Thursday, December 20, 2007

Making the best of things



video

We are still in hospital and about to get stuck in the Christmas holiday shut down. William can't have his op until early January as he still has yeast in the line. We will then be here for a month or so afterwards. It is all very frustrating and heartbreaking to be seperated from the girls for so long. Here are some pics, and a video if it works! of Wills making the best of Christmas in hospital. Some pics of the girls visiting on Tuesday will follow soon (when I have uploaded them)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ups and Downs






The pictures you see here are of my beautiful daughters. We had a fab time last week on a Thomas Cook/Variety Club "Flight of Dreams". We met the Samantha and Amanda from Big Brother and Father Christmas managed to get his sleigh along side the plane and climb in! He was our exercising his reindeer. We had a lovely time. Sadly, Wills was not allowed to escape to join us.

William has been sent lots of messages on Giraffes, as well as some new cuddly friends, as he has been featured on the CHASE Christmas fundraising campaign. He is loving them all and they are really cheering him up. He is still fighting endless infections and in a lot of discomfort. The doctors have now agreed that he needs an urgent illeostomy but there is still much debate as to whether it will be before Christmas. His usual surgeon is away so the decisions are surounding whether another surgeon should do it or if we should wait until our man returns at the end of January. It is really frustrating. I just want them to get on and do it so he can start recovering and get home!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What happened to November?

We didn't manage to stay home! William got sicker very quickly over night 3 weeks ago so we went to our local hospital. Within hours, we were blue lighted across London to our Chelsea pad and the line was out the next day. Wills had a week on fluids with no line. Peripheral access is a nightmare so it was an unpleasant and plainful time with lots of cannulas and nasty, strong drugs being given into veins. He had a new line and is getting over his infections. However, he now has issues with electrolyte balance due to all the antibiotics he has been on. He is back on hospital TPN at the moment but we are hoping to get him back onto home formulation soon. He is also very gassy and, just to thrown something new into the mix, has started passing blood in his constant watery stools. His poor botty is so sore too, because of the constant nappies, that he is needing IV pain relief. They are planning to see how he is over the weekend, now his antibiotics have finished, and see what to do next. He was due to have further exploratory surgery in Spring but this has been prioritised further now and they want it to be early in the New Year. There is a chance he may even have it before Christmas. There is also a small (but I think growing chance) he will need an illeostomy before Christmas if the gas and discomfort carries on. If his colon is broken down from all the gass and watery stool, in the same way his bottom is, he may need it to rest everything so it can recover. We need to find out what is causing it all.

So, another interesting run up to Christmas with the heart break of being separated from the girls at such a special time of year.We are all due to be going on a Santa Special flight for Gatwick on Wednesday. None of the children have flown as holidays abroad are out of the question at the moment. The trip is with the Variety Club and organised through the hospice. I asked if I could liberate Wills for the day but the consultant's response was very clear! I will still go with the girls though and I'm sure the day will be all the more special for them by having Mummy to themselves with no William and hassles around TPN and drugs.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Unwelcome return visitors

The full report on William's blood cultures came back today. He has the same bug in his line he had a few weeks ago :-( This is not good news as it means the little blighters have been hanging around and building up again when we stopped the IVs just a week or so before he got sick again. The IV of choice now is called imipenin. We were going to start that today but pharmacy felt it a bit too complicated to measure and prepare for home. It would have meant hour long infusions every 6 hours - not much chance to sleep. We can use something else called merepenin. This can be pushed rather than infused and is 8 hourly. He was on this last time. Fingers crossed it does the trick or we will have to go in to have imipenin, or may even loose the line :-( He only had it in at the end of August and has had 2 lots of infection, from the same but, already. I have to admit, I got a bit teary when they told me it was the same bug. He has had 7 line infections since the start of the summer. This year, he has lost 4 lines to infection. This is a bit worrying as there are only so many sites that can be used.

We have had a lovely day today though. William got his new static chair - he had chosen bright orange "like Murdoch" so I bought him a Murdoch engine to go with it. He has spent most of the day pushing this around the tray. When I did prize it off him, we collected leaves and painted them in Autumn colours for leaf printing (just like in CBEEBIES for those of you who have little ones too). Despite still feeling grotty, William had a "driving lesson" on 'bugsy', the special training powered wheelchair yesterday. He was really beginning to get the hang of it. We played games like throwing a ball and going after it. He was beginning to drive a lot more smoothly but still has a lot to learn before he will be deemed safe to drive and allowed his very own powered chair.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Another line infection!

William has been unwell since the weekend. He has bronchiolitis and has had some high fevers. We hoped this was all due to the virus but, yesterday, we got the call to say that one of his blood cultures does have a bug. Once again, it is one of his gut bugs. He had cultures earlier in the week that were clear so it looks like he has ended up with another line infection due to being run down and unwell. He has been neutropenic (low white cells) for the last 2 weeks so that doesn't help either. He is doing OK at home on the IV antibiotics so, hopefully, they will let us stay here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A very, very long day...



We had our long anticipated appointment with the neuromuscular team at The Hammersmith Hospital yesterday. It was a very long day and left us all absolutely shattered. We left at 8, had a heinious public transport journey with 4 changes and got to the hospital just past 11. We were there until 4.30! No breaks 4 hours of physio, doctors and an ECG. Then we had the long, and much slower in rush hour, journey home. We finally got back at 7.

It was a strange clinic. Very old school. He had a physio assessment and she was very strict with him. I could see what she was trying to do to get him to bend his feet up etc but he didn't really understand her. He had lots of tears yesterday when physios and doctors were trying to straighten his feet and it really hurt him. After physio, I had to find a space to do his IVs. I had a message waiting on my phone to say he was even more neutropenic now so I wasn't overly comfortable that I had dragged him across London on public transport and into a hospital. The clinic is monthly though and we would have waited ages for another slot. The doctors consultation was very strange and frustrating. The reg came and went through all the history - and it is a long and complicated one! That was fine. I am getting bored of going through all this but it is important. Then, the consultant came in and she presented William to him. If he had been in from the start it would have saved about 20 minutes of history repetition! Another consultant came in so there was a neuromuscular guy and a mitochondrial disease specialist. They pretty much talked among themselves and then examined him, still talking among themselves in a language I had no comprehension of. They poked and prodded and stretched, making exclamations such as "oh yes, there is definately some xxxx here and yyyy there" They took loads of pictures of all his features such as his feet, wide set eyes, funny hair etc and added a few more features that they felt to be significant, such as sparse eyebrows and translucent skin. They did comment on how tiny he is too.
After all of that, they pulled their chairs around at the opposite end of the room and had a discussion about him. I was just an observer and hardly understood a word.

They did tell me that they need to do more tests. He doesn't have a muscular disease, in their opinion. He is too strong, all be it in short bursts, but he does have strength. They feel it is not peripheral but a central problem. They have some more wierd and wonderful ideas of very rare syndromes (some to do with glycogen storage, some mitochondrial) to rule out before they just conclude that William has a "unique phenotype and genotype". Like the geneticists, they pointed out how unique he looks and how it is clearly a genetic problem but that it does suit him and he is a lovely looking child. He is very different to the rest of us, as you can see in the picure, and has a very distinctive look. They also commented that Wills now has spacticity, particularly in his legs, this is a new development as they were not too tight until recently. He feet can no longer be manipulated back into 90 degrees.

I will look forward to the letter with the hope I can understand something from that.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Colds

Thanks for your wishes We went to the hospital to put Wills on his TPN. Thankfully, this time there was no repeat of the horrible evening a few weeks ago. We can't afford to take risks though and we will do exactly the same thing another time. All 3 children have rotten colds. Hope and Ellie are fine, just coughing and husky. William is termed a "medically fragile" child so anything extra takes its toll. We will keep an eye on him over the next few days, keep him on his monitors over night and have a low threshold for using oxygen if he struggles a bit over night. Winter is a hard time for these children and we feel like we are constantly on edge. I hope we have a healthy run soon. It is tough for the whole family as the grandparents are always wondering if they will be needed too. As you may have grasped from this blog of late, we can get a bit frazzled! Wills is booked into the hospice for New Year and the girls are at their Dad's. Paul and I are planning a couple of days away together for the first time since William was born. That should do us heaps of good

Love to all those other parent's of medically fragile little ones. I pray they all stay as healthy as possible over the winter months ahead.

The joys of winter!

William's temperature went up to 37.8 at playschool this morning. I called his gastro nurse who requested bloods when he came off TPN at two. Last time we had a day like this, with high temperatures but not quite high enough to hit the panic button, we ended up sending him into septic shock when we restarted his TPN in the evening, pushing all the nasty little bugs into his system. I just can't take that kind of risk again so we had arranged to take him to the local hospital to put his TPN up whenever there is any doubt that he may have a line infection. With a child like Wills, you have to presume a line infection whenever he spikes a fever over 38. So, at 37.8, we are pretty close!

