Tag Archives: basildon hospital

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.

Telling My Story for Hospital Radio, and got 3 new tattoos.

On Tuesday, I had an appointment to tell my story and have it recorded to be used for seminars, we got involved in this after attending a ‘Health and Wellbeing’ seminar in June. They asked for volunteers to record their story or to speak at a seminar, one step at a time so I thought I’d record mine. These would be played while people are mingling about getting a cuppa or a sandwich, waiting for the seminar to begin or during a break. I thought it would be good to try and help others with their journey with lung cancer, or any cancer, hopefully make them realise they can beat it, or at least give it a good run for their money. The build up to this was suppose to be a lot of thought going into it and writting a few notes or bullet points, to help remind me of what I wanted to say. But the reallity was as we left to go to the hospital, I thought ‘I wish I had gone through what I wanted to say, at least once.’ With my back giving way last Friday I never got around to doing anything about it, I felt disappointed but was quite happy I knew roughly what I wanted to say.

The Health and Wellbeing seminar we went to in June.

We waited in reception and someone called Sue was going to meet us and take us to the hospital radio studio, who had kindly let them use their studio instead of just using an office and a tape recorder, google it if you don’t know what a tape recorder is. As it had just gone 14.00, we went to reception to ask for Sue, and the receptionist pointed to a woman standing next to her desk, she was waiting for someone to come through the doors, we had a little laugh about it and were taken down to the hospital radio studio. We went in to a small room, with a lady on the mike, Jacqui, Katy who we recognised from the Health and Wellbeing seminar we went to, Sue was now there and another bloke, it was quite packed in the small studio, and my nervousness was cranking right up now. My wife Sonia had a seat then Jacqui said “My husband is called David James.” I said “your names not Sonia is it?” “No.” Now that would of been a coincidence. We are all introduced and say hello, then the bloke takes a few pictures and he leaves, but there’s still five of us in this small room, still nervous. You volunteer for these things and they seem a good idea at the time, and then when it’s here you think, ‘Why did I say I’d do this?’ Kate who is sitting next to me and will be asking questions, is asking how I feel, and I quickly get in I’m nervous, but she soon makes me feel better, “Don’t worry we’re all a bit nervous.”

This is Kate and me, with Jacqui on the other side of the desk, and I wasn’t asleep, I swear.

We have headphones to put on and a great big microphone in front of each us, and we’re off. Jacqui starts “Hello we’re here with David James, and he’s come here to tell us about his story with cancer,” this isn’t like the one I did with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, there, they had someone asking questions, but you had to use the question in your answer, and then their voice was edited out, so it sounds like your just talking on your own. But this is an interview, at first with Jacqui on the mike, then with Kate asking questions and keeping the conversation going. Now we’ve started I’m quite enjoying it, and once I start on my new favourite subject, cancer, I can talk for hours, luckily this only went on for half an hour, In the middle they played a song, they had asked if I had a particular favourite I wanted played, and I had one in particular song I wanted playing, it’s one of those songs that the world stops when it comes on, and you just listen or sing along. ‘Heros’ by David Bowie, is that song for me, and with the lines ‘We can beat them, forever and ever, we can be Heros, just for one day!’ the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you just feel you can do anything, I love playing this on YouTube, and Motorheads version, as a tribute, is great too. The second half is them asking about this song and about my book that I’m writing, that was suppose to be finished by now, but with needing some radiotherapy, I now have a bit more to write, and more to talk about at my next event like this. As it’s brought to an end, you always feel ‘I wish it could of gone on a bit longer.’ We say our goodbyes and thank you for having us today, we even get a token for the cafe for a cuppa and a bit of cake, a great end to a great day. As we part they even offer to help with my book, maybe help with proof reading, I don’t know much about the publishing side but have seen proof reading, but not really known what it is except that you pay for it, so that would be helpful, thank you.

My new blackhead tattoo, and one on each side too, they said they’ll fade, eventually.

On Friday I have my first CT scan to locate excatly where the radiotherapy will be targeted on my lower left rib. Eventually when we find the Radiotherapy Department, and it is very well hidden along the corridors of Southend Hospital. As I’m called in, they ask a few questions and tell you what will happen, but they also ask if it is ok to do a tattoo of a dot in three places, I said “Yes” but didn’t think it would be a real tattoo. I go in with my top off, but have my lumber support on, as my back is still tender, but I’m asked to take that off, it helps but I’m ok without it, it hurts if I wear it or not. I get on the slider and the mandatory arms up above your head, but this one has rests to put your arms on, why don’t the other CT machines have these, this is comfortable. A few minutes of going back and forward and we’re done, then they come out and tell me they’ll just do the three dots, “Yeah no problem,” “A bit of ink, then I’ll make the dot, a sharp scratch, and another, last one,” That hurt, almost like a real tattoo, I ask how long they’ll be there for, and he says, “They’ll fade in time but will look just like a freckle, but it’s a real tattoo, so they will be there a long time,” ‘Oh, oh well, sure you’ll hardly see them,’ I’m thinking, I didn’t realise they were permanent, but if I need them, I need them. All done and got my date for the radiotherapy, 11th to the 15th November, just after we get back off our holiday to Cyprus. We can’t wait for this holiday, and with ten of us going it should be good. At home I look at my new tattoo, and the one on my chest looks like a great big blackhead, not the best tattoo. Thank you again for reading my blog, and I’ll let you know how the holiday goes and how I get on with the radiotherapy, take care and see you all again soon. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, 100% positive always!