changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

Interminable medical stuff…. February 8, 2013

Filed under: cancer,home stuff — eclectic chicken @ 4:50 pm
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What’s that?

You wanted a blog about my medical emergency vomiting skills and what you got was a ramble about the National Curriculum?

Sometimes dear reader(s) [in case both of you look in on the same day]… you are so predictable.

Meg has been at home… originally with the intention of covering a day and evening where Jane was in London – but the London trip was cancelled so Meg just made herself generally useful – keeping me entertained, lifts to appointments, distracting the boy and the dog (sometimes at the same time) and cooking me things I fancy to eat.

This time she caught me on my steroid days on which, if nobody feeds me, I will eat my own feet and my elbows too.

Her final days cooking was THE. MOST. AMAZING. cake. Image

Its a gluten free cake.. so its base is ground almonds… its chocolate and orange, almond cake and it has cherries on the top – so the theory was it was almost a fruit salad for someone who doesn’t get to eat much fruit and vegetables.

And to go with the cake… a beef stew…. weeeeell… it started off as a vegetable stew with some beef in it but once I’d crossed off all the veg i’d struggle with or don’t like it was a beef and carrot and neep in beery gravy stew with DUMPLINGS… big dumplings.

I have to admit… I ate three.

And quite a lot of cake.

And stew.

And the truth of it is… that THAT sort of thing isn’t what’s meant by ‘little and light and often’.

(though the dumplings were admirably light by dumpling standards).

So not long after Meg texted me to tell me she was back up North I decided that I was feeling kinda queer in a…distended stomach….headachey….crampy….shallow breathing sort of a ….and then I was sick.

I woke Jane up… rang the hospital (who said I should report to A&E)…got dressed… woke the boy and we all bundled into the car at about half one in the morning.

Blah blah blah…. A&E….copious amounts of vomiting (proving once and for all I really should chew my food more as well as eat less)…. there even came a point where the best option I could think of was to lie in a bed and shit myself…. except… it wasn’t happening.

When my system shuts down like this its like it just gets stoppered where my colon is encircled by the lymphoma and anything below that just carries on as normal and anything above gets thrown back up violently and painfully. Along with a good dose of the shakes as all my blood rushes to protect my internal organs.

(enough information yet)?

Eventually it started to calm down but they’d efinitely be keeping me in… Jane and the boy went home.

As the hospital was chocka and there were no beds on the wards to be had, the hospital kindly brought me a bed down to A&E (as opposed to a trolley which doesn’t count in their bed providing policy) and me the bed and a friendly commode sat in a small side room and waited until half eleven the next morning for a bed in Emergency Short Stay….

…and THAT’S how ill I felt… I didn’t complain about going to ESS at all.

Actually it was a bit like Waiting for Godot in there…. a ward with three old ladies, very old ladies. I’ve decided there are two main catagories of old ladies… happy ones and miserable ones. There was one of each on my ward, plus one so out of it it was hard to tell.

The miserable one spent her time doing three things…sleeping…eating and complaining to her family that she wasn’t sleeping and eating.

The happy one I would have brought home, even though she couldn’t toilet herself but they moved her to another ward before i could persuade her.

I hope I’m a happy old person.

At supper time I went mad and had two teaspoons of orange jelly before Jane and the boy visited and then I was asleep and seriously dribbling when a nurse came to tell me they had a bed up in Haem/Onc.

As you all know… I LOVE heam/onc.. there’s nothing like specialist staff to make you feel special and nothing like other cancer patients to know that whatever weird shit your body is throwing at you its fine ‘cos cancer’s a bitch.

The first thing heam/onc do when you arrive to set themselves apart from ESS is ask if you want another pillow…. some people even have three pillows. Two pillows and a working drip stand and I’m happy.

This morning my body took on board two slices of toast…. which were weird. Toasty… almost bread like and there was some warmth involved that actually melted butter. I think Mark that pushes the food trolley (I think he’s officially a ‘ward host’ -and one of THE most cheerful men on the planet) may have made some sort of step for toast and mankind in the storage of hospital toast… or if not him… someone.

And then my body decided what it likes best in the world isn’t vomiting but shitting.

(nothing to do with the toast…. just process)

As with any good organised hospital the registrar came round early morning and told me my problem was probable a chemo side effect (combined with being a silly sausage with my eating) and I’d be able to go home ‘sometime’ over the weekend.

shit. my weekend is all planned…Annie is coming to stay…we’re going to crochet and drink tea…and eat…erm… Annie is going to eat cake. Not me.

