Thursday, 31 December 2009

DAVY RIP

My dear husband died on Boxing Day morning. In the end his passing was a blessed relief. He had suffered enough.

He loved his family so much and liked nothing better than being in their company but he had been so ill that it took all his efforts to concentrate on merely existing and he had banned them from visiting. Being family they disobed him but only stayed for a short while so as not to exhaust him.

However, there was a natural coming together on Christmas Day. The children had Secret Santa's to open and their parents had asked if they could be together in our house so we agreed to throw the doors open again. My grandson-in-law said it was like The Waltons and the District Nurse said that she had never seen such as large family. It was good to have life in the house again after so many months of sadness.

OG was kept quietly and safely upstairs in his Hollywood bedroom away from the mellee but they all had an opportunity to spend time with him and, although he was unresponsive, we were told that he could hear everything, including the children's laughter wafting up from below. It was good that they were all able to say their goodbyes, apart from our beautiful grandson Vinnie who works in the Alps and couldn't get back in time. Even the young ones asked to spend time with him which, I hope, will help them to come to terms with his passing.

On Boxing Day morning one of my daughters and I sat either side of his bed, holding his hand, drinking coffee and talking to him and to each other. The subject strayed on to what to do with the Christmas lunch leftovers. I said I had seen an interesting receipt for bubble and squeak and Sara said that Jamie Oliver had cooked bubble and squeak on his TV show once and it looked so good. OG hated Jamie Oliver with a passion and wasn't that enamoured with leftovers (or bubble and squeak either come to think of it) and I think that just tipped him over the edge because I saw a tear trickle down his cheek and he was gone.

The funeral is on 14th January and although it seems a long while to wait he touched the lives of so many people and it will give us the chance to get things organised.

Tonight we have a divi out of the £2 coins he had been saving for the grandchildren. A couple of weeks ago he said that they should count them and share them out this Christmas and we will honour that wish. I will cook a huge steak pie with mashed potatoes and swede in his memory because that was what we always had on New Years Eve and we will remember him with love and laughter. Life goes on.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF

I would first like to apologise that I haven't had time to reply to comments and/or visit my blogging friends, but life has gone a bit mad here.

On Thursday it became apparent that OG wasn't able to transfer himself from the bed to the loo with my aid any more, The little shuffle movement that enabled him to turn himself in a half circle and plop himself down in his wheelchair had gone which meant that I had to bend down and physically move one foot at a time whilst propping him up. Too perilous and all the while he was freaking out that he would fall.

When the District Nurse saw this she swung into action immediately She ordered the fully adjustable hospital bed with air matress that she has been pressing him to agree to for weeks and rang around to get us help with lifting and moving four times a day. The bed was not a problem it arrived yesterday morning but getting help at Christmas is more difficult and as the help he needs is of the more personal nature he won't allow any of the family to get involved although he may have to accept this, allbeit temporarily.

So yesterday at 0800 the bed arrived and was errected. At 1000 the Community Nurse arrived to inflate the matress which wouldn't co-operate. Some hours and several 'phone calls later it was resolved, but we decided not to transfer him until we were sure it wasn't going to suddenly deflate itself again in the middle of the night.

In the meantime the ladies from the home hospice popped in and spent over an hour telling us why they couldn't help because there were maxed out until next next Wednesday. Then our daughter arrived and got roped in with the discussions.

During their visit OG began acting very weird, halucinating and saying strange things. They said that sometimes medication could do this and if he would agree to go into the hospice in Peterborough for a few days he could be stabalised and made more comfortable. He suddenly became very alert and lucid, going loopy, especially, for some odd reason, when they said it was in Peterborough. They immediately backed off of that suggestion (he has still got his fighting spirit, big time!) but asked if it was OK for them to tell the GP and get the medication changed.

Then the police arrived. At 5.30 pm on Monday night our local village post office had been robbed by three men in ski masks. Their get away vehicle had been dumped near our house and they were doing house to house enquiries in case anyone had seen anything. He asked if we had been in the village at the time. I said "I haven't been outside this house for weeks". He smiled and thought "I could do without comedians like this"!. If only he knew! It's surreal that in the middle of all this life continues remorselessly moving from mundane, to dramatic, to beautiful, to stressful, to funny etc. etc.

Then my lunch arrived. They had a buffet lunch arranged in the office and had kindly bought me over a plate.

Then a parcel arrived. A beautiful basket full of Irish goodies. Unfortunately the sender wasn't named, but I suspect it was from our wonderful Irish friends the Contessa and her toy boy. Thank you so much. We love you, even if you didn't send the parcel!

Then the GP arrived. She was so supportive and we had a long talk. She said they understood how hard it was for me and they would help in any way they could. She knew people that had taken the same decision to stay at home and had never regretted it. I cried, she cuddled me and made me feel better.

In between times the wretched 'phone wouldn't stop ringing with recorded messaged wanting to know if I was in debt and asking if I need help, etc, etc. I need help alright, help to rip this bloody 'phone out of the wall. (Note to self: I must get around to registering with TPS.)

Then we had a really good visit from our beloved granddaughter, her husband, their beautiful new baby Leyton, his older brother Noah (11 months old) and our two beloved great-grandaughters. Our life touched "normal" for a few minutes.

Today threatens to be just as mad. OG gets transferred to the new bed, which will be very traumatic for him, and then no doubt we will have the odd selection of medics, and wanabe medics parading through our home at various times of the day doing their best to help, but , in truth, totally exhausing us. And we can't tell them to stop coming because we desperately need them.

Stop it Ann, be grateful for what you have. Life is sweet. We are surrounded by the most amazingly dedicated and loving family and friends who shower us with beauty, love and kindness. And tomorrow is the day we celebrate the birth of the christ child. Like I said once before recently. the circle of life continues. Happy Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

THE NEW ADDITION

Little Layton arrived to join Elise, Orianne and Noah on 20th December. He was 7lb 8 oz at birth and is a perfect "rosebud" baby with black hair. Congratulations George & Dan for having such a beautiful family.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

SIMPLE PLEASURES

When OG first had difficulty managing the stairs we moved out of our Hollywood bedroom into one of our spare bedrooms downstairs. He was never happy there, longing to get back to the luxurious bedroom that he had spent so long creating and this week we finally achieved it. We had a stairlift fitted and, like royalty, he smoothly glided back upstairs again where he could gaze out over the fens from two floor to ceiling balcony windows.

Yesterday the featureless fens were coated in a new fall of snow making them all bright, clean and new and this morning the sun is shining. Very picturesque. I have moved my computer to the bedroom so that I can enjoy the view too and at the same time be nearby whenever he wakes up. Because he does sleep most of the time now, but when he wakes he likes me nearby. A small price to pay for one of the few pleasures that he has at the moment.

This year we have decided not to send out Christmas Cards, but will be donating the money to Cancer Relief instead. It seems appropriate.

Meanwhile we still await the arrival of our latest greatgrandchild. She (because I think that it's a girl) is now 7 days late. George is having a home birth and the snow yesterday caused a worry because she was told the midwives were snowed in and if she started she was to call an ambulance. Today looks OK again though, fingers crossed.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

WHEN WILL WE EVER LEARN?

This video shows the winner of "Ukraine’s Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II.

Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmeric to watch. The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about £75,000.

She begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated. It is replaced by a woman’s face crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again. Once again war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young woman’s face appears. She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, before the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier. This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking out on the monument from within a house. In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man standing outside, with his hands pressed against the glass, saying goodbye.

The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million. Kseniya Simonova says: "I find it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers is beyond me. The art, especially when the war is used as the subject matter, even brings some audience members to tears. And there’s surely no bigger compliment."

Please take time out to see this amazing piece of art. To view cut and paste this link into google
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=vOhf3OvRXKg

Friday, 11 December 2009

HOME AGAIN, AGAIN

I've become quite a wizz at power packing. Like a whirling dervisher I can pack a hospital bag in the blink of an eye. On Tuesday morning we left for hospital again, Tuesday afternoon OG had a Cholangiogram MRI and last night we were back home. The consultant is aghast that OG will not stay in hospital, because, apart from what is going on with his liver, Guillaine-Barre is a very serious condition in itself and normally requires several months of intensive inpatient therapy But OG is made of stern stuff and very, very determined. And of course at home he is warm, hydrated, clean, optimistic and comfortable, surrounded by loved ones.

