Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Bedroom Is A Bit Of A Tip To Be Honest...

I tidy it up and then something happens and it all gets untidy again.

Well, I have an incentive to do something about it...I purchased the new CD "And The Waltz Goes On" by the world famous violinist, André Rieu. I say that he's famous, we only discovered him late last year or early this year. He gives concerts with his Johann Strauss Orchestra across the world and has for many years.

He makes classical music fun, the concerts are colourful and spectacular, he wants you to enjoy the music and get carried away by it. Not necessarily sitting quiet and still in a concert hall. He does slip in a few pieces of music that are not classical and can call on some reasonably famous artists to do guest appearances.

He attracts an audience of all ages, creeds and colours.

What is great is that many of his CD releases include a DVD of a concert so you have both an audio and visual experience.

So Mum is going to come along to my room and watch the DVD on my computer.

I had a quick search through its content and I think it is one of his best CD's and DVD's yet!

To be honest I have another CD/DVD I purchased around Christmas last year of him which Mum hasn't seen. I think its a concert he gave in Australia.

So I'll save that for another time.

I have a Foster and Allen CD/DVD release from last Christmas too)Mum has heard the CD but still hasn't seen the DVD.

And I know there is a DVD release of Andrea Bocelli in Central Park New York but I have the CD not sure I'll duplicate and buy the DVD though.

I don't understand why with all the interest and sales of such artists radio and tv seem so reluctant to avoid doing programmes and features on a wider range of music than many play.

Thank heavens BBC Radio still finds room to offer a wider range of music even if it usually has to be aired off peak time or classed as being in the specialist strand.

Next week Carol King is doing a "Live" session and an interview during a weekday Ken Bruce show on Radio 2 some toime between 9.30am-Midday which is ok and though there is access via the internet and a player for 7 days...it deserves a better slot in the schedule(or a rebroadcast)

I'm not against new material, if I like it I'll listen but I still have to say though my musical taste is wide it still leans towards past material which I am still discovering but of late some of the new and most exciting releases have been where older artists embrace new songs and/or working with artists recording today...

And the new artists also embrace working with people seen as legends(Such as the new second CD in the series)of Tony Bennett appearing with artists like Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga etc...Duets II. Similar idea to what Sinatra did some time ago...

A Mixed Report?

The District Nurse did not seem so happy today with how things looked(I still think the tumour is smaller)but the skin surrounding it, is possibly redder but I think that is still the treatment causing that...and it will continue to improve...at the hospital they thought Mum having thinner skin, she might suffer most from what is like sunburn and so far other side effects have not materialised.

I still apply aqueous cream to the area that is red and barrier cream to the tumour area...I think Mum is cleaner and is easier to keep clean/washed since the treatment and the tumour has reduced in size.

We are changing pads regularly and keeping Mum dry. The DN thinks it could be burns from fecal matter passing by or some leakage but that has improved too. That's either because the tumour is smaller or the treatment has done something else to improve things. I say it should've been more of a problem before treatment/the diagnosis...when she was not being seen by anyone and we were dealing with something unknown.

I'm not saying that the sore skin could not be aggrevated and react if it came into contact with bodily fluids but isn't that why we are using various creams and keeping Mum clean with mild unpefumed soap.

You have to bow to the DN's knowledge and she has said how she's advised me to proceed(but I was doing all that she said anyhow)and saying that in her written weekly report makes it sound as though I haven't been doing so, even though I have...

Anyhow, instead of a weekly visit they are going to call twice next week so we'll just have to see what happens next...

I'll add and I think that Mum is correct, her back and arms appear to be putting on weight again so that's another positive to us...here's another...

I compared Mum's tumour size wise to being similar to the segment in a satsuma...tonight its nearer to being the size of a marrowfat pea...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


With or without the treatment Mum has had recently for her cancer and before she was diagnosed...Mum has taken paracetamol and codeine combined. The amount taken varies from a small amount to the maximum allowed.

Recently, I assume as the treatment kills and reduces the size of the tumour and Mum also has the side effect of what looks like sunburn in the same area, she has needed them more than ever.

Occasionally, in recent weeks from what Mum has said they have not worked. We toyed with the idea of asking for another pain killer to work alongside or instead of Mum's normal medication but today so far Mum has not requested or seems to be missing them.

We had been told by various medical people(from our Carer, District Nurse, Dr's and Oncologist)it is better to take painkillers regularly(say Morning, Noon, Teatime and Bedtime)even if not in pain to build up a kind of resistance for when it does come on.

Mum not asking for pain relief, is this because the treatment is starting to wind down and will not improve any more and so Mum's body is no longer reacting to the changes which could cause pain?

Is it because the treatment has done such a great job, what was causing the pain has been halted in in its tracks?

Was this the reason for Mum's pain all along and we did not know it?

Working on the premise as it stands...

Radio Therapy can and does for many, kill cancer. It can reduce a tumour greatly but the other important thing is that it can stop the supply of blood from feeding it and therefore starving it of nutrition and I hope that also means cancer cells cannot be carried into the bloodstream.

As far as I know and from what we have been told" It does not appear to have spread" especially going by the scans that were taken approx 5 weeks ago.

Now, obviously if/when they do a follow up which may include another scan for all we know the situation may've changed.

Tomorrow, Mum may ask for her painkillers again but today she is pain free, that has to be good.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Quiet Day...

Nothing much happening...I prefer it that way...

