Archive for the 'cancer' Category

04
Sep
11

1 after another

After the disappointing news on my recent scan and coming off chemotherapy and the trial drug I was on, I ended up in Glasgow Royal again last week after a few days of stomach pains. I had been to my GP last monday who had diagnosed gastritis and prescribed some acid inhibiting tablets. I should add here that I have recently changed GP practice following my disappointment in my previous lack of early diagnosis by my last GP. My new practice is also more local and I must say that in the few months I have been there the doctors and the district nurses in particular have been fantastic. Still in pain on Tuesday and unable to keep any food down whatsoever, I returned and was prescribed some strong painkillers and told that if it persists I will be referred to the hospital and after a tough night and continued vomiting this is what happened on Wednesday.

I was seen to almost immediately and went through a serious of blood tests and x-rays. The surgeon’s opinion was that I had some sort of lower bowel blockage most likely caused by an adhesion as a result of my bowel surgery. Apparently extremely common after bowel surgery this was considered the most likely cause. I was obviously worried that it may be caused by a growing or even new tumor. The surgeon’s advice was to get me on a drip and drain my stomach and see if things would clear themselves without surgery which is often successful and the best course of action. My alarm was the clearing the stomach which meant the dreaded pipe up my nose straight to my stomach, arghhhhh! If you read my post about being in the royal previously you will understand my hatred of this procedure and it wasn’t any easier this time. The poor nurse that had to carry out the procedure didn’t get an easy time. The first attempt was awful. After getting past my nose and I could feel it in my throat I felt totally asphyxiated, I just couldn’t breath and had a drowning sensation and it had to be removed. After a breather, I composed myself and we went for it again with more success, edging the pipe down slowly by sipping water and swallowing the pipe with each sip till it reached my stomach. It is just not natural, they can stick as many needles in my as they want but sticking that pipe in has to be the toughest thing and almost seems antiquated, I am sure there must be a better way and I just know that it aint going to be the last time it happens. I will need to get some sort of therapy and relaxation technique to help me deal with it!

Lying in hospital I realised it was precisely a year since my climbing trip to the alps. I recalled lying on the sun drenched slopes of gran paradiso feeling on top of the world, what a change in a year and I would say to everyone to grasp and enjoy these moments you get in life to the fullest, you never know when they can be grasped away, hopefully never.

approaching the Vittorio Emanuele hut on Gran paradiso

On a more light-hearted note, I was amused by some quality ‘Glasgow Banter’ in the bay next to me as I was being assessed. An older gentleman had admitted himself after his face had unexpectedly swollen up. His speech was a bit slurred but I thought at first this was caused by the swelling. The nurse asked him what he could have taken to cause the swelling and he went on to describe in great detail a square sausage casserole he had made and left out overnight and eaten that morning. The nurse explained that this would maybe give him an upset stomach or the runs but not the swelling, she then asked if he had anything to drink and it comes out that yes, he had been in the pub when this happened. Asked how much he had drunk the standard, “a couple of pints and a couple of halfs”, which, in Glasgow terms can mean a bit more than “a couple”. Now this is only early afternoon and it is then revealed that he only has one kidney! But, no, he insists it has nothing to do with this and reverts back to the boiled square sausage casserole. It reminded me of telling my mum how I had eaten a dodgy pies as I suffered from hangovers as a teenager!

Once in a ward and literally piped up I just had to wait and see what happened. I was to get a CT scan which would hopefully give more clues to the cause of the pain. Over the next few days the pain did subside considerably and things seemed to be moving better. The scan revealed nothing significant although confirmed the growth of the seedlings in my peritoneum which showed up in my recent scan. I was told I may get out on Friday but my consultant advised another night of observation as a bowel blockage can be extremely serious if not caught early. I felt as good as ever on Saturday morning and it was agreed I could go home although told to return if the pain or sickness returns and given more pills to take to help protect my stomach.

It never ceases to amaze me the variety of characters you end up in wards with. There was a 30 year old guy admitted on Thursday with a horrendous neck wound. ‘Allegedly’ he had been staying with a ‘friend’ who woke up and thought he was an intruder and proceeded to slash him and was millimetres away from killing him. His fairly relaxed attitude about the whole thing was strange. C.I.D. visited but he was giving nothing away. This was a real serious incident, attempted murder I would say but he insisted there was no fight, no argument and his ‘friend’ was sleeping walking when he did this and that was the story every one was getting. Very strange if you ask me and I am sure there is a lot more to it. It sort of annoys me the money and time wasted in an incident like this from the police to the nhs, it must be a huge cost. There is absolutely no thought given to this at all by those involved treating the nhs as a right and not a privilege. the guy will be ok, he is probably out by now and doesn’t realise how close he was to dying, I just worry about what the repurcussions will really be….

