Blog No 142 – Stratford-upon-Avon (1st Zebra mTour)p

Shakespeare Home

This weekend I met up with a couple of carcinoid cancer patients and their husbands. I had originally met Kath & Heather through a Facebook support group. Kath & I have been speaking on the phone for sometime and Heather & I have met a couple times at the Royal Free Hospital, London. This was the beginning of zebra tours, our very first one, which we hope to continue and extend to other zebras.

We all agreed to meet up in a central location for everyone, I was the closest because of my difficulties, so thank you ladies, it was huge help. Stratford Upon Avon was our location of choice. Kath came from the North and Heather came from the South and we joined in the middle.

Heathers husband aka Melboy is a fantastic negotiator, therefore he booked our trip and obtained extras for us. A hotel for a night became dinner, breakfast, lunch & drinks for us all and spa treatments for the ladies. The hotel was The Swan, Stratford Upon Avon

We started off with lunch and drinks, which was lovely. The ladies then headed to the spa for foot & leg treatment, arm & hand treatment and head & shoulder. The treatment was a scrub and then massage, it was heaven. It was 20mins for each treatment. The guys went for a walk and a swift drink. We all then went and watched FA Cup football(Soccer) in a pub as Mr Zebrakat and Kath husband Ade are big footie fans.

Just before 8pm we headed for dinner to the Bistro Pierre, where we enjoyed 3 courses, prosecco and coffee. Before heading to the hotel bar for a nightcap. We all had a lovely sleep without our furry animals.

The following morning we all went for breakfast, which wasn’t the best. However do you care when your in good company. We then started walking into the town to see the lovely sites. Amazing & beautiful town, which was holding a artisan market. We all indulged in its delights before saying goodbye to each other. We all had a wonderful time and looking to book another gathering very soon.

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Weekly Blog No 141 – Giving Back

Last month, I had a meeting with a gentleman who’s trying to drive awareness of cancer in the construction industry. His father had passed away from cancer and he wanted to give back by starting a new charity.

I had made contact with him to see if I could participate as my mother, as well as other family members and myself have all experienced cancer. I know first hand the devastation cancer has on a family and all that goes with it.

I’m hoping that this charity will be able to advise people affected by cancer, where to obtain the additional support, whether its financial, emotional or physical.

One of the biggest impacts of cancer is the financial burden, no-one is ready for the financial loss that you find yourself in. A loss of income is hard, unless you have a critical insurance policy. Not everyone considers such a policy because of the additional monthly costs, whether you’re employed or self employed, it is something that people should consider.

There are organisations that offer additional support and provide you with the tools to access further guidance or assistance, which you maybe wouldn’t be aware of. For instance, if you are a cancer patient, you’re entitled to free prescriptions. These are little nuggets of information that you may not be aware of, however it’s one less stressful item to worry about. Free prescriptions actually save me a minimum of £1700 a year, which doesn’t include my cancer treatment costs.

Hopefully this charity will endeavour to reach out to both trade people and professionals affected by cancer, provide some onsite medical screening within work time that can be followed up by a GP or Consultant. Promote cancer awareness, especially skin cancer. There is so much this charity could do, therefore I hope that I, can make a difference to someone’s life.

Weekly Blog No 140 -Update

I shouldn’t be calling my blog a weekly blog nowadays, as clearly its been some time since my last blog. I do love writing them but I don’t want my blogs to be just about medical stuff. It’s hard not too, when your life is medicalLy focused. This blog is going to be medical but the next one will be non medical. Keep your eyes peeled.

Let’s get the medical update out the way. Since the beginning of the year till the end of March, I’ve had approximately 35 medical appointments and approximately 10 of them have been scans.

I’ve been having ongoing issues that require continual Specialist input. I’m under 3 hospitals but I’ve been scanned at 6 medical facilities in 3 different county’s of the U.K. one of them being in London. My appointments are tiresome and travelling can be very demanding. I’m currently under the following Specialists Oncologist(Net Specialist), Neurologist, Spine Specialist, Endocrinologist, Cardiologist and Neuropsychologist. Is there any gist that I’ve left out? maybe not. Subsequently you can see that my life is a balancing act of symptoms and appointments.

