It’s coming up to the final Saturday in March and here in the UK we are all going to lose an hours sleep. We usually associate lack of sleep with things like stress, or going on a night out, or maybe the baby has kept us up crying. But this time we are getting told YOU WILL HAVE ONE HOUR LESS THROUGH THE NIGHT LIKE IT OR NOT. Are most of us going to complain about this? Heck NO! Why, it’s British Summertime. This Saturday we will spring forward.
Since March 2020 for many of us life has been pretty difficult one way or another. We have had many an incident to try us. Covid-19 struck and the world has never been the same again. Worldwide 125 million have been diagnosed with covid, 2.75 million people have died from covid. Countries have been in lockdown, many of us still have restrictions. Businesses closed, lots of folks unable to work or changing their way of working and working from home or making adjustments to their workplaces to ensure the safety of the workforce and customers. Education has been a huge challenge for both students and staff. Everyone in life feeling some sort of pressure in some way or another.
What we have to remember is everything that has been done is in the interest of all of us. When we have been told to stay at home it is for our own good and to help save lives. The vaccine is being rolled out and ticking along nicely. The elderly, frontline workers and the vulnerable were the first to get their injections. Now centres are busy working round the clock making sure we all get immunised.
As the beautiful daffodils dance in the March winds, they bring hope and I believe happiness. Our front garden has many daffodils. As the dogs run up the grass and the sun shines down on them as they pass them you can’t help but feel a warmth in your heart, even on a cool day. Yesterday my sister Hazel and my 5 year old granddaughter Alexandra walked my Labradors. They all had a lovely time. Including me; I maybe wasn’t on the walk, however I so enjoyed hearing about it when they came back and loved to see my delightful labs looking so happy. Tails wagging franticly, bottoms wiggling and big doggie cheesy smiles.
Hubby Steve came back home and Alexandra was very excited to see her Papa. Out she went and jumped on the lawn tractor. And rode up the garden, her beautiful curly hair naturally blowing back showing her delightful smiling happy face. Afterwards she came striding back to the house, grinning from ear to ear with a bunch of daffodils in her hand from the garden; won’t they look nice in the window Granny, Alexandra said with pride. And how right she is.
Tonight I will be going to bed, and setting any manual clock one hour ahead. Big benefit in UK is daylight saving. Next weekend is Easter. I’ve got a busy week ahead, stoma nurse specialist video call on Monday, big discussion and specialist training to get discussed. Specialised training to get booked in. My nurses will be in on Wednesday for Gastrostomy full service, dressing change and octreotide injection.
Lets hope the weather starts to get warmer, and life will certainly start to look an awful lot brighter for all of us.
Our new normal way of life can be difficult to live with at times, but we have to remember it is for our own good. People in various areas have different rules. Depending on where you live, what you do for a living and how your health is determines what you can and cannot do. What has made my life so much easier throughout this difficult period are Acts of kindness during Covid restrictions https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
In the last few months I have sat back and read my social media pages, looked at what my ‘friends’ have written. Some posts have been entertaining and cheered me up, others have been sad and have made me grateful for what I have in my life.
Since the beginning of the restrictions I have been privileged to get thoughtful gifts, letters by post, flowers, texts, telephone calls, emails, FaceTime calls, etc. For this I would like to say thank you.
My most wonderful husband has been an ultimate star throughout. He has worked running his busy business as well as chasing after me, catering to any whim I may have. I try my best to be self sufficient, but I will admit I need by knight in shining armour to take charge in times of need. Steve has done such lovely cheer up things; my most favourite jeans started to get worse for wear, he sought out online not only a pair of my likeable Levi 501 in waist 23, but even managed to get the extra short leg – boy was I beaming. I’m always a freezing cold human bean – so delivered a pair of slippers wool slipper boots with a rubber soul from Denmark Oh my goodness my feet are so warm now.
