14 Year 2 Q3

Into November then meaning that I am now into eighteen months on my trip through cancer, T2d, pneumonitis and Addisons which is a couple of months short of the Covid lockdown. Is it me or had that gone really quickly? It is also seventeen months since I retired due to the brain met diagnosis.

I'm having a very lazy day as I am just so tired after my late night rock n roll lifestyle of seeing Billy Bragg last night in Southampton. He was so good but do I feel rubbish today! All we did was go ten miles into town and sit there for a few hours and enjoy ourselves. It was worth it though. I used to keep and collect tickets for gigs and sporting events I attended, I have loads in a box somewhere, no idea why or what to do with them but I have a connection with them so they stay. Now you get the ticket sent to you phone, a Q code, that's it, how dull is that? In fairness it looks like the touts will have issues trying to get and sell tickets so it has its benefits then. They'll probably get around it somehow.

We had to show evidence of being double vaxxed prior to getting in. I'll assume that if you couldn't show any evidence then no entry. That'll teach those anti-vaxxers eh, mind you I doubt if they are big Billy Bragg fans anyway.

Yesterday morning and I have no idea what brought it on I had to listen to Ry Cooder (I really must have a Ry Cooder day soon). I've not listened to him for ages and dug out his 2011 album 'Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down'. The killer first track 'No Bankers left Behind', his take on the 2008 global financial crash got repeated a few times, not heard it in ages so treated myself. At the end of the BB gig last night on the way out the PA played Ry Cooder No Bankers Left Behind. Coincidences eh, like I said, no idea why I dug that out yesterday. Great track.

I was booked in for my head MRI today at 17.50 but got a call this morning at 09.00 as they are short staffed they need to cancel today and re-arrange. As I am so tired today that was such a relief. There's major roadworks on the A35 Totton by pass and we'd have hit it right in the busy time. Result! They will re-arrange before the Q review later this month.

November has never been my favourite month, the clocks have just gone back, it gets dark in the middle of the afternoon and the weather is usually wet, windy and dreary. Back in the day before cancer and I was still working we used to go somewhere nice and sunny in November. So that's a thing of the past and it's my second November trapped here. It's also my birthday later this month, I'll be 65 so should be 'officially' retired but our wonderful government moved the goalposts and I have to wait another year before that happens. Glad I wont be working it πŸ˜€however I'm not sure how I feel about finally getting to what used to be the target age for working men. Considering last year, Bristol and 35 brain mets I'll have to say I am rather pleased to be getting there so cannot complain. When you get this far you never quite feel as old as your age anyway. 

So to kick off my eighteenth month and the start of November I thought I'd share two poems, one that portrays the idyllic views of Autumn (sounds more like the end of September really) and the other, that of deepest darker November (from memory Rumpoles favourite poem)

It fairly obvious which is which 

To Autumn

John Keats - (1795-1821)

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Written September 19, 1819; first published in 1820.

This poem is in the public domain.

November

Thomas Hood (1799 - 1845)

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day -
No sky - no earthly view -
No distance looking blue -
No road - no street - no 't'other side the way' -
No end to any Row -
No indications where the Crescents go -
No top to any steeple -
No recognitions of familiar people -
No courtesies for showing 'em -
No knowing 'em -
No travelling at all - no locomotion,
No inkling of the way - no notion -
'No go' - by land or ocean -
No mail - no post -
No news from any foreign coast -
No Park - no Ring - no afternoon gentility -
No company - no nobility -
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, -
November!

 

 

Thomas Hood's "November" (also entitled "No") is a lyric poem centering on the fog and gloom of a November day in London. He completed it in 1844. The copy on this page appeared in the third volume of The Works of Thomas Hood, published in London by Edward Moxon and Company.
 
This poem is in the public domain.

 

November is not that bad I know but if I listed the months in my order of preference November would be number 12 πŸ˜‚

November is also 'Male Health Awareness month' 

This week is really not going well again. I was so tired on Monday I completely forgot about my lunchtime meds so by late afternoon I had a banging head yet again, I'm getting so many of these now. Tuesday just foggy and knackered again, Wednesday woke up with a bad head, when I got out of bed I staggered (a few of them lately as well) and spent a very light headed dizzy day feeling odd with a borderline headache. Thursday now and still the same. Not sure where I go with this. Too many meds and fatigue with everything else as well. Is this my new normal default state?

Wednesday was supposed to be CT Scan day but again I received a phone call first thing in the morning cancelling. Apparently the CT Scanners at the RHS is out of action. The week seems wasted, my busy week is suddenly very quiet.

