rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
This morning I snipped off the last bit of cracked thumbnail.  Each of my rounds of chemo left a thinned, weakened strip across all my nails, which moved slowly from nailbed to tip, and when it reached the tip, it would crack very easily.  I usually keep my nails short, but that wasn't enough to prevent cracks and even small pieces snapping off under even mild pressure.  Just another tiny indignity of the whole process.

One crack, on my left thumb, kept extending itself back down the nail: I would catch it on something, and back it would go, down into the apparently-normal nail growing after all the chemo was over.  All the other weak patches were gone months ago, but that crack just kept renewing itself.  I've taken such care over that nail the last few months, trying not to catch it on anything, keeping it trimmed short, and finally, finally the very bottom of the crack has reached high enough up the nail that I've been able to cut the last of it off.  Normality restored at last.

As for my hair, I never lost it all, but it thinned out dramatically during chemo.  I estimated about 80% of it fell out. I'd leave hairs on every pillow, like a cat shedding.  I was so glad I'd had Tony clip it short in advance, it would have been unbearable to leave shoulder-length clumps in the same way.  Hair went from the rest of my body too - arms, legs etc.  Not hairless, but very thinly covered.

In January, after the last round of chemo, it started growing back.  My head felt like a dog with a winter coat growing in, two distinct lengths. I remember trimming it all back very short just to make it tidy, and then again (a little longer) when it was shaggy and unbearable.   I want to grow it out again, at least back to shoulder-length, so I've gritted my teeth and got through the shaggy stage and it's suddenly settled into something that is acceptably tidy with no effort from me.

And suddenly I've discovered that my hair is curly and springy now, instead of straight. It looks quite good (see userpic) and I don't dislike it.  It just feels unfamiliar, all the time.  I'm still waiting to feel like it's normal.

Today's bird: Merlin

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
In the last day and a half I've gone from it being incredibly painful to swallow water, to being able to eat solids with only mild discomfort.  Yay penicillin!    And cheap manufacture of generic painkillers, and a doctor who says "can you take ibuprofen? and paracetamol? and codeine?  Good, take all of them."

I'm assuming that pre-penicillin (and in the awful future of antibiotic-resistant bacteria), I would basically hope to keep getting enough fluids in to survive while my immune system eventually got around to dealing with the bugs?

Between the penicillin, the painkillers and the baseline level of supplements and antihistamines I already take, I'm taking over 20 pills a day, and I had to write out a schedule today because I was losing the ability to track what should go in when.  Not sure whether to blame the drugs, the other drugs, or the battle for supremacy in my throat, but I'm quite spaced out and falling asleep at no notice.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
What I should have been reading over the last few weeks:
  • Library books due back this week that I've already renewed the max number of times
  • Canon for yuletide assignments
  • Leaflets on sensory processing
  • Books on autism (to be fair, this group is more like "the last few months")
What I have been reading over the last few weeks:
  • Fanfic
  • Assorted romances, mostly from reviews at Smart Bitches Trashy Books (still calibrating my taste against that of the reviewers there but only one Did Not Finish, so not bad so far)

I did take myself to the doctor this week with the sense that actually this isn't my usual "busy life, children, etc" tiredness but has been getting gradually worse recently and is now substantially affecting my ability to get much done.  In particular I haven't run regularly in months now and I miss it.  He did refer me for some blood tests for the most obvious causes but opined that "it probably isn't anything simple, you've got too much to juggle, you should try to get more rest and rebuild your level of physical exercise".

I was nice. I didn't say "yes, that's what I've been trying to tell you" or "thank you genius", I just agreed that these were important goals and I'd get right on them and we'd review again in a month or so.

(I did then take this as guidance to go home for the rest of the day and I did get an extra 3 hours of sleep as a result, which did make me feel a lot better.  So that was good, but I can't do that regularly without radical changes to my work and lifestyle, and thus the family.  Which, argh, if I knew what to change to make things better, I would, but I don't want to make serious changes without a bit more to go on.)

I did have a bunch of things I was going to do this weekend.  I'm shelving them in favour of
a) sorting out replacing my fitbit; it mysteriously stopped working a few weeks ago but before then it was giving me some useful sleep data
b) returning my library books
c) doing a gentle run
d) napping

Never let it be said I ignore medical advice.
rmc28: Rachel speaking at a lectern with microphone and part of the slogan "Stronger Economy Fairer Society" in shot (libdem)
Nico & I were away from home from Friday afternoon to Wednesday night, attending LibDem conference in Glasgow.  I took yesterday off, with the intention of resting up a bit, and maybe actually blogging / emailing / otherwise following up all the ideas that Conference invariably leaves me with. 

