(This follows on from my Poorly post and at the start recaps in more detail some of those events. I have been undecided whether to post this but as so many read Poorly I decided to go ahead. )
Until now we have kept whatís going on a little low key but now we know what the score is there is no point, hence the original Poorly post on the SD. If you did not check your bits then do it today and go into your groin too.
Back when I was having the ultra sound scan the consultant said, ďI am having difficulty locating your femoral arteryĒ and he palpated around to find it with his fingers. I said I could show him where it is. He replied ďanyone who can palpate their own femoral artery should probably get out more!Ē
As it turned out he was right as the tumour completely obscured the femoral artery.
Later as I left the general hospital having been referred and been told I may well have lymphoma I bumped into an ambulance crew I know and of course one of them asked me how I was. Thatís when I found out I could not speak and tears welled up in my eyes. They took me into the back of the ambulance and its funny how familiar surroundings help. I had not told anyone, but the story spilled out when I could speak over the next few minutes and they were brilliant and they never said a word, thanks because you helped more than you know and got me through a
I of course told my partner next and while she was brilliant it was hard especially as this could be life limiting and we have a lot of plans for the future.
I talked to the children now all grown up. Stressing nothing was certain and the best thing was to wait for the test results to come in. I donít know what their private thoughts were but they seemed pretty tough and very supportive. As some live away some was by phone conversations which is not ideal, I did consider saying nothing at this stage but thought if it was one of them I would want to know.
We went to see my mum who is 86 and has vascular dementia but with the help of her husband and the lovely home they live in does pretty well. So the time had come to tell her that I had cancer. I kept it simple and only used the word cancer right at the beginning of the conversation then concentrated on the positive facts. She asked a couple of questions and then I took her and her list to the local SPAR shop (other shops are available) and we did the shopping and nipped down to the local hospital to pick my son up from his laser eye surgery appointment. He has diabetes and had a bleed in his eye. She seemed quite settled when we left but we will have to see how it pans out.
Later she called me concerned how I was so she is worried.
So without going overboard I called her a bit more regularly than normal.
I text several people from work and made a few calls to update my friends and called my manager whoís calls I had ignored while talking to mum.
I updated him and gave him the full story as some accommodationís will have to made at work for me to return to my role as an operational Paramedic and I donít want to miss the boat with any reorganisations. Principally I want to return to work on a fast response vehicle, a role I am trained for and do carry out from time to time.
Thatís the plan for the moment but if it all changes I may retire and perhaps do something else may be part time. I only joined the Ambulance Service as a temporary measure until something better came along, that was thirty seven years ago.
Itís hard for my partner Angela but we are more settled now we have all the facts and have slept better the last few nights. I think originally she was afraid my condition may be terminal as if it had been Lymphoma it may have been. I know how I feel loved ones just have to guess and itís hard.
One of my best mates called from work this morning and I gave him the long version of the update and I was updated on the ongoing saga of his new bathroom disaster and a date was made for a dayís rabbit shooting in a weeksí time.
I feel ok the lump is a bit sore but it definitely does not hurt. Itís fixable with surgery and loads of people have hip operations, often as several of my patients have been lately when it is badly smashed up, at least mine is all intact for now and I donít have any other medical problems. The question all the medical people keep asking is are you or have you ever been a smoker? Now this cancer has nothing all to do with my lungs. Itís my blood vessels they are concerned about as they are going to have to pull them off the tumour so I guess they donít want bits of plague busting off and floating away in my circulation. Itís where they stop that matter I am not particularly keen on a stroke or heart attack. Also as some vessels may need to be removed or closed off so the better the flow through those left will aid the circulation in my leg after the operation and for the rest of my days. So if I were giving advice, you can see where this is going so I will stop here.
Mentally I feel ok I certainly am not fed up or depressed at all. Having time off work is not me but I have no choice but play the game to the maximum to ensure a full recovery and a long future so I am determined to do everything I can. I want to get my DSC1 done while I am off and then do plenty of stalking and other shooting, fishing and some good holidays away together. I really want to get to see my old mate in Victoria Australia and get into the bush for some shooing, fishing and camping before old age sets in.
A friend called tonight who had been talking to her friend who had cancer and he feels worse post his treatment than prior but our cases are not analogous as I will not need chemotherapy and hopefully not have a heart attack in my recovery period. I am positive of attitude and confident in the team about to treat me.
