Month: July 2016

53. “I told you I was ill…”

Dad's last treatment

Dear friends and followers,

Sadly, my dad died on Monday, 25 July 2016 in his listening room at home surrounded by his family after his battle with cancer. As you all know he was diagnosed with an inoperable stomach cancer 9 months ago and had been receiving chemotherapy treatment.  His stomach cancer had been particularly aggressive, and after a period of improvement, it resurfaced a couple of months ago.  He began his second round of chemo at the end of June, however over the last few weeks he became too weak to continue. On Monday evening it finally defeated him and he died quite suddenly. We are all devastated.

I would like to thank you all for reading his blog and for your kind comments and words of support. Writing this blog kept him going through the tough times and was a source of comfort, knowledge and great amusement to his family, friends and followers. It demonstrated his unique sense of humour, passion for music, learning and of course family and friends. It will serve as another lasting memory for us and we hope you will pay it a visit once in a while.

We have set up a JustGiving page in his memory for people to make donations to Cancer Research UK if they wish. It can be accessed here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clevercolinsconstructiveapproachtocancer

Thank you for your support.

Ellen, Richard and Elaine. xxx

 

 

52. Consultation as it is supposed to be

Alas Smith Jones

Note quite, I didn’t get my way!  However, once more the spirit is captured in this image from “Alas Smith and Jones” and hopefully another Dr P feels suitably anonymised.  I felt I had one of the most helpful conversations around why what was being propsed and why.  So I have had a seriously good consultation – as it should be – everytime, for everybody – though I suspect it is not.

I met with my Oncology Consultant, Dr P’s Registrar, Dr P, earlier this morning for consultation before being hooked up to my Chemo-bag – for about an hour – all sounds good yes?  Well Yes and No – as the Chinese say!  I had my body weight checked – I’m afraid down another 4Kg – to them, and this together with the analysis of blood tests put pay to commencing Chemo treatment for “you my boy” for another week until after my next consultation with Dr P.  “Gotta mind your P’s and Qs!”  It gets all a little confusing.

I’m afraid I am just too weak to tolerate more Chemo at this stage and simply could end up back on my back in hospital and feeling Shite.  I’ll now get an update next Tuesday at the Clinic, and hopefully I’ll be recovering sufficiently to return to treatment.

The upside of this short but meaningful conversation was that I go home earlier, and that apart from an extra armful or two of pinprick sized holes at the site of blood sampling I got to get more sun this afternoon.  Elaine completed assembly of the Garden tool box store – a brilliant job done.  We now await the arrival in Cupar of Daughter from her departure gate in Glasgow some three hours ago.  She’s stayng over for a few more nights with us in Ceres – hurrah!

Though we are smitten with the Alpha Romeo Guilette FTSM-2 Vecce 2:00 L Diesel 5 door Hatch back in dark Red – below in our local garage I have caste my net a little wider and hopefully with get a bargain whatever I finally can agree to buy with Elaine!  So, the negotiations have begun – watch this space.

I’m presently Giving Paul Weller’s, “Wild Wood” another blast in the main listening room (Richard’s Bedroom, but don’t tell him!).  Back to the other drawing board.  More drinks (alcohol especially), little and often – methinks I might drop the ‘little’!

Well, that’s all folks.  Bye for now.

Buggs Sign off

 

51. Consultant time

 

Alas Smith Jones

Note quite, but the spirit is captured in this image from “Alas Smith and Jones” and hopefully Dr P feels suitably anonymised

I met with my Oncology Consultant, Dr P, last Tuesday to receive his latest update and whether I am going to be in a position to continue receiving my New Chemo (Taxo).  After a run through my clinical profile (Blood tests etc) and notes from the Endoscopy as well as my dietary account of the last 4-5 days (including failed Nasogastric Tube (NGT) feeding, he concluded I was in much better shape (relative terms here!) that he anticipated, so unless something drastic happens between Tuesday and next Monday – my Chemo treatment day, then all will go as planned and I will embark on Course 2 of what is likely to be another 6 in all – hurray (I don’t know why I say these things – all Chemo course are shite!)

