Thursday, April 30, 2009

Delicious! Lightly steamed English Asparagus from Warwickshire, served with soft poached eggs and slivers of fresh Parmesan - to tempt my invalid..


Got into a real panic on Tuesday afternoon when Stephen took a turn for the worse. He looked ghastly - white, shaky, hot and cold.  Thought he was dying. 
Didn't know what to do or who to contact.   Had received no instructions from hospital as to what to do in an emergency - apart from getting Stephen to A & E - but he was too ill to move, plus it takes an hour to get there.

No point in contacting a MacMillan nurse who, nice as they are, merely give advice and act as a kind of social worker.

Rang the surgery and talked to the cancer nurse (E) who proved marvellously efficient and immediately set things in motion. Arranged for Stephen's GP to visit us (yesterday) and a District Nurse to pop in frequently (expecting her any minute).  She also contacted the Hospice on our behalf, resulting in an appointment next Tuesday for Stephen to be assessed as to his/our present and future needs incorporating a palliative care team.  
That's what I call help and we immediately felt better knowing support systems were being put in place.

Stephen's GP was marvellous.  Spent a good half-hour with him. Reassuring - discussed, amongst other things, the psychological benefit of having a positive attitude towards his illness - remarked how many cancer patients just give up, whereas a strong spirit (not in alcoholic or religious terms) can extend life, and he felt Stephen had that positive attitude. 
Discussed the role of our Hospice and the forthcoming interview on Tuesday with Prof MB.

As a matter of interest we, alongside many others, assumed CancerCare was linked to our local Hospice. Not so.  They actually compete for funds.

CancerCare is a separate charity - receiving  lots of publicity - for which tremendous amounts of funds are raised, whereas the Hospice stands alone and struggles financially yet gives real practical help that one needs at a time like this. 

In future I shall fund raise for the Hospice not CancerCare who, I understand, have funds aplenty.  

Stephen was put off by a number of factors, plus the fact that our local CancerCare do not provide/approve of reflexology which he felt would help him to relax, whereas the Hospice provides everything.
Nurse has arrived.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home . . .

Apologies to the girls from S. Thomas' group in Bury who visited the GPQ Exhibition at Bilsborrow yesterday.  I promised to post pics last night. 
Will post more pics and comments re your charity and efforts tomorrow. 
You can appreciate that it hasn't been an easy 24 hours and quilting doesn't loom large when faced with Stephen's problem.
It was truly lovely to see you - wot a happy bunch -  BUT I have confession to make. I dropped the paper, on which you wrote your names, into the Visitors Choice Box by mistake -  in a hurry to get away to the hospital.
Perhaps you'll identify yourselves by colour of your frocks!  Please.

Brought Stephen home from hospital this evening. Nothing else can be done for him at hospital. His oncologist said he might as well be nursed in the comfort of his own home as they now think the fevers are linked to his cancer - not an infection from the Hickman Line as previously thought.
He looked pale and was shivering when we arrived home. Wore a T-shirt, sweater, jacket and was covered with 2 blankets but still cold.  Has lost weight. Looks 'thin.'
Put the CH on full blast and finally lit the fire.    He gradually warmed up and is now in bed.

I made up his bed with a plastic mattress protector covered by 3 layers of sheets to prevent that horrible slippery feeling one experiences in hospital beds.  
This is to protect the mattress when he has one of his fevers - high temperature (at times been 42.2ºC) followed by rigor and then sweating to a point where his nightclothes and bed clothes become drenched and have to be changed. He is easy for an hour or so before the pattern starts all over again.  

Drugs have been stopped apart from 2 paracetamols when his temperature starts to rise and 2 steroid tablets daily (not sure what they are supposed to do.)
It's really a case of wait and see  - tho' he may have some chemo to stop the fevers.

He may feel a bit better tomorrow  -  now he's home  -  fingers crossed. . . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Telephone Directories . . . ANGER!

