Hello 2021

For many 2020 has been a difficult year, and certainly for most a memorable one; it has been a year like no other I have known. My hubby and I spent Hogmanay at home on our own. Just the two of us with our beautiful Labradors. This was the first time ever we have been alone to bring in the year and say Hello 2021.

I must say although very different from our usual ceilidh, our last night of the year was a fun packed one. We took part in a family and friends Zoom quiz. Stephen organised it. A busy young Dad with three kids; Stephen and son Louis were quiz masters. We had participants from near and far. Laughing, joking and talking was definitely allowed. We didn’t come first in the quiz but did not disgrace ourselves. Looking forward to the next one.

We are one week in to the new year. Eventful already.

The balloon on my gastrostomy tube burst on Hogmanay. Wonderful efficient staff, it was changed immediately. Six days later the tube was loose, my dressing was drenched. My ever dedicated medics attended to me, yes the balloon on the just short of one week old tube had exploded once again. Nicola changed my tube and then gave me my octreotide injection. This was then a day for complete rest.

To be honest despite the feeling unwell, and the pain. I have enjoyed being home. Sitting by the open fire with my beautiful labradors. Writing and editing. We are in a second lockdown. Yes, it’s a worrying time and I so miss being able to go see my Dad. Strange times my family and friends not coming to my house for a visit. We have to remember these restrictions have been put in place for our own good, to prevent infection from spreading and a big plus point is that we have a vaccine that is getting rolled out to the general public. It will take a while but as time allows we will be able to go out more, visit and one day in the future live a “normal life”.

For some life has been more challenging. It may be they are a key worker and things are getting tough. The usual “go to” place has gone, and talking with others feels trivial. Please try and remember this when someone is looking a little more weary than normal, or talking less than usual, ask how they are – it goes a long way. When a person says they are fine, it doesn’t mean they are doing well.

During this lockdown children at present have to stay home and get home schooled. For many families this works well. But for some life is hard. In many homes there are more computers, laptops, tablets than human beings in the house. In other homes there is one unit in the home or perhaps none at all. When the children are home schooling they get work from their teachers, there are programs on television. The internet plays a vital part in a child’s education. Hence the importance of a piece of equipment to get on the World Wide Web. It’s heartbreaking to think that in this day and age of digital technology that some families lack that availability in their own homes. If you have a laptop, computer, iPad, tablet that’s surplus to requirements please think about handing it in for someone else to use. There is always someone in your area that can use it. You can find out more about recycling your products Here

Whilst the restrictions carry on I will continue with my Content Writing and Editing work. I am so lucky that I enjoy doing it. Photography is my passion. For the time being I am pleased enough with taking photographs in our garden, snapping images of things in the house, pointing and shooting my beloved Nikon at my Labradors, I think they feel like fashion models. Although my husband’s Harley is a great bike for taking photos of. Today was a grand day. I sat at my desk in front of my computer, did work on a newsletter. Then took some photos of a little visitor out our back garden. I’m sure he will be a regular visitor. A beautiful little Robin.


Robin sits on our back fence

More writing and less riding

As the days are getting shorter, temperature is dropping and the amount of ideal biking days for someone like me are few and far between. I find myself having more time to sit by our beautiful open fire and being grateful that I can reflect on events over the last few months. And hopefully look forward to what the world has in store for us all as the shortest day of the year will soon be here and then the days get longer, we have a vaccine thats getting rolled out for Covid. Since April I have only been out of the house for essential visits, such as the hospital. In total, I have been out of the house a total of 9 times since April. When the restrictions were relaxed I went out with with hubby and some friends from The Dunedin Chapter, under strict social distance for a Harley-Davidson® bike ride. At the beginning of September I took the position of Editor with The Dunedin Chapter, I so enjoy writing about the motorcycles, events, editing members articles, etc. Despite the fact I love being on the Harley-Davidson® I have got to admit I have benefited from having quiet time, time for me and certainly endured More writing and less riding.

