Monday, 30 July 2012

Big Skies and Wide Eyed

Monday 30th July

It is now feeling like the big push is on. Since my last cycle 10 days ago I have had maybe  3 to 4 hours sleep per night and the fatigue is slowly catching up. When I'm alone, reading or writing I find myself dozing for what seem like 30 minutes at a time when I know they are only seconds. I have done well so far managing to get to work for a large proportion of the time however common sense it telling me that I'm getting close to the time when I need to be off until my treatment is complete. Apart from sleep deprivation I'm bruised over my arms and legs (possibly as a result of low platelet levels combined with the climbing last week) and my lips and tongue are getting blistered and ulcerated.
Another Dawn - Big Skies and wide Eyed
the view from our garden on Thurdsay at 04.15
Sue changed my PICC dressing on Saturday morning when we both witnessed my line slowly come out of the vein by 1 cm as if my body was rejecting it. All we could do was to leave it and re-dress over it.
I suppose with me being run down the question most on my mind at the moment is will my platelet count be high enough for treatment to go ahead on Friday. We'll just have to wait and see.

Blog Addition Tuesday 05.30
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

One of Henry Moore's many sculptures in the park

We had a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Friday which is just a mile off junction 28 on the M1. What a fabulous place. Big open spaces with sculptures dotted around the park. It's free to get in but parking is £7.50. If you go take a picnic, a rug and a rucksack but most of all take your imagination.  An ideal day out for anyone and everyone including those recovering from cancer or just like me going through chemo.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Climbing Yes - but not a Mountain

26th July

Graham leading our first route of the evening
As expected the fatigue has hit me and I have given in to a couple of days off from work but why? Is it the chemo, lack of sleep or the rock climbing on Froggatt Edge last night? Or a combo of the lot? I have been deprived of sleep for so many nights and I knew the drugs would kick in around about now but Whatever. It is not really that important but I can say that the climbing last night did me the world of good, mentally anyway.
Graham completing the last route of the evening
It has given my ego quite a boost thinking that I can actually manage a few rock routes even though it was easy graded stuff. So other than being slightly weary, having a bit of a nose bleed, a sore mouth, a painful tongue and a few bruises from last nights cragging I'm doing brilliant. Graham did his best to look after me giving me good advice not to compound my  current health problems and advised that I take it steady and not do any lead climbing but I eventually got my way on the last route of the day, managing easily. A swift beer in the Grouse completed a near perfect Outdoorsy evening with good friends. I've been wearing shorts and a tee shirt today so it has been difficult to hide any of the war wounds on my now muscle depleted body and Sue is so keen to point out that I should not be doing such daft things, not yet anyway. My plans for the rest of the weekend are to get plenty of kip and rest up just a little, but maybe, just maybe get out in the fresh air for a decent walk.
I think that Wrighty's enormous budgie smuggler bulge is just worthy of a mention  after being captured by my camera whilst packing up after climbing. Graham thought he had a bunch of bananas stuffed down the front of his pants.
Dave just be careful when you UNLEASH THE BEAST

Friday, 20 July 2012

Chemo No6 and we are Half Way There

Friday 20th June
Sue and I have just got back from WPH after chemo session No6 and guess what? EVERYTHING WENT TO PLAN - YES - COME ON - BRING IT ON. Another thing that topped my spirits up to the max was being looked after by my two fave nurses Helen and Rachel. In fact as always preparation is everything. Last week Sue and I found that If I bent my arm slightly my line flushed easily and yesterday Helen made sure the line was clear by taking my blood sample through the line, confirming that bending my arm that little bit did make the line flow a little better. Lesson learnt hopefully the mystery of the temperamental line has been solved.
In record time (for me) we were done and connected to my canister in only four and a half hours. Out in the cool open air the effects of the Oxaliplatin seemed more pronounced than recent sessions with my fingers and face tingling as we walked to the car, maybe because on this occasion there has been less time between sessions.
Chesterfield Canal near Turner Wood - the best section of the whole canal by far
Mentally I'm in good spirits since I have had time off away from the hustle and bustle of work as a result of a several days of nausea, however during that time I have managed to eat well and have pushed myself a little physically on a couple of quick paced, favourite local walks and 2 runs down the lane. In fact I enjoy the local walks so much that I'm currently working on a book mapping and describing then which during the coming weeks inspire me to get out and about collecting photos and rechecking the directions. Whether ultimately they get published is another matter altogether.
All the healthy eating does have it's down side though with all the fibre making Bob work overtime to process it so its a good job that he is also in good nick with no soreness or irritation - I think I've finally mastered looking after him but if I can pack him off before the end of the year it will be the best Christmas prezzy ever.
Finally Sod's Law - the weather this weekend is set to be good and I'm connected up to the drugs.
Helen advised me to take my steroids early than prescribed since she suspects they seem to  interfere with my sleep pattern.

