Sun, Sand & Septicaemia! (part one)

Cancer & Me, Health & Beauty, What's Happening?

Well that was NOT part of the plan when my family and I decided to go on a dream family holiday to Mauritius!

My husband and I worked, saved and planned for months. We were so excited to finally be going and once there, it was as close to paradise as I could have hoped. We were all having the perfect time – until…

A few days in I started to feel unwell.  There was a medical centre on site and a nurse gave me some rehydration sachets.  I did keep saying that it felt more like a bladder infection but it was considered dehydration.  I know that with a colostomy dehydration is an extreme issue, so I was furious with myself that I had become dehydrated.  But the sachets didn’t help, in fact when I tried to drink one, I instantly threw it back up again – sexy!

Back to the medical center where it was agreed – it was a bladder and possibly now a kidney infection as well but not to worry, oral antibiotics and you should feel better in a day or two.  Sorted.

Not so.  By the next day I was convulsing, vomiting and had a temperature of 40c.  The medical team sent me straight to hospital.  I can’t lie, the journey to hospital was petrifying. It was an hour and a half away. I had to go by taxi on my own because it was too far for an ambulance to come and Husband had to stay with the kids. I had no idea what to expect when I got there – a posh private clinic, or like something off an episode of panorama.  The hospital was fine, basic, but fine and the staff were really wonderful.

Arriving at hospital I was delirious and writhing in pain. The doctors wouldn’t give me any medication until they ran tests, sorted my insurance and had my passport so the next hour was pretty awful and involved a lot of tears as I played the worlds smallest violin to myself.

Quick side note: I couldn’t be admitted until my insurance was sorted and they took my passport as a guarantee of payment which I didn’t have with me, the nurse seemed to think  couldn’t be admitted (more crying/violin playing) until thankfully someone was able to come and help me be admitted without my passport.  There was security on all the doors so no one can leave and they only removed the drip and cannula once the bill has been paid.  I understand why, but I really was reminded how lucky I am to live in a country with a National Health Service.  It might not be perfect but at least you never have to fear being turned away from a hospital like I nearly was, or worry about paying the bill – that truly is amazing.  But anyway – back to the story…

I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder, kidney and blood infections – septicaemia.  It was the septicaemia that was causing the convulsing and fitting.  I had non-stop drips running for three days with antibiotics, liquid and painkillers.  Honestly I can’t explain how ill I was.

The only other time I have felt that bad was when I was having chemo and a junior doctor gave me the wrong amount of morphine and I overdosed.

Because the hospital was so far from the hotel, it wasn’t easy for my family to visit so I spent most of the three days I was in there contemplating being severely ill again. Obviously it’s not like my cancer was back but being hooked up to machines day and night, having numerous scans and tests – it all felt far too familiar and took me back to an emotionally dark place.

13007119_10156741940120153_2581753792320052315_n

Getting to sit and watch the sunset

As there was a medical centre at my hotel, my consultant (after quite a lot of negotiation) agreed to let me convalesce in the hotel with the medical team supporting me.  I couldn’t get out of bed and was on a lot of medication but who cares… I was back and with my family for the last few days of holiday.

The day I was released I saw a blog post from Consciously Healthy which seemed to sum up just how I was feeling.  The author Emma was reflecting on how after a long recovery, she stopped giving her mind, body and soul the attention it deserved, till eventually her body gave-way again.  This was exactly how  felt.  I know I didn’t have cancer again and my life is full of people and things that I love, but slowly my life had returned to crazy busy with little down time and having septicaemia made me realise it was time to have a little rethink!

I will be writing more about how and ‘if’ the rethink happened in a few days so check back or sign up for part 2…

Are there any times in your life when you have had a rethink?  Or any tips for anyone else having a rethink?  Please leave a comment and share you stories with us.

Come join me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

With love XX

©

1st Birthday of The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

I cannot believe that my book was published a year ago today!  Happy Birthday to my book!  The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer was a labour of love and nothing compares to the getting wonderful, heartfelt messages from ladies who have been touched or helped in some way by reading it.  I have written honestly about the parts of writing a book about cancer which can be difficult in an earlier blog post but those emails and messages I get from people – knowing that I have been able to use my love of writing and turn something so negative into something positive is, quite simply, amazing.

things-your-baby-does-not-need-at-his-first-birthday-party.jpeg

Over the last year I have posted a few blog posts on writing and why I wrote The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer, I think my favourite is What Do You Wish You Had Done?  It is something I try to keep in my mind, what do I wish I had done and what do I still want to do.  It can be so easy to fall into a routine and stop pushing yourself but this post reminds me that no one else is going to make amazing things in my life happen.

