Drive through Edinburgh

After my appointment at The Western General Hospital in Edinburgh my hubby was patiently waiting for me. He picked me up in the convenient pick up drop off area outside the hospital. We usually go together, however do to Covid, I was restricted to going myself. We made our way out of the hospital grounds and got ready for our Drive through Edinburgh.

As we drove along Crew Road there were works getting done and the road was closed towards orchard brae forcing us to turn left. We made our way along the road and passed the police training college, saw a couple of dogs in the field and then passed Broughton High School, I had a memory of going to the old Broughton High for health promotion talks, and remember proudly going to the police college with Arthur, when he got a commendation award; what a lovely day that was.

Driving through Stockbridge. The sun was shining, there were hanging baskets flowering beautifully outside many of the elegant Victorian and Georgian houses. This bustling vibrant area on the water of Leith is filled with speciality and charity shops, and delightful cafes and pubs. I love Stockbridge; the new town is my favourite area of Edinburgh. If I lived in Auld Reekie this is the locality I would choose to live in.



Cruising along George Street I saw the changes that were happening over time. What establishments are still here, and what has ‘disappeared’ from the high street. The Standing Order was the first building that jumped out at me. All over the world there will be many well known financial institutions that are now coffee shops, or pubs or restaurants, somewhere for folk to sit and chat. Rest their weary bones and share a story or two along with a drink.


As I headed to Southside Edinburgh, I passed a block of flats that were on a corner site in Newington area. This site used to be a Ford Garage that my sister worked in the accounts department. My friend rented a bedsit on the main road when we were at university.

Gosh Helen finished up at the Garage over 40 years ago and Jennifer rented the bedsit in the mid 1980’s. Jennifer visited me yesterday I was telling her about my journey and reminiscing, we started chatting about her accommodation hunting when she came down from Calendar to study in Edinburgh…….

Jennifer and I met at uni, we became friends the first day of term and have been stuck with each other since. Jennifer came down from Calendar and needed accommodation, the uni gave her some recommendations. She came to my parents armed with this A4 piece of paper. We were going to the addresses. My brother Albert dropped us at the first place on the list, it was near the shopping centre, he would go shopping we would view the room. Oh my goodness; the room was ok, very basic, shared facilities which werent so nice, and the room mates were less desirable. So lets just say this place was a big fat no. We tried a few other places on the uni’s recommendation. Absolutely non suitable. My Mum brought out The Scotsman. https://www.scotsman.com We looked in it, there was an ad for a Letting company in Home Street, Edinburgh.

Off we went to Home Street. We walked in to this office with a white haired lady with 2 dogs surrounded with so much paperwork. I actually felt like I was going for a seance. I can tell you Jennifer and I felt frightened, why we didn’t know. The business was ‘real’, the staff were genuine, informative and very pleasant. And they had dogs, something I especially love. I think it was just the fact that the white haired lady was rather eccentric. The room had a creepy feel. However, the lady was very kind to us, she explained what properties she had on the books and what she thought was suitable. She explained locations and terms of payment etc. She thought the room at Newington would be suitable, told us there were already some young ladies in the building and the location is lovely. Big bonus, the landlord was a really nice man. We were sold. Sounded ideal for Jen.

We made our way from Tollcross to Newington. Met by a raven headed gentleman. True to her words. The whole property was in good condition. The bedsit on the ground floor had its own kitchen, it was ideal. No sharing, no messy dishes, etc. Jennifer decided to rent it. As friends it was ideal, not too far from uni and only about 3 miles from my parents house.

Many properties have changed hands over the years and places we have got comfortable going to are no longer there. However, many of these alterations are good news and society is reaping the benefits both socially and economically. As the saying goes out with the old and in with the new.

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 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.

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

3 years later and 3 kg lighter

Three years since I have came home from hospital with my peg feed after my sepsis.  It has been a learning curve of a journey with great deal of highs and lows.  I’m very fortunate to have a fantastic support network; the lifesaving NHS staff, including hospital consultants/nurses/dieticians, GP surgery, home visit team, CENT team and my excellent regular community visits I could not do without from my district nurses; amongst other things they deal with my dressings, peg feed and administer my lanreotide, the emotional support they offer is invaluable.

One of the members of the CENT team comes to see me on a regular basis.  I get weighed, we discuss how life has been for me.  How I have been , what meds I’m on and what feeds are going down my peg.  They are always on the end of the phone if I feel the need to talk in between visits or if I have a question/queerie/worry.  A great friendly bunch.

