All text and original images © 2005 www.taooftash.com
Finding himself prone at the hands of Goldfinger, James wished that he had kept up with that private health insurance
Ahh Mrs Dean I don't expect you to talk, I expect you to.......
Tash has managed on average 2 operations per year since 2000, today marked her 11th. The usual procedure is for us to get up early and eat before her fasting begins and then bicker during the journey until we reach the hospital. She was scheduled to be worked on at 13:00 Tuesday, which meant that we had to be there for 10.00am.
Mission accomplished we once again got to relax in a hospital room with some pre check-in banter, Tash you note always gets the good bed.
The girl came back about 3.5 hours after leaving, by this point I had be fighting off the ward nurses, catering staff and Macmillan Cancer team members for an hour already; the hospital wasn't bad, but had no communication going on between the various teams.
"Will Mrs Dean be requiring the foot massage that she ordered at 3:15?"
"Probably not as she is still in Surgery, and she has a Cannula in her foot"
"Oh maybe next time then"
"Yes that would probably be the ticket"
She was much more woozy than we have experienced before, possibly down to her 3 week old whooping cough playing a part, and to some degree confused, but that could have equally been down to my irrational need to only speak to her in my faux German accent.
After she returned and we talked about it, Tash had noted that when she went down into the CT room (yes, she always walks to the operating room, they only sedate you down there - dead man walking anyone?) there was much more equipment in it than usual. In talking to the nurse afterward, I started to understand that the intention was to sedate her whilst laying on the normal scanning table, then to do a baseline CT scan for comparison with the previous scans, to make sure nothing had changed, then to slowly use both an ultrasound hand scanner and the CT scanner to guide them as they feed a biopsy needle into her liver to reach the center of the 'legions' and then zap them with heat waves - if it all sounds very Key-hole surgery, then it is and then some.
The next morning 'Doctor Lazer' did another CT scan to review her work and most probably sign it. The Cannula by the way is used to run in the contrast (highlighting liquid) for this scan and it is in the foot because that is an easy entry to a large vain.
Tash's Liver is a bit of a mess these days, the after effects of the Herceptin, Chemo and cancer has left a fair bit of scarring and fibrosis. We now find that our Doctor conversations on this subject mostly start with them declaring that 'it is very hard to read your scans' or 'it is difficult to really see what's there' - you can easily appreciate how hard it would be to make out the difference between a fibrous strand and a tumor just using these black and white pictures, but that is after all what they are paid to do.
The next day's Doctor conversation started out in much the same way, as ever, she was cautious in what we were told, I don't know what they are fearful of, it is not like we are going to demand a refund is it? 'Doctor Lazer' is only one of a handful of people who do this in the UK and this time she choose to only zap Tom and Dick, leaving Harry and Dave as there was no change in size or density between the two baseline scans and they therefore cannot be decisively identified as tumors. Tom and Dick became charcoal anyway, despite as she went on to tell us, being even smaller in size than they were 4 weeks ago. Opinions seem to differ amongst the oncologist's as to when to do the ablation, before Chemo or during like Tash has had. This means that we are now in an odd position as we know that the chemo has been working for the two (parrot) tumors, though as the only guide, they are now gone.
Eventually I got the Swiss cheese that is my wife home around 3.00pm, the whole scenario took up much more time than we expected, and I got her relaxed and ready for a heavily Moroccan influenced, but badly cooked and presented, welcome home meal. It is rare that I'll screw up a meal up these days, but ohh, when I do!!
Tash is sore and slightly grumpy today, as you might expect if you had 'been poked in the side with knitting needles' however she would like to thank you all for your text messages and calls.
Oh Nuts, here we go again.
'I can smell Fish', she said as we pulled out of London Bridge station (that is not some sexual euphemism I add, we were on the tube).
'Well that's not as bad as the smell usually on the tube so deal with it' I supportively replied.
'I can smell smoke' I thought 10 minutes later as we were coming into Bond street, that acrid oil and grease ignited by electrical current smell, I was hoping that this new sensory addition to the carriage was too subtle for 'Sniffles Dean' next to me; this tube trip is always a mission, not the best way to arrive at 'Camp Chemo' and certainly no way to arrive calm and relaxed.
