Hibernation

Hey lovely blog readers,

So again its been a while I guess my new years resolution to have more blogs kinda went out the window along with some other resolutions so I doubt I’ll be making any this year. However I’ve wanted to write something for the past few days and its always been about hibernation.

So right now I very much feel like an animal going into hibernation. I’ve been really bad at replying to emails, texts ect and I’ve only left the house for supplies and to go to church (even that’s a push some days). I’m feeling somewhat distant from my spring/summer self. I forget how much worse I tend to be in the winter months, infections increase and even though at times they are only minor because it comes at a time when I’m already feeling rough so even the smallest of things hits me. I’m finding the ‘hey how has your week been?’ and the ‘how are you?’ questions more and more difficult to answer. No-one likes a moaner (I hate it) but at the same time after spending 80-90% of your week resting really sucks when you know others lives are continuing at a normal pace, all you want to say is actually its been pretty pants but instead you go with the its been alright or the tentative mixed hand gesture.

For the past few weeks I’ve had really bad migraines (partly down to the infusions I have for my immune system), and although the headache part may only last a day- sometimes it’s a good few days before I’m feeling human again. Then the next one comes. Its been really naff because although I’ve not been anywhere near ill as I have been in the past they are hitting me pretty hard. So I just want to apologies to all those who have waited days for a reply to a text, or asked me to do something and I’ve had to flake.

Hibernation is not as glamorous as it sounds, and although I was always pretty envious of animals who hibernated as a kid, now I get to experience it- it’s a real the grass is greener situation. It very quickly gets boring, seeing the same 4 walls, Netflix as great as it is gets boring too, all you want to be able to do is go out for a nice walk or to have a catch up with someone but energy levels or that stupid migraine means you can’t. I’m really missing the coffee shops, and exploring my city. However, hibernating does mean that when I can I will, I’ll get to appreciate the small things again. I also know that this is just a small season in my life and I probably should be doing more to embrace it and to change the way I think about it. Hopefully in a few days time I’ll be doing just that but for now hibernation sucks and I cant wait for spring.

Until next time….

Wen x

Hibernate

 

 

Advertisements

Why I don’t want a cure for Cancer.

So I’m going to start by apologising this post is in no way suppose to cause offence, or to say that Cancer research is pointless because IT’S VERY IMPORTANT and I want research to always continue! However as you continue to read this you’ll get my point. I do want a cure for cancer, but its kinda secondary to what I really want. Right now I’m not after a cure, I’m after kinder treatments first.

So, why don’t I want a cure for cancer, well you might think it’s because I’m the most selfish person on the planet, or that its because Cancer was a good thing in my life. Well yes to an extent it was.. but again it’s not my point. Years on from my treatment I look back and am amazed about how far the research has gone, the things you wouldn’t even believe. I’m extremely proud and grateful for all those who are searching for the cure for cancer. However, what those not in the know don’t often realise is that cancer is stupidly complex… its millions of different variations of a disease… So sorry to burst the bubble but one miracle cure isn’t going to cut the mustard.

So why am I even writing a post like this… well after a conversation with someone recently I realise how deluded they were about what is out there. So we got into a little bit of an argument as they believe the cure for cancer has already been found and that big pharma companies were hiding it because they wanted to continue to make money. Well to some extent yes this could be true- they might have found a cure for *A* cancer – but if that ‘cure’ is gonna kill 99% and cure the 1% would you take it? What about if it leads you to be paralysed – you’d be cured of cancer at least? I realised with this particular person no amounts of arguments were going to re-align his thinking so left the conversation with a ‘Well you can believe what you want, I just think of it differently so lets agree to disagree’.

This blog post has been on my list since the list started- but the convo I had has prompted me to write. I am so grateful to be alive. The cancer-ish (Very Sever Aplastic Anaemia-actually a rare blood disorder treated like cancer) I had, has only been treatable in my life time. One of the crazy rare complications had only had a ‘cure’ 2 years earlier. So if it hadn’t been for advances in medical science and the millions of souls searching for the cures. I wouldn’t be alive. However, as much as I would love for their to be a cure for Cancer- I really don’t want it if it means that’s the end.