And I think we should all ideally not wait for a near death experience to push us into action.  We owe it to our future selves to create the life we want.

It never ceases to amaze me, just how many people are effected by cancer; how it comes round and round, time and time again, yet I also know that if I had my cancer ten-years ago, I would not have survived.  Now I am 3 years into remission and it is only getting better.  More and more of us are surviving even extreme cancer diagnosis’ and I love that my words can help others who are going through similar experiences.

Publishing this book was one of my proudest moments, along with this blog and I really want to send a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have read, commented, reviewed, been involved, anything… Thank you, thank you, thank you.

IMG_9707 2.JPG
To anyone who had or had cancer I just want to say… You are so strong, especially on the day’s that you don’t think that you are, the days that you want to give up, those are the days when you are actually the strongest because you keep going.  You are going to do things you only dreamt of before.  You are going to be even more amazing because at one point you were stripped of all and (if not now, in time) you will rebuild.  Give yourself time and be kind to yourself and let the magic of life unfold.

Happy Birthday book x

Follow this blog to get latest posts and updates straight to your inbox.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

BUY THE BOOK HERE

That Dreaded Day

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health

There is a time in every cancer survivors year when a dreaded day (or two…) comes around.  They are of course the dreaded check-ups!

I remember the first time I had to go back for a check up, pushing back the tears as I arrived the hospital.  The familiar sights and smells… immediately I felt like I was driving back for yet another chemotherapy appointment or to get some more “it’s worse than we initially thought” type horrible news.

I have gone so far as to actively try and avoid these dreaded days but they always catch up with you, usually encouraged by husband saying “Nic, what’s happening with your appointment?”  “seriously Nic, what’s happening?”

Well I couldn’t make the last appointment so I will rebook… you know…. next month… or maybe the month after… no rush hey?!

“Actually Nic – yes, there is.  Your delaying the inevitable and if there is something wrong, the sooner you find out…”

So annoying when ‘people’ are right.

The problem is the nerves don’t start as you get to your appointment.  They probably start about a month before, when you know the appointment is coming.  It’s not like it’s consuming my every thought or anything but it’s just… there.  It’s like a star that’s about to collapse -it has a fire burning inside and the stronger it gets, the more it silently consumes itself from the inside.

So that is where I have been for the last few months.  Burning up and having check-up’s which have confirmed I am still all clear (yay).

I have also been having some internal scar tissue (that has been problematic ever since the surgery and continues to be so) treated – basically the scar tissue in my cervix is growing abnormal cells which if left could turn cancerous… seriously…  You have to love the irony – it won’t because they are all over it but still… It’s surprisingly all-consuming when these dreaded days are going on.

But I’m back, and wondering, is there anything that you would specifically like me to write about over the coming weeks?

If not I shall be left to my own devices – equally fine.

But, as I say, it has not been all bad by any means- quite the opposite in fact, so here are some photo’s from my wonderful mothers day surprise – an awesome day out with my lovelies.

Follow this blog to get latest posts and updates straight to your inbox

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

On This Day – I was Diagnosed with Cancer

Cancer & Me, Goals

It was the 4th January 2012 that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  My dad coming over to watch my 3-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son whilst my husband took me to the hospital for my long-awaited colonoscopy.

I knew instantly that there was a problem, as soon as the consultant began the procedure – the weird looks and awkward silences when I asked what was wrong.  The nurse wouldn’t tell me what was happening, saying only that I should wait for the consultant to come and see me.  When the consultant finally did come, he said that he wanted my husband present.  All of this combined with the feeling in my heart and stomach meant I knew, before the consultant told me.  I knew that I had bowel cancer.  You can read all about my diagnosis here if you want to know more…

The strangest start of any year!  A time that should have been filled with resolutions and big plans of the year ahead with my small family became about only one – not dying.  I find the 4th January more significant than finding out I was all clear for many reasons but there is something about having your all wants focused to just… being alive.