I called the community nurses to arrange everything but they are pretty overworked today with one of them home with their own poorly child. Oh, the joys of winter! Sick children and a struggling NHS. It is so stressful when a bad day for Wills can result in a situation where his life is in danger. Of course, the staff to their best, but it is very disconcerting when your security net falls apart, right when you need it. The ward are full and not overly happy about us coming in tonight. I told her that I am just not prepared to do the TPN at home today. So, we will take him up to the ward and, if he gets very sick, the crash team will be called and he will be stabilised and sent to the nearest bed. He is coughing and wheezing so I hope that is all it is.

So, we wait again, to see what his bloods show, to see if he goes into sepsis or if this is just a winter virus. In the meantime, I will get the girls from school, tidy the house and make some contingency plans. There will be lots more days like this before the Spring.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spidey Sense

It is really strange, all that Spidey Sense with me on Monday. Along side that, I posted it here and my Mum called me about 2 minutes later as she just happened to look there as I posted. Paul's Mum called on Tuesday morning to ask if Wills was OK as she had a feeling yesterday that things were not right and had just looked at the blog to see if there was anything to let her know if all was well or not. How very strange, Mum and both Grannies (at opposite ends of the country) feeling the Spidey Sense that all was not well - spooky! It must be the time of year

William's bloods show his HB is OKish (OK for him) but he is neutropenic, meaning that he does not have enough white cells to fight infection. This is usually an indication of something going on but, for now, his infection markers are OK. He seems OK in himself, apart from gas, tummy aches and a very very sore bottom. We just need to keep a close eye on things.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Spirals of unease

I have been feeling really uneasy about Wills all day. His play specialist came this morning and remarked on how pale he is. I agreed and she said, with much concern, that he looked a funny, horrible colour - grey really. She was right. He soon picked up but things don't seem right and I can't really put my finger on what it is. He doesn't have a fever. We took his routine bloods and cultures from his line so we will see if there is anything going on. He may just be very anaemic and need a blood transfusion. I hope so really because that will explain things and a blood transfusion will make things a lot better. He is really gassy at the moment and having a lot of pain and lots of bile draining from his stomach. He is clearly feeling yukky and this may have a lot to do with how pale he is. His nappies are pretty spectacular too!

I had a lovely run but started to think too much about Wills and what may happen. This helped to feed my sense of unease and upset. Occasionally, I get into a spiral where I feel nervous about things and then think that is must be due to some maternal intuition so worry even more. Today has been a bit like that. I have William on his monitor tonight. I'm sure all will be well and I will feel much better tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The extra hour

So, what did you do with it? I had planned to get up and do William's IV drugs as if there was no extra hour, so at yesterday's 6am/today's 5am. I then planned to go out and run and be back by the time everyone else was busying around getting ready. Did that happen...er...no. Instead, my alarm went off at 5 but I switched it onto doze and ended up giving William his drugs at today's 7am - so an hour late if a normal day, now 2 hours late!

Oh well, it has been a very hectic couple of weeks. Paul has been singing in Birmingham most evenings, getting back in the early hours of the morning. Of course, that has made him very tired. It has also left me doing everything for Wills both late at night and early in the morning, making me tired too. We obviously needed the extra hour of sleep and i can get my run in later.

I have just realised that the hour is going to mess up all William's timings. The biggest impact will be on his TPN. It should stop at 2 but, of course, willl stop at 1 today - just as I am on the field finishing the football session. Not the best place for aseptic procedures! It is the last day of his IV antibiotics today - hooray!!! Now we have to keep everything crossed that the little blighters in his line have well and truley gone. He has been having a few low grade fevers over the last couple of days. Probably all due to winter viruses but we are really hoping the bugs won't come back. Our biggest fear is the yeast and fungal infections he often seems to get in his line after having domestos style IVs to kill the bacteria. A few nervy days of watching for signs and symptoms are ahead of us!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Half Term





The pictures show
1. ALl the medical stuff and nappies that arrived on Monday - what on earth am I supposed to do with all of that? It is a months supply of things we need for William and is totally filling our little "lean to" I did have plans for that to be all arty and bohemian when I bought this house...

2. Ellie arriving home from Honey Pot (Hope would not be photographed!)

3. William attached to his ECG. All smiles but he has been having a very uncomfortable week this week with lots of windy and colic. I am very sorry for the large hole in the ozone layer above Croydon that has appeared this week! We will be without a car from Monday so should be able to do some carbon offsetting.
The last few days have been absolutely crazy.

The girls came back from the "Honey Pot" holiday in the New Forest, on Tuesday, having had a fantastic time. They went to a theme park, a country park, an otter sanctuary, had a halloween party, a cook out...they even had clothes stall where they could choose from donated clothing - all for free. They came home with treats and things they had made. The idea is that this is a respite break for children who need a break from home for various reasons. The timing was great for Hope and Ellie with William having just been very poorly again. He is still on IV antibiotics so we have been unable to have any big days out this half term. It was great they had this instead. They will remain members of the "Honey Pot Club" until they are 12 (not long for Hope) and will have newsetters, a Christmas party, play bus visits and a weekend at the house in the New Forest every year. They so deserve this and I have loved hearing all about it. There is a bit of sadness too as I would much rather we could do more as a family.

We have tried to make the best of half term within our constaints. William had his 24 hour ECG on Wednesday - Thursday so the appointments to put it on and take it off munched up the mornings. We wondered around town and went out for lunch on Wednesday. Yesterday, William's Granny came and we baked and made things out of salt dough. We will be painting them later today.

All of William's activities and visitors stop for half term and he is getting very fed up being stuck in his chair on the TPN until 2 each day. Next week, he begins his "driving lessons" on his electric chair. That will give him a great lease of life as he will, at last, be mobile on his TPN His walking is getting more and more weak and wobbly too so the chair is going to be fantastic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A good night's sleep then back to normal (I hope)

YAY, we got home today Wills is much better but we will still be doing the IV antibiotics for the next 12 days. I get really nervous doing his TPN after such a nasty line infection. The rate he goes downhill is so so scary and it takes a while to get the scene out of your head. Of course, being mindful of infection risk is important but you really need to stike a balance. Wills tends to get infections from inside his intestines that translocate into his lymphatic system and then settle into his line. It is good to know that our IV technique is not introducing bugs but worrying at the same time as we can do nothing to control William's gut bugs. His intestines don't move properly so bugs settle and breed. His recurrent infections are causing cause for concern, not least because he is developing a nasty habbit of getting septic shock every time!

His heart murmur is, thankfully, nothing to worry about. It was just because he was so ill. However, the irregular rythmn he seems to get from time to time is a bit more concerning. It may be that his neurological condition is affecting his heart. I was really upset to hear this. However, it sees that any impact his condition is, or may have, on his heart, is much more easily fixed than the intestinal failure he already has. He is going to have a 24 hour ECG over the next 2 weeks. If this reveals that his heart rate becomes too irratic, he will be assessed for a pacemaker. Strange isn't it. You can fix neurological failure of the heart to behave normally but there is little that can be done if the intestines fail.

Oh well, a good nights sleep and all will begin to settle back to normal tomorrow.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Here we go again!

Today should have been the start of the cross country season and I was looking forward to our first team league race and hoping to spend yesterday evening sorting my kit and changing my spikes from 12 to 9mm ones, bake some muffins for the girls after the race etc...

Instead, William, once again did his speciality of well to ill in life threatening measures in 0-60 seconds! It was all very stressful. The ambulance service and A and E were incredibly busy and William was not given the right code from the offset. He needed to be foot down and into resus but it took ages to get an ambulance for him (Hope and Ellie had been picked up and gone before it arrived!) and, when it did, Paul beat it to the hospital! We arrived to find no room in rescus and no doctor immediately able to see him. The triage nurse was not a paediatric nurse and thought TPN was a gastrostomy feed (which is not uncommon and forgivable as it is pretty specialised). She kept thinking his infection was on his gastrostomy site - which would not have been so worrying. Maybe the ambulance crew misunderstood too, hence their dithering. When she eventually did his obs, his temp was above 40 degrees and his heart rate 167! He was losing consciousness and his lips were white. It was very scary. The doctor came, A and E doctor, not a paediatrician and, understandably, wanted William's whole history. I just wanted to see someone who knew him and would see how ill he was. When the paeds reg appeared, and was someone who knows him - thank the Lord - she could see at once how ill William was and was furious that she had not been called down before and that the ambulance had not called in to get her down waiting. She had him up on the ward within 15 minutes so we could take bloods and start the antibiotics in a more controlled environment. I have never seen A and E in such a state of carnage. It was frightening when William was so ill.

