2013. What a year! What a life!

As 2013 draws its last breaths for 6 weeks I am reflecting on what can only be described as the best, the worst, the best and definitely the WORST year of my 57. I didn't think so many incidents could happen in just one year and to one family!

The year had started well and the arrival of our new puppy, Honey, was very exciting. I was not at all keen to get a dog but once she was here I could see what fun and pleasure she was going to bring with her.

Things seemed to settle well although you could see that a dog was hard work and would take a fair amount of looking after. One day Caroline decided to meet Kate at the school gates with Honey and Kate was obviously excited. On the way home Kate unfortunately let go of the lead and Honey ran away onto a busy road. Caroline chased after her and caught her before it was killed on the road. Unfortunately in the course of this heroic act Caroline tripped and managed to rupture the extensor tendon in her little finger ( pinky). After a course of bad treatment from hand doctors at the Western Infirmary Glasgow she saw a consultant physiotherapist and a different hand specialist at the Royal Infirmary where they managed to re-set the finger in a proper splint and enabled the finger to return back to what it was before. Caroline returned to work in August this year. That was a full 7 months after the fall!

In all of this time Caroline had been having trouble with her stomach and an ever increasing mass in her abdomen. After an MRI scan on 13th August a massive fibroid was confirmed. Thankfully nothing sinister was seen and so the next step would be a full hysterectomy.  Unfortunately on 1st September She was admitted to the Southern General with severe abdomen pains from the fibroid and was kept there for a couple of days while the pain settled. A date was set for the 2nd of October at the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow for a full hysterectomy.

I wrote in my diary on the 2nd of October:

"At last Caroline has had her hysterectomy. It was done this afternoon and when I phoned just before 4.00 she was in the recovery room. I am just hoping that everything went well and she will soon be on the road to recovery. I will find out more tonight." Later that night:

"I'm sitting in the waiting room to see Caroline because the doctor has been in and now they are changing her due to blood spillage!. The operation was difficult and the fibroid very large. It was akin to being 5 months pregnant! There was a lot of rummaging around so the pain will be intense! She has lost a lot of blood and is very weak. Ovaries and tubes removed. Bladder peeled away quite easily although stuck. They don't have a worry regarding the bladder. She may have to go back to surgery as she is still bleeding but they don't know why. They have applied a pressure dressing to see if that is enough. If not then it will be back to theatre to open up again. 
She is having a morphine pump for pain and I have mentioned the bad reaction to Tramadol. Hopefully things will go smoothly from hereon in"

 When I wrote that in my diary I knew the operation had been tough on Caroline but I had no idea what was to follow! Within 24 hours Caroline was taken to Theatre for a second operation. Here's what I wrote in my diary that Thursday:

"The saga continues with Caroline. She did not have a good night and required a couple of units of blood due to her bleeding profusely. I spoke to the consultant, Miss Hardie, and she told me they would have to operate to stop the bleeding, believing it was coming from near the drain site.
She phoned me later after the operation to say they had found clotted blood which was why it was not draining properly and the bleeding was continuing .They also fitted a bigger drain to help. I'm seeing her tonight so we will see if she is any better."

From that day Caroline really suffered! The second operation really took it's toll and she was constantly wiped out. I think because of the difficulties involved in her situation they thankfully moved her to her own room where she could get both attention and the peace she needed. 

By this time we had made the decision that it would not be possible for me to look after Honey as well as run the house. It would really have been too much. She was already out to board with the dog walker but I knew this whole thing was going to take a bit longer. On Thursday 10th October at 11.00am I received a phone-call from the hospital to ask if I would come to the hospital in order for Dr Hardie to speak to both myself and Caroline about her test results. I got to the hospital in about 30 mins and went straight to Caroline who visibly upset. I sat down and with tears streaming down her cheeks she pronounced the horror word "cancer"!

My reaction was one of shock and incredulity. I really was not expecting this. The 
Cancer is called Uterine Sarcoma. It has been found in the fibroid they removed. I have been knocked side-ways and didn't expect it. I am now letting my head runaway with everything. One moment I'm hopeful and optimistic. The next I am pessimistic and imagining life without Caroline. I can't think of the difficulty of bringing Kate up on my own. How would Kate cope? How would I cope.
Caroline thinks she will be in hospital for quite a while and that on it's own is a strain.

Caroline left hospital on 16th October and came back home. It was good to have her home but she was not well at all and I have been running around trying to make her as comfortable as possible. Both of us are very fearful of the future but we have to stay positive and hope the treatment Caroline receives will be enough to see off this terrible curse. A day at a time has never been so appropriate.

We are nearly a two months down the line since Caroline got home and she has made a fantastic recovery from her hysterectomy. She is much fitter than she was but the biggest battle just now is fighting the tiredness which can overcome her in an instant. She went for her first Chemo on 27th of November in a week where we had to first of all attend the clinic on the Monday and then come back for the Chemo on the Wednesday. These appointments will be every 3 weeks and it has given our lives a whole new regime. The doctor at the Beatson was very informative and explained exactly why the Chemo was taking place. Basically to stop the cancer coming back! They believe they have taken all the cancer out but of course can't be 100% sure. The Chemo and all it's side-effects will be to keep it at bay and hopefully never to return. The hospital will be part of her  regime for the next 12 years. It will be hard but if Caroline can continue in the way she has and continue to make the progress she has then it will be worth it. Kate now fully understands what is going on and like many children, is very accepting. She knows Caroline will have side-effects like loosing her hair. With the sense of humour that thankfully Kate has she has even joked about it! On one occasion when Caroline complimented Kate's hair she turned round and said " Well, yeah! Much nicer than your's will be in a few weeks!" We all laughed and were relieved that humour was still in our lives and we could laugh and be happy. This is not a death sentence but merely another hurdle to get over in our lives. It's a big hurdle but it can be overcome and we can look forward to many happy days weeks and years. We've booked our Italian holiday for the end of June and perhaps in the near future we will see the return of our dog Honey. We will continue to support each other through good humour and positivity. For that alone we are eternally grateful


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