Category Archives: vegan

Eat, Sleep, Stroke, repeat!

After my stay in hospital from Thursday morning, after attending the TIA clinic, I was invited to go home on the Sunday, as there wasn’t much they could do and had me on tablets to control, or dissolve the problem blood clots. I very willingly went home and slept so well that night, three nights of disturbed sleep, twice being moved at half two in the morning, I can’t complain though as when I worked at Basildon Hospital as a porter from 1991-2004, we would often move patients, very unhappily at this time, I did hear it was because the gods of the hospital, the consultants, wanted all their patients on the same ward, can’t blame them if they’re that high up, I suppose, but this rumour was never confirmed, officially.

After getting home and up the next day, ready to start the next chapter of my life, we had a nice relaxing day, and picked up our granddaughter Jess from her after school club, saving her mum, Lib, and brother, Reg, walking round to the school again to pick her up. We had a nice steady walk, no rushing, as driving is out, as I’m having these mini-stroke like episodes. We have a nice hour or so at Libs house seeing everyone, and then a steady walk home, which we’re good at after last year, as between chemo, we’d walk 9 miles, quite happily and very slowly. We pop into Tesco for a few bits, I get a trolley, and off we go, after five minutes or so I go to move my hand and realise it’s numb, no tingling this time, just the hand unable to straighten my fingers, I let Sonia know, and it’s “Oh no not again!” “Are you ok to go home and I’ll finish in here?” “Yeah I’ll be ok, take care and see you soon,” It’s starting to tingly again, on my face and hand, and slowly creep up my arm, it’s weird as it goes across your face, just the left side of my body, as it goes past your throat you can feel half your throat can swallow but the other half can’t, just hope I don’t get into a coughing fit. I get home and text Sonia I’m ok, and Lib, then phone 111, my mouth is only half working but I get across to them so they can understand me, eventually, “Yes we will send an ambulance for you but sorry there is a delay.” “No worries.” Sonia gets back and is worried, Lib, Chris and Davey are on their way around, and I’m starting to get back to normal, I feel like a nuisance sometimes, all this stress and worry and within twenty minutes, I’m going fully back to normal. We get a call from the ambulance service and they apologise for the delay, and that it could be another 15-20 minutes. eventually the paramedic gets here and checks me over, I’m ok but I do win a trip to the hospital, just to be sure. I get a lift in his car, the rest follow along behind, but he can’t have the blue lights on though. We get taken in the tradesman entrance at the A/E, and get processed a little quicker, then shown to the relaxing area in A/E? Oh yeah the waiting room.

It’s Sonia and Lib with me in the hospital again, a bit of deja vous here. But not long and Paul comes out “David James please,” I knew Paul when he first started working here as a porter 25 years ago, still the same happy chappie, and he’s moved up and takes bloods now, and very well too, I told him “I’ll recommend him on Tripadvisor, 5 stars.” We soon see the stroke nurse we saw last Wednesday, she says “Hello, again, have you had another one?” We go to a cubicle and go through all the stroke tests, but as I’ve had another one, there must be something wrong, not just a mini-stroke, so to get to the right clinic, they’re going to keep me in tonight, as the morning clinic won’t do the MRI scan with contrast, the dye they put in to see you better. I’m taken for a CT scan tonight then the doctors will look at it tomorrow. Around 01.00 I’m taken to Pastuer Ward, and say goodbye to my wife Sonia and daughter Lib, I’ll see them tomorrow early afternoon. As I’m wheeled onto the ward, this is the real stroke ward, with a nurse in every four bed bay, even in the dark you can see this is a serious ward with lots of ill patients, I feel guilty and that I don’t fit in here, what if they need this bed for someone who is iller than me? I’d feel terrible.