Am glad to say Stephen seems a little better this morning. Still having intermittent fevers with high temperatures followed by sweats - but the high temperatures (42.5º) he had been having over past few days have abated somewhat. 
Thought he was a goner on Wednesday night.

It was first thought Stephen might have 'infective endocarditis' due to an infected Hickman Line inserted in his chest (for chemo infusions) which they removed. 
Tests were done on his heart - one test involved swallowing a tube (containing a camera) down his throat - not the best thing he has ever swallowed he murmured - more like a hosepipe - and not something one would wish to repeat in a hurry!

Stephen was put on a drip of antibiotics and given paracetamol and ibuprofen in an attempt to clear the infection and bring down his temperature.  
Heart tests were clear so antibiotics have been stopped and we are now in limbo land. 
A mystery surrounds the fevers. 

I researched 'fevers' on the internet and found numerous sites stating causes from malaria to latent syphilis, including a link to lymphomas as being a cause. 
The oncologist is to see Stephen on Monday as it has been mentioned that the fevers may indeed be linked to his cancer, but which one?  Bowel, liver, stomach, lymphoma, All?

Stephen has become more aggressive these past few days - whether it is due to the fevers or the fact he hates being 'messed about' as he calls it - am not sure. 
He has had a dreadful time so one can hardly blame him for expressing his fears.

A close member of  his family, who is a counsellor, has suggested I take an old Telephone Directory to the hospital and get Stephen to assuage his anger by ripping pages from the directory when he feels cross. 
When I mentioned this to him last night he exploded and used expletives I dare not print!!

I too have a diploma in counselling - studied Eysenck and Carl Rogers - but telephone directories were not part of our curriculum.When I saw myself on closed circuit television realised I would make the worst counsellor in the world 'cos I found it hard to 'listen' and told the client in no uncertain terms exactly what they should do - which is not exactly what Carl Rogers mean't  by 'Client Centred Therapy.'

Enough of medical matters. 
I have checked Stephen this morning and he is OK so I can I have free day today as other family members are to visit the hospital. 
This leaves me free to enjoy myself and immerse myself in music.
I shall  listen to a recording of Elijah this morning whilst I finish the ironing. 
Attend a rehearsal this afternoon. Return home to put on the greasepaint for tonight's performance.  I am so looking forward to it.  The choir are in good voice and it's going to be a real treat!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blackpool and the Big Dipper . . . .

I feel as though I've been on the Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. 

Up in the air - pure terror - great relief at landing.

Have gone from a feeling of sheer misery last night - to a feeling of relief today when I talked to Stephen - he sounded so much better. Energy returned and I did some ironing! 
Little masochist that I am.

Stephen perked up a bit today and his temperature, though still highish, has not reached the dangerously dizzy heights of 42.5ºC which it did yesterday.
His clothes were soaked with sweat and his bedclothes constantly changed. 
I take fresh clothes to him every day, with a spare set - in case.

Took some of his high-powered drinks to the hospital in case he wasn't eating,  plus some chicken soup with noodles -  in a wide-topped flask - of which he drank 250ml during my visit. Gladdened my heart, I can tell you.  
Left some fresh pineapple I bought this morning to refresh his palate after a day of fasting before the heart and bronchoscopy tests.

He had a heart echo something-or-other-test which proved OK but now awaiting results of a bronchoscopy which should reveal all.  The high temperatures and fevers are proving a mystery and don't appear to be linked to his cancer and may or may not be infective endocarditis as a result of an infected Hickman Line imbedded in his chest to receive chemo in January.
Was removed 2 weeks ago.
Let's hope the doctors can determine the cause and let him come home. He is still a poorly bunny, but far better than yesterday and I shall sleep tonight as frankly I am exhausted.

Before I put the kettle on I do want to thank all you folks who have sent me kind thoughts via email - and on the blog, of course.  I have received so many emails that it is difficult to thank you all individually.  Please accept my most grateful thanks here.

Babs xx

A lousy night . . .

