Friday, 29 June 2012

Ring O' Fire !!

What's all this I hear you say !!

Just when I thought I was having a relatively quiet week I got an email from our son Tom,
with the subject line

Must be crazy !!!  (but I think we already knew that)

SinceTom semi-retired from running, he has been working in London for run-fast, a Sports Management Company based in Leadenhall Street. The company also has an online retail store, and a pop up shop in Leadenhall Street.

So any of you out there requiring running shoes or clothing etc, log on and check them out.
The staff are all athletes/runners so can give you good professional unbiased advice for all your running needs, and possibly some good deals.
Just follow this link run-fast

Recently a guy came into the shop to leave some flyers for an Ultra Distance Race.

Tom has now entered himself for "The Ring O' Fire" Click the link for details

131 mile ultra marathon circumnavigating the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales. Run over 3 days starting 31st Aug and finishing 2nd Sept. Day one 32 miles, day two 64 miles, day three 35 miles.

For those of you who have followed my blog you will know that Tom is not aversed to doing the odd crazy thing. When he had a running injury last year he bought a road bike, and one of his day trips was from Tiptree to Southwold in Suffolk and back, 140 mile round trip. This year he cycled from Tiptree to our apartment in Torquay, it took him 2.1/2 days covering over 300 miles. Then recently when coming to us for a weekend he decide to run from the Barbican. He made it to Chelmsford (in under 5 hours), over 40 miles, before jumping on a train to complete the jouney,

See, we already knew he was Crazy !! This just confirms it.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


Just received todays post, and Bingo !! a letter from the County Council stating that my application for a Blue Badge has been accepted. In order to complete the application I need to make a payment of £10 via phone with a debit or credit card.

I rushed to the phone and paid the £10 and completed the application. It now takes about 2 weeks for the process to complete, and I should then receive the Blue Badge in the post.

In England and Wales, Blue Badge holders may generally park:
  • on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, unless there is a ban on loading or unloading
  • at 'on-street' parking meters and pay-and-display machines for free and for as long as they need to
  • in disabled parking bays

As you can park on double yellow lines I'm thinking it would be interesting to startup a
'Wesite' or 'YouTube' page called :-

"The 100 best places to park with a Blue Badge to cause the most Mayhem !!"

Can you imagine a parking in a high street close to a junction, at rush hour. You park, wait for the traffic to build up, then you take a photo on your mobile phone and upload it to the website. How long would it take to get to the top 100 worst parking spot !!  Reckon I could make a fortune, especially with a You Tube page.

Only Joking !!  It's just my mischievous mind working overtime.

Thanks to my County Council Blue Badge Scheme Department,
it's going to make my life a lot easier.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Nothing interesting to Report

The last few days since Friday have been quiet. I have no more hospital appontments until the 6th July when I go to Stanmore for the first Limb fitting session. So I have just been resting up and doing all my Physio exercises. I thought it was about time I started to reduce the Morphine dose, so I have halved both the morning and evening doses down to 10mg. I will keep on this reduced dose for 7 days then hopefully I can come off them completeley.

Yesterday a disability company arrived in the morning to bring me a replacement wheelchair. I'm not actually disabled, I'm UNABLED !! (unabled to to do certain things, most things I can do) This had been organised by the local authority. The guy knocked and introduced himself and then dissapeared into his van to assemble the new wheelchair. About 15 mins later he arrived at the front door with the biggest wheelchair I have ever seen !! it was complete with a headrest the full width of the chair, and a full set of straps to restrain the occupant. The whole thing was about the size of an armchair !!

Bearing in mind that the wheelchair I have from the hospital is really small and neat, folds instantly and can be easily lifted and put it in the car by Jane. This one, even when folded was literally to big to go in the boot of my Mondeo, and even I coudn't lift it, that alone Jane !! So I sent the guy away, and I'm hanging on to the one I've got.

What is it with local authorities, why didn't they phone me to discuss requirements before sending this company out. That little episode will have cost the Council department a fair bit of money, and it could have been avoided with one phone call.

Also yesterday I received a call from the Disability and Carers Service about my application for Attendance allowance (being to old for Disability Living Allowance and Motability). A few questions had to be answered. So now I'm waiting with one leg and a pair of crutches to see if I'm eligible for a Blue Badge and Attendance Allowance.

The highlight today was going to have my haircut at Bryan's Barber Shop in the village (Tiptree)
Bryan was just back from a 3 week break at his Spanish Home, so it was nice to catch up with him.

