We have had Jenny’s mum and her cousins Helen & Justine staying with us for the last 2 days so there has been limited opportunity to post a blog entry, but the upside is that there is quite a lot to catch up on. It is now Saturday 11th February, or day 57, or the 1st day of week 9 depending on how you want to look at it, and we still don’t seem to be any closer to returning home. Is that true? Well, we must be closer to returning home and I’m sure that is the case but without a definitive date to aim for and arrange flights, then I suppose things are still up in the air.
Since our trip to Gießen hospital on Tuesday Jenny hasn’t been too good with fatigue and pain being her main issues. She continues to display good vital signs (especially her blood pressure) so no real alarm bells are ringing. We are quite used to the ups and downs of Jenny’s health over the last few months and there are usually indications as to the reason, and in my opinion this little spell of “down days” is no different. Earlier this week we switched from IV meds to oral meds, which was always going to be a little difficult based on previous experiences. This coupled with a bit of constipation and subsequent loss of appetite has led to some quite average days in comparison to the last week or so. I’m confident that this will pass as Jenny has improved slightly each day over the last 3 days. In light of this recent spell, Dr. Herzog felt it appropriate to cancel Friday’s appointment at Gießen for the portacath. This has been rearranged for Monday and we’ll take a view on it over the weekend. Pragmatically, it is definitely the correct way forward in terms of administering medication for Jenny but we keep stumbling at the final hurdle with this procedure and Monday will be our 4th appointment!
Thursday saw the departure of Stewart & Michelle who flew back to Australia in the evening. This couple were simply a genuine “salt of the earth” pair who took life as it came. Stewart was always a pleasure to chat with as he simply couldn’t stop smiling and Michelle was another “jock-strap” with a heart of gold. We enjoyed their company greatly as we have with all the Aussie’s who have been through the clinic over the last 2 months (and there have been a few!). We shared an interest in farming (mine being a mild interest) and Michelle kindly emailed me photos of a cow caesarian they performed on one of their cattle (I thought I’d spare the readers of the blog from those pictures!)
Thursday evening also saw the arrival of Jenny’s mum, Cathy, and her cousins Justine & Helen who flew into Frankfurt Hahn (Frankfurt’s 2nd airport) and hired a car. I had booked them into the usual B&B and in the afternoon headed down to collect the keys from Johanna as I wasn’t sure what time they would arrive, as it had been snowing lightly during the day and didn’t know if there had been any delays. Rolf & Johanna own, and run, the local B&B that most patients and guests seem to use and all of our visitors so far have stayed with them over the last 8 weeks. They are a very welcoming couple who run a lovely guesthouse and unbeknown to me also have a dog! I got to meet him as I was picking up the keys and managed to get a photograph of him with Johanna – everyone meet Spike (one seriously large dog – the picture doesn’t do him justice…)
The girls arrived around 8pm, laden with gifts. We decided to have dinner in our room and ordered pizza (again). The presents were a great lift for Jenny and included some essentials, slippers and clothes from Cathy, a bracelet from Niggy, Jon, Ben & Sophia, a mug from Vicky, toiletries from Helen & Justine, perfume from Justine’s daughter Charlotte, a chocolate rose and a fabulous calendar made by her 2-year-old son (and our godson) Harry, which now sits proudly on Jenny’s wardrobe door. I got my favourite choccy biscuits – lots of them.
I met with the girls for breakfast the next morning about 9am and they started to meet people who they had read about on this blog, initially it was Hilary & Arthur over breakfast. We spent some time with Jenny before Helen, Justine and I drove into Nidda for a few hours whilst Cathy looked after Jenny. We had a little tour of Nidda before settling ourselves down at a cafe in the main market square. The cafe had tables outside and we had commented earlier on how daft people looked sat outside in temperatures below freezing . However, 15 minutes later we were doing the same, as the cafe provided blankets and it didn’t seem that daft all of a sudden. We spent a couple of hours catching up over a few beers (coffee for Justine) and cheesecake before heading back to the clinic late afternoon.
We were hoping to get out of the clinic in the evening, with Jenny, for a meal at the Kurhaus Hotel, but she wasn’t quite up to it so we decide to continue to line the pockets of the local pizza takeaway joint by ordering again. The girls all had steak whilst I couldn’t resist another pizza (different toppings this time!)
