A brief moment in time, break up of the fellowship.

On Thursday, our merry band of fellowship, brought together in comradeship; and kindred spirit for a few days and nights spent together in a closeness that many would never experience, began to break up. First to leave was Mrs C. We parted company with hugs and good wishes given as if we had known one another for a lifetime. Even her close family, who’s acquaintance had been made at visiting time, made fond farewells as if we were all close friends. It was strange. We would in all likelihood never see each other again.

Mrs C was soon replaced by C who, following the very swift cleaning of Mrs C’s bed following her departure, was soon its new occupant. We hit it off straight away. She was a teacher in Halifax at a High School, so really not all that far away from me in the grand scheme of things. In the meantime, M was very down. Remember that she had hoped to have keyhole surgery and therefore be returning home on Friday at the latest. As it had turned out, this was not to be, and she was very down and upset, Of course we other members of the Ward 8 fellowship tried our best to console her.

Personally I was not in a bid fat hurry to be discharged from the hospital. In practically the opposite scenario to M, where she had a large family who were all eager to get her home and would be no doubt assisting her, I would be arriving home to an empty flat until such time that I could arrange for K to return from respite. Not exactly a pleasant prospect I am sure you’ll agree. In fact the best day for me to be discharged would be Monday, as the Day Care staff could then collect K from respite and then bring her back home in the afternoon.

Br was the next to depart. And to M’s delight, she was also allowed to leave on the Friday, which left me and C the sole occupants of Ward 8. Mr N paid me a visit that day to announce that I could go home on the Saturday. I asked if it was possible for me to remain until Monday and explained my dilemma about being able to get K home. I was in luck. There were plenty of empty beds over the weekend and hardly any admissions, so I was free to remain until Monday. I would make the best of it and have a wonderful bath every day! With lots of bubbles!

C and I ( she had had her keyhole surgery on the Friday) were now firm friends. It was during one of our conversations about the fact that I would be having follow up chemo, that I learned that she had had chemo following breast cancer. She told me about the wigs you could have to wear, and showed me a picture of herself with long hair before her chemo therapy, one taken after she had her hair cut very short for the chemo, and a recent one at a wedding. All of her photos were on an iPhone. I was very impressed by not only the quality of the pictures but the iPhone itself. Hmm, I thought. I wonder if I could get one when our current contract runs out? I was very impressed.

During Friday night, we had a scare. The fire alarm went off. It didn’t scare me as I was already awake, but C nearly jumped out of her skin. It seemed ages before the fire brigade arrived to turn it off. It turned out it was a resident up in the Penthouse suite who had accidentally knocked the alarm whilst showering. ( Yes readers, this Burley Suite has a sort of hotel on the top floor where people can stay.)

The weekend flew by. I still wasn’t eating much, I still wasn’t sleeping very well, spending large amounts of time at night walking around the corridors and usually frightening the nurses as they sat at their station. Just a good job I didn’t have a white nightgown!

Both C and I were going home on Monday. After breakfast, we packed our suitcases and were ready for the off. My transport arrived and C and I promised to go for a coffee if we bumped into each other when she came to our town, as she frequently did.

The journey home was uneventful. The ambulance driver carried my suitcase upstairs for me, and I then spent time unpacking and putting all my things away. It was strange to be back home. I longed for K’s return in the afternoon. It was no fun being home alone.

TG

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A brief moment in time. Up and about.

True to their word, the next day our catheter’s were removed, all cannula’s no longer required were also removed from the back of our hands. One amusing incident with one of mine on my left hand involved my asking the first nurse that visited my bedside to remove it because it had been hurting so much during the night. “What Cannula?” she asked, looking at my cannula free hand. Where was it?  It was no longer there! Either I had been so irritated by it during the night that I had removed it myself, or it had fallen out It was duly found on the floor at the side of my bed.

Firstly I was asked if I would like a bath. Would I? The nurse went off to prepare the bath and fill it with delicious bubbles for me to languish in. She then returned and escorted me to the bathroom, where I had to sit down on the hoist whilst she carefully removed my pajamas and fetching knee high socks which you all have to wear to stop blood clots forming in your legs. That accomplished, I was hoisted above the bath, the hoist was then lowered into the bubbles and the bath raised. I was given some wipes with which to wash myself with. My scar, reaching from my belly button downwards was covered in some kind of hard ‘lattice worked’ cover. I was assured that it was okay to get it all wet, in fact the bath would help to ease any pain and discomfort.

The nurse told me to take as long as I wished and left me with a push button with which to summon her when I was ready to get out of the bath. Oh what heaven! It was exactly the right temperature, I felt relaxed and could have gladly remained there all day but M was also due to experience this delight, and so eventually I pressed the ‘nurse’ icon on the button, and she returned to get me dressed. Returning to the ward, I did not get back into bed but instead sat thankfully on the high seat chair next to my bed with a pillow at my back for comfort.

