of me to put on them. This is the only one I don't mind showing you - me about 2 years old in Blackpool, which they sent at the end of week 3.
Thanks guys :-)

Monday, 9 April 2012


Ah what a lovely break for Easter. I hope that you all had a nice time with good company and you enjoyed the rest. Shame about the rain!
I had a great break from hospital - although we did have to pop up to the Cancer Centre today to get some blood taken. It was very quiet and the two nurses were only working until 12 noon. They'd had over 30 people in for bloods though. It didn't take long and we were soon back outside in the rain.

It has been a pretty quiet day. I tried to keep myself occupied so I that I wouldn't think too much about tomorrow. As I reckon I won't be eating very much next week I did a naughty thing today. Went to MacDonalds Drive-Thru and had a cheeseburger. It was rather delicious, with hot, salty fries and then one of those scaldingly hot apple pies to follow :-) It was like the condemned person's last meal - heehee. For a while anyway!

So tomorrow I have to be back at the hospital for 8.30am to have radiotherapy. Then it is upstairs to the Chemo pod for my last chemotherapy. I can't say that I am looking forward to it - but at least I can get it done and then I won't have to worry about it again. I just have to recover and then I'll be all good.

I am going to take a book in with me this time. I have started re-reading Therapy by David Lodge. I love his books, they are funny but also intelligent and informative. Remember Nice Work? They did a great adaptation of it on the telly. I think Warren Clark was in it. David Lodge lived in Edgbaston and I remember reading most of his books when I worked at the BBC at Pebble Mill. There were some VERY nice houses in Edgbaston - I used to wonder which one was his :-)

This one has always been my favourite one though. He talks a lot about Kierkegaard and philosophy as well as catching up with an old flame who is doing the pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago, in English - The Way of St James. it is quite an epic journey, across France and Spain that has fascinated me for a long time. I have two other books about it too, including one by Shirley MacLaine, the actress who has also completed it. People do it for all kinds of reasons, not just religious ones. It always seem to change them in some way.

Maybe I should make an effort to try it once I'm better. I did read the other day that some people were trying to reinstate a more local ancient pilgrimage route from Chester to Lichfield, which used to go through Stone, where the pilgrims would lay stones on the graves of two early Christian martyrs.

"It is told that the great Mercian king, Wulfhere, who had a palace at nearby Tittensor, was horrified when his two sons, Wulfad and Ruffin (also Rufin), converted to Christianity.

The legend says the two boys followed a white stag into the forest - where they met St Chad, who persuaded them to become Christians.

But when he found out, the angry Wulfhere killed his sons; and on that same spot their sorrowing mother buried them under a cairn of stones. A church was built over these stones in 670, just one of the buildings that was predecessor to the present church of St Michael & St Wulfad.

And that is how the town around it, 'Stone', got its name."
BBC News

So maybe I'll start with one a bit closer to home :-)

Friday, 6 April 2012

DAY 15

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DAY 15

Energy level: Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Good - but sorer tongue and mouth

Happy GOOD Friday to you all. Hopefully most of you have a day off. Sadly the Radiographers haven't. I had a morning appointment so we were there by 10.45am. The place was virtually desserted - and we did see Frank coming out after his session. His actual appointment had been 12.30pm but they'd phoned to ask him to come in earlier. I think the sooner they got through everyone - the sooner they could go home and start their Easter holiday.

So there we go - I have completed Week 3 and I'm still going :-)

Looking forward to Easter and seeing some of the family. Lovely Tracy sent me some grapes round today - instead of an Easter Egg - thanks Tracy :-) Also I had flowers from one of my Book Group ladies. Thank-you Mrs S. I am very lucky :-)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

DAY 14

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DAY 14

Energy level: a BIT Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Good - but sore tongue and mouth

It was a bit of a nicer day today - the car was red hot inside when we got in to go to the hospital. Today I was in and out in no time - and I got some more stickers! A very cute Easter Bunny and one that declares "Awesome!" One of the Dressing Gown Club was on his last visit and seemed ecstatic. I think I'll be the same when it is my turn. He'd brought a Thank-You card and chocolates for the Radiographers - isn't that nice?

A lady who was sat on my side said to them "I'm glad I don't have to get my legs out!" and they apologised for having to inflict theirs on us :-) You'd think they'd at least put a bit of fake tan on so they weren't so blindingly white!

I let the Radiographers know that I was definitely having to have chemo on Tuesday so they changed my 2pm appointment to an 8.30am one. They don't let you off no matter what you are doing!

When I jumped off the machine (it is pretty high up!), after being irradiated to the sound of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by George Michael and Elton John -  they told me that the dietician was waiting to see me.

We walked round to Catherine's office and she looked pretty happy to see us. It seems that she has a week off next week and is really looking forward to it. She asked me if it was too painful to eat yet and I said no - it wasn't that bad. I explained that I had taken up her suggestion of the cream cake diet and had probably put weight ON this week. Sure enough as I hopped on the scales I had indeed put on 2lbs. She was very pleased by that (yay!) I need to build up my strength - I told her I wouldn't be eating much next week after the chemo.

So I was allowed to leave without a prescription for liquid food for my tube. She did say that I seemed to be doing really well as most people are struggling by this stage. Also the radiographers seem surprised that my neck hasn't burned or gone red yet. Perhaps they forget to switch the machine on!!

