Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wednesday 23rd February- 1st Annual Scan Results.

The last week or so has been agonising for us all. Waiting for the phone call to come or the letter to arrive constantly played on our minds.

I had been lucky and work was extremely busy with some major projects underway that meant my mind was occupied and the days flew by. The problem was that when I got home and relaxed the mind started churning things over and the “what if’s” thought about. This coupled with the tiredness from a busy days work and not the best night’s sleep meant that as the week progressed the worry and stress levels grew.
Tracey also worried. And like me it became apparent that the waiting was taking its toll. She had a few tearful moments and it was almost like re-living the initial diagnosis all over again.

Things came to a head today. I had been out for my first lunchtime run in a week, it had been hard and I’d really struggled. I didn’t feel on top of the world and the stress was getting me down. On top of that I worried about Tracey and how she was coping and there were signs that the girls were anxious too.

I was showering after the run and had a moment where I felt I was struggling to control things.
“This is stupid” I thought to myself. The only way I was going to put us all out of our misery was to call the hospital.

So dried and dressed I headed back to my desk and picked up the phone.
I rang the specialist nurse and left a message.

Within about half an hour my mobile rang and it was them. The moment of truth had arrived. Nervously I picked up the phone. It was Vicky.

Fantastic news! The scan results were clear and “There was no evidence of a re-occurrence” I was overwhelmed.
“ You’d better ring your wife!” She told me. It was the first call I made.

I also enquired after Lauren and was told that she was well and up and about and making good progress. More good news.

Tracey met me on the doorstep when I got home and we hugged and shed a few tears. Cancer free for another year.......

I tucked Chloe & Jess in last night and both were beaming and obviously happy with the news.
Chloe looked up from under her duvet and said..
“Three good things have happened today”
“Whats that?” I replied.
“It’s Aunty Lisa’s birthday and we had chocolate cake, Emily is coming to play on Saturday and your scan results are clear”
I gave her a big hug close to tears.......

A cancer free year ahead and a huge weight lifted from the entire family.........

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Feb 14th 2010-First Annual Scan.

So it was that we found ourselves on the now familiar road from Bristol to Basingstoke. My appointment was at 10:45am so we had an early start. I had not been allowed to eat or drink for four hours before the appointment and made a special effort to get up early enough to allow me to have a light breakfast as I can’t start the day without food!
Traffic was not too bad but we drove into the sun all the way which was low in the sky and reflected off the wet tarmac.

We arrived at the hospital an hour early. Tracey grabbed a coffee from Costa and we headed for the X-ray department and the CT scanner. The nurse advised us that whilst we had arrived early they were busy and would not be able to see me before the allocated time. I also had to have some bloods taken so we decided to go and get this done first.

The Pathology department was busy and we waited for an hour before I was seen. The nurse who took my blood advised that the week before they had closed the department as there had been a two and a half hour waiting time and patients were still arriving!

We headed back to the CT scanner and they started me on my “drink”. Basically it’s a liquid they give you that you have to drink over a 45minute period prior to the scan to clearly define the bowl when you are scanned.
Time passed fairly quickly and as we watched the comings and goings of the department. I was soon called and had to strip off and change into a gown. From here I was lead into the medical area and a cannula was inserted into my right arm at the inner elbow. I was then lead into the new scanner which was opened in October 2010. I made myself comfortable on the bed and was moved through the scanner and emerged from the other side. The nurses then connected the cannula to the scanner. A liquid would be pumped into the cannula when the scanning process started. It gives you a strange warm feeling that starts in your ear drums, you can taste in your mouth and makes you feel like you have wet yourself! It’s not unpleasant just very strange and I guess dilates the blood vessels to ensure a good image is achieved.
The nurses then left the room and proceeded to talk to me via the intercom. Initially you are passed through the scanner once without the injection to line up the image and then the scan starts proper. The now familiar instructions to “breathe in” as you pass through the scanner sounding over the intercom. The new scanner has a monitor on it that allows you to see the image as you lie there. I’m always fascinated by this sort of thing and if I’m honest was watching it all the time to see if there was anything out of the ordinary on there, not that I would know what I’m looking for!
And that was it. All done in the space of around 25 minutes. I made my way back outside where the cannula was removed and got changed back into my clothes. All done.

Tracey and I then headed for the canteen and ate dinner. I was starving and munched away enthusiastically on my tuna mayo rolls! We decided at this point that we would head up to ward C2 just to say hello to the team who looked after me and to see if we could stop in and see Lauren (a lady I had been talking to on the Christies forum) to wish her luck as she was having her MOAS the following day.