My children, Tony and Stuart, their other halves and my grandchildren have been ultimate stars. Telephoning, FaceTime calls, texting, sending photos, etc. Nothing better than an excitable FaceTime call telling me all about their day. Love getting the progress news how the university is coming along. Getting texts saying morning Granny how are you? hope you have a good day, love you xxx. Make me feel so loved and warm inside. Video progression of the grandchildren makes me smile, sometimes laugh, always warms my heart and most definitely helps for not getting the visits like we used to.
My sister Hazel sends me letters and cards by post. Its so lovely when I hear the postman drive up our chipped driveway, the crunch of the stone chips as he stops. He get out as usual and puts the mail through the door. Faithful Buddy goes with me to get whats arrived. I recognise my sisters writing, in the envelope is a card and some beautiful photographs of my grandchildren, myself, my lads, and my Dad. She tells me how much she misses coming to see me, our sisterly blethers on the sofa with the dogs at our feet. Some days thats just what we all need to hear. To know how much we are loved.
Friday is chat with Jenny day. We met the first day at university and have been firm friends since. I so miss her coming over to visit at the moment with the restrictions being on a tighter leash at the moment. Fingers crossed they will change for the better and she will be able to visit soon. We could meet up outside, but for me its too cold. So for now, texting, whats app and Friday chat day will suffice.
I message and get messages from my sister, Helen and brothers Albert and Brian. We chat regularly keep each other up to date. So miss seeing my Daddy Bear.
On top of the people already mentioned, there are an array of family and friends that have been supportive, giving me a phone, dropping a text, sending a message, etc, etc. Examples include My niece Lindsay sends me the most loving messages and photos of the children, love that girl right over our rainbow. Long time sister pal Liz and I talk on the phone and send each other messages. Sally, little toots from http://www.salspals.co.uk sends the most wonderful cheer up messages and photos of Harley boy. Louise messages me every day, love the photos of Gunner and Harris, received beautiful lilies the other day from her. I miss her popping in for a cuppa and us having a natter. Every morning I get a text message from minister friend Janice. We share other messages throughout the day and a couple of times per month we chat on the phone. Janice is inspirational and caring. Diane and Mark have been keeping me updated with stunning photos of Buddy and Bella’s grand puppies.
Social media is a great point of communication for any of us. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes looking down ones timeline to find out what’s going on in the outside world. I enjoy sharing information and have fun & banter with fellow members, from our Harley Davidson group at The Dunedin Chapter http://Www.dunedinhog.com. I have made great friends at the Chapter. Steve and I have missed out on going to bike events this year, however we are keeping up the chat with our buddies on Facebook I also get support from Scotland’s Net Cancer Charity, http://www.taect.scot for now they offer zoom meetings, online chat, quiz, Facebook page. I really miss seeing my pals, we text each other personally too and catch up on each other’s news. There really isn’t any need to be lonely if you are willing to work at it.
There was an act of kindness that touched my heart at the beginning of August that will stay with me forever. My nurse Evelyn that comes in to the house is an absolute trooper. All the nurses that come to the house are fabulous. My amazing nurses change my dressings, tend to my gastrostomy tube, give injections, flu jabs, my octreotide treatment. Health wise they do anything and everything. One day at the end of July when I was chatting to Evelyn I told her I thought I would look online and see if I could get a washable colourful cotton face mask. We blether about all sorts of things, sometimes it’s good to talk away from health, not about me, just about life, having some fun, ‘the doing things’ . The following week Evelyn came to our house. It was a Wednesday, full service day. Gastrostomy checked, balloon water changed, dressings changed, etc. And then a big beauty of a needle for my octreotide treatment. After everything was done and dusted. Evelyn lifted her jacket under it was a present. Beautifully wrapped and in a lovely little presentation bag. This is for you, she said as she handed me the bag. I eagerly looked in. The most delightful handmade cotton face masks. Matching children and adult ones. And ever so special to me zebra ones. What an absolutely thoughtful gift. Someone who is working full time in such a strained and stressful environment, in these difficult times. Taking time out to make the masks touched me. Made me feel very happy. They are useful, look great and I really like them.
