An Oncology Clinic on December 13th was for me the harbinger to Christmas 2011. I haven’t been feeling well since August of this year, and with a plentiful supply of Morphine and nerve pain relief I predicted the inevitable word scan would be mentioned at the clinic - and mentioned it was. "Well Hywel, it’s been a while since your last CT Scan, last July I believe, so with all the symptoms you’ve been telling me about I think it’s time for another." I knew it would happen, but it still places a small pocket of fear inside you that’s difficult to get rid of.
I said that I didn’t mind the scan being done before Christmas, but I would prefer the results to be after Christmas - the festivities in my case being a quarter glass of red wine and copious amounts of sleep! I’ve had more CT Scans than I care to remember, but this time it feels different. I’ve been in a fair amount of pain which at times even morphine can’t keep under control. There’s something going on but I just don’t know what it is and that’s the biggest fear for me, the fear of the unknown. I can deal with what I know but struggle with what I don’t.
All this aside, I am still looking forward to Christmas and it’s also my birthday on the 20th. Every year for the last four years it has been tinged with that question that always lingers at the back of my mind. Will this be the last? I can cope very well with short term goals because, for me, they are achievable and something to look forward to. Longer term ones are different and for some reason my mind simply shuts them out completely. Two weeks into January and I will have the results of my scan and thus my life will be mapped out for the foreseeable future.
So with these few brief words to end the year Happy Christmas and New Year to all! Let’s just see what the new one brings.
Christmas has come around again very quickly, last year we were trudging through the snow to get to Velindre for Hywel’s radiotherapy, so it’s a relief not having to do that again. The memories of last year came flooding back when we drove to Llwynypia through driving rain and wintry showers for Hywel’s 3 monthly oncology clinic on 13th December. Hywel has gradually been feeling more ill since the summer and has found it difficult to manage his pain without being completely out of it. Seeing the palliative care consultant at the end of the summer was really tough. It left me with a sense of despair as it signified a move to another stage of Hywel’s cancer. It has taken a while to deal with that and I try not to think about it too much. I can see Hywel is in pain at times and I have to be on hand to remind him to take his tablets as the morphine can fuddle his brain a bit! I asked the GP if he could get the pharmacy to prepare a weekly blister pack of tablets. This has made it so much easier for Hywel to keep track of his medication as there are 12 tablets to be taken at different times throughout the day.
At the clinic Hywel described what his pain has been like over the last few months and what new symptoms he has been experiencing. It was agreed that he should have a scan. We had talked before the clinic and decided that if Hywel was told he should have another scan we would prefer to have the results after Christmas. We try to be positive and hope that the pain is being caused by fibrosis from the scarring caused by his treatment, but we are also realistic and know that it could be the tumours causing the pain. Hywel worries that this could be his last Christmas so we want to enjoy it as best we can without knowing the results. I can’t think as far ahead as next December; I deal with the future one small piece at a time, I can see a month or two ahead but any further on, my heart can’t bear it and my mind just won’t allow it.
Carly, Luke, Adam and Elliott and Carly’s boyfriend Jon will be joining us for Christmas dinner this year. Hywel’s Mum won’t be with us this as she’s in hospital, being rehabilitated after a fall a couple of months ago, so we will pop in and see her Christmas morning, then come back home and all eat together. We will have a couple of hours together in the afternoon before the eldest 3 go off and do their own thing and we will probably sit down with Elliott and watch a film of his choice in the evening. My Mum is in Florida for a few months so we will speak to her on Skype sometime in the afternoon. We don’t have any firm plans for the rest of the holidays. My Dad will pop over at some point with his girlfriend and we will hopefully catch up with a few close friends whilst they have some time off from work. I am hoping it will be nice and relaxed without too much rushing around, the kids are older now so that should be possible!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all and keep your fingers and toes crossed for good results from the scan for us in January.