This latest test ruled out primary sclerosing cholangitis and cholangiocarcinoma both of which have a truly dreadful prognosis, plus there is no evidence of any other cancer so we were massively relieved at that. But with all the prayers being offered up why should we be surprised!

So the puzzle remains, what caused the liver function tests to return such bad results? Although the liver now appears to be spontaniously recovering it's too early to say that this will continue. And where do we go from here? The consultant now recommends that OG rest at home until after Christmas with weekly blood tests and regular visits from the GP and District Nurse. He will also pop in himself just to keep an eye on how things are going. He has given us his mobile 'phone number and said we can ring him anytime we are worried. In the meantime he encouraged us to arranged for the physio to come in and start weaving his magic to get those useless limbs working again.

I was recommended to read this Patience Strong poem by guineapigmum.

When you know not where to turn, stay still, just where you are.
There is something yet to learn.
Be careful lest you jar the threads that fate is weaving in a pattern you can't see.
Be Passive.

Trust the Hand that works the looms of destiny.
Though it is your wish to set things right and put things straight,
Choose the wiser way.
Have faith.

With patience watch and wait.
There's a purpose in it all, as time will surely prove
And when you least expect it, you will see the mountain move.

I love it. I really need to let go and let God.

And while this has all been going on we are waiting the birth of our 5th greatgrandchild due tomorrow. The cycle of life continues.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

LIVER BIOPSY RESULTS

Well, the long awaited liver biopsy results didn't produce the expected answers and marched us on to yet another, final, test which is an MRI Cholangiogram. By process of elimination we have been left with two suspects one of which is primary sclerosing cholangitis, the other cholangiocarcinoma. If it proves to be the former he will continue to be treated with steroids, if the latter it may be possible to insert a stent to drain the liver to relieve the symptoms.

Normally an MRI is an outpatient job, but he is now so weak that he will have to go in for an overnight stay and because he has such a fear of hospitals this will be a great trial for him, but they will allow me to say with him for as long as I want to.

So where are you now God? You are in my heart loving this man that has loved me all these years and is now so ill, helping me to me to return a small amount of the love he has shown me and giving me the strength to look after him.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF AN ANSWERED PRAYER?

I suppose a hard and fast believer would say that every prayer is answered. But what when that miracle doesn’t happen? Does the believer rationalise and say that we don’t know the mind of God and He has his own plan? I seem to have a foot in both camps at the moment.

I do believe that what happened in the hospital last week had to have been divine intervention. To be in hospital for an elective procedure, to have the right nurse on duty who took it on herself to order up two extra blood tests and rally her junior nurses into action during the crisis and for OG to pull through was not logical. That day he was too ill to move to the High Dependence Unit and the next day he was well enough to have a liver biopsy? Hey come on! As I have said before it could have been a “coincidence”, but I don’t think so.

But that was then and now he is deteriorating again. The GP is of the opinion that he actually has something called paraneoplastic syndrome which is a very rare autoimmune condition similar to Guillain-Barre but caused by cancer.

So where are your miracles now? Why would OG have been spared last Wednesday only to continue suffering? I think that an obstacle to belief in a Higher Power can be intellect. So, maybe now is the time to put my intellect outside the door and become, as instructed by Jesus, child like. Children have a great way of looking at things and, above all, trust. You can look for rational explanations but for sure there has to be some things the we just don’t understand.

Well, I may be rationalising here (and I’m sure that members of my family and some of my friends would say that I am) but OG has an irrational fear of being in hospital and needs me near him all the times and this is now being organised for us by local facilitators.

We have had the offer of help from the Marie Curie Rapid Response Team who work from 1500 to 0700, the District Nursing Team who cover daytime assistance, McMillan Nurses, the St Barnabas Hospice at Home Team if we need them and equipment to make things easier for us. Social Services will supply nursing care to help fill in the gaps if/when we ask for it.

Prior to Wednesday I had been knocking my head against a brick wall trying to get help and suddenly the wall disappeared and help is there in abundance. As my mad friend the Contessa would say, again, Praise be to God.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

HOME SWEET HOME

We came home yesterday, a bit shell shocked, but glad to be in familiar surroundings again. Now I have "more time" (that's a laugh) I can contemplate on the happenings of the last few days.

When we arrived at the hospital I asked if a porter could help OG out of the car. Instead they sent two nurses. The nurse who turned out to be our angel asked OG to stand up and started to get hold of his arms. I panicked that he would fall and yelled at her that he couldn't stand, she yelled back that she had been nursing for 35 years, was not allowed to lift patients and knew what she was doing. As it happened she did get him to stand and transfer himself to the wheelchair, but there was immediately "bad blood" between us.

He was helped into bed and his blood pressure and temperature was monitored at regular intervals. His blood pressure was quite low but nothing particularly to worry about. However, the student nurse that was taking his temperature told us the they had run out of the sheaths for the electronic thermometer and she was trying to take his temperature using small plastic strips. She said everyone hated using them and she couldn't get a reading. The same thing happened when she tried again later, but she thought it was the strips at fault, never realising that OG's temperature was so low that it probably wasn't registering.

When our angel nurse came to take bloods she told us later that her heart started fluttering and she thought something was wrong so she added a couple of blood tests that the doctor had not ordered and started praying.

At lunch time the doctor came to talk to OG and whilst he was there the student nurse came in with the blood results jotted them down on a scrappy piece of paper. The doctor looked at them, looked again, and told her to go and check them out and write them legibly, NOW! He followed her from the room.

A couple of minutes later our angel came rushing in, put up drips, took blood pressure, put an oxygen mask on OG whilst shouting at the student nurse to go get some sheaths for the thermometer from SOMEWHERE in the hospital and RUN. I asked what was going on. She said she would tell me later, but please let her concentrate on what she was doing right now. More nurses came to help, the doctor came in with the ECG machine, the student nurse came back with the sheaths and they established that his heart was OK but his body temperature was bordering on hyperthemic.

When he was all hooked up and safe she explained that his temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels were dangerously low. his potassium level was dangerously high and he was dehydrated. This had all caused his kidneys to fail and other organs were in the process of shutting down too. He was acutely ill and we could have lost him but he should be alright now.

So...what if he hadn't been in hospital that day? What if that nurse hadn't been on duty? What if she hadn't had the "intuition" that something was really wrong? What if she hadn't taken it on herself to order extra blood tests? Were these miracles or just one of those things? Again I ask, how many times does "coincidence" have to come knocking before you start wondering?

He really should still be in hospital but he stresses out so much that it is actually safer to have him home. He had a good nights sleep last night, had breakfast, took his new steriod medication and is now having another sleep. I am a great believer in the healing powers of sleep and nourishment, so hopefully that is what he will get. On Monday we go to get his potassium levels checked again and then wait for the results of the biopsy.

As my nutty good friend the Contessa would say "praise be to God".

Thursday, 26 November 2009

At last

Biopsy done. Results in 1/2 weeks.
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A tale of two nurses.

Yesterday was "interesting" to say the least. Apart from the drama there were two things that rocked me to the core and they both concerned nurses.

Nurse 1 came out to the car when we first arrived to assist OG transfer from car to wheelchair. We got off to a bad start when I was "sharp" with her for suggesting OG stand. In my usual diplomatic way I yelled that he couldn't stand and that was why we needed her assistance. She, equally diplomatically, told me in so many words to but out. She had 35 years experience and knew what she was doing. She was right, I was wrong! Ouch!

In the full flow of the ensuing crisis her 35 years experience kicked in big time and she took no prisoners! The less exprienced nurses watched and learned from a Master. She worked an extra 2 hours until she was sure that OG was safe even though he wasn't even her patient.

When the crisis was under control she asked me about the Barak Obama book I am reading and then said "I think God has plans for him". When I
asked she confirmed she is a Christian. She cuddled me and said she had been silently praying for OG whilst going about her work. Another coinincidence?!

Nurse 2 is younger. She is so gentle and talked about her 2 boys being extremly untidy. Last night she was asking about Og's cancer and then told us that her husband had bowel cancer that spread to his liver. I asked if he had died and she said without a trace of self pity "yes, and he was only 31". She has 3 children.

So another lesson learned. Don't judge a book by it's cover.

Good news. We have just been told they are resheduling the biopsy for 1500 today.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Be careful what you pray for!

