Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The last seven months ......

Yes, I know, I know, I should have updated you ages ago and I'm sorry for neglecting you .....

 I realise that it's seven months since we last spoke and I left you with the news that I had shingles ....... well not only did I have to clear my diary for two weeks, I was so unwell that it was for three months ........ I've never felt so ill in my life!

Take my advice .... don't get it!

I felt like I was wasting time by not doing anything but infact I was physically incapable of doing anything and I didn't feel like doing anything either, even writing a blog post whilst lying in bed! I love reading but couldn't be bothered to pick up a book/kindle either.
It was that debilitating.

You may recall that during the bastard cancer we had to cut down on cheesemaking and whilst I had my radiotherapy we put it on hold for five weeks,
and then made the decision to just make a small amount every week so that we could fit things in like walk the dogs and run and have day dates .......

Of course we broke the rules, which is probably one of the reasons I got shingles ..... all work and no play!

For several weeks I didn't have the strength to make cheese and no cheese means no sales and as time went on it became quite clear that now was the time to give up ......

Nope! I couldn't let go ...... stupid really but it was a sense of failure and fear and maybe even in an odd way optimism that made me hang on ......

For those of you who follow my running blog, www.sarahsrunningchallenge.blogspot.com will know that I lost 11 weeks of fitness too and it took me exactly 11 weeks to get it back. Something that I found very frustrating and hard to regain.

Ok so whats happened during the other four months?  I hear you ask.

Well, on the 1st September I had an appointment with Dr.Goodman. As it wasn't until 3.20pm we decided to have a day out with lunch in Exeter, leave the car in the car park and walk to RD&E so that there were no worries about finding a space at a busy time.
We got to the clinic just before 3pm and I bought some chewing gum to disguise the fact that I'd had wine at lunch ........ I probably still reeked like a brewery!!!

There were two clinics running but neither were with Dr. Goodman ......

At 3.30pm I was called in, put on the fetching gown and before OH had time to start fiddling with anything Dr. Nassau came in .......

He was pleasant enough, although rather took me aback during the shingles conversation ........

'Why did it take you so long to get over it?

Well I don't fucking know you're the Doctor was what I wanted to say but instead mumbled

'I don't know ..... I suppose I had a bad case of it'

OH was apparently silently shouting 'you're the Doctor it's fucking obvious why'

So after a couple of questions including

 ' ..... and you're getting on with Tamaxifen alright?' A sort of rhetorical question I felt as I nodded.

Periods weren't even mentioned,  he then had a feel of my boobs and that was it ....... the closest to being on time and the shortest ever oncology appointment!

My next Oncology appointment is 30th August 2016!

So next on the update list is of course Tamoxifen .......

Well it's good news as for the last seven months the pharmacist has got me Wockhardt each time and so I'm on an even keel, with only the the odd night sweat which is mild in comparison to the ones I was having with the other brands.


What do you think?

Of course yes!!

On 1st October we made our last batch of cheese ......

 Yup, I finally let go ..... and no, I don't miss it but maybe that's because we now have a new business ..... making and selling vegetarian and vegan food!

Well you didn't think I was going to take it too easy did you?

Friday, 29 May 2015

It seems this is my second wake-up call .......

Sooooooooooooo the good news is that my mammogram is clear .........

.........  the results arrived within four days too!!

Thankfully there's a new procedure, they now send the results out from the breast care unit direct to both the patient and their consultant so there's no waiting for weeks anymore!!
It does however make your stomach turnover when the letter arrives ........ it could go either way being so swift!

Ok, so what's the bad news?

Well as you know I don't do anything by halves and this is no exception .......

I've only gone and got shingles .....

On Friday my ribs started to hurt for no apparent reason in the same area that I'd had radiotherapy. (I also smashed them that side in a riding accident some years ago) OH suggested that we'd been told somewhere down the line that they could hurt some years after radiotherapy ........ that would be it then! They were worse on Saturday but at least didn't hurt when I ran or interfere with our Wedding Anniversary celebrations!!!
Lying down in bed in  any position was uncomfortable though, it felt like I'd been kicked.

On Sunday morning there was a bit of a rash in a band from my back and across my ribs ....... as soon as OH said 'they're like little blisters' I just knew it was shingles!

Being a Bank Holiday weekend I couldn't get to the surgery until Tuesday .......... the pain got worse and so did the rash. OH feared the worst when I had pain all down my spine on Monday night and wouldn't believe my self diagnosis!!!!

As you know I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the doctors but I was in so much pain that I was on the phone bang on 9am.

As you may recall the one and only time Dr. Fernandez and I have met was during my radiotherapy when we didn't seem to hit it off so I wasn't particularly looking forward to my appointment. I needn't have worried though, he was great ......... must have just been having an off day two years ago!!