There was some concern recently that carcinoid syndrome had affected my heart. Therefore, I’ve been undergoing various tests and I’m glad to report my heart is good. Yeah high five to a healthy organ. On the other hand, my high blood pressure is currently out of control. Even my existing medication wasn’t resolving the issue. Therefore the Cardiologist has introduced a third medication to reduce the numbers. I’ve yet to see if the numbers have been reduced. My suspicions is my blood pressure won’t reduce with the assistance of additional medication. I believe it’s tumour activity as from my previous experience it spikes my blood pressure. I willing to accept that I was wrong if it does work and reduce the numbers considerably.

Furthermore I need to buy a T-shirt with the following words ” I don’t suffer from white coat syndrome’. When you attend a hospital appointment, the nurse takes your blood pressure and quote on the T-shirt may save me from repeating myself explaining what the underlying cause is. I hate assumptions, as too many people make them everyday.

The Spine Specialist is still under the impression that I have cancer on the spine, however he’s going to monitor the progress. I have a lot of spine pain and sciatica down both legs. Next week I’m having nerve block injections again. Should the injections not work, I will be going under the knife again. If I do end up having another spine op, he will be doing a biopsy on the spine.

Endocrinologist, I have to say this Doctor was not only very approachable but very funny too. I was very impressed with his knowledge of my medical history. His waiting list for appointments is 10 months but he’s going to see me again in 3 months for results. My thyroid is not corrected itself with medication. He’s upped my medication to 300mg, which is very high. It doesn’t appear that I’m absorbing my medication. Light bulb moment, didn’t I say that nearly 2 years ago to my medical team. Ummmmm. The Endocrinologist is proposing a T3 treatment but I will have to explore this option more.

The Neurologist is happy that the migraines are better controlled by an increase of medication. I really didn’t fancy an injection in the head.

The Net Specialist had ordered additional bloods and scans, which I’ve done and he will update me going forward with treatment at the end of the month.

Neurophysiologist will be doing nerve testing at the end of the month due to issues that have become apparent in the last couple of months. There’s no obvious reason for damage to my thoracic nerve either. Let’s hope the Neurophysiologist can shed some light.

There’s never a dull moment in my life, yet I continue life like there’s nothing wrong. I’m not going to deny it’s not easy some days but I’m not going to dwell on them either. There’s a saying “strength does not come from winning”.

Weekly Blog No 139 – My Birthday

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

I’m falling behind again in my blogs due to symptoms. However I’ve made another birthday, how amazing is that. I have currently reached 5 birthdays since diagnosis, what an achievement.

Last year my birthday was post op, Mr Zebrakat decided to make my birthday this year a little bit more special. He had organised a weekend in London. Although it’s quiet difficult for me, I was up for the challenge. Who doesn’t like a change of environment and to feel normal again.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel in South Kensington adjacent to the museums. The hotel treated us like VIP guests. They also left me a bottle of claret, a gift box of spa products and a nicely handwritten card from the Hotel Manager. The hotel decor was stunning, the cleanliness was immaculate and the customer service was impeccable.

We went to V & A Museum, there is no way you could view all the exhibits in a day. The venue has 145 galleries, therefore an incredible amount of exhibits. From architecture, furniture to sculpture. Well worth a visit and a walk through history.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

On my birthday we went to see a West End show called “Thriller”. A spectacular show of Michael Jackson hits. The resemblance of MJ was unbelievable. The hits just kept coming and coming. The dancing phenomenal throughout the show.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

We also visited the Imperial War Museum, Lambert, an insight of war history. The museum exhibits WWI, WW2, The Cold War and the Holocaust and much more. I’m not sure if the Holocaust exhibit is a permanent exhibition but its anniversary is on my birthday, which I will never forget.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

One lesson that I had learned from Canada was we don’t explore our own country enough. In my past life, any opportunity for a break away from work. I would jump on a aeroplane and leave the country for sunshine & culture. Clearly forgetting that there is so much to see in the U.K. Canadians are fantastic at exploring their own country. I’m starting to realise now the U.K. has a lot to offer but it’s not always cheap. You need to shop around and grab online deals when you see them. It’s unbelievable that a city break in Europe is sometimes cheaper than a weekend in the U.K.

On our final day, we went to Harrods for breakfast. What a wonderful experience that was, the service was errorless. The food was of the highest quality, served on china. The tea set was silverware. The ambience of the room was art deco with background music of the rat pack. A divine experience on how the other half live.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my family & friends for cards, gifts, balloons and flowers.