We tend not to travel by tube these days, nothing really to do with the attacks earlier in the year, but after you have been in London for a while it gets a bit too much and so we usually use other transport; bike, cycle, walk, taxi and the like. When we do travel underground, we are always reminded of the reasons why we don't, especially at 08:30 in the morning going west into Central London.
Things had been slowly getting back to normal since we returned from Marrakech, well as normal as dealing with the after effects of the Ablation and a 6 week cough and chest virus can be, hmmm fairly normal for us then. Both of us have been trying to find the time to catch up with people whilst doing everything else that has been left undone; consequently a lot of my friends are receiving calls starting 'Hi I thought I would ring as I walked home', or 'I am on the Loo, had five minutes spare, are you free'.
Tash, taking a less direct route, has slowly started to get back into the swing of going out, though increasingly mindful of her position as 'only person in the bar with two holes through her Liver'. We have had a couple of discussions lately as to whether and how much she can, and should drink. She has carrying hooks in her Liver after all, so conventional thinking suggests don't drink at all, however if we ask 'The Slev' our Oncologist, he usually suggests in moderation, but with the 'but you have secondary Cancer, so I am not going to tell what to do' look, he might even use 'that' phrase 'The focus is now on your quality of life' - the patient empowerment attitude annoys me sometimes, presumably if Tash decided that she fancied having a go at crack cocaine, sighting that high makes it all go away, it would be OK right, hmmm of course not, but a reflexology foot massage would probably be acceptable.
No flames unfortunately and the smoke was only on the platform, which meant no Fireman, fortunately, or not perhaps for Tash, men in uniform and all that, as they would have tipped us both over the edge, T' through panic and one would hope myself though unrestrained jealousy, 'hey you, firefighter in the chemical protection suit, are you looking at my wife - cough!' or words to that effect. I am eternally thankful that the rest of this day has not been like the beginning.
The LOC was as hot and stuffy and then really cold, as is usual. On our arrival, the nurses were all pleased to see Tash, popping over to ask how she was and what we have been up to, Amanda stopping on longer to swap stories on her rhynoplasty (nose cleaning and/or clearing, for the non-technical, we have had 3, for the nosey) and it's relative dis-merits when compared to the uncomfortableness of the Ablation - I simply listened in wonder, should of been shoes, could of been handbags, instead it was Liver and Noses.
Dean HQ has recently received news from the homeland that two of T's friends, Kate and Michelle have carried out their threats to have crew cuts as a sign of solidarity for the girl. Michelle did it for charity and raised AUD $800+ for a well deserved Australian breast cancer charity and Kate, well she has just got married, so is probably letting her husband know how it is going to be from now on. She is really hard anyway, so it was about time.
Lets not forget that I am nearly 35 and my wife still thinks that she is 18, so I am informed that I should give a big shout out to ya girlz, for this wonderful show of solidarity, it is really book*. Michelle knows what I mean, even if I don't.
In the past weeks we have also received some lovely Truffles from Michelle and a book from Carmel both from at ABN, though I am looking forward to eating the Chocolates, more than eating the book.
Lastly, Simita, I hope that you are settling in back at home, we were very pleased to hear that you are out of hospital at last.
*According to the Daily Mail, which I only read in consultation rooms and free on planes, the youngsters of today can't be arsed to change the predictive text suggestion of 'book' when they type 'cool' into their phones. So you have learnt something today, kiddies are getting more lazy.
Tash has had 5 weeks off Chemo and certain things are starting to return to normal; her hair is growing (wildly I might add, making her look something like a raisin that has been lost under the sofa for a couple of weeks), but she looks less like a Seal Pup. That old trade mark Tash non-specific random directional anger has returned (oh how I have missed that!), this morning's targets were an old man in a large blue coat who saw fit to squeeze himself just inside the carriage doors, pressing his back against Tash as she stood-sat next to him (peculiar seats, these, more resting perches for people below average height, otherwise you end up adopting the rounded shape of the carriage whilst trying to look comfortable). He was just an entree as the main course took his place, this chap was 'one of those nylon suited gum chewing post room boys' who's casual my-back-my-arse-your-leg-your-side routine almost got a Tash-Hulk reaction. Luckily I seemed to defuse the ticking 'Tash-bomb' by pointing out that he had neglected, for whatever reason, be it a misguided fashion statement, or simply just not knowing how things are, to remove the name tag stitched onto the arm of his suit. Had this gentleman not made this sartorially strange choice this morning I would have not been able to confirm to the misses that he really was in a crappy nylon suit. It made her happy and calm was restored...
