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Davinder - Interview 23

Age at interview: 65
Age at diagnosis: 65
Brief Outline: Davinder was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009. She had a distal pancreatectomy to remove the tumour, which was in the tail of the pancreas. She did not need any other treatment. She still has some abdominal discomfort, but is slowly recovering.
Background: Davinder was a caterer, but is now retired. She does voluntary work with Asian Radio. She is divorced, and has one daughter. Ethnic background/ nationality: Indian.

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In July 2009 Davinder noticed that she felt much more tired than usual. Also, when she lay down her stomach felt uncomfortable, and she could feel a thumping, pulsing sensation under her left rib. Davinder went to see her GP who decided to refer her to the hospital. The GP told Davinder that she probably had a cyst.
 
When Davinder got to the hospital she had an ultrasound and other investigations, including a CT scan. She went back to see the consultant, who told her the shocking news that she had a problem with her pancreas, and that she probably had cancer. This was devastating news, which made Davinder feel quite depressed for a couple of days. However, she soon decided to be optimistic and trust in her body’s healing power.
 
Davinder had to return to hospital several times for blood tests, for an endoscopy and for a biopsy. She was very ill after the endoscopy, because there was a tear in her intestine. She needed antibiotics, liquids and rest. The consultant confirmed that Davinder had cancer in the tail of her pancreas, and he told her she would need major surgery. 
 
Davinder decided she would have the operation. She spent four hours in hospital having a pre-operative assessment. She was considered fit for surgery so was given a date for the operation. The surgeon explained that she was going to have a distal pancreatectomy and that during the operation the spleen might be damaged and might have to be removed. 
 
The operation took place on 5th November 2009. It took about three hours, and went well. The surgeon did not need to remove the spleen. Davinder woke up in the critical care unit. She had had an epidural so was not in pain but she felt drowsy. She had drains and a catheter and intravenous fluids. She could sip water. On the second day after surgery she got out of bed but felt faint and had to be lifted back to bed. She felt very tired.
 
On the third day Davinder enjoyed a cup of tea. She was moved into a ward. She felt comfortable and was given morphine and tramadol for pain. After a few days she started eating small quantities of food, such as soup. Gradually all the tubes were removed and on 13th November Davinder went home. 
 
The first few days and weeks at home were difficult. Davinder needed a lot of care and she needed special equipment, such as a bed-rest, which her sister bought for her. The District nurse also obtained a grab rail, which was free from the NHS. Davinder thinks that the hospital physiotherapists should have given her better information and should have prepared her for convalescence at home. 
 
One day, after a bath, Davinder felt severe pain in her abdomen. Her sister phoned the specialist nurse who told her to call an ambulance. Davinder was taken to the A & E department of her local hospital. There she had various blood and urine tests and a CT scan. The doctors said that she had a urine infection but otherwise everything was alright. She was given antibiotics. Two days later Davinder went home. 
 
Three days later Davinder had to go back to A & E because she had more pain. Tests showed that she had an abdominal infection as well as a urinary infection. She was given more antibiotics and was in hospital for five more days. Davinder refused to leave hospital until the ward sister had phoned the GP to make sure that she had help with personal care when she returned home. Davinder feels that after her initial operation the hospital staff should have organised this help for her before she left the ward. Davinder needed this extra help for about three weeks after her daughter went back to work. Thus after the surgery she needed a great deal of care for at least seven weeks. 
 
Now, four months after the operation, Davinder’s abdomen is still very tender and the incision is still sore. She is not very satisfied with the speed of her recovery. However, she can go out and can drive and is able to present her radio show, which she does on a voluntary basis for Asian Radio. When she has pain or discomfort in her abdomen she finds that a gentle massage or a hot bath or a hot water bottle can help a great deal. 
 
Davinder has been back to see the consultant for a follow-up appointment. She had a CT scan, which showed that the cancerous tumour had all been removed and had not spread anywhere else. The doctors told Davinder that she does not have to have any chemotherapy or any other treatment, and must return for another check-up in August 2010. 
 
Davinder was interviewed for Healthtalk in 2010 
 
 

Davinder described her return home after her distal pancreatectomy. The district nurse helped her...

