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Patricia's health

News about Patricia's health

We aim to keep a regularly updated flow of information about the state of Patricia's health. Please feel free to leave us messages (comments) here.

2+ years, all OK

Uncategorised Posted on Fri, February 07, 2020 11:49:56

The check up on 6 February showed that there are no new tumors since the operation in the autumn of 2018; good news.

As part of the follow-up from the last check when I said I was getting more breathless, I had a lung function test. The result shows that both my lung capacity and the ability to transfer oxygen into the blood are around 70-75% of what they were in 2013 before any treatment. Together, that means my capacity is around 50%. That is just something I have to live with and I’m OK about that. Indeed, it helps to have some sort of objective measurement so my expectations of what I can – or hope to be able to – achieve are not too high. At New Year at Stroanfreggan I made it up the hill behind the house, admittedly being towed by Kiki (Ruth’s dog), and that was a great achievement.

As far as the referral to the heart clinic goes, the conclusion is that I have a leaky aortal valve, but they are not too concerned about it and will call me back to check on it in 3 years. It seems as though my blood pressure is high and they put me on FUrix, a diuretic for a 2 month trial. I stuck it out for about a month feeling giddy, with numb fingers and toes and extreme breathlessness, so gave up. And felt immediately better. Being a scientist, I thought I would experiment and started taking half doses. But I had the same adverse effects. So I’ve stopped again and await a consultation on 22 Feb. In the meantime, I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure, although I know the machine we have records values lower than the true value. Nonetheless, I think generally it doesn’t seem high.

I am busy with my watercolour painting and a drawing class and am due to start with another group on Saturday mornings drawing at the Glyptotek. Will I be able to do justice to Marcus Aurelius? The Valby book club, Copenhagen Stoa, knitting, keep fit, yoga and a daily walk, and not to forget Koncertkirken, fill my daily life.

I should finish with another word of thanks to Peter Mejdahl for his care. His parting words were: we will arrange another check up in 6 months, but in the meantime, if there is anything you are worried about, get in touch. He will also write to the heart department to ensure that they are aware of my treatment history, for instance, the chemo could well have damaged my heart, so they can take that into consideration when prescribing medications.



A golden autumn

Uncategorised Posted on Thu, November 07, 2019 13:21:31

I have just come back from getting the result of my latest scan and the results are good; no sign of a return of the cancer. We discussed that I have been getting increasingly out of breath the last 2 months and that my heart beats irregularly. The doctor listened to my lungs, felt my pulse and ordered an Xray and a lung function and heart test. The xray I had immediately, the lung function test is next week and they will think about the heart test when they have those results.  I got the impression that they were just following up and that they were not overly worried. However, to make extra sure they are also giving me another scan in 3 months time to keep an eye on me. 

I get very good care here, which is one of the reasons we stay in Denmark. Would I get such good treatment under the NHS? It is something that worries me, but not for myself as I am OK and whatever happens with Brexit, I should have my Danish citizenship by next April. But what about my loved ones in the UK? Of course I hope they don’t get ill, but what if they do need care?

I wrote last time about my interest in Stoicism and how I feel it helps me keep on an even keel. I continue to practice and reap the benefits. One of the exercises is to meditate on nature and this has had an influence on my watercolour painting. For some weeks now I have been enjoying the glorious colours in the autumn leaves; I love playing with the “wet in wet” effects merging the yellows, greens and browns especially of horse chestnuts and beech. Even old and wrinkled like me they are beautiful!



Fortune smiled

Health bulletins Posted on Thu, May 02, 2019 16:28:37

Tuesday 23rd I had an appointment for a routine scan at 9.15 am. The day before I suddenly remembered that I needed to get a blood test before hand. The problem was that I had completely forgotten that it was Easter and everything was shut. What to do? I would be very apologetic and take a chance that they would be able to do the blood test and then fit my scan in a bit later. It would mean hanging around, but I didn’t want to miss the appointment nor the check up booked for today.

The Tuesday morning I got up early to get to the blood-testing department as it opened at 7.30. I couldn’t believe it, there were 53 people in the queue ahead of me. Well, I had better be patient and hope for the best. When I got to the registration desk, they told me that there was no request for any blood test in their booking system and sent me up to the oncology department to ask what had happened. It turned out that oncology had forgotten to request the blood test. So instead of it being my fault that I had messed things up – it was theirs and it was them who were very apologetic instead! The end result was that I was rushed through the blood testing process and my scan was delayed by about 30 minutes. I felt that fortune had smiled on me.

Now I am just back from the check up and Peter Meydahl says that there is no change from last October. So it’s all good.