The biopsy didn!t go ahead as planned. When they did the pre-procedure tests Og's potassium level was dangerously high, his temperature was bordering on hyperthermia, he was dehydrated, his oxygen level was low, etc, etc!

Panic mode! The Doctor said that it was Incredibly "Lucky" that he was in hospital today when it happened. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about!

What caused it? Add it to the list! Biopsy tomorrow? Fingers crossed!

More prayers please.
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

THE RESULT OF PRAYER?

Is this the result of prayer, or just a coincidence? You tell me. After weeks of trying to get two liver consultants to schedule a liver biopsy at last we have one scheduled for tomorrow. This is how things went.

In response to the district nurse's request our GP finally made a house visit. When he saw how ill OG is he spent an unpresedented 1.5 hours with us and finally got things moving. OG is to be admitted tomorrow morning for a biopsy at 1600. He will stay overnight and when he returns home on Thursday I am to call the GP who will immediately start treatment to help the symptoms.

He had this treatment when he went into the district hospital and it worked well but it had to be suspended pending the biopsy because it would have interfered with the results.

So, prayers or not, we have movement. The results of the biopsy may not be known for a week or two but at least treatment can begin to help him feel better.

The interesting thing about prayer is that most times it can be explained away, but how often do you do this before you begin to wonder????

By the way, The Contessa's husband sent me through a link to a prayer network, www.emmetfox.net. I haven't had time to look at it in depth yet, but it sounds iintriguing.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

THE POWER OF PRAYER

I know, a very contentious subject, but one that I feel I have to explore right at this moment. Without being boring, I had a "spiritual awakening" as the result of many years in Al-Anon and then at the prompting of my very good friend Bridie. At that time life had become pretty much unbearable, well I thought it was, but little did I realise that it was acutally quite good! But that is another story. One lesson to be learned here, enjoy the moment that you are in, no matter how difficult things are for you.

So....with the help of good friends and the support of an excellent evengelical church in Guildford I came to believe in the power of prayer. I went from being a sceptic to experiencing real miracles in my own life. Things that just defied logic.

This belief has stood me in good stead recently and I have been nourished and supported by the prayers and care of many, many good friends. Has it been working? I can only tell you that anyone else that I have known of with Guillaine-Barre Syndrome has spent months in intensive care. OG spent 7 days on a general ward and was then allowed home. Don't get me wrong, he is dangerously ill, but yesterday we had a deeply peaceful and contented day together. That is a blessing in itself and not many people can say that.

We have now accessed the "care in the community" system and have a great bunch of nurses on call to give us help and re-assurance. One nurse has a brother that had Guillaine-Barre Syndrome in the 1980's and knows all about it. Another nurse was horrified to learn that we were going to struggle to visit the doctor for a review meeting tomorrow. She said "he will come to you, I have flagged you as housebound and he has to come". That was a great relief.

Am I deluded? I don't care if I am, it works for me and I know that I am blessed to have OG and the family and friends that I have.

My prayer "request" now is that the medics find out what is causing his liver to malfunction and the suspected blockage is discovered and dealt with. It would also be good if he could eat because he is only able to manage a bit of cereal in the morning and he has lost a massive amount of weight. I have tried tempting him with all sorts of tit bits and he has tried all the usual stuff like complan, but just throws it up again.

I would just like to end by saying thank you so much to everyone who cares so much. Whether you "believe" or not doesn't matter. Your care is a form of prayer whether you know it or not! So there!!!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

HOME AGAIN

Yesterday morning the neurologist bought some students to see OG and during the session he blurted out "now that the drip has finished you can go home". It was like a bolt out of the blue and my emotions ranged from "thank goodness for that" to "help! now we will be on our own again." It's quite a scary prospect really because he is still so ill and helpless.

But, stiff British upper lip and all that, we prepared ourselves to leave, not quite believing what he had said. Luckilly our daughter was on her way to visit and happened to still have his "home" clothes in her car.

Early in the afternoon the neurologist popped up again to say "before you go today you will need to see the Liver Consultant because we have to get a liver biopsy date confirmed", Ah! knew there was a catch. I don't actually think that this elusive breed of individual really exists although OG did say that he had spoken to one last week. Mind you, OG was high on morphine at the time and I'm quite doubtful that this conversation really did happen.

So we sat around all afternoon, occasionally randomly accosting the odd doctor or two to check out the facts. Yes, we did have to wait for the Liver Consultant, and no we couldn't go until he had been. When he still hadn't arrived at 1830 I said to the nurse "There is no way that a Consultant is still in this hospital at this time of night unless he is here to see a private patient". She said, "Ah, you know them so well". We left.

So, now we are out in the community again at the mercy of our elusive GP and the District Nurse. I have arranged a "review meeting" with the GP next Monday, his earliest appointment, called the District Nurse and spoke to her voice mail and made an appointment with the oncologist on Friday week. Fingers crossed that everything goes OK.

On the bright side OG had a great night last night and has slept all morning. He is so much better here at home and I am more at ease with my basic nursing skills than most of the highly paid "professionals".

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

BANKS? I HATE THEM

It's not the lions and tigers that get you, it's the rabbits that kick you to death. An old, and very true, saying. Yesterday the bank kicked me to death. Last week they raised a query because my card was being used in Cambridge! Three small transactions, one being topping up my phone I explained the situation. Job done. You thing? Not a chance!

Yesterday I bought OG some more PJs in John Lewis. The young man was very embarrassed when he got a message about the transaction on his screen. He needed a manager and was very tramatised because he couldn't summon one. I stood there patiently, time running out for me to return to the hospital. I joked "what does the message say arrest this woman, she's a shoplifter?" he smiled, sheepishly.

Finally, 15 minutes later a manager appeared. "Sorry" she said "I need to telephone mastercard about this transaction. She 'phoned, they asked to speak to me, asked security questions, authorised the transaction and asked to be handed back to the manager. "Before I hand you back let me exlain that I will be in Cambridge for an undetermined length of time because my husband is dangerously ill in Addenbrookes Hospital". There was no reaction to this. He simply went into his mantra about this was a security issued and was for my own good. "OK, I hear what you are saying, but let me tell you that there was a security issue on this card last week and the situation was explained then, so I don't accept that this should continue 'for my own good'." He then went into the mantra again. I lost it. "Look right at this moment I don't know if my husband will survive. He is very, very dangerously ill and I can do with this etc. etc. etc. etc," Still no reaction. I gave up and handed the phone back to the manager.

When I got back from the hospital I decided to treat myself to a meal at the Pizsa Express opposite the hotel. As I went to pay I thought "I'll just check this card out again". The bill came to just over £17 and the same thing happened again. I apologised to my server and explained what was happening. He was very understanding and allowed me to rant at mastercard again. It's like pissing in the wind. Again the same mantra. The transaction was agreed and off I went back to the hotel.

Sitting in the hotel room fuming about this I rang their number. Again the mantra stuff started. Again I explained my situation. He acknowledged that my comments at lunchtime had been noted on their system and it shouldn't happen again.
"But it did happen again"
"What do you mean?"
"You just told me there is a note on the system, but it still happened again"
"But it shouldn't happen again"
"Not good enough, I have enough stress at the moment with my husband being dangerously ill"

I went on to explain the whole thing again in detail but he would only commit himself to saying
"It shouldn't happen again".
"Look, I need assurances that this REALLY won't happen again, and and explanation why it has happened anyway, and I don't need your mantra"
He then tried to suggest that perhaps there was a problem with the card
"You will have to speak to the fraud department".
"OK, put me through".

He then kept coming back to me to apologise that the fraud department was engaged but he would keep trying the number.
"Ask them to ring me"
"They can't ring out".
If I had had more control of my emotions I would have realised that this was an outright lie.

Finally I got to speak to an Indian lady, went through the whole thing again, lost my temper, cried and finally said
"You know the worse thing about this? not one person has said 'I am sorry that you are going through such a difficult time, I hope your husband recovers'."
This actually seemed to take her aback. She asked me to hold and a couple of minutes later came back to me to reassure me that the card would not fail again and to give me her best wishes for my husbands recovery.

Good news is that my grandson won The Times Chalet Chef of the Year award yesterday and we are going out to lunch at The Three Horseshoes in Maddingly, one of my favourite restaurants and the restaurant that Vinnie worked at before he went out to the Alps last winter. Dare me to try the wretched card again?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

BACK ONLINE

When did internet get to rule my life? I'm absolutely lost without it. But I'm such a technophob. If it's set up for me I'm OK, but if not, forget it! But in my defence this time it wasn't my fault. It was faulty equipment at the hotel and once this was sorted my freedom returned. Well, sort of, apart from being away from home and my support network.