Davinder described her return home after her distal pancreatectomy. The district nurse helped her...

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What was it like at home recovering?
 
It was horrible, horrible coming home. And like the hospital bed was very comfortable and it has controls in it. And I was using, I was thinking, “I’m doing all the effort” but the bed was doing it for me, which I wasn’t aware of. And I came home and the first thing I faced, I could not get up by myself and I needed help. 
 
Did you manage to get some equipment?
 
So my daughter, it was like, it was, I don’t know what day it was, but she saw me. She sat down in, in her room in here and phoned the, the…
 
The GP?
 
Not the GP. The home help and things. And through that home help like she could find out how I can, how to obtain the equipment. And my sister, she was pretty, she, they both, both of them were there, and she ordered, she asked her son to get me bed backrest from Argos. They do a pretty strong one and it’s very helpful as well. It has got five adjustments. You can sit propping up as well or you can adjust it to your needs. So the second day they got me that. That helped me a bit. Still it didn’t help me, help me enough and, because I could not hold on to anything that I can support myself. So they were helping me to get up, even from that height as well.
 
And did the district nurse come and see you?
 
She came, the next day she came to see me. And then she says, suggested that like, “You’re unable to get up yourself because bed is very low in, at home.” And in the hospital, bed is pretty, you can adjust it to your needs. So she says, “I can help you with the things, like you need more equipment rather than you think you, you didn’t need it.” So the first thing she did, she got me a grab rail that can be put next to me, one side, whichever is convenient to me. So I needed it on my right side of the bed, next to my, where I could hold, hold to it easily, hold on to it easily. And it was delivered on the same day in the afternoon and put, there, there was straps that was holding it under the mattress. And it was very secure, that the base of it went under my mattress and the straps held it. And it was quite high.
 
And was that free, from the National Health Service?
 
It was from the National Health Service and it was free. And it helps me enormously. I have had it for six weeks I think. Then I didn’t need to lean on anybody, or I didn’t need anybody’s support to get me up. I could get up myself. So they were just feeding me and taking me to the, keeping an eye, keeping an eye on me to go to the toilet and bath.
 
 

Davinder believed in the power of self-healing. After her operation she learnt how to massage her...

Davinder believed in the power of self-healing. After her operation she learnt how to massage her...

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And I was very aware of, like I said many times this, that the body’s healing power is enormous, and the more you use it the more it helps you. And it’s endless, it’s more than, it’s stronger than any strong painkillers. This is how it reacts. You know, like I used, used the massage for myself as well.
 
Like when I had a back problem back in 1990, since then I started to do a massage on myself.
 
You can massage yourself?
 
Yes, on myself, this is when I started to believe in self-healing powers, so much body’s recovery from this. Like rather than going for painkiller, I will sit there peacefully, light a candle in the evening, have a dip in the bath, like sit in the bath for a couple of, 15, 20 minutes with the lavender oil and things, and come out and give yourself a massage as well, or probably before having a sit down in the bathtub. The massage, it helps. I do it all the time, like myself. Like if I got a pain up here, the tense neck, I will massage myself gently and it helps me. So this is my big thing, these two things, that body reacts to when you do help yourself and body tells you immediately. Rather than going for a painkiller, massage helps me for two painkillers like, honestly.
 
 

Davinder wanted information from ‘day one’. After having had scans she guessed she had a serious...

Davinder wanted information from ‘day one’. After having had scans she guessed she had a serious...

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I started to look for information from day one, the day I came out of, from hospital, after having these two scans. I thought, “It is serious.” Once the guy told me that, radiologist told me that it’s my pancreas, I took it seriously. It’s not the pancreas not being touched by something little. So I realised something is more serious with my body, so I did not take it lightly. And I was, the problem was I wasn’t getting much information. I was, I wasn’t going, going to websites though, but I tried to find books and things, which I didn’t. So there wasn’t no books in the library or I couldn’t find any other books. So my sister was pretty good. She gave me a lot of information from the website. And my daughter did as well. So I was pretty equipped with the information and it was telling what I was imagining with the pancreas it can be. And the hospital gave me a lot of information as well.

 

Davinder’s daughter visited her when she was in intensive care. While Davinder was still...