 

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Kat from the CENT team at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary came to see me on Monday.  We had a good chat and discussed my feeding regime and the speed of the pump.  I told her the great news that we managed a wee break to Ibiza.  My son Stuart telephoned the airline and told them about my medical condition and that I needed the pump feed and 4 bottles of 500ml per day and 5 bottles of 300mls per day – working out to quite a weight.   The airline agreed to give me free 30 kg baggage there and back.  Certainly cannot complain about that.  After our general discussions I stood on the scales.  Not happy; either of us.  I’m 3kg lighter than when I came home with the peg feed fitted 3 years ago.  I could have cried.  I could tell Kat knew I was disappointed, I couldn’t hide it.  Kat mentioned how well the tpn worked when I was in hospital.   I agreed, that was what saved me and put on the weight when I had my sepsis.  She recommends that she writes to my consultant and let him know and suggest that I get a central line – picc or hickman and get home tpn as well as my peg.   Got my cardiologist in December and see my consultant after the year; will discuss this weightloss and eating regime then.

 

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Bye Lavita you have been a lifesaver

Its the start of the weekend I’m in my own home and boy am I glad to be so.  A few weeks ago I was in hospital with yet another infection.   It started of I wasn’t feeling too good, said to my nurse I felt horrid, my tummy began to swell, my temp rose, the leakage that came out of around my peg site increased, the smell began to get really offensive.  My energy became non existent.  I visited my GP, within 2 hours I was in hospital.  Before I knew it connected to IV drip and on IV antibiotics.  I was feeling absolutely awful, could hardly put one foot in front of the other.  The familiar face of SPB came to my bed.  He is the surgeon that put my gastrostomy tube in two years ago.  Lavita has been a lifesaver and fed me on demand.  After blood tests, X-rays, scans and careful discussion with the surgeon and the wonderful dieticians Bev and Marion it was decided it was time to change the tube.

 

 

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Im not going to lie, I was bloody nervous at the thought of getting lavita taken out and another tube put in.  The nurse came to tell me that I was getting my tube changed later that day.  just after lunch I could hear a familiar Irish mans voice outside my bedroom.  A few minutes later the doctor popped his head round the door, remember me Elizabeth? He said.  How could I forget.  He was the doctor that took out my jej extension.  I have faith in him.  My nervousness left me and I felt calm.  How could I forget, I replied.  He changed my gastrostomy tube.  I’m not saying it was plain sailing.   Mainly due to the infection,  I had a lot of tummy pain and there was quite a lot of discharge and blood. There was a lot of tugging and pulling.  The burning gastric acid from my stomach was trickling down my skin, it hurt like hell.  He mopped it up very quickly.  The saliva was running down my gums, yet my lips and mouth felt dry.  We agreed that a larger circumference tube would go in this time, in the hope that there will be less leakage.    We have moved up a size and a half and its fitted perfectly.    I was in hospital for 5 days, and got well looked after, support from dieticians, nursing staff, and doctors fantastic.

Its took me a while to get on my feet since getting out of hospital.    I have been very tired, in fact super exhausted to be exact.    Regular things have taken a back seat and gosh have I missed it all.  In particular not having the granddaughters at the house as often.   A couple of weeks before I went into the hospital our house was full of laughter of two beautiful granddaughter’s.  Our 17 month old princess was running up and down the hall saying Papa Papa, Broom Broom – she is desperate to go sit on her grandfather’s motorcycle.  Grace calls from the kitchen Bella Boo to one of our labs.   The girls are away on a two week holiday at the seaside.  Gosh I miss their visits.

 

 

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Since I have been home, I am getting my regular visits from my nurses.  Getting my tube maintained,  The balloon water changed. My dressings changed.  Working hard on building up the old stamina 🙂

The one important thing that needs to be done next is find a name for my new tube.  Its a balloon gastrostomy that feeds me through a pump directly into my tummy.  Im attached to the feed 20 hours out of 24 every day.  This prevents me having a hypo and helps me maintain my weight.  My wonderful hubby has bought me a lovely new Michael Kors leather backpack to put my pump in, it means I can be attached to my feed, carry it on my back and still be ‘fashionable’ as well as carry other essentials with me.

If you have any suggestion of a name for my new tube, please comment.  All suggestions, comments welcome.

 

A wee bit of home assessment from my nurse

One thing and another its been a busy week.  Started with a visit to the GP on Monday, she is perturbed that despite I’m on my new super duper feeding regime through Lavita, my gastrostomy feed that Marion from the CENT team has carefully worked out for me and I am getting food pumped into me 20 hours per day, I still have an underweight BMI and haven’t gained an ounce.   I’ve got that bloody awful feeling that I need a kick up the ass, I could lie on the floor and curl up in a ball and sleep.  The Doc was also very concerned with the fact that I have difficulty with once of the most important things – getting washed.  Our shower is over the bath, between my poor co-ordination, spontaneous hy0pogleamia, the pain I get and my gastrostomy tube climbing over the bath has caused many accidents: resulting in severe bruising and a hurt pride.  Long and short of my GP visit: bloods taken, my steroid replacements have been increased for the time being, I have to visit her again soon.  We need to get the bathroom sorted.

