Saturday 31 October 2009


One of our telesales ladies is auditioning for “Britian’s Got Talent” today. You can see her on youtube at 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:-



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


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.


The smallest effort leaves me totally exhausted


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.


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


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"

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


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


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”
“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”
“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


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


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.


Our 7- year old grandson wrote this poem.


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.

Sunday 11 October 2009


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


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


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


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 one has more driving ambition than the boy who anxiously awaits his 16th birthday