It was 2 am before I got to bed in the hospital after we being confident William was picking up enough to leave him to get the things we needed for the night , have something to eat (I had just made a yummy chilli for tea when all this happened). Paul had a stint at the hospital this afternoon and I came home to sort out the girls, see Mum and Dad and to tidy and clean the house. The local hospital is close enough to come home for a couple of hours when William has gone to sleep. We usually get into such a mess after some frantic packing and coming and going of stuff each day. It makes such a difference to come home and relax in a clean and tidy house. I now have some yummy smelling apple, spice and walnut muffins in the oven. A huge contrast to yesterday evening!

William has picked up really well today. The tests have confirmed that he does have a line infection and he is responding well to the antibiotics. His medical examinations have revealed a heart murmur though. This is a new thing and we are not sure at the moment if it is anything to worry about or not. He is due to be seeing his local consultant on Thursday and so, while he is in hospital, they will do an ECG and heart echo. One concern is that he had a nasty fungal/yeast infection in his line in August. There is always a risk of spores getting into the heart valves. There is also a chance that line infections have caused inflammation in the heart valves. It may be a feature of his syndrome or a neurological issue and, of course, it could just be an innocent murmur. We will soon find out and, in the meantime, we have learned not to worry too much about things to do with Wills until we know we have to.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hectic, as ever

I really promise I will keep this blog updated more from now on. Things have been so hectic since we came home from hospital. We have been trying to sort out William's statement of educational need, something that never seems to work out as easily as it should and we are still having meetings and discussions about. In the meantime, I have been settling William into playschool for 3 afternoons and one morning a week. William can not be left without either myself, Paul or a qualified nurse. Thankfully, they have agreed to provide a nurse for William at playschool, despite the fact his statement has yet to be finalised. Luckily for us, one of William's lovely respite nurses works around a school day so this is perfect for her. William adores her and they both seem to have a lot of fun together.

On top of all this, Hope has been setting into her secondary school. She has grown up so much, perhaps too much. It is lovely that she is making lots of friends and likes to incorporate a social life into walking home. We have had to spend the last week or so reigning her in a bit and reminding her that she is still on 11 years old and her whole life can not just yet be organised through her mobile phone. Hope hs been chosen as a school council rep. She is also keen to play basketball and football. These clubs take place at 7.30am so we are set for an early start tomorrow.

We are all getting a bit sporty these days. Paul is currently searching for a gym to join as it has been ordered by the physio as part of his rehab. Hope and Ellie are both about to start a Christian Football Academy, Kick London, that is being organised through church. I am to be a coach at the academy and am in the middle of my FA level 1 coaching certificate. This has taken place on 3 evenings and all day last Sunday. This Sunday is assessment day when I have to deliver a 15 minute session, based on a game given to me last week. My game is a bit of a tricky one involving throws, heads and catches in a 5 v 5 game.

It is all very hectic and, as usual, the appointment letters for William are piling up. He is due to go to the muscular dystrophy clinic at Hammersmith Hospital at the beginnig of November. It now seems that he does have some kind of progressive neuropathy and this is the best team to monitor and help him with this. With his motor deterioration and time spent attached to his TPN in mind, he will soon be given an electric wheelchair. We tried one out on Monday. It needs to be adapted to make it a lot smaller and enable him to reach the controls. This will take a couple of months. This is fine though as William needs a few more lessons with the occupational therapist to learn how to use a joystick to control a chair. Tomorrow, we are being visited to see exactly what we need to do to our house to make it accessible for William. It looks like a major rebuild will be required.

It is all these practical things that dominate our lives so much. I have been juggling two part-time jobs, working from home, with it all. I have just come to the decision that it is all a bit much. One of the jobs - being the director of "The Brompton Fountain" works very well but the other is very stressful. I won't go into too much detail in a public blog. One thing we learn time and time again on our journey with William is that life is just too short. I am also fed up with playing catch up the whole time. Now I can put all my work energy into building The Brompton Fountain. Funds will be a little tight but I am a strong believer that things will work out if it is the right thing to do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Year, another challenge.







It has been a while since I updated this blog with any regularity. So much has been happening and we have been so busy, in and out of hospital, possible diagnoses, starting schools, statement of educational special needs... I promise, I will catch up on all the news over the next few days, and show you some lovely pictures. For today, I want to tell you all about Sunday.

During July 2006, Paul was run over and spent a month in hospital with a horrific leg injury (He has only just been able to put two shoes on again in the last few weeks and finally has a leg that is not held up with mechano see http://www.blegspot.blogspot.com). William's physical disabilities were becoming apparent and, I have to confess, I was struggling. A good friend of mine, Emily, was struggling even more. She was in the end stages of cystic fibrosis and her lungs were barely managing to stay inflated for a few weeks at a time while she waited for a call to say her turn had come to get new ones. One day, I received an email inviting me to join "Emily's Angels" in doing the Hydro Active. Emily was planning to be pushed around in her wheelchair, attached to the oxygen that was keeping her alive 24 hours a day. Not only that, she was going to turn up the oxygen and walk the last 500 metres. To you or I, that would be an ultra! I took up the challenge and decided to raise money for CHASE, who were keeping me sane at the time with support at the hospice and in the community whilst I juggled looking after William and visiting Paul (the girls were at Grandma and Grandads). I planned to walk with Emily and her angels but felt shamed by her 500 metre walk and William's courage as he totters about, falls and gets back up again. If they can do that, I can run 5K, I thought. So, I dusted off a pair of trainers that had not seen a pair of feet for over 10 years and went out for a run in the park. Meanwhile, Emily was in and out of intensive care with her ever deflating lungs and many of us worried that she may not make it to walk those 500 metres. Emily the biggest fighter I know and escaped from hospital to walk over the finish line. I managed to jog around and finished in 32 minutes.

Yesterday, Emily and I were back at the Hydro Active Women's Challenge. A year is a long time and in the last 12 months Emily has had a double lung transplant. I have spent the last 12 months getting ever more addicted to running and more and more serious about my training. So, this year there were 2 major changes. Emily planned to walk the whole 5K, while holding a banner showing herself last year, in her wheelchair on oxygen, and this year, walking and bouncing along. I planned to run a PB and dedicate it to her and William, the inspirations that got me running. It was exciting as well because Hope and Ellie joined in with the Angels. It was also the first time I had put a team together to run for the charity I direct, The Brompton Fountain.

We got t Hyde Park at 9 to get ready to say hello to the team and prepare for a team photo. Granny came to look after William and I left Hope and Ellie with Emily and the other angels before taking my place at the front of the mass start with other club runner capable of a sub 25 minute 5K. We were just behind the elite runners and celebs so got to watch them all be introduced to the crowd. It was really exciting being at the front of such a big event and to set off on the clock. We were away within seconds of the elite runners and could even see the time car becoming more and more distant on the first stretch. I had a clear run and, as usual, set off a bit too fast. However, I managed to keep pretty close to my starting pace and finished the first mile in under 7 minutes I could have kept pushing at that pace if my legs were not a little tired, untapered in the peak of marathon training. I didn't drop too much though and kept my pace below 7:30 most of the time. Just before the final turn, I was counted in by an official letting me know that I was in the top 100 and would receive an official time. As I approached the finish, I could hear the announcer tell the spectators that the runners finishing now are all strong club runners, capable of keeping the pace throughout the course. I finished at 22:18 on my Garmin (which also told me I had run a few metres long). On crossing the line, my number was taken and I was given a bottle of Hydro Active. What a difference from last year when I staggered across the line, red and puffed out in a tutu! It was a strange experience. The area where the goody bags were given out was almost deserted and my photo was taken by 2 official photographers and 2 more asked if I wanted one. Later, when I finished again with Hope and Ellie, we had to queue to get a picture together. I walked past Meseret Defar and Jo Pavey wondering around, waiting for interviews before heading back to find Hope and Ellie. My official time was 22:27 and I came 81st out of more than 15000, many of whom were walking. I am listed, beneath the elite athletes, in the race report on the Hydro Active website (http://www.womenschallenge.co.uk).

I am not known for my great sense of direction so I wandered back to the start and jogged along to find the back of the race. Eventually, I caught sight of Emily's banner and found the girls. We walked the rest of the course together and made a pact that, if the girls can jog it next year, I will do it with them. I did enjoy being up at the front though and would love to make up a bit more ground on the elite runners in front. I WILL go sub 20 in a 5K on tapered legs sometime in the not too distant future. Emily did really well and even managed to run the last 300 metres - amazing! Ellie ran bits of the last mile and ran over the line. (As I walked over the line again, I hoped people would notice that I already had a medal on and was not finishing for the first time).

