Friday 20 February 2015

Spring into action

Although there's one more week until the end of February, spring is very much in the air and we have continued to be busy in the house.  

Steve's old workroom has been completely transformed into another guest bedroom with organised storage for our collection of art and music media as well as space for visitor's cases, clothes, toiletries, bits and bobs.  Although small, the room is bright and sunny and overlooks the garden so its a very pleasant place to be now it's decorated, carpeted and decluttered.  

The garden is greening up nicely.  At long last, the tree next door has been cut back; sunlight and daylight are flooding into our plot and lots of plants and bulbs are springing into life, guarded by a matrix of little wooden kebab skewers stuck in the ground now the smell of lion poo pellets no longer deters the neighbourhood's cats...Time to sow some seeds soon to enjoy summer flowers!

Steve has been springing into action too - his hair is growing well; his weight is still increasing; his energy levels are improving.  He still needs an occasional nap during the day, however, he seems like a different man compared to the way he looked and felt in November and early December, which is the lowest I have ever known him to be.  We thought he would get even worse after hearing the doctor's prognosis back then.  In fact, the opposite has happened - thank goodness - and long may it continue!

It's not been all work.  I've had some time to spend on photography and had a run of images published recently, which was very pleasing.  After putting a lot of energy into the house, we've rewarded ourselves with a couple of trips out, including a Valentines Day trip to London, where we met up with our dear friend Sarah and enjoyed two exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery with lunch in between and tea together before starting out on the journey home.  

We've also travelled to Bristol to visit Steve's mum in her nursing home.  She didn't wake up this time, but we talked to the community care worker (who was there to do an assessment) and the on-site nurse.  We also made what now feels like the obligatory trip to Ikea, so it wasn't a wasted journey.   

We are still hesitant to make plans very far into the future, but are looking forward to Steve's birthday in little over a week's time and a family pre-birthday celebration at the end of the month.  More of that in a future post :-) 

Friday 6 February 2015

and life goes on

The last time I posted a blog, Lucy the plasterer was putting a skim coat on the century old walls of our hall, stairs and landing.  Today, there is more banging and crashing in the house, as old carpets are ripped up to be replaced by new ones.  In between these two events, we have been busy cleaning, prepping and painting walls, ceilings and woodwork.  

In other words, life goes on...notwithstanding the doom and gloom of the doctor's prognosis in early December that without further treatment, Steve's life expectancy is now "a small number of months."

In fact, as the side effects of the last drug trial and December's radiotherapy course wear off, Steve has been feeling much better in himself.  His appetite is good and he continues to gain weight, slowly but surely.  Although he still takes an afternoon nap most days, there are days when he goes through without a sleep. When he is awake, his energy levels have improved so he has been able to get actively involved in the current round of renovation work. 

The goatee beard is doing well. The eyebrows now have a life of their own!  Although still thin, the hair on his head is also growing back.  The chest lump is still reduced in size and there has been no more pain.  

In truth, Steve does not look, feel or act like someone close to the end of life, thank goodness.  However, we know from the experience of other meso warriors not to count the proverbial chickens; anything could happen at any time - so we continue to take life one day at a time and make the most of it.  

Our daughter and partner are visiting this weekend, and maybe our son too.  Being sociable will make a great break from painting and decorating!  

Notwithstanding the freezing weather, there are buds on the clematis and the crocuses are popping up through the pots of winter flowering pansies, a promise that spring is on its way. The allium bulbs planted in October are showing green shoots, at least where they have not been dug up or covered over by the neighbourhood cats, who have adopted the areas of bare earth in our garden as a feline super loo.  Having failed miserably to deter them with citronella powder and a physical barrier, we are now seeing if they will be put off by the smell of lion poo pellets....fortunately, the odour is not noticeable by people!  

Back in December, I wasn't sure that Steve would still be around to enjoy the new garden in springtime.  Now, we both feel more positive.  

An appointment at Dr T's lung clinic has come through for a date in April, when Steve will be seeing one of the specialist lung cancer/mesothelioma nurses rather than a doctor.  To me, it still feels a little like the oncologists have given up on him, which I suppose isn't surprising if they are basing their assessment on how he looked and felt ten weeks ago. However, Steve is pleased to be seeing someone who specialises in mesothelioma, and we are both delighted that he is now back "in the system" rather than being cut adrift completely.  

If Steve feels and looks like he does now come April's appointment, then I think nurse Hannah will be in for a pleasant surprise.  Far from being at death's door as expected, he's still very much alive and kicking!  

As always, we have been following the fortune of other meso warriors who blog.  Claire writes that her husband Paul's mesothelioma is dormant, which is great!  Mavis is still going strong on her immunotherapy clinical trial at the Royal Marsden, although understandably upset that the other mesothelioma patient on the trial has had to stop, as his cancer is growing in a new place.  Lou in Australia is close to the end of 10 sessions of radiotherapy - a tough time with side effects, but she is such a fighter!  Ray's condition on the tremelimumab trial is stable; he can now progress on to three monthly doses of the drug and both he and Amanda can look forward to spring!

Big hugs to all the other meso warriors out there, their loved ones, families and friends and to those to fight to raise awareness of the continuing dangers of asbestos.  Here's hoping the Saatchi Bill will get through the Commons stage, after being supported in the House of Lords.