Since March life has put on a different hat. We have had to learn a new normal. I’m a glass half full gal. I so appreciate the people in life that have made my life so much easier by the generous acts of kindness during Covid restrictions. Please remember when you are sitting on social media watching a video, or your feet up glued to a soap opera on Tv – think about dropping a mate a text, or give them a call just to say hi. Five minutes out of your day can make someone’s a really special one.
As usual the run up to my injection was met with even more trips to the bathroom. Bowels working in overdrive. The day my nurse suggested I get incontinence pads delivered, I was a tad reserved, now I couldn’t do without them. Before I started getting the jab every three weeks I had total uncontrollable running to the loo, more than ten times per day every day. Now its greatly reduced. On a really good day, its three times a day, the week before my injection is due I’m met with a rapid increase of visits to the little room. This week as well as my usual company of my companion dog, Buddy. We had Bella getting up with us too. Bella is our 4 year old labrador retriever. Who is heavily pregnant. And lets just say the puppies were moving around in a way that she couldn’t hold the loo in for too long. Poor girl.
The night before my injection Bella starts getting even more restless, comes to me and gives me a big hug, goes into her large birthing box bed and starts digging the bed to make it comfortable. She is going to go into labour. Boy its going to be a long night. Bella starts to pant and shows all signs of first stage labour and then second stage.
At 0045am the first pup is born a little girl. She is a perfect fox red labrador retriever. Just like her daddy. Bella is so good, bites through the sack, cleans the little one up and welcomes her into the world. I give Bella a reassuring cuddle. And make sure the little and Bella are ok. They are. I take a photograph of them, I tell Steve first of course, and then send proud messages of the exciting first birth. My friend Louise lives three miles from me and asks if she can come and observe Bella giving birth and be of any assistance to me. She is there for the rest of the litter delivery.
By 0725am there are 8 puppies born into the world. Steve comes in to see Bella and is there for pup number 9 and 10. Bella feeds the puppies and a big rest. Despite being on cloud nine and so happy I’m shattered and feel like I can hardly put one foot in front of the other. I get myself washed and dressed my nurse will be here this morning to check over my gastrostomy tube, change my dressing, and give me my lanreotide injection.
10am my nurse Evelyn walks through the door. At first Bella barks, only until she realises who it is. Evelyn pops her head into the room to view the pups, and then walks along the hall. She scrubs up and then does all the needful for me. As my faithful labrador retriever, Buddy, sits by my side and watches everything my nurse does. I get ready for this painful deed to get done. Tummy first I think she says. The soiled dressing taken off, site all cleaned, helan cream and cavilon applied. And then my nice new clean dressing put on, carefully with tape not to touch my skin and cause a reaction. Evelyn then picks up my lanreotide injection. I get this every 21 days. Its your left side this time she says as I slip down my knickers. I then have to work out which way to lie so evelyn can inject my left buttock, I have enough problems with this at the best of times, put lack of sleep into the mixture and we have a recipe for disaster. I was this way and that way on the sofa. Evelyn said, just a minute and listen to me and then lie down likeI tell you, it worked a treat. As she administered the injection of lantreotide buddy sat a few feet away watching all, making sure all was good. Which it was. All done. Everything put in the sharps box. A good discussion between me and my nurse, as always. Notes written.
Steve calls my name along the hall. I take myself along inviting my super nurse with me. Bella is having a contraction, and as in previous seems to want me to work with her as a team. I rub her tummy and reassure her that I am by her side. Come on Bella, one big push for mummy, I say to her. I can see her body contracting, the pain in her eyes. My lovely dog looks so tired. I can see a little tail appearing and a foot, one last push Baby belle. And so she did. Out comes the most beautiful little puppy. Puppy number 11. Bella is exhausted, I hold it while Bella bites the chord, cleans him vigorously, suddenly a little squeal comes from the puppy. Bella wags her tail. He is perfect and she is happy. Puppy number 11 was born at 1118am. What a team, you both make. Evelyn says to me. I feel very proud. Bella gave birth to 8 boys and 3 girls. I’m so pleased that things have gone well. My dog is well, her puppies are healthy and of a good size. Buddy, the daddy, watches on eagerly, I know he is desperate to play with the little fella’s.
