Fun granddaughter’s can bring

Our house is usually always full of chatter. We have the uncanny skill of speaking and listening at the same time. Grandchildren and labradors bring much needed laughter. They are my essential sunshine on a rainy day. Most definitely turn my frown upside down and oh yes help me smile each and every day. I can always say what great fun granddaughter’s can bring.

If you were to add the age up of the three of them you only reach the ripe old age of nearly 12. Firstly there is Alexandra. She is the eldest at just turned 6, Ellie comes second at 5 years of age and Luna will be 2 at the end of the month. The girls all play so well together, shrieking up and down our hall. Running around the garden. Playing with the garden toys or walking the labradors in the back field together with me, all of us singing and chatting away. The last time the girls were playing together they went to Vogrie Country Park and what fun they had.

Individually they all like to come play at ours too, get some grandparent time. Bake cakes, do some arts and crafts, play games, garden with Granny, clean the Harley-Davidson with Papa and they most certainly love getting in the Wetroom and having a long shower, playing water games, singing at the top of their voices. We all love to go walking with Buddy and Bella my Labrador retrievers. Our back field is ideal, a wonderful safe environment for both dogs and children. Or go to unleashed Dog Park at Pencaitland and enjoy some fun.

It can be the darkest day, you could feel at your lowest ebb and these little cherubs will cheer you up no end. Melt your heart on the coldest day and yes oh yes they can all talk. Proper little chatterboxes.

This Easter weekend was particularly lovely. Alexandra helped Granny put some stickers on the window. Girls helping Papa with the ride on mower. Then oh so much fun hunting for some eggs.

Undoubtedly grandchildren fill a hole in your heart you did not know existed. For this reason I would recommend them to anyone.

Angry at the carcinoid syndrome diagnosis?

Life for everyone can be challenging. We all find the hum drum of daily living difficult at some point in our lives. When I was studying at university right out of high school gosh I thought life was difficult, when in fact it was actually pretty easy and straightforward. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then my goodness. I’m married, have children, grandchildren, have enjoyed happy times, went through some sad experiences, proudly gained my PhD, and most definitely feel loved. I feel I was brought up fairly well and I have a glass full attitude to life and always try and look on the bright side. On meeting someone for the first time I treat them as a genius and work backwards and always have a “book and cover policy” – you never know what goes on behind closed doors or what is hiding behind that lovely smile. Although I am fairly level headed human and like the lion I am feel I can deal with anything, nothing prepared me for the day I went into the consultation room to be told I had carcinoid syndrome and it was incurable. Am I angry at the carcinoid syndrome diagnosis?

When I heard the words incurable, I first felt like I hit a brick wall. My stomach churned, after a few moments of the conversation with the consultant that day the remainIng words were not communicating with my ears and the journey home was a blur. But as time went on, getting medical treatments, ongoing management of my incurable condition. Surgery to get a gastrostomy feed. I decided to use my writing to promote awareness of Net cancer and carcinoid syndrome. I find writing helps me get through the day, it helps me relax, encourages me to take photographs, I read about other subjects. All in all, my mind gets flooded with new information and I totally enjoy being creative looking at life from a different angle. I found a way to deal with my illness. At first yes I felt rather upset and confused now I am not annoyed or angry at all. I believe getting a diagnosis has given me the coping mechanism; it has made me the person I am today. I have learnt what is important, especially things like keeping in touch with people, showing emotion and saying I love you.

Our beautiful box troll has turned six

How on earth did that happen? Where has time gone? My shining light, dependable caring compassionate granddaughter is a whole six years old. Wow! Alexandra is a crazy funny girl who makes me laugh and always has my back. Chattering away playing at ours, rattling the keys on the keyboard together with me as I write she is the most wonderful company. Since she turned 6 months old she has been coming to our place, for an afternoon, then an overnight, now its for whenever the need is there or she wants to come and stay. Our home is her home just as it should be for grandchildren. On her birthday she came to ours in the afternoon to blow out her candles on her birthday cake – let us celebrate because our beautiful box troll has turned six.

