A brief moment in time. Arrival.

We came together four strangers, having never met before, to share for a few days and nights a closeness and comradeship brought about by the common experience we all went through. Ward 8. The fellowship of Ward 8. M across from me in the opposite bed arrived on the same day, and would have her operation on the same day. Br on my right hand side had been here some days, and was desperately trying now to eat and drink something and keep it down. Mrs C over in the far corner had also been here some days. She was helpful and filled M and I into the nuances of the ward, showed us where everything was, explained about baths, showers, meal times, and other tips for making life bearable whilst being part of this exclusive club.

On the Monday of our arrival, M and I were hardly left alone in order to have time to think. One body and another visited the side of our beds, taking blood pressure, temperature, blood, administering two, yes two enemas to each, one about tea time and the other later that evening. I was not concerned at all about tomorrows impeding operation, but I do hate waiting, so I was so glad to be informed that I would be the first down in the morning at 08.30am.  That suited me fine! M was informed that hers would be later, about dinner time.

A lovely young student nurse came to ask me if I would mind her watching my operation? Of course I didn’t mind at all. I was also asked if the removed organs could be used in research and again I consented to this. Everyone seemed to be asking the same or similar questions as they filled in their paperwork. Mr N my consultant came to see me as did his registrar. All were polite and friendly and were willing to answer any questions or reassure you of procedures to be taken. Before you knew it, it was 22.00 and time for lights out. Hurray! ALL the lights were turned out including those along the corridor! It was nice and dark, my favourite state to induce sleep, and I turned onto my front and slept like a log on my tummy, because I was sure it would probably be a long time before I could do so again after tomorrow.

Before I knew it, it was 05.30 am and my usual time to wake up. I quietly tiptoed out to the toilet outside our ward door, and then had a circular walk around the H shaped ward simply for something to pass the time. I knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep, once awake that’s it. I made my way to the Day room and turned on the TV. I didn’t want to disturb the ladies in the next ward to the day room, so I had to keep the volume low. I watched the news. Another few turns around the ward to kill time and then it was soon time for me to walk down with my lovely student nurse to the operating theatre.

“I’ll give you all a wave on my return!” I told my three trusty companions on Ward 8. “See you soon!” I had been told I would be down there about two and a half hours or so. We walked down together chatting away about this and that, I remember a lift was involved somewhere along the journey. I was in a fetching gown tied around the back. On arrival at the preparation room, we were greeted by staff all dressed in blue hats, blue tops and blue trousers. I  had to lay on a trolley type bed on top of a green ‘bag’ with grab loops at each side to enable them to lift me from there to elsewhere. My student nurse needed to change into her operation outfit and she went off to find one that fit her. She returned looking just the part though her top half was a different shade of blue to the trousers.

Next, I was wheeled into the anesthetic room where I met ‘B’ my anesthetist who was in a very jovial mood, cracking jokes left right and centre. He had me sit up whilst he administered his ‘concoction’ of pain relief drugs into an epidural in my spine, then I lay down whilst he injected the anesthetic into my hand. I drifted off to the land of nod.

TG 

On the Mend.

For those of you who have been wondering why I have not been blogging of late, I had to go into Hospital for a major operation on the 31st January.  I expected to be on the mend after being discharged home on the 7th February, but unfortunately on my return home, I took a turn for the worse, and was quite ill for well over a week or so.  Quite how I would have coped without my lovely daughter I dread to think. She has been nursing me 24/7 throughout the whole time, sleeping next to me to be instantly on call with cleaning me up and I cannot praise her enough.

Her dedication and patience has been extraordinary, and has gone far beyond what anyone could expect a daughter to do when her mother is ill. When she was born, I can remember asking ( in my head) “ Why?” I now know the answer.  To give me 150% and more of her caring, her love and infinite patience. 

Of course, K being K she wants a new ‘Jaws’ t-shirt to add to her vast collection and also a CD and she will get them and more.

I am now at last on the mend and gaining strength day by day. The operation was a complete success but I will need to have quite a few Chemotherapy sessions just to ‘zap’ those strays and make sure its all eradicated.

Leeds City lit up at night

The panoramic photo enclosed in this post were taken from our dining area on the ward at night when as usual, TG couldn’t sleep.

