Memorable month of March

We are only half way into the month of March and already it has been filled with emotion. Despite feeling very unwell, burst balloon in my gastrostomy tube, more district nurse visits than normal at home; I have spent time with all 4 of my siblings, we have pulled together and gave the love back that was showered upon us as we grew up. February was difficult and March became emotional, in this year 2021 I certainly will not forget this month, with so many memories – most definitely a memorable month of March.

Just a few weeks ago my Daddy Bear admitted he wasn’t feeling too good. Mid February, we brought a bed downstairs and the GP came to his home to see him. My sister, Hazel and I were there. The news from the GP wasn’t good and Dad didn’t have long; she reckoned a couple of weeks. The GP arranged for the District Nurses to come in to Dad. They would visit every morning and then assess how often the visits on top. As one of five we arranged a timetable so Dad need never be alone. He had constant care. The team of district nurses were fabulous, their care second to none. The support they offered was outstanding, they brought endless supplies. Our uncomplaining Father they said was a privilege to care for. They also commented on what a superb system we had in place for looking after ‘our Bertie’

The service from the NHS we can not fault. The District nurse thought it would be a good idea to get a hospital bed for Dad, he would be more comfortable on an air Mattress and it would be easier and safer to attend to him with adjustable height and the ability to raise his head, etc. Nurse Wendy telephoned for the bed at 11am, it got delivered at 2pm that day, and the nurses came at 2.20pm to transfer Dad from his own bed to the hospital bed at home. Service with a smile.

When I was home and getting treated by my district nurse, she asked how I was and how I was coping – we had a good chat. In the conversation I mentioned where my Dad lived and the area the District Nurses covered. My nurse knew the nurses personally. She had worked with them and commended their great work, she told me my Pops was in excellent hands and they would take great care of him. And that they certainly did.

The district nurses, Mari and Wendy asked if we would like extra nursing help. This came in the way of Marie curie Nurses. They were amazing. Came in twice a day to care after Dad. Nothing was too much trouble for the delightful angels that came to assist with Dad’s care. However, they not only looked after our Father, it was very apparent they were there for us too.

Knowing Dad didn’t have long left on earth I wanted to treasure every moment I could with him. With my health I’m not normally up and ready to go first thing in the morning. And during current restrictions I have been home and not seeing anyone. However, this situation put a different light on things and gave me an inner strength. I would get up in the morning, take off my night feed, get into the Wetroom and get myself ready to go to see my Dad. Getting washed is one of the most essential exhausting activities for me. Turning on the shower, getting washed, sitting on my stool, looking down at my bright red flushed feet. Getting washed exhausts me and brings on a carcinoid syndrome flush. Right from the tip of my feet, all the way up my legs, over my trunk, up my neck, leaving me with a bright red face. My heart thumping; I can hear it banging in my ears. I lie on the floor till it calms down. Meanwhile my skin begins to dry. I climb up on the stool and get myself dressed. Put on my creams, including my Dundee cream. I go to the sitting room where hubby, Steve has done all my meds. Take them for the morning. Put on my feed. Sit for a rest to get some energy built up. And then all set to go to spend some time with my amazing Dad. My brother Albert will be there in the morning too to meet up with the nurses along with me.

We only got just over one week to care for Dad. It was the most precious time and a privilege to be part of. I thank the lord for blessing me with enough stamina to go to the folks; our family home, and be with Dad in his last days. The love I have for my parents pushed me to go on. After the love, security and safe feeling my parents surrounded me with I would give them it back ten fold.

The love and dependability my parents gave me always made me feel safe at home. This is something I have always strived for. To make sure my children feel safe and secure and that they can always come home. After Dad passed away these words struck a heart string or two:

Sometimes I feel lost

You too?

Remember I love you, and

Love brings you home

Who was our Dad? He was a caring, loving and kind Dad, husband, Grandad, Great Grandad, brother and uncle. He would give us kids his last. For Dad his family is everything. He taught us well, brought us up grand and fair. He worked very hard and built up his own business. We always had a car and we were the first folk in the street to have a tv. Mum was the love of Dads life, they loved to travel and enjoyed many trips abroad, including their beloved Germany, especially the Rhineland. They loved to take trips in the car , taking the grandkids out on adventures. When Mum died Dad gave up driving, he said he no longer had a co pilot to go out on journeys with him. Dad never got over Mum’s death, like me he just learned to live with it. Our folks not only provided a loving secure home for us five, but offered our children, and their children a place to come whenever they needed. They welcomed our friends, Mum chatted to them, offering a sympathetic ear and Dad could be found in the kitchen making a sandwich or ten. When it came to parents I reckon we hit the jackpot.

Dad picking plums at mine

It is going to take me some time to as they say get my mojo back. When alone I find myself thinking of something that reminds me of my very happy childhood, or the assistance as I went to university, having my children, moving home, going into hospital, getting treatment, need I go on… and I am reminded of all the happy times I have had with my folks and then the sudden realisation that this will never happen again. My heart sinks and I am filled with dreaded fear. I have to believe that my folks are at peace, I was well and truly loved and so very privileged to call Helen and Albert my parents.

If I feel upset I am not afraid to cry.

Tears fall for

a reason and

They are

Your

Strength

Not

Weakness

My Mum & Dad at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow

The folks in the hot tub

Mum and Dad’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Helen, Albert, Hazel

Brian, Dad, Mum, Me

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 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.