Physically, I am getting stronger keeping active and weigh 54kg. Mentally I am getting stronger by painting and studying stoicism.

One of the stoic exercises is to imagine the very worst that can happen to you so that if it does happen you are prepared. I’ve been thinking about it this week as I have been a bit anxious about the check up and the possibility of knowing I have new metastases. On the other hand isn’t it rather stupid and a waste of time to worry about something that may not happen? The wisdom of the stoics dawned on me as we sat in the waiting room. I put both feet flat on the floor to anchor myself, took deep breaths and shut my eyes to still the rising emotions and think objectively about the situation. It was almost a pleasure to be able to walk into the doctor’s office ready, calm and in control for whatever might come.



No change

Health bulletins Posted on Fri, October 26, 2018 21:36:35

Last Thursday I was back at the hospital for a check up. The result: no change from the last time. So that is a huge relief. It is also a relief that the doctor suggested that I wait 6 months for the next check up. It’s stressful reliving the hospital routines: the scans, the blood tests and then waiting a week or more for the results. You never know when the cancer is going to come back; maybe not soon, or maybe I would rather not know for just a little bit longer? I’m trusting to the doctor’s confidence in the “no change”.

In general I am getting stronger, weigh 53kg and am able to do more. I’m also much better at accepting how things are; but more about that later. The summer in Stroanfreggan was wonderful and was the best medicine.

Now an update on my various symptoms. In August I returned to the dermatologist and saw, not the one I didn’t like, but another in the same practice, Marie. She says I have rosacea, not eczema, and is treating me with a new cream, which works very well, and laser treatment. Since then I have had only a couple of flare-ups.

My string of colds gradually petered out over the summer and held off so I could get my ‘flu jab at the beginning of the month. Since then, I am sneezing and my nose is running again, albeit intermittently and without any obvious cause apart from the cold air when I’m cycling.

My front left ribs are still numb and feel “like a metal plate”, but I have become habituated and normally hardly feel them. The spot on my back where the rib was broken on the other hand is constantly sore even though the rib has now healed. The doctor has referred me back to the physio at the cancer centre. I hope I get Christina again, she was good!

I’m getting stronger, which is perhaps why I am coping better, but I think it is also because I’ve become interested in stoicism. I don’t know much about it, apart from that it doesn’t mean just putting up with things that you can’t change. The concepts of practical wisdom and courage are giving me a useful framework for …… perhaps I could say surviving well. I wonder that Bjarne didn’t introduce me to it as the basis of the behavioral therapy he gave me.

Have a look at the TEDed video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9OCA6UFE-0

I anticipate that the next bulletin will be in April. Maybe we will have heard about our applications for Danish citizenship by then? In the meantime, I am very much enjoying my water colour painting: watercolours.kandp.dk



No sign of local or distant recurrence

Health bulletins Posted on Mon, June 25, 2018 21:35:55

“No sign of local or distant recurrence” is the verdict today after the latest scan, which is a huge relief.

I have had some other health issues since the last blog, that I hope will resolve themselves. On balance and all things considered, I am fairly well and don’t really want to start on more investigations, blood tests and hospital visits. However, I think it is worth mentioning them here, if only for the record.

My platelet count is consistently lower than average and my LDH level is higher. Lasse, my GP is “keeping an eye on them”, but they could indicate so many things – and nothing, especially with my cancer history. So waiting to see seems the best policy.

Since October, I feel as if I have had a constant cold, or at least a runny nose and stuffy sinuses. Lasse thinks it is more likely they are a series of colds as a result of a weakened immune system. Now it is summer and I still have the same symptoms, so the spotlight turns on the question of: is it allergy? I certainly can’t match the onset of the symptoms with any cause or identify any pattern. I often wake up snuffly, or it might come on for a couple of hours, and then disappear.

Since about February, I have noticed that I often get flushed cheeks. Again it is erratic. The flushing might flare up for an hour or two and then subside. Lasse sent me to a dermatologist, who declared that it is eczema and gave me some Elidel cream. I’m following the treatment until August, when I have to go back for a check up. I am sorry to say that I wasn’t impressed with the dermatologist as he didn’t take a close look at me or my face for the 20 seconds he was in the room. My rash doesn’t correspond to any pictures or descriptions of symptoms that I can find on the Internet. Anyhow, I’m following the advice and will take it from there. Maybe he is a very experienced genius? Wait and see!

If I have complaints it is that I am pretty tired and sleep a lot. Morning is my best time of day. I still get puffed very easily and there is still no feeling in my ribs on the left. But then, my hair is growing and I manage to shop and cook more often and to paint more. After all it is only 8 months since the op and I tell myself to remember that I am giving myself two years to get over it.

