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Wednesday
Apr052006

The cavalry arrives

After a dreadful day yesterday for Dick, he was much better in the evening and it was great to find him still doing quite well this morning.  Julie, Dick's sister visited him today and they were able to talk about their shared experience and Julie was a great help.

My parents arrived after lunch and my mum is going to stay with me for a couple of days and help me get some kind of order back into my life.  The dust is settling and the carpets are bitty and the ironing is building up nicely.  My friend Lesley arrived at the hospital bearing a lovely sponge cake cake.gifand when I got home she had left a casserole on the doorstep.  How great is that?!  We had a lovely supper with no effort at all and for the first time in a week I feel able to relax a little.  Have you noticed how fixated on food we are?  Comfort eating I fear.  I had a clear out at the hospital and brought home 2 bunches of grapes, a box of strawberries, bananas, 3 packets of jelly babies, 4 packets of licorice allsorts, a tin of biscuits not to mention the Pontefract Cakes.  All gifts, all much appreciated but Dick is finding eating a little difficult at present.  We are not!

Most of the reason I am a little more relaxed is that at long last Dick has a permanent drain in place and the fluid is being removed bit by bit instead of once a day.  It doesn't really make a huge difference as the fluid is constantly replacing itself but it gives him some relief.

The doctors are moving him to Southampton in the next couple of days.  He is to have an operation on Tuesday to carry out the procedure to stop the fluid build up.  After consultation with the doctors he may have radiotherapy and chemotherapy but that is all dependant upon on whether he has "the" major operation or not later. 

Once again I need to thank you all for your support.  It is so lovely to see you all out there cheering us on.

Tuesday
Apr042006

Downs and ups

5-ton-kubota-mini-digger-1.jpg

It has been a day of downs and ups - in that order.  So as I write this tonight, the mood is upbeat:)

Dick has had a pretty bloody awful day.  When I arrived at the hospital he was in pain and fighting for every breath.  It was so distressing to see and I confess to having a weep in the corridor.  But as the day wore on and the team decided to aspirate his lungs, life improved.  Normally they try to remove between one and two litres- more than that can cause a loss of blood pressure.  But when they started to draw the fluid off, they removed 4 litres - I think it just poured out.  Everyone waited for some reaction and all that happened was that Dick perked up and pronounced that he felt as well as he had felt since he had been there!!!  He is enjoying the moment and breathing with only a little oxygen this evening.

The team confirmed the diagnosis There are some conventional approaches to treating this disease and then there are the more radical ones.  The ones which offer the chances of some longevity (and risk) are of course the radical ones.  Dick is a prime candidate for this provided that further tests confirm it.  He is fit and has a robust attitude so the plan at present is to move him to Southampton and that next Tuesday there will be a procedure carried out to alleviate the current symptom of continually building fluid and also to ascertain if he is suitable for a pleuradectomy.  (Removal of the lung)  Quite frankly I am terrified of the whole prospect but have decided that Dick is in the driving seat and I will support whatever decisions he takes.  It is his body and his life.

Tom's operation went well.  He is a bit of a chip off the old block  Nikki came to visit Dick and shared the load with me and it was good to see other visitors at the hospital as well.  During the day a large bouquet of pretty flowers with a pink ribbon and a pastel coloured balloon arrived for Dick.  It was from his old team in the Army.  The card read "We chose the naffest bouquet we could find because we knew you would hate it.  Stop idling and get well!"  He loved it!

We had the moment of farce early this morning.  Just as I was getting ready for the day, Tom ambled into the room and said, "Sorry, Mum.  I forgot to tell you there was a telephone message yesterday.  They are sending a digger to dig up the front lawn today."  I looked out the window.  "Ah," I said, "That would be the digger that has just arrived on the drive then!"  So now I have a ploughed field for the front lawn.  Bless my neighbours.  They have got a working party together and will re-lay the lawn for me now that the tree is felled and the roots removed.  As one wag commented.  "It's a hell of a way to get your lawn laid!"

Thanks again for your supportive comments.  It thrills me no end to come home at the end of a long day at the hospital and to read them.  I really love my friends, real and cyber.  Thanks also for cards etc and to my lovely, distant brother and his family a huge thank-you for my bouquet of flowers - even if you did put the wrong address on them!!!!  Love you to bits.