I get settled in bed, have my obs done, all seem ok, then it’s good night and the doctor will be round to see you, I didn’t realise she meant only an hour or two later, “Hello David, I am the doctor and your scan looks ok, all clear, I’ll let you get some sleep, thank you.” Try and get some more sleep, but if it’s clear then what’s causing these little mini-strokes, more questions than answers. A disturbed sleep after more obs, but I can sleep during the day so it’s not a problem. “Cup of tea?” Now we’re talking “Oh yes please,” as the ward starts to wake, the lady opposite me seems quite ill, and there’s two other gentleman in here who don’t look too bad, I still don’t fit in here. Last week I was on an assessment ward, then surgical, no thanks, then the lung ward? At least I’m having stroke like symptoms so must be in the right place. Did I say sleep during the day! I don’t think so, I’ve never been so busy, you go on a stroke ward and there’s so many ways a stroke can affect you, in big obvious ways but also the little subtle ways too, can you draw a cube? Can you do this ? Can you recognise that? We go for a walk, upstairs then back down, I pass all my tests, I just don’t feel I’ve got anywhere as my symptoms only lasted twenty minutes, then back to normal. I even have my heart scanned, all reassuring to hear it all looks well, but I’m not the one that needs these tests, the proper stroke patients need this, but as I’m here, it is good to know they are prepared to check me out throughly. As we get to lunch I eat that, and the food is surprisingly good in here, I now need a sleep, Sonia and Lib turn up, but I say if they want to get something to eat then come back later, I’m shattered. I get some sleep, but more disturbances, all medical so I can’t complain, it’s all to help me, and they’re very thorough on here. We get told they’re going to check all the scans and i’ll probably be going home and be on blood thinning jabs for a few months, they’re not sure if it’s the cancer or that I am having mini strokes, ok then, they’ll let me know. I get moved to a side room in the evening after everyone has gone, peace, but god it’s boring, nothing to see or hear, even any sort of banter with anyone is out because there’s no one there, just me, I prefer the main ward, there is always something going on you can watch or listen too.

Me in my side room with the wall for company. I know how Shirley Valentine felt now.

The next morning there’s less to do and all I want is for 14.30 to come, for visiting time, it drags, my oncologist comes in with a lung nurse, he’s a nice bloke so we smile and shake hands, he tells me “The stroke like symptoms are not caused by cancer, which is good, so we’ll see you in clinic, probably in two to three weeks time.” I was hoping to be seen sooner but hey ho, better late than never. Sonia and Lib are hear and see my oncologist come in so wait outside my side room and I tell them what he said. And it looks like I’m gong home today. An hour or so later, another doctor comes in, a trainee doctor, but he looks a little uncomfortable, and asks “Would I prefer to be alone with him or is it ok to talk in front of my wife and daughter,” “That’ll be fine,” He’s struggling, I’m use to bad news, so feel a little sorry for him, this is a hard part of the job to learn, he was here earlier with the consultant he follows around and two or three other trainees, but on his own this time. Here we go, “We think it is cancer in your brain causing these problems, and the nero surgeons have been informed at ‘Queens’, they have asked for more information on your case, and when we hear anything we’ll let you know. You have a new appointment with your oncologist next Thursday, do you have any questions?” I don’t but show him my t-shirt with ‘Nice try cancer, but I’m still here!’ on it, printed by my son and his new t-shirt printing enterprise, ‘Majestic Prints and Designs’. He smiles and says, “Keep fighting” “I will” we shake hands and he leaves. My wife and daughter move in close to me and ask, “Are you worried or concerned now!” “Err I’m just wondering what tattoo I could have for my scar after brain surgery?” “Your still not worried?” The atmoshere is relaxed which is how I want it, for me it’s the best way to deal with this, head on, with a smile and a cheeky grin, and the people you love so much around me.

Queens Hospital at Romford, has been mentioned I could have surgery here, we’ll have to wait and see for that, risky but I’d be in good hands here.

