Thursday, 28 June 2007

Ouch....that hurt

Just as I was about to consign the painkillers to the bin I think I overdid it and suffered.

Been struggling sleeping the past few days - whether its morphine withdrawal or the excitement of Tony Blair's premiership coming to an end I'm not sure. Decided to break-out of the house and take Rufus for a walk (he's a dog, in case anyone wonders whether I do care in the community) - surely the exercise would do me good?

Anyhow, 'bout 11.30pm last night I'm suddenly in agony, struggling to breathe and Michelle's debating whether to wake the neighbour and ask him to drive me to hospital or whether to call 999 - while I'm overdosing on liquid morphine. The thought of an ambulance turning up seemed too much of a drama and would increase my carbon footprint, so we called the doctor's out of hours number.

A scouse doctor called back in 10 mins. He probably thought he'd called an 0898 line by mistake when I answered with heavy breathing. A few random questions later and he seemed confident my lung hadn't imploded.

"Can you come down to the hospital?", he ventured. "Whats the alternative?", I enquired. "Well, I'll give you a call back in an hour and see if you're OK". "OK, but can you ring quietly, we'll be asleep", I asked.

By the time he rang back the morphine had taken effect and the pain had all but gone, but boy had it been bloody painful - as painful as it ever was in hospital. Looks like I should be taking it easy and stay on the tablets a bit longer.

Had another PET scan today - so I'm radio-active for the evening. If you look towards Newbury tonight you'll probably see the glow. Back for the results tomorrow.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Which is worse.....??

Two bits of bad news in one day and I'm not sure which is worse?

1) My tumour marker result is back up - it was up to 137 on Tues and I'll find out todays result on Monday. Scheduled for a PET scan next week but looks like I'm heading for high dose chemo.

2) The insurance company won't cover me for the stem cell transplant, despite the fact that I've already had the harvest - which they didn't authorise due to the Royal Marsdens ineptitude. This means that I will have to become an NHS patient....shock/horror!!! The meals on the private ward are bad enough - imagine how bad they will be on an NHS ward. And I bet they won't have wi-fi. I fully understand if no-one wants to come and visit me on the NHS will be full of ill people.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Good far

Well feedback on the tag board suggests that some of my fellow northern pals are not too au fait with medical parlance and 'treatment by numbers' - which is surprising when they're still painting by them!

Just got my most recent tumour marker result back. It's 109 - which for those who can't be bothered or just didn't understand my previous post is relatively good news thus far! It would appear to have dropped as expected if the tumour removed was the only cancerous source.

Early days. I've been here before (twice!) - there could still be other seeds growing which are still too small to be detected.

Back to the waiting game........will Big Sam actually buy any defenders?!?!

Friday, 8 June 2007

Donations welcome!

Had an appointment at the Royal Marsden hospital on Friday to review where we are up to. I was aware that monitoring my AFP tumour marker is going to be a key indicator in determining what happens next and when. The first thing you always do when arriving at the RMH is to have a blood test. What is frustrating is the fact that they don't have the results available for when you see the consultant. This time it was Professor Horwich who confirmed the obvious - they would await the outcome of the AFP marker level from my latest blood test (should have it today - Monday - hopefully). He was unaware of the additional tumour on my right lung which showed up on my pre-surgery CT scan - he hadn't seen the scan from the Royal Brompton. They are also awaiting a pathology report on the tumour and the additional tissue removed during the op. Apparently the initial report suggested that the germ cell tumour was also exhibiting signs of having transformed into another cancer type - the tisse has been sent to the RMH for further analysis. Knowing the exact make up of the tumour may help them define a more appropriate mix of chemotherapy treatment.

My recent tumour marker results have been 20 April - 160; 4 May - 182, 18 May - 265. Surgery was on the 29th May, and todays blood test was 10 days since surgery. In theory my AFP level could well have been up to 320 before surgery. If the tumour they removed was the only cancer source then by today the AFP level should have halved to 160 'ish. I'm not holding my breath for the result on today - even though it would stop my chest from hurting.

I have a follow-up appointment booked for two weeks (22nd June) but knowing that if I have a blood test that day they won't have the results to review I suggested I get a blood test done in Reading a few days earlier, so I do have some results for the meeting. What a good idea!! Why didn't I think of that. Oh , I just did!

I'll be coming around cap in hand shortly after the insurance company advised they don't cover stem cell treatment, which means I will probably be charged for the stem cell harvest I've already had! I'd consider a sponsored run to raise money but I can only just walk!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Good to be home

Been a painful week back home, but its good to be mobile once again. Its suprising how much more you move around being at home compared to being sat in a hospital room where your bed/loo/lounge-chair are within 10ft of each other.

Still dosing up on painkillers - 40mg morphine sulphate twice daily, 1000mg paracetamal four times a day, gabapentine three times a day and Oramorph (liquid morphine) as and when required - plus 4 types of laxatives to keep me irregular. The wound is healing nicely, in fact I can't feel it most of the time, its more the front of the ribs - probably where a bloody great clamp yanked them apart! I'm tempted to give up the painkillers for a few days to see how much it would really hurt without them. No pain, no gain.

Michelle's doing an able job with the household chores, i.e running after me, washing the cars, cutting the lawn (she hasn't quite grasped the fact that you need to overlap each run slightly so we have a rather strange effect of thin strips of tall grass separating the normal stripes). I'm supervising from a safe distance.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Get 'em checked!

A serious message to all you chaps out there.

If only she'd checked mine, life would have been so much different......

PS. Kylie's been relegated - type Kylie in search box top left

Monday, 4 June 2007

He's coming home!

Well after being dosed up on morphine and paracetemal all week my pain was deemed bearable enough for me to come home. I've been asked to score my pain on a 1 to 10 basis all week. I noticed its always 1-2 if I dont breathe, 2-4 if I breathe and between 5 and 8 if I move. I decided it best not to breathe.

The side effect of the morphine is that my bowels havent moved for a week, despite plenty of persuasion - all-bran, dried apricots, lactulose, Movicol, senna tablets and two enema's have failed to shift it. It's like trying to get rid of Freddy Shepherd at Newcastle!

I was told I could go home on Saturday but the lack of bowel movement and dizzyness caused by changing to different painkillers, as well as the excitement of watching the England match (not) was too much and I was ordered to stay in.

Finally, with the help of a rather large enema, the heavens opened this morning and I instantly lost 2 inches from mid-riff. That, together with a few pounds surgically removed from me last week shows that cancer is medically proven as a viable alternative to the Atkins Diet.

I'm coming home, looking fitter than when I went in!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Am I in heaven..?

I vaguely remember drifting in and out of consciousness in the Recovery room. The nurses seemed prettier in there but it's probably the effect of the morphine - I guess it works like beer-goggles?

Got lots of lines in me in varying places - 1 large chest drain, one small chest drain, 1 PVB line dispensing painkiller directly into my chest area, one patient administered morphine line (click to make you happy!), something else in my jugular vein and two other lines in the arm. Oh and I had a catheter in for my wee-wee, and it took me a while to realise where it went.....and it makes you weep when the pull it out!!

Thought I'd be there for an easy time, but no, they get me out of bed and make me start walking on the spot, start doing some heavy breathing and start coughing...the most feeble, pathetic of coughs as its too painful. Click, click, click....aargh, thats better..!

Oh, and the surgery went well. Tumour removed along with another suspicious bit that will be tested. Scar not as bad as expected - about 9 inches and no visible stitches!