Yesterday also saw the departure of Stephen & Tara from Orlando, Florida who were returning home for a few weeks before coming back to Germany for more treatment. I didn’t get the chance to chat with Stephen & Tara as much as I would have liked as I’ve spent a bit of time with Jenny over the last week in our room as she hasn’t been up to venturing down to the dining room for meals. Stephen was only diagnosed with metastatic stomach cancer in December 2011. A week before his diagnosis he had a pericardectomy (removal of the lining of the heart) and had been hospitalised several times prior to his diagnosis, as the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, pericardium (lining of his heart), and spine. The couple chose a treatment plan in Germany, a difficult decision as they have 2 young boys back home in the USA. Jenny & I would like to wish them the best of luck for the future.
Also departing yesterday was Fiona from Scotland who has been a real crutch for Jenny over the last 10 days. It was her 3rd visit, and potentially has 3 more, meaning we are sure to see each other soon.
This morning I was determined that Jenny made it down to breakfast and Saturday’s always present a relaxed way of doing this as the clinic runs breakfast right through to lunch, meaning there is no rush in the morning. Jenny took a bit of persuading, which did prove difficult for me as I’m sure it can come across to her as “nagging” but I can see the benefit she gets from spending a little time out of the room and integrating with other people. Jenny definitely benefitted from making it down to the dining room this morning, but it was by no means easy for her. Simple things like this really do require amazing effort and incredible courage from her – these are the things that you take for granted when healthy. We met with the girls about 10.30am and had breakfast in a quiet dining room with a few others, with no time pressure.
Before we knew it the time was 1.00pm and time for the girls to depart. This was always going to be difficult based on the bond between all of them. Obviously Cathy is Jenny’s mum and both Helen & Justine have grown up with Jenny & Damsy and are all still very close. It was great to see them but it was a shame they couldn’t stay a little longer.
Whilst we haven’t seen them for 2 weeks as she has been in Frankfurt having operations, Renae and her parents were due to fly home to Australia today. I haven’t heard anything from them since the confirmation of their travel details, so I’m assuming they made the flight without any problems. Renae has had 2 major lung operations in the last 2 weeks and is due to return back to the clinic once she has had some rest back home – what a truly inspirational young woman.
Whilst I was Skyping this afternoon Jenny got a visit from Dick & Cathy who had bought us some gifts. They had got Jenny some new slippers, freeze-dried organic strawberries (which are just bizarre!), chocolates and pecan nuts. I got a fab present which is just what I need at the moment as my fridge is filling up with chocolate and was in need of some liquid stock – a cold can of Guinness. Thanks guys, totally unnecessary but very much appreciated.
This evening I had dinner in a very crowded dining room (Dr. Herzog was hosting a local sports club / team – he sponsors a cycling team and they may have been in the area so it could have been them). Jenny stayed upstairs as she continues to improve but didn’t want to push herself too far in one day and after dinner Dick, Cathy, Hilary, Arthur & Sylvia came up to see her for an hour which just boosts Jenny no end and brought today to a fantastically positive conclusion. Thanks everyone for being there when it matters.
Over the last couple of weeks a theme has been cropping in with some of the gifts Jenny has been receiving – Angels. Up until this week Jenny had been given a small ceramic angel by one of the nurses and this week also received an angel from Michelle & Stewart, an angel bracelet from Niggy & Jon and another ceramic angel from Hilary. All of these coupled with the hanging crystal from Chris & Debs (which bathes the room in small shimmering rainbows) need to do their work now – come on guys don’t let us down.
The last couple of days have been quite difficult as Jenny hasn’t been at her best and also quite uplifting because of our visitors. I suppose all things considered these even out to give us a steady, average few days. Week 9 is here and it’s time it dumped all its good fortune and vibes on us to get us back to where we were last week. This coupled with a bit of “noetic” thinking from everyone will bring Jenny on leaps and bounds.
Its been a few weeks since I put a photo montage together so I thought I’d finish tonight with the latest installment…
If the above video won’t play directly from You Tube (due to international restrictions) then please click here to download the video (it’s set to open Windows Media Player by default and buffer the video – but this may differ from PC to PC).