Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Take a Break

Treatment day today and hooray I have been able to give it a miss, not totally brilliant as its because I feel really rough and my blood pressure is very high but the break will do me good, and the next dose in 3 weeks time I had already arranged to miss as I am going away. There is a guy at hospital that I talk to, he is in the same position as me and 12 years younger but he is still suffering, he said he overnight felt like he was an old man, aches and pains, fatigue and general lack of interest or energy for anything, it cheered me up a bit to realise it is not just me and also someone a lot younger.
A week ago I went to stay with some friends on the North York Moors, gorgeous part of the country. My mate had just bought himself a new Mini, so we spent the weekend in it exploring nearby sites, now I really don't do cars anymore, I wasted far to much time and money on cars when I was younger. First thing I did when I got home was take a trip to Warrington Mini and buy one that I had seen on line, and very nice it is too.


I don't do loads of miles these days and I don't particularly enjoy driving, but the Mini is a very well put together car, very responsive and tight to drive, so I am sure it will get me interested in driving again, despite the fact that I actually detest cars, or is it that I detest what cars have done to people and the countryside!
Despite buying the Mini, the first thing I did the next day was take a train down to Birmingham, doesn't matter how nice a car is, sitting with thousands of others on the M6 and then taking for  ever to drive into Birmingham, just to leave the car all day while you go off walking is not my idea of a good time.

Nr Dudley Port
 
 
Yup a walk along an old railway line was the purpose of my trip, this particular line ran from Bescot to Dudley via Wednesbury and Dudley Port, it was closed in the 1990s and technically mothballed, which in this country means abandoned to nature. Part of the route has had some of the undergrowth cut back to allow it to be assessed as a possible extension to the nearby Wolverhampton-Birmingham Tram route, hopefully this will come about, although it will take some years to complete.
 
As I mentioned at the top of this page I am going away, actually I am going to Hawaii in 4 days time for a month. When I am back in march there will be plenty to write about, so to quote the classic TV series 'The Prisoner'
'Be Seeing You'

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Onwards

2017
I used to say to my friend Alan, stop counting back the years to see how long ago certain events were, used to really depress me as there is nothing you can do to change anything, but it is obviously a symptom of getting older as I have to stop myself now.
People often say how brave and strong I am, I really don't feel either, I feel tired, so very tired, how ever hard I try it makes no difference, positive thinking, exercising, eating healthily, 8 hours sleep, none of it makes any difference, I have had enough of constantly hurting and struggling. The other week at Clatterbridge I was chatting to a guy 12 years younger than me on the same treatment, and he said he suddenly feels like an old man, he has a girlfriend 10 years younger, so it makes life very difficult, I don't have a younger girlfriend but life is difficult.
I am off to Hawaii in 4 weeks to stay with my sister, I am trying to word a message to get across to her exactly how I feel both mentally and physically, she can be quite opinionated and has a very annoying habit of assuming everyone thinks the same as she does I don't want her advice and herbal remedies and the Lord will save you ideas, I just want her friendship and companionship, the last thing I want is for us to fall out. Maybe it is me, I find I enjoy my own company more and more, everyone seems so stressed and angry it is easier to get on with yourself, maybe it is an opting out of society, I am lucky I am only responsible to myself, it has been a conscious decision and that is the way I wish it to remain.


Rent
 
 
Just before Christmas I got to see Rent in London at long last. Truly fabulous show, the St James is quite an intimate theatre, and the show suited it perfectly. Quite a few years ago I was dumped and almost the first thing my ex did was jet off to see Rent on Broadway, I was not amused! The show is loosely based around the opera La bohème, a mixture of joy and sadness not least that its writer Jonathan Larson didn't live to see it open on Broadway.
 
 
Clatterbridge
 
 
 
Christmas in hospital!
I did nearly spend another Christmas in hospital, I had my treatment on the 23rd and there was a complication and it looked like I was going to be kept in, but fortunately by the end of the day my blood had sorted itself out. The guys and girls at Clatterbridge were fabulous, general hospitals these days are not allowed to get into the spirit due to infection risks etc, but at Clatterbridge it was superb each department had their own theme, and Dorothy even had a little dog to walk around with, made  such a difference to what was a pretty awful day.
 


