Life Blog and More…

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Life Blog – Just Living

What a difference a project makes. It gives me a sense of purpose and direction. I can see things develop and take shape. Now this week I had an upset tummy on Thursday and Friday so on the practical side I was not much help. But I look and check.

If you look at the door handle above there is a horrible gap in the white wood adjacent to it. Look further and the wood used here for the door stop is not even the same as on the top and other side of the door. So now we have redone the door stop.

Much better. With an old house it’s a balancing act. Keep enough of the old to keep its character but know when to replace. In this case this was clearly a bodged repair from circa 1978, so it needed replacing.

Likewise on the stairs which were installed in the 1970s the woodwork is awful and done as cheaply as possible. A little beading work gives it a lift.

We work well together and make time for fun while doing it.

At times like this I feel very alive, the world is turning and I am in step with it. The Olympics have been very inspiring too and as a Brit especially so. I feel like a man living a life, doing stuff. It’s normal and I like it.



Life Blog – Living This Life

Recently on our sister site picturebeast.wordpress.com which hosts “The Antics of Worth and Gates” I talked about the fight you face when confronting the Big C. 

“With any test victory or defeat is determined by establishing the criteria that frames the battle. So if the battle is for the life of Worth then ultimately, Worth and Gates will lose that battle. If the battle is to destroy the love of Worth and Gates, then clearly there is a different team victorious. Such contemplation is the stuff that helps Worth defeat melancholia. He loves being a winner”.

Tonight I came home from work a little early feeling tired and achy. Mrs P had spent 2 hours sanding down the front door making it ready for painting. Peanut considered that the prepping was complete. I however did not and using all the strengths of my unique northern charm I told her so. In minutes we were shouting at each other. There were tears. It was not the me coming home and falling into the arms of the one I love scenario that is what this house is all about.

I might have had a fair point, I might not – that is not what matters. I thought back to the words I had written just the week before. This is how the Big C can destroy. It brings pain. With that comes irritation and then things get said in a less than tactful way. From nowhere that which you hold most precious to you – the love you have for each other – gets challenged and undermined. Luckily in this house we talked, then talked some more and we emerged from this gloom stronger and more determined to guard and cherish that which we hold dear. 

A friend Wendy messaged us telling us to watch a Tv programme called Great Canal Journeys with Prunella Scales and Timothy West. Tonight’s episode was Venice a city dear to our hearts and one we hoped to revisit in three weeks time. Prunella Scales has Alzheimer’s  and Timothy has written poignantly about watching her slip away from him. 

Now in their troisième âge they are doing this delightful canal series. Tonight they bumbled around all the places we have explored in Venice and it made for delightful, touching, interesting and entertaining television.

Their tenderness to each other in their troisième âge was the perfect counterpoint to the anger expressed earlier in our house. We naturally drew closer to each other on the sofa and yes, I did feel sad because this was supposed to be the life we shared in our old age – bumbling about as old explorers, lovers and best friends and we will be denied that. But the programme was too beautiful to allow such a sentiment to spoil it and we both loved watching it.

This is life. Real. “Your perfect imperfections” is a quote from Peanut’s favourite song because she says that she knows that is how I feel about her and she is dead right.

Love, as it should, triumphs in this household and tonight I will get Biggles read to me at bedtime.


Life Blog – The South of France

In truth this has been a very tough week. First there was the fiasco of The PICC Line breaking in my arm and the subsequent operation to remove it. A tad stressful for us both but we got over that. However, on the Friday of our departure for the South of France one of our two beloved cats Alfie, got run over and was killed. To be honest we have not got over it and it has hung like a shadow over our holiday. Then I have been quite poorly on holiday with back and tummy pain so much so that we had to abandon our two day break on the Porquerolles. This morning I had rallied a bit and we just decided to head home. I think we need to see our other cat Ola and I just feel a bit stare dealing with pain at home. So tonight we are holed up in The Beaune Hotel in Beaune, a delightful place we have stopped at several times now. Beaune is a prosperous and picturesque town about halfway between St Tropez and Calais. We will finish our travels tomorrow.

