Saturday, 22 June 2013

The End?

It's been over three and a half weeks since I've last blogged, and Johanna is saying that people are asking how I am and what I've been up to. So I thought I'd better get you all up to date with my life so far.

As you know, after my second infusion at the Christie I was quite sick. It took a while for the meds to settle, but we eventually managed to find some anti-sickness tablets that actually worked. During that time, I didn't really get up to much, barely did any cycling or walking, and lost yet more weight. I'm down to 189lbs at the moment. That's low for me.

We managed to go to the Beechwood Ball last weekend, which was a great evening. I'm a little wary of eating out due to not being able to eat all of what's put in front of you, but the table we were on had a great group of people and I wasn't embarrassed by leaving bits of everything. The evening itself was great, but by 10pm my stomach was hurting and I'd had enough. I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to socialising at the moment. I'm sure that'll get better in the future.

Like I said though, I've not had the energy or inclination to get out on the bike much lately due to the chemo coming on really strong, and on top of that, towards the end of my last tablets I had an allergic reaction. This made my lips swell up and that then started to spread to my mouth. I phoned the Christie Hotline, and they said call an ambulance and get to a&e straight away. I didn't think it was that bad, but Joh came home from work and took me into hospital just to be on the safe side. We spent a few hours in the resuscitation department at Stepping Hill and was eventually released. I was told to stop taking the final few days of my tablets too, which was nice. My lips soon cleared up, but it left a question mark over whether I'd be able to continue my final infusion and tablets.

I was back at the Christie for my final infusion on Monday 17th June, and there was some discussion over whether or not to proceed with the final course. The registrar made the decision to give me the infusion, but then keep me in for observation over the next 24 hours. So that's what I did. I stayed in the Christie overnight on the monday, and as I'd had no reaction to the tablets, was allowed home on the Tuesday evening. Of course, sods law meant that not long after my lips swelled up! Back onto the hotline and I've now been told to stop taking the tablets all-together. I'm not to take any more chemo until my lips have settled, and even then, I may not have to finish the course if this keeps happening.

I can't describe how good it is to hear that I don't have to take anymore chemo. However, before I get too excited and think this is the end, I've got to bear in mind that Dr. Mansoor may well say continue with the treatment, at our next review. I really hope he doesn't because I seem to be having the same reaction everytime. Maybe they'll have to change the tablets or something? Or hopefully they'll say I've had enough and my body has done all it can to fight.

The annoying thing about the whole tablet situation is that I'm cancer free now, it's all gone, cut out along with my stomach, oesophagus and lymph nodes, but I was still taking chemo to mop up any last remains.

I just hope that it has all gone and I can now look forward to my proper recovery. I've a lot of work to do to get fit for work and back into life again.

Finally, in case you missed my twitter or facebook updates on Friday 21st June, I was invited by Richard Thomas to join him on a ride with Sir Chris Hoy. He'd won a competition via Evans Cycle Stores to ride with Sir Chris and was able to take a.n.other along as well. Big thanks once again for taking me Richard. I really did get dragged out of bed by Johanna to get ready on time. The day before I'd spent most of the day in bed I was so tired. The ride itself was only 12 miles long, but it near wiped me out! It was worth every pedal stroke though as I doubt I'll get to ride with Chris again. I even got him to sign my Wheelers top afterwards :)

See you all soon xxx

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Sick, sick, sick

Do you know that feeling you get when something makes you feel like gagging? Perhaps you're a little squeamish and something on the telly has made you gag, or you're out and about and you see something that makes you a little sick in your mouth. Well, that's how I feel all the time at the moment.
As the chemo drugs once again start to fill me up, my bodies reaction is to try to get rid by making me gag. The only problem is, there's no sick, just the motion of being sick. The slightest thing can set this off. Thinking about doing something like eating a piece of toast can make me gag, tablet taking makes me gag and so on. The relief from this all consuming sensation is in the drugs. Once administered they provide some normality from the gagging but then bring along sleepiness and lethargy with them. So perky and sick, or tired and not so sick. Top choices.
Such is the effect of chemotherapy. Far worse than any operation and so much harder to overcome. The pains from my operation are getting less everyday. I've got loads of sensation back in my shoulder and my stomach is feeling less swollen now.
This is a struggle, I'll be honest. I really wasn't looking forward to this final piece of the treatment, knowing how I felt the first time round makes it even worse. If I could stop now I would, but the doctor said that even though all the cancer has been cut out, this final dose of chemo is proven to be very beneficial.
So, onward and upward (or downward more like).

