After finishing all my treatment at the end of April and getting home to recover, we set our sights on a much much needed holiday abroad. I was still battling fatigue and would be for the coming months, but we were told that by June I should have just enough energy to get away for a holiday but would need to take it easy. My girlfriend and I needed to get out of the country, get away from it all and just relax, so the first two weeks of June we headed off to sunny Portugal.
I had to stay out of the sun most of the day as chemotherapy thins your skin short term so you can get quite badly burnt very easily. I was told factor 50 all the way and a hat at all times. I was still napping during the day a lot and didn’t have a huge amount of energy, but we were on holiday, hitting the ice cream hard, seeing some nice sights, enjoying the food, and enjoying ourselves. Nothing like a break away to clear the head after being through such a tough time. My hair was also growing back fast by that stage too which was huge, losing all your hair, including all your eye lashes and eyebrows is really not easy to deal with.
Fighting for an appointment
When I got the all clear at the end of March, it had been explained to me that due to the aggressiveness of the cancer I had that I would need another scan in about six months just to make sure everything was ok, this would have been around the end of September. As the months went on, I found that trying to get an appointment with my specialist was absolutely impossible. It felt like as soon as I got the all clear and finished all my treatment that I wasn’t a priority or a concern anymore, and well that was exactly the truth of it.
Looking back at my time in hospital, I found that there were a number of times I had to push, follow up, and fight in order to get something organised or arranged, whether it was to get a bed in the ward for treatment, or a scan, or an appointment. For someone dealing with the stress of having cancer, and going through such a difficult treatment schedule, it made life so much harder. I got my Mum to make a lot of these calls for me as I just didn’t have the energy to do it myself. This is something I will be discussing in more detail another time.
I managed to get in for an appointment with my specialist in July and it didn’t last too long, it seemed they didn’t think it was necessary for my full body scan as I was doing so well, I was just to continue on with my blood tests and bone strengthening medicine for now.
I did have a scan on my head in September after meeting with my radiation specialist, as he wanted to make sure all was ok in my head where I had the radiation, I was experiencing bad pains behind my eyes, thankfully all came back ok so it was just put down to post treatment side effects. Sometimes I got quite worried when I had those pains behind my eyes but once I got the all clear after a scan, I could relax about them a lot more.
At the end of June I had an x-ray on my femur followed by a meeting with my orthopedic specialist, it was looking much better, and had repaired substantially, so he said he was going to put me on a six week trial to test my leg to see if walking and jogging was ok, or if it caused me any pains or issues. The trial was on a treadmill as he didn’t want me running on the roads due to the extra pressure it would put on my legs. He gave me the six week plan and off I went to give it a go, with the very strict instruction that if I felt any pain I was to stop immediately and return to him.
The six weeks were tough but it all went well, it was based around three days of very short light exercising a week. I returned to see him in August and after reviewing everything he was happy to let me loose and continue to build and increase on the plan he gave me, and said that when I felt ready to move outdoors to do so, I was delighted. I continued indoors on the treadmill waiting for the right time to move outdoors.
Come October I managed my first run outdoors since June 2015 in the beautiful city of Galway, I was delighted, it was the beginning of my return. I will never forget how stiff my legs were the next day after being out on the road for the first time in so long. I loved feeling that stiffness, I was getting to give my legs a good go again.
Return to work plan
I was beginning to get hopeful about returning to work, I hated sitting around so much, but I was still recovering. I had been off work since the previous August so I just wanted to get back to work and get my life back on track, and even though they explained that I would be going back on a phased basis, they said that they wouldn’t be signing me off as fit to work until early in the new year. I was happy enough, I thought about how nice it would be to have a lovely long Christmas at home then return to work ready to go in the new year.
Thailand, a dream holiday
My girlfriend and I thought that after everything we had been through that we deserved to go away on a dream holiday, so after getting the go ahead from the hospital, we weren’t long booking flights to Thailand for three weeks. It would be a holiday to put the last year of hardship behind us, the start of good things again, one we both thoroughly needed and a nice break for us, then getting to return home to enjoy Christmas.
It was an absolutely amazing trip, the weather, the food, the sights, we loved every minute. As we were away for three weeks and we both enjoy exercising we continued going to the gym a couple of times a week while we were there. I really wanted to keep up the bit of exercising for my legs seeing as they had been out of action for so long. I didn’t want them to stiffen up again.
When we arrived home at the end of November the house was fully decorated for Christmas as a surprise for us, we had been really looking forward to Christmas especially considering I had been so sick the previous Christmas, all was great.
I can’t explain how much the two trips my girlfriend and I took were needed, physically and mentally. After going through so much hardship, getting out of the country and in to some nice warm weather to relax was really really great.
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