Saturday, 31 March 2012

Looking After Bob

Saturday Morning 31st
The past few weeks have been a life changing experience. Just the simple things like Sue let out a big fart last night in bed and I envied her - What's that all about? But look on the positive side I can have a crap whist in bed, whilst talking to my mother and on the phone (I think I might have done that one before though). I have been self conscious that that the bag may smell and I'm not aware of it however Sue and Graham have assured me it doesn't. Apparently the modern bags are totally odour free due to the high tech filter which allows any Flatus or in layman's terms "Farts" to escape.
Looking after Bob is the major change and as I said before it's like looking after a baby. Prior to changing a nappy or a stoma bag everything has to be to hand so planning is essential. It can smell just the same and it can get sore if the skin around it is not kept clean and dry. in addition just like a nappy it has to fit perfectly so that there are no leaks and the mess does not contact my stomach skin which will get irritated by the acid. I'm still hoping that unlike a baby Bob will shrink in size over the coming weeks which means the hole size in the daily bag change will need altering regularly. By the time I'm ready for the reversal he will have just settled down.

Thursday Graham picked me up to go down to Pandrol for Johnny Clarke's retirement presentation to which Pat introduced me as a special guest. It was nice to see all the lads and hopefully I did not steal John's thunder on his special day.

I had some normality on Thursday night when Uncle Barry picked me up to go to the Parish Oven quiz night along with Graham and Mick Mac Michael. Although we crashed and burned in the quiz I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 halves of Tetley Smooth and the banter that goes with it.
I've taken it easy yesterday because I still have that pain in the lower part of my butt although it has subsided quite a lot. The District Nurse came to take out by wound staples and check my drain hole wound which is healing nicely. Last night was the worst nights sleep that I have had since I came home. Maybe I've had enough of laying around.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Too Much Too Soon

Wednesday 28th
The weather has been fantastic for this time of year so it has been nice to sit out in the garden. I'm having some small meals and trying to drink plenty of tea and water since much of the water in food is taken out in the large bowel. Again loads of phone calls and visitors including the stoma nurse and all very welcome . The great thing about food at the moment is that I can eat all the unhealthy shit that I never did before this whole business like crisps, white bread, ice cream and pastries. All stuff that is low fiber and high energy.

Bob has started to loose some of the swelling and is unpredictable in his activity. One minute he is bubling and farting and the next minute he is still bubbling and farting then stopping when I least expect. Clothing wise I cannot wear my jeans because they rub Bob up the wrong way. I have some old trouser that fit below my bag and I also need to wear some small briefs to support my goolies that go over my wound staples. I know they call them "Budgie Smugglers" but there has been not a flicker from him since before the operation. Our Sue is glad and hopes it stays like that. Mind you the front lawn is nicely trimmed ready for action care of NGH.
I had a steady / very slow stroll down the back lane to the river which is all of 100 yards. I felt OK physically however mentally I just wanted to weep which I think Sue could see in my eyes as she approached me whilst I sat on the bridge. She just rubbed my back and asked if I was OK. I attempted the same walk later that afternoon with Graham, regretting the whole idea half way there however I foolishly kept going. I spent the rest of the afternoon and the whole of today with a pain on the inside and hope that I haven't done any damage. Feeling well is just an illusion at this early stage.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Home at Last after the Ordeal

Sunday 27th March

Back Home at Last after a long wait in my room for the NGH Pharmacy to send up my drugs. Drain removed (ouch) Shauna my allocated Stoma Nurse assessed my self care with the help of Micky Winfrow who had just popped in (Cheers Mick and thanks for being the first welcome non family face to visit me last Thursday) Dressed and ready by 11.00. Maxine the oher stoma nurse thinks I'm an Ironman having done better than anyone she knows. They are all lovely
A very surprised consultant just managed to catch me before I left and explained in person what had actually happened during my 2 operations. Surprised in the fact that I had recovered so well after 2 major operations in one day and had still hit the very earliest target for discharge which was accounted to my general well being.
The explanation was as follows
I was due in theatre @ 13.30 however a slot had opened @ 11.30 for the Registrar Surgeon to do the job. The registrar did a Laproscopic Lower Anterior Resection taking away the area of bowel where the polyps were removed during my colonoscopy. Thinking that the job was done I was stitched back up and sent for post op recovery. Meanwhile my op was discussed between the Registrar and the consultant (who should have done it) The consultant immediately realised that the cancerous tumour section had not been removed. They woke me to sign another consent form and to check with another colonoscopy.
I was taken back down to theatre to have it done all over again this time by my consultant.
He continued to say that although we werre awaiting histology results things look very good with iliostomy reversal planned to take place in 6 weeks time.