10375900_10154354599385153_8940909248515840499_nDon’t get my wrong, I still make New Years resolutions about losing weight and exercising regularly which I fail miserably within weeks, if not days (which of course are my resolutions this year as well) but at least I know that I have the main one about staying alive – covered.

But I want to hear more about you guys…. What are your resolutions?  Leave a comment and let me know so that we can get each other on track!

Follow this blog to get latest posts and updates straight to your inbox.

You can also follow me on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram

I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

First Vlog – Answering Your Questions on my Cancer Book Experience

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

So I have done my first vlog – I think it has come out OK, but I know that you will all be the judge of that so please let me know what you think.

I know that I didn’t answer all of the questions, I didn’t want to bore everyone to tears going on and on so attempted to keep it short and sweet but I think there is one question that I was sent after I finished that I feel deeply should be answered immediately and that is yes!  Yes Jennie, I do like wine! 🙂

Happy watching! Nx

Follow this blog to get latest posts and updates straight to your inbox.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

BUY THE BOOK HERE

The Problem with NOT Losing Your Hair When You Have Cancer

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

Cancer, chemotherapy, hair loss.  Standard.  These three things appear to be inextricably linked which is strange because it’s not actually true.

There are hundreds of types of chemotherapy, all with different side-effects and hair loss is not always one of them.  Some chemotherapy’s cause heat in the body, which causes the hair follicles to open and the hair to fall out.  Some chemotherapy’s cause cold in the body meaning that doesn’t happen.

So why do people always connect the two?  I think it is because people have the ‘heat causing’ chemotherapy when treating breast cancer.  As Breast Cancer is the most common in women and the poster-child of cancers, this has become the ‘normal’ image we all accept and expect.

These ‘cold’ chemotherapy’s come with their own additional side effects, mostly in the form of nerve damage.  Your nerve endings become so damaged and hypersensitive to cold, it meant that I couldn’t even walk down the chiller aisle in a supermarket because of the painful reaction in my nerves.  If it was cold outside, I would be in pain.  If something was cold to touch, I was in pain.  I could not drink cold or room temperature drinks as the pain the nerves in my throat was unbearable and made my throat feel like it was closing causing a gag reflex – warm drinks were fine thankfully.

Of course you still get all the added, expected side effects like nausea, sickness, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, etc…  We all have these joys in common.

The problem with not losing your hair when you have cancer is that people don’t realise you have cancer.  Even when they know you do have cancer, it’s like they forget.  It can be genuinely shocking.  How you feel and how you ‘should’ look are poles apart which somehow creates a disconnect to the reality.  If I had a pound for every time I heard “but you don’t look ill???”  It makes it even harder to acknowledge the truth of what is happening, for others and for yourself.  Sometimes I just wanted people to acknowledge how crap I felt without me having to explain

“I am far sicker than my long flowing locks allow you to believe.”

I remember someone saying “How come you haven’t lost your hair?  Obviously your chemo isn’t very strong.”  Cue internal crying and tending to the metaphorical kick in the stomach, whilst outwardly I tried to explain the differences.

I am thrilled that I didn’t have to deal with losing my hair.  Obviously I can’t imagine truly what ladies go through when they lose their.  I would most certainly be devastated, feeling like I had lost an irreplaceable piece of me.  But just because someone doesn’t ‘look’ a certain way, doesn’t mean they aren’t still fighting their fight.

That probably goes for everyone and everything actually!

Fighting-the-batle-of-life

I have been shortlisted for a Brilliance in Blogging Award in the Inspire category. I would love your support, so if you so wish, please click here and vote for me, just scroll down to the Inspire category.

Thank you!

Make my day and follow this blog by clicking follow

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – Day 18 – Know Your Colostomy from your Ileostomy

Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME

Day 17 – My DictiOSTOMY!

This is something that is commonly confused, especially by the media, so this is basically it in my version of a dictionary – My DictiOSTOMY

STOMA

Stoma, literally translated, means ‘mouth’ or opening.  In this case referring to the opening from the colon coming through the abdomen.

COLOSTOMY

The more common, or at least the most referred too, is the colostomy.  A colostomy is formed by a stoma being made from the large intestine and brought through the abdomen wall.  A colostomy bag can then be attached to the skin to collect any waste.  A colostomy hangs on the persons left side.

