Thursday, 24 May 2012

Back To Work

Thursday 24th May
Well I have been off  work for 10 weeks after having surgery and have just completed my second session of chemo so I know reasonably well what to expect in the way of side effects. I have been predicting feeling sick all week and tired towards the end of this week prior to picking up again over the weekend. With this in mind and the likelihood that I will feel even worse towards the end of my 12 sessions due to the build up toxins, it makes sense that if I'm going back to work then I should do it now whilst I feel reasonably well. So after discussions with my boss we have agreed that I return with a totally flexible working pattern that allows me to come and go as my condition and treatment regime allows.
So Monday after a visit to Weston Park to get disconnected I went back to work and was greeted with immense warmth from everyone on the shop floor and offices. I'm extremely humbled by the reception especialy for a senior manager from the troops at the sharp end. Bob's pouch has been a bit of a problem because of having to tuck my shirt into my trousers so the only way around it was to ease some of my shirt out creating a bit of a hammock for it to rest in.

I have felt pretty sickly throughout the week and have had a fair amount of pain in my lower abdomen however it now feels slightly better. I am tired but I had a good 11 hours sleep last night plus the 'pins and needles' reaction to cold has almost gone but on the other hand my PICC arm is aching like Billio and my nose has been bleeding slightly. So as you can gather I'm not 100% but at least I'm getting on with it and managing some useful tasks at work with the help of Kevin and Pat. I had forgotten how stressful the job was which was confirmed with a big smile from Kev when he knew I was coming back.
Tonight it's off to the quiz night with the lads, that is if Bob stops girgling and farting. Oh and I was going to post a nice picture of him on the blog but Sue forbids it saying "Dale, it's a step too far and if you do I will be mad" so here goes - just follow the link  I know who's Boss

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Chemo Cycle No2

19th May
Well yesterday Sue and I spent all day in the Day Treatment ward at Weston Park with around 20 other patients receiving chemotherapy. It was certainly a slow start for me since my PICC Line dressing needed changing prior to start up. The 2 hour infusion of Oxaliplatin started at around 2.30 followed by a 250 mil infusion of Flourouracil in tandem with Calcium Folinate which makes the Fluorouracil more effective.

The Flourouracil Canister - note the balloon
inside where the drug is stored whilst being
delivered at a controlled rate
Once this was complete they connected the 46 hour canister of Flourouracil up to the line so that we could go home. There is a balloon inside the canister which is full of the drug and a valve at the top of my PICC line has a set delivery rate and is activated by body heat.
The side effects started around 8pm with some feeling of sickness and this time rather than riding it out I took tablets straight away to try to counteract it. They worked. Next was the tingling throat tongue and mouth especially whilst drinking my medicinal Guinness. I had a fairly uncomfortable night waking several times to adjust the canister position to prevent the line getting wrapped around my neck. At 01.30 with aching joints, headache and a nasty taste in my mouth. I got up to tend to Bob and to take more anti sickness tablets with a drink of water - Ahhh! my mouth and throat.
That was all the sleep I managed, my mind was in overdrive and my body ached.

PICC Line Re Dressed

Shower time turned into another drama when water got into my shower sleeve and seeped under my PICC Line dressing, posing a real threat of infection. A quick call to Weston Park Ward 4 and we were in the car travelling back to Sheffield to get it changed. We will be back again on Monday morning to get the canister disconnected and the line flushed out and so that disconnection, flushing and redressing can be done at home next time some training for Sue

The side effect of the Oxaliplatin that I did not notice last time was the painful tingling finger when in contact with cold objects, like the milk container from the fridge and even the car steering wheel before the heater got working. Other than that it's our 28th anniversary today and neither me nor the weather is good for anything at the moment so I'm taking it easy, watching TV and eating some goodies that our Val bought for me. Mmmm Pontefract Cakes and Wine Gums. I'll be able to tarmac the Brancliffe Lane with his output

Thursday, 17 May 2012


17th May
Well my PICC Line went in yesterday, skillfully inserted by Helen, my Weston Park specialist nurse. I was impressed with the amount care that went into keeping the whole thing sterile, including gowning up, As normal for anything to do with Dale the procedure did not go smoothly since my veins are just too small. The ultrasound picked up one of the best veins in my right arm, just above the elbow but with several futile attempts of inserting the guide wire it just came to a stop 15 cm in, probably at a bend or junction. Attempt No2 got underway after re-gowning and sterilisation of the left arm and surrounding area followed by another ultrasound and choice of vein. The line slipped in effortlessly after a twist of my head to ensure the line passed down my neck and into my heart area. Finally a visit to X-Ray confirmed perfect positioning. The whole thing was painless with the exception of a couple of local anaesthetics.

