Posted by: glenswatman | January 20, 2012


WEDNESDAY 11 JANUARY – First task of the day is to sort out my travel insurance, we get free annual cover for Europe with Nationwide and for £90 extra this can be upgraded to trips of up to 90 days which suits me for now.  Steve is covered but not for his pre-existing condition but once he is in remission they will do a medical screening.  My new Sub Zero travel trolley bag arrives and boy is it small, will be a bit of a challenge even to me but looks very durable and is extremely light.  I actually am not sure about the size and even though I know that the next size up is too big for Ryanair I cover my options and pick up the next size at half price from Argos.  Call in to Mum and Dad’s where she does me lunch, boy do beans on toast taste good when you haven’t had them for ages.  Over at Westfield Clinic my friend Jane has got me booked into the dental school to get my toothache checked out.  Unfortunately as I am no registered at a dentist in UK they cannot treat but are able to establish it is the tooth behind the one that was treated last year and they put some varnish on to ease the pain.  At night I chat to Claire on Facebook as she has gone to the campsite for the night.  Today walking by the beach she got a shock when a man skated past on roller blades wearing nothing but a thong.


THURSDAY 12 JANUARY – Claire texts in the middle of the night with news that she has passed her 2 chartered accountant’s exams which is great.  I sleep in until 8am then nip down in my pyjamas to put the slow cooker on.  I notice that the bins are out so sneak out to put Claire’s into the street.  Whilst there I notice that the strong winds have blown over a bin 2 houses up and the rubbish bags are blowing into the street so I walk up and sort it out.  Hope to goodness her neighbours haven’t seen me street walking in jamas.    I do a bit of cleaning for Claire until Carol arrives.  We spend hours catching up on news, much about her daughter Verity who is getting married later this year.  When I speak to Steve early evening he says the scheduled chemo didn’t happen but instead they told him he could start sitting up as his headache is much less and they put him on anti fungal spray.  This means that the room is toxic so when Claire got back from Benidorm at 6pm the nurses asked her to go away for 3-hours.  She explains she has nowhere to go so they let her sit in the room wearing a mask.   Today Steve opted to have his head shaved so the barber from Seville, sorry Alicante, obliged.


FRIDAY 13 JANUARY – It’s a cold and frosty morning so I have to scrape the ice off the car windscreen.  At the Doctors I manage to forget to ask for one of my repeat prescriptions and must get a call back from a different Doctor this afternoon to re-order.  Walking round town I am so cold I duck into Ethel Austin and in their sale pick up a thermal hat, gloves and furry boots – a worthwhile investment of all of £5.50 – who says England is expensive.  We promised David we would also fly him out to visit Steve and today get him on flights from 21 – 26th January.  The only problem is that by the time he lands at 11.15pm it is too late to get public transport so I book a hire car which creates the problem that without credit card David can’t pick it up.   Rebook in my name so I will have to go to the airport to meet him and collect the car with him as a named driver but at least he can return it alone.  In the evening I take Natasha across to Shipley baths and leave her in Richards care.


SATURDAY 14 JANUARY – I sped the morning getting the last of the washing and ironing done to leave things nice for Claire.  When I go to feed and clean the rabbits out it is so cold their water bottles are frozen up.  Drive over to Richards and once they all get back from swimming he takes me to the airport for my 16.40hrs Ryanair flight to Alicante.  We board on time but there is some confusion over seating and lots of heated arguments.  At this stage, having been away from Steve for the longest time ever, I just want to get going.  Captain makes an announcement then we won’t be going anywhere until the passengers who shouldn’t be in the emergency exit seats move.  No idea what it’s about but I speak to the stewardess then go up to the people and plead to their human nature saying I am desperate to get back to my husband who is ill in Alicante hospital and please would they move so we can get going, they do.  On landing we disembark onto an air bridge so no chance of even seeing Claire who is waiting to board the same plan to return to Leeds/Bradford.  I am straight out of the terminal and onto the 9pm Alicante city bus €2.70(£2.30).  By changing at the bus station to 2 more buses I make it to the hospital before 10pm.  Steve looks well although his shaven head is a little odd as the recently shaved area is white compared to the rest which still has a light tan.  He’s had more chemo today but seems well although he still lies down most of the time to alleviate his headache.  Just before leaving Claire’s I pulled my back so not looking forward to sleeping on the lilo tonight.


SUNDAY 15 JANUARY – It’s a pool night’s sleep for both of us.  Chemo changes our taste buds and when I left Steve was drinking milky sweet coffee. As I prepare it for him he tells me it’s wrong.  He’s now on his normal black coffee and tells me how Claire has half his banana on the bread and jam on the other half so I guess the easiest thing is for me to do the same!  I’ve downloaded loads of messages and football stuff onto the laptop and this gives him plenty to go at.  The Doctor comes in and tells him today is his last day of chemo but when Steve says the other Doctor said he was to have 4 days of it she checks her notes and agrees!  Having checked twice with the main Doctor Steve is inclined to believe that there is a good chance of him being discharged next week so I load up my trolley bag with stuff to take back home.  After he has had his chemo he is feeling tired so mid afternoon I head back to the campsite.  An English couple Lewis and Maureen have been back to England for Christmas but are now back in their caravan and invite me in for a drink and chat.