If anything more interesting happens in the next few days I'll report.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Not out of the woods yet !!

Yesterday I had two appointments at University College Hospital London, at the new Macmillan Cancer Center in Huntley Street. The first appointment was a CT scan at 11.30 followed by a meeting with the Oncology team at 1.15.

As I'm still wobbling around on one leg and two crutches my son Tom drove us to Huntley street. Jane dove to Newbury Park, and Tom met us there and took over the driving. We arrived nicely on time at the very impressive new Macmillan Cancer Center.

The Reception Atrium.

The Reception level is well designed, being light and spacious. Using the latest technology, on arrival you just scan yourself into the system using the barcode on your appointment letter at one of the check in pods. The reception area has a shop, and cafe serving Costa coffee, hot panini's, sandwiches etc. There are also lots of modern comfortable seating. Once checked in you can relax with a coffee and keep an eye on one of the many large airport type screens. When the staff are ready to see you your name appears in the list on the screens. It gives you the floor level and room number to go to. So off you go !!  Brilliant system.

My first appointment was a CT scan at 11.30 at basement level. On arrival I was met and taken to have a cannula put into my left arm. This cannula is used to inject an enhancer liquid into the body when the CT scan is being done. It shows up the body parts with better definition. Straight after I was in to the CT room and the scan was completed in about 5 mins.

 It was now just over an hour before my next appointment, so Jane and I went back to reception level for Coffee and a Panini. About 25 mins before my appointment was due my name popped up on the screens saying go to level 1 room 38.

On arrival at room 38 we were met by one of the Oncology team. My morning scan was bought up on the screen and as the doctor scanned up and down the sections, it was obvious to me that there was a fairly large white looking nodule in the left lung. The doctor also pointed out another nodule in the right lung, albeit much smaller. The larger nodule was about 22mm across. The Doctor went off to discuss the scan with the Team head, Dr Beatrice Seddon. It was decided that they would meet with the surgical team on the 9th July to discuss surgical removal.

My scan showing the lower body level, stomach area. At the bottom is the spine.

They didn't seem to see surgical removal as a problem so I'm happy to go along with that. The operation will be carried out at the Royal Marsden Hospital, and I would be in for 3 days. They will ring me after their meeting with the surgical team to update me.

So, not out of the woods yet,
but I see it as just another hurdle in life to get over.

More news when I have it.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Physio & Physicians

Today I had a Physio appointment at 11.00 this morning, followed by a meeting with the surgical team this afternoon at 3.15.  and because we had a 3 hour wait between appointments we decided to take a packed lunch and go to Aldenham Country Park for a break from the hospital.

The drive to the Hospital was uneventful, and we arrived in good time for my 11.00 Physio appointment. Straight away Jennifer, my Physio, strapped me into the multi-purpose leg and had me going through all the exercises previously carried out. This time round everything seemed to be easier, and I felt really comfortable, bearing in mind that this leg is pretty old and basic. Most of the session was taken up practising walking up and down the parallel bars perfecting the movements required to make the prosthesis work correctly.  For the last 15 mins of the session I was put on the Wii Fitness programme, and using the balance board I was able to practise shifting my weight around from side to side and front to back.

A short video showing part of today's session. Considering I had the operation just 4 weeks ago I'm really pleased with my progress (feel free to comment !!)

Physio finished about 12.00 so we drove the 2 miles to Aldenham Country Park this is a really nice park of approx 100 acres with a 60 acre a lake. Weather was nice and warm, we parked up overlooking the lake. Jane wandered of to explore a little whilst I rested in the car.  We had our lunch and returned to the hospital at about 2.00.

I checked in at reception and wheeled myself round to the clinic. When I got there I met a lady who's job is signing up patients to various research programmes. As I had already signed up last year we just had a quick chat, I asked if it might be possible to get in earlier than my 3.15 appointment. No problem !! she moved my file to the No 2 position and Bingo !! I was in to see the surgeon within 10 mins.

The surgeon inspected the wound and my leg, and was very pleased with my progress. We discussed reducing my morphine doseage and slowly weaning myself off over the next couple of weeks. I asked what margin there had been when the tumours were removed. Apparently there was approx 10cm (4") which basically means 10cms between the end of my stump and the tumour. That's a really good result as 5cms is generally considered good.

More to follow, Friday is CT chest scan and meeting with Oncologist at University College Hospital London

Monday, 18 June 2012

Disability Living Allowance & Blue Badge

Before I went in to Hospital for the operation I thought it would be a good idea to fill in the forms for Disability Living Allowance and also for the Blue Badge parking scheme.

