Friday, 28 May 2010

t-Week 8

Recuperation's a chore at times

I get anxious when I attend clinic and I will have seen that I don't know the Doctors running it. Familiarity is important, at least for me, where I don't need to feel that I must 'educate' the Doctor to see me in a different light than they might do with the rest of their patients.

I'd traveled down the afternoon before on the train and was picked up outside Waverley station by Rob and taken off to his house outside Dalkeith. Steph (his wife) and Abbie and Sam were there although the kids were off to Guides and cricket practice respectively. While they were out we ate and chatted around the table for most of the night.

Up early in the morning and Steph dropped me off at the hospital having sent Rob and the kids off to their schools. I was in before 9 so I nipped up and said Hello to the Ward Sister. I was then in early with my book waiting for the 9.30 start of clinic. Whilst my appointment wasn't till 11.30am, I had been assured that if you get in early you tend to get seen earlier. I hoped that would allow me to jump onto an earlier train home.

As it was, I wasn't seen till 11am, mainly due to unforseen delays. I was called in by the more senior of the two doctors, in this case Dr A J MacGilchrist. Straight away I was put at ease when he introduced himself, saying that whilst we hadn't met he had been aware of me from the initial application. He explained he was going to change some of my medication, mainly the Azathioprine, replacing it with Mycophenolate(MMF). This will be better for my kidneys and will allow them to reduce the Tacrolimus quicker.

Generally he was very happy with my progress and with a month to go before many of the medicines are stopped it is encouraging to see someone with his experience tweaking the medicine in order to get the best out of it for me. A great clinic visit.

A taxi to Waverley and there was an earlier train, but because I'd taken advantage of a cheaper fare I couldn't change my times. I had an hour to wait which ended up with me buying a pair of 32" jeans and some kids toys for a birthday coming up - not mine I should add which is on Sunday! I'm eating well but I am down to 75.1kg! I'm wearing clothes in sizes that I haven't been able to get into since my teens!

Last Friday we had an abrupt end to the sunny scorcher with a monsoon type rain fall. Caz was unable to get into Aberdeen as the roads were closed around Aboyne. Elsewhere they never had a drop but that is the micro climate of this area. After a great weekend where we had a lovely meal on Saturday at the Longino's, I drove in to Aberdeen on Monday for the first time and went to the gym. Perry came past to see me and I gave some advice to the fighters training. Three people didn't recognise me at first! That was my first trip in by myself and I managed it ok. I was a bit tired the following day but I was visited by Kenny - an old doorman colleague, club student and friend - before he shoots off to Abu Dhabi for work. Big thanks to those who make the effort to visit - it gets boring at times this recuperation lark!

Today, I went up to my work and popped in to say hi to people. I had a chat with pals, colleagues, bosses and HR. It is only roughly a month away before I could return gradually to work. Its been a long journey for me and some of them have been on that journey with me in the sense that they have been impacted from the day I told them that I had cancer. It was good to see them and the place was busy and healthy too.

In the morning, I am going up to the gym and will cover the class and teach for the first time in a while. I wont do anything other than speak, but it should be good to do!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Burn O'Vat

Caz and Kali
We went to the Burn O'Vat for a walk yesterday on another gorgeous day. The Burn O'Vat is next to Loch Kinord at Dinnet and is a beautiful area to experience. The Vat itself was used as a hiding hole by robbers who stole from the Royal estates, whilst it was often visited by Queen Victoria.
Do pets look like their owners? ; )

I have noticed my nails that had become thin and brittle during the cancer medication, have become thicker and stronger. I'm also have hair on my forearms again and rough stubble rather than the bum fluff that had developed.
Burn O'Vat

Loch Kinord

Find out for yourself


Questioner: Why are some people born in poor circumstances, while others are rich and well-to-do?

Krishnamurti: What do you think? Instead of asking me and waiting for my answer, why do you not find out what you feel about it? Do you think it is some mysterious process which you call karma? In a former life you lived nobly and therefore you are now being rewarded with wealth and position! Is that it? Or, having acted very badly in a former life, you are paying for it in this life!

