Another unremarkable day, which in terms of my recovery is a good thing! ‘Uneventful’ as the medics put it. I continue working at my emails, but get few responses. It was ever thus!
When I turn to doing some more electrical work on my model railway I find that the new tip has gone exactly the same way as the old one. What a nuisance. I rack my brains to try and think what the common denominator would be. No plastic anywhere near this tip.
Then it occurs to me that I have used the same sponge to wipe off excess solder. What if the sponge is not wet enough and depositing a small amount of material on the tip? This seems entirely plausible so I shall try dampening the sponge more in future. Some expert solderers said that it took them months to master the dark art so I am going to be patient. Now that’s a first!
In the evening I listen to the radio football commentary of Wales versus Spain on the BBC Wales website. The acute fatigue largely holds off and I am able to follow most of the match. The 4-1 defeat, however, means that it may have been better if I had fallen asleep!!
I prefer local radio station commentary to the national stations such as Radio 5. I actually enjoy the biased approach, even if it is against the team I am supporting! A little enthusiasm and passion is always welcome.
An unremarkable day in many ways. I mow the lawns and continue with sending some business-kind emails.
I am still not able to mow both the lawns at one go (despite them not being very big) but I am getting further each time. My abdominal muscles are lasting longer before starting to ache, indicating they are improving fast. I still rely on Lesley to actually lift the machine in and out of the shed.
The acute fatigue which continues to affect me has started to become more variable. Sometimes it starts later, sometimes doesn’t last as long or is not as severe. I take this as a good sign. The fatigue starting to lift will be a terrific bonus, actually allowing me to do some things in the evening. At the moment my day is compressed as it takes me a while to get going in the morning.
Lesley says that she has noticed an increased energy after Monday’s outing. I’m not sure whether it was Monday specifically or the returning energy in general.
There is an article on the internet about a controversy surrounding a newly released film First Man. This tells the story about Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon with Apollo 11. This is an enormously appealing film for me and it occurs to me I haven’t been to the movies for ages. Sounds like I’m just about ready to give it a shot!
I get an early morning phone call from my Consultant’s Secretary at the Hospital to say that my appointment is being moved back by exactly a week. It is mildly annoying but I have no major problems at this point. It does give me extra time to feel stronger in the evening and make the consultation worthwhile. I think, though, that the postponement is indicative of the increased strain on the NHS which this group of incompetent politicians seem determined to ignore.
I go for a short walk. I am trying to make these shorter distance walks faster. This means I give my cardiovascular system a quick work out but not impact my stamina. This seems to be working as my energy levels continue to improve. The discharge from the reopened drain has slackened quite considerably and I am hoping it will soon stop altogether. It will be nice if this is a one-off and that is the end of it.
I start getting back into emails and I feel ready to start working from home. I am feeling stronger and email my work colleagues with an offer to start with just a short while very day before building up the hours as strength and energy allow. It will be nice to feel part of wider activity again.
It is Lesley’s birthday so we go for an afternoon out. I try out a device which allows me to extend the length of time I can go without emptying my urine bag. We meet Andrew and Sharon at the Yellow Brick Café in Moreton in the Marsh, a lovely Cotswold village slightly less than an hour’s drive away.
This is a very important day for me. One of the issues raised by the medical staff before the operation was the psychological work needed to feel confident again in social environments. So it is with a certain trepidation that we set out on the drive down the Fosse to the Costwolds.
The Yellow Brick is a lovely little café and aside from some interesting main meals (I have lamb in a wrap with a terrific sauce) they specialize in wonderful Gelato ice creams. As usual the conversation is good and we have a great time.
By the time we return home my bag starts to leak. This is caused by the add-on capacity which extends the length of the bag. This will have to be solved before I get much further but there are alternatives to try. I have had a good day and the leaking bag has not hit my morale, despite me having to put most of my clothes in for washing again! I feel more confident that I can operate effectively once more in society. More work to be done, however, and the next few weeks will improve things.
I mow the lawns and do some general tidying up around the house. It is still the case that Lesley has to lift the machine in and out of the shed but I am now able to mow an increasingly large area of the lawns.
It is now 7 weeks since the operation. They have been a rough 7 weeks and the medical staff were right; there are good days and there are bad days. Now, however, the number of good days is starting to outweigh the bad. I just have to keep this going!
Specifically, things are starting to improve since the real low point last Monday. It has been a long crawl out of the pit to a point where I have more energy and more confidence to do things. With the energy and confidence comes a more positive mental attitude which is good for everyone around me!
As a result, no long walk today as I have decided to give them a rest for a few weeks until the stamina builds.
