Posted by: glenswatman | August 4, 2013

20130721-20130731 A welcome break and another not so welcome break

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SUNDAY 21 JULY – Claire calls to say the holiday company will get back to her within the next couple of days to say if they can change the dates and if so how much it will cost – know it will be dearer as she is now looking for the half term holiday week.  Steve has been cleared to do more exercise and meets Nancy at Myrtle Park in Bingley for a game of tennis.  I head off to do some shopping buying a hanging basket for the cottage in Newport and another as a house warming present for Claire.  Back on the court Steve and Nancy are obviously having a close game.  I enter the court area and am just about to sit down when Steve over reaches for a ball and tumbles forward.  He doesn’t move and something is obviously very wrong.  I race across and it seems he has hurt his shoulder.  Nancy and I help him into a slightly more comfortable position but we can see his arm is hanging loose and there is a protrusion at the back of his shoulder.  Suspect he has dislocated it or worse.  He feels ready to try standing up but the pain gets the better of him and he goes grey and collapses back to the ground.  Nancy pops and gets some water for him to sip and he decides to give it another try to get part way through the park where I can bring the car to him.  We head to BRI accident and emergency where I check him.  The only problem is the waiting room is heaving and there are people all over coughing and spluttering.  I quietly speak to a nurse and explain Steve’s low immune system and suddenly we are fast tracked (yes there are bonuses to having leukaemia).  She quickly assesses Steve and then puts a sling on and transfers him in a wheel chair to x-ray department.  It’s not good news as his collar bone is broken.  Next stop is a cubicle where he is seen by a Doctor.  After looking at the x-ray he says Steve will need an operation but that would have to be on Monday or Tuesday.  They take bloods to test his counts after Tuesday’s chemotherapy and then put him on a paracetamol drip to help with the pain.  They are a bit concerned as his blood pressure is dropping (which could indicate internal bleeding) but then it stabilises.  Casualty is really busy and there is more urgent case so we are moved to another bay where Steve’s blood pressure starts to come up.  The Doctor returns late and after speaking to someone he says they will put a special support on and Steve can go home but must return on Wednesday to the orthopaedic trauma clinic to see a specialist and he may not need an operation.  Whichever way it goes it is going to be at least 6 weeks before he can start using it again.  Steve jokes with the Doctor that we were hoping to fit in a break but not this sort, guess our holiday to Wales starting tomorrow is off for now.  Claire has invited us round for a Sunday dinner and Steve feels well enough to go as he is doped up on painkillers.  It feels a bit like Christmas as Richard and family are also there as the 8 of us sit down to roast chicken, beef and all the trimmings.  It seems a long journey home with me trying to avoid all the speed bumps and potholes.  I spend a bit of time contacting people to change arrangements and that’s about all that can be done for now.  If Steve is still struggling when we go for his eye appointment tomorrow we will get him checked over again as it is hard to understand how an overlapping bone can get itself back into the right position.  Netty & Ian have been to our cottage and tidied up the front border with pebbles and plants and it looks fantastic in the photo.  They just need a few more pebbles to complete it next weekend.  Now just need to hear from the tenants that everything else has been done then we can get it up for let again.  At bedtime we decide that I will sleep in the lounge so that I am not worried about bumping Steve and he has a slightly better chance of getting a bit of kip.