Instead I had to go to the GP in the morning for a mildly embarrassing medical complaint (*) and to school in the afternoon for a conference with C's teacher.  I did at least rest a bit too, and create my new icon from a photo taken of me speaking on Saturday.

Today I worked my usual half-Friday.  Almost my whole department is moving offices over the weekend and the old office was organised chaos as last minute packing-up got done.  Along with a few others, I got my desk set up in the new building and confirmed I have phone and network there, and will be able to work on Monday. 

That was pretty much all I managed, apart from the last "helpdesk hug" in the old building (scrum was too unfriendly for the manager who'd read about Agile and set them up) and goodbye to one of my team who is off on maternity leave.  We were supposed to have food and "a few words" from the boss at noon.  The food didn't arrive until nearly 1, about the same time as Tony did with Nico.  Nico charmed a number of my colleagues, the boss said his stuff, we all ate as much as we could and I brought a doggy bag home.

(*) Nico has oral thrush and so I have nipple thrush, which is making breastfeeding almost impossibly painful.

rmc28: (uterus)
Yesterday I wrote about Nico's birth; this morning I had my Mirena fitted which should lead to 5 pregnancy-free years. If I am lucky, it will stop my periods too; they haven't yet restarted, presumably due to my breastfeeding.

Cut for medical detail )
In the mean time I've had lots of comfort food, including a lunch with two friends which was just the right kind of relaxing friendly distraction I needed.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
We've had nearly two weeks of the "family" timetable and it's beginning to bed in, just in time for me to disappear to Lib Dem Conference with Nicholas and disrupt everything ...  This week I actually managed to do my 5 hours of study, and I'm working on Charles doing his daily homework actually daily as requested by his class teacher.

I seem to be more-or-less physically recovered from the surgery, though I'm being quite cautious about increasing the weights that I lift, until I'm sure.  Mentally, I am very ready to be doing other things than 24-hour babycare.  The family timetable and the OU study are helping here, but even more will be my return to work in ten days.  It'll just be Mondays & Tuesdays until the end of the year, but I miss my work, I miss the people I work with and I miss being able to work on something solidly for more than 10 minutes without having to schedule 3 other people to free me up.

Also I think it'll be good for Tony and Nicholas (and Tony and Charles outside school hours) to have their two days a week together, build their confidence in each other without me around to interfere.

Putting myself together for conference and work, I've been getting important appointments done, like my post-natal check, a haircut, and a vital Rigby & Peller bra-fitting.  I now have supportive, well-fitting nursing bras and a fiercely supportive sports bra.  My last trainers died sometime during my pregnancy so I bought a new pair from John Lewis - rather cheaper than going to Advance Performance, but the service showed it.  So no excuses for not starting C25k when I get back home from Conference.

My suitcase is half-packed and I have been procrastinating actually reading the agenda and setting my timetable, but there's still a bit of time before I head out for the bus to the train to the seaside.
rmc28: (uterus)
"Oh yes, I asked you to come in and discuss the results because I was worried about them, but then after I'd written to you I spoke to the doctor here who is the real expert on women's issues [1] and she said it's nothing we would worry about, as you are fit and well, and it's most likely your cycle. So I was going to write to you again to tell you not to worry."

[1] This is the doctor who is in my notes as having fitted the dratted thing.

Somewhat anticlimactic, but I did at least get some extra exercise and quiet book-reading time out of it.
rmc28: (uterus)
A follow up to earlier TMI:

"I now have the result from your ultrasound scan. I can confirm that the Mirena coil is in the correct place. I would be grateful if you could make an appointment to discuss the results with me in surgery. Thank you."

Leaving aside the question of whether result is singular or plural, I am now wondering just how worried I should be. (no, still haven't googled)

[Poll #1261454]
rmc28: (uterus)
Cutting for enormous amounts of TMI.

Read more... )
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I have managed to get to ballet two weeks in a row now, after the Easter break and then missing two weeks due to migraine and losing my wallet. I am finding it very rewarding for the endorphins alone, but in addition the names of steps are starting to gain meaning in my head, and I am no longer completely lost in the dance bit at the end. My muscles ache worst on Wednesday, 36-48 hours after the class. It's very like climbing in terms of its physical effects on me and its requirement to use my brain.

On Sunday I broke a tooth. I have been procrastinating getting a checkup for something like 15 months but I was really honestly going to get to it this week. Well, now I had to. I had an emergency checkup on Monday, with a temporary filling applied until my actual registered dentist is available (Thursday morning). Dr Qureshi went private while I was pregnant, but I still remain in awe of his wisdom-tooth-removal skills and cannot face finding a new unknown dentist in order to stay NHS. So the credit card will be creaking this month: Thursday's appointment is merely a "full check up and treatment discussion" so I'm mentally budgetting for at least two more appointments after that.