I have to sort out a few details that have been pending but on the back burner like sorting out my pension nomination and updating my will these are just common sense things for anyone but particularly where a gas man is going to put you to sleep assuming I am having a GA. I guess it could be done under a spinal.
On awaking from my last general anaesthetic the recovery nurse said are you very fit, I thought well you are looking at me you decide, (not terribly likely) she carried on as your heart rate went down to 35 during the operation and the anaesthetist was a bit concerned. What is it now I said trying to see the monitor, 42 she replied, 42 and I am awake lucid and talking to you so I am not so worried. I will tell the gas man about this before the current surgery it might influence the choice of anaesthetic agents used and no point giving them grey hairs prematurely.
Do not ever call your anaesthetist a gas person to his or her face especially before your operation itís just an ambulance training thing.
June10th a friend called to see how I was getting on and she mentioned state benefits, now I am very fortunate to be in an occupation where I am paid full pay for the first six months and half pay for another six after that. I have been in full time employment except for a brief spell of four months in the 1970ís on the dole. So I reckon I have paid in my bit and if the new PM and her mates deem me entitled to something Iíll have it back. Itís not something that had crossed my mind but after having part of my hip removed and the dangers of developing a hernia especially in the recovery period my mobility and independence may be somewhat compromised. Which wonít sit well but I have promised and am determined to play the game and do exactly what my medical team recommend to get truly fit without any drama. It makes you think how truly wonderful the NHS is, free at the point of delivery, fantastic.
We have had a few days away up in Gateshead visiting Angelaís mum who broke her knee some weeks ago. As well as visiting and getting a few jobs done ready for her return home we have been out for meals and visited local villages and I have been busy with my camera. Itís been a nice break and I feel these times of normality are really important for everyoneís well being. There are plenty of good shops at the local retail park there and I have now got a couple of extra pairs of nice pajamas for my stay in hospital. Short sleeves if I have a line in post op.
This is better than a few weeks ago when I thought I may have lymphoma and was considering music for my funeral and who might say a few nice words.
This is a process that involves oscillationís of thoughts and feelings and I recon I am a pretty level headed take it as it comes guy but we are all human at the end of the day.
Tried the hospital twice today but got the answer phone, I forgot to call the solicitor.
Tuesday 21st June 0500 this is my first day back at work for three weeks due to annual leave and itís my first where my ambulance work had ended I am to work on a car until my operation and that will be my role post operation as lifting would be risky as with part of my hip missing I will be prone to herniating my abdominal wall. Fortunately I have come to enjoy car work and while for many years my head was not in the right place to work alone today I am fine with it. Letís see what the day brings.
Rang the hospital today to mention the bradycardia. I explained my concern and she said ďdid you mention this at your pre operation assessment.Ē I replied that I would have if I had an assessment. There was a pause, ďso you didnít have one when you came down for the MRI.Ē No I replied. She seemed surprised and said ďwhat a missed opportunity.Ē I said you give me a date and a time and I will be there, she said she would arrange it and let me know.
Three shifts at work solo responding went well and some useful work was done.
Saturday morning a letter arrives in the post I have a pre op assessment on 11th July 2016. So thatís where I will be. Another lunch in Birmingham.
At 1330 Occupational health called for a telephone consultation and we had a chat for 30 minutes where I outlined the up to date situation.
Its Saturday 25th itís been sorer for the last couple of days but still no pain relief needed.
I have bought a note book and listed my previous medical history as its surprising what escapes your memory in the meetings I had forgotten to mention I had had ulcers in the past and that I have had a vasectomy and have a hiatus hernia. So itís all on my list now.
I have also made a list of the items I want to take into hospital with me. I hope they have wifi. There is an NHS list of ones that do but the ROH is not on the list.
If they do I can watch NowTV on my tablet and I have a nice new set of ear phones to go in with me. Lap top, DVDís, mobile phone and books are also on the list.
People keep asking how I am and how I am doing but I donít mind perhaps it helps to keep talking. I think various people close to me are worried but I canít do much about that except reassure them I am ok.
Over 1500 people on the SD have read my post and several offered their good wishes and support which is welcome. If everyone who read it has self-examined or even let someone else do it then thatís fantastic and I hope you were all clear. If you are unsure or have any doubts at all get off to your GP it canít wait. I have been lucky that Chondrosarcomas are not aggressive and slow growing others are not.