After the race, we met up with William and Granny again and had a picnic with Emily and some of the Angels. Paul turned up after singing in Church and, by now, it was getting a little cold so we headed off to the Science Museum to see William's beloved engines before setting off for home to catch the highlights. He also had great fun playing with Hope and Ellie with the hands on games in the Launch Pad.

It was a great day that marked for me how far I have come with running this year and that I can feel that there is more to come. Emily was as inspirational as she always is. As a Mum to a child like William, Emily's Mum inspires me at least as much. Her strength and amazing personality has, doubtlessly, contributed so much to what Emily is today and if I can just be part of the Mum she is I will have succeeded so it was great to see her again too. Hope and Ellie had their first taste of a big running event and, I hope, got inspired to work towards running in future. Above all, we had a lovely family day out. Next year, I will develop the charity participation to include a family picnic. It won't be the Hydro Active next year as it becomes the Addidas Women's Challenge. It will remain a special day out for me though. I will always have a soft spot for the race that got me running

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hope's first day




We are finally home from hospital and there is lots to post to catch up. This is a quickie though as I am about to go to bed. Hope started secondary school today. What a milestone day! She had a great day. I marked the day by having a "feel younger and fresher" hair cut. Much needed, not least after the weeks in hospital. The girls also had hair cuts and Hope had her first grown up layer cut. You can see that on the more relaxed, after school picture..

We are still up at the hospital every morning for IV drugs for yeast. William lost his line to a yeast infection that made him very poorly and we have to treat to protect the new one. I will post a longer entry to tell the whole story later in the week, after I have got all urgent work done!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life is a rollercoaster...

life is a rollercoaster...
...You've just got to jump on, enjoy the ride and cope your best during the drops.

We started trying William on a teeny tiny bit of diarolyte on sunday. By Monday, it was clear he wasn't tolerating it and tests showed he was passing all the glucose in his stools. There is a new consultant on the team and she relayed this as good news, explaining that he could have a rare inability to absorb glucose and a special feed could get him off TPN. I was so pleased but Paul was a lot more cautious as this would surely have been realised long before now. The dioralyte was changed to water to flush the remains away. On Tuesday, Wills was poorly again with another infection and has still not picked up. This always seems to happen when we try any feed. The gut challenge has been abandoned for now. He will remain on this tiny trickle of water - 12 mls per hour for 16 hours and have a new set of scopes and biopsies next month, followed by a team meeting to see if they can work out a new plan. The same doctor who was so full of hope on Monday had to explain that he will be on TPN for a long time, perhaps forever, and the priority now is sorting all these line infections. It is so gutting to be so full of hope one minute and back down again. The water is a teeny tiny baby step though.

I am so exhausted now, physically through lack of sleep and mentally too. I can't wait to get this infection sorted and get home to normalise. I am keeping up with training but it is a bit treacly at the moment. it is funny how pockets of inspiration appear right where you need them. I came back from a run yesterday and there was a cleaner at work in the bed space next door. She asked if I was an athlete, to which I said I was trying to be a club runner. It turned out that she is a girl called Fatmata Bangura, the women's sprinting champion of Sierra Leone and captain of the women's athletic team. She is a seriois medal hope for 100 and 200 metres in China. She got injured at Crystal Palace so her season is over and her attention switched to next year. She is over here for some training and has to work long hours as her government funds training but not living costs. Unbelievable dedication. I hope to see it all paying off with her up on that podium next year.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home Sweet Home!

Hooray, we are home. For a while at least anyway as we are scheduled to go back in for a while in August but we get to enjoy a week or so at home first. Wills still has a bit of infection left so is on IV antibiotics and is still not quite himself. We are having to keep a very close eye and not have an oxygen tank set at 15 litres with a non re-breather mask in the corner of the living room in case we ever get a day like that again.

The last couple of days have been crazily busy was we have caught up with our lives as they were before last Wednesday. For Wills, this has meant visits from his physio, bringing the splints we were about to go and collect when he decided, rather dramatically, that he would rather not go to physio on that day and a visit from his OT and a rep to look at a more supportive chair for his ever slumping posture. She also came with the news that we are getting a temporary powered chair, while we wait for them to find the perfect Willsmobile. This may arrive next week so I am just taking a break from a major clutter clear to make some room for him to drive around the house, destroying the paintwork.

Our house is not at all designed for this so the OT is making a case to the next panel for us to have major house alterations. All the doors need to be widened, we need a lift from the dining room into the room above, currently the girls' room that will then become William's room, the bathroom will turn into a wet room (very sad about this as I love my baths!) and we will have an attic room built for the girls. I will make sure there is some kind of partition as they are a nightmare sharing a room at the moment. All that is going to be pretty major. We will get a grant towards the majority of the cost. It will be a about a year before the process reaches the stage of being ready to begin work. Wills will then be around 4 so he will be so happy to have complete independence around the house :-) We are still not completely sure of his disease prognosis but most of those who work with him expect him to be a full time wheelchair user in the foreseeable future. He doesn't do much walking around at the moment, preferring to lie on the floor and play and crawl at times. The trouble is, when he is ill, he deteriorates generally at a quicker rate and never quite picks up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home tomorrow!

Wills is coming home tomorrow :-) He will need a further 2 weeks on IV antibiotics but we can do that at home. He is going into Chelsea and Westminster on August 6th for further tests, including his barium follow through and further nerve conduction studies and tests on his mucles. We will also see if we can get his intestines to just tolerate a tiny, tiny amount of something to help stop bacterial overgrowth and more scary line infections. He may well have his illeostomy during this time as well so we could be in for the month (or longer...). Hope and Ellie will be with their Dad and then onto Grandma (where would we be without Grandma!) so I won't have to split myself in two as much as usual. I asked out nurse specialist if we could time his admission then, not least because the girls and I are off to see luverly Lee in Joseph on Thursday next week and Ellie has her birthday the following Sunday and Wills will be 3 on Monday. This will be the first birthday at home with his family (she say's keeping everything crossed!). We plan to make the best of the next 2 weeks as it could well be the full extent of our summer holidays together so will will go out and do loads of exciting things, working it all out around the IV antibiotics. I am not ashamed to wash my hands, roll my sleeves up and do his IVs in a cafe somewhere. You do get some odd looks though!

So, we are trying to settle down and get back into normality. Things feel a bit strange though, I think because we went through a lot this time and very nearly lost our Wills. It is very hard to get back to normal after things like this. It kind of feels a bit surreal at the moment. You have to balance living and enjoying life but being vigilant at the same time. We and our community nursing team are sorting out high flow, portable oxygen tanks ready with re-breathing masks to be at the ready at home and in William's playschool in case of similar emergencies.

Very sadly, I learned today that another of the "gastro kids" on TPN at Chelsea died very suddenly at the end of last week. He was the same age as Wills and may well have died in very similar circumstances that William was in last Wednesday, they have yet to work out what was the cause. I feel very sad that, while we are heaving a big sigh of relief and trying to put the images of Wills so ill out of our minds and get on with life, another family are going through a time that is the worst of our fears. We know that, one day, we may well have a different outcome when William gets so ill. Life for these children really is so fragile. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family at this time.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Quick update while home to do the washing

Wills is still in hospital, fighting a very nasty infection. He is having good days and bad days, still having very high temperatures and is washed out. The infection was caused by bugs in his intestines getting into his blood and causing septacemia, and, of course, settling in his hickman line to cause a line infection. He has now had two such infections that have been classed as "life threatening" as well as numerous others that were pretty serious as well. There is, naturally, some cause for concern about this so we are off to our "Fulham Pad" at Chelsea and Westminser Hospital on Tuesday.

Wills will have a barium follow through study to make sure there are no obstructions and blockages in his gut, and to see just how slow things are at the moment. After that, the team will discuss if an illeostomy will help drain some of the fluid that is growing these bugs (bringing a bit of his bowel out through the skin to drain). They also plan to see if they can get Wills to tolerate a tiny bit of feed into his intestines. At the moment, he is unable to tolerate anything. If we can get him to tolerate a little bit it will help his intestines to normalise a bit and prevent this build up of gut bacteria that is leaking into his blood. We have no idea if he will cope with this. We will just have to see. It will not be enough to feed him and he will still be dependent on TPN for the time being.

