Albert William Langmead, JP
Died Sunday 8 July 2012 at Torbay Hospital aged 94 years.
Devoted husband for 71 years. A loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
A true Torquay gentleman who will be sadly missed by all who loved and knew him.
I had my second OU tutorial on Saturday, it was six weeks since the last one, and I was struck by how much had happened since the first one. I think it’s fair to say that May was a month of madness for me, and so far June isn’t proving much better.
Since that first tutorial:
* There’s lots been going on at work, as ever. If you’re interested in the Value of Social Work then check out the RiPfA Manifesto microsite here
* I have almost finished my assignment – it was a hard one as it caused me to analyse my personal style and consider how that fits with my organisation’s climate and culture, very revealing
* My Grandparents celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary, but not before my Grandad fell in the night and broke his hip – the opposite one to which he broke after Christmas. So he’s a 94 year old with two new hips so far this year, doing his own bit to upset NHS rationing quotas He is still in hospital and we visited him on Father’s Day and he was in good spirits, although looking very frail
* My Dad has been admitted to hospital as an emergency on two occasions, both times 6 days after chemo, he has yet to make it to the second treatment, even though he has now completed his fourth course. Palliative chemotherapy is relatively new, it doesn’t seem that it’s easy, two trips in an ambulance, two emergency admissions doesn’t leave anyone feeling that good – as amazing as the staff working in casualty are, the process itself is draining. Not helped by one occasion being the middle of the night, well 3am by the time Dad finally reached a ward.
All of that said I’m not really complaining, without the chemo there’s a good chance he wouldn’t be here any longer. Indeed he said to me himself on Sunday that he didn’t think he’d make Father’s Day, neither did I when he was admitted earlier that week.
Today Mogs isn’t well. He got up and fell over, lots. He is walking with a sideways wobble and feeling very sorry for himself. He keeps falling over and isn’t really eating. My vet is amazing. I rang at 8.15am, they don’t open until 8.30 but the receptionist was happy to talk to me while she waited for her computer to limp to life. Luckily there was an appointment just after 9, he was given a thorough check over and the current suspected prognosis is a middle ear infection. He had an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic jab and he has to go back in 48 hours. So far he doesn’t look much better but we’ll wait and see.
On the plus side, always looking for one, my Mum took a photo of me and my Dad on Father’s Day and I love it – it’s not the best photo ever, it features me and Dad, and Stella (my parent’s dog) and better still the top of my Mum’s head – but I do love it. Small things, good to have some positive memories – it goes without saying that taking the photo alone was an entertainment -neither of us are particularly at ease having our photo taken and my Mum has skills in many areas but photography isn’t her natural strength (poor eyesight and all that). Anyway, take a peak at my positive show on what has been a fairly horrendous six weeks. As a very wise woman once told me (@amcunningham) just keep putting one foot in front of the other, day by day. I’m still walking.
A week ago I wrote a post explaining Dad’s latest situation with #cholangiocarcinoma Don’t give up the ship, fight her till she sinks. At the time we’d just seen his oncologist and heard the news that Dad’s one remaining option was to have chemotherapy in an attempt to stem the tumour in his stomach bleeding, which in turn is causing him to become severely anaemic and requiring regular blood transfusions.
On Monday Dad went to the unit where he receives the chemotherapy to have his prep session and bloods taken. Less than a week since his last transfusion and he’s anaemic again and his haemoglobin level was down to 7. The fantastic staff did all that they could and managed to fit him in on Tuesday for another blood transfusion, in order for him to start chemo today as they’d originally planned. All of this organised at the drop of a hat, with Dad’s specialist nurse doing what he seemingly does best, twisting arms and calling in favours. So today was his second day at the unit, ten hours at a time, so far so good. The chemo is very risky for Dad, but its a game of odds and the balance of probabilities suggests that doing nothing is even riskier.
Possible side effects include all the usual things (anaemia, hair loss, constipation, wind, loss of feeling, impaired immune system), a major bleed (not surprising given the amount of blood he is losing anyway) and neutropenic sepsis.