Sunday Morning Update
Sleep feels futile at the moment  I was awake yesterday morning at 2 am and did not get back to sleep, getting up at 03.30. Spent most of my time reading and later went to the garden centre for more plants. Even at 11.00pm I'm still wide awake.
This morning I'm awake by 3.00am after almost vomiting several times. It's the nearest that I have actually been to being sick, so up for anti sickness tablets and then try to sleep but to no avail, having to sit up to prevent the acid reflux, so I'm up by 4.00 watching Angelina Jolie in SALT (not a bad film).
I'm still planning on going to work tomorrow however I.m beginning to see why Richard the Oncologist said that hardly anyone on my type of treatment is able to tolerate work. I am coming to the conclusion that Helen and Richard are thinking that I'm not normal. Richard laughs when I say that "If it's not hurting then it's not working" and Helen just shakes her head and smiles at my attempts of bravado followed each time with some nicely phrased sarcastic comment. Sue just looks on smiling and shaking her head. She knows me too well.
I started to read a book yesterday which we borrowed from WPH book bank, called "Its what he would have wanted" by Sean Hughes. The cover says it's a novel about secrets, sex and bad weather. My god if some of the old ladies there were to pick this one up it would give them a bit of a shock within the first short chapter. Whoo - I know I'm open minded but there are somethings that even in the steamy heat of the moment I wouldn't dare do, not that our Sue would let me - Anyway not with Bob making up the threesome.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Little Time Off

Saturday 14th July
A few days delay in my chemo session (Monday) has meant that I'm at my lowest  ebb this weekend however the drugs do also seem to impact on my sleep pattern during the 2 days whilst they are being injected which meant that by Wednesday I was pretty tired even though I was still spark wide awake at 4.00am
4 am Thursday Morning from our back garden
Thursday I decided to take time away from work not only because I was tired but also to get out into the fresh air and clear my head. I know that the more exercise I  get in the fresh air then the better I will feel physically and mentally so decided to get out for the day after calling to see if Graham was free.
Graham on the way up to Derwent Edge
We set off for the Peak District, parking at Fairhomes then walked up on to Derwent Edge. Although I puffed like a steam train on the ascent to the ridge it felt good to doing something constructive for body and soul. I could almost weep when I think back to the days when I was fit, running 1/2 marathons and flying up hills without any breathlessness. It seems so long ago but maybe after this cancer stuff is all done I can get at least a little of that fitness back.
Anyway once up there above the valley the walking was easy with a gentle breeze and sunshine making perfect walking conditions.
My new diet means that my usual outdoorsy snap has had to change from chocky bars, cake and coffee to fruit, nuts and green tea although my cheese and pickle sandwiches have stayed the same. Marzipan was one of my favorite energy / emergency foods so it was a bit of a shock when Graham  reminded me that it was full of sugar which isn't good but it does have almonds which are OK - so is this good enough to carry on?
Back home after the walk I'm feeling tired but good. Lets hope that my blood is good on Thursday for my 6th dose which will mean I'm half way through the chemo.
Henry Moore like rocks on Derwent Edge

Sunday 15th
I've felt pretty rough all weekend to the extent that I did not wake up until 10am this morning. My mouth has been bleeding and the sick feeling just does not go away. later in the afternoon we had a short walk to Turner Wood which was a bit of an effort, with me feeling pretty lethargic and really under the weather. My mate Graham is at Robin Hood's Bay at the minute of which I'm a little envious since I love the East Coast of Yorkshire, the fresh air and the sea. Although I love the mountains, the sea is definitely the place that's on my mind at the moment.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Back on Course