I duly downloaded the DLA form of some 30 + pages and filled it in, signed it, and left it for Jane to post the day after my operation. For those of you who are unaware of the scheme, it is in two parts. The first part is a care component which is graded in 3 levels for those who require assistance or care with their daily living due to their disability. The second part is the Mobility component which is 2 levels, and if you are awarded the higher level you basically get  £54.05 a week which you can then give up and instead have a mobility scheme car supplied.

Brilliant I thought, that'll help out !!

But that was short lived

I have just found out that I'm not eligible as I'm over 65 years old !!

You couldn't write the script if you tried !!

So I'm on the scrap heap of life according to the Government.

I've spent 40 odd years running a business and paying taxes, probably putting considerably more into the system than most people, only to be told I'm to old.

As I'm an amputee I now have to sell my car, purchase and automatic, and get it converted with dual accelerator pedals so I can drive it with my left leg, and all at my own expense. To further rub my nose in it, in the paper today I read of a Middle Eastern refugee family being given a million pound house in London rent free, plus all sorts of other financial handouts !! am I bitter ? what do you think ?

Not to worry, I have also applied for a Blue Badge

Again, I filled the form in prior to going into hospital and Jane posted it the day after the operation. The various questions all answered truthfully with the main disability being my right leg amputation, and the fact that it was impossible to walk without crutches, or be mobile without a wheelchair. To confirm the amputation all the hospital paperwork was included with the application.

Last week I received a letter from the Blue Badge scheme asking me to go for an assessment !!

AN ASSESSMENT !!!  What planet are these people on !!  I've had a leg amputated, not exactly something you can fake.

Anyway, this morning Jane drove me in to Colchester for this assessment. I was greeted by a young girl, about 11 years old and just out of primary school. More paperwork and form filling in, and the obligatory "how far can you walk on crutches" test.

I know these government departments have procedures but it really is about time some of the bureaucracy is removed from our world, and some good old common sense injected in to it.

I'm hopeful of getting a Blue Badge, but in this crazy world who knows.
Watch this space for further updates.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Today I walked !!

Such a brilliant day !!

My 2nd physio appointment at Stanmore. After last weeks fall I was determined to take it steady.

The weather was good, unlike last week when it rained consistently. The drive down was good with very little traffic on the M25, we arrived in good time for my 2.30 appointment, Jane dropped me off at the Main Door and I used the wheelchair to propel myself round to the physio reception.

The session took off from where the last one finished. I had the multi-purpose socket strapped on and also the foot. Jennifer my physio set up the foot pressure pads between the parallel bars and I went through a few of the lessons that I had done last week. 

Jennifer then started teaching me the mechanics of walking using a prosthetic leg, I have to admit that it wasn't easy, however, within 20 mins or so I was walking up and down the parallel bars unaided. It probably didn't look very slick, but it felt absolutely fantastic. I think I had approx 75% of my weight on my legs, and 25% on my arms, but it's a start, and I'm really looking forward to next weeks session.

Having found a parking spot Jane came in the gym and watched most of the session, she was pretty impressed with the progress achieved considering it's only session No2

It's less that 4 weeks since the amputation, and I can't believe the progress I've made in such a short time.A big thank you to everybody at Stanmore who have made this possible.

I have the dates for the start of my limb fitting. July 6th is the start when casts are taken of my stump in order that my socket can be manufactured. I then go in to Stanmore full time for a week on the 16th July for an intensive 7 days of final fitting, and learning how to use and walk using my new leg. Hopefully when I come out I'll be walking. I may of course need  a stick for a while, we'll see how I progress.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Getting back to Normal !!

I'm very rarely ill, so the last 5/6 days have been particularly difficult for me. I'm now starting to feel better although I am still getting some considerable phantom limb pains, mainly in the form of severe pins and needles in the foot that's not actually there. It's weird, and not pleasant. I'm informed that it can take months for this to start tapering off. I'll let you know how it goes.

You will recall from a previous posting that I was going to let you know what I had learnt from having an Asian guy two beds away. Well very simply I noticed that whilst the English food on offer was pretty bad, the food the Asian guy was eating looked and smelled pretty good. So on my second visit in hospital for the amputation I got stuck into the Asian foods, and I have to say I really enjoyed them. Which just goes to show that you can always get something positive out of what appears to be a negative situation.