Had a bit of a shopping spree for Easter Eggs after that - as I am fit enough to go to our family get-together on Easter Sunday. Just hope no-one buys me any Easter eggs - I don't like chocolate anymore. I would welcome grapes though - food of the gods :-)

DAY 13

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DAY 13

Energy level: A little Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Pretty good - still a sore tongue and mouth

Oh my goodness - I forgot to write a blog yesterday! Hope you weren't worried :-) Heehee!
Well it was another long wait for radiotherapy. I was there before my time but at 3pm I was still waiting. I was beginning to think that the Receptionist hadn't actually booked me in. You have to book in and out of Reception each time - so that when you get to the machine the radiographers know you have arrived and are waiting.

I thought maybe I'd not been clicked properly on the screen. I knocked on the staff door and interupted one of them eating her lunch, She checked her screen and said not to worry as I was next.

Meanwhile Frank had arrived with his wife for his 3pm appointment. It was nice to have another chat and catch-up. Turns out we are both having our next chemo on the same day - next Tuesday in Pod 1. His wife was saying what a long boring day it would be and she and Nathan were planning to go to the pub and leave us to it! Heehee - sounds like a good idea. I wouldn't blame them.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

DAY 12

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DAY 12

Energy level: Quite Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Pretty good - but a more of a sore tongue and mouth

Got a bit wet running into the Cancer Centre today definitely a return to Winter for a while. I had two appointments today - the usual Radiotherapy at 2pm and then a visit to the consultant at 3pm. Chemo is just upstairs from Radio so it wasn't far to go. I got the radio done first. Hardly any wait today - things seemed to be running more smoothly. The four radiotherapists were raving about my blouse - they loved it. It is a floral one with little navy blue ties at the collar. I told them it was only Primark - but from the mega-huge store they have in London.

We got upstairs a bit early - but were seen right away! I was expecting to see Dr Gahir, but it turns out she is on holiday. Who can blame her? I'm sure she deserves it. So I got to see a colleague of hers although I didn't quite catch his name. I am a bit deaf with all this tinnitus that the last chemo session gave me. I am told that it might clear up - but it might not!

Anyway he was a very nice man, He looked a little Egyptian and had lovely wavy hair and a very pleasant manner. He told me right away that my blood was fine - so it must have recovered from the chemo killing off all its useful cells :-) I am pretty impressed by that. So that sadly means that I AM fit for more chemo next Tuesday. Well I guess I shouldn't be sad., The sooner we get that over with the better! He asked how I'd been last time so I told him my tale of woe. He was very sympathetic and said he'd give me some EMEND next time. It is meant to be very good - especially against platinum-based drugs like Cisplatin. Let's hope it works this time!

I have to have another blood test next Monday - just so they can make sure that I'm still good to be poisoned again on Tuesday :-) As it's a Bank Holiday I have to get it done at the Cancer Centre at 11.45am. Shame as I thought I was getting Monday off - there's no radio that day at least. Still, I guess I'd start developing withdrawal symptoms if I didnt go every day!

I have noticed the inside of my mouth getting pretty sore now. Some things taste a little sharp - so I guess I'll soon have to go onto smooth, bland foods. Ready brek, mashed potatoes, and lots of yoghurts and ice cream. Doesn't sound too bad :-) Talking to Frank yesterday he mentioned that he can't taste anything unless it's covered in tomato ketchup. At least I haven't reached that stage yet.
They say that pineapple is very good for dry mouths and frozen grapes! Who would have thought of freezing grapes? We tried it and it was pretty soothing actually.

If anyone else has any tips - please send them over :-)

Monday, 2 April 2012

DAY 11

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DAY 11

Energy level: Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Pretty good - but a bit of a sore tongue

Yay! We are into week 3! That means I have done 11 out of 33. one third of the way through.
I had a pretty chilled weekend - it is nice to have a break from all hospital related matters. Had fun trying out a new slow cooker/tagine that N's mum has bought for us. I made a chicken tagine - very tender and yummy and then a beef chili. That was delicious with lashings of sour cream and boiled rice.

So yes - I can still eat normally :-) Although my tongue is starting to get sore down the right side. It's only to be expected.

Thank-you for all your kind comments on my poem - I was especially thrilled that Myra, Caroline and Susan - all brilliant writers and poets actually liked it too. Don't worry though - I'm not going to inflict any more on you - just yet :-)

Today we had a bit of an adventure - we went to a new hospital! As some of you may know the pathology lab has closed at the main hospital and you now get your blood tests done at either Cobridge, Meir which both have super-duper new medical centres - or Bradwell Hospital. Now this is only quite literally round the corner from where I live. So in two minutes we were there. Delighted to find free parking and plenty of spaces.

We followed the signs to the Phlebotomy Clinic, and as instructed took a ticket from the machine. It was like being at the deli counter at Morrisons :-) I was number 78 and they were already on 69. We sat on a chair in the corridor for a few minutes and then I was in and out so quickly. I didn't even feel a thing! I had to have a blood test because tomorrow I have an appontment with Dr Gahir. She needs the results to assess whether I am fit enough, and if my white blood cells have recovered enough, for me to have another session of chemotherapy next week.

We'll find out tomorrow :-)

Today's visit to Radiotherapy was a tad longer than usual - they were running almost an hour late. I am not sure why - but it was very busy in the waiting room. But every cloud has a silver lining because it meant that I met Frank - my PEG buddy - again. He has been coming at 3pm so I had not bumped into him since we underwent that horrible procedure on the same day.

He looked pretty well, he had exactly the same reaction to the chemo as me - he was also sick for a week and enjoyed the attentions of the District Nurses in the middle of the night. He lost half a stone too - just as I did. He has to have 2 more sessions - so I am really glad I only have to have one more. It was nice to catch up though - and I feel like I am not too wussy feeling so bad after the chemo - if he did too.