These past few months have provided a rather unpleasant rollercoaster ride both for me and for Wink and all my family. As we seem to have reached the end of the road, I have asked Wink to write this blog post to bring you, my loyal readers, up to date.
The chemotherapy treatment, which I mentioned in my New Year post, was too much for me and the pains associated with my metastatic (advanced) prostate cancer continued to worsen. Finally, in the second week of February I was admitted into Lourdes Ward at St. Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, not too far from home, for them to help manage the pain. I was expected to stay a couple of weeks. But, there I remain, almost three months later.
Unfortunately, shortly after arrival at the hospice, I suffered Spinal Cord Compression, which can lead to partial paralysis. Very quickly I was offered radiotherapy in five sessions at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Bart’s) over the following week, which was essential for any quality of life at all. The stress for Wink and I going back and forth between Bart’s and St. Joseph’s took its toll and I became in much poorer health, before getting any better.
The good news was that eventually, by mid-March, the pain began to lessen, and I started to regain movement, but had to adapt to new realities. Due to my lack of mobility and our home in Limehouse being very small, we decided that when I left the hospice, a nursing home was the only possible place to go. We were assured that due to my rapidly deteriorating condition, the State would fund this (how lucky we are in the UK). Wink researched possibilities and together we decided on Aspen Court, close to Limehouse and with a good reputation. It would also enable me to stay in touch with the excellent medical team at the hospice as it falls in their geographic area. But there was one problem: they had no rooms available, so I had to go on the waiting list. And I remain on the waiting list.
Meantime, the oncology department had agreed that chemotherapy was not a good solution for me and had prescribed some extra-special hormone tablets to attempt to slow down the cancer progression and thus the inevitable symptoms, including pain.
The hospice team managed my pain well and once the good effects of the radiotherapy became apparent, they reduced the drug doses to allow me to feel human again; they also helped me with mobility and many other matters. So, from the end of March I have managed to enjoy visitors more and have enjoyed several excursions out in the car with Wink, and later with Helen, my sister, to a couple of restaurants and to spend a few hours back at home in Limehouse. Although I have lost my taste for wine, I appreciated being able to eat different food from the hospice, but I’ve realised that my taste changes on a regular basis, which also affects my appetite.
Following a bad couple of days a week ago, when my pain returned with a vengeance, we have made some momentous decisions to decline further treatment including the hormone tablets, which may be contributing to the extreme fatigue I am feeling.
I am now most likely to remain in St. Joseph’s until my days end and that may be in a matter of a weeks or less – it’s very hard for anyone to tell, least of all me. St Joseph’s have kindly moved me to a larger room, which is more comfortable for visitors and less noisy. They have all the skills to help me to adapt to this new phase and allow me to end life as comfortably as anyone in my situation can. Please do support them if you can – they are 50% funded by donations.
Feel free to email or contact me via Messenger – I am happy to read messages when I can, but may well not reply. Contact Wink with any specific questions. Wink will post a final message when the time comes.
Thank you for reading this and all my previous ramblings. And thank you for offering your friendship, from around the world.
Keep making the most of wine, travel and life for as long as you can.