The moment he saw the rash ........ 'shingles'

Oh bollocks ...... actually I didn't say that out loud.

He then said 'Shingles is caused by stress' ........ tick!

'Overdoing it' ......... tick!

'Lack of sleep' ........ bingo! .....bloody insomnia ..... tick!

'Yes, I need to talk to you about my tamoxifen and insomnia in a minute'

So he prescribed the one and only antiviral drug for shingles to be taken five times a day ....... what??? and said that I'd need painkillers too ........ ooohhhh noooooo I hate taking tablets.
So there was a choice of paracetamol (which wouldn't be strong enough) or morphine ........... blimey morphine that's for really serious stuff isn't it?

The next prescription was for co-codamol ....... oh shit!

Whenever OH has had them he's complained of constipation and you can't drink with them either!

Dr. Fernandez then said I needed lots of rest ....... 'could you stop working for a couple of week's ?'..........

All I could see in front of my eyes was the diary for the next two weeks which was full of work, cheesemaking and markets etc.

'Not really' ....... and I listed my itinerary and reasons as to why I couldn't ........ ' and I have a 6 mile race on the 10th June so do you think I can still do it?'

'Maybe not' ........... noooooooooooooo!!

Yes, yes, I know, don't shout at me I'm poorly!

'You need to eat well and drink lots of water to flush it out'

'And get lots of sleep .......'

So we then had the tamoxifen and insomnia conversation ........ he obviously didn't see my last post!!!

The pharmacist was summoned and although gave us the usual 'its not available' spiel, he is now looking at getting Wockhardt in and stockpiling it if necessary.

I started the antiviral tablets straight away ....... bloody great horse pills, even when halved but as it was OH's Birthday and I wanted some prosecco with him to celebrate I left the painkillers until Wednesday, despite the pain!

Yes, yes another of my stupid ideas ............ however as I toasted him a Happy Birthday with said prosecco, he read me the riot act and pointed out that its so serious it's my second wake up call .........

So as much as I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and la, la, la loudly I've agreed to slow down ........ Well not much choice at the moment!!!

On Wednesday I cleared the diary for two weeks and got my colleagues to do my farms.

I'm now trying to do as I'm told as after all, the third wake up call might be too late ........

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Night sweats and insomnia

Sorry I know you've been hanging on for a while since my last post ......

........ but I've been a bit busy with the running lark!

A couple of months ago when I was still 51 I read an article in one of the weekend papers that stated the average age for the menopause is 51years.

Ok so I'm now 52, have been taking Tamoxifen (which mimics the menopause) for nearly two years  ....... AND..........  I'm still having periods ........ my body clearly didn't get the memo!

Two of the many side affects of Tamoxifen are night sweats and insomnia........

As I've mentioned before each brand of Tamoxifen differs in side effects to varying degrees. My preferred one is Wockhardt which seems to like me and I it, however despite requesting it every month, the surgery reckon it's not always available so after six months or so on it and with minor side effects I've now had to endure four months of different brands, the last two being Relonchem  which as with now and previous months I've had it it's give me the most awful night sweats ...... absolutely dripping with sweat and drenching the bed clothes. It's so bad that OH bought more sheets so that we can change them daily if necessary!! I have to be thankful that it's not every night I suppose!

The worst thing however is the insomnia ........

Despite being absolutely knackered all I get on average is two hours sleep before waking up in a sweat and then being unable to go back to sleep for two or three hours, dropping off again for a couple of hours before lying awake again wishing for more sleep, and then of course it's time to get up ..........

I have at least another three years, if not eight on Tamoxifen ......... please don't tell me I'm not going to get a decent nights sleep during this time!!

It's definitely going to be for the next month as I've just interrupted this to go and pick up my prescription ............ I nearly cried when I opened the bag ...... they've given me bloody Relonchem again!!!

Ok, I'll duck now whilst those of you who suffer the same symptoms and are going through the natural menopause chuck stuff in my direction .......

In other news ........ we're off to RD&E later as I have my mammogram, then it will be fingers crossed for two weeks that I don't get a letter in the post ........

I've just made OH's day (not) mentioning this ..... he thought we got the results straight away ....... happy days!!!!!!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

I never considered that OH still worries

We were ten minutes into the journey on the way to my appointment with Mr. Ferguson on the 12th February when OH said 'I get really nervous on these trips'

(I wanted to be flippant and suggest that I drive if his driving was the problem but knew he was being serious)


'Well I expect bad news'

Now I know when I got the 'sorry but the biopsy shows its cancer ' OH thought I was going to die and initially so did I. However with all the great treatment I received I realised that I had a few more years yet! Also my view is if I can't feel it then I'm sure Mr F and Dr. Goodman can't either.
 Although I have to admit to nerves last year with my mammogram and of course I'm waiting for this year's one so am a little apprehensive.
OH still isn't convinced.

