August 25, 2013

New York, New York ..... they made it!!

Across sixteen countries and through three continents they've completed the land journey in New York.
They began their journey back in March from Southampton. They've travelled through Belgium, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan. Mongolia and back into Russia to Vladivostok. Leaving Vladivostock the Jimnys undertook the first of their major sea voyages across the North Pacific Ocean, arriving in Vancouver. They travelled up to Anchorage Alaska then down through Canada and the centre of North America arriving in New York last night our time.  

The little Suzuki Jimnys and their crews will have covered in the region of 17,000 road miles. What an amazing feat for the old guys!! 

Just before they arrived in New York Les thought they should have another go at camping.  This time they were talking to one another, so the tent went up without any paddies from anyone.  

Although Les had his man Friday (Glyn) stand out in the sun with the brolly to keep the sun of him. Glyn sweats a lot when he stands in the sun so Les told him to stand back a bit so he didn't drip on him! Funny thing about that Glyn, Les says, he seems to be 6 inches shorter now than when he arrived at Vancouver!!!!!!

Now they get the Jimnys ready for their second major sea voyage back to Southampton. 

July 19, 2013

The good news is the veggies are growing like mad

The sun is shining and  the veg patches are growing like mad.  A real success story for my first year of being a veggie gardener. But when it comes to Mark I'm afraid there's still no good news.  In fact it's getting worse again.

We've identified a vertebrae around the area of the original injury that's moving. As the day goes on it slowly sticks out and is clearly visible. As it moves out it's what is causing him all the pain. When the metal work was in we all thought it was part of that and after he had the metal out it was gone, so that theory seemed to be upheld. And for a while after the op, that sever pain seemed to be reduced. However, as time has gone on the period of extreme pain that sends him back to bed has started again with a vengeance.

The other day we took photos of his back with the vertebrae not showing and when it is showing and it appears quite clearly on them.  We've sent them off to Mr Flint with an explanation, now we just wait for an answer.

This latest set back is taking quite an emotional toll on us both, over the last month or so, we've been confined to barracks more than ever.

In a brighter note, I've had my own hospital time and had the carpal tunnel op on my left hand. After the op they told me to use my hand as normally as possible as soon as possible but not to lift anything heavy and don't get it wet. I should be pain free immediately. Well that was a surprise for me I thought I'd have to be really careful with it for a while and I didn't realise the pain relief would be immediate. Well, he was right, that night, no pain for the first time in over 10 years!!  Fantastic. Anyway, Mike and I wanted to take the huge climbing plant off the my shed roof, ready to had a new roof.  So the next day we set about it and had it all off by in a few hours.  Took me nearly three days to clean up the mess though and by that time my bandage was black!! I went to the nurse at the Doctors surgery and asked for a new dressing because I was worried I've got dust in the wound and it was dirty.  She asked me what I'd had done and when.  When I told her she was a bit horrified at the state of the bandage but when it was opened it was fine, thankfully. I left with a bright shiny new bandage and a telling off and told to take it a bit easier until I got my stitches out. That I sort of did, and took my second dirty bandage back to the hospital last Friday and got another flea in my ear, but when the nurse opened it up it was healing well.  Stitches out and instructions to massage is daily to help the muscles heal, it's continued to heal quickly. I wish I'd had it done years ago. Am going to have the other hand done next year when Mike comes back again then I'll be good as new.

June 23, 2013

Where have we been for the last few weeks

The best way to describe where we've been is hiding. The weeks since Mark came home from hospital haven't been the easiest. Mark has had a day here and there where he's felt OK, he's even had a few days out.  He's been up for a short while while visitors are here but in the main he's spent a lot of time in bed in pain.

We had high hopes for the operation, we had a lot pinned on it curing the worst of his pain, the horrible pain that makes him reach for the oramorph and take to his bed for a few days at a time. We've waited patiently to see how the op had changed all that, but the reality is it doesn't look like it has. I haven't felt like writing about anything negative, living with it is hard enough. I really wanted to tell everyone that we've had a leap forward and Mark was suffering a lot less pain, but I can't. When Mark is not in the grip of that pain it is obvious that his body is still settling down from the op. That will take some time still and now and then he does feel different, so there's still hope, but we both think it's slim at this stage.

On top of that, he's on his second lot of antibiotics for a chest infection, they take a lot longer to clear when you're stuck in bed and he's on a course of antibiotics for a urine or kidney infection, they're not sure which it is. As soon as Mark starts on antibiotics it makes his bowels go crazy, so there's a lot of changing of clothes and washing going on - I'm sure I don't have to explain that any further, your imagination will do the rest!!

I have to finish with something good ..... my veggies are growing like mad and I'm starting to eat my early harvest, every minute of my spare time is spent in the garden and the work helps keep my slim grip on sanity. 