On countdown to the assessment and the operation a week later and I am sure I will get nervous as it all gets nearer but hey ho I am just your average guy.
On the darker but practical side I have now ordered pension nomination forms and made an appointment to update my will.
Work is going ok and I am out using a Nissan Pathfinder and a VW Amrock conversion which are nice pieces of kit.
Some good mates and I had arranged a weekís fishing in Ireland well before all this lot cropped up and to be truthful I am desperate to go but as I have no idea what my mobility will be post op it is not looking promising. I have questions to ask at my pre op meeting.
Phone call from the hospital yesterday asking if I can to the pre op meeting an hour early for a CT scan. Apparently the operation is done using a glorified satnav guidance system using the information from the CT. It better be more glorified than mine in the car or anything could be missing.
So its Saturday the 9th July now down to Birmingham on Monday then surgery still planned for the following Monday. My will is updated a good £84 spent there.
Still feeling good and out shooting last night in the rain. Managed four rabbits off sticks missed a few closer ones but that was my shooting. A chap called me asking me to go back as the chap he owed a favour to only came once and never showed up again so reliable me got it back, excellent.
Setting off in the morning for assessment and CT itís all on the go now. I am just deciding if its sensible to do the last three shifts at work. Itís all been trauma today but I really do not want to pick up an infection at this point and have everything postponed, a dose of diarrhoea and vomiting could be a disaster.
Can you spell diarrhoea, you can now for ever, Doesnít, It, Always, Run, Really, Horribly, Over, Each, Ankle diarrhoea simple.
We had a good trip to the ROH two hours door to door with no hold ups at all. Got parked easily and went for a coffee as some time in hand.
Went straight in at the CT department, good cannulation and iodine contrast dye injected and all done in a few minutes.
Went up to the pre-operative assessment centre and filled in the booklet of forms then straight in for measure of height and weight and calculation of my BMI, 30 something so not terrible. Then saw the nurse for more questions and he called the occupational therapists and they wanted to see me. Which was good as I have a load of questions I want answered principally about my mobility post op. The doctor came next and more details were noted. Then back to the waiting room for the OTís.
Waited and waited and after an hour I went to see the receptionist, there is only so much Bargain Hunt with sub titles you can take. I asked if I was in the right place and was informed yes they usually come down here. So we resumed waiting, tea and biscuits were served and still waiting its two hours now and the doctor appears are you still waiting for the OTís yes I replied Iíll find out whatís going on she replied.
She returned and said I am sorry they came but then had a meeting and left. !!!
I still had my satisfaction survey in my hand so filled the last bit in capital letters.
We could be home now and instead it was gone 4pm with no dinner and now Birminghamís rush hour traffic to contend with. The OTs put their meeting before the patient they had asked to see and knew I was there, and the reception staff failed even when prompted to tell us what was happening. At the time I was a rabbit lacking in positive euphoria.
Itís Friday 15th July, now and the OT and Physios have just phoned me. Itís a good site for surgery from their points of view as the muscle damage is usually small and walking may not be too badly effected and should be in bed for a couple of days and then a Zimmer and onto crutches. Can come home once healing and safe on crutches probably drive in 12 weeks or when they are happy I can do an emergency stop.
Then go back in for a week, for major physio after six weeks.
I have to measure a load of the furniture and the toilet with the seat up and the distance from behind my knee to the floor. Then take photoís of the stairs and chairs.
The fishing holiday has to go in the bin, as did a narrow boat trip but rabbiting tonight for a last trip out.
Having said that compared to some folks problems itís a small price to pay for getting better. Itís really odd to think I have cancer today but if all goes well on Monday I wonít.
Been lamping with a good mate tonight, the last time before the guns go into their cabinet for a long holiday. So itís off to Birmingham on Sunday for the operation on Monday morning.
It was a good trip and I enjoyed it very much taking the Anschutz 525 and the CZ 425. As we walked round I said ďYou know whatĒ ďYeahĒ Chris replied ďWe should have brought the brew kitĒ
Have a good self-examination it can save your life. I had no symptoms at all when I found the lump. Itís not as sore now as it has been so donít be fooled into thinking something is getting better go and see the doctor right now.