Sunday, 17 March 2013

Just a few words before I go in.

Once again thank you all for the support; it is overwhelming how you all hold me in your thoughts and prayers.  Dearie me, you’re making me emotional, and I’m not going to cry until it’s over.  It’s not just on my blog or facebook, but emails, private messages, texts and phone calls.  (Mel has lent me her ipad and Pete will bring it in when I’m able to use it, so I’ll be able to keep in touch through facebook and emails.)  I’ve also had some very positive news from three friends, all unconnected and they all know someone who has gone through mouth cancer and they’ve all recovered to be fit and healthy, one is even a runner and they got back to it quickly.  This is reassuring especially after my last health scare.  When I came out of hospital that time the most common reaction I got when folk knew I’d had a brain haemorrhage  said “Oh, I knew someone that had one but they died!” My confidence of reaching the end of the day every time I heard that was not good, but that is now nearly eight years ago and my strength and belief in myself has grown since then and I have achieved so much and I have no doubt I will again.

I never expected this past week to be so debilitating, I think I was just looking at this as a wee procedure in preparation for the surgery, just a stepping stone towards the main event.  Recovering from having the teeth out was ok and I could eat fine as long as I did it slowly.  But the wound in my tummy is still a bit tender, and the most active I've been is to shuffle round Tesco’s, I even made Pete come to push the trolley!  My tummy hasn't felt hungry but I've shovelled the food in, just like racing, little and often, actually not that little.  Full fat milk, hefty milkshakes, loads of cheese, Reese’s Cups, I’d never heard of them before but they were given to me from Pauline’s friend, they’re peanut butter covered in chocolate and have 500 calories per 100g, hot cross buns with slabs of butter, toast with a hefty spreading of peanut butter and strawberry jam,  and Sue’s delicious home baking, that’s just the snacks I've had proper meals and puddings as well.  I had hoped to put on about half a stone but it’s just a measly three pounds!  I can’t understand how I can be so inactive, eat such high fat stuff and put on so little, although I haven’t manage to store a lot of fat at least every muscle fibre is fuelled to the hilt ready for the fight. 

We (Me, Pete and Pauline) were back at St. John’s on Friday to sign consent form and go through the nuts and bolts of the operation (Surgeon’s words not mine) It’s going to take a long time, around twelve hours with three surgeons  working in relay, lucky for me I know how to do ultra!  After seeing the MRI he is going to remove more of my tongue than he first said and there will be nerve damage, some will be permanent, some temporary also the incision will run up my chin and through my lip, he may remove a tooth at the bottom front for access.  Scars fade and I can LIVE with this! 

I can’t say often enough how much your caring words of support mean to me, they are a great comfort, I am honoured to have such a support crew, I am not fighting alone.  Hold me tight in your thoughts and prayers, especially tomorrow evening when I come round, it’s gonna feel weird.

Dave, thank you for my battle mantra.  Hands up, chin down.  I don’t know how many rounds I'm going and I'm not stopping until I've won.  I've got the best people in my corner.   My chin is gonna get quite a skelp, but that ok, I'm strong enough to take it, I’ll stay standing,  I'm not doing Marquis of Queensberry rules though.  Cancer doesn't fight fair so neither will I, the gloves are off and I have a roll of pound coins in each fist. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A wee update

It wasn’t easy writing my last post, I didn’t want to shock or upset anyone but I want all the help I can get and your words come from the heart and I can feel the strength you’ve all sent me with all the best wishes, good vibes, prayers and love.  Thank you all for your support here and on facebook it will make all the difference to my recovery knowing you all hold me in your hearts.

 Oh dearie me, (this is the closest thing you’ll hear to a whinge) I didn’t expect to feel so sore, the entry site for the feeding tube is tender and to be expected but I think my tummy muscles have a bad case of DOMS, they’ve been stretched beyond their normal, (if it was my legs I’d be fine), I’m trying to do a little cat (yoga) but the movement is microscopic at the minute.  I’m sure I’ll loosen off soon, and I had a great sleep in my own bed last night.

Don’t panic I won’t give a blow by blow account of having a general anaesthetic, teeth out and a feeding tube inserted but it was a lot sorer than I anticipated.  The dentist recommended three teeth to come out but the surgeon had other ideas, he took out six.  The wisdom one next to the duff one at the bottom, ok fair enough, and another couple on the other side, one did have big fillings but the one opposite was fine, I feel a bit robbed there, nae wisdom teeth left, I’ll be thick as mince but according to the piratical one my ranking in the Scottish Matriarchal system has soared. .

Coming round from the anaesthetic I was scared to move, the last time I was wired up to a light and sound show but I was ok, just a very numb mouth and tightness in my tummy.   The surgeon came to see me and examined his handwork on my tummy.  Wow! Last time it was this hard and round I was seven months pregnant!   (Mind you I did have a neat bump and I wasn’t the size of a house) Ok, I’ll be fartin’ like a horse later was what I thought.  But it was not to be; the air wasn’t in my gut but around my gut and would only dissipate in its own time. 

