Thursday, 9 February 2017

In the wars

Remember the mystery (and huge) gnome that appeared in my garden last spring?  Well I'm afraid some recent windy weather has taken its toll.  And the gnome isn't the only one who's been through the wars lately.

I've been complaining about breathlessness for ages and it's got worse and worse.  I went to The Christie (the specialist hospital I've been attending in Manchester) a week ago for scan results.  The scan was good - no change, but the doc was not at all happy about my breathing and admitted me.

I spent a week in hospital with the poor other-half having to trek backwards and forwards to Manchester (a one hour forty minute drive each way on a good day) to visit me.  I have no complaints whatsoever about my care but, as I'm sure you know, hospital wards are not peaceful, restful places so it was all a bit of a strain.  Added to that I couldn't walk a step without becoming very breathless so commodes behind the bed curtains were the order of the day.  Necessary but not very dignified.

While all this was going on, the three-legged monster cat was safely at home.  Lounging on his special cushion, dignity intact.  Lucky blighter.

Lord Muck

During my stay the medical bods did a high resolution CT scan and still found no change in my lungs since May, so no obvious reason for the breathlessness.  

During some regular observations the nurse found that my heart was racing alarmingly. Within moments I was surrounded by medical staff and advised that it would be a good idea for Nev to return to the hospital even though he'd only just got back to the Midlands after visiting.  Two of his sisters kindly drove him back and he arrived in time to find that my heart rate had, thankfully, slowed.  

So the focus of attention moved to my heart. An echocardiogram revealed that there seemed to be some sort of pressure there so I was prescribed beta blockers and arrangements were made for me to have a cardio MRI in a hospital a few miles away from the Christie (cue a trip lying flat in an ambulance - but no nee-naws).  Before leaving the Christie I asked the medics to tell me straight what they thought the scan would reveal.  Their opinion was that it was likely that the cancer was pressing on my heart, in which case all treatment would cease.  I asked how long they thought I had but they were unable to say before seeing the scan results.  At this stage I had them draw the curtains around my bed and had a good blub.  

However, the cardio MRI revealed no problem with my heart.  This was good news obviously but it's pretty frustrating to be a medical mystery.  It felt like my life was turning into an episode of House.

So the next thing was to try steroids to ease the breathlessness.  This has worked to a small degree and finally, after a week in hospital, I was allowed to leave as long as I had oxygen at home.  I cannot bear to go into the frantic organising that went into ensuring that oxygen was installed on a Friday afternoon - but thankfully it was done.  Me stressed?  Never.  What a week!

Being back at home is wonderful.  I was absolutely exhausted so the peace, quiet and loveliness of my own bed, not to mention the total disdain of the cat, were blissful.

Yesterday I went back to Manchester again to see the docs. They have had conversations with the head honchos of the clinical trial I'm involved in and the consensus is that I have chemo-induced pneumonitis.  This means that I have to come off the trial.  On the one hand this is a bugger as it was working to control the cancer, but on the other that's not much use if I can't breathe.  The hope is that my breathing will improve as the chemo leaves my system and I've been prescribed a decreasing course of steroids to see me through.  

In a couple of weeks I will consult oncologists at both the Christie and my local hospital to see what, if anything can be done next.  There is at least one chemo I might be able to try but I have to be well enough to handle it.  Time will tell.  At the moment I'm just taking one day at a time and trying to put some weight back on.  At the risk of being totally shallow, as well as all the health palaver, I am not particularly enjoying rocking the scrawny-eyed wassock look.  Some fat, hair and eyelashes would be much appreciated.

At this point, at the risk of sounding like a tearful Oscar winner, I have to thank the other-half, his family, my wonderful (yes I did say that) sisters and friends for their concern, lovely messages and practical help during all this.  I even had fellow metastatic breast cancer pals from my online support group popping in to see me.  You're a lovely bunch you really are.  I appreciate everything even though I don't always show it.

Let's end on a brighter note and totally change the subject.  We have a new addition to the family.  Sis no 1 has adopted a second cat.  He's an elderly gent and doesn't do much other than enjoy being out of the shelter and in a warm, comfortable home.  But honestly, with looks like this, he really doesn't need to do anything.  Ladies and gentlemen I give you ..... Murphy.

No lack of fat, hair or eyelashes there.


  1. Succinct as always! Not a lot more I can say other then welcome Murphy, ginger cats are wonderful, if a little OCD, our George has us running tings around him at times! Take care Del, hope to see you at the Christie soon. Big hugs from your big pal, S xxx

    1. Thanks Sian. I might have guessed you would approve of Murphy! He's a lovely beastie. It was great to see you the other day. Bug hugs to George xxx

  2. Murphy has beautiful eyes! All the best to you Del. Hope you will be soon breathing more easily xxx