As a family we enjoy spending time together. At our home, it may involve cutting the grass on the lawn tractor. Going on holiday together, or to an event. Out for a walk with the dogs – my precious labradors. And most definitely celebrating a birthday like this one. It doesn’t have to be a big affair, just who matters sitting on the sofa singing happy birthday. It’s been a funny old time especially for a child of late with the pandemic, isolation and face masks, no birthday parties. However the most important thing has never left – love. Knowing that we are loved we can get through anything.

Our 6 year old sunshine girl Alexandra turned 6 – my I blinked my eye and she has grown……….

What has made me smile today?

Over the last few months life has certainly had its up and downs. As usual getting the usual carcinoid syndrome treatment. Not feeling the best at times and all that comes with it. However on the plus note covid restrictions have been a lot better, I have seen my family much more, Steve has been on the Harley-Davison®. We managed an evening out to see Del Amitri live in Edinburgh, at the Queens Hall. Our youngest son graduated from university. I got head hunted for a job from a very reputable company. We have a lot to be grateful for. As I was sitting working on my computer my phone gave a familiar bing. I looked over, it was letting me know my screen time was down. Most likely because I have been writing more this week, and I have gave the social media platform Facebook a wider berth over the last few weeks; mainly due to seeing the same old…… Although I have to confess I did see a few things on it today that made me smile, and other things that put me off…… on reading down the page I thought what has made me smile today?

Firstly waking up and being alive makes me smile. Every day is a bonus. I love where I live and who I live with. I open the curtains, roll up the blind in the morning, look out my bedroom window and the view of my back garden is a huge field where I enjoy walking my loyal Labrador Retrievers.

Buddy sitting at the front door

My boy Buddy is my assistance dog. He takes great care of me. Knows when my glucose levels drop. When my heart is misbehaving. He was such a great chap and tapped my nurse on the knee on Wednesday when she was attending to me, I asked her to check her blood sugar level it was sitting at 3.9 – he knew she was hungry.

My family not only make me smile they make me laugh. We have fabulous times together. Play old fashioned games, sit and talk, sing together, dance in the house and most importantly love each other.

Writing keeps me sane as well as makes me smile. Jotting down in a diary, keeping a journal, and writing for a living. I simply love it.

Listening to music most definitely made me smile today. Whether it is music on Apple Music, reminiscing about times gone by, Steve strumming his Martin guitar and beautifully singing along or Alexandra practicing her heart out on the violin or getting a guitar lesson from her Grandad. All those tunes give me such a warm feeling inside. It made me remember about that time……well will keep this one to myself…….

Remembering yesterday, listening to stories about the trip out pumpkin picking and dancing around the house and face painting.

Has anything made you smile today?

Leaking gastrostomy tube

Lavita has been my lifesaver. For those who don’t know Lavita is the name of my gastrostomy feeding tube. Artificial feeding is a way of life for me; feeding tubes, syringes, dressings, huge deliveries of feed by my lovely drivers from Nutricia, etc. For the last few months I have been having a bother with my tube, my nurses have been coming in, giving the usual service, changing water in balloon, etc. However, I have had a lot of leakage (losing water from my balloon ) I have been in an awful lot of pain and three times the balloon has burst. Lavita has been a leaking gastrostomy tube.

Last week I went for a ct scan with contrast at the request of my net consultant. He is worried because my 5hiaa is elevated, I’ve lost weight, been getting a fair few infections and I haven’t been feeling well at all.

This week I have been at the hospital to see one of my consultants. He was able to speak to me about my ct scan and finally shed light on why I have been loosing water every week. And perhaps why I have been in so much pain. He asked me to get onto the couch, he Kindly helped me up, he assisted me off with my shoes, I couldn’t bend down comfortably from the couch and get my shoes off, he could see that so bent down and took my shoes off for me.

I lay flat on the couch and he said Mark requested the CT scan for a totally different reason the problem we are going to discuss and he started to explain what the radiologist reported on the CT scan. The report stated the balloon should be sitting in my stomach, however it is sitting in my jejunum. The doctor decided he would reposition it there and then. Are you ok? he said, I nodded, my tummy was aching. Just breathe in he said to me, and I will get this adjusted and make you more comfortable. He gave a very firm tug on the tube and turned it around, he pushed it into place and gently twisted it round. He pulled the disc tight up to my skin and said the tube needed to be at 4cm. And to check and adjust it several times per day. He is hoping now that he has pulled the balloon back up into my stomach that I won’t leak water any where as much as I have been. Some weeks, my nurse puts 20mls of water in when it comes to the water change there is only 7mls of water in the balloon.