I had more blood tests on Thursday and since I haven’t been notified to the contrary, there is also an assumption that I can proceed.  So, I just have to get through the weekend intact to Monday at 10:30am.  That might be more difficult than you would think.  Just two nights ago Elaine decided to light the Chiminea in the garden and extend our patio ‘life’ there for a couple of extra hours.  Bad idea.  I tripped over a hose pipe carrying a few logs from wood store to patio and thoroughly beat up my own nose, hands, fingers and ribs/shoulder; just for fun!  Never mind, I got over it and now have a slightly more ruffled, rugged appearance – as much as a 9 stone 10 Lb can, anyway!

What else has been happening?  My appetite is very patchy.  I drive Elaine nuts because of it.  Eyes like what they anticipate or see; taste buds are less enamoured and then the disconnect starts as I have too little of too little much food on my plate.  It’s all true and very frustrating.  The hair loss is beginning to kick in big time again (I’ll get a photo before I deteriorate much further – honest!).

We had to take the Vauxhall Astra in to have its battery checked following a dash board warning- and guess what?  Yes, of course it is fine (as an almost brand new replacement from only a few months ago), but guess what – we have had to have a new Diesel Alternator fitted – the expensive kind, naturally (GBP 406:00!).  We asked what the car was worth before going ahead and we were informed – much more than that – that is, until checking a retail trade -in of course.  Now it’s only worth GBP 800:00 to them, though they could stretch GBP 1200:00 as I have now paid for the alternator replacement!  Cars – who needs them?  Though we do want the latest one we are looking at, an Alpha Romeo Guilette FTSM-2 Vecce 2:00 L Diesel 5 door Hatch back in dark Red – Tasty!  So, the negotiations have begun – watch this space.  We’ll try desperately not to become a three car owner!

 

Alpha Romeo Giullietta  1

I’m presently listening to Elbow’s (2014), “The Take Off and Landing of Everything” – subtle but just right at this time on Saturday Morning!

elbow_takeoff_album_pack_900-900x460

I have also been working through my recently update Jamie Cullum Collection, including: “The Pursuit” (2009); “Momentum” (2103) and “Interlude” (2014) – all good.

 

jamie_interlude_170px

The latter also features a duet (“Don’t let me be misunderstood”) with Gregory Porter, another of my ‘favourites’ currently (though like my wife I can’t quite like the ear muff hat – especially at hot open air park concerts like Glastonbury, or any studio venue).  Is it just us?

 

Gregory Porter 1

 

No further medical news, save that I am eating better and I’ll update you again later.

Well, that’s all folks.  Bye for now.

Buggs Sign off

50. Home life and food again

Family Photo July 2016

Family photo taken only yesterday (Saturday) morning prior to Ellen heading back to Glasgow in preparation for her trip to Shetland with Craig on Sunday evening.

Elaine Colin Patio July 2106

Elaine and I on Friday night – getting increasingly legless  – in my case, on Ensure Orange Juice based Tequila Sunrise – down at the patio – naturally!

So here we all are.  I have reached a milestone, one week from ‘throwing up’ to consumption of my first home cooked Chicken stir-fry for dinner – and no throwing up!  It has been a traumatic time but having both Richard and Ellen here for the last few days has been a real bonus.

The rain has kept us in the house most of the day today – and a good thing too – Andy Murray pulled off the win of his life this afternoon beating Toanic in three straight sets, but all hard fought.  Good on him, and what a day for British Tennis, Wheelchair victories as well as Mixed doubles with Heather Watson.

Andy Murray Wimbledon Final - Raonic

Accessed on 11 July 2016 at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/36758518

Heather Watson Mixed Doubles 2016

Wimbledon 2016: Heather Watson into mixed doubles final

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/36756043

 

Lewis Hamilton Grand Priz July 2016

Lewis Hamilton Blown away by ‘fans love’.  Accessed on 11 July 2016 at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1

Add to that the Lewis Hamilton’s Grand Priz win and it is almost a perfect day.

Well it will shortly, my present best friend Brad is just about to descend for a visit, a whisky and a chat, no doubt about Brexit as well as the current state of my health – he’s been away in Ireland for the last week and we are just about to catch up.  Brad has found this wonderful comparison of Brexit and an old ‘Yes Minister’ TV episode – so funny!

