My Third Admission to Addenbrookes

A detailed account of my third admission to Addenbrookes.

INTRODUCTION

As promised in my previous post I am now going to give a full account of my most recent admission to Addenbrookes. 

THE BUILD UP

Although I was admitted on a Sunday this story begins with the Friday (January 25th) before. That day I felt very tired and not really able to do anything, but hoped that a quiet day would see things improve because I was not feeling ill as such. I only managed to eat half of my sausage and chips supper that evening, and was still very tired and downbeat the following day. That Saturday evening I had supper at my aunt’s house but got very tired indeed, and by the following morning I was effectively not functioning at all. 

THE READMISSION

On Sunday afternoon my aunt drove me down to Addenbrooke’s for an emergency readmission. Two possible causes of the problem emerged as front runners very quickly – a lung infection or a delayed reaction to the Bleomycin. My breathing was at a dangerously low level, and I was on a high dose of extra oxygen for a whole week, before it was halved, and then, on my eighth day as an in-patient removed altogether.

I was moved up to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9, having been allocated bed 13 (a sensible choice, as it is in a small room with just three other beds and the arrangements are such as to provide a measure of privacy.

OCCUPYING MYSELF AS A PATIENT

My father made several trips to Cambridge Central Library to get me books to read in my hospital bed (focussing on science – my brain is functioning pretty well at the moment, and low oxygen levels not withstanding I was overall feeling not too bad). I had also been equipped with puzzle books, and I devoted some time to planning future writing in between these activities. 

This developed into a plan for a series of cricket posts in the course which I plan to write about 100 cricketers who mean a lot to me. I have divided my cricketers into nine XIs and one player to round out the 100 at the end. Within that division I have subdivided each 11 into parts to be covered in individual posts. The plan is for the 1st and 100th cricketers to get individual posts to themselves (and #cricketer 1 in the list habitually bats at no 1 in the order, being a choice that suits my purpose in several ways).

I also received a postcard from family in Sweden while I was in hospital, which came with a nice little extra:

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A Sweden 2019 stamp – I love that fish.

AWAITING DISCHARGE

From Monday morning (three days ago) onwards I was basically waiting to be discharged. I had fully accepted, especially given that this was my second emergency readmission in quite a short space of time, that I could not be discharged until a care package was in place for me. Nevertheless, it was difficult to retain patience when eager to be back home and when particularly wanting to be out in time to attend a certificate presentation. For a while at least I will be needing regular professional attention because my autism causes me not to realise how seriously things can be going wrong (e.g a general feeling of fatigue that turns out to be a lung infection making itself felt), and frankly I am no keener than anyone else on the notion of further readmissions to Addenbrookes, though I will of course be visiting as an outpatient for a considerable time to come. 

HOME AGAIN

At last, just after 7PM yesterday, I arrived home and was able to start settling myself back into home life. I am on antibiotics for the lung infection, anabolic steroids and various other medications. Also, I am wearing compression stockings on my legs as a safety device (the swelling in the left leg has now definitely gone, and with it the pain I was experiencing in that area, but I will retain the stockings until told otherwise). 

A Week and a Half

A brief explanation of the last week and a half.

INTRODUCTION

Followers of this blog will know that I have been seriously ill recently. A week ago on Sunday things took a bad turn and I was readmitted to Addenbrookes with what turned out to be a lung infection. Last night I was discharged and I am now settling back into home life.

SOME WORDS FOR NAS WEST NORFOLK

NAS West Norfolk have been increibly supportive through a very difficult period in my life, and I am well aware that the events of the last week and a half will have caused them yet more worry. I am very grateful for everything they have done for me, and I regret that I was taken ill so suddenly as to be unable to explain the situation in advance.

FUTURE PLANS FOR THIS BLOG

I will in due course be putting up a more detailed post about my recent stay in Addenbrookes, and I have a plan for a long series of cricket posts interleaving with other stuff on the blog. I will have various other things to share, including an event which is taking place tomorrow, and which thankfully I shall be able to attend. For the moment, my apologies for anything I have missed in the last week and a half, and I sincerely hope that normal service will be resuming fairly soon.

