Sunday, 6 January 2008

Discoveries Come From Suffering...Part One of The Longest Post Ever

I cannot believe I forgot to mention a few very special people in my last post, especially as that was the main reason I chose to write the post! Talk about get sidetracked huh? Well, I'm on strong medication, that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it...lol. As those of you who have been reading my blog, or talking with me via telephone will know, I have been going through some really debilitating pain lately. In actual fact I haven't been pain free in about 2 years. I have been coping with that, only just mind you, as it does get me down, but it's this other pain that I just can't handle, it is far too intense - just horrific. Anyway, this really strong pain started building up before Christmas, I kind of thought it would settle down again, as my pain levels can go up and down again reasonably quickly. Alas, it did not settle down, it in fact got to such high levels that I was in tears, I could barely talk, I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand, I just didn't know where to put myself. The night of the day that the unbearable pain got to it's climax, I called my sister on the phone. She barely recognized my voice and I was struggling to breathe and speak at the same time. Anyway I had decided in desperation that it was worth asking around as to whether anyone had any Panadeine Forte or at least something stronger than Panadol and Nurofen. It turns out she did have some Forte, which was quite surprising as she can't take them as she is midway through her pregnancy, but as luck would have it she had a packet that she had been prescribed before she was pregnant and hadn't been able to take them as they made her too woozy. Anyway, she told me to sit tight and she would be there as quickly as she could with the tablets. I was SO grateful.

This had all come to a head when there were no Doctors available bar Medical One which I just could not go too for reasons I will make clear later on. I had admitted to her how many tablets I had already taken to try and stop the pain which were several panadol and several Nurofen tablets combined. To understand the way I can tolerate pain medicine you would have to have followed my journey through cancer and 3 or 4 operations to realize that you can build up an immunity to them and I certainly have over the years. Nevertheless she was worried about what I'd already taken and so called my other sister (we cannot make big decisions without involving all three of us girls) to see what she thought. She duly told Liz that I would most likely be fine after taking those amounts, as I am incredibly tolerant to them. Anyway, my dear little sister Liz turned up after a very short time, racing in waving the packet of pain killers like a winning Tattslotto ticket or something, let me tell you it was even better than the winning Tattslotto ticket at that moment. So I took two and proceeded to continue pacing around the house moaning and writhing. The pain lessened a weensy little bit, enough so that I could sit outside on the porch with Liz (it was cooler out there) when next minute, the flash of my other sister Carolyn's bright, red, sporty car, whizzed into the driveway. She jumped out muttering, "oh no I can't believe it, you poor darling" and making other such comforting noises as she approached the porch. The cavalry had arrived! Thank God.

The comfort of having my two girls with me was a large piece of the puzzle of pain getting put back together, the tablets being the rest. Yes I was steadily improving, even able to join in conversation and express myself clearly minus the rather frightening moaning sounds that had been emitting from me! I could feel myself heading for that euphoric feeling that we all love so much when feeling better after a particularly horrid illness, or any strong pain that has been disabling us. I couldn't quite get to that euphoria though, because fear was thick on the ground. Yes, I was terrified that this was a very short lived relief from pain and that pain, in all its strength, would be my companion in the dead of night rather than the comfort of my two sisters on the porch, murmuring words of love and comfort and bringing me hot tea.

Eventually the moment I had been dreading had arrived, my little sister, pregnant and very tired after a long day with her two toddlers, started making 'going home' noises. I hate those noises but I love her and so encouraged her to go as she looked so very tired. I am outside saying goodbye to her in the coolness of the night as she clambered into her car, just waiting for the other little sister to pipe up and follow suit. To my delight and surprise, she turned to me and said "You don't mind if I stay a while do you, Michael (her hubby) is on night shift (police officer) and won't be home for ages?" Needless to say I enthusiastically made her most welcome to stay and offered up a silent thank you to the universe for delivering what I needed. So, I managed that night, I did have to take more pain relief but I didn't overdose (obviously), or even get particularly drowsy, so that was good. I did, unfortunately, wake up in the wee hours (4am) with the debilitating pain back again in all its fury. I staggered out to the kitchen and grabbed the pain medication and gulped it down with shaking hands, trying to hold myself together with warm memories of my sisters' love from the night before.

