Friday, 28 February 2014

Falling off a mountain

I've not written very much in the last month as I was expending so much energy dealing with the fallout from a holiday accident.

We were holidaying in Fuerteventura, which by the way is a great winter destination.  Away from the resorts, it is a friendly relaxed sort of place with some great coastal and mountain walks.  The flights are very reasonable in January and, best of all, it is warm, dry and sunny in the winter.

My husband fell off a rough non-path while coming down from a mountain and injured his leg.  He had to be rescued by the local emergency services - both the Fire Brigade and Ambulance were involved as you can see from these photos.

He had a ruptured quadriceps tendon and had surgery in Fuerteventura and was eventually repatriated to England.  He was in hospital in Spain for 3 weeks, and I kept jetting backwards and forwards between Fuerteventura and London, in order to juggle my own medical appointments with staying with him.  Our travel insurance put me up in a comfortable hotel in Puerto Rosario, the pleasant laid-back commercial capital of Fuerteventura.

Eventually we managed to get him repatriated and he is now home and in the NHS system now after many twists and turns.  Lessons learnt:

1/  Travel Insurance Emergency Assistance are prone to go off in tangents and get things muddled.  Considerable effort is needed to get them to focus on the required end point - repatriation.

2/  Getting followup care in the NHS after an accident abroad can be very challenging and GP's  don't always know the right route into the system. After over 2 weeks of frustration and confusion, we found the key.  It is really simple once you know how.  Get your GP to write a letter referring you to the Fracture Clinic at your local hospital and then take the letter to the hospital in person.  Voila!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Moondial: atmospheric and strangely moving

I bought Moondial by Helen Cresswell after reading rave reviews of the 1980s BBC serial of the same name.  I watched the DVD of the serial before reading the book.  I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would.  Over-rated, slightly confusing and the ending didn't quite work.

I've just finished the book and it was so much better: well drawn sympathetic characters, a touch of humour, evocative descriptions of the house and gardens, and the dreamlike quality of the moonlight. The serial was very faithful to the book, but it just couldn't carry it off.  Perhaps our imaginations can conjure up atmosphere and setting in a way that eludes the harsh lense of a camera?

And the ending was beautiful written:  moving without being sentimental and just the right amount of magic.

Moondial is the story of three children who become friends and have to overcome supernatural evil as well as their own fears and problems, despite living in different centuries.  Minty in 1980s Britain has a mother who has gone into a coma after a road accident, Tom, a Victorian servant boy, living far from home is dying of consumption and misses his little sister, 18th century Sarah walks by moonlight and is a prisoner of the day.

I've given it 5 stars and added it to my list of Top 100 Children's Books.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

No More Chemo Curls

They are gone.

At least for now.  I wonder if they will grow back?

This morning I went to the hairdresser and had a good haircut.  Although I did like the curls, they were getting too long and too fluffy and had to go.  Getting my hair cut probably got rid of a lot of split ends as well as the weaker hair that grew back initially.

It is over 15 months since I last had a haircut and my return to my favourite hairdressers is yet another symbol of normality returning.  My hair is as thick as ever and I love it.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

I've finished my Herceptin treatment.

Last Thursday was the last of my Herceptin treatments.  Yippee!

A huge thank you to the chemo nurses and reception staff at Ward 7A at Barts.  Your kind and friendly manner made a big difference to me, and also, I'm sure, to others who pass through your doors.

I just hope it all works and I never come back!

My first session on a cold dark November day over a year ago seems a long way off now.   The nausea and vomiting after FEC was the worst ever, but at least it only lasted a couple of days per cycle.  Fortunately I only had 3 cycles of FEC and then moved onto Herceptin and Taxotere.  There were more symptoms with Taxotere but at least you skip the nausea and vomiting...

To all who are about to start a year of treatment, keep remembering the old Persian proverb:  "This too shall pass"