MONDAY 22 JULY – Well neither of us did well on the sleep front.  A couple of days ago the smoke alarm started playing up and we replaced the battery.   It starts beeping again just after midnight.  Each time an alarm goes off the help centre contact us on the intercom to make sure we’re all right.  By 1am it has gone off a few times and they tell us taking the battery out will only stop the sound in our hall but not their call out.  At 1.30am they send an engineer who simply cuts all the wires.  Finally we both get a few hours sleep.  Steve finds that if he can get in a comfortable position and stay really still he is not in pain.  In the morning he’s well enough for a shower and then to settle in the lounge.  I’ve contacted Dr Gilleece at Leeds and she says just to make the orthopaedic surgeon is aware of his transplant and that Steve has a bone density scan scheduled for later this year (maybe the treatment has left him with brittle bones.)  We arrive at BRI for Steve’s eye appointment and ask if they are running to schedule as we are hoping to go on to the trauma clinic so they fast track him.  The blepharitis (watery eyes) improved after 1 month of treatment and Steve stopped the drops so they now consider him cured.  The Doctor also checks to make sure the tumours behind his eyes have not come back and it’s all such good news that they discharge him from their clinic.  The trauma clinic is closed and only operates in a morning.  They are fully booked for tomorrow so we will have to stick with Steve’s original Wednesday appointment.  In the afternoon the gas board come back out to level off the garden and put down more grass seed, hopefully we will be home long enough to water it and encourage growth.  Netty phones me up.  Mum has been to look at the flats in Mercian Court and picked one she likes so I phone the agents and put in an offer.  The physio has told Mum she has no muscles left in her bottom and if she tries to walk without a walker she will fall but by using the walker and doing exercises there is a chance that in 6 months she will have developed some muscle.  They need to go to her bungalow to find out what support apparatus and care she needs until we can get the flat sorted out.  Steve’s shoulder is hurting a lot less although bruising is coming out all over the place.  He’s managing with few pain killers so we are optimistic that he won’t need an operation on Wednesday and we will be able to get away to Wales.


TUESDAY 23 JULY – The agents come back to me about the flat with a lower offer but above the one I put in, I bounce it back raising mine and eventually we come to an agreement saving Mum £6500 on the asking price.  I ask the agent for recommendations of a dynamic solicitor and get two, by Internetting them their response time will help with my decision.  Once the heavy rain stops we drive down to visit Mom & Dad (Mom’s out) and take a short walk around town.  I pick up a cheap HDMI cable and when we get back am amazed at being able to see everything from the laptop screen on TV and watch movies that are in any format.  Joanne at Onions & Davis wins the solicitors race with her efficiency and we get the ball rolling.   I do our packing in the hope Steve doesn’t need an operation and we can get away in time to meet Paul & Elaine at the caravan.  Claire phones with the sad news her friends Mum Margaret has died of cancer, we’ve followed her journey and she has been such a trooper and optimist.  Claire is really upset and we are too as we realise how easily it could have been Steve.


WEDNESDAY 24 JULY –   We arrive early at the hospital for Steve’s 11am appointment.  They are running at least ½ hour late so Steve has a quiet word with a nurse and mentions that we had hoped to get away on holiday today but to do that need to be setting off ASAP.  A few minutes later he is called in to see Mr Haq.  They have already seen the notes about Steve’s transplant and ask about medication and chemo programme.  Mr Haq says that although it an overlapping break that don’t want to operate until all Steve’s chemo is finished (October 2014).  In the meantime Steve must continue to wear the sling but take his arm out occasionally to stretch the elbow and fingers without any weight that would displace the shoulder.  We must return in 4 weeks for an x-ray.   It’s only 11.15am as I begin the drive to Wales.  Steve is dosed up with painkillers as it is hard to avoid all the bumps in the road.  We arrive on Peniarth Estate in Llanegryn (near Town) just before 3pm.   They have a fabulous view from their caravan all down the valley surrounded by mountains.  Amazingly their static is one we short listed as it met all our needs.  Paul & Elaine show me how everything works and what to do when we leave.  We wanted to take them all out for a meal but they would rather head off home.  As soon as they leave we head out for a bite to eat having only had a few crackers since breakfast.  In Towyn we pick up some fish and chips then park behind the beach to sit on a bench eating them.  It’s a lovely evening and kids are still playing in the sand.  We pick up some groceries at the Co-op then head back to relax.


THURSDAY 25 JULY – When I get up Steve is sat in the lounge having watched the storm clouds pass over the valley.  We chill out through the day with me battling a poor phone connection to try and sort things out about Mum’s apartment, problems at our cottage in the Midlands and the cancellation of Claire’s holiday.  In the afternoon we walk through the estate to the office to introduce ourselves to William, the Lord of the manor.  They live in a huge mansion with outbuildings converted for holiday lets.  He’s off on holiday tomorrow for 3 weeks to do a 10,000 miles motorbike ride.  This is an amazing estate as he owns pretty much everything in eye sight including a small air strip in his front garden.  In the evening I get pains in my back and stomach again and eventually end up vomiting.