After the first operation to remove the tumour I came home from hospital on crutches. My local GP surgery re-dressed to the wound prior to removing the staples two weeks later. Eight weeks of recuperation after the operation I was ready to return to work at Stansted Airport. I returned in Jan 12 on reduced hours, 4hr shifts for 2 weeks, then 6hr shifts for 2 weeks, then back on full hours. Everything was going along nicely. I had been up to University College Hospital London for scans, and had a couple of appointments with Mr Skinner, the Surgeon.

I had been back at work a couple of months when I noticed that it was becoming slightly painful behind my right knee when bending. Something didn't seem right so I arranged to see Mr Skinner. This was followed up with an MRI scan which showed three small tumours had returned, one of which had grown around the main artery. Removing this tumour would mean removing the blood supply to the leg.

There was a small possibility that a by-pass could be attempted to bridge the missing artery. However, after coming out of this meeting I wasn't happy as the tumour had already returned for a second time. I think at this point I had already made up my mind that amputation was the only real way forward. The two surgeons also came to the same conclusion in that it was to risky an operation to attempt and that amputation above the knee was the only solution to isolate the problem.

I returned to the Duke of Gloucester Ward at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore on Monday 21st May and Surgery was planned for Tuesday.

My right leg - Never to be seen again.
You can't see the marking, but its a large arrow pointing up plus AKA
(Above Knee Amputation)

It's pity it all had to go, the foot was still in good nick
and possibly had a few marathons left in it !!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Not been feeling to good !!

Since the fall on Thursday I haven't been feeling on top form. Not sure why ? Friday was OK from recollection, I think Saturday was the start of it. I woke up with excruciating stomach pains to be closely followed by "the world dropping out of my bottom" I'm going to blame the steak pie I had Friday evening !!

Couldn't do much after that so I just rested up, slept a bit here and there, and luckily the trots didn't return. Sunday our son Tom was coming up to visit and check on his fathers progress. I woke up on Sunday feeling absolutely rotten. Lethargic, hot and sweaty, nauseous, stomach pains, you name it !! I had it. I was really nice to see Tom, but unfortunately I spent most of the day sleeping under a duvet on the sofa. I think I was awake for a good hour during his visit.

Today I woke up again feeling really bad, much the same as Sunday, so bad that Jane called out the doctor to check me over. Fortunatley apart from a slightly high temperature all systems checked out OK.

Two lines of thought, firstly my dose a drug call Gabapentin was doubled Thursday last week. This drug is used to control the phantom leg pains that I have. Secondly, it could be the trauma of the fall that happened on Thursday.

Either way it's onward and upward from now !!

I'll pick up the blog again when I'm feeling a bit more up to it.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Back to last Year !!

You'll remember from 2 blogs back, it was nearing the start of afternoon visiting session.

I had decided that I didn't want to have any visitors. Firstly from previous experience as a visitor, I find it an alien experience, and secondly a round trip of 130 miles added to the parking problems, it's not fair on family and friends. It may actually be that I'm just a miserable old Sod !! and that's probably nearer the truth.

First through the doors are the Asian family visiting the guy 2 beds away. I don't have enough fingers to count how many there are, but the two unruly children are there, and they immediately start racing around the ward causing mayhem. I lay back on my bed to observe as other visitors start to arrive.

Opposite me is a gentleman a few years younger than me, I'm guessing in his middle 50's. Since being back from the operation I haven't spoken to him. His visitors arrive, a dour looking lady who I assume is his wife accompanied by a younger female, probably his daughter. The older woman places herself in the chair to the left hand side of the bed, and the younger lady in the chair to the right hand side. Some conversation ensues, mainly from the guy in the bed, he seems to me to be snapping out orders in a military fashion to his wife, who obligingly nods at what appears to be the right time. He's obviously the dominant one in the family. The one sided conversation ceases after about 5mins. For the next 1.3/4hrs (I timed it) the three of them sit, starring blankly in my direction, not another is word is spoken !!  The visitors then up and leave, and I think to myself this is so typical of hospital visits.

All the time I'm observing the visitors the Asian kids are running up and down the ward totally out of control, so no change there. I notice one of the Asian ladies, possibly the patients wife goes over to the sink to wash her hands, they bring in food and tend to have a mass meal around the bed. After washing her hands she pulls about 50 paper towels from the dispenser, dries her hands and dumps the towels the bin. This sort of wanton gratuitous waste really annoys me and I nearly shout out across the ward, but sense prevails, not wanting to start what could be seen as a racist outburst !!

Later that afternoon I get a visit from one of the surgeons team, I ask if I can go home tomorrow (Thursday) he checks the drains in my leg, and is happy that they have reduce sufficiently, so I'm given the OK. The drains are removed, and I'm all set for the morning.