My gastrostomy balloon had fallen into my jejunum.

I got myself decent, he helped me off the couch and onto the chair beside his desk. We now had time to discus what he did, how my gastrostomy tube looked on the scan and how I was feeling. How am I feeling? rubbish, hope to feel better soon….. My doctor did me a drawing of how the tube should be and how mine was when I got the scan. He told me I should get blood tests today; the nurses with a bit of a fight took my blood.

Today I got an email from my other consultant; my endocrinologist; a fantastic net specialist. The one that ordered the CT Scan. He said he was shocked when he read the report that my balloon of my gastrostomy tube was in my jejunum. He asked how I was feeling and said he was relieved that I had seen my other consultant Alan and that he had repositioned it. The prof said he is hoping that the leakage will slow down now that I have had my tube pulled up. The prof is amazing, he is caring and always makes sure I am pleased with the service I am getting. He helped set up the Charity/support group, http://www.taect.scot that I now rely on and admire immensely. Gives up his Sunday for Net Cancer Day for an information lecture. All the patients and staff talk very highly of him.

I feel privileged to have very caring consultants that look after me so well. Especially take time to email me out of hours, or give me a call and ask how I am. Thats what I call service.

The Drawing by my consultant

Big boys do cry

Being at home permanently since March 12th has certainly given me time to think.  There has been many a lonely hour to reminisce.  Its been lovely to look back and remember events that have gone by, places I’ve  have visited, people that have came into my life and made an impression; left their mark.

In my 54 years of life its been happy, eventful and surrounded by a great many beautiful caring characters.  From the moment I have been able to comprehend I was showered with love.  As I grew up I was always shown kindness,  the family philosophy was treat others as you would like treated yourself, I will never ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.  Yes these days as I am getting less able and I  will pay someone to clean, paint  or fix something  – I’m sure these tradesman appreciate the work.

Getting back to my time to think.  When I was sitting putting my feed on I was thinking about when part of my job included listening to people and their problems, how they were feeling.  I encouraged them to talk about their feelings.  Express exactly how they felt at that particular moment and how to deal with it.  I would gently persuade them to chat and through time just by talking they would soon realise what made them happy and what made them stressed and sad.  We would work on the positive aspects of their everyday living and help them get back to a happy place.   One thing that did happen to several people is that at some point during their journey was they would face an emotional encounter.  Regardless of their gender, age or size they would talk about whatever may be bothering them, or perhaps on the contrary what has made them very happy that day and then suddenly the voice would go quieter,  and that emotional encounter would take place; the real journey had begun and I would consider my work as continuing success…. Looking back at how a lot of us are feeling at the moment, frightened to show our emotions, a lot of people get told to be quiet, not talk about their feelings, not cry.  If they do cry many are met with Now come on, stop that crying, pull yourself  together.   Stacy Solomon on Loose Women was talking on ITV and said her mum used to vacuum when she was crying, to hide the fact that she was.  All very sad.  We need to be allowed to show our emotions.

I still remember one particular chap when I was working, he was your average build gent, and a father of three, he felt he was failing all round, his family, his work, his health, and most importantly himself.  Of course he wasn’t.  When he got to his emotional encounter he quietly sniffed away the tears and continued to talk, shortly afterwards he described blurry vision and tears threatened to spill from his eyes.  He wiped his eyes so much they were red and swollen. I handed him a handkerchief and said let the tears happen,  please don’t be embarrassed.   His lips trembled, an involuntary whimper escaped his lips as tears spilled over the sides of his eyes.  He looked over at me, his face shouting out help me and please listen.  His body wracked with an onslaught of sobs and tears.  The tears raced down his cheeks.  He cried for a few minutes.  When we discussed events he explained how relieved he felt and thanked me for getting him there.  We still had a way to go, however, the big lesson learnt was not to these suppress emotions;  and deal with them appropriately – the basic emotions are happiness, fear, surprise, sadness, anger and disgust.  The message from this experience I took was most definitely people gain from expressing their emotions, getting upset, talking about their problems; a problem shared.  Big boys do cry.