Sleep is going better. I have managed to get 6 straight hours several days now, in return for accepting that they'll take place in Charles's bed rather than mine.

Some TMI:
Read more... )
rmc28: (BRAINS)
Bad thing: I've got a monthly cycle again.
Good thing: Bleeding is light and painless, so the Mirena is not being totally useless.
Bad thing: My last four migraine attacks have coincided with bleeding.
Good thing: The migraine drugs I have are working, if I take them properly.
Bad thing: I am down to two triptan pills; time to find time to see the doctor for some more.

Bah, my migraines never used to be tied to periods (er, apart from stopping altogether when I was pregnant). I do wonder if it is really a hormonal link, or just the extra load on the body of the bleeding. My migraines used to be reliably triggered by excess physical or mental stress, and there's been reasonable grounds for suspecting that too in all the four recent cases. Must Get Enough Sleep.
rmc28: (glowy)
I have been inspired by [livejournal.com profile] hilarityallen to go to adult ballet classes. I did ballet (and tap) classes when young, but haven't done either for approximately 2 decades. And yet, when the idea was there in front of me, I thought "wow, I want to do that". I'm doing plenty of walking but nothing to really work muscles. [livejournal.com profile] jdc39 agreed to babysit, so there were no barriers. I think part of the pull is that ballet shares a lot with climbing - strength, flexibility, balance, precision. Between pregnancy, unfitness and childcare worries, I haven't climbed for two years; ballet at least will only take me away for a couple of hours, unlike the entire evening required to reach a half-decent climbing wall from Cambridge.

I then had some angst about the listed uniform (leotards and tights) as UK dancewear suppliers don't believe in sizes above 16. However, there are plentiful plus-size suppliers in the USA, and once I got over being scared by the "Liturgical Dancewear", I found quite a few options.

I emailed the teacher this morning, asking which of the sessions she would recommend, and also suggesting an alternative 'uniform' of leggings and snug tshirt due the size issue, to which she replied very promptly, said I could start on Monday, my suggested outfit would be fine and "Don't worry about your size. I have all shapes and sizes and ages." That helped a lot.

I admit to having to fight off a certain amount of body-image angst about doing ballet in figure-hugging clothes. Some of it I think is old chubby-schoolgirl, biggest-in-the-class feelings coming back from 20 years ago, and that will pass with time in the dancing context with the self-confidence I have now. I traipsed around town this afternoon to find and buy leggings and tshirt while Charles napped in the buggy, and flinched a little from well-lit shop mirrors highlighting all my pregnancy damage (skin as well as flab). But under clothes it's not so bad, and ballet can only help. And I'm old enough and tough enough and downright stubborn enough to Not Care what other people might think and focus on the dancing.

Hilarity and I start on Monday. I'm excited and a bit nervous.
rmc28: (uterus)
girly tmi )
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Got a phone appointment with the GP who saw me last week, in order to get a sick note for at least the rest of the week. She suggested a whole week, but as I'm off for two weeks from next Friday for wedding+honeymoon, we settled on until next Wednesday, so I get Thursday to answer any really important questions. She's leaving the paperwork with the receptionists for Tony to collect.

It occurs to me (10 minutes later) that actually today until next Wednesday is a whole week. This stunning mental capability is one of the reasons I don't trust myself with work at the moment. I haven't started reading my email yet, for similar reasons. LJ is generally easier going, and I don't have to reply to anything.

When I want to work again, I'll know I'm nearly well again.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I got let out this afternoon. Actually, I got told I could come out this morning, but it took ages for the hospital pharmacy to prepare my drugs. I dozed quite a lot of the time though, so it wasn't exactly wasted. I am now almost without pain, but easily tired and frequently sleepy. I'm going to talk to my GP tomorrow as I think I probably shouldn't go back to work until at least after the weekend, and I've now been away from work for nearly a week so need a note to do that. Tony's mother suggests even longer off, but I'll see what the GP thinks.

My ultrasound scan showed nothing wrong at all - no cysts on the ovaries, Mirena in the right place. However, pumping me full of antibiotics at regular intervals has steadily reduced the pain since I was admitted on Monday evening, to the point where I'm no longer needing any pain relief. The consultant this morning concluded that my pain was being caused by an infection not among those commonly swabbed for, and as many-antibiotics were getting me well, they should send me home with a course of many-antibiotics. At the moment they are leaving my Mirena in, and if this clears up with no further problems they will probably leave it there. The Daphne Ward should make a follow-up call in four to six weeks, so I need to keep an eye on things between now and then.

