Sorry, no photos in this edition! This blog has a serious message for all those who turn a blind eye to a change in a persons medical persona for what ever reason. DON'T. Prompt action makes the job a whole lot easier. Yes at times it is still too late, nothing can be done or current deterioration can only be arrested but you do not know that and these days with medical knowledge and technology a lot can often be done if prompt early action taken. So do not bury your head in the sand, take action.
think bladder infection. On Saturday 15th October I had just completed a 12 mile walk including two hills. That evening I developed indigestion and was very sick overnight. On Sunday 16th, indigestion still there and my urine turned bright orange. This was very unusual as I drink 5 to 6 pints, minimum, a day of water so it is normally very clear.
The first week of the news I was all over the place, negativity to the fore after all apart from the diagnosis there was nothing else. How serious, terminal etc etc and of course having to let some know. We both decided the fewer who knew the better so it was only immediate family, not wider family, one very long standing friend not other friends. I certainly did not want fuss, over reaction and over the top pampering, after all I still felt as I always had done - well. I soon got back onto the positive stride. 48 hours of seeing the GP all tests he could do were back and all clear, even bladder infection but 24 hrs of seeing him even those symptoms had gone. That is the first bit of positive news and it was to continue as we progressed over the following 6 weeks.
Four days after seeing the GP the hospital called and 3 days later I had my pre Colonoscopy chat. I absolutely dreaded this and in the hospital became quite worked up. My dreaded fear was now a reality. The nurse was absolutely wonderful in manner and approach as to the staff of the Endoscopy Ward the following week. All very good at reassuring and making you feel at ease without patronising or pampering. It was amazing what we talked about. Preparation took about an hour, forms, serious information and waiting my turn but the friendly non-business banter certainly helps and I noted from others on the waiting ward it did depend upon the patient as to how the nurses interacted with you. The Colonoscopy confirmed a large Polyp, which filed the bowel and that was removed there and then. The largest the senior consultant had seen and took three separate cuts to remove. I basically had 4 Colonoscopies in 1 hour! My GP on referral had insisted that all work on me had to be done by very senior personnel and this particular person was the most senior and extensive experience in this particular NHS Trust for this area. Every one I saw from there on were heads of Departments.
This Colonoscopy indicated that everything else was pink, fit and healthy and the camera went right to the stomach exit. To quote this chap, your Bowel basically is in very good shape for your age, shame about the Polyp. The Polyp was confirmed as being malignant and days later I had had a CT scan which was confirmed days later as being clear, completely i.e. there had been no spread. Things moved fast, very fast, we were at the hospital every week, mostly twice a week. I went back shortly later for another colonoscopy by the senior surgeon so he could look and assess. The polyp size, the size, the lack of symptoms, I was asked repeatedly about this, bothered them. Surely it must have spread. The second colonoscopy indicated all was still fine and yes the large Polyp had been fully removed. Due to its size, and after the third cut to remove it, the area became blurred and 100% clarification could not be seen. I watched both Colonoscopy on full HD screens, fascinating is an understatement. The original Polyp had been 100% removed, no trace left visually and to the surgeons surprise he was amazed as to how well the wound had ulcerated over, the internal scabbing, in such a short period of time. it was 100% white. Biopsies around this wound area were taken and all came back clear. This was only around the area, not actually on the area.
This left the hospital with yet more dilemmas as the size of the Polyp and cancerous to its stalk for them should not be consistently returning clear results on whatever they did especially as it was malignant but then why not. They apparently held a high level brainstorming session purely upon me. I was recalled, and basically told everything confirms clear but if one cell is left on the healing wound area it will grow and go directly into the Lymph Glands. I will be monitored on the 5 year NHS plan and then react if need be. Alternate they are prepared to offer me the Bowel operation and cut out the wound area and attached Lymph Glands and again be on the NHS 5 yr monitor programme. The first option leaves doubt the second leaves no doubt. The second option would not involve Chemotherapy or a stoma bag. My reply was instant, the operation. This would allow positive confirmation as to if it had started to go into the bowel wall. CT scans and blood tests only show if spread and size not if it is starting to go from Polyp into Bowel wall. I could opt to see if tests and scans detect something later but if it does I would be on a much larger battle than now so it was no decision for us. A week and a half later that is what happened on the 5th December. The surgeon and many others at the hospital have said after the event it was a very wise choice to make despite the temporary inconvenience I will endure these next 4 months.
During this period mine and my wifes life continued in our positive way, we socialised, got the gardens completed and tended to some DIY jobs I needed to deal with before I was placed on my post recovery operation. Still only the select few knew. Locally no one was told as we did not want gossip and scare mongering going out as tends to happen with local chatter anywhere. On our roller coaster ride things were changing rapidly, so telling those locally who needed to know and associated themselves with us would have been continually updated.
For the next 6 weeks following 5th December I must take life very easy. Active, move but no physical exertion, lifting, pushing etc. The keyhole surgery takes 6 weeks to recover. Internal keyhole surgery is the same as standard surgery and for an unfit person up to a year. I have been told that if I extend these 6 weeks to mid April, basically increase my exercise and activity but refrain from any hill distance walking and my DIY, and you will know from these blogs my DIY is akin to professional builders, then I will be completely ready to undertake all my duties but with thought. All my DIY tools were put away,all materials obtained ahead of this winter period relocated elsewhere in the house so we can look at a house not a prospective building supplier.