Spent most of the night weeping - just couldn't stop. The house felt so empty. 
Finally, at 4 a.m. had a Beechams Powder, in a desperate attempt to help me sleep. Don't think they are regarded as sleeping draughts but did seem to settle me down and I fell asleep - woke a few minutes ago. 

Was going to ring the ward this morning but something made me change my mind and I rang Stephen on his mobile instead. 
He answered - sounding decidedly brighter.  The relief was tremendous - so much so - made me start crying again.  
I realise this is probably only  a temporary upbeat blip  - but while there's hope . . . . and he's such a tough determined personality, with a big heart  . . . .  pray he may pull through this setback and allow us to have some quality time together before the inevitable happens.

It's akin to being on a roller coaster. 

Talked to the hospital chaplain who was at Stephen's bedside when I rang - David is so comforting and a personal friend to boot.  We've offered him Stephen's ticket for Saturday's concert at the Ashton Hall, so he's going to attend the concert and take a friend.

Goodness knows if I will feel like singing - I certainly couldn't raise a note at this moment in time but, with a bit of luck, and no downturns in Stephen's condition - I'll be able to sing along, in full voice, with the rest of 'em.

I cannot face taking the quilts to Bilsborrow, so a student of mine is collecting them all and doing the honours, for which I'm grateful.

Going to put the kettle on . . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An impatient patient . . .

Have just returned from hospital and feel tired out. Was told visiting hours were 2 - 8pm - "we open all hours" says sister on the Assessment Ward "like the corner shop." 
As the traffic situation here is pretty dreadful - takes 2 hours to and from the hospital - provided you can find a parking space - I decided to visit after the rush so I would be able to park. 

My brother and wife who had popped in to see how Stephen was faring, kindly insisted on driving me to the hospital as I was pretty tired after an upsetting day, hearing all kinds of bad news about Stephen's condition, and sorting quilts for the exhibition at Bilsborrow.. 

I was unpacking Stephen's drinks and extra underwear etc., on the Medical ward, when a nurse arrived and told us abruptly to leave as visiting hours were from 2 - 4 p.m. and 6 - 8 pm. It was 5.30 p.m.   Reasonable times had I not been told otherwise by a Sister in Assessment.   
Nurse insisted we leave, much to Stephen's distress. He was sweating and shivering/shaking (rigor) - appeared to have malaria (which he hasn't) and not well at all - wanted me to stay.

They drove me home where I had a big cry and, like a true Brit, a cup of tea!  Then I drove back to the hospital.

My sister-in-law remarked how scruffy the ward appeared, how sloppy some of the staff looked and she would start saving so she would not have to use an NHS hospital. "Frightening' she said.   

I must say I did not see anyone, apart from one young doctor, wash their hands on any wards during my visits - and there were signs all over the place stating that hands should be washed throughly if touching a patient.   Worrying.
I wash my hands twice - before, and after, each visit. 

Stephen has become paranoid about staff washing their hands and insists that they do - which doesn't always go down well - but as he says to them. "It's my life that's at stake, not yours. And I want to live as long as I can and not die of infection in this hospital."  
He is not proving to be the most popular of patients and I imagine they will be glad to see him leave - as indeed will he.

They think the fevers might be due to 'infective endocarditis' - caused - possibly - by the Hickman Line inserted very close to something or other. Heart valve has been mentioned. Some sort of heart scan is to be done tomorrow which should prove or disprove this theory. Am not a medic thus no point going into detail of something of which I know nothing.
All I know is that Stephen is very distressed - ill - and tired of it all he says, sick of hospitals, and so very very weary.

I suggested we take him out but my son-in-law (hospital consultant) says Stephen is in no fit state to leave hospital until they stabilise his temperature and discover what is causing the fevers. Stephen is attached to a drip (not me) of antibiotics.
They are doing their utmost for him he says, and hospital is the best place at this moment in time and Stephen has to be patient. Which is of course the last thing he is. 
Patience never being Stephen's forté at the best of times.

