Wow, things are moving so quickly again, I’ve got appointments coming out of my ears at the moment, and it looks like I’ll back in hospital within a matter of weeks. I’ve hardly had chance to catch my breath (no pun intended) when all of a sudden brown envelopes are dropping through my letterbox like pizza delivery leaflets.
Before we go any further, let’s get the important information out of the way. The snow did arrive, eventually, overnight on the Sunday and all day Monday. Not in the quantities experienced by other parts of the country, but sufficient to cause disruption on the roads and the inevitable school closures. I know it’s old hat now, but did we really have these school closures when I was a kid? I distinctly remember many long walks to school through deep snow on more than one occasion. I even remember freezing, seated on top of the big black silver cross pram that was built like a tank, presumably my younger brother was snug inside while my mum struggled in her suede zip up boots and headscarf trying to push the pram through deep snow, up the alleyway that ran from the Blue Peter to our home in Booth Street. I’m guessing that must have been the big freeze of 63 if there was a sibling in the pram. Grey hand knitted woolen balaclava’s are not the best thing to be wearing in such weather, It doesn’t take much for breath to turn to icicles in sub zero temperatures ! Just in case you were thinking of acquiring one to get you through the winter. On second thoughts, maybe a balaclava is not a go od idea, not around Manchester anyway, unless you want to be greeted by armed police. One of the local Blockbuster shops was recently targeted by armed thieves, which shows the mentality and intelligence of our local thugs. Who else would hold up a store who’s maximum revenue source is a couple of quid for threes nights DVD hire, and who’s lack of business has resulted in the company calling in the administrators. Anyway by Tuesday the snow was still on the ground, although it was more packed ice . I was expecting to hear a great thud every time I heard the gate open. I didn’t have the energy to try and clear it, and thankfully no-one succumbed to the ice trap as they negotiated the steps leading to my door.
Monday, I had an appointment to see my colorectal surgeon, but I was not prepared to risk the snow and ice to get to The Christie. Not a particularly important appointment, just a three monthly follow up that was easily re-arranged for a couple of weeks time. How priorities change ! I’m sure it wasn’t long ago that I’d be biting my fingernails with trepidation over what Mr S had to say. During the course of the next few days the postman successfully negotiated the iced over steps to deliver more hospital appointments. The CT scan, oncologist, the re-arranged colorectal, and more urgently an appointment to see the lung specialist later in the week. I decided to clear the snow and ice from my car the day before my appointment with the lung specialist. I’m glad I did as it took me an hour to do so. It was absolute torture with the neuropathy in my fingers, and has left me with complete numbness in the tips of two of my fingers, even four days later. So on Wednesday I was off to The Fairfield hospital, another one to add to the ever growing NHS establishments I have become acquainted with. For whatever reason my consultant was otherwise engaged, but at least I was being seen by a consultant colleague rather than a registrar or SHO. Firstly we went through each of the fourteen chest x-rays I’d had after my lung collapse. It was quite alarming me to see the images and have them explained to me. The damage was quite extensive and will affect the pending surgery. I learnt that I’d also had a chest infection. Obviously I knew that I had been given intravenous antibiotics, but I thought that had been precautionary. Apparently by the time that the results had come back from the lab the antibiotics were working anyway, so there was no need to change treatment, nor it seems inform me ! They don’t think more chemotherapy at this stage will be of any use and so the plan is to proceed with surgery to remove the tumours. We looked at the most recent CT scans to show the tumours, right upper, left lower, but decided he would wait to see the impending CT scan before reaching a final decision. Because of the collapsed lung, it was felt that removing both of the tumours in one go would be too risky, the lungs might not be able to cope with the recovery. The tumours are quite accessible and the operation would be quite straight forward (it may be to you mate!), but the major risk is the period following surgery. In order to limit the strain on my lungs, it’s proposed to remove each of the tumours in two separate operations. The first by keyhole surgery, the second open surgery. One consolation is that surgery will be from my back, I was dreading the thought of having to have my sternum broken in half and parted. So, we will await the result of an up to date CT scan (this coming Thursday and a lung function test before the plan of treatment is finalised. Likely to be surgery at the end of February beginning March. The way I feel at the moment that seems a little soon to me, but that could be four or five weeks, and I’m sure my strength will improve significantly before then.
On Thursday I awoke just before 9 am thinking I had a long lay in before I had to see the district nurse at 3 pm. No sooner had I settled back in my warm bed with a cup of coffee than the phone rang. Royal Oldham hospital, could I attend for a lung function test at 11 am? Bang went my lay in, I could have taken a later date for the LFT, but the sooner the better, and best to get it over with. So I gulped down my coffee, quick shower and off I went. I didn’t have a clue where I was heading in the hospital, but fortunately the only parking space I could find just happened to be right outside the chest clinic. So I huffed and I puffed, emptied my lungs and filled them back up again as I watched the traces go up and down on the operators computer screen. Apparently my lung function is reasonable considering the collapsed lung just five weeks previously, so I’m not anticipating any changes to the plan as a result of this. The results were sent to my consultant, and I’ll await to hear further from him.
We were back in the amber zone again last night, and this time it didn’t fail to materialize Right on time at five o’clock, the skies parted and dumped tons of snow on the ground below. Within a couple of hours there was at least six inches of snow on the ground, motorways were closed and cars were sliding down my road like Bambi on ice. Throughout the night I left the warmth of my bed to witness yet another car trying to drive up the hill with the aid of squealing passengers pushing from the rear, only to dive out of the way as the car slid back down the hill. By 4 am when I eventually fell asleep, there were half a dozen abandoned cars littering the road leaving behind great gouges in the snow where whirring wheels had done nothing more than compacted the already freezing snow. I can’t see the forecast thaw happening now as it’s beginning to get dark and the temperature drops. There’s no less snow in my garden or on the road than there was when I woke up this morning. I’m sure there’ll be more whirring wheels and revved up engines throughout the night. I hope this does not disturb my plan of plenty of coffee and a morning lazing in my warm bed as I watch Andy Murray in the final of The Australian Open. C’mon Andy !