Stepping back

Right now I feel as though I have stepped back two years to when I was ill for 4 months. I have very little appetite, it is an effort to eat even a slice of bread. Consequently my energy levels have plummeted. I find myself feeling cold particularly my upper body and spend hours in bed sleeping fully dressed with the duvet tucked under my chin.

Not so long ago I was prescribed some tablets from the hospital to help with my bladder problems. I didn’t know if it was a coincidence but at the same time that I started taking them I started getting the painful shivery flu like symptoms that I used to get when I had  kidney infections. After a few days I stopped taking the tablets to see if that helped.

I went to see the Dr, she confirmed that no infection was present. I was advised to wait until I felt better then start taking the tablets again. At this point I had also been struggling to eat properly for maybe a month or so. Some days have been better than others.

On Sunday 31st March I took one of the tablets again as I was feeling better just a little on the weak side. By the evening I was feeling not right, by about 9pm I was having the painful shivery symptoms again. Luckily I wasn’t working on Monday but felt so bad that I again spent most of the day in bed. By Tuesday it had worn off a little. I went to work as usual (Tuesday is normally the quietest day of the week). I loaded up my car then went home or an hour to rest before doing the first part of my round. After an hour I had to go home again for a break. What I would do in 2 hours took me 4.

On Wednesday I went off to do my work knowing that I would have to keep going home as I had done the previous day. Because of my feeble state I left about 18 parcels behind I knew I didn’t have the energy levels needed. Again I went home had a rest before setting out again. After an hour I went home. I repeated this pattern, apart from my sorry state my car decided to play up. Each time I tried to restart the engine it was getting harder and harder until it decided not to start at all. I still had an hour’s worth of parcels to deliver. I phoned RAC and was told it could be upto 3 hours as the rush hour was about to start shortly. After waiting about half an hour I tried the engine again and it did start although reluctantly. I managed to limp my car home. I wasn’t going to risk it stopping.

I thought it only fair to let my field manager know what was going on. I wasn’t due to work the following day, plus my car was booked in to the garage for a safety recall. Funny how in the days leading up to going into the garage my car had started playing up, overheating light flashing, If I turned the heater up I was suddenly plunged into fog.

Anyway I decided that I needed to take Friday and Saturday off so that would give me Thursday through to Tuesday to build up my strength again. The stress this gave me in trying to find someone, anyone to cover my round for a couple of days was more than I needed. I told my field manager that because of my health I had decided to give up my round. We had a chat later in the day and I will not be doing any more parcels until I feel fit enough. When I feel up to it I can go back and do one or two days when I want to. For now my priority is to get better.

In this past week I have done nothing for my Avon business I am a week behind with putting out my books and I have a few boxes that I have yet to unpack and sort for my customers. Now that I am not doing the parcels for the moment, I am determined to catch up with my Avon.

I think that when I was ill 2 years ago I just let myself get swallowed up in it. This time I am adamant that I will fight it and get my strength back sooner rather than later. I have to be strong enough to make the journey to see my son and grandson next weekend and again on 27th for his first birthday.

I took my car out for a run to try to clear the fuel blockage. It was really noisy today, I was just starting to think about pulling into a layby. Just then the oil light came on. followed quickly by a clunk, there was a cloud of smoke and the car cut out just as I reached a slip road. (my first and only piece of luck). It took an hour and a half for my rescuer to arrive with his RAC van. It took him less than a minute to decide it was the Cam belt. So my car was towed home. He wasn’t able to get it near our home so he left it in a car park further up the road. This looks like it will be an expensive problem. By the time I had staggered home from where my car now is I was as white as a sheet according to my Mum. The poor RAC man had to put up with me retching all the way back.

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Slowly does it

I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I have done anything quickly. My boys used to joke ‘mum never runs unless she needs the loo’. They were right. Have you ever tried to run up a flight of stairs with your legs crossed. I can tell you it’s impossible.

Anyway, I don’t walk fast, read fast or do anything fast. The same seems to be the case with building my Avon business. I don’t do huge amounts of canvassing for new customers like most of my friends.However week by week I am adding more customers to my business. Today I dropped books to some new houses and some that I have canvassed before. I went back to pick up some stragglers from another road. I picked up one new customer. That makes it three new customers this week. Taking my total up to 101. It was my plan to canvass a lot more houses than I have been able to do. Due to my recent health issues it has been a slower growth than I had hoped for.

