Blood Tests and a Light Bulb Moment

So back to Friday, just after the phone call where I left you all yesterday.

Before all that happened on the Friday morning I, in my dream machine as I sat and ran my fingers through my hair, just like any other morning but today, hair and lots of it came away in my hands, I don’t know why I haven’t mentioned this before now. Well I do really, firstly was it just a one off? and not hair loss (denial) or was it just going to slightly thin and I could get away with no one noticing and again denial I think. I’m on double dose morphine so I believe that soon the pain will magically disappear and I will be normal again, I just have to get through the zombie stage that morphine also brings where fatigue is so bad that you struggle to even lift your own eye lids up to look at people.

Anyway around 10.30 I spoke to Emma from Kingston as I wanted her to send to me the previous list of money saving ideas that we all, as a management team had collated as there is no point in try to reinvent the wheel is there?. We thought we had come up with some great ideas before and Kingston’s Troy (Operations Manager) had been invited to attend Head Office along with other stores due to some of those ideas being deemed as good ones and HO wanted to recognise the effort that had been put into this list. Whilst I was on the phone to Emma the house phone rang and it was Michelle an Ian Rennie nurse who wanted to check I was okay and to say that she was the nurse for the weekend should we need anything. Steve spoke to her for some time whilst telling me to get off the phone. As I finally came off the phone at the same time Steve and Michelle had given up on me and she had hung up too. Oh well I thought it’s okay as I can call them anytime and Marina has set me up for the weekend with all the drugs I need. I fall sleep again until 1 pm.

Mary arrived at about 1.30 pm with the Beating Bowel Cancer buckets and badges, plus flowers for me, thank you Mary. We chatted over coffee but all too soon it was time to leave for the hospital as my blood tests had to be taken ahead of chemo on Monday and I have to be there for 3 pm. We offered to drop Mary into town as we were going to the hospital. Mary decides to come with me to get my bloods done before she goes as it should have been quick and it would be lovely to have the company. I get out of the car and only use my stick as it’s a very short walk to the lifts and then to level 5 and the Sunrise Ward. Steve has been sent on yet another drug run to the chemist for KY jelly and more laxatives.

When I first started going there I used to check in at reception and just go to the bay I was in for that day. Now when I go in I’m greeted by smiles, as I walk into bay 1, nurses wave and say hello as I walk through and as I enter bay 1 I’m greeted by ‘hello Sex Kitten’ lol now this the first time and I already have a Sex Kitten pseudonym so I can’t adopt that one for me too. We exchange a few giggles and I sit and wait. Mary and I continue chatting. Blood extraction started I wave hello to Nurse Daisy with my walking stick which is now covered in daisies, she thinks that I have done this because of her and I haven’t the heart to say otherwise. I swear it was Mary not me that mentioned my blog however I will admit to taking over talking about it and that they are all in it. I refer to the pre chemo chat post with Daisy where all answers to any problems with chemo end with her saying in her accent ‘if you get temperature, you go A&E’ they are all laughing now and using the computer and their iPhones to log into the blog. I even have to write down the blog web address too for them as they all plan to read it over the weekend. So I tell them to download the book as it’s easier to follow. Now they are impressed, so I tell them about the Cancer Free song and ’50 shades of chemo’ now they all think this is wonderful and I spend so long talking about my blog that I suddenly remember Steve and hope that he hasn’t been kept waiting. I say we have to go and we leave them all in a very happy Friday mood cos they are in my book and their ward is in a video and they are in my blog. Job done I think as they maybe able to spread the blog to other patients or fellow nurses, plus they really laugh when they know ‘wiggy woman’ is in it too. Now I’m happy as well. Mary and I leave the Sunrise Ward laughing too.

On the way down to the car park I call Steve but he has been stuck in traffic so that’s all good then and as he needs to get something from Staples which is just right next door to the hospital and I’m feeling okay we agree to meet there. Mary joins me too and leaves when Steve arrives. Now it really is only a short walk but I regret doing it as the pain starts again. We return home and I hit the extra painkillers. At 7 pm I continued as planned with the extra morphine dose hoping that this will work. I have another problem too which is that although agreed with Ian Rennie nurses that during conference I wouldn’t take laxatives it’s now been 4 days with no movement and my tummy is starting to swell, as too are the tumours in my neck and extra ones have started to come up at the front of my neck, plus the hair loss, nice hey?

The plan now is to hope to cope with the extra morphine and that it works and I have to start taking laxatives. The prescription collected by Steve makes us both laugh as I now have 100 sachets of Laxatives and 5 tubes of KY jelly, now that’s a lotta lube for anyone. Friday night was spent cancelling my plans to travel to the Midlands as I know that I would be in real trouble if I tried to go. I took 4 sachets of laxatives and nothing happened. The discomfort continued and although I had another broken sleep all night I used the time to write yesterday’s post.

Saturday morning came and I feel a little bit better, I even cooked breakfast which whilst using the surfaces to hang onto I can manage. Steve suggests that as he would like to get out of the house for an hour, would I like to join him on a visit to a garage and then an aquatic shop near by and then return home. What could possibly go wrong hey so I agreed and got changed. I decided that I would like to drive and off we set, the pain starts in my neck where the extra tumours have popped up, my leg aches from the tumours in my leg where I use my accelerator and my back is in it’s normal pain. It’s not long before I pull over and Steve takes over. I will not put other car drivers’ lives at risk at all. At the garage I walk a very short distance with my stick and the pain continues. We go to the aquatic center and Steve tells me to wait in the car and not to even bother coming in. I haven’t ever told you about our fish have I, well that’s because although I feed them every morning as part of my routine and I look at them everyday as they swim there’s not much exciting writing material there so they never made the blog before. So before you think oh no a boring fish story is coming, I will spare you that pain apart from the knowledge that when we brought  a school of 5 neons they were of course called ‘Take That’ and then when the real band split up two died and now there is only three but like the real band they are still going lol.