To my awesome husband, for making memories, treating me like a queen and always putting me first in life. You are one of kind and I won’t let you forget that.

Love to you all.

Weekly Blog No 137 – 8 Paws

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I’m the proud owner of 8 paws. Lottie is my cute 8 year old morkie dog from Canada and Hamish an 11 month old ginger tom cat aka Frank the tank from the U.K.

Overall Lottie and Hamish get on really well. They greet each other in the morning with a kiss. They will run out and in from the garden together. They are very content to sleep next to each other on the sofa. They know their own pet dishes.

Individually they have their own personalities. Lottie will look at me from the kitchen if she wants to go to the toilet. If I’m upstairs she will come up and give me the look that she wants to go out for a toilet break. Hamish will meow to tell me when he wants to go for a toilet break even though he has a litter tray. Hamish will then stand on his two rear paws against the back door. Both pets understand the word treat and will run to the treat cupboard door on command. Hamish will chase a paper ball and bring it back to you to throw again. Insomuch as Lottie won’t chase a ball at all. Hamish likes toys, whereas Lottie doesn’t. Lottie loves snuggles from strangers but Hamish will run away, however he will take snuggles from Mr Zebrakat & I.

Lottie is very much a chilled out dog and is very happy to watch Hamish’s antics. However there are occasions when Lottie doesn’t realise that Hamish is still a kitten. Hamish will pounce on Lottie or try to box her ears with his paws. That’s why Hamish got his nickname, Frank the Tank. Lottie can be innocently behind a door and Hamish will try and paw box Lottie through the opening.

They are both a joy to have and we would be lost without them. X

Weekly Blog No 136 – Annual Reading List

My goal for 2018 was to read more than 24 books. My reading this year has been hit and miss. I know I did a count in September and it was 21 books and I thought this was going to be an easy target to achieve with an average of 2 books a month. I was very much mistaken because it remained at 21 books, therefore I didn’t reach my target.

Here is my reading list: –

  1. Flesh and Blood – Stephen McGann
  2. A Little Leaving – Anne Bennett
  3. The Liverpool Rose – Katie Flynn
  4. Me Life Story – Scarlett Moffat
  5. The River Maid – Dilly Court
  6. Fear of the Collar – Patrick Touher
  7. Mothering Sunday – Rosie Goodwin
  8. A Daughter Courage – Kitty Neale
  9. The Soldiers Daughter – Rosie Goodwin
  10. An Orphans Secret – Maggie Hope
  11. Mill Girls – Tracey Johnson
  12. Dancing in the Dark – Maureen Lee
  13. Pie N Mash & Prefabs – Norman Jacobs
  14. The Report – Jessica Francis Kane
  15. A view Across the Mersey – Anne Baker
  16. The Summer Maiden – Dilly Court
  17. A Promise Between Friends – Carol Rivers
  18. Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken – The Secret Barrister
  19. No Silver Spoon – Katie Flynn
  20. A Christmas Candle – Katie Flynn
  21. First Man in Leading the Front – Ant Middleton

A few new authors this year and the Stories of the Law and How it’s Broken by The Secret Barrister was a very educational book into the legal system in the U.K.

A book that very educational was Flesh and Blood by Stephen McGann. A very informative book on family and medical history through the decades/centuries in Ireland and U.K. I do love to hear about people’s family history and even better if I get educated on the way. Worth a read.

As for the First Man in the Leading the Front by Ant Middleton. I think this man is misjudged by his size and chosen career. I wouldn’t make assumptions and read this book.

The most horrific book I read this year was Fear of the Collar by Patrick Touher. The cruelty to innocent children was unbelievable and was well worth the read. The eye opener.

In 2019, I will aim to read 24 books again. I will have too as my house is full of books and I need to de clutter. Let’s see how this year goes. Happy Reading.


Does anyone have any book recommendations?

 

Weekly Blog No 135 – Overview of 2018

 
Overview of 2018

Wow what a year, it’s been. I started the new year recovering from post op with an open scar. I had high hopes that I brought myself more time but that wasn’t to be the case. The cancer was very determined to grow and cause me ongoing symptoms. I took the stance then, that I was going to attempt to do things before I couldn’t do them anymore. Here’s an overview of 2018.  