At tea time I managed to suck on half an egg sandwich, the lady that brought it said the bread was lovely and soft; well it was when I started it, just a bit stale when I finished it. I felt ok until about 10.15pm, then the trapped wind got quite sharp, I tried to breathe it away, normally when I take a deep breathe I feel it going down passed my belly button but I couldn’t breathe deeper than the bottom of my sternum, then I thought hang on, I’m in hospital with drugs, I don’t have to tough it out and pressed the buzzer.  Some painkillers and peppermint water and it eased, not enough for me to sleep but enough for me to relax a bit.  I’m a great believer in using thoughts and images, and I knew a lot of my friends and family would’ve read my blog by now, so I cocooned myself in all your prayers, best wishes and healing vibes being sent to me. 

In the morning the surgeon suggested I should stay another night after being so uncomfortable, just for his peace of mind. Gee thanks, so I resigned myself for another night as an inmate and Pauline and Pete brought me in some more jammies and stuff. I was put in a different ward, it was busy, stuffily hot and a vent/fan above my head rumble all night like an old lorry sat with its engine running, still no sleep but my tummy had eased a bit, in the morning I made sure I was bright and breezy for doctors rounds, I wasn't staying another night.  Thankfully they agreed and I was home in time for the rugby.  

Thank you Sue for popping round with some homemade Millionaire Shortbread on her mission of FUF (Fatten up Fiona) I’m going to lose weight so it would be helpfully if I could gain as much as possible before surgery. The rugby result wasn’t what I was looking for but it gave me fuel for thought.  Like I said earlier I like to use thoughts and mental images in my arsenal.  
On the outside I’m a five foot two, eight stone, fifty year old wifie. On the inside I’m as strong and as strapping as this Scottish Warrior, Richie Gray, six foot ten and twenty stone but I’ve picked Sebastien Chabal for my war face.  Cancer hasnae a chance!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Some news and I’m afraid it’s not good.

I'll start at the beginning, for quite a few months I've had an ulcer on the side of my tongue, my dentist was treating it believing it was caused by a rough tooth, he capped it, the ulcer wasn't going away and around Christmas it got really sore and swollen so he sent me to get it checked, I had an appointment on Monday 11th Feb, I went thinking I might get a prescription for steroids or something, I was told "It could be sinister, we'll do a biopsy, shall we do it now?"  So that was a bit of a shock at the time and traumatic going home with stitches in the side of my tongue and not what I expected, but I thought they were just being very cautious but on Monday 18th the news wasn't good.  I had a CT scan on Tuesday 19th and another long week waiting.  Tuesday 26th I was given more information and I am to have surgery, which will be around the end of March and hopefully it might be all the treatment I need, they can't say if I'll need chemo or radiotherapy until after the surgery.  

This week I’m on a tour of hospitals, on Monday I had an MRI scan at the Queen Margaret in Dunfermline, Tuesday a visit to Edinburgh's Western General to have my teeth checked, they are going to remove any that are not in good condition and that may include "over recovered" teeth, I had to ask what that meant, my four front teeth are crowns so that possibly included them.  I went in preparing myself with the thought that is if they take all my teeth out I’ll just have to smile with my eyes until I get new ones.  But I'm only going to lose one of my front ones and another two at the back, one at the top and one at the bottom.  Tomorrow I'm going to St John's in Livingston to have the teeth out and have a feeding tube inserted into my stomach since after surgery they don't want mince n' tatties going round my mouth. I'm going to have quite a few scars, they'll use a piece of skin and blood vessels from my left wrist for reconstruction after removing around a third of the right side of my tongue, then a wee piece of skin from my stomach to repair my wrist. Since breathing is good I will have a trachea tube for bit and a scar from below my right ear to the front of my throat.  

Apart from this I am in excellent health and running really well.  Thank’s to Kirsty at the By the Way for organising the Tyndrum weekend, it didn't totally take my mind off what is ahead of me but I was able to lock it away at the back of my mind and enjoy a wonderful run down the loch from Bein Glas to Inversnaid and back, and the company in the evening was second to none. At the weekend just gone, it was the Smokies 10, I knew I’d be close to my PB so I was still going to blast it, this was my twentieth time running Smokies 10, I’ve done it since 1992 and only missed it twice.  My PB was 1.19.36 set in 2003, ten years have passed but I didn’t doubt my ability.  I knocked over a minute off finishing 1.18.27.  Proof I’m fighting fit.

I’m going to have to withdraw from the 100km at Perth, I’ll probably still be in hospital and they tell me I won’t be recovered in time for the Fling.  This is going to wipe me out for a bit even if I don’t need chemo but  I’m not prepared to give up the WHW yet, I don’t have to make this decision just now, if there’s a slim chance I can still do it I’m hanging onto that goal.  I didn’t quite put my fingers in ears and shout La la la la when Pauline was suggesting that I want my tenth to be enjoyable and waiting a year won’t diminish my achievement.  We’ll see?

I've a big battle ahead of me, I am a fighter and I punch above my weight.  I have some wonderful people supporting me in my corner (if you’re reading this you’re one of them).  I've had some lovely emails, James reminding me I am my Mother’s daughter and Gail saying that I am still a Rampant Lion.  Damn right!  Cancer will knock me back on my heels but I’ll stay standing, it will scar me and have me spitting teeth but it will never take my roar!