Posted by: glenswatman | June 13, 2012

20120601-10 ENGLAND A trip to the Midlands

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FRIDAY 1 JUNE 2012 – I ’m up early down at the supermarket picking up things for lunch with our visitors and stocking up to avoid shopping over the holiday weekend. On the way home I call by to look at a small camper van. 1987 Talbot Express which in theory would suit our needs as a vehicle and could be used for the occasional overnight but are we ready for it ? I get back with a list of jobs in mind but the workmen arrive unexpectedly to fix the shower. I spontaneously turns itself on and the original workman decided it was because the shower unit was not powerful enough to cope with the long tube needed to enable tall Steve to stand up in the shower. I’ve finished tidying in and hovering once Paul & Elaine and Carol arrive. Sadly Pete has a cold and the hospital recommended he stay away. They are armed with gifts of flowers, a homemade cake and books. Carol is dying for the loo and they are all ready for a drink, at which point I realise the water has been turned off and the workmen have gone off for a missing part. We’ve not seen our visitors since we got back at the end of March so plenty to chat about. I cook us a pasta meal for lunch and to avoid cooking the bacon in the same pan, Elaine is a vegetarian, I cook that under the grill. I manage to forget about it and it catches fire so the kitchen is full of smoke and the alarm begins to sound. Not just the smoke alarm but the one in the lounge and second later a voice asks if Mr Swatman is OK. We are living in a “trustcare property” and have emergency pull cords and other things attached to a central 24/7 call centre. Steve assures the operator I have just burnt the bacon and she cancels the callout off the fire brigade! Mid afternoon Steve suggests a drive up to the Tarn and a walk around. It’s a bit of a damp miserable day and pretty cold up there so one lap suffices but at least Steve has had some fresh air and exercise. It’s suddenly very quiet when our visitors leave; we’ve had a lovely day although Steve is a bit tired and has half an hour rest on the bed.

SATURDAY 2 JUNE – We drive down to the town centre to check out the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. On Church Green there are kid’s activities and a band setting up. In the Civic Hall we are given a slice of Jubilee cake then peruse the 50’s clothing and memorabilia before listening to Haworth Brass Band then watching a bit of the coronation video. Back on Church Green the band have stuck up and tribute artist “Cliff as if” has a couple rock and rolling on the grass. Enough excitement for one day we call in to Mom and Dad’s then head home

SUNDAY 3 JUNE – We linger in bed; it’s a cold rainy day, so cold we have to put the central heating on. In the afternoon we thoroughly enjoy watching the water pageant with over 1000 boats accompanying the Royal Barge along the Thames. Claire and the kids have had a drenching at Lightwater Valley theme park whilst Richard and Azura spent the day at Sheffield swimming baths. We go up to Claire’s and have a roast pork and chicken dinner ready for when they all arrive. I make jubilee chicken with a twist, I lay bacon across the breast in the shape of the Union Jack.

MONDAY 4 JUNE – Down at Farish House I help Mom getting the hall decorated for the party. Steve is still struggling after his lumbar puncture and can only tolerate noise and being upright for short periods of time so I collect him in time for lunch at Mom and Dad’s. The hall looks lovely and the party kicks off at 2pm. David Apfel is the singer who also tells some jokes. He’s rather good and even manages the high note in Nessun Dorma. The buffet includes some special Jubilee Buns and it all very nice. We’ve bought loads of raffle tickets so it is no surprise that we walk away with 5 prizes including a mini slow cooker and a snuggle blanket to be worn when watching TV. Both Dad and Steve find it tiring so Dad heads to the flat and Steve sits quietly whilst I help with the clearing up. In the evening it is the Jubilee Concert from in front of Buckingham Palace. It is really spectacular with great artists and astounding special effects. Steve manages to stay up for the first half then lies in bed listening to the rest on the radio. Seeing Madness on the Palace roof and the finale fireworks were major highlights but the whole thing made us feel very proud to be British. Luckily the weather is much better than yesterday so the tens of thousands in the crowd have a deservedly great party there.

TUESDAY 5 JUNE – It’s a public holiday in England and Nancy has invited us round for lunch. After eating we leave Steve resting on the sofa whilst we take Nancy’s daughter Jenny’s dog Bruce out for a walk. He’s a really old Highland Terrier and walks really slowly so a walk we could have done in 20 minutes takes about an hour. At least as are out enjoying the fresh air.