The last few months have been fairly stressful health wise. Lavita – my gastrostomy tube has been playing up. I was in utter agony with my last change. The lump on my shoulder is giving me some grief and the pain in my humerus at times is unbearable. I remember 24 years ago I was at nuclear medicine with my Dad, he wasn’t feeling well at all, and he the pain he had was eleven out of ten. The consultant said to him I can clearly see you are in a lot of pain, however you are not complaining. My Dad said to him, I just close my eyes and take myself on a journey, close out the world and try and dream it all away. It doesn’t take it all away but it helps, my Dad told him. I took this with me that day. On the days I feel I can no longer cope, I think of my Dad and his journey.

While I am on my mind journey I can relax, take time to myself. I can think about what may be in the spring. Hoping to get out on our Harley. Have the boards put on the back for my little feet for comfort for those longer rides. Get the Nikon out and take some photos of our beautiful country. As usual the medics have been looking after me; appointments that cannot be met in person have been on the telephone or video call. So I am fairly confident as and when the weather breaks and getting out and about restriction levels allow us to travel around safely I will be able to ride pillion with my hubby.

The one benefit of being at home is I have been able to write a lot more. I find pleasure in writing for myself and other companies and organisations. Working as Editor for The Dunedin Chapter Scotland HOG® #9083 I have just completed my first quarterly Newsletter. I have been humbled at the amount of caring messages from members. Lovely emails and texts saying what a great Newsletter, so kind. Working on Newsletter was hard work, working to deadlines, fitting around others, editing folks work; taking out some parts that I know they would really want in but know that I was tight for space – all in a days work for the Editor. Yes there was lots to do, it took many hours, a lot of the time it was at an hour I haven’t been used to tapping my fingers on the keyboard on my beloved Apple. However when its a subject you are passionate about, the folks sending in articles are lovely and most importantly the team you are working alongside are supportive. It makes me feel proud to be party of a warm and friendly happy Harley Family.

On The Fatboy Aviemore, Scotland TITG® Mass Ride

The Essential District Nurse

Four years ago my house felt somewhat invaded with nursing staff in dark blue uniforms. Very competently carrying out essential duties. Strangers in my home fuelling me with anguish and fear. They came in every other day, assisted with my NG tube and did anything else I required. It took a while before I realised I really did benefit from my essential district nurse.

Four months in, and things were going amazing. I began to realise how much I need them. How valuable they are, not only in the physical nursing department, they are here emotionally and for my family too. The team look after me very well, if I have any sign of “going down hill” they are on the phone to dr or hospital in a flash. As was planned with my treatment plan, I went into hospital had surgery and had a gastrostomy tube fitted.

Five days later I had sepsis, spent 12 weeks in hospital. When I got home, everything was very difficult, and my goodness I was so grateful for the team of district nurses. Evelyn was the one that came the most. My skin on my tummy was red raw, I could hardly walk; to be honest everything felt like a mission. The once strangers dressed in blue had become my saviour. Nothing and I mean nothing was too much trouble. A rutland trolley was brought in to help me walk, my bed was fitted for a mattress elevator, and so much more. My tummy was awful, it bled, the skin kept falling off the dressings were soaked. No sooner were they on and they were drenched. I could see a determination in Evelyn’s eye, we are going to sort this out, she said to me. I so wanted to believe her. I was covered in dressings and looked like I had been shot. Every time the acids leaked out of the hole in my tummy and ran over the lacerations on my skin the pain was so intense. When she came in I was bent over almost falling to my knees trying to get back on to the sofa.

My nurse that became a dog with a bone didn’t stop until she got things ‘right’ for me. The correct barrier, a change in creams, additional creams and a new different dressing. All this every time they are in and what a difference.

For most folks that read my posts they will know I have two labradors, Buddy and Bella. Buddy is my special boy and Bella his wife. They love the nurses visits. As soon as the orange folder was laid out, on best behaviour both labs patiently waited for a nurse to arrive. They will sit perfectly while I get treated by the nurses. Once everything has been completed my baby labradors sit politely and get a dog treat. How happy they are. Tails wagging frantically.

December 2nd 2020 was a sad day in our household. Our ‘dog with a bone’ nurse retired. Evelyn has made a huge impression on us. She has more than helped me and always a willing ear, getting through my sepsis was one of the hardest things I have had to conquer in my life she helped me all the way. From my husband to my granddaughter, she gave them the time of day, listened and spoke to them. Very often it was just at a time when they needed it most. This lovely nurse is now moving on to a time in her life when she should take some time selflessly for herself. Fingers crossed COVID restrictions will get better and she can get out and do all those wonderful things I wish for her in retirement.