 

IMG_0671-0

 

I most certainly do know being home on my own and having this time to think I also have to to shed a tear and I have probably cried more in the last few weeks than I have done so for quite some time.  Although I do have to say my life is made so much better by those folks that message me and ask how I am, who give me a phone and have a natter.  Please drop an email or a text or give a quick call to your pal or your mum, brother or sister, etc.  I have noticed there are some folk that I only get texts if I send them one first, would I get one asking how I am if I didn’t send them one?  Perhaps I would, maybe I wouldn’t!!! But one thing I do know there are some folks in my address book that we send messages to each other regardless, sometimes I’m first, sometimes their first.  But one thing I do know we deeply care about each other and look out for one another.  You guys know who you are; I love you.

First Person with Net Cancer that made me smile :)

Over 6 years ago I went to an information day hosted by   Scotland’s Neuroendocrine Cancer Charity; The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust  I went on to go to support meetings every month.  There is a group of us that have became friends and a firm support to each other, which is lovely.  Some days its good to be able to talk to someone that you know really understands how you feel and you never feel patronised when talking to each other and at times you really need that ‘I know how you feel’ conversation’

The first person I saw at the information day was such a lovely chap and his wife.  He was  smiling from ear to ear and guiding all participants that were going into the conference.  Despite having never meeting the man before you couldn’t help smiling back, he had the kindest gentle smile.  He would stretch out his very long arms and direct  you into the room.   We have became friends very quickly and seen each other at most meetings.  There is a nice core number of us that try and get together and blether and spend time together.  I have had help organising the tea party and we all went out to the theatre, day out on the barge, a night in my local pub, singing songs and doing magic tricks and said friend getting up and helping out with rope trick – oh boy we  had so much fun.    Norman was twenty years older than me and called me the youngster.  I felt he looked out for me in a way when we sat together, it was his nature.  When I organised the tea party, and my goodness what a lot of work went into it, he said, now young lady before we open the doors to the public you get half an hours shut eye.  Sometimes he would quietly talk and other times he would stretch his long arms like a giant and bellow what he wanted his audience to hear.  Norman’s first words to me were always and how are you today my dear, is life treating you kindly?  He would have that big grin on his face and it would warm my heart.   Although Norman was his own man, him and his wife came as a pair and they were very much together.  One of those most beautiful relationships each partner knows when the other has had enough and needs to leave, when they are tired, hungry etc.  They have the best tales to tell from their travels on holiday.  They separate across the room and yet communicate with just a glance and before you know it they have made a decision and you are saying cheerio to both of them, see you next time.

This blasted life limiting illness  at times imprisons us in our houses, makes one feel so ill you can’t do a thing, medication, hospital appointments, etc become a way of life – however, meeting each other and sharing some of the good and the bad really helps me get on with my journey.

I found out sad news last week, my pal passed away.   Norman was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer 13 years ago.  I feel privileged to have known him and spent time with him and Margaret for the last 6 years.  I was diagnosed with carcinoid syndrome 10 years ago, whilst a sad occasion like this leaves one thinking about our own mortality, I count every day as a blessing and am happy with the treatment and care I’m getting from my consultants, doctors and nurses.

Today was Norman’s funeral, unfortunately with the coronavirus the world has gone a little crazy.  We are on a lockdown situation and are living under certain restrictions.  Funeral services are allowed to go ahead, however are restricted to immediate family.  I was able to watch the service on a live podcast.  I sat in the comfort of my own home in front of the open fire and watched Norman’s funeral service.

Norman Boe was The First Person with Net Cancer that made me smile 🙂  and I will miss him so very much.   Thank you for being my friend.

“Go my friend and enter into eternal joy and peace, dance with angels in eternal light and love”

Net Cancer Day

Yesterday was November 10th. On the Cancer Calendar this is World Net Cancer Day. In Edinburgh the Scottish Charity, The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust hosted a forum at The Novahotel. And what a great informative event it was.

