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

A visit to cardiology: how low is too low?

Since my recent hospital admission the chest niggles I have been experiencing over the last couple of years have been somewhat more problematic.    So an outpatient appointment with the lovely Dr Denvir at The Western General on Wednesday afternoon was arranged.  Steve accompanied me, even though it was a hospital visit, as usual it was lovely to spend time just the two of us.

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Got there with 10 minutes to spare – time for a quick pee, a plenty of time left over for walking to the clinic, getting checked in and taking seat in the not too crowded waiting room.  No sooner was my bum on the seat and my name shouted.  Weight, blood pressure and ECG all done before I saw the doctor. I took a seat back beside Steve and expected to wait quite a while.

Less than 10 minutes later Dr Denvir called on me.  Steve and I entered his consultation room.  He was wonderful gave us plenty of time to talk and ask questions, he explained everything in detail.  We discussed in depth the pain I get in my chest, how often, how I feel, etc.  I was telling him how at times the weight on my chest feels so heavy, other times the pain is worse, and my mouth gets very dry and then the saliva runs down my gums, I need to sit on the floor and wait on the pain passing. I feel very breathless.  It can take 15 minutes to go away.  He listened to my heart, had one of those poker faces – he didn’t have any kind of expression that would shout out something instantly to you,  and he did not make any sounds; no umming or ahhing, while he was examining me.  There was no guessing.   In a way it was reassuring.  He made me feel at ease.   He rolled up my trouser legs and said my your feet are very cold.

Steve told him I wear an apple watch, and told him about the heart app.  And asked how low should your heart rate go down to.  Dr Denvir asked why.  Steve told him I wasn’t looking too good so we looked at my watch to see what my heart rate was sitting at.  My heart rate was 18 beats per minute.  He looked at us,  well gadgets such as apple watches aren’t always exactly accurate, however that is low.  He went on to say,  they are sometimes 3 or 4 units out.

After our lengthy discussion, Dr Denvir has decided the best plan of action if for me to use a GTN spray when I get the pain.  He also sent me for an echocardiogram that day.  I got my heart scan on the Wednesday, so he could see what was going on.  He says that he believes that the problems are coming from my carcinoid syndrome.  He wants to see me  in 4 months, however if I feel worse before then give his secretary a phone and he will see me sooner.

As we were walking to the car,  I said to Steve he was very thorough and very nice; I like him, Yes, Steve said to me, but he didn’t say what was too low for a heart rate for normal. 

A trip to Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary

Saturday evening I’m lying on my favourite sofa propped up by a mountains of cushions all set to have a quiet evening with the love of my life.  It’s 8pm and I turn and look at Steve, don’t feel too good, I say.  I can feel my tummy erupting like a volcano, gurgling and burbling .  I slowly ease myself of the sofa and head to the bathroom.  MADE IT JUST IN TIME.  Boy it wasn’t pleasant, I know no-one passes perfume, but the aroma was the stench of the septic tank when the pipe was ran over by the farmer and it leaked into the back field, believe me that day wasn’t pleasant either.  Although it was minus the tummy pain and all that came my way over the coming week.

From 8pm till 10pm the running to the loo got more frequent, yes my lanreotide is half way through, and I get diarrhoea, but it hasn’t been this bad for a long time.  I was exhausted.  I dropped off to sleep.  An hour or so later I woke up, feeling freezing, the pain in my tummy so bad I felt I couldn’t move.  I remember whimpering like a baby, and thinking to myself get a grip woman.  I just couldn’t.  I looked over at Steve.  He said While you were sleeping I had to run to the loo too, we both must have a bug.  I managed to get myself to the bathroom again, it was fleeing out.  oh no, here comes the sickness.  The first thing I could grab was granddaughter, Alexandra’s Potty.  I opened my mouth, no effort; out came the most horrendous vile and obscene volume of brown sickness.  Once it started I could not stop.  I began to sweat.  The next thing I remember Steve picking me up in the hall, all I had on by this time was pants and a cami vest.    Back on the sofa at last.  I felt safe.  I had the potty by my side.  Thank goodness it has a lid.  My head is banging, pain in my stomach, thumping in my chest; palpations like I have never had before.  I drifted back to sleep.