WEDNESDAY 6 JUNE – We meet with Dr Ackroyd who fully explains the results of the MRI scan. They think that Steve previously had a clot behind his eye (probably the time when he went blind for a short time in Spain) and that this has moved but left small clots scattered around the brain. As a precaution they now want to put him on an aspirin a day to keep the blood thin and prevent any clots. We ask about the bone marrow transplant appointment and learn that they have been searching for a donor but due to Steve’s very rare tissue type they haven’t found one. They will now just get us an appointment so we can chat and decide whether we even want to go down the transplant path or not. Frustratingly had Steve been going ahead with a transplant this is the time when he would have had it making the next 6 week course of chemo unnecessary. We mention it is frustrating not being able to go more than 1-hour from the hospital and Dr Ackroyd says that at the moment Steve’s blood counts are all high and will take about a week to drop so if we want to venture further now is a good time. We’re obviously on for another all day job so I go off in the car to drop off the clock at the repairer in Bradford. Steve’s chemo consists of 2 types by drip, 2mg of Vincristine followed by 25mg of the bright red Daunorubicin which will make his wee red. He also has to take 10 x 2mg Dexamethasone steroid tablets on 4 consecutive days each week then Lanzoprazole to settle his stomach from the effects of the steroids! As soon as we get home we begin making arrangements for a trip down to the Midlands to stay at Mums. We’ve just about got it all finalised when we get a call from Mom to say Dad is on his way to hospital in an ambulance with breathing problems. There’s little we could do if we stayed here as neither of us would risk visiting on a ward where people have infections so if he is stable in the morning we will still go away.

THURSDAY 7 JUNE – The weather forecast is for heavy rain and very strong winds causing damage over the next couple of days so after speaking to Mom about Dad we head off early. Steve’s feeling reasonably well insists on driving. We can already see the rain building and traffic is slowed to 40 mph in many places on the motorway. Arrive around 11am and Mum soon has the kettle on. She’s lost a lot of weight since we saw her at Auntie Pam’s party in April and says she feels full whenever she eats but is eating regularly. This afternoon she is going to a Jubilee Party at the Festival Hall whilst I walk up town between the downpours. In the evening we first call in to see Kevin & Sandra and meet their new dog Sky. Sandra’s has had lots of ailments recently so we have quite a medical talk. Next stop is Richard (Steve’s best man) and Julies. Richard wants to retire in a couple of years and head off around Europe in a motorhome so spends a lot of time picking our brains in the hope of convincing Julie it is a good plan.

FRIDAY 8 JUNE – Steve’s pretty weary so I leave him in bed but between the rain drive Mum up for a shop at Morrisons. Bobby calls round early afternoon with a new digital camera for Mum; they have stopped selling the film for her old one so modern technology has been forced upon her. It’s a really nice camera but needs a memory card so Bobby and I go up town and are amazed to find that 8gb SD cards are now only £12 at Wilkinson’s. In the evening we are supposed to be going out for a meal with Netty & Ian but after getting bathed and ready Steve says he really doesn’t feel up to it. Netty suggests we go there for a meal and this works well as Steve has no pressure to stay at the table. Netty & Mum are off to Germany next week to try to find where Dad used to work and we used to live. Dad’s work building still exists but Goggle street view shows our old house has been bulldozed and new office blocks are being built.

SATURDAY 9 JUNE – Steve’s not feeling too well, his face is swollen from the steroids but his jaw keeps getting stuck and his throat is sore. I call the hospital who says that providing he is in no pain when he keeps his mouth still there is no concern – bet he wishes they would say the same to me and stop me chattering. After having her hair done Mum brings home fish and chips for dinner. Steve is wilting a little but happy to have Pete & Carol come round for a visit. By the time they leave Steve is feeling quite poorly but rejects my suggestion for us to head home thinking he will feel better in the morning. Got that one wrong as he is up most of the night with severe back ache and other problems. I even consider setting off at 3.30am but he says to wait until morning proper.

SUNDAY 10 JUNE – After a quick breakfast with Mum we head off at 8.30am with Steve trying to rest in the passenger seat. We call in to see David who is working the morning shift at the petrol station and looks very smart in his uniform. Steve really struggles to walk from the car and can’t get comfortable so we only stop for 10 minutes. I ask Steve if he wants to go to hospital and he says yes but to call in to Ashdene en route. A few weeks after we left Spain friends of ours from Hull, Andy & Chris, picked up some boxes of our stuff. This weekend they are at the local club Ashdene near Halifax and have our things with them. Again we only stop for a few minutes to lad the car, such a shame as many of our friends from YSS at Hull are over for the weekends sporting events. Arrive at the hospital just after 11am. The Doctors check Steve over and arranges blood tests for viruses and other things before inviting him to stay overnight on the ward! By now Steve is in a lot of pain with back ache, stomach cramps, and headache as well as throat, neck and breathing problems. We go down to x-ray where they do a back and stomach picture. I stay with Steve until after 4pm but the Doctor has not returned to give a verdict. Back home Claire calls round and when we speak to the hospital the only thing they have found is a small abnormality on the stomach x-ray but until the surgeon visits Steve later they don’t know any more.


  1. Hi Glen and Steve:

    We have been following your travels and challenges. You are a remarkable lady and the two of you are a remarkable couple. Our prayers are are with you both. The travels are very interesting that we have been following for months… and even more of an appreciation with regards to Steve’s (and your challenges).

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