May 25, 2013

It hasn't been a great week

We've had a bit of a set back this week.  Tuesday and Wednesday Mark was in severe pain again but he didn't think it was operation pain but more the same pain he's always had. As you can imagine, that scared him, thinking the operation hadn't done anything after all for the pain he's been suffering.

He rang the consultant's secretary and she said he had to ring his Doctor, the Doctor had to have a quick look at him then ring them back.  On the basis of what the Doctor said, the consultants side kick (an Egyptian whose name I can't even pronounce let alone spell) suggested Mark should come back down to Mr Flints clinic. They arranged the appointment there and then for the next day - Thursday. So we get up early, I get Mark ready and when the carers arrived they helped me get him in the car, I would get some help to get him out when we got to Birmingham.  Off we set.

Half way down we get a call from Mr Flints secretary saying she'd just spoken to Mr Flint as he'd been in surgery all morning and doesn't want you to come down, it's too far to come when he had no intention of admitting him and all they would do is a CT scan and take a blood test to ensure he didn't have an infection. They won't do anything for the next few weeks, he has to just wait it out and see if it settles down. So we turn around and come home again and arrange for a blood test at our doctors. That was done on Friday, we await the results. We were both p****d off, tired, worried and not a little dejected.

His pain has eased a little, the feeling in his hands has changed, not better, not worse, just different. He's having different feelings in his neck and has the weird feeling that he could just stand up.  When he pushes as if to get off his chair and stand up he's got tingling down through his hips and at the tops of his legs.  He's never going to stand and walk again but these are very different feelings than he's had before.  He's obviously going to go through a lot of settling down after that op.

The sun was actually shining today and he came out into the garden with me for a while. The sun felt good, but made him depressed knowing he wasn't ever going to go back to a life with more sun. It's difficult some days.

May 17, 2013

Home sweet home

We're home. After a nightmare four and a half hour Friday afternoon journey. We were both knackered.  But we're home and that's what matters.

We did have a bit of a hiccup last night and thought we might not get out of the place. We were downstairs in the hospital having a Costa coffee and all of a sudden Mark couldn't breath properly and his chest hurt. We hot footed back up to the ward, put him on the bed. I suggested calling a nurse but he didn't want to straight away.  Five minutes later when he hadn't improved he thought it was a good idea. The Sister put him on oxygen, checked his blood pressure, which wasn't too bad and put a call in for the Doctor.

It took an hour and half before the Doc came.  Long explanation from Mark and the Doc ordered an ECG for that evening - it was after 10pm by this time and Mark's breathing had calmed down a bit. So we settled down to watch a movie thinking it could be more than an hour before they came and did the ECG. And it was!!

Anyway the long and short of it, it was OK and they couldn't think what could have caused it so they've basically just put it aside.

It took hours to get discharged, what a protracted system and the worst bit, a Doctor, not just any Doctor but has to be senior Doctor, has to sign the discharge and when the Nurse went to find him to sign it he'd gone into theatre - bugger - he could be there for hours......... and he was!!

I hope the next update will have some positive news on how Marks pain is really settling down, it definitely isn't the same as it was, it's different but not good yet, so sadly I can't report that it's all good yet.

May 15, 2013

Definitely moving forward now

The lumbar drain came out today and the stitches come out tomorrow and they've told him he will probably come home Friday ..... thank goodness.

His only worry at this point is he's lost a lot of strength so he's keeping fingers crossed and saying a prayer that there hasn't been any further nerve damage from the op because loss of strength is the first sign.  He's only just noticing it as he's been able to get up. Hopefully it is just a by product of such a big op and will cause no lasting problems.

May 14, 2013

Definite improvement

Mark had a good day yesterday, they got him dressed and he got up into his chair in the morning for a couple of hours, he can't actually go anywhere because he's still got the stand holding the drain bag for the lumbar drain (I'm not there so I couldn't push it around for him) but he was pleased with his efforts.

He got up again at tea time and ate his tea while in his chair.  He was up for another hour and a half. He was absolutely goosed by the time he got back into bed but satisfied that he had been up.  More importantly, the pain that he's been plagued with over the last 18 months wasn't there.  He was in pain but more operation pain than anything else.

When I rang him at 9pm he was in a deep sleep from all his exertions and thought it was the next morning and nearly had a panic that he'd not remembered anything about the night before.  It took a while for him to come round and understand his time frame.

He's getting up again today and they're talking about taking the lumbar drain out in the next couple of days, after that they have to wait and see that it doesn't keep draining through the hole and if not he'll be able to come home. So fingers crossed nothing else happens over the next couple of days to set him back and he might be home at the end of the week.