Its lanreotide week and boy do I know it.  The bowels are flowing more than normal and for the third time the urgency at 3am disturbs my poor sleeping hubby.  Buddy sits quietly at my feet, replacing the lovely warm slippers that I had no time to put on.

 

 

 

Evelyn, one of the nurses comes in on Thursday morning.  The dogs are happy to see her.  They know the routine and watch all that is going on.  She looks at the two of them and says well you will have a wee wait on your ‘doggy mars bar’ today.  Got a lot to get through with your Mummy.  Gastrostomy  site tackled first.  Dressing taken off, all cleaned, the necessary done, new dressing on.  Skin checked and other issues addressed.  Then onto my lovely injection of lanreotide.  It may be a big pain in the butt and cost the NHS a small fortune but it a godsend to me.  My diahrea has reduced from over ten times a day to 3.  And those awful flushes have greatly reduced.  The run up to the injection the symptoms get more problematic but nothing like before I started getting it.  I really wish it had a magic formula and helped with the malabsorption.  Injection in, all sharps in appropriate box etc.

Evelyn takes a pew.  Pulls out a white folder and talks to Steve and I.  Remember last week I asked you some questions and you did well, she said.  That was a base line for us for your mental awareness.  Steve made an off the cuff funny remark and we laughed.  Yes you can only go downhill she said.   No onto some physical questions.  It was all very thorough.  Asking me questions such as can I roll over in bed.  Do I need help with washing and showering.  A great deal of emphasis on my meds, eating, all the personal issues such as my bowel habits, aids I need and use, what I can manage and what I CAN’T.  As always Evelyn was super efficient; making me feel so comfortable and at ease and still managing to get all the appropriate essential information that has to get detailed down.    The nurse is an angel she goes above the call of duty.

It was good Steve was here for all the discussion.  Evelyn already knows how much I rely on him and how difficult things are such as showering, setting up feeds, getting my medication organised – we didn’t need to go into the nitty gritty.

The outcome; I’m an at risk patient.  BMI far too low.  At risk of falls.  Has pain.  Risk of infection.  I dolly daydream into a daze, I furniture walk without realising it.  The one thing I certainly cannot do is get up of the floor on my own. Give me a piece of furniture or better still my devoted strong man – Steve.   I love this man 💕💕

Dedication of my nurse & new dressings

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

 

 

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

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

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

Dying To Look Good

You look great –  that’s the words we all long to hear.  We all want to look our best.  Whether we are nipping to the supermarket, having a lazy day,  or going out for dinner.  The last thing I want is folk to be surprised that I look normal”

So why is it that there are times when people say certain phrases to me that can set my tummy into turmoil and make me feel guilty for having an illness.  These words are usually said in such an innocent manner and no malice is ever meant.   Sometimes I can get upset by what has been said to me, regardless of how harmless the conversation is.  The person paying the compliment is usually always blameless.

The conversations and body language that are directed to me are intended to be kind and gentle.  A gentle hand stroking my arm and the words that first come out how are you keeping?    One of the ladies in our support network group particularly doesn’t like this phrase.  I have spoken to many people whilst I have been in hospital and yes they are affected by what’s said too.  Certain words affect folks more than others, the word keeping was one that some found hard to deal with.   I’m not quite sure why, as I say it’s always said with such niavity.  Perhaps it’s because the word keeping is associated with custody and criminal.  Many people with with chronic illnesses have life changing situations after their diagnosis and can often feel like a prisoner in their own home and need the help of others.  Maybe this is a possibility why keeping is not liked by this person.  I can’t go out on my own, and I’m very grateful for the help I get, not feeling sorry for myself – promise 😘.

Most of the time words said don’t bother me too much at all.  I can put them in a box and breathe.  What really drives me crazy is the tone that the  conversation is spoken to me in.  The very pitch can affect my mood, and hence a knock on affect on my health.  Most days I will banter and have fun, if something is said in a teasing manner I will take it like water off a ducks back.  However if I’m having a difficult day the slightest thing will reduce me to tears.

So why do we want to look good?  – why not?  I personally want to look like my old self.  I want to be my husband’s wife 💕.   My wonderful staff at Ninewells hospital in Dundee have specially manufactured coloured cream for my skin to put on every day.  The transformation is fantastic.  It covers every blemish, wrinkle, gives me a lovely colour.  And it looks so natural. Once it’s on properly you wouldn’t know I had cream on.   For me it takes a lot of work to look “normal” – I smear my entire body in several creams three times a day.  Steve’s cousin Anna commented on how much work it was and how good the transformation the Dundee cream made – this actually made me feel good that she was so open.