Davinder’s daughter visited her when she was in intensive care. While Davinder was still...

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I can, like what she told me, give you this information, but I do not remember the previous day, on the operation day she came to see me. All I was aware of it later that there was lavender oil sitting on my trolley. Which I, made me realise that, “She has been.” She did tell me that she will come whether I’m aware or not. And she, then she, later on she told me that she did tell me that, “Mum, you’re okay. Your operation went well” and she put some lavender oil on to my chest as well, on my hand, and made me smell it. And that normally calms me down. Which I’ve been doing it all along. I, and I did tell her that, “It helps me.” So she held my hand and she carried on talking to me, “Mum, you’ve done very well and they say the operation went well as well. And nothing serious, no serious went wrong. And it was normal procedure and it took about three hours to go through the operation. And everything is back to normal.” This is how much assuring she was for me. And the nurse said the same thing as well, “The operation went well and nothing serious went wrong. And you are okay really now, for, for the time being. And see how it goes.” 
 
So that, my daughter, she did sort of hypnosis on me and NLP [neuro-linguistic programming], assuring me that, that my body is doing well and I’m breathing well and operation went well. These were very assuring, these things, to know it. Like I didn’t feel it. Like I took, you take it for granted that you’re breathing. Which you do never consider that it’s something extra precious.
 
But you weren’t aware that your daughter was doing this? You were asleep, were you?
 
No, that was done, like she came after the operation. They allowed her to come in to see me, but I was not conscious.
 
So you said that she did some hypnosis, but you were asleep at that time.
 
I was asleep. And that’s what she told me. So I believe it helped me. Because these things do anyway, because it gave me feedback of that everything is okay. It registered in there. And the next morning I came up with it as well, all this stuff that I’m okay, like my own ideas and things. And my philosophy, you can call it, that the body is a mega-network of information and it’s a marvellous machine and it has got enormous healing power itself and that if you direct it, it helps you. So I was aware of it, all this, that it will help me. So I told myself once I woke up first thing that, “The healing, you have to do yourself a little bit as well to help myself. And they’re helping me.”
 
 

Davinder felt very tired and she felt a thumping sensation, a ‘pulsation’, under her ribs on the...

Davinder felt very tired and she felt a thumping sensation, a ‘pulsation’, under her ribs on the...

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What happened last July, I probably think it was middle of the July, and I was beginning to feel more tired. And I noticed that, one day that I am really feeling tired by evening. Then I thought to keep my evening happy and free I better start resting during the day, which I never did before. So I started to rest during the day. And when I was resting I wasn’t getting very comfortable quickly like you normally would when you lie down. I wasn’t getting comfortable, with my stomach comfortable. So what I did, I started to feel the, where I was feeling uncomfortable, I started to feel it. And I felt a lot of thumping going on, pulsation was going on. Then I had to search for it, where it is exactly and how it is doing. And once I felt it, it was a lot of h-, a lot of going on there like, it was like as the clock going tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. This is how it was, and almost I could hear it and feel it as well. So I just ignored it, “Probably I’m tired.” For that moment I ignored it. I thought, “I’m feeling tired and I’m not resting properly, or more perhaps my blood pressure gone up or whatever.” All sorts of reasons I gave myself and I put my mind at rest that, “It will go away.” Two weeks went by. I started to check it regularly when I lie down and it would not budge. It was still the same thing. It took me a long while to get peaceful with my body. And that pulsation coming down. It took me a long long time, like half an hour probably, before I could feel normal with myself. So after two weeks I decided, “No, I cannot ignore it. I need to do something.” One thing I’m getting tired. The other thing is a lot of pulsation going. It’s not in my heart, but under my left rib. So I went to my GP and she had, she says, “Get on the couch” and she checked my stomach. And she put her hand where I did as well and she, she felt the same as well. She said, “You’re quite right. There’s a lot of pulsation going on.” And then she asked me a couple of questions while I was lying down. She says, “How do you feel?” all this stuff. I told her that I’m getting tired more. And nothing else I felt. I didn’t feel sick or anything otherwise. I carried on doing things normal as did. And she says, “I’m afraid I’ll have to send you to hospital.”

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