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Life Blog – Days 358 – 370 CT Scan Done

Happy Days - The Beastmaster


I have been  quiet on the Life Blog lately but this is good news. Quite simply no news is good news and life has been very ordinary and very normal. I am full time at work and feeling 90% fully fit, the only aches and pains I get are to do with the operation scar healing and the numbness in my toes and a bit in my fingers as a leftover from the chemotherapy,

Our leisure activities have been quiet too consisting mainly of walking the hills and being couch potatoes in front of the tele. Absolutely nothing then worthy of me blogging about, it is just nice to have a bit of a normal life for a while…

Thursday 28th July 2011. Today was the day General Liver had arranged for a reconnaisance over the liver to check for enemy activity. He did this by way of a CT scan. All my other CT scans had been at Worcester Royal but for this one we went back to the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham. The scan itself is simple enough, I drink about 2 litres of contrast disguised as orange squash, then I have a line put in a vein on my left arm and they inject a fluid in which reacts with the contrast and they slide me through a giant polo mint which takes fancy pictures of my abdomen. Painless.  Of course my er… technical description might not be totally accurate but you get the gist.

The bigger implication for me and Major Peanut is that days such as this are big reality checks for us. I have just mentioned  how normal life felt and of course a trip for a CT scan does remind you quite forcibly that behind the facade of normality lurks an evil threat. This though is life and we all have worries, in our case it’s a health worry, others have the same worry and others will worry about money or happiness. Where I am very lucky is that I can fight my health worry strengthened by being very happy and knowing love well. Many people live a whole life not knowing love which must be terribly sad.

The recent death of Amy Winehouse too was so sad. I think she knew love, I think she had been happy at times in her life but ultimately she fell in the grip of an evil that she could not beat. I have read much on Twitter and Facebook about Amy Winehouse  from sadness at her death to “another waster ruined by too much money” to people being sickened by the grieving for her when no-one grieves for the soldiers dying in Afghanistan. The simple truth is Amy Winehouse’s parents have lost their daughter and that is not the natural order of things and it is sad. We have had many dances in the kitchen listening to Amy Winehouse, you brought smiles into our lives, RIP Amy.


Returning to the CT scan.  the big frustration with it as well is that we come away knowing nothing, did it find anything, am I clear of the Big C? We have to wait now to find out, the consultation to discuss it is set for the 30th September but if General Liver needs to see me before then he will get in touch. That’s the BIg C for you – just when you think you are doing well, things are normal, you are invincible almost – the Sword of Damocles hangs above your head!

Have a great weekend and have a dance round your kitchen to Back to Black my personal favourite Amy track!


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Life Blog – Days 344-357 At War for One Year

It was exactly 1 year ago that the bowel consultant at Worcester Royal confirmed to me that I had cancer. I did my first blog about this battle on the 27th July 2010 and you can read that here. By the 27th the CT scan results were in and the battle had took a more ominous turn. The cancer was in my bowel, but already a second front had opened with tumours in my liver. It was a scary time.

Many have shared my battle through this blog and seen me defeat the Big C on the bowel front, then watch me fight a chemical warfare with chemotherapy to defeat any covert operations that the enemy might have and to weaken the enemies resistance on the liver front. Then in May of this year we went for full on war on the liver front and I had major surgery – a liver resection to remove the Big C from my liver.

Friday 16th June, just two months after the liver resection was my first full day back at work. I had already been back at work part time for three weeks but from Friday I am full time. The enemy is all but defeated. However, this enemy fights dirty and often will continue to wage a guerilla warfare until such time as he can reopen a full frontal attack even when he appears to be utterly defeated.

My war has been fought under the careful management of three superb Generals. General Bowel, General Chemo and General Liver and  although the war looks to be won they are taking no chances. the picture at the top of this blog shows my notice board in our kitchen and on it are dates for war councils.

First on the 28th July General Liver has arranged a CT scan, a covert fly over of enemy liver territory to check that there are no pockets of resistance remaining. He was concerned that when we closed the net around Big C it was cast close to the enemy in one part and maybe some enemy fighters slipped through a small part of the net. The reconnaisance CT scan should detect if any of these are lingering. This is a bit scary because if any are lingering then  we must go back to full on war!

Secondly on the 2nd August General Bowel is having a consultation to review the war so far and  look at how we will secure the borders in the future. Thirdly on the 16th August General Chemo has aked for a consultation with me for a similar reason. Chemical warfare is nasty and often it inflicts as much damage on the defender as it does on the enemy. My numb feet are testament to that. Finally General Liver has called me back on the 30th September to discuss the results of the CT scan on the liver. General Liver has a laid back, confident style so he has set a date two months away but he knows that if the CT scan shows enemy resistance he will bring his consultation forward to open  the front again quickly.

In war terms, on the liver front we invaded enemy territory, destroyed the enemy but also destroyed the ground on which the battle was fought, but in this case the ground has grown back. In just eight weeks the liver has regrown, so basically if the enemy has got pockets of resistance, so long as they are not knocking at the borders already but still mustering deep in enemy territory we can go back in and take them out again – and again – if necessary. General Liver has very shiny boots from kicking a lot of enemy ass!

