Two Palaces and a Castle

Well these last couple of weeks haven’t been the best. Yes the restrictions on lockdown are gradually easing and we are getting to meet up with others, most folks are being careful and abiding by covid regulations. For example, wearing face masks in shops, keeping a safe distance from others, washing hands, carrying hand sanitiser. I’ve not been feeling on top of the world. My nurse has been coming in and she has got to know me pretty well. One look at me and she knew there was something wrong. Two months ago I had the burst balloon in my gastrostomy tube and I felt that I hadn’t really gotten over it, the entire tube has been changed twice due to problems of it bursting in my tummy and extreme pain.

Last Wednesday I just wasn’t feeling good at all. Evelyn my district nurse came in to service my tube. She looked at me. Elizabeth she said, You are looking a shade of grey. How are you feeling? I pathetically winced and answered her back, Oh my, I feel absolutely shocking. In fact I feel like I have been kicked in the tummy by a horse. My solar plexus area was excruciating, everything and anything was an effort, to do the simplest task took maximum effort. Evelyn got down to business and attended to my tube. She could see that I was experiencing a lot of discharge from my stoma site. Time to change your tube again early…………

And so down to business instantly. Oh my goodness it was absolute agony, I could feel the saliva run down my gums, feel chest palpations banging in my ears; throb throb throb. The perspiration beads running down my head, I could feel my hair getting wetter. Finally the tube pulled out. It was gunky. Changed for another size 18 French tube. The gunky tube sent to the lab at the hospital. Skin covered with creams etc. Dressing on. In the afternoon the phone rang, it was the doctor, asking how I was, I told her how awful I felt. Antibiotics were prescribed. I need to get either IV antibiotic or antibiotics that get put into a syringe and put in my peg. I got a sledgehammer set of antibiotics and told to double my hydrocortisone replacement therapy. This medication for one week.

Following Wednesday I get my tube dressed and my octreotide injection; my two weekly expensive injection in the bottom. Not feeling on top of the world but feeling much better than last Wednesday.

Thursday my NET specialist telephoned me. We discussed how I’ve been. Long and short I’ve to get a CT scan and an echocardiogram. He is concerned since my last results were in the high region.

To blow the cobwebs away on Thursday evening I had a lovely trip as a pillion passenger on my husbands Harley Davidson Fat Boy Lo with some of our friends from The Dunedin Chapter. https://www.dunedinhog.com My hubby organised the mates run. It was a great wee run for a mid week trip in the evening – Two Palaces and a Castle.

Meeting up at The Gates of Holyrood Palace

We met at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. https://www.royal.uk/royal-residences-palace-holyroodhouse Holyrood Palace is situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile with a beautiful view of Arthurs Seat. It is the official residence of The British monarch in Scotland. The drive through the park towards the palace was beautiful. Arthurs seat the extinct volcano makes a stunning backdrop for many photograph. The loch has swans and ducks is attended by lots of keen visitors. Many folks choose to jog around the park and I can see why they want to run on this lush green grass. We wait at the gates of the Palace until all friends get together. Once we are all on board. Steve talks to everyone and lets them know what the route will be. Next stop will be……

Our capital city: we had a beautiful drive up through the park, round by the commonwealth pool and through some sights of the city. As we drove along George IV Bridge we passed Grey Friars Bobby, we turned left at the lights and up The Royal Mile. All ten harley davidson motrocycles drove carefully over the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and into the entrance of Edinburgh Castle. The sun was shining, the roar of ten bikes exhausts; music to my ears. As we drove through the entrance you could hear the vroom vroom echo. There were people up the castle enjoying the views over Edinburgh, as we entered they turned their heads and watch us come in. By the look on their faces you could see this was not an everyday occurrence for most of them.

After a stunning view of auld reekie from the castle and a quick presentation of a very small cake (one that fits in the day pannier of the Harley Davidson) to Hazel to say Happy 60th lockdown Birthday sister. We were on our travels again. We were heading to our destination. Fifteen miles west of Edinburgh, we were heading to Linlithgow. We took our way through the town, down the Mound, along Queen Street. Along Davidsons Mains heading to Barnton, on the outskirts of the city approaching the beautiful view of the forth. We took the A904 from Queensferry to Linlithgow. We found an excellent place to park. I sat at the benches and had a lovely chat with my friend Colin, whilst most walked down to an excellent fish and chip shop and got some tasty fish and chips; on location between Edinburgh and Glasgow the evening meal came with a choice of salt and sauce or salt and vinegar. Great food was had by all.