Plenty of sleeping, a little shopping(had to go out the fridge was virtually empty)and I have never purchased as milk as I do now. But if I don't I would have to go out more but two Complans and cereal/porridge and you'd be amazed how that milk soon disappears.

I think the treatment is still working on Mum as the sunburn area looks more angry than a few days ago(a small price to pay)if the tumour is still being attacked...sadly as can happen with sunburn caused by the sun Mum has a few small blisters that have appeared so I am making certain that she has plenty of cream to soothe the area.

A night of radio listening and a small meal for Mum and myself...(Mum had scrambled egg with added cheese, some chicken breast, heinz tomato ketchup and wholemeal toast)I went for a salad containing chicken breast, cucumber, tomato, egg, celery, lettuce, spring onion, carrot and branston pickle. So what we have had was tasty and reasonably healthy.

At least Mum has had something on her stomach.

Tomorrow is another day, we'll see what that entails...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Care In The Community...

For all the criticism of care for people in the community and a lack of money coming from Government and local authorities and councils there are some very expensive places that look after people when you finally retire, become ill. Many struggle in their twilight years but if you are fortunate to have enough savings there are some amazing places still around taking up care of the vulnerable and able to make a profit.

When going to hospital last week the ambulance transport service called in at a massive site which called itself a retirement village. It had a bowling green, a lake with seats to sit outdoors etc...but the person who was picked up for his hospital visit at a spinal unit(he was in a wheelchair)he had a minder and she explained to another passenger that this place had...a block of apartments people could buy and live in, a nursing home, a residential home and another block where you live your life but have helpers coming in.

There is no way an ordinary member of the public could live there unless they have special rates and as many homes run by local authorities are continually being closed down and some private care homes are struggling too, social care is in a bit of mess to put it mildly.

And this story has now broken on the charity site run by the MacMillan Nurses which I think is a disgrace and as far as I know has not been reported much in the media. Who in their right mind would prefer to have cancer and all the treatment it entails to get benefits and possibly face death to take benefits and when you have a record of your treatment, a Dr and a Consultant to speak up for you(Oh, I forgot)many assessments these days will not allow you to submit information from your medical records and those treating you...

It ties in with an anecdote I may have mentioned before where I was in a supermarket and two women were talking and one was absolutely livid because her daughter is being treated for cancer, is still ill, not in remission and is being chased after to ask why she was not working.

Benefit Checks On People Having Chemotherapy

Friday, November 25, 2011

Oh Dear...

Sadly, the lady who lives two doors down from us has been taken away to hospital in an ambulance.

Earlier in the year she'd spent approx six weeks there but we had no idea.

Then a few weeks before Mum was diagnosed, she was taken into hospital and spent roughly the same amount of time there. To cut the story short she had never really been ill all her life or one for being seen by Doctors.

We believe she has something similar to Mum and has had a few operations and was unable to eat.

She answered the door when I was going to tell tell her husband how Mum was doing, she really looked weak and vulnerable but said that her consultant reckoned it would take around 6 months for her to make a full recovery.

Today, I looked out of our window and the ambulance was back...and Mum thinks it took our neighbour away. Its a worry and I am sure that they must be going through all the worry and concern that we are feeling.

Seeing another person going through such a worrying time does bring your own situation home.

We've just lost another neighbour but I don't think that is connected to anything connected to what anything associated with this disease.

He'd had a stroke a few years ago and he wasn't doing so well. I mentioned him in an earlier post.

Meantime, Mum has had a letter today confirming the follow up appointment to her Radio Therapy treatment and it will happen on January 4, 2012 just before lunchtime at a local satellite surgery the Oncologist holds. I so hope its good news...

I saw Mum's tumour today...it is amazing how much smaller it is(it also makes me realise how large it originally was and a nuisance)it has improved greatly and that pleases me.

I hope that it continues to shrink but I assume the effect will slow down in the second and third week.

I don't know if it will continue after that or if it will start to regrow immediately so when the Oncologist sees it early January, will it still look as good. Its unknown territory.

For now we must be thankful how things have gone and take it one day at a time. As things stand still more to be positive about.

I should have mentioned this earlier...this is a very positive story...I don't know widespread it was reported in the media. In Mum's case this looks good but then again the 17 fold survival rate of 9 years can only be a generalisation and people surviving that long instead of months may be affected by other health matters, age and whether you are getting a combination of treatments rather than just one. Still good though...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We Haven't Eaten Much Today...

But I tend to believe sometimes eating little but often is a good way of going on rather than sitting down to big meals. And I have been nibbling all day.

Mum's still on the Complan and earlier I took some celery, an onion and some carrots blitzed them in the blender with some water containing vegetable stock and made my own soup so that should be good for us. I have chopped up some eggs and tomatoes finely so its more like a paste and I've spread that on some wholemeal bread buns.

So hopefully Mum will have some of them later.

Perhaps, Mum may decide to have some porridge or cereal later.

Any change in Mum's health? I haven't looked at the tumour today though I have cared for Mum and kept her clean and tidy but the only real visible effect of the Radio Therapy is a reddening of the skin around Mum's bottom and the surrounding area that I suppose looks a bit like sunburn so I just make certain that there is plenty of cream in case it is sore. So again...so far, so good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Observation...Which I Hope Is Good News...

I take heart from two visits earlier today...

Both the Carer and District Nurse have not seen Mum for approx 14-17 days(before Mum's treatment)and both agree that the tumour has reduced in size and it is much less sore than before.