When Davy was in Addenbrookes in March 2007 I was so impressed with the level of expertise and attention to detail. I wondered if it was that particular ward, but obviously not because, if anything, this ward is even better.

Start at the beginning. First thing on Tuesday morning OG had the electronic reflex test, followed by ultrasound and blood tests. That afternoon a team of six neurology consultants came to see him followed later in the day by a visit from the liver man. On Wednesday he had a brain scan, lumbar puncture and more blood tests. On Thursday GBS was confirmed, an IVIG drip was started, he had a stomach X-ray and more blood tests. Friday another ultrasound, another visit from the consultant,
and more blood tests.

Not much happens in the NHS at the weekends, but he did have another visit from the duty neurology consultant this afternoon. They are very concerned that he can't eat without throwing up and is getting dehydrated so she arranged for a saline drip to be given during the night when the IVIG drip is down.

Although he is very poorly, the spark is still there. I told him that our granddaughter George had planned to visit, but her fourth child is due in 4 weeks and her youngest is only 9 months old. For some reason he has started waking in the night so she is pretty much wacked out and a 140 mile round trip is a big deal. I said to OG "she needs to get Noah sleeping through the night again, otherwise she will have two babies waking at night" "two babies?" I though blimmy, he has finally lost it. "Yes, Noah and the new baby", "Noah? no we are having Noah!". "Nice idea OG, but I think that I have enough on my hands with you right now".

Lost without my laptop

I took advice and used the services of INFOTEL to book a room in a good hotel. So here I am alone without internet connection! I will get it sorted but in the meantime I am using the good old blackberry! Steep learning curve!

OG in good hands now. Multi tests confirmed he does have Guillain Barre Syndrome and he is on a ivig drip until Wednesday. His liver function tests are still shocking and the liver man will be back to see him again on Monday to talk about doing a biopsy.

He is certainly in the right place. The level of care is outstanding with at least one nurse in this 6 bed bay at all times. OG is, as you would expect, very grumpy!!

We have been very touched by all your good wishes and prayers. Thank you so much. Bye for now.
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

ADMISSION - AT LAST

OG was finally admitted last night at 2200. I know they gave us the runaround yesterday, but it is worth it just to get into this hospital. It is on a different level altogether to the "normal" hospital that he was in a couple of weeks ago.

He is in the neuroscience wing which is vast, ultra mordern and CLEAN. The nurses are human beings that actually engage and enter into discussions with the patients and family.

He saw the doctor last night who said they would be starting test right away and would probably do a lumbar puncture. They even, god forbid, let him administer his own medication. At the "normal" hospital they didn't trust patients to do that!

Because he can't move unaided he had a panic attack during the night. The nurse was there right away and helped him through it. He feels much more secure now.

Although it is a 70 mile schlep to get there it is well worth the effort. In fact I will be booking into a hotel for a few days until we see how things go.

Monday, 9 November 2009

PROGRESS? I DON’T THINK SO

When the consultant said last Thursday that he wanted OG admitted to hospital "urgently at the beginning of the week” I was relieved, but I had a feeling of foreboding when he then added “if you don’t hear from the ward ring them on this number”.

At lunchtime I hadn’t heard so I rang. “Your husband is not on our list, have you rang Admissions?” “No” “OK, I’ll ring them and ring you back.” Whew!

Two hours later I enquire again “No we haven’t heard anything yet, let me give you a number to ring” “Who will I be speaking to?” “The bed manager”

The bed manager’s number is on voice mail with a message to say that the office closes at 1500. The time is 1410! But, the message adds, in the case of emergency ring this number. I ring.

“No you don’t want this number, let me give you another number” “If you are going to give me the number for the bed manager, I’ve already tried that and it’s on voice mail” “No, this is the Neurology Bed Manager”

I ring the number “Ah, you actually need to ring this number” “I’ve already tried that, they are on voice mail and their office closes at 1500” “No it doesn’t they’re there until much later than that, try again I’m sure they are there”.

I try again and this time I get through “No, he’s not on our list you need to speak to --- ----- on R3” “But he is going to ward A4” “I know, but she is the person you need and she's in R3 at the moment. Unfortunately, I don’t have her number”. The person sitting beside her confirms this and asks “is that Mrs Cordner? I spoke to her a while ago” “Oh, apparently you just spoke to my colleague the neurolgy bed manager. She confirm that you do need to speak to ----”.

I track her down “I’m sorry, he’s not on the list”. Well, enough was enough. Until this time I had been just about holding things together, but this was the last straw. I broke down. “Please, please don’t put me through to someone else, I have a desperately sick husband. The consultant said he needs urgent treatment. I can't keep being batter around the system like this” “Oh, the consultant did say that he had a patient that needed urgent admission, that must be your husband. I’m just going over to Ward 4A now, leave it with me, I’ll ring you back”.

Miraculously this kind lady did ring me back. “The consultant isn’t here today, but he left instructions with his Registrar. I’ve just tracked him down and your husband will be admitted. The ward will ring you when there is a bed free.” Round and round and round and round. Like I said once before, the whole system is screwed!

Friday, 6 November 2009

SO … Guillain-Barre Syndrome looks a likely candidate

Things appear to be moving at last. We had an urgent outpatient appointment with the oncologist and the neurologist yesterday evening. They concluded that it was now imperative to get OG into Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge early next week for sophisticated electronic testing of his central nervous system and possibly a lumbar puncture. The neurologist suspects that OG has Guillain-Barre Syndrome. His symptoms certainly point that way.

We are then left with the liver problem which the neurologist is convinced is entirely unrelated to this neurological trauma. Both he and the oncologist think this it is more likely to be connected to cancer and the liver function tests point towards there being an obstruction somewhere. The oncologist is totally distraught that he hasn’t been able to trace the cause and last night remarked to the neurologist that he had been trying to get OG a liver biopsy but the consultant concerned had refused. By the look on the neurologists' face it was clear that he doesn't hold this consultant in high esteem. They both agreed that, depending how things went, it might be best to do this biopsy while OG is at Addenbrookes.

Although OG and I dread the thought of him being in hospital again we do understand that if this proves to be the diagnosis it is a life threatening condition that needs specialist care so we have to be grown up about it. Addenbrookes is a 140 mile round trip for me each day but it is something that has to be done.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT

One of our telesales ladies is auditioning for “Britian’s Got Talent” today. You can see her on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVy6zWS-72A. Good luck Katie.



This week has been so frustrating, with OG practically bedridden and me getting more and more concerned. We seem to have fallen under the radar again. Yesterday morning I sent this fax to the oncologist (he is not set up for email at the hospital, can you believe that!) and copied in the GP to keep him “in the loop”.

“Dear Dr ---,

Would it be at all possible to have a telephone conversation with you sometime today? As you know my telephone number is ---------.

What I would like to discuss with you is the following:-

MY CURRENT SYMTOMS ARE

IMMOBILITY

I’m virtually confined to bed.
My legs are weak and my knees give way
I need help to get the few steps to the toilet
I have lost muscle tone in my thighs

PAIN

14 Tramacet a day was still not controlling pain
Yesterday my GP changed me to Tramadol every 3 hours + 2 Paracetamol 4 times a day.

EXHAUSTION

The smallest effort leaves me totally exhausted

MY QUESTIONS ARE

You said that I would receive blood tests and further investigations as an outpatient. Is this still the plan?

Has an appointment been arranged for me to see the gastroenterologist?

If I have a liver biopsy will it be as an outpatient or in hospital as a private patient?

What is causing the immobility and pain? Because the onset of immobility and pain was so rapid and severe there was mentioned that perhaps it could be an autoimmune problem. Will this line of investigation be pursued? For example we know of two people who had identical symptoms caused by Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

I look forward to hearing from you sometime today.

Regards.”

I sent this in the morning, asking his secretary to give it to him, which she didn’t. However, he did ‘phone in the afternoon in response to our earlier query regarding “care in the community. That’s another joke!

He was extremely concerned that OG had deteriorated. The problem seems to be that the whole bloody system is screwed. He understands cancer, OG is his patient but he struggles with anything outside of his area of expertise and hasn’t been able to get any help whatsoever from the liver man. My guess is that the liver man is keeping OG at arms length because once he takes him on as a patient he has to meet the wretched government targets and he is probably already overloaded with patients.