Anyway back to the title of my post. INJURED. Yes I think I over did it again or did I?.
Sunday I DID go for a short run down Brancliff Lane. Monday I walked down town and back then went Mountain Biking to Kiveton Park and Tuesday I went for a 12 mile walk down Lathkill Dale with Graham and Dave White.
Lathkill Dale
By Tuesday morning (prior to the walk in Lathkill Dale) I already had a stabbing pain around the left side of my lower incision which I think was caused by me stretching awkwardly in bed or so I vaguely remember, being half asleep. Anyway it is now really painful if I move suddenly or twist awkwardly so now I'm out of action and resting up prior to my chemo tomorrow.
I have already visited work and have opted to go back on Monday provided I feel well enough and I have the flexibility to come and go as my condition allows.
Storm Clouds over the White Peak

Anyway now that things have settled down with Bob the stoma nurse has signed me off.
Oh and note the gadget that I inserted at the top of the page. The fish follow the mouse pointer and if you left click you can feed them.

Friday, 11 May 2012


11th May
It's a week since my drugs began infusing and I'm now in the middle of the first of 12 fortnightly cycles.
Visibly my hair has gone grey quickly over the past few months, which is understandable and I can forgive my body for letting this side of my good looks down. As I said to Jayne, that lovely Parish Oven barmaid, "It takes a lot longer now to transform into the Mad Shagger than ever before" If at all. Excuse the terminology.
Yes I have still managed to get to the quiz night if only for the social side and some escape however my taste even for Tetley's Smooth has vanished and has been exchanged for a medicinal half of Guinness, the theory being that the additional iron will aid my red blood cell count.
As a result of the drug infusion my arm has only just stopped hurting and I now know that the indigestion / sick feeling first felt in hospital is part of the symptoms of the cytotoxins since it has never gone away. Even thought I have felt sick most of the time I have not yet vomited. On Wednesday I slept for about 13 hours, something that I have never done in my adult life so I'm obviously more tired and my gums are getting sore. I also have a dull headache and some joint pain. The latter  2 may have nothing to do with the treatment at all but but you just don't know what to expect. It is easy to get paranoid so every little feeling gets amplified until you get convinced its part of the chemo effect. I have tablets to prevent sickness which I have only taken a couple, my logic being that if I can manage without them, the less drugs I poison my body with the better off I will be in the long run.
So in a nut shell my reaction to the treatment so far has been
  • Aching arm
  • Feeling Sick
  • Sore Gums
  • Tiredness
Mentally my Downers are few and far between but when I have them I find myself momentarily gazing into space. A rush of a thousand thoughts condensed into seconds, drifting out of my state of denial. reminding myself that there is actually something wrong with me. Naturally during these nano seconds I'm asking questions of myself like, will I make 60? Will I make retirement? When the time comes will it be painful?. I also curse Bob because he's a carbuncle on this reasonably fit middle aged body of mine, transforming me into a leper. But then it's " 3,2,1 YOUR BACK IN THE ROOM" followed by the perfect forward plan - 6 Months Chemo, 2 months rest, get rid of Bob, then after Christmas Back to Normal, frequent scans and in 5 years ALL CLEAR
Hopefully all of my bad luck has been used up but somehow I know there is some tough times to endure.
WHAT NEXT? - Well it's a blood test and the PICC Line insertion on Wednesday for which I will be in hospital for most of the day followed by Chemo session No2 on Friday.  In between I'm hoping to get as much exercise as possible which my research suggests will aid  coping with side effects. I would love to try a short run down the lane at the back but Sue would go spare if she found out. I'll try it when she's out for a couple of hours.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sunday and in tune with the Dark Side