I don’t want a cure for cancer, if it means there are millions of people who end up like me, or worse. Unable to get out of bed some days (yep you guessed it another blog written under duvet)… I don’t want to have to continue to meet people who get it- because they too have had their lives turned upside down not by the cancer- but by the side-effects that get left behind. I don’t want to have friends that have to exhaust all treatment options before they get placed on the ‘wonder drug’ (often still in trial) because they have to fail before its offered as an option…. because often these people have had to endure grueling rounds of treatment, that weaken them, gives them way less chance of recovering. I don’t want to have friends on a ‘watch and wait protocol’ because they need to let the disease to get worse first because treatment now would be too harmful. I don’t want to hear the painstaking cries of friends who are so fed up of being on lifelong treatment because their cancer hasn’t got a ‘curable’ treatment option available yet (of course in this case i want a cureable treatment option to be avalible and then it to be made as kind as possible). I don’t want to lose another friend because the poison that chemotherapy and radiotherapy is made them too weak, or to susceptible to infections which ultimately leads to yet another funeral. I dont want to lose another friend who survived cancer, but the effects it left them with meant they were unable to survive. I want kinder treatments, so that people aren’t just surviving cancer- but they are thriving post cancer.

I want to be able to pick up the phone and congratulate my friend who defeated the odds and now is walking into a fantastic new job. I want treatments that don’t kill, don’t come with a list as long as your arm for side effects of late effects. I don’t want treatments that mean your life as you knew it disappears before your eyes. I want treatments that mean your life can continue there is no ‘break’ from normality while you endure endless months in and out of hospital. I want kinder treatments because I don’t want more people to have to go through what myself and thousands of others have.

Yes I ultimately would love for their to be a cure, but let’s be realistic and lets be thinking about what happens in the mean time. Lets start changing the outcomes of cancer, and giving those facing it a better chance at a normal life again! The #Quest4aCure must start with kinder treatments.

 

 

I wrote this post- and paused… I sent it on to some of my friends who pointed me in the way of a new report by Bloodwise – called Childhood Cancer report- The quest for a kinder cure..So i’d say its quite apt… So very happy to share the report here- just follow the link!!!! Read the red case studies it will help your understanding! Read it all- and take on board what it says… its important! https://bloodwise.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Bloodwise-Childhood-Cancer-Report-2017.pdf

(Artwork at top my own)

Life as a long-term bum/volunteer

So tonight I got super teary over something that I don’t even want to discuss because it’s so pointless and I’m not one to share my laundry or ups and downs on Facebook (It solves nothing). So I have decided to look at my long list of possible blog titles and start writing as it helps even when its about a completely different thing.

So welcome to my life as a long term bum/volunteer. It’s both because I’m terrible at balancing and pacing in my life so I do too much of the latter and end up doing a lot of time as the former. As you know I struggle health wise with quite a few different things (mainly all as a result of my bone marrow transplant). I’ve recently changed the way I talk about it and boy has that helped lots. Now instead of replying to the What do you do? question with I can’t work because I was once really sick…. to I volunteer. Boy has that helped set up the conversations that follow it. (I’ve covered this in one of my earlier blog posts.)

However, today I’d love to give you an insight into what living this life is truly like. Pre summer I was doing loads with CLIC Sargent and was on lots of different groups, helped by representing them at things ect… ect… Over this summer I’ve done a bit for Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust which take children and young people in recovery from cancer sailing. However with my last trip of the summer fast approaching I’m left feeling a little lost…. What will I do when this wraps up (and I’ve recovered from the sailing). The answer right now- I’m not entirely sure. (This is quite a scary thing for me but I know something will slot into place). I guess the unknown of whats next is scary because I don’t plan- because I simply can’t I have maybe 2 weeks in my head at a time- post that its normally waiting to see how long it takes me to recover from x or y… or simply too far off for me to think about. When I make plans and they fall through and its not me cancelling they hit me quite hard because I have to plan more than most to be able to do things… Thinking about pre rest time and post crash time. I don’t know why but takes me a day or so to think clearly about the reasons why things fell through, and why it benefits me in the long run as I can then do x or y instead- I suppose its because for some things that last 4 days I could have 2 weeks either side planned to prepare for it. However, this by no means that sometimes I can’t do things last minute either (I just have to be well first).

The life of someone with chronic fatigue is frustrating and something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It’s exhausting planning, preparing and pre-empting how many spoons (units of energy) your going to need. Its frustrating that after a weekend of doing thinks (a normal person wouldn’t think twice about) your so shattered you spend your evening teary over the most pathetic things because your just exhausted… In so many ways and sleep and rest is all you can do for 4 days+ so that when the next event/trip or fun thing on your to do list happens you have enough energy to actually do it. I wouldn’t change doing the things I do- and never want to stop doing things. I just really wish I wouldn’t have the crippling days (or weeks when i really overdo it) of paying for having a bit of fun or just doing something normal.