Thursday morning I have a chat with the guy in the bed to my left. He's probably in his late 30's. I find out he's in the Royal Air Force, and is based in Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Married with two young children. He's back in the UK having both hip joints replaced due to them just wearing out. He's scheduled to go to theater after lunch to have the second hip done. The first one having been done the previous week. We chat for an hour or so, mainly about his job in Afghanistan. He's in the fire service and part of the job is going out to injured army personnel hit by roadside bombs (IED's)  I wont go into detail, suffice to say that during that hour I gained immense respect for these guys who put their lives on the line. Until you learn first hand what goes on, you really don't have any appreciation for the work our forces do. I'm humbled.

Tom and Jane arrive around midday and I'm discharged.

If anybody would like to contact me direct my eamil is

Friday, 8 June 2012

Really Good Day - Really Bad Day !!

Firstly a quick apology for jumping around in time from last year to this year, but things are happening which I need to get down on the blog as they happen.

Yesterday, Thursday 7th June I had a 2.00 appointment with the Phsyio department at RNOH Stanmore. This was the first physio session since leaving hospital after the amputation. It was a typical summer day, absolutely hissing down and very unpleasant.

Jane drove me to Stanmore, and as parking is very difficult we had arranged that I would be dropped off at the Out Patients Reception in the wheelchair, and Jane would go off and find somewhere to park up until I called after the session.

I pushed myself in the wheelchair the short distance to the Physio Dept, and on time at 2.00, Jennifer my assigned Physio came and took me to the gym. The first 15 mins or so were taken up checking over the leg, taking dimensions and changing the compression stocking that I wear to help reduce the swelling. Jennifer also checked the leg articulation to see if the exercises that I had been doing had improved things, she was very pleased to report excellent improvements all round.

We then moved over to the parallel bars that are used for support when learning to use prosthesis. Jennifer produces a socket that they use as an initial introduction to having a false limb. It's an adjustable version, complete with straps, buckles and interestingly an open bottom !  Me being me, I immediately ask about the open base thinking that this must be where your stump takes he weight.  Wrong !! apparently your body weight is mainly taken on a lip on the back of the socket by a bone in your bum, and also on the sides of the stump which sit in a taper.

This is fitted to me, it feels a little cumbersome, but I remember it's only a multi-purpose unit used for initial introduction. Jennifer then fits the leg extension and foot. Once fitted up I'm requested to use the parallel rails to turn around and face the mirror on the wall.
I can't believe the feeling I get from seeing myself on two feet again !!

Jennifer brings over a trolley containing a machine with foot pads attached that measure how much pressure is being exerted by each leg. The screen has a pair of feet and a series of lights for visual indication. I'm given instructions how to transfer my weight from my good leg to the prosthesis side. Interestingly my stump in the socket feels fairly comfortable, but a little odd, but I'm not surprised by that.

We go through a few exercises transferring weight around and generally getting used to having prosthesis attached. I can stand completely unsupported and totally in balance.
It feels absolutely Brilliant !! (this, however, is to be my later downfall)

Part way through the session Jane, having found a parking spot, came and watched me. Session finished next weeks appointment was booked, and I also got my date for the initial appointment with the limb fitting department, Friday 6th July.

We leave, I stay in the Out Patients Area to wait for Jane to go and bring the car up to the door, I see the car drive up, and back in to position. It's raining buckets !!  I push myself out in the wheelchair near to the back of the car. Jane jumps out, opens the boot ready to put the wheelchair in. I get the crutches ready and start to stand to transfer to them. Then all hell breaks loose, for some reason I try to stand on my missing leg, over I go, crashing to the ground landing on my stump. The pain is excruciating, I'm laying in a puddle, the rain is drenching me and I'm screaming in agony. I yell to Jane to get help, a nurse comes out and drags me up in to the wheelchair. I'm pushed in to clinic area, nearly passing out with the pain.

The wound is checked and seems OK, no bleeding so I must have fallen on the side of the stump, Slowly the pain subsides bit by bit, but its still pretty bad. After about 30 mins we make another attempt to go to the car, and this time it's successful. The pain is bad and I sleep most of the way home. I think my body needs to rest and recuperate. Later that evening I realise that having been on two legs in the gym my brain had become confused along with the phantom limb sensation that I have, it believed that there was a leg there !! Sadly it wasn't.