Hello Again Everyone

A brief account of my illness, treatment and fledlgling recovery from cancer.

INTRODUCTION

I have been undergoing treatment for cancer under the aegis of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge for over two months, and today is the first time sime I started receiving hospital treatment that I have been online (I have done a massive bulk delete of accumulated emails and will now start paying proper attention once again. In the rest of this post I will set out a rough timeline of events over the course of this illness. Unusually for one of my posts there will be no pictures.

WEEK 0 – THE ILLNESS TAKES HOLD

On September 29th I attended the wedding of a cousin in Sheffield. This was the last occasion on which I recall feeling truly well. During the following week I became noticeably ill, on on the Friday I left work early (an almost unheard of thing for me) because I just could not go on. On Saturday morning I cried off an intended visit to my mother at Godalming where she has recently been working because I was too ill to even consider it. On the Sunday evening having not ingested anything other than water since Friday I projectile vomited and realised I was in serious trouble, although not as yet just how serious.

WEEK 1 – TWO NARROW ESCAPES

On the Monday I collapsed between the bathroom and the bedroom of my old flat at about lunchtime, and by the evening of that day was in such a dreadful state that I could only be got into an ambulance by being out on a saline drip and assisted down the stairs that separated me from street level. Another day before receiving hospital treatment might well have been my last. On the Friday of that week, my body still unable to accept anyhthing other than fluids, but the real problem now known about I was referred on from QEH (my local hospital) to Addenbrookes (one of the best hospitals in the world for cancer treatment) just in time to avoid an operation that in my weakened state would very likely have finished me. The root cause of the mischief was a hugely swollen testicular tumour that had metastasized into large tumours on each lung (one of these was threatening a vein), a small tumour on the spleen and four small tumours in the brain.

WEEKS 2-9 – IN PATIENT AT ADDENBROOKES

I accepted the opportunity to be part of a clinical trial at Addenbrooke’s and by good fortune (and yes, I regard it as such, gruelling though the resulting treatment program was) got put into the group receiving accelerated treatment (chemo on a two-week rather than the usual three-week cycle). I am pleased that my treatment will have contributed in a small way to the advance of medical science (similarly I was delighted to be of assistance to student nurses and doctors when they accompanied their mentors – why wouldn’t I want the NHS workers of the future to be better able to do their jobs?!)

My treatment consisted of five days of intensive chemo one week, followed by a dose of bleomycin the Monday afterwards (always the toughest day of the cycle) and then the rest of week 2 of the cycle quiet. I have also been on huge quantites of pills and have had many scans and x-rays to monitor progress. 

Because my flat was unsuitable in several ways for someone convalescing from cancer (isolated by the stairs that separate it from street level and afflicted by damp) somewhere had to be found for me to go instead, and faced with a crisis the local council came up trumps with a bungalow just north of the town centre on an estate run by Freebridge Community Housing (the nearest there is to social housing in Tory Britain). Because the tenancy of the bungalow only became available just as I was due my fourth and last week of intensive chemo I remained an in patient until after the follow-up bleomycin which was on Tuesday December 11th (delayed by the fact that on the Monday my platelet count was too low). That same evening I was taken to my new home and became an outpatient.

WEEK 10 ONWARDS – OUT PATIENT

I remain extremely prone to tiredness and although I walk about my bungalow with no great difficulty I need assistance to venture outside. However, I had a very long Monday at Addenbrookes, because I needed more blood transfusions (the amount of new blood I have been given in the course of this illness would send Dracula green with envy) in addition to the bleomycin, and yesterday I not only managed to stay out of bed the whole day for the first time since the illness took hold, I was also able to watch and enjoy the autism friendly performance of the Christmas pantomime at the Corn Exchange. 

THE FUTURE

I am on the mend, though it will be a while before I am back to anything like my old form. My camera battery is charging and I hope to be sharing some new pictures with you before very long. My thanks to all who have waited patiently for the resumption of activity on this blog, and especial thanks to those who have read the whole of this relaunch post.