Resting up at home now I have hopefully seen through another hiccup and think that if it was an adhesion it had actually been causing minor discomfort for longer than I think and I had been putting this down to the cancer as i feel better than I did even before the major pain last week. I have lost a good bit of weight again and will have to address that. It is so difficult balancing eating the right things for my bowel, beating the cancer and trying maintain a healthy weight.

I was home just in time for the Scotland game yesterday and was thoroughly enjoying it until cheated in the last few minutes of the game. I really would love to see Scotland in a major championship. When we last qualified for the world cup I was still studying and didn’t have the means to travel to see them even though it wasn’t that far but I would certainly make the effort now and would love to see them in the european championships but this looks very much beyond reach after yesterdays result.

Those following my blog will know how highly I spoke about the facilities provided by the Friends of the Beatson and the wonderful people who run it. My good friend colin is doing a sponsored bike ride from Edinburgh Castle to John O’Groat’s on the 24th of September with all proceeds going to the Friends of the Beatson. This is a link to his just giving page , he has raised nearly £1500 already which is fantastic and thanks to all who have contributed. These are difficult times financially and I am blown away by people’s generosity.

I have also spoke previously about my involvement with Lanarkshire Business Group who are holding a charity meal and disco night also to raise funds for The Friends of the Beatson. There are many charities out there needing money but I have chosen this one because of the direct help I have had from them and want to try to give something back as they totally rely on grants and donations for survival. The few hours spent there can take away, even if it is for a short time, a lot of the stress, worry and anxiety experienced while an inpatient at the Beatson and having spent 4 days in the Royal this week I really would have benefitted from a similar facility. They have set up a just giving page also here for anyone who can’t make it but wants to contribute. I realise the timing of both events means there were will be a cross over in donations but they all go to the same place so thanks to all who can contribute no matter what it is. I am really humbled that I have inspired people to do things to raise not just money, but awareness. A few of my friends have taken part in charity runs with my friend David recently raising £1000 for cancer research running the Edinburgh marathon in just under 4 and a half hours and others taking part in 10ks and half marathons, thanks to them all these charities can continue to do the work they do and hopefully find a cure for this terrible disease once and for all.

Hopefully at some point I will be fit enough to do something meaningful myself. The Glasgow half marathon is today which I have run 5 times in the past. I loved taking part although I did find it extremely gruelling. There was always a few pints to be had afterwards to sooth the pain though, or at least put it off for a day!

martin, innes, tom, me and jason, george square pre race

I am pursueing options for surgery to treat the cancer which I will talk about in further posts, there are still chemo options open but I am hoping to be accepted for a new development called HIPEC which I will talk about more only if I find out if I am suitable as I there ain’t much point otherwise!

In the meantime I am concentrating on recovering from this weeks problems and looking forward to a better week and will try and get out for a walk today with the sun shining.

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22
Aug
11

hurdles

Due to the nature of my cancer it was only a matter of time before something didn’t go quite to plan. The results of my scan today at first looked promising as I skim read the report in front of my consultant oncolgist upside down. I have several tumors all of which seemed to show an ever so slight reduction in size and I was quite relieved, however, as my doctor went through report is seems an area of seedlings in my peritoneum, which is a membrane which lines the abdominal cavity, are showing signs of growth which unfortunately means I need to come off the treatment I have been receiving and move onto another form of chemotherapy.

I am trying to be as positive as I can but it is definitely my first main setback. I am feeling down about it today but I will be back fighting tomorrow. Sometimes you just need some time to let these things sink in and take time to regroup and assess what the next plan of action is. I want to be as honest as possible in this blog so sometimes it is going to be grim, you’ve been warned!

Apart from my own problems the world seems to have gone a bit mad in the past few weeks. Everyone seems to have something to say about the riots and with the massive media bombardment of CCTV coverage and debate shows I have listened to a lot of different arguments over why this happened and where the fault lies. The over-riding opinion is of widespread condemnation and on the whole I certainly share this view. I need to try not to be hypocritical as many years ago I was involved in protests against the student loans where I learned how easy it can be to get carried away in the heat of something which seemed to mean a lot to me at the time. The difference with the recent riots is that I see no political agenda in anything that has happened. One rioter was interviewed stating that she had no qualms about who she was robbing as these were all rich business owners who could afford to be robbed. I am a business owner and for a start, I am not rich, secondly, I have been robbed, and, even insured there are things that cannot be replaced. There is disruption and upset that can never be recompensed by insurance companies. Also, probably like many of the business owners affected and especially the 144 year old House of Reeves furniture business, I have spent years of hard work and 11 years in the higher education system getting a business to a level where I can make an honest living only to be decimated by the global recession.