A little while later I have new medication, epilepsy tablets, as these episodes I’m having are now being caused by the cancer causing seizure like symptoms, but that look like a stroke, it’s getting complicated I know. But now i’m more than relieved and happy to be going home, new medication, more questions, and not enough answers yet. Hopefully Thursday can bring some of what we want when we meet with my Oncologist. Until then thank you for taking the time to read my blog, Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, even if it does get in your brain, always 100% positive. Take care and see you soon. Oh and any suggestions for a tattoo for my scar if it does come to having Neuro surgery, funnier the better.

Going A Bit Numb!

Hi everyone hope your all well, I was taking my grandaughter down to her dad last Wednesday about 7ish, as she went I had a little run next to the car waving at each other smiling. I thought I’ll just pop to Tesco, only 2 minutes walk from us, as I started to walk I got a tingle in my thumb and forefinger and at the same time on my nose and lip, a bit weird and no idea what it was I just carried on to Tesco, as I got to the entrance my left hand was going numb. Sometimes if you lean on a chair or even in bed your arm goes numb, I just thought I’d done something like that. I carried on to the far end of the store and by now the numbness is creeping up my arm and across my face making my mouth feel I was at the dentist just after an injection to numb the mouth to let them carry out their butchery, I was now a little worried and thinking about asking for someone to help, to call an ambulance, I had no idea what it was but knew something was wrong. I had come out without my phone and hadn’t told Sonia my wife, I was popping over here, it could be a few hours before she found out where I was or what was happening, I didn’t want to put her through that, so I grabbed a bottle of wine I’d come in for and made my way to the checkouts half praying I wouldn’t collapse, I managed to pay, smile and say thanks without being suspected as being ill. Now the home run, only 2 minutes till home, got to the entrance of our flats ok but quite numb now, most of my face, my arm and I could feel the numbness go down my back, very weird sensation. Got up in the lift ok, in the flat and shoes off, Sonia saw me and afterwards said she’d thought I’d had a row with someone by the look on my face, but as I confessed to my wife “I’m going numb!” Sonia filled with panic “come and sit down, I’m gonna phone Lib!” She sat me down and I tried to say 999 but only coming from one side of your mouth it’s not very clear, I was now numb all down my left side, what the hell is next with this bloody cancer?

As Sonia phoned our daughter my hand was getting a bit of movement back. As our daughter and her husband, Lib and Chris got round, all panicky, I waved and said fooled you, trying to lighten the mood, they all seemed stressed and worried. The ambulance phoned back and wouldn’t be here yet, but asked how I was now, and most of the feeling had come back but I felt a bit weird. It was suggested that if I could get down stairs we could make our own way to hospital, I didn’t fancy that so we waited for the ambulance. Another half an hour and we decided to give it a go going ourselves. We saw an ambulance going the other way with blue lights on, our son had to explain that we’d made our own way to hospital.

me in hospital the next day, I’ll blog more in a day or two.

As we got there we saw the triage nurse, booked in, and sat in the waiting area, quite full considering it was Wednesday evening at 20.30. We saw a stroke nurse fairly quickly but was soon waiting again, then we saw the assessment nurse, “Have you got your piece of paper from triage?” “No the nurse has it” “What’s your name, do we have the right patient? Where’s your paper?” “I’ve seen the stroke nurse, she has it!” Now that’s sorted we move on to bloods being taken and soon waiting again.

The amount of people here is unbelievable, people moan about the NHS, but it’s this packed and still running, it may be slow but behind the scenes their saving lives, and quite possibly mine later, so I will not complain or moan about this, it’s a miracle it keeps going, where would we be without it?

We see a doctor and go through the stroke tests but all seems well, then we’re invited to go back to where we were relaxing, ere that was at home quite a few hours ago, but I don’t think he was sending us home, so back to the waiting area. Once more we’re called by the stroke nurse again and she books me in to a clinic at the hospital in the morning, at 07.30, its 01.00 now, not much sleep tonight then! We get home and tired but it feels good, but gotta be up in 4 hours, oh well.