I guess if anyone will notice an improvement it is professionals who see and deal with such matters daily and having not seen it for awhile. Lets hope the treatment continues to make further changes over the coming weeks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bit Of A Cheat...

I did a clear out of my cupboards and pantry the other day...throwing out items past their sell by dates and found I have more soup than I thought so in reality I can avoid buying any for awhile.

For many months I have thought I should make my own soup(It would be no more expensive)and would have fresh ingredients and probably have more goodness in them. I have some great books with recipes but you can virtually put anything you wish into the mix.

Today, I had some fresh cauliflower and broccoli and I knew there was no way it was going to be used in a meal and I was reluctant to waste it. So I whizzed it up in my smoothie machine with some vegetable stock, brought it up to the boil and served it up. It did not taste bad, I know that it has all the goodness of the vegetables too.

And I hope all the fibre too. I might've left it chunky but by liquidising I know Mum can manage it better. I was also able to make at least double the amount of soup you purchase in a supermarket for the price.

RIP Eric...

Most of the people who live around here stay put for years and years. So many of us only move out in a box.

Around the time Mum was diagnosed, I found out from an acquaintance that three people in my street had passed away in recently, we knew them reasonably well but I guess as we spend a lot of time indoors and do not buy a newspaper you don't always find out until some time afterwards often by chance.

Just like earlier posts about things happening in three's, perhaps its just coincidence but I can remember a similar situation a few years ago where the out of the block of four houses we face onto three people passed away within a short time of each other.

Sadly, we have lost another person...a neighbour. He wished Mum well when he found out about her and now its him.

Decades ago Dad knew Eric's father in law and to earn extra money he drove a taxi for him. Times were difficult so any extra cash was welcome.

All have left this world...the mother in law, Eric's wife, many years ago. Eric was not really old by today's standards(only 68)

Back then when all was well they lived next door to each other in two semi-detached houses and believe they knocked the two properties into one. In time I think the houses were turned back into two. And since then the other house has been been home to at least three families.

All this brings it home as to how mortal we are and how precious each day is.

Ironically, ten days ago a neighbour told me that Eric was so ill and unlikely to get back into his home...what neither of us knew was that he had died the night before so that statement could not have been truer.

Bye Eric...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In The Middle Of The Night...

I sometimes make Mum a drink. Tea, coffee, milk, fruit juice or water is usually easy as I have all that I need upstairs but sometimes I have to nip downstairs.

Whatever can go wrong will and last night seemed to be one of those nights. At 3am I managed to knock over a bottle of lemon juice and managed to clean up the glass and liquid and just started to pop some items I had found had passed their sell by date into some carrier bags to put in the wheelie bin later.

I of course managed to pick one up with a big hole in the bottom and placed a big glass jar of Dolmino tomato sauce for use in cooking and it smashed on the floor and I had to start all over again cleaning up glass and a horrible gooey mess. I can think of better things to be doing at that hour.

They say things happen in three's I hope that is not the case and that's the last accident for awhile.

(Of course three accidents did happen...)I'd forgotten that some hours earlier I had spilt some dry spaghetti over the kitchen floor. I will have to vacuum some of that up later as I keep trailing bits of spaghetti everywhere.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Somewhere On A Hard Drive...

I have an image of Tony Blair...ex British Prime Minister. I was originally testing the new(my first)digital camera I had invested in. He turned and gave me the thumbs up.

I think I was interested more as it was a news event happening only streets away from where I live more than the fact it was him. I had images of all the satellite broadcasting trucks from major news broadcasters ready to relay the election results to the nation and the world.

At the time I did not have a blog and unless I search out those images by connecting the old hard drives and searching they will never be seen.

I'm not sure these days unless I happened to be there by chance and was wanting to put images on here I could be bothered to stand around to try and see any public figure, celebrity or politician.

Without saying whether I liked Blair or which political party I voted for or would in the future. I tend to be very unbiased how I view many events these days and I will say if I think any party can put up a very good argument for why their policies are correct.

However, I do think from the things I heard said over the years even though he was voted in as the local MP and this meant that he could continue as our Prime Minister, many voters around here felt because he was working the world stage and having a large public persona, instead of it benefiting the area, it did the opposite because he could not give enough time to local matters. It might be a perception that is wrong and there might be some statistics that show he did give of his time generously.

I will say that when he announced he was stepping down as Prime Minster with a year still remaining before a general election had to be called I thought that he should've spent that last year showing how grateful he was to those who elected him into power.

Instead he quit British politics altogether and started performing on the world stage. Being a consultant to companies, doing lecture tours and taking on other commitments such as a kind of ambassador to try and help bring peace to the Middle East(a wonderful idea if it could be pulled off)but experts and ordinary people around the world have their views on his suitability for holding such a post. That's not for me to say.

What has also been noticed by many is how "Rich" he is and what he has managed to amass in his personal finances.

It could argued that we all have the right to use whatever we can to secure a future where we are secure financially and so he is no different so is such criticism justified...I am unsure.

My one observation and I always thought it(again rightly or wrongly)he always made an appearance at a local working man's club in the town that bore the name of his constituency and he would usually launch his campaign and go there to celebrate when successful.

And its not a case of being a snob or feeling that people are beneath me, but you could tell that under normal circumstances he would not normally mix with those who frequented this place.

It is a bit like the old joke where politicians used to like being seen kissing and holding a baby for the photo to be published in a newspaper.

