Thursday, 31 May 2012

End of the PEG?

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I got some exciting news - thanks to Wendy, my special nurse. She told me she'd askd Dr Gahir if I could go abroad at the end of next month - and she said yes! Woo! Am really looking forward to going to Slovenia now :-) Also - even more exciting - she has said that they will take my PEG feeding tube out before I go. This is brilliant as I didn't fancy going away with a case full of syringes (which I have to use each day to flush water through it so it doesn't get blocked.) It looks pretty ugly too - and you can see it through my t-shirts. Wearing a swimming costume or going to the spa in the hotel would have been impossible - or at least highly embarrassing.

Anyway - they have started the process for me to have it removed. I just have to wait for the appointment now :-) I know I'll probably have to go in for the day and it will involve another tube down my throat - but I will be so happy to get rid of it I won't care! I had call from Catherine the dietician - she wanted to make sure that I haven't been losing weight and that I can eat normally before she gave the go ahead for it to be removed. I managed to convince her and told her I am even going out for meals now.

Olympic flame comes to Stoke

Today I had a little practice at getting up early. (Haven't done that for a while!) Nathan and I decided to have a nice brisk walk down to Middleport (about 20 minutes) to go and see the Olympic torch going by. We thought that we would never get the chance again in this country - and so close to our house. There were a few people waiting in the light drizzle by the side of the road - but after a few minutes the place was full of people and excited schoolkids. Some had their faces painted red white and blue, others were waving flags and one little girl had brought her own home-made Olympic torch complete with tissue-paper flames. it was very cute :-)

There were lots of police motorbikes and before long we saw the official sponsor's coach - Coca Cola - coming by with young people dressed in red and white handing out cocs cola bottles and frisbees. A few more coaches came by then at last we saw the torch bearer running along the road.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Thinking about work....

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My doctor's note runs out on 26th June - so I guess I'll be able to go back to work after that. This is quite an exciting prospect :-) I still have a sore mouth - and stiff neck and shoulder - but I'm sure they'll be so much better in another couple of weeks. I have a meeting with Occupational Health on June 8th - so I might have a starting back date by then.

Just to practice I drove to Silverdale and back by myself today. There was an exhibition being opened in one of the show homes in the new housing estate, Heritage Park, about the old Silverdale mine. The housing estate is built on the site of the old pit - so it was quite nice that they were remembering the history. The mayor of Newcastle opened the display of old photographs and there was coffee and pastries. It was very nice. It was so hot though! I had to find a shady spot in the garden to stand in.

I have something else to look forward to as well - we have been invited to a wedding - in Slovenia! I have never been there - or even thought about going there, but I am very excited about it now! It is going to take place in a lovely hotel on the shore of Lake Bled. It looks very pretty on the internet :-) I wasn't sure if I would be up to it - but now that it is closer I feel so much better - so I think I might make it. I have to get my consultant's permission to go though - in order to get insured. I'll ask Dr Gahir, when I see her on June 11th.
I am just hoping that I will be able to get my feeding tube taken out before I go.

You know how Dr Who ( or should I say "The Doctor"?) has two hearts? Welll, when I've had my PEG removed I'll have two belly buttons. One above the other...I won't be able to wear a bikini any more - people will think I'm an alien :-)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Back on the road to recovery...

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Well, I think the anti-biotics have done the trick and chased away the kidney infection. I feel great again! Worried by news reports of a downturn in High Street retail sales over the last three months - I realised that it must be my fault... I haven't been shopping since January! So in order to try to put the country back on it sfeet I went to Hanley on Thursday. Had a wander round the Potteries Shopping Centre - though it was pretty hot in there. To tell you the truth I'd had enough after an hour - but it was nice to have a look round and buy a couple of summery items. Everything has flowers on it in the shops! (Unless it's the Union Jack stuff for the Jubilee and Olympics)

It was nice to have a look round though - another milestone on the road back to normaility. Although I did used to be able to shop 'til I dropped! I just need to practise more! I did have a nap when I got back :-)

Still, it was a step in the right direction. Friday I had a quiet day in as I had a couple of exciting invitations over the weekend to save my strength for. On Saturday, as you'll know, was Eurovision, which has always been a big event in our family. This requires us all to get together and have a party while it is on. We watch it as well of course!