My nurse managed to see the puppy being born, she got more than she bargained for on her home visits for this Thursday. I certainly do not doubt that she has eventful days but I guess she doesn’t have puppies making an entrance into the world very often.
I had an appointment with the big cheese in London: Professor Martyn Caplin. He runs a neuroendocrine tumour clinic at The Royal Free hospital. He is highly specialised in his field. And people are referred from many different countries,and travel great distances to see him. My mere 400 miles, is starters orders for some. I have a lot of faith in our Prof Caplin. He is very thorough, takes time to listen to what you have to say. And most importantly remembers you are a human being and have feelings. I know when I go down to see him I will most likely be seen later than my appointment time. This is because he gives every patient the time they need and deserve.
For my appointment in April I need to get myself organised. Firstly we need to book a hotel for a night before and a night after the hospital. I’m not your average human than can just jump fly down to the smoke, get seen at at the hospital and then travel back. I tried it once. It took over a month to recover from the exhaustion. Premier Inn Booked. Now time to sort the train tickets out. It’s great that you can book everything online. Train booked, and we can get the tickets at the station right up to the day we travel. Cases are packed. Lots to go in my case, feed pump, giving sets, feed, dressings, creams, medicines, clothes, etc. Nurse has been to change my dressing,etc. dogs are looking at the cases suspiciously.
There has been a slight hiccup with the dogs boarding. They were scheduled to go stay together with Sally whilst we were in London. Sally has Buddy and Bella’s son Harley. The week before we are due to go, Bella goes into season. Both Bella and Buddy only have one thing on their mind and it’s not walkies. We have to put plan B into action. Our friends, Louise & Keith look after Bella and Sally look after Buddy. For both our dogs this is the first time they have stayed away from home. Anytime we have ever been away one of our sons have looked after the dogs. This was a big deal for both the dogs and Steve & I. I have to say both dogs were looked after impeccably. They were walked several times per day, played with. And when we came home we could tell although they were very happy to see us they had enjoyed their time away.
Our train journey was eventful. We met a very gutsy lady and her 7 year old son. They travelled from York to London every Sunday. The young lad attended Great Ormand Street Hospital for an injection. He was under a trial drug scheme. He has muscular dystrophy. We chatted, shared stories, laughed.
When we got to the hospital we used the self check in. Before I could take a seat in the busy waiting room the nurse called my name. We walked down the corridor and into the room. She took my weight. she said. The Prof wants to see you, if you just take a seat along this end. Steve and I parked our bums on the seats and waited on Prof Caplin calling me.
Fifty minutes passed my appointment time the familiar gent calls my name. Prof Caplin kindly waits till both Steve and myself are in the consulting room. We take a seat. There is a lot to discuss. Since I saw him last I’ve had my gastrostomy tube fitted, been hospitalised several times with sepsis/infections, had feeds, cream and meds changed. After we talk, he helps me up onto his couch, he examines my belly and has a good look at the peg site. Listens to my chest, feels my neck, under my armpits. He says quite a lot of granulation there. The general all round site and your skin is healing well but you do have a long way to go yet. I take a seat back beside Steve. Prof mentions my last 5HIAA test was elevated. The result was 175. A tad higher than he would like. He says he would like me to get a scan. Steve pipes up, will that be a gallium scan. The prof immediately answers us, I can organise that for you, no problem. You will only wait a few weeks on the scan. I will book it now whilst you are here. He then goes into the drawer in his desk and takes out a card and hand it to me. This is the number for our specialist nurses. Once you have had the scan and the result is in the nurse will phone you and discuss the results with you. And what happens next.
We were back home in Scotland three days later. Two days after we arrived home the telephone rang, it was the nuclear medicine department of The Royal Free Hospital in London. My scan was in eleven days time. Certainly cannot complain about the quality of the service I am getting.