 

Monday
Apr032006

Licorice Allsorts

Everyone who knows Dick knows he loves licorice and so, his bedside table is littered with bags of Licorice Allsorts - all (well, nearly all) unopened as at the moment he is "off" everything! licorice allsorts.jpg But I am manfully helping him out.  I am once again eating for Britain as I sit by his bedside and so far have managed to polish off two whole bags with very little assistance!  Oh how I wish I was one of those who lost their appetite when under stress!  Not me! Just shovel it in, the more the merrier.  You can see I have had a lot of stress in my life!  Eating.

Dick has  continued to build up fluid in his lungs today and once again had to endure the procedure to remove it.  However this time he managed to not need a crash team but claims it was because it was the "young, pretty doctor" did it.  He is incorrigible.  He is still fighting for every breath and is quietly very anxious but doggedly determined to put on a good show for us all.  In quiet moments he lets the mask slip and I am glad he does.  We did horrible things today like "put our affairs in order".

He loves getting visitors and if any of his friends are reading this and want to see him, he would love to see you.  Please ring us at home and speak to Tom who is arranging things so that he doesn't have too many.  Brief visits are good - less tiring for him and also for the visitor.  Please don't bring grapes.......Ben and Tom are considering setting up a wine-making company with the quantity we have at present.

Tomorrow is D-day........decision day.  The Multi-Disciplinary Team will make a final decision on how to proceed in the next few weeks.  The consultant from Southampton is joining the meeting because Dick may be moved there for further treatment.

We are doing OK.  Once again I thank you all for your support and friendship.  We wobble occasionally and my language has started to be much riper than it once was.  Thank God, we don't have a cat - it could well have been kicked on several occasions when I am less than stoic about it all.

Tom is having an operation tomorrow on his carpel tunnel.  Let's be positive, it means I get more value for my horrendously large parking fee...........almost two for the price of one!  What was that saying about it never rains etc etc.  Nikki is coming to help split the visiting.

Please keep reading.  I tell Dick about all your comments and it pleases him enormously. 

Sunday
Apr022006

A weekend of scraps, friendships and frights

This blog has become an interesting thing.  I have lots of friends who follow my life through it and I love that (after all, I'm earwigging on their lives through their blogs too!) but at present it has become a place to enable me to post news on my DH and it enables me to avoid having to tell everyone, over and over again until I become sick of the sound of my own voice............(Now that is an interesting concept!!!)

Dick is giving us all a turn or two at present.  He has become very very ill with something called Mesothelioma.  It has become evident very suddenly and distressingly is the same disease his sister was diagnosed with at Christmas time.  The dreadful shock has been seeing a relatively fit person walk into hospital for an x-ray last Tuesday to seeing someone who so far has had 4 litres of fluid drained from his lung, has stopped breathing twice, has now had a fit and is fighting for every breath.  The crash team were called twice so he really did push his luck this time.  He is his own inimitable self - chatting up nurses (in between wheezing) and claiming that his two collapses were only designed to keep the nurses on their toes!  Although the staff tell me that in rare instances this total collapse can happen after draining fluid from the lungs, they are rather concerned about the seizure.

Personally I am frightened and numb.  The boys are being manful but we are all over the place.  Offers of help have poured in from all sides and I am so humbled and grateful for the love and friendship I have been shown today.  When my day comes to shuffle off this mortal coil, all I want on my tombstone is "She had friends."

I am desperately hoping that next week will bring us some better news - at least on how the team are deciding to proceed.  We have been told that they are hoping to carry out a procedure next week which will "glue" his pleural cavity to his chest wall and thereby prevent it filling up with fluid but he will be in intensive care afterward for a while.  I have reverted to thinking only from hospital visit to hospital visit - a situation I have experienced before.

My weekend at Scrapmanic was just what I needed.  I had the love and support of my friends and enjoyed teaching my classes.  A big thank you to Debbie for her quiet support, thinking of ways to ease things for me without making me feel bad.  I truly love this event and am determined that I shall continue to attend if at all possible.

South Africa is cancelled. Or at least will be tommorrow.  We shall celebrate our silver wedding in a way which enables us to enjoy each others company - even if it is with smoked salmon sandwiches in a hospital ward.  25 years is a great achievement.  I am so grateful for every single one of them. (Even when I could cheerfully have murdered him!)

Thank you for all your comments.  Please forgive me if I do not reply individually.  I appreciate them all.

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