I know I am in good hands with the team she lead, the strangers in blue who have now became familiar ‘welcome visitors’ attending to my needs. Taking care of me and my gastrostomy, Lavita, administering my injections, doing my dressings, etc.


These hardworking nurses make a difference to my life. They brighten up my day, make me feel safe and secure. I trust them. If you are thinking of going into nursing or are in healthcare or nursing and thinking of working in the community, in particular going into district nursing. I can tell you how valuable and needed you would be. Walking into someone’s house for the first time isn’t always easy, just like when I had the insecurities of the first visits. A couple of visits in and it all gets so much easier. We are all scared of the unknown. That once stranger who enters my home helps alleviate any fear, and deals with more than you know.

Thankful for my smartphone

As we approach the latter months of the year I have become more and more grateful for technology. In particular my Apple laptop, smartphone and iPad. Whether, it has been a FaceTime GP call, a hospital appointment or a chat with a family member, my iPhone has been invaluable. When the lump on my shoulder caused my home nurse concern, first a photo taken from my phone, emailed to my GP, then a FaceTime call so she could see it, then decided it did warrant a GP visit and examination. Fabulous camera on the phone, such great photos you get from it. I’m so Thankful for my smartphone

I have my smartphone linked to my MacBook and my iPad. When I take a photo or put an entry in the diary on the phone it goes into both the laptop and the iPad too. I love to take photographs. Photography is a great passion of mine. One of the most relaxing activities for me is to pull out my Nikon camera and shoot some images. However, if I am standing at the back of the house watching my beautiful 4 year old granddaughter and our labradors taking my phone out of my pocket at an opportune moment to capture a memory. This week is my octreotide treatment week, belt and braces, it’s in the diary in my phone; alarm set on on phone to go off 40 minutes before my nurse is due, so I can take it out of the fridge. It’s much easier to administer and more comfortable if it’s not too cold. Nothing worse than a freezing cold substance going into your hip area. I don’t have much fat or muscle on me as it is. My make up is pretty bony now and the thick needles are getting kinda sore as they go in. But what I have to remember is no pain no gain. If it wasn’t for these injections I probably wouldn’t be here today. They reduce the rate of bowel motions incredibly, I no longer look like a Ribena kid all day long and its pretty well proven they slow down the growth of net cancer. All in all bloody good job I would say. And most certainly worth the pain in the ass they give you.


Buddy and Bella with Alexandra

Since the middle of March life has became very different. The arrival of Covid-19. Lockdown, restrictions to the way we live, finding a new normal. For the time being at least.

I use my phone and iPad to have chats with my family and friends. Not only your traditional blether but the most fabulous video calls. We laugh, sing, play games; a telephone call has never been so much fun. On my laptop and iPad I keep in touch with friends from my cancer support group, TAECT we have general chats, quiz days, information talks. I also keep in touch with my motorcycle friends at The Dunedin Chapter. To take part in quizzes, talks, chats, etc we use Zoom

Technology has been my lifeline over the last seven months. I haven’t had many visitors. I have only visited my dad on two occasions since March. Going out of my front door doesn’t happen very often and seeing people in the flesh is something of a novelty at the moment. Ive taken to talking to anything that looks interested and stands still long enough to listen; for instance yesterday morning I was sitting on the sofa wrestling with my slippers, the table lamp to my left was my conversation buddy, mind you I got the right kind of answers, I guess he agreed with me, I got a silent reply I took this as an acknowledgement of approval.

My other method of keeping in touch with family and friends is social media platforms. Linkden Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the ones I use. Fabulous for keeping in touch, sharing information, posting articles, photos, etc. I use the messenger to chat. I also use WhatsApp. A good way of communicating with chums. We share stories, snaps, etc. A great way of cheering each other up especially when the mood is low.

Whilst my technology is great for communication and keeping me in touch with the outside world whilst I am shielding. The laptop, iPad and phone also have been used in more than I thought they would be.