Today Friday 8th, I had an appointment at my GP surgery to have the stitches removed. The nurse decided to only remove every other stitch and leave the remainder until next week. Bearing in mind the fall, the doctor come in and checked my leg over, some bruising and swelling, but apart from that OK. My stump feels really sore and stiff, and it's going to take a few days to get back to where I was before the fall. I'm having to rest with the stump elevated, and putting cold packs on to reduce the swelling.

Told you !!

Really Good Day - Really Bad Day !!

Tomorrow - Back in time, visiting time at the hospital

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Just a quick aside : Our son Tom, now working in London, came to visit us
on Monday and Tuesday. Tom being Tom he wasn't going to take
the conventional route, ie the train, as the rest of us would, Oh no !!
He donned a small backpack and ran from the Barbican to Chelmsford,
40+ miles in 5 hours. Then trained to Kelvedon.

Having told a few people about this I've had several comments as you would expect :-

"Next time he goes out for a run perhaps he should run to Broadmoor
and check himself in!!"

"That is just wrong, that is so wrong that his mental health must be called in to question"

This is not he first such mad escapade Tom has embarked upon. A couple of months ago
he decided to go to our Apartment in Torquay.
He cycled there, the long way. Over 300 miles in 2.1/2 days

We really are a normal family !! I promise you.

Tom loves running and I'm proud of all his madcap escapades.
Life's never dull when Tom's around, you never know what's next.

Maybe he's Forest Gump ??

Day 3 in Hospital

Thursday 10th November 2011, day 3. I'm feeling good and settling down into Hospital life.

I notice something odd about my good leg (left) it feels like something is massaging it !! On inspection I find that I have a weird looking sleeve around it that seems to be moving in waves, and the feeling is not unpleasant. Later, on inspection I find  its a twin walled bandage type of thing that wraps around the leg and  fixes with velcro. Between the twin walls there are a series of channels through which air is pumped from a machine hung on the end of the bed. The air pump feeds 3 sets of channels and seems to pump in a random way. This of course is another way of ensuring that DVT does not set in !!

Soon after the wound was checked and re-dressed as the previous blog I was visited by the physio's.
First thing that they gave me was a crepe bandage with a loop in one end, the loop was placed around my toes and the free end was held tight in my right hand. The object of this was to pull on the bandage and to exert resistance on my ankle. Flexing my ankle with resistance applied from pulling on the bandage started to work the remaining muscles in my calf. Later I find out that approx 50% of my lower leg muscles have been removed during the operation to ensure a decent margin around the tumour.

The Physio also gives me a nice shiny new pair of crutches. I'm shuffled from a lying position on the bed to sitting upright on the edge of the bed. From here I'm instructed how to use the the crutches to go from the  sitting position to a standing position. That accomplished, and practised a couple of times I'm instructed how to use the crutches to walk. First time ever using crutches is odd to say the least, but with practise it comes easier, and I'm soon whizzing round the ward.

Physio's leave happy that I'm not about to kill myself whilst on the crutches. It's now lunch time and the I'm faced with Omelete and chips that I pre-ordered at breakfast.

In case you're wondering my omelete didn't look anything like this one, or indeed taste anything like this one probably did
The omelete that I was presented with was at best awful and at worst inedible. Probably made from powdered egg and pre-formed in a brick mould before being heated to a temperature close to that of the surface of the sun !! (that'll kill of any bugs, and also the taste) Vitellary yellow in colour, tough and rubbery in texture, it was unfortunately not for me. The chips didn't fare any better, at a guess I dont't think their origins were anything close to a potato as we know it.
Next blog  -  it's afternoon visiting time.
If you've ever been in Hospital you'll recognise this !

Monday, 4 June 2012

Operation Over !!

After drifting away into space around 8.00 that morning the next thing that I can recall is coming round in the recovery area. It wasn't a pleasant experience, I remember just slightly opening my eyes and finding my whole body shaking violently and feeling freezing cold, just as if I were in a deep freeze. I recall several staff coming to me and physically holding me down. That's the last I remember of the recovery area. I assume that I was given some sedative to put me back under. It worked a treat.

The Duke of Gloucester ward is some way from the theatres and I vaguely recall entering he ward and the bed being pushed into position. I'm guessing that this must have been sometime around midday ? but I really don't know. Time had no meaning for me.

I must have slept all afternoon as the next thing remember was slightly waking up to the sound of two unruly Asian children, a boy and a girl, probably aged around 4 or 5 running up and down the ward making the sort of unwelcome noise that you don't need when you're coming round after an operation. Later I find that these children are part of a large Asian family visiting a guy 2 beds away. This large group turn up regularly each day to visit and seem to spend most of the day in the ward. Small children and hospital visiting don't go well together, so why is this misery inflicted on them. I guess Asians are more family orientated than us Brits !!