I had also hoped to grow my team quicker than I have so maybe you could help me. If you know anyone who would like to become an Avon Rep or Sales Leader perhaps you could show them my website

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or perhaps you would like to buy from my shop

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Dark cloud on a sunny day

I’m looking out onto a sunny day and not feeling the joy this would usually bring. Anyone who knows me would say that I am a naturally happy and positive person. Throughout my life I have suffered from depression although not so much in recent years. I have mostly managed to keep it at bay.

I think my whole life has been one long struggle. Poverty, living with not one but two alcoholic husbands. (yes I know one is unfortunate, two is foolish).

18 years ago I was starting the journey into treatment for stage 3 cancer. I was given the all clear in September 2001 a few days before 19/11. it was still another couple of months before I returned to my part time work. It took time to build back the strength to do more than just the basic requirements of family life. I remember very clearly the words of my Macmillan nurse telling me that a very few people have long term bowel/bladder problems following the treatment I had undergone.

I think that after all these years it is safe to say that I am one of these few people. I wasn’t aware until two years ago when I was so ill that I was literally housebound in agony with no appetite. My cancer treatment had made me prone to kidney infections. I had suffered repeated bouts of flu like symptoms, pain in every part of my body and a shivering fever. What scared me the most was the drastic weight loss and the frequent passing of blood in my urine. After many blood tests, ultra sound scans, CT scan it was decided that the cause of all these symptoms was a severe kidney infection.  A course of strong antibiotics and forcing myself to eat again I began to get better. The next year and a half I have managed to stay reasonably healthy.

The last few weeks I have felt unwell, I was getting those flu like symptoms again. I have been struggling to force myself to eat for a few weeks and the blood in my urine has increased from being once or twice a week to multiple times a day.  I never know when the blood will come but I always know when it does because passing water becomes very painful. (it makes me want to cry). I don’t have thrush or cystitis both very unpleasant but luckily not problems that I have had to deal with for years. However as I sit here now I have a pain in my urethera. I don’t know how to describe it other than a feeling that I have a holly leaf wedged inside me. I have been to see the Dr, I don’t have an infection at the moment. The flu symptoms have subsided. On Friday I had to take a day off work as I had a severe stomach upset which left me on the loo for hours. When not on the loo I was sleeping.

I was trying to force myself to eat to get back my energy but scared to eat because my bowels were playing up. Ever since my cancer treatment I have suffered with bowel problems. I can never be confident that my bowels won’t erupt with little or no notice. It makes being out of the house very dangerous for me. Yes I really chose the right job for me. Being in my car for hours on end delivering parcels. There have been days when I have had to make a mad dash home for the loo. I don’t always make it.  It has been bad enough for all these years but now that I my bladder problems have increased over recent years it is getting me down. Following a recent urodynamics test (which wasn’t very successful) the registrar tells me that my bladder has damage from my radiotherapy back in 2001. Cheers I had worked that out.

This has been my life for so many years now that I don’t remember what it was like to have normal toilet functions. I find it both physically and mentally distressing every time I need the toilet. It must be wonderful not to have any worries or distress when sitting on the toilet. I just don’t remember.

All this added to my recent bout of being unwell has led me into a dark place. I don’t usually allow myself to wallow for long but this time I feel myself being dragged under. I know I have things to do and people to talk to but it all seems as though my life is too much effort. I have my estranged husband calling me with messages saying that he needs my help. I can’t help him I have my own demons to deal with. If it wasn’t for my four sons and their growing families/partnerships I just wouldn’t bother getting up each day. I just want to give in to oblivion. I know I won’t, I have my grandson and another grandchild on the way to think about.  If I am honest though I am fed up with my life.

To make life even better within minutes of posting this I fell. I missed the bottom step of our stairs, flinging myself and my laundry into a heap on the floor. Surprisingly my ankles were fine. However I did have incredible pain in my feet. I later discovered the my left big toe is bruised and I had some painful swelling on the side of my right foot. Having wrapped my foot in a towel and some frozen sweetcorn, the swelling subsided. Now three days later my right foot is only painful when knocked but my left big toe is still painful but I am able to walk on it fairly well now.