There is no excuse for stealing, burning people’s homes and wrecking the streets of your own city. There seems to be a need and desire for instant wealth, celebrity and success without the years of hard work that used to be the accepted method of doing something with your life. Our country is obsessed with reality shows and talent shows that seem to be the accepted method of becoming a celebrity and making it in life. The current ‘celebrity’ big brother is a great example of this, full of reality show refugees. As those that know me well enough will be aware, I have been partial to watching Big Brother and actually enjoying it. I have also watched the pop idol or x-factor from time to time but can never say I have found the experience enjoyable and with my illness keeping me in much more on a saturday night than I am used to or like, I am scared I will get drawn into watching this rubbish even more. If everyone that stayed in on a saturday night to watch x-factor went out for something to eat or drink maybe this industry sector wouldn’t be struggling as much and maybe folk would enjoy themselves and talk to one another instead of paying to vote for whoever takes their fancy this year.

With Big Brother, I liked the concept and in the early years the contestants seemed to be on there out of curiosity of being involved in some sort of experiment but by series 4 I think things began to change with contestants being chosen to try to shock viewers by their outrageous behaviour and by their longer term star potential although I think there have been very few who have achieved very much.

Enough of my ranting though, I have plenty to worry about without ranting about tv. Since my last post I have been to a wedding in the church in Luss which is quite wonderful if you ever get a chance to stop and have a look inside. Luckily with my recent weight loss my kilt still fits me and I dressed traditionally although I am short of photos in my full regalia.

lodge in the loch, august 2011

The reception was held in The Lodge on the Loch on Loch Lomond and is a great venue with sweeping views of the loch. I was able to sneak a rest in our room between the meal and the band starting which let me last all the way to the traditional rendition of Runrigs Loch Lomond at the end of the night.

With Julie a bit worse for wear the next day we headed round to Campbeltown to visit her Gran. We drove out to the Mull of Kintyre with spectacular views all the way to Ireland. I couldn’t tackle the walk all the way down a winding road to the lighthouse but walked far enough to get the best views on a surprisingly dryish day! Also surprising was I had the best phone reception on the peninsula here.

me on the phone to big bruv steve with mull of kintyre lighthouse beyond

Other news involves a nice new project at work, planning submitted for my own new house and a wee holiday and wedding to go to in Portugal next month which I am seriously looking forward to! The setback with the treatment is a bit more of a shock to me as I was starting to get a bit more normality back to my life with my treatment now at home and I had managed back to a GIA council meeting and a visit to lanarkshire business group, both for the first time since I was in hospital. Nearly everyone remarked how much better I looked, I know they wouldn’t say I look awful but I genuinely feel better and have put weight on and certainly look better than before I went into hospital!

casa scarpadog

Writing this helps me think better and more positively. It clears my mind to consider what is happening and what I need to do next and how I can prepare to cope with it. I have great support from my family, friends and Julie and nothing is too much trouble for them. Sometimes it just helps me to write and rant on my own!

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10
Jul
11

short one

It is now 19weeks since my operation, just over six months since I fell ill on christmas day and I am now six cycles in on my treatment. Some people say to me this must have been the toughest 6 months in my life, and they are right! I have had a picc line inserted to avoid the ongoing problems I am having with track marks on my arm and the problem I had with a vein blowing during my last treatment which is still a bit painful although it is improving. Now the line is in, which wasn’t easy, I can now take my more of my treatment at home and no longer need to be an inpatient for the time being. I have just finished my first cycle at home and all has gone well although I have felt extremely tired.

I haven’t been up to much since my last long post so I am keeping this one short. I have been to visit the new £74m transport museum and will be putting a separate post together on my thoughts on that but here is a pic for now:

riverside museum and glenlee tall ship

Been watching T in the Park with a bit of envy although the line up ain’t earth shattering. It all seems a bit big now and the crowd gets younger and younger although I always enjoy it no matter what the weather and miss going.

Me, big bruv Steve, and Christine T2006

I love this pic  from T 2006, a great weekend, hopefully I will be fit and well enough to go again next year, you are never too old!