What provoked the above was that the radio they look back at events that happened years ago on this day and another politician was mentioned who was a British Prime Minister years ago, Harold Wilson and I have a vague memory(I don't know if it was at a time of election)or just a normal time but we(my parents and I)must have been having a picnic or had stopped on a grass verge somewhere with others and someone informed us that he was coming by soon and I assume we all(like idiots)stood and watched his motorcade go past.

I wouldn't do that now. I cannot remember whether we all waved or stood. I cannot remember if we could see him and whether he acknowledged us in some way.

The same thing happened in Bournemouth years ago when I was on holiday. Word got around that the Queen would be coming along the road on the seafront under the cliffs(you cannot do that now)so people lined the route waiting for ages and when the motorcade swept by, it was so quick I don't think many actually saw her, it was a disappointment for many and I am sure many probably felt like saying "Was that it?"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day Five And We've Survived The Experience...

For the first time today I discovered that Mum's cancer is affecting the Rectum and...when I mentioned we had thought she had bowel cancer when getting a kind of last minute information talk with the Radio Therapy guy, he said that such cancer is border line to bowel cancer. I think this is a medical term that is used as an alternative for colon cancer. I'm still learning/finding out the situation.

They are happy with how the treatment has gone and seem very positive but the one with all the good or bad news and how things will turn out is the Oncologist. Mum has a follow up appointment with him some time in the next 4-6 weeks, the letter will drop on the mat at a future date. No good second guessing what he'll say. As far as we know it is only the tumour we see.

The same person cannot put words in the Dr's mouth(I would not expect him to)but the suggestion was there that if the Oconologist decided to, they could do more sessions, chemo(if he thought Mum could take it)that may be too much but more radio therapy is possible. It all depends on his knowledge and what he says are our best options and if we can convince him to continue.

Interestingly enough Mum is willing to do more treatment if offered and that proves the treatment did not trouble her too much(but she is only willing if she goes by taxi or perhaps if there is a next time the hotel might seem more appealing)and not the way we have this week. I think Mum disliked most that you felt every bump in the road and the doors were continually slamed shut. But it shows that there is some fighting spirit there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day Four...

We did not see the Oncologist as we thought we were going to but as I'd raised concerns about Mum's pain killers perhaps not offering pain relief as they should we were given a kind of meeting with someone who had access to Mum's notes and could advise...

They are happy with Mum and how the treatment is going and think they can continue to control it.

If the pain killers stop working or we need something stronger we should take it up with the District Nurse service(or the Oncologist when he does call her back in to revue how the treatment has/is going)
And we do not need to change Mum's diet and can carry on giving all the different variety of good foods that we can think of.

So again more positives than negatives for now.

The last treatment is tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Down And Two To Go...

even less to report today...

The session seemed quicker, perhaps Mum's better at staying still.

It seems the Oncologist will see Mum tomorrow(We didn't know that was happening)to revue the progress of how treatment is proceeding etc...and maybe this is the time we can raise concerns we have.

Mum still appears not to be having any of the side effects they said was possible. I still believe that I can see changes happening and this is only day three.

The treatment lasted maybe five minutes, travel there and back plus waiting times for transport came out at five hours twenty minutes...mainly due to other patients appointments being delayed. One they waited thirty minutes and then they were saying another thirty minutes were needed so the driver decided to get us home(and another three people)

Never mind...this is the Human side of the hospital and the staff have been very friendly and(to use an old fashioned term)very nice!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Second Session Of Radio Therapy Completed...

Mum had a restless night, I stayed awake worried that I'd oversleep and miss the mini-bus to take us to Mum's hospital appointment.

I was up at 6am and started to get Mum ready by 7am.

Mum was cleaned and dressed and I managed to have her eat some porridge and have a cup of tea.

Getting her downstairs was another matter, she had decided she still wasn't going to go.

At the top of stairs Mum was about ready to descend I happened to look away and try and get something ready and when I looked back...she'd disappeared and I could see Mum's hand moving along the bannister that runs along the landing and she was obviously going back to her bedroom. That was both funny but frustrating especially working against the clock.

So I had to(and I'm not proud to say this)physically coerce her to turn around and come downstairs.

Then after approx 15 minutes the bus arrived and again both the ambulance driver had myself had to persuade her to go out the front door.

Once at the hospital her appointment was around 10.50am but she was seen virtually straight away at around 10.30am.

We were ready to go home but due to technical difficulties and delays the other people we shared our bus with were late in being seen so we had to add an extra 30+ minutes before we could start our journey.

So at present Mum is once again saying she won't go tomorrow but I have tried to have her understand how important the treatment is, I got the radiographer to explain again today that she will be more comfortable if she completes the treatment(and she said it in a nice way to Mum)the procedure was much quicker today.

Mum was so tired that she fell asleep whilst they were doing or preparing the treatment.

Mum really hates the journey. Tomorrow as you feel every bump in the road and she's a bit sore I'll see if a cushion helps.

Now, I may be imagining it(and I was told we probably would not see any changes for 3 weeks)but I think that I can...As always time will tell.

I am about to prepare some soup(winter broth soup)but liquidise it so its easier to eat but has the goodness...last evening I did tomato and butter bean soup the same way and she also had some scrambled egg.

And I believe she is talking of having a reasonable meal later so for now the Radio Therapy has not affected her appetite and apart from being a little sore so far other side effects have not kicked in.

More positives than negatives so far...I was so busy seeing to Mum this morning I didn't manage to eat anything myself...