However, my fax did eventually seem to get attention, although nothing happens until Monday because the whole system virtually closes down for the weekend! On Monday the District Nurse will come and take blood and the oncologist will request an urgent referral to a neurologist. In the meantime OG has been given a patch and a bottle of morphine to help him cope with the pain. I said that when he recovers from all of this he will have to go into rehab. But we will deal with that, “one day at a time”.

And finally ….the trouble with bucket seats is not everybody has the same size bucket..

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

MAD BASTARD? THAT'S DISRESPECTFUL!



When OG received this Get Well card from the office he was a bit taken aback.

"That's a terrible card to send to me, isn't it?"
"Oh lighten up you old bastard"
"OK"

I have found new power!

The comments inside the card were just as funny too.

One of the sales team wrote "I have no sales!! Bet you won't be ill for long". The card designer wrote "my wages paid for this", others wrote "It's just not the same without you", "Hope you are back on your feet soon & tearing around on your bike", "It's way too quiet without you", "We all miss you and your charms" He smiled.

And finally ....(a comment made to me by DogLover in relation to the insulin incident at the hospital last week) rules are for fools & the guidance of wise men

Sunday, 25 October 2009

A MAN OF MYSTERY

OG’s 2nd MRI in a week again detected absolutely no sign of cancer, his 2nd ultrasound in a week again detected no evidence of iiver disease and after his bilirubin peaked in the mid 70’s it started to level out and then came down. So that is all good news.

The oncologist said that OG is “a man of mystery and, at this moment in time, the most scanned man on the planet”. As it is still not clear what is going on the plan now is to collate all the information and continue with further blood tests and investigations as an outpatient. In the meantime OG was allowed home.

Just before we were about to leave the hospital the liver man turned up, homed in on the immobility problem and decided that a visit from the neurologist would be a good idea. But at 1530 on a Friday afternoon the NHS becomes a consultant free zone. After a two-hour wait the Ward Doctor opted for the immediate discharge option.

Things are quite difficult at home because he is a great deal of pain and unable to walk without help. We must present a comical sight as we re-locate ourselves from bed to chair to loo etc. He uses my shoulders to support himself as I shuffle backwards. Obviously, if this turns out to be a long term problem we will organise ourselves better, but right now we have no aids to help us.

Because of the rapid decline in his mobility one theory is that maybe he has an autoimmune problem. Our GP did make a throw away remark a couple of weeks ago when he wondered if the problem was not actually caused by cancer at all but, if that was the case, it would be so incredibly unlucky. A funny way of looking at things, but I know what he means.

One funny occurrence, I accompanied OG in the ambulance shuttle between hospitals when he went for his MRI on Thursday. In the ambulance with us was an elderly man on a stretch and a lady in a wheelchair. I started coughing. Eyes turned towards me. I tried to stop. Heads turned away from me. I took a sip of water whilst frantically searching for a tissue in the bowels of my handbag and cough into the bend in my arm, as instructed on TV. Eyes accused. I was so relieved when we reached our destination and I could have a good coughing fit without silent eyes suspecting of me of infecting these frail, serious ill, elderly patients with Swine Flu.


And finally … recently a 98 year-old lady named Irena Sendler died. During WWII Irena got permission to work as a Plumbing/ Sewer specialist in the Warsaw Ghetto. She had an 'ulterior motive'. She knew what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews. Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and in the back of her truck she had a burlap sack, (for larger kids). She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 children. She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize ... She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. Funny old world isn’t it?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

OUR WONDERFUL HEALTH SYSTEM

Yesterday morning OG called me at 0530 begging me to go and fetch him. He had had a horrendous night for various reasons that I won’t go into now and was in a great deal of pain. This left me heartbroken. I wanted to mount a rescue mission because that is what I do, but knew that now that he was “in the system” he needed to stay there until they gave us some answers.

I made myself a cup of coffee and tried to calm down. At 0630 I rang him back. He was still in a state of great distress.

I had a slow shower and another cup of coffee to give myself thinking time then I rang the hospital. The Ward Sister said that she was unaware of his agitation but had known he was awake most of the night. She said that she had taken blood for analysis because they didn’t have access to the tests that had been done by the GP. I said I had a copy and she said I could spend the day with OG to help calm him down and asked me to bring the test results with me.

I arrived just in time to catch the on duty consultant and his team making their first assessment. “Luckily” it happened to be the gastroenterologist and I thought, “Whew, at last he gets to see him”. “Unluckily” we found out later that he thought OG had been admitted because he had back pain!

When they got the results of the latest blood test OG’s liver stats had deteriorated yet again. The bilirubin was now 59. It might have been at this point that they finally put two and two together and realised that he had been admitted for something a bit more serious than a “back pain”.

During the morning OG’s nurse said

“Have you seen the doctor”
“Yes”
“Well you can go now”
“No, I have the permission from the Ward Sister to stay because my husband is agitated”
“We will deal with his agitation”
“But he would be happier if I stayed”
“And I would be happier if you left”
“Are you telling me to go”
“Yes”
“No, I think I’ll stay thank you”

Unfortunately, that set the tone for the day. But, in my defence, I did observe that she was completely impartial in her belligerent behaviour. It wasn’t just aimed at me; she was like it with everyone.

Because of the situation OG is having difficulty levelling off his blood sugar and it was agreed that he would self-administer insulin as necessary. He is a “grown up” and manages himself quite well. She then locked away his insulin preventing him from doing this. It created all sorts of difficulties. The doctor had put OG on a steroid drip warning that his blood sugar would tend to go up. It did – to 23.5. Well this old bat wouldn’t let him take any insulin, so he told the doctor and we heard her arguing with him too! It simply was not hospital policy to allow ad hoc unregistered and unauthorised insulin injections, so there! The doctor won, but this made her madder than hell. A very precarious position for a vulnerable patient to be in.

Today he is going to another hospital for tests and he has arranged for me to travel with him. Because of his immobility they wonder if there is pressure on the spine and are going to scan it, but maybe the sleepy system has finally woken up and the long awaited liver tests will be done too. Who knows.

Strangely enough I DO have faith in the NHS and there are some amazingly talented people working in it. It's such a pity that the mis-administration of everything causes problems.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

OG UPDATE

Nothing showed up on the MRI so we are back to the drawing board again. To say this is stressful is an understatement.

OG is now so weak that he can’t even get down the stairs. On Sunday he started throwing up and his blood sugar plummeted. As he is diabetic this is not good! I called the out of hours doctor service and they called an ambulance. By the time the ambulance arrived he had stopped and his blood sugar started to go up again so there was no need for him to go to hospital.

The oncologist has at last spoken to the gastroenterologist and he is also competely puzzled but agrees it is best to get him into hospital for more tests. We have spent the afternoon waiting for a telephone call from the hospital to give us further instructions and an admission time. So here we are again. Waiting in the “no joined up writing” zone again.

And you know what? I'm no expert, but I'm still convinced that the problem revolves around his bowels. I understand that following major bowel surgery it is not unusual for adhesions to occur and this could account for his erractic bowel movements, pain, throwing up and, in fact, the whole raft of associated problems.

Every time I speak to a doctor I bleat on about this, but they simply ignore me. Imagine, the great authority on everything, and they have the temerity to ignore me! Can you believe that? Oh yes! I should have been a doctor, in fact I think that I will be one!

And finally … there are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4AM: It could be a right number.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

RAINDROPS ARE COOL

I've just had another conversation with my daughter about the poem. Apparently Kimberley was making dinner and Harvey started singing the start of the poem. Kimbereley asked where it had come from and he said from his head. She was so impressed that she asked him to sing it again and started typing it out but after four lines she had to stop and finish off making dinner.

Harvey then took over the typing and finished it off himself, apart from the end. He asked what else raindrops did and she said the bit about the petals which he wrote down. He asked if there was anything else and she said "no that's cool". "That's right" he said "rainsdrops are cool".

Mind you, the child is such a windup merchant that it is quite conceivable he had heard it somewhere else. Either way, bearing in mind that he was only just 7 last week, he is destined to go places.

BIG CITY VERSES RURAL BACKWATER

Our 7- year old grandson wrote this poem.

