Weekly Blog No 50 – Oxford Canal 

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On Monday my husband took me to the hospital for my cancer treatment and blood tests. as we were there sometime discussing my current issues with my Net Nurse we had to rush home as there is about a 30 minutes commute to pick up Lottie (Dog) for her grooming appointment. As you can imagine after taking 2 pokes I was not feeling 100%, however I went with him for the fresh air as I seemed to be lacking the quality of outside air at this moment in time. Walking is an obstacle with my spine and GI issues…….all the fun of being a cancer patient.

Lottie attends a grooming shop in a semi rural area called Hillmorton Locks along side the Oxford Canal. This is one of those times when I kick myself for not exploring the area more in the past. It’s roughly a 5 minute drive from where I live now in Rugby and is only a 5 minute walk from where I previously lived. We get so wrapped up in our lives that we seem to dismiss what is right in front of us. Now that I want to explore, I cant due to my GI symptoms. Hopefully Oncology can get on top of everything so that I can reconnoitre.

The Oxford Canal was completed in 1790 and is 78 miles long in Central England. The canal goes through the counties of Oxfordshire, Northampton and Warwickshire, which connects to the River Thames and the Grand Union Canal. The canal was very important for trade between the Midlands and London, however the canal is more about pleasure today

oxford_canal_totalOxford Canal Map

Hillmorton Locks saw improvements in August in 1740 to ease the flow on the canal. By improving the locks there was an increase in traffic and a recorded 20,859 vessels passed through the Hillmorton Locks by 1842.

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Hillmorton Locks

Alongside the canal edge is the Canalchef Bistro offering a variety of drinks and food. Inside the Bistro is full of canal memorabilia and history.

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Full English Breakfast

The buildings next to the canal are early nineteenth century structures of red brick and slate roofs with architectural details.

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Blacksmith Cottage

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The bridge that links the canal side buildings and Hillmorton Locks.

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If you go under the bridge it leads to the boat yard

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Boat Yard

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A canal boat heading south.

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A canal boat moored at Hillmorton Locks.

images (1)Painted Canal Ware

An excellent example of British engineering and should be explored not only for a means of travel around the UK but for a possible holiday experience.

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Weekly Blog No 49 – Your Normal Is Not Our Normal

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Your normal is not our normal

I was going to rest a further week before commencing my blog again but this subject triggering me to write a blog to drive awareness. Your normal is not our normal and effects a lot of people with cancer or a serious illness. Let me explain my experience.

A few years ago I was working full time, travelling around the world, being tortured by an ex-army fitness instructor 2-3 times a week, running a business and taking life for granted. I was running around like a busy little bee and no task was a challenge. I enjoyed clubbing with friends and could work my way through every shop in a shopping mall. I could eat and drink most things, whenever I wanted without fear. Wow what a perfect life to have, and a normal life to a healthy person.

I actually look normal! well not sick, however I have gained poundage through my illness and I tend to have black rings under my eyes at times but overall I look like me to everyone else. I do manage to present myself to people like there is nothing wrong with me and people can easily mistake my persona as a healthy woman.

I feel like crap every day and with all the drugs in the world, I don’t see any improvement just a disease that is being managed. I miss my life but never complain as I am truly grateful to be here, yet my life is not normal. With the best will in the world, I do try to attempt a normal life. I could honestly cry now trying to explain the difficulties that I can experience on a daily basis. My symptoms are not daily issues but an hourly issue and no hour is the same. I can wake up with symptoms and can go to sleep with symptoms. I am no longer driving because the motion of a car makes me feel worse and it’s like a wakeup call to my bowels. I would imagine the pedal action of a car would intensify my GI symptoms. Walking is another problem, the motion makes my symptoms worse and when you struggle to walk due to spine issues it’s not ideal situation. I am painting such a lovely picture here but these are only some of the issues that carcinoid cancer patients experience.

