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Airport pickup

Off to pick Barbara up from the airport, then to take her straight to Can Misses hospital. The recurring cellulitis infection that she hasn’t had for ages has come back. Antibiotics usually sort it quite quickly, but if it’s left untreated it can be very serious thanks to Barbara’s compromised immune system. So an evening in Urgencias beckons…

Edit 17 November 2013  Barbara was in Edinburgh for the funeral of her brother Adam. I couldn’t go in case my health decided to play up. The last thing I wanted was to be a distraction. It was sadly ironic that Barbara’s cellulitis appeared on the morning of the funeral, too late to get an emergency appointment. That’s why she decided to leave getting treatment until she got back to Ibiza.

In the end we decided not to go to the hospital. And we didn’t go on Sunday either. Then on the Monday, after waiting for hours, she was given antibiotics without a blood test. And the reason we’d been to the hospital rather than her GP was because in the past they said she needed a blood test. Waste of time all round. Still, she’s better now


Another Journalist on Cancer

Interesting to read another tech journalist’s experience of going public with their cancer diagnosis. I have no regrets, the online support,I’ve received has really helped through and continues to do so.

What the article does bring home to me is how little choice and support I’ve had from the Spanish health service, although the basic medical treatment has been first rate. I’ve never been offered a ‘cancer shrink‘ or anything like that, just regular anti-depressants. I don’t feel that psychologically scarred by the disease though.

But the real test will come when I’m told the results of my scan and blood analysis on November 11. Then I’ll know if I’m in remission, or not..

Xeni Jardin Breast Cancer Public v Private

Sad News

Barbara’s brother Adam died on Saturday. She’ll by flying back to Scotland on Wednesday for his funeral, which is on Friday, then back to Ibiza on Saturday. Although I want to be in Edinburgh with Barbara, if my health took a turn I’d be more of a hindrance than a help.

Added 3 November 2013: We’d only known about Adam’s illness since he phoned a couple of days after I finished my radiotherapy in August, even though his cancer had been diagnosed about the same time as mine. But there’d been an agreement in Barbara’s family not to say anything until my treatment had concluded. Generally I don’t like secrets, but on this occasion it was probably the best way to respond. If Barbara had known she couldn’t have done anything as she was stuck looking after me, which would have made me feel guilty.

On the other hand, I would probably have told people in the same circumstances. It’s horribly complicated when different people know different things. But I don’t know how I’d respond if I was told my cancer was inoperable, as Adam was. It’s impossible to say.

A Little Pot Goes a Long Way

Finally I feel I’m making some real progress with eating. I haven’t had anything for about two weeks to allow a chest infection to clear. (It may well have been the result of something ‘going down the wrong way’.)

So today I had a Greek yogurt with blackberries. Not only did it taste good, not weird as most stuff did until quite recently, but more importantly I was able to swallow it almost normally. It’s still going to be a very, very long time before I can eat a meal or drink or anything like that. But the boring, repetitive, sets of exercises are paying off to the point where I feel that it will be a matter of *when* I can eat rather than *if*.

The doctors have always replied: “We don’t know”, when I’ve asked them whether my swallow reflex would return. You cannot imagine what a boost that little pot of yogurt has given me.

I’d have a drink to celebrate, but I can’t do that. Yet


After deciding to leave it for a week to see if my exercises would help my swallowing, I tried a bit of mashed potato again today. Tasted nice, but 20 minutes for a dessert-spoonful is no fun. Thought I’d try one of the chocolate puds I bought for Barbara. It went down like Gareth Bale. So I think I’ll have to work on my sweet tooth for now, on the basis that the sooner I can learn to eat again the sooner I’ll have some say in my nutrition. To creme caramel and beyond…

Tasteless Humour

Second day of trying to learn to swallow again and following medical instructions to eat a flan (crème caramel) over the course of a day.

Tried a different variety of flan to confirm that large parts of my sense of taste have gone missing. Apparently, they could return over the next 18 months or so.

The current sensation, or lack of it, is hard to describe. Flan just tastes of eggs rather than being sweet or bitter from the caramel. I tried a spoonful of humus and all I can taste is the chick peas. Going to experiment by upping the flavour. More garlic! Forget pudding I’m just not enjoying it. Eating’s hard enough for me as it is…

On a positive note: I drove a car for the first time since April. Didn’t hit anything (or even shout at the back-seat driver…)

Stuck in the Dessert

Thanks for everybody’s your best wishes after yesterday’s update, they’re all really welcome. Ta especially for the culinary offers from Simon Smyth and Sid Shanti. May well take one of you up. But first I’ve got to work out what I fancy in the way of food. It’s not as straightforward as it could be…

I tried my first flan today. Eroski’s best! I’m not sure, but my taste could have been affected oddly. It feels as if bits of flavour are missing. I couldn’t taste the caramel at all, just the eggs. It may, of course, just be the way the pudding was made.

The main thing is I did manage to eat and swallow about half of it after a hefty exercise session. Poco a poco…

One Swallow does not a Summer Make

Back from check-up in Palma. It was a bit disappointing to be honest. In was hoping to be told that I could start learning to eat and drink again. Unfortunately, it seems my swallow reflex is still very weak. So all I’m allowed is up to one creme caramel a day and not all at once. They’ll look again in a month.

On the positive side: My throat has healed well. My oesophagus is closing so food is going to the right place and not into my lungs. I do have a swallow reflex. It’s just very weak.

The way I see it is that it’s now in my hands. I’ve had months of people doing things to me, but now with lots of swallowing exercises over the next month I hope I’ll be able to improve to the point where I can start to eat something more than pudding.

Meanwhile I am feeling gradually fitter and stronger just from the food and liquid being pumped straight into my stomach.