This year it was at my brother's house in Cheadle. In fact Sarah, my neice had printed us each out an official scoresheet so that we could record who we liked and disliked. Let's face it - by the time you get through 26 Eurovision songs you've forgotten what the earlier ones were like. I particularly liked the Russian Grannies with their cakes and upbeat dancey song. I loved the lyrics "My cat is happy, my dog is happy.." I also enjoyed the sailor -bats from Turkey who transformed themselves into a boat by the end. Although the lyrics to that one could be construed to have been rather full of innuendo. I'll let you Google it and decide for yourselves.

None of us were that enamoured of the Swedish entry - although she did have a bit of a resemblance to Kate Bush. So not all bad :-)

Sarah had also purchased a new board game for us all to play before Eurovision came on. It was called Creationary. A bit like Pictionary - but instead of drawing what is on your card - you make it out of Lego! It was great fuun. Not too bad with buildings or vehicles - but it was tricky doing the "nature" catagory - as not many things in nature have straight lines. I did a pretty fair butterfly though. (Even better - someone guessed what it was!)

Oh - I have an apology to make. My mum and dad wish it to be known that not ALL their board games came from car boot sales. They have bought one or two new from shops. I regret any distress this previous assertion may have caused them.......

Today we had an invitation for lunch from my good friend Janet, in Stafford. It was lovely to sit under the parasol in her garden - it has been so long since I've been over to see her. She made us a lovely lunch - including some roast poussins and a delicious bilberry and raspberry crumble. We even sneaked a quick visit to Next on the retail park to have a quick look for summer clothes. :-) It was certainly another scorching hot day. I have my regulation Factor 50 suncream for when I have to go outside.
Summer has come early :-)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Slight set-back

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It seems that I have developed a raging kidney infection overnight. It was rather painful this morning, and I was on the loo every five minutes so I rang the doctor and got an appointment this morning. He handed me a little bottle and off I trotted to the loo to provide him with a sample. He dipped some testing strip in the sample and then prescribed some antibiotics.

He was very impressed with my neck though - thought it looked great. So that is good :-) Just feeling a bit sorry for myself now - I even had an afternoon nap on the sofa. Still a couple of days on the tablets and I'm sure I'll be fine. I guess my immunity is still a bit low. Will have to hold up on the hoovering for a few days now and take it a bit easier. And stay close to a bathroom... :-0

Monday, 21 May 2012


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What an exciting weekend - I got to see lots of people and even went to a (small) party!
We met up with Nathan's friends from Birmingham. They are expecting a baby in a few months and there was much excited talk about decorating the new house and making a nursery and getting everything ready. We had a very nice lunch together.

 It's my dad's birthday today (Happy Birthday Dad!!) so yesterday we went over to my parents house - and so did one my brothers and his wife and daughter, for what we call one of our "Family Games Nights"

Basically, being a fan of car boot sales and playing games, my dad has acquired a huge array of board games which my mum has put away in a cupboard in their spare room. So when we have one of our FGNs someone pops upstairs to see what we haven't played for a while. There are some weird and wonderful ones, including one where you are blindfolded and your team mates have to instruct you on how to build a particular structure out of wooden bricks. We even have a Pointless board game - that someone bought for Nathan after our appearance on that show :-)

We played that at our last get together - so today it was the turn of Cluedo. Now that last time we played this - there was a bit of a mishap. So we've been reluctant to play it again. When someone (who shall remain nameless) chose three cards to put in the envelope at the beginning of the game - instead of selecting a person, a room and a weapon, they accidentally put in the card that had the instructions on it. Plus a room and a weapon. So several hours later when no-one had worked out whether it was Professor Plum in the Library with the Lead Piping or not, it dawned on us that something wasn't quite right! There was no suspect unaccounted for! We did laugh about it - later....

