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.

30 Years On……..

Well it’s nearly 2am and I’m wide awake. It’s been a great day.  Today was our 30th wedding anniversary and we are in Boat of Garten, near Aviemore to celebrate.    I can hear two very familiar sounds.  The first is the whiring of my feed pump, the other -rumbling snoring; my hubby, Steve, this gasping pup pup sound coming methodically from him.  I wake up often at this time, giving me the opportunity to reflect on what’s going on in my life.  

I’ve had two lovely nights in Aberdeen with Steve.  We were staying in a lovely hotel, went to a great party to celebrate the 60th birthday of his cousin, Annette and the 30th birthday of her son Lee.  Great seeing the family and spending time with Steve’s aunt Margaret and her children.  Steve’s sister Julie, Nicole and jack are here too.  Lovely quality family time; had a super family meal and went back to cousin Jimmy and Teresa’s for a visit.  Steve and I had some time on own too, the drive through Aberdeen for me set of many childhood memories.  My aunt lived in Aberdeen and we visited often.  As we drove passed Duthie Park my heart leapt and I can remember it as if it was yesterday playing in the hot sun with my mum, granny Baird and auntie Nellie.  I yearn so to take my grandkids there, share my happiest times with them.  The time went so fast over the weekend.  After breakfast we popped in to see auntie Margaret.  She was telling us about manuka doctor honey.  And how it helps health conditions for some people.  She brought the jar through to show us, steve took a photo of it. We have since looked it up and we can purchase it at Holland & Barrett for £28.99 and get a second jar for 1penny.  We are going to give it a try.   For a lady of eighty years of age she is marvellous.  When I was there I had my backpack feed on.  She was open and asked me about it.  I wish there were more people would ask when they really want to know.  I really don’t mind answering the questions.  You tend to find its children and people over the age of 75 that ask.  
  

Our anniversary day was wonderful.  Drive from Aberdeen to boat of Garten was delightful. We drove passed the lecht ski centre, one of my old haunts.  For me so strange to see it covered in Heather rather than snow.  A warm welcome awaited us at our beautiful hotel, we have a garden room, so somewhere to sit out with a pot of tea 😘.  A huge six foot wide bed – could do with that at home.  We literally dropped our bags and drove into Aviemore.  We were booked on the strathspey steam railway for first class afternoon tea.  What a great journey we had.  Our own we private compartment, pot of tea, coffee, and lots of lovely food.  I thought this would be a great treat for Steve, since he is always running about after me, working so hard with his business and rarely gets time just to sit and watch the world go by.  And we both love the idea of the steam train.  An hour an a half of relaxation was wonderful.  I’m sure it did the two of us the world of good.  We had parked the car about a five minute walk from the train.  As we were walking back, I said to Steve I needed to go to the toilet.  We immediately saw a tesco – bingo, that will do,  I was bursting now, thank goodness I had an insurance policy on.  Steve put his hand gently on my shoulder you are too close to the edge of the road he said as a large lorry rumbled passed feeling like it was about to take of my nose.  At last the green man, we could cross.  Yes, they had customer toilets.  Thank,goodness.  Oh the relief. 
  

We came back to the hotel at 5pm for a rest before going downstairs for a wee while at dinner time.  I sat on the decking with a pot of tea, it was was a lovely day and at 5.10pm it was 19 degrees – in Scotland, nearing the end of August that’s pretty good.  Sitting watching the world go by, soaking in the atmosphere, beautiful.  Suddenly a wave washed over me and I could feel a chill to my bones.  The wee voice was saying watch you don’t get overtired now – you have done much more than you are used to.  The tummy started rumbling, get to the loo woman and deal with it.  I said to myself,  it’s your blasted anniversary.  So I did.  A beauty of a major explosion in the bathroom – the sweat running down my back with the pain.   Along with my teatime medication I took extra anti sickness pills.  I lay on the bed for twenty minutes with Steve.  Much better.  