We are both a bit sad as we can both see now that the Big C is getting a hold and I am beginning to fade. Sometimes the smiles are forced and Mrs P just wishes she can fix me. She can’t but she does smooth my path so very much. When the chips are down she finds extra energy like now getting me home and doing nearly all the driving. 

Tomorrow will be poignant. Happy at seeing Ila and sad knowing Alfie is not there.


Life Blog  – Lonsurf And The PICC Line

After much deliberation and consultation we have decided that Lonsurf chemotherapy is the way forward and repeating the SIRT is not. Something to attack my cancer in all places is needed, or so thought my consultant. So that is the way we have gone. 

I have had the first ten days of chemo and am now in the fourteen day break period before recommencing with my second cycle. So far so good, with no real side effects and I am feeling well.

Don’t get me wrong I’m still on morphine and this is tiring me so my consultant has suggested that I once more try lowering the dosage. I will give this a go as maybe I don’t need as much now I am on chemo.

Yesterday I saw my consultant routinely and he was happy with my blood results. All was good and I popped into the chemo ward so that they could remove the PICC line from my arm. This is a line in my arm that runs through blood vessels into my chest and it makes the administering of liquid based chemo so much easier. However, as my chemo is now tablet form and as it has been in for 18 months it was time for it to come out. This is a routine procedure done by a nurse and takes about two minutes. I was excited about this as on Friday we head to our apartment in the south of France for a nine day break and this means I will be able to swim with Peanut!

The nurse was free to remove my PICC even before I had my consultation and both of us thought we might get away early as a consequence. The nurse removed the waterproof plasters and line lock. She asked me to take a deep breath in and when I slowly breathed out she would pull the line out. On her instructions I breathed out, she pulled on the line and it snapped! About an inch of it had come out and the rest (about 18inches) could not be seen. 

The nurse put on a brave face but she was worried. This had never happened before. An X Ray was quickly arranged which confirmed the break about an inch from the original entry point of the line. A good wait later I had my consultation which was good except that clearly I would have to stay in hospital until they could remove the line. The plan was for some vascular surgeons to nick my arm find the line and pull it out. 

I waited in the chemo suite with Peanut and shortly after 8 in the evening a room was found for me. Peanut had already nipped home to get me some pyjamas and now she saw me safely tucked up in my room before leaving for home getting herself some fish and chips on the way home.

Two surgeons came to assess me at four in the morning and decided it could wait till the morning.

Things happened quite quickly after that. The head vascular surgeon visited sometime after nine. Assessed the situation and decided to crack on with things. 

Very quickly I was in the operating theatre having local anaesthetic put in my arm. This stung. This stung a lot. My thin veneer of calm tranquility wavered as I started holding my breath a lot and noted my heart beat had increased. A bit of poking around with my arm ensued and they hit a nerve. My arm jumped sharply as what felt like an electric shock rushed along my arm to my fingers. The surgeon apologised and rewarded me with more local anaesthetic. At least it didn’t sting as much this time.

This went on for several times more and the PICC line remained stubbornly hidden. A somewhat surreal conversation ensued between us about my upcoming holiday in the south of France. It was punctuated by suppressed gasps and convulsions from me as more electric shocks followed. 

Finally, reinforcements were called up and an image intensifier was used to pinpoint the line. The line was found. More local anaesthetic was given and the poking began again. The line was found and the atmosphere in the theatre changed. It was like a goal had been scored.

Shortly the line was removed and shown to me. This had been my life line for eighteen months and at the end it came out kicking and screaming. I was so pleased as now I knew I would swim once more with Lady P. I thanked them all and was wheeled back to my room.

I phoned Peanut to come and get me and started to dress. Then I realised that once more I needed P. My left arm and hand was completely numb and I just could not fasten my shirt buttons.

Peanut arrived in record time. Hugged me. I needed that and then finished dressing me. All was well once more in Mr Beastie’s world.


Life Blog – You Wait An Age For A Bus Then Six Come Together

On Monday I went to work but had developed a cold over the weekend and had a very hoarse voice. By the afternoon I was exhausted and my back was aching a tad. 

