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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Testing, Testing, Heartbeat, Heartbeat

On Monday morning I had been booked in for two appointments at the hospital; an Echocardiogram and a Spirometry test.  I got to the hospital and went to the Cardio Respiritory department.  I was taken into a room and hooked up to the echocardiogram machine.  Three stickers were stuck on my chest and wired to the machine.  The nurse put the "wand" in the gel and then carried out an ultrasound on my heart, firstly on the chest, next at the side of the ribs, onto the admomen and then finally on the throat.  I remember hearing the heart beats of my two sons, when we had the ultrasounds during the pregnancies.  It reminded me of a wobble board, a deep whoop, whoop, whoop.

The rhythm is really soothing and I closed my eyes, the room was darkened and the whole experience was so relaxing.  I could also see my heart working on the screen, really clearly.  The screen, albeit a black and white image like an ultrasound, showed the blood in colour, blue and red, deoxygenated and oxygenated.  It was good to see and I was glad to know I had a heart.  To me, it all looked fine, and the nurse didn't seem concerned.

Next up was the spirometry test and I was instructed to go to the chest clinic and given directions.  I had my hospital map and set out.  I managed to get myself lost and had to ask directions several times, but got to the clinic eventually.  I booked in and sat in the waiting area, waiting.  I sat for quite a while and nobody was called through. A man joked that he would be waiting all day, and nobody would get seen, I was called through first a couple of minutes later.

The spirometry test was one I thought that would be easy, but it was tough work.  I held a mouthpiece in my mouth and breathed through my mouth normally to get a base reading, then it was breathe in and out for as long as possible, not too difficult, but it hadn't even started yet.  The test was to breathe in as fast, long and hard as possible, and then out as fast and hard and as long as possible.  The man who was recording it, kept asking for me to repeat it over and over, I was exhausted, but he got a reading he was happy with, he was shouting it out "longer, faster, harder", like he was auditioning for Daft Punk.

After my Monday tests I went to work and normality resumed.  In the evening we went to my sisters for tea and the boys were staying over for a sleep over, while we all watched a movie and had a drink, it was a nice evening and time to forget about everything.  When I got home and in bed, I started to feel anxious and excited about the next days appointments, I would be finding out when chemo would be starting and signing the consent forms.  We woke up, and for a change the boys hadn't crept into our bed during the night, it was nice just me and Leonie.  I got up to go to work and put in half a day before coming home to have some lunch before the afternoons appointments; audiology and oncology.  We left in plenty of time as my appointment was at the time of visiting hours and the car park gets full.  We arrived with half an hour to spare and took our time walking through the hospital to the audiology appointment.  I was gettig excited for the next appointment though.  We were seen early at audiology, testing my hearing. I had the headphones on and different frequencies were played in each ear alternatively, then the same noises were played but with background noise in the opposite ear, I really had to concentrate through the test but it wasn't anyhing too difficult.

We had finished the test before I was even due to go in, meaning we had over an hour before my next appointment.  As it was a nice day we walked around the entire hospital grounds and even saw the North West Air Ambulance land and a patient taken into the hospital.  We sat down in the Rosemere Cancer Centre half an hour before we were due, and the board stated that Dr Micthell was running on time.  I provided a sample and then my obs taken as per usual.  I was aksed if I wanted to take part in the ST03 trial and I agreed, Dr Mitchell looked quite excited at the prospect.  I got copies of all the documents and then she advised that she hadn't received the results from the echocardiogram and the ECG.  she couldnt plan the start of chemo without these, so she would chase them up.  She told me the next contact would be from St Mary's in Manchester so I could bank and then I would receive a call from her team to plan the start of chemo within the next two weeks.  I was getting quite anxious as I was under the impression that I would be starting this week, so I explained this to them.  They were apologetic but said they needed all the results in place before they could begin, but they were ready to go.  Dr Mitchell said she would pencil it in as soon as possible and I told her I wanted to get started as soon as possible.

We left the hospital and I was a little deflated, I was excited going into the appoitnemnt and came out with no new information and still in limbo.  I needed to let out a little frustration.  Luckily I had planned to go running in the evenig with Lisa, so I changed and out we went.  This is the first time I had run since the surgery and it felt great.  We ran around the 9.40 min/mile, so it wasn't fast, but steady and we ran for over 10k, it felt good.  During the run we talked about the "Walk in The Dark" for Rosemere and how we both wanted to do the 13 mile walk.  When I got home, Leonie had had the same idea and published a link to it on facebook, looks like we are all, going to walking in the dark.


  1. I cant believe they found a heart!! This is amazing news :) xx

  2. Hi Richard,

    Sorry it's taken me so long to contact you. We heard the terrible news a couple of weeks ago and we were very shocked and saddened. But, as I said to Sheila, I'm sure that you more than anyone has the strength, attitude and courage to see it off. This blog is a great idea and very inspirational to read. Thank you so much for keeping us up to date with all that you're going through. Amazing!

    By the way, I had one of those "breath out as hard as you can" tests before my last op and they're bloody hard work, aren't they? The Japanese technician kept forcing me to do it again and again and he was getting quite irate towards the end! I suppose it didn't help that I didn't understand his instructions much.

    I know we're miles away Ric, but if there's anything we can do to help or anything you want us to send please let me know.

    Bye for now and best wishes from us all,

    Ian, Satomi, Joe and Emily