Posted by: glenswatman | January 31, 2012

20120121-31 SPAIN Steve at home on the campsite and out patient visits to hospital

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SATURDAY 21 JANUARY – Steve’s slept better than in hospital and other than a slight dizzy spell when he first gets up he feels fine.  We join Arf & Jean for a walk around the block to the bread shop then along the water front all the way to the bridge leading to El Campello, way further than I expected Steve to walk, and back.  It’s a hot day so we sit out in the afternoon and bit by bit Steve peels off his hat, fleece, jumper, shirt and finally T-shirt to sit out bare chested.  Will have to make sure he doesn’t burn his bald head.  He watches the Liverpool game and unsurprisingly they play badly and loose, this is all because Steve is now feeling so much better.  As David boards his plane in England I set off for the airport, first on the tram and then as the only passenger on the airport bus.  I arrive around 10pm and go to Centuro car rental desk.  He talks through my options and explains that for an extra €10 (£9) I can upgrade from a 2 door mini economy car to a 4 door Ford Focus, when he says that equates to less than 25c a day I realise this is the total price and not per day so jump at it.  The cars are in a multi storey car park across a footbridge and mine looks like it has been through the wars.  Instead of the 3 damaged panels shown on the rental agreement I see that every single panel and even the roof have damage so photograph them all.  Luckily there is an office within the garage and the guy comes out and confirms the damage on the paperwork but also says I could change to a brand new car if I preferred.  Actually prefer this one because if I do have any sort of bump it will be hard for them to see!  David comes into arrivals hall around 11.30pm and seems really pleased to see me and gives me lots of hugs.  Back at the car we find the 12v socket is not working and my Satnav is flat from me playing with it.  I decide to drive right along the Alicante waterfront to pick up the road out to the campsite but deliberately overshoot to El Campello and this works out just fine.  David chatters the whole way along leaving me little change to be nervous about driving a strange left hand drive car at night.  It’s quite an emotional reunion with his Dad.


SUNDAY 22 JANUARY – We all sleep in until after 9am.  Although I now have a 5 seater car Jean & Arf opt not to join us for a drive as Arf is going down with a cold and doesn’t want to infect Steve.  We head up the coast through El Campello and find an interesting area at the northern end which will warrant a walk one of these days.  Villajoyosa isn’t too interesting.  At Benidorm we easily park by Poniente Beach for a brief stroll. It’s over 20C and lots of people are on the beach or promenading.  Further along we also park just behind Levante Beach which is much busier.  Walking along you almost have to zig zag to avoid people.  We find a Chinese restaurant up a side street with €4.50 (£4) menu of the day, starter, main dessert and drink so very good value and the pork in hot sauce is excellent.  Full to bursting we have a short stroll before driving up so that David can take pictures inside and out at Sol Pelicanos, then a quick photo stop at Hotel he and Donna used to stay at before driving home.  The lads alternate between sitting out and watching football on the laptop.   We were all pretty tired in the evening so retired to bed at 9pm, David at the back watching a movie on the laptop with headphones.


MONDAY 23 JANUARY – Up and heading off in the dark, it gets light around 8am as I drive into Alicante.  Steve’s blood test appointment is 8.30am and so if that of dozens of others so it is the take a ticket system, except we take the wrong ticket first time round.  Luckily by sheer chance we spot Marcia and Stuart, Marcia was in the same ward as Steve and also has leukaemia.  She’s been out for over a month and steers us in the right direction.  They also have an afternoon appointment with Dr Revis.  After his blood donation I drive us up to the castle where Steve manages a slow walk up the 4 levels to the top for superb views and we also do many of the museums.  Back near the hospital we order churros con chocolate (thick sauce like hot chocolate into which you dip thick long fingers of doughnut).  There’s an English guy next to us and we get chatting, turns out he is Paul Melba who was one of the original Comedians back in the 70’s, also appeared on “Who do you do” and many other TV shows.  Since then he has worked on cruise ships and done shows around the world before retiring here to Spain and just doing one or two impersonation acts each month.  His wife was just getting over breast cancer when she fell and broke her hip and now needs reconstructive surgery.   He does a great impression of Billy Connolly for us but embarrassingly we don’t recognise him at all.  At Steve’s afternoon appointment we learn that he is now entering the consolidation phase and the standard procedure during this is for 3 more cycles of chemo each involving about 2 nights in hospital.  His blood tests are good except his platelets are not coming up as quickly as they might.  The light headedness in the mornings is nothing to worry about.  However they do say it would be better for us to stay in the area and continue as much treatment as possible at this hospital before going back to England.  Next Monday we must return for more blood tests and a bone marrow extraction, if these shows no chemo then Steve is in remission.  Back home I check on line and consolidation can take 4 – 8 months before we go on to maintenance phase.  Steve is a bit depressed about this but feel sure that if we can get to the remission he will perk up again.  Spend the evening playing Yahtzee before David heads into his cocoon to watch the rest of the movie he fell asleep watching last night.