I’m struggling a bit if I’m honest with this life- well because its more like a half life… only able to do so much before you crash. I recently had a DWP fit for work assessment and it stressed me out so much I made no/ very little plans for about 2 months. I missed out on opportunities I’d normally jump at because my ability to plan like I would normally went out of the window. When it came to the actual assessment the assessor realised in reality not much had changed in the years since I was last assessed. While at the time I was a bit confused because I thought they had (they really hadn’t). You may see me on a good day- Yes sometimes I can jump and dance, sometimes i can walk to the bay- other times walking to the corner of my road is simply too far and getting dressed can take a life time. It can be really tough. Most of the the time I refuse to let on the hard side of it. I’m far too busy looking at life through the positive light and seeing the massive amounts of opportunities I am able to get, the time with friends I’m fortunate to have, the flexibility to rest around the things I want to do.

This ‘LIFESTYLE’ (as it was once described to me) of being on benefits, isn’t fun. It’s really not as glamorous as it looks (yes I have time to go for coffee’s) but the funds don’t really push to nice trips out, or holidays. It doesn’t mean that because I have the time- I have the funds or energy to travel to you and visit. It’s not a blessing to not have to work (yes it has it’s perks) but I would love to use this brain, and my skills to hold down a full time job. I would love to have the energy to do all the things normal people do (including working without fatigue), I’d also love to be able to say wow work was tiring today…. Instead it’s I got driven to lunch and sat for 2 hours now I’m in tears because I’m just too tired *but knowing sleep won’t help*.

Today, it got a bit much and the emotions of being tired and knowing I’ll be resting till monday so I am in Tip-Top form to go sailing got a bit big. I wouldn’t change for the Trust at all (right now it’s all I’ve got to look forward to). I wanted to let you all know- remember when ‘I look well’ or seem ok- one of  four things is happening; Ive prepared well and am ok, something weird is happening and I’m having a good patch, am hiding it, or I’m approaching a crash. Please remember even when you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Thanks for understanding (or trying to)

Wen x

 

Immunology

The past few days I’ve been a zombie but a zombie in recovery its been really weird. I suppose it all starts with the confession, I gave up on my meds. It’s not even like I know I don’t need it but about 4 months ago I just didn’t want to stab myself week in week out to give myself an immune system so it wasn’t a complete nahhh I won’t do it. More it got in the way of my life. I would get a text from a friend asking to go for a coffee and I’d do it and say ‘I’ll just do my infusion tomorrow’… I sort of fell out of the habit. Don’t get me wrong now I hadn’t stopped completely (well not until that last month) I just wasn’t doing it every week. It got to the point tho that when I realised I’d missed 3/4 weeks in a row that it was time to fess up to the medics…. So I tentatively called them and explained where I was at. I knew I needed the control taken back off me and so I was really pleased to hear they were happy to have me back on day patient care once every 3 weeks to give me a break.

The medics got it 100% they knew where I was at and they kind of were expecting it. Telling other though some thought it was a sign that I couldn’t cope or was being an idiot playing with my health. (Yes I was but also I’m fine thanks I know my own body). Anyway Tuesday I went into adult immunology day unit (where I did my sub-cut training). I have always had my IvIG on the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in Cardiff so was a little unsure on what to expect but my infusions on TCT never we quicker than 6hrs normally more like 9hrs. So I packed my bag ready to be entertained all day.

The differences… well TCT next to never had my immunoglobulin on the ward when I arrived at 9am… sometimes it hadn’t even been ordered. I walked into Immunology at 10 to 9 one patient was already sat being hooked up and my immunoglobulin was already on the side waiting for me (sometimes on TCT I could easily wait an hour and a half or more for it to come up from Pharmacy). By 9.03 i’d seen two nurses and my IvIG was up and running. I had it through my hand like normal but instead of a cannula they had it going through a butterfly needle…. So much easier to get in.

I had been warned that the infusion would go slowly due to it being the first time on it in some time. The nurse didn’t need her iPhone or spend an age working out the maths for rates- it was instinctive (mainly because they do it all the time) but you’d have thought this would have been the case up on TCT after 5 years of giving it to me, Lydia and the others. The rate was increased each time with next to no wait for a nurse to come and up the flow. TCT because of the larger social space and the number of people walking in at different times sometimes you’d wait 15 mins before someone could come (I get it 100% they are really busy- but occasionally you’d end up having to press the call button to get someone to come upstairs as they all vanish). However never in a million years did I expect to be told even on the slower rate i was kept on Tuesday it should only take 3 hours. Next time (in 3 weeks time) as long as I’ve had no major side effects (did get a migraine last night but had also drunk so….) it will take 2 HOURS!!!! How then did it always take SOOOOOOO long on TCT. My flat mate when I got home pointed out my infusions at home take me that long because of migraines and that’s once a week so if it only takes 2 hours once every 3 weeks that’s something I’ll have to weigh up.