RAINDROPS

Raindrops dripping on the ground
And the top of umbrellas
All shapes and sizes and colours
When you hear them running down drainpipes
And making big plops at the end
Then making big puddles for you to splash in
Hear them rattling down the rooftops
Covering your windows with lots of watery splats
Hear the noise they make on your tent if you are camping
You can hear them dripping on your hood
You can feel them drippng on your nose
And they are so thin they can fit through small holes in the clouds
You can see them drop on to the petals of the flowers and
Flow down the hills into the rivers
Raindrops are cool.

Is it me, or is the boy a genius?

We are still no further forward with OG’s problem. He is very, very poorly and extremely weak. He sleeps most of the time and has difficulty walking because his legs just collapse on him. Occasionally we make the precarious journey down the stairs together, but most of the time he just wants to stay in bed.

Last Monday I called in the GP. He was naturally concerned and when I told him that the gastroenterologist the oncologist was trying to refer him to was very busy he suggested that as an alternative he could refer him to the gastroenterologist at our local hospital instead. Therein lies a tale. Our local hospital is not the greatest in the world and, logically, the consultants that work out of it are probably not the greatest in the world either. The GP is very aware of OG’s opinion on this matter. And here I am being quite polite!

However, when the next set of blood tests came back it showed that his liver function was getting worse and I thought that it was time to take action. I asked the GP to cut the crap and arrange for him to see the local man. I also phoned the oncologist to tell him what I had done and he was in agreement with this. However, the GP then changed his mind and said that maybe it was better to keep it all under the same roof. Do you know, I thought office politics could get tricky, but I think that the medical profession take it to a whole new level!

The plan now is to wait for the results of the MRI which we should have by Monday close of business and if it proves there is a blockage in or around the liver the oncologist will have something to go the gastoenterolgist with. If the man in the “big city” can’t see him quickly he will refer him to our local man.

In the meantime the oncologist was swithering about whether or not to admit him to hospital but as nothing would be done over the weekend OG opted for the comfort of his own bed and back home we toddled.
ti

Sunday, 11 October 2009

TAX OFFICE LETTER

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs with a sense of humour This is a real reply from the Inland Revenue. The Guardian newspaper had to ask for special permission to print it. This person deserves to be Prime Minister.


”Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a "begging letter". It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a "tax demand". This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy, traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the "endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat" has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from "pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers" might indicate that your decision to "file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies" is at best a little ill-advised. In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a "lackwit bumpkin" or, come to that, a "sodding charity". More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain , with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay "go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services", a moment's rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to "stump up for the whole damned party" yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor's disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on "junkets for Bunterish lickspittles" and "dancing whores" whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, "that box-ticking facade of a university system."

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries

1. The reason we don't simply write "Muggins" on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;

2. You can rest assured that "sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give" has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn't render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to "give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India " you would still owe us the money.

Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

Isn’t that brilliant?

Now an update on OG. The oncologist is at a loss to know what is happening. According to the result of the ultrasound his liver and bile duct are clear of any obstruction but the blood test is still abnormal. He is now feeling extremely unwell and practically bedridden. Last night he was in so much pain that he was going to wake me up to call an ambulance. He didn’t and this morning the pain is not so bad.

The doctor is urgently trying to refer him to a liver specialist, but he is all booked up so that’s where we are at the moment. More blood tests this week and an MRI soonest.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

CURES? FOR INSANITY!

OG went for his ultrasound yesterday and the results were good. No sign of a blocked bile duct or liver damage and the enlarged lymph gland hasn't got any bigger. This left us both hugely relieved, but at the same time puzzled. He is obviously very unwell with the pain in his back resulting in him having to take pain killers again, so weak that he is finding it a real effort to leave his bed except to go on one of his many, many trips to the loo and generally feeling extremely ucky. We need Mrs Marples on the job. The signs are there, but what are the answers?

But don't lets dwell on that, courtesy of DogLover here are 10 ways to maintain a healthy level of insanity.

1. At lunchtime sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. On your cheque stubs write, 'for marijuana'.

3. Skip down the street rather than walk and see how many looks you get.

4. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face..

5. Sing along at the opera.

6. When the money comes out the ATM, scream 'I won! I won!'

7. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the car park, yelling 'run for your lives! they're loose!'

8. Tell your children over dinner, 'due to the economy we are going to have to let one of you go.'

and the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity:

9. Pick up a box of condoms at the pharmacy, go to the counter , then ask where the fitting room is.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

ULTRASOUND AND LAB REPORTS

OG has been feeling very unwell for a couple of weeks, suffering pain in his back, pain and weakness in his legs, bowel disfunction (to be polite) and a general lack of mojo. Our GP arranged a hip X-ray to investigate the back pain, blood tests for the mojo thing and the oncologist arranged a bone scan. Thankfully the bone scan uncovered nothing sinister, but the blood test showed an abnormal liver function. This, together with the fact that he has an enlarged lymph gland adjacent to his liver, the back pain, the poo problem and lack of energy, has rung warning bells.

He said that although these symptoms could relate to other problems like gall stones, in his opinion this is low on his list of possibilities. The most likely cause is a blocked bile duct and he has arranged a ultrasound tomorrow with a follow up consultation next Friday.

In relation to his driving licence being renewed I meant to say that one night a few weeks ago some bastard stole his bike from the garage. At that time this was his only means of self transportation. When your luck is out, it's really out isn't it? But that was then. This is now. New licence. Yeh!! All we wait for now is for his health to improve.

And finally …"I'm very sorry," said the vet, "but your duck is dead. That'll be £15". "That can’t be true, it's my favourite duck. I want a second opinion".

The vet sighed, went out and came back with a cat. The cat went over to the duck and sniffed it and then turned round with a miserable look on its face and said: "It's dead". "But I wanted a proper report," said the woman, "It's my favourite duck".

The vet sighed again and went out, coming back with a Labrador. The Labrador looked at the duck, sniffed and sighed - "It's dead".

"But that's ridiculous," said the woman. "No, it's not, that will be £150, madam," replied the vet. "What on earth for?" she cried. The vet said, "Well, I arranged for a CAT scan and a Lab Report and these things cost money, you know".
Boom! Boom!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

A BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER




It’s OG’s birthday today and he had the best present he could ever have had. Long story. Diabetes has affected his eyes and over the past few years he has had several operations on them. Consequently, in order to renew his licence, he has to have a peripheral vision test every three years. This year the DVLA claimed he had failed the test and revoked his licence. Now to say that this was a tragedy is a bit of an understatement. We are talking here of the man who once drove a Maserati and now owns an Audi S6. You know, the one with a Lamborghini engine? Get the picture?

Well. OG being OG didn’t agree with this decision. I thought “oh no! here we go ! – OG fights the world again”. He started off quite mildly (for him) by trying to talk to the DVLA. Brick wall.

His ophthalmic surgeon said that the decision could be quite arbitrary and sometimes made by a non-medical person and although, in his opinion OG’s eyesight passed the criteria, he thought it would be quite difficult to get the DVLA to overturn their decision – for that read “I don’t want to get involved”. Brick wall.

So he thought about it quietly for a while and then got mad, got the best legal representation and this morning got the licence back. Result.

And finally...no one has more driving ambition than the boy who anxiously awaits his 16th birthday

Saturday, 26 September 2009

MCMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT FUND RAISING





We had a McMillan Cancer Support charity coffee morning fund raising yesterday. The main event was Ed having his locks shawn. He claims that he hasn't had his hair short since he was 11, so it was a very,very brave thing to do. Well done Ed, you are a true sport.

Many people baked cakes for a competition which was won by, stangely enough, Ed. No, he wasn't the only one to take part, but he does bake a mean New York Cheesecake.

The event raised a total of £322.15, so well done you people, especially Ed who agree to undergo the ritual public humiliation and Donna who organised it.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

ANOTHER PERFECT WEDDING

I have been swallowed up in a blogger’ vortex. with so much to say but no words to tell the story. But let me start with the feel good stuff.

Last weekend OG and I went to the really posh wedding of one of our colleagues. The ceremony was at the very grand Stapleford Park Hotel. OG and I stayed the weekend and were very priviledge to be upgraded. If look on their website http://www.staplefordpark.com/ the room we stayed in was the one to the left of the flag, the one with the open window.

