A Stroke of Genius

Topic of Cancer? Well on the cancer front I had a a session of chemo back in February tthat went off a bit like a damp firework! It did a bit of good , but I reacted to it which probably led on to a heart condition call Atrial Fibrillation. After the Lymphoma came back for thethird time in October 2018 I was swiftly put on a programme of chemotherapy (see the previouus couple of TOC posts)  . This, although pretty arduous, resulted in success as I achieved remission after only four of the six chemo seessions planned – so far so good. However,this is still not a cure; at some point it will show up again and will need confronting yet again.

No, the most recent problem has involved my heart, with an irregular heartbeat which showed up about a year ago; pssably as a reaction to some of the chemo I’ve had over recent years. The condition is called Atrial Fibrillation, but as far as I’m concerned I haven’t noticed much difference. But one morning a woke up with extreme breathlessness – I just couldn’t breath deeply enough. Jane phoned the HOTLINE at the Christie hospital and was advised to cal 999 and get an ambulance to the nearest A&E! Although we live in a fairly remote spot,, two full-size ambulances arrived in less than 10 minutes complete with a paramedic. She, the paramedic, whose name escapes me, sorry, put me on a nebuliser and did and ECG, which confirmed my heart was attempting a Tango rhythm but failing miserably. So i was whisked off toStepping Hill Hospital A & E. The nebuliser had had a pretty rapid effect and within 15 minutes I was breathing normally, but the underlying issue withe the dodgy heartbeat, AF, remained. The Christie had pre-warned A&E to expect me and I was seen immediately I arrived. I spent an hour or so in A&E while they decided what to do with me and I was admitted and ended up in AMU (Acute Medical Unit), probably the worst place on earth for a guy with a severely compromised immune system as it full of people with every kind of infection who have just come in off the street – brilliant start!!

It soon became apparent to the AMU doctors and nurses that I was, shall we say “misplaced”, and they tucked me away in a corner, hooked me up to a heart monitor and tried to get me a bed in the Cardiac unit. I was feeling pretty awful, generally unwell while I was there, but the breathlessness had gone, although the AF atrial fibrillation showed up alarmingly on the monitor. A series of new drugs to loweredthe heart rate, regularise the heart rhythm and thin the blood was prescribed . I also noticed I was getting some visual disturbance on the extreme left side of my vision, with a sort of rippling waterfall effect and a sharp headache behind my right eye. I mentioned this to the medical staff and was sent for a CT head scan which confirmed I’d had a stroke! Bugger!!! I was just feeling fairly pleased with myself having escaped the final two chemo sessions for the cancer, then my eyesight, which had always been good was being messed up!

It’s difficult to describe quite what I’m seeing. The original ‘waterfall effect’ soon disappeared leaving an area long the top and left of my vision ‘window’ where vision was distorted slightly. This is odd because I’ve still got full wide-angle HD vision in both eyes but when I focus on something specific: a word or a number, say – Alphabet or 15000, what I see is – lphabet or 500. The first letter or digit is deleted, or more accurately, masked by something in my eyes, or really my brain has decided tosort if blend into the ‘page’ as it were. . Even typing this on the computer is tricky as each word is missing its first letter! This applies to normal vision too. When you’ve had a stroke you’re not allowed to drive for at least a month.and then only after you’ve been passed fit by a specialist. So Bugger! Bugger!! and thrice Bugger!!! So after having driven probably more than a milllion miles hin my careeer I have to be driven around by Jane in MY special Land Rover XXV – it’s like being castrateed!

The stroke consultant says that the stroke was caused by an’ infarc’ or blockage in one of the tiny blood vessels supplying that part of my brain which receives visual information from my eyes and interprets it into the visual images we all rely on. However, he is hopeful that with time, the brain will find ways of bypassing the blockage and restoring some of the lost vision. I hope he’s right as not being able to drive is a real pain and I can’t use my lovely Discovery XXV which Ive had for less than a year ! Thank God I’ve got Jane here to ferry me about.

So recently I’ve had a couple of temperature spikes, been admitted, sorted and sent home, but the underlying issue is the Mantle Cell Lymphoma which, as we always knew, was going to be an increasing threat. I guess chemos at an end although a clinical trial was discussed, but I’m doing OK on high dose steroids and functioning pretty normally, although stilll a bit weak and tired and emotional. But stufff’s getting done and I’m eating like a horse!

So I’ll call that finished for now. Isn’t it funny, you go through life fearing all the f***ing monsters, big C, heart disease, stroke, etc. Then ALL of the bugger# come along at once!!! Not whingein’ just saying…

Love to all❤️

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