I suddenly wake, Its roughly 2am.  I have this crushing pain in my chest.  Feel like Im going to suffocate.  The pain moves to my shoulder.  To be honest, I don’t know if its two seconds, two minutes or ten minutes later.  All I know is I’ve never had pain like it and its frightening and very very lonely.  I thought I was going to meet my Maker. I lay quiet and let it pass.  My tummy was so sore, fortunately I had a pad on, one less thing to worry about than waking up on the toilet floor and poor Steve trying to deal with that too.

Before I know it its 7am.  I say to Steve, You need to call a Doctor, I really don’t feel well.  Steve called 111, spoke to the advisors, they decided the paramedics needed to come.  The ambulance came quickly.  The paramedics were super.  I can’t remember too much about them, but what I can and what Steve tells me, they were kind, caring, super efficient and very professional.  The one thing I do remember is I felt in so much pain and so sick I couldn’t hold the gas in air to my mouth, the paramedic  gently placed it and held my hand and told me I could press the button to release the gas for pain relief.

 

 

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I believe A & E was busy but with being brought in by ambulance in total agony, having a temperature on 40.9, having low blood sugar, I was very irritable and confused and that was all before routine blood tests,  I got treated and seen right away in immediate care.

For me the day came and went, my voice was Steve.  They took blood.  I had elevated white cell count, elevated neutrophils, high troponin, low potassium, low magnesium, abnormal ECG.  I needed to be admitted to a ward and to a room of my own.   Within minutes of the results the bags of potassium and magnesium were intravenously going into me.  A nice big dose of IV morphine to keep the pain at bay, an intramuscular injection for sickness.  An IV dose of hydrocortisone steroid replacement.  With ECGs every 3 hours.    They got me settled in a bed and ready for transfer to a single room.  Steve drove home for some personal things for me and came back, he is such a support, he goes that extra mile for me all the time; what a star.  He is my shining light.  When I woke up and he wasn’t there what an empty feeling I had inside me, then I just closed my eyes thought about him and once again it felt like we were together.

The staff had a lot to do to get me comfortable, once I was all settled in a bed at the Medical assessment ward, they got me moved to the appropriate ward.  I was moved to ward 207.  Where they were prepared for me, had my single room sorted and its a ward that is used to patients with artificial feeding which is great.  207 is Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s busiest ward.  I spent one whole week in the ward.  My next blog post will be my weeks experience.

 

First Steps To Writing A Care Plan

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I had an appointment at the Western General Hospital with a consultant I have never seen before.  The Team she is with is The PACT Team.  This is Patient Experience and Anticipatory Care Plan Team.  The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss my health problems and for the consultant to take notes and later write up a care plan which can be accessed by A & E staff and out of ours doctors, to better understand my health problems and my preferences.  Once the plan is written up a copy will be sent to my consultants, my GP and myself.

 

It was rather a daunting experience, chatting about any possible imminent admission to hospital.  The consultant was lovely, and she explained everything.  It gave me every opportunity to talk and ask questions.   We discussed what brings me into hospital and what is best for me and what staff would benefit from knowing.   She asked me some very personal questions and I gave her truthful answers.  It was easy to chat to her, she was kind and caring.  She turned the computer screen round so I could see what was type written about me.  There it was in black and white: various medical conditions that affect every day life.  Just for a moment it was once again like hitting that brick wall.  I looked at the screen the words were a blur.   Seconds later we were chatting…………

 

Do I think I will benefit from the care plan?  Hell, Yes!!  The Doc took note of all the problems; e.g. carcinoid syndrome, profound hypoglycaemia, labile blood pressure,  gastrostomy feed tube (leaks), poor co-ordination, photosensitivity, hydrocortisone replacement therapy, lanreotide injections every 21 days etc. etc, etc.  And she made a note of what staff need to have available for me.   Fingers crossed Im not in anytime soon.

 

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.

Well I’ve Done It: I’m 50 :)

Well today its my birthday.  I am half a century – the big 50.  Many folk hide their age, dread being fifty and pretend their younger than they are.  Me, I’m happy to be here.  I feel privileged to say I have hit such a milestone.  My fortieth decade was a mixed one.  There was many happy events, lots of love and laughter which keeps me going.  However, I  also had to face a few difficult life challenging times which were so difficult.