There are pro’s and cons to IV verses Subcut and I’m sure when I’m re-weighing that up next month or so I’ll end up writing about that. I’m just a bit shell-shocked at the difference in care. This is defiantly something I’ll be discussing with my medic’s next time round as their has to be a way of improving the service when it’s offered through TCT.

Part of me thinks if it had been like this the whole time I’d prob never have switched to subcut in the first place… However I am pleased I switched because the alternative at the time was long days once every 3/4 weeks on TCT.

Recovery from my infusion was a little different than it use to be I ended up with a whole afternoon and evening free (this never happened before I’d usually get home and crash). However, I met family down the bay went on a boat ride wandered round the wetlands then went home and rested before going out for food. Ok so the next day I was a complete zombie and did next to nothing then a rest all day the following day so I could go celebrate someone’s birthday last night. Then it brings me to today which has been a slow day. I hadn’t quite realised how run down, worn out and burnt out I had become being off my meds however my email inbox marked with 450+ unread messages showed me just how zombie I had been. Now my inbox looks much healthier with 0 unread messages. I’ve responded to people who have been waiting months for an answer. So bad! I’m still in that groggy stage that doing anything makes me tired but I’m doing way better than I had been.

Hopefully by the next time I write I’ll be able to do even more and will be feeling much more like me.

Till next time….

Wen

IMG_2288

Just thanks…

Today I had a check up at the hospital where I wrote the following…

In the waiting I sit, nervously, anxiously waiting. I sit and see others come and go one who is told the news transplant is the next step, another looks weeks out from transplant still tired and weak.
You see the same faces from the staff who have spent decades serving this nation. Trying to fit in the ever-growing case load of people. Sending for bloods, then checking your obs. These people reach out to see how you are. They have the answers or go to find them out, they see who you are and what your about.

As I sit 7 years on I still get this fear that today is the day I hear bad news. I see a familiar doctor, I’ve not seen in years yet now she’s a senior. I feel a sense of pride as I’ve seen her grow. she’s worked hard and boy does it show.
I glance and see my notes- sat on the pile with a post-it note. I know what it is I’ve seen it before it’s my protective consultant saying she is mine stay clear, he wants to see me again but still I ask why? Maybe there’s news.

A guy who is maybe 10 years older is the closest in age to me today. I sit and i wonder if his life-like mine has been impacted and changed. He gets called through and I sit and wonder what news will he receive.

As I wait all becomes quite, still and peaceful I look around and contemplate those missing faces- the ones I know I’ll never see yet still miss so terribly. I question why me, why was I so lucky. Why did it work for me but not for them.
The guy comes out smile beaming and I breathe a sense of relief knowing he’s happy. Knowing he to is one of the lucky ones.
Then the finger beckons, I stand and my heart races the steps into the room feel heavy and weighty. Despite knowing I’m fine there is still that chance. I stop for a second and take a big breath. I sit and he opens “well who’d have guessed your 7 years old!” I breath, today is not the day I hear bad news. I settle and begin to answer his never-ending questions, the ones I’m sure he doesn’t need to know as well as those I know he does.

I tease and he teases my consultant is not just a doctor, he’s a friend and a father. He knows me so well. He knows when to delve to ask the questions that make me squirm and when I need him to lay off and back down. I’m so grateful for him and I’m just blown away as without him I’d never have made it this far.

The questions are over and it’s now my turn. I talk life, my future my world for a moment he’s there protecting it all. We reminisce we laugh and I well up knowing that Thank you will never be enough. It’s more than just me it’s the thousands of others. It’s that thanks that’s unsaid, unheard or forgotten. It’s for those who we’ve lost but that I know you’ve not forgotten. What can you say to the man who changed everything. To the doctor that I know I’d be nothing without. I say all I can and again I say thanks.

