Thursday 31 October 2013

Why me? 2

I am moving very, very slowly to plan Z . With absolutely no progress on my leg pain and another sleepless night and yet another visit to my GP, I now have some mega painkillers which I can take at night. This morning I had to resort to the undignified  act of sliding downstairs on my bum as my leg pain was sufficient to prevent conventional progress. Walking anywhere is a problem so I am virtually a prisoner in my own home. During the night I noted this house has no facilities for hanging myself, which is somewhat inconvenient. Having said that my leg pain would prevent me getting into position to do it.
Lynne has locked the drugs cupboard and is considering getting me into hospital on suicide-watch, (joke ) bless her. Her sleep patterns have also been disrupted lately so we both have frayed edges.After a decent sleep I am feeling much better and editing my blog written earlier, apologies to those who read it, pre -edit.I have also got over the why me syndrome. I have been type-one diabetic since the age of 3 (bad luck?) and had lymphoma/pneumonia mid 40's, ( bad luck ?) neither of which restricted later life. There is no family history of either, so perhaps it was just bad luck. On a brighter note I survived a Jumbo jet hijack over Germany and a flight back from Lusaka aboard the oldest (and only) Boeing 707 still flying, further hindered by the fact it only had 3 working engines ( good old British Caledonian ) It seemed to take forever to get off the ground and was late arriving at Gatwick . I also walked.1.5 kilometers through a game park in Zambia and survived, supposedly rescuing a Swedish guy, his young son and Volvo, axle deep in a dry river bed.I remember getting back to Chichele lodge wearing brown shorts and having bleeding feet in Jesus sandals, my mouth feeling like the bottom of a budgies cage. If I can survive all that this small hiccup should be a piece of cake?

Wednesday 30 October 2013

The why me? Syndrome

Yesterday was a do nothing relaxing day. I exercised my leg  a few times as instructed and things got a little easier, apart from the pain. It is just a matter of timing the tablets, bearing in mind there  are limits to how many you can take within24hrs. It goes against my best instincts to take painkillers when I am not in pain but it seems the only way forward as once the pain starts it takes about an hour to get it under control again, which equates to an hour of agony. Doing nothing all day gives more than enough time for the "why me" syndrome to start, despite my best efforts.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Storm,what storm?

The huge storm forecast for yesterday largely passed us by,or was it the other way round? Motorways were busy with lots of road-spray and there were lots of fallen trees the closer we got to 
London. It was an emotionally draining day and we were truly knackered by the time we returned home, but with better understanding of my current leg and tumour situations and the ways forward, quite healing in their own right. Through all this trauma the most heartwarming aspect has been the tremendous family support I have received. Far more healing than any prescription. That and the boat gives me increasing courage to see this thing through. I don't really have any choice as I lack the guts to take the only alternative.
Wear your poppy with pride

Monday 28 October 2013


A wild and windy day for our trip to London, but hopefully it will be worth the effort. Cancer Counselling arranged for Thursday. Flood plains

Back to the hurdy gurdy of motorway driving, a real contrast to narrowboat cruising. Leg sorted but will take a few days to settle, brain tumour confirmed as no immediate worry but it might as well be zapped anyway. There is never a right or wrong time to do it apparently. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy the best option but only the former available on the good old NHS. More begging on street corners? 

Sunday 27 October 2013

Windlass panic

At last, a photo of the offending object. I awoke with an identical leg pain in my left arm and hand. Long ago I was told the tumour on my right brain would eventually affect my left body side, eye, arm, leg, speech etc. Naturally I did what every mature, educated male would do..... I panicked. Maybe the leg pain had been due to the tumour all along? was this one spreading to my left arm ? What next ? Lynne knocked some sense into me and proved other parts of my anatomy had not been affected, which was a welcome relief. More questions for the consultant tomorrow.
The lower one was the culprit, being older and considerably heavier than the upper, newer one. As you will see, the older one has two sizes to fit varying lock spindles, giving more chances of slipping off worn older ones, as happened to me at some considerable cost to my leg.

Saturday 26 October 2013


The Liverpool pathway I assume has a number of crossroads with signs pointing to " save" and " carry on spending", then "treat" and "kill". At this point I am unsure which crossroads I have reached, hopefully the first.  The high costs of MRI scans must already be in the equation I suppose, but radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy have yet to be added, plus my increasing age?  Oh to be a fly on the wall for the next doctor's pow-wow. As previously stated I could live with things as they are if my leg could get sorted, but I appreciate the tumour is bursting into life and things could change on a regular basis in future. 
All the necessary scan images and surgeon's letters are in place for my second opinion meeting on Monday, as is an appointment with a chiropractor in whom I have absolute faith (no pressure ) so I am looking forward to Monday evening when a few more pieces of jig-saw should fall into place.
Sunny and warm today but high winds forecast over the next few days. 
Our youngest son is spending a few days with us, emptying the food cupboard. He witnessed his first fit in Zizzies restaurant a couple of evenings ago, which proved something of a shock for him. They are commonplace for Lynne and I  but an eye opener for first-time viewers.