 

Steve & Me
Happy to get up the castle

 

 

I had many occasions to have cause for celebration.  Both my sons attended university in this decade furthered their education.  Our delightful labradors, Buddy and Bella  came into our lives; the unconditional love they give is amazing, I really can’t imagine my life without the hairy beasties.  We delivered a litter of puppies from them, and have kept in touch with puppies and owners.  Now made some lovely friends.  Some wonderful children have been born in the last ten years who are really close to my heart.  There have been a few very happy weddings.  I have mad many new friends.  Need I go on.   Life is precious and for living, it is all too easy to get bogged down with our problems.  On a personal level Steve and I are as much in love as we were when we were teenagers.  I believe this is my weapon – Love.  

The one thing I am certain is in the last ten years I felt loved.  The first five years were very difficult, I suddenly lost 3 stone in weight, felt very ill, and no-one seemed to know why was wrong with me.  It took a while to get my health situation sorted out, but with the love of Steve, the boys and my parents I felt secure.   I’ve had a few hairy moments been in hospital with septicaemia for 7 weeks, and boy was that scary.  Now got my gastrostomy tube fitted.  Life isn’t always easy with a stoma.  Ive been admitted with several infections.  However, its much better than it was,  I have a fantastic medical team and nurses that come to the house which is fantastic.  And I’m still here to tell the tale and thats whats important.

The second half of my forties were slightly more challenging than the first emotionally.  Amongst other things:  A very close uncle died, my youngest son had extensive brain surgery, my Mum died, my eldest son had meningitis, hubby had eye surgery for detached retina.  But you know what we got through it all.  The boys are doing well.  Steve still has problems, and only had surgery last week again, but the brave bugger is dealing with it the only way he knows – full of courage – like a lion.  It will be three years on the 9th August that Mum passed.  I miss her every day.  We had one of those relationships that we spoke or text every day.  Mum wouldn’t want me moping around.  She was a great character, a beautiful woman that I looked up to and admired.

One day in the consulting room at the hospital my professor handed me a card.  It was for the NET Tumour Support Group that I now meet regularly with.  .  We have all became great friends.  Sadly, one of the friends that I was very fond of passed away last year.  However, I would rather have  spent time with her, laughed, cried, etc, even for one year and then felt the pain of her loss than not have met her at all.   we all meet regularly every month and have a great time.  Its not doom and gloom, we meet at each others house or in the pub.  Partners, friends, carers go too.  You can have a look at the charity’s website to see what work they do:  www.taect.scot  I’m looking forward to helping organise the tea party in Pencaitland in November for NET Cancer Day.

I’ve had cards delivered for my 50th birthday.  Including cards from friends in the Net group which is lovely.  One of my friends in the group, Barbara was very thoughtful, because my eating is restricted, she made me a flower birthday cake.  I could have cried, its so beautiful.

Looking forward to spending my 50’s  with Steve.  Doing what I enjoy.  Taking photos,  writing, cuddling my labs, crafting, etc.  My big aim is to get back into baking and cooking, just because I’m not eating as I did doesn’t mean I should stop what I love.  I got a beautiful mixer last year and boy is it going to get its ass worked off now that I have got over that hurdle.    Have a great weekend guys.  After Ive finished my treatment today My hubby is taking me to The Edinburgh Festival tonight and tomorrow night.  Tonight its Craig Hill, tomorrow its Nina Conti

 

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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.

 

Our Support Group Has A New Website

When a patient with carcinoid syndrome, Ann Edgar and Endocrine Consultant, Professor Park Strachan,  got their heads together a very much needed charity was set up in Scotland:  The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.

The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust (TAECT) is Scotland’s only dedicated charity to help and support those affected with neuroendocrine cancer and tumours and carcinoid syndrome.  It’s other main aims are to educate and promote awareness.

The South east of Scotland already has a wonderful support network set up.  We regularly meet on the 10th of each month.  We try to have a variety of meetings to cater for all walks of life and age.  Sometimes it’s lunch at Lauriston Farm, or a quiet drink at a bar in Edinburgh.  We have all met at a fellow patients house for afternoon tea and enjoyed lovely sandwiches and cakes.  June is a craft fair with home baking to which general public can attend, and July we are going to a garden party at Barbara and Alister’s house.  Looking forward to the home baking and beautiful gardens as well as seeing the lovely friends I have made.  It’s certainly not doom and gloom, the room is always filled with laughter.

Steve and I attend the meetings regularly and look forward to going to them.  We have genuinely made some lovely friends.  It’s good to be able to say you actually enjoy the company of the others, I have missed some due to being in hospital with this damn infection.  I can honestly say there isn’t anyone that wallows in self pity or looks for sympathy.  We are a mixed bunch with lots of stories to tell.  There is always someone willing to offer some advice without being pretentious.