Found A Great Place To Park The Bikes And Rest In Linlithgow

You can look up Linlithgow Palace at https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/linlithgow-palace/

https://www.thecastlesofscotland.co.uk/the-best-castles/magnificent-ruins/linlithgow-palace/

The Arrival of The Coronavirus

We are approaching the end of March 2020 and this weekend we should be away with friends from the The Dunedin Chapter  ,

I so enjoy being part of this group.  It is our biker family.  From the second we joined we felt part of something.  A warm welcome always awaits us, a support network is available in variety of ways.  Help with the physical Harley Davidson motorcycles; buying, servicing advice, etc.  Things to do; runs, rallies, etc.  Friendship; many friendly faces, great companions, lots of advice, etc.  Socialisation; we all get together and have meetings, weekends together, nights out, lunch meetings, breakfast clubs, chippy runs, etc.  All in all I love belonging to The Chapter.  We are now on to our second Harley Davidson, I have been on motorcycles since I was under 5 years old,  on the back of my brother when my feet couldn’t reach the footpegs.  I have been a pillion to my hubby since I was 17 years of age and I’m now nearly 54.   We have had motorbikes the majority of our married life.  Fifteen months ago we thought we would dip our toes in the water and visit West Coast Harley Davidson for a look at the bikes and what they had to offer.  before we knew it we had  decided it was time to get ourselves a Harley, it was a little Street Rod.  We thought best start small  and not break the bank.  Just to see how we would like the ‘Harley way of life’ and boy do we love it.    While we loved the wee bike, it was just that, too small and So a few months later we traded it in for a beautiful fatboy low.  We got this one at Edinburgh Harley Davidson

This weekend a trip to Aberdeen had been organised by our Harley Davidson enthusiastic friends.  We were all getting together to stay a night in a hotel and have a night out and raise money for the air ambulance.   The plans were, to take a drive up together on the Harley Davidsons if the weather was warm enough and I was feeling up to it, if not take the four wheels and book in to the The Craighaar Hotel in Aberdeen

 

I was so looking forward to going to Aberdeen. Due to my health, the neuroendocrine cancer, the carcinoid syndrome, the treatment I need and the fact that I get fatigued very easily I don’t go out that often.  I find life difficult, some days a general task feels like I am walking around with a 25kg bag of sand on my back.  Needless to say I am very familiar with my own surroundings and am used to being in the 4 walls I live in.  I can be home for three weeks without crossing the door.  My district nurses come to ‘service’ my peg.  Change my dressings, administer my octreotide injection and deal with any other at home health condition I may require. They are wonderful and I couldn’t do without them.

Although I am used to spending time at home on my own, with the company of my two Labrador’s within my four walls I do spend quality time writing, which I enjoy a great deal and I have embarked on a course which I love the challenge.

Suddenly the world has been hit by an eerie storm, one which we have never seen the like before. The human race has been struck down with Coronavirus.   The arrival of the Coronavirus is here.  For a great deal of folk it has been fairly harmless, however for many it has proven deadly.   To find out a little about coronavirus visit – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

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Countries such as Spain and Italy are ahead of the UK and have many deaths and have put in strict measures. Here in the UK, we have had to take on a different way of life. Schools have been closed, where possible people are working from home, people are instructed to stay home unless exercising, which is only once per day. Social distancing has been put in place, with everyone to keep 2 metres apart. All these measures have been put in place to try and Stop the spread of Coronavirus. This virus is escalating and getting out of hand, we need to self isolate and stop it. Many people have it, are in hospital, some very poorly and on Ventilators. It’s all such a worry. People are wearing gloves, masks and using hand gel in abundance. Hospitals are running short of ventilators. There are more people needing the machine that the country has; something has to be done.

A team put their heads together – staff from formula 1 Mercedes , staff from University College London hospital (UCLH), and a team from university college London to adapt and improve existing CPAP in a process known as reverse engineering.   Basically they have helped create a breathing aid to help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care.  You can find out more at the following – Mercedes F1 team helps create breathing aid

Life has become very strange for many people, our country is in lockdown, bars, cinemas, restaurants and many shops are closed.  Public gatherings are banned.  Plus many more other measures are put in place.  Some people feel sorry for themselves and are sitting at home whining and moaning, complaining they are bored and wishing they could get out of the house.  Whilst its understandable that they may be bored, sitting at home when they are used to working several hours per day and keeping busy.  Or going out and having fun, playing sports or going to the cinema, etc.  However, these restrictions have been brought in for our own good and it won’t be forever.  We should take time at home, learn a new skill, cook, draw, do a bit of gardening, enjoy reading a book, do some knitting or sewing, play old fashioned board games.  And most importantly our thoughts and prayers should go out to people that are in ICU beds in hospital, on ventilators, fighting for their lives.  This virus not only attacks the vulnerable like me, or the elderly like my 87 year old father, it sadly took the life of a young lady of only 21 years of age with no known underlying health conditions, it also took the life of a 54 year old doctor, the youngest person to die has been 18 years of age.

