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Dear, well, you know who you are,

7

 

When you’re caring for the love of your life and they succumb, not to a related illness but to bloody dehydration, you cannot help but feel a bit useless. Water is such a basic requirement; it’s an absolute essential that we all take for granted in the Western world. It didn’t once occur to me that Nige wasn’t drinking enough – he certainly drank more than me. But once I’d factored in the diarrhoea, increased dose of chemotherapy and his compromised immune system… well yeah, it’s obvious really. So the lesson here folks: DRINK MORE WATER!

Nigel’s stay in hospital had been a positive experience in general. For Nige, there was the constant company. A ward full of men of varying age chatting away the day, the consultant visiting each morning to answer any questions and the wonderful nurses (never the same one twice) with their unerring patience and good humour. For me, once the initial trauma had passed, there was a slowing of time; an opportunity to reflect, to recharge my batteries and to star-fish in bed! I spent everyday on MAU ward with Nige, watching the nurses, in awe as they deftly and sympathetically dealt with our more vulnerable members of society.

*Beep-beep-beep* “DAARLIN’? DAARLIN’?…. DAARLIN’? DAARLIN’?”

“Yes Bob, what can I do for you? I see. Keep your arm straight… There you are. If you bend your arm it will start to beep again.”

*Beep-beep-beep* “NURSE? NURSE?…. NURSE? NURSE?”

“Bob, you need to keep your arm straight. Remember?… There.”

“Am I a trouble maker?”

“No love. You’re absolutely fine.”

*Beep-beep-beep*

These nurses reminded me that when you need to sigh, sigh with a smile. I think my smile had slipped away a while back.

With Nige home we felt revitalised. His appetite was returning slowly and my batteries were on full. To see him eating was a joy and we could see his strength returning. A fortnight later we were walking around Castle Combe Car Boot Sale in the sunshine, something I never thought we’d do again. Although he was shattered in the evening and his right leg had swelled up (quite alarmingly really), he felt great – no pain, just happily tired. Just three days later though, he was back in bed with nausea and the lack of appetite had returned. Back to Dr Brook, in a week.

By the time the appointment arrived things were looking up again. But I wanted to make sure I was on the right path with everything.

“For the diarrhoea we’re taking Immodium. Is that okay?”

“Yep, perfect. I’ll give you a prescription though, on repeat so you don’t have to worry about running out.”

“What about coffee? I’m thinking we should be cutting it out…”

“Absolutely. Also avoid painkillers with caffeine in them – they won’t help in the long run.”

“What about probiotic yogurt type drinks? I’m thinking Yakult or Actimel?”

“Well, I haven’t really thought about that but I think they should balance out the bacteria in the gut so yes, give them a go. I have to say Mrs Lee, you’ve got it all sussed!”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t stop him getting dehydrated did I?!” 

Two days after this we were at the doctors for Nigel’s pre-chemo blood test. At the oncology appointment we were both rather subdued. With such an improvement in his health, I was incredibly daunted by the prospect of more chemotherapy causing more trauma. Nige felt the same too. The pharmacist read the situation perfectly and went to talk to Dr Beresford, our Oncologist. On her return she announced that due to Nigel’s low electrolytes (potassium and magnesium levels) they felt it better to skip this month’s treatment; to give Nige another three weeks to get back to full health before his next dose of chemo. We both sighed with a smile.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, some pretty damn exciting decisions were being made. thumb-350-556282The first was to update our iMac. The decade old iMac sitting in the office was getting slower and slower – enough is enough, time for a trip to Farpoint (so long as I can get parked). Watching Nige was a delight; he knew exactly what he wanted, what he needed and even haggled over the style of keyboard. So lovely to see him in his element and if anyone deserves a slicker, quicker less frustrating computer, it’s Nige. Anyway, we’ll all benefit from a less sweary and exasperated Nige! Gabe leapt at the chance to set it all up, gifting Nige a rather cool Star Wars screensaver. Now if we can just find a way to get Microsoft Word on there… ahem.

