I never go out without my mobile phone. I might not hear it ring, or feel the vibrations. I might inadvertently press ignore as I reach into my pocket to answer an incoming call, but it rarely leaves my side/hand/pocket/coffee table/bedside table. But leaving it indoors as I venture out – never, ever. Except that is when decide to go to the windy city for the first time in ages. I decided, no, was prompted, to get out and try and break the monotony of my days. I filled up with diesel, the car that is not me. The diesel was a lame excuse, and I felt pressured and resentful as I watched the pump display click happily past the sixty quid mark. Resentful because I was being pressured to fill up by the recent news reports of another hike in fuel prices. Was it really a report of concern at the impending rise in fuel prices, or just another way of getting us to part with our money. At least with the ‘double nectar points’ voucher that ran out at the end of the month I must have saved all of a couple of pounds.
I tried to make my way to the vintage shop, but my attempts to get to there were thwarted by continuing Metrolink works. It’s more the fact that I can always find a parking spot there, that takes me to the vintage shop, but nonetheless, my young friend who works there must be wondering where I’ve gone. The numerous diversions that seem to have shut off almost half of one side of the town centre resulted in me ending up in the civic centre car park. I’m beginning to think that it’s only me that can see the directional arrows on the ground as cars raced round the car park searching for the elusive empty parking bays as though they were playing musical chairs. The council had done an admirable job in clearing the snow from the car park, but it might have been better had they not used every eighth parking space to pile the cleared snow into. Five foot high mounds of ice that has no chance of thawing ensures those spaces will be unusable for some time. Determined not to be beaten I parked my car on one of the lower slopes, like Thunderbird 2 on it’s launch ramp, without the parting palm trees. I battled my way through the wind tunnel of the bus station, irritating the bus drivers because I was not able to cross the road in the ten seconds allocated by the Green Cross code man. I’m normally half way across when the beeping stops and the engines start revving.
By the time I found my way into the shopping precinct, I had to stop and think why I had come out in the first place. Was it for a pay day loan ? Fast and easy household items on credit ( I have learned that a PS3 or whatever the latest console is, is now considered an essential household item) ? A lottery ticket maybe, the queues at the various outlets reminds me of the success of this poverty tax. Did I want to pawn my guitars, or mobile phone, or camera ? Cash in my gold ? A charity shop maybe, now that’s a possibility, although I could probably get new clothes cheaper in Primark. Ah yes, eggs and butter, proper free range from the farm shop in the market hall, the eggs that is, although I’m sure the cows have a pretty healthy lifestyle as well. It’s more the fact that the butter is less than half price than you would pay in the supermarket, and it’s always good to support your local farmer. I gave Primark the once over. The obligatory gloves to ensure I end up with more than one matching pair eventually, to counteract the ones I lose. A pair of casual shoes, £3, I couldn’t leave them there at that price could I ? Candles, in glass jars, a pound each, and more candles, different jars, as I queued to part with the few quid I had spent. I resisted the Haribo and packs of socks that are ever present as you are funnelled towards the tills. Feeling smug at my bargains, I made my way through the indoor shopping centre, more to get out of the rain than anything, but it did serve to remind me to get the cotton buds. I eventually found my way to the coffee shop. Burdened with my bags (candles in jars are heavy !) my stick and probably not looking too well after my first proper outing in ages, the girl who served me kindly offered for someone to bring my black Americano and cake over to my table when it was ready. The only problem was that she disappeared after serving me and failed to pass on her kind offer to another member of staff. They looked at me as though I was some kind of idiot when I made my way back to the counter, where my coffee had been waiting 5 minutes, maybe I was an idiot when I refused their belated offer of help ! With no mobile phone to take advantage of the free wi-fi I was left to study the packed coffee shop, realising that we could all have been cloned. Almost everyone, except me, seemed engrossed with their mobile phone. The glass facade allowed me to make the same observation about the pedestrians walking through the town centre, heads bowed, mobile in hand, barely able to take their eyes off the screen for one second to avoid obstacles in their way. It seems the Primark carrier bag is common amongst us. We somehow seem to be able to ignore the probability that our purchases came from some Bangladeshi sweatshop. Maybe the fact that we are prepared to spend equivalent of our Primark purchases on a FreeTrade coffee and a slice of cake makes it all seem more acceptable, whilst we sit and watch the previously ever present household name stores close around us.