 
Boxing Day on the Mid-Hants railway with thanks to Emily. A gorgeous fresh day, perfect for having a ride behind a steam engine, and for once some photos of me!






Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Lancashire

 
 
Lancaster


I moved to Lancashire permanently a bit over three years ago, technically I live in Cheshire but historically Warrington is in Lancashire, as my old friend Alan would often remind me, can only imagine his reaction when the County boundary changes came about some years ago.
Being born in London and living in the Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, and technically Dorset (more boundary changes) the North West is quite a contrast, both in the landscape and its people. I know there is always something new to see wherever you live, and I do still love walking the streets of London, but moving to the North West has given me so many opportunities to see new sights, and I am only105 minutes from London courtesy of Virgin Trains, also Manchester Airport is only 20 minutes which will be very handy when I fly to Hawaii for a month in February, but that will be a whole new story.

 
Rochdale Canal, Manchester
 
 
 
Talking of places to explore, you can't go far wrong with Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, and if Hebden is a little touristy, take a walk up the hill to Heptonstall, gorgeous unspoilt village in Calderdale.
 
 
 
Hebden Bridge
 
 

Heptonstall







Thursday, 3 November 2016

Lights on

4pm and the lights are on, and the heating, as it is a little bit chilly.  That time of year again, at least I will now be able to catch up with my Blog and website, find it very difficult in the summer if the weather is nice to sit on the PC.
Although the days are short, the winter is the time for exploring, as the undergrowth dies back and the trees lose their leaves, so abandoned tunnels can be got to and seen a lot better, the downside is the mud. By their nature disused tunnels are very damp places, especially in winter.
I have been to Glasgow four times this year, I am on a mission to photograph all the disused railway tunnels in the city, around twenty, and I have probably done half of them.

 
Kelvinside Station

Kelvinside Station from Balgray Tunnel


Kelvindale Tunnel

Temple Gasworks Tunnel




There are a lot of Kelvins in Glasgow, Kelvinhaugh, Kelvinside, Kelvingrove, Kelvindale to name a few, I am starting to learn my way around the city, having only really passed through in the car a couple of time and on the train a few times. The Kelvin river near Dawsholm, is a fascinating area, with the remains of at least five railway viaducts.

 
 
Dawsholm Branch Bridge over the Kelvin
 
 
 
I am now in my tenth month of taking the Immunotherapy Drug MPDL3280A or Atezolizumab as it is now known. Scans so far have been very positive, with a marked reduction in the size of the Tumours, and my consultant has even gone so far as to say that if the Cancer is cleared from my Lungs and Chest they may consider operating to remove the Tumour from my Kidney. This is of course amazing news. Next month will be three years since I was diagnosed, and around eight years since I contracted Cancer, only a year or two earlier and I quite possibly would have died by now, I really am so fortunate with the timing, that there is now treatment for Kidney Cancer that works.
The side effects have taken there toll, I had a break from treatment in August for around six weeks, I was really struggling, the various aches and pains were to numerous to mention and I suddenly felt like I had aged twenty years, and the lack of sleep was driving me mad. After the break it has been better , mainly with the sleep, it is problems with sore feet and ankles that are my main problem, I wish I lived in a Bungalow as walking down the stairs first thing in the morning is very difficult and painful, once out and about its not so bad, and I do try to continue walking a lot, although I suffer for it the next day.
 
 
The Deam

 
 
 




Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Virgin Trains

 
 


Bury, Lancashire
 
 
Ok so not quite Virgin Trains, but these are some shots from a ride I had on the Footplate on the East Lancashire Railway the other month, many thanks to the Steve Leyland in the last shot and the rest of the crews.
 