 

Brexit Yes Minister

The Brext vote has made this prophetic Yes, Minister video go viral.  Accessed on 11 July 2106 at http://images.radiotimes.com/namedimage/The_Brexit_vote_has_made_this_prophetic_Yes__Minister_video_go_viral.jpg?quality=85&mode=crop&width=620&height=374&404=tv&url=/uploads/images/original/111270.jpg

Quel surprise, eh?  Well yes, really.  I couldn’t have even bet against the French – but well done to the Portuguese winning the European Football Cup final.

So, back to some more music.  I really am falling for Glasgow as hotbed of artists as well as venue to see everything else I like.  Here’s an old (Carol Kidd) and a new favourite (Christie O’Donnell).

 

Carol Kidd 1

I picked up a second hand version of Carol Kidd Live sings Cole Porter with Brian Kelloch recorded at Billy Lowe & Le Monde Hotel, Edinburgh on 5/6th August 2013 – bloody marvellous!

And here is Christie playing in Glasgow Buchannan Square:

Christie O'Donnell 1

Accessed on 11 July 2016 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g5FGKsoLZ8

He’s definitely going to be big – in my view – get his 4 track CD if you can when you see him in Glasgow or Perth or many of the other Scottish places you see him singing both covers and his own songs (Like the above original).

 

No more medical news, save that I am eating better and I’ll update you again later.

Well, that’s all folks.  Bye for now.

Buggs Sign off

 

49.Tubes, Pumps and Infusions

Tubes Pumps Overall

It has been yet nearly another week since I was forced to contact my Nursing staff to enquire about anything I can do to improve my quality of life, following commencing my new chemo treatment.  Quel surprise!  They rushed me to the Cancer 32 Ward as soon as possible to assess and then monitor me, at least overnight.  They guessed, and were right, that I was dehydrated and were very concerned about my lack of eating, emesis and sharp weight loss (who wasn’t?).  So, Elaine duly drove me across to Ninewells and we hung around for the what seems always to be inordinate amounts of time waiting for things to happen, but they do eventually and then I get over my preciousness.  It is tricky though and I also do feel, particularly for partners, loved ones etc that also have to do the waiting stint simply because of being the accompanying person.

Quel surprise, eh?  Not really.  But at least this gives me a chance for a quick doff of the hat to the French football team getting to the European Cup 2016 final against Portugal, the latter lucky so and so’s, though they did manage to outplay Wales at the end – just one step too far, but well done Wales.  Looking forward to the final!

Wales Football Euro 2016

I am also looking forward to Sunday’s, as well as Murray’s Wimbledon Tennis final too now!).

Andy Murray Wimbledon Semi-Final Berdych

Wimbledon 2016: Andy Murray beats Tomas Berdych  and will now plays Milos Raonic in final after he knocked out Federer!

Sport is looking up in The UK.  Not just England Rugby Union (in Australia particularly) though The World Under 20s Championship was another English Rugby bonus!

England Rugby Australia U20 WCRU

The English U20 Junior World Cup winners after their Victory over Ireland – more stars for the future?

So, back to the plot!

I saw Dr P and he recommended re-hydration immediately, blood tests and then endoscopy to be scheduled as soon as…  The latter turned out not to be until Wednesday morning but I was immediately put on an infusion pump with saline and glucose, followed by saline drip for the next three days, as it turns out!  Depending upon the outcome of endoscopy I might have had to have a stent inserted into my stomach to widen it to allow food to pass through – it was currently getting blocked, and hence my being sick, apparently!  In the end the endoscopy was not as bad as previously as I was sedated, throat numbed with spray and a kindly bunch of folk waiting on.  I awoke in my hospital bed back in the ward with a tube up my nose and down via oesophagus, stomach and duodenum to my jejunum, the second third of the small intestine (the final bit is the ileum – c’mon, keep up!).

By now the decision had been made to feed me parenterally so that I get stronger to manage the Chemo, Steroids, anti-nausea, morphine, co-codamol, omeprazole and uncle Tom Cobley ‘an’ll sorts of pills they were throwing at me.  Interesting!  The nurses had trouble with the parenteral pump infuser from the beginning.  They eventually replaced it and set me off overnight with an infusion of, you guessed, Ensure milky drink (minus flavour – you don’t get it anyway!) at a rate of about 100 ml per hour.  Even 10 hours later only about 20 ml had been delivered.  Now recall this is my now main source of nourishment!  My saline infusions have caused me to require 4x urinal container emptyings overnight.  So all in all, I was having a fabulous time!  I decided to pull the plug on the catheter up my nose etc and try to make do with eating/drinking liquids little and often as before.  I had managed a yoghurt, some vegetable broth and here now was consuming some porridge, so not a bad plan I thought.

