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 😘😘

 


 

 

 

Introduction to nasogastric tube feeding at home

Into our sitting room walks the friendliest chatty lady.  Armed with a Hessian Tesco shopping bag, not filled with shopping, not bearing gifts of food parcels,   And no lovely sweets to munch.  Instead there were items that were unfamiliar to Steve and me.

Steve and I sat together on the sofa like a couple of school kids niavely watching in anticipation.  Gwen, the nurse specialist methodically explained the whole process.  She was very thorough and hands on.  Carefully telling us how to set up the pump, what tube to use, checking the ph level, flushing the feed tube.   After an hour or so of first time training Gwen left.  She gave us an abundance of literature to read through.  We both felt fairly confident in using the pump and setting up the feed.

Thursday morning came.  Steve and I arrived at the hospital early.  Time for a hot chocolate and malt loaf at the hospital cafe.  We toddled up to the ward.  Lovely nurse Stacey was waiting for us.  She took us to a designated room.  She came in with a loaded trolley. Amongst other things on it was the tube  and a cup of water with a straw.    I asked how I should sit on the large comfortable chair.  The nurse was very reassuring and said I was to sit in whatever way I wanted and she would work round me.  I got comfortable the nurse measured the length of the tube against me and then was instructed to rest my chin on my chest.

The procedure was just about to begin.  She lubricated the tube and then inserted it into my right nostril.  I’m not going to lie, I felt nervous.  As the tube was pushed in I felt this pain up my nose.  It was as if a bee had stung me.  I remember saying oh that feels awful, rather sore up my nose.  Simultaneously the nurse said we are in the back of your throat and ready for you to take a sip of water.  As I drank from the straw the tube was fed down.  I knew co-operating would make swallowing the tube much less painful and it would all get done a lot quicker.   Voila – it had now entered my stomach.  Carefully the nurse secured the tube to my face.  A large plaster covering 90% of my nose and a transparent dressing on my right cheek. Now to check the placement – the nurse put the syringe on the end of the tube and started to draw some contents from my tummy.  Nothing.  Oh !  Of we went to X-ray to check where the tube had gone.  Had to make sure it had gone into my stomach and not entered a lung.   The guide wire had to be left in.  This would give an accurate image on the X-ray.  The great thing with modern technology is by the time we were back at the ward the doctor had seen the X-ray on the computer in the ward.  Great news it was in the right place.  Steve got me some orange juice, I drank it.  Fingers crossed we would get some contents now to check the ph level.  As the nurse drew up the syringe some of the orange juice I had just drank was now in it.  Carefully she squirted some fluid onto one of the strips.  Waited for it to change colour then compared it to the chart.  Ph level 4.  Perfect.

My dietician came to the ward to see us.  We had a frank discussion.  She explained all about building up my tube feed.  Gave us lots of good literature, together with do’s and don’t’s.  Also very useful telephone numbers just in case I need help.

I had a constant pressure in the back of my throat and my nose was really hurting by this time.  I was reassured this was all normal and would ease.  We left the hospital and headed home.

The next morning the district nurse arrived, basically to check in on me and give me support, change face dressing.  The plaster on my nose was stuck firmly.  With a bit of gentle tugging and pulling she got the plaster of and checked the measurement.  Good news the tube has not moved.

For the first few days I have to feed through the tube for 10 hours during the day.  Gradually building up the speed of the pump, allowing me to get more feed each time.  The feed is peptamen.  It’s partly digested and appears to be the best formula for my tummy.

Four days later and all is going better than I hoped.  My body is tolerating the formula.  I can confidently set up and use the pump, draw fluid from my tummy and check ph level, and can flush my tube.

My nose is still uncomfortable and my throat is now much less sore than it was even yesterday.   It wasn’t the easiest procedure I’ve had.   However a combination of keeping calm, a good clinician and having my hubby was my biggest asset.