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

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

From NG to PEG

The first health professional to suggest tube feeding for me recommended PEG feeding.  However, when the appointment came round with the specialist he was very doubtful, in fact negative in approach.  He explained how for me it wasn’t the best going in blind into my tummy when we didn’t know exactly where neuroendocrine tumours were situated.  He suggested the NG tube – a much safer alternative in his opinion.

So here we are 12 weeks later.   The NG tube has been a great friend.  It’s kept me fed.  Prevented the dreaded hypos through the night.  I’ve even gained 0.8 of a kilo.  My NG tube has came to its end of it’s  three month life and due for a change.

Whilst I have been at home during the 12 weeks getting good care from my hubby and help from our sons. We have been getting fantastic support from my nurses who come to our home, check my dressings, change them, give me my lanreotide, my flu jab, etc.  the nurse Evelyn, was great, she gave Steve a flu jab at home too.  Dietician has been coming in to talk things through, weigh me.  Prescriptions delivered.  So while I’ve been getting looked after at home I haven’t been forgotten at the hospital.  My consultants have been discussing what’s best for me.

A top surgeon a the royal infirmary in Edinburgh is willing to put a peg feed in surgically.  This means a general anaesthetic.  So here I am the night before my operation in the ward.  Last Tuesday was pre surgery day.  Steve brought me to the hospital to get a check up and go over everything before surgery.  We were met by a lovely nurse from New Zealand.  She listened intently, wrote all the necessary.  Had heart and lung tests, blood tests.  Got weighed.  She took a note of all the medication I am on.  She said if I didn’t have carcinoid syndrome or spontaneous hypoglycaemia I could fast at home and come in the day of the surgery.  However, I’m complicated and an overnight stay before the surgery is needed.

I’m in the ward, Steve and I are chatting away, it’s 6pm.  A lovely lady walks up to my bed, introduces herself and shakes my hand.  She is going to be my anaesthetist during the operation.  The first thing she asks me is if I really want this surgery.  She goes on to tell me she is due to retire in seven months and I am only her second patient with carcinoid syndrome.  She has had many neuroendocrine patients, but they did not have the carcinoid syndrome.  This was only to emphasise how rare the condition is, not to say she was incapable.  Believe me, after talking to her it’s apparent she seems far from incapable, I have complete   faith in her.    The plan is to let me have my overnight feed and have a breakfast, then get put on a glucose infusion.   She wants to have another anaesthetist working with her whilst I’m in theatre.  She told us the normal blood pressure cuff will not be sufficient and I need to have an arterial cannula fitted to monitor my blood pressure.  As well as I will have a glucose infusion running throughout the operation.   She described me like a volcano.  Both my blood pressure and blood sugar levels going up and down at a moments notice.  She explained why after surgery I would go to high dependency.   Steve looked at her, he said “you know how you medics ask patients on a scale of one to ten how do you rate you pain – can I ask you, on a scale of one to ten how worried are you about Elizabeth’s surgery” – her answer was instant – she said “15”. She then smiled and told us she would take very good care of me.  She will send her colleague up in the morning, and would probably come up herself to see me.   After a bit more chit chat she left.  Her mark was left.  I liked  and trusted her.

Half an our or so later a dashing gent with a beautiful voice approached my bed.  He introduced himself – Mr Simon Paterson-Brown,  my surgeon for the procedure.  We chatted about the operation, what he was going to do, the peg.  He explained the dieticians will come see me after the operation and decide when the feed can get started.  Anything from 24 to 48 hours after insertion.    He gave me every opportunity to discuss the operation and ask questions at my own pace.

Later that evening Steve left for home and I got tucked into bed.  Me being me I was allowed to have my overnight  feed – so that went on – via my last NG tube feed and breakfast in the morning.  They weren’t willing to chance any spontaneous hypoglycaemia attacks prior to surgery.

Morning on the day of surgery – October 20th 2015. Steve pops by the hospital to see me before my op.    It’s 2.20 and their coming to take me away Ha Ha.  It’s time.  It thought I would be more nervous.  I was waiting on my knees knocking or my hands shaking – nothing.  A big burly man in blue scrubs came and wheeled me out the room.  The nurse that had been looking after me came along, she chatted away, held my hand,  in general put me at ease.  The handover from ward to theatre was about to take place.  I turned my head to the left and saw a familiar face.  One of the anesthetist nurses was someone I knew, she just had to check I was ok was her dealing with me – I was delighted Gillian was in the room.  I was wheeled into the anaesthetics room.

Wow – prep that needed to be done with the anesthetists.  Yes plural folks.  In this operation I had two – greedy bugger that I am.  The first thing that was said was hello again good to see you how are you.  Pleasantries exchanged.  The NG tube was removed,  then they decided I should get some oxygen an Valium to get an arterial line run in my right wrist to constantly monitor my blood pressure.    This is a tricky job and you need a couple of stitches to hold it in.  I also had 3 cannulas inserted.  I then heard a soothing voice say time to change the mask this is going to put you to sleep.  It must have.  Because the next thing I know I woke up somewhere completely different with a peg feed inserted into my tummy.   I was in the high dependency ward.