Now the problem with all of this is, (I know, it's a very long post and likely to be even longer so go get a cuppa and a biccy if you like before you continue - if you can stand to read anymore that is) that because I have stage 4 bowel cancer that has metastasized to the liver and the lymph nodes I have a few very 'special' Specialists working with me - usually. The really unfortunate thing in all of this is that not one of my Doctors or Specialists are at work until at least the 7th January. Not a one. In fact their rooms and clinics are not even open, all except one whom I did end up seeing but had to wait till Monday! I was running out of Panadeine Forte fast and to be honest it wasn't holding the pain anymore. This was like a living nightmare, my only option was to go to Frankston Accident and Emergency when I could no longer put up with the pain. Well, let me tell you, that is a different kind of pain all of it's own going there! You really don't want to go there unless you are almost dead. The last time I went there in desperation for this pain I had to wait on rock hard chairs, they wouldn't even let me lay down to wait, for 6 hours. Mum was with me so that was a bit of comfort but not much as she couldn't do anything. I needed to lie down desperately. They finally called me in to the part where they assess you, after 6 hours, I gave them as brief an outline as I could about my medical history, which is not easy. The nurse that came to see to me listened carefully, then she asked me to wait just a moment while she went and chased up some pain relief for me. So I happily agreed feeling I was on the home stretch now and would soon be feeling much better. I waited approximately 1 and 1/2 hours for her to come back to me with the pain medication. Guess what she came back with? A blue box of Panadeine Extra Strength. Not just two white tablets so I could have maintained the false hope that help was coming, so that I could maybe delude myself that the tablets were morphine or something appropriate, no, in the box that you can pick up at the pharmacy without a script, without waiting 6 hours in agony for, without ending up leaving a hospital in the middle of the night with the threat of a court order for willful damage to said nurse's nose. Needless to say, I did not even bother with the Panadeine and went home in disgust. And in very strong PAIN. I ended up back there but this time my chemo nurses organized everything so I just had to go straight to a bed and have a gamut of tests ran on me. Anyway all that is part of another story, but suffice to say, going to Frankston Hospital for mind blowing pain, is not a real option.

Now this is the part I really want to share with you. This is the part where I found a huge, bright, glistening, silver lining in all of this horror. This will give you back some of your faith in human nature, in Doctors, in an almost extinct, old fashioned, slower paced world that is still existing at least in the hearts of some very powerful women. Just to finish up the last bit, I ended up needing more Panadeine Forte, I got some from an ambo friend of my BIL's so I managed to get through the rest of the weekend, I was still in a LOT of pain but I handled it as the Panadeine Forte took the most vicious bit of the edge off of it. Still left me in far too much pain for a person to have to handle mind you but I didn't have a whole lot of choice and a bit less pain at the time was worth gold to me. So now I get to the good part, Monday morning arrives, now I know for a fact that all of 'my' Doctors/Specialist are away for another week, at least the weekend has been left behind and at least I could access somebody who might be able to help me. My first port of call was my Oncologist, Marie's, rooms, I knew she wasn't there but I hoped that there would be someone else available who could look up my file and get the whole picture fairly quickly without looking down their nose at me as though I was some junkie that couldn't get through the Christmas period without her drugs. Anyway I phoned her rooms and explained my plight to Leslie the receptionist there whom I known for a long time now, she immediately squeezed me into a space where technically there was no space. I arrived at the clinic, walked into a waiting room FULL of women waiting, with Jack in tow, sat down with a magazine for approximately 40 seconds and was then ushered into the rooms of the Doctor whom had agreed to see me, taking Marie's place whilst she was away. She had read my file, well as much of it as she had time for, she could not be more helpful and caring. She listened to me, I could sense how eager she was to relieve me of my suffering. She wrote me out scripts for steroids, for morphine, for methadone, for anti-nausea tablets, everything she could possibly think I may need. She then asked me whether I would like her to inject me with the morphine as it would get into my system faster but said that if I would like her to do that then to go to the pharmacy now and pick up scripts, then come back and she would sneak me in again, inject me and told me to make sure I went straight home. Well, I didn't end up doing that as I had Jack with me and look, I had suffered this long, I thought I could hang in there long enough to drive to the pharmacy and then home again, which I did do. Anyway, before I actually left her rooms, she handed me a card with her home phone number and mobile phone number on it with instructions to call her if I am worried, or just need to talk. She then proceeded to tell me that she would be coming past my neck of the woods in the morning as she works out of another office on that particular day and that all I have to do if I would like her to stop by and give me a morphine injection, was to phone her mobile and she would do that for me. She also organized district nurses through Palliative Care to be able to call on me and inject me too. She then ushered me out the door with warm wishes of good luck and proceeded to hand over to me an account with the amazing fee of zero, nothing, nada...amazingly kind woman.......Okay, that will have to do for this post, more tomorrow as I haven't finished explaining about the silver lining thing. It went on further than this as you shall read soon. Take care of yourselves and each other.

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