If this does not work, there is a chance he will be assessed at Birmingham for intestinal transplant. One near fatal infection could be a one off but two puts him into the bracked of "TPN complications" which coud make him eligable to go on the list. However, we still have th complication that it seems Wills has a degenerative neurological condition and that would be contraindicative of a transplant. There are still so many complicated questions and issues to sort. The infection seems to have bought the issue of transplants to a head again but, in the same conversation, William's local consultant explained how it seems Wills has problems with the junctions between his muscles and nervous system. The impulses are not being sent to the muscles properly and this is likely to be degenerative as the nerves then die. His tests results and clinical picture seems to support this at the moment. So, in the next few weeks or so we need to establish whether his intestinesfunction at all, whether an illeostomy will help, whether he needs to be assessed for transplant now or if he can still safely get by on TPN for a while before this becomes urgent and, of course, whether his neurological condition is a degenerative one. It is strange, we muddle on along and then, all of a sudden things come to a head for a while, then we muddle along again, often just as we were before. We are just about to get into the coming to a head stage for a while. It is a shame, we have been in this stage every single Summer since Wills was born. While everyone else seems to be planning their holidays, our family is once again separated with Wills and me in hospital.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A very scary day

Wills got another line infection yesterday and ended up with septic shock. The speed in which Wills went down yesterday was terrifying. He was playing with his tank engines very happily. He went over to his Dad for a cuddle but was still there for a couple of minutes so we began to worry if he was OK. I went to get the thermometer and, by the time I came back in the room, Wills was blue, semi conscious and shaking violently and Paul was on his mobile for an ambulance. This in under 5 minutes from playing! I ran for the oxygen and blasted it up to the top. Thankfully, the ambulance was there very quickly. They took one look at him and got him straight in and were off with full blues and twos, radioing into the hospital that it was a life threatening situation. The docs were waiting in the ambulance bay and Wills was given resucitation with high flow oygen, drugs, antibiotics and fluids. They were debating calling a CATS team to get him into a paeds intensive care when he began to respond. Good old Wills, a real fighter! It is so so frightening to think that his life can be snuffed out so suddenly. This is not the first time this has happened and he has had a full respiratory arrest. He was on the way to another one this time. We know the signs though and reacted quickly with lots of oxygen. We could have been on a bus, in a park, in a shop - anywhere where we don't have everything to hand though and I don't know what could happen then. Worse still is the thought that this could happen overnight and we may not see. For this reason, Wills is now monitored overnight as his pulse rate speeds towards 200 when this happens and the machine will alarm and let us know. All this because the line that the TPN goes into to feed him is a huge infection risk. Of course, the TPN then feeds the bugs as well as feeding Wills, resulting in instant septacemia. Yesterday, he experienced septic shock. This is a very dangerous position to be in. It is very frightening that we could loose Wills from these infections very suddenly at any time. It is something we try not to think about but have to remain vigilent for situations like yesterday.

There were no beds for Wills in our local or in Chelsea and Westminster so we ended up in St Helliers. They were so lovely there but it is not familiar and it felt pretty lonely when Paul left as I was not at home, or in a place where we are all known.

I am now trying to catch up with everything else that is happening and make sure Hope and Ellie are sorted for the weekend and I have the things I need, as well as the little things and treats I use to make myself feel better in hospital with Wills. They have identified the bug and he should be on the right IV antibiotics tomorrow. Once he has settled, we will go home and continue the treatment ourselves.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Island Of Sodor














Wills had a fantastic day today, well we all did. As followers of this blog will know, William absolutely adores Thomas the Tank Engine. It is what keeps him going, it really is. When he is unwell, he watches the DVDs and reads his books and pushing engines around on a table calms him down better than anything. Of course, he plays with his Thomas things when he is feeling well too but when he is ill, it is really all he wants (apart from blankie of course!)

So, a day out at The Bluebell Railway Thomas Day Out is William's dream come true! We told him he we were taking him to The Island Of Sodor and he really believes that he has been there today. We saw Thomas and Percy, Diesel and the Troublesome Trucks. Stepney is resident at The Bluebell Railway as, of course, he is the Bluebell Engine so we saw him and had a ride on a train he was pulling. William is now a proud member of the Stepney Club so we will be having a good few trips to the Bluebell Railway for club specials in the years to come. We said hello to Thomas and climbed in with his driver to blow his whistle. We watched Thomas and Percy arrive at the station and then watched Percy shunt the naughty Troublesome Trucks around. We also saw another resident engine, Fenchurch. He is not a Thomas engine but William adopted him as one (he had a face afterall) and was thrilled to ride on carriages he was pulling. Other engines had faces on to look like characters so we also saw Henry, Donald and Murdoch. The Fat Controller was also around to say hello to the children (although he seemed to have lost a bit of weight!) All in all, it was a fantastic day, despite the rain, and made for very excited children, especially Wills.

We were wondering if we would make it at all today as it has been a bit of an eventful week for Wills. He has started draining really nasty liquid from his jejenal tube. Most of it is faecel matter that should be draining elsewhere but is not doing so very effectively at the moment. This may be due to adhesions or partial obstruction caused by infections or may just be because his intestines have slowed down so much. Either way, it is now time for Wills to have surgery to sort things out and make him more comfortable. This is still a tricky balance and William's surgeon is still hopeful he may be a suitable candidate for a transplant at some time, unless it is confirmed that his underlying condition is progressive. In any case, things change and the contraindications for transplant may alter as more research is done and more successful transplants carried out. So, even if he is ruled out now, he may be included again in the future. This is tricky because surgery that could be done to make him more comfortable now may hinder the success of fa uture transplant. It is very hard to decide what is best for him when we really are working in the dark with no clear diagnosis. There are a couple of options for surgery now. One is a staight forward illeostomy, the least risky but may not be the most effective for Wills. Another is to make a higher stoma. This would drain very well but would mean there would be very little remaining small bowel, making him "short gut" and so, writing off any function that may remain in his small bowel. William will have some further x-rays and barium studies over the next few weeks before a discussion with his consultant and surgeon to decide what to do. In the meantime, we are draining all the nasty stuff through two drains, from his jejenum and stomach.

William has been struggling with the heat so is back on 20 hours TPN with only 4 hours free from a 2 ft long drip tube. This is very hard for him as he wants to be active like other children, even if it is in his own wobbly way! We are hoping he will sooon get a powered wheelchair to give him more independence with he is on his line, and when he is too tired and wobbly to walk.

We had just got back from the day at the hospital on Friday when Wills spiked a high temperature, making the trip to see Thomas look very unlikely. Luckily, it seems that was due to dehydration (before going back to 20 hours on the TPN) and, perhaps, a normal virus.

Hope had her birthday last week and enjoyed a very girly sleep over. I really didn't have much to do with it - apart fomr providing the tea, Mum really needs to keep at arms length from her and her friends girly sleep over behaviour now! It is sad really, Hope and Ellie have missed a lot of Mummy time since William was born. Hope has had most of her parties, and was 8 when William was born so growing out of big parties. Wills was born the day after Ellie'e 5th birthday so she missed out that year. We have managed to do something for her each year but it has always been around what has been going on and, usually, with Wills and I in hospital. She has had a couple of birthdays hauling her presents up to open on the ward. This year, she is having an early party next weekend so her friends can all come before the term ends and to make sure she has one before Wills goes in for any surgery that may get scheduled during the summer. We looked at a party catelogue and she really has grown out of the fairy parties etc. That is a bit sad really as I fancied one more pink and pretty party. We are going for Pirates of the Carribean and are really going to town on it with treasure hunts and palm trees and a lovely Elizabeth wedding dress for Ellie to wear. Next year, she wants a sleep over too so it looks like this will be the swan song for home made childrens birthday parties for the girls. Once again, we are keeping everything crossed that Wills stays well and home for another week.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Some photos as promised!

As promised, here are some pictures of things that I really should have blogged more about! The first is Wills at the firestation open day last week. This was after I had just run a 10 mile race on a very hot day so I was somewhat tired and chesty but we all had a great time, although it was a bit noisy and busy for me as I really wanted a hot bath and a sleep!

The next one is Wills enjoying story time with his new friends at the picnic yesterday.

The girls also made new friends but I hardly saw them as they were too busy enjoying the playground we were in!

A few weeks ago, Wills, Paul and I went to the special "twighlight opening" of Marwell Zoo with, organised by the hospice. Hope and Ellie were away so, once again, absent from the pics. William enjoyed saying hello to the giraffes, cuddling all the furry animals wondering around to meet and greet the children and, best of all, a ride on the minature steam train! We are going to see the real Thomas and friends in a few weeks. I think he will burst!

Meanwhile, Hope and Ellie are Joseph mad. We are SO happy Lee won the role. We are huge Lee fans. I bought some tickets for them as they really deserve a special treat and a really special day with Mum! That made it all the more exciting for us and we were on the edge of our seats. We screamed when we heard. I'm glad I took the gamble as it is sold out today! The girls have been listening to the music all day and have been on all the relevant websites. Even William is singing along to "Jacob and Sons" and "Colours" (as he calls it). We aren't going until July 26th so the CD is going to get a good few plays I think!





Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sorry!!!

