September 2nd 2018

   Well where has the time gone?

Last summer, in July, We headed off south for a week.The target was the Premier Inn in Stroud. We had been there before. Had an evening meal on way back to Ross on Wye from Slimbridge. The journey down was uneventful….just. Derek missed the M5 exit south of Birmingham and we were headed east instead of south. However a suitable junction came up for us to go off, over and back down facing the correct way. We were still well in time for the evening meal we had booked.

That Premier Inn is in a pretty good setting, with a park across the way which is really lovely. The weekend we were leaving there was a Nature Fayre being held in it, good fun. The weather was scorching hot while we were down there. We went all the way down to Bridport in Dorset to see Margaret and Roger, the friends I’d made at Windermere. It was lovely to see them and I was green with envy at their his and hers  studios in the garden. On the way back we drove east along the coast above Chessil Beach stopping at Weymouth before heading back to the Inn.

We spent another hot day at Slimbridge while Derek took lots of photos while I wilted in the heat.

The rest of the summer was fairly uneventful until it was time for the grandchildren to go back to school which meant the old routine of school walks; sleepovers; finding food the two of them will eat; Taekwon do classes until Audrey began to go to classes too.

That’s when the year took an unexpected turn for all of us. Thanks to the infamous ‘poo test’ which comes through the post at regular intervals I was asked to repeat it, then was called to Wishaw General for a colonoscopy. Afterwards called through to be told that I appeared to have a tumour which was fairly clearly malignant.I wasn’t particularly fazed by that. Next steps were more tests, MRI and CT scans. One particular week the two scans were on the same day half an hour apart in two different hospitals, not possible but easily changed. That took care of November and December, during which time our dear old cat Bailey had suddenly lost an awful lot of weight in a very short time and was reluctantly put to sleep by our vet.

By this time I had met my colorectal surgeon. Who was very clear about what was going on inside me after having seen all the results of the tests. I think I surprised him when, I said “well what ever I have done I will have a sore arse.” He struck me as someone to put my trust in straight away. Advised me that radio therapy with mild chemo would be the most sensible option to begin with.

From mid January until the end of February we had to attend the North Lanark Beatson clinic five days a week for my radio/chemo therapy. It became increasingly uncomfortable which is when any thought of doing step counts was forgotten because of the discomfort.  Afer this there was an eight week healing period.

Meantime. When I had been given the diagnosis in November and the family told, Paul became the ‘caring son’ looking out for his auld maw. He didn’t quite grab me by the scruff of the neck and took me to the football. Grandson Finlay is an official ballboy for Clyde F C, so is at all the home games. Gran is now attending all the home games. Christmas from the family was a half season ticket, while I paid for my own season ticket for the 2018/19 season. Great fun.

Also meantime Trevor my son-in-law down south has been seriously ill and a great worry to us. He needs a bone marrow transplant but when in the early stages of treatment he developed sepsis and was at death’s door. I couldn’t go down to be with Judi because of my treatment as well as keeping any infections away from Trevor. Happily he pulled through, was home recovering,  while attending outpatients clinics. He is much stronger as I write this but is back in hospital again with a recurrence.

At the end of April it was back into hospital for an overnight stay. My surgeon wanted to have another internal look at what was happening. This time we had a seriously long chat.He laid out my options quite clearly, while looking at the suspect lesion, which was not the initially malignant one, on the screen in front of me. He was fairly sure the the radio therapy had dealt with the first tumour, now we had to consider the other one. I could wait and see, having regular test to check on it, I could have it removed by a procedure he would not be willing to attempt although I could have another surgeon do it if I wished or go for immediate removal of the whole lot. It wasn’t a difficult decision. Waiting wasn’t an option, age wise. so we went for broke. On June 5th I had the surgery to remove the lower part of my bowel leaving me with a stoma and bags.

The immediate post operative time was a strange experience indeed. The effects of the morphine pain relief were very very odd. I was compos mentis enough to know I was hallucinating. Paul and Audrey were both killing themselves at my attempts to make sense. Fortunately all was well when the grandchildren came in.

It is now twelve weeks since surgery. In recognition of the care I experience throughout the journey, on August 4th on the pitch during half time at the Clyde v Cowdenbeath  match in front of the fans, Paul shaved my head to raise funds for the Beatson. That has raised just short of £2 000.

This blog ends on 18th August at Stirling where I had, at the last minute, thanks to a friend from the Loch o’ the Lowes Osprey watchers got a ticket to be at Runrig’s Last ever gig. The Last Dance.

2018 has reached Autumn, it has been a funny sort of year, but I am thankful to be looking forward for many more years of counting steps. Thankyou to my dear Derek with his ridiculous sense of humour and his stoic acceptance of having to care for me, Craig and Audrey, Paul and Louise, my friends (especially the Clyde crowd) the nursing staff at Monklands , Mr A J Macdonald and the correct decision we both made.


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