During these difficult times many banks have closed their doors. Leaving many of us to online bank more than we used to. Me, I have banked online for what feels like a lifetime. My health before covid forced me to make changes, so I guess I have found it fairly easy to adapt. I use my laptop, iPad and smartphone to bank. However, I have to admit the app on the smartphone for the Natwest Bank https://personal.natwest.com/personal.html is so easy and convenient to use.

I use my Phone to order shopping, order my prescriptions from the GP, order the feed needed for the month from Nutricia to keep me going with through the gastrostomy tube.

Checking emails and going online is so easy with my smartphone. One click and Im there. Its so easy to download apps. https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/app-store/ There are so many different apps, something for everyone, from games to weather. Have a look, and give something new a try. It really does brighten your day.

When I first got a mobile telephone it was for work, it was to answer calls and check up on how MY patients were doing. That feels like another lifetime ago. Now I use my smartphone as a tool, to go on the internet, check my emails, send messages, take photographs, occasionally let my granddaughter play a game, oh and of course make a telephone call.

Sponsoring a hearing dog

A couple of years ago when my granddaughter then 2 had her first playdate at our house with my very close friend, Danielle’s daughter, Ella both girls played and had fun like all toddlers do. However as young as Alexandra was at the time she was caring and compassionate enough to notice that Ella was different from her. Ella is deaf, she has cochlear implants. Little did I know this first playdate would lead to us Sponsoring a hearing dog.

The girls at that young age played in the sitting room with toys and formed a bond. Two years later they are running up and down my hall laughing and shouting with dolls in their hands. When Ella left with her mum and dad Alexandra asked me about Danielle and us being friends. I told her we have been friends for a very long time, and told her you look after each other no matter what when you are good friends. I told her Danielle sends me messages and phones me to ask how I am. She visits. We all have fun, and now brings Ella to come see her. We spoke about Ella’s deafness, she said it must be horrible not being able to hear everything all the time Granny I am so sad for her. I told her not to be sad and look at how happy Ella is with her family and when she plays at ours. I think this helped.

It was raining on a Saturday afternoon and Alexandra was visiting with her Dad. She likes to be like Granny and type a story on the laptop. I had been on social media just prior to her going to use my laptop. She takes a seat beside me, she patiently waits till I close my pages. On the timeline of my facebook page there was an advertisement for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Oh look Granny, a Labrador like yours, but its black, says Alexandra. This stops me in my tracks. I look at what she is noticing. I close the page and let her type away.


Alexandra checks the new puppy over


Later that evening I go on the site Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and sponsor the black Labrador Winnie. This money will go towards training the puppy and will help change a deaf person’s life.

The Box of Gifts for Sponsorship



Ella and Alexandra


Alexandra & Ella


Ella & Alexandra ready to go in the garden


Alexandra now has a beautiful little cuddly pup with the familiar maroon jacket on. As soon as she opened the box she looked at all the paperwork quickly, lovely photos Granny. She quickly takes out the cuddly dog, runs along the hall and comes back with a stethoscope we need to check this puppy over. She loves the idea of having a notebook book and pen, so like my Mother. The certificate and postcards are brilliant. Alexandra has already looked up the website and seen other photos of Winnie and progression videos, her out walking, etc. It’s fantastic. Helping the charity, putting a good dog to work and most importantly helping someone who needs it – match them up with a dog and giving them valuable lifelines at times, for example Winnie will alert her new owner if the smoke alarm is going off, if there is a sound coming from the baby monitor.


Alexandra in her scrubs


Puppy gets his jags

I know how much I value my labradors. My lad, Buddy knows when my cancer is misbehaving. When my blood sugar has dropped too low. If my heart rate is wonky. Carries my feed items. Bella the companion Labrador, she is a treat to have, carries clothes to washing machine. Carries items along our 40 foot hall. Some days it can be a long walk for me.

If you have ever thought about sponsoring a dog I can highly recommend it. As someone who depends on a dog I know how valuable they are. I also live with a hubby that has issues with his eyes. He has had 10 surgeries to his eyes for detachment to his retina. He really is extraordinary. He pushes himself. Tries hard, still works, has a wonderful vision in life.

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.

 

  • Scales on white background. Isolated 3D image

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 💕💕