You see, this is really a very complex problem. Poverty is the fault of society - a society in which the greedy and the cunning exploit and rise to the top. We want the same thing, we also want to climb the ladder and get to the top. And when all of us want to get to the top, what happens? We tread on somebody; and the man who is trodden on, who is destroyed, asks, "Why is life so unfair? You have everything and I have no capacity, I have nothing".

As long as we go on climbing the ladder of success, there will always be the sick and the unfed. It is the desire for success that has to be understood, and not why there are the rich and the poor, or why some have talent and others have none. What has to be changed is our own desire to climb, our desire to be great, to be a success. We all aspire to succeed, do we not? There lies the fault, and not in karma or any other explanation.

The actual fact is that we all want to be at the top - perhaps not right at the top, but at least as high up the ladder as we can climb. As long as there is this drive to be great, to be somebody in the world, we are going to have the rich and the poor, the exploiter and those who are exploited. - Life Ahead Part One Chapter 4

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Scorcher!

27 degrees according to the car temp and that wasn't at the hottest part of the day! It's been a scorcher and no cold breeze of the North Sea to spoil it, one of the reasons Aboyne was high on our list of where we wanted to live.

Gettingup around 7.30am, I took my daily feast of tablets as required and decided to take Kali up to the Bridge and Tower of Ess at the Glen Taner Estate. It was sunny and warm and we walked up the incline and dropped down to the river.

Whilst we didnt really go that far, it was a decent walk for me, especially wit the incline and I wasnt exhausted afterwards.

I wore my new Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) which are my second pair and are more for trail walking/running. These simulate you being barefoot, with a vibram sole that protects our soft feet from the likes of stones or over objects that could harm. It does improve your posture and my feet feel so much better than being cramped into ill fitting shoes. This replicates how we are designed to be rather than indulging in the over engineered cushioned athletic shoes that are/were the fashion.
[If you look at the section "Blogs I Read", I first got info about VFF from the Traceless Warrior. If you look back in his archives you will find a lot of info]

The difference that Im feeling is that I can feel myself getting stronger, I'm not exerting myself too much but I feel that I am on the eve of a new dawn. I have a refurbished Spinning bike that I will soon be working out on. I will be trying to increase the strength in my legs, my cardio and endurance without hitting the core muscles that are fragile at the moment. I find it bizarre that I'm eating ok, not exercising a lot but my weight is today at 76.9kg, 12 stone!

See if you can read the inscription on this?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Promising feedback

After a week of feeling a bit run down, waking in teh mornings feeling a bit sickly, Thursday's visit to ERI Clinic was a bit of an anxious one. The one before had not been the best and I was worried that there may be something underlying that they may pick up on.

Being awake at 5am didn't help , even though I did sleep a good bit in the car, so when Caz dropped me off at the clinic - she takes Kali for a walk during this time - I knew my blood pressure reading would be high. Presenting myself at the reception, they looked bemused as I wasn't on the list! Turned out someone had entered the wrong date and to be fair I didn't have to wait long.

This week i got to see a Professor Forbes who had been involved with me throughout, although I couldn't say whether he had taken any active part in the surgery. He was there on every doctors visit so had seen me in various states. He looked at me and went back in his seat and said "You are looking well" already making it a good visit!

Based on what he saw and the discussion he reduced the steroid I take to just 10mg and the Tacrolimus to 1.5mg twice a day. He stressed that once I reach 3 months, most of the medication will be stopped and the whole world will seem a lot different. This was encouraging. To top the visit they also said I could go onto fortnightly visits, which is earlier than normal.

I slept on the way home. I had a relaxing evening, reading my book and watching some of the recent UFC.

Today I have felt invigorated. I walked a good two walks, the morning one being at a quicker pace. I pottered about in the garden, read and felt generally a lot better than I have for a week or so. I saw the Longino's the other day, who live on the other side of the hill - Tarland way - and it was mentioned how much better I look than pre op. After the good clinic visit I am starting to feel it as well! Might be down to Kali's ritual ceremony of watering the standing stones!