As the tube started to slow into Bond Street station the burning smell became strong enough for even Tash to smell, a quick check around the carriage revealed that everyone else was starting to look up from their papers, with that quizzical "that's not burnt toast" look. Walking up the platform you could make out some slight smoke at the back of the train, probably coming out of the tunnel I thought, and then the muffled tannoy started saying something decidedly unlike 'the next train approaching is..' and more like 'this is an evacuation'. This was our first mass tube station evacuation, I would have realised earlier, but it was hard to hear the announcements, then I spotted the policeman on the opposite platform - never a good sign these days.
** It just so happens that both Tash and I have written updates this week, she thinks mine is better and it should be the only one posted, whereas I appreciate that though you might find my musings entertaining, you'd much rather hear from the girl instead. So you get to have both. **
Just when I thought it was safe...
Hi everyone, Tash here. Just writing to let you know what's been happening since Cycle 5 nearly 2 weeks ago... Normally, the first couple of days after chemo aren't too bad, I find I potter around the house doing a mixture of reading, watching TV and surfing. Mark usually spends the following day doing these things with me but his work has been a bit crazy the last couple of weeks and he had to be back to help out. However, the long days turned into long nights too, being called out by Princeton and Euroclear at all hours, so he started getting up at 2.00am to go to work to get on top of things. By the time we got to the weekend, (when I really do start felling quite rubbish) he was just as exhausted as I was! I did however manage a quick trip in to Selfridges to by some new boots for winter...! (YES I REALLY NEEDED THEM!)
Fortunately his sister and her partner came to stay on Sunday and Monday evening which was great not just for the company but it also stopped us from bickering too much and provided someone for him to have a drink with.
The start of the new week - things could only improve right? .... Wrong.... unusually, I still wasn't feeling quite right the following Monday. I made it into work for a few hours each day but that was about it. I had noticed that my liver felt sore, but assumed it was the chemo doing it's job so I carried on regardless, however when I woke up on Friday morning, I knew there was a problem.
The 2nd Friday after chemo I have to go and see 'The Slev' for what is called a NADIR appointment. This is basically an appointment when your immune system is at it's lowest and they take a blood sample to make sure your various counts are not dangerously low. Not that I want to brag, but to date, mine have always been fantastic! So this was quite handy considering how I was feeling and interestingly, 'The Slev' explained that I was still susceptible to getting a inflammatory response in my liver 4 to 6 weeks after the ablation zapping, so, nothing to worry about.
We had plans for Friday night which I was very much looking forward to as we were out to dinner with friends to a new restaurant in town called Roast in Borough Market. That's when my meltdown started. I ordered a starter and main that I didn't eat and poor Mark had to shovel down his so quick as I needed to get home fast, leaving our friends behind.
Since then I have been moving between bed and sofa, having had to cancel all the other plans that we had for the weekend, Mark and I started to wonder what life used to be like on a Saturday night...! Anyway, sorry to everyone who has emailed or rang that I have missed. I will get back to you soon. Hopefully next week's update will say I made it to Cardiff to see the Wallabies smash Wales around the park, after the Soccaroo's qualifying for the World Cup this week, you never know, anything is possible!
Long time no see?
Sorry for the missed updates, but it is hard to write about the fun and frolics of Tash world when I am not around to be part of it.
My working life has again descended into chaos and I spent most of my last 'wife support' week, start of Cycle 5, at work. Not a good thing and it further enforces my opinion that Chemotherapy does nothing to progress your married relationship.
Last weekend my Sister and Jason came up to London for a travel exhibition, well timed as having someone else in the house defused a considerable amount of tension, oh and the wine helped too. I have begun to understand why relatives are invited to stay during times like these, we were really butting head's on the Saturday and as soon as someone else is in the house, ohh, I felt like a little puppy who has been suddenly distracted by a new red ball. Shows you how much it really matters.
