Conundrum


I am currently languishing in the Perth suburbs, Western Australia.

Last October, my son-in-law Steve was diagnosed with a brain tumour (glioblastoma). Very quickly, following the diagnosis, he was whisked into hospital for brain surgery. At the time we didn’t know how much after care he would need but we offered to help out and so my wife and I travelled out to Oz to provide support.

After care wasn’t the issue. Steve really recovered well after the surgery with no real pain and none of the residual weakness that would have been present following an abdominal or chest operation.

No, the follow up treatment and schedule was the real issue.

The radiotherapy was daily, Monday to Friday, for six weeks. Whilst the chemotherapy was tablet form, taken daily Monday to Sunday during the same six weeks. Following the surgery Steve was forbidden to drive for the next six to twelve months. So, to enable my daughter to carry on working, my role was to act as chauffer. Daily trips to Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth interspersed with trips to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, also in Perth. As well as various trips for blood tests and scans.

As the chemo built up in his system, the expected nausea and fatigue and exhaustion also built up. Alongside all this came the loss of appetite and corruption of taste buds.

And here is the conundrum.

What do you feed someone, who has all this going on ?

Even after the initial course of chemo and radio therapies has been completed, the dietary disruption continues.

After all, it is hard enough, under normal circumstances, to cater for the normal familial likes and dislikes of

  1. a granddaughter who doesn’t eat meat that isn’t chicken or ham (unless its a burger or a rissole, then almost anything goes) and has a limited set of veggie likes (eats broccoli and cauliflower but not green beans or pumpkin). By the way she loves fish but won’t eat salmon.
  2. a wife who loves fish especially salmon, has a short list of veggies (eats cauliflower but not broccoli and no sprouts or carrots) and doesn’t eat “spicy” food or creamy food i.e. white sauces are something of a minefield. Still waiting for the clear definition of what constitutes spicy.
  3. a daughter who also doesn’t like “spicy” food, likes fish that isn’t salmon or trout. Not sure about tuna ??? Eats most veggies (definitely no sprouts) and all non chicken meats have to be cooked to near charcoal point i.e. no pink

Before the tumour and chemo, Steve used to pretty much eat everything. Now he finds the flavour of most foods to be too strong, overpowering.

So, bland is the order of the day. Steamed fish or chicken predominates. Or the same but simply pan fried or baked. No sauces and definitely no herbs or spices. Some meals comprise just two tenderloin chicken pieces, total weight around 60g, steamed and maybe accompanied by a couple of carrot batons and/or a small broccoli floret.

So, how do I feed Steve without overpowering his hypersensitive taste-buds ? How do I coax him to eat a bit more as his energy levels are already depleted due to the chemo ? The lack of food does nothing to boost those already depleted levels. How do I introduce a bit of variety to his diet ?

Although he completed the initial concurrent chemo / radio therapies, my son-in-law has now started a new regime. He takes a five day course of tablet form chemotherapy, one week in four.

So, the disruption to taste, appetite, stamina and energy levels will be continuing for the next six months at least, maybe even for twelve.

Any suggestions ?

Dairycrest Driver – Dickhead Of The Day Award


Yes, Thanks for the scary WTF moment this morning. I needed something to get my heart pumping …. NOT !!!

So there I am following this Dairycrest milk float through the QA hospital site when you, the Dairycrest driver, decided to pull into the bus stop lay by without indicating or braking. I carry on following the road and am just pulling alongside the milk float when you, the Dairycrest driver, pulled back out into the road, again with no indication.

Good job one of us was awake this morning as I avoided the collision that you, the Dairycrest driver, were intent on having.

That is why I award you, the Dairycrest driver, my Dickhead Of The Day award.

This award is normally reserved for Aqua Cars drivers, who have a total disregard for the highway code once the get on the QA site. However, they were somewhat scarce today so the award is yours.

Idiotic Outpatient Appointment Rules


On Tuesday 9th October, 2012 I had just completed an appointment with the consultant dealing with my Prostate Cancer. I left the hospital clutching the details of my next appointment.

Having elected for  “Active Surveillance” the next appointment, to review PSA blood test results, was scheduled for four months time. i.e. 11:10 on Monday 18th February, 2013

A while later, seems like a couple of weeks, I was notified that the appointment had been cancelled and that I would be advised of a new appointment in due course. Time passed, Christmas came and went and no new appointment. Knowing that I had to arrange for a PSA blood test a couple of weeks ahead of the consult and not having a specific appointment I took a punt and arranged for the blood test to be carried out on Friday 1st February.

Well time flies by when you are enjoying yourself and here we are, half way through January and I still had not heard anything regarding a new appointment.

So I contacted the Urology Department at the QA where they explained that the original appointment had been cancelled due to government and/or NHS rules and I had been placed on the Outpatients Waiting List. However, very helpfully she said she would arrange a new appointment for me.

“I have an appointment for you in February” she said.

“Monday 18th” she said.

“That’s amazing”  I replied “My previous appointment was on that day”

“What time ?” I asked.

“11:10”  she replied

“Bizarre” I responded. “That’s when my original appointment was scheduled”

“Oh I can’t give you that time” she jumps in. “The diary is showing a conflict with your original appointment even though it has been cancelled.” “I’ll have to give you another time. How’s 11:20 ?”

Obviously I accepted the new time and she said she would mail me confirmation.

So in summary, the new rules meant that my appointment had been shifted by 10 minutes, had cost me a telephone call and cost the NHS/QA  three appointment letters.

WHY ?

I can only imagine that they are applying the same petty bureaucratic rules that stop me from being able to book an appointment, to see my GP, greater than a month ahead of time.