After being offered a beautiful buffet lunch, chance to meet other patients and folk interested in nets David Drummond, chairman and partner of the late Ann Edgar opened the show with a warm welcome. We were then given presentations from great speakers:

NET specialists from throughout the UK gave up their Sunday to give presentations. Offered their expertise and answered questions to patients, families, friends and people generally interested in NETS.

 

 

 

Margaret Boe – The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust (TAECT) . Trustee and wife of Net Cancer Patient, Norman Boe. Margaret is retiring and handing over the baton to Priscilla Fernandez.

 

Margaret Boe

Katie Gibson – NET CNS at Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Talking about patient and carer support in Scotland

Lucy Dornan – NET CNS at Beatson Oncology, Glasgow. Talking about PRRT programme in Scotland.

Lucy Dornan from Beatson talks PRRT

 

Nikki Jervis – NET Patient Foundation. Talking about patient wellbeing.

 

Nikki Jervis

 

Professor Mark Strachan – Endocrinologist, Net Specialist, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. Talking about whats new in NETs.

 

Professor Mark Strachan

Dr Lucy Wall – Clinical Oncologist, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. Vitamin Research Project. Results to be presented in UKINETs.

Mark Strachan and Lucy Wall set up the first NET clinic in Edinburgh 14 years ago. Fourteen years since the first Net patient walked through the doors, with a great deal of progression since then. All for the good of course.

On the way to the event I had a sneaky look at my smart phone. An Apple I Phone – I have stayed loyal to Apple, the great Steve Jobs lost his battle with NET Cancer in October 2011. As I looked at my twitter feed I saw my friend Kath had promoted awareness of the disease in her local paper. Well done girl. I can relate to the piece so well, as I am sure many people with a NET diagnosis can . If you would like to read Kath’s feature please click on the link

https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/stoke-on-trent-news/i-feel-like-im-sitting-3517787?fbclid=IwAR2HyssDuZs9hekMPjfDhlcWDtzBIlf5KBA9TSTgdt3IfXXD40-RunU9K3Q

 

On entering the hotel I turned my phone off, no interruptions. However, at the coffee break I turned on my phone. A couple of messages. From each of my sons. Both checking up on their old folks and letting us know they are doing ok. One of the texts came with a photo of Granddaughter, Alexandra – she found her Daddy’s scalextric at our house and was loving playing with it. Knowing our boys were thinking of us warmed my heart.

 

Our Alexandra finds Daddy’s Scalextric

 

As we were packing up to leave we got in the car and I turned my phone back on. Stuart and Alexandra called to say Alexandra was going back home and we would see here Thursday. Her Wee voice echoed in our car can you hear me Granny? When I let know I could she blethered away. She said I helped my Daddy put your lights up – they are very bright. Then she said I love you Granny and I love you papa see you after nursery xxxx

 

10th November Approaching……

For Me November has always been a fairly memorable month. I have a brother with a birthday at the beginning of the month and a sister with a birthday at the end of the month. The last day of the November we celebrate the Patron of our country – St Andrews Day. Guy Fawkes night; 5th November is a special night on our calendar – Steve and I got engaged in 1984, what a wonderful night that was. Fireworks at my parents and then a trip to Edinburgh with Steve and some university friends.

All of these dates are still in the diary, special to me, with some others added. And now there is one anniversary date that is noted worldwide. The date is November 10th every year. Its NET Cancer Day. Aiming at promoting awareness. Folks all over the world raise awareness in different ways.

Me personally, I have organised, with the help of friends, a tea party and a music night. Both events were on the weekend of the NET Cancer Day and raised money for The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust. Three years ago I did some something myself, just simply smiled every day for 21 days and asked folks to donate something, even if it was a penny. My consultant, Prof Mark Strachan, the fantastic late Linda Story and myself did a radio interview, fairly lengthy – raising awareness two years ago. Many people have coffee days – lets talk about nets.

This year, 2019 – November 2019 is a Sunday and I’m looking forward to going to The NET Forum organised by The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust in Edinburgh. There will be talks on offer from Net Specialists; Consultant, oncologist, Net Nurse. Charity Trustees. Information will include PRRT Information, Patient and Carer Support, whats New in Nets?, Relaxation.