We had a wonderful evening downstairs.  Gosh, not a late night for us though.  We went down at 6.30pm and we were back in our room  at 8.15pm.  Before we came to our room we walked round a beautiful community garden opposite the hotel. Lovely way to finish off the evening.    Back in our lovely room, we had time to relax and planning our Tuesday.    

We have to make sure we get plenty time to do my creams,  dressings, medications and my feed.  Two 500mls on the pump overnight, one or two 500mls during the day depending  and 4 bolus feeds during the day.   Steve is very  organised and methodical when it comes to my medication.  He sorts it all out first thing in the morning, puts it in little pots and transfers if medicine containers if we are going out. 

Looking forward to today.  We are meeting my sister hazel and brother in law alan.  Going up in fenicular railway.  

A Week In and I’m having a break

Its been an eventful week.  My phototherapy machine was ever so kindly delivered by the courier.  Brought down from the photobiology department in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.  We get it set up in the end bedroom.  Carefully I put the folder with the paperwork on the desk thats in the room.  make sure I have everything, creams, lip protection, goggles for my eyes.    The machine has an engraved plate on the front:  Hope 18.  To me this instantly makes me feel that the machine has some sort of entity and I have it in my head that the machine is of the female gender.  For me it makes its easier when I’m setting up, getting myself changed,  typing in the keypad – the time to warm myself in front of the lights.

My treatment gets done in quarters, I’m a piece of meat; getting carefully timed under the grill and turned over precisely as the timer says.    The bright lights shine up the whole room, when the beeper makes the familiar noise I safely take off the protective goggles.  My eyes take a few seconds to adjust to normality.

The first treatment over.   We have a quiet evening.  Next morning,  I wake up do my usual routine, my skin is a little drier than usual, but nothing to write home about.

Treatment two is fine.

Treatment three, approximately six hours after my treatment I feel my skin very tight.  There is a distinct redness to my skin.  Ouch.  Plenty of cream.  12 hours later and the redness has subsided.  24 Hours later a patch has developed on my throat.  And I can tell you its sore.  Both inside and out.  Its red and angry.  Evelyn my nurse came to do my peg care and my octreotide treatment injection.  Boy, was I glad to see her.  When she walked in, she first asked about my throat.  I told her how things were going.  She thought the best thing was to phone the photobiology unit at the hospital and ask what to do.  In the meantime she did my peg care, octreotide injection and checked over my throat.

I phoned the photobiology unit.  As ever the staff were fantastic.  Gently talked me through everything. They asked me to send photos.  Its been decided I have to stay off treatment till this Monday.  Take another photograph and send it to them, we will then decide when to restart the treatment and what dose.  The hospital staff have been in touch with me, my nurse and my GP – all on that morning – I have had my hydrocortisone replacement therapy medication increased and been prescribed hydrocortisone cream to apply on the affected area.   I feel very warm, like I’ve been cooked from the inside out – microwave fashion.   If i was cooked inside out, can you imagine my parathyroid glands if my skin on my throat looks and feels like this.

Fingers crossed it heals quickly and I can get back to my treatment soon.

 

 

My Sore Throat After Phototherapy

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.

 

So happy to have a week in the sun ☀️☀️☀️☀️😎

The dark scary winter behind us.  Several hospital admissions.  The bulbs poked their heads through the earth and produced some colour.  As Spring emerged  I hoped that my favourite season would be kinder to me than the winter was.  However, the hope of a better spring turned into disappointment.   The sunshine break Steve booked on January 1st was something both of us were yearning.  The thought of the warmer climate, the slow pace of life, friendly locals – it was all felt very appealing.

The waiting was over.  Finally  the big tin bird was waiting on the Tarmac to transport us to our island in the sun.  I was nervous it was the first time flying since Lavita had became part of my life.

I was all very organised, letters from consultant, General Practioner,  and Community Dietician.  All explaining why I carry extra weight, have excess fluids, syringes, needles, scissors, dressings and lots of medication.