There is one good thing that comes out of have an Asian guy in the same ward, and I will tell you about it in later blogs when I'm in for my amputation operation.

I really don't gain any sort consciousness until the following morning when we are awakened at the usual time of 5.30 by the night staff. There is a myriad of things the night staff have to do before they go off duty at 8.00, getting patients ready for operations, the morning drug round, emptying and replacing the disposable urinal bottles that the more infirmed use to pee in at night, etc, and of course a detailed hand over of information of every patient to the day staff,

Breakfast arrives, delivered by an ISS staff member. The choice is tea or coffee, cereals, toast and jam, yogurt and fruit. I plump for tea, as being a devout coffee drinker I know how bad cheap instant coffee tastes. With tea it's pretty difficult to screw it up. I also request toast, brown bread, as I think it might be healthier !! That was one big mistake, cheap mass produced brown bread toasted an hour before is not the best start to the day.

Breakfast finished, and the 8.00 staff hand over complete the ward settles down to its routine. I've got one of these disposable urinal bottles in a cage clipped to my bed, and I have to say they are brilliant !! Not having peed for some considerable time I slyly slip the bottle under the bed clothes hoping nobody sees me, and eureka !! it's fantastic (think I need one of these when I get home to save me getting out of bed every night for the ritual night time peeing sessions) Any male over 50 will appreciate this.

Anyway now to my leg, about mid morning a nurse arrives to remove the tightly bound dressing and I can see the result of the surgeon's work. I'm impressed and can't believe the length of the wound. Still it looks really neat, it's not hurting, so lifes good !!

This picture was taken afer I came out of hospital but shows the extent of the wound.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

My 1st Operation day arrives !

For those of you who know me I thought I would just put in a little bit of up to date stuff. For those of you who don't know me, the cancer came back around April this year and I have had my right leg amputated above the knee.

The operation was carried out on the 22nd May. Things are progressing very well, I have had the wound re-dressed a couple of times by the nurse at my GP surgery, and it's looking really good. Had a blister just below the wound but that is now clearing up after treatment.  More up to date stuff to follow.

Anyway back to past times and the tumour removal operation

Operation day Tuesday 8th Nov 2011. It was impossible to sleep the night before as most of the inmates were members of the GB synchronised snoring team and were obviously practising for the forthcoming 2012 Olympics, either that or they didn't like me infiltrating their ward and were determined to piss me off !!

So after a near sleepless night I got up around 5.30, washed and showered. I changed into the gown which they gave me, and for any of you who have been in for an operation will know, these gowns tie up at the back and are almost impossible to do up single handed unless your a contortionist. So I wandered back to the ward showing my bum through the gaping gown !!

It's now about 6.00 and I'm back in the ward waiting on my bed. A nurse came over to fit me up with an anti-embolism stocking on my good leg. You have to wear these at all times when in hospital to alleviate the possibility of DVT (deep vein thrombosis)  Not the most attractive look in the world !!!   I ask the nurse to tie up my gown correctly. You have to be prepared to loose all your dignity when in hospital !!

At about 6.30 The Surgeon, Mr Skinner, came in with his team. After a brief chat and a hand shake he leaves saying he will see me at 7.30 at theater. I'm impressed that the medical staff start so early.

At 7.15 two porters arrive to take to theater. My bag is marked up to be delivered to The Duke of Gloucester Ward. I'm in bed, covers on, side rails up in case I fall out. We leave the ward, one porter at the front, one at the back. From the Rehab Ward I'm pushed along the main road for a short distance, that feels really weird, being pushed in a bed along a road meant for cars !!  We turn off the road and pick up a walkway to the main ward block. Once in the ward block we follow signs for the theaters. On arrival at the reception I'm taken thou a rabbit warren of corridors past theater after theater. Finally arriving in the pre-op room adjacent to the theater.  The pre-op  room is were the anaesthetic is administered. The staff check the two armbands I have on only to discover that I'm not their patient.

The ISS porters (for those of you who work with me at Stansted you'll know all about ISS) have taken me to the wrong operating theater. How scary is that !! Eventually I get to the correct theater and I am greeted by the staff including the anaesthetist that I saw the previous evening. After a few formalities I'm told what they are going to do. Two Cannula's are inserted, one in the back of my left hand, and the other in the back of my forearm.