Talking of Virgin, they are running a summer sale at the moment, so I have booked a few trips, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham, 4 trips for just over £100, so that will be plenty more photographs of the more seedy side of our Cities, actually the London trip is to go to The Maritime Museum, Imperial War Museum and HMS Belfast, places I have not been to for over 30 years. My Grandad served in the Royal Navy in both World Wars, my Uncle served in the late 1940s early 1950s and my Father was born in Portsmouth, so there has been a lot of Navy tradition in the family and thanks to some Facebook groups my interest has been rekindled.
 
 

HMS Duncan, Liverpool
 
 
 
Just to show its not all warfare.
 

MS Queen Elizabeth, Liverpool
 
 
And I can even find dereliction.
 
 
MV Sarsia, Birkenhead


 
 


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Not so Healthy Living

Its funny how things in life can change almost overnight, and especially anything to do with your health. We live on a very narrow tightrope with our health, something that many try and ignore and others completely disregard until its too late.
I am coming up to my 7 month of treatment, 9 sessions I think. It really has gone very well and I am incredibly lucky, it is obviously working, there is little sign of the Mets in my Lungs or the lump in my chest, and the Tumour on my Kidney is certainly a bit smaller and more importantly the density is changing which indicates the blood supply to it is changing. The side effects have really been very minor, certainly compared to what happens to some poor souls on something like IL2, but I am starting to notice them and they are disrupting my life. Over the first 5 months or so there did seem to be a set pattern, 1st week after treatment, no sleep, 2nd week very disturbed sleep, 3rd week sleep like a baby, but that has all changed. A month ago I was very positive, getting into quite a good routine, eating healthily and plenty of exercise, but the last couple of weeks have knocked me sideways, I am still exercising and eating sensibly, I haven't touched alcohol for over a month, but my sleep is almost non existent. I have tried cycling late in the evening to wear me out, I have tried relaxing and reading before I sleep, I have tried Herbal concoctions and Meditation, nothing has worked, my body feels exhausted but that's it, I can only liken it to standing on a crowded train, where you are desperate to sit down, but know you have two hours of standing. I have been getting bad tremors in my hands and feet, the hands are not a problem, often happens when I am out and about, disconcerting more than anything, but the feet come on with vengeance as soon as I lie down, a bit like Restless Leg, where you have this constant need to keep  twitching, making relaxing and sleep impossible.
Until you go lengthy periods without sleep you just don't realise how much it impacts on your life, on the face of it as a side effect it seems  very minor, but after a couple of weeks you realise you are only existing, which is no life at all.



Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Healthy Living

I am now in my 6 month of treatment, and I have to say it is going pretty well. The CT scans have shown a general reduction in the various tumours and lumps, to be honest I am awful at digesting information from specialists, I know I have a large Tumour on my remaining Kidney but the other various lumps and bumps I am a little vague about, maybe that is a good way to be, anyway, the treatment is obviously working and quite quickly as well. Side effects have been quite minimal, various strange feelings, tingling, flu symptoms and trouble sleeping, lack of sleep has been the biggest problem.
As the injections are 3 weekly, I was going through a cycle of getting no sleep the first week, a little the second week then sleeping like a log the third, just in time to have my next dose. So this is where the Healthy Living  comes in, I have now made a plan to actively sort my health out. I am now in my third week of this, 40 mile cycle each week, sensible eating, plenty of fish, salad and fruit, and plenty of reading to relax, rather than watching DVD's, and it is going well, I am starting to notice the difference with the exercise, not so much its getting easier, because it never dose, but more my attitude to it, much more positive and much more relaxed when on me bike, the furthest I have been is 21 miles, which is not really any big deal, but I felt pretty comfortable doing it, and it was on my MTB which is always a lot harder work. Apart from the obvious physical and mental benefits of exercise, I am now getting tired in a good way, so am sleeping a lot better.
In some ways I can be quite a strong character, and my attitude to the treatment is obviously helping, I am incredibly lucky to be still here, and I am  very lucky to have got onto this clinical trial, so I really don't have anything to moan about, a few sleepless nights and rough days is nothing compared to what many people have to go through.

Breakfast

Bridgewater Canal

Lymm Railway