My life is in fear of symptoms and all that goes with it. Just a simple thing like a friend coming over is a huge obstacle to me. I never know how I am going to feel or whether the bathroom is going to call me. Your family/friends tend to understand but it’s embarrassing for me because I don’t want to be constantly running to the bathroom when I have guests, therefore I arrange visits when my husband is home. He can entertain if I have to slip away, although one of my best friends had to see herself out the other day as my husband was at work, (Thanks M).

My life involves around medical appointments and even a simple thing like that I am fearful of how I am going to get there and if I am going to make it. People don’t realise the challenges we have and what appears normal actions to you is not normal to us. One example is going to a coffee shop for some coffee & cake, yes it is straightforward but not for me. I am already thinking how am I going to get the coffee shop without creating symptoms, is there going to be a bathroom, am I going to get in the bathroom or will there be a queue, will it require one or two visits to the bathroom, what should I eat or drink because it’s likely to trigger more symptoms, am I going to be able to chat because of symptoms, am I going to get home symptom free. You’re possibly thinking are her symptoms due to anxiety and the answer is no it is carcinoid cancer/syndrome.

Nipping here and nipping there is easy for everyone else but for carcinoid cancer patients it’s not. I don’t think people fully understand the disease and the health challenges that go with it. Since we look healthy and don’t demonstrate a body of skin and bones, the perception is there is no barriers and that is not the case. We are like boy scouts preparing for every trip or visit, where’s the fun in that. We didn’t choose this life, it chose us and everything that goes with it. Just remember because you physically look ok doesn’t mean that there are no barriers in living a normal life. Remember your normal is not our normal.

 

 

 

Weekly Blog No 47 – The Struggles of Daily Life

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Life is becoming normal in the UK and it’s hard to believe we ever lived in Canada. We had an email from a Canadian friend last night and she said it was the long weekend this coming weekend.  I can’t believe how easy it is to forget the long weekends as they are not applicable in the UK. Nevertheless the UK does give its employees more annual leave.

I did miss writing my blog last week because I didn’t have the energy. I don’t seem to have the oomph to even read my fellow blogger’s entries, so please don’t be offended as I will catch up at some point. I am usually quiet active on social media and that’s gone to pot too. I have also resorted to granny naps in the afternoon and my little Lottie seems to enjoy them too. She is my little snuggle fluff ball.

Carcinoid cancer is so unpredictable and even though some similarities between patients, we all have a different journey. We learn from each other’s experiences, gain knowledge and sympathize with each other. It is a community of both love and support. We all empathise when someone goes through a troublesome time and provide support when needed.

I am a fact person and in order for me to understand something, I need all the information. This is how I handle my disease, if I have an explanation whether it is good or bad, I’m ok. Where does that come from I wonder, I don’t know if it is a skill that I have established through my working life or just a learnt behaviour. In Canada, I had a GP who understood that about me, he would always give me the information. Thank you Dr K. As for the UK, I am still learning all the time and I am not in a comfortable place about my illness as yet. However it is early days and I am still in the transition period of care. I’m not sure when that transition period is going to end at the minute. Patience Kat  😊

My symptoms are causing me so many problems, preventing me from doing things and incurring me being stab with very sharp implements. Just this week, I had 3 needles by the District Nurse, a cancer butt dart and bloods taken by the Specialist Nurse and to add to the mixture, I have to stab myself with rescue shots to aid my symptoms. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to be upbeat when you are struggling and then I get a reality check on life. I have to remind myself that I am still here and surrounded by love ones. I would imagine everyone is different and it is ok to have good and bad days. It is also acceptable to scream, laugh and cry, when you need too. The one thing that does make me happy instantly, is J my husband. He can make a blue day sparkle every time, with his personality. His Scottish humour is the best medicine ever and if I could bottle it to share, I would to make everyone’s day sparkle too.

Hopefully yesterday, I was the reason for discussion in the MDT meeting led by my Oncologist. I have many issues that have occur both in Canada and the UK that need to be addressed. I am waiting to hear the feedback and to see if I was even discussed in this particular meeting. My symptoms do seem to be progressing so my question is,  is my cancer advancing or can it be managed. My medication undoubtedly gives me the impression of advancement as it takes over my bedside table and refrigerator due to its excessive amounts. I guess only time will tell.