I did read a couple of pieces of good news the supermarket Asda is donating £5 million to   fareshare and  The Trussell Trust to help the country’s most vulnerable people through COVID019  Asda will prioritise access to stores for NHS staff as of next week every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8am – 9am in larger stores.   Well done Asda

I know the next few weeks are going to be very trying for us all.  The NHS are doing a fantastic job in looking after the patients in the hospitals, at home, etc.  Carers are looking after the vulnerable the best they can.  Supermarket staff are stretched and pushed to the limits at times, the shelves look like its christmas, with the exception its not happy, clappy cheerful customers, its frightened folks walking into the unknown.

For me tomorrow Ive got my district nurses coming to do my dressings, service my tube and give me my two weekly octreotide.  Tomorrow the nurses will be gowned up, masks on.  Whatever will my labradors Buddy and Bella say, they won’t be getting their treats for mummy being a good girl and getting a very large needle jagged into her.

Warm Welcome in Ellon

As I woke on a bitterly cold February Saturday morning to the sound of my granddaughter’s singing voice I remembered I had something to look forward today.  We are making the trip over the Queensferry Crossing, over to Fife,  driving up the M90.

For me this is the best week for travelling, Evelyn had been in on Tuesday not only to service my gastrostomy tube but to administer my octreotide.  This is a malignant suppressant injection I get every 14 days.  It is licensed for every 28 days at maximum dose for people like me with added complications of carcinoid syndrome.   My ‘numbers’ are on the high side with my 5hiaa, my symptoms are awful and so we have it – maximum dose every 14 days.    The nasty injection is worth it.  Fewer visits to the bathroom (reduction from 12 times bowel movements per day to 4) and looking less like a character thats on tour with Ribena Juice Company.

The Our destination is a few miles north of the granite city, Aberdeen.  I have visited Aberdeen on numerous occasions.  My Grandmother is from this wonderful area of the world and my great aunt after a great deal of travelling finally settled and ended her days in Aberdeen and I have such  fond memories of visiting with my Mother as a child, playing in Duthie Park, building sandcastles at the beach. There is so much to do.   My most favourite thing alrways a visit to The cathedral church of St Machar

We were travelling up to stay over with relatives, Steve and I are not always the easiest house guests, we both blether at a million miles per hour, talk over one another, and finish each others sentences.  We bring an awful lot of luggage, I alone need a suitcase and a holdall for one night’s overnight stay, I have my pump, a lot of medication, syringes etc. I know I have my blog, however we are private folks and there are things we like to keep to ourselves.  We very rarely stay with family or friends, we usually book into a hotel however we both felt we would feel comfortable staying with Pauline and Les for our first trip to Arthrath.  Located 7 miles north of Ellon.

 

 

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Pauline sent me a photo of the sign at the end of their road, heading to their house.  The road is rough.  To me if it was covered in snow it would be more suited to skis than a car,  the large ditches in the road resemble the moguls on the ski slopes I have skied, it distinctly reminds me of the white lady I skied on the cairngorms, everywhere you turned there was another mogul to go down.  Ah, such happy memories.  As we drove down the road to the house the car bounced up and down, in and out of the ditches.  I had the feeling I wanted to lift my legs, I could hear my ski race trainer from my youthful days, the wonderful Hanz Kuval, say bend, stick, turn. As the now not so shiny BMW’s wheels dropped into another deep hole.   We parked round the back of the house as recommended by our hosts.  And so it was so much easier to get in the house, sheltered from the wind, a straight walk from the car across the decking into the porch.