I have just been reading about PRD Pelvic Radiation Disease Pelvic Radiation Disease

This is new information for me. I had no idea that what I have been dealing with for the last 17 years is a common condition for those of us who have had radiation treatment for Cervical Cancer. Had I known about this sooner I would have made more noise about it with my GP. Instead I have lived with it believing that nothing could be done.  Over the last couple of years I have had various tests and screenings for my bladder problems but never for my bowel problems.

Yes, I am grateful for the treatment that I had which has enabled me to  continue with my life and watch my sons grow up. However I would certainly say that these apparently not so rare side effects of radiation treatment have affected my quality of life.

Relationships

Since leaving my second alcoholic husband a year ago I have been living with my mother. I have gone from being in a large 4 bedroom house where I ran everything from the cooking cleaning, finances etc. I have been running a home for over 30 years (my eldest son is now 31). Over that time I have accumulated a collection of kitchen things.

Moving in with my mother I left the majority of my things behind. I have one medium bedroom plus I have taken over the two seater sofa. The kitchen is about a quarter of the size of the one I left behind. I never thought I would miss doing the weekly shop, but I find myself walking around a supermarket thinking about what I could buy/make. There is very little room in the cupboards or fridge ad freezer for me to add the things I would buy. It has been a challenge going back to live with my mother after all these years of running my own home.

I love my mum to bits and we have always been very close. I am very grateful to her for allowing me to move in with her when I left my husband. In the last year it has become apparent that her need for my help (in small ways) has increased. I don’t now feel I could leave her on her own again.

It would have been easy to become stuck in a way of working and caring but not living. However last summer I joined my friend in her Avon team. I didn’t want to do catalogues, my plan was to work solely online which I could do from the comfort of home. I very quickly gained about 50 customers (not online). After a couple of campaigns I also decided to become a Sales Leader and build a team of my own. Before Christmas I had recruited 12 people into my team (with varying success).  I am now on a mission to recruit more team members. I am keen to help others enjoy the benefits I have found from being in this Avon family. Not only am I earning extra money, I am making new friends, loving all the products. I have never had so many perfumes. Designer handbags, jewellery.

Joining Avon was a great decision for me. I has given me a life outside of my work and living with my mum.luck for her gift set

http://www.earnwithbeauty.me.uk

Owning my cancer -part three

Ages ago now, I emailed all my female colleagues the open letter I had written back in October 2001. This resulted in a discussion between myself and my colleague, who was very forceful in stating that some people just don’t like Drs and should be left alone, she says that if she suspected that she had cancer she would rather not be treated but be left alone to die. I happen to disagree, we all have at times to do things we don’t like. I don’t like needles in any way shape or form but I put up with them because I have to. As I have said before cancer affects not just the patient but all the family. I can not even begin to contemplate what life would have been like for my four boys if I had not had treatment for my cancer.

Talking of treatment that is what I want to talk about this time. On looking back now I guess when I was told I had cancer and would need chemotherapy every week and radiotherapy daily I thought it would be simple. I would lead a fairly normal life except that I would go to the hospital every day for 5 minutes of radiotherapy. But on Tuesdays I would be there for hours for the chemo treatment which I did realise would make me feel ill. But I could cope with feeling ill once a week for a month if it was going to get rid of this growth.

What I hadn’t expected was the weeks of tests before my treatment could be started. There were chest x-rays, nuclear x-rays to test my kidneys, MRI scans to check for cancerous cells in other parts of my body most importantly to make sure my lymph glands were clear. There was the measuring to make a personalised stencil for the radiotherapy machine. Three tattoos to mark the spot so that the stencil could be lined up accurately for each treatment. All the time I felt as though I was fading away I was becoming weaker and paler by the day, the pain was increasing, but I was not going to let this get the better of me.