That's me for the next few weeks now, according to my calculations I should be finally off the chemo by the 9th July.

Later xx

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Day 13 - The past week

Well, that was an interesting week. As you're no doubt aware, I had some trouble with sickness after starting  this last bout of chemo. All seems to have settled down though this last week and I've picked up considerably from last week. I just had a small bout of sickness this evening which was as much due to not taking all the meds as anything. I can take six tablets a day, by tea time, I'd only had 2. My bad. Lesson learnt.

With my improved health, relatively, it was time to get back on the bike. However, the weather had other ideas and meant a couple of sessions at home on the turbo trainer were a better place to start back than on the open road or trail. I didn't mind, as it was prudent to test my legs after the week before doing nothing at all. By Thursday, I was on one and out on the open road, probably overdoing it a bit by climbing all the way to the top of Mellor via Glossop Road and Gun/Shiloh Road. Gorgeous views up there:

Legs were tired after that ride, but it was so worth the struggle to get to the top. While I was up there, I managed to see the Lancaster Memorial Flight over Chapel en le Frith, and then watch it head for Derwent Dam. Awesome. Wouldn't of seen that in the flesh sat on the sofa (although I did watch it on BBC local news later)
I was out again on Friday, this time a nice flat route accompanied by Jon from the Polocini cafe. Steady pace but a bit further, 22.8 miles to be exact. After doing nothing for a while, that was quite a leap. Still, as always, nothing ventured and so on. 
Saturday and Joh and I had plans to cycle again in the afternoon, but the weather once again transpired against us. Joh doesn't like riding in the rain, then again, who does? So we used the time we had, children free, for other means. 

I must add at this point that it's been a while since we've spent some quality adult time with each other. I was actually getting a bit worried about my own ability to perform as there'd been no stirring in that department for a good few weeks. I've been worried that my libido was in some way broken. We'd discussed this at length but it always came down to me. No pressure, just when I was ready. Well, I was ready Saturday. Hallelujah. 

Joh was pleased. 

Not in any way a celebration of what we'd finally been up to that afternoon, but we decided to go out for a nice meal on the Saturday night. Oddfellows in Mellor is a fine restaurant  We'd been before and were very impressed, as we were this time. I toyed with the idea of going for a starter then a main, but was so glad I just had the main, an 8oz t-bone steak, duck fat chips and peppercorn sauce. Bloody delicious. Although not quite as nice as the steak we had in Belgium. 
It looked like this: 

and I looked like this as I finished eating the lot! 

Can you tell how much weight I've lost yet? I'm down to 205lbs now. More meals like that will keep me on an even keel though hopefully. 

So that was a week in the life of Chris the chemo taker. Only around 53 days of chemo tablets to go and 2 more infusions. No worries. 

More bike riding tomorrow, see you out there xx

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Day Seven - Not quite going to plan

I do apologise, as I said I'd try to keep this blog going on a daily basis and have so far failed miserably. In my defense though, since my infusion on Monday, it's been a shit week. I was hoping that this final bout of chemo would go like the first one, ie: first and second sessions quite easy, soaking in nicely with no major side effects, and the final session being the worse, with all the sickness and fatigue in the last 20 days. That's not what's happening. From the outset the fatigue is there already. My energy levels are really low. The feeling of sickness is quite pronounced. I'm off instant coffee again, food is a struggle and the urge to retch at the slightest thing out of the ordinary is ever present.
That all came to a head on Saturday when I spent most of the day in bed, hardly ate anything and just generally felt rough. Joh called the Christie hotline and asked if there was anything we could do to alleviate the sickness, and they recommended changing the anti-sickness tablets I was taking. So off Joh went to the doctors on saturday afternoon to pick up my new medication.
Now that seems to have done the trick for now. I've felt well enough today to eat 3 meals and a little bit of snacking in between, and even managed a half serving of pasta carbonara at the italian in romiley this evening.
It must seem odd to a waiter when this 6 foot 1 inch bloke orders a half portion of food off the menu.

My weight seems to be holding steady around the 208lb mark at the moment. My fitness has taken a real tumble though in the last week. Today was the first time I've been out for a walk all week. Time to do something about that I think. The sooner I start trying to get fit again, the easier it will be in the long run.