Monday, November 14, 2011

The First Session Is Over...

The first visit for the planning of what they'll do and RT is over.

The staff made what could be a frightening experience exactly the opposite. Everyone was friendly. There was quite a bit of waiting but what they did went well. Mum's plan was arranged by the Oncologist that we saw a few weeks ago and arranged that I could accompany her there and back to the hospital.

I was in on all the talks with Mum and at the end of the first session I was allowed into the room where all the equipment was. As I was present they took some swabs(on little cotton bud sticks)from Mum's nose and I think her nether regions(and I think I heard the term MRSI)so I hope they don't show up anything nasty...It was the end of the session and the transport was waiting so I didn't ask what that was for...

Perhaps I will tomorrow...

Update:Its some kind of check to see if people being treated are carrying those infections that sometimes cause problems for pateints in hospital after they've had a stay/operation.

Whilst at the hospital I found some publications from the charity "MacMillan Nurses" and though cancer isn't a fun subject they are written in an informative, unfrightening way and cover so many different aspects of what it is, what care is available but aspects I would never have thought of.

I have seen that RT can and does often kill cancer or it can if successful at reducing the size of a tumour surgery might be considered but such courses last 5-8 weeks. But as Mum is only being given 5 sessions it is obviously beeing done to improve Mum's life and make her comfortable but as a pallative measure again not to get rid of it but again if Mum proves to be not so weak, could that be considered?

Mum is talking of not going tomorrow but I am sure that she will...Its the early hour we have to go and...Mum doesn't enjoy the journey there and back.

At least tonight the transport to get us home was waiting for us immediately.

Tomorrow we have to be there for 10.30am but the last three days we have to be there for 9.35am(I've still suggested a partial stay over at that hotel...)Possibly on the earliest days of the treatment, I think that she may still say no but the suggestion actually came from Mum herself.

It does mean we'll probably be leaving here even earlier 7.30am-8am. But maybe if Mum is home quite soon afterwards she has ages to prepare/rest until the next session. I think it will be quicker from now on.

The last day of two I have been liquidising vegetable soups so Mum gets the goodness but doesn't have problems eating the chunks of vegetables many soups have...

And get this Mum said that she would never ever eat porridge(probably remembering how it was made in the days when she was a child...probably with water and very thick...but I persuaded her to try some of the new kinds available and she enjoyed it and has asked for another so maybe I could think of this for breakfast before she has her next treatment.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Only Sure Thing We Know About Life Is...

Death and Taxes. I believe that's the saying. Well, taxes I could care less about except in an ideal world they are used to improve the lives of the sick and vulnerable.

But we do know that we all will die. Just that hopefully no one tells you when its likely or that you have live with the knowledge your time is limited. Most have an approx age in mind because officially an average age is statistically released every so often.

Certain events in life make you realise your mortality. Such as if you work and you reach retirement age. I believe for many years up on retiring it was more or less agreed you would live between five and ten years. That also pleased the Governments because they are not paying out on expensive medical procedures on the NHS and not paying state pension and other benefits indefinitely.

Its ok "Rich" people living longer but not the mass population.

But life is not guaranteed and all kinds of spanners will and do get thrown in the works for many of us and it will see many of us having all kinds of worries from not having enough money to live on, losing jobs, illnesses and so on.

I don't know which is worse...I used to think how do you accept being told that you cannot be cured or have a condition stabilised but I almost was faced with that situation 14 years ago and I cannot say what the future holds, my time on this earth may be cut short or I may face lots of medical procedures where I find myself wondering if I can be bothered with the hassle. Is my life that precious?

If I only have myself to think of and no one else is worried whether I am here am I less likely to fight to survive?

And here's another thought...is it worse for the person who is told they are going to die or if you have others who love you being left behind and still living without you in their lives. Do you ever get over the loss of a loved one? Of course your life has been enriched having that person in your life and that's why it feels less so without them. So perhaps it is easier for the person who is told such news.

I have heard it said many times it is worse for the relatives watching than the person themselves.

Luckily the Human mind can for most of the time put such morbid thoughts on the back burner and almost pretend it isn't going to happen. We all hope we'll die peacefully in our sleep or it will happen so quickly we'll not have time to think about it!

But only God knows what it feels like having loved ones if you are fortunate to have them sitting around the bed waiting for you to take your last breath and you knowing its coming.

In my own case unless I meet someone and have a relationship late in life, unless I have accident...I will die alone in my home and be discovered by someone who might wonder why the curtains are drawn and I haven't been seen or been paying my rent, possibly in hospital or in a residential home with people who are not loved ones and are being paid to do a job but I'll still die alone as we all will.

Where did this morbid blog entry come from? I don't know but we all think such thoughts at some time in our lives and you realise you are not immortal and I have lost my Father to Lung cancer and now Mum is living with the disease but as I say hopefully they can be dismissed and other thoughts block them out.

They say one in three people will get cancer at some point in their lives so if we don't get it ourselves we will know someone with it. Great statistics to have to live with...

To lighten this post I remember a joke the comedian Dave Allen used to tell(I'm sure others have)

He had a routine about retirement and he used to say how you worked by the clock or clocked into work each day and your live is governed by time and what do they give you when you retire as a gift?

"A Bloody Clock!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Now We're Starting To Find Out What...

Radio Therapy may entail...

Mum might find that she'll be sore and it may feel a bit like a bad case of sunburn...of course it might not!