Luckily the registrar went away and came back as part of a posse along with my lovely consultant who agreed that having diarrhoea in your own toilet at home is a lot more pleasant than doing it anywhere else… so I could go home as soon as I had my letter and my canula out. (I was very careful to avoid eye contact with the registrar at this juncture in case they conferred).

Phone Jane for lift.

Canula out (about time as arm swelling – I think I’d hit saline drip saturation point).

And off home – asking them to stick the important discharge letter in the post.


in…out…in…out, ooooh errr…don’t shake it all about December 27, 2012

Filed under: cancer — eclectic chicken @ 11:17 am
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Out of hospital on Christmas eve and Christmas morning I began to suspect it hadn’t been a totally wise decision as I got up and felt breathless and tight chested.

We had a quiet Christmas just me and Jane and the boy and much of mine was spent lying on the sofa or back in bed trying to get to the end of the day without having to phone the hospital again…. unfortunately this meant waiting mostly for lunch and present opening. Yes you did read right..presents come after lunch in this house… an abomination and a cruelty (not for children as they get a stocking in the morning) but for grown-ups used to the 6am unwrapping fest… its torture.

NB this unkind tradition comes from Janes side of the family…. and weirdly my ex-husbands family have the same tradition…. HOW did I find two of them?

By the time the boy foisted presents onto my knee I was sort of beyond registering what was in them… and straight after decided to head upstairs to lie down and perhaps ring the hospital.

Top of the stairs on all fours with a tight chest and whirlwind round my head…. complete with cackling witch on a bicycle… I decided the phonecall was probably qute important.

The Haem/Oncology nurse took one look at my red blood count from the other day and couldnt understand why I’d been let home with a borderline count and put my name on a bed and said come in via A&E to be processed.

I havn’t got the energy for a full scale rant today (I’m recovering from eating a piece of toast and short shower) but three hours in A&E with a junior doctor before they decided ‘its probably’ something to do with my chemo therapy….’

no shit Sherlock!!!!! thats why haem/onc have a bed for me.

but weirdly I ended up in Emergncy short stay for observations over night….

as I walked into the room an old lady shit herself (nothing personal I don’t think) and a coughing lady was watching Eastenders full blast at which point I gained a dose of tinitus, told the staff I wanted a quiet room away or I’d discharge myself. I then wrapped my cardigan round my head and had a self indulgent five minutes of weeping and muttering.

Later (11.30pm)… in a bed in Haem/Onc (that had had my name on it since 7pm) in a totally silent and empty (apart from me and apologetic nurse who’d been told I wouldn’t be needing the bed after all) I went to sleep.

Now I’ve always been curious about this running for cancer malarky…. cancer survivers …running marathons… miles… etc etc. But having had my first day where a trip to the toilet and back is a Herculean task to get through, where each step is an accomlishment …it suddenly makes sense. The thought of walking the dog, swinging my arms and whistling Tyrolean folk songs on my way feels like another world, another life and one that looking forwards is like surveying a mountain from under a few breezeblocks and the contents of a bottle of whisky and wondering if I’ll ever get under way let alone to the top.

Two pints of blood (I’m B+ but they gave me  O – so if i start belching whilst I eat and shopping at Primark you’ll know the common blood took over) and my blood pressure returned to normal (strange how in A&E it was fine whilst lying still in a bed for several hours and how general doctors don’t know whats ‘normal’ for a ‘normal’ person may well not be ‘for someone having chemo)?! and my daughter and her boyfriend (having had all the fun of a wheelchair and empty late night hospital corridors) came to take me home.


actually… that turned into a full rant again didn’t it?


Today…. I’m thinking differently… to get through this is going to take a military campaign. Just to start the day means my bed needs changing , breakfast, shower, establish basecamp downstairs, get dressed… each a huge effort…  and then tomorrow and the next day and the next etc etc…. each day only so much energy to go round.

Like I said… military campaign.

Im going in….slowly.


It’s beginning to feel a lot like cancer…. December 24, 2012

Filed under: cancer — eclectic chicken @ 4:55 pm
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(all hum along now….)

Second cycle of chemo and like a 5 year old expected to go to school Tuesday as well as Monday… and slowly dawning on them that they have to keep on going whether its fun or not, I’m slowly waking up to the reality of a long haul.