Frankly I am worried sick. Quilting can go to the wall for all I care at the moment. 
It does becomes an ego trip at times, doesn't it?  To be the best. Something to fill the empty spaces in one's life.
That's how I see it right now but know, deep down, there will come a time when I will need something to fill that empty space . . . . 

It's interesting how things one used to think were tremendously important become meaningless when faced with a life and death situation.  Quite meaningless.

Unhappy bunny . . . in hospital . . . .

Rang Stephen this morning - thank goodness for mobile phones, unlike old days when one had to go through the ward sister before making contact with a patient - and then only during certain hours. 
Stephen is NOT a happy bunny (unsurprising).  Was initially put on a trolly in A & E for 2+ hours then moved to a mixed ward in Assessment.  At 1.30a.m. was moved to a Medical ward. 

His temperature rose again during the night and was having more cold/hot sweats.  
The hospital is struggling with staff running all over the place and there is a terrible shortage of beds. I fear for the future of the NHS. It is stretched to the limit.

Curiously, his temperature seems to have settled down this morning and his blood count is up (no need for isolation) but the fevers are proving a mystery. 

He wants to come home - says he might as well 'cos all they're giving him is paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets. I told him they were monitoring him whilst waiting for the results of tests, but he insists he would feel better if nursed at home as he doesn't want to die in hospital.

I rang our local Hospice to talk to the Macmillan nurse who usually deals with Stephen to see if support at home could be provided for both Stephen (and me). Apparently one has to be referred to a Hospice by one's GP or MacMillan nurse.  I'm waiting for her call.

Meanwhile I'm to ring the hospital this afternoon.

So . . .a bit of time to pack the quilts and have a nice big cup of freshly brewed coffee (with cream)!
Yes, I know cream is beige and beige foods supposedly make you fat - but 'wot the 'eck' as they say in Lancashire - there are times when needs must . . . . .

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hospital . . .

Stephen was admitted to hospital at lunchtime with a high temperature and fever. He is having yet another battery of tests over the next 24 hours in hospital to try and discover the source of infection, which is proving elusive - and to get his temperature down and his blood count up. He is one poorly bunny.

Having run to and fro from home - doctor's surgery - hospital - home  - hospital - home - am feeling less than chirpy and about to hop into bed with a hot water bottle. Not the most romantic of companions -  but a comfort given the circumstances!!

Not been able to pack the quilts for the show - not had chance to do anything today apart from see to Stephen. Daren't think about the weekend - with rehearsals and concert not to mention the GPQ Exhibition looming.

The lovely contralto aria "Woe unto them..." from Mendelssohn's Elijah springs to mind. . . .

Not a good start . . .

Not a good start to the day for both S and myself. 

He woke up with a feeling of malaise -distended stomach - bloating and bowel problems. Called the cancer nurse at the surgery - she is able to get an immediate appointment with GP for cancer patients.  A good scheme, but unfortunately was out on her break. Were told she will telephone ASAP. We await her call.

I woke up with pains in most of my limbs and could hardly crawl out of bed this morning. Very strange and hopefully only temporary.  Not experienced it before. 
We would be in a mess if I succumbed to something.  Might be a form of tension - or nerves. I've taken some ibuprofen before doing morning  handstands. (Joke)!

It's odd, but when one is faced with a partner who has a terminal illness, it's very hard to voice one's own ailments 'cos they seem so paltry compared to Stephen's cancers for example. Likewise it's equally difficult to voice great joy  - as joy is the last thing they feel, so one has to suppress all these feelings and perhaps that is what is causing the pain in my body today? 
Writing up and expressing one's feelings on a blog is quite therapeutic - so thanks folks for all your good wishes and kind words.  Akin to having good neighbours around the corner.

I have to pack the quilts today for Friday's exhibition. Not all mine - some folks are on holiday and dropped them off for me to take to Bilsborrow.  
Last thing I feel like doing - but will have to 'gird my loins' as they say, and get cracking - shuffling being a better word at this moment in time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A better day . . .