It has been suggested that we may have to change how we clean Mum and change the creams we use and possibly use plain water when washing so avoiding any soap product making a sensitive area sore.

I have been talking to others in a similar situation and warm not hot baths have been mentioned, someone said splashing with water in a similar way like a bidet is a good idea and the use of unperfumed aqueous cream, I'd never even heard of it but a quick search shows that it exists and its not particularly expensive. But there are as many negative stories about it as there seems to be good. Even the nationwide retailer Boots makes and sells its own version.

If Mum loses her appetite it has been suggested that our Dr could prescribe some supplements that will give Mum nourishment and they could be used in addition to the complan I have been giving her between meals etc...

A few people have been surprised that we have not been offered these already by the District Nurses and/or the Dr. I did know know that they were available so I would not have thought to have asked for them.

I only found out through a charitable website that deals with bowel cancer and someone who was waiting with us at the hospital last Monday when we had the fiasco of going there and Mum being injured and having the treatment cancelled and postponed and we were waiting almost three hours for transport to get home again.

It would appear that many of these things I am being told of are mentioned to others when they are being given Radio Therapy so I hope they will do the same for us when we go for our first(rescheduled)session on Monday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anecdotal Stories...

Most of the stories we relate can only be anecdotal unless you can show documentary proof or you are able to record sound or take a photo/video of something.

Often when someone says that they know of someone who is getting help from the Government in benefits but they are working or doing something that means that they are not entitled to it is very suspect in my view.

There are many tales of genuine people not going out because they are afraid of the reaction they'll get from some or are afraid to do a little bit of pottering about in their gardens in case someone says if you can manage to do that, you should be working.

People don't always look ill, people have conditions that fluctuate. There are so many reasons why someone is unable to hold down a job. Unless you are in that person's shoes you don't know.

I have said many times that I can see from all sides...people who work hard and feel they are being shafted, for many being in work isn't easy.

They are unsure that their jobs are safe and will be there one week to the next, they are unable to ask for a wage rise or might be told because times are tough they might have to take a wage freeze or a cut, many jobs pay the minimum wage(a nice idea)but unless you are just starting out, that is not a living wage to run a home or bring up a family on...you might just about manage if you are still living at home with your parents and they are not taking too much off you for bed and board.

The fact is that many jobs mean that people in work still have to try and claim benefits form the Government(perhaps tax credits, housing benefit etc...)the problem is that few jobs pay a living wage. There is something wrong about that.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to the problem. I'm not sure those in charge have either looking at the Euro currency fiasco happening in Europe(and how Ireland and Greece have had ask for help to bail them out)and a number of other countries may have to in the future. And we haven't even touched on the global economic problems of recent years which has seen bankers become hated by so many.

For many, the help given to the sick and vulnerable and those who are looking for work isn't great either and with the current economic climate it has given our coalition government the excuse to reduce or cut what they pay but again stories in the press and broadcasting media are of fiddling and scroungers(which is minuscule in the great scheme of things)it means many are all tarred with the same brush.

The only possible way a family not working might be better off is if they are all over the age of 16 and share the money between a whole household but if you are the only person claiming and happen to be single or have a partner and have children...it will be a struggle.

Again, I'm not sure I have an answer except the vulnerable should not be vilified and the problem still lies within the business community and yes, with those who work in the stock exchange, the investors, the bankers and so on...

But again the following two stories should worry all of us...those of us who are in similar situations now or could be through no fault of our own in the future.

And when, as will happen, some say these tales are anecdotal...they are no more so than those tales put around by those critical of the vulnerable in society being undeserving but its so hard for the vulnerable to be heard.

As bad as our system is or rather is becoming over the next few years we then have to say at least some help is available here...in many countries you really would be left on your own and not receive anything.

Married Couple Commit Suicide

Fit For Work

Another Day And...

Mum had restless night which is distressing for me but is now resting peacefully.

Mum has had her first proper bath in two years using a chair that lowers her into the bath(the carer looked after her)she has enjoyed it and it has relaxed her.

After her sleep hopefully Mum will have a small bowl of cereal with added banana, strawberries, blueberries and whole milk. Followed by wholemeal toast and manuka honey.

I think that is a good result...

I purchased a mini chopper yesterday(originally I had thought of slightly more powerful and expensive one but went with the supermarkets own brand, it was on offer and half the price)

I chopped up a salad and enjoyed it that way. I think being chopped up very fine, I ate more than when you lay a salad out on a plate and as Mum has difficulty eating some foods(I tried a spoonful to see if she could manage it...)she could do so now, I may be able to get her to eat foods like celery, cucumber, tomatoes etc...which can be a bit hard to chew. And she can still get the goodness out them.

If it works, fine but if it doesn't what have we lost?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Have You Seen My Chopper?

A few days ago I nearly purchased a Kenwood Mini-chopper. Approx £20 but decided against it.

Today in the same supermarket they had their own brand on sale(worth £15)selling at £10. I bought it. The speed is less than the other one and a bit smaller(barely)but big enough for me/us.

I actually chopped up all the ingredients for my salad and they were really tiny pieces and all mixed into one but you know what...I liked it that way.

I think I ate more than I might've when its all laid out on a plate.

Mum's not a salad eater but she found that presented this way she was able to eat so another day I may try her with a sandwich or a little portion in a bowl and she'll get all the goodness the vegetables contain...items like celery can be too hard usually.

This could be a very useful gadget...

Diet And Cancer...

Well of course you'll do all that you can to try and save your loved one's.