Anyway - we had drinks, chocolate cakes, nibbles and the game went smoothly this time - and my brother won! It was Reverend Green this time :-)

We also played our traditional family card game - Poppywally. We have always played this - ever since we were little kids and played with out grandparents - but I've never known anyone else who knows what I'm talking about when we've told them about it. I'd be interested if any of you have heard of it. I think it might also be called Cab - as the first one out gets a free ride. Everyone has three lives - these can be represented by three coins, matchsticks or chocolates - we've used all these before. Then everyone is dealt three cards, with one person getting two hands. They can choose a hand (without looking) and then either swap it for the spare hand - or turn the spare hand over and choose one to swap from their first hand. Then the three spare cards are put in the middle and we all take it in turns to swap one of our cards. One the first round - everyone has to swap - but after that anyone can stick at anytime.

The aim is to collect the same suit - and get the highest number before anyone sticks. Once there is a sticker - everyone has one more swap before you all have to declare your scores. The person with the lowest score has put one of their coins, matchsticks or chocolates into the middle. As soon as you are out of lives - you are out of the game. Except for the first person to be out who is allowed to carry on until they lose again.

You keep going until only one person is left and they take all the booty in the middle. Sometimes the game is quick - especially when there is a Poppywally or two. If someone manages to collect 31 - by getting two picture cards (or tens) and an ace of the same suit - this is the highest score you can get! So you have to shout "Poppywally" and everyone has to lose a life and pay into the middle.

You should try it - it's fun!

Anyway - I did feel a little tired last night - so we came home quite early. Not feeling too bad today though. I didn't go anywhere - but I did get the hoover out. I have decided to do one room a day. So today I changed the bed and did the bedroom. It is looking so nice now - and it was great that it was a lovely day and we could have all the windows open and dry all the washing outdoors.

I feel like I am going from strength to strength :-)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Two more firsts....

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What an exciting day! I actually got back behind the wheel of my car today and drove to Silverdale and back :-) I can still remember the way! My neck is still pretty stiff - but I think I managed okay using the mirrors. I haven't driven since January.

Although I think that Nathan was a little worried about me driving after we went to the supermarket and I crashed the trolley into the shelves full of fizzy pop. Don't worry - there wasn't a disaster - I was just a bit overexcited at being allowed back down the aisles to choose my own food and drinks :-) To think I used to dread the weekly shop - and it is such fun! Even the screaming kid in a trolley didn't put me off.

We popped into the library this morning - was lovely to see Tracy and catch up on what's been going on. The library now has solar panels on the roof! There's a very cool panel on the wall behind the counter telling everyone how much power is being generated and how much we are saving. it is great! Also there's been a bit of a move around - and I love the way the children's library looks so much bigger. Tracy is doing such a great job keeping everything going. :-) Can't wait to get back behind the counter with her. We haven't had Saturday Hot-Buttered Toasted Teacakes for ages!

I mentioned sarsaparilla drops a couple of blogs ago - and then the other day some arrived in the post! I had no idea where they came from! I did a little Sherlock Holmes sleuthing (retreated to my "mind palace" - heehee!) and tracked it down to my lovely auntie. Thanks Auntie Anne - I am really enjoying them.

It is a good job that I am getting out and about a bit now - things were getting so bad that I had started watching Made in Chelsea - and enjoying it in a kind of horrified fascination-type way. OMG how could Spencer steal Louise in Dubai while his best friend and her boyfriend Jamie was back in London at the bank? Louise was so traumatised by the fallout she had to go for a luxury spa weekend to recover......

Yes - I think this burst of energy and motivation to get back to normal has arrived just in time.... :-)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Crawling back to normality :-)

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It's been over a week since I blogged. I didn't really want to bore you with my exciting life of staying in, online grocery shopping and sleeping a lot.

However, this week I really feel like I have turned a corner. Since the weekend I have been feeling stronger, more energetic and have slept less. I wake up earlier in a morning and don't always have an afternoon nap anymore. I have been doing a bit more around the house too - making more meals and actually doing a bit of cleaning. I haven't actually got the hoover out yet - but I can feel it coming :-)

It is great to feel a bit more normal.

My neck is looking so much better. When I went back to the doctor's on Monday he told me that it wasn't infected after all - it was just the deep burn. I have some steroid cream now and it is looking pretty great. Hardly any scabs and even the redness is starting to fade. I like this :-) I just need a little silk scarf to hide the worst bits and I am fit to be seen in public again.