This was a shock as although we talk about everything and anything he hadn't let on and I hadn't picked up on his fears.
Two years down the line too ...... How crap am I?

After we'd seen Mr. Ferguson I asked OH whether he watched what went on and how it felt sitting in a room with another man examining me as it had only occurred to me that over the last two years he had had to sit quietly whilst I was prodded and poked and chatted to by the Consultant/Doctor who was always male.

He doesn't watch but listens carefully, takes it all in and waits for the bad news ........... so he is relieved when the Consultant/Doctor declares everything feels fine.......

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dr. Goodman, Tamoxifen and periods

I know, I know ....... it's a couple of weeks since my Oncology appointment on 3rd March but I'm here now!!!

Sooooooooo as you know we were away for my Birthday and were then popping by RD&E for my appointment with Dr. Goodman.

We mistimed our arrival (almost sounds grand) and ended up hanging around reading our kindles for  a couple of hours!!! Not a problem when you get a parking space and are reading an Amanda Prowse book.

I have to say that the receptionists I have met recently  seem to be getting brusquer and the one in Oncolgy was no exception ...... I suppose at least she got my name on first announcement but to then bark at me 'date of birth?'  'Doctor?' And if that wasn't enough she wanted the last part of my phone number ...... well what do you class as last part?? I reeled the whole lot off!! She also took a piece of paper out of a folder and slid it across the desk towards me with no explanation...........   So apparently there is a study  involving weighing patients and asking details of nutrition and they'd appreciate my cooperation!!! Well of course, why didn't you say ......... I've lost over two stone and eat eight to nine portions of fruit and veg a day etc etc ....... Oh ok that's to come!! I suppose she did ask if I knew where to go and although I was tempted to be arse holey, I decided to be nice.

The moment we got to the waiting room, it was a relief to see that there weren't too many people there. Scanning the board and seeing that Dr.Goodman was in the house was another relief and also there was nothing saying that the clinic was running late!! Huzzah!!!!

So back to a Mothers Story by Amanda Prowse and twenty five minutes later I'm called in. Lovely nurse called Tree (yes really) asked if she could weigh me ...... 'yes of course but it has been my Birthday weekend and I've been eating and  drinking and making merry!'

'Of course you should' ........

Thank god it was her and not the miserable Tina (Teena) from the past!! 'What are you normally?' 'Around 62.2 with no clothes on. Anyway with all this eating and drinking and with my clothes on she made me 64.85 kg ...... and then calculated it to 10 stone 1lb ....... noooooooooo

I was a bit disappointed that my eating habits weren't discussed though.

After putting on the usual fetching gown and waiting a while the man himself complete with dyed hair and bow tie came in.

Now like Mr. Ferguson he started talking about changing me at two and a half years from Tamoxifen to another drug if I started to go through the menopause naturally. However he ummed and arrhed and mentioned side effects like joint pain and  took a long time to get to the point about whether this would happen. I sat there willing him to decided that Tamoxifen was good for me!!!(Well you know how I put off taking it initially and now how we're just jogging along nicely ) - I'll tell you about the night sweats and insomnia in another post!!!

When he mentioned Letrozole as being the drug in question I wanted to shout 'No' as  after hearing and seeing the side effects my friend has had with it I'd really prefer to stay on Tamoxifen. Well better the devil you know!!

I then mentioned that I was still having periods and had in fact come on the day before my appointment with Mr. Ferguson so despite being 52 and a day I still hadn't started the menopause ......... this is  the only time everrrrrrr that I'm grateful that I'm still doing the period thing!!

Anyway back to Dr. Goodman  ....... he was speechless for a moment as he hadn't known that I'd seen Mr.Ferguson a few weeks before (flicked opened my file and saw the letter) hesitated and was on the verge of saying he wouldn't examine  me because of this  but then thought better of it ....... well I'd gone to the trouble of putting the gown on hadn't I!!!

He thinks everything feels fine too and is also  impressed at how well my boob has healed! (May be there's hope yet and  I can go back to the glamour modelling!!!!!)

Now due to the crossing over of appointments and the fact that Mr. Ferguson wants to see me in twelve months  Dr. Goodman has decided to see me in six months ...... 1st September at 3.20pm. To be precise!

What's the betting then that I'm still having periods??

Thursday, 5 March 2015

So two years on ........