 A syringe is connected to one of the cannula's, an oxygen mask is placed over my nose and mouth, that's the last I remember.

Tomorrow - "I come round after the Operation"

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Hospital admission Day Comes !!

Its arrived, Monday 7th November 201, the day I've been waiting for since being diagnosed with this Cancer. My son, Tom, has volunteered to drive me in, and I'm due to be admitted at 2.00pm.

Parking at the RNOH Stanmore is at best difficult, its an old hospital, with buildings dotted around the vast grounds. It's just inside the M25, and adjacent to the M1. Regeneration has started, but it's going to take many more years before it's complete. However it's not the buildings that matter, it's the quality of the medical services and the staff that count.

The RNOH is probably the best Orthopaedic Hospital in the UK, so I'm in good hands

My calf the night before surgery
showing the tumour

We arrive early, luckily we find a parking space, and report to the admissions office. After checking my details I'm given my paperwork in a sealed bag and a site map and told to report to "Duke of Gloucester" ward. Most of the wards are located together in a series connected buildings fairly near to the admissions office. Duke of Gloucester ward is located some way away through the main ward block and a walk in the open along covered walkways.

We arrive at the ward to be met by a young nurse, I introduce myself only to be greeted with a vacant look !!
We are ushered into what she calls the "Day Room" It's a small room with concrete walls and roof complete with roof skylight. I reality it's more like the interior of a World War II pill box. There's a TV, and the usual selection of PVC covered NHS standard issue chairs. We are asked to wait. About ten minutes pass and the nurse returns saying that unfortunately there is no bed available for me in the ward, but a bed has been found elsewhere.

We are directed to the Rehabilitation Ward which is directly opposite across the main road. On Arrival we report to the office, three nurses in the office seem busy and unaware of my arrival. We wait in the corridor for what seems a lifetime, but  is probaly only 10-15 mins. A nurse appears from the office and takes us to a conservatory located halfway down, and off the ward. The conservatory is the ward Day Room, and contains a TV, tea & coffee making facilities. We are told to wait here.It seems there is no bed ready here either.

Not wanting Tom to catch the rush hour on the M25, I suggest that he leaves and I can wait. Tom says he'll give it another half hour, so we make a coffee. Time marches on and I eventually persuade Tom to leave a good hour after we arrived in the conservatory. We say our good byes and Tom wishes me the best for the operation.

I sit and watch a bit of TV, not really taking it in, just going through the motions. Two people arrive and start arranging the chairs in a semi-circle, followed by another 8-10 people who take their places. I'm sitting at the back watching a meeting start to commence. The meeting is about the effects of tattoos and body piercing. Thinking that this is a bit weird in an orthopaedic hospital I announce that I shouldn't be there, grab my bag and do a runner !!  I go to the office, find a nurse. I'm informed a bed is now ready, and I'm shown to it. It's the first bed on the left hand side, and closest to the toilets, showers etc. so that's handy.

The operation is the next day, so I can't unpack my bag, as after the operation I'll be taken to the the Duke of Gloucester Ward for the rest of my stay. I settle in and look around the ward. Of the 12 beds there are 8 or 9 beds taken, some patients are sleeping, some listening to music, and some on computers. I try to engage with a couple of the closest inmates without much success. All the inmates seem a little odd, and I'm not sure exactly what this rehabilitation ward is for. Still its getting later now, Tom has phoned to say he got back to Tiptree OK with no hold ups, and the evening meals are being bought round. Not having pre ordered a meal there's nothing for me to eat. A male nurse spots this and kindly goes off to organise something with the kitchen. ten minutes later soup, shepherds pie, and a pud arrive.

That evening I shower and prepare myself for the next day. One of the Surgeon's team comes round to briefly discuss the operation and to mark the correct leg with a felt tip pen. Followed later by another member of the team who also marks the leg with a pen. (Guess this is to make sure they operate on the correct leg)

My last visitor of the evening at around 8.30 is the anaesthetist, a lady, who tells me how she intends to control my unconscious state during the operation. As the tumour is on the calf muscle I will be lying on my front with my head to the side, a tube down my throat and my bum in the air !!  She leaves telling me I'm No 1 on the list so will be seeing her in the morning at 7.30 at the theatre.

Tomorrow : Operation Day arrives !!

Friday, 1 June 2012


The Technical Bit !!
I promise to keep it short, but some of you may find it interesting.

The Machines are made by an Amercan Company, Varian Medical Systems
They cost in excess of £1m each and can deliver high speed treatment.
In my case just 20 seconds each visit.

The machine works very simply by