I am so sorry it has been such a long time since I last blogged (thanks to Charlie for texting me today to give me a kick up the backside!)

All is well. We have just been so so busy. William has been well over the last few weeks. There are some problems (as usual!), mainly with the amount of pain he is in due to the compression and fluid build up he has in his intestines at the moment. We are trying suppositries and medication at the moment but there will be further discussions in a couple of weeks as to whether or not he should have the illeostomy. William's consultants are waiting for some advice from the Birmingham team on this one.

Meanwhile, William's hair has gone for analysis to see if he has a very rare (so rare there really is literally only a handful of known cases worldwide) genetic condition called "trico-hepatic-enteric syndrome". William's case for statement for special educational needs is heard next week so there have been loads of appointments over the last few weeks so everyone can update their reports. As William is currently well, we have been able to judge his progress, as sometimes it is hard to tell if deterioration and symptoms are just due to him being so unwell. Cognitively, William is doing really well and developing every day. His physical development is not going so well. He had a detailed seating assessment this week with his wheelchair assessor and occupational therapist. His muscle tone and reflexes have deteriorated throughout his body but particularly in his pelvis and trunk. This really is William's problem area (of course his bladder that he seems to lack control of, stomach and intestines are in this area too). He presents a huge problem as he can function well, he is a fiesty, determined and independent little soul but he really can't sit very well without a lot of support. His spine is now bending in a curve and to one side and, if this is not supported, it will soon fuse. So, after much discussion, it was decided that William should have a powered wheelchair to use when he is on his TPN (which is probably going to have to increase to 20 hours a day) and when he gets too tired and wobbly to walk with his walker. This way, he can have independence and be fully supported while doing so. He is not a usual case (when is he ever!) so we just need to find out if Croydon will fund this. If not, we will be helped to acquire the chair from one of the charities that exist to purchase these chairs for children. A 3 year old driving a powered vehicle is an amusing thought. I hope they can go very very slowly!! We were at a park today and his walker was very much envied by many of the children so I'm sure his "magic charlie chair" will be even more so!

We had a lovely day today, having a picnic with fellow "Fetchies" from the running website I am a member of. It was so lovely to meet people that I chat to online so frequently. I am really looking forward to catching up with others of you again at the Hydro Active in September, although I hope I get the chance to see people before then too! William has been home for a good few weeks now and it is great to think about making plans. Of course, the bubble could burst at any moment, especially as we are about to do some tests to look at his fluid balance and blood sugar levels at home in the next week or so, and there is the whole illeostomy issue.

Hope and Ellie are great too. At the moment, they are resting in bed before coming down to watch the final sing off in "Any Dream Will Do" and, hopefully, watch Lee become Joseph. There is much excitement among the Milne girls about him and Ellie even sent him a lovely good luck card! Hope is preparing for her own show at the moment. She is the narrator in their Year 6 show, "The Rocky Monster Show" She has a lot to do so is very excited about it.

Well, I hope that has updated everyone a bit. I am sorry it has not all been in more detail as things have been happening. I will post more frequently! The main thing has been trying to catch up with work while William is well and my mind is not so preoccupied with him. I have loads of pictures to share with you too and will download and upload them for you tomorrow so do come and have a look.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Catch-up time again








It has been a hectic week, hence the lack of blogging. I have also put very few pictures up lately so here are a few taken over the last few weeks. I still have not had a chance to get my own laptop fixed and am using my work one. I couldn't rotate pictures today (no software on this) so these are just a selection. They were taken at the hospice a few weeks ago and the cold, damp ones are William and Ellie while we were marshalling and watching Hope at the Race for Life. Hope's picture is not up as it needs rotating. Ellie and Wills had a great time playing with cow parsley (making me sneeze). Some of the hospice pictures show one of William's recent discoveries, preparing his meals on a play kitchen and then sitting down with us to "eat". He loves to take part, in the same way a boy likes a steering wheel at the back of a car. If you give him real food to play with, he recoils away from it but really loves playing with pretend food. It is a nice way for him to join in at family meal times.

Well, the last blog followed our flood and William's tube coming out. William's new tube was put in today. We did go in for it on Friday but an emergency took up the staff and the room so we went home without it. It was a very unpleasant and frightening experience for Wills. He had to lie on a table in a room a bit like an operating theatre with a live feed X-ray machine just inches above his tummy. There were about 6 people with gowns and lead aprons around him, passing equipment etc. The procedure itself took about an hour and all the time he had to lie really still while guide wires and tubes were passed through his stomach into the opening of the small bowel below. Grant, the gastro nurse specialist, and I tried to keep him happy with Thomas stories and music on Grant's phone. When it all got a bit much, I promised him a choice of new engine as I felt he deserved a treat for being so good and brave. He asked for Edward and we talked about the games he could play with him when he got home. This procedure should have been done under sedation but oral sedation doesn't work for Wills as he can't absorb it and they would rather only use general anaesthetic where it is really necessary as it causes chest infections for Wills. William is very forgiving though and soon forgets what he has been through (but certainly did not forget the promised Edward and carried it home proudly).

Yesterday, we had a multidisciplinary meeting where all William's therapists and nurses etc, and I, met to talk about what we are all doing with him and what the goals for the next 6 months will be. It was good for everyone to meet each other. So many people are involved in Wills now. Of course, there are lots of things to sort over the next 6 months. Nutrition needs reviewing as William has not grown much and lacks energy. We are going to do 48 hours of fluid balance charts and blood glucose checks in a couple of weeks to see if he needs more calories, fluid or even longer on TPN during the day to maintain his energy and fluid levels. He only gets 6 hours off the drip as it is so I hope he doesn't need to stay on longer. We will see. The other priority for the next few weeks is to stabalise his posture more, so he needs a new, more supportive seating system and wheelchair. He will also get foot and ankle splints. When he starts school and needs finer motor control, he will also get hand splints for fine work as his fingers are hyperflexible and bend back.

Meanwhile, Hope and Ellie are well and happy. Hope got back from Guide camp in time for a week of SATS, which she said she enjoyed! They held auditions for the end of year production, something Hope is very excited about. Now, she is off on school journey for a week and then off to Dads and Granny (Dad's mum) next week, with Ellie as well. A very busy time for her. Ellie is like a fish out of water this week. Honestly, they fight like cat and dog and then she wonders around like a lost puppy when Hope is away, saying all the time how much she misses her. Talk about can't live with and can't live without!

Friday, May 11, 2007

It never rains but it pours...or gushes...

We have had a CHAOTIC day, starting last night. I was washing up and about to go to bed nice and early so I can get up for my run. I heard some water tricking and opened the cupboard below to find quite a steady trickle from the pipe. Next, a river and, within 30 minute an utter torrent. The noise was really quite alarming! I couldn't find the stop cock (still can't find it!) Water was gushing into the house and I had to wait 2 hours for a 24 hour plumber. Paul was out and it was a total disaster. Then, the electrics went, doubtlessly due to a very soggy mains wire under the kitchen. William is dependent on his pump and nebulisers and his TPN has to be kept in the fridge. Paul came home and took the TPN to the hospital to get it in a fridge and the electician arrived and switched the water off at the street. The sound of quiet has never been so welcome, even if it did cost me £140!!!

Luckily, we managed to get the electric back on.The cause of the problem was simply a join in the pipe that had come loose and, under the pressure of the leak, popped off.

I eventually got to bed at 2 Neither of us heard the morning alarms so it was one of those run around chasing your tail, getting later and later mornings. I was relieved William's respite nurse was coming so I could leave some of his care to her but she was also having a shocker (and continued to do so as you will see) so arrived late. Hope walked to school alone but Ellie and I were late.

William, the respite nurse and I arrived at the hospital for his blood transfusion. All progressed fine so I left them to it, explaining to her exactly how to get home. She has been coming to William almost every week for a year now so is well known to us all so I felt confident leaving him. I needed to sort out the insurance (of course, the floor is knackered, and one of the kitchen cupboards) and finish washing and tidying the cupboard contents.

It was all sorted with just over an hour to go before needing to pick up the girls so I set off on my favourite run for the time frame, looking forward to getting off the road and over the Addington Hills (despite the rain). I had only gone about a mile and still in Central Croydon when the phone rang and it was the hospital

William has a gastro-jejenal tube. This has two ports, one that sits in his stomach to drain away the nasty acidic bile that collects there as his stomach empties very slowly, and another port in his jejenum to enable drugs to be delivered there as they irritate his tummy. This is held in place by a balloon on the inside of the stomach. William had been on a bed (he usually sleeps in a cot) and had looked like falling and, in preventing him from doing so, this tube had been torn out, balloon still fully inflated! I stopped my run to make numerous calls to sort this out, as I still had to collect the girls so could not do it myself. Among the bag of emergency kit we carry with Wills, is a normal gastrostomy to insert if the tube should come out as the stoma can close. I explained to the staff how to do this.