Graham's Get Well Card with a painted scene from when we traversed Kinder a few weeks ago after climbing around Blackden Brook and the Downfall area


Tuesday 20th
The Anaesthetist struggled to find a vein, suggesting that I have Raynaud's Syndrome. The vein problem carried on throughout my treatment, little surprise that I struggle with the cold when winter climbing. "I'm just going to flush the cannula out with saline solution"
Obviously it was the anesthetic and I wake in a dreamlike state feel for a stoma bag (I don't think there is one) and fall back to sleep.
Next thing I'm being woken by my consultant to sign another consent form saying something about leaving a lesion behind. They fumble with my backside to check with the scope which is followed by a painful inflation of air. I think I pass out.

Wednesday Morning 21st
I open my eyes and its dark. The nurse asks how I feel and do I have any pain? I say I'm OK. I ask what time is it and she says 2 O'clock. "Morning or afternoon". "Morning". Later a girl yawns and walks over to me. I mistake her for my beautiful daughter Anne and I say "Hello Sweetheart, What are you doing here". She holds my hand, smiles and asks if I'm OK. I then realise it is one of the nurses. I feel again for a stoma bag and find that I have one.
Later that afternoon I'm taken to the ward Firth 3. I'm hooked up to all sorts of things like saline / glucose, antibiotic drips. morphine and and once settled asked if I want to get up out of bed. I swing my legs around and sit on the edge of the bed. Dazed and dizzy the nurse says I'm not ready to do any more today. Later Sue and our Phil visit. I remember little more, my head just spinning.

Wednesday 22nd
Shocking day
Still very woolly headed and I am asked to getup and sit in my Shackleton high seat wearing just an open backed gown whilst the bed was stripped. Bare arse the lot and was left like that for 45 mins. The Physio came to show me some exercises and take me a short walk out of the room. I was not in a good mood after being left so long without any dignity, so I painfully stood up and stormed out of the room as quickly as I could with her trying to slow me down. She could see that I was Not a happy bunny which was reported to the ward sister. Lots of apologies.
I vomited twice which I knew I would since every general anaesthetic I've ever had has made me vomit violently. You just have to go through the pain barrier in order to come out the other side. The day passed miserably ending with a grand finally.
First the farty rumblings I had been having all day erupted into a pain so severe that I thought my time had come. With the buzzer pressed and Merlita the nurse by my side I passed wind and coagulated blood into a man sized nappy. The wind I'm sure from the second pre op examination when I passed out. Relief came at the final thrust. All tidied up into paper pyjamas I tried to get some sleep.
I Awoke about an hour later my stomach bulging and hard. Something was wrong. With every drip of saline the pain increased, Buzzing frantically for help until I could feel the building pressure in my kidneys. I was about to burst. Merlita came in the nick of time only to find my catheter was twisted in my paper pants. Once sorted the pain ebbed away and at last I fell to sleep

.Me - as blurred as I felt

Sent from my iPod=

Thursday 23rd
I had a good night sleep after my epic evening. I have not needed morphine since yesterday morning and I'm not sure it was doing any good either. Merlita the night nurse had been an angel
No morphine means no drip or catheter. I won't say it was a pleasure having the catheter taken out but it was a relief. Once all the lines were out I had a good wash and shave on my own. I feel much better for it.
The sister helped me with my stoma bag and I'll try the next on my own. She had a great deal of compassion and was very gentle. 90% of the staff are fabulous with the rest just doing a job. I suppose that's typical everywhere. Had texts from Paddy and Jason at work. It was good to hear from them and it looks like plenty are asking how I am. Sent one back to say hello to all the lads. Loads of visitors again

Sent from my iPod=

Friday 24th
Reasonable night sleep feeling bit better. Had a wash and have walked around the room a little. I'm looking after myself pretty well there are lots of groans on the ward outside my room and I wonder if I'm going to get moved now I'm getting better but with having to look after my stoma you really need your own space, privacy and toilet facilities. I'm naming him BOB. Hopefully he won't be with me for long. Everyone is impressed with my progress and it looks like I have gained a name for being the one that got fucked up during my ops. Again loads of visitors. Some of the older ones don't get anyone.
Sent from my iPod=