The airport was very busy, we all stood queued up, hand luggage in tow, passports in hand.  A steady drum beat like sound echoed through my ears.  The longer I waited the faster and louder the beat got.  Although palpations are an everyday occurrence, the venue was somewhat different to what I’m used to.  I  was next up, as I struggled walking stick in one hand and hand luggage in the other.  The airport staff quickly came to assistance.  They exchanged my stick for one of theirs, just in case I filled mine with illicit drugs, and the burly gentleman lifted my bag onto the belt.  I walked the walk.    Steve and I were both cleared at the same time.  All ready to board the plane.

The flight was grand.  Holiday was fantastic.  There were a couple of hairy moments like the time when I chanced having a handful of peanuts and one decided to try and expel itself out of my wound, a hair breadth from my gastrostomy tube.  As I was breathing it popping in and out, making a grand appearance.  I lay on the double bed, splayed my legs put my feet up on the wall, I got scissors and after several attempts gripped the end and pulled it out as it made its appearance – got it.  Oh yuk, all the granulation softened and started running down my tummy. My hair was soaking wet, legs shaking beads of sweat running down my brow.  Boy did I wish i was home.  I managed to clean myself up, getting a dressing on and rest up.  A few hours later I was feeling much better.

Steve and I made sure we had a relaxing holiday.  We did what we wanted when we wanted.  Steve hired a car and we travelled around the beautiful island soaking in the atmosphere.

Tranquility 😘😘

 


 

 

 

Farewell to a courageous brave friend

When Pamela Ter Gast and I made friends on Facebook four years ago.  Little did I know such a strong friendship would develop.  And just how much we have in common.    Our friendship began with a shared interest of neuroendocrine tumours.  Our chatting very soon veered to a personal level.lkkkkk  Pam, Dutch born now living in USA with her beloved Boo, has two kids – like me.   Only I have two lads, Pam has one of each; a girl and a boy.    We hooked up with two other Dutch zebras: Beth and Didi.  The four of us formed a close bond; sharing stories, we laughed and cried together.   We call ourselves the musketeers.   Of course we are alternative musketeers – Pam: Winnie The Pooh, Beth: Piglet,  Didi: Eyore and little old me:Tigger.

  

Pam was a very gutsy lady who I admired greatly.  You could always rely on Pammy to make you feel better.  When times were tough for any of us we would take a virtual travel together.  We posted our travels on social media and many people actually thought we were actually away to beautiful sandy beaches, climbing mountains, visiting castles and distant shores.  Now that would have been a treat 😉.  
This beautiful lady showered her kindness and picked me up on days I felt  pdown.  She always had an uncanny knack of knowing without asking……and offering that shoulder.   Pam did not stop at friending me.  She would drop messages to the men in my life.  When my mum passed away she was fab and sent messages to the boys, when Tony had meningitis she sent him a few messages asking how he was.  And on one ocassion when I hadn’t posted on Facebook  for a few days she sent Steve a message saying she was worried she hadn’t heard from me and asking if everything was ok.  As friends we sent each other photos, pictures, etc.  some would be funny cartoons to make us laugh others would be photos of landscapes or flowers.
This is a photo Beth took in Holland and sent to Pam.  She loved it.

  


Beautiful Pam with the infectious smile.  Always looking on the bright side of life.   Sharing a conversation brightened my day.  



  
Pam wanted to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer.  And whilst she bravely fought her own battle, she took time out to educate the public.  Giving talks, posting on you tube, etc.  Ever so proud of you Pam. 💕. 

Pam posted a video on YouTube:

A beautiful obituary in The Telegram 

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/telegram/obituary.aspx?n=pamela-ter-gast&pid=180298509&eid=sp_shareobit
I will miss my conversations with Pam.  Her friendship was so valuable to me. She will always hold a special place in my heart.    When Pam said to me she knew how I was feeling, yes I knew she really did know how i was feeling.  There was no bullshit from this lady.   I feel priveliged to say she was my friend.    Pammy you touched so many people: your loss is being felt world wide tonight.

We exchanged many pictures, photos, etc.  This is one that Pam posted on my Facebook page.  Rather apt, don’t you think?