Dad has had sepsis on a couple of occasions, including the last time he was on chemo, they’ve warned us that the most dangerous time will be this weekend. Anyone who has ever been taken ill on a weekend, never mind a Bank Holiday, never mind Easter…will know that you don’t want to end up in A&E then. That said, I’m really impressed with the fact that they have raised the issue and reassured Mum that we have to be explicit that we need attention, and it’s also good to know that the hospice palliative care team are aware too. Unless you’ve had to do it I don’t think you can necessarily appreciate how hard it is to request attention once you’ve been admitted into hospital, especially in a busy A&E Department where you’re surrounded by other poorly people. This leaflet, and it’s explicit time bound permission statement to go back and insist on action, is really powerful stuff. Very impressive. This flimsy piece of A4 paper could make the difference on whether someone like Dad survives, I know that with this piece of paper in her hand my Mum would go and ask for further attention, without it there’s a slim but outside chance she might speak up but evidence so far suggests she’d rather not make a fuss/appear ungrateful/nag/push in etc etc etc. Never underestimate the power of a piece of paper for a generation who were brought up to respect authority!
The other possible side effect of one of the many drugs Dad is on is that it could alter your mood. I’m staying at my folks house tonight for moral support and I can honestly say that this drug has altered Dad’s mood….he was treating his sick bowl as a fashion accessory. My Dad has always been a little off the wall, in fact his party trick when I was a kid was to drive the car with his knees and no hands, but I’ve not seen him in a playful mood in ages. Obviously having the chemo and taking some step to fight it is a good thing, for now.
I was slightly wired all day today, I was up in London for a meeting, and I felt so far away if anything had gone wrong. That said it was a good meeting and nothing did go wrong and Dad is insistent that I don’t put my life on hold for him. Having been home for most of March, unfortunately I have stacks of travel planned in April. If I’m truly honest I’m absolutely dreading what the next few days and weeks hold. That said everyone who has dealt with Dad over the past few weeks has done so with such kindness, that it makes me feel reassured and humbled, and a little more daunted (because my suspicious mind assumes that this is a sure fire indication that this really is coming to an end now). I’ve also been blown away by the number of you who have left blog comments, sent tweets or DMs and those of you who text me when I was silent to check how things were going. Thank you all so much. I know it’s hard to know what to say or do in this situation, I know that some people would just rather not think about it, and I know that I am a walking, talking, ball of emotion at the moment and I’m not the easiest person to deal with at the best of time. Thank you all for your patience, virtual hugs and moral support, it’s really appreciated. I’ll leave you all with the man himself modelling an NHS sick bowl!
Tomorrow is my second blogging birthday, at the time I started to blog I really didn’t know whether I’d enjoy it or what I’d talk about. I knew that I’d have some stuff to share though (never really short of an opinion) and I also felt that cancer would feature in these posts….I’m not sure at the time I thought it would feature as much as it has (in my life or my blogging).
My Dad was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, bile duct cancer, in September 2007 just a couple of days after his 60th birthday. Up until this point he was a picture of health, he was a postman and walked miles every day, he volunteered with the Army Cadets out on the moors or the parade ground, he walked my parents dog, he didn’t smoke (hadn’t since us kids came along – so 30 odd years) and he rarely drank. It was a complete punch between my eyes when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, his own mum had died shortly before (having lived into her 90s) and my Grandad Stan (Dad’s dad) was still alive, also in his 90s, so there was nothing to suggest my Dad should be getting a cancer diagnosis. It just didn’t make sense….although I now appreciate it rarely does.
At the time Bobby J was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma he was told a couple of things that were very hard to hear 1) that his cancer was exceptionally rare and therefore not too much was known about it’s projected development, treatment or Dad’s prognosis; 2) that he’d be very lucky to live long. I’ve blogged before about what has happened and about my experiences, and as far as I see them Dad’s experiences of fighting this disease – I added categories recently so you can see the most recent posts by clicking on ‘cancer’ in the top right of the screen.