I sit in the car and I want to cry, where’s the extra pain relief from this morphine, why am I still in pain and weak in my back? It doesn’t make sense to me. As we travel back home we see a garden centre selling hot tubs, we stop as I want to look at them. The thought of having possible pain relief instantly in my home overrides the pain, if I had one of them like at conference it would be a way of having instant relief and bugger me it’s sale time :-). I struggle but determined to see them, to cost them out. Full details collected and as painful as it was it was worth it to see them but now I just want to get home to my chair and take extra drugs, to take all this bloody pain away. I had two great days without extra morphine at conference so why am I in so much pain today?

Back home in my chair I take extra drugs, I am back to my hot water bottle from Linda and I’m low cos the pain instead of just being in my back is down the right leg and in my neck too, plus I have to take bloody laxatives and talk poo throughout the day. Marina said on Friday if I don’t go over the weekend she will turn up Monday morning wearing industrial rubber gloves and she hopes that this will frighten the ‘shit’ out of me, lol very funny but I hope so too.

Steve suggests I phone Michelle, ‘will you phone her’ I say I just can’t face talking to anyone as I know I will cry, so I leave it to him and just lie there in pain and starting to look 6 months pregnant as my belly swells. Steve leaves a message for her to phone him and we wait. It’s not long before she calls back and Steve tells her our story and goes through all the drugs again and that the Ibuprofen 600mg tablets seem to work best and that the only other time the pain goes away is when I’m on chemo.

The LIGHT BULB moment – so then Michelle says ‘hold on that wouldn’t be the chemo, does she take Dexamethasone?’ Yes he says whilst she is on chemo only and just for the first 3 days, the 3 days where the pain goes away to a dull roar and I just have to cope with the side effects. OMG that’s the answer right there its the Dexi tablets (shall we call them as that’s too long to type every time). It’s the Dexi tablets that work for me, that takes the pain away not the chemo and guess what I have them here at home in my drug cupboard, I’ve always had them here, the answer just sitting there all along, for ‘fecks sake’ as Rita would say. Michelle tells Steve not to let me take any as it’s 3.15 and they interfere with sleep patterns, that she will call the doctor and confirm if it’s safe to take them from tomorrow, she hangs up and Steve and I sit together awaiting her call.

Now you can just imagine it can’t you, us sat in silence staring at the drugs that will take my pain down to a dull roar and then looking at the phone waiting for it to ring. Shall we or not take them it’s only just after 3 pm and my sleep pattern is not good away so where’s the problem? Steve breaks the silence to say that he knows what he would do, he would take them and just not tell them, what harm could they do, I’ve taken them before without any reaction.  I say ‘no wait for the call from Michelle.’ Waiting continues as I stare at the box, the answer to pain for a few hours just sitting there right in front of me. At 3.24 pm I give in and take two. Then the phone rings and Michelle confirms that a prescription is waiting for Steve to pick up at the walk in centre at Wycombe Hospital but he has to go get them now as a doctor is waiting for him. Steve leaves immediately. He doesn’t tell her that I have been naughty and taken two Dexi tablets. What would you have all done I wonder?

Whilst he is out getting the drugs Michelle calls to see if I am okay. I can’t lie, I’ve never been good at it apart from when I was really young and so I tell her I have taken two Dexi, she says she doesn’t blame me. She is shocked when she hears that I sleep on a chair in the kitchen and that I only get 2-3 hours sleep a day. She offers me a hospital style bed for my home. No, no, and no that’s end of days stuff for me just having that stuff in my home fills me with fear, no thank you and I’m grateful but no. Michelle understands and says that they will get my pain sorted and they now have just one week to figure it out as you can’t take it long term whilst on chemo as it also lowers your immune system but they will find the answer and I take comfort in their determination to help me, thank you Michelle.

Before the hour is up the pain has eased to a dull manageable roar at last. Steve returns with the drugs and we have enough for one week as you can’t take them long term. The evening comes and although cancer pain is better now the pain from not going for 5 days is not good. I continue to take laxatives and at last something moves, it’s not an impressive amount but at least Marina will only be turning up for a chat and a cup of coffee and there will be no industrial size gloves in sight. I return to Steve to tell him the good news but my poo is a shade of pale yellow. so I look this up on the internet and read out the possible causes, we fall about laughing as it starts with ‘this maybe a sign that you are unwell’ It just really made me laugh, ‘bugger me Steve I may be unwell’ I say laughing! Anyway I hate talking about poo as you know but on a serious note if you have pale poo it means that it’s been in you body for too long, go see your doctor please.

My swollen Belly
My swollen Belly

The evening continues in this vein, me taking laxatives and in constipation pain and discomfort, my belly swells and swells, this must be putting pressure on the tumours which put pressure on my nerves and with the Dexi tablets now worn off I’m back in pain. Rebecca is out for the evening at an engagement party, we have the house to ourselves, we should be having a romantic, sexy time together without any interruptions and yet again it’s been spoilt by my illness. This makes me sad. Steve eventually goes to bed, the highlight of his romantic evening is watching Dr Who and knowing that I have finally been to the loo and talking poo colours, my poor poor Steve, my Mr Wonderful.

Steve asleep and Rebecca returns just before 2 am from the engagement party. Once I know that she is home safe I can rest and at 2.30 am I sleep until 5.30, and I laugh as I wake as 3 hours is now normal for me and I don’t regret being a rebel in taking the tablets at all now.