Forums allow others to get together, whether its other patients, their family or friends, health professionals and people generally interested in finding out about NET Cancer. You get a chance to ask questions about symptoms, treatments, etc, and meet other people with the same rare condition. Its absolutely wonderful that health professionals are willing to give up their Sunday to share this time with us folks that want to go to the forum. Its great to see passion in the doctors and nurses outside the hospital. It makes me very proud and confident in our NHS.

For anyone thats interested in finding out more about The Ann Edgar Trust. You can look them up, at http://www.taect.scot They really are a good support network, our monthly net natter meet ups, chat on facebook. And at times we get together and do something together outwith the meeting. It really does help turn that frown upside down.

Fatigue

We all get tired.  Sometimes we will wake up after a nights sleep and feel like we could go back to bed again for another session.  Or sitting on an afternoon the eyelids choose to close and we need that little cat nap.  Examples of tiredness like this is common and normal.

 

 

FATIGUE  FATIGUE  FATIGUE

fullsizeoutput_480

 

 

Since the diagnosis of the carcinoid syndrome I have noticed that little cat naps in the afternoon have been getting more frequent.  And lasting much longer.  I then found at times the least amount exertion and  I was tired, a tad more and then really tired, and then shattered.

I spoke to my net specialist about being so tired and he got me to describe how I was feeling, when, etc.   For those of you that know me you will know this will have been a big long winded story coming from my mouth.  So I went on to describe how I felt on one of these days.  I gave the prof an example, after putting on my creams (all over my body) I would then walk along our hall of our cottage, on walking back my legs would start to feel like a dead weight.  I was walking as if I had iron boots on.  My body felt as if I was taking a giant step for mankind,  when actually I shuffling along the hall. All my energy was getting used up concentrating to try and get from the bathroom back to the sitting room.  Gripping onto the familiar radiator.  Phew made it back to my secure safe mauve sofa.  Despite the thumping heart, jelly legs and utter need to close my eyes, I feel triumphant.  Not a big task for most, but on days like this I am pleased with myself.  Now time for some shut eye.  The conclusion from my docs ; fatigue.

Fatigue. As time has gone on I can honestly say it has became more of a problem and a darn sight more exhausting.  However, accepting it and managing everyday life is the way to go.  It was our anniversary, we jumped in the Audi convertible, a sunny late afternoon in August.  Drive into Edinburgh, we drove to?;  surprise surprise our fav restaurant Cafe Rouge for Steve to get a Steak and I enjoyed sipping a cool mixed berry spritz. Twenty minutes in the restaurant and I feel Steve gently kick my foot under the table.  Biff you are dozing off,  says Steve.   I jump up sorry, think I need to order a set of matchsticks.   Words can’t explain how bad I felt.  You would think there was glue on my eyelids pulling them together.  I was scared to talk for the dread of yawning.  Imagine, the person I am most comfortable with in the world and yet at that moment I felt awkward for the fear of closing my eyes. It was our anniversary, a date night; we hardly go out and I certainly didn’t want to ruin it or disappoint my husband.    I focussed on the room, we chatted about our day, and a few other things.  It was then time to go to The Show at The Edinburgh Festival.  Steve had got us tickets to see a live show.  It was amazing.  The music was wonderful,  we both sang our hearts out.  Turned out to be a great night.

I was at a Net Natter Meeting.  Hosted by Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.  Our Net Cancer Support Group.  You can find out more about the charity at http://www.taect.scot.  I haven’t been for a couple of months.  Barbara, Margaret, Muriel, Eric and I were talking about exhaustion and fatigue.  Eric was telling us how if he tries to do something in the garden the pains in his legs are awful.  And how the fatigue can suddenly overwhelm him.  Barbara and Margaret have similar experiences.  I told them I had been to my GP last week to get my GTN spray, while we were chatting she was very good at explaining about  fatigue and people with cancer.  In many surveys or asking  a person with cancer, fatigue is one of the worst symptoms that a person deals with .  We were sharing stories about how difficult we find things and the need to rest.  Muriel looked over at Eric smiled, turned to me and then said, think I better go easier on .  We all gave a laugh.  The friendship and sharing experiences at the group help a great deal.   I got home from the meeting after dark.  And no denying I was tired.  Next day I was shattered.  But its good to have  reason for being exhausted.