TUESDAY 24 JANUARY – I drive to El Campello where we walk along the main street and pick up some things at the English shop.  Back along the promenade where it is really hot in the sun.  In the afternoon David heads to the beach, Steve sunbathes on the lounger and I pack up a few things that we won’t be leaving in the motorhome.  Late afternoon we take a drive to San Juan and Cabo de Horta area with some nice beaches.  It’s a bit of a worry during our evening meal when Steve suddenly says his eyesight is going blurred and then he is almost blind apart from a few shadows.  We talk it through and I check on the internet and find this can be a lingering side effect of chemo and by the time I have found that out his vision has returned, frightening all the same.  He still gets pretty tired and can’t walk as far as he would like and his legs ache but overall seems to be making good progress.


WEDNESDAY 25 JANUARY – Once he gets going Steve is fine and up for another walk.  We park by El Campello marina then walk past the boats and up the hill to a headland.  This is the area of “La Illeta Dels Banyets” a small town going back to 3BC.  The archaeological site costs €2 (£1.70) admission which is reasonable but in fact there is very little to see, foundations of old buildings have been heavily renovated and had modern stones put on top, as have the Roman style baths and other temples and shops.  In fact we spot people who walk to the right of the entry kiosk and follow a path around the fence line and get a great view of the ruins that way.  Walking back along the main road we are drawn to an estate agents window.  They are selling static caravans on Colmar Campsite nearby from just £2250 for a 2 bedroom including the ground rent paid until end of July this year.  The most expensive is only £4300.  We are curious and make arrangements to visit in the afternoon.  The site is beside the main road running down a hillside, about 20 minutes walk down to the beach and 40 minutes back up.  Ron shows us the vans on offer (ranging from about 3 – 16 years old) and whilst the caravans themselves are very tempting the site fees of €3372 pa plus €60 for your electric meter and €179.36 for unlimited water giving a total of €3612 on top of the purchase price would pay for a lot of short term rentals so the idea fizzles out.  However if you were of a mind to visit for about 6 months a year and rent it out for the rest it would be a better proposition and there is a lovely swimming pool.  Another downside for us is that a car would be essential and you can’t really walk to any shops or anything.  In the evening I run David & Steve into El Campello so they can watch the Liverpool match on a big screen TV at the pub.  They are both delighted that Liverpool draws which is enough to get them through Wembley.


THURSDAY 26 JANUARY – We’re heading south of Torrevieja and Tom-tom sends me on the motorway which is an excellent journey but adds loads of mileage.  At Los Altos we find Chris & Karen’s local pub “Liberty” and nearby their apartment which we are going to be borrowing.  It’s about 1km from John & Shirley’s and a few minutes away from an Aldi supermarket.  We meet up with John & Shirley and drop some boxes at their place, stuff from the van that we can use over the coming weeks.  Times Square American diner have a special January deal of buffet lunch €4.99 (£4.30).  All you can eat ribs, burgers, pizzas, pastas, salad and dessert goes down a treat but I think we all over indulge.  At least David shouldn’t be hungry on the plane.  We head back up the coast road, a much shorter but slightly longer journey.  At the airport “Centauro” change my car because the 12v cigarette socket doesn’t work.  This time I get an Opal Corsa, again damage on almost every panel but this time just scratches.  David calls in at the tobacconists then we walk him over to departures area for his 1700hrs flight to Manchester.  He’s got a busy week ahead with his birthday tomorrow then flying off to Portugal on Monday.  Now I have a new car to get used to but find it better for visibility and a little smaller than the Ford Focus.  Nice to be back home with just the 2 of us again.


FRIDAY 27 JANUARY – David’s 33rd birthday, my how the years have flown.  It’s cloudy morning so I climb up onto the motorhome roof to give it a good clean prior to the sale.  Whilst I am up there the sun breaks through and it is almost pleasant.  I discourage him but Steve wants to help by doing the higher parts of the van sides but after a few minutes realises that standing on steps looking upwards is not good for his balance so I persuade to find other things to do.  In the afternoon we stroll along the promenade, considering Steve has just been out a week he is looking much better, walking straighter and faster and altogether improved, he hopes he is built up enough for him to soon get started on his consolidation chemo.