In a nutshell Dad shouldn’t have lived long:
- he had very complicated surgery that the odds of him surviving were very low – but he survived
- he had chemo that had horrendous side effects – so he finished it early but survived
- he has had MRSA numerous times – which he has defeated on every occasion
- he was misdiagnosed with swine flu when he actually had an abscess and septicaemia – and he survived
- he has been told he has months to live on at least four occasions, but he is still here 4.5 years later.
Today it feels like things have taken a turn for the worse. Dad has been anaemic for a while now, he has had a couple of blood transfusions and his haemoglobin is dropping dangerously low. Today he went in for an endoscopy, hoping that as part of it whatever was leaking would be found and sealed, but instead they discovered another tumour in his stomach. We’re not sure yet what this means, we’ve known he had more than one tumour for some time, but in some random way it still feels like a surprise that they’ve found another problem.
The local NHS staff have been amazing, the specialist cancer nurses have made Mum and Dad’s lives much easier, especially in the past few weeks. It is really hard to describe how it feels, to know that Dad is terminally ill, but also that he has been for years. It makes it quite hard to know how to take each episode of ill-health. He has consistently beaten the odds, I’m not sure any of us know how to address the possibility that he actually wont beat it this time, mostly because Dad’s ability to beat things seems so inextricably linked to his positive mental attitude. It’s not that we don’t all recognise that he is terminally ill, it’s just hard acknowledging that when Dad seems to cope by refusing to accept or believe the reality.
Now the waiting game starts again, Dad had a blood transfusion after the endoscopy so he is currently full of energy and relatively optimistic. The multi-disciplinary team are going to discuss his case tomorrow and then one of the specialist nurses, or the consultant, will contact Dad to let him know what they recommend. I’ll keep you all posted but for now I wanted to just therapeutically rant and hit the keyboard. Mission accomplished. Thanks for reading.
I got a fitbit for Christmas, it didn’t arrive until early January, but it was well worth the wait. I absolutely love it, in fact I think it’s one of the best pressies I’ve ever received…high praise indeed.
A what I hear you ask? What is it? Why is it so cool? And why does this post start with Jiminy Cricket?
Well the fitbit is a fancy pedometer, an activity tracker, my new found conscience and motivator all rolled into one. It’s not just a pedometer though, it counts steps and stairs (elevation) climbed, and calories burned. It also allows you to track your food consumption, weight and BMI. The fitbit works in conjunction with the website and an app if you wish to use that.
That’s not all though, it allows you to manage your data over time, so you can look back and identify trends. It also allows you to complete a journal, to measure your mood each day, and allergies if you suffer from those too. Even more excitingly, you can wear it on your wrist at night and track your sleep – telling you how long you sleep for, how long it takes you to fall asleep (or to lie still so the fitbit thinks you’re asleep), how often you wake in the night and judging your sleep efficiency. I love this aspect of the fitbit and it’s really helping with my challenge to myself to get more sleep this year. Here was my sleep on one night this weekend – I’m blaming a combination of Mogs and my partying neighbours for the interruptions, but it’s good to see proof.
The other thing I love about the fitbit is the trivia and the reward badges. Stairs are measured in fun terms eg 6 floors – you have climbed the Tallest Dinosaur, come on who wouldn’t want to measure the amount of floors climbed by dinosaurs, or pyramids, or buildings. I’ve included two sample days below:
In an attempt to convince you of how wonderful the fitbit data is I’ve included a day from a few weeks ago, when I was on holiday and out walking the Scottish hills. That said it is quite fun to challenge myself on days when I’m at work and less active, to see whether I can increase the flights of stairs I walk up each week (I’ve never been up and down to the photocopier as often as I have this year), or to see how many steps I can take. The other brilliant feature is that you can ‘friend’ people on fitbit and your data is compared on a weekly basis, which supports friendly rivalry.
My fitbit was a pressie so I didn’t spend £80 on it – that said I’d spend that tomorrow if I didn’t have one. In fact earlier today I thought I’d lost it (I eventually found it under my car – note to self, make sure it is clipped on properly) and would buy one in an instant. I’m not saying it would work for everyone, but it is definitely working for me. If you’re not sure go talk to the people at @fitbit and see if they can tempt you.