A bit of a trip planned for next week, will be my first week away this year and looking forward to it and hopefully some sunshine and good food and some wine, will report all in next blog!

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25
Jun
11

up the middle and turn left

I had a different title for this post yesterday and should have written it down at the time as either the chemo or the other drugs they give me seem to play with my short term memory, but I like this one which was the extent of our plan for a weekend caravaning trip. I have been started on yet another drug, amlipodine, which is for high blood pressure, something I have never knowingly had, but seems to be a side effect of the trial drug, regorafinib.

The time between my hospital visits seems to pass far too quickly but I have crammed a fair bit into the past two weeks including completing the judging of the Glasgow Institute of Architects student awards at Strathclyde University following from our visit to The Mackintosh School of Art the week before, a day out with Lanarkshire Business Group at Hamilton Races, my first CT scan since I started treatment and a weekend caravan trip up North not mention squeezing a bit of work in too through necessity.

I have landed in a 4 person ward again. They other patients are nice enough but as I had mentioned before there are draw backs. One noticeable one this time is one that snores pretty much all day and all night, I am sure I have my moments but nothing on this scale! Another thing I will grump about is toilet etiquette and in particular the leaving of floaters and hair in or on the toilet, I know folk are not well but even when I was at my worst and in a room of my own I wouldn’t want someone coming across that! some of the banter is real strange too, I wouldn’t like to elaborate too much as there is always the possibility that someone will read this and recognise who I am talking about but some folk can talk some amount of ‘floater’.

I was hopeful when my treatment started about 5pm this time around but this hope was soon dashed when a few hours later, just after I had seen a doctor, I noticed a numbness in my right arm where my drugs are being infused. I had a bandage over the area as it keeps the tubes in place and out of the way of harm so hadn’t realised that for about 6 inches up my arm a swelling had started, it was only when this crept beyond the area of the bandage that I got a bit of a fright. I hadn’t seen anything like it and I am hardly exaggerating when I say it looked like the bottom half of my arm was Popeye’s. What had happened was the vein my infusion was in had blown and the chemo was effectively building up under my skin. My I.D. strip was on this arm and had stretched so much it was cutting off my circulation and my hand was turning blue. I jumped for the nurse call who quickly acted and removed the drip and provided heat packs to dry and dissipate the swelling. This made for a bit of an uncomfortable night but has slowly reduced and it is almost back to normal now. I lost about 2 hours before being hooked up to the drip on my other arm again so will probably be a late escape tonight.

Last Wednesday I had an enjoyable day at Hamilton races with Lanarkshire Business Group. I have been a member of the group for a few years now and have gained work through involvement as well as meeting some great people. I had taken the role of vice chairman and was just getting into the swing of it when I fell ill. This applied to my role of convener of the education committee of the GIA, another role I was beginning to really get my teeth into.  Lanarkshire Business Group is always looking for new members so please have a look at our site and contact us if you are interested in coming along. I have been unable to attend much recently but have been overwhelmed by the support and well wishes offered by everyone there.The race day was great even though I didn’t win anything at all. It was a long day and I was feeling really tired around 5 but found a second wind and stayed out for a while longer.

lanarkshire business group race day June 2011

Last Thursday I was back at Rosshall Hospital for a CT scan. The CT basically shows up the extent of tumour growth or spread. It is one of those big donut shaped machines that I am put through after drinking what is called gastrografin which helps the image show up better. I knew I would have to wait until the monday morning to hear the result and was quite anxious so my my caravan trip was a welcome distraction. The result of the scan seems to indicate that growth has halted which is great news.This would indicate that the treatment I am on is having some effect. I would have preferred to hear that there had been a reduction in size but this may have been too optimistic after only 6 weeks. Generally scans are taken at 10-12 week intervals, but I get more due to being on a trial, so it may be after 12 weeks there is more sign of a reduction hopefully. I see my surgeon again in august and I want to fully understand what the possibilities are for further surgery to remove the areas of cancer which is the only way that I can ever get to a stage where I might be able to reduce or stop the treatment I am on and maybe have a chance that growth wont recur which will eventually happen without surgery or advances in treatment. I am looking into surgical techniques developed for conditions like mine which are at very early stages of development but if I can keep on track with treatment and keep getting stronger I can work towards trying to get accepted for this.