TG

I wonder what this year will bring?

I planned to do a post about my new year’s resolutions.  I always vow to loose weight, be nicer to everyone, stop getting annoyed with other people in the supermarket or walking on the pavement, to be more helpful and kind to others, to do the ironing straight away instead of ignoring it until its piled sky high, to exercise more, I could go on and on, and I did toy with the idea that if I placed all of my resolutions in this blog where others could see them, then maybe I might keep to them.  But now this blog has ended up being about something entirely different.

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An Unexpected Tour.

Following on from my previous post of a tour around our town, my walk around the town ended up  at the back of our soon to be opened Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre. Any of my long term readers (if any are still around that is) will recall my previous tales of our swimming pool, the history of our wait for a new one Angry smile and how K and I were keeping tabs on the progress (or lack of it) of the new build.  It has been completed on time, the hard hats have departed, the bright yellow fence complete with peep holes for nosy residents ( Open-mouthed smile )    has long since been demolished, and it is due to open on the Monday the 25th October.

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Jabbing Time.

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On Friday, we went down to the doctors for our annual combined flu and swine flu jab.  In hindsight, maybe I should have mentioned to the nurse who administered my jab that I was feeling ‘under the weather’ with a sore throat.  As usual I kept Mum.  K had hers done first.  She always gets in a bit of a state over it and then afterwards always says “Oh that was nothing!”  Every year.  The nurses always find her hilarious.  Later that day, I began to feel ‘off’.  One minute I felt cold, the next minute hot.

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What a day we had!

 

Seacroft Hospital. Leeds
Seacroft Hospital. Leeds

I meant to post this yesterday evening after getting back, but I was so tired and fed up that I just couldn’t muster up the effort to do so, so here is my account of yesterday, a day late.

Because we had to go over to Leeds for K’s dental appointment, we attended the earlier Exercise session which began at 10.30am. Luckily as it turned out, the instructor for this class isn’t as demanding as our usual one, and we emerged about 11.30am with still some energy to spare, well K did, I was already beginning to flag at the thoughts of the journey we needed to make later.

We had our dinner in Tesco’s, I had steak pie (and had to leave all the pastry by wheedling out of it all the beef) and K had Chicken Tikka  Masala with rice. We did have a few bits and bobs to buy (well K has to make sure she is stocked up on food even if it means we have to carry it with us all around Yorkshire)  and following that we walked down to the bus stop to catch the X6 limited stop to Leeds.

Now as is usual whenever I am embarking on a journey to somewhere I have never been before, I had previously been on the West Yorkshire Metro site, inputted our journey and then printed out the subsequent route planner containing buses to catch, routes to walk, connections to make etc. We were (according to the planned journey) supposed to be catching the 13.03pm X6 which would then deposit us at stand G1 in the Leeds bus station at 1405pm  where we had to then just mosey over to the next bay and catch the 56 bus to the Seacroft Hospital at stand G2.  Easy peasy!

Funnily enough the actual X6 we caught was the previous one which was obviously running late. We boarded it at 12.55am, and actually landed in the Leeds bus station more or less the stated time but not at stand G1. There wasn’t a stand G1, or G2, or any G’s to be seen.  All the bus stand numbers were now completely different and we only had 10 minutes in which to find this 56 bus. I quickly grabbed K’s hand and we rushed down to the bus stations Information Centre where a  young man gave me instructions regarding whereabouts the 56 bus departed from.

You need to go out of the bus station from the bottom door, then cross the road to the Playhouse, and the 56 bus stand is right outside.” I quickly thanked him, and off we went. Hmm. Trouble was the ‘road’ was a very busy dual carriageway, and we had to use the ‘green man’ crossings to get across to the other side. Eventually and after seeing one bus go hurtling past (I do hope they are frequent I thought) we made it to the correct bus stand where a man and lady were also waiting for the same bus to take them to the same hospital.

Why does this building remind me of a ships funnel? Taken from Leeds Train station

Eventually on arrival at the hospital and after getting directions from the hospital porter K saw her dentist at last.  We were only in there about 20 minutes. She has two wisdom teeth which he is a little bit concerned about, one hasn’t come through yet, but the other is so far back in her mouth that he couldn’t  even see it clearly with his mirror, but he could tell that K wasn’t cleaning it properly. He stated that she would have to take care to try and clean it thoroughly so that it wouldn’t decay, and the other one also gave him concern because he thinks that her back tooth might be getting in the way of it fully emerging.  He discussed taking them both out and will therefore have an X ray done of K’s mouth in September when we are due to return. Thankfully he thinks they will by then be reinstated in their usual place in the Leeds Dental Teaching hospital in the city centre.