Saturday 25th
Feeling even better so I'm going to make an effort to look better. Strip wash, Hair wash and shave. Looking in the mirror whilst drying my hair my man boobs have almost gone and so has my little role of fat around my waist line. Hair brushed and armpits deodorised I'm starting to look like the Mad Shagger again but the difference is that I don't feel like it. I'm pumped so full of antibiotics that plaque is not forming on my teeth and I don't think I have any body odour. Or Do I?
The Registrar doctor has made a flying visit to see me and is impressed with my progress also noting that we are not awaiting any results to see if I'm clear of cancer. In his opinion everything went perfectly in both operations. Both?
Meals in here are decent and there is always 2 courses and plenty of choice. One of the things I enjoy is people watching especially the nurses. I notice how attractive they are, how hard they work, who is doing it as a job and who is doing it with total compassion and care because this is their passion.
I've also notice that 'Lean' style systems have been introduced with check sheets for everything, Single Point Instructions, targets and performance. I know I should not think of work but I cannot help it. I'm a Pandrol man through and through.
Again today I'm overwhelmed by the amount of visitors I have. I'm one luck man. Emotionally I'm not very strong, standing alone at the window weeping until I hear footsteps in the corridor then it's a wipe of the eyes and a smile. I'm going to be a while getting over this.
Mince meat tart for afters wow. I'm starting to enjoy the small amount of food I'm having. Chew that dried fruit or it will make my bag blow up. Later in the evening my temperature rose. I cannot afford an infection and I start getting paranoid
Sent from my iPod=

Sunday 26th
Feeling better by the hour. My rise in temperature last night amounted to nothing thank God.
I've decided to call my stoma Bob and I'll have to look after him pretty well. Up to now he's just like a baby, having to tend to him every couple of hours to stop the bag overflowing
Been out for 2 walks to the Huntsman entrance to get some sunshine. Beautiful day however the the 3rd walk to get better phone reception felt almost too far.
Just going through the list
Learn how to inject myself in the stomach to stop blood clots
Last intravenous antibiotics and cannula out
Tomorrow hopefully it's drain out (ouch?)
Practical exam with the Stoma Nurse to prove I can cope on my own
Club note
Westfield claim

Sent from my iPod=

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Monday, 19 March 2012

Acceptance and Preparation

19th March
It's been a week since I hit my lowest point when my op got postponed. Since then I've had another consultation through the NHS, another pre op assessment and plenty of fresh air to clear my head. I have had a few walks including one on Saturday with Graham then yesterday we went over to Andrew's and Micky's house in Shipley Country park for dinner. It was just a shame I was on a low fibre diet in prep for my op. Only meat, potatoes and Yorkshire pudding for me but it was good never the less. Later we had a stroll down to the local pub for some liquid nourishment which was excellent.
In a way the past week has been a bit of a holiday away from the stress of work and gaining a quiet acceptance of what I have and what we have to do to get it sorted including the possibility of a temporary stoma and depending on lymph node biopsies, chemotherapy. I'm comfortable about the whole thing including watching a similar operation (Lower Anterior Resection) on Youtube just to see what the surgeon is up against.
Today is another big day having started my  first bowel prep (Picolax) at 08.00 and at 12.45 I'm still waiting for something to happen. I thought I would be shitting through the eye of a needle well before now. I've had nothing at all to eat today however I could have had a low fibre lunch before 12 but with nothing happening I'm not wanting to add to the problem. I've trimmed the front lawn and will trim around my old man later. I need it to be nice and neat and presentable prior to to the work being done including fiddling about with my todger to insert the catheter. There's more bowel prep to take at 2pm this afternoon so things need to get moving pretty quickly otherwise there could be an almighty mess.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

New Hospital and New Date

13th March
I've just come back from the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. I set off at 07.00 to make sure I cleared the traffic and got a parking space for my appointment at 09.00.
The consultant apologised for the mess with BUPA and Thornbury and continued to inform me that he has got me a slot in the operating theatre in the afternoon of the 20th assuring me that the weeks delay will have no impact on my condition whatsoever since I have proberbly had the problem for several months or even a year. I've been asigned my own personal Keyworker / nurse called Shauna and will return on Thursday for a pre op assessment. No china cups, Sky TV or ensuite at this hospital but it looks like they have a good team that will take good care of me.
Just thinking whist blogging that I could have been going in for the op this afternoon and maybe returning with an enormous bill. And I was really looking forward to that enema.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Operation postponed

12th March
I was due in tomorrow for my operation however BUPA have called to say that I'm not covered for cancer treatment and we just cannot afford to pay this as a private patient.
It's a massive blow when I was all prepared and had also been in for my pre op assessment this morning. My head is just spinning at the moment. I cannot laugh or cry. I find myself just staring into space vacantly.
I have a new appointment tomorrow with the same surgeon at the Northern General so I can get registered as an NHS patient. Hopefully it won't take long to get in. I really need to start thinking about work but I'm struggling to concentrate on anything today.
Hey anyway, look on the bright side, at least I will get to the quiz at the Parish Oven on Thursday

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Being Colour Blind can be a Problem

