London, the city that keeps me alive more ways than one

My first memory of London; I am 11 years of age and in London with my Mum and Dad, we are passing a lamppost with ER printed on. Dad says “Biscuits look at that Elizabeth Reigns, you work hard sweetheart and you can be a boss too” My folks always gave me the encouragement and love needed to go forward in life. They helped me feel safe and secure. In 2012 I took the train with my hubby to London, this time not for a holiday but to see the expert Professor Caplin at The Royal Free. Despite needing diagnostic tests and treatment for incurable stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer and carcinoid syndrome Steve and I found time to explore new avenues. See museums, art galleries, The Tower, take in a show. One thing I am most certain of London, the city that keeps me alive more ways than one is my most favourite city.

Since 2012 I have been and continue to travel up and down the train tracks between Edinburgh and London. Had countless appointments with the Prof, attending clinics, grateful for but not particularly enjoying gallium pet scans, various treatments, glowing like the Readybrek kid, setting of alarms here there and everywhere, and many many blood samples on ice and some taken in special light conditions and immediately put in a Black bag. So tired that when I escape from the delightful cancer team we go to the West End show – We Will Rock You. A musical I have wanted to see for some time, the first half I sit, smile and sing along, the second I sleep right through, with the audience loving the show, singing at the top of their voices. The staff at the UCL Hospital and The Royal Free in London have been outstanding and for that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

The last year we have had a year of corona, crisis and challenges. But let us not forget that the breakthrough of the vaccine has allowed us to start to come out of lockdown and find some sort of normality, try our best to get back to work, start socialising and enjoy life.

Steve and I in London with the Fatboy

July 2021 we decided not to go to London tandem but to go with my sister Hazel and her husband Alan. The boys rode the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles down and Hazel and I took the train first class from Edinburgh to London Kings Cross. I have always wanted to ride pillion over Tower Bridge. As well as having a fabulous 4 days Finally got my wish. Riding over Tower Bridge was as good as I expected, it was very busy, both lanes used, cyclists going as fast as us. Beautiful red double deckers travelling along with smiling faces looking over the Thames. Black cabs going no where fast. All of us sitting in the two lanes travelling along at 10 miles per hour, superb for me as a pillion taking in the view, people watching, loving the sights. Gathering my thoughts.

We crammed in what we wanted to do, Steve and I have done lots before including The Tower, The British Museum, various parks and lots more. This trip was to be relaxing, however there were a few places we wanted to tick the boxes. Namely Ace Cafe, The Bike Shed and Warrs Harley-Davidson®

Alan and Hazel

very popular arrival at Ace Cafe

Inside Ace Cafe

A selfie at Ace Cafe

Friday morning we gathered our bearings had a doddle around on foot, enjoyed some squares such as Russell and Tavistock Square, walked through St James’s Park, had lunch at The Hard Rock Cafe, Picaddily Circus, saw some of the sights on foot and then took a taxi back to the hotel looking forward to Friday night on the bikes.

We teamed up with our Sena Communication kits and rode the Harley’s up to Ace Cafe on Friday night. Friday night is bike night. Oh boy what a fabulous evening it was. There were car park Marshalls when we arrived, 20 minutes later I could see why. The entire car park was full of bikes. I’ve got to say anyone we spoke to was so welcoming and friendly. We first off hooked up with 4 young lads with Harleys. They don’t belong any Chapter, just friends riding their bikes. Went into the cafe for a cola and a scout around the shop. Came out and if possible it was busier than before. A familiar Harley fist bump came my way from Gerry; a member of The III Rivers Chapter, there were two members together, they welcomed us into their abode; great guys. Looking out onto the road there were motorcyclists doing wheelies up and down the road, burning tyres. Revving their engines, screaming up and down. So loud, vibrant and exciting. Gosh it makes a girl’s heart fair beat. One of the highlights of the evening was the calm Great Dane in the sidecar, sitting watching all going on taking in everything. What an unforgettable night.

Saturday we took the bikes for a tour of London, did what I’ve always wanted and rode over Tower Bridge, drove through Marble Arch, passed St James Park, Covent Garden. We followed our Harley-Davidson® noses to London’s Dealership Warrs. The Dealership is fabulous, as well as great bikes, superb range of accessories and clothing, they have a museum including Evel Kineval’s bike. Not to mention their very helpful outstanding staff; Holly and Edwardo. They sponsor the HOG Chapter Chelsea and Fulham. We met a lovely Chelsea and Fulham Chapter member at Warrs : Steve. He came with us for a tourist ride round London. Then the five of us went to the amazing Bike Shed, terrific experience from start to finish. As we arrived we were shown where to park, the great think is you can ride the bikes right in and ride passed tables as folks have a drink. Undercover safe parking, so secure you can leave your helmet on the seat of your bike. The staff warmly greeted us, we were an hour early, she asked if we could be fitted in would be like an earlier table – hell yes! We toddled the dozen steps to the shop, treated ourselves to a t shirt and some patches for our cuts, had a good look round, amazing bikes. There is a barber shop too.
Our table was ready and the food did not disappoint.