Martin and Jason are two great friends of mine that I first met on what I remember as a sort of introduction day for students starting the part-time architecture course at Glasgow School of Art in what must have been 1992. Martin infamously asked after the introduction day if we wanted to ‘go for a coffee’ which soon turned into something a bit stronger and from there our friendship has grown over the past 20 years. Martin being the real family man of the trio bought a caravan a few years ago and we started talking about taking it somewhere for a weekend trip some time ago. We met up in Glasgow a few weeks ago to do some meticulous planning and just came up with the idea of ‘heading up the middle and turning left’ which is effectively what we ended up doing.

martin, me, jason and molly

My vision of heading for the hills and basking in June sunshine sipping wine next to a river were soon dashed, I should really know better by now. After a supply stop and an 8 peice £4 breakfast at one of our ‘friendly’ supermarkets, we headed north past perth and and took our left toward loch tay stopping only briefly in Aberfeldy and some tea and coffee at the wonderful watermill cafe and bookshop, well worth a stop if you are passing through. Once reaching Crianlarich we headed north again towards Glencoe. A quick pit stop and pint in the Kinghouse and it was decided to head along Glen Etive and find a pitch. Undeterred by the ‘unsuitable for caravans’ signs we pressed ahead to find a spot to stop for the night debating along the way the pros and cons of each potential site we spotted. eventually settling for a roadside spot close to the river and near some stunning waterfalls. We ditched the caravan and scoped the area taking pics of brave deer and lonely trees along the way despite the incessant rain.

I took shelter in the caravan to try to get a heat while watching and gloating at the other two putting up the awning before we settled down to some food and a well deserved drink or two. A small break in the weather the next morning allowed us another photo stop at the Buchaille Etive Mor, probably one of the most pictured peaks in Scotland and featured in most Scottish scene calendars every year. It was my first Munro of many and a very enjoyable climb with hugely rewarding view from its peak. A high start and not a long walk in makes it very accessible although there is some steep scrambling required to get onto the ridge wich is spectacular once you get up there.

The Buachaille Etive Mor

A visit to the Glencoe Visitors centre by gaia architects along with some tea and cake was followed by a forest walk while the weather held. I hadn’t walked very far at all due to the fatigue I suffer but with taking my time and the fresh air I was able to get along. It is frustrating being in a place were I have climbed extensively over the years but everything seeming so out of reach right now. With the forest path I always know how far i have gone and how quickly and easily I can get back. I used to go off walking on my own without worrying about how I would get back but now I always need an exit plan!

The heavens opened as we finished the walk and we took shelter in the climbers bar in the clachaig. In the past you could camp in the field next to the pub and it was always busy on a saturday night with a mixture of climbers and bikers partying most of the night after spilling out the pub. The area is fenced off now and only official campsites encouraged. I can see the environmental benefit of this but there is some magic lost.

As the rain persisted, so did our stay in the pub sampling the huge range of real ale on offer and getting a good feed before our retreat to the caravan. I had a bit of a kip when I got back before a night of poker and banter and a relatively early night. A few years ago we would have lasted till the daylight hours, especially at this time of year. As expected the sun came out the next day as we were due to leave but we had a bit of time to explore the near by waterfalls and experiment with some more long exposure shots.

etive falls

Headed back to reality via crieff for some lunch and eventually got home on Sunday at a reasonable time and a good sleep, not that molly wasn’t comfy but you can’t beat your own bed sometimes. Plans are afoot for our next adventure already.

Due to the tracking on my arms from the chemo infusion it has been agreed that I will get a pic line inserted which is a semi permenant point were I can get my treatment plugged in. The real advantage to this will be that I should be able to get a portable pump that I can take home rather than being in the Beatson every fortnight. I will still have to come in as an outpatient to get part of my treatment but the part that takes 46-50hrs, I will be able to take home. The pic line will resolve the problem with tracking as it goes into deeper stronger veins an wont show up on my skin. Until I get the pump I don’t know how mobile I can be with it but it sounds reasonable enough and will help get a bit more normality back, so everything going well, hopefully I will be writing my next post from my sofa!

11
Jun
11

up north

Back writing this in the beatson on my fourth round of treatment. I have felt pretty good the past 2 weeks since my last post and hope that is a good sign with my first scan since treatment started next week. I have spoken to my consultant about the scan and what they expect to see which will hopefully be a complete halt in the growth of the tumor or a reduction in size preferably. I had more reflexology and a back massage. The treatments really take my mind off everything even if it is just for and short while.

