Posted by: glenswatman | March 11, 2012

20120301-10 SPAIN 2 down 1 to go on the bone marrow transplant match. Couple of days in Benidorm and a visit from Claire


THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2012 – We try to remove some calories by taking a morning swim in the indoor pool.  Netty has got a bit of a rash (to go with her cold) so sits it out.  To make sure we have room for lunch we walk down the beach area then back through the streets.  The all inclusive package only includes San Miguel beer and the lads have a craving for a Guinness whilst Netty & I want to be sat out in the sun.  Manage to keep us all happy at one of the back street bars.  Until you walk around the streets you really don’t appreciate just how many bars, restaurants and shops there are.    Normally we would prefer to be on a B&B or room only basis to enable us to check out many of the different places to eat.  Mark point out the “Morgan Tavern” like a pirate ships and this doubles up as “The Neptune” bar in Benidorm.  As Mark says there is just about something for everyone here – apart from peace and quiet!  The evening entertainment is a duo called “The Hot Chocolates” and they entertain us with soul and Motown music, just wish there was a places we could get up to dance although a couple of ladies in the row in front of us do a pretty good job of dancing in their seats.  The following quiz is pictures on a screen and needless to say we don’t win but have fun trying.


FRIDAY 2 MARCH – Netty & Mark have decided to come with us to the hospital on the off chance they can do a blood test for Netty’s bone marrow match.  Christy tells us they have had Lisa’s results but no match and Netty’s results from 10 days ago have not arrived but it is still quicker to wait for those than have another test done here.  We retire to Jade cafe for breakfast before heading back to see Dr Rivas.  She explains they want to put Steve on a 3-weekly chemo cycle beginning next week with day treatments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  The alternative is admission on Sunday and 3 days of consecutive treatments.  When we explain the distance we have to travel she comes up with plan C, for Steve to be admitted today and start the 3 days treatment tomorrow.  As he hates coming to hospital, and never sleeps the night before, he figures he might as well stay on now.  In fact we do the paper work but he can’t come in until 6pm.  There’s a Chinese nearby where we have lunch before heading off in the car.  The one way streets are a nightmare and we end up on the road out to San Juan so park up there.  It’s a sunny afternoon so sitting outside a bar having a drink and playing cards is a pleasant way to pass and hour or so.  Netty & Mark catch the 4.15pm train back to Benidorm and Steve and I nap in the car until it is time to go back to the hospital.  He’s back in the Urology ward but his bed won’t be available until much later and we must go away and come back or stay in the waiting room.  I stay with him until about 7pm when it is starting to get dark.  I’ve not been home long when Steve calls to say he is settled into room 712 and it looks like they are about to wheel in someone to join him.  Luckily we had the spare phone and toiletries with us for our visit to Benidorm but he is missing his slippers and shaver so I will have to decide when to take them in.  Get an Email from our Montreal friends Sandra and Robert to say her brother in law Claude has died in Mexico, we met them when we were there a couple of years ago so this is more sad news.  At least we can relax a bit with this bringing our recent friends death total to 3.


SATURDAY 3 MARCH – After coffee Shirley & I head to the market.  We make a leisurely stroll through browsing at many things we have no intention of buying without a voice saying “what are you looking at that for”.  Shirley buys a couple of things and I get some heeled shoes ready for all the parties we have been invited to in England.  In the afternoon I notice the bike, chained to the fence by our front door, is missing.  When Dave left earlier in the week he gave me the cycle helmet to pass on to George who is selling it on behalf of the girl who lived here before.  I head up to Georges to give him the helmet for the buyer and then find the bike has not been sold but stolen.  It would seem that we are being watched as this is the first time that both Dave next door and our apartment have been empty.  I check with Jim & Trish across the road to see if they have seen anything suspicious, they haven’t but say burglaries round here are common.  Rather than visit Steve tomorrow then return on Monday when he comes out I search the Internet and make arrangements to stay with a Couchsurfer tomorrow.  In the evening I go to John & Shirley’s for a curry followed by watching the movie “The Help” about black servants in Mississippi.