MONDAY 16 JANUARY – Steve phones early morning saying he had a fever in the night, the nurse picked it up when she took his temperature and they immediately went into action taking samples and putting him on a drip.  I head in early to see him and am there for the Doctors visit.  Still on for a Wednesday departure, fever permitting.  Steve is now getting really fed up and I am struggling to keep him motivated, he’s lost all interest in food and doesn’t want to play cards or anything but I feel that just having me sat beside him may be of help.  When I get back in the afternoon Jean & Arf have arrived on our campsite parked diagonally behind me.  It’s great to have friends around and we have a good chat whilst walking along the promenade.  It’s been a cool day today after rain in the night and gets quite chilly by evening.  Holiday Autos have a promotion this month with a different country each day getting 30% discount on car hire.  I book one for when David arrives on Saturday 21st Jan until 5th May for just £98.19.  With the addition of a top up and excess waiver policy from car hire excess at £38.99 it’s a real bargain averaging just over £3 day.  Jean & Arf invite me for supper, homemade soup then frittata and salad, yummy although I do go easy on the salad.


TUESDAY 17 JANUARY – Steve phones early, he’s fed up having had another fever attack in the night and now has a very bad ulcer in his mouth and a seriously furry tongue.  Jean & Arf join me for a visit and we spend 4-hours trying to cheer him up and we do manage to get him laughing a few times.  The Doctor calls and says the fever may be down to the central access catheter in his neck so they will see about taking it out tomorrow and putting one in his arm for the last few days.  Steve picks up on the last part and realises getting out tomorrow is not on, Doc says aiming for Friday.  I take Jean & Arf on a mini tour of Alicante ending up at the castle where we have to wait until 4pm for the museum rooms to open.  Almost feel like a local being able to point things out to them and I think they enjoy the ease of doing it with a personal guide.  Back on site I cook us all pasta meal.  Steve calls to say he had a fever attach at 5pm but it was much shorter, seems strange that it comes and goes so maybe it is down to the chemo and nothing more sinister.


WEDNESDAY 18 JANUARY – More rain in the night but it soon fines up and the forecast is for it to continue to improve.  Steve calls and says that last night they gave him some stuff to put on his ulcer that has numbed it and enabled him to have a reasonable night’s sleep. The Doctor has said that all being well he can come home on Friday but he going to try not to build his hopes up.   Arf helps me out by doing a couple of jobs around the van that are too challenging for me whilst I get on with mundane stuff like washing, loo emptying and water filling.   At 3pm we all head off for a leisurely walk into El Campello.  At the English shop they have lots of clearance lines including Walkers crisps and chocolate Christmas log which are irresistible.  Jean & Arf head back to camp whilst I walk up to the town centre tram station, passing loads of motorhomes in a central park area.  Steve seems a lot brighter in himself and he enjoys the free English papers I’ve picked up.  In the evening he is happy to sit up watching a movie.


THURSDAY 19 JANUARY – We both have an OK night.  When Steve wakes he finds he has not a tooth ache but a general ache in his teeth near to the ulcer – maybe the medication is inducing this.  He owns up and mentions this to the Doctors and they are unconcerned and say that providing the blood tests are good in the morning Steve can go home at 3pm tomorrow – yey.  Steve’s feeling well so we play cards until Jean & Arf arrive.  Although he gets tired after a couple of hours he is much better than a few days ago.  We pack up much of the stuff to go back to the campsite as Jean & Arf offer to help carry things.  As we head back on the train I dream of making the same journey tomorrow with Steve.  Jean & Arf invite me round for an evening meal and chat after which I return to prepare the van for Steve’s return, trying not to be too excited but it’s hard.  I just want to go on line and tell everyone but after our previous disappointments will have to wait until it happens.


FRIDAY 20 JANUARY – Steve phones to say he has had no problems overnight but they want to give him a couple of blood transfusions before sending him on his way.  I do some last minute cleaning and preparation in the van.  I buy a couple of big boxes of luxury biscuits for the nurses and they are delighted and all say they will end up putting on weight.  When the blood transfusions are done they take out his central line catheter and it is huge, about 10” long.  Now he can get dressed and he does look rather strange, having not seen him in anything but pyjamas for almost 7 weeks.  We walk up and down the ward corridor and he hops on the scales at the end, 65 kilos, he was 71.3 when he came in so has lost about a stone in weight. At about ¼ to 4 the Doctors come in to give us his medical notes and explain our appointments on Monday and that is he gets a fever or any bleeding in the mouth before that we must immediately return to the hospital.  He is now discharged and we head off, me with a back pack and trolley bag and Steve with our pillow in a bag.  He’s got on T-shirt, shirt, thick jumper, fleece, thinsulate hat and gloves but looks worse when we have to board the bus as he needs to wear a mask in places where there are lots of people.  Donning his dark glasses he looks quite sinister, a bit like Darth Vader.  He is walking really well and the transfer to the tram is easy but we have 20 minutes wait.  The seats are made of steel and very cold so the pillow comes in handy for Steve to sit on.  Can’t remember how many times I have imagined the moment when we reach the beautiful Costa Blanca and Steve gets his real view of our local beach. He is very impressed but now when I suggest we will soon have him walking the length of it.  There’s quite a slope from the tram stop to campsite so I suggest he walks ahead at his own pace, leaving me to attempt to keep up with him whilst hauling the bags.  Jean & Arf welcome us back and come round for a drink and biscuits.  Steve says he feels so much better now he is home and wearing normal clothes.  We go through the Internet messages and he spends ages on Sky sports.  His taste buds are still out of kilter after the chemo so I decide to just feed him whatever he fancies. Tonight it is proper chips followed by homemade rice pudding with sultanas and almonds; he eats the lot and says how nice it is to have hot food.  By 9pm he is whacked and heads up to bed, hopefully now the beginning of another chapter in our lives.  It sounds like after a couple of weeks of outpatient testing we shall find out if he is in remission or if not what further treatment is needed, fingers crossed.



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