It was a massive room, as high as it was wide, in fact cube shaped. Although OG was not particularly impressed with it and kept banging on that it couldn’t possibly be an upgrade. I explained that this was “faded grandeur”. He thought it was tat. I must agree that I did have the occasional thought, “I’ve got better than this at home, what am I doing here?"

I digress, the wedding. The weather was perfect, the happy couple were beaming, the bride was beautiful, the setting was stunning, the company was entertaining, and the food was to die for.














So that’s the good stuff. Now for the vortex stuff. There is a saying “don’t listen to the words, hear the meaning”. So here goes - this is when I reveal my true craziness. I applaud the new initiative to treat heroin addicts with heroin. Yes, I know, mad isn’t it. But this is my thinking.

A high proportion of prisoners are “in residence” because of crimes committed to feed a drug habit. The cost of policing and incarcerating junkies is massive and doesn’t even begin to solve the problem, not to mention the cost in human misery to the addict, their family and us good citizens going about our everyday business. The result is that the Criminal Justice System is in virtual meltdown.

Added to that is the wider issue of drugs funding the terrorism that our soldiers are dying to protect us from and the evidence for just buying the damn opium direct from source and giving them the wretch “fix” at clinics is compelling. Work smart, not hard - cut out the criminal/terrorist middlemen.

By giving junkies their drug in clinics we make our streets safer and take the criminals operating the supply chain out of the equation. It is a solution that works well and saves money in Sweden and Switzerland

I should also add that I don’t believe that anyone sets out to be an addict. The term "addiction" is used to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive psychological dependence and takes many forms such as drug addiction, alcoholism, compulsive overeating, problem gambling etc. I know many people with alcohol and/or heroin addiction, both in recovery and still suffering so I do have some personal knowledge of the difficulties that surround this hellish condition.

Last year I met a wonderful group of brave, honest, hard working souls, all with personal experience of addiction either themselves or within their family. They believe that wherever possible the addict should abstain from drugs, which is obviously the best solution, but this is only the beginning of the recovery journey. They set up a drop in center. Their work has been an extraordinary success story, helping addicts get clean and back into society by opening up channels for them to get back into work and housing. Unfortunately, because they don’t have “qualifications” they can’t get funding. They struggle.

The “qualifications” that they DO have is that they know all the angles, they can’t have the wool pulled over their eyes and they work with conviction, passion and love. The “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” sort of people. But this, apparently, doesn’t count. We desperately need to look at this whole problem with fresh eyes.

So - hurrah for this initiative. Now let’s sit back and watch the bleeding liberals and mad politicians wreck the scheme!

And finally … I believe that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

SATNAV STIKES AGAIN - TWICE IN TWO DAYS

Last Friday the wretched satnav deposited my grandson-in-law and me in the wrong location in deepest, darkest Norfolk. I suspected that something was amiss when it took us off the google route but, fool that I am, I decided to ignore google and stick with the fool in the car. Hey, a top of the range satnav that is reading the road conditions straight from the satellite can’t be wrong, can it? Oh yes it can!

So…Einstein’s definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I am proud to report that the very next morning I put this theory to the test and, guess what, he was right. I am now officially classified insane.

On Saturday morning I punched our wedding destination into the satnav and off we set to a tightly timed schedule only to end up on a very nice suburban road that went for miles winding around neat houses, bumping over sleeping policemen, obviously lost.

The second person that we asked for directions guessed where it might be and off we charge again, racing against the clock. No, that’s not right either. Then I remembered that there was a “Church Street” on the satnav list so we tried again and bingo, finally found the church.

Hellishly late we abandoned the car and we made a run for it, hair blowing wildly in a gale,. “Quick” said the photographers, “the bride hasn’t arrived yet, she’s late”. Whew, thank goodness for that.

Unfortunately, our hurried approach was heard by the organist and, as we staggered in, to our horror, she struck up “Here comes the bride”. The vicar started to frantically flap his arms around in an attempt to warn her to stop but by this time the congregation had all stood and were gaping at two red faced, flustered, dishevelled and embarrassed guests, one clutching a fascinator in a hot sweaty hand. They very unkindly laughed.

When we sat down I attempted to don my very attractive fascinator only to be told by OG that it didn’t look quite right. I took it off. He said my hair didn’t look quite right either. We both attempted to "fluff it up a bit" but the mirror told the story -on top of everything else I was experiencing an incredibly bad hair day!

But I digress. The wedding. It was a beautiful, simple service with much laughter and joy. Then on to Emmanuel College Cambridge for that typically English tradition, canapés, Pimms and champagne on the lawn followed by a meal in the dining hall. The word to describe the day was “perfect”.

But all good things must come to an end and OG, not being social butterfly, always likes to leave before the heavy drinking starts and people start getting silly. Me? I like to get silly! Time to go.

Ah! the main gate was locked and the porter’s lodge empty, as in no porter to open it for us. We went on a reccy to find another exit, eventually stumbling across an elderly academic couple walking slowly, but purposefully. OG asked if they were making their way to an exit and, as they confirmed that they were, asked if we could follow them. They looked bemused and agreed. He muttered that they had “a special key” to open a gate.

After quite a long trek and the use of the “special key” we found ourselves in a back alley where, again totally lost, we were forced to ask for directions to the Crown Plaza. The puzzled man (probably the Lord High Justice or something grand) asked why, if we wanted to go to the Crown Plaza, we hadn’t used the main gate. When we told him it was locked. He said “but you should have gone through the door in the porter’s lodge, that’s always left open”. Shit!

And finally …everyday you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
Winston Churchill.

Friday, 4 September 2009

A BLOGETTE!

Many people have expressed concern over OG's latest CT scan and asked for an update. The situation is that he saw his oncologist this evening and the good news is that the rogue lymph gland has returned to "normal" and he is as sure as he can be that the pain he is experiencing in his pelvis is not connected to cancer.

However, (and there always seems to be an "however" doesn't there?) now another lymph gland is larger than normal and needs watching. He did say that lymph glands do this all the time and have to be watched carefully in a cancer patient in case there is a problem. He arranged for him to have another CT scan in November and at the same time he will ask the technician to have another look at the pelvic region again.

When asked on a scale of 1/10 how concerned he was about this he said 3. So, all in all the news is good.

Tomorrow we go to a wedding, all our troubles behind us (well nearly). Have a good weekend y'll.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL

I have always been fascinated by this man. He marched to the beat of his own drum, had a whole section of the Nobel Peace Prize museum in Stockholm dedicated to him and was nobody's fool. I should add that my mother and father hated him. I think that they were old school socialists who couldn’t bring themselves to like a Tory politician. But that’s another story.

The other morning one of my colleagues was attemtping to quote one of her grandmothers stranger sayings. She couldn’t quite remember her exact words apart from it being something about buggering on at a wedding. Yes, I was confused too, but out of this random, mad conversation one thought led to another and I was reminded that on days when nothing seemed to be going his way, Churchill would start the day off by saying out loud: "KBO - Keep Buggering On!" ... Sadly, in my hugely complicated life, there have been many, many times when I have known the exact meaning of this sentiment!

This small exchange led me to reacquainting myself with some of his best known quotes and this one leapt out at me as being very relevant in today’s world. “I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents.” I wonder what he would have made of our dear PM and his massively under-esteemed cohort “The King Maker” Mandelson? I am sure that he would have had a few wise words to share with us don’t you?

Maybe he had a premonition about our PM when he said, “I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns”.

Or he could equally have written this for our current bunch of no-hope politicians “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened”. Now ain’t that the truth?

And here’s a good one for Tony Blair “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events”.

This is fun, but unfortunately I have a life that I must now go and live. But I leave you with one last quote in which, I believe, he really homes in on one of life's most important things “From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put”. Amen to that.

And finally ….. I believe that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance and the same goes for true love.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

OH, BABY, BABY YOU'RE A WILD ONE

TUESDAY 25/08/2009

Recently a local lady died in a car crash and her photograph was on the front page of our local paper. Unfortunately she happened to look like me and now I sometimes get strange looks when I’m out and about.

My friend, JeanGenius, had obviously not seen the newspaper and was bemused when she was offered the sincere condolences of the staff at our regular eatery. Imagine their shock when I walked through the door. They were pleased to see me, but, I should add, not pleased enough to offer me a free lunch!

This week our little man Noah, the youngest member of the family, is in the joint care of Nanny Kim and me, with Grandad Phil and OG in attendance whilst his primary family is away on holiday. He is the cutest 7 mmonth old perfect baby and a pleasure to have. We all love him to bits.