Sunday – so the new pain control plan is to reduce the morphine back to just  a single dose twice a day, to increase the Gadapentin and to introduce Dexi in the morning and at lunch time :-)

This post is now way too long for you all so I will leave you to get on with your Sunday rest but finally before I go I will leave you with happy thoughts.

Did you see Peter Andre last night and support him? I did, what a mover he is. Come on Peter, let’s win this hey!

Yesterday I got this text from Mary from BHS High Wycombe

I forgot to tell you a lovely lady came in to work today to find out how the fund raising went last Saturday. When I told her we raised just over £600 she was so pleased she told me last week that her mum had died a few years ago and she hadn’t seen anyone collecting for bowel cancer until she came in to our store then again in the Eden. Just wanted to share this with you. XXX

Now how lovely is that? We have made someone know that we care about the sufferers of bowel cancer :-)

I also received this message:

Really glad you had such a good time at conference and what wonderful people your BHS friends are. Buy BHS is my new motto. Xxxxxxx

So Mr Bottom if you read this post you will know that my readers are supporting us both in terms of recovery :-)

And finally following the successful tweet from Sean Fletcher I have asked him to retweet the Cancer Free song, so we will see how that goes, well I think I tweeted him as you know how bad I am on tweeter hey!

Enjoy Sunday, pick daisies and balance that emotional bucket is what I say :-) love to you all xx

 

 

 

 

 

Departing Conference and bringing you up to date

It’s just after 6 am when I wake as so I head straight for the kettle as I know Rita is stirring and of course for my normal 1/2 a biscuit. Now on the way to conference when Steve and I stopped at the services we brought emergency biscuits from M&S and they were lovely. The only thing missing from my normal morning routine is Tia, the ungrateful rescued cat, Molly however she doesn’t normally come to say hello until about 8 am (lazy dog) and my all important fag but sometimes you can’t have everything in life can you but I’ll be with them all again soon. Rita wakes and we are both excited that I have slept for so long. Morning drinks done we start to get packed and then dressed as we have arranged to meet everyone for breakfast at 9 am with the view that we would be on the road for about 9.30.

Our hotel room is full of my presents, our bags and with my wheelchair on top of all of that it’s like an assault course in itself just to move around the room. I look at my gifts and feel so lucky, avoiding eye contact with the rug of course with it’s pretty ribbons holding it together as it will start me off crying again. My joy of the last two days is not about gifts it’s about the joy of being there with everyone and sharing precious moments. I think to myself that I have received enough love, support and encouragement to continue what I’m doing to last me until we all meet again at the next conference and I use this when saying goodbye to people later on as it really does express how loved everyone has made me feel. My emotional bucket is getting full and I need to give something back by continuing my work on spreading awareness, writing my blog, doing my BHS project work and being the best I can be for my loved ones both friends and family :-)

Shall I explain what an emotional bucket is? Okay then for those who don’t know. If you consider your emotions and well being as a bucket. You have to have a balance between giving and receiving to keep the bucket levels balanced. If you give, give give always doing for others, wearing yourself out, working too hard then your bucket becomes empty and so does your heart. You feel low and depressed. If you take, take, take from others and give nothing back then your bucket becomes too full, it can  over flow and you become selfish, arrogant, and take people for granted. Your bucket becomes too heavy to carry around and so you will eventually be very lonely as people turn away from you. The perfect bucket, like life, is a balance of give and take.

In the hotel breakfast room I’m hoping to see the lady who I spoke too on my first morning to thank her for the extra duvets, pillows and blanket but she isn’t there and also to see James to say thank you to him again. I didn’t see the lady but I did see James. I try to thank him again for all that he had done for me in ensuring that I could attend conference but he just keeps smiling saying it’s fine and was a pleasure to do everything for me. Bless him, thank you James.

During breakfast as normal after the night before we try to find out the gossip but nobody has any. Everyone has behaved themselves and even BFF looks good on only a few hours sleep. Breakfast done Rita organises every available pair of hands to help carry my bags and presents out to Mr Grey’s car whilst all I have to do is after a quick fag outside sit in my chair and say my goodbyes to everyone.

As I pass through the seating area of reception I spot Janet from Hanley. I call out ‘keep her away from me’ this is just a joke but every time I see her I cry. She has promised to come down on the train soon to see me at home, bless her. She instantly comes to me and hugs me. She whispers in my ear ‘if I hug you tight enough and for long enough I hope I can take all your suffering away’ that’s it and I’m sobbing in her arms again. She is one very special loving lady.

Loads of people come and say their goodbyes Liz, Jacqui, Amanda, Sue from the Isle of Wight, nag bag Jo (love you really), Dave West and Mr Muscles to name just a few of the hundreds of people that pass by, I even got a kiss from Mr Bottom (on the cheek of course) :-) It’s all too much and as I am pushed by Rita to head outside for a fag with a coffee I bump into the Black Country clan. Claire from Telford, Julie from Walsall and Cath from Wolverhampton. We all sing the famous Black Country song together, which opening lines are:

‘I’m Black Country born and I’m Black Country bred, I’m strong in the arm and thick in the head’

HRH, and the Black Country Clan
HRH, and the Black Country Clan

Which makes Janine HRH laugh who is just passing to also say goodbye quickly. We all have a photo taken together to remember the precious moment. Julie the Store manager of Walsall had spoken to me the night before. She like so many others in the BHS family saw my blog via the daily shares from my loyal supporters and started to read it, she is now addicted and loves it. I’m so pleased to get feedback about my blog from anyone, good or bad. As I say countless times I have never written anything longer than a postcard since leaving school apart from work reports. I can see the joy in her face when she got to meet me last night and I’m just so pleased that I’m reaching out to people, that awareness through my journey is spreading and that hopefully that I can spare others from this awful disease.