I wish I could say the inside of my throat was better too - well I have to say that sometimes it doesn't hurt when I swallow, but my throat still feels really tight and still makes me gag sometimes. I guess this will be the next thing to get better. it must be a bit better as I am eating more and things don't taste quite so weird. Except chocolate - that still tastes horrible!

In fact I went out to eat the other day! It was Nathan's mum's birthday and we decided to go to The Wayfarer on the A34 since it has recently been done up. I was a little nervous about how I would manage but I was fine. Although ordering orange juice to drink was a mistake, as it was too acidic for my throat. But I had the home made spring vegetable soup to start and that was gorgeous. I think soup is one of my favourite things at the moment. I tried the beer-battered haddock for mains, with pea puree that was sweet and easy to swallow. The hand-cut chips were really chunky and I ate a few. Then ice cream for dessert was very soothing. I was pleased that I had managed most of three courses - it is the biggest meal I have had in months!

So I have another appointment soon with Occupational Health from work on June 9th -so maybe I can get a date to return! I see my consultant Dr Gahir, on 11th June. I'm sure by then I will be fighting fit! I might even attempt an actual supermarket shop instead of doing it online next week. It is a great service when you can't get out - but I keep ending up with Giant Sized bottles of pasta sauce or tiny cartons of milk because I don't realise that the size means online! I even ended up getting my poor cat Senior Cat food - hope he wasn't too insulted - he's still practically a kitten!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Busy Day

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I actually got up early today - as I had to ring the doctors' surgery at 8am and try and get an appointment today. They are really good there and they always try to get you in the day you ring. I got to see the doctor at 9am. He had a look at my neck, then put on rubber gloves and had a little poke. He thought maybe it wasn't infected - just badly burned but he decided I did need a swab. He went to find the nurse to do it  - but she wasn't there. So we went home had a quick breakfast then went back 35 minutes later!

The swab took about 30 seconds. and the nurse was not happy that the doctor hadn't done it himself instead of making me go back. Anyway she has sent it off to the lab and I may have the results back by Friday . The doctor wants me to go back and see him on Monday. I can't use the cream until they have found out if there is an infection. I can take the pills though - in case it does get infected, if it isn't. Erm… I think that makes sense :-)

I think it is drying out a bit today. I have had to put my hair in a ponytail to stop it getting stuck to my neck - everyone keeps saying they like my new hairstyle!! Heehee - haven't had a ponytail since I was a girl :-)

Just before lunch my parents came over to visit, bringing more root beer. I am enjoying it :-) It was nice to have a chat and catch up on family news. Then after a quick lunch I had to go over the Eccleshall to see The Auditor! I had given her  the Parish Council accounts to audit and was going over to pick up the files and hear her verdict. It is the first time I have done this - and she was lovely. I only did one thing wrong - but she said it wasn't a problem. That's a relief!

I have to say that despite the rain I did enjoy the drive out (Nathan was driving) - there were lambs leaping about in the rain and fields and fields of bright yellow oilseed crops. It was just nice to be out and about. When we got back I did have a nap though. I'm kind of missing the snooker....

So it felt a bit like a normal day today (apart from the visit to the docs) which was nice. I like thinking of other things beside my health, it was good. Back to normality...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

This isn't supposed to happen....

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My skin is peeling even more today and is wet in places. I left off the cream to try to let it dry out but by this evening it was looking quite nasty. I can't actually feel anything - as I am all numb there from the operation. So at least it isn't sore :-) Nathan was so worried that he insisted we rang someone to ask for advice. I tried the District Nurses' out-of-hours service, but they told me I'd be best ringing the Emergency Assessment Bay at the Cancer Centre. They said that I should try and see an emergency doctor as it would need a swab taking - to check for infection, and maybe something prescribing. So I rang to cancel the District Nurse call and Nathan rang the Emergency Centre in Basford.

They said that they couldn't do  a swab but there was a doctor there who could prescribe some antibiotics. She said that she would get the doctor to call us back. We waited quite a while, then having decided he'd probably forgotten we decided to eat. As soon as we had the food he called. He said that I shouldn't really leave it until tomorrow but should go down there now.
The Zombie!!!

I had driven past the Basford Emergency Care Centre lots of times but had never been in there. The car park was pretty full when we arrived at 7pm-ish. We had to be buzzed in - after giving my name. The waiting room was absolutely full - mainly parents with children in pajamas. The scrolling electronic sign said that the average wait was one hour. We settled down on the chairs.