As always I enjoyed my time in the big city. Our final evening after packing and getting organised we ventured round to quiet Bloomsbury for a cocktail.

Steve, Hazel and Alan at London Eye

Steve and I in St James’s Park

Warrs

Fist Bump

A comfortable place to die

As I have grown older I have came to realise that there aren’t many guarantees in life. The only certainties in life are birth,death and change. We are born, changes take place and we die. To make things more pleasant all round and something we take for granted in the United Kingdom is that we will always have somewhere to go when we are sick. Get taken care of free of charge and when the inevitable happens are granted A comfortable place to die.

When a person is faced with a terminal illness, at some point thoughts come racing in to the mind where do you want to spend the last days. People’s answers are very personal ones. For some being at home and spending every last possible moment being cared for in the family home is their wish. Others prefer to be cared for in a hospice or hospital environment. Either way, the experience I have witnessed personally the care given has always been outstanding. The nursing staff making sure in the last weeks, days and right down to moments comfort is paramount.

There is no getting away from it making a choice where you want to end your days is far from easy. There is an awful lot to consider. However even when all the pros and cons are weighed up and it’s been decided home, hospital or hospice sometimes it just doesn’t go as smooth as you would expect.

We may choose to stay at home and be cared for by your loved ones and supported by district nursing team. Most of the time it goes well and you get your wish and you can stay at home. The district nurse team and Marie curie nurses that cared for my Father in his home gave him a caring, dignified last few days. For that we cannot thank the wonderful medical team enough and will forever be in their debt. Home nursing teams work very hard looking after the patient, ordering drugs, equipment, supplies, communicating with other health professionals. We are lucky to have such good staff working on the NHS, providing us with with amazing service. They are dedicated, take care of the patient and make sure the family are coping too. At present I have the most amazing team of District Nurses that come in to my home and give me injections, service my stoma/gastrostomy tube, change dressings, etc. They also look out for my nearest and dearest.

However for some there can be a time that everything is all set up and there is a spanner in the works and you need shipped off to hospital and you no longer get the home care you so wished for. In a snap decision one of most difficult decisions of your life has been literally taken out of your hands. What we have to remember is things happen for a reason and getting sent into hospital is most likely with best intentions.

When we make a decision to end our days in a hospice it’s a choice that certainly does not come lightly. Whilst you get fabulous care and are in a safe and secure environment, it’s not home. Although hospices have a much less clinical feel than hospitals you can’t quite move your pet in. The biggest problem at the moment is the waiting time to go in. Main reason being there just isn’t enough palliative care beds to go around. It’s heartbreaking but the practicality is that we are actually waiting on someone passing away to then offer a bed. In the UK we get used to getting our health care and this includes all our cancer treatments free of charge. All us human beans in UK take our health care for granted; go to the doctor and don’t think about the cost. Many people think more about putting money away vet bills for our pets or saving for a holiday than donating to a charity.

Hospices, such as Marie Cure and St Columba’s, home care nursing from Marie Curie and Macmillian are not NHS or big private hospitals, they are self financing. They are charities. Rely on donations and fundraising. They offer their services free to patients who need them, at times it may be respite care where a patient goes in for a few days then goes home, or the nurses go to a patient’s home and takes care of them; gives the family help with washing the patient, changing pyjamas, changing sheets, etc, and patient staying in hospice for life end care.

On thinking about the charities, I believe we need to try and chip in a tad if we can. Next time you are eating that McDonald’s and you are about to have a Mcflurry with it; what’s the cost for the ice cream? Couple of quid? Perhaps think about matching the couple of pounds in a donation, I definitely will.

I’m in my mid fifties and have known people very dear to me that have died by their own choosing at home, in hospital and in a hospice. All very well cared for, and I can see the benefits and down sides of all. For the person that is going to meet his Maker and for those that are left behind. Me? If I mange to get my wish I will not be at home and I will not be a burden on anyone. Let’s hope this works out.

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. When I was in hospital with sepsis, Evelyn phoned the ward 3 times per week for the 12 weeks I was in to check up on my progress. 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. As a family unit we will miss nurse Evelyn. She went beyond her call of duty. She had a terrific memory, on sick days she would pick up the phone and ask a GP to come see me, rattle off my date of birth without looking at my folder. One day I smiled at her and asked if she knew my national insurance number; she grinned back and said now that would be telling. She bonded well with my family, was interested in neuroendocrine tumours and carcinoid syndrome. She supported greatly the wonderful support charity I have come to rely on The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust Evelyn participated in our tea party, enjoyed our fundraising music event for net cancer day. She made hundreds of Pom Pom balls to create ziggy zebra. She also was so generous when our youngest went into nursing got him a pile of books.

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; predominantly now seen by Nicola and Maria make a big 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.

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.

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.

 

 

edinburghroyalinfirmary

 

 

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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