Tuesday, 24 January 2012

One week ago today..

... I was nervously awaiting my trip to theatre. Generally, I felt OK (think I got my freak out, out of my system a few days previous) but I was still terrified. It had been a bit of a manic few days prior to this so I shall fill you in.

On Saturday, we decided to go to the cinema (to see The Artist, which I did enjoy but think it's been 'over-hyped') and once we left I had a rather sore stomach. I decided to tackle this with peppermint tea and paracetamol but it would not budge. After a few hours of debating whether to go to hospital, we packed up some stuff and went to Wishaw. I was expecting the A & E department to be full of Saturday night drunkards but it was empty. However, it still took forever to be seen and a very cautious junior doctor only giving me 2.5mg of morphine.. After explaining countless times that this would do nothing and I know my own levels of pain blah blah blah, I got sent to the ward. This was a good move as I got all the morphine I wanted there! Hurrah! This meant no sleep at all due to all the itching from the morphine.. I chose no sleep over pain. By Monday morning, I was still pretty sore and hadn't eaten anything (which is unusual as this pain normally goes within 6 hours) so they decided to CT scan me. I popped down for one and when the results came back it appeared that I would need a larger operation. On Monday morning I was asked to decide if I wanted to go ahead with the op as planned OR to have a larger one which would involve opening me up again (nooooooo) and snipping away at any adhesions they found. I made the decision rather quickly to go ahead with this larger operation as I was told it was inevitable and it would need to happen anyway. So, Monday passed with me even MORE nervous about the next day. With the original op I was only going to be under anaesthetic for an hour but with this new proposal it was expected to be quite a few hours. In the evening, my surgeon visited me and said that she had reviewed my scan with a radiologist who told her I didn't need this larger op.. Talk about messing with your head! So, she left me saying she wanted to go ahead with the straight forward op and see what happens.

As you probably all know, I am not good AT ALL with things being changed last minute and always need time to get my head around a situation. On Monday I realised pretty quickly that I had to try to 'go with the flow' which I found very difficult indeed.

Now.. I have a rather embarrassing admission.. I own a pair of 'lucky pants'. I know, I know, this is RIDICULOUS and I have no idea why but I do OK! I am in no way superstitious, I don't believe in luck or jinxes, I think starsigns are rubbish etc but I still have lucky pants.. Don't worry, I don't wear them for all of my hospital admissions (one pair of pants for a month stay? No no), just the big things like scans or big check ups. I stupidly told the lovely nurse who was taking me up for my Op and she proceeded to tell EVERYBODY. She made sure the anaesthetist put them in a labelled bag for me and when I came back to the ward she wanted me to show the other nurses... I realise I am now telling all of you but that's only because she let my secret out of the bag. I now wish they were nice ones. Unfortunately they're very faded flowery ones. CRINGE.

When I came out of the op (after realising my pants were safe), I was told everything went well and my surgeon found an adhesion right at the opening so managed to snip it away without opening me up any further. Here's hoping that's the end of all my stomach pain! I had a morphine pump so was itching away like crazy and talking total jibberish. Mum took a picture to send to James as he wasn't able to come. Not my most flattering angle but oh well. I was attached to a million things - not fun when you need the bathroom.

I was transferred to a different ward (one down from high dependency) where the nurses were amazing. They were so lovely, kind, caring and made me feel like I was never asking a stupid question (even though I totally was). The day after, so many nurses, doctors, hospital folk passed and popped in to say 'hello'. It made me realise how many people I now know in the hospital.. It's A LOT! The nurse who was looking after me was great and made a comment that they don't generally see people who have done so well and come out of the other end of treatment - she then said that I touched a lot of peoples hearts.. AWWWWWWW. Totally gushy but I thought it was incredibly sweet of her.

After this wonderful ward I was transferred to a ward that I HATED. The second we walked in I felt really uncomfortable. It was a huge room with high ceilings and six beds. I remember going to sleep and feeling really unsettled as it reminded me of somewhere but couldn't think where. Mum made the comparison with Charing Cross Hospital and the ward I was originally in there. Bingo - that was it. It wasn't exactly the same but felt so familiar. I think, subconsciously, it brought back how much I hated it there, how scared I was and how terrifying the whole situation was. I was completely miserable, sore (morphine had been stopped.. waaaa), tired (hadn't slept for days) and surrounded by women discussing how many great grandchildren they had. Normally I love this kind of chat but I was just angry at everything. Mum phoned my surgeon to say I was a bit down and she said, 'if you think Mairead looks OK, take her home!'. Mum didn't hesitate so called me and told me to pack - hurrah! This really perked me up so then I started blethering to all the old ladies (who were all lovely) and getting everything gathered up. One of the awful things about Wishaw is the strict visiting hours - I am NOT used to this and hate spending so much time by myself. So, I had to wait until 3pm to be picked up and then off home we went! I was only out of surgery for two days and in quite a bit of pain but would much rather have my recovery on the couch watching Masterchef.

So, to end this very long post, I am now home and very happy. I tried to refrain from getting sentimental and mushy when I left/got home but I know everyone's hoping that was my last hospital admission and I will only ever need to go for check ups again. It feels completely mental. It's been 20 months since I was diagnosed and probably about 2 years ago since I was symptomatic. I'm not entirely sure what's next but I really hope it doesn't involve hospitals.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Should old acquaintance be forgot..