I was the first one called in! The doctor was lovely. He said he didn't want me to be waiting out there for long. He was glad he'd got me in because it didn't look good. He said it was important to treat it quickly. He prescribed me some antibiotics to be taken immediately and some cream which I can't use until after I have had a swab done at my own doctor's tomorrow morning.

Then we had to find a pharmacy that was still open. The receptionist told us that the nearest ones were in Shelton or Cobridge. Nathan knew where the Cobridge one was - so we went over there. It was on Waterloo Road and is open until midnight every day! So I have the pills which I have taken and two tubes of cream which I can start using after it has been confirmed that it is infected.

Hope the photo hasn't put you off your food!!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Getting back to normal..slowly...

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Hello - I hope everyone has had a nice bank holiday. I haven't been doing much at all - haven't even been outside. I think now that I have stopped treatment everything is just catching up with me. As predicted (although I'm not sure how it works) my throat has been getting worse - it is pretty sore at the back and down the right side. I couldn't even eat Nathan's awesome chicken, bacon and leek pie that he made yesterday. I could manage some of it - but not the chicken. Just too solid to get down.

Today I have had soup and jelly and ice cream which were much easier. I guess I'll stick with soft stuff until the throat starts to recover. I think by tomorrow it will suddenly that we've stopped burning it everyday and it's okay to get better now :-)

Also the burnt skin on the outside has started to peel and is horrible - I'm not really fit to been seen in public! I look like a zombie with all my skin falling off - I'd probably scare people. Not that I have much energy for going anywhere - I need a lie down after just having a shower or making some lunch.

Every cloud has a silver lining though - for the first time in years I have managed to watch most of the snooker. I find it very conducive to having an afternoon lie down on the sofa. I have missed a few frames when I have fallen asleep - but I caught the exciting ones. I was a bit disappointed that the final was over so quickly - but Ronnie O'Sullivan has been amazing!

I've had a few visitors too. Janet came on Friday and brought me a gorgeous selection of scarves from a designer shop in Leek.. They are very pretty - I especially like the pink paisley one and the multi-coloured African inspired one. I will be able to hide my red neck when I go out now :-)

Also Tracy and Al came round - I have to apologise to them as I wasn't too talkative - my throat was still making it hard. They cheered me up though - not only tales from work - but they also brought me a very tricky looking 3-D puzzle. I will have to tackle that soon - might help with my concentration problem! It does look quite difficult though.

At last I have discovered something to drink that tastes great - thanks to my parents sending round a variety of bottles on  Sunday. I tried the root beer (don't worry - it's not alcoholic!) as I used to love it when I was in America. It tasted just gorgeous - in fact I think it is the same flavour as sarsaparilla that I used to drink as a small girl in Lancashire. Hmmm - I wonder if you can still get sarsaparilla drops? Used to love those too!

Anyway - I am giving this throat/neck malarkey another week - then it better pull its socks up and start getting better. I have a life to get back to.....

Thursday, 3 May 2012

DAY 33 - Final treatment :-)

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DAY 33

Energy level: The Bounce is back in town
Attitude: Over the moon
Physical Condition: Things can only get better!

Well who would have thought it - here we are at Day 33. The last day of radiotherapy. I went to the Cancer Centre with a few little thank-you tokens - some chocolates, books and cards for the reception team - who have remembered my name since day one and waved me through each day without having to queue. Also for all the radiographers on LA3 who have been so cheerful, helpful and encouraging all the way through this. I also gave some to Bob - so that he could share them with anyone in the waiting room. He seemed quite touched :-)

As usual I didn't have to wait long before I was called through for the last time. The radiographers all seemed happy that they had another Completer - it was quite an uplifting atmosphere. they said I'd done really well all through it. I asked what they did with the mask when someone had finished and they replied that they just go in the bin - but I could take mine home if I wanted. They said some people even plant flowers in them. Hmmm... wasn't sure if I wanted it or not, but so many people want to see what it looked like - I decided to keep it.

While I was on the machine for the last time (have I mentioned that before?? :-) I could here these words singing in the background:

"This ain't a love song, this is goodbye."