Mum has never had what I would call a bad diet. She rarely drinks alcohol, she never smoked. She eats very little red meat. We always ate a varied diet of fruit and vegetables. I would not say she is a big sweet eater either. Nor soft drinks.

But naturally, this cancer Mum finds herself with has made me more aware of Mum's diet so I am seeing that she is drinking Complan with whole organic milk to build her up and she likes them so much she asks for them instead of tea. They are full of vitamins and minerals and can act as a complete meal and give nutrition.

Mum likes Special K with banana and strawberries. I have purchased some blueberries and decided if Mum is unable to eat these as normal I can put them in a smoothie machine. She like soups, most vegetables. Tomatoes and tomato juice(But I have bought some supplements that have that ingredient that they say is good in tomatoes and its the same as eating 6 large tomatoes)Garlic and so on...So I am just upping how much of these and other foods I can get into Mum's system in the hope it may halt, reverse or slow down the effect.

There is a book available written by someone who had cancer and held it at bay and managed another 20 years of life by eating certain foods. Everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Someone suggested My Mum would not live to 105, I'm not expecting that but if it improves her well being/quality of life, it has to be worth it!

All Change!

Well, I was told yesterday that Mum is rescheduled for treatment Tues-Fri and the following Mon at 10.30am(with next Monday to arrange everything at 2pm)

Now we have a letter saying Mum's first session of Radio Therapy will be on Monday an hour after the meeting to arrange things. So I am now guessing this means they'll drop the odd session pencilled in for that following Monday.

They keep changing things, it takes some keeping on top of it all.

Par for the course I suspect...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

That Toe...

The dressing came off and guess what...we know that it is fractured but as has been said many times, out of all of the body, toes are fractured and broken all the time and most of time we never realise. It is the part of the body gets broken the most. The medical professions tends not to bother considering doing anything except letting time heal matters.

It did look nasty yesterday but with all the blood clear, the nail is not looking as though it will be lost and it looks more or less as it always has.

It probably would've looked much better yesterday if only it had been cleaned up.

When the bandage came off today before I saw it I said to Mum I'll redress it with items in my first aid cupboard but looking, I think its going to be ok if we let the air get at it. I think that I could dress it better than they did at the hospital if I have to.

The blood just seems to have disappeared. If it had been cleaned first maybe we'd have been away quicker.

I suppose they'd say better to be safe than sorry!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Accidents Do Happen But Today Was A Total Disaster...

Mum and myself were picked up around lunchtime and dropped outside the Radio Therapy building, you could not get much closer...the driver walked Mum in and she had a slow motion fall but so slow he caught her, when she was sat in a wheel chair waiting her turn I discovered Mum's big toe on the right foot was bleeding badly.

We spent the next five and quarter hours in A&E and they took so long over the treatment even though the Radio Therapy department said they were willing for us to go back for our appointment, in the end they cancelled so we had no contact with that department and all Mum got out of it was a fractured toe.

And due to various mix ups with transport to get us home and various members of staff assuring us that a car or ambulance Mini-bus was ordered and was coming it was obvious that most of the time no transport had been ordered. And therefore we sat in a waiting room for two and a quarter hours waiting for some way to get home.

Many of the staff were busy(I know that)and most were polite and caring in attitude but much of the time it was as if the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing.

An example, I was given a white piece of paper for an x-ray to be taken of Mum's toe. She was parked next to the room where x-rays are done. I assumed that I had to wait my turn and hand the radiographer the piece of paper with Mum's details...

I could've still been waiting it turned out I had to walk along a corridor to another reception desk and give them the piece of paper...No one told me.

Even up to 4.15pm the Radio Therapy dept was ready to see Mum and then they cancelled.

Now what if Mum had been on her own?

Knowing Mum was there to be seen in a hospital department and had been specially travelled in I am sure they could have fast tracked Mum through the system.

I was not impressed and Mum was getting quite worked up/frustrated in the end.

I do hope tomorrow works out better.

Update:Tuesday 08 November 2011Unfortunately...I thought Mum might be in hospital for other reasons this morning... a restless night perhaps due to yesterday...I found her upside down in bed three times and...she fell out of bed twice!!!

The last sounded nasty but I had the foresight of putting a large, thick old duvet(or maybe they are called Continental quilts)down the side of the bed as I used to for such possible falls and this morning she is moving ok and seems to have suffered no damage.

Its too big to attempt to get in the washer(or wash by hand)and really could do with a good wash but if it does the job of keeping her safe, I'll use it.

I may buy another new one yet...crazily just for this use. Not for putting on the bed! We have some light weight one's that work and keep us warm even in winter and they probably could go in a washer because they are thinner(the tog rating is much less)but these are really padded.

At present the important problem(the radio therapy)seems to have taken less of priority. We don't need all the extra stress on top.

Must get up in an hour or two and start all over again...but this time Mum will hopefully be seen as planned and get her treatment tomorrow. They'll have to try and fit in the missing day from yesterday and add it onto today. Or move the appointments back a day so Mum's RT finishes Wednesday next week instead of Tuesday.

Today was supposed to be a case of checking details taking yesterday to see they match what they have programmed into the machine so treatment can start on Wednesday. And Mum should be marked up already.

Update:(Same Day)Now, it appears all Mum's treatment has been cancelled...rearranged to start again from Monday(hope the delay of week doesn't change things too much to the success of the treatment)

So yesterday was a wasted day. All she did was injure herself and end up cold and confused because of the waiting. Approx 7 hours and no treatment and what was done for her toe could've been sorted in an hour.