Monday 9th July
Last night I decided to skip work today and got things ready for a day out walking on the moors firstly because I needed to clear my head of all the disappointments suffered on Friday and secondly to get some decent exercise since  I know my fitness is falling too far behind what I intended. Recently the gauge for this has been to run down to Brancliffe farm and back without stopping which is all of a mile however yesterday I was gasping for breath at the half way point. I’ve never been so unfit.
Anyway it was pissing down this morning so I was late getting away when WPH phoned for me to go in and get my PICC checked, the plan being that if they could get it unblocked I could have my treatment while I was there.  I suppose that I was expecting the call later in the afternoon. My plan was that if it couldn’t be unblocked then I would have the line removed and still go for a walk along Derwent Edge which would give me time and space to consider my options of ditching the treatment altogether or carrying on with another late cycle at the lower dose. As usual the queue for the car park was backed up along the A57 so I was 15 minutes late but I was called straight into the treatment room by Jill, one of the PICC nurses. Jill stripped off the valve and connected a saline syringe directly to the line and squeezed positively, but not unduly hard until it was empty. She repeated the process with a fresh syringe but just prior to completion drew blood back through the line. Both of us shrugged our shoulders and wondered what the fuss was about the previous Friday. However Jill suggested that it might have been a dodgy valve that was to blame which she had just bypassed. After that it was a long wait for my drugs.
I remember Dave White telling Graham and I about his research into his family ancestry and how he had found that one of his distant relations was singled out and hung during the Alfreton Bread Riots, when as David says “His Cloak of Invisibility slipped” David seems to think that he only went out of the house to buy a bottle of milk and he just got caught up in it.  The White’s like to hide behind this cloak intentionally however I’m not quite as shy.  But it seems like as I walk through the door of WPH that I slip into one of these cloaks. I’m the one in the corner that everyone forgets, like when the support worker comes around with sandwiches or drinks. Due to a backlog of work in the pharmacy It was 3 ½ hours before I got linked up to the Oxaliplatin and the Calcium Folinate which made me wonder if there was enough time to complete the treatment prior to closing time. My drugs should still have been OK from Friday but apparently one of them had gone out of date so that was the reason for the big wait.
Another appointment for the next treatment was made for a fortnight’s time (as of Last Friday) so I’m back on course and much more comfortable with the forward plan to carry on provided there are no more setbacks. Sue has also had a tough weekend with me being so stubborn but with me it’s all or nothing. As my Mother says “you’re as awkward as a Mule our Dale”
I'm out bang on 5pm and into the rush hour traffic, calling in at Asda for Green Tea. Back home it's stir fry chicken and veg  for tea. Even though I've had no leisure time today I will be back at work tomorrow

Friday, 6 July 2012

Out of Control

6th June
It should have been my 5th Chemo session today and it just did't  happen. So what went wrong this time? Well for some reason my line would not flush smoothly and the nurse was unable to draw any blood back through the line. The blockage was such that even the IV pump was unable to pump any saline through the line. I was sent for an Xray to check if the line was in the correct place and then the doctor discussed the options noting that I needed to come back next week to have another PICC line inserted so that I could get my treatment. Although everyone did all that they could to the point where nurses were feeling sorry for me I felt helpless, with the whole situation out of my control and considering that at no point has this whole saga gone smoothly I'm considering ditching the rest of the treatment and taking my chances. I'm just fed up of the all the let downs, it's one after another and I want to get on with a normal life.The nurse gave me a good talking to however she doesn't know what I've been through with each simple stage being problematic and a disappointment. Sue also thinks I'm daft talking in this way but I'm used to being in control and able to at least in part influence the outcome of  my own destiny.
So I missed a week during my 4th session and now I'm missing another on my 5th - and noting that it is the fortnightly frequency that is important to hammer cancer cells as they divide and my dose has been reduced by 20% then obviously I'm not getting the full benefit of the treatment - So what's the point?
On top of this Bob is really pissing me off with the amount of attention that he needs with all the emptying, cleaning and tending to skin to stop it becoming sore.
My positive note on this post is that I'm just reading a new book called "Anti Cancer - a new way of life" which focuses on anti cancer foods which help fight and protect from the disease, plus foods and external factors that can encourage cancer. Bingo - if the research in the book is accurate then I can take some control of my destiny by eating common sense foods with no refined sugars or bleached flour.
I'll consider my options over the next few days.