To all the lovely kind folks who have made sympathetic comments about Stephen's illness, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  

Another lovely sunny day was spent mostly pottering in the garden or sitting under umbrellas drinking tea and watching the birds.  A pair of bluetits have settled in one of the boxes and great tits are nest building in another one. We think blackbirds have made a nest at the bottom of the garden - they did last year and it might be the same pair. It was a pleasant day and I hoped Stephen could forget his troubles for a while.   Difficult.

I made last-minute touches to quilts for the exhibition on Friday - stitching on labels, hanging sleeves and such-like. 

Stephen seems a trifle better today - no sickness and his appetite has perked up. The effect of the chemo is obviously wearing off. Seemed to have some energy. Not doing a cookathon but have been making easily digested tasty food - in small quantities - for him. 

Just returned from my treat of the week - i.e. choral practice. I love singing (better watch my spelling - I typed an extra 'n' in place of the 'g').  
Am a soprano but not in same league as Susan Boyle of Britains Got Talent - tho' I think she is actually a mezzo. Was fascinated by Susan's fabulous rendition of "Cry me a River" which you can hear on YouTube website - click on side bar to access the website -  and listen to her.

Our choir is performing Mendelssohn's ELIJAH.  I think it's the best sound we've every made. The choruses tonight were magnificent and the audience are in for a real treat on Saturday.  
I'm at the far end of the back row - if you can make it. Give me a wave!!

I just hope Stephen will feel well enough to sit for 2 hours in the Town Hall. He likes music,  an artist himself (painter), and his brother is a musician. Friends will bring him home if he finds it too much. We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A new day . . .

The house is quiet, with Stephen still asleep having been up half the night, so I have a few minutes to myself.

It's another gloriously sunny day - I've put the loungers and umbrellas up so we can enjoy the warm weather, watch the birds with Stephen's new binoculars I bought for his birthday last week, and hopefully lighten the mood.

We did not have a good day yesterday in spite of the brilliant weather, which is not surprising given the situation.   It's a hell of a thing to accept and come to terms with. It is sad to watch someone struggle with the knowledge that not only has he got the ticket for the journey and passed through the platform barrier but, as Stephen says, his ticket has been punched and he is about to get on the train  . . . . . 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bad News . .

Visited oncologist this morning who gave us some very bad news. 
Chemo to be discontinued as cancer has spread. Lymphomas, bowel, liver, stomach.
We went to garden centre afterwards, as previously planned, to collect 21 Shirley tomato plants (which I've grown for past 20+ years) and looked at each other as we picked them up - each wondering . . . . 

Stephen is deep in thought, slowly pottering in the garden as it's such a lovely day, and I'm going to do some quiet sewing when I've finished sending emails to family and friends and made him another cup of tea. It's how we Brits cope isn't it?  Put the kettle on . . . .

Although it's a glorious, sunny day - it's also very sad . . . . 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So tired . . . . CT scans . . . .yellow . . . .

Fully intended to write up my Blog and post lots of quilt pictures this evening but, to tell you the truth folks, I am dog-tired after a busy fortnight coping with hospitals, medics and visitors. 

Will post pics tomorrow - all being well. 

Stephen had a CT scan yesterday morning (his birthday) when he had to drink a litre of horrible liquid beforehand.  Will obtain the results of this scan on Friday morning when he visits the oncologist.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the results show some shrinkage of the tumours, though 
Stephen did look a bit yellowish this morning which could be a bad sign. Let's hope not.

A Bit of time for myself...

Have a bit of time to myself as house is quiet. S enjoyed his birthday supper at The Ship. 
There were 13 (!) of us until the Chaplain (personal friend) arrived. 
He gave S a Blessing which made us all realise the importance/implication of the occasion.
My daughter bought a Manchester United Birthday cake - from Asda -  as I didn't have time to make one (shame shame) and all the chocolate cake had been polished off over the weekend.
The kitchen staff had problems sticking 69 candles on the cake - but managed somehow - and it was borne aloft into the dining room amongst a chorus of 'Happy Birthday to Stephen' by all and sundry plus 3 rousing cheers - at least by those who weren't eating. Never fear, no-one choked!