I go to keep fit and yoga at the gym, which, to my surprise, I am actually enjoying. There are new instructors, who make each session different and thus definitely not boring.

The garden is looking splendid and since the beginning of June have been sleeping outside on the balcony. Writing this blog just now, I realise that, in fact, I feel rather positive. What have I got to complain about? I will be in Scotland for all of July with lots of friends visiting and then 10 days with all the family.

My next check up will be in December



No sign of any illness

Health bulletins Posted on Fri, February 23, 2018 21:08:45

“No sign of any illness”, (ingen tegn på sygdom) those were Peter Meydahl’s words today at my check up. I realise how tense I have been during the week. This is the first check up after the latest op and it was very unlikely that they would find more tumours so soon, especially as they grow so slowly. However, I have learned not to be complacent; and it is a good result.

I asked whether I could expect my breathing to get back to the same level as before this operation. The operation itself was very big because the tumours were in a difficult to reach location, but they only took a small part of the pleural membrane, not lung tissue, so the answer is yes, hopefully in time I will get less puffed.

Hopefully, time is also what I need for the feeling to come back in my rib cage. The nerve got damaged in the operation and sometimes it heals, sometimes it doesn’t. But hopefully I will be able to cope better because my brain will learn to disregard the sensations of tightness and it will become more comfortable, for instance, wearing a bra.

Apparently, my blood count is low and I should get it checked in a month.

Tomorrow we go to Scotland for 10 days and when we come back I’m booked in to yoga and keep fit at Fitness.dk. I decided against taking the offer of training at the cancer centre because it is on machines, which are just too boring! I’ve also had my last “cancer yoga” session. I enjoyed the course and do feel better for it, but now I feel ready to move on.

Moving on mainly involves painting more, finishing knitting Sam’s jumper, helping more at KoncertKirken, again getting involved with New Times at the Red Cross and being more sociable. So I don’t think I’ll have much time for writing this blog! My next check up will be in the summer and, all being well, that is when I expect to post next.

But .. finally … just to add that I intend to keep on practicing the exercises I learned from Bjarne, accept that I’m now in palliative care, work on keeping fit, know that time heals and be kind to myself.



e-jacket

Health bulletins Posted on Mon, January 29, 2018 11:05:42

The last post I wrote about my new e-cycle. This time I can report about my Flexwarm electric jacket. It is pretty cosy; especially as I tend to have it on high and with the heating on both the front and back panels. Then the battery last for 3.5 hours. The jacket fits snugly under my well-loved, windproof, but rather light-weight, winter coat so now I’m well-protected against the cold, indoors and out.

I am getting stronger and now weigh 51 kg and my hair is getting curlier. I am surprised how many people find stroking it irresistible!

I have joined an informal art group which meets on Tuesday mornings at a Senior Centre in Valby. I know I used to go to Senior Keep fit at the local gym, but in general I don’t really associate myself with being “a senior”; probably because most of our friends seem to be about 20 years younger than us. I should be less prejudiced and embrace the opportunities. My art buddies are a fun, knowledgeable bunch and we give each other good feedback. I have also signed up to join a group doing life drawing, or Croquis as it is called in Denmark, on Tuesday evenings in February. I know … I know … both are on Tuesdays – bang goes my “one thing a day” rule. I’ll see how it goes.



Thriving

Health bulletins Posted on Fri, January 05, 2018 12:21:55

We are just back home from a week with Ruth and Matthew in Beccles; I thrived! We had left the booking to fly over til late in case I wouldn’t be up to it, but my recovery is going well and as long as I get my afternoon nap and keep to the “only one thing a day” rule I am coping very well. We went for two long walks along the beach, visited friends, and did crafts and talked about Philip Pullman’s “Dark Materials” books with the grandchildren. I feel good!

I still get breathless, but it is getting easier to go up stairs. My left side ribs are still numb (paralysed?) and it feels like a tight iron band around my chest, but I have exercises and will give them time to see if there is improvement. My hair is growing thick and curly and is about 1.5 cms long. And I am trying hard to sit up straighter and not slouch. Just before Christmas I was back with the nutritionist who weighed me in at 49.9 kg; a gain of 900g in a month. I am pleased and encouraged by that because it is really hard work eating six times a day.

I have several projects to look forward to in the new year: first I must catch up with sending out our Christmas and New Year’s greetings. After that I have a new knitting project for Sam, intentions to do more at KoncertKirken and to arrange a meeting at the Red Cross to breathe new life into New Times. Hopefully, I will also feel strong enough to start painting again…… yes lots of ideas, but I must take it slowly!



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