 

Earlier this year we started watching Greys Anatomy on Prime. Someone on Melanomamates recommended series five as one of the staff was diagnosed with secondary stage 2 Melanoma due to brain mets. As you can imagine I was interested so rather than starting at season one we dived straight into series five. This is a really good programme from my point of view as they discuss things like Melanoma and Adrenal insufficiency. Anyway, point being that we got hooked, completed S5 and went back to the start then kept going. Almost finished S11 now, I checked on Wikipedia and we have now watched a total of 243 episodes covering a ten year period of the programme. Binge watching or what! It is very good, well I like it!

 

Today I received my annual T2d checks from the GP. Blood tests (I need three tests this month now), urine tests and blood pressure tests. I have been pushing for these as I would like my BP and Cholesterol checked. I'm not concerned but the Keto diet is high fat low carb so I have been treating myself to as much butter as I can which is very nice of course but a sanity check on this just to make sure I'm on track is overdue. 30 weeks on this diet and a lot of butter has been consumed. We'll see.

It was cold this week and we had to go out, not far just up to the village so I got my winter jacket out, I feel the cold now as well. Never used to! The last time I wore the jacket I was 36 lbs heavier. Now I look like a little old man in a jacket way too big for him which I guess is exactly what I am now, oh well.

Yesterday I had my CT scan in preparation for the Q review later this month.

I am struggling to remember how many CTs and MRIs I've had since May 2020 but I must be heading towards somewhere in the region of twenty + now. The reason I am trying to remember is that yesterday was the first time I have had a reaction to the contrast.

It has never impacted me at all previously (well OK once but that was my fault for neglecting to flush with water post scan and that impact was the next day).

When the contrast was administered my arm went cold, very cold, then the usual feeling of needing to go to the bathroom was intense, next my head became seriously hot and prickly. It calmed down by the time the scan had finished so I didn't mention it. I know, don't ask me why.

By the time I got home blister like spots appeared on my arm, neck and head. I drank bundles of water to flush it through and the spots disappeared so panic over. I kept on drinking water but later the foggy headaches descended. I went to bed but woke about 03.00 with a banging head and felt dog rough. Took a wafer and then thankfully went back to sleep till 07.30. Today is the now usual foggy head lethargic day. Should be used to them really. 

I am wondering why this has happened after so many before were event free. I've had my third booster and flu jab recently so maybe they're bouncing around my system, who knows?

I'm also wondering if maybe I should be taking extra steroids before scans as I need to beware of any additional stress or impact on my body because of Addison's. I have no idea but I do have my head MRI this week with contrast again so I'd better let the team know. It was very uncomfortable so I'd like to avoid if possible.

I just had to Google it this morning for any information, like 'is it dangerous'? So, I found out that it's called Gadolinium (I did know that) and there are a few known side effects. I came across this little nugget 'Gadolinium may remain in the body for months or years' , maybe after almost twenty odd contrasts in eighteen months my body is full up 😊 It can be dangerous for patients with Kidney issues,

I found these listed

 

Toxicity is a side effect of GBCAs that can occur within hours after undergoing an MRI scan with one of these contrast agents. Or it can manifest years later in people who have gadolinium buildup in their bodies.

Symptoms vary from person to person. The severity ranges from mild to severe.

 

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the bones or joints
  • Burning or “pins and needle” sensations in the skin
  • Brain fog
  • Headache
  • Vision or hearing changes
  • Changes to the skin, such as thickening or discoloration
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Metallic taste

https://www.drugwatch.com/gadolinium/side-effects/

So three out of the list applied to me yesterday. 

  • Burning or “pins and needle” sensations in the skin
  • Brain fog
  • Headache

Two of those apply to me in varying degrees any day of the week to be honest! The burning bit was intense to be honest though.

I'll stop looking now before I get concerned. I'll let the team know for the MRI and see what happens. I have no complaints about the contrast as it has in reality saved my life. I must try to remember how many times I have received the contrast since diagnosis.

Blood test for my Endocrinology review on Friday booked for tomorrow. I need to get over the point of just how rubbish I continuously feel to the Endo Doctor, my issues have been getting incrementally worse over the last three months and I'm getting to the point now that I dread the evenings as the headaches start descending with the fatigue around 5ish almost everyday. Last night I took an extra prednisolone as it descended but it didn't stop the bad head later on, I was really tired going to bed around 22.45 and I was still awake at 03.00 this morning. I woke at 08.00 feeling rubbish again but needed to get up to sort things out, the guys in the band are coming around today. Feeling wide awake for that!

Well the rehearsal was really good, they are came here for 13.00 and had three hours playing. We almost back to how good we were two years ago! Our last gig was in November 2019, we had a winter break then Covid hit in Feb 2020 and in May I was diagnosed. It has just flown by since. Anyway, a great session  and progress, it was fun. Now 17.15 and my head has started again. Fed up does not describe this.