Now finally outside with a fag and a coffee the bags of presents and clothes go whizzing past me by the team of helpers. Karen comes and joins me. She is so upset and starts crying. I beg her not to cry as I just can’t cry anymore, my left eye has become swollen I’ve cried so much. She just can’t stop as she hugs me and it starts me off again. She says she is crying because she has enjoyed just being with me again after not seeing me for so long, that she misses me everyday at work and doesn’t want to leave me as she doesn’t know when she will see me again. I can’t stop her crying. She puts her sun glasses on the hide her eyes from everyone but as she is still crying, her lips are all wobbly and I can see her biting her lips trying to control them. I give her some daisies from my bag for her to give to Emma at Kingston. This makes her even worse and she says that she can’t face seeing Emma as she knows she will just breakdown again. I just don’t know what to do now, like princess the day before I just can’t stop her sobbing. Eventually she leaves me and their is a pain in my heart for her as I hate how upset she is, my poor lovely Karen.

I can’t see Rita and so I ask Mr Grey to push me to the loo for an emergency wee before we head off. As we go through the reception area I saw Rita out of the corner of my eye talking to Janine HRH she is crying too. On the way back from the loo she passes me trying to hide the tears but that’s clearly not going to work. I don’t think that she wanted to me to see her upset and she says that she was just telling Janine how much she had enjoyed the last two days with me and she doesn’t want it to end. I know how she feels, I have loved every moment, even the teary ones but we all have to leave and hope that I’m well enough to be able to attend the next conference in 6 months time.

Poor Princess with no room to move at all
Poor Princess with no room to move at all

Back outside the front of the hotel Mr Grey pulls up with his car. He has a Citroen DS3, the sporty one. Now it’s so full of all my presents that poor Princess in the back has no room at all. Wheelchair finally wedged in too I have to say my final goodbyes and thanks to Rita and Leanne who have looked after me so well for the past two days. All done and safely in the car we pull away from the hotel and I just feel so blessed and happy. I’m also looking forward to being back home too, to Steve, Rebecca, my chair and of course our ungrateful rescued cat and lazy Molly dog.

Final photos from conference that I didn’t use in my previous posts but I want to share with you all as they form part of those precious moments with you all.

Me the my new region and boss, Jonathan
Me the my new region and boss, Jonathan. Sorry about the red eye Simon I did try to reduce it honestly
IMG_4771
Rita collected all the name tags from our special table No 36 with sparkling bits from the table and gave them to me to keep as a special memory, bless her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4785
The first evening heading outside for a fag, I thought a cone on my head would be a great look, lol

 

Princess in the dream machine
Princess in the dream machine

Finally back at home and a quick cup of tea for Mr Grey and Princess. Princess gets to see and play with my dream machine chair. Molly dog goes mad when she sees me as she is so happy to have her mommy back. Tia is nowhere to be seen and when she does appear she ignores me as usual apart from feeding time of course, she has never been grateful that bloody cat. Final goodbyes done and I’m alone with Steve again in my dream machine. But as I previously mentioned I’m so worn out within 1/2 an hour I am asleep and I slept for 4 hours.

I wake at 4 pm and at 7 pm I have to start taking the double dose of slow release morphine which Marina has agreed with my doctor. Drugs taken and although I was warned that it may knock me about for 2-3 days until my body got used to the new amount I wasn’t quiet prepared for the fatigue to kick in so badly so quickly. I can’t keep my eyes open, my speech is slow and slurred like I’ve had a stroke. This continues into Friday and although I have planned to go to the Midlands as I have arranged to meet up with friends. Which I was so looking forward too, I know that I won’t be able to go. I have no control over the fatigue and I start to cancel my plans with friends with a very heavy heart as I send the messages.

Me and Mike, just for you Tracy :-)
Me and Mike, just for you Tracy :-)

I have however a surprise for you Tracy Nelson, I found Mike for you. I told you he had left but he has returned to the BHS family and he remembers you working with him in Merry Hill. He sends his love to you.

 

 

 

 

Friday

Mary was due round at 1 pm today to drop off buckets and badges for my weekend in the Midlands but I didn’t cancel her as I wanted to see her. We had a lovely hour together catching up on the conference. It was a good job she was running late as I had been asleep again and only just woke up as she arrived. We were just about to get ready to leave as I have to have bloods taken at the hospital at 3 pm prior to chemo starting on Monday when the phone rings. It’s my doctor just checking on the prescription sent through from Marina and did I want any other drugs? I asked her whilst I had her on the phone if the results were in from my MRI scan taken last week. FINALLY some good news, she talked about normal wear and tear to my spine but the only words I heard clearly was that the cancer had not spread to my bones. Prayers are working Rita :-) I was glad that Mary was there too to share the good news with me and Steve.

Now I was going to bring you up to date date but this post is getting too long so I will try again tomorrow as lots has happened, nothing bad so don’t panic.

I want to just thank the extra donations from: High Wycombe BHS team of £100, The Big man himself, Juddy £110 from his cake sales, Countess Judd for the remaining £25 from her cake bake off, Jenny and Jx £10, Chichester BHS team for their extra £118, my BHS Kingston team for the remaining £170, and finally an anonymous donation of £20. Thank you all so much as every penny counts towards this great charity, Beating Bowel Cancer.

I also want to thank Liz who works with Steve, she contacts him every week to see how I am and to support Steve, thank you.