So instead of the nice time of 2pm Mum now is being seen at 10.30am each day Tuesday-Friday and a final session the following Monday so we'll be leaving here approx 8.30am each day.

Except for another of the appointments like she missed yesterday on the Monday which is at 2pm.

I keep being told that Mum is weak but she must have some strength somewhere to cope with the kind of day she had to endure yesterday at the hospital and through the night.

Not expecting any of the above Mum wasn't hungry before goingto the hospital so thought she eat when she came home...she survived this day on half a slice of toast a cup of tea...thinking about it...I had the same(well, I had a slice of toast)

I'm still trying to decide why the rest of Mum's treatment for this week has been cancelled and rescheduled, she was sort of prepared for it and in the mood but will she be next week?

I may say a lot on my blog but I rarely kick up a fuss and take the least line of resistance. Others go in blazing and demanding this that and the other. They are not liked but do they get what they want or are we who say very little but are liked and seemly ignored the silly one's?

I mean 3 hours to get to the point where they said "You have a fracture" and dressed the wound. And nearly 3 hours for transport to get home. Forgive me if I have said this already but why could Mum not be fast tracked through the system as she had travelled especially for treatment and why did they not clean the wound, when the blood was not there any longer it looked as different again.

I did go back and ask what was happening a couple of times but you feel awkward sometimes doing so, you almost feel apologetic and you are getting in the way.

Its a bit like the stories you hear where someone has a horrible meal and when the waiter asks if everything is fine, everyone says that it is.

What a carry on...

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Day Where Nothing Much Is Happening...

And that's ok with me...

Next week will be quite busy. It may work out much better than we fear. At this minute its hard to believe we'll be starting 7 days of visiting one of the major hospitals in the area or Europe. Their website suggests that they have just spent £35million on their facilities for treating cancer.

Further investigation suggests that the Oncologist Mum saw was appointed in 1999 and started his training in 1984 so I guess though he looked very young he is nearer 45 years of age so I guess that means he has quite a lot of experience behind him.

And the person we believed to be the main consultant is an expert at surgery at the local NHS hospital and two private hospitals in the area, the main person is who Mum saw.

So here's hoping that all goes well and we have some success.

The most exciting thing going on today is me doing more washing and keeping on top of it all. And being frugal I have a couple of sheets that supposedly stop coloured items spoiling white garments if you do a mixed wash. They do shrink in size but you know as they still continue to work, rather than getting a new one, I have been reusing them.

Whilst I am able I treated ourselves to a new Christmas CD issued by Michael Bublé when shopping yesterday. I had already downloaded some Christmas songs by Michael last Christmas so I thought that this new album might have tracks I already own and two are the same but sixteen are new so it was still a good buy(The more music you have sometimes makes it difficult when buying a CD to remember what you already have)

And naturally being issued by Frank Sinatra's record label "Reprise" and with the kind of production values associated with Bublé and Sinatra the quality of sound arrangements are superb.

So even though new Christmas songs seem few at least old favourites still sound great. Even though you have heard them many times over the years.

Friday, November 04, 2011


I wonder how often it works?

A few years ago the social housing in a few districts when the councils were dissolved and the housing stock was transferred, the housing association kept a name that retained some connection with the original owners and the area that we live.

To some extent when you fill in forms and/or officials ask who your land lord is, it made sense and looked right. It was OK to even abbreviate the company to initials too.

I'll come clean...this area was governed by Sedgefield Borough Council...the new company decided to call themselves Sedgefield Borough Homes.

So a mailshot was sent out to all tenants this week and not only are they moving into new premises, they've obviously consulted some media promotions company who have come up with the bright idea of changing their name to so it is now to be known by one name.

So now when anyone asks who our land lord is, we have to say..."Livin'"

Can you imagine how that will sound even if you phone the company for some reason?

What sounds best? "Sedgefield Borough Homes. How can we help you?"

"Livin'. How Can we help you?"

I seem to remember BT(British Telecom)changed its name but soon returned to its original name which the public continued to use after the rebranding...

What a stupid name...wonder how much they paid for some bright spark to come up with that name?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Better Day Than It Might've Been...

We've had word from the hospital...

Mum starts her treatment on Monday and yes, an ambulance has been arranged to take Mum to and from home and the hospital.

I have discovered that the Dr has managed to arrange for me to be her escort and be with her on every trip.

So...we will not have to worry about arranging with a charity to be taken for Mum's appointments and to find £50 a day for taxi fares.

The only disadvantage is that Mum has to be ready to be collected approx two hours before her appointments and the hospital allows approx ninety minutes as being the norm for being collected to be brought home after the radio therapy.

So if it stays as the letter suggests the normal time for the radio therapy will be 2pm. We could be out of our house for four or five hours each day.

The first two days are to plan treatment and check plans. The treatment starts Wed-Fri and Mum returns the following week for the final two sessions.

So all in all, that has worked out better than we feared.

It maybe seems that I am being too negative/pessamistic about Mum and our NHS but in reality I think in the situation we find ourselves there are more positives and I am not deliberately having a go at the treatment Mum has received. Of course the NHS makes mistakes(so does private medicine)its not an exact science after all.

We all would be so much poorer if we did not have an NHS to care for many of our needs.

But it would not be right for me not to question what care Mum receives even if I have to eventually admit they are right.