FRIDAY 26 JULY – Steve’s up early again and even manages to get a rash on his leg from it being overheated by the sun coming through the window.  A text from Mum tells us she is feeling a bit better as they seem to have found a good pain medication.  The cottage is as finished as it is going to be and the agent has been round to take photos.  Claire’s holiday will cost almost double to change dates and almost £200 to change names but David is now considering taking it on.  We head to Aberdovey and park behind the beach.  Kids are already out enjoying the sand and many people are in the water.  The village looks lovely and we stroll along the waterfront then through the little town.  Steve has to be completely covered up and is feeling the heat so we head back picking up more groceries from the Co-op as he has decided he would rather eat in than out.  I buy a £10 meal deal and we sit out enjoying the view whilst eating paella followed by a nice dessert and a drop of wine for myself.  We enjoy a relaxing afternoon.  David calls to say he will take on the holiday and I will help Claire with the name change costs as it was mostly my fault, one less worry.  In the evening I get the same scenario with pain followed by vomiting.  Thinking it through this has now happened 5 times, twice after chicken meals, once the day after a chicken sandwich, yesterday I had a chicken pie and today although I gave Steve the chicken from the paella it was cooked in chicken stock.  Beginning to wonder (and in fact almost hope) this is my chicken allergy re-emerging not as migraine but as stomach problems.  At least if this is the case there is an easy cure so I will be cutting out chicken and chicken by products for a time. I head to bed early leaving Steve up until stupid o’clock watching sport.


SATURDAY 27 JULY – We drive up the coast with spectacular views.  Parking at Morfa Mawdach you can walk on a path beside the railway to cross the estuary and reach Barmouth.  It’s a lovely walk and interesting to see the tide rapidly coming in and the scenery changing.  Steve’s feeling quite well so we stroll through the town then down towards the beach.  Passing the amusement arcades I can’t resist asking Steve if he wants a go on the “one armed bandits” – well there’s no arm in asking is there?  Following the waterfront we settle on a bench and I bring drinks across from a nearby cafe so we can enjoy the view and people watch.  Almost everyone passing has a Midlands accent, no great surprise as this is the nearest coast.  On the way back we drive out to the spit beyond Fairbourne as we have spotted motorhomes.  Apparently you can free camp and there are toilets at the nearby cafe and a £1 ferry across to Barmouth if you want to go shopping.  “We’ll be back”.  In the evening I get the pain back but luckily am not physically sick.  I have a good poke and prod around and discover most of the pain is in my upper abdomen on the right side – a quick internet search reveals 10 obvious causes none of which are chicken!


SUNDAY 28 JULY – After rain in the night it is good to wake to a fine morning.  Think Steve may have done a bit too much walking yesterday as he is shattered again and lingers in bed.  The fall really has knocked the stuffing out of him.

MONDAY 29 JULY – Another chilling out day in readiness for what is ahead!


TUESDAY 30 JULY – We’ve heard Mum is coming out today so we pack up and head over to Market Drayton.  Call in to see Bobby en route, he’s off work after a knee operation and looking after Olivia who has grown such a lot since we last saw her.  Now her hair is longer, lighter and curly and she can crawl in a fashion.  We reach Mum’s about 10 minutes before Netty arrives.  Mum is well equipped with an indoor walking frame but it is still a challenge getting her up the steps.  Netty shows me the apartment we are buying and it will be perfect for Mum with the 2nd bedroom making a music room and in a good position for “sticky beaking” through the lounge and main bedroom windows.


WEDNESDAY 31 JULY – Now Mum is home I’ve realised she has no walker for outdoors and set about making numerous phone calls to chase it up.  An occupational therapist should have been out to assess Mum’s bungalow before they discharged her so it’s a bit of “a stuff” up and I make sure they know it!  It’s a rainy morning but with lots to be done so I head off with a list a mile long.  I have an emergency Doctor’s appointment and she thinks I have gall stones so suggests a blood test here and then to get an ultrasound scan arranged in Keighley.  She wants the blood test this week buy next Monday is the earliest appointment, in the meantime taking Lanzoprazole and being careful with fatty foods (which we already are) should help.  During her 2 weeks in hospital Mum has had neither a bath or shower so Netty comes round in the evening and it takes the 2 of us to get Mum out of the bath.



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