I had been trying to reduce my morphine dependency from 20ml twice a day to 10ml twice a day. Last night this strategy failed  catastrophically as I was hit suddenly by sharp pain in my back at about ten at night. I hit the oramorph hard taking some every hour and by about 5 in the morning I had beaten the pain. It was a tough seven hours though, being sick and in pain, having hot flushes and my cold worsening. Still by breakfast I was pain free just exhausted.

Earlier on the Thursday The Churchill Hospital in Oxford had rung and following on from s previous conversation organised a pet scan for Wednesday. This was with a view to looking at the plausibility of repeating the CIRT procedure. 

This afternoon we saw the consultant at Worcester who gave me the new Lonsurf chemo tablets which I start on Thursday after the pet scan.  Now one treatment might conflict with the other but we have edged our bets on the CIRT not being viable but for now options remain open.

Overall then I remain pretty well 90/100, but I tire quickly due to the morphine and it is worrying me that I have missed more work than I would wish to. Still it remains all systems go for our holiday in France at the end of the month.

Anyway thanks everyone who stops by, says hello and wishes us well, it is a great tonic to us both and helps reinforce our belief that this is a wonderful world to be a part of. Simple pleasures can so easily be found. For instance, I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me donning my new grey trilby in this picture. Similarly, Mrs P has a new perfume Diamonds and Rubies by Elizabeth Taylor – not expensive – but I love catching it’s scent on the breeze as she passes.


Life Blog – Still Waiting For Treatment

By and large I feel so much better than last week. However, I am still on the morphine slow release medicine and it can be really tiring. I got up today to go to work but was just so exhausted that I had to cry off sick.  I felt something like normal by about three this afternoon.

My treatment has still not turned up and we were getting anxious about this. Peanut chased the consultant’s secretary for it. The upshot is that it has all been approved and applied for but it hasn’t yet turned up from Japan. At least we know it is going ahead so we will stop fretting and wait for it to turn up.

I seem to get anxious about these things when I am off, so my mission for tomorrow is to make it to work and then before you know it, the treatment will have turned up.

That’s it for now and as Biggles might say, “Keep cavey” and you’ll dodge the monsters.


Life Blog – Perfecting The Pout

Well it’s been a tough week that’s for sure. I thought I had come out the other side on the pain front last week after visiting my consultant but it turns out that was not the case. Put simply the pain came back and I ended up in Accident & Emergency at Worcester with unbearable pain.

At first thought I spent 3 hours there in great pain for little result, just 20ml of morphine and I left in as much pain as I arrived. However, that is not the whole story as basically they did fix me.

I got a lot of advice on how to hit the pain with the oramorph. Basically hit it and hit it again. And again. This is what we did back home and I got control of the pain. We kept on top of the pain. 

Today we went to our local GP and we have switched to slow release morphine supplemented by oramorph. This was based on past use and the amounts I have taken recently. I score myself at 80/100 today against 20/100 yesterday. The score would be higher but I need to eat more, resolve my bowels better and feel less tired.

Fun is back in town though, even if it is just trying out a selfie pout. Anyone over 55 feel try to do better! Saying hello and writing a few words here is also an option that just wasn’t feasible. A return to work on Monday is something even my GP thinks can be done.

And then there is Lady P. What can I say? She puts on such a brave front, practical when called for, patient always, kind always, always there with a smile or a kiss and ready to make some fun. Sometimes this journey we are on is not a giggle but her endeavours are just amazing. I can say no more than that she is a new level of superhero in my mind riding high above Biggles, Bond and Elvis. Super P!

Anyway enough of my sentimental tosh, I’m sure it just gets too much sometimes. The salient point is that I feel so much better, I can see the important stuff in life again. I can get irritated by people’s spelling or grammar mistakes, or I would “of” done, if I didn’t want to “waist” my time doing so and then realise that actually, my grammar and spelling is only average at best, so pot and kettle etc.

(Ooh a GP has just revved and throbbed outside, it’s Mrs P back from shopping. Is it lunch or Chaper One of “Shades of Thunder Blue?”)