This weekend we go to celebrate Caz's nieces birthday up in Inverness. I'll keep away from the party as kids tend to carry a lot of illnesses that I shouldn't be near right now. With the FA Cup on I'll be tuned in and hopefully Chelsea will win the double. I turned down a ticket for the Wembley game as I am not well enough to endure the trip. Next year though!

A violet can never become a rose, but the violet in itself can be a perfect flower.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Presumed Consent

In a television advertisement to be aired in Wales this month, Kerrianne Phillips is filmed in her hospital bed as if it were on death row. She has been ill for a very long time and needs a new liver, but there are simply not enough. It is proposed that a system of presumed consent could replace donor cards in Wales by spring next year - discussed here.

Now, I was lucky in that it took 15 days and I was a priority, unlike Kerrieanne. I can now look forward to a longer life whilst she is still trapped in her pain. There are many children waiting for livers to become available as well.

The problem I have with the presumed consent is that it takes the principle that the State owns your body. Yet it is clear that people who may well agree with donorship simply are not signing up and carrying a card. It could be something that they are asked on every visit to their Doctors surgery as an annual question. There must be a way of having a regular approach to those who have not signed up without resorting to State Control.

Please, please, do sign up if you agree with your organs giving life to others. This link will show you how easy it is!

Week 5 post op

Monday was a blast. I was full of energy after a relaxing weekend and so I went up with Caz to the gym. Unlike the previous week where I found it very hard to deal with it emotionally, I was relaxed and empowered by being there.

Tuesday saw me a little bit more tired as I had done so much the day before, and so I spent most of the day taking it easily. It was during the night though that I awoke with a stabbing pain in my side.

This continued throughout Wednesday and I nipped into the Dr's to check it out. There was no infection but it was a kidney issue, or thought to be. When I breathed in, yawned or - the worst - hiccuped then I had a stabbing pain right through the kidney. Maybe it was inflamed, but at least it wasn't the liver!

So Thursday we set off as usual to Edinburgh for clinic. Paracetamol had taken the edge off the pain but it was still there. I took a bag in case they kept me in. Clinics up to now have been with the same doctor and Transplant Coordinator. This time though is was a new Dr, not yet up to speed with the ways of the clinic.

I found myself less engaged than usual, almost sulking that I didn't get the normal Dr who to be honest has been good for me in that she always promotes the positive. I had blood and urine tests taken and also a scan of the chest. I haven't heard from them so there can't be anything seriously wrong.

We went around to see Steph and the kids (Sam and Abbie) and had a bite to eat and a cup of tea. The kids played with Kali while we discussed their recent Dutch trip. Rob had assembled the shed that he'd picked up on the previous Friday. Then we set off on our way home.

These trips take it out of me so Friday was a daze. Caz has been working a lot so I have been walking the dog a lot, gently stretching the distances. Boothy - who lives just down the road and used to work on the doors with me in the 80's - came round on Friday and took me to see his Dads hen set up. It wont be long before we have some egg layers our selves.

Kali in the meantime has been chasing the deer in the woods, which has become a daily event. We walk down to the Dee and soak up teh warm sun before going round to an area where the deer are usually hanging out. Kali, being a boxer, usually goes in the wrong direction if you point, so I have got her used to her running in the facing direction when I crouch down. She'll never catch them but it gives her a blast and she comes back and sleeps contently.

So it's Sunday today, I've been up early with anticipation. Nothing to to do with the DemCon
talks but the fact that we are going to be 90 minutes away from winning the Title. Chelsea are playing Wigan on the last day of the season and simply need to win to be crowned champions!

If I was down there I'd have gone to the Mona Lisa on the Kings Road for breakfast, for a fry up
and a mug of tea. I'll then wander down the New Kings Rd on my way to the White Horse at Parsons Green. But i'll pop through Hortensia Rd to get onto the Fulham Rd and walk past the Black Bull and then the ground taking in the atmosphere. Right along passing and taking a nosey at the badge sellers, with the fried onions and sizzling meats filling the air.

