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.

NC500 Virtual walk

Since March we have had lockdown, restrictions, a new way of life. And I do believe we need to get used to it. This coronavirus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Some of my normal life still happens; my nurses come in and look after me. I get my awful needles injected into me for my treatment. I still enjoy writing very much, , making up stories and doing charcoal drawings, taking photographs, snuggling into my beautiful labradors. Trying my best to live life with a half full glass. I do miss getting out on the harley with Steve, going to see our friends at the Dunedin Chapter http://www.dunedinhog.com, and I miss my meetings at The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust http://www.taect.scot. Ive been inspired by walkers, and triers in life, so when Jean ann from The Dunedin Chapter set up a virtual walk for charity I decided to take part. This little piggy is donating money and taking part in the NC500 Virtual walk.

The idea is members of our chapter can register to take part in the event, we walk on our own, walk as little or as much as we want and are able. Basically it is a virtual north coast 500. We take note of our mileage, pay £1 for each mile walked. Someone like my sister, Hazel who has registered is very fit, walks many miles per week, she will clock in the miles. I’m proud of my sister she will do well. As my hubby Steve, he walks many miles in a day, he thinks nothing of walking 8 miles. Me, I love walking, its just a struggle. Imagine carrying a rucksack on your back filled with sand, you are walking up a steady incline and it gradually gets steeper and you begin to feel the strain. This is many a day for me. You can feel your heart beating and the thumping in your ears is getting louder. The beads of sweat appear on your forehead and you know its time to take a breather. Its all about pacing oneself and knowing my limits.

I have my sidekick most of the time. Buddy the fox red Labrador. He knows when the nets/carcinoid syndrome are playing up. He is clever enough to work out when the blood sugar is dropping below 3, or when my heart rate is beating too fast or going so slow it needs some intervention. He is my knight in shining armour. Buddy and our other Labrador Bella will be walking with me.

Buddy and me

Dunedin Chapter do a lot for charity, as members we raise a lot of money for charity throughout the year. This walk will raise money and it will go in the charity pot. Me personally, as well as doing the walk, I will put £1 in every day until the end of the event. I intend to walk 1 mile every day. There are 50 days left, which means I will put £50 in. My reasoning we have been given the privilege of one year free membership to Dunedin, so this is my contribution, giving £50 to the charity pot.

I got a delightful message from a Dunedin member and friend Scott Anderson. Scott and his wife Shirley, both members, both ride Harleys. The message asked how I am and noted that I am doing the virtual walk and they would like to sponsor me. They said the reason they chose me is because they have absolute respect for me doing it and they know that it will be a huge effort for me.

When I read this I could have cried. We have only known Scott and Shirley this riding season, but already they have become firm friends. You know when you get that feeling about folk.

Buddy in training

Sometimes we choose to sit on our bums and complain, do nothing with our lives. I prefer, the hard life, the trying. That thought when I’m out doing something and I need to stop for a rest and I think why the hell am I putting myself through this, oh yes that great feeling of reward and friendship.

Life is a journey; mine is wonderful folks; be all you can be xx

Bagged his first munro

Several months in since Covid first hit us. Our way of life has changed and we have began to look for a new normal. Living life at a different pace. Shopping, working, educating; finding a way that works for us to go about our business safely and hopefully happy. Social distancing – meeting with others safely. Trying our best to get that balance of seeing others, getting out in the outdoors but making sure that we are safe at the same time. We live in the country in our delightful detached cottage, no neighbours, not a street light on our little single track road, not even a cats eye. However, what we have noticed is an increase in people walking passed the house. Obviously they must be taking their daily exercise and what a lovely place to do it. There has been a lot of awful news since covid hit the headlines. Since the middle of March and the big lockdown happened, I feel there has been a lot of heartache and we have had many sad and tragic events to deal with. Couple of weeks into September and I got a message which made me smile from ear to ear, it was to let Auntie Lizzie know that 10 year old Louis Bagged his first munro.

I was beaming, a very proud great auntie. Louis had climbed Ben Chonzie with his Dad Stephen. Lindsay, my niece, and Stephen are fabulous parents. Okay I am biased, but they are. The three children all have handled the situation with coronavirus very well, they very much missed school and the youngest one Patrick started primary one and eldest Sophie started high school. Big year. For some time they could not attend church and that was another blow to the family. Louis is my son, Tony’s God son. All three children normally attend some sort of activities. Louis in particular loves to go to the football and support Celtic with his Grandad and Dad, he enjoys boxing and training at the local club. All this has been taken away. Lindsay and Stephen have not been down trodden. I have been sent the funniest videos. They have set up assault courses in their garden. The children ran round the course and one of the parents would set the stop watch. Their dog Lubo would join in. Fantastic family fun, while gaining exercise, stopping the boredom and learning a few things at the same time – pulse rate, etc. The children soon got the exercise bug and they began family walks, cycles and adventures. Until one day Stephen asked Louis if he would like to train to climb a munro. He explained what a munro was. He told him that a munro is a mountain that is over 3000 foot tall and that there are 282 across Scotland. They decided to attempt to climb Ben Chonzie together. Which they did. They took the dog, had an amazing day. I am so proud of Louis, to climb a munro is difficult, it takes stamina, this young chap was 10 years of age when he bagged his first munro.

Louis and Lubo at the summit of Ben Chonzie

And so the munro bagging continued. My son Stuart and fiancé Laura climbed Ben Chonzie. They had a wonderful time, it was unusual for them to be without the children and only have Hudson, the fox red Labrador with them. You can normally see them out cycling the bikes with the children in tow. Or all of them walking in the forrest all set for an adventure. How I love to get FaceTime calls telling me of the adventures they have had cycling along the forrest track or taking the dog a walk. So young and full of energy. I’m sure when 4 year old Alexandra’s legs are up to it she will be mad keen to get up a Scottish mountain. Get the camera out and take the most superb photographs of our beautiful country and amazing scenery.

Ben Chonzie

Stuart & Laura – Ben Chonzie

Laura & Hudson

A wee bit about Ben Chonzie. Gaelic name Beinn a’ Choinnich – meaning mossy mountain. Situated near Crieff in Perthshire. The great Scottish solitary mountain reaches a height of 3054 feet and rises between Strathearn and Loch Tay. Its a super first climb with a fairly straight forward heather clad route of 9 miles, which tends not to be steep but with rather more moderate inclines and leads to beautiful open country, which is ideal for this current situation when we are needing to social distance. Plenty of space for everyone, even the dogs.

All this talking of climbing has taken me back to pre neuroendocrine cancer days. Life before carcinoid syndrome and days with super duper energy when running up a mountain was Childs play. In the year of 2000 my husband Steve, my brother in law Alan, my sister Hazel (Louis’s gran) and quite a few of our friends were led up Ben Lawers by our friend Gordon Macleod. We raised quite a few quid for cancer charity that weekend. Great fun was had by all. It was the first May bank holiday weekend, I can remember sliding on the snow, what great fun we had. Lovely evening at the Kilin Hotel that night too, the Irish whisky after dinner I can recommend. https://www.killinhotel.com

Alan, Hazel, Steve & Me at the summit of Ben Lawers Year 2000

Louis loving his first climb

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