This is being written in hospital so none of the usual photos, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, there will be more to this story tomorrow or Thursday, I prefer working on the computer than my mobile, but wanted to let you know how I’m getting on. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer or mini strokes and always 100% positive, take care and see you soon. 😊👍❤ End of part one, parts 2,3 and 4 to follow.

New Year Resolutions

I’ve never been one for making New Year resolutions, as I always knew I wouldn’t stick to them so I never made any, but having lung cancer and making it to another new year, why not, maybe I should make some and try to make some positive changes to my life, as according to my doctor, I shouldn’t really be here now, not that I ever believed the doctor, I always thought you had to be ill and feel ill to be dying of something, and I most certainly wasn’t ill enough to be dying of anything. So what can my resolutions be, thats if there’s more than one of them.

Firstly I’m a Wim Hoffer, doing breathing excercises with yoga and various excercises your suppose to do between each step of the course. I have hardly done any of this since July, since my rib has been hurting, which started after doing four rounds of deep breathing. It doesn’t hurt as much now and I’ve had five lots of radiotherapy on it, so hopefully that will start to ease soon. So the plan is to get back on track with the Wim Hof Fundementals course, and start to practice it everyday, if not daily then at least weekly. That includes the yoga before the breathing, and the homework between each step of the course, and of course the cold showers. You can find out more about Wim Hof and his breathing method here.

Second, writing this blog has been a lot of fun, so I want to do more writing, more blogs and even writing articles for magazines or the local paper. I’m writing a book and having radiotherapy has put the finish date of it back by a few months, so part of this resolution is to finish my book and get it published, either as an e-book or paperback or both, I don’t think it’ll make the New York bestseller list, so I don’t think getting the best deal would be too important, just getting it out there is the important thing, and getting it published.

Third, I can be a bit arty at times, and I enjoy creating stuff, it doesn’t have to be much, even just playing about with scissors and coloured card, cutting out the names of my grandchildren, they liked it, and I always enjoyed drawing and painting at school, so doing a picture or making something each month is something I want to do.

Fourth, has to be more swimming, if my cancer allows, and more running, getting fit again, starting gently and building up to getting below an hour for the London 10k in July and getting in around 45 mins for the mile swim in Swim Serpentine in Sept, and swimming it front crawl, the last two times have been breast stroke, and getting some chill swims in as well, I do enjoy a cold dip, which is part of the Wim Hof course that I enjoy, the cold showers, you always feel so refreshed when you come out of the cold shower.

So I think thats it :- sticking to the Wim Hof course more, more writing, being creative each month, and more swimming and running, that’s not bad for someone that doesn’t make any new year resolutions. This new year marks the end of my first full year of being affected by cancer, last new year, I had been ill since September, and no idea what the new year would bring, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it this far. But I have and I would say I’m thriving, I feel good and positive, and looking forward to a bright and long future, so I might as well make some plans and give myself something to do with all this time I’m going to have on my hands.

I’ll be seeing my oncologist in January, so we’ll take it from there after getting the results of my CT scan, and proceed into the future of this bright and prosporus new year. So thank you again for taking the time to read my blog and listen to my new year resolutions, and I’ll let you know how I get on with sticking to them, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all an amazing New Year and good luck to you all and that you have a healthy and happy 2020, be strong, think strong and do all you dare to dream, and find the strength and courage that’s already inside you to follow your dreams, whatever they are! Thats your new year resolution, I’ve just made it for you. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer and always 100% positive throughout 2020 and beyond.

The End of Lung cancer awareness Month

As we come into December which brings to a close Lung cancer Awareness Month here in the UK, I was very proud to of been a part of the Roy Castle Lung cancer Foundation campaign #Follow My Lead, going up to Liverpool in August and meeting some lovely people, and telling my story of having lung cancer, I hope some people have come to realise it’s not the end of the world just because your diagnosed with lung cancer, it doesn’t mean it will be easy, or that your going to live forever, but it shows you can have a life even though you have lung cancer. No one knows how long they have, and having a terminal diagnosis heightens your awareness of the people you hear about in the news every day, that go out and never come home, dying in an accident on the roads, or being attacked, like those poor people who died or got injured near London Bridge on Friday, or the earthquake in Albania, our nephew Timmy is in Albania, but thankfully he is ok and safe, my heart goes out to all those who lost their lives in these incidents or any others you hear about. You never know what will happen tomorrow, so don’t let the thought that you might die one day from cancer, stop you enjoying today.