Friday 25 October 2013

Mars and Uranus

Having learned the probe into my tumour missed the new bit and grabbed a piece of the old bit I could not help comparing it to the recent Mars expedition where  a rocket with probe was launched from earth and arrived without problem on the site it was aimed at, grabbed a bit of the surface for analysis and was a great success, whereby my probe only had to find a large tumour in my head. Missing it equates to the 
Mars probe actually landing on Uranus. Imagine getting a chunk of Uranus instead of Mars. It would be an international disaster.

BMW indicators

Following our not-so-good news at the hospital recently our drive home was interrupted by a BMW driver (who else ? ) using  his offside rear wheel arch to exchange paint with our near side front wheel arch by moving into our lane while we were still in it, but without indicating of course. Even if he had, a scrape would have been inevitable, but it was an old BMW before they fitted indicators as standard. The guy was such an obnoxious b@st@rd we decided to arrange repairs via insurance, which seemed to upset him a lot ( shame ). Unfortunately the incident did little for Lynne's driving confidence so any journey near city/town centres  is now problematical. Thank you BMW.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Surviving Russian roulette

Another sleepless night and yet another elimination process pursued. This time I've arranged a visit to another chiropractor in London ( an old friend from rowing days ) in the hope of solving my leg mystery, once and for all. If you are wondering what the hell yesterday's blog title was about, TOWIE is the shortened slang version  of The only way is Essex, a hit TV show featuring amateur actors in an unscripted glam-rock "soap" of life in Essex, a county in South East UK. Think Roxy Music combined with Friends. The show was, and remains, a great success , rocketing some participants to stardom and riches both sides of the Atlantic. 
Slow Boat round Britain has now passed the 8,000 hits stage from around the globe, thanks again. I (or a yet to be nominated friend/family member )intend morphing it into a book at some later stage, depending on my mental/physical capabilities at the time, plus a sympathetic publisher of course. Just don't expect a glamorous book signing ceremony in Selfridges, is all I can advise. Eat your heart out Joan Collins.


Traditionally corgi's are Welsh, but our two guests I reckon come from Essex, or more precisely, Barking. They bark at the telephone, the Dyson, the microwave, the TV, the doorbell, people walking by, other dogs barking, opening the front or back doors, the upstairs floorboards creaking, the cats, when our dinners are ready etc. etc, you get the picture.  Deafness has descended. Having contemplated yesterday's events we have now arranged a second opinion on tumour treatment from our original consultant in London next Monday, by which time all my scans and a letter from my oncologist will be with him, thanks to my new cancer support nurse who seems very on-the- ball. This is the first time the c word has entered the equation ,but I guess it was inevitable at some stage. Something else to get my head round. My biggest concern at the moment is Lynne, who on the surface is coping and dealing with everything really well (as usual ) but underneath is a cauldron of  concerns. At this stage her health is far more important than mine but I am at a loss regarding how to help, other than trying to remain positive. Suggestions on a postcard please.
By closing our local branch the"World's local bank" has just de-localised itself ( never mind customer care or convenience, admire the profits ).

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Russian roulette

A strange day, raining again. I went for my appointment with the oncologist at Leicester General hospital to discuss the biopsy results and proposed treatment. He was totally honest and said the results were inconclusive, as was the decision by the consultant/neurology team, who by a majority decision recommended heavy doses of radiotherapy. The oncologist disagreed and suggested I get a second opinion, preferably from St. George's in London. An appointment has already been made.
The problem seems to be the biopsy probe missed any alleged new tumour growth and retrieved a chunk of the original at level 2. The heavy radiotherapy doses proposed are for level 3  and above. No surprises, my decision was not to go ahead with any radiotherapy pending a second opinion, a bit like Russian roulette ( deer hunter style, which is not for me, thank you very much ) Whilst at the hospital I managed to get my leg checked-out for dvt.  The scan revealed no blood clots, which eliminates yet another possible cause without revealing the actual answer
The flood plains