It is has been my intention to make the most of the weekend I am not getting treatment and with the stunning weather we had last friday I booked a last minute room in Stonehaven on the east coast near Aberdeen. I drove all the way up with the roof down which is the first time it has been down for quite a while. I booked dinner at the well recommended Tolbooth restaurant on the harbour. It was one of those meals that was close to perfect with its stunning setting overlooking the harbour, the food which just got better from course to course and a lovely bottle of lomond pincushion. After crab cakes on noodles and then a wonderful cod on couscous the highlight was an apple tart which is best described in the pic below.

amazing pud

There was a great atmosphere on the friday night, everyone was outside the bars chatting and enjoying the night. It was a short walk back to our bayview apartment and I was ready for a good sleep after our meal and I was looking forward to the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately when I got out in the morning for a walk on the beach the weather had turned back to typically Scottish and was actually quite cold in stark contract to the balmy night before.

It is a short drive from stonehaven to Dunnottar Castle. There is a clifftop walk but I wasn’t feeling up to it, especially in the weather. Dunnottar castle  is an amazing cliff top setting which I have seen many times in photos and the reality did not disappoint. Again, with the poor weather and the amount of climbing involved we decided not to go right up into the castle and took some pics from the clifftop a short walk down from the carpark.

me at dunnottar castle

After the castle we headed to Aberdeen to try to do something indoors. I had a bit of a rest in the hotel while Julie scouted the shops and somewhere to eat. We headed to the art gallery which was near the hotel where I was quite impressed with the collection which included a Francis Bacon, pope I, which I never knew was there. One of his pope painting sold recently for around £15m and roman abramovich bought another of his works for $50m. There is a good range of other works ranging from classical works to recent contemporary works. Dinner was at the Foyer which was a bit disappointing after the meal in Stonehaven.

Francis Bacon. Pope I (1951)

I took the opportunity to have a look at the new university library by architects schmidt hammer lassen. I thought it was closer to completion as I was keen to see the interior. The building is certainly a departure from the granite buildings of Aberdeen and looks impressive from the architects visuals.The facade seems a bit arbitrary although it is a bit different from the bar code elevations which have dominated this style of glass facade in our cities for far too long.

aberdeen university library by schmidt hammer lassen

Headed back home on sunday via Montrose, Edzell and Brechin before being disappointed by the lack of being able to get a bridie on a sunday afternoon in Forfar!

After a great lunch with some friends in the always wonderful Cafe Gandolfi last week, I met up with a couple more friends that night to plan a short caravan trip next weekend which will probably take up a bit of my next post. I have enjoyed getting back  out and meeting people again and hope to catch up with as many people as possible.

I was back judging the student awards at the Glasgow School of Art on this week and will be at Strathclyde this week. It is a great opportunity to see the degree show and there was a huge range and quality of work on show. An example of one of the winning students work is shown in the pic below which is a proposed performance space building along with viewing tower in Venice. I was particularly impressed by quality of the model making which we are very keen on in our office.

venice project by Kieran Sheehan, GSA 2011

At work I am progressing a planning application for an office building in Glasgow and we have some domestic work keeping us busy also. Some good news coming through on a commumity project we have been working on for some time and that will hopefully move to the next stage  soon. I have not been in the office as much recently and doing a bit from home. This is mostly due to appointments etc but also the fact that I need to rest when I can.

Right now I am looking forward to getting out tonight, last time I had to watch the first half of the champions league final in here and caught the end at home. It was all over for man United before I got home though. I also have an invite to the racing at Hamilton next week from Lanarkshire Business Group which I have been the vice chairman of although I havent been active with them since my illness, it will be great to see them all and catch up. Also have my caravan trip to look forward to with my fellow architect friends Jason and Martin, who knows where we will end up, tune in next time to find out!

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28
May
11

summer?

Well, when i say summer, it doesn’t really feel like it but it does make it a bit easier being stuck in the hospital when the weather is miserable. May is usually a great month weather wise, just when exams are on. I always remember being tempted away from the drawing board by a cold beer in the sun!