Now don’t forget it’s Strictly Come Dancing tonight and we all need to support the wonderfully sexy Peter Andre as he has also supported me by re-tweeting my Cancer Free video.

And finally on the prayer list for tomorrow Rita is Karen and Frankie, my loved ones as always, for anyone who is grieving for lost loved ones and for everyone to find the right balance in their emotional buckets.

 

Conference – The Evening Do

On the way back from the Jacuzzi BFF and I stopped to have a quick fag before getting ready (in an allowed area, before you start). I phone Steve to tell him how good it was and that we were going to get ready now. That as normal there will be little contact from me as the evening normally flies by and before you know it it’s midnight.

Phone call over BFF pushes me back to my room so that we can all get ready. The plan for tonight is that Rita takes over looking after me so that Leanne can enjoy herself. Rita is moving into my room and I have worried about this for ages. If I can’t sleep which is normal I don’t want to keep her up either, she has a long drive tomorrow too but there is no telling her, she won’t listen and I am touched that she like so many put me before their own needs.

BFF leaves me in my room to get ready. Alone, quiet no one there. This doesn’t happen very often to me, being alone and sometimes when it does I get scared. I worry about the next 12 months and I love my life, I don’t want it to end, I’m not through with living yet, I want more, more time but I have no control over my illness and I just have to accept that whilst I don’t know how long I have left I’m going to enjoy it the best that I can and share precious moments with the people I love.

In the disabled shower there is a seat, so I’m seat washing off the chlorine and still wondering what I can do to support the business. Mr Bottoms words still ringing in my head. I have to think of something. Then it came to me! The ‘Golden Quarter’ as we like to call it in retail is the most important time in retail for us all. Mr Bottom challenged everyone to come up with an idea. Now all those ideas  Mr Bottom asked for need to be looked at and analysed. We can’t afford to have Store Managers off the shop floor looking into ideas. They need to be with their teams driving service and sales. So is that something I could do? To support the whole business? Collate and look into everyone’s ideas?

Prior to going swimming I had a chat with my new boss Jonathan Hancock and we discussed how I could support my region with project work from their ideas but actually just one region may not have all the answers. If I collated all the regions ideas, as lots would be duplicated could I liaise with Head Office departments to follow through on the best ones. I’m excited now as it least I have something to put forward to the business that I can do for them.

Dressed, make up and wig on we head off to the evening do. The corridors are busy with everyone in their best dresses and tuxedo’s. Perfume and aftershave fills the air. Everyone looks lovely, smart and there is a buzz of excitement for the awards ceremony prior to dinner. The awards are for Store Manager of the year and STAR, which is why Karen is at conference as she has been nominated from our region.

It’s weird being in a wheelchair as you are at the wrong height to be all to talk to people. Throughout the day everyone was sat down in the auditorium and I wasn’t aware of how separated I felt until the evening do. We were all called through to see the awards presentation. The noise of everyone talking was too much. I’m not used to it. Lots of people came to say hello and to admire my wig but having a conversion was painful so I tried standing for a while. But Rita was soon on to me and returned me to my chair. She pushed me through the crowds to find Karen but she was nowhere to be seen, not at my level anyway. I wanted to be with her to celebrate if she won and to be there if she didn’t. We couldn’t find her anywhere and the Awards started. Karen didn’t win and I never found her until later. I was sad for her but she was our regional winner and I hoped that she took comfort in that.

A quick fag and then into the dining hall for the meal. As I have mentioned on a previous post I have been able to chose who I had at my table and although I hadn’t included Karen in that list but we moved her onto the end of our table so that she was with us all. The tables were decorated beautifully, all festive and all seated we chat away, as does every other table. 500 people talking and the noise for me is just too much but I know when the meal is over everyone will be off dancing and peace will resume. The menu this year was interesting, so interesting were the starters that I was looking forward to my bread roll. We all have to pre order our food choices and whilst they all sounded very posh on the form they aren’t what I would normally order if out for a meal. However it’s all free and I appreciate that conference costs the business a lot of money.

me and Mr Grey
me and Mr Grey

So we are all sat talking away and I then go round the table taking photo’s of me with everyone there and here are those photo’s precious moments captured for us all to remember.

 

 

 

 

Me, Mother Hen and Mr Vines
Me, Mother Hen and Mr Vines
Me BFF and Jurgita
Me BFF and Jurgita
Me Chris, Gill and Karen
Me Chris, Gill and Karen
The whole table together
The whole table together
Sam delivering my gifts
Sam delivering my gifts

I return to my seat and continue talking when from behind me there appears Sam McGeorgor and with her an endless stream of daisy bags. I couldn’t grasp what was going on. She briefly said that Region 9 had had a collection for me and the gifts were for my daisy den. I was so shocked and managing to hold the tears back due to the shock I think and then I saw the rug. Now what’s so special about a rug I hear you say. Well whilst out shopping with my mom for soft furnishings for daisy den I had a budget of £250 – £300. I actually spent £402. I desperately wanted a rug and I saw one that a liked but didn’t buy it as I had spent too much already. I decided that any other soft furnishings would have to be brought over the next few months, little bits at a time. So when I saw the rug it just finished me off and the tears rolled again. I’m crying, Rita’s crying, Mother Hen is crying as I keep going on about the rug story. I opened the gifts and they are just so beautiful. The people in Region 9 are a mix of people who know me and who don’t know me. They thoughfulness and generousity is overwhelming, I just can’t believe that they had done this for me. Massive thanks to:

Regional Manager –  Sam McGregor
Store Managers
Rita –  Chichester
Yasmin – Bromley
Caroline & Marie in Woking
Jo – Worthing
Paul – Brighton
Jo – Crawley
Danny – Basingstoke
Sue – Isle of Wight
Simon – Camberly
Ross – Ashford
Jan – Gravesend
Fiona – Hempstead Valley
Simon / Sheldon – Tunbridge Wells
Emma – Eastbourne
Ian – Maidstone
Justine – Fareham
Chris Derry – Loss Prevention

Me with some of region 9 including Princess and Mother Hen
Me with some of region 9 including Princess and Mother Hen
Me and Rita in my dressing gown, just one of my special presents
Me and Rita in my dressing gown, just one of my special presents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So it’s all to much for me and I leave my bread roll to go outside for a fag to pull myself together. On the way back to my table we pass Caroline (Princess) and other managers from Region 9 so we stop to thank them. Hugs and thank you’s done to those on the table I know and don’t know as I hold onto my wig and tears flow again. Princess is quiet and just looks at me. We have worked together before and known each other for 8 years but I haven’t seen her for ages. I forget how hard it is sometimes for people who know the old me and then see the new me. She just cries and cries, I can’t cheer her up or get her to stop at all. She isn’t even speaking to me, she just sits there tears rolling uncontrollably. I have an idea, I reach into my bag on my chair and give her a daisy. This doesn’t help either, sadly. There is nothing I can do now, out of ideas so I just have to leave her. Maybe if I’m not there it will be better and she can stop crying. We return to our table and they have cleared away my bloody bread roll! Damn I was looking forward to that.

The meal continued, main course was beef and it was beautifully cooked and fell apart as you cut into it. Mr Grey was next to me and he didn’t eat his starter nor did he look like he was going to eat his main meal. I nag him continually as he needs to eat to soak up the alcohol. I love Mr Grey to bits, he always makes me laugh. He phones me regularly and no matter what news I have for him, which, if medical is normally bad news, he just always says something funny and I’m soon laughing. He is just such a special person to me. He won’t eat apart from two mouthfuls of mashed potato and I worry about him getting through the evening on alcohol alone.

IMG_4793Then Rita gets a message from her sister to say that the winner of tonight’s celebrity Mr & Mrs, Sean Fletcher, a presenter on Good Morning Britain  has donated £30,000 to Beating Bowel Cancer, wow £30,000, that’s an amazing amount and I’m excited as I know how much this gift will mean to them all. I then get a message from ‘Countess Judd’ to say that Sean Fletcher has just re-tweeted my blog to support me, excellent news and I’m so pleased to have his support.

 

Pudding next and although I had chosen the cheesecake it wasn’t as nice as the description so I stole Elaine’s pudding. Thanks Elaine the chocolate pudding was lovely. Meal over we head outside for a fag.

Elaine, Simon and Kerry
Elaine, Simon and Kerry

So a gang of about 8 of us are outside and Simon Lamb joins us, now he like Princess hasn’t seen me for about a year and it must be hard from him like others to see me wheelchair bound. I didn’t know that his mom had died of cancer and as he talks to us all he starts to get upset and walks away. I ask Mr Grey to go after him to see if he is okay as men are not good at public displays of emotion. Simon is okay and we all return inside. As we get to our table the sight of my gifts starts me off crying again, now Mr Grey is in bits too with me along with Rita. Will we all ever stop crying. It’s getting beyond silly now but I can’t help how I feel and I can’t stop the emotion. I’m so grateful for the gifts and the bloody rug will always make me cry.

The evenings disco is announced and people start to leave the dining area. I’m so pleased as the noise level will come down and we will be able to chat. As people pass by lots stop to hug and say hello and I hang onto my wig. Amanda stops by to see how I’m doing and I tell her about the gifts. Then Janine HRH comes to sit with me and again I try to tell her about Region 9 and the beautiful gifts they have brought me, again through tears as I talk about the bloody rug.

Sam the Home Director comes over to me too, she says ‘Wendy what can I do to help you through your illness to help just you?’ Bless her she just wants to help me. So my reply is simple. I explain that I am blessed by friends and family, that I am surrounded by love and if I were to die tomorrow I am at peace with myself. I explain that I see BHS like me on a journey over the next 12 months which isn’t going to be easy but in a years time I want to still be here as I want BHS to be. So how she can help me? She can take the messages from Mr Bottom today and ensure a strong recovery for BHS. That’s what I want, for me and BHS to be in recovery this time next year. We spent the next 1/2 an hour discussing this with HRH and I tell HRH of my idea on how I can support the business. I also discuss the importance of people like Karen and Yvonne at BHS Kingston who give so much but due to Government changes around the minimum wage are sadly on the same pay level as others that contribute less. I have always been passionate about staff that give so much. A Store Manager is important in terms of leading and inspiring a team but it’s the staff on the shop floor that are key to our success. We discuss the post I did about M&S and the shocking service I received. We had a great conversation putting the worlds to rights. Coffee next which was lovely as I don’t drink anymore and then outside for yet another fag break.

Not enough arse showing
Not enough arse showing

It’s about 11.30 and at the entrance of the hotel the visual team have put up a collection of Christmas theme displays featuring home and other products of the season to come. I have an idea for the calendar, as we don’t have a Christmas shot yet why not use the display and BHS product. For the next 1/2 hour Rita and I have a right giggle as I pose in the themed areas with my arse showing. But we got some great shots and I hope Steve will be happy. The one in this post will not be used but I thought it would make you all laugh. I am trying to dust whilst flashing my bum.