Monday 21 October 2013

Elimination process

My head zip has gone. I half expected one of those unmarked Transit pick-up trucks to pop into the doctor's surgery for the scrap metal but I suppose there is more value raiding builders skips for old baths and washing machines? I also have an appointment this afternoon with a local chiropractor to hopefully eliminate yet another possible cause of my dodgy leg. Short of amputation I think we will have worked our way through the medical encyclopaedia seeking a cause/remedy. All that remains is to keep Lynne away from a chain saw. Heavy precipitation today. The flood plains  The canal and River Trust have entered the 21st century with a free app for places to visit on British canals and rivers, which looks pretty good. 
Chiropractor wants me to have a vascular ultrasound on my bad leg as it is considerably warmer than the other but I cannot get a GP appointment till next week so the results will have to wait yet again.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Sciatica and blackouts

Having spoken to "our" chiropractor and our GP friend we have come to the conclusion my ongoing leg problem is most likely caused by sciatica ( nerve damage ) rather than the infection first diagnosed. The reason for this joint (excuse the pun) conclusion is the pain is very mobile from ankle to hip rather than static in the wound site. I intend seeing a chiropractor at the first opportunity and hope for an early improvement as this non-mobility caper is driving (again, excuse the pun )me nuts.
While we were away cruising the council switched the street lights off half way through the night, presumably to save money, although they have got their priorities right by adding Christmas lights to each lamp post
 Staples out tomorrow.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Saving private Sadie 2

With Sadie gradually making progress with her foot and leg injury we have been attempting to piece together her travels during her missing period. She was found by staff in a Premier Inn car park approximately one and a half miles from our mooring almost a week after going for her normal mousing mission. At some point she needed to cross a busy dual-carriageway, lots of scrubland and the not-yet-completed M 42 motorway, which raises the possibility of being hit by a vehicle, although she shows no signs of related injuries. Another theory is a conflict with another cat, or a mink, presumably before booking into the Premier Inn, where she was found to be injured. A phone call to the local cat rescue centre, a quick read of the chip and her adventure was over. A very lucky cat. During our boat trip the council decided to switch off the street lights at night, presumably to save money.  Here we are fighting in Afganistan to give girls an education ( I think ?) and we cannot afford to light our streets. Fact is stranger than fiction.

Friday 18 October 2013


My staples have loosened, presumably due to the area swelling reducing, but with their removal scheduled soon it poses no problems, I guess. Apparently the surgeons do not replace the coin-sized plug of skull bone which will result in a small dent on top of my head. I am hoping this will result in a small micro-climate conducive to luxuriant hair growth. The biopsy result shows the tumour has not changed type significantly and can be treated by daily radiotherapy at one of the Leicester hospitals starting in about 3 weeks, for 6 weeks with another scan 3 months later.  Good news.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Hanging about

Time is really dragging while I wait for the results of my biopsy. What makes it worse is my inability to get out of the house for a walk or to look round the shops, my leg wound effectively restricting me to the settee and a foot stall. We have arranged to visit some boating friends at Stensen marina this afternoon, which should be interesting as we have managed to avoid the place for several months. I do not expect anything to have changed too much, but it should reinforce our belief us and Tardis Two are better off elsewhere. Our new "home" is yet to disappoint us in any way. It is a sunny and bright day, but I have yet to test the temperature.

Wednesday 16 October 2013


When I was wheeled out of theatre some one commented I had more tube connections than London, the removal of which resulted in widespread "waxed areas" on my arms. The other areas of obvious damage are where the clamps were fitted to keep my head from moving during drilling operations. This raises the image of my operation taking place on a Black and Decker Workmate bench bought from Argos in their summer sale
Another friend has suggested  I use my zipped head as a money box for poppy collections, but failed to explain how I get the money out again. With Poppy Day looming don't forget to wear one and give a generous donation for it. The British legion and Help for Heroes are the only organisations who give a monkeys for the welfare of our returning troops, injured or otherwise. This is our one opportunity each year to show our gratitude so make the most of it. 

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Home alone

Back to reality today. It has been dry, warm and sunny with lots of elaborate cloud formations. Having concluded life has been stressful for us both over recent weeks we have opted to address these issues head-on, by arranging us time. With this in mind we opted to visit the boat and marina this afternoon. It proved particularly relaxing and eased a few tensions. It has been tough for me but even tougher for Lynne so we need to ensure a more even balance in future. Awareness is half the solution. Sadie  now has problems with her leg as the infection seems to have spread, so yet more anti-biotics are scheduled. Fortunately she has given up the struggle to stop being given them which is a great relief to us.

