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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.

On being welcomed as an old friend

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, September 15, 2021 17:04:52

It is now 3.5 years since the last treatment (chemo and op) and the latest check up (Monday 13th September) shows there are no signs of cancer and my blood tests are all normal – well normal for me!

Of course that is wonderful news, but I feel overwhelmed by how I was welcomed at the hospital. The receptionist always greets me warmly by name. I don’t need to scan my health card, she remembers me and finds me on the computer. I asked if she remembers all her patients, after all we only meet now once every 6 months? Apparently not, but she refused to say what it is about me that she always remembers.

Then as I was leaving the doctor’s office a nurse who happened to be passing by, stopped “Hello Patricia, do you remember me? Anna; new glasses”. It dawned slowly. Of course I remember her, she was always there for me when I was having the chemo. And then the chemo section secretary butted in. How could I forget her, she went so much out of her way to get lactose-free energy drinks for me? But what is it that after all the patients they have seen since, they still remember me? I told them both how wonderful they had been and how grateful I am to be alive and well. One nurse I never managed to thank 3,5 years ago was a young nurse who alerted me to my fragile mental state after the third round of chemo. I didn’t realise it at the time, and I initially roundly rejected the idea. However, something about the way she suggested I saw a psychologist made me sit up. I have always wanted to thank her. Anna is still in touch with her and will send my thanks and greetings. As you, my readers, know, I did go to see a psychologist who inadvertently set me on the path to Stoicism, which has been a rock for the last three years.

Next check up is in March and I will certainly take a basket of fruit hoping Anna and the secretary are still on the ward. Or perhaps, I should not risk the delay, but just go this week on an unofficial visit?

The very last thing to add to this post is that I get my third (booster) Covid jab on Friday. I am indeed very well looked after by the Danish Health Service.



Boring updates are the best

Uncategorised Posted on Fri, March 05, 2021 10:39:03

Yesterday we had a telephone consultation with Peter Meydahl . The recent scan, lung function and the blood tests all show there is no change. So that is all good.

I had been feeling very tired recently. Is it another bout of fatigue? But I feel stronger this week. Perhaps it was just a case of it being February? Peter and I agreed that I will see how it goes and if I need to, then I contact him or my GP.

On Monday I had my first Pfiser Covid vaccination and the second is booked for 24th March. That means that I felt confident to book a dentist appointment for after Easter to finally get the filling that fell out months ago replaced.



Uncategorised Posted on Sun, October 18, 2020 17:47:30

All clear and a new baby elephant.

I apologise for this late entry. If there had been something significant to report, I would have done so.

Monday 7th September I saw Peter Mejdal again, who asked carefully about my health. My immediate reaction was “I’m very fine thank you”. Then he prodded, so .. well yes my ribs still have no feeling, my voice is hoarse, I have problems swallowing, can’t walk far, get puffed, but they are just “normal” and I don’t think about them. I am alive and enjoying life.

My next check up is at the beginning of March 2021 and I’ll have a lung function test for good measure. They do look after me.

Since the scare in the spring my heart has settled down and even bests regularly. So I’m not thinking about that either.

Corona? I self isolated from March until July and then with the infection rates going down we dashed over to Scotland for a three week holiday with 2/3 of the family. Now do go out a bit, but always wearing a mask and taking care to keep a distance; restricting myself to where I know others will be following the guidelines. Unfortunately, wearing masks is not so common here in Denmark so live concerts and other gatherings are mostly out. But I am perfectly happy taking it easy, reading and not being so sociable. Zoom meetings make all the difference. Warm summer weather (when it was above 22 it was too hot!) and being able to sleep on the balcony were great tonics. I feel good when I get light into my eyes, so with winter coming I will be sure to make it a daily practice to get out and go for a walk. And where better to go than to see the new baby elephant in the zoo? Baby elephants seem to get born to coincide with the course of my cancer. There was one when I first got ill and another born when I had the chemo for the metastases. Now the third has arrived to be a reason and target for my walks through the winter.



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



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