I have doxycycline to take twice a day, metronidazole to take three times a day and cefalexin to take four times a day. I can neither drink alcohol, nor spend long in the sun as a result. I am drawing little charts in my diary to tick off so as to keep track. The nurses were doing this for me through the IV while I was inside, but I definitely prefer not having a canula in my hand, despite the extra tracking effort on my part. The antibiotics were cold going in ...

So, my diagnosis is "?subacute pelvic inflammatory disease", with advice to go back if it starts hurting again. We found a leaflet on pelvic inflammatory disease, which turns out to mean "infection that causes inflammation in the pelvic area". Among other things it does advise that sexual partners get checked out too - which I guess is obvious once you think about it. Due to a cancellation Tony was able to get an appointment at Clinic 1A today and as a precaution, they've given him a course of antibiotics too (if not as many as me), so we can rattle together.
rmc28: (BRAINS)
[livejournal.com profile] fanf writing:

Earlier today Rachel phoned to find out when her scan would be and was rather upset to hear that it wouldn't be until Friday. She was in too much pain to wait that long (she said similar in level to Friday, before it really flared up), so tried to get it expedited. When she phoned the Daphne ward again they said she should come in.

So, trek to Addies, more recitals of the medical history (to nurse and doctor), and another unpleasant examination (fortunately not so bad as Saturday's) with the conclusion that she needed even stronger antibiotics delivered intravenously. She will stay in hospital overnight, and they should be able to do the scan tomorrow - much better than Friday! After they stuck a cannula in her hand and pumped her full of drugs, she was put on a saline drip and rolled in a chair to ward D6.

I then went home to pick up an overnight bag for her. When I got back she was sitting up fiddling with the entertainment console, complaining of boredom and feeling better already. With any luck the infection will be dealt with properly this time, and we hope they won't have to remove the Mirena (which, being a foreign body in the uterus, can make this kind of infection worse).

Tomorrow is Rachel's birthday, so I will be taking a cake with me when I go to see her.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
NHS Direct told me to ring my GP and/or their emergency cover service. My GP's number got picked up by CamDoc, where a nice nurse took my story and got a doctor to ring back. The doctor rang back some time later, and told me to come in to the Chesterton Medical Centre, and was deeply unsympathetic to the suggestion that this might be difficult as I could barely walk. As it seemed I'd get seen by a medical professional sooner if I got myself there, I sighed and asked Amy to drive Tony and I there. Not fun. The Medical Centre has a huge waiting room full of people staring at me as I failed to manage sitting on a chair and settled for sprawling across the floor. Which was hard.

Eventually I was called. The doctor had a student doctor in tow, who led the consultation with him hovering. She was pretty good and I was beyond caring very much at that point. I ran through the medical history for them, including how much I didn't want another examination, and they checked my temperature to discover I had a fever. Which was interesting as I hadn't had one on Thursday. They suspected salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes) caused by an infection, which was also causing the fever. The senior doctor said that the swabs taken on Thursday might not show up some infections for a couple of days, i.e. right about then. He then rather apologetically said that they really did need to examine me to be sure.

So I let them. It was awful. They had to move my cervix to confirm that it was my reproductive system that was hurting. I gave them confirmation. Thankfully Tony was very nearby and came to hold me the moment they had finished.

This done, they prescribed me extra-strong antibiotics, at three pills per day, and I was instructed to take three pills over the remainder of the day, to hit whatever the infection was as hard as possible. This should reduce the pain, but if there was no improvement in 18 hours, I was to call the emergency line again. Tony called Amy who fetched us home, settled me in bed and went off to fill the prescription and generally looked after me all evening, during which time I did start to improve a bit. This morning I was very definitely much better, in that the painkillers are keeping the pain bearable and I can move around and sit upright relatively easy.

I can definitely manage until tomorrow like this, and tomorrow is when I was told to call the Daphne Ward back about the ultrasound. I still want that, because I want to be absolutely sure what is going on, and fix it, before I go back to work.
rmc28: (grouchy)
Last night it all got a bit much and with Tony's help I rang NHS Direct to ask about the safety of taking my paracetamol+codeine pills rather than just paracetamol, on top of the diclofenac. I also rang home, but mum was out, so I rang his mum instead, who calmed me down - hurrah for second mothers. She also urged me to get more pushy with the doctors if I didn't improve. My own mother said the same thing this morning, so I'm currently waiting for an NHS Direct nurse to ring me back (calling the Daphne ward directly didn't get an answer).