Monday 14 October 2013

Glass half full/half empty theory

Yet another trip to the GP,for the next stage of leg treatment. Result.... More of the same, plus counselling to help cope with life's current ups and downs, which will be welcome. I need to concentrate on the plus points rather than the downs. After major brain surgery I am very much alive and able to live a fairly normal life for some considerable time. Making the most of it is the key, but I may need some assistance with that. I am naturally pessimistic (glass half empty), and find viewing anything as glass half full difficult, although I can understand the logic. I have 7 staples in my head, neatly arranged to resemble a zip,allowing an interesting start to any conversation.  Sadie is progressing well. Her foot and leg are still swollen and the collar drives her nuts. Giving her the anti-biotics is good fun but Margaret and Lynne have got it down to a fine art and the whole exercise is now completed with minimal injuries to all concerned. I will need to undertake the Margaret role in due course, which should be fun. I have always fancied the idea of being a big cat keeper. 

Sunday 13 October 2013

Passing the time

My recovery is progressing well, the slowest being my leg wound, which causes me grief whenever I get to walk even the shortest distance, restricting me to indoors, but even then getting up and down stairs can be a problem. To fill the time I have made a list of preferred films,some old, some new and of varied genre's, as follows;
High noon.                  Dances with wolves.                            Waterworld.                Woodstock.
The Graduate.             Airplane.                                               There's something about Mary.
I am curious, Yellow.    The Mission.                                          Dambusters.              Tommy.
Abba the movie.           A fist full of dollars.                                High plains drifter.       Hang 'Em high.
Beaches.                      The notebook.                                      Castaway.                   Life of Brian.
Little big man.               The terminal.                                        One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
Forrest Gump.               Straw Dogs.                                         Out of Africa
Born  Free.                     Gorilla's in the mist.
We had Sunday lunch at our "local" where the landlord had missed us for the summer. He is moving to another pub nearby sometime in the near future, which is a bit of a blow.
A trip to blockbusters is on the cards.                                        

Saturday 12 October 2013

Like a hole in the head

At last, a peacefull nights sleep. No hourly checks, no clanking of the tea trolley, no alarms, no screams, no bright lights,  relative peace.despite having two of the barkiest dogs in residence, my sister's corgis. It is raining this morning but the rhino seems quite pleased to see me and the feeling is mutual. There really is no place like home. My head is sore and my leg hurts, otherwise all is well.
Sadie is now wandering around with a large "funnel" collar to stop her chewing her bad leg, which is still swollen. We make a wonderful pair.

Friday 11 October 2013

Dad's home

As you can see I managed to escape hospital with the minimum of fuss. At least Pheobe seemed pleased to see me, but not half as much as I was pleased to be home. the operation apparently went well and they were able to remove chunks of the tumour for analysis via a skull hole the size of a 5 pence coin( see photo). They should be able to tell me their proposed treatment next week sometime. I spent yesterday in the post-operation recovery ward which proved to be very noisy, absolutely ideal for my recovery. The ward sister was very authoritarian and we got along really well (not).She made her apologies before I left but I put it down to an extreme case of chalk and cheese and we parted friends. The hole in my head is remarkably pain free but it is amazing how much the top of your head moves when you smile,frown,squint , laugh, cough etc. Try it.
Thanks to everyone sending best wishes during my hospital stay. Greatly appreciated.I cannot miss this opportunity  of also thanking my family for their great support over recent very difficult times. It makes me very proud to realise our hard work in parenting has proved successful 

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Lost in space

Returned to hospital ward D 11 as instructed and obviously surprised everyone. My bed was there but there was someone in it so they quickly moved me to ward D 8 where I surprised them also, particularly as it is a spinal injury ward. One of my doctor's found me the next morning but to the rest of the team I was "lost" until one phoned home to speak to me. Lynne was less than impressed and told him I was in his hospital and which ward. He found me quickly and arrangements are now in hand for an operation Thursday 10th October.

Monday 7 October 2013


By lunchtime today we had achieved; a change of painkillers for my dodgy leg. ;  a review of my "carer" relationship.   ; a review of my pain measurement criteria. Lynne and I always work on a pain table of 1to10.  1 being hardly noticeable and 10 being pretty bad. As a general rule I have tended to underplay the seriousness, not because I have a low pain threshold or anything, but I appreciate now this strategy does me no favours in my quest for pain relief so I in future I"ll top-load my assessments and compare the results.It certainly worked this morning, resulting in a doubling of my previous pain killer dose. 
Otherwise it is another day waiting for action. I'm scheduled to be back in hospital this afternoon when hopefully I will know what the immediate future holds. Strangely I am fairly convinced they have made a major foo-par by jumping the gun and now having to find an excuse to get out of it with minimum embarrassment. Thus my money is on no action and further monitoring, which is the lesser of two evils I suppose.
If I get that verdict and a cure for my leg I'll be a very happy old man.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Geriatric day out