The other decision we made was quite a big bigger. For some years now we’ve been toying with the idea of getting a camper van. To be able to take off whenever the sun decides to shine or when life at home just gets too much has always appealed to us and since we’ve been given this ‘life changing event’ we figured,

‘What are we waiting for?!’

Well, we are waiting no more. Just two days after the Oncology appointment, we purchased a Technoblue, 2002, Volkswagen Caravelle. Although I say ‘we’, she’s in my name so I guess you could say she’s my first car! We’ve named her Wendy.

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Nige chose Wendy because of Peter Pan and it worked for me too as I’m Lisa and together we’re Wendy and Lisa… The Revolution? Prince? Yes?? There’s also the much simpler Wendy House analogy so take your pick :p

 

 

So we entered May with a new computer and a porthole to new and exciting adventures. Nigel’s health was looking good – yes he’s lost a lot of weight but his appetite was almost back to normal and his energy levels had improved greatly. I chose then to focus a little on myself, deciding to join my neighbour, Michelle on her morning dog walks with Truffle. I set my alarm clock for 7.30am and dug out my walking boots. Let’s do this! Michelle’s a little bit like a super hero, she never changes pace whether going up hills, through woodland or down banks: to be honest I couldn’t have picked a better trainer for our Cotswold Hike! On my first walk we covered just over three miles and I felt epic. I had time for breakfast and a shower before nipping down to the doctors to get Nigel’s blood test done. This one was to check his electrolytes.

After a few hours in bed, at about 2am, I was woken up by Gabe.

“I have this pain in my chest? It’s been there all day and hasn’t got any better. Now I’m a bit scared to go to sleep…”

Gabe has tachycardia which basically means his heart rate is abnormally high, so having chest pains isn’t great. I rang 111 and explained the situation, the operator spoke to Gabe, who was brilliantly calm and very succinct. By 3am there was a paramedic here, checking his vital signs. Although it all seemed okay, the paramedic couldn’t explain the chest pains and so, because of his tachycardia, he took him into A & E. Nige was up and keen to come with me so off we went. Now, it’s a simple thing for most people but for me, so used to making these decisions on my own of late, having Nige by my side was bloody brilliant. However, I couldn’t quite shake my responsibility for his health and so as we entered the hospital I found myself not only anxious for Gabe but also for Nige and the toll this was all taking on him.

After four blood tests (which eliminated a problem with the heart) we were free to go home. We yawned the whole way home and talked about sleeping all day. Aha, bed. As I followed Nige into the bedroom and bent down to take off my shoes, my alarm clock went off…

There’s nothing like a brisk woodland walk to help you reflect on an unexpected event is there?

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My Personal Advent. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Monday, 19th

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1992

I spent last night in Calne at my childhood home with my mum. I’m sure there must have been someone (anyone) else there but I have no recollection who. I can’t really remember my mum! Nige spent last night in our little flat above the chip shop in Batheaston alone. We set of to Bath in dad’s car and arrived at the Francis Hotel, where we met up with Nige and the Bath guests. I think the Nottingham lot (all 4 of them) were there too. My family came up with us. My enduring memory is of my beautiful brother, Ben, forgetting his suit trousers and having to wear a pair of Moleskin ones of my dad’s. The wedding took place in the registry office on Charlotte Street. A tape recording of something suitable played me down the ‘aisle’ and I caught a fit of the giggles as I echoed my vows. Somewhere amongst that Katharine, Nigel’s niece, dropped a bag of coins that her mum had given her to play with.

Ceremony over, we all adjourned to Queens Square for photos. I say photos, Mavis and her husband, John, had their little camera, as did a few others so they all got snapping away. Next: The George at Bathampton (Coincidence, eh?) for the reception. We were upstairs, in a quirky little room, level with the canal path. A lovely little buffet, with a wedding cake made by mum and coming in at a handsome £70, all in.