Past the So Bar where the crowd have already spilled out onto the sunny pavement, voices raised in excitement, upto the stalls with tee shirts, fanzines, books and scarfs, before turning down the Cedame Rd, cutting through the Walham Green and eventually getting to the pub.

Its busy and everyones outside so you push through the crowds looking for a familiar face........

After a pint or two of Fullers, I'd leave to get to the ground via the stalls again getting to the ground before the last minute rush. Standing at my seat, I'd look around at the stadium that isnt simply a concrete bowl, despite being rebuilt from the old stadium, full of atmosphere that many stadiums have lost.

and then the game begins...........................

It's just past the 40th anniversary of the FA Cup win where we beat Leeds in a fierce encounter. My pal Ben was there yesterday to see them get promoted to the Championship.

I hope they get back to the top tier not only for the six points we'll get but so that I can join Ben in a trip both Home and Away! He'll have to stay off the pitch though!

My Surgeon who did such a great job!

Professor Stephen Wigmore
Consultant Surgeon at Edinburgh Royal infirmary Transplant Unit


Stephen Wigmore graduated from King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry and after two further years in London moved to Edinburgh to undertake his basic and higher surgical training with Prof Sir David Carter and Prof James Garden. His thesis on hepatic acute phase protein expression in cancer was followed by a visiting post doctoral scholarship at the University of California San Francisco, as a Yamagiwa Yoshida Fellow of the UICC with Dr Bill Welch and on his return he was awarded an Advanced Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust. He held this post as a senior lecturer and honorary consultant surgeon at the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. He was appointed Professor of Transplantation Surgery at the University of Birmingham and Liver Unit, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre in 2005. Returning as Professor of Transplantation Surgery in Edinburgh in 2007.

His clinical interests lie in liver transplantation and resectional surgery and his principal research focus is on the cell and molecular biology of organ pre-conditioning and stress protein expression. Other research interests include the Kupffer cell, innate immunity, endotoxin handling and functional assessment of the liver in the context of surgery and transplantation.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Over the weekend

Last Thursday's clinic was a good one. My potassium was down to 5 but before they knew that from the blood tests, they gave me a tub of Calcium Resonium to use. This is a calcium powder mixed with some water that tastes like liquid chalk.

<-- Caz driving through Glenshee

When I got back from Edinburgh I took two drinks and one in the morning before I got a phone call telling me not to use it as my levels were just 5. Oh well! At least the weather was great and I enjoyed the garden.

I also got a bit of a lecture, a warning. Seeing that I am doing very well and knowing that I'm keen to be better the Transplant Team are worried that I do too much. They went to great lengths to explain that the organs, blood vessels etc around the liver have a lot of micro stitches that will not survive if I start exercising that area. I can walk and work my arms but that is it till 3 months are past.

So I have been walking with Kali and now can walk around 3 miles without being too exhausted. My legs have a limited endurance but I'm feeling the improvement. I can see the improvement in my general appearance too.

Friday night saw a visit from Edinburgh Rob with his son Sam and pal Andrew who came and picked up a shed that I had and didn't want. I was visited by Ollie Chew on Saturday, a long term student of AMAG and a fellow motorcyclist. Sunday saw Perry come out and spend the night, so all in all a welcome distraction of visitors from the monotony of home life. In the meantime, three AMAG fighters were down in Dunfermline winning their fights, a testimony to the strength of AMAG.

I went in on Monday night to the gym while Caz trained. Not as emotional as the previous visit and I was feeling great being there. It was a long day but I was doing well. I was tired this morning though!

Tomorrow I am going to look at a Chicken coop that we might imitate for when we get our hens. I'm also going into the woods to pick up twigs for kindling for the fire. Kali will chase the deer while I collect and recycle dead wood.

Read more here.
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