Eventually and it did feel as though it had been a life time although in reality only a couple of weeks, my treatment was to begin. I think I even felt a little excitement mixed in with the anxiety. This was after all the start of getting better. I had always been a fairly patient person (laid back) but these weeks were when I really learnt to be a patient patient. There were two radiotherapy machines in use in the clinic, often one or both would break down causing a backlog of patients to be treated. It became more the norm than not to have to sit for two hours waiting for my turn. But going back again to that first treatment day. Having waited an hour or more among the other people who were very ill some terminal I was called into a cubicle. Here I was given a leaflet listing the foods I wouldn’t be able to eat during the weeks of my treatment. I hadn’t been prepared for this. Because my tumour was situated so close to my bladder and bowels I would need to be careful not to eat any foodstuffs that consisted of fibre. That meant a blanket veto on fruit or vegetables, brown bread, potato skins, baked beans and very many more. There were times it was difficult to find much that I could eat. It seemed that any food deemed to be healthy would be unhealthy for me. So I began a diet of stodge, eating lots of pastries and pies, things I would normally try to avoid. Now in 2019 I am still not able to eat much food that contains fibre. I can only eat small amounts of fruit and vegetables. I love nuts but have t be careful how much and when I eat them.

But it wasn’t just the food issue, there were other rules too. No hot showers or baths, no bubbles in my bath, nothing on my skin that could react. I had to learn to have daily luke warm baths of plain water using only the minimum of things like shampoo. It was during these baths that I made the awful discovery. Because I wasn’t having chemo I wasn’t in danger of my hair falling out of my head, I wasn’t about to go bald. But to my horror I was finding that with no bubbles in my bath I could find hair floating in the water. As the weeks passed this was becoming more and more irksome, I couldn’t understand it but put it down to being normal but I wouldn’t normally notice, it was only because the water was clear. But then one day I realised why I was finding hair. My pubic hair was falling out, so much so that on one occasion my husband asked if I had been shaved, I hadn’t.

We fell into a routine where each day my husband would head off to work early, then return mid morning to take me to the hospital on alternate days. My mum did the other days, we worked it out so that one week my husband did three days and mum two then the following week they swapped. Both had incredibly understanding bosses who allowed them the time to do this for me. Each Friday my appointment was earlier so that I could attend clinic afterwards to check my progress. More opportunity to practice being patient. There were blood tests and more x-rays. I was still weak but the pain had begun to ease. I was very anaemic and required a blood transfusion the day before my 39th birthday. I did suggest they choose the blood of someone who had been partaking of gin or vodka.

Weeks passed and I knew I was beginning to feel better. My six weeks of daily treatment were coming to an end and my consultant told me that they wanted me to have a few weeks break then I would be admitted for a few days while I was given a dose of internal radiation treatment. I wanted them to forget giving me a break and just get on with it, lets get this out of the way. They wouldn’t do this, my body had taken a real battering even if I didn’t realise it. My body needed time to get stronger before the next stage of my treatment. It wasn’t long before I realised the wisdom of this.

Even now I don’t understand this but my treatment had made me so sore down below that each time I passed water it burnt so badly as though I had an open wound. One of the worst experiences there are. Then weeks later I was admitted onto one of the oncology wards. I had a single ground floor room with a tree outside my window. My room was very basic but I did have a tv although as I was to discover the remote didn’t work which meant every time I wanted to watch something I had to get a member of staff to do this for me as I was near enough immobile on my bed. The next three days were possibly the worst of my life. I was taken into theatre where three nuclear rods were inserted into my vagina whilst I was under general anaesthetic. With these rods inside me I couldn’t move much as their presence caused me a great deal of pain. For the duration of this treatment I was effectively radioactive. Visitors were at a minimum and those who could come in had to stand behind a large lead screen so I could just about see their head above it for the allotted 5 minutes. My boys were not allowed on the ward. Staff could only be in my room for a maximum of 10 minutes during any one shift. The constant sickness caused by the anaesthetic didn’t help this situation.

Finally the prescribed time came to an end and on the third evening I was given morphine so that I would be better able to cope with the pain as the rods and the accompanying packing materials were removed. What a relief that was to be able to turn over and sleep on my side. Next day I was told I would be able to go home providing the sickness had stopped. It had diminished but not cleared up completely but I managed to hide it from the staff so that I could be discharged.