On the Friday morning of discharge they prodded the area of concern with no reflex from the muscles. They had
not experienced that so soon before. I was demanding energy on the day after the operation even though I could not start liquidised food until 48 hours after the operation which gave them a quandary as bowel movement had to be zero for two days. I got none and was I hungry! On the 7th December I was put on "slops" and responded well and on Thursday 8th December a full and normal diet but eating much smaller portions on a more regular cycle. The keyhole wounds were healing. By 25th December I was wanting my usual full size portions.
One of the Nurses on the ward for my last two days had a very heavy cold, sneezing and blowing of nose. For 7 years I had avoided colds via diet and herbal remedies. Sunday 11th at home I started the early signs of a cold and Monday 12th I had a real stinker with a cough. Coughing after bowel surgery is not good. They advise occasional induced coughs but sneezing and coughing regularly not only hurt but kept two of the larger keyhole wounds weeping. I had to have them dressed at the local GP two or three times that week. I got up each day by 8 am, stayed up, and kept myself occupied. By Friday 16th the cold had significantly gone, dosed with the commercial cold tablets and my herbal remedy but in the afternoon of the 16th I felt very strange and cold. By 6 pm that evening I felt as though my body was shutting down, I shivered, felt cold but told I was warm to touch but I was rapidly losing control. I hit the bed and a fever broke out. My wife checked on me periodically and was not concerned enough for medical response but I apparently had a strange conversation with her. The bed was wet with sweat yet I felt cold. This continued through the night, the bed needing changing in the morning and I had no energy or enthusiasm to get up and stayed there until the evening although not not perfect I needed to get up so I did and the next day, Sunday, felt washed out. I went to the GP sit and wait surgery only to be told a fever based virus is circulating and once you have had the fever it is past. The rest of the week I just made steady progress, coughing stopped and the two wounds healed like the three smaller ones. Christmas Day I finally felt on top of the world.
The weekend of coming out of Hospital, 13th/14th December, those who didn't know and needed to know were told either by email, phone or in person and many came to see. The week up to Christmas and the week after was very full with visitors and many emails and phone calls. Although eased off now for obvious reason I still get weekly calls or emails asking after progress, but an ailment was still to come.
By 30th December my stools were back to normal and once a day but the body clock still not set, so the once a day time varied. On 31st I stopped going as too the 1st December. I increased the laxative tablets, took dried apricots, rhubarb etc but no movement. On 3rd January I called the Consultant whose assistant said if I was in pain, which I wasn't come now, if not come tomorrow. I went the next day. They felt it was constipation this can happen but also needed to eliminate any possible surgery side effects like small intestine joining the main bowel wall etc. Prodded and poked, fingers up the back end, X-rays and all was confirmed to be perfect and in good order so constipation it was. They issued me with an alternate laxative which will effeminately clear the bowel. It did. The next 24 hours I went 14 times all with generous downloads. Things are moving now! Apparently it can take a bowel several months to settle down and become regular so I have extra sachets of this laxative to take if no movement in the near future after 2 days. Lets hope that is the last glitch.
Major operations take it out of the body. I am very fit, healthy asnd exactly correct for weight to height ratio. All my activities in life are physical but It still knocked the stuffing out of me. Where I was to gain was with the recovery so the heavy cold, fever and a week of constipation did not help. I can pick light things off the floor and do light duties around the house. Can get out of chairs with no sensation and on 7th January did a 1 mile round trip of tarmac road walk. I certainly feel much stronger physically but still noting I have until the 21st January before the 6 week recuperation period is over. After 21st I will still avoid all DIY and fell walking but start to increase activity and distance over the next 4 months. These last few weeks for a very active person is now becoming frustrating and I am very mindful that I am prone to Depression. I have learnt the signs and strategies but the life style at the moment is not really helping and because I am not over active and feeling tired, negativity that the world still needs to have can become a little harder to ignore even fight off. After a while, or in this case, 4 weeks of light duties which at the start were out of bounds, reading, watching television, very short walks and often confined to the house to walk around if weather bad can become too much for someone who is usual out and about, active and getting involved.
Week commencing 9th January I have our self assessment forms to do for tax purposes and next week have my first of two meetings in January with regards my National Trust volunteering role as Day Leader. Both our volunteering for 2017 starts in Mid February. At the end of January I have our walking club committee meeting. The fact I can start more activities around this time the up hill climb seems much brighter and easier.
In the UK the NHS gets a lot of bad publicity in the media. At the end of the day media anywhere like bad news and only sensational good news. We have met many who compliment the NHS and 3 years ago my wife needed attention via the NHS thankfully not for operations but still what we encountered was good. We say the same for my recent experience. They were fast, prompt, attentive and showed nothing else than I was a human being not a number or just a body. For us we felt that they did a job but went beyond that job. Also throughout this process I went at all times in the outfits as shown on my website www.theskirtedman.eu. all meetings, tests, pre op talks, even the day of surgery and departure. I'm sure one or two will have negative thoughts but many were complimentary and talkative about it in a positive way. I know NHS policies will forbid any showing openly any negativity but honestly all were very positive and embracing especially those I had direct contact with with regards procedures and preparing for the procedures. I am only aware of five who showed negative indications and these five only had adhoc and mostly once only contact and not that I could mention directly officially. One of the five that did go that bit further it was in a room with me and her so again I ignored it but all five were civil and communicative.
The next blog will be a bit shorter as activities for this skirted man will be low key for the next few months.