At around midnight Rita decides that it’s my bedtime so we head off back to our room. Coffees made we discuss things that I would like to do, treating people, sharing precious moments together. I have always wanted to visit Ireland and I ask Rita if we can go together and have tea in Freckles kitchen (Rita’s sister). Rita loves this idea and so when my treatment is over or when I get a treatment break that’s the plan. A trip to Ireland to see a bit of Rita’s world. Karen joins us for coffee and it’s now just after 1 am and after talking for a while Rita can see my eyes are getting heavy so she asks Karen to leave so that I can go to bed. I’m dressed in the PJ’s which were also part of my presents. Teeth brushed I get into bed. I’m so so tired and I can’t even remember Rita getting into bed. I must of fallen asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was worried about keeping Rita awake but I shouldn’t have worried at all as I sleep for 5 hours! wow I can’t remember the last time I slept for that long. It was beautiful, restful sleep, a deep slumber, content and happy sleep. I woke at 6.10 feeling refreshed and so happy that I had slept for so long. Rita said that she kept waking up throughout the night to check up on me, bless her but whenever she did I was just gently purring (snoring) and she was so happy too that I had slept for so long.

So that was the evening of conference and I will post up the next day soon xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Conference – The day’s events

Well I have no idea where I am even going to start to articulate how much the last two days have meant to me. I am now safely back home thanks to Mr Grey and Princess. We arrived home at around 11.30 and I was asleep in my dream machine chair by noon and I’ve only just woke up and it’s 4 pm! I’m totally exhausted and hiding under a blanket and a quilt as I just can’t get warm. I don’t have a temperature so don’t all panic but I do think I am just knackered. My forehead skin feels like it’s made of concrete and my eyes just keep closing, it’s so hard to keep my eyes open. I feel like I’m in a Tom & Jerry cartoon and I need matchsticks to hold my concrete forehead skin up.

Okay so I have decided that in order to share the last two days in detail I need to do 3 posts, The Day of Conference, The Evening of Conference and the Departing Day of Conference. Now I usually only do one post a day however if I am up all night cos I can’t sleep I’ll keep writing them so that I can catch up with daily life.

Conference Day – So Steve wakes at 7 am and we get ready for the big day. I am sad that Steve is leaving me today as it was wonderful to be able to share the working world of my life with him. Last night everyone was so welcoming to him. Whilst checking in Anthony Bates came over to shake his hand and introduce himself, which I thought was just so lovely of him. Now Anthony doesn’t have a psuedonym and I’m tempted to call him Master and drop the Anthony but keep the surname but that just seems so wrong, but it makes me laugh as I think if it, sorry Anthony. Mr Muscles also spoke to Steve last night as they are both massive Led Zeppelin fans and they shared their love of the band. Whilst we are just recalling things from last night I have to tell you a secret! We were all just chatting about charity, Janine HRH was with us. We were talking about last year when with my BHS Kingston family I abseiled off Guildford Cathedral and with that, along with other events we raised over £4000 for The Royal British Legion, one of our company’s chosen charities. I was just talking about how whilst I was down to do it this year again I didn’t think I’d be able too and that I needed a back up person. You will never guess what happened next! Janine HRH said ‘I’ll do that for you Wendy’ I was totally gobsmacked that she offered and overwhelmed too. Thank you so much Janine and I will be sponsoring you, big time plus I’ll be there on the day to record your descent. Now I know that I can trust you lot to keep a secret so don’t tell anyone please, lol lol lol

So Steve left me after breakfast at about 9 am as planned. Whilst at breakfast one of the ladies serving offered to help me and she asked if I’d hurt my leg. I explained briefly the problem. She lost her mom to cancer and we chatted briefly, again another person just wanting to share their pain of losing a loved one to cancer. She asked if everything was okay with the room and I explained my problem of sleeping and I would love another quilt to use to sleep on. James Single must have told the hotel that I was to be treated like a queen and so later when I returned to the room there were two quilts about 9 pillows and two extra blankets. Amazing thank you.

The plan was to definitely attend the opening and closing of the conference and anything in between that I could manage would be an added bonus. Again a special space had been placed for my wheelchair and a reserved notice on the chair next to the space for BFF. BFF has taken her role as guardian of the day along with Rita very seriously and she asks all the time if I’m okay, do I need anything etc. Another side seen of my party animal friend who I know just wants me to be okay and enjoy everything but she is so caring and attentive, bless her so thanks BFF for looking after me. Rita being a mom and Nana is used to taking the motherly role, she also attends to my every need and helps me with drugs etc.

Mr Bottom always opens the conference with an inspirational speech. He is just a natural public speaker and he strikes the right balance of jokes and humour woven into his serious business messages as he strides up and down the podium. As part of the opening speech, thanking people etc he also mentions me! Wow I thought how lovely of him to do that for me. I can’t remember is exact words but it was something like ‘Most of you here today know Wendy Guy and that she hasn’t been well lately. We are pleased that she is joining us here today. Where’s Wendy?’ I put my hand up and wave, feeling very special. He says that he is pleased that I’ve been able to attend today. I’m honoured and touched that I was mentioned in his opening words.

One part of Mr Bottoms speech was about what we can do as Managers and Head Office employees to ensure the ‘BHS Fighting Back’ campaign succeeds over the next 12 – 18 months. I listen intently, sad at his words. It’s like the company, with it’s fabulous employees who are family to me are on the same journey as me with my cancer. 12 months from now I hope that we will still both be here, with a strong recovery. I want to play my part but what on earth can I do from home? How I can help my BHS family. I would love to go back into Kingston to my team there and enthuse them with the conference messages, to have fun with the ‘fighting back’ plan. To engage them and get them to come up with suggestions. I dream briefly of being with my team again. Working out a plan of attack with Emma but then I return my thoughts to the sad reality of my disease and treatment cycles. But I breath in deeply and assure myself that there must be something I can do I just need to think hard and long about it but I will think of something.