The difference between being ill and taking some medicine to get better and being ill (well …self destroying) and poisoning oneself to out-poison the interlopers is HUGE.

Saturday night found me with a post lumbar puncture headache (well…i know that now..and also am told the best thing for it is Coca-Cola) trying to juggle phones, emergency services and sick bucket becuase I thought I’d be alright on my own for a couple of hours whilst my designated carer – my daughter in this instance- went to a late night showing at the flicks).


She never got to the end of the film… but was still the fastest option for getting me to A&E and coped brilliantly with me vomiting in the passenger seat as we sped through the night…only stopping once to empty out the sick.

Arriving in A&E, they were forewarned by haemotology…I had my magic ‘i might die’ laminated card… but I think what got me straight in a wheelchair and into the depths beyond the waiting room was the chemo haircut… wild eyes…pj’s and fluffy slippers and..oh… I was clutching an old porcelein potty as a sick bowl.

It was more One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest than Love Story 🙂

So another 24 hours in short stay emergency… where this time I felt in total safe hands.. they remembered all my drugs.. and I got an emergency referral to a dietician (who says if I feel like chocolate eclairs for breakfast I should just go with the flow and the calorie intake…andI’m not going to disagree with that)…

The upshot is stay as flat as possible… drink as much as possible (these two things are usually reversed at Christmas I know)… and hopefully the headache will slowly go…

… this morning I managed toast and a shower (not together but both upright activities) which didn’t result in me wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep in agony for several hours….. So they said I could come home for Christmas.

I’m not a fan of Christmas… I’m a bit bah humbug and curmudgeonly about the whole thing as a rule… but I did cry (just a little bit) when the doctor said I could come home.


oh! December 10, 2012

Filed under: cancer,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 8:12 pm
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Thursday was quite an exciting day all round…. Jane buggered off to London for some Christamssy shenanigens and my c-s-b came to visit.

Now he doesn’t like being mentioned in my blog being a shy retiring creature but I can’t get round this day without mentioning him as he was the hero of the hour… so just forget you saw his initials and if you see him don’t mention it and certainly don’t poke him with a stick if he looks at all as if he might be deep in hibernation.

We spent a pleasant afternoon of me snoozing and him picking blu tac off the bedroom ceiling [seriously never come over all liberal parenty and let your kids put posters on the ceiling]!  and generally wiffling and catching up.

He even got the boy into Beavers on time and in a respectable state of dress (ie without holes in his trousers, wellies, or a dickie bow [which was admittedly just hiding the hole in the first pair of trousers]) whilst I gave it some much needed zzzs.

Just before beavers ended i decided to take my temperature for the day….

38.2 degrees

Emergency systems are go.

As soon as you top 38 degrees there is a phone number to call and in this case they told me to go straight to A&E…

So my days helper dashed off to retrieve the boy and to knock on my neighbours door to see if the boy could stay round their house.

No neighbours…. so speedy dash to the pub (good guess on my part) to retrieve neighbours whilst I packed a swift bag and stuffed some even swifter food into the boys hand.

Then off to Peterborough (via the chip shop)… journey not helped by me not being very good at navigating in the dark on morphine… but we only went round in one circle…. one. once. a quite big one.

A&E – and I have a handy laminated card that says my life may be at risk which I was being very British with and standing at the back of the queue holding it… it seems if you push straight to the front (as we did once my car parking attendent got back) they even see you in front of people with children in their arms. (but as any fule knos most children taken to hospital in their pjs at 7pm on a thursday night will be running round the waiting room with an airoplane made out of a ‘has your child got concussion?’ leaflet within ten minutes of sign in.) {i speak from experience and can quote that leaflet in several languages including cornish and orkish}

Anyway…. long story… Jane decided the ’emergency’ part of  ‘I’m going to hospital it’s an emergency’ was worth dropping her lesbian poet christmas bash for and came home.  (I was amazed she’d gone at all as her remaining cat from the three she had when we met had to be taken to the vets today and was put down at some point).

She was even persuaded to visit the hospital en passant… though missing my favourite part of the night which was the man putting my canula into my hand whilst telling me about a book on serial killers he’d bought his girlfriend as a surprise. I like discussing favourite serial killers whilst someone in white takes blood out of my arm. (we agreed Dennis Neilson came a worthy second place)

Jane dashed on home to collect the boy from the neighbours and eventually I persuaded my star of the day that it was okay to leave me to the tender administrations of the NHS as he had a long drive home ahead.