I am now on my third cycle of chemotherapy. I have no idea how it affecting the tumor but on the whole I am feeling not too bad so far. I get a scan in week 8 and this is the end of week four. I am planning not to read too much into the first scan as it is still early days. I don’t expect something that may have been growing inside me for years to suddenly grind to a halt. I have experienced some side effects although these have been fairly minor. I had a strange tingling sensation through my hand while running it under the cold tap and felt this again when I got out of hospital last time in the cold outside. I need to really wrap up and avoid this. This is a fairly common side effect and avoidance is the best policy. It can be felt drinking cold drinks too so I have to avoid going in he fridge and freezer and eating or drinking anything directly from it. I am also getting phlebitis in the veins where my chemo is being infused. Some people react more than others and I am getting it fairly noticeably. They have changed the infusion to my right arm this time and we will see how that goes. If it continues they will put what they call a picc line in which will go to a deeper vein, however, I would worry that this vein wouldn’t recover well each time as I wouldnt be able to see what condition it is in. I have been watching for hairloss but it is hard to tell if it is natural at my age or accelerated by the chemo, there was a fair bit as I rinsed my hair in the sink this morning. I am not keen to lose my hair, not from a vain perspective, but the fact it is the one thing that people will notice that says I am on chemo, not because I am embarrassed about it, because I just want to live life as normal as possible. I do have plenty of hats though! Apart from all that I am still feeling fatigue from time to time and it seems to hit me a few days after coming out of hospital but I have just been dealing with that. I seem to sleep early at night and get up early in the morning which is why I am writing this at 6am!

I have been doing lots of research before splashing out on a new lens for my camera with money and vouchers I received for my 40th. I eventually went for a 35mm 1.4L, a good quality alround lens which I will spend the summer using. Now I know how the treatment is effecting me I am making plans for getting about a lot more on the free time that I have. I have a list of places to go and lots of offers of places to stay and folk to visit and I plan to get as much done as possible with the camera in tow. I have begun to print and frame pics and going to have a go at selling them at an art fair or something similar in the near future.

I have a room on my own again this time and I do much prefer it. I like to think I am a fairly sociable person, but as I said in my last post, listening to others stories and seeing them suffer can get to me although I know I shouldn’t let it. It is natural empathy though rather than self pity. Having a room all set up with a tv and my computer well linked to the internet (my new dongle is faster than my home broadband!) as well as having the use of the friends of the beatson upstairs make my few days here a lot better. It gives me time to sit and do things like this, read, update my websites, watch films and music and rest. I was getting frustrated about the waiting around before, but now I understand the processes and I am prepared, I can just take it in my stride and try to treat it as a little break every fortnight.

I ventured out to watch the Scottish Cup final last Saturday, it turned out to be a great day out and the first time I had been out properly socialising since my treatment started. It was an early start at 2pm and we ended up going for a meal at cafezique, a wonderful place in the west end of glasgow. I felt great up until about nine o clock and then I began to feel really tired. A mixture of red wine and a large meal had me flagging badly. Having usually been the last one wanting to go home things have certainly changed but I am sure as time goes on I will get used to it and will get stronger as time goes on. The advantage though was I was up bright and early on sunday and didn’t lose half the day unlike some others!

it's not the drink, honest! lismore, glasgow

I have been passing the redroad flats a lot coming in and out of glasgow and have been interested in the slow dismantling process. There are mixed reports of when they are going to blow them up although I heard that as they are steel frame they were going to be completely dismantled. They have been a feature in north glasgow for years and it will be a bit strange to see them go. I know a lot of people wont be sad to see them go, I just always think it is a bit of a waste and not enough has been done to investigate the real problems of the blocks and alternative uses they could be put to. They will be demolished and I suspect replaced with a mini suburban house farm rather than good urban city development. I did spend a lot of time staying in the high flats in nearby sighthill and like to think I have a good knowledge of the problems in these areas but the architecture is only part of the problem of these government sponsored megstructure experiments. I prefer the type of development around the new gorbals in Glasgow, it has a more urban feel than the developments going up around the north of glasgow although I did love the mega city one Sir basil Spence Hutchesontown blocks that made way for it. There is a real mish mash off styles around the gorbals, some good, some bad and some definitely ugly but it is at a scale suitable for a city and set out with wide landscaped streets and well defined private/public space. I have less experience of living in this area but know a few people who do and haven’t heard anyone complain.

red road, may 2011

red road, may 2011

I am hoping to be out of the beatson in time to watch the Man United v Barcelona european cup final. I watched the 2009 final between the 2 teams at lunch time in a sports bar in the centre of seattle, that time Man U were out played and outclassed, I think it will be a tighter game tonight although I find it hard to see past barcelona with messi playing for them. I must admit to having  soft spot for barca after going to see them play spartak moscow many years ago with players like stoichkov, romario and koeman playing for them. This time my venue isn’t so exciting but I will be just happy to get home in time for kick off!