After I had sorted things out (or so I thought) I had 30 minues before the girls needed picking up so I decided to do a 5K tempo run. I really needed to burn off some adrenaline as I was pretty cross this had happened as we are so so careful of William's tubes. Without really trying, I ran much faster than usual and smashed my current 5K PB (which was my first ever run so pretty out of date) by 7 minutes at 23:53! I could be a safe bet for the Hydro Active. I hope I can do this time when not so pumped up and stressed as I am hoping for a sub 25 mins.

Things were not so settled at the hospital though and I received a series of calls, on the way home from school, about the tube not draining and X-rays confirming its place etc etc. I was confused as it is a simple thing to insert the basic tube. I suggested I should come up and sort things out but was reassured all was OK and they would be on their way home soon. I stayed home as I didn't want to pass them on route. Unfortunately, all William's gastro specialists are at a conference this week so I can't arrange for things to be properly sorted until next week, when Wills will need a small operation to insert the new gastro-jej tube. I sat at home, desperate to scoop him up, give him a cuddle and make sure all was OK as it had been a rather traumatic pull on the tube.

After a while of wondering why it was taking so long for the 30 minute bus journey, I got a call from his respite nurse to say they were lost! The reception was dreadful and I had no idea where she was and how they could have got there! It was really worrying. I thought about poor Madeline's family as, all I was going through was not knowing where abouts in my own town William was with someone I know but I was still so so worried. It got a bit on top of me I must admit. Wills is so vulnerable and I felt I should have been there with him to prevent these things happening. It could have been so much worse too. The truth is though, I need these respite breaks and a blood transfusion is a routine, regular event for Wills so it wasn't wrong of me to leave him in the care of a nurse he knows well while it took place. Eventually, they got home (2 hours later) wet and cold. The poor girl had a nightmare shift with Wills and was very upset about everything that had happened. I checked his tube and saw the problem immediately. It was WAY to short, the consultant who insterted it had threaded it below the stomach, into the jej. Hence the X-ray. He was in agony. This tube is not designed for this and was not being held in place properly. I reinserted it and, low and behold, loads of gas and aspirate poured out! Once again, I thought that I really should be there 24/7 as it seemed several nurses, a registrar and a consultant did not understand the specialist issues in William's care and treatment.

It took me ages to get the poor thing settled and the girls' moods escalated in reflection! A nice family meal with them and all is now calm. My wine bottle is open and my remaining Easter egg by my side with a "Lost" DVD and a novel. The remaining untidyness can stay remaining until tomorrow!

Monday, May 07, 2007

No clear answers from Birmingham

Home is once again full after a weekend away. Hope has been on guide camp while the rest of us spent the weekend at the hospice. Very welcome following Paul and I travelling to Birmingham for a discussion with the small bowel transplant team on Friday.

I was hoping, as ever, that the trip to Birmingham would bring about instant answers regarding William's condition and treatment. However, as usual with our Wills, the discussion threw up more questions than answers although, overall, we felt the possibility of William receiving a transplant is not too likely. William is not yet critical enough for a transplant. He has at least 2 sites left for his hickman line (although how long these sites last have varied between 10 days and 8 months so this is not good indication of his prognosis) and his liver seems to be behaving itself at the moment. However, William will become critical at some time in his childhood and the idea that a transplant could be his lifeline when this occurs is a great comfort. This situation could arise this year, it could be next, or it could be a few more years down the line but it will happen. As well as intestinal failure, Wills also has physical disabilities that appear to be progressive, recurrent severe lung infections and odd blibs in his immune responses. This is all believed to be due to one underlying condition, probably genetic. We listened to lots of information about small bowel transplants and, towards the end of this, were told that the 2 main situations in which they will not consider transplant is where there is a progressive neurological condition and where there is a disease that is impacting the immune system. This is due to the enormity of the operation and the future impact of anti-rejection drugs. Everyone in the room knew that both of these contra-indications could well rule William out of the option of transplant. So, the next couple of months will see further tests and collation of results to try and decide if William does have the kind of progressive condition that will rule him out of transplant. These results will be shared with the Birmingham team who will, in turn, meet to decide whether he should be assessed for transplant, assessed at alater date when his condition becomes critical or seen as unsuitable for transplant and his care viewed as purely pallitative, enabling any medical or surgical intervention to make him more comfortable to take place. Even if he is seen as suitable for transplant this can not be seen as a magic bullet. It is a horrible operation followed by several months on a medical rollercoaster. Only 55-60% of children who have received a small bowel transplant are alive 5 years after their operation. Lots to think about and some nervous months to come as we wait for the results that will tell us what can be done. Paul and I hope it becomes clear cut it is either ideal for Wills or not possible. It would be a very hard decision to make not.

I was grateful to have the hospice staff to chew all this over with through the weekend. It was an interesting weekend at the hospice. There was a lovely family there who have just lost their son and were receiving bereavement support while he was resting on the "special bedroom" or mistral room. They have a daughter the same age as Ellie and they were inseperable. This did both girls a heap of good and Ellie spoke to me for the first time ever about "when William dies..." This had been something far to frightening for her to think about but seeing another family go through this has shown her that, although very very sad and difficult, she will still be able to play and laugh and make new friends and none of us will change who we are and what we do. We will just be very sad and will always miss Wills. It is strange and sad how my perspective has changed. This was a really important time for Ellie.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A big week ahead

The excitement of the London Marathon has not yet died down on this house hold. I have it on DVD and am still working my way through, remembering how fantastic a day it was. It feels a bit like a dream now and I have to look at my medal to remind myself I really did it! I was rubbish at sport at school and have grown up with very severe asthma so running really wasn't for me. I have now found that distance running seems to work very well for me. I still can't sprint and running for a bus makes me cough and wheeze. I think it is because asthma is caused by reactive airways and, once you have coped with the inial couple of miles, coughing and wheezing a bit, you settle into a rhythmn that is no longer something new for your lungs to react to. I just hope the summer and its heat and hayfever don't muck up this equilibrium because I have found now that I really need this way of burning up the stress and adrenaline associated with our journey with William. I need to keep this up so have entered another marathon, Loch Ness in October. I won't be able to raise anything like the amount I raised for CHASE at London but will try to raise a little bit more with a competition, together with a suitably Scottish prize, to guess my time at Loch Ness. More about that later in the year so watch this space.

I am really going to need my running this week as we have a huge one ahead of us. William is having his MRI scan of his brain on Thursday. This has been cancelled 3 times because he has been too poorly so we hope he keeps well over the next few days. This scan is to see if there are any obvious abnormalities in his brain to be causing his neurological problems. He is also having his veins scanned to see how many can still be used for future Hickman Lines. The surgeons are concerned because his chest veins are dilated and may not be suitable for further line access. Running out of places for his lines would be very serious indeed. As I have mentioned before, it is likely that William's only hope to lose his dependence on TPN is a small bowel transplant. We don't know if he is suitable for this and have been waiting to explore his suitability with the transplant team at Birmingham Children's Hospital. The idea of a transplant was first mentioned to us just before Christmas 2005. The team were made aware of him at that point. William has had a tough year this year and it was decided to formally refer him for transplant assessment in February, before going forward with the surgical intervention he needs to make him more comfortable. Wills has struggled with pain and discomfort and waiting for this opinion has seemed like an eternity. The news came last week that we are due to meet the team and discuss William on Friday this week - not much notice! The transplant team have had a meeting about him and this is the first stage of assessment. Paul and I will go alone this time and discuss William, meet the liason nurse and other members of the team and have a look round "ward 8" where the assessments and transplants take place. We don't know what they will say on Friday. To me, all this sounds a lot to just be told they can't do anything but it may just be a standard letter. Friday is the day we have been waiting for for so long and will be the beginning of the next phase in William's treatment, whatever that may be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Some pictures to go with the post below



The London Marathon

This was an amazing day so this is a very long post.
In short, I finished it - YAY!! My time was 4:46:59. Pretty good considering the heat. I came 873 out of 1881 women in my class (vet 35) and 4551 out of 10854 in the whole of the women's race. To come in the top half, you would usually need a time of about 4:20 so that goes to show the impact the heat was having on everyone.

Here goes, I advise you have a cuppa in your hand if you want to read it all. Pictures will follow when I get them.

(Oh and if any Fetchies are here - this is the same as on the Fetch blog)

Before the Race

Wow, where to start? What a day! I have been so busy, getting myself and the family ready for the big day that I didn't get around to blogging about the Expo and my last preparations so I will blog today about the day itself and then go back in time and fill in the missing bits. I'm sure I will think of more things to say about this weekend over the next few days in any case as the surreal "marathon lag" begins to clear.