Food was good - the young chef really did us proud so I popped into the kitchen to  give him a personal tip at the end. Poor devil - he looked shattered and it was only 8.30. 

Have to get quilts packed today in readiness for the Exhibition at Garstang. Have rolled the Singing Garden Quilt round a carpet roll. I do that with all my quilts. Keeps them nice and smooth and dust-free.  I am exhibiting 3 quilts: the Singing Garden of Popular Patchwork BOM fame, an old "Lilac Time' Sampler and hopefully, if I can get it to a presentable stage - the Autumn Version of the SG. Have finished all the blocks for the Winter version (my personal favourite) but not had chance to stitch them together with all the commitments at home over the past few weeks. 
Will post a few pictures of the quilts - especially the finished Singing Garden Quilt.  It will receive it's first public showing at the exhibition. 
Am pleased with this quilt - especially the twin-needle quilting which I have often used over the years for many projects. Triple needles also give a good effect. Try it.
Will post some close-ups and details later.
If you click on site (0n side bar) and 'techniques' - you will see step-by-step pictures of finishing the quilt, including twin-needle details.

Can hear movement - better dash. Family return to Scotland today although my grand daughter left for Germany on Monday for training camp. She rows for her University and Scotland - is 6'1" tall -  has the longest loveliest legs in christendom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cookin' for company . . . .

My family came down from Scotland this weekend so I cooked mainly with them in mind but also hoping to tempt Stephen who has not been at all well since the Hickman Line was removed on Wednesday and has had little appetite. He is still on antibiotics and looked very frail yesterday. Had very little energy.

I baked a luscious chocolate cake - served it with a dollops of rich creme fraiche and runny cream for those who don't like creme fraiche. Had strawberries sprinkled with sugar and kirsch as a side dish.

The roast lamb was absolutely delicious - I cooked it slowly and served it with new Cyprus potatoes, glazed carrots, cauliflower with a delicate white sauce - the top lightly browned in the oven - oh! not forgetting the peas, fresh mint sauce and buttery onion sauce.

Baked a deep Quiche Lorraine  for tea - served it with various salads.

Pudding for those who wanted it (everybody)  - English style pancakes served with caster sugar and squeezed lemons.  Or strawberries.

Yesterday I cooked chicken breasts stuffed with leeks, garlic, butter and a bit of cheese - served with broccoli and a mountain of rice 'n peas and salads. Very tasty.

Made liver and onions with lots of gravy for tonight's supper - served with creamed potatoes.
It's the stuff to put hairs on a girls chest!!

Stephen did manage to eat some of the food - but interspersed it with high energy drinks to keep him going.
It is his birthday tomorrow and we are taking him out for an early supper to a local pub. I just hope he is well enough to go. A few surprises have been planned which should please him.

Luscious wholesome food . . .

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SPRAY-STARCH TEST RESULTS! Not pictured in winning order!


#1  ROBIN starch - contained 400ml

#2  CHARM starch contained 400ml (including extra 33 1/3rd special offer) normally 300ml.

#3  ADRITT starch contained 500ml

#4  FAULTLESS starch contained 585ml

We (three of us) looked for a nice fresh crisp finish on 4 pillowcases.

The results - by unanimous agreement - were as follows:

#1   - ROBIN starch gave by far the best crisp finish - contained a good proportion of starch.

#2   - ADRITT came a close second. Used to be my personal favourite up to now.

#3  -  CHARM was third. Not bad if you run out of the top two.

#4  -   FAULTLESS starch contained a surprising amount of water and not a lot of starch -  gave a limpish finish, was the cheapest of the four, and good for ironing thick jeans that require sufficient moisture to obtain a smooth finish.