The misses has been trying to get back into the swing of things this week, managing to get to work for most of the week. Tash is often complemented by the nurses and doctors at the LOC about how well she is coping, for that read, how much of her life she still manages to continue on with - or so we thought!
As the week went on, it started to become apparent to Tash that things were not so good in the Liver department, the dull aching soreness that she had previously, had come back and was getting progressively worse. The Nadir appointment (taken midway between treatments, used to monitor her blood counts and presumably, is also used to stop you fitting in any quick 3 week holidays in between treatments) was last Friday and I was woken up (again, as I had already been up in the night for work and was trying to fit in some more sleep) to a rather unhappy wife complaining of being in considerable discomfort. Dr Onco' and the nurses have confirmed that she is having a reaction to the Ablation of a few weeks ago, a not uncommon occurrence apparently, or, she has an infection, which is a bit more serious.
I have to say that this Ablation affair has been a bit of an information disaster for us, we haven't really received a good rounded opinion as to what to expect, what happened and now, what to expect afterwards. It was a year ago last Friday night that Tash spoke at the Cancer Bacup ball and we couldn't quiet get it together to go again so went out for a meal instead. We made it about half way through the meal before Tash asked to go, she couldn't eat anything during dinner and just knew some thing wasn't right.
What followed at home was rather like a scene from an arctic adventure, about the bit when one of the main characters falls in to the freezing lake and starts to get hypothermia. Tash was soo cold (actually she had fever symptoms), we had the heating on, bed socks on, duvet and blankets on, but nothing was working. The Ambulance-hospital scenario was only adverted when I remembered my super warm sleeping bag and after convincing her that it was a good idea, Tash eventually stopped shivering. I can only guess that it was her liver de-toxing once more.
The girl has spent the rest of the weekend rugged up on the sofa, we have cancelled all our plans and she has been taking it easy. Well I say easy, as I have been typing, she has got up and has gone into work to avert some other near disaster lurking Monday morning.
It would be nice to just do Chemo OR work, I cannot say that we been enjoying doing both.
Being ill (again), working (again), crap music and rugby.
I know, I thought hazily after a rather lovely meeting of Club Uno* I fink sheez iz lov-el-ly and i wanna go dinnah wiv er 2night, so quick as a flash it was all arranged, wife was phoned, restaurant reservation was made and colleague was coerced into doing my overnight support duties (that weren't actually supposed to be mine this week, but there you go), ignoring any comments that I may have made at lunch about a return match in the evening and the resultant multiple calls reminding me of said suggestion as I made my way home. The Dean's eventually pulled up at Yi-ban a la' City airport.
Yi-ban is one of those long established well thought of restaurants that seem to only exist in the west end of London, presumably the clientele forget to leave keeping them going. Enviably as the east London regeneration sweeps ever gradually out to the M25 cordon (it's for our own safety after all), businesses from the west try their hand over in the impoverished east, Yi-ban is one of these intrepid explorers who have set themselves up not far from Excel (newest, biggest, boldest exhibition space next to a disused dock in the world, that sort of thing etc..) and across the water from London City Airport. No doubt hoping to catch that lucrative 'multi-millionare just stepped off the private jet and fancies a Chinese meal' market share.
Where as Yi-ban may serve some of the best tasting Chinese food in London (Tash's words, I am not that fussed on it), the social-geographical location of 'Fort Yi-ban' means that going there is similar to Pizza Hut on a Saturday afternoon. The only residential area around is Silvertown and it is rough and fully Chav'd up.
Last time we ventured out there was in the summer, chancing our arm we turned up on a Friday night and got plonked next to the band - which was odd as I am not used to eating accompanied by live music, particularly a two man band who are louder than The Who - no conversation that night, just sign language. Learning from this and hoping for some break in the war of attrition that is becoming our relationship, I specifically asked for a table away from the band, they repeated this to me when we arrived, in case I had changed my mind presumably and had decided that eating in a Disco was the way forward.
There was unfortunately another band on - fortunately we weren't near it - unfortunately they were as loud as the last time we were there so 'having a table away from the band' made little difference. Still the table of 18 year old Yakuza sat behind us were pleasant enough as were the (hopefully not related) table of 15 waiths and strays opposite us. Shit we were in the family area.