Busy day today (well, busy for me) 07.45 appointment for my head MRI followed by 10.45 call with the Endocrinology Doctor. 

Up early and off to the hospital, no traffic (where is everyone?) so got there early. Had a chat with the nurse about my reaction to the contrast on the CT scan last Sunday. She tells me that it a different contrast for the MRI but recommends that I remember to notify the team at my next CT scan which will be February next year. The reactions I had are fairly standard, nothing out of the ordinary so nothing to be concerned about. The scan went well, I like MRIs. I always enjoy the bit where you can see them all through the mirror in the mask in the control room, stop whatever they are doing to crowd around the monitor look up at you and start pointing to things on the monitor. A great way to relax you when you are getting your brain scanned. Two weeks scanxiety coming up.

It was a good call with Endocrinology. The Doctor is OK with my current dosage of steroids, if it helps with my symptoms then so be it. The only caveat is that as I have steroid induced T2d then extra steroids will impact my blood sugar levels. I have a slight concern that when I increase dosage it helps for a week or so then I get issues again so does my body get used to the level. The answer is it shouldn't really so maybe something else is going on. I mentioned that at my last Oncology review I was told that they had not received the update from the last endocrine review. She checked the dates and said the update was sent on 7th September so too late for that review but should be available to discuss in two weeks.

We discussed my impacts and concerns about the constant battle with fatigue but more importantly headaches. Endocrinology state that I need only 7.5 mg a day steroids so anything else is Oncology, Oncology state that if I need extra it is an Endocrinology issue. This is where I am which is frustrating. She agrees and will refer me to Neurology (where this all started!) for a consultation. For me this is a good move although a bit on the scary side but if there is something going on It would be preferable if resolved asap.

I have a form to complete for the local ambulance service in the event of an Adrenal Crisis so I need to send over for the Doctor to complete.

Final point is my Testosterone level has not increased much after a few months so she suggests that I apply three time a day not two.

That was a really good meeting and made me feel so much better. First positivity in ages on this issue  πŸ˜€

 

We watched 'The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge' for BBC Children in Need last night

The Rickshaw Challenge for BBC Children in Need is back with an exciting new twist for 2021 in this one-off special. 

As the challenge enters its eleventh year, Matt Baker and a team of five young people, all of whom have been supported by projects funded by BBC Children in Need, take on a relay-style ride through their hometowns and other places across the UK that hold a particular significance for them. 

The programme also celebrates the history of this much-loved BBC Children in Need staple, while at the same time raising life-changing money for the charity as part of its 2021 Appeal. 

 

The five young people involved are just so amazing and positive. How they cope with what life has thrown at them is a lesson and example to us all. I admire each and everyone of them so much.

My favourite quote from the program.

"I don't have a disability, I have different abilities!"

It makes the rubbish I'm dealing with at the moment seem more than trivial.

I get very emotional watching programs like this, I never used to 😭

Cancer wrecks your emotions

Watch it, you wont be disappointed.

A Friend on Melanomamates posted a comment about how Cancer wrecks your emotions, how the slightest thing can come out of nowhere and bring tears to your eyes. I get this all the time, absolutely wrecks me.

BBC Children in Need - the Rickshaw Challenge, Rose on Strictly, virtually any episode of Greys Anatomy, watching the news and seeing the poor refugees stuck on the Belarus / Polish boarder with their families in freezing weather facing off to  armed soldiers, or the desperate asylum seekers in dinghies in the freezing cold channel just looking for a safe life for their families, dear Lord what have we become? Kevin Sinfield doing his amazing runs for his best mate Rob Burrow, I can't even watch now.  Or just me trying to play John Prine's 'Summers End' (one of the last songs he wrote) on guitar and not making it past the second verse! Listening to Justin Townes Earle who passed away at the ridiculously young age of 38 last year. The list is endless, just endless. Anything cracks me up now.

We went out for a meal on Sunday to a very nice restaurant that we had not been to for a few years. Unfortunately it has changed hands and whilst the food was OK the service and ambience provided endless fun, pure comedy value. We wont be going back.

My point being that I over indulged on carbs for the first time in ages. It is now Tuesday and I'm still fighting an angry acid stomach. To add to this I could not sleep last night, wide awake till around 02.30. Todays is not going well but as I always say, at least I don't have to go to work πŸ˜ƒ

I had the results of my blood test for Endocrinology last week and disappointed that my HbA1c has crept up again to be right on the cusp of going back into the red. I have worked so hard to keep this down and given up eating all the things I like, it had been going so well.

