So the time has come again for another blog, the last three weeks have quite possibly been the best and the worst of the last eighteen months. Let me expand:
Just when you think things are settling down, life does like to send a curve ball, this time it was Ann’s mum who had been in a care home since July, suddenly died😩 Mags had lived with us for three years and despite the rather crowded nature had become a loved addition to our household. I will always remember her as a wonderfully kind person who never had a bad word to say about anyone, the biggest compliment I can pay her is that Ann reminds me of her everyday, I miss her stories and watching Poirot, Foyles War and Midsummer Murders(I never thought that would happen). Margaret is now with her beloved Roy and may she rest in peace🙏
Following the shocking news of Mags the holiday to Cyprus eventually happened having been cancelled due to Laryngectomy and then the Thomas Cook events so the Andrews family had their first holiday in foreign climes. Paphos was and is an awesome place and we will visit again – everything was good from hotel to the weather to the chosen activities. A perfect place to recuperate – running every morning on the coastal trail, visiting some wonderful places and just chilling with the clan. However, it also was a trial of the ‘Black Dog’ , I loved watching the kids enjoying the water but it also brought it thumping home that I couldn’t take part with them. To say I had a few down moments would be an understatement I especially missed the scuba diving and the Water Park, but the process of being ‘down’ has forced me to face facts – things will be different, I am still here with a wonderfully supportive family.
The hardest part of my battle is the routines I now need to follow on a twice daily basis, my day starts with a nebuliser when I first awake this is to ensure the secretions are kept as fluid as possible to stop blockages this takes 20 minutes. This is then followed by cleaning my neck piercing of all the gunk collected overnight and then the insertion of a laryngectomy tube to ensure the hole in my neck does not close up. All in all it takes 45 minutes twice a day, I am grateful to be still here but the cleaning certainly is a pain in the arse, but hey gets me up early😂
Since my last blog I am now a laryngectomee with a voice, I had further follow up surgery on Nov 19th when a hole for the speaking was drilled and a further visit on the 22nd when the actual speaking valve was pushed into the hole !! Once again the team at Worcester were fabulous from the nurses on the head and neck ward to my two valve fitters Mim and Catherine(they are my nurse specialists). Upon returning to the ward from the operating theatre I was presented by the wonderful nursing staff holding a banner welcoming me back. The most impressive thing about my voice is that as well as looking like George Clooney I now sound like him as well.
Since the removal of my voice box in July the support of family and friends has been truly inspiring-people on Facebook and LinkedIn some of whom I have never met, sending lovely messages to all of you my heartfelt thanks. Since having the op funny occurrences have also kept me going, my Parkrun buddy Jonathon and I have had several wonderful conversations over a cappuccino-one of which was about my wife travelling to Stoke, Jon suddenly looked very concerned- he thought I had said Ann had a Stroke. I also had a run in with a traffic warden, I had pulled over to pick up my daughter at 5.30 on an empty street, a traffic warden tapped on my window and started to explain that I was in a no parking zone – he was looking for a response so I decided to lift my bib covering my neck piercing as a means of explanation – at this point he apologised and disappeared 😂😂 Another one that springs to mind is at the recent Croft Castle Cross Country I decided to wear a skin hugging base layer on my top half as it was freezing – a good idea for two laps, unfortunately as it got damp when I breathed the material was getting sucked into my neck piercing preventing me from breathing.
The last month has been by far the most difficult, due to my ongoing issues with swallowing I have decided to to become vegetarian owing to issues with swallowing meat. This is an easier decision as my sense of taste is still extremely poor, so everything really does taste like chicken. The hardest part of a laryngectomy is the relearning to swallow and learning to talk again, my sister asked me what it feels like and does it hurt – the swallowing is weird, because I am gravity fed I have to swallow food at least twice as it appears my anatomy has created a sump in my food pipe which collects food – so 2 swallows and a flush with water. The talking has been generally quite straight forward, although it has the embarrassing side effect of causing large amounts of wind-which arrives with no warning.
As a means of giving myself goals for 2020 I have decided in my wisdom and much to the concern of my wife to complete 12 events in 12 months. There will be a 50k ultra, a 100k ultra and a half marathon and to spice it up a 100 mile cycle – these will be separated by various other events. I am in the process of setting up a just giving page and any support would be much appreciated-I will surprisingly enough be raising money for a Cancer Research.