My marathon day started at 5:45 with breakfast of porridge and coffee. On Friday evening, I was asked to do a BBC interview with Jonathon Edwards before the start, so I decided not to take a kit bag as I was worried about getting everything done before the race. As it happened, the interview ran very well to time and I would have had plenty of time. It was one less thing to think about though.

On Saturday, I had felt incredibly nervous, a bit like the feeling when you have reached the top of a rollercoaster and are just about to go. The training had almost been like that slow and steady journey up to the top and then there is that sick butterfly wibbly feeling that it is now too late to get off and you are wondering if you will be OK, at the same time knowing that you will but that, with the exciting moments, will come some sheer terror. On Sunday morning, this fear had given way to excitement.


On arrival at the red start for my interview, I was immediately hit by the scale of event. I have watched it on TV for many years but there is nothing like seeing it for yourself. I was there at 8.00 and there were no loo queues so I popped in before looking for the BBC gantry. As I approached the scaffolding, I could see Jonathon Edwards who was to be interviewing me. With the enormity of the entire day filling me with excitement, I found that I wasn’t at all nervous about the interview – not until the first question anyway! Jonathon was so lovely and seemed to genuinely care about the story he was being told during our chat before we started. We did the interview and then I was called back as it had “broken up”. This was great as it meant I got a rehearsal! I haven’t seen the program yet but, from reading Fetch threads, it looks like the interview was seen only by the editors but our club photographer was there to show that it really did happen. In any case, it was great to start my marathon with a chat with a sporting hero I really admire and to be wished well by him.

After the interview, I made my way to the green start and, between queuing several times for the loo, had plenty of time for a little celebrity spotting. I must confess, I didn’t recognize everyone with the red stripes through their numbers but did see Evan Davis, Nel ? – the model, the two blondes from Eastenders and Adam Hollioakes who was running with his Dad and members of the Surrey Cricket Club in full cricket whites for a special Fund set up for CHASE in memory of his brother. I saw them a few times through the course and, with the CHASE connection, was able to start a conversation.

I met up with some of the GFA runners from out club and, before long, it was time to line up.

The First Five Miles

I have to confess, I started too fast and have learned my lesson! The green start gets off pretty well and you can hit race pace (or above) within minutes. I did notice my Garmin reading 8 minute miles at one point and kept trying to slow down but was running at 9-9:30 a lot of the time at the start. I was under my targets at each mile marker for quite some time and did get some hopeful notions that, perhaps, the heat was good for me and this was going to be a great run.

The atmosphere was fantastic. The start took us along residential streets where families stood on the pavements eating toast and sipping coffee. Then we passed churches and other religious buildings where congregations were singing and playing. It was such a fantastic window into the Sunday morning lives of residential London. Further along, we passed the first of many pubs offering a party atmosphere with music and dancing. I think I heard 100 miles by The Proclaimers about 4 times along the course. As we approached the 3 mile mark and merge with the blue start, we played Oggy Oggy Oggy. Everyone was in great spirits.

The merge was fun with much friendly ribbing and booing. I think I crossed over at the right time! I had my first water at 3 miles and my nutrition/hydration plan came into action. Water every 2 miles, gels at 8, 12, 16 and 20 and an ample bag of jelly babies in my pack. The mile markers came fast at first but, oh, how far away they felt later on.

5-15 Miles

Coming into Greenwich was exciting as it is the first of the views that seemed familiar from watching it on TV. It is a shame that we didn’t see The Cutty Sark but the BBC cameras were there up on the crane so everyone was excited and waving up at it.

From about 8 miles, I began to look forward to seeing my family, somewhere near London Bridge Station between 12 and 13 miles.

Tower Bridge was amazing, what an atmosphere! I work part-time (though at home most of the time) for BLISS, the premature baby charity. Some of my colleagues were on the bridge under a big yellow balloon arch. I spotted them and waved and heard a huge cheer. I felt great, until I saw two BLISS runners just behind me and everyone looking at them, no-one at me! Oh well, it is hard to spot a runner in the pack. Unfortunately, this proved only too true. My family were also on the bridge and I didn’t see them and they didn’t see me either. I thought they may have gone on a little further so kept on looking. I was encouraged by the strangers calling out my name and offering goodies. Those orange quarters were amazing and will be top of my list for supporters in future marathon (yes, I am saying future and I knew I’d do this again as soon as I finished)

I was still feeling good and still on target, although no longer with minutes to spare.

15-19

By 15 miles, it was clear that I had missed my family. I felt really down about this and sad when I say banners for “Mummy” that I hadn’t seen those my own children had made. At this point, the race began to get harder and I began to feel the heat. Every St Johns Ambulance point seemed to have an unconscious runner on oxygen and I passed a guy on the road, surrounded by about 5 first aiders, begging them to help him. This began to frighten me a bit, especially as I did feel the odd wave of nausea and, at one time, even began to feel a bit cold and shivery. I made sure I was drinking enough and poured the end of bottles on my head. It took a couple of times for me to realize my cap was water resistant and to remove it before doing this and running through the showers. The showers were heaven and these, and throwing water on myself, made me think of water fights in the summer. That refreshment that follows the initial shock you get when the cold water hits you. Fantastic! I was beginning to fall behind my 4:30 schedule but, with so many people collapsing and stopping for other treatments, I decided to focus on just getting back in one piece.

By mile 18, I began to feel a little disorientated and loose track of when I had last had water and what my race plan was. I was also worrying about my family and wondering if they had made it to London. I began to focus on getting Fetch Central and mile 22 and counted down the miles before I would be there. It was at this point that I decided to walk through water stations to cool down and take a short break. Miles 19-21 were really hard and I did have to take a couple of short walking breaks, just for a couple of hundred yards or so. I saw more and more casualties and was beginning to feel very emotional. My worries about my family got bigger and, eventually, I decided to call them. Paul was struggling with reception due to the crowds and so the phone seemed switched off. I left a message but, after a while, had convinced myself that they had had to take William to hospital and I was stuck miles from the finish, not knowing what was going on. I even considered leaving the race to find them. I lost it then and had tears streaming down my face. I thought about all the people who were behind me and had sponsored me and I had to finish. At mile 21, I started looking out for Fetch Central. I was convinced I had missed it before seeing the countdown banners. They were a fantastic sight, not much less so than the countdown to the finish line. A had always told myself that, from there, it was my short training loop home. Knowing I was now approaching so many people that had encouraged me so much on the Fetch website added to my emotions. I felt so invigorated as I approached and had regained my stride. I waved, but didn’t stop. I think if I had stopped for some hugs, or even a high five or two, I would have been totally overcome by emotion and blubbed about my fears that Wills may not be OK. I got a glimpse of everyone and can still remember the faces I saw. I really needed that cheer and the sound of it, together with such happy faces, carried me to the end. Thanks SO much guys!!! You may have felt I didn’t need you too much as I ran straight past but, oh boy, I did and I ran away from you with more tears in my eyes.

The Blackfriars underpass followed soon after and I felt very weird in there. I think it was the lighting, but I felt sick and dizzy and almost a bit panicky. I didn’t know whether to run fast to get out of it or walk. I opted for a combination of the two. I soon felt better when I got out and soon saw mile 25. I completely forgot to look out for my running club here as I was so focused on getting to the end. The atmosphere was great and people called my name whenever I took the odd walk break. This so encouraged me and, in the end, I found the strength to run to the end. The last stretch was fantastic. I felt strong again and the sites and emotions were amazing. Suddenly, the countdown banners were there and then the finish line. I was amazed to hear the tannoy congratulate us and announce that we were in the top half. I had taken so many walk breaks, albeit very short ones, and couldn’t believe that over half the field were behind me.

My chip was taken off and I was given my medal. I am used to taking it at races so I tried to take it off the lovely lady who was trying to present it to me. I was still worried about William as I still could not get hold of Paul. I tried to put this to the back of my mind as I posed for my photo. The time it took to walk to Horse Guards was awful as I just wanted to see if they were there. My legs were really hurting too. Eventually, I got there and felt almost claustrophobic in the huge crowd. I could see the CHASE banners among the mass of people, balloons and flags and made my way over. Then I hear Paul calling me and physically felt a wave of relief come over me. The tears came back and the whole family had a hug as we walked to the stand. They took my photo and I wanted everyone on it, much to William’s disgruntlement. I was presented with a glass of champagne which I sipped along side my recovery drink. I was in the first half back for CHASE out of 40 and this, together with the announcement at the finish line, made me realize that, in the conditions, I had done better than I thought. I wondered about all those I had seen in trouble and hoped they were OK. We chatted to people at the stand for a while and headed to the pub where I said a quick hello before leaving to go home.