It was all truly wonderful and I would not have changed anything. The subsequent 23 years and 9 months have been bloody marvellous too. But the past 3 months? Well, they’ve been insightful, incredible, terrifying, emotional, heart-wrenching, life-affirming… crappy, shit… Still truly wonderful, even if I wish (oh I wish) I could change them, because when you find your soul mate you don’t let them go. You cherish them and nurture the relationship. You meet every obstacle with a ‘can do’ attitude and you fight. You fight.

Happy 24th anniversary, you beautiful man. Always and forever xxxxxxx

2016

The beginning of week 6, the final countdown. There was a real buzz in Oncology this morning. I’m putting it down to the spirit of Christmas, of course, although the fact we’re all on our last week may have something to do with it!

Home and a smashing cup of coffee. Then I booked us a table at Graze for an anniversary lunch. Gabe starts work at 12 so I made the booking for half past, dropped Gabe at the fountain and then went to find a parking space. Well, could I park? Oh my goodness, we drove around and around. Finally we ended up on the very top of Avon Street Car Park, queued to pay, rushed to get to Graze (15 minutes late) and sat down, out of breathe and knackered! We ate our splendid lunch and left in plenty of time to fetch the car and pick up Harry and Ali from the bus station. Unfortunately though, the sodding lift at the carpark was out of order. Poor Nige, so many steps, so little breathe… We got home and his nap-free run was at an end. Not surprising, I could’ve easily joined him!

Despite spending hours on a coach, Ali still went to work, bless her. Harry, Sam and Aaron are picking her up later as they’re all off to The Hope and Anchor. Gabe’s off out straight from work too so with that one trip to Medical Records, I’m done. Gin and tonic for me.

Oh, yoga! I have started. I’ve gone right back to the beginning though, with a basic 12 day programme. Day 1 done, BOOM! Proud? Yeah, you are… x

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Diary, Uncategorized

My Personal Advent. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Friday, 16th

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Well, would you look at that, we’re at the end of week 5 already! It’s been quite a positive one too, what with my Book Group meal on Monday, Nige’s benefit getting sorted, his pension claim moving forward, the worry of Brent being passed back to, well, Brent and a meal out tonight with a couple of true friends of his. Phew, that was a mouthful. See, I said it’d been a good week.

Radiotherapy at 8.48am, as usual. We got in and out early, as usual, and had the blood test done. As usual. The wives in the waiting room asked about our trip to Bristol yesterday. That led to them asking the age of our kids. When I told them they’re 21 and 23 they went a bit quiet.

‘You don’t look old enough to have kids that old!’

‘Well, I am…’

‘I would’ve put you at your mid to late twenties…’

‘Wow, no, I’m 47! Thanks though.’

Nice right? Although I don’t know what they must think of Nige, married to a twenty-something… Lucky bastard I expect!

Home for coffee and breakfast. Then I had an email to say our package had arrived at Debenhams. So after lunch Nige and I strolled into town to pick it up. We didn’t loiter for long, knowing that we had to walk back we thought we’d save our legs! A good job too as it was most definitely an arduous hike. Nige did equally as well as me – my fitness levels are appalling – and he’s still nap-free.

The afternoon was spent doing very little; Nige is compiling a quiz for Christmas so he was busy with that. I caught up on a bit of sleep and did the laundry before taking Ali to work. I started getting ready for our DCActiv night out at about 5pm – well, we don’t get out much!

We got to Opa at about 7.45pm, so not late really. Everyone was already there, milling around the bar area, chatting and drinking. Initially slightly overwhelmed, Nige managed conversation brilliantly and Rob helped by immediately greeting us. Actually, they were all extremely good and by the time we sat down to eat, we both felt relaxed. I kept half an ear on Nige’s conversation with Matt, just to make sure he wasn’t getting flustered – he was fine. Which enabled me to natter on with Breda, Paul’s wife. We ended the evening with heartfelt wishes and assurances from both Rob and Paul, along with a hug each! All quite emotional, but then I do tear up at the drop of a hat these days.

Nige went straight to bed when we got home, I made myself a Black Russian and followed him up.

 

 

 

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