ILEOSTOMY

An ileostomy is basically the same as a colostomy but it is made from the small intestine and the waste is generally still a liquid.  An ileostomy bag is then attached to the skin again to collect waste.  An ileostomy hangs on the persons right side.

OSTOMY

Keeping it general, it is referring to be both colostomy’s and ileostomy’s.

OSTOMATE

Someone who has an ostomy.

So there you have it, a little break down of the lingo so you know what we are all talking about! 🙂

If you like my blog, nominations for Brilliance in Blogging are now open,
find out about the #BiBs and how to nominate here…

Make my day and follow this blog by clicking follow on the right (underneath if your on your mobile)  

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

For Bowel Cancer Awareness Month I will be blogging daily about Bowel Cancer to help raise money for Bowel Cancer Awareness UK.  Please give what you can to this fabulous charity.

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – Day 14 – When I Knew Something Was Wrong and My Symptoms

Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME

Day 14 – When I Knew Something Was Wrong and My Symptoms

I will always remember the look on the colonoscopy consultant’s face when he told me he had found a tumour he believed to be cancerous.  Pure shock.  The nurse looked like she was going to cry and my husband’s jaw was somewhere near the floor.  This was the beginning of me having cancer for them.  But for me, my cancer experience had started much earlier…

I had been getting rectal bleeding, that was very on and off, for around 8 years.  A classic sign of Bowel Cancer.  Over the years I had visited various GPs but they always said the same, that I was too young to have Bowel Cancer (a common misconception –  Remember Day 4?)  It was probably a small internal cut and if the bleeding went, there was nothing to worry about (another misconception – Remember Day 5?) The bleeding would stop, so that was that. In hindsight this could have probably been dealt with in the early stages if my initial concerns and symptoms had been taken seriously.

This is why I keep repeating over and over during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) that

the only way to truly know is to have a colonoscopy so get a referral from your GP!

The rectal bleeding now combined with discomfort when going to the toilet became intolerable during my second pregnancy in 2011.  I returned to the GP three times during that pregnancy, always with the same responses from the GP.  When my symptoms continued after my daughter was born, I quite literally fought for tests until my GP gave in and referred me for a colonoscopy.  The colonoscopy consultant found the tumour before he had even inserted the camera.

My daughter was only 6 weeks old and my son had just turned 2 years old.

Another symptom was extreme tiredness and fatigue but its only on reflection I am able to see that.  At the time I just put it down to life!  Being a new mum.  A lot going on.  Like I said, life.  Having said that I had said to my husband before “I swear there is something wrong with me, I know I have all these things going on but it can’t be normal to be this tired all the time!”  Now I know it is because my body was attempting to fight my cells turning on themselves.

I know it is harder to diagnose but do keep an eye on your energy levels as they can be a strong indicator that something is wrong.

 

If you like my blog, nominations for Brilliance in Blogging are now open,
find out about the #BiBs and how to nominate here…

Make my day and follow this blog by clicking follow on the right (underneath if your on your mobile)  

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

For Bowel Cancer Awareness Month I will be blogging daily about Bowel Cancer to help raise money for Bowel Cancer Awareness UK.  Please give what you can to this fabulous charity.

eb5da906562f43395f04c8665f6f694c

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – Day 13

Cancer & Me

Day 13 – Take Responsibility for Your Own Health

If you are unhappy with the direction your GP is taking, do not be nervous to ask for a second opinion or to push for a referral.

It is what doctors are there for… to assist you with your health.

Unfortunately things do occasionally get overlooked or misdiagnosed, or a certain doctor may have fixed ideas of a Bowel Cancer patient which they don’t believe you fit into.

That is why it is important that you take responsibility for your own health.  That means know your own body, know when something is wrong and have the confidence to make sure someone does something about it!

If you like my blog, nominations for Brilliance in Blogging are now open,
find out about the #BiBs and how to nominate here…

Make my day and follow my blog.  You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – Day 6

Cancer & Me

Did you know…  Bowel Cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer and the third biggest cancer amongst women.

Bowel Cancer is also very treatable if caught early so head to your GP for a referral if you have any of the main symptoms…

symptoms_210_wide

And remember – DO NOT LET THEM TURN YOU AWAY BECAUSE OF YOUR AGE!

If you like my blog, nominations for Brilliance in Blogging are now open,
find out about the #BiBs and how to nominate here…

Make my day and follow my blog.  You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!