Hello, remember me?

Hello, I am your host, you might not remember me because I haven’t been on since October. Oooooops!

So what has happened?

Well, my Mum was sent for yet another CT scan, just in case the gallstones that would nicely explain one part of her condition have actually decided to arrive by now. They hadn’t, but the GP was less specific this time, and the scan bumped into a WHOPPING GREAT TUMOUR lying up alongside her gall bladder and pancreas that suddenly answers for an awful lot of her condition. Fast forward to where we know more about that (the one benefit of posting so late!) and it’s something called a VIPoma, attached to either her adrenal gland or the tail of the pancreas. The tumour releases stress hormones which increases blood pressure, heart rate, and decreases digestive function amongst other things. All the things we show when suffering from stress and the things animals do when faced with tha fight or flight choice. Mum had to be treated to reduce the blood pressure amongst other things, as if the tumour is attached to the adrenal gland it will cause a sudden flood of these hormones when they grasp it during surgery and she could die on the table. Removing it from the tail of the pancreas would be less dangerous, but they would have to take away the tail and her spleen and it’s a very intensive recovery. Mum has already had a double hernia, hysterectomy, and fitment of a colostomy bag so the less intensive the surgery the better. Once they have her bloods down to safe levels, they wanted to take her into hospital for 4 days to get it just right before operating. They did this about a fortnight before Christmas, but then on the day of her surgery they had no bed on the high dependency unit so they sent her home. Whole thing was repeated, and the ended up operating on the 23rd December 2011. Yes, she was in HDU over Christmas. We didn’t really have a Christmas with my side of the family at all, Dad didn’t want to do anything Mum would miss and the hospital do a Christmas dinner for immediate family anyway. Mum doesn’t remember much of it, but my 19 year old Aspergic brother said the dinner was good.

The tumour turned out to be on her adrenal gland, which is a less invasive procedure, but potentially more dangerous as I said. The surgeon said it was like a little seed pod that just popped out into his hand when he tested it. VIPoma tumours are quite rare, use your search engine if you want to know a bit more, but it’s even rarer to appear in this way, and rarer still to not be integrated into the tissue of the organ. It turns out over 80% of cases with unexplained severe diarrhoea lasting more than 3 years with no improvement turn out to be this. Like giving Mum a colostomy bag was ever the solution! Sadly, that sums up some parts of our health service in the area of UK we live in. As an aside, my Mum is very short, had constant migraines and neck and back pain until after my brother was born (third child, 5th pregnancy), and her bottom 6 and top 6 vertebrae are all fused together. It was blamed on the short course of thamaldihide her mother was given in early pregnancy. Whilst in hospital, my Mum caught a hospital acquired chest infection (sometimes called pnemonia but there’s a difference, this is very common after surgery such as this as my Mum is asthmatic and was unable to cough for pain) and they took her for a ct scan to see what was going on. But she couldn’t straighten out her upper chest, shoulders and neck for them to get a good view. Her ‘tumour’ surgeon was very concerned and came to tell her that everything looked very fibrous, like cables; he mentioned spina bifida. I have to admit, Mum laughed at that (being 51), but he has referred her for an MRI scan we are now awaiting the results of. We are all grateful this is being moved forward on, it’s just sad that most of our Doctors each still to their areas and don’t see us as one interconnected person. I mean here, had she not had this doctor for her tumour (there are only 6 surgeons in the UK who have ever dealt with this type of tumour, we are lucky one was based at our main adult infirmary.) we wouldn’t be looking into this at all.

She is recovering steadily, mostly remembering just how many muscles it takes to get dressed and pour the water for a cup of tea. I work as a childminder out of her home, so have been getting to her house to meet children at 8am and home again with dd after 6pm. It’s knackering, I’m used to caring for the children, but to have the journey on top of that, it’s a very long day for dd and I. I’m glad to, Mum is my Mum, not just my boss. We’ve reduced numbers for me and the assistant to care for but it’s no easier – preschoolers just don’t work that way!

Speaking of Preschoolers, in spite of a quiet Christmas where she was still thoroughly spoiled by both sides of the family, DD did rather well out of her 2nd Birthday too. It was on the 14th January, we invited the parents and the little boy I look after full time, DD and he are like siblings – he’s 2 months younger. Our best friends, (from the bottoms beer and ice cream post) and their daughters 3 and 5 months, and DH’s old work friend and his wife as their daughter was 2 on Boxing day (prem CS) and make up the group of DDs best friends. We took them to a local soft play and then, horror of horrors, for a happy meal at McDonalds! It was a really wonderful day, DD is still telling everyone it’s her “‘appi burf-day!” and singing the song. To top it off McDonalds have broken the habit of a lifetime and instead of crappy plastic toys in the Happy meals, there were lovely little books by Michael Morphago (look him up, a wonderful writer – wrote the book War Horse which is a film at the cinema at time of writing). As an ex-librarian, teaching assistant and generally book obsessed; this was a marvellous end to the day!

I also have a rant coming about pull-ups, in the context of potty training and EC, but you’ve had enough for today, so I’ll set a reminder to do it via email tomorrow. I’ve just had half term off, so it’s back to flylady routines, crazy hours getting t and from work, and grumpy preschoolers. I don’t mind all that but I’m suddenly not so sure how rested I feel….