When we arrived on the ward we bumped straight into Sue Alves the specialist nurse and had a lovely chat with her. She told us that some of the money we had raised with the Snowdon walk had been spent on research into Pseudomyxoma which is currently being done with Southampton University and that they are also opening a physio room for patients and will use some money to buy equipment for that. Sue also told us that the incidents of PMP are now on the increase and it’s more like 2 people in every million per annum that will contract the disease. The belief is that the one in a million number was probably wrong in the first place and that only through raising awareness of the condition throughout the medical profession as lead to more correct diagnosis and patients being referred. All the more reason to continue to fundraise to try and help come up with a cure!

We then made our way onto the ward and said hello to the team who cared for me whilst I was there. There were a number of familiar faces and a few new ones too. I also met Vicky Stone who is also a specialist nurse and works alongside Sue. I had talked to her on a number of occasions over the phone but we had never met and it was great to finally put a face to a name.

Next we headed to see Lauren. We’d never met and had only communicated via the forum. We found her in room 4 and sat with her Mum. She was understandably nervous about what was to come but otherwise in good spirits and seemed pretty focussed. We did our best to answer any questions that she had and hopefully set her mind at rest with a few worries that she had. We talked for about 15-20 minutes and we wished her all the best. I hope that in some way my visit might of helped her in the same way that talking with Margaret prior to my operation helped me. Vicky seemed to think I was a good advert for her as I look so well a year down the line.
Time was pushing on and we still had the long drive home to contend with. We were not going to make it home in time for the girls for School so mum came over and waited for them to arrive home at our house.

Later that evening we were both tired and the stress of the day finally caught up with Tracey. The year anniversary had thrown up all the old memories and the images still as vivid as ever in your mind.I'm sure it's really hard on her going back and seeing it all again.She had a few tears.... Now the waiting game. The PMP Albatross weighs heavy around our necks at the moment. Sue had said that she would try and get my results to me by the end of the week, let’s hope so the waiting in no man’s land is not easy for any of us.

I settled into bed and thought of Lauren. I remembered my final evening before the operation and how I felt and the thoughts that ran through my mind......

The following morning we got up and at 07:15 Tracey said to me “She’ll be heading for theatre now”. We’d both been thinking the same thing. I clock watched all day yesterday and thought of Lauren and her family. On the day of my operation Tracey and Mum didn’t get to see me in ICU until 23:30 some 16 and half hours after we had said our goodbyes. For me this is where the struggle really began, ICU was tough....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

2nd Feb 2011-MOAS +1 year.

So here it is, the one year anniversary of the MOAS. Where did that year go? It’s funny but it has stirred up a whole load of emotions that I thought I had buried.....just goes to show that it still lurks just below the surface whilst I happily go about my daily do, never far away.
As soon as I woke this morning it was on my mind “today was the day this time last year....” . I think that the fact that my first annual scan is also coming up has added to the moment as whilst I’m not actively worrying about it as there is little I can do about the outcome one way or another, again subconsciously it’s there, just below the surface.
On a positive note my recovery (whilst still ongoing) is going well, but a year down the line I’m still not quite up to full speed. I am running twice a week now and looking to step it up to three times a week with a long run on a Sunday within the next two weeks. The runs have become harder, longer and faster and I have a good group around me now who help me keep motivated. I have pre-registered for the Bristol half marathon in September and hope to run it with Steve Treweeks (Bumper from the Christies forum) and other friends and family who regularly run it. I need now to get some serious training in and plan also to do the Frenchay 10k in April.
I still get aches and pains particularly around the site of where the stoma once was and again put it down to the fact that I’m starting to push my body physically and re-building the core muscles. Again hopefully the CT scan on the 14th will confirm all is going well with the healing in that area. To compliment this I have also started working out again. Initially with resistance bands and then will move onto light free weights. This should then give me a good strong platform to run off again but must be done carefully to prevent things like hernia’s occurring.
My bowl has settled nicely now and it’s only in the last month that I can really say that I’m probably back to a point near normality. I have to still be careful about what and how much I eat but I think that this will be the way of things for me from now on.
In recent weeks I have also had a real push on trying to eat as healthily as I can. It’s always been a thing that I have tried to do with things like ensuring that I have my five a day with plenty of wholegrain thrown into the mix. I also drink green tea a couple of times a day. This should also help me with my training and building a stronger, healthier body again.
I’m really looking forward to this summer. We are trying to book a holiday somewhere at the moment and it will be great to spend some time with the family in the sun and enjoy being together as a unit and planning fun things to do together.
This last year would have been so much harder if I had not had the full support of so many beautiful people around me to help me get through it. My darling Tracey who has been a rock throughout all these difficult times, my beautiful daughters Jessica & Chloe, Mum and Dad, Joyce, Stephen & Lisa, Tina & Paul, Scott, Jon, Andy & Mark, Mum & Dad Bates, Dave & Carol, Steve & Anne, Derek and “H”, Steve Treweeks ,all the people from work and of course the Christies forum. And most importantly to the medical team at Basingstoke and the District nurses who got me through it all. Thank you all for all your help and support getting me through this last year you made it so much easier for me. So I raise a glass to you all and here’s to a healthy future......!