So, there you have it. Progress so far. I'm not promising any more daily updates, but I will update when I feel the need to let you know how it's going.

Take care xx

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Day Three - Surgeon appointment

So far this course of chemo is not going so well. I'm unable to take the tablets out of the blister packs at the moment without feeling sick and starting to gag. Joh kindly prepares my tablets for me in that case and it's just down to me to swallow them without bringing them back up.

Hopefully that'll settle down as my body and mind get used to taking them all over again.

In the meantime, I was at Stepping Hill today to see Dr Ducadt who performed my surgery. Just a checkup. All's well and he's happy with my recovery so far. That's good news.

After that, I popped over to see Stacey, who looks like she's about to pop. Between the pair of us, struggling with our stomach pains, we looked a right sight :) Take care Stacey, nearly there x

Home and to bed this afternoon. Joh did tea, kids tidied up.

Short and sweet x

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Day two - Here we go again!

6 weeks and 3 days post operation and I'm ready, according to the doctors, to receive my last round of chemotherapy treatment. Personally, I beg to differ, but what do I know.
I'm nowhere near 100% at the moment, I'm still taking regular pain medication as my back still hurts, but by far the worst pain without medication is from my stomach. If left without medication for any period of time, I get an acute stabbing pain just above my belly button, inside my stomach, ouch!

Eating wise though I'm doing quite well. Lots of people ask what can I or can't I eat. Well, I can eat anything you lot can eat with your posh stomachs and all. Not having one only means that I eat a lot less of it before getting full. I also don't get hungry. The stuff that was around my stomach telling my brain that it was empty has gone, obviously, so there's nothing to tell my brain to eat. However, I'm eating small snacks around every 2-3 hours or so, with the occasional bigger meal at tea time. That seems to be doing the trick for now. I am still learning my limits though. If I eat too much, I get a very bloated "stomach" which can be quite painful. Also, my journeys to the toilet have still not settled down yet. Sometimes it's like shitting through the eye of a needle, sometimes it's solid. Hopefully that'll settle down soon.

I've got 21 days of chemo tablets to take now. Then another 10 hour infusion, then the tablets again, then the infusion again followed by my final 21 days of tablets. By that time I'll be well worn out I think and I'm really not looking forward to it at all.
I reckon I'm going to struggle to keep this blog going on a daily basis, but I'll try my best.
In the meantime, thanks once again for all the words of encouragement on FaceBook and Twitter, it's nice to know you lot are thinking of me.

See you soon xx

Monday, 22 April 2013

Two weeks on, four weeks post op

It's been 4 weeks and 3 days since my operation now. In the last week, the infected scar on my back has nearly cleared up, and I'm down to a small dressing on one section of it. I'm still being visited by the district nurse, but now only every other day.
As you may have noticed on FB & Twitter, I've been back on the bike, albeit only on the turbo trainer kindly loaned to me by Richard, but at least my legs are spinning a little.
I've only done 2 sessions of 30 minutes so far, but it's a start. I'm beginning to get a little frustrated about not being able to go out on the bike for real, but I'm aware that if I push too hard I could end up doing myself some damage as my internal wounds heal. 
I'm still in some considerable pain, and am taking regular liquid morphine around every 4 hours a day. I'm sleeping so much better at night though, with the past weekend being the best nights sleep I've had for ages, almost sleeping all the way through the night. The only problem with that is that I miss my medication in the middle of the night and wake up with some rather acute pain. Swings and roundabouts I guess. 

I've been monitoring my weight for over a year, and especially so in the run up to the operation. When I was diagnosed with cancer back in October I was 208 pounds. I was advised to put on weight both to help me through the chemo and to offset the weight loss I'd have after the operation. I found it easy to put weight on during my chemo as I wasn't having any problems eating. As well as keeping the cycling going, I put weight on to the point that I weighed 238 pounds on the day before my operation. Plenty enough I thought. I could really feel the extra pounds too. I'd had to buy bigger pants, none of my t-shirts would fit properly and I felt sluggish and slow on the bike. 
I weighed myself yesterday and I'm back to 208 pounds! In only 4 weeks I've lost 30 pounds. That's some diet! :) 

I'm going to have to keep an eye on that. I can afford to lose a little more, but not too much bearing in mind I've still got another full course of chemo coming up on the 6th May.

Happy days xx