Monday, 15 February 2010

Exactly as expected

Hubs and I popped back up north recently for a long weekend - we picked the timing to coincide with when we expected the sickness (as a result of her chemo) to kick in. Based on her first session, she has the chemo on a Wednesday, is fine for a few days - if not better than usual because the steroids help - then on the Saturday the sickness hits her like a wall.

We arrived on Saturday lunchtime and the sickness had arrived bang on time, she'd already been ill before we arrived. Bless, she said she felt awful about being ill while we were there - until I told her that we'd specifically chosen that weekend so we could look after her!

Hubby went to see his parents along the road for the afternoon and I stayed with mam and dad. Just did a bit of housework for them then read the newspaper. Dad went for his usual afternoon nap but ended up being 3 hours; but mam's said before that when me or my sister are there, he relaxes better knowing someone else is in the house. Mam just dozed on the sofa but she said it was nice to have him 'out of the way' - not popping in every couple of minutes to check she's okay. Bless him, he worries.

Hubs and I popped out on the Saturday evening for a break, drove to Whitley Bay to watch the ice hockey: Newcastle Vipers versus Cardiff Devils. Fast and furious, much faster than EPL standard (which was fast anyway!) and a brilliant match to see.

When we got back at 10 they'd both gone to bed - mam put in her notes that she keeps for the district nurse that she'd been sick six times that day. But it seems to help a little by breaking her tablets up into pieces and she's often more able to keep them down.

Sunday morning we popped out to the supermarket to get some shopping for mam and dad. Funny how normally I can take or leave supermarkets...but doing it for mam and dad didn't bother me - I actually got some pleasure out of it - being able to do the simple things like their shopping, thinking of things they might like. Went back and cooked us a roast beef lunch. And surprisingly mam was itching to have some! It was only a single slice of beef, a Yorkshire pud and some gravy but she said she thoroughly enjoyed it - and what's more it stayed down all afternoon! Tucked her into bed and made sure she had everything she needed - she lay down and just looked SO literally sick and tired, and took so much pleasure from the simple act of going to bed. That's when it really hit me how ill she is - not even so much from the cancer, but the chemo. But small mercies: she'd only been sick 3 or 4 times, so fewer than yesterday. Turned mam's light out and I knew if I went to be somewhere on my own I'd cry, so just bit my lip and went back downstairs to see hubs and dad.

Monday morning and I looked in mam's room at 9am but she was spark last, a bit of proper rest for her. I knew she'd be up before long for the district nurse's visit so left a cup of her favourite Earl Grey on her bedside table and we went to pick up a parcel from the sorting office. Big sis had sent mam a fruit basket - the gift company hadn't marked it 'perishable' so it'd been sat in the sorting office for almost a week! Went to see the inlaws to say goodbye, then back to mam and dad's. District Nurse arrived and agreed with me that mam's sickness seems pretty severe, so she should tell the chemo team in case they can give her stronger meds.

Travelled back down south and phoned mam as soon as we got in - already she sounds perkier and hasn't been ill at all - so the improvement is definitely happening.

And now we're back home, and my sis has just had the weekend up there - mam hasn't been sick all week but the exhaustion has kicked in. And today she said mam's appetite is definitely back on track!

So now mam has almost two full weeks until the effects of chemo 3 kick in - during which time hopefully her appetite will hang around and she can keep building herself up. She was 10 stone when she was the new year, only just over 8. Here's to two weeks of stability.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Up and down

Spoke to mam on Saturday and she sounded.....absolutely fine. Just like 'the good old days' - before all this kicked off. Didn't sound tired, didn't sound ill - if you didn't know what was going on you'd never have guessed how ill she is. She said she's been feeling okay the last few days and it cheered me up to hear her so chirpy.

Today she went to the consultant for a routine pre-chemo visit - Wednesday she goes for her second course of chemo, but at least now she knows the 'routine' - a few days of feeling quite well (the effects of the steroids) then the sickness and exhaustion hits with a vengeance. So by the time that happens this time around, me and hubs will be up there for a few days, to look after her and dad, and take the weight off dad as a carer.

Talking of dad, I saw my older sister at the weekend - mam's district nurse had suggested that dad is basically being mam's carer, so they should apply for a proper carer's allowance - so one of the MacMillan nurses came round one evening specially to help them fill in the paperwork, which I thought was a lovely touch. I hope one of the MacMillan nurses will be around while I'm there at the weekend, it'd be nice to meet and talk to them.

Last night I watched "Mo", a drama-documentary about the life of MP Mo Mowlam from the time of her brain tumour diagnosis, to her death. Brilliant production, and Julie Walters was superb in the lead role - talk about method acting, she shaved her head because she wanted the hair loss to look more authentic than a skull cap! I was okay until literally the last 5 minutes when Mo was admitted to hospital for her final days, got a bit sniffelly and had to ask hubs to turn it off. Couldn't stop myself from thinking that one day in the relatively near future, that'll be my mam - be it at home, in a hospital or a hospice. I think the whole thing of knowing mam's second chemo is imminent, and talk of Macmillan nurses just got to me.

I know it's not going to be easy this weekend, I know she's going to have sickness and diarhhoea, I know I'm going to have to cope with seeing her at her lowest - but I want to see her.