Sunday 6th May

Dark Side Album Cover -
If you haven't listened to it then do
You love it after a few plays
Not such a good night, even the night lights are just too bright and it still feels like I have indigestion. I've been listening to The Dark Side of the Moon at 3am by Pink Floyd which is one of my favourite albums, always taking note of the lyrics of 'Time' which echoes frittering away youth and time doing nothing. As the old saying goes "Youth is wasted on the young". I cannot say that I did too much of that though except maybe working too many weekends in my 20's when I could have been out in the fresh air or with family.
The sun is shining into the ward, wow if only I was out on Kinder Scout or even Clumber Park. I'm not going to eat too much today to see if this indigestion will ease. My drip is still on course for a 6.30 finish when Graham and our Sue will pick me up. Bob is very active this morning so I'm not sure if it is another side effect. Dennis and I are going out onto the veranda later if the sun stays out. Mincemeat tart for sweet at dinner- just cannot resist it, Bobs pouch will be blowing up like a balloon. Dennis and I managed some sunshine along with a bit of heart to heart chatting, and I was proud to listen and share thoughts with him. He's a top man with old fashioned gentlemanly values.
2.2 Litres?  Great Almost There
We had a good laugh with one of the care assistants who originated from the Congo in Africa, a big lad who said his name and we thought it was something like Londrie. When were asked again later he wrote it down "Laundry" we thought he was kidding so I said his second name must be Basket. He said "No It's Kumba and all the teenagers on the ward below are calling him CUCUMER". We still didn't know if he was telling the truth about his first name.

Steve just sleeps and Cliff sits quietly suffering with stomach pain or cat napping. I'll be glad to get of here and into normal surroundings however 2 seperate nurses have advised me to return to the ward for my future chemo session rather than have it at home, mainly to get the rest since this is one of the more powerful chemo drugs
Back home its a good shower and a phone around to Mum and Uncle Barry. It's a wait now to see if when or what side effects I suffer. The one I have been warned against is infection so I have to monitor my temperature on a regular basis.
At least I have a warm bum to snuggle up to tonight.

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Drinking Broken Glass

Saturday 5th

Decent nights sleep however Cliff in the next bed did not sleep at all being doubled up with stomach pains. He's very quiet and obviously tired this morning. I managed to show him how to adjust his bed so that he could sleep whilst sat up.
The only side effect noticed this morning has been in my throat drinking my fresh cold water feeling like I'm drinking broken glass so you can imagine what effect the ice-cream had at lunch all a result of the Oxilaplatin.
My second bag of 5-FU went on at 6.30pm so should be complete for 5.30pm tomorrow so hopefully I will be off home by 6.30. Feeling slightly sickly this evening but I think it is more indigestion through inactivity than chemo induced
On final note I am definitely missing my early morning cuddle which would have been with Graham tomorrow morning since we should have gone to Glencoe today for the start of the annual JB's trip. I'll doubly make up for it on Monday morning though with our Sue but a threesome with Bob is still out of the question. Ah well a snuggle with the missus will do nicely thank-you.