So this is the situation one year on. Three Generals all heroes and all bedecked with medals from this and previous campaigns. But war heroes are not all Generals, there are district nurses who have tended my wounds in field hospitals that deserve medals, who have come out of the hospital and down to Beastie Folly at times to help with the war. Chemo nurses who have had to handle dangerous weaponry and administer it with love and care. Nurses and Doctors on wards, fresh after major battles have fought hard to fix me up quickly, ready to do battle again. Having a major liver resection on the Monday and to be out and home again  just 5 days later on the Saturday is absolute testament to how good the surgeons, doctors and nurses are at the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham!

Finally though, there is one nurse, one soldier, who stands out supreme in this war and that is Major Peanut. She has been with me, by my side, every step of the way, attended every war council, every chemotherapy battle, seen every war wound and administered the best love and care throughout. She has given me the strength to fight this with smiles throughout. Her dedication to duty knows no bounds and there is no medal I know of big enough to give her. She has my love always.

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Life Blog – Days 338 – 343 The 6 Week Consultation

Monday 27th June tp Thursday 30th July 2011. I was off work on Monday which was good as it let my batteries recharge and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday saw me lead a very ordinary life of going back to work each day. Wednesday saw me at the Nurses while she checked on the small wound left by the drain hole that was inserted when they did the liver op and finally it seems to be healing nicely. Hopefully my next visit to the nurse will be the last.

Friday 1st July 2011. My 6 week post op consultaion was today at 3.40. I went to work in the morning and stayed till 1.30. I then went to Worcester to collect peanut from work and then we headed to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham. We were a little early but checked in anyway and were not kept waiting long.

The consultant was very nice and quickly put us at ease. First he examined my tummy and said it was healing very well indeed. I mentioned the hard lump above my scarwhich the doctor said was probably a haematoma and he said that it wasn’t it was just scar tissue and that it was quite normal but might be there a long time. He made the point that the surgery I had undergone was major stuff and was the equivalent of being run over by a bus. I would probably take a year to fully recover but in fact I was healing very quickly indeed as not many of his patients would be back at work so soon even part time!

Next he discussed how the operation went and the results. he confirmed what we had already been told  which was that they had got all the cancer out and that the histology results were very good indeed, so agian he was pleased with those. Then came a little “However”.

In one part the cancer was very close to the edge of the part they had removed. He stressed there was a margin and it had all been removed but the margin was small. To be on the safe side he was going to have a CT scan done sooner rather than later just to make sure it was all ok. He would see me in 3 months time ( we already have the appointment – 30th September) but would arrange for a CT scan before that and if something needed to be done they would call me back before the end of September.

I asked what would happen if the cancer was still there. Obviously he could not give a simple answer as it would depend on where and how much etc but he said the reason for a CT scan was not to say ” yep we’re sorry it’s come back and nothing we can do” but rather because they could still do something about it. They could repeat the operation. As the liver has regrown they can if needed have two or even three goes at it if necessary and so the eraly CT scan was just to be on the safe side but also to allow them to act if action was needed. he was very keen to stress that he had probably made it sound  more than it was and that the histology did show that all the cancer was removed so this really was precautionary.

We have to take that at face value but I could not help coming away from the consultation with the realisation that this battle with cancer would never be over. Yes I’ll beat it, yes I am beating it but it is not a conventional war with an enemy that parades its colours and can always be seen. This enemy fights full on but also fights like a terrorist and will always pop up on the blind side. The CT scan then is a bit like sending a spy deep undercover so that the enemy wont catch us by surprise. “My name is Scan, CT scan”.

Sam a friend from where Peanut works lent us some Blue Ray DVDs, so on Friday night we watched the latest Star Trek movie, the prequel if you will, showing Kirk, Spock and Bones as young men and it was fantastic. It has taken us a long while to get into this whole home cinema thing but I have to say it is blooming fantastic and our old surround sound system has a new lease of life after being plugged into this lot. I’m still expecting to find debris from an old Romulan ship behind the settee after watching that movie and after watching the shark swim into our living room on the 3D demo DVD, I was expecting my feet to be soaked from the water! Yes it did not take long for us to put the consultation behind us and move on!

Saturday 2nd July 2011. Our friends Rose, John and their daughter Sophie came over from Gloucester way for the day and we kicked the day off by heading to the Mill Pond at Golden valley in Castle Morton for a picnic. This is one of our favourite local haunts and we seem to have been there a lot this year.

Lady Peanut goes a picnicking

I am a Pisces and Pisceans are renowned for being dreamers and i am no exception and here at beastie Folly we seem to have a different dream every week. At the moment though we have a recurrent dream – the one where we own a four wheel drive Jeep Patriot. Today then we pretended our Clubman was a Jeep and we packed it full of picnic gear including chairs, a table, a stove and a gazebo. When we arrive at the pond  I made sure that we drove a good two hundred yards over the grass so that we could pretend we were off roading in our Jeep before we decamped for our picnic. the weather was lovely and not too many people were about making it wonderfully peaceful there. Why is a cup of tea made on a camping stove in a field always simply the best? It was the same filtered water that we have at home with the same mugs, the same tea bags and the same sugar, yet it was a gorgeous cuppa. Yep this Jeep Patriot fantasy was all fun.

We then had a modest two and a half mile walk mainly on the flat to walk off the picnic and i was pleased with the way my post op tummy coped with that. I suspect knowing I do not have a haematoma or any hernias I am already feeling more confident about the old tummy and will try and just get on with things more now. It still makes my back ache though I must admit.

Home next where Peanut made us all a lovely chicken dinner and I inflicted loads of our old photographs onto our poor long suffering guests via the big tele. Well it made me happy! Evil aren’t I?