The doctors were worried I might not be getting enough calories etc to be able to continue Chemo treatment etc at the next round, but I insisted and asked that I could go home as soon as possible, for nothing else so that at least I could shower, shave and shite – in privacy!  They all agreed and I have now at least slept in my own bed for the last three nights.  Nurse M has been marvellous throughout.  She removed my jejunal catheter (it turned out to have a kink in it which caused the blockage!), finalised paperwork and arranged for district nurses to help change my steroid and anti-nausea infusion pump syringes over the course of the weekend.  The best bit?  She also recommended making Tequila Sunrise using my orange-flavoured Ensure drink; and topping off creamy Ensures with sherry, brandy or whisky to stimulate taste buds and appetite simultaneously.  All drinks have been a success, and I am now feeling quite a bit better, and eating at least somewhat, though cautiously so as not to overload my poor shrivelled stomach that is now described as: “a massive ulcerated tumour in mid-body of stomach causing hourglass wasting effect and further two similar looking ulcers in distal stomach.  Regurgitation is likely due to pathological gastric anatomy and reduced motility”.

So basically my stomach is gubbed! And for good measure, I also have severe candida oesophagitis though no oesophageal involvement with tumour, so I started a course of anti-fungal antibiotics this morning (Saturday) – Fluconazole for 5 days.  Happy days!

Nurses arrive in the next hour or two so I’ll sign off.

Well, that’s all folks.  Bye for now.

Buggs Sign off

48.One week down the line

 

Cancer Research UK Logo 2

 

It has been almost one week now since my first intravenous infusion with my second line, single drug regime defence Chemo (Docetaxel).  Docetaxel is one of the taxane type drugs that were originally developed from the yew tree. That’s interesting, I like the idea of a ‘natural herbal’ origin for this drug!  Docetaxel is a man-made drug that was first made from yew tree needles. It is also known by its brand name, Taxotere®, and is sometimes referred to the abbreviated, Taxo. It is used to treat Breast cancer, Lung cancer, Head and neck cancer, Prostate cancer as well as my Stomach cancer.

Cancer Research UK

Taxo works by inhibiting cell division, thus stopping the cancer cells from separating into 2 new cells, and blocking cancer growth.

Read more at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/docetaxel#vxYluHKbbpTMEr5x.99

So how goes it?  It has been shite: I have lost another 18 Llbs, have no appetite, I constantly feel full and even drinking those ‘wonderful’ Ensure drinks makes me rift and regurgitate.

 

ensure stawberry drink

So, after misery for a week, I’ll be contacting my Nursing staff to enquire about anything I can do to improve my quality of life, though I suspect there’ll not be much to recommend, as it is still early days.  But I’m impatient.

I don’t get hypersensitive to the cold or touching metal/cold surfaces, so there is at least one silver lining in my cloud.  However, I’m still here and grateful for every bit of sunshine that hits the Kingdom of Fife, especially those spots in our garden I have been developing and nurturing as my ‘Mediterranean’ retreat, complete with (hopefully now recovering) Bougainvillea plants growing on the corner patio.  Lots of slightly sunny photos below.

Dearest daughter Ellen stayed with us again this weekend (two in a row – now that her School has retired for the summer).  Last Thursday she passed her car driving test with flying colours, but thousands of pounds of driving lessons to the bad (or good?).  Anyway, it’s done, though she did start when she was 18.

L-plates driving test passed

Image accessed on 4 July 2016 at: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=pass+driving+test+images&client=firefox-b&biw=1366&bih=595&tbm=isch&imgil=pa1YhumydBxhhM%253A%253BvmLZ23FkzqvZdM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.victoriawardhypnotherapy.com%25252Fhypnosis-hypnotherapy-pass-driving-test-colchester%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=pa1YhumydBxhhM%253A%252CvmLZ23FkzqvZdM%252C_&usg=__Fk9N3E0HBhURshu2euUG5XcGYFo%3D

As promised here are some latest photos of the garden:

 

Well, that’s all folks.  Bye for now.

Buggs Sign off