24 Hours From………….Disaster

I felt like deleting the last blog entry (Trouser Jazz & Cupcakes) even before I published it. By the time I got around to doing so I was feeling so ill I just wanted to delete it and start again, complaining about how rotten I was feeling. As it turned out, that wasn’t the blog that was to be deleted, events over the last 24 hours resulted in me deleting things I had begun writing for my next (this) entry.

Weekends are supposed to be my “time off”, no radiotherapy. I allow myself another 45 minutes in bed before getting up to take chemo meds, but all the benefit of that extra hour and a half ( EMM- 2 x 45 = 90 = 1 and half hours) were lost, as I was up most of the night Sunday. By Tuesday things were no better, and so I mentioned it to the radiology team when I attended my daily session. I guess I played things down a bit, but as I see the doctor on Wednesday anyway, we decided see how things were the following day. Big Mistake !! For the remainder of Tuesday the stomach cramps I was suffering worsened, so much so that the only thing I could think of doing was going to bed. By 9.30pm I was asleep and that remained the case until about 1 o’clock in the morning. For the rest of the night the only thing coming out of my body was bright red blood, and lots of it. Shit scared seems inappropriate, but that’s just how I was feeling. After two such episodes before 3am, I was on the verge of phoning an ambulance. I was lying in bed doubled up with stomach cramps with a phone in one hand trying to decide what to do. Somehow I drifted back off to sleep for a couple of hours, only to be awoken again at 5.30 am, phone still in hand, before rushing to the loo again…..and again…..and again.

By now I was due at the hospital in a couple of hours and I could see a doctor. I discussed it first with the radiology team, before proceeding with today’s treatment. Then to see the doctor. We discussed the symptoms I had been experiencing, there could be many causes, but at this time it seemed sensible to stop the chemotherapy for a couple of days and possibly reduce the level of radiation being delivered. I was gutted, and made my feelings known. The one thing I did not want to stop was treatment. Reassured that it would be for the best, I was sent off to get more bloods taken. I had a full blood count and tests the day before, but I had lost a considerable amount of blood in the last 24 hours. This time it was a repeat of the normal tests, plus a coagulation test and cross matching for a possible transfusion on Friday. Back to see the registrar. As a hunch she had decided to discuss my condition with the consultant oncologist, who had suggested a stomach x-ray, just to check what was going on. What a hunch this turned out to be. By the time I had walked back from the x-ray department to clinic my x-ray was on the computer screen, confirming a complete blockage in my colon. How can I have a complete blockage AND diarrhoea? Well, apparently this is quite possible and not unusual. The only thing leaving my body was blood as a result of the tumour haemorraging from the pressure. Suitable medication was delivered to alleviate the blockage, and believe me it worked. A further scan to check the situation, and back to see the registrar. For the time being the emergency has been averted. I had narrowly missed being rushed in for emergency surgery, the one thing we had been trying to avoid. Planned surgery after chemo and radiotherapy will give the surgeon the best opportunity for a favourable outcome. Emergency surgery would in all probability mean that far more of my bowel would have to be removed. My attempts at trying to increase the intake of solids almost proved disastrous. Back to a strict low residue diet, high protein drinks and soups. My colon is just not up to dealing with anything more solid. But at least I can continue with chemo and radiotherapy. Hearing that was a great relief to me, and I left with yet more prescriptions. More drugs to counteract the drugs that are counteracting the drugs that are supposed to be helping me. I’ll be back to see the doctor tomorrow, blood results should be back by then, and within 24 hours we will know how things are moving, quite literally. Everything is set up for me to receive a blood transfusion on Friday, just a ‘top up’ as they say. I’m assured this will make me feel better and give me a lot more energy.

In the circumstances, it couldn’t really have come on a worse day, as I had been asked to meet the CEO of The Christie, Caroline Shaw, and the meeting had been arranged for 11.30am today. I think I managed to hide the trauma I had been through, but she did mention that I looked very tired ! Anyway, we were not there to discuss my medical condition. Caroline’s attention had been drawn to my blog following the comments I made a month or so ago in relation to the promotion of the launch of their current consultation process. I won’t draw any further attention to that reference, if you’ve read it you’ll know about it already, if you haven’t- you don’t need to. Caroline had invited me to discuss the incident, I had felt guilty about causing such a fuss over what I considered to be a trivial incident. OK, so maybe it wasn’t so trivial. Had it been so I wouldn’t have drawn attention to it in the first place, but in no way do I ever want it to overshadow the excellent work and staff that make up The Christie. The fact that Caroline and her head of marketing took it so seriously shows just what a caring organisation they run, and their kindness and understanding was demonstrated by the fact that they had invited me today. We chatted, discussed my work, my blog, The Christie, and just things in general. Also great to hear the high regard my surgeon and oncologist are held in. Caroline is a delightful lady, and every member of staff must be so proud of her and the work she does, there can be no better ambassador for such a worthy cause. Don’t get me wrong, this is not just a charity, not just a hospital, this is a multi million pound organisation that is dedicated to the cause of research, treatment and most of all caring. This is a perfect example of where major private companies could benefit from the example set by such a hands on and caring chief executive. I can’t imagine for one minute the chief exec of any other organisation inviting you in for coffee after hearing of a minor complaint. For me, the one thing that stands out about Caroline, is that she is, first and foremost, a nurse, and leads by example.


If you have any concerns about bowel cancer, or just want more information or check cancer rates in your area you can find all the information advice and help you need here



This entry was posted in 20:20 Vision, Beating Bowel Cancer, Bowel Cancer, Cancer, Caroline Shaw, charities, chemotherapy, Health, Manchester, radiotherapy, Saddleworth, The Christie. Bookmark the permalink.

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