I hope everyone has a good week J

 

 

Weekly Blog No 46 – UK Pillowbox/Post Box

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The UK & former/current commonwealth countries landscapes are sprinkled with these cast metal iconic pieces. The bright red pillow box also know as a post box have been around since 1852. This week in the UK, Royal Mail and Historic England (Government Agency) agreed a new policy. Royal Mail will manage, repair and conserve its network of post boxes in their existing locations. Even though this news means nothing to some people, yet for me I feel it’s another attempt to keep UK history alive.

Pillow boxes were introduced into the Channel Island first, closely followed in the UK in 1853. The pillowbox could be seen in green, blue and red. In 1874, the new colour of pillow box red was introduced and became the standard iconic colour that it is today. In 1938, blue airmail boxes were repainted to red and in 2012, Olympic gold medal winners had a pillow box painted gold in their home town.

Blog Andy MurraryAndy Murray – Tennis Player

From 1879, the boxes became standardrized, red, black plinth and with a letter box becoming one of the most recognised symbols today.

I know technology has taken over the way we communicate to each other, however I’m old fashioned at heart, I still like to recieve and send cards/letters for the more personal touch. Whilst I was writing this I was wondering if I will still be alive to see the pen becoming extinct? I wonder.

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A huge thank you to all Royal Mail employees, I am truly grateful for the service that you provide, it still blows my mind that a card/letter can be mailed and recieved in most destinations the following day. The work that goes into my 63p($1.20) stamp charge for a standard letter and delivered through a letter box is a small price to pay. As a cancer patient, to not have to walk through bad weather to a mail box for collection of a mail(like my Canadian experience) or wait days for deliveries is incredible.

 Blog Letter Box

Weekly Blog No 45 – Family Tree Update 1

Family Tree

Over the last couple of years I have been in and out of researching my husband and my family trees. I would strongly recommend you concentrate on 1 family tree at a time for ease. I personally love a challenge, so I take on 4 family trees because of my inquisitive mind. I am flipping between them all and to be honest, I’m stark raving mad, however I do have the time.

My new hobby is proving to be costly, time-consuming and addictive. Furthermore it can be very frustrating if you don’t have patience trawling through realms of information. Whatsoever, If you don’t use your diligence along the way, you could inherit imaginary family members taking you down the wrong track. It still tickles me when I see family trees on a not to famous family research website, claiming to be my family members. I can imagine what they are thinking ” They have the same name as me, so let’s attached them to my family tree”. Cross referencing is the key to success.

My husband’s father side of the family tree seems to be the most successful so far. I have reach 7 generations back, I’m currently in the 1700’s. Its seems that his family originated from Ireland and moved to Scotland in the early 1800’s to work in the mines. In Ireland they were farmers/farm labourers went on to Scotland to be coal miners. I know some family members worked in the Glasgow ship yards but I am going up the line rather than being side tracked and going sidewards.

Miners

Photo Credit to Terry Harrison

I’m currently investigating the following leads to either eliminate them or own them. A family priest, a convict sent to Aussie on a convict ship and finally a family member connected with slavery. I hope not the latter and can’t see how its possible but still, you never know. This is were you see your researching is very important as you don’t want to be jumping to any conclusions.

Convicts

Some additional facts;

  • There is a trend of family forenames, J being the most popular initial.
  • His surname was misspelt approx 4 times over the years.
  • His Scottish grandfathers always married Irish woman.
  • His immediate family and previous generations always had a minimum of 7 children.

I will do another update in the future as there is some interesting family history.

Weekly Blog No 44 – A Letter to a Special Lady. 

Dear Aunt N

All your life you gave to caring for people, a career dedicated to providing for others. You were my aunt, a very special woman who consistently gave me your love and support. I shall pass on all your words of wisdom to others and the memories I have, are priceless, which will always be cherished.

I’m happy you’re no longer suffering and have closed your wearily eyes. I will look forward to meeting you again someday.

Your heartbroken niece

Kate (as you would call me) x

Cancer has taken another exceptional person, who will be always missed. ❤️