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15
May
11

helicopters

It’s funny, there are several things that have happened or happening that I used to care about passionately. I haven’t lost my passion, it is just being redirected. We had Scottish elections last week and for the first time since I was legible to vote, I didn’t. I have no excuse, I just didn’t bother, or couldn’t be bothered and just didn’t care. I would always be the first person to pull people up who didn’t bother and I still think everyone should vote or if they don’t they have no right to complain about the government. With what is going on in the middle east, north africa and china where thousands are dying for the right to vote it makes it even more shameful. I think in this day and age it should also be possible to vote online, the voting process is antiquated and a much higher percentage turnout would be achieved by making the process easier. There should also be much more accessible and understandable guides to each of the parties and candidates, what they represent, what their policies actually mean etc.

I have also stopped getting worked up or angry about things that are out with my control. I used to get annoyed when I lost out on projects, coming up with reasons why we haven’t been selected, blaming the bureaucracy involved or the senseless pre-qualification process. I just don’t care anymore, I won’t waste my time getting upset about it and will just continue to go for the projects I think would suit us and if we get them great, if not, i hope they get the right person and not just the one that can tick more boxes than the other. I was lucky enough to get to interview stage on a project very recently, I can’t ask for any more than that. It is a chance to put over exactly who you are and what you can do face to face and you are not just another name on a sheet of paper.

On May the 22nd 2005, I watched celtic capitulate to Motherwell and hand the Scottish Premier league title to Rangers. To say I was a bit upset would be an understatement. Today, I hoping that Rangers meet the same fate against Kilmarnock where they need to win to secure the title if celtic beat Motherwell at Parkhead. I have supported celtic all my life and would love them to win the title today, but, I cannot see myself getting as worked up as I did back in 2005 although i would love some rangers fans to feel that way. It is not just the change in my life perspective due to having cancer, it is the embarrassment to Scotland of the treatment of Neil Lennon which has tarnished my love of the game. I have listened to people tell me that Neil Lennon brings on the treatment he gets by his own actions. Someone even went on to explain how he is related to known IRA members and this is justification enough. It is also wrong that I actually feel uncomfortable speaking about the situation knowing that this is an open blog that anyone can read and may hold my comments against me, that is how ridiculous it is getting here in Scotland.

I am just out of my second chemotherapy session. The first night on Thursday was a bit uncomfortable. I had the chills and was sick twice, the first time I have been sick since getting out of hospital 8 weeks ago so it was a bit worrying for me. Blood was taken to ensure I haven’t picked up and infection but my temperature settled during the day and the rest of the treatment went ok. I took advantage of the excellent Friends of the Beatson with reflexology, an indian head massage and a haircut. I actually nodded off during the reflexology which was fantastic and really takes your mind off the chemo and most other things which is great even if it is for just a short period. It is a welcome break from the ward.

During my first chemo session and when I was in the Royal I was lucky enough to have a room to my self. This time I was in a 4 bed ward. There are pros and cons to both. It was me causing the disturbance on the first night being sick so I can’t really complain about anyone else. It was good at times to have some company and share experiences. It is good to be able to talk openly and frankly to other patients, some stories more encouraging than others. I cannot deny that it can be grim in there but I need to not let that effect me. It is a horrible disease, a seriously horrible disease and the sooner they can find a better way to tackle it the better. This is not a place to share the stories I heard, they are often very personal and generally quite tragic, there are many positive stories but mainly for the inpatients these are less common.

I have totally changed my diet now in order to do everything I can to combat the effects of the chemo and keep up my fitness levels to help my body fight. Now I have had 2 sessions I have a better idea of how I need to adjust my life to accommodate it. I am beginning to experience more of the side effects. I was running my hand under cold water yesterday and had the strangest tingling right through my fingers. It wasn’t like pins and needles, it was more like if you stuck your hand in the coldest deep freeze ever. It passed quickly but was quite weird. I think the sickness on the first night was a bad reaction to the chemo but I also suspect they may have missed one of my meds before hand which I will double check next time. It was a few days before I felt the fatigue really set in and I will watching that this week and making sure I don’t over do anything.

When I arrived home last night I had a letter from Lanarkshire NHS for a referral to the Monklands which is for the endoscopy I was supposed to be getting back in February!!! A bit pointless now. I also now have a Blue Badge which will make life a lot easier. Although I am mobile there are times I can’t walk very far after the chemo in particular and sometimes when out I need to get certain places pretty quickly! Maybe a bit too much information but I am keen to record these things to mark how i progress over time.

No mug shots this week but here is a pic I took on a quick visit to the museum of modern art in Glasgow. The main hall was shut due to the installation of a a new exhibition, the British Art Show which starts on 27th May and will also be at the Tramway and the CCA. May be worth a look if you like that sort of thing.

Glasgow Museum of Modern Art