Two years ago today it all started .... 4th March 2013

Yup it was a two years ago to the day when I had my mammogram which then turned my life tits up! (Literally)

So fast forward two years ........

............... to this weekend which was my Birthday ..... oh yes 52 years old.

Happy to be alive, happy in my own body and happy to have my photo taken.

A different story two years ago though ............

Two years ago I didn't have a fancy phone or camera so no record of the  two and a half stone overweight blob of a woman and even if I did I wouldn't be posting the photo's, I hated that woman.

This was the biggest hint at a wake up call and although (as you know) I was so fucking pissed off with the bastard cancer I have to admit now that it did do me a favour ........ but don't tell it!

Not just in the health stakes but also in the friendship stakes and the work stakes.

So in the health stakes ......  yes I'm still trying to do the eight to nine portions of fruit and veg a day but at times like at markets and Birthday weekends away it is difficult when there is lovely food on offer but none of it adding up to even one portion of fruit or veg a day
I do want to shout when I see a menu (most of the time) with no veg or a supplement of about four quid for it ....... but I do also appreciate that this is down to the great British public who abhor veg and leave it, meaning it gets chucked into the bin! (Great for soup though!)

Of course the running is top of the health stakes ........ who'd have thought it .....me Sarah Styles-Power, Mrs. Cheese running and now signed up for the Bideford 10K and asking for sponsorship for www.chsw.org.uk  if you can spare a quid or dime or two thank you then www.virginmoneygiving.com/sarahstylespower
That aside ..........

So in the friendship stakes ...........well, I've never been the most popular girl on the block but it's amazing ...... I've found out who my true friends are, lost some  and made a lot of new ones .... Thank you, you guys rock !

Bum! Nearly forgot the work stakes ....... well yes money pays the bills and all that malarkey but actually we've (Mr.Cheese and I have) learnt that you need time away ....... Something unheard of on my agenda before so that's why I 'm looking so happy in the photo ....... we had a couple of days away and nothing else mattered!

Also as I've said before this blog writes itself and tonight I was going to tell you about my appointment with Dr. Goodman but it went off else where .........

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Sooner than I thought .......

Hello! Are you still there?

Yes I'm just as surprised as you are that I'm back here again as my next scheduled ramblings are for 3rd March when I have my oncology appointment with the fabulous Dr. Goodman!

However ........ Yesterday just after 9  I got a phone call which I nearly didn't answer as 'withheld' usually means call centre.

Now the nice lady on the other end nearly got my mouth engaging before my brain ..........
 ( Oh bollocks have I forgotten an appointment??? No Don't be stupid the only one is oncology with Dr. Goodman  on 3rd March ..... but what if the Muppet postman didn't deliver the letter..... shit shit shit  ..... For fuck sake ......... listen she said your sixth monthly appointment with Mr. Ferguson and there's been a cancellation)

Oh that's alright then .......so apart from nearly blurting out that I had to run that day as I'm training for the Bideford 10k and couldn't make it, I shut my trap and made it a date!

Today we made cheese toute suite and then left for RD&E

No it wasn't ridiculously early because of Cheesemaking although I did worry we'd be late .............

However the trip in was smooth and although there was some squawking from me and bickering between us about OH's lane discipline but we got  a parking space immediately. Ate our picnic and then bunged £2.50 into the machine before wandering down to K level 1 .

Reported to the usual reception to a smiley trainee girl who couldn't find me ...... then the FAT bitch sitting down barked Mr. Ferguson .......... reception one ......... oh right thanks sorry I missed it on our way down  ...... you complete and utter cow (hope you get syphilis on Valentine's day)

Retraced our steps and found the right place to be told by the lovely receptionist that Mr.F clinic was running 50 minutes late

It didn't matter  as I had my running blog post to finish www.sarahsrunningchallenge.blogspot.com

Anyway I got called in after 40 minutes and after putting on the fetching gown the man himself came in...........

I was so pleased to see Mr. F........

As usual he filled me with confidence was pleased that my surgery had healed so well joking that a surgeon loved patients whose operations healed so well.

He had a good feel,  of my boobs and underarms and although my right boob (the bastard cancer one) feels a bit lumpy apparently that's normal.
Of course the period conversation came up........ yup I'm still having them.... So they'll keep me on tamoxifen for ten years however if  I go menopausal in the next 6 months then they may give me a different drug!
Although he then said he'd see me in twelve months.

He will also request my next mammogram which is due in April......

 As we left and I know parking is at a premium at  RD&E  there was no need for the bitch in the red mini to force her way into the space we were vacating causing OH to hit the kerb to avoid her. There was another red mini which had been waiting for the space before she arrived and she cut in front of it. How rude!