I fairness the Endocrinology Doctor was not in the slightest concerned about this, she stated that it is within the green range so what is the problem. It may be linked to my increase in steroids. Interesting though as my twice daily blood sugar readings appear to be all over the place recently, loads of odd readings. Sleep patterns are really odd lately as well. Something is going on?

 

Sleep and bad heads are really poor this week, woken last night at 01.30 with a banging head, took ages to finally clear and no further sleep, I had a 09.00 appointment for a blood test at the local surgery so made sure I got up, showered and ready to go. Came home and managed two hours sleep but another foggy head day. This evening I have manifestations in my eyes again, really active and worst for some time. This week is not enjoyable.  

From the Melanoma UK Website for International Mens Day 19/11/2021

Click on the picture to link to information on MALE SKIN CANCER and while you are there maybe visit the Melanoma UK shop as well πŸ˜ƒ

This photo came up on my timeline this week from 23rd November 2008, I was two days out of hospital after getting my primary melanoma fully removed. It was a largish mole to the left of the top of my ear which had previously been removed but they wanted even more skin for a biopsy to determine if the melanoma had spread deeper. Additionally they removed lymph nodes for further testing which is the scar along the jaw line.

I don't remember much about it apart from I had no appetite for the entire weekend.

They had given me a weekends supply of Tramadol which was very nice. On Monday when the dose had worn off I rang my GP surgery to request more and got a rather long lecture about the dangers of dependancy on Tramdol and was told that it would leave me 'spaced out'. Now I may be wrong but I thought that was the point of it 🀷‍♂️

Anyway it was rather painful when the Tramadol wore off.

Both biopsy's and blood tests were clear and after four years of skin checks and a move to Hampshire I sort of fell off the radar and gradually forgot all about it! Entirely my fault. 

Just goes to show eh πŸ˜’

 

 

 

I found another Autumn poem, there appears to be loads of them!

Autumn

John Clare

I love the fitfull gusts that shakes
 The casement all the day
And from the mossy elm tree takes
 The faded leaf away
Twirling it by the window-pane
With thousand others down the lane

 

I love to see the shaking twig
 Dance till the shut of eve
The sparrow on the cottage rig
 Whose chirp would make believe
That spring was just now flirting by
In summers lap with flowers to lie

I love to see the cottage smoke
 Curl upwards through the naked trees
The pigeons nestled round the coat
 On dull November days like these
The cock upon the dung-hill crowing
The mill sails on the heath a-going

The feather from the ravens breast
 Falls on the stubble lea
The acorns near the old crows nest
 Fall pattering down the tree
The grunting pigs that wait for all
Scramble and hurry where they fall

From Read Me 2: A Poem For Every Day of the Year

https://www.panmacmillan.com/blogs/literary/poems-poetry-about-for-autumn-keats-frost-classic

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/29/poem-of-the-week-john-clare

It's been a very strange month of appointments, they were all rearranged which takes a bit of messing around as Annette has to take time off to drive me to the hospital. I was supposed to have my quarterly review with the Oncology consultant today but now have to wait till next week to end my scanxiety for another quarter.

I had been waiting for an appointment for Dermatology to check all the weird moles on my skin etc. Last Friday I received a letter telling me that the appointment was cancelled as it was no longer required! I had only been waiting all year for the appointment which was confirmed finally in August. So spent most of the morning on the phone which I wont go into but eventually I got a meeting on the original date just at the end of the day. Anyway, good news as all checked out OK, he had lots to check over but no concerns with anything so all is fine!

So good progress with two meetings so far, just need further results next week for a perfect month.

Fatigue and bad heads are fairly constant now but as time goes on I think I'm just getting used to it all. Sleep patterns are still rubbish but every now and again I do manage eight hours. Rare and very nice when it happens. Mind you I still wake up knackered 🀣 

My concern at the moment is my blood sugar levels. I check twice daily, mornings and evenings but I have been in the red all week which makes no sense to me at all. I had a second blood test last week and my HbA1c has gone into the red as well, only just at 42 but over nonetheless. It was only 31 last January and I was not on a carb free diet then either. 33 weeks into the Keto diet and my blood sugars increase. I have a follow up meeting with the Diabetes Nurse at the GP surgery next week so will discuss then. 

The hospital appointment with Oncology has now changed to a telephone call not F2F, disappointing but may be Covid related. To be fair after last weeks Dermatology appointment I am glad not to have to spend anymore time in crowded hospital waiting rooms than is necessary. 

 

 

 

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass

It is about learning to dance in the rain

Not finished yet by a long way. More to follow shortly.....