We had an uneventful journey back, made our way from the bus station to the train station, I bought a Senior Railcard so that I can go up to Scotland without K if need be, then we went into McDonalds for our tea and finally caught the train home. By the time I placed the key in the lock of our flat it was about 18.10pm, and I was just about ready to collapse. Hopefully we shouldn’t have to make that trek again and luckily the threatened rain had held off all day which was a blessing. I dunno, I think that I must be getting too old for all this traipsing about malarkey!

TG  Sleepy

My trial days are over.

Much to my disappointment I have had to admit defeat, ring up the medical centre and I am now no longer taking part in the Thrive trial of Niacin.  The flushing, burning, itching, prickly side effects that are normally encountered as a side effect didn’t occur for me on my face, (well  apart from about half an hour following the first nights dose) but on my legs.

This also began following the first dosage. It was at that point just affecting my feet and ankles. Then after each successive dose, it slowly crept upwards in both legs until by the time it came to Friday it was above my knees. It was very uncomfortable because both my legs were also swollen and itchy but the worst part was that it was keeping me awake at night, therefore by the time it came to Friday and I had experienced three nights with hardly any sleep, I had to admit defeat and ring up the Medical Centre who are responsible for this trial.

A lovely doctor spoke to me on the phone (you are provided with a free phone number to ring in case of problems encountered) and after I had told her all my symptoms, she advised not to take any more of the niacin tablets and to contact my GP’ surgery for some more of the ordinary Simvastin 40mg which are normally supplied by them. She also followed up by phoning me on the following day just to check if I was okay and to also run through what to do now regarding my next appointment at Huddersfield hospital with the study nurse and to return the remaining tablets then.

I am bitterly disappointed to have to stop the trial, although the doctor reassured me that my small contribution had been helpful and worthwhile. I suppose that I feel that during my life I haven’t really contributed all that much to others, and this was one way of ‘giving something back’. Silly I know, but that is how I felt about it.

Oh well, I should really have expected this as my skin can react to the fresh air if it feels so inclined! Sad

 

TG Disappointed

 

Tablet Turmoil!

Since my last blog about the new tablets that I am taking now that I have been accepted onto the medical study into using a combination tablet of Niacin/Laropiprant in order to see if they help to combat heart disease and strokes , I have been managing to swallow them at night with no problem, but the first one that I took on Tuesday night caused some unpleasant side effects and stopped me from getting a good nights sleep.

See the big tablets? The study nurse had told me that the tablets should be taken with food so  I explained that I don’t eat anything after teatime.  She advised me to try taking them without but that I might feel nauseous and queasy if I did, and that just a biscuit eaten either just before or at the same time would help to combat this.  I have never been a ‘supper’ person yet I can’t do without eating a breakfast. If I miss having any breakfast  I feel shaky and weak until I eat something, but I never eat anything after teatime. In fact I don’t always feel hungry then. So of course being me, I decided I would ignore all advice and take them with just some water in the same manner as I take my other nigh time tablets and then retire to bed.

So it was entirely my own fault that i  suffered!  I went to bed about 22.30pm and tried to get to sleep. Then my tummy became upset. I did feel sick. I also felt my face burning up, and feeling ‘prickly’. The burning sensation spread down to my upper torso.  I tossed. I turned. I out of bed and drank some water. I went to the toilet. I still felt nauseous. I went back to bed and  after what seemed an eternity I eventually fell asleep.