I think its worth a note on my symptoms of this condition and Colour Blindness.
See I've always had a problem on the snooker table when it comes to red and brown. I have on numerous occasions potted the brown by mistake for the red. Both look the same to me unless I study them closely and compare one with the other. Obviously or not so obvious is the difficulty in spotting blood in faeces which for me I have not noticed. The only symptoms have been the very occasional messy / slimey bum wipe which led me to believe I had picked up an infection from one of the places that I eat and was being re-infected periodically. It was after about 3 months of this that made me visit the doctors however with no other symptoms I was lucky that my doctor gave me a referral.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Mountain or Hill to Climb

7th March
I've just returned from my consultation at Thornbury Hospital. Arriving 45 minutes early it was a nail biting 1 hour wait to hear the news.
Good news is that the 2 polyps were both benign
Bad news is that the area found in the rectum is cancer.
Good news is from the scans it appears that it has not spread and in the Dukes scale it is about A/B.
Operation wise to perform this simple "Re Plumbing" I'm in on Tuesday afternoon and will remain in hospital for up to 10 days. I may need a temporary stoma and at worst chemotherapy.
Although I'm not out of the woods I can see the light shining brightly through the trees.
Mountain or Hill to climb? I think it's just a hill
We've just been ringing around friends and relations with what they think is bad news. It's not bad news, It is good news without doubt.
We are off to Loch Lomond in the morning to celebrate Uncle Barry and Wendy's Golden Wedding anniversary. Sue and I will be doing some celebrating of our own. One last chance to get pissed prior to a little discomfort. I must remember to trim around my old man before I go

No Man's Land

6th March

It's been a couple of days of mixed emotions. I always thought that I was an optimist however I've thought about making a will which is something that we always keep meaning to do and every twinge down below makes me think that this hidden horror is erupting after laying unnoticed for I don't know how long. Even now it is spreading its mutated cells throughout my body to infect other innocent organs- well these are the things that I'm thinking about along with the positives like it might be benign, we've caught it in time and maybe I might still get on the Jolly Boys trip in May. The support from family and friends is amazing with loads of texts of best wishes which is great if I could reply. I'm just crap at texting
Back to Thornbury Hospital again today for 2 scans, the first an MRI and the second a CT. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining so it was nice to sit out between scans to drink my litre of chateau barium blanc and listen to Coldplay's Pardise before the CT scan.
Results consultation is tomorrow night at 7pm so I'm only in No Man's Land for one more day

Friday, 2 March 2012

Trouble down Below

2nd March
I've just been for a colonoscopy at Thornbury Hospital in Sheffield. All gowned up and baring my virgin arse to another man. I've always called myself an Hairy Arsed Climber even though my buttocks are silky smooth however viewing the monitor as the scope got nearer to the entrance it was true I did have a hairy arse.Once inside the Dr guided the scope up through the lower parts, inflating my colon as he went. The compressor sounding much like the tyre inflater down at Sainsbury's. According to the nurse I had a "Lovely clean bowel". (Well my wife would be proud) The comment brought tears to my eyes as I remembered almost wretching whilst taking the 2 litres of Moviprep preparation the evening before. 2 litres in means 2 litres out. En route through my colon the doctor pointed out a large polyp and a smaller one both of which he would remove on the way out along with something else nearer the entrance. It seems that my colon is something like Brands hatch with very tight corners which are harder than normal to get around. Meanwhile the compressor continued to pump to open the corners until the pain got excruciating. I've driven myself to hospital so there's no sedation for me. Arriving at my appendix the reversal commenced until he arrived at the large polyp. Inserting a loop down the scope he lassoed the stem, nipping it off like a cheese wire, then inserting a collapsible basket tried to collect the marble sized polyp. Several attempts and more painful inflating finally captured the polyp which was then brought out. With the scope reinserted about 20 cm the area noted earlier of concern was checked out noting that the lump had strange colouring and a large base. Biopsy were taken with a Small nipper. The procedure was over.
Back in my cubical the doctor came for a chat noting that he was very concerned about the area he had taken samples of and that I was going to need an operation to sort it. Blood samples were taken followed by a futile attempt by the doctor to get me in for a scan that day. My consultation for results is on Wednesday evening in a consultation room that he was opening just for me provided I get fixed up with a scan on Monday. We was supposed to be going on holiday to Scotland on Wednesday morning.
The drive home was very uncomfortable, and upon walking through the door and seeing Sue I became a little weepy however the pain from the inflation took over and I writhed in agony, my abdomen full of air for well over 2 hours. Every turn sent the gas to another part of my colon where the process started all over again. What I needed was a dam good fart. By 6 that evening I could just about walk pain free.
Sue seems to be very concerned having sleepless nights and constant need to be next to me. We will just have to wait and see but for now it's back to work as normal and we will travel to Scotland early Thursday morning what ever the news.