I hate hate hate the recorded message that says they are facing exceptional demand and to hold the line if my call is urgent, or call back later. It takes both my mothers' voices in my head to keep me telliing myself that taking three different painkillers and still hurting too much to sit upright counts as "urgent".

Both mothers have told me to consider going private. I don't want to be someone who uses money to jump the queue, but it's amazing how that objection starts melting away in the face of everything hurting.

Yes, I'm whining. When I have something good to talk about, I will.

Well, I am reading some good books: Jenny Crusie writes very good romantic comedy, which is helping to keep me sane, and a whole stack of Diane Duane books arrived yesterday for me from Canada when I finish those. Hurrah for Abebooks.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Painkillers seem to be doing a reasonable job. I had no difficulty walking the length of Richmond Road to catch the bus into town for the migraine follow-up appointment, but was glad that was as far as I had to go. The appointment was very simple and routine - my doc made the necessary prescription, ran through the COLMC recommendations with me and suggested the quickest way for me to see a physio was to go to a self-help group based at the Buchan St Neighbourhood Centre, somewhere off King's Hedges Road. I caught the bus back to Richmond Road and was home again soon after 9am. The walk back from the bus stop became gradually less comfortable, so I'm not likely to go far today unless I have to.

I rang into work to let them know I'd work at home and I might be called back into the hospital for a scan. About twenty minutes after that, Dr Li, the nice ob/gyn from yesterday, rang me. All my swabs and blood samples have come back clear and there is no need for antibiotics. She's sent a request form to the radiology department and how long it takes me to get a scan depends on their prioritisation and other requests coming in. She suspects probably not today, but she'll ring me if so. I should probably ring the ward on Monday if I haven't heard anything, but it's likely to be sometime Monday-Wednesday next week.

I've worked out that the Citi 7 bus goes from opposite the Iceland/Aldi, all of three minutes walk away, to the stop opposite the main entrance to the Rosie. This is probably about as easy a journey as I can manage on public transport, and runs from before 7am to after 10pm. If I don't get a scan until next week and I'm feeling well enough to get to work, there's always the free bus from near-work to Addenbrookes' main entrance. If I'm well enough to reach work, I'll be well enough to walk through the site to the Rosie.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Because the mild recurring symptoms I'd been having on and off decided to get nasty, and I ended up back at the Daphne Ward (emergency gynaecology), being poked in tender places. They've sent me home with painkillers and a promised ultrasound scan tomorrow or Monday. I may also need to get an antibiotic prescription tomorrow, depending on what the results are from the many swabs and samples they took. I should really investigate the buses to and from, I can't afford taxis each way this often. I'm also supposed to be seeing my doctor tomorrow morning about coming off beta blockers.
gory details )
Anyway, to bed now, as I need to be walking to catch a bus at 8am tomorrow.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I spent 20 minutes attempting to ring my surgery at the approved time for booking appointments (8:30-9) this morning. Unsurprisingly they were engaged most of the time. When I finally got through, I tried to be conscientious and asked for a double-length appointment rather than the standard 10 minutes (as multiple signs in the surgery ask you to do if you think you'll need more time). She immediately asked if it was something that the nurse could deal with and I said I didn't know. Finally she gave me an appointment later today.

I've been dithering about this since Monday afternoon. When I rang about 5:15 having finally decided I should see someone, they refused to give me an appointment on Tuesday as "you have to call on the day: between 8:30 and 9 is best". They will do advance appointments with specific doctors, but you really have to push, most appointments are kept for "on the day". Between this and the receptionist, it's a very effective way of keeping me from seeking medical attention. It's taken [livejournal.com profile] fanf to nag me into making an appointment.

Part of the reason I'm going is because I've had symptoms recur after completing a course of antibiotics and I'm concerned that I'm harbouring an antibiotic-resistant infection (this is after all why one conscientiously finishes the course) and I want to do the socially-responsible thing. If it weren't for that, I'd probably procrastinate about going for a good while longer. I resent being made to jump through hoops and feel wasteful of resources when I'm trying to do "the right thing" against what I'd really prefer.

I'm sure my surgery used to be less bad for this. They do have a good set of doctors, and some very good nurses, and I trust the medical people ... when I can actually get to see them.
rmc28: (happy)
I'm not sleeping very much at the moment: as well as not feeling sleepy at bedtime because of the heat, the sunlight is waking me up early, even through the curtains. I don't yet feel sleep-deprived, it just seems to be how my body wants to respond to the weather.

Keith went to Jesus Ball and I heard him coming home, and bringing in the milk. They got a free Telegraph which had one of the funniest Matt cartoons I've seen in a while.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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