After about 1 1/2 hours of sitting in my chair and only having 3 hours sleep I’m tired and BFF takes me back to my room for a sleep and we agree she will wake me up for the lunchtime break. I get into bed and drift off instantly. BFF returns as planned, we get lunch before the auditorium comes out for theirs. We eat in the sunshine outside. Now there are so many people there, 500! Some I have seen recently and some that I haven’t. Whilst outside I saw Princess. Now do you remember I was due to attend a function on the weekend of despair and I didn’t go? Well it was her wedding. I have pre written out her card and I’m pleased to be able to give it to her at long last. Card given I start to apologise for letting her down. Just talking about that weekend and remembering how low I had become makes my tears uncontrollable. I sob and sob with her. That was the start I think of the uncontrollable tears that lasted the day, night and following day. I also saw Sarah Jayne, Lorraines daughter and I’m in tears again just thinking of my special friend who I worked with for 3 1/2 years at Marble Arch M&S. We have remained friends for all these years and she is also a very special person to me.

Me and Sue from The Isle of Wight
Me and Sue from The Isle of Wight

I saw Jo, now she behind the scenes again has been so supportive and nagging me about wheelchairs, disabled badges and pain relief. She sadly lost her mom to cancer and I’m pleased to see her. Bless her she has even offered to talk to my daughter as she understand what it’s like to she your mom suffer. I saw so many people that via my blog I speak to regularly. I saw Sue from The Isle of Wight and I’m in tears again because her team from early days decided to support and adopt me. They have raised and given so much to my cause Beating Bowel Cancer, thank you to all of you out the on the Isle of Wight.

Lunch over we go back to the conference. I however am tired again after only an hour or so as I needed to take drugs BFF took me again back to the room to rest and we agreed a pick up time as I didn’t want to miss the closing speech by Mr Bottom. Sleep over and I’m back in my special reserved place. It was the HR slot first. HR Director, Sarah Gillet was speaking and all of a sudden my face appeared on the big screen! Sarah talked about my illness, my blog and how much I had raised so far for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer. Everyone in the auditorium stood up to clap and remained standing, applauding me for well over a minute. I was in bit’s sobbing like a baby and then all of a sudden, Rita, Mother Hen and BFF were all around me too, hugging me and crying with me. I thought about Karen who was in the other side of the auditorium and about how proud I knew she would be and probably crying too.  It was all too much. I appreciated the acknowledgement from the business. However I don’t consider myself special at all. Everyone says that I am inspiring and I just don’t get it at all. I just want to help others, to raise awareness about cancer and to save others from going through this nightmare of a journey that I’m on. Eventually everyone stopped clapping and sat back down, I continued to cry. Mr Bottom sums up the main conference messages and gave thanks all the people who made conference happen, including James Single and I clapped very loud at this note of thanks as he has made the whole thing possible for me to attend along with Amanda from HR.  I keep saying thank you James and Amanda throughout the conference but words are just never enough sometimes.

Me and BFF
Me and BFF

Conference over and Rita, Karen, BFF and I head as planned to the swimming pool. BFF has agreed to swim with me but I know that she would rather not. I’m glad of her support anyway as we all head for the pool area. We decided to go swimming first and then head for the Jacuzzi. Rita helps me put on my special PICC line protector on and off we go. As soon as my body is submerged in the water my back pain stops. Wow, no drugs involved just water making my body weightless. It was so wonderful to feel normal, swimming about having fun. We then head for the Jacuzzi, as I left the water the weight of my body and the pain returned instantly. Into the Jacuzzi and again once submerged the pain went. It was 39 degrees in there and the heat, bubbles and water were just heavenly.

Jacuzzi time :-)
Jacuzzi time :-)

We were joined by Janet from Hanley. (she doesn’t come in the Jacuzzi) She has had her own issues with cancer and because she like so many gets the worry and stress of going through the process of being diagnosed and then through treatment, we all cry again as we talk about our journeys. Then Mr Muscles joins us, again not in the Jacuzzi but to chat briefly. I try to talk about marriage vows and how wonderful my hubby has been but through tears but I can’t get the words out. We were all blubbering wrecks.

Rita, BFF and Karen wanted to leave the pool and get ready for the evening do. I however could have stayed there for at least another hour as all I was going to do was to have a quick shower, throw on my dress and make up, and then pop my wig on, 15 minutes maximum I estimated. Gotta love the wig.

So we head off to our rooms and I phone Steve excited to tell him about the swimming, the pain going and that we needed one at home. We agree to look in to it. I quick catch up about our days and then I head off to get dressed for the evening.

The evening will be a separate post as I have so much to share with you all. I just want to thank Rita and BFF who pushed me around all day, made sure that I had everything I needed. They showered me with such love and I felt so safe. We laughed and cried all day long and it was definitely a picking daisies day for me. Thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome, my to BHS Family, It was a day that I will never forget and in terms of precious memories, It is definitely up there for me in my top 20.

Got to go now as I feel so bad that I haven’t replied to one comment, answered one email our Facebook message, not to mention the private messages that I receive. I think it will take me about two days to catch up, sorry but I will reply to you all.

And finally

IMG_4786 IMG_4787

I was also given this card with £30 in to put into my JustGiving page, which I will do after today’s post goes up. Don’t worry Tracy I haven’t forgotten and thank you for the card and your generous donation to Beating Bowel Cancer. They appreciate every penny and so do I.

Evening do to follow soon…