When I awoke next morning, my legs felt as if they were on fire, but the nausea had passed thank goodness!  Hmm.     I can’t go through another night like that again I thought.  I’ll have to have something to eat when taking the tablet! So after K had returned from day care, we set off down to town to buy some biscuits.  Of course they have to be gluten free, wheat free biscuits because of my gippy tummy.  So I ended up with a packet of Tesco’s Ginger biscuits from their Free From range which as usual cost an arm and a leg because they have everything missing! No Gluten, no wheat and no milk equates with ‘cost a packet!’ Angry 

Cost a packet ginger biscuits! So on Wednesday night, I had to take my tablet and nibble on one of the ginger biscuits at the same time. They are quite nice actually but I did have to force myself somewhat to eat it. But it did the trick as I didn’t feel nauseous at all, nor did I suffer from the burning face, in fact my head hit the pillow and zzzzzzzzzzz I was asleep thank goodness!  Mind you, that could just be that I was so tired from my previous evenings lack of sleep, but I am hoping not.

Apart from that, I have been feeling fine ,and K and I had an enjoyable morning at exercise class where we were put through our paces by the instructor. It was an upsetting one though as she is leaving to emigrate to Australia and this was her last class so we were all a little bit emotional this morning.

So I shall keep taking the tablets (with a ginger biscuit) and see how it goes! Waiting

TG Happy

I am now on the trial!

Today I went back to H hospital to find out if my cholesterol level was now low enough for me to join the HPS2-Thrive medical research project to help reduce the incidence of Vascular events.  I had been told at my last visit that my cholesterol needed to be down to 3.5 or so, and I had been taking some different simvastatins in order to enable this.

As is usual for me, before we set off I did a Metro planned route from our house to the hospital to make quite sure of the required time that the whole journey would take in order to reach the hospital in time.  I find these type of sites such as Metro and Network Rail really useful when making a journey that you are not familiar with.  They give you not only a route to take but also all the times of either buses or trains that you will need to arrive at your destination on time and any walking time that may be needed to get either from one stop to another, or one platform to the next one.  They even contain little maps showing the route to take from one bus stop to the other, or a train station to a bus stop for example if those particular modes of transport are being utilised during the journey.   They really are very useful and once your route is planned it can then be printed out so that you can take it with you to consult during the journey.

Metro Journey Planner

I did one when my youngest son accompanied me last time to his great amusement. “ I don’t know Mum, you never leave anything to chance do you?” said he (being one of those people you often see dashing at the last minute along the platform as the train is about to pull out, or running with arms waving frantically at the driver as he drives off from the bus stop!)  No, I don’t leave anything to chance that is true! I hate rushing or being late for anything, and that is why I always give myself plenty of time.  So the Internet has become a godsend for being able to plan any intended journey!

Anyway, when we finally went in for my blood taken and to check my cholesterol level it was still only 4.1 but I was told that I was suitable for the trial despite it not being as low as stated previously.  I was then given more of the simvastatin tablets that I have been taking for the last month, and the new ER niacin/laropiprant tablets as well. I have to take just one tablet at night for the first month followed by two tablets at night for the following month before returning to be checked over in eight weeks time.

SNC11495 I have to been warned that at the beginning of taking the tablets I might get some flushing of my face which can  occur, but you are encouraged to persevere as it does usually pass. Like all medication there are some side effects such as the face flushing and sometimes tummy upsets which do settle in time. If  at any time I am concerned about anything there is a number to ring and I can also stop taking part at any time if I am unhappy about any aspect of it.

I suppose my main concern at the moment is the size of the tablets! All I can say is its a good job it isn’t K taking them because she simply wouldn’t be able to swallow them!   I shall have to place them lengthwise on my tongue to be able to get them down myself, but  I am really glad that I have been included on this trial as now I feel as if I am contributing something to others and doing something really worthwhile.

TG

My day at the Biobank Assessment Centre.

This morning we set off just after 10.00am to travel to Leeds for my appointment at the UK Biobank Centre in Leeds.  As stated in the leaflet that came with my initial invite to take part, and I quote, ‘The purpose of UK Biobank is to set up a resource that can support a diverse range of research intended to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, and the promotion of health throughout society.’ unquote.

We caught the 10.28 am bus from B which is a good 10 to 15 minutes walk from our flat (and as K was accompanying me, I added on another extra 5 minutes to the time needed to reach the bus stop in order to take account of her short legs and walking speed.) The bus journey was uneventful apart from K and I doing our usual ‘musical chairs routine’ and swopping seats as soon as the occasion allowed and our favourite seats became available, as we do prefer to sit on the higher up ones overlooking all the other passengers!  This gives one a feeling of superiority we find (especially as we are both none too tall!)  We aren’t keen on sitting in the lower seats, and anyway you can see more of what’s going on from the higher seats at the back.