In fact, I stayed out of bed and in the chair for most of the day. I was reluctant to get back into bed, and only did so if I felt really tired. We were also encouraged to slowly walk down to the dining area at meal times to eat, not that I felt like eating anything. I didn’t feel hungry at all. I did keep trying to eat, but the only food that I seemed to be able to enjoy at all was the ice cream and the rice pudding.  Everything else tasted dire. I couldn’t drink the tea at all, or any of the fruit juice, I seemed to have permanent acid reflex in my throat and constantly there, and eventually had to ask for some ‘Gaviscon’ to help relieve it Everyone else seemed to be eating some of the meals, but I felt so full I simply couldn’t bring myself to attempt more than a few spoonful’s of anything.

I was at a loss what to drink. I had asked my sister and brother to bring me some of my favourite Grape Juice in, but this just seemed to add to the acid discomfort in my stomach. I told the doctors all about it. It did sometimes happen. The Gaviscon did help. I would just have to stick to plain water for mow which seemed to be the only thing I could drink without making the acid reflux worse. I also began to walk around the corridor whenever I could. Slowly at first, taking my time and holding onto the grab rail that ran all along the length. This I knew should help to get things moving internally which let’s face it, was the mainstay of conversation with every resident on there. Wind. It was as if we had all been filled with it whilst down on the operating table, like so many car tires blown up too far.

Now we were all paying the price. It had to be got rid of, it was the cause of our pain, staff also were preoccupied with the subject as well. Questions were asked. Had we heard any grumblings or rumblings? Had we passed any wind down below? Physiotherapists called with exercises for us all to do to help to get the whole thing moving along. ‘Lay on your back on your bed. Raise both knees up. Slowly rock both of your knees from the left to the right and back again. Try to go as far left and right as you can. Repeat about 10 times.

We also had a very enjoyable visit from a lady from McMillians who was a qualified masseur and who gave M and myself a hand massage and Br a foot massage. We couldn’t have the foot massage as it would have meant removing our stockings which was a task to be avoided at all costs.

Well, I should sleep tonight! I thought to myself after enjoying such a busy and energetic day. Of course I didn’t sleep any better.

TG

A brief moment in time. Post op.

Sandra. Sandra! It’s all over!” Someone said. I opened my eyes. Several blue clad persons, including my lovely young student nurse were hovering in around my bed. There eyes were fixed on something behind me to the left. I was offered a drink of water from a straw clad beaker. My lips and mouth were dry. I drank it thankfully.

“We’re a little concerned about your blood pressure Sandra, its very low. We’ll have to raise it before we can take you back to the ward.” Hmm. My blood pressure is always low I told them. It never reaches 120/80. As I was to eventually find our later, the epidural also lowers your blood pressure. At one point as I lay there, it dropped to 65/ I was encouraged to drink more water. Eventually my blood pressure was high enough for my return to the ward. As my bed complete with me in it entered the ward door, I remembered to wave to my fellow companions. From that point it was an endless round of  being constantly monitored, especially my blood pressure which again took a dip.

M still hadn’t gone down to theatre. I kept drifting into and out of consciousness. On my left hand were two cannulas with two more on my right.  One of them on my right hand was really painful. I had a catheter attached to my bladder. From the waist down I was completely numb. I could feel nothing at all. B’s magic concoction of epidural pain killers certainly worked!  Eventually, M left for her operation. She was hoping that Mr N could do a keyhole which would mean she would be home in a few days. I kept drifting off to sleep. I had told everyone not to visit today as I would be ‘three sheets to the wind’ I asked the others what time I had returned. Roughly about dinner time. I had been down a while then!

Various persons came to examine me, ward staff kept a constant vigil of checks blood pressure, temperature, breathing, oxygen levels, checks on my bladder function, etc and this continued into the night. Eventually M returned, some four hours or so later. Apparently following her op, her breathing had not been too good. She has Asthma, and in a similar law to my blood pressure, they would not return her to the ward until her breathing was stable. She and were kept a very close eye on all through the night, and were constantly monitored.

“In the morning, we will remove your catheter so that you can get out of bed and sit in the chair. You can also have a bath or shower as well. We want you to begin to move around as it helps to ease the wind pain.”

Blimey!  I couldn’t wait. I wasn’t very comfortable in bed, there is only so much gazing up at the air conditioning outlet above  your head that a body can take, and as nice as the recent bed bath by two of the nurses had been, the thoughts of being able to soak in a gorgeous mass of bubbles in that huge bath was really something to look forward to. Roll on tomorrow!

TG

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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