Sunday, 13 June 2010

Who cares for our carers?

Throughout all of this blog so far I have talked about me and my experiences. But now that I'm recovering well and there is less to report my mind has turned to other aspects of the effects of having cancer.
I have been very lucky throughout all that I have been through in the way that I have had a very strong support group around me. Tracey never left my bedside throughout (except when she had a bout of sickness and couldn't come),my parents who supported us throughout,my aunt who dropped everything and came to stay with the kids whilst we were in hospital, my friends who really showed how special they are when the chips were down and even my employer who also supported me throughout.
Very often when people visited us they would ask how I was and how I was doing but only a few would ask Tracey.
I can only imagine the immense pressure that she was under throughout this whole experience when most of the attention focused on me. From the point that we first found out I know she was devastated but we both adjusted with time and came to terms with what was happening. Always with a brave face she has been there with words of comfort when I was down.
On the day of the MOAS it must have been awful knowing that such major surgery was being carried out and that the outcome wasn't certain Tracey sat and waited patiently for the calls from the surgeon with updates on progress. Finally after 12hrs of surgery and a few more whist I was settled in ICU she was allowed in to see me. It must have been both a relief but also awful to see me in such a state. Tubes and pipes coming out of me everywhere and ranks of machinery keeping me alive. I understand the visit was about 23:30 and only brief. I can only imagine how she felt at the time.
I know from talking to her that through those first few days she watched the machines and monitors like a hawk. Every time I was turned over in bed my heart rate climbed and blood pressure rose this would worry her and she would not take her eyes off the machines until I was settled and they began to return to normal.
I'm not the best patient when I'm ill. I can become quite introvert and conversation is difficult often we just sat in silence but happy in each others company.I would also get frustrated when I became uncomfortable in bed and it seemed to take ages for the nurses to get help to turn me over. More often than not I complained to Tracey and asked her to do it but of course she couldn't do it, it needed trained staff to move all the drains and tubes. She must have felt helpless.
Throughout all of this she was also separated from our children which I knew also upset her. Stuck between looking after me and the children I know at times she felt torn even though we knew they were both in good hands.
When We finally got home of course it was relief and some of the pressure was lifted but new ones were added. Now there was no nurses around to help us and in the first few days it was difficult adjusting. Tracey struggled to sleep as she listened to my every movement worried that something may be wrong.
When I finally started taking walks it was Tracey at my side, holding my arm,holding my hand. Later on as I grew stronger and started walking on my own there was always a text asking if I was OK? Showing that whilst I was recovering well she still worried about me.
And now I'm back to work she still watches me like a hawk, looking for signs that I might be overdoing things....
But now that I have recovered well and we are returning back to normal I know that there is still one thing on her mind........the future. What does it hold for us? Will we have to go through it again?
The yearly scans will be difficult times.

I am so lucky that I have such a strong and loving wife who has been there for me throughout. No one should have to be put under that sort of pressure or deal with the issues that Tracey has had to over this last year.
But the reality is that this goes on every day and that there are thousands of other people supporting cancer patients, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers and children. Putting on a brave face, offering support, keeping strong and then crying into their pillows at night.
We need to not forget that they need support as all too often they are the unsung heroes who quietly get on with things while us patients get all the attention.

So I want to say thank you Tracey for everything, for loving me and supporting me through this terrible time. I love you, you're the best xx

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Getting back to normality...

Its now nearly a month since the stoma reversal operation and things are slowly returning to normal.
I'm feeling well but am being a little held back by the wound from the operation. Its healing well but taking its time due to the nature of it. Its a round, open wound that heals from the inside out and this is whats taking the time. The nurse is changing the dressings on a Monday and Thursday and insists that all is going very well and that I'm doing very well. I anticipate it being at least another three weeks yet though.
This means that I still cant really get back into the exercise routine in any real meaningful way so in the meantime I just have to be patient. I am walking regularly with a pack for added resistance and am going to get the exercise bike out and have a few gentle goes on that to do some easy cardio. Once the wound heals I hope to start some light weights again. I'm ever midful of the fact that I have arranged the sponsored Snowdon walk and have to get fit for this but at the same time have to get fit sensibly and not overdo things and set myself back and jepourdise the walk.

The good news is that I started back to work today! Only half days to begin with and then will build it up from there. It's great to be back at the sharp end again and for me its another clear indication that I'm now well on the way to recovery.

We also had a great family day out this weekend. We took the family across to the Forest of Dean and walked the Sculpture Trail. Tracey's sister and her husband Paul (a childhood friend of mine) came too along with my two nephews Danny and Jamie. It was the first time for them and we were blessed with great weather. We had a picnic first and then did the walk. We all had a really good time, especially the kids who could run,climb, get dirty and generally have fun. It was great, I really apreciate these days now. They are so valuable and should be cherished....