The good thing about the chronic illness.  It’s on the inside.  We can cover it up.  Put on the war paint and put on a smile 😀😀  it’s good to smile, it’s infectious. Smile and the world smiles with you.  When you are all dressed and tried your hardest to look good, whether you are dressed to the nines or in a tracksuit, and have make up on or not.  If I am happy I always look better.  I know I am loved and this certainly makes me happy.    It can be hard to look good for anyone at anytime but I will say my family and friends do make my life much better.

I love to buy and get treated to nice clothes and accessories.  My favourites are Ragamuffin, Fatface, Michael kors, Pandora.  My hubby, Steve is so good to me.  Steve wants to treat me and make me feel good, he is the one that sees me feeling so rubbish at home. And puts up with my grumpy pants sulking moods 😂😂 – for my sake just as well he loves me.

 

So happy to have a week in the sun ☀️☀️☀️☀️😎

The dark scary winter behind us.  Several hospital admissions.  The bulbs poked their heads through the earth and produced some colour.  As Spring emerged  I hoped that my favourite season would be kinder to me than the winter was.  However, the hope of a better spring turned into disappointment.   The sunshine break Steve booked on January 1st was something both of us were yearning.  The thought of the warmer climate, the slow pace of life, friendly locals – it was all felt very appealing.

The waiting was over.  Finally  the big tin bird was waiting on the Tarmac to transport us to our island in the sun.  I was nervous it was the first time flying since Lavita had became part of my life.

I was all very organised, letters from consultant, General Practioner,  and Community Dietician.  All explaining why I carry extra weight, have excess fluids, syringes, needles, scissors, dressings and lots of medication.

The airport was very busy, we all stood queued up, hand luggage in tow, passports in hand.  A steady drum beat like sound echoed through my ears.  The longer I waited the faster and louder the beat got.  Although palpations are an everyday occurrence, the venue was somewhat different to what I’m used to.  I  was next up, as I struggled walking stick in one hand and hand luggage in the other.  The airport staff quickly came to assistance.  They exchanged my stick for one of theirs, just in case I filled mine with illicit drugs, and the burly gentleman lifted my bag onto the belt.  I walked the walk.    Steve and I were both cleared at the same time.  All ready to board the plane.

The flight was grand.  Holiday was fantastic.  There were a couple of hairy moments like the time when I chanced having a handful of peanuts and one decided to try and expel itself out of my wound, a hair breadth from my gastrostomy tube.  As I was breathing it popping in and out, making a grand appearance.  I lay on the double bed, splayed my legs put my feet up on the wall, I got scissors and after several attempts gripped the end and pulled it out as it made its appearance – got it.  Oh yuk, all the granulation softened and started running down my tummy. My hair was soaking wet, legs shaking beads of sweat running down my brow.  Boy did I wish i was home.  I managed to clean myself up, getting a dressing on and rest up.  A few hours later I was feeling much better.

Steve and I made sure we had a relaxing holiday.  We did what we wanted when we wanted.  Steve hired a car and we travelled around the beautiful island soaking in the atmosphere.

Tranquility 😘😘

 


 

 

 

Naming – What do you think?

I have had many suggestions for the name of my gastrostomy tube.  I’m so grateful to everyone for all the effort that has been out in.

A fellow blogger, Elaine, has gave me a name that I’m rather struck on.  The name Lavita, which means life.  Rather apt.  For me the tube gives me a better quality of life (when I don’t have sepsis, or any other infection that is).  It provides me with my essential nutrients and vitamins – my daily steak and chips or fresh fruit salad if you get my meaning.  For many people with a tube it is an essential lifeline and the only source of nourishment.

The name I have chosen is Lavita.

 

Lavita meaning life.

Suggestions and comments welcome 💕💕



We have some suggestions

Further to my post yesterday asking for help to name my gastrostomy tube.

I’ve had some suggestions.

Names suggested for my tube so far:

Lucy

Oscar

Mr mouth

Miss persnickety

Sir foible

Madame violet

Lady lightsaber

Little Lizzy

Richard

Percy pipe

Gastro Gordon (after chef Gordon Ramsay)

Garfield

Sybill

Gourmet Gastro

Gastro Gourmet

Cordon Bleu

Gordon Bleu

Hercules

Any further suggestions?  What do you think of the names?  Which one would you choose?  Looking forward to comments, suggestions and shares.  Have a great day guys.

💕💕