Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I'm still going strong!

Finally I have got back to blogging and many apologies to those that  thought the break in transmission was due to ill health.  It is amazing when you don't go to work any more how much more you tend to fit in to the day. How did I ever find time to go to work!

We have done rather a lot since the last blog, but first the health thing.  I finished the last series of chemo in July (over three months ago now) and have had monthly blood tests and reviews since then and more recently a full CT scan. The blood tests are to check on my liver function as well as everything else and two items on the list are important with regards to whether the secondaries are progressing in my liver.  One is the bilirubin level and the other something called Aspartate Transamin (AST).  Bilirubin should be less than 21 and AST should be between 4 and 37.  My bilirubin has always been normal, but AST has at times been over 130.  Immediately after my last chemo, all biochemistry results looked good and then two months later the dreaded AST had risen again.  I was told that if the next blood test showed a rise I would need another CT scan to see what was happening and possibly more chemo.  As this was in August and I was about to go to Italy on holiday, I didn't really want the news that I would need another dose of Chemo.  However the next blood test showed the AST level had dropped and was now close to normal again so the sword of Damocles was lifted thank goodness.  I was scheduled for the normal three monthly CT scan at the beginning of October with a review last week - hence leaving writing the blog till now.

CT scans are always a bit of an issue for me as one needs to drink 2 litres of water an hour before the Scan - bad enough for a middle aged bladder, but worse is to come.  A contrast is needed to enhance various bits of  the anatomy so that any abnormalities can be seen on the scan. The contrast is injected into the vein via a cannula - a thin tube threaded into the vein via  a syringe type set up.  Now if you have fat juicy veins that is not a problem, but if, like me, you have whimpy thin wriggly ones, it is a pain in the ass!  The poor nurses try hard to get the thing in with 'just a sharp scratch'. (How I wish they would still say 'just a little prick' like they used to so we could all have a good laugh.) However, despite many attempts either they can't find a vein where the tube stays in or - like the last time -  the tube stays in but when the contrast is flushed through the vein 'blows' and the liquid is then sub-cutaneous rather than venous - not to mention it bloody hurts! The result is that I have an 'unenhanced' scan which does not give as much information.  I was waiting therefore to hear that I would need another CT scan when I went for the review last week.

The long awaited review came around last Monday.  I was delighted to hear that the scan had enough information to show that the cancer is not spreading and showed in the words of my consultant 'stable disease compared to the previous scan'. Together with stable liver function tests, I am excused from any more treatment for at least three months - the next scan and review.  Also will be having Ultrasound scans rather than CT scans as venous access is so difficult with me - phew, what a relief.  Apparently for liver reviews ultrasound is fine.

So it is full speed ahead to the next holiday - We are going to Spain next Tuesday 1st November for a week. Becky's lovely boyfriend Tom has similarly lovely parents who have a property in the Mercia region of Spain (Calispari - I think it is called).  They are letting us use it for a week of chill-out and discovery.  The weather will be warmer than here - although in Kent here the sun is still shining.  This will be the fourth holiday for me since July - well need to pack a few in now.

We went to Oban on the West coast of Scotland at the end of July for about 10 days.  We were competing (yes you guessed it) in a multi-day orienteering event.  Six days and I managed to compete in all competitions and did not come last in any.  The last day nearly killed me though with almost 1,000 metre climb to get to the start.  Views were fantastic from the kiddy heights of Ardchattan overlooking Loch Etive.We did some lovely sight seeing whilst there and indulged grandly on local crab and scallops.  We were back for a week and then did the fund raising cycle I organised, Coast to Coast along Hadrian's Wall.  We cycled 174 miles in 4 days. and raised over £1,000 for Hospice in the Weald.  It was a wonderful experience - even more so on my 'speed assisted' bike with all the family for support. Sarah - oldest daughter, with her little bump at that time (now a much bigger bump), Tim her husband, Becky and Tom are all old hands at long distance cycling - they have all done various cycles across the breath (and length for Becky) of England before.  Dave and I have cycled across Umbria several years ago, but that was pre the last lot of disease and treatment, so I was a bit worried I would not keep up.  With my 'speed assisted' - okay electric then - bike I managed to keep going and even overtake the odd family member.  The Pennine watershed was a bit of a challenge though - big hills they have up there.  We stopped at B & B's en-route and visited Roman forts and artefacts - I will post some photos to prove we did it.  Thanks everyone for supporting the charity by donating through Just giving.  I think the site is still active for those that want to see the photos on the website.  The web address is www.justgiving.com/anita.kingdon.

All six of us wearing Hospice T Shirts on Day 3 not far from Birdoswald  Roman Fort

A photocall at the highest point on the cycle, Day 3 Just after Bardon Mill

Can you see the bump - on Sarah not me!

Holiday in Sorento -  Me in wig
Holiday in Sorento - Me without wig

Bit of shopping in Sorento  - No wig, just hat.  It was sooo hot!
Another rather major event in the Kingdon calendar was the house move.  Reading back at the blogs, I can see that the last time I blogged we were due to move to Wadhurst.  We had seen a house we really liked in Brenchley, but lost it to higher bidders.  These unlucky people however, had to drop out as they had a problem with their chain, so we dropped the purchase at Wadhurst and bid again for the lovely house in Brenchley.  The offer was accepted and we moved in on July 21st.  For those that don't know it, our new address is Bournes, High Street, Brenchley, Kent TN12 7NQ and the phone number is 01892 724986.  We have only moved 2 miles west of our other house so it wasn't too much of an upheaval.  We love the house.  It is really bright, light and cheerful.  It is right in the centre of this lovely Kentish village.  I can now walk to the butchers, post office and general stores.  We have a lovely posh tea shop and deli in front of the house which also sells rather good wine and local brews.  We are a short walk from two very Kentish pubs and next door to a forge.  We have sort of down sized as the house is two story and not three and has one room less than the old house. The original structure of the house is very old.  It was created out of the wine and cheese store from the original shop - an excellent abode for wine and cheese lovers like us. We have spare rooms for quests so please come and visit.  I am trying to organise a house warming as soon as I can so hopefully many people reading this will come and visit us then.  If you are still reading this well done!  I have been typing for quite a while and have probably bored you all to tears so will sign off till my next blog.  Before I go I will add a few more pics from the last holiday -I went to Italy with friend Teresa as we both wanted to see the Roman ruins of Pompei and Herculaneum, not to mention the Island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast.  We packed it all in but it was a bit rushed and very warm there - 36 degrees at the beginning of the week. (We went in the first week of September).  I finally decided to go public with the new hairstyle - sort of trendy lesbian again and discarded the wig which was sooooooooo hot to wear in such heat.  Teresa was really good company.  She giggles as much as me and is similarly into a glass of wine and good retail therapy.  However as we are both past our prime getting out of the door for the day seems to take longer and longer - checking and rechecking that you have everything, then forgetting most of it anyway, seems to be the way of things now.  Now where is the button to press 'publish this post' ...........

1 comment:

  1. Good to get the update. I like the short hairstyle, very trendy. And you still have more hair than i do...... now then, back to work...