That was the end of my treatment but not the end of the agony for me. Our life was still in limbo as we waited for more tests, more scans, another operation to examine my cervix to determine if all the cancer cells had been eradicated. Finally after months I was given the all clear on 19th September 2001. I thought this would mean that my life would no longer be affected by my cancer. I was wrong. The cancer itself was gone but now there were the Dr’s appointments, hysterectomy clinic appointments, hormone implants 3 monthly check ups at the hospital. I still couldn’t get back to a healthy diet. I couldn’t go anywhere without knowing where the nearest toilet was and that I could get to it quickly and easily. Before I could go anywhere I needed to take precautions which often left me doubled up with constipation. I was left with very little control over my body functions, when I needed to go I needed to be quick. But gradually over the months it did begin to improve. I still find that eating fruit can be unwise but I am no longer afraid of it.

The weight I had lost at the start of my treatment soon piled back as I continued my non fibre diet but lacked the energy to do much so didn’t burn off. Now all these years later I still have bladder and bowel problems. The cancer has not returned for which I am grateful. It took six years before I was officially signed off from hospital checks. There have been a couple of occasions when I have been ill and had to under go tests to make sure it wasn’t cancer back again. 

I am fully aware that I was very lucky to get the treatment I did when I did. My tumour (which at the time was described as being the size of an orange) I later learnt was 7cm x 8cm x 7cm. No wonder I was in pain. Others were not so lucky. If I had been given a smear test sooner maybe I wouldn’t have had such invasive treatment. Please please be vigilant and get any changes in your body checked out.

Life on hold

I have been wanting to write a new post for days now but what to write that has been the problem. I don’t have an exciting life to write about. I don’t want to be constantly writing about the wild birds we see in the garden (there are not that many at the moment).

I would rather not be writing about the ongoing saga that is my current marital situation. However I can now say that the house is finally up for sale and an open day is planned for this coming weekend. Although my husband has been feeling rather low recently he is now being much more positive.

Personally I am not really living, I feel that my life is on hold. I go to work (which although tiring I do enjoy). I return to the home I am sharing with my mother. I either read or sleep interspersed with conversations with my mum. Sometimes I manage to sort through some of the many boxes and bags that have been transported here to be stored around the perimeter of my single bedroom.

The big news of recent weeks was our outing to a Rotary Club Quiz night. Yes I know I really know how to live the high life. Our team came second (losing by just 2 points).

Next week I shall be taking two days off from my work. The plan is that I will drive with my mother to London where we will visit my son and his fiancee who I am pleased to say will be making me a Granny in May.

I have said for many years that I am not yet ready to become a grandmother as I haven’t yet finished being a mother. I know many of my friends love having grandchildren, for me it has not been something that I have been in a hurry to participate in. However I was beginning to worry that my sons were going to leave it so late that I would be too old to enjoy my grandchildren when they do finally arrive. Having four sons I do anticipate that I will have more than the one grandchild.

I am hoping that by the time the summer arrives I shall have sufficiently recovered from recent events that I will be in a better place mentally as well as financially to be able to start enjoying life again.

life on pause

Less is more

Things have been better this week. I have been busy at work and there have been a couple of days when I didn’t need to sleep all afternoon. I have had some very early nights though. 9pm one evening and even 8.30 a few days ago.

I am beginning to feel more like getting things organised and added a further 5 bags of clothes to the clothes bank yesterday. Does anyone need any clothes hangers, I am sure mine have been breeding! How did I ever have so many clothes that I didn’t have enough hangers? No longer working in an office and losing 3 stone in weight has meant that most of the clothes I had are no longer suitable. These days I live in a few pairs of leggings and a couple of pairs of jeans some t-shirts and jumpers. Living the simple life as far as clothes are concerned.

Communications with my husband have turned a corner too. I have not had a nasty message for a week! Instead he is starting to tell me that he misses/loves me and wants me back. He has begun talking about the future being a journey and would I join him? I have had to tell him that a few conversations are not enough, it is going to take time. I need to know that he has stopped drinking (not just for a week or too but for much longer). I need to know that he has given himself the chance to accept support not just from me but from others who can give him more help than I can. I also need him to take on more financial responsibility and not leave 90% on my shoulders.

He is putting the house up for sale, he has had various valuations and decided who he wants to use. He tells me that he won’t be staying in this country. Currently he is talking about Spain, which was our plan 6 months ago. I am not sure I can join him on that journey any more. Maybe if he does go out there and things are harmonious between us I might visit. I don’t think I would move out there now.stock-vector-hanger-black-icon-vector-illustration-155568137