Yesterday 26 May 2016 a brand new website was launched.  And I think it looks pretty cool. All comments are welcome.
You can see the website at http://www.taect.scot

Please have a surf, the site has useful information and I would love to know what you think of it.

 

A Trip To Royal Free In London in April

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.

 

The Light Experience

Sunday 13th March , we are driving in familiar territory.  Steve is in the driving seat on the Audi TT, the roof is down and we are crossing the firth of forth with the wind in our hair. The familiar smell of the sea breeze.  I so love the convertible, I merely tilt my head and I can see the clouds roll in that stormy Scottish sky, no need to put down the window or take a break and get out of the car for a breath of fresh air.  We have the Bose sound system on at warp factor.  Steve and I singing all the familiar songs that come on at random at the top of our voices.  got to say all our friends will vouch for Steve and say he is a far better singer than I am.  This is not only a routine drive of recent.  I went to university in Dundee and Steve picked me up 31 years ago on the motorbike and we drove the exact same route.  I’m sure I listened to the same music and tilted my head and gazed at the clouds and made pictures and stories just as I did this Sunday.

The two hour drive  saw us entering the familiar surroundings of  Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.  I’m up here this time for a three night stay.  I will be attending the photobiology department for tests and treatment.  All part of the ongoing treatment for my photosensitivity. Just arrive in the ward and a smiling face at the reception desk peeks over the pc monitor. Hello Sweetheart, How was the drive up? Beds all ready for you, we will get you round, get you settled and then get the doc in to clerk you in.  She comes round from behind the desk and sees me to my bed.  Its so nice not having to explain who you are, the nurse recognises you from the last time you were in the ward.   I meet my fellow patients in the room, I am in a room of 6 of us. in my days in  we talk, share stories, I will do a separate posting on ‘life on the ward’  Steve makes sure I’m all settled in.  Makes sure all my clothes and pjs are in my locker.  My pump is up on my table and all my feed and giving sets are organised.  Steve disappears for 10 minutes, says he has to go to the shop for a sandwich.  He comes back with a book for me to read.  He knows I have my kindle to read, but he also knows how much I love to read a book, especially a new book, I’m a new book freak, I cant help but  sniff the inside of the book, the smell of it is something I will remember from my childhood and will always love.   I gave my lovely hubby a hug, walked with him to  the private reception area and had a quick snog.  Steve left to go home to Buddy and Bella.  I went to lie on my bed.  That night I got a visit from our friend, Susan.  That visit most certainly needs a posting of its own. By the end of the visiting it was time to sleep. Early start in the morning.

Its first thing Monday morning and time to go to photobiology.  The porter wheels me to the department and parks me in the waiting area.  I’m sitting there daydreaming, perhaps been there for all of 4 or 5 minutes when I feel the chair move and I hear a familiar voice talking at my rear.  Its Dr Sally Ibittson.  Sally is immaculate, such a beautiful, perfect lady.  She makes you feel at ease and talks to you not AT YOU or DOWN TO YOU.  She always makes sure you fully understand everything and usually runs late, since she gives everyone the time she feels they deserve.  Sally starts to wheel me through the busy waiting area, quite a challenge, she kept apologising and asking if I was ok, which I was.  We got to the consultation room.  We discussed how things had been, my current meds, and where we think things should be going.  It was decided we would do the same provocation test as last time, and do a few testing areas on the back.  If all goes well we will try a short burst in the photo therapy light machine, if all ok, we will get it arranged for a machine to get sent to our home for a period of time home treatment.    First things first the provocation test and some other lighting and mapping.  Sally wheeled me through from the consultation room to the treatment area.

As I arrived at the treatment/testing department Andrea the senior technician was standing in the hallway, Cup of tea, before you start young lady? don’t want your blood sugars dropping   She didn’t even have to ask how I take my tea, what a memory.  My eating habits have changed since last being in photobiology.  I have had Lavita fitted.  I can have half a cup of tea.  but I had to bolus 300 mls of feed down Lavita  rather than have a couple of sandwiches.  a wee tad more awkward fiddling around with syringes and flushing my tube with sterile water, but the wonderful staff make it all ever so easy and nothing ever seems like too much trouble.

