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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.

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!



Life goes on

Health bulletins Posted on Thu, December 14, 2017 10:19:36

Thank you dear friends for sending me messages and wondering how I am because of the lack of an update. Things are going on steadily: I’m still puffed, enjoyed yoga, had a good session with the physio – so not much to report. In fact one of the reasons I haven’t updated, or replied to emails, is that I quickly get back ache sitting at the lap top.

A friend came to dinner and asked, “how long do you think it will take to get back to normal?” What a question! It completely threw me and I started to stammer, “I’ll never be the same again” and the tears welled up. Thanks to Bjarne, I’ve been working on “my plan” for how to cope when sad thoughts get triggered; I grabbed it and more or less composed myself. Keith saved the moment with a comment about how new opportunities come, like my e-bike. Thinking it through since I’ve been composing the answer that I should have given; something profound like, “nothing is ever the same again, there are always new opportunities, you can not step into the same river twice”. I recognise that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is giving me excellent practical tools. However, not being religious, I do need something to help me get a perspective on it all. A quick look on Wikipedia has made me think that perhaps learning more about the Stoics might be a good place to start.

On to something more prosaic: The bison fat tasted excellent and I used it in the Christmas puddings. However, last weekend we did find some kidneys complete with fat in a butcher in Torvehallen. The kidney’s were delicious and the fat is now shredded and frozen for future steamed treacle puds.

I expect the next update to be after Christmas.



Searching for suet

Health bulletins Posted on Mon, December 04, 2017 10:22:46

Keith has been out singing a lot this week and I managed to make him dinner one evening. it was the first meal I have cooked in months, was fun but utterly exhausting.

Being in the kitchen made me think about Christmas and that I really need to find some suet (nyrefedt eller oksetalg) to make a pudding. The butcher (Slagter Friis) sadly told me that they so very rarely even sell kidneys these days. However, on Wednesday they are expecting half a buffalo (or was it bison?) and he would look to see if there was any hard fat on it.

Tuesday I e-cycled to yoga and a viol concert in KoncertKirken. As usual Bjorn had reserved the sofa for me.

Thursday I decided I’d go to get my ‘flu jab but arrived at the doctor’s so puffed out that he listened to my lungs and sent me straight back to hospital with suspected lung collapse. After several hours of ultra sound, x ray, ECG and blood tests the verdict was that “everything was normal, or at least normal for me”. One thing I learnt was that part of my lung has been removed. Something else I didn’t know before and had not expected! I said the Serenity Prayer, used all my skills to breathe deeply and direct my thoughts back to seeing the family at New Year. At several days remove, I have concluded that my body is adjusting to the withdrawal (gradual) from the pain killers and still healing. I must walk each day, do the physio, psycho and self-compassion exercises, eat and wait. I will give it until my next check-up in February and ask then about how much lung they removed, why, and what I can expect to be the new normal in terms of oxygen uptake and activity.



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