When the band eventually gave up, we understood why they were so loud, 100 children all simultaneously being bored is quite a loud racket, I actually fancied hearing another chorus of 'Red Red Wine'
Licensing laws in this country are such that you don't get live bands any more, that requires a proper entertainment license with fire marshals, escape routes, security guards, crappy merchandise and bad beer. But on a normal food and wine license you can put on a show using two musicians; two does not constitute proper music apparently and from what I have had to experience over the years I say I have to actually agree. This peculiarity has given rise to the phenomenon of 'The Duet', where one member plays a synthesiser producing all the backing tracks and the other desperate pop idol wannabe sings and/or plays a representative instrument. Representative because the synth player can do it all themselves, except have the personality to front a band which is where the bass/saxaphone/triangle/kazoo player comes in. They always have some horribly chirpy name like 'Tick and Tock's 80's Revue'; just imagine the poster for moment, she is impossibly blond and the wrong side of prehistoric and he should be investigated for kiddie fiddling, but oh can he belt out Michael Jackson's classic 'Billy Jean ain't my lover' with a bossonova beat. We are all doomed!
That was the most interesting part of my week, as you will no doubt assume the rest was some what work orientated, the girl on the other hand......
*As the manager of the local wine bar smiles and greets us, we know that work is an hour away and we can relax into another meeting of Club Uno (the actual origin of the name is best not discussed until I move jobs)
Well I am very pleased to report that I have completely recovered from last week's various ailments. We soon discovered that aside from the liver inflammation, I had also picked up a good old fashioned "tummy bug" - no more details required if you know what I mean. So, several Immodium tablets later, I finally got back to work on Thursday to catch up on what was happening in the world of ABN Amro. Everyone was in the throws of organising our DR weekend which I had conveniently gotten myself out of by having tickets to see the (not so) mighty Wallabies play the Taffs in Cardiff.
I'm sure you all know the result.... shame I was with 5 Welsh blokes for the evening!!! However, they do know how to build a good stadium and the Millenium Stadium is a fantastic venue. We had seats just over the half way line 2nd row from the back and the view was great. It didn't take long to spot "The Fanatics" where my fellow countrymen (and friends Marisa and Nathan) were, as you'll see from the photos. Having never been to an international sporting event before, it was quite something and I really enjoyed it, however, it was very very odd to be sitting amongst 70,000 other people and only for it to be silent each time we scored...! (and we scored 3 tries to their 2 - not that I'm bitter...)
So after the game it was off to the various gems that make up Cardiff's nightlife. First up was the "Slug and Lettuce" or "Slut and Legless" as a nice young Welsh girl standing in the queue in front of us called it!!! We found Marisa and Nathan commiserating there with several of the other fanatics, but they couldn't stay long as they had a bus waiting to take them all back to London (noice).
We then made the first of what would be many walks up and down "Takeaway Alley" but thankfully the boys opted for an Italian restaurant for dinner instead of the various kebab and deep fried options that the rest of Cardiff seemed to be queuing up for... Our Italian waiter was very excited to tell us that the Wallabies had been dining in his restaurant all week and that Johah Lomu was a nice guy... (great! - guess he wasn't into Rugby!)
We carried on in various bars till about 1.00am but the locals started looking scarier and scarier as the night wore on until we just couldn't take any more.... think Max Headroom in a skin tight white long sleeved lycra top.... (yes there really was someone there wearing that...!!!)
However the highlight was back in Takeaway Alley, 1.05am, as we waited for Ricky to get his 'end of night' pie and chips. I bumped into this girl who was striding past me with her boyfriend both scoffing chips. "Sorry" I said turning to see who I had bumped, "You will be" she growled back at me without even looking behind to see who I was. We soon headed in the same direction and saw they had stopped at the end of Takeaway Alley while they continued to eat their chips. Ricky decided to take a shot and managed to land a chip right in her back. We stood admiring the distance of his spectacular throw and then saw her hand her chip box over to the boyfriend as she quickly made her way to the nearest wall to be sick!!! Funnily enough, he then finished up his chips and just stood where he was watching her as he ate the rest of her chips....! Ahhhh, what a classy place!!!!