SATURDAY 28 JANUARY – It’s a rainy start to the day so I crack on cleaning inside the motorhome and clear all the cab out, rescuing the spare coins out of the tray.  At lunch time we drive to El Campello and go to Bernie’s Bar so Steve can watch Liverpool play Man Utd in the FA cup. We order lunch whilst we are watching and as I am driving Steve opts to drink the wine then comes with my “menu del dia”, his first alcohol in almost a month.  I get bored by half time and go shopping and return just as Liverpool clinch it to win 2 -1.


SUNDAY 29 JANUARY – I met Couchsurfer Jean briefly on Christmas eve and have recently contacted Laure in El Campello as a place for me to stay during Steve’s future chemo’s.  It turns out they know each other and both come round for a drink and chat.  Tomorrow Jean is heading off to Malaysia to begin his new life as a full time traveller.  Belgian Laure is a translator and has been battling cancer since the early 1990’s so has lots to tell us.  It’s amazing what a difference Couchsurfing has made to our travel experience.  When they leave we join neighbour Alan to walk across to the English speaking club where he is a member.  Twice a week they open the bar, Sunday lunch being one of them, and at other times they have line dancing, craft classes etc.  He’s not kidding when he says it is often called God’s waiting room as we must be young enough to be everyone’s children! A couple of pints of draught Tetley’s confirm that Steve is on the mend.   Chat to Alan’s friend who turns out to be the owner of one of the caravans we looked at on Colmar static caravan site.  He tried it for a few years but now prefers to rent an apartment nearer the beach and confirms that we have made the right decision in not pursuing it.  Funnily enough the caravan we liked best of the 6 was his.  It’s hot enough in the afternoon to fit in a bit of sunbathing, December and January have far exceeded our sunshine expectations.


MONDAY 30 JANUARY – I drop Steve at the hospital so he can get a waiting number whilst I park.  Once he has had his blood taken we go to a cafe across the road for breakfast.  €1.90 (£1.65) gets us tomato on toast, orange juice and coffee so a pretty good deal.  In fact the Euro is now up to around €1.20 = £1 so things are getting cheaper for us.  In the hospital we call in to see if Steve has any mail and the expected parcel has arrived.  It’s from Claire and contains a big squishy bear wearing a T-shirt showing a picture of Claire and the kids and saying “to a very special Grandad/Dad”.  He’s delighted with it and takes it back in to show the nurses as they have met Claire.  They say he must bring it in with him each time he returns for treatment.  The bears real name is Henry but we think we will name him Ali after Alicante.  We’ve heard the Terry is back in and the nurses tell us he is in a different ward room 726.  We call at the reception and they say it is 725.  We walk through the door and stop dead as we are facing Marcia and Stewart instead.  She came back in yesterday to begin more chemo, think the staff just hear an English name and make a guess.  We stop and chat and compare notes, she is now in a shared room and in the next bed is a 30 year old Russian girl with cancer.  Our next port of call is the Doctors, and she arrives at 11.25am even though our appointment is 11.00.  We are not even her first patient and it is after 12 before we are seen.  She potters around on the computer then declares that Steve will have bone marrow today and come back for blood tests and bone marrow results on Friday.  If these are good he will be admitted on Sunday night to start chemo on Monday.  She also explains an ongoing plan which sounds like 6 more lots of chemo, 1 3 and 5 in the hospital for about 3 days and 2 4 and 6 either as an outpatient or an overnighter.  This will take 6 months in total. We explain we want to get back to England in April so she says she will write up notes for us to take with us then.  The bone marrow extraction is done immediately after and we are back home just after 2pm to sit out in the very hot sun.    In the evening we get a text from Terry saying he is still in hospital, room 726, so they were right.   Will have to visit him on Friday, at this rate by next week they will have all 3 Brits back in.  Still think they are using foreigners as guinea pigs with it being a University hospital!


TUESDAY 31 JANUARY – More glorious weather so I crack on with getting the bedding washed and dried.  Steve potters round and manages to get loads of small jobs done. We sit out for lunch, shepherd’s pie and veg washed down with a nice drop of red wine.  Life seems almost back to normal for a short time.  I’ve got the weekend pretty well planned out, dropping Steve at hospital Sunday night all being well then returning to meet Jeff & family from Oz who are buying the motorhome. I’m cooking us a chilli con carne as their flight leaves Gatwick early in the afternoon.  If Steve has no problems I will spend Monday on the campsite showing Jeff and family over the van and hopefully completing the sale.  They are booked into a cabin for 3 nights but if Steve gets out on Tuesday I will leave early, if not we are hoping for Wednesday so I can pick him up and continue to Karen’s flat near Torrevieja.  Of course plans more often than not don’t work out quite as planned!



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