NB: The very best spray starch was distributed by the Blind Society. It smelt delightful and contained loads of starch which mean't you only had to use a small amount when ironing. Lasted ages.  Please leave a message on my blog if you know where it can now be obtained.

A bit of Light Relief. . . . . . testing spray starch

As a bit of light relief from all things medical - whilst Stephen is in hospital where (yesterday) the Hickman Line was removed from his chest (suspected as being the source of infection) and having filled him with old fashioned penicillin (there is still a use for it) - which seems to have worked - I spent some of my free time testing 4 different cans of spray starch. Well, it's better than watching TV . . . . or ironing!

The cans of starch were as follows:

#1 ROBIN spray starch obtainable from most supermarkets -  mine was from the Coop. 

#2 CHARM spray starch from Wilkinsons and £ shops. 68p - 89p depending where you buy it.

#3 ADRITT spray starch from Lidl. 99p  Blue can!!

#4 FAULTLESS spray starch from Cosco. 4 cans for £2.99 plus 15% VAT = approx 86p per can.

Ah, a taxi has arrived - from the hospital I think.  Better dash - sorry - will post results later . . . 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Stephen was admitted to hospital on Saturday with fever and suspected infection of the Central Line in his chest or maybe somewhere else. Was given battery of tests and put on an antibiotic drip.  Apparently when a cancer patient is on chemo their white platelets take a nosedive for about a week after each session - which means their immune system is very low and they are susceptible to infection. It's often the infection that kills a cancer patient - not the cancer itself I was told.
When his temperature reached 38ºC, I was told by the cancer helpline to ring the GP, and get him to a hospital quickly, as it is a danger sign. 
I must tell you that weekend is not a time to be ill. No-one is about and it's very much a do-it-yourself situation. The woman at the end of our local weekend emergency line told me to give him 2 paracetamols!!  I ignored her advice and took him to the nearest hospital and the doctor, upon seeing him, arranged for Stephen to be admitted immediately to a ward at another hospital.
He seemed much better next day and I brought him home in the afternoon. Said he was frozen in the hospital as they kept the covers off the bed in order to lower his temperature. Was not a happy bunny and let everyone know it.

He was not well yesterday and when the nurse came on her weekly visit to attend to his Hickman Line she too noted the fact. Visited him again during the afternoon because she was concerned about his condition.  She is a super nurse - very caring and a true professional.  By this time Stephen's temperature had risen - again - to 39.2º (approx 103ºF) - dangerous sign - so she called the surgery and shortly a lovely young female doctor arrived who did some tests and arranged for Stephen to be admitted to hospital.  Where he remains - and I am waiting to hear the results of further tests they took last night.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tingly extremities and hiccups . . .

. . . . are two of the side effects of Stephen's chemo. 
Says he feels as though he is walking on thistles and his fingers tingle when touching anything cold, even taking something out of the refrigerator.
The hiccups are a trifle bothersome but only last for a couple of days - then fade away.

His face has lost much of its redness (not sure what causes it - must ask nurse when she arrives).

His appetite has gone completely but usually returns in 4 - 5 days. Had a teeny weeny bit of scrambled egg last night which is a far cry from his usual diet of roast lamb, pork and stuffed chicken breasts.

We plod on . . . . . 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Living Lettuce from Lidl!

High energy fluids.

Cancer and Chemo . . . .toleration . . .

After looking like death last night, Stephen woke this morning with a face like a beetroot. Part of the chemo process apparently. It faded as the day went on - and by late afternoon merely looked as though he'd been on holiday to the Bahamas. He's coping very well with his chemo - it has given him hope and with a bit of luck a longer life.

Felt surprisingly well, he said this afternoon, but was NOT hungry so he's back on anti-sickness medicine and high powered fluids (see pic above) until his appetite returns,  whilst I survive on 'live' lettuce from Lidl as part of my diet - hmm . . . well for next 5 days and then it's back to real food . . . and le cookathon . . . .