SUNDAY 4 MARCH – When I drive past the pharmacy at 9.30am the sign shows 21C, it’s going to be a scorcher.  Traffic is light and I make good time so swing by Urbanova beach near the airport.  There are lots of motorhome parked behind the beach and it is a great spot, especially for plane spotters.  Tonight I am staying with Couchsurfer Flaminia from Italy and she lives in the centre of Alicante in a large apartment.  She’s been quite sick recently and has many ongoing health problems.  From 10.30am until I leave at 1.30pm she fills me in on her life.  From a wealthy Italian family she is an only child born to elderly parents.  Her mother had leukaemia and her father prostate cancer and she nursed them for 13 years.  During this time they had to sell all their assets to fund the private nursing care.  Flaminia then married an Italian man and they moved to Spain but shortly after he became an alcoholic and she is now divorced.  Whilst she tries to be a positive person, and does make the effort to travel alone, most of her conversion is pretty depressing and not quite what I need at this moment.  After a tuna pasta lunch I catch the bus to visit Steve.  He’s in what should be a single room into which they have squeezed an extra bed but no one used it on Friday or Saturday so I could have stayed with him.  He tells me he has been hearing English voices so I seek out Irene & Derek just down the corridor.  From Walsall they moved over here to live a few years ago.  Derek has since had prostate cancer and Irene has just been told she may have lung cancer (she has never smoked).  Their sons Craig and Jason are over from England to visit. It’s quite strange hearing Midland’s accents in these settings.  Steve and I play lots of card games until 7pm when it’s starting to get dark and I head back to Flaminia’s.  She pretty much picks up where she left off and often repeats stories.  I’ve got a comfy camp bed and separate bathroom and get a reasonable amount of sleep.



MONDAY 5 MARCH – Flaminia has instructed me how to make myself coffee and she just gets up to see me off at 8.30am and says I am welcome back tonight if need be.  I drive up to the hospital and we are optimistic that Steve will come out because he had his last chemo last night.  He’s been on various drips constantly since coming in on Friday but now has nothing which is a good sign.  When the Doctor does her rounds she says we must wait until later as an eye specialist is coming to check Steve’s vision.  His eyes have been very watery and he often has blurred vision and once went almost completely blind in one eye for about 10 minutes.  I get a phone call from another Alicante Couchsurfer Irene offering me a place to stay, she sounds really cheerful but I explain we are going home tonight but I may like to visit when Steve is next in hospital.  I head off to the airport to change over the rental car.  To keep our options open I booked two blocks of 6 weeks.  The new one is from a different company and the girl is delighted to tell me I have been given an upgrade to a Citroen Berlingo, a much bigger vehicle and heavier on fuel.  I explain I really want a small and economical car and end up with VW Polo, not as economical as the Opal Corsa I had booked but at least the same size as that.   When I get back to the hospital Steve is in the bathroom retching and feeling very nauseous.  His strange headache is also back so they put him on drips again.  This time it is the young nurse who is not very gentle.  We’ve realised that if the drip liquid is cold it causes Steve a lot of pain going in so I hold my hands over the bag to try and warm it which helps a little.  Around 4pm the specialist arrives, puts drops in Steve’s eye and says he will be back within the hour.  Next a nurse comes and routinely takes his temperature.  Shortly after they come back and tell us Steve has a fever, blood samples are taken and he is put on antibiotic drips and told he won’t be going home tonight.  Steve can’t believe it as he doesn’t feel feverish at all.  Half an hour later they come back to take more blood samples that go into the beer style bottles.  Again it is the brutal nurse and Steve is getting really fed up of all the poking and prodding and feeling quite depressed about it all.  The eye specialist examines him and says there is infection caused by the chemo.  The eye drops they have given him will help and it should resolve itself eventually when chemo finally stops.  However at this stage the chemo is of greater priority than his eyesight – deep joy.  It’s now quite late so I opt to stay overnight.  Steve is convinced there was something wrong with the reading as subsequent ones show a normal temperature, why they didn’t do a couple of readings close together we don’t know.  However maybe he was just starting to go into a fever and the antibiotics nipped it in the bud.  Luckily no one else arrives so I have a bed for the night.