It was a fitting last song - thanks Scouting for Girls.

When I got back to the waiting room - there was a balloon on my chair with CONGRATULATIONS on it. Nathan had secreted it in the car boot and then as soon as I went in he ran back to the car and brought it in. he also gave me a gold medal that said WINNER on it. Everyone in the waiting room thought it was lovely - and so did I. As I went out all the nurses were saying - "Oooh - another completer!" and "Well done" It was great!

On the way back we popped into the local church hall to vote. it felt pretty good to be doing something normal. When I got back Laura had decorated the lounge with stars and balloons and party poppers were everywhere. To celebrate I had a glass of Shloer grape juice and pulled a few. My parents had sent my last card - the just said FINISHED on it. Woo party!!

 Just after my last treatment
 Celebrating with Schloer
 Meet the Mask!
Check out the medal :-)

My crème caramel - with 0 days remaining!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

DAY 32

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DAY 32

Energy level: A bit more bounce detectable
Attitude: Optimistic and happy-ish
Physical Condition: Throat and tongue - sore and swollen

Well here we are on the penultimate day of radiotherapy. At the beginning I couldn't imagine ever reaching my 33rd day - and now that will happen tomorrow. Wow - I have almost survived it!
Today the DGC were in fine form again - lots of banter and gentle teasing. They love to compare cards and see who has the most stickers and are always threatening to steal each others.. I discovered that Bob had bird seed in his bag today. Not sure if that's to feed his wild birds in the garden - or whether he's taking owning this parrot a little too seriously :-)

With their usual efficiency as soon as I sat down a radiographer called my name and escorted me to LA3 - the mighty machine. They are pretty huge with various screens and laser sights on them. Today was a very quick one though - the second of the boosters. They all knew it was my last one tomorrow - they asked if I'd be celebrating. Not sure I'd be up to an all-night party - unless it just involves sleeping. Yes - I may just sleep for a week :-)

Nathan went to the pharmacy while I was in - to get the "Miss Tracey mixture" and it wasn't ready. He kindly offered to pop back down there at 4pm to get it then. I'd love to know how it got its name - invented by a Tracey I guess. Maybe I should ask next time I see Dr Gahir.

Anyway - you just put one ml onto a spoon, hold it in your mouth for as long as you can then swallow it. It does so wonderfully numb your throat and it really helped with the horrible gagging sensation. So I'd give it the thumbs up! I can use it up to four times a day. Thank-you Tracey whoever you are!

Had a jolly visit this evening from our friend Pete - he of the awesome DVD collection. He told us some of his amusing anecdotes, tales of woe about his car and left us some more films to watch. He also gave me some CDs of "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" - which will be great to listen in short bursts - maybe while resting in bed. I am finding it hard to concentrate on full - length films at the moment. Partly fatigue and partly that I can't hear as well with all this noise in my ears. I am hoping that this particular side-effect will get better soon.

Anyway - my nice soft pillows are calling so I will succumb to them. The sooner I go to bed the sooner it will be my LAST DAY

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

DAY 31

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DAY 31

Energy level: Not much bounce detectable
Attitude: Optimistic and happy-ish
Physical Condition: Throat and tongue - sore and swollen

I know I only have 2 sessions to go after today - but it is getting harder. Will I make it?
The problem is that my throat and tongue are both sore and swollen and the muscles in my neck are cramping again. It feels like I'm strangling myself! The worst thing is that my tongue is touching the back of my throat a lot of the time and making me gag. It can happen when I am talking or if I go from inside to outside. It is horrible.

Yesterday Dr Gahir gave me a prescription for some more mouthwash and something that the hospital makes itself - called Miss Tracy, which is a mouthwash that has anaesthetic in it. I think that will help with this problem. Sadly when we went to pick it up at the pharmacy they hadn't got any. We have to go back tomorrow. Nathan gave me a couple of Tyrozets - which do the same and they have helped a little.

Today was the first of my three final booster shots of radiotherapy. I did seem to be on the machine quite a bit longer than usual - although it was imaging day too - when they take photos? I'm not sure why or what they do with them. I guess it's one of the ways they check that everything is working properly.

So two more - then it seems things might get worse for another week - then hopefully I will start to get better.