I write about Stephen's chemo as a means of allaying fears of people who may be facing it -  a reassurance that it can be tolerated - and getting the right mind set is one of the most important factors. Plus someone who cares and looks after you.

Pat's butterfly using just one main fabric.

Church Group Sampler Quilts - Beginners work in progress.

When Pat arrived with the church group at the beginning of the Sampler course - and produced a cream fabric for the background and one other fabric for the quilt - I remember thinking "goodness that's not going to work." Pat bought a muted striped ombre fabric ranging from grey to burgundy. However, as you can see from the following pictures, it worked very well indeed.

There are 5 mature ladies in this group and every quilt is so very different tho' created from the same patterns. It's the choice of fabric(s) that makes all the difference.

These church gals are thrilled to have got this far with their quilts, all but one never having attempted P & Q in their lives, and I'm sure they won't mind me saying - are not young!!

Pat only used 2 fabrics for her Sampler cream background and one other.

work in progress - Pat's sampler - church group.

Celtic Block

Traditional English patchwork over papers.

Card Trick

One of the church group's Sampler - Christine's - work in progress.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Postman rang twice . . .

. . . yesterday - but couldn't make me hear - so 2 long awaited packages were delivered early today.

The GRID MARKER (see pic below) is a super tool for marking quilts and saves fussing about with rulers and suchlike.  First saw it in action on a Blog - most impressed - but I had a hard time obtaining one as no suppliers in the US shipped abroad.
In desperation I emailed my good friend Roxanne at Cottoncapers (see website on side bar)and she managed to obtain a couple from her suppliers for Juliet and myself. Arrived within 2 weeks.
Juliet is completing her version of The Singing Garden whilst I am completing the autumn version and we're both using the grid system of quilting on our blocks.  Will post pics when I get cracking.
Meanwhile will post some pics of the completed original Singing Garden quilt tomorrow so you can see close ups of the quilting.

The Magic Piemaker (see pics below) is just that.  Magically makes small delicious pies in 10 minutes. Will post pics showing the process either tomorrow or Friday. My friend Jean has one and makes the most DELICIOUS pies, so naturally I wanted one too.
Breville no longer manufacture these little gadgets - tho' there's a petition on-line, with 500 signatures at last count, asking Breville to start production once again. You'll be hard pressed to find a Piemaker.  I was lucky enough to obtain mine from Lesley on EBay - but won't shout too much until I've put it though it's paces as it might not work. Not even switched it on yet - having been involved with medical matters for most of the day.

Pretty tired now to tell you the truth . . . . .

The marvellous GRID MARKER arrived at last from USA!

BREVILLE MAGIC PIEMAKER - arrived from EBay . . . . it is brilliant!


Spent most of the day at hospital in oncology - Stephen having his 4th bout of chemo. Has a Hickman Line inserted in his chest and the infusions are injected into the line. Anti-sickness drug also inserted at same time. Takes 4 hours in all. 
He looks very pale this evening and weary. Will be like this for about 3/4 days then begins to pick up. His appetite drops to nil and he survives on high-powered fluids to keep his strength up for approx 5 days after which time he begins to eat normally. That's when I begin my cookathon to build his strength up in order for him to cope with the next session and keep him alive.
Is due to  have a total of 12 chemo sessions after which nature is allowed to take its course.

Luckily the football is on as I write and will take his mind off his problems for a couple of hours.


Trust you all checked your MP's expenses on (website on side bar).
Bit of a shocker, especially to us pensioners who remember the 67p rise we got a couple of years ago!

To other things.  
The roast lamb was delicious, with enough left over to make sandwiches and a Rogan Josh lamb curry which is now in the freezer.

Off to hospital later this morning for my invalid's 4th bout of chemo to be followed by a CT scan on the 14th (his birthday!) to discover if chemo has been effective. Let's jolly well hope it has!
Would give him hope - a wonderful and much needed birthday present.

They must think we're April Fools!! Click on charts to enlarge them.

Check your MP's expenses @