Archive | August, 2008

Weighting for a silver lining

30 Aug

Have now been home for almost a week and so far recovery from the operation has gone well. I am eating most foods again, having cautiously avoided hard to process foods for a few days, and even treated myself to a small glass of wine last night – gosh. Digestion is almost back to normal too.

Mimi is still looking after me quite a bit – too much moving around gets my back muscles quite tired as they overcompensate for my weak belly muscles. But I am trying to do more of the light household chores and take a short walk each day for exercise. Walking is also fairly easy on the stomach muscles these days, but there is still a problem that none of my trousers fit, and my belt pushes unpleasantly against my scar.

Pre and post op, I was not eating for a few days to facilitate medical exams and the operation, and this has all caused me to drop just over 1 and 1/2 stone – I am now 15 stone 1, 25% lighter than I was a year ago, and only 6 pounds from my target weight (14 stone 9, or BMI < 25). Not a recommended way to drop weight by any means, but I am glad to see it go in anyway. Expect to put a few pounds back on as I continue to relax and eat my way to recovery, but it is still scary to be this new size. I look lanky, not big, and feel almost skeletal in places !

Unable to make it to shops, I will just have to find temporary solutions for upcoming weddings and other events that require trousers (so many do, these days). Then toward the end of my few weeks recovery, I may need to do a quick wardrobe update so I can return to my workplace with at least fitting clothes.

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My poor belly

26 Aug

This is mostly copied from mails sent out in recent days, to update blog readers on my recent health news.

Two weeks ago was examination time, and after 2 days fasting and drinking a special drink, I was truly empty and ready to see what be lurking within me, causing this discomfort. In a fit of bravery / stupidity, I refused the sedation offered for this examination (involving a tube, a camera, and a small level of embarrassment) so that I could see the camera. Seeing your internals on screen goes down as one of the more surreal experiences of my life, and aside from some mild discomfort at points, was not too bad. This “incredible journey” recalled some films of the 80’s crossed with those medical documentaries on TV I try and avoid during mealtimes.

Finally we came face to face with what seemed to be the trouble. It looked large and angry, and I was a little concerned, but my doctor seemed quite calm. Unable to go any further (they should of equipped the camera with a laser gun), they took some sample (biopsies, to use the medical name) to work out what my lump was. One thing was for sure, this was not a simple inflammation as expected.

Friday came around, and I was told more about my lump, and that surgery was going to be required. This was sounding a bit more serious than I’d expected; I had still had hopes of taking a few pills until it goes away ! Fortunately I was already in some excellent hands and was being referred to some extremely well respected hands for this next step. Next step was scans to check the whole area for other potential bumps – don’t want to miss anything ! And then on to see my surgeon to discuss options. It seemed that a bowel resection was required, which put simply is chopping out the section of bowel with the lump, and to connect up the two tubes. The area was surrounding my appendix, so it was removed as well (2 for 1 bargain).

But the reason I needed this treatment was quite a shock to someone my age, it seemed the lump was a tumor and I had bowel cancer.

With barely a day to take in the full extent of this news, they had me checked into a private wing of Saint Mary’s hospital in London for the operation, which took place on Wednesday (20th August) at 7:30am. As you might have guessed, the operation was a success and the tumor has been removed. A short stay in hospital got me to the position where I could finally walk around slowly and eat again, and I have now been discharged and am back at home. Mimi has been working from home to help me out with cooking and other heavy chores that otherwise are quite tiring or hard for me to do. With most of my stomach muscles still weak from the surgical incision down my belly, moderate to heavy lifting is out, coughing, sneezing and sitting forward are hard and I have been advised to allow around 4 weeks to recover from the operation. That said, so far every day I have been feeling better and better, so hopefully the road to recovery will be relatively smooth.

After the 4 weeks it looks like I will begin some low-strength chemotherapy (nothing hair-losing, I have been told) to ensure nothing comes back. In addition, there are a few spots on my liver that are a little suspect and will need monitoring during the treatment to ensure they don’t grow; and hopefully go away during the chemo. More information on the exact nature of the treatment will feed back to me as the removed section of my bowel is analysed, and the appropriate
authorities spoken.

So still some things going on, but with some very competent professionals who so far have been highly reactive, supportive and positive about coming through this illness. I am looking to maintain a positive outlook going forward, without wanting to just “put a brave face on” and thank everyone for the support and kind words so far.

In the meantime, it’s back to the important things in life; resting, taking holidays and playing games.

Spoon and Belly

1 Aug
Long time readers might recall a post over a year ago proclaiming Spoon one of the most awesomest bands ever. Well, nothings changed. The last album was released around a year ago, and is still one of my favorite listens. All the tracks are also still available to listen to free of charge on there “jukebox” website as well. Plus they are Adam Buxton‘s favorite band too !

My belly (another great band) has felt like there is lead (the metal, not the dog thing) in it today. Ouch – cramptastic. Keep thinking it might still be that penny I swallowed a year ago ! Will find out what the next step is after my appointment (now set for a week Wednesday).

Have “frozen” my gym membership today (about 1 month later than I should). I am now paying about 25% of the cost for the privilege of not attending the gym now ! Silly really, but it preserves the good membership rate I have when I rejoin, which is quite a few quid below the cost should I “rejoin” later. I figure back into winter, with hopefully a restored tummy, I’ll be heading down for vital happy-chemical inducing lunchtime runs. And maybe some training for this 10 mile run in October, which is looking less and less likely going forward.