Thursday, 25 April 2013

On the Mend

Don’t pull,’ I tell the nurse who’s about to remove my stitches. 

‘I have to pull, or it’ll fester,’ says the nurse.

‘But, the consultant said – ’

Too late, because the nurse is now brandishing a pin-sized piece of purple, plastic thread and everything else feels, well, fine. It’s a little disconcerting to see the damage, but the wound itself has healed amazingly well in a week, and, as Tom reminds me later, what I’d forgotten was the consultant telling me to allow 8 -10 weeks for everything to settle. So, apart from waiting for the histology results, that should be the end of that little episode.

What I won’t forget though, is how very kind everyone has been. Thank you all so much for thinking of me and for your messages here and elsewhere – it’s meant a lot to me. But most of all, do, please, look after yourselves.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Bothersome Spot

Having devoted much of my recent worries to my sinuses, I wasn’t in the slightest bit concerned about yesterday’s appointment to see a consultant dermatologist about a tiny patch of red skin that’s been lurking on my upper arm…

When my name is called, I breeze in and am greeted by two smiling faces; a consultant, about my age, and a trainee doctor. I present my arm fully expecting to be told off for wasting valuable NHS time and sent packing with a tube of cream. 

‘Ah,’ says the consultant to his trainee, ‘what do you notice about this lesion?’

Lesion, I think, is not a word I like, but hey-ho, this is doctor-to-doctor talk, so I listen to an explanation of stretching the skin and distinctive pearly edges, still waiting to be sent home in the next breath.

‘So,’ the consultant tells me, ‘what you have is a basal cell carcinoma, and I’d like to do something about it straight away.’

In that split-second a small part of brain screams ‘F*CK!’ and another prompts me to tell the consultant that he’s clearly made a mistake as I’ve already decided it’s eczema.

‘Well,’ says the trainee, as the consultant goes off to make preparations ‘nothing like finding out you’ve got cancer, is there?’

‘No,’ I agree. We smile awkwardly at each other then settle in to a cheery conversation about ‘Junior Doctors’ until the consultant returns and explains - very thoroughly – what the options are for me. When we agree on a surgical procedure, I ask if Tom can be with me. There’s no time to spare, so I rush to get Tom from the waiting room (remember, this was supposed to be a 30 sec job so no need for him to get up from his seat to come in with me!). I don’t even have time to give him a proper explanation so blunder in with, ‘Come quickly, it’s cancer.'  Not exactly the greatest news to give your loved one, especially when he’s well and truly been through the cancer wringer himself.

In a mini-operating theatre, the next twenty-five minutes or so disappear in a blur of lignocaine, cutting and stitching. Everyone in the room treats me with immense kindness and there’s plenty of amusing conversation to distract me, including a brief comical moment when the consultant and I discover that he attended a boys’public school in the same town and at roughly the same time that I went to a girls’ grammar school. We take a quick glimpse at each other before both silently deciding that we haven’t met in a former life!

And then it’s over. I’ve been told that I’ll have a noticeable scar, but it’s still a bit of shock to look down before the dressing is applied to see a hollow in my arm. In the great scheme of things, it’s nothing, but it suddenly brings home to me the seriousness of what’s happened. Back in the car with Tom, I feel slightly freaked out – largely at the speed of events and because I never saw this coming!

I did no research about basal cell carcinomas before the appointment and don’t intend to now, since I’m very happy with the advice and information the consultant gave me, but there are two lessons I’ve learned which others might find useful:

(1) If you’re fair-skinned, take any suspicious patches of skin seriously!

(2) If your GP gives you cream to try and tells you to come back in two weeks if it hasn’t cleared up, don’t leave it another year!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the consultant and his team at Glangwili General Hospital for their kindness and care and for acting so promptly therefore sparing me weeks of further worry. And, as always, to Tom for being there.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Days Like These

On Friday morning I open the computer to see how Move Over Darling is doing after its stint of being available free for five days. To my surprise, it seems to be doing quite nicely. Goodness knows what hubris prompts me to take a quick look at Amazon Movers and Shakers, but, hey ho, I do … and see Move Over Darling at number one! Number one!! Of course, what goes up must come down, but it’s an amazing start to the day and as fellow author Valerie-Anne Baglietto jokes to me on Twitter, I’ll always have the screenshot.

A little later Ma phones. She’s a passionate and clever gardener, as I’ve mentioned here before, and has finally decided to treat herself to a greenhouse. She’s had few sleepless nights worrying about all the practicalities of getting it fitted, but when the man turns up on Friday morning to lay the concrete base he has the same surname – quite a common name, it has to be said – as someone my dad once worked with and very much liked. ‘Are you related?’ asks Ma. ‘Yes,’ said her man, ‘he’s my dad.’ The only sad note is that Mr Man Senior has recently made a list of old pals he’d like to contact and my dad’s one of them. ‘Well,’ says Ma, with her usual sense of humour, ‘let us know if he has any success getting in touch.’ 

The same morning the postman brings me a date for a CT scan so that someone can get a better idea of what’s going on with my sinuses. A little light Googling has scared the bejeesus out of me, so getting a hospital appointment will hopefully mean information rather than speculation and at least I can stop fretting about it for now.

‘I’ve sent you some photos,’ says Tom, in the middle of all this. ‘You better have a look. I’d forgotten I’d taken them.’ Sighing, because I’m busy, I start downloading and catch my breath. The photos date from a freezing cold February about eighteen months before my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Knowing that we were planning to move to Wales, we’d booked a cottage with my parents to show them the area and here we are clambering about at Wooltack Point or looking at Jack Sound… scene of a few hair-raising sails. My dad was probably already ill then, but there we are living every moment. It’s strangely reassuring to see his face again on a day of very mixed emotions.

I wrote Move Over Darling during another difficult year when Ma had her dreadful accident and we took on a building project of a house. Second Book Syndrome nearly killed me too, but in the end I was proud of what I’d achieved. I’m nearly at the end of Book Three, Clearing the Decks, which – after a slow start – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing. It’s been great fun returning to Little Spitmarsh and working with my new heroine and hero. I’ll miss these characters when I’ve finished, but equally, I’m looking forwards to coming up for air. See you soon!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Free and Freeze

Did you know that by signing up for Choc Lit's free newsletter, Choc Lit Spread (come on, what else could it be called?) you can find out about all the latest Choc Lit news and offers? Well, in case you haven't let me tell you that Doris Day turned 91 this week - 91!! And to celebrate Move Over Darling is FREE on Kindle for five days ending on Wednesday 10 April, so download your copy now to take advantage of this offer.

In other news we've had a busy time with visitors at Hotel H.  Last week we were out about under sunny skies (but in freezing cold temperatures) with Rose and Si...
Walking at St David's
And at the beach, ducking out the wind

And this week we have Stepson One with my step daughter in law and their very bonny and very well-behaved new baby to keep us entertained.

The only bum note in what's been a lovely time is that the wretched sinus lurgy rolls on. Time to take the investigations to the next level. Sigh.