We disembarked outside the Town Hall at approximately 11.30am, plenty of time to suss out where the building I needed was as my appointment wasn’t till 12.00pm,  and anyway, I was armed with a map so what could possibly go wrong?  I thought that it was down the street almost opposite the Town Hall, but actually it turned out to be two streets further up, and a very kind gentleman came out of his shop and rightly guessed that I was looking for the Biobank Centre so he gestured down the street towards the building and doorway I needed.

Once inside a concierge let us through the barriers and told us which floor we needed via the lift. Floor 8. The lift doors closed, I pressed the 8th floor button and Whoosh!  I promptly left my stomach behind, my ears popped and that was followed by that awful sinking feeling as a very fast lift comes to a stop. K looked terrified as we came out and went into the reception area. Next I was ushered to a computer terminal by a nice young man who showed me how to answer all of the questionnaire which was all computerised.  Hmm, of course I felt right at home! Touch screen as well!  This was going to be fun!  K in the meantime was being spoiled rotten in the waiting area by the Biobank staff who were giving her copious amounts of drinking chocolate and biscuits whilst she waited.

Leeds from the Biobank Building

It took me about 30 to 40 minutes to fill everything in, and then I moved on to the first actual physical assessment with a nurse which consisted of her checking my previous answers, finding out what medication I was taking, if I ever had any operations done, etc, and then my blood pressure was checked.  She gave me a flash drive on a holder to take with me to the next examination area.  There I had my weight taken, my height, my bone density checked and my body mass index was also measured.  My lung function was not checked because I had previously suffered a heart attack.

Last but not least I was moved on to the blood taking cubicle.  She sat me in a very comfortable chair and following  the usual keep your arm straight and clench your fist routine, proceeded to try and get my vein for her blood samples.  Of course she didn’t hit the vein and although I never look, I knew because it hurt like hell!  “Hmm, your veins are moving about, can you clench your fist again?” she asked, getting another needle in the process. Damn! I hate when this happens! Why oh why do some have so much trouble yet others don’t?  I have asked one of our nurses about this down at our surgery, and she stated that it all depended on who was doing it. (which of course I had already surmised for myself!)

The second time, she found the vein, but good job I wasn’t tempted to look as she had tons of phials to fill, and by the time that she pressed the cotton wool ball on the spot and gave a container for my  urine sample, I was feeling quite light headed and sick. I never ever faint, but I do go woozy.  She showed me where to leave my urine sample and so I did all that followed by a quick cup of horrid tea from their machine, took  a snap of Leeds from their window which because it was so high up afforded an excellent view, and then we made our way back  down in the ‘express lift’ where K clung onto the grab rail like glue as it descended,  and outside.

It was quite warm by the time we re-emerged into the sunlight and very busy with people making full use of  a warm spring day to do some shopping. We made our way to the railway station for our usual lunch at McDonalds. Following buying our train tickets home, I took the opportunity to take some panoramic shots of the station foyer and the platforms.  As the London train was in, I also took one of K stood near the front bogie before it was due to set off to King’s Cross. Soon it was time to climb on board our train for home, but not before taking a quick picture of the Penzance train arriving as it was due to arrive before our train was due to leave.

It'll have a job arriving  at this platform! Its tempting to get on board!

Everyone (including some station staff) were stood waiting for it on Platform 12A and it had crossed my mind that this was strange seeing as it always  usually pulled in on 10A in the past but the voice over the tannoy kept insisting that it would arrive on Platform 12A.  I was patiently waiting to take a picture of it as it came into view.  As I spotted the train approaching it was obvious to me that it wasn’t going to arrive at 12A after all, but instead at its usual platform across the way which now meant everyone making a frantic dash up the stairs or escalator across the overhead concourse and then down onto Platform 10.  We nearly ended up getting knocked down in the rush and panic!  And so onto our usual grubby train, which by the way has now begun to continue on to Manchester after reaching our little station.  Even better news, we are definitely getting the much rumoured train to London journeying through our station at the end of this year!  Wow!  And to think that its only been about 5 years since it re-opened!  Now its practically the Mecca of the North!

TG  Open-mouthed