Lesley changes the dressing on the drain wound and we find that there has been a lot of discharge, This would be expected if it is the result of a build up of fluid which was not released earlier. It is like a dam bursting. But this means that the fluid should dissipate quickly. We shall see, fingers crossed.
PC World/Carphone Warehouse is incredibly annoying. Yesterday I tried and failed to buy a gift card online. So I give up and Lesley takes me to the store today. It is little better with a disinterested assistant initially unable to comprehend my request (I asked for a ‘token’ instead of a ‘card’!). I feel the whole interaction would have failed the Turing test and I would have judged him to be a machine!
Then on to the centre of soulless life. Tesco. The problem is that, like Sainsbury, it has what I need in one place and I have neither the energy nor mental capacity to hunt around smaller shops at this time.
We return hope and I feel drained. Even visiting a few shops is a tiring experience. But after a brief rest I recover some energy quite quickly. This recovery rate is in itself an indication of improvement.
In the evening I watch the Rugby. An old derby, Newport Dragons vs Cardiff Blues; life has improved. It is surprising how, despite the number of players bought in from outside these days, local derbies are still very keenly fought. Maybe it’s the enthusiasm transmitted from the stands to the pitch.
I have an almost normal sleep pattern overnight–though accompanied by a bizarre dream about a map I recognise the map as being of old Tredegar, used as the back cover of a book I bought recently. Just what I was trying to do with it is anybody’s guess! But that is the nature of strange dreams with their distorted unconscious symbols.
I go out for a walk, along Middle Street. I dawdle too much and it is not a particularly fast walk. But at least I did it. I feel better for getting out in the fresh air – or what passes for fresh air where I live with motorways, cement works etc!
My drain reopens in a sudden manner and wets my clothes. This is distressing but it appears there is another location in my lower body which has not drained properly. Lesley redresses it for me and I resign myself to it being there for a while longer. I wonder if this is a contributory factor in feeling unwell this week.
I receive a letter about my consultant appointment which is at the unusual time of 7:10 on Tuesday. At least I know they haven’t forgotten me. Its nice to be wanted!!
Day 100 – a century of days since receiving the cancer diagnosis. Its still, however, less than a third of a year. It seems so may days, yet such as short time for so many things to have happened to me. Just show the way in which the mind has problems grasping even a ‘simple’ concept such as time (with apologies for all those philosophers and scientists since Zeno and Aristotle who have wrestled with the topic for over 2000 years).
Slowly day by day I am regaining some strength. Today I get out to mow the lawns again. I get round them slowly, but again I cannot finish the job. Nevertheless they are starting to improve.
In the evening I try to manage the acute fatigue to allow me a chance to see the BBC programme on Placebos. I just about make it – which means the fatigue must have been less virulent than usual. I think it is merely luck, though as I don’t really have much control over it.
We get called late today with the results of Brandi’s blood test. Fortunately the vet reports that nothing abnormal has been discovered. It leaves us with the uncertainty as to whether the lack of balance and fit was just a one off or whether there is a deeper cause.
I am still desperately lacking in energy, two days after the real low point. I am heartened, though, by the way things are appearing to move in the right direction. I have slightly more energy than yesterday, but it is still hard to simply get out of bed in the morning. I have frequent rest breaks throughout the day and manage to get by doing just what I need to do.
I have a most welcome relax in the bath. I love these times when I can simply lie back and soak my much abused skin. Unfortunately I am unable to stretch out fully and if I dip my shoulders under my knees stick out! But I give each bit its turn in the water!
The vets said that Brandi’s blood test result should take about 48 hours, but checking late today they have not arrived back. The problem is that we tend to think of animal medicine in the same terms as human medicine.
I change my bag and since changing my attitude things have been much better. Strangely enough, since becoming more critical on the installation of the new bag, they have been better in any case. I guess it’s the overall mental approach.
The new mattress was very good, and I get up without any backache. Being much thicker it is also easier for me to get in and out of bed! If only I had the mattress a month ago.
The lack of energy is still severe today. A little improvement, however, just enough for me to get out for a walk but I am most careful not to overdo it. But my recovery is very slow. I wonder if there is an underlying cause for my malaise – surely overdoing it on Sunday is not enough to explain this wiped out state.
No hospital appointment from the consultation yet. This the end of the sixth week following the operation so if I have nothing by Friday I’ll be chasing it up.
Brandi seems none the worse for wear after her sedation yesterday and is giving us grief as normal! Here balance seems to have completely returned and she has lost the need to try and look in every nook and cranny in the house! That must have been the result of insecurity caused by the sedative. I am just hoping that whatever the diagnosis it does not involve much intrusive treatment! Hopefully we should know tomorrow.