Monday, 27 March 2017

General Update

It’s been far too long since my last post, and there’s much to bring up to date – that is if I’ve got any readers left.  I’ve longed to write, but just haven’t had the energy.  I switch on the computer, open a new Word page… and end up playing Freecell instead.  It’s not that I can’t be bothered – I care very much – but I’ve felt very tired for 3 years now.

In early 2014 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I had an operation, plenty of chemotherapy, all the usual, to which I’m told I responded well, and they gave me about 10 years or so.  I was – and am – in no pain.  I’m now on a maintenance drug infusion every three weeks.

However I had to stop work eventually purely because of the tiredness, and blood analyses kept throwing up that there was something else, and 2 years or so later they found I had NASH Cirrhosis, a non-alcohol related disease of the liver, probably a consequence of diabetes, but totally separate from the cancer (so far).  The prognosis was far worse, and it seems likely – they say – that I won’t see another Christmas; it isn’t curable and I’m not eligible for a transplant because of the other co-morbidity. 
I get a build-up of fluid inside (ascites) which needs draining every few weeks, a procedure which requires me to attend Bristol’s most overworked hospital, the Bristol Royal Infirmary, situated downtown, with appalling parking facilities.  Door-to door it’s a 12 hour long day, and I’m very fortunate that my sister travels up from Dorchester each time to keep me company, call taxis, keep me fed and watered, and so on.  My brother-in-law tackles any jobs around the house I'm no good at because I get giddy, and helps me fill out long forms about my pension.  My neighbours all deserve medals too.  They get the washing machine going, the washing-up done, bring me shopping, drive me to appointments since I’ve stopped driving, and pop in regularly for a chat and to see how I am.

Nausea is my biggest bugbear, and sometimes drugs make little difference.  Weight has come off me dramatically from the shoulders up, the rest looks much the same because of the ascites.

I’ve been trying to put my affairs in order, but it’s a never-ending list of chores to do, and progress is slow.  As far as this blog is concerned, I’ve asked my niece Veronica to update it when I no longer can.  Mentally I feel reasonably upbeat, and stopped taking anti depressants a few months ago because I want my brain to stay sharp, whatever state it’s in.  Last December I thought I didn’t have long, but I feel alright at the moment – you never can tell.

All in all I feel philosophical about it – one has to die of something, and there are plenty of people in the medical profession who are doing their best to keep me comfortable.  I’ll be 64 in June, not a bad age to reach.  I don’t mind talking or writing about this; my way of dealing with it is not to keep it to myself.

I can’t help but wonder about the hereafter – will I see John again?  The family who have gone before me?  Or will I be reborn, another chance to get it right this time – a sort of Groundhog Day?  The most difficult concept of all to grasp is that it’s none of the above and one just ceases to be.

I have only two real sadnesses which overwhelm me sometimes – the fact that I will never return to Argentina, where I was born and lived till I was 20. 

The other is that despite the wonderful kindnesses shown to me every day, I’m dealing with this alone.  Except for my beloved companion, my 16 year old cat Banjo, who knows there’s something wrong and sticks to me like glue, I miss not being in a loving relationship where every fear can be discussed and there are ups as well as downs to make life worth living.  I wish I had had children.

Anyway, enough of the glums.  I’ve got at least three stories to tell if I have the time, and I plan to start with selections of letters written by my Uncle David to his family at home in Buenos Aires, describing his RAF training during World War II in Canada and the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland, until 1943 when he was killed while flying his Spitfire.

(PS I notice my counter re-set itself to zero recently – all those hard earned visits…)


Photo Finish - Digital



Joyful said...

Dear Caroline,

What a pleasure to read from you again! Though I certainly wish the news and outlook for you was much more cheery. I will miss hearing from you once you can no longer write. It has been my delight to have known you and learned more about you (and John and Banjo) over the years. I was so hoping I would some day get a chance to visit GB and in turn have a chance to see you. When I read your post my heart was lifted when I heard you had another 10 years or so. Then it dropped when I read about your liver. I agree that 64 is a good age. Many people have much less and some it seems have much more. I understand what you mean about being alone and not having someone to discuss everything with. I'm sure you still miss John so much. But you certainly have great loved ones who are there supporting you in whatever way they can. That is a real treasure. I pray for strength and joy for all of you. You might just be a miracle who lives much longer despite your conditions. I pray it is so. Big hugs my friend. xx

Zanna said...

Oh how lovely to hear from you - have been wondering how you were doing. Sorry to hear the outlook is so glum but love that you have managed to stay reasonably positive. I'm sharing something I saw on a friend of mine's Facebook post the other day - it hit a chord for me - and while I used to believe - I'm now in a kind of bubble where I'd like to but I'm just not sure. Not sure if you've still been following my travelblog - I'm retired now and still enjoying travelling though I had a bit of a scare when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer just before Christmas but I've had a bowel resection which I've recovered from remarkably well and am now cancer free so treasuring every minute of this wonderful life. Hope to still hear from you from time to time and hope your condition doesn't worsen. You are a very brave lady xx

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”
The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”
The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”
The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”
The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”
The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”
The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”
Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”
To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”
~ from the parables of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Sara said...

How nice to hear from you again, even if the news isn''t all that good. Hang in there and prove those doctors wrong. Going through something like this alone can't be easy, so no wonder your Banjo is sticking close. He knows you need him. I look forward to reading a few more of your stories.

Bunny said...

Hello there old bean! Still reading, but also like you not posting much these days. I am sad to hear that you copped another dose of bad luck and it does sound like the pits that you are dealing with things alone. I am sad to hear that it's been so tough for you the last few years. Your weariness to write is understandable, but if you get the chance to pen a few words we will be here listening and at least an ear for your moans and frustrations. Much love xx

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