 

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Where a very warm welcome awaited us.  From the minute we walked in the door nothing was too much trouble.  Thirty seconds in and the kettle was on.   The most beautiful  house with comfortable furnishings, welcoming signs of grandchildren; some toys, photographs, canvases, etc that made me feel very much at home, however, gave me a pang in my insides and a yearning to see my beautiful granddaughter.  There is an array of animals located in various parts of the house – they are amusing and you feel you want to have a conversation with them.   And I most certainly did.  Although I’m not sharing any secrets.  As I said our hosts were fabulous, they couldn’t do enough for us, coffee, tea, beer and wine on tap.  Nibbles to munch on whilst lounging on the sofa and leisurely blethering.  A lovely enjoyable afternoon to sit and have a natter, let me get another afternoon feed on pump and a bolus before getting ready to go out for the evening.  Pauline is the constant nurse and continually picking up after me, a welcome help and yes you feel safe and secure in her company.

 

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I go through to our bedroom for the night to get ready, the room is huge, I more than appreciate the space, plenty of room for all my gear.  The bed is ever so comfortable with luxurious bedding and the most comfortable plump feather pillows.    I was most appreciative of the large ensuite bathroom.  It was bigger than most peoples family bathrooms.  there was a stand alone bath, toilet, sink and bidet.  With plenty of room to move around which is very important to me, especially first thing in the morning when the bones are not quite moving as they should be.  The room is so inviting I could climb onto the bed and snuggle in and relax.  However, I know I will enjoy the company of my hosts for the evening and get myself ready.

Les did the honours and drove us to Ellon .  We were booked into The New Inn Hotel, Ellon for a meal.  The hotel was bustling and nearly every table taken.  We arrived half an hour earlier than our reservation.  The staff greeted us with a warm smile and were very accommodating and set us up a table within a couple of minutes of us arriving.  We ordered drinks.  Looked at the menu.  The delightful waiting staff were very efficient and very soon my three companions were enjoying their evening meal, Steve and Les began with starters which they enjoyed immensely and then fairly quickly the main meal came,  our hosts both ate Seabass, my hubby ordered the house burger and I picked at the scampi.  We had this delightful waiter that looked latin, he was tall dark and handsome.  Most of the evening Pauline and I teased him, as we ordered our desserts we asked where he came from since we thought he had an unusual accent.  He told us he was from Peterhead,  Oh we thought you were from somewhere like Italy we said in disappointed voices, you are a “Peterhedien”  oh what fun we had.  The desserts arrived,  and yes, naughty me  had some,  I had a little eton mess.  And yes it was worth having.  Steve had the cheese cake.  A nice touch on top of the cheesecake is scottish tablet.   We all enjoyed the food, the service was excellent.  Would I go again.  Certainly would.

 

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On leaving the hotel we went a short walk across the car park to a friendly pub,  The Tolbooth Pub, Ellon.  As I walked in I soaked in the atmosphere; it was warm and friendly.  It was busy with a variety of ages of folks.  Sitting up at the bar stools were a group of ‘middle aged ‘ folks.  At various tables were various people, as were in the lovely booths.  We made our way to a table beside one of Les and Pauline’s friends.   In one of the booths were five young lads, I’d say in their early twenties.  They looked happy and were sitting blethering and laughing, next thing they started singing The northern lights of Aberdeen.  I felt my heart pang, it was a song sang to me by my Mother, one we would sing together.  They sang, when they got to the last line Pauline and I sang along “To my home in Aberdeen” I could feel the tears, however happy tears.    I turned and looked over to the lads at the booth the young chap with the curly hair lifted his whisky glass in my direction, gave a wink and a cheeky smile – made my night.

On returning to the house Pauline and Les looked after us, we chatted into the small hours of the morning and before we knew it, 3am hit the clock.

I woke on Sunday to my FaceTime call with my 4 year old granddaughter, Alexandra, we had a wonderful discussion.  Her first words  of the conversation were you are coming home today and final words were I love you…. lots of stories in between.

At 10.30am we went to visit Steve’s auntie Margaret in Aberdeen before going out for lunch at  The Cove Bay Hotel . There were 11 of us for lunch.  And what a great lunch it was.  It was so lovely to spend some time with Steve’s cousins and have time for a catch up and a blether.  We had a table by the window with a beautiful view of the sea.  Auntie Margaret and I were right by the radiator, we were toastie.

After lunch Steve and I made our way back to East Lothian.  We had a quiet drive home.  It didn’t too long at all.   It was lovely to see our cottage.  Spent a relaxing evening with our dogs at our feet.

A massive thank you to Pauline and Les for introducing us to Arthrath.  And making us feel ever so welcome and not like visitors at all.

Big thank you for The Warm Welcome in Ellon

 

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.

 

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