I think it's probably fair to say, that most people who say, 'I JUST LOVE singing Auld Lang Syne' don't have a clue what the words are. I am OK with admitting that I am one of those people. However, this blog post title is one line that I do know - hurrah! I have been putting off writing a post for ages - I am becoming very lazy I think - but as time has gone on, I have even more to write.. Oh well, you guys are in for a treat then!

As I didn't go to London a few weeks ago, I got my MRI in Wishaw instead. The results from that MRI were good and there is no sign of cancer - phew. I felt totally fine going for the MRI but when it came to the results I started to get a bit nervous. All good though! Unfortunately, I ended up in hospital a few days before New Year with that annoying stomach pain again. As it's happened a few times, I can now tell when it's starting so we rushed straight to Wishaw. I quickly got a fluid drip and a few shots of morphine (thanks to a letter from my wonderful surgeon). That really helped the pain but they kept me in overnight anyway. I was absolutely RAGING the next day as they would not let me leave. I felt totally fine yet nobody was listening to me. In the end (about 6 hours later) a doctor showed up, asked how I was, then said I could go. I was getting ready to walk out so he came in the nick of time! I feel like I'm continuously saying that some doctors and nurses (not all!) don't look at the patient as a person - they just look at the symptoms. This is fair enough if someone wanders in and hasn't had any prior problems. However, with me, it takes forever trying to explain to a random doctor what's been going on. I think I now know my own body and when I'm feeling slightly ropey. I feel that they have to look at the patient as a whole and ultimately what is best for them. I was absolutely determined not to spend any more time in hospital than was necessary but this clearly wasn't a necessity to them. Obviously, I understand they have paperwork to do and such like but STILL. This is the ward that I'll be in after my Op.. I'm not very happy about this as I now think the nurses look at me like I'm a grumpy cow.. Oh well. They know the truth about me then! 

So yes.. My Op... It is scheduled for 17th January (two days before Mum's birthday.. Sorry Mum) at 8am (bet you any money it doesn't happen til 5pm). I'm trying not to think about it but honestly I am terrified! I know it's a basic routine thing and I'll be in and out of theatre in an hour but my mind clearly doesn't work like that. I'm getting myself psyched out about it which is NOT good. The only thing I'm looking forward to is the morphine pump - that's always fun. OK, I'm not actually looking forward to it, but every cloud eh? I am seriously crossing everything that I get a single room. I am sick of people on wards saying to me, 'oh you're so young, why are you here?' and having to tell everyone my whole 'story'. Also, there are really strict visiting hours at Wishaw if you're on a ward with other people.. I do NOT like that. Oh yes, one other thing that bugs me SO MUCH is that they come around, turn on the lights, open the curtains etc at 8am! Last week when I was in hospital, I eventually fell asleep at 6.30am so this did not amuse me. It's times like this I really miss The Beatson (they would let me lie in as long as I like.. Ahhhh the TCT - another reason they are great!). 

Well, I have bored you all long enough with this health chat. Reading it back it looks more like a rant.. Sorry! Anywho, the festive season has now come and gone, but it was really nice. We had a festive party in Uddy the week before Christmas. My costume idea of a Snowflake fell through so I went for a 'Blue Christmas' - pretty easy for me!

Our cousins were staying in Coatbridge over Christmas so were round a lot and Granny and Grandpa Macleod were here too. The Brown cousins then came for New Year - the house feels very quiet now they've all gone. We had a bit of a disaster on Christmas Day coming back from church to realise the turkey hadn't been cooking. It was all good in the end though as the turkey was carefully transported to the oven in Coatbridge and brought back to Uddy - it tasted wonderful too! Christmas Day was rather bitter-sweet. James is still very sore and hasn't had much improvement at all. It was sad not to have him at the dinner table and to see him his normal, happy self. 

In the week leading up to Hogmanay, I realised that I hadn't completed my one New Years Resolution.. To make a croquembouche! This HAD to be rectified. So, Mum, Auntie Rosemary and I got baking and after a few tries at spun sugar, we perfected it. Here is the finished result..

We decided to make a petite one - the next time we try it, it will be massive! It tasted great too - honest. On New Year's Eve we had planned to do a Murder Mystery but changed our minds. However, this did not stop us from getting dressed up! Seriously, my family are mental - which is why I love them. 

Celebrating New Year felt rather odd. I found it quite strange as things are so different to last New Year (in a good way! For me anyway). It really made me reflect on everything that has gone on and puts into perspective how much things have changed. So much has happened this past year and even in the week leading up to Hogmanay, there was some awfully sad news. It is difficult to know what to say in these situations as nothing can ever really help. All I want to say is that she will be terribly missed and remembered as a loving, caring and wonderful woman. 

2011 was an awfully tough year for a lot of people that I love and I really hope that 2012 is a year of happiness, health and filled with many good things. Even saying that makes me think of all the cringey facebook statuses that appeared on New Years Eve.. I genuinely mean this though! I am going to have a think tonight about what my New Year's Resolutions will be and post later on this week. Suggestions welcome..