By way of a change for me,  ( leg wound/tumour), my sister (bad back) and brother -in-law ( 2 bad hips) our "carer" Lynne decided on a day-trip for us all to Ashridge estate in Hertfordshire, which was a great success, lifting the doom and gloom that had pervaded us all over the past week or two. I suffered 4 fits today which we traced to the pain-killer I am taking for my leg, so we will attempt to change them tomorrow? I am like a walking Boots the chemist.
Talking of injuries, Sadie our wandering cat returned with a very sore and swollen front paw .Pheobie  suffered injured pride once her sister returned. In her absence she had attained top cat status on the boat and in the house, only to return to "normal" now. So much for sisterly love.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Released-but tagged

Lots of surgeon activity yesterday, but related to the MRI department, not me unfortunately. Following 3 days and 3 nights of wasted time ( and bed) I finally had a scan at 1800 hrs last night, although the engineer complained he had been waiting over an hour for me, where had I been?  I told him in no uncertain terms but realised afterwards I had probably shot the messenger. I then had the choice of staying in hospital for the weekend and a Tuesday morning operation slot, or going home and returning Monday. Guess which option I took?  I was therefore released on condition I kept my hospital wristband on which apparently ensures my bed cannot be re-allocated and the Tuesday op-slot maintained. I somehow doubt their hospital computer tracking system can be that good, considering it lost me for 3 days whilst still on the premises and in the same bed. Of course their still is a chance no surgery will be required if this second scan merely confirms the first one was faulty. In some ways I will be pleased but equally it will merely add fuel to the  frustration fire already built for lighting. The week has been a terrible strain on me, my family, relatives and especially Lynne, who outwardly copes well but internally gets tremendously stressed, understandably. I am helpless to do anything about it, which again only adds to frustration levels. My leg wound is causing grief, resulting in another hospital visit to the urgent care unit, more painkillers and anti-biotics. This time I'll have enough to complete the course whilst in hospital next week, as they are only willing to dish out drugs related to their own treatment.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Hospital almanac.

Believe it or not, I'm still esconced in hospital awaiting my scan, late Thursday evening. I am more bored than the Dulux dog. "They" hope to get it done sometime tonight or early Friday morning with half a chance I can be released for the weekend ( which weekend ?). My threat of walking out failed to motivate them this afternoon. I reckon bed placements and MRI Scans are arranged by a large committee of old biddies who meet monthly in the KFC on Wandsworth High Street whilst Status Quo tracks blare out on the in-house stereo. How else can you reasonably explain such chaos? At least it is non-cruising weather, which makes my imprisonment marginally easier to accept.

Hospital diary, cat's return

I am able to blog today as absolutely nothing has happened on the medical front, although I have been an in-patient for over 20 hrs. The hospital phoned 1600 yesterday asking me to attend as an in-patient as soon as practical, although the only spare bed was on orphaepedics where I was signed-in and later moved to neurology, where I have remained, waiting for a further, but improved MRI scan ( remember the previous machine broke, which is typical of my luck with any electrical gadgets ) pending a decision on a biopsy to ascertain further treatment. The aim is to improve my quality of life for the maximum time possible, which suits me. 
The medical staff have been fantastic, it is such a shame the administration cannot match them.How difficult can it be to organise a scan, followed by a review and an operation without me taking up valuable bed space for a night and a day? Although a young yob was admitted from A & E having had his skull cracked in a street fight, shouting and swearing, accompanied by 2 police " minders". The nurse did a brilliant job in shutting him up whilst persuading him he would die if he chose to leave. I would have let him go, but I suppose that is unfair on the police?  
As we received the hospital call we also heard from a cat rescue centre in Coven, saying Sadie had been found and handed in, virtually a month since first disappearing, but in reasonable health. Lynne collected and returned her home during my first morning in hospital...... A good sign?

Tuesday 1 October 2013

NHS incompetence-DHS efficiency

My phone call from Nottingham hospital last Friday promised I would be contacted yesterday confirming details of my admission and operation, but of course nothing happened , our phone calls late afternoon were unsuccessful. 40 minutes on the phone this morning equally drew a blank until Lynne spoke to the neurological surgery ward sister who confirmed my pre  - op would be later today and my operation tomorrow. Progress.It appears NHS incompetence is not only confined to London.
On a happier and more successful note DHS successfully completed the transfer of 8 gorilla's fromPort Lympne wild animal park to the Congo. The family are doing very well and have settled into their new wild home without problem.
With the knowledge my operation will take place and when,
life is a little more relaxed, although i'm not sure that is an accurate description.
Until the next blog, goodbye.