Today I was told I’ll never be discharged that I’m there for life. For some this would be bad news but for me I breathed a sigh of relief because I know they will always be looking out for me. I was also told that travel is limitless and I could go anywhere again it’s like a door being flung open suddenly places I’ve only dreamt of could become a reality. (Now would be a great time for that lotto win). Who knows.
I’ve come so far yet still I know just how far I still have to go. I leave behind a man bursting with pride he did this, he’s the reason I’m alive. We hug and I leave thanking again as I walk out with a smile and a grin. I chat to the nurses who all played their part.
I tell them about how now I’d do it different from the start. That the 20 old me knew nothing and no-one. I wish at the time I’d had some more fight. I wish at the time I had some more life. Now I look back at the years that I wasted. I could have done more but instead I just … wasted. Instead of fighting for more I just didn’t want it. I wasn’t focused on living or striving for more. My life was over, no hope a disaster. I couldn’t see out and didn’t want different. I’d just moped and I moaned, I wallowed in pity. With no hope in recovery I settled for less. Until one day that changed and this I addressed. I now see things different and I hope for the best. I see the progress I’ve made and the miles that I’ve distanced. It was slower than most and I made that hard. It’s not simple or easy but I know I’m far from done. My life’s worth living I’m no longer a bum.

One year at Freedom

So today marks the one year anniversary walking through the doors of Freedom Church in Cardiff. A few months back I wrote a post called the faith that rocked which explains how I got there and what I found when I was there. However, I can not write something to mark this special day for me. Freedom Church has changed my life around completely and I am so so so thankful for that, and all I have learnt in this past year.

Pre Freedom I had just finished an internship which I loved but also it showed me how far away from the working world I am. I was exhausted from trying to do something with my days (only managing 1-2 days of activity) and felt really low because now I realised working even part-time was further off that I had hoped I had nothing to fill my days with. So I walked into church pretty broken, lost and feeling quite isolated from the ‘real world’.

I selfishly went to freedom looking for more people (and you know what that’s ok at my church). I wanted to have people around me incase my flat mates moved and I was left knowing no one in the city. Today I look at my Facebook friends and I’ve gained over 100 from Freedom Church. These aren’t people I just know of, or spoken to once they are people who I’ve had proper meaningful conversations with and could tell you more than just ‘oh they go to my church’. What I have found at freedom is way more than a community of friends it’s a GIGANTIC FAMILY all of whom are there for me, fighting for me and cheering me on. Some of these friends are now in Mombasa, Birmingham, and Rotterdam all places my church has planted a new church in the time I’ve been a part of the family. Some have moved away for new jobs and a new future (even one amazing family starting a new life in Australia.) Today we had 168 people in church and that really challenged me because it means there are at least 68 people I haven’t had a proper conversations with yet. It’s exciting because there are more people to meet, hear from and get to do life with!

This week was a challenging one for me because I’ve had the brown letter of doom anyone who has ever been on benefits at any point in their lives will know the gut wrenching feeling that is having to go through the whole process again. I’d like to consider  myself as a fairly positive person but this process just ends up making you feel depressed, like you’re a scrounge and you have to admit how you truly are on a day-to-day basis its gutting (as most of these things I hide from myself or try to put a positive spin on). However, I was challenged by someone to be a bit more open and honest, so I reached out to a few people within my church. One met me for coffee so I no longer had to sit on my living room floor in tears (Thankyou Zoe). Another called me to check I was ok and then took me out the next day to take my mind off it (Thanks Amanda). I had a wonderful new friend who also knows that brown letter feeling make me feel instantly better just because she knew the feeling. (Thanks Katie). The She:FOCUS group I’ve recently become apart of have all stood alongside me, with a special shout out to Jess who has said she will help me with the form. Yes I’ve had some none church friends also be there for me (Kate, Hattie and Rach your all awesome to.) However, the day this letter came through I have been so so thankful to have God by my side and placing amazing people around me.

I could easily tell you all about these amazing people in my life and what they mean to me. I had Hattie come and stay a few months back and I literally spent 2 days telling her about different people in my church and how INCREDIBLE they truly are but the blog post would just go on forever. I guess the purpose of this post is to say a huge THANKYOU to my wonderful freedom family. I’m so grateful for each and every one of you, for the endless hours of chatting we do. The catch ups in coffee shops, in cafe or in any one of our small groups. Thanks to you I have great role models, I have people who inspire me, and people who challenge me. I’m far from finished, I’m far from perfect but boy have I changed. I’m nowhere near as broken and isolated as I was. I’ve found faith, I’ve found community and I’ve found the most incredible family I could ever ask for.

God is good, all the time, God is good.

ps….Hey if your reading this and aren’t apart of my church family (this doesn’t mean I don’t love you any less). If your someone who is lost, broken or just searching for answers Drop me a message I’d love to help. If your someone who wants to know more about these amazing people ask me about them. If you want to know more about who this God is I’m talking about then ask me.