Sent from my iPod

Friday, 4 May 2012

Chemo cycle No1

Friday 4th May
Started chemo at 5 pm which was 2 1/2 hours late due to my drugs being marked up and sent to Ward 3  instead of Ward 4 where I was actually staying. What More Can I Say. It's just the norm not to expect anything to go right
Anne dropped Sue and myself off and Sue wanted to stop until my treatment started but as usual nothing has gone to plan again so not wanting her to be late home I sent her off assuring her that I would be ok. She was clearly upset and it took a lot of effort to stop my eyes from watering. I've got to stay strong whatever. Mortality is a big reality in here more so than anywhere else I've been, ever. So many really sick people, all ages and backgrounds, there's no pattern or logic. It's just a lottery. There is even a smoking room that has special government dispensation for terminal patients.
None of the chaps in our room are very well obviously but what I mean is they don't look well. Dennis who is about 62 has lung cancer which has spread into his liver and kidneys and is terminal. Steve who is 61 has mouth and throat cancer (he's on radio therapy ) and Cliff who is in his mid 70,s also has lung cancer. I'm not sure how much fight he has in him since he lives alone and has already lost his wife to the big C 7 years ago, he does however have plenty of support from his family but admits to sometimes just sitting in his chair all morning without getting dressed.
The SCOT Trial has gone for a burton since they lost my blood samples, the only way that I could participate was to wait until next week and since i was already psyched up and my bag packed I decided to get on with the job.
The Oxiliplatin Was infused over 2 hours without any of the side effects however during the flushing with saline my arm became very painful due to the fast rate of the flush. I could actually feel my veins in my arm pulsating with the rhythm of the pump. The next drug was 250 Mils of flourouracil which was pumped in at the same rate as the saline, followed by another flush. Now for the big boy. 1 litre of 5-Flourouracil over 23 hours plus the same again once that has finished. At this rate I will be in here until Monday. The canula is uncomfortable and I can see how veins get knackered from this type of treatment. I'm assured the the PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line will be much more comfortable with the drugs going direct into big vein leading to my heart. I Didn't sleep much last night so hopefully I will be tired enough to get some tonight. All this liquid is making me water the horse pretty often.
Poison to kill the cancer seeds
I always try to end blogs with a positive and there is plenty of it here. The staff are great and 10 years ago there would have been little hope for many in here but now there is, to either cure or prolong life with some quality and dignity. On a personal note I feel good tonight so let's hope it carries on

CYTOTOXIC means Toxic to Cells

Sent from my iPod

Thursday, 3 May 2012

At Least I'm In Good Shape - What About Everything Else?

3rd May
I've just returned from Weston Park Hospital after having a blood test and a consultation. Chemo starts tomorrow and since I do not yet have a PICC Line or Central Line fitted into my main artery I will remain in hospital for the first stint of 46 hours. After the first session the rest will be as an out patient, taking the drugs home in a pumped dispenser . Since this is my first treatment session blood test samples were taken for Tumour Markers, Blood Count, Liver & Kidney Function and a Blood Bank Sample (DNA etc)
Once in the consulting suite I met my Oncologist Specialist who went over my treatment and began an obvious sales pitch for recruitment to take part in the latest trial called the SCOT TRIAL.
The trial involves a selection of candidates with 50% having the full 12 sessions whilst the other 50% have only 6 sessions since there is some evidence that 6 gives the same benefit as 12. Having already read the trial paperwork at home I had already consigned myself to NOT take part since if the cancer comes back and bites me I would regret it for the rest of my remaining life. HOWEVER the sales pitch was so strong that I volunteered for the trial weighing up that I could opt out at any time if I got selected for the 1/2 measure and that trial volunteers are more closely monitored for the cancer coming back which could easily be the case even if I don't join the trial.

*** STOP PRESS*** - Just taken a call that they have lost my samples between Weston Park and Hallamshire Hospital so I have to go to Bassetlaw Hospital "GYNAECOLOGY" Department in the morning for more samples to be taken. They will get an almighty shock (well a shock) if they try to give me an internal. Mind you I've always considered myself to be a bit of a lesbian.
On a personal note I'm currently reasonably fit considering it's only 6 weeks since my surgery and if it wasn't for my imminent chemotherapy treatment I would be ready to get back to work. In preparation for treatment, when the weather has been dry I've been getting my self prepared physically for the poisoning effects of the drugs. I've had a few days out walking building up the distance and on Monday Graham and I had a decent walk over the moors behind Chatsworth visiting en route some of the bronze age settlements and burial sites including Hob Hurst's House. The return leg back to the Robin Hood pub was particularly rough going over pathless, tussocky moorland, heather and bog, the only pain felt was a slight twinge around my scar.
Other positives are that our leak in the garden was fixed by my Uncle Barry and Bob has just just passed the tomato skin that I thought might get stuck. Oh and the Oncologist said that I'm OK to have a couple of pints of Tetley's Smooth tonight at the Parish Oven quiz
Just another note to say thanks to everyone that reads the blog - If you want me to know that you are following then please sign up as a follower
I'll let you know how I get on on Sunday evening when I come back home
Lets hope I feel OK for next week's quiz night