Chat over, cup of tea drank, bolus feed in.  Body fully refuelled.  Ready for action.  Mr friendly technician hands me my gown.  knowing full well it will take me longer than the average human to put it on.  Me and co-ordination aren’t the best of friends.  As long as I take my time, I get there,  Steve said he has never seen anyone making such a meal of trying to get from a tshirt to a gown.  Once ive got the gown on the next challenge is trying to get on the chair.  Its a tall stool like chair.  For a 5 foot 2 inch person like me it feels like climbing a mountain.  Once I’m on the chair, its fine, its just getting up to the dizzy heights.  Although when I am on the chair my legs aren’t long enough to touch the ground, so my legs are left swinging back and forth.  The doctors come in and decide exactly where they want the machines to be lined up and for how long.  The provocation is to be on my wrist and various others on my back .  When you are getting these tests done, you need to sit or lie incredibly still.  It can also get quite hot, depending on where you are getting it done and for how long. The staff are fantastic and blether away whilst the testing is going on.  They do their best to make sure I’m comfortable at all times.  The provocation test came back positive fairly quickly .  By the afternoon the skin was inflamed, hot and slightly broken,  The doctor got the technician to take photographs of the wrist.  They also noted the results of the mapping on my back. The provocation test timing has been halved.  And the strength was reduced.  This test gets warm, every part of my arm with the exception of a square patch gets covered with towels,and  a special board,  I wear a pair of special specs to protect my eyes.

I need taken back to the ward from photobiology – it’s s fair wheel to the ward and I can’t do it on my own.  One of the technicians carefully steers me along the long corridors , up the lift. Gives us the chance to talk about today’s events.  And  the opportunity to chat about life in general.   The technicians are fantastic with me and build up a trustworthy bond.  It makes it easier for each time you go.  It can be a lonely scary place, even if you are only getting light treatment.  Having a familiar face in the staff makes me feel at ease.  The technician specialist that wheeled me up to the ward stopped at the nurses station and asked to speak to the nurse in charge.  I would like you to dress Elizabeth’s peg site and if you can, please could you either contact GI or a peg specialist nurse and get them to come and have a look at the site and advise on barrier creams, steroid creams and dressings.  They of course did refer me immediately and within an hour a nurse specialist was at my bedside.
Tuesday morning, up bright and early and away to the photobiology.  Wrestled with the gown, clambered on the chair and the docs have came in to see what’s what.  The results have shown that the photo sensitivity has definitely increased.  Sally has come armed with quite a few other doctors today.  We all discuss how I have been over the last few months.  It’s recommended I get an eight week course of phototherapy.  The doctors are concerned if I  got my treatment in hospital I would be at risk of catching an infection.  So I am getting a phototherapy machine delivered to the house.  It’s a fairly large machine.  Just over 6 foot tall and opens out to roughly 5 foot wide.  I’ve got to pay for the courier delivery charge to the house from the hospital.  The nurse estimates it will be approximately £300.  I will have to get the phototherapy treatment every year.

 

Dr Sally Ibittson wants me to have an experimental dose of phototherapy.  So I go into the phototherapy suite.  It looks like there are several white Dr Who Tardis’s – the room has an icy chill to it.  I shiver.  The technician placed a blanket over  my shoulders it’s the cooling fans.  The dose is to be a patch on my inner left wrist.   Because it’s only my arm I don’t need to go in one of the cubicles.  The technician wheels me to a chair.  I sit at it and get comfortable.  The technician puts a stocking bandage over my arm from my elbow to my shoulder and one  from my wrist bone covering my hand and completely over my fingers. Then a towel is wrapped over my outer wrist.  The phototherapy machine then gets turned on for 4 and a half seconds .
Wednesday morning.  I have a meeting with the lovely Dr Sally Ibittson and my photo dianogstic specialist nurse, Susan Yule.  We discuss the benefits of getting the phototherapy at home. The risks, side effects, etc.   it’s hoped  that getting eight weeks of phototherapy will build up my skin and greatly help with the photo sensitivity.  They did admit the first year is usually a bit of a learning curve.    I’m due to have my machine end of June.  I will need two or three days of training at the hospital.  Also need to make sure we get a setting for the machine.   Susan takes me round and let’s me see a machine similar to one that will be delivered to me.  She tells me all about the machine and what to expect at home.  It gives me a really good insight into what lies ahead.

It’s a short stay for me this time,  my hubby picked me up at 1pm on the Wednesday.   As always the staff at ninewells always took fantastic care of me.