TUESDAY 6 MARCH – Steve has had a really good night’s sleep and feels extremely well.  Temperature normal and when the nurse comes to put him on an antibiotic drip and give him an injection for the nausea he refuses.  Shortly after he sends me off to ask for the medication just in case not having had it delays him going home this morning.  Doctor Paola arrives, she speaks reasonable English, but says she must confer with Dr Fernandez to confirm Steve can go home but will be back this morning.  We mooch around and Steve heads off to visit Dr Fernandez to speed up his departure.   The Dr says he is alone today and the decision is with Doctor Paola but as far as he is concerned we can go home.  He also says the bone marrow matching test on Netty has arrived and they will be looking at it later.  I get a text from Claire, who is missing her Dad, to say Richard has offered to pay for her to fly over so we talk through options and she is going to try to book to come from Saturday to Thursday.  Back on the ward it is afternoon but Nurse Domingo tells us here in Spain morning is from 8am – 3pm!  He’s exactly rite because it is 3pm when we get our discharge papers and with Steve already showered and dressed we waste no time heading home.  Steve has a prescription for antibiotic tablets and we pick these up at Punta Prima chemists then discover a hidden area to the shopping centre with lots of eating places including Wok buffet. Here for €8.05 (£7.50) you put fresh food on your plate, including steaks, prawns and veg, take them to the chef who then cooks them up in whatever sauce you like.  The price includes starters, mains and desserts as much as you like so I think we will have to try it out with Claire next week.  Steve has a craving for a steak & kidney pudding so we call in to “Gamma” where the store is almost full of English products and there we buy a Fray Bentos pie.  Cooked up with mash, peas and gravy Steve soon gets through a plate full and declares he feels the best he has done for weeks.


WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH – We’ve had a bad night with Steve suffering from nausea and stomach ache.  I get up and do more research and phone a couple of hospitals in England and Email others.  We have had an offer from “The Christie” in Manchester but I need to find out more about the surgeons as they are younger and maybe less experienced than the Professors at Leeds and Birmingham.  Claire has booked and arrives Saturday night until Thursday evening, something to really look forward to.  Steve feels a bit better when he gets up so I invite John & Shirley round for lunch.  We sit out on the patio to eat the pork curry followed by Indian Rice Pudding and Steve enjoys the food and company.  I’m trying to get him out walking each day so we go to Aldi and I have him carry back 2 x 5 litre waters which will strengthen his arms!  We both have a siesta, Steve gets up before me and I have to force myself out of bed at 5pm.


THURSDAY 8 MARCH – Down at the waterfront Nautilus has a stunning location on a headland by the beach.  We meet up with Georgie (wife of Terry who recently died of leukaemia) and her daughter Heidi and granddaughter Stephanie from Australia are with her.  We chat over coffee and learn that due to an error in the Spanish will Georgie has to give half her house to Terry’s 4 children from a previous marriage.  The good news is that if they sell it within 4-years they will incur huge tax penalties so it sounds like she has a few years to make a decision what to do.  When we leave we drive a little further down the coast and park up to walk to the naturist beach.  There are 3 sections and today the middle one is almost completely sheltered from the wind and well used.  It’s so nice to be back in our normal environment with a lovely ocean view and some nice hot sun on our bodies.


FIRIDAY 9 MARCH – Georgie, Stephanie and Heidi join us for a lift into Alicante when we got for Steve’s blood tests.  We do the journey in just under an hour and leave Steve to go off for his tests whilst we retire to the Jade cafe for chocolate and churros.  We’ve not even finished when Steve comes back having gone straight in.  The only problem is that something went a bit wrong and he ended up with blood spurting everywhere and his shirt is a right mess.  We drive down to the castle where Steve dozes in the car whilst I show the others around.  Down at the waterfront we put Georgie and girls on a tram up the coast then return to park near the hospital and rest until afternoon appointment at 12.45.  Dr Rivas tells us Steve’s blood is all good but that Netty is not a match for bone marrow, all hinging on Kev now.  We’re both pretty tired so head home for a siesta.


SATURDAY 10 MARCH – Call in to the market to book a “blanket tour” to Calpe for Tuesday.  These are free coach tours, the catch being that you get taken to a factory where they hope to sell you a mattress – not much chance of us being temped when we don’t even have our own bed.  We walk down to the beach and give it a try but it is a cold wind, windbreaks would have been perfect.  Back at the apartment the wind direction means it is perfect on the roof.  Steve heads off to watch his football but both Liverpool and Wolves lose 1-0.  Head off to Alicante airport, there are crowds of people waiting and we suddenly hear a big cheer.  It seems that a couple of Spanish athletes are returning after winning world championships, think it is some sort of martial arts.  After they leave we spot loads of girls arriving wearing pink shoes, pink hats and pink jackets with “hen party” on the back – no doubt Benidorm bound.  Claire emerges and we have a nice group hug.  Steve drives back whilst we chat.  She’s impressed with the apartment and can’t believe we have English TV so has us watching “The Bank Job” until 11.30pm.  We then leave Steve watching match of the day whilst we retire to bed.  Lovely having her here with us.



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