Oh yeah, the mobile. I arrived home, with my Primark carrier bags. Two because the candle jars were put in a little one, inside a big one. They make great waste paper bins for the bedroom. My mobile was still plugged in charging. It’s forever charging. Love HTC, hate their batteries. Yes I know, Phones4U, just haven’t got round to it yet. 1 missed call. 1 answer phone message.
“Mr J’s secretary here can you give me a call”
“We’ve had a cancellation tomorrow, can you come in? “
“Err……….No ! What’s the rush?”
“Mr J wants to get you in as soon as possible, how about 13th then , surgery on 14th ?”
Bloody Hell ! My mind was racing, things I’ve got to do, organise things, sort things out……I’ve got washing to do. No time like the present I suppose, let’s get on with it. A pre op assessment was arranged over the phone for the following Monday, everything would be confirmed by post. Pre op attended. ECG -again. X-Ray – again. Blood tests -again. Lung test-again. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realised I hadn’t received the promised confirmation by post, a quick phone call rectified this, sent to the wrong address – again ! I find I hard to criticise the NHS. The things it does well are exceptional, you wouldn’t get it anywhere else in the world. Yet stupid little things, things that DO matter, continually let them down. Had made it not been for my own tenacity I might be sitting at home next week twiddling my thumbs, whilst a valuable bed, and more importantly a surgery slot going to waste because of some stupid clerical error. I had the same thing when I went in for liver surgery. It was only when I had singed the consent form that I noticed M’s address was still on all my paper work. Despite me asking for this to be corrected on numerous occasions, my file still contained sheets of pre printed labels with my old address on them.
The suddenness of my planned admission to hospital meant that I had to re-schedule a number of hospital dates that now clashed with lung surgery or recovery. I had to squeeze in two on the same day, 2 hours apart and different sides of Manchester. I’ll deal with the latter one first, liver surgeon North Manchester. “The scar looks nice, very big, healed well, I’m very proud”. That would have been about it had I not had a few questions for Mr L. In short everything was well, liver working “as would be expected” healing was fine and recovery good. See you in six months ! Hardly worth it considering the effort I had made. I learned more from Dr S, the oncologist, at my breakfast appointment. The wonderful nursing staff at The Christie were more than helpful in getting me seen first in clinic so I could make a quick getaway. We talked cancer. Looked at scans. Colon – still clear. Liver-clear. Pathology good, good margins. Liver function tests were good, within the range to be expected after major liver surgery. That means so far so good ! Lungs – the two tumours on my lungs are getting bigger ! We’re still talking millimetres, but they are still growing. The larger of the two is now 17mm in diameter, 4mm larger than the previous scan, I think ! There comes a point where they become inoperable. The plan is to get in there quick before we get to that stage. Dr S thinks that any aggressive chemotherapy from now on would not be appropriate. In his words “You’ve had just about as much as anyone could be expected to tolerate, and any benefit of chemo now or post surgery would be far outweighed by increased side effects”. So we’re looking at baby chemo, in oral form in the post op period. That’s looking good for the summer 🙂 Ha Ha listen to me, belittling oral chemo, I might regret that when I’m half way through a course of capecitabine and feeling rough as a dog. We moved onto music. Discussed what was going on in the Manchester scene. His wife had casually mentioned Glastonbury to him. “We’re not too old”. I think she’s planted the seed, and I’ll be only too pleased to shake his hand when we meet at sometime in future in the sacred fields of Worthy Farm. I felt guilty taking up his time talking music, but he wouldn’t leave it, despite my wish to get away. What a nice guy, and I’d trust him with my life…….oh, I already do !
So that’s it then, not much happening eh? Oh, one more thing, my op date has been put back 5 days. Now going into hospital on Monday 18th for op the following day. Now if you didn’t read to the end, then you won’t know that will you. And you’ll still be wondering what the hell the title is about. I’m still not sure about that myself. You might want to check out their music, then again you might not.