Onwards into the system into an isolation room hastily set up in emergency short stay…. well… they put a sign on the door and I believed were doing their best until it even filtered through to me that they just weren’t giving me the drugs my consultant had told them to give me….

luckily on Saturday night they moved me up to the more hushed and civilised climes of Haemo/Onc… actually still on the ground floor but from the window i could see the sky come the morning – thanks to a shallower internal well aka a garden outside.

Not just my own room and own bathroom but my own airlock 🙂 And drugs…. as many as they could reasonably fit into the remaining hours of saturday to make up for the dry period that started early that morning.

And then home tonight…..

Two of the household went into emergency medical care on Thursday and at last the second of us came home…. I have to say not being mentioned on Janes ‘my cat died, sad day’ status until about comment 23 was a little hurtful…. and if i get a Norwegian Forest Cat Onsie off her for Christmas I shall definitely begin to think she perceived the cookie crumbled all wrong last Thursday.

Edited to add… I was neutropenic… not a good thing at all.


Sods Law September 28, 2012

Filed under: home stuff — eclectic chicken @ 1:10 pm
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Never let it be said that I don’t learn from my mistakes… but let it be known that Sods Law overrides learning from your mistakes.

I’m still suffering the ‘pains formerly known as gall bladder pains’ plus other random abdominal various pains which may or not be related to the ‘pains formerly known as gall bladder pains’… yanno the ones that got worse and more insistant since that last GP told me it can’t be gall bladder have some Fybogel in case its IBS.

Anyway…. I feel a little like the population of Naples at the moment… long overdue an eruption. The ‘swelling inside of me formerly known as the gall bladder’ has been rock hard since the last one just over two weeks ago.

Hard in a way that made Annie jump away saying something like ‘oooch that shouldn’t be there’ when I got her to feel it the other day.

After supper last night I started getting my ‘sort of contractions’… heres where the learning curve comes in… the last couple of times this has happened I’ve said things like ‘I’ll see how it goes’ or the even sillier ‘I’ll take a load of anti spasmodics and pain relief and hopefully sleep it off’…. this approach has lead to screamingly wordless agony and an inability to move let alone get to A&E… the switch from ‘hmmm i can cope with this’ to ‘ohmygodithinkimgoingtodieandicantmoveandithurtsSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOmuch’ is quite a sudden one.

So lying on the sofa breathing through my contractions (i knew those child birth classes would come in useful at some point -they’d be otherwise wasted as i had two C-sections)…I hazarded to Jane that, as it hurt even with drugs inside me, it might be wise to go to A&E. She thought so too…especially as I was at a stage where I could drive myself and ring her when I got there to tell her I hadn’t swerved off the road in agony.

So I went to A&E…contractions coming every five minutes or so.

I waited (as you do).

The contractions lessened…. they took my pulse/blood/blood pressure/wee…and i started to feel a bit fraudulent for being there…. still… no worse than most of the healthy looking people who frequent A&E at half eleven on a Thursday night.

A nice Portugese doctor eventually took me into a cubicle… I explained that sometimes these episodes turned nasty very fast…. and it might be my gall bladder…. and I’m terrified of being at home again when it happens.

But as it hadn’t turned into screaming agony there was nothing really he could do other than send me home feeling slightly like a deranged bag woman who just wanted a bed for the night.

Actually thats probably what I did want… a safe bed with a doctor near by so I could sleep.

And no he couldn’t give me any pain relief that would last right through the night.

But he did give my abdomen a professional feel just to make me feel better…. he didn’t… he couldn’t feel any swelling although he could ‘feel my pain’.

At this point I’m afraid I cried.

‘are you sad?’ he asked.

‘no’ I replied ‘I’m bloody terrified.

So  me and my ticking internal time bomb went home…. I considered sleeping in the car park… but the cost seemed prohibitive.

When I got home I laid on the floor and made Jane feel my abdomen…. ‘bloody hell’ she said ‘whats that big lump?’

Sods Law of course says the ‘pains formerly known as gall bladder’ didn’t develop into a major attack… they remained just enough to merely rob me of any attempt to turn over in bed… or sleep comfortably.

Still…. only 10 days til I get to see the consultant.



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