Tuesday, February 28, 2012

and following reports

Boy - I've just read my last post, and realise I've left you hanging!  I am so sorry!  So much has happened since then and I haven't kept you up to date.

Well......at 9.30am on that Wednesday I returned to the hospital, having only consumed fluids, to have my next xray.  I took a packed bag with me in case I was admitted to hospital. This xray revealed that there was no kink in the bowel and no other dastardly problems with the bowel except that it was still blocked. The best remedy for this problem is an enema (yuk).  Anyway, the best remedy was used then and there at the hospital - it had it's desired effect and I went home, with my packed bag not needed, and with instructions to return on Friday, have an xray and then see the doctor.  Remain on fluids until Friday.

Friday's xray showed a clear bowel and I could return to a normal diet. After 9 days on fluids only, I was ready to eat a horse. Radiotherapy to resume the following Monday. Needless to say I went away from the hospital with my friend, Ros, straight to one of our favourite cafes and I had a delicious breakfast of poached eggs on toast and a pot of tea. Most delicious.

Since then I have resumed radiation and am feeling fine. It's Wednesday 29 February, it's pouring with rain, it's my 13th dose of radtion today, which means only 7 more to go. I'm still taking loads of pain killers and am not in any pain.  It will be interesting to see the outcome of the radiation after the 20 doses. I hope it has shrunk the tumour and caused the offending muscle swelling to decrease. We'll see.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Report on Yesterday's Consultations

Yesterday (Monday) when I arrived at the hospital at 1.50pm for my radiotherpay, the doctor I had seen previously noticed me and came over. He expressed concern at the size and (after questioning) the firmness of my bloated tummy. We then adjourned to a small consultation room. There were lots of questions and answers about bowel movements and what I had eaten over the weekend. He drew a diagram of the bowel and the potential for 'kinking' which causes blockage. He poked and examined and sent me for an xray, the results of which were on his computer screen by the time I returned from the xray department downstairs. I was very impressed with that.

But I was not impressed with the outcome of the xray! It showed a great deal of gas, fluids and faecal matter sitting in my bowel. This is what's causing the bloating. It's not possible to see the 'kink' in the bowel, but it's there.

Preferred treatment, in this order, is:
  1. hospitalisation with drain from stomach and drip through vein to keep hydrated
  2. gastroscopy and colonoscopy
  3. surgery to remove damaged bowel
This discussion was with the registrar. He then consulted the radiotherapist, who arrived to talk with me. We went over the same ground.  He could tell that I wasn't keen on the hospitalsation option.  His preference (and mine) is to wait a little longer, staying on fluids only, to see if the bowel will 'unkink' itself and I can excrete everything inside that is causing the bloated tummy.

So.... I came home via the supermarket laden with a variety of juices and energy drinks to keep me going until Wednesday morning. At 9.30am on Wednesday I will have another xray and see the registrar again.

It's now Noon on Tuesday 21 February and it's my grandson's 9th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Zeke.

Will report again when there is some more news.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Past Month

OK. Lots has happened since I was here last.  To my dear, dear friends who read regularly, I apologise for not having posted for a whole month.

Leigh and I had a wonderful few days in Melbourne at the tennis. Great hospitality from Marie in South Yarra, bit of shopping, bit of dining out, bit of dining in, bit of catching up with friends - oh and two great days at Rod Laver Arena to see the quarter finals of the Australian Tennis Open.  The weather was sensational the whole time, our flights were on time and our chauffeur, Bob Speed, was right there to drive us back to Wollongong from the airport.

The shooting stick did its job as the pain increased. So - this pain situation had to be dealt with at a higher level!   I called the palliative care team, as pain management is their specialty, and the lovely doctor came to see me at home. We talked for a long time about - well about the pain, and he prescribed some more drugs and suggested we talk on the phone each day to discuss how things were going. So, those telephone conversations went on for quite a while as I was adding, increasing and altering different medications. Finally, on 14 February, I had my first pain-free day.  It's hilarious to see the collection of pills I have (several colours of the rainbow), and watching the process of sorting which ones need to be taken at which time of day. One morning I couldn't remember whether I'd taken them or not, so, not wanting to double up I didn't take any. By the afternoon I certainly knew that I hadn't taken the morning dose. No harm done, I downed the evening dose a bit early and was rewarded with almost instant relief.

In the meantime, on 7 February, I commenced my radiotherapy treatment at the Cancer Care Centre at Wollongong Hospital. My time slot each day is usually some time between 1.30pm and 2pm.  Leigh came with me for the first week (then she went home to Canada) and we went on the Gong Shuttle - a free bus that goes from close to my home right past the hospital. It all worked really well. The treatment is not invasive - I just lie on a metal table with my abdomen exposed, the therapists make sure I'm in the right position and then a big machine moves around me making noises at different stages. Since Leigh left for home, her husband Bob has been driving me to the hospital, waiting for me and then driving me home.  He's reading Peter Fitzsimon's book, "Kokoda", and looks forward to his reading time while he's waiting for me.

Week #1 of the therapy came and went without incident or repercussions. The pain was finally under control by 14 February and, apart from it raining every day, things seemed to be going swimmingly. After the first day of Week #2 of treatment things started to go haywire. I threw up for most of the night, and the second night, and the fourth night. Consultation with a radiotherapy doctor concluded that it probably wasn't the therapy that caused the nausea. There are a few options as to what has caused it but no-one is really sure. Tonight is the fifth night. I've reduced my diet to fluids and soft food, not eating much at all, and am hoping that there won't be a repeat performance tonight. It's horrible, it's exhausting, it's messy, it's painful, it's....well, it's just YUK.

I'm still pain-free, still taking loads of pills and still hoping that tonight will be incident-free.

Sunday 19 February @ 8pm