#2 – It’s about me… again

Sooooooooo, it seems I’ve been malingering, ‘swinging the lead’ as it were. Last month’s ‘Topic’ saw me laid up in the Christie hospital with an erratic temperature, an unpredictability of bowel and a general ‘not-rightness’, which, for those of you who know me, will recognise as not right at all. Anyway, after numerous tests of every fluid the human body can produce, an X-ray and a CT scan, the assembled doctors felt that I had acquired some kind of virus which was elusive enough not to show up on any of the tests done and didn’t appear to be related to my cancer. So after four days I was discharged on the 26th June and told to return on the 14th July for the results of the CT scan. Still feeling a bit washed-out I was never-the-less delighted to return home to some decent food, as hospital food, even at the otherwise most excellent Christie, is still frankly atrocious.

The following week held further excitements; I was scheduled to have an angiogram at Stepping Hill hospital, Stockport; a procedure I was very keen to undertake to alleviate my angina (a heart condition probably caused by my earlier chemotherapy) which was causing me increasing breathlessness and limiting my range and ability to do stuff. The cardiology doctors were anxious I was clear of whatever infection I’d had the week before, which a blood test on the Monday confirmed, so on Wednesday I reported for the angiogram. This is a quite common procedure these days for inspecting the arteries supplying blood to the heart.

So here’s the dilemma; they make a tiny incision into your femoral artery at your right groin into which is inserted a tiny tube. They then proceed to ‘furtle’ (technical term) the tube through your arteries all the way up to your heart. Once there, they inject an X-ray dye into your bloodstream, causing a sensation not unlike incontinence (not actual you understand, just the sensation!) as a warm glow spreads warmly around one’s nether regions. All pretty painless, although a bunch of people poking about in a chap’s intimate little places can be a bit startling, to say the least! Anyway, when they’re done with furtling, they plug the arterial hole, placing a large patch of what appears to be a Sellotape over the tiny wound. It’s a bit sore for a few days of course, but the worst bit is now I’m looking with some trepidation at the way the Sellotape seems to have fused to my delicate, hirsute and very sensitive skin. Had I anticipated this issue a prudent solution would have been a ‘full Brazilian’ where some careful shaving might have pre-empted the dilemma; indeed I was surprised the medical procedure didn’t include a quick shave. But that’s ‘the funding cuts’ for you, no frills and definitely no cosmetic procedures.

However, the removal of the Sellotape patch seemed akin to a bikini wax! (Err….I’m reliably informed). I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. There’s that inevitable choice between ‘rip and scream’ or the more torturous process of ‘peel and whimper’, each seemingly equally awful. In the end I opted for a median route, fearing that the former might reopen the incision causing gouts of arterial blood hosing all and sundry – (bit dramatic, I’ve obviously been watching too many gory movies).

Anyway, the angiogram showed that I do indeed require a further procedure called a stent which will be carried out in yet ANOTHER four to six weeks! When it’s done, using a similar technique to the aforementioned angiogram, I should have a lot more puff and will be much better able to withstand the rigours of the next phase of the cancer treatment, but more importantly I hope to be able to be much more active and get out walking around my home valley go on holiday, maybe caravanning? (Karl, enough! I’ve told you once)

All of this has concentrated my mind on TIME. I’ve decided to finally retire from work and spend more quality time with Jane and the family. My days as a fashion photographer are over and I’ve enjoyed them immensely, but in fairness the job has expanded so much that one photographer would never cope with the enormous increase in workload or the continual ramping-up of quality imagery and technique that international online retail now demands. The company is now moving to the next level in their dramatic growth with some exciting new concepts being put in place for the future. I’m pleased to have played my part in their success, but equally pleased to relinquish my responsibility and R-E-L-A-X a little.

The good news on the 14th July, was that the results of the CT scan I had a month back showed virtually no change in the cancer which remains indolent. This means that my consultant, Prof. Radford, sees no reason to commence any procedure and has signed me off for another couple of months. So here I am today, sitting in the dappled shade of my garden on a glorious day with a cold beer, the singing of the birds to the gentle babbling of the stream as it meanders around my garden and pondering that eternal question, why does running water always make you want a pee?

I’ll end here with that thought. Many, many thanks to the dozens of you who replied to my first ‘Topic’ and the kind thoughts and humour they contained. I’m doing OK, having just returned from the stunning wedding at our old friends Ron and Gayle’s, when their daughter Anna was married in south-west Wales. This was the highlight of a delightful long weekend with Jane, when even the weather cooperated to make everything perfect.

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