It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front for me lately, I was hoping to start getting more blogs done each week, but it’s amazing how a quite well behaved three year old grandson can stop you doing so many things and make you so tired, I don’t remember it being like this when our four children were that age, but we were a lot younger too. My sons lovely partner made her family homeless, so he split up with her and took their eldest with him and we’re helping out with their youngest, until he can get a place of his own, so it could be for a few months we’re helping out, just hope our energy doesn’t give up before then. It’s a pleasure having him here, and we run the two of them to school each day, so we’re very busy and it is nice getting involved with our grandchildren, and it takes your mind off the normal day to day boring things, you don’t have a lot of time to think about anything. I’d say it makes you feel young again having a toddler about almost every day, but it doesn’t, I think it makes you realise how old you actually are, but as I said it’s a lot of pleasure too, I’ll let you know how we get on with him and the housing situation.

This is the link to my story if you haven’t seen it already:- https://www.roycastle.org/david-james/, and if you go on the Roy Castle website:- www.roycastle.org you can see all the other stories of people with lung cancer and how they have coped and lived with it, all of them are worth watching or reading, very inspiring. There’s also the comedian John Ryan who wrote a poem and made a video for the campaign, also he went on Sky News and was interviewed and put one of the presenters in her place as she ignorantly said you catch lung cancer from smoking, that’s worth watching too, heres the link for that:- https://www.roycastle.org/i-need-to-correct-you-there/.

Well I’ll keep it short and sweet today, and hopefully I’ll have time to blog again soon, anytime I sit at the table to use the computer, I get a smiley face next to me pulling the chair out, wanting to play too. I open a page for him and he taps away, and he gets the computer to do things I never knew it could, I try to watch what he pressed but he’s too quick, one thing was the curser stayed on the right of the page and as he typed the letters came out on the right and moved left as he typed more, search boxes came up, all these things I’d never seen before, and as much as I try I can’t get them to come up again. I have my unfinished book on here, I just hope he doesn’t reboot the computer to restore factory settings, and all is lost. I’ve emailed my book to myself, just in case. Take care and thank you for taking the time to read my blog and see you again soon, I hope, if our grandson allows, as soon as he’s in bed, we’re not far behind. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer and 100% positive always.

#Follow My Lead

Having just got back from a fantastic holiday in Paphos Cyprus, we’re trying to get back to normal and adjust to the cold weather, no rain just sunshine for 13 days, 23-28 degrees every day, sooo nice, and lots of swimming in the sea, which was warmer than the hotels swimming pool, but I still swam in there too. It really was the relaxing holiday we needed, just wish we were still there.

Sonia and me enjoying the amazing sea at Coral Bay near Paphos, Cyprus, sadly a week ago and now back in the cold damp UK. My next venture into the sea will be at Southend on Sea on New Years Day, or near that date to fit in with Sandy’s shift pattern, we’re doing a sponsored New Years Day dip for Clowns in the Sky.

November in the UK is Lung cancer Awareness Month, and I’ve said about when we went to Liverpool to record my story for a campaign for the Roy Castle Lung cancer Foundation in a previous blog, Steam Trains, Filming and Getting a Bit Philosophical, click on the link if you’d like to read it. Well the campaign is now live and the finished product is quite good, even though I do say so myself, so heres the link for my story:- https://www.roycastle.org/david-james/ If you look at the other stories as well, they are really good inspirational stories of some other peoples experience of living with lung cancer, click to see the website with the whole campaign. It would be great if you could share my story or any of the others so we can reach more people and help them with their experience with cancer, whatever that may be, and give them hope that they can beat it, and to realise that having a diagnosis is not the end, there is life after being told you have cancer.