And finally …..two elderly gentlemen from a retirement home were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says:

'Stan, I'm 83 years old now and I'm just full of aches and pains.. I know you're about my age. How do you feel?

Stan says, 'I feel just like a newborn baby.'

'Really? Like a newborn baby!?'

'Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

IS THIS COMMON SENSE, OR AM I MAD?

I read in the paper this week that the National Health Service loses 10.7 working days a year per employee due to sickness compared to 6.4 in the private sector. This equates to a total of 10.3 million working days a year. The union states that the findings were being "twisted" into an attack on NHS staff. Oh yeh?!

More alarming statistic are that public sector employee numbers have risen by over 100% since this government came to power and that taxpayers owe them an astonishing £1.12trillion in pension payments. This is equal to about 80 per cent of everything made, sold or traded in the UK every year.

This has to stop Mr Brown/Mandelson. I'm not very bright, but even I can work that one out.

And finally ... they called it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken

Saturday, 15 August 2009

SWING THAT BY ME AGAIN?

OG and I just spent a very pleasant week in Switzerland with our two great grandaughters. It had been our intention to view new build chalets in the Valais but that proved to be impossible with two lively little girls in tow, so practically every day was spent at the swimming pool. No hardship there though! This particular pool is a series of natural 32C mineral pools and very child friendly.

Switzerland has no concept of "Health & Safety". The children are left free to roam and enjoy. Imagine a slide like this in England!



And this suspension bridge is over a 750M gouge. To give you an idea of how scary that is it's like slinging a suspension bridge between two structures more than twice as tall as the eiffel tower with a raging torrent running in the valley far below. Added to the fear factor is the sensation of terror you feel as it sways in the wind and rocks from side to side as you walk. We thought that it would be a great scary experience for the girls. It was, but scared? Nah. They deliberately rocked the bloody thing, howling with laughter as OG and I clung on for dear life.



And then we did a very silly thing. We re-visited Villar, the area where we used to live and fell in love with it all over again. Unfortunately it is a very expensive area and way, way beyond our reach unless we care to take out a mortgage again, which we have no intentions of doing.

Now the plan is to do nothing until next spring for various reasons including-

1. We should know more about the status of OG's cancer. He goes for another CT scan this month, with results on 4th September. I must say that he hasn't been feeling too great and is not extremely optimistic at the moment, although he looks very well.

2. The house renovations and a commitment that I have will be finished, giving us more time to sanzy doodle about.

3. Maybe our flat in Scotland will sell giving us the additional funds to afford an apartment in Villars again.

When I first mooted this as an idea the two girls got over excited at the prospect of another visit to the Alps in Spring. They don't quite get the concept of us needing to be child free so that we can concentrate on the task in hand. To them every day is an adventure. They absolutely love it there and have never forgiven us to selling our apartment.

And finally .... this comes compliments of DogLover -

The Highest Human Position In The World

Do you know who holds the highest position in the world?

President Barack Obama? Nope. Pope Benedict? Nope. The Dalai Lama? Nope.

Do you want to know WHO that person is? It's Babu Sassi, a fearless young man from southern India, and the cult hero of Dubai 's army of construction workers.

Known as the "Indian on the top of the world", Babu is the crane operator at the world's tallest building, the 819-meter burj dubai (http://www.burjdubai.com/ which, incidentally, is just a tad higher than the suspension bridge that we were on.

His office, the cramped crane cab perched on top of the Burj, is also his home.
It takes too long to come down to the ground each day to make it worthwhile - although, when the building is completed, its elevators will be the world's fastest.

Stories about his daily dalliance with death are discussed in revered terms by Dubai 's workers. Some say he has been up there for more than a year, others whisper that he's paid 30,000 dirhams ($8,168) a month compared with the average wage of 800 dirhams a month.

But everyone agrees, he's worth it - because nobody else would have the courage to do the job!

Monday, 3 August 2009

BABY'S FIRST SWIM

Proud mum and dad take baby for his first
swim at Nanny Sara's weekend pool party.



Equally proud sisters, uncles and aunts gather around
to cheer on Baby Noah's great achievement



While great-grandad OG tries to slope off in
case someone tries to drag him into the pool



"Get in that house and wash up Grandad Seth."
"Oh, Nanny Sara, do I have to?"



While others held their breaths, yawned and
tried to act nonchelant in case she demanded
they help him too.





And finally ...A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband.. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded:

"Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded and dirty you're crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?"

"We're taking Continental," was the reply. "We got a great rate!"

"Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser. " That's a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late. So, where are you staying in Rome?"

"We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome's Tiber River called Teste"

"Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks its gonna be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump.”

"We're going to go to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope."

"That's rich," laughed the hairdresser. You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."

A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome .

"It was wonderful," explained the woman, "not only were we on time in one of Continental's brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel was great! They'd just finished a $5 million remodelling job, and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!"

"Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but I know you didn't get to see the Pope."

"Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."

"Oh, really! What'd he say?"

He said: "Who f*cked up your hair?"

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

THE PENDULUM HAS SWUNG TOO FAR

In the ‘60’s there was a swing away from “the establishment” toward “rights for the common working man”. In this country we had a ground break TV show called “That Was The Week That Was”. The material was satirical, cynical and, at times, downright treasonable but they a shone light into murky holes and dragged sleaze and corruption out into the open. It was great stuff.

But now, in my opinion, the pendulum has swung too far. The “common working man” has become the enemy of good, honest, hardworking citizens. I was told a story this week that typifies the petty bureaucracy that is now blighting us.

A friend of mine had her wheelie bin stolen. She rang up the council to ask for another bin and was told that they wouldn’t supply her with a new one. She had two young children in nappies, so she asked what she should do and was told to take her refuse straight to the tip. As you would expect she was incensed, and kicked up an almighty fuss. But the council wouldn’t be moved. No new bin and that was that. She rang them so often to complain that in the end they refused to take her calls. Luckily she had good neighbours who allowed her to deposit rubbish in their bins and that was how she managed to get by.

This lady is a ratepayer, a teacher and her husband’s a computer programmer and because they were diligent and careful with their finances they had managed to buy their own house. A few streets away lived her cousin who was not a ratepayer, had never worked in her life, lived on benefits, and, along with her children, lived in a council house. She complained to the council that her wheelie bin was too small and was immediately issued with a “family size” bin.

One day my friend was in town when there was a political rally taking place. She marched up to the front of the crowd and told her story to the candidate and the next day was issued with a new bin.

Obvious it was within the remit of the council to supply new bins; they had, after all, supplied her cousin with a new bin and, after the candidate intervened, supplied her with a new bin too. So what was going on here?

It is my belief that because she was perceived by the council to be a “successful person” living in her own house she was penalised and because her cousin was perceived to be “underprivileged” she was rewarded. Come back “establishment” all is forgiven. You aren’t the enemy after all. The “common working man” is!

And finally …..no-one ever says 'It's only a game' when their team's winning.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A PRECAUTIONARY TALE




How to turn this:







Into this:










Step 1: Marry a builder
Step 2: Prepare to throw a shed load of money at it
Step 3: Endure two years of merciless banging, hammering, grinding, swearing and falling out, add piles of rubble, dust and a trashed garden and there you have it. Hey presto!

This room has been particularly troublesome because the new limestone floor was mis-laid. And by mis-laid I don't mean lost! When I decided to have a limestone floor our smart ass interior designer son-in-law reminded me of the problems we had had once before when a floor had to be completely re-laid. "Oh no" said I "I know the pitfalls now, that won't happen again". Well it did.

Our son-in-law recommended that this time we use an experienced limestone tiler. When he priced the job up we swallowed hard and immediately our plaster said "I can do that at half the cost" we bit his hand off. Now you would think that OG, being an experienced builder, and me, being an experienced wife of a builder, would be cautious. But we liked the guy, he is a good plasterer and he promised us a good job. So... we took him at his word. The work was crap. When OG complained it was obvious that we were in for a fight and given the fact that we were unsure of his ability to repair his shoddy work we decided to write it off to experience (again). So...four weeks later it has finally been put right at great expense (to us, naturally).

I believe that we may now be on the home straight. Once this room is finished OG only has to complete two ensuite bedrooms and we are finished. Then on to the landscaping and indoor swimming pool complex.....

And finally ... After 70 if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead.