Sunday 6th July 2014 - From the Beginning, Coastal Path, Fatality and Garden Tonic

So here goes – excerpts from what I term as my ‘Kidney Dairy’ – starting in March.

‘I have been feeling some discomfort on my left side, around the waist area and just below. Keep hoping it will go away but it doesn’t. I will have to go and see my GP; I can’t afford to discount this. If I hadn’t had bowel cancer I probably would have ignored the discomfort but following a right hemi colectomy operation in 2002, I don’t want to risk losing any more bowel.

March 26th – I see my GP in the afternoon and tell him my symptoms and concerns. He gives me a form for a series of blood tests to take to Cromer Hospital (if I hurry I can catch them before they close at 16.30). This we do; the results will be back in a week, so back at home I make a follow up appointment using the surgery’s online booking facility.

April 2nd – Back to see my GP for blood results which are all pretty well as normal as they can be. He is concerned and suggests; he can either refer me to a Bowel specialist or for a CT scan. I feel a CT scan would give me a quicker result and my GP agrees. He asks me if the discomfort is any worse – a little – and offers pain relief which I decline.

April 23rd – CT Scan is in the evening at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital; at least there are plenty of parking spaces at this time of day. Having had a CT scan in 2002, I am prepared for the injection of dye which makes you feel as though you have wet yourself (which you don’t!) but in addition there is about a litre of liquid which tastes like a smoothie to drink within an hour. This is no problem apart from a full bladder by the time I am called for the scan. Scan complete, I now have to wait a fortnight for the results to be sent to my GP.’

Now back to Overstrand where there is a newly erected, sign near the top of the zigzag, showing the directions of the new Coast Path as well as the Paston Way. Thanks here to Peter who took the photo of the sign the other morning when walking Barney. I have mentioned the Coastal Path several times before but to repeat, the section between Weybourne and Sea Palling is the first of many paths that will eventually link up and make a complete England Coastal Path. Further information can be found on Natural England’s website where it states ‘We will publish detailed maps of the approved route on this page in due course.’

Wednesday 9th July 2014 - Part II of my Kidney Diary and Buffeting Winds

Starting today, with part two of my ‘Kidney Diary’. Following on from my CT scan, I didn’t have to wait two weeks for the results because on ….

‘April 25th - I receive a phone call from the Surgery. My results are back and they make an appointment for me to see my GP the following Tuesday morning, the 29th. With such a quick response, I know they have found something.

April 29th - Suspecting this is not going to be good news, Peter comes in with me to see my GP who tells me the scan shows nothing on the left hand side. I am about to ask him where we go from here when he explains I have a mass, about 1 inch/2.5 cms, on my right kidney. He refers me to the Urology Department at Norfolk & Norwich and I should hear from them the week after next. This is such a shock, he asks me if I am OK but going out to the car park, I am almost in tears. It was not so many weeks ago when I was thinking – life does not get much better than this and now it looks as though I have cancer again. I Skype my Mum & Dad when we get home and later phone our two sons.

May 6th - I have an appointment at the One Stop Urology Clinic at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. In the meantime I have looked on the internet and scared myself somewhat with the operation procedures which could involve removal of a rib and all my remaining bowel, intestines etc. in order to reach my kidney. I decide I will not look any further. As we approach the Hospital I feel really ill to the point when I think I will be physically sick but as we arrive in good time and go the Café for a drink, the sick feeling subsides and I calm down. I see a Doctor who explains, they are going to look at my scans in more detail at a meeting with the radiologist before they decide the best way forward. There are three possibilities – one, to monitor the mass with regular scans (I make it known I don’t want this, I don’t want to be walking round with a growing mass inside me), two, to remove the mass by keyhole surgery but the problem with this is the kidney is floppy and it may be difficult to ensure the entire mass is removed or third open surgery to remove the kidney, cut out the offending part, sew up the kidney and put it back. The incision will be about 4-5 inches long and on my side, going round rather than up and down, which is of course totally different to what I read on the internet and nowhere near as frightening. I told him I was worried that as each day passed, assuming the mass is cancer, it was nearer to breaking out and going elsewhere in my body. I was told not to worry; it is small and a way off of spreading. Not worrying is easier said than done!

May 21st - I have an appointment at the Urology Clinic where after a lengthy wait I see one of the Registrars who tells me they recommend open surgery and explains some of the possible complications afterwards, which could involve me going back to theatre. He told me I would be asleep during the procedure – I thanked him for this – I think we all saw the funny side of his statement and I will be in hospital for about four days. They will remove the offending area but if they find anything untoward they may have to remove the whole kidney. He told me I would hear within a fortnight with a date to come in for checks, ECG etc., and to see the Anaesthetist as well as the operation date.’

So that left me watching the post each day for the hospital letter.

Peter has been picking the Raspberries and as there are such good yields again this year we have not been able to eat them all. Peter has tray frozen the excess and then bagged them so that when I am fit I can make some jam. Peter has also frozen some of our Broad Beans as well as cooked Spinach. I have been able to remove the bottom leaves on the Tomato plants and I can see some of the cherry variety starting to ripen. We were woken in the early hours this morning to the sound of buffeting wind. Coming from the north-west, this is bad news as it is hitting our main row of Runner Beans. These were looking so good with developing beans and plenty of flower but no doubt they will look a lot different once the wind subsides. In previous years they have suffered wind burn, both the leaves and the beans but I am keeping my fingers crossed that this year, it is sufficiently early in the season for them to revive. We do have a second planting on the opposite side of the garden and these are protected from todays north-westerly.

Sunday 13th July 2014 - Third Instalment, Odd Few Days, Car Wash and Yard Sale

Continuing with my Kidney Diaries; after waiting two weeks for a letter from the hospital on ……

‘June 4th – I phone my Consultant’s secretary who gives me Admissions telephone number. I am booked for my operation on 27 June.

June 12th – The paperwork arrives, I have pre-op checks on the afternoon of Friday 20th and I have to be at the hospital on the 27th at 7.15 a.m. for the operation on the same day.

A friend in the village has been so kind and has had Barney when we have been to the hospital. This way we don’t have to worry about leaving him for any length of time or feel the need to rush back if they are running late. I am trying to be brave but when I wake in the night it is a job to get back to sleep again. I feel worried at times and remembering back to when I had bowel cancer 12 years ago, I am not looking forward to the frustrations of not being able to do certain things. To this end I have completed all those annual tasks that I tend to do late spring and early summer, so at least I won’t be looking and thinking how I wish I could crack on with them.

June 18th - I did something rather silly today and looked up on the internet about recovery periods only to read about catheters not being removed for six weeks because of urine leaks, stints having to be inserted and dreadful pain. I have told myself off, it was a stupid thing to do, I won’t be doing that again. I am at a point where I am becoming frightened and looking at this type of information will only make me worse.

June 20th – I had a dreadful night last night. I could not get to sleep. I went downstairs and got my MP3 player but it was not until 1 a.m. that I started to nod off. I was so disappointed when I woke again around four and could not get back to sleep. I can manage on five hours sleep but three?? Hospital appointment was at 2.30 p.m., the letter advises to be there 15 minutes before hand and be prepared to be there for 2-3 hours. Arrive at hospital at 1.30 p.m. and luckily are able park with ease. I check into the day clinic and we read until at 2.30 p.m. when a nurse calls me. Several checks completed; height, weight, pulse blood pressure, ECG, four blood samples and MRSA before going through a long questionnaire. Nurse checks to see if I have an appointment with the Anaesthetist – no, so after giving me lots of paperwork to read and a map of where to go next Friday, I am free to go. She is very efficient and this only takes half an hour but if I had an appointment with the Anaesthetist it would have taken longer.’

Next time, I will cover my hospital stay and recovery.

It’s been odd few days, well certainly odd for July. Wednesday’s winds carried on through Thursday, easing on Friday. I looked back in my Diaries and over the past few years we have not had winds like this in the first half of July. Not only was it windy but overcast and cold too. Since I came out of hospital I have been wearing sundresses as anything with a waistband would not be comfortable on my incision. But it was so chilly; I had a search through my wardrobe and found a couple of pairs of trousers that would lie easy round my waist and coupled with a long sleeved t-shirt and fleece, these kept me warm. We went grocery shopping on Thursday and then to Mundesley for our usual fish, meat and fruit and vegetables on Friday. On both days the car’s thermometer read an unseasonal 14°C, I don’t know what it was later in the day but for two evenings Peter put the central heating on. As I said – an odd few days.

While the wind was blowing, Peter was getting more and more concerned about his Runner Beans. We have had years when winds, later in the summer, have virtually decimated them but by then we have had good pickings for some weeks. But this year, he was concerned as to whether we would pick any beans at all. Surveying the damage on Saturday, Peter feels that although the tops look very battered the lower flowers should be produce. We have had another good year for Broad Beans and Peter picked two buckets full which we shucked and then froze the beans. He has also dug up the second early Potatoes; these are stored in a sack in the laundry room and will last us for a good few months. Peter has also lifted the garlic which is hanging in a bunch to dry in the shed. The space created, by digging the Potatoes, is now planted with Purple Sprouting.

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