January – Birthday Celebrations

In January I turned 49 and 4 quarters, it was an amazing birthday. I was lucky to be showered with flowers, gifts and cards and so overwhelmed by people’s kindness. The love shown to me was outstanding and still to this day, it blows my mind.

February – Scan-a-thon

February was the month that my scans started again and have remained  continuous throughout the year. It was also the month that my new bathroom was taking shape to the point I was able to use the facilities. I was no longer feeling I was showering in a telephone box unable to stretch out my arms. 

 
March – Sailing the Seas
 
March was my delayed birthday trip from Mr Zebrakat. A week on a Mediterranean cruise. It was lovely to have a week away  to relax. It was pretty much house arrest on the ship due to symptoms and of course I forgot some of my medication.  Never in my life, will I ever forgot to take all my medication again. Lesson learned for life. 
 
 
April – Welcome Hamish
 
As many of you know, we got another 4 paws to join the family. Hamish is a ginger tom cat aka Frank the Tank. He’s is still only just over 10 months old and he’s huge. He’s a great addition to the family. 
 
 
May  – Royal Wedding/Oxford
 
May was an exciting time in the U.K, as everyone was so hyped up for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan, the Duke & Duchess of Sussex. I remember the day very well as I had to travel to London for another scan. The roads were so clear as everyone seemed to be glued to the television watching the build up to the wedding. Meghan looked stunning and they looked so in love.  
 
We visited Oxford during the Royal Wedding. Oxford nicknamed it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. A city known for a prestigious university made up of 38 colleges. Honey coloured buildings of stunning architecture. A beautiful city and well worth another visit sometime. 
 
 
June – London is Calling
 
We went to London as Mr Zebrakat was attending an award ceremony to receive is fellowship membership. The ceremony was in a beautiful building and the event was exquisite. I’m so proud of Mr Zebrakat in everything he does and achieves. 
We took a quick ride on the DLR to Greenwich. Another hidden gem of prettiness and such a glorious day too. 
 
July – Renovations
 
The renovations have continued and the house is starting to take shape. The loft space, study area and store on the 2nd floor is ready for painting. The 1st floor, bathroom is complete minus a touch up of paint.  The master bedroom and walk in wardrobe is complete but we have to find our extra clothes, shoes and bags from storage. The linen cupboard shelving is nearly complete.  
 
 
Aug – Off to Weegie Land/Glasgow
 
We flew to Glasgow for a couple of days it was important for me to go with Mr Zebrakat to see places that where emphasis in his family tree. It was good for him to show me were he lived, went to school etc. We have previously been to Glasgow but it usually involves visiting people not this time. This trip was about him and for me to take things at my pace due to my difficulties. We had such a lovely time as it was 10 yrs since our last visit. 
 
 
 
Sept – Ibiza Sunshine
 
I don’t have a bucket list and I don’t want one either. I don’t feel the need to put pressure on myself to do things before I go. All I do know, is even though its hard for me to do things now, I need to push myself now before I can’t do it at all. 
 
I’ve had a lot of appointments etc and we decided to get some rest in the sun. Who doesn’t need some sunshine in paradise. I’ve never been to Ibiza and it was only a couple of hours flight so perfect for a mini vacation. 
 
I didn’t forget my medication this time and enjoy my days sitting at the poolside absorbing some vitamin d. I was all ready to begin scans the following week.  
 
October – Additional Storage 
 
I wanted to design some more storage and a bookcase in the area under the stairs. Who doesn’t have enough of storage for specific items. I have a lot of books and thought this area would be good for my paperbacks. I want to keep specific books by favourite authors but I’m also good at giving books to friends & family. I need to paint the bookcase etc but we haven’t chosen a colour scheme for the hall as yet. 
 
 
November – Petting Farm 
 
My niece had a sleepover so we took her to a local petting farm. I don’t know who was more excited me or her lol. I did love stroking and feeding the animals. Seeing my niece getting excited and Mr Zebrakat teaching her how to stroke animals. These are precious moments and it’s times like this, you do wonder how many more precious moments I will  have. 
 
 
December – Cardiff Christmas Market 
 
Mr Zebrakat and I took a trip to Cardiff before my spine appointment. There was a Christmas market on and we met up with friends who live in Wales. What a beautiful place Cardiff is, and the people are very friendly. We did an open bus tour, which is an excellent way to see key points of interest in the city. I would definitely return to this lovely place and beyond.