This is the start of my own video made by the Roy Castle Lung cancer Foundation for their campaign #Follow My Lead, I think it came out really well and am really happy with it, I’ll put the link in for you to watch this and a link for the whole campaign to see all the other videos, they’re all really good and well worth a watch.

I got an email when I was on holiday and knew excatly what it was, but I wasn’t going to show it to anyone else, not until I’d seen it first and on my own. Now I’m well known for nodding off, and a lot more than once on holiday I woke up alone, the other 9 had gone off to do something else, or get ready for dinner. But this time when I woke I had the opportunity to look at this on my own. As I’m fumbling about trying to play the video, the horror that if I like this or not, it’s going out tomorrow and for at least a month, it’s a weird scary feeling, but a little exciting too. Here we go, play. Hang on this isn’t too bad, actually it’s quite good, I’m really happy with it, I emailed Rachel at the Roy Castle Lung cancer Foundation to let her know I’m really happy with it, then I started sharing it with my family, and got so much positive responses from it, I felt really good with myself, reminded me of my party, ‘F**k You cancer!’

Look what I found when I went on roycastle.org, and I’m on there front of their website, there were about 10 videos made on this campaign, and they’re all good, well worth a look. And please share.

Having got back from Cyprus, and our amazing holiday, I woke up to blue skies that we had had every day in Cyprus, but this wasn’t Cyprus in any way shape or form, this is Pitsea south east England, and no hotel pool or amazing clear sea to swim in, and I start radiotherapy tomorrow at Southend Hospital. I’m glad the radiotherapy starts, just to get it out of the way, one thing I’m glad about is that the doctor had this radiotherapy down as urgent, but I was on holiday so the treatment had to wait until I was available, not the treatment or the cancer dictating what was going to happen or when, I was!

The veiw from our window, with scaffolding, definately not Cyprus.

Having the radiotherapy treatment is easier than chemo, and a lot quicker, and with no immidiate side effects, yet, not the dose I’m having anyway. It almost feels like your lying in the lap of a caring robocop nurse, with her head is above you looking down with concern with her one big eye, assessing you, to see if you need a zap of radiation to help save you, or a death ray and you’ll be burnt to dust in a second if your beyond repair. Hopefully Mrs Robo-nurse takes pity on me and see’s a glimour of hope, and gives me the radiation. You can see what I mean, Robo-nurse is looking over you with interest and hopefully compassion, with her arms out waiting for you to lay down on her lap. “Your move creep!”

My new friend Mrs Robonurse. Your move creep!!!!

I’ve had four sessions now, just tomorrow to go then see the Oncologist in 4-5 weeks time, the only thing I’ve noticed with this treatment is some wind from my stomach, which I had had while I was having chemo, but no where near as uncomfortable. My rib is still tender but feels like it’s getting better again, I keep sneezing, but I now sneeze with my mouth open, (just thought you might like to know) as this puts less pressure on my lower left rib, on holiday my daughter asked just after I had sneezed, “Was that a sneeze or a cough?” I explained what I was now doing and she laughed and said “It’s a snough!” (snoff) “A sneeze and a cough, there you go Dad you’ve invented something!” Something the radiotherapy department has in common with the chemo treatment, is how busy this place is, both departments are so full all the time, and the nurse’s seem to work none stop, and yet are always cheerful, some more than others but all have been nice. They have five different machines (Robo-nurses), so you see a different group of nurses as I’ve been in four different rooms for treatment so far, just tomorrow to go, five different rooms or revisiting one of them, we’ll see. Well that’s it for now, so thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and you may of noticed that cancer is not getting a capital letter anymore, I don’t think it deserves it, do you?Take care and see you soon. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, 100% positive always.