Saturday, 8 October 2011

Fainting, Meerkats, Friends and Family.....

I really must get into the habit of updating this blog more regularly - it's just that there doesn't really seem to be much happening! However, looking back over the 10 days or so since I last updated, in fact quite a lot has happened.

First of all, Amy started her new job at the Orpheus Centre this week. She started on Thursday and got invited out for lunch yesterday and for a drink after work, so she seems to be settling into it well - at least the social side! She and I went to Croydon on Tuesday to buy some smart clothes for her - although she worked as a teaching assistant before she went travelling, she didn't have to dress smartly and could wear jeans and t-shirts, but this role demands a bit more effort. Anyway, we decided to get the first off-peak train and avoid the rush hour. Of course, lots of people think this way (cheap fare, no miserable commuters :-)), so there was quite a crowd on the station and the train, when it arrived, turned out to have only two carriages - yes, Southern Rail does it again! Busiest train outside peak hour and they provide the smallest one possible. We boarded the train and sidled into a gap between a toddler in a pushchair and the door, where the little flip-down seats are. Amy and I were huddled together in the corner and as the journey progressed, I started feeling hotter and hotter. I shed my scarf, removed my cardigan, rolled up the sleeves of my top and still was sweaty and clammy. Just as we left South Croydon station, so very nearly at our destination, I muttered to Amy "I don't feel very well" and she replied "You don't feel very well?" and the next thing is I am being lowered onto a seat, with Amy and about eight people helping me, someone thrusting a bottle of water at me and me thinking "What on earth....?" Turn out I had, for the first time in my life, fainted. Amy says my eyes just rolled back in my head and then I collapsed onto her - luckily for the toddler in the pushchair, as he might not have appreciated me falling onto him! Luckily also, Amy is used, through her work with children with special needs, to children having seizures and the like, so she didn't panic and just calmly got some of the passengers to help her. All terribly embarrassing, but people were very kind and helpful, although I just wanted to get off the train as quickly as possible and disappear! After a drink of full-fat Coke, to get some sugar into me, the shopping expedition continued and, apart from a slight wobble in a very hot and stuffy shop, it was fine. Certainly didn't stop Amy and me managing a successful shop - unlike my last sortie into Croydon, I did actually manage to buy myself a few bits and pieces (and a new water jug for the kitchen!).

I did go to the Health Centre to get checked out and they didn't seem too worried - checked my blood pressure and it was okay, said to come back if I was concerned or it happened again, but that fainting on crowded, hot trains wasn't too uncommon. All has been fine since then, although I felt very tired for the rest of Tuesday (but I think that's partly because we did a lot of walking around shops and the strain of paying for things really took it out of me ;-)).

I had clinic yesterday and I drove myself, after making sure I had some yoghurt and honey beforehand to keep my blood sugar up. The consultant seemed pleased, checked my mouth and said I still have two quite big ulcers, right at the back of my tongue and my cheek, so gave me some lignocaine (I think) to apply. And he doesn't want to see me for four weeks, which is good because it means he thinks I'm recovering well. I collected the lignocaine and didn't think to look at it till I got home, only to find that my 14 day supply consists of four huge syringe contraptions, so I assume, in the absence of any instructions, that I have to squirt a limited amount vaguely in the direction of the mouth ulcers and hope some of it lands in the right place! I'm sure there's an art to it but I have yet to discover it!

Neil and I have booked a week's holiday in Spain, leaving next Saturday. I shall have to battle with our insurance company to stop them whacking a huge premium on our policy because I am now classed as a cancer patient (permanently, apparently - no five year amnesty) and they automatically put restrictions etc on your policy. Luckily MacMillan recommend a couple of companies so if our existing one doesn't act reasonably, I can try the others. The really irritating thing is that if our flight happened to be delayed or cancelled, it's nothing to do with my illness but if I haven't told them, it could make our policy invalid. I am assuming that my E111 card entitles me to any hospital treatment I might need when out there (hopefully absolutely none!) - anyway, I shall take my supply of painkillers and sleeping tablets and that should do me fine. The consultant agrees I can rest perfectly well in Spain (just keep out of the sun - but I do that anyway. I'm not really a sun worshipper), so we've got our flights and villa sorted and just need to book the hire car. Amy is a bit peeved because she has free house for a week but is working every day so can't really take advantage of it - awwww!

I've been lucky enough to have had several people willing to visit me - Steve, Tony and Phil all came on separate days for lunch and I have established that I can be sociable for about two hours before I flag, so all invitations now come with the proviso that after that length of time, I may well ask the visitor to leave! Dianne called in on her way home from work and Celia brought over a delicious chicken casserole this week, and some fabulous coronation chicken last week, so we are being well looked after! Lots of people checking how we're doing, including Sally, David, Agnes, David (minister), Doddy and a whole host of friends from RW. As a change from my normal daily routine, Neil took me on one of his business appointments at Drusilla's Wildlife Park where I spent ages watching and taking photos of  the meerkats - surely the cutest little things in the world - well, apart from the tiny baby tamarinds, maybe? We hadn't been there since our two children were much younger, so it was interesting to see how much it had grown and changed since then.

Next Thursday I have my first appointment with the consultant plastic surgeon, to get on his waiting list and for him to discuss what possible options he might explore for my facial palsy. There does seem to be a tiny bit of movement on the left side of my face, which is encouraging - when I raise my eyebrows, there is definitely a little bit of lift on the left eyebrow and when I smile, you can see the shadow of one of my dimples on the left side of my mouth, which wasn't visible before. Early days and small steps and definitely nothing to which I should be assigning huge importance, but it's a wee bit of progress and it's encouraging. Neil is coming with me so that we both know what might happen. It's so good to have a medical appointment that is about something other than oncology!

Adam seems to be enjoying student life still  and is coming home the day we arrive back from Spain to spend his reading week at home. We're looking forward to seeing him again and I know he has done at least two loads of laundry in the last three weeks, so hopefully he won't bring home too much dirty washing - maybe he isn't such a typical student after all!

I've spent a lot of time in the past few weeks thinking of a cycling friend of Neil's, Carl, who completed a charity bike ride in Spain and then had a massive heart attack and has been in coma for the past three weeks. He finally flew home yesterday and is now in St Thomas's Hospital in London. Thinking of what his wife and daughters have been going through has put my problems into a different perspective. If any of you believe in the power of prayer and positive thought, I would ask you to think of Carl and for the best outcome for him and his family.

I have a lot to be thankful for - my wonderful husband Neil, who is my rock and support and who is going to be spoiled rotten by me when I am well again, my amazing children, Amy and Adam, who keep things normal but also take care of me and my truly selfless and helpful friends, who do so much to support and care for us. I find it hard to think of the right words so "Thank You" will just have to do.

This time next week .......I will be sunning myself (or shading myself!) in 28 degrees - bring it on!!


  1. Have a lovely time in Spain Ali. Thoughts to Carl and his family from here x

    Ps. There's nothing wrong with being excited about small signs of improvement. Just be careful what you tell TDB1 because she twists things the wrong way (see my post in the Kitchen last night if you can)

  2. I just saw her comment :-D

  3. Yes you should update more often! I can only process a little information at a time


    Have a lovely time in Spain x

  4. It's been quite warm here recently! Getting away will be lovely - just make sure you enjoy every bit of it.