Monthly Archives: August 2011

Drama queens!

Drama queens!

Off on their excellent adventure

There’s more drama in Mum and Dad’s life than that in a marathon of amateur Shakespeare recitals!

The last blog post had doctors diagnosing the cause of all the bleeding he’d been having. Much blood has dripped down the drain since then.

He underwent a procedure on Wednesday afternoon to cauterize the wounds in his bowel and to stitch up a leaking hepatic mesenteric artery. Following a dose of fresh blood, Dad’s color and character returned, slowly, but he did improve.

Dad was discharged around midday on Thursday from hospital. I went and picked him up and on his way home he (or the morphine) wondered out loud where we should go for lunch. When Dad is told that he can “go home” what he hears is: “you’re good to go”.

In spite of Mum’s and my strong suggestions that given he’d lost around 3.5 liters of blood since the weekend, he really should just put his feet up and rest – he didn’t. Well he tried, but resting isn’t in his nature. If he’s still ‘above ground’ and there’s work to be done, he sets about to get it done.

This morning over breakfast he told me he’d lost some more blood during the night. To say that was disappointing news to hear is an understatement. We were all so hopeful that Wednesday’s procedure would be ‘it’ for a while. While I was finishing my morning coffee and he was having his potions and elixirs, the plaintive call of “Doug” came from the bathroom. Mum had had one of her turns and this time she was the patient and Dad was the nurse.

Shortly after lunch, Dad checked his colostomy bag to find that there was more blood and that there was a constant drip into the bag. Mum and I decided that we wouldn’t muck around and we’d just get him to the hospital to get him looked at (actually ‘treated’ is a different matter). While I was helping Dad get his stuff together, Mum called St Johns Ambulance for advice. They told us to wait there, they were sending some Ambos round.

While the St John’s boys were prepping Dad for the trip to hospital, Mum had another of her turns and they looked at her and decided that they should take her as well. Sweet, I thought, a quiet afternoon for me. Being the father of three young kids, I realize that an ambulance house call is not a crisis moment – it’s a Kodak moment! I got my camera out and snapped away. If only I’d had the foresight to grab the video camera I might have been able to engineer an entry to Funniest Home Videos. ‘Always be prepared’ and all that. Alas, I’m no boy scout.

With the afternoon with the parents out of the house, I set about trying to organize some of Dad’s files. No sooner had I written my siblings out of the Will than I got a phone call from Dad to say that I could come and pick them up. To say that was disappointing news to hear is an understatement – I hadn’t chucked a ‘save’ the corrected document yet!

There’s possibly a more accurate version of events, but I can only call them as I see them. Perhaps Dad will give you his perspective when he’s feeling a little better.

‘Till next time… Sim.

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Posted by on 27 August, 2011 in Family, Medical


Quick update on Dad

Dad had a gastroscopy and colonoscopy yesterday. The gastroscopy came back ‘clear’ in the sense that it didn’t detect any bleeding and therefore didn’t detect a cause for the bleeding either.

The colonoscopy showed that the first (or is it last?) 8 inches of his bowel (before exiting his stoma) to be the cause of his ongoing bleeding. He’s having an operation this afternoon (NZ time) to cauterize the length of bowel that is causing the bleeding. Apparently that’ll be quite painful, but I’m guessing that the morphine he’s on will help mask some of the discomfort.

If the cauterizing doesn’t work they’ll have to look at cutting that bit of the bowel out and relocating (actually re-creating) his stoma elsewhere (Leave your suggestions in the comments section below). Apparently this would be quite a ‘process’ and involve other complications.

Dad found out the cost of each unit of blood and worked out that he’s had many thousands of dollars worth of blood this year. He expects that the doctors will be pretty keen to stop all that blood money going – literally – down the drain. I suggested that he was now a drain on society.

Having not seen Dad for six months, I wondered if I’d be shocked when I saw him. No I wasn’t, but by the same token, I’m not sure what it would have taken to shock me. If he’d been playing his trombone while riding a unicycle – THEN I would have been shocked.

Entering the hospital room and making the sign of the cross probably wasn’t the best, most thoughtful greeting I could have given him! You live, you learn (or in my case, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad).


Posted by on 24 August, 2011 in Medical


Chest x-ray on Thursday

The GP had put me on a course of anti-biotics even though he thought my deep-seated chest infection was viral. He also decided to refer me for a chest x-ray to see how much of the cough was viral and how much was being caused by the growth of the metastases in the lung.

I went to Nelson Public Hospital Radiology on Thursday for the x-ray and was told to expect the report in about 10 days.

An envelope arrived from Radiology in today’s mail. Why had it come early? What had they discovered? I was reluctant to open the letter and sat around with it in my pocket for some time. I had run through in my mind the probable findings and had prepared myself for the worst. Eventually I opened it. It read,

INDICATION: Persistent cough. Known pulmonary metastases.
FINDINGS: A Portacath is in situ in the left anterior chest wall, no change in the chatheter, the tip of which lies in the proximal SVC.

Pulmonary metastases are not radiographically visible. No focal consolidation is demonstrated. Pleural spaces are clear. The heart and mediastinum are normal.

No destructive skeletal lesion identified.

COMMENT: No cause of cough identified.

Signed by the radiologist.

I sat like a stunned mullet and then Bronwen and I joined hands and again thanked God for His amazing grace and mercy towards us. Of course, we realise that this was a chest x-ray, not a CT Scan, however x-ray is a common tool for identifying cancers in the lung.

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Posted by on 13 August, 2011 in Medical, Personal


Not a week to remember …

Last week was not a week to savour.

Once again, over the previous weekend, when all the doctors had gone home to their families, my body decided to do its rebellious thing. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights I had raging fever, night sweats and coughing spasms. My stomach felt as if it had been David Tua’s punch bag. It was tight and distended. I resisted pressure to take myself to the Emergency Dept because I had a pretty good idea based on experience what would happen.

Monday, the coughing started to subside. I had a blood test and the haemoglobin was 103 which was pretty good. Tuesday was quite a good day but then on Wednesday I had an enormous wave of nausea hit me at about 8pm. It struck again at 6am on Thursday morning, 7.30pm Thursday night and finally at 3.30pm on Friday morning. Interestingly there was no actual vomitting with any of the waves but they left me very exhausted. The one on Friday morning came more as an explosion from my stomach/abdomen area and since then my midriff is not so tight, I am able to eat a bit more again, and there have been no more waves of nausea.

During the midst of these attacks, I felt the Lord seemed to say to me, “Try and find My face in the storm”.

One special blessing came one morning when Phoebe, who loves to write little notes from her heart, brought a piece of paper and placed it on my desk in front of me. It read, “I lov you gradad but if you diy I wil stil lov you too. XXX”. That makes the sunshine break through the clouds!

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Posted by on 13 August, 2011 in Medical, Personal


I wish I knew what is going on!

After waiting a while to get it, on Friday I received 3 units of blood that lifted my haemoglobin to 118. That should take care of the immune levels as well to fight the viral chest infection I’ve had for a couple of weeks.

And then …

… yesterday afternoon I started to bleed again. I had lost 450ml by bedtime and a total of 720ml up to 10.30 this morning. That is 75% of what I got 5 days ago! I would love to know why these bleeds suddenly happen, and then just as suddenly stop. I also think it would be great if some surgeon could just knick into my abdomen and cut out the offending 5cm of duodenum that has the damaged tissue. If I could get that cleared up, my quality of life would improve dramatically because apart from these bleeds, the metastases themselves don’t seem to be causing me too many problems.


Posted by on 4 August, 2011 in Medical, Personal


Let the blood be efficacious!

Spent 9 hours in the Day Stay Unit last Friday getting my blood supply topped up.

Hopefully now that I’ve got some extra blood in me my immune system will be in better shape to fight the viral chest infection I received as a birthday present a couple of weeks ago.

As usual though, the 2 days after blood transfusions are pretty tough but this time has been complicated by the fact that I was running a high temperature with the fever. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in bed.

Bronwen has also caught it from me so neither of us was feeling too flash on Sunday. I like sharing blessings, but not those kind so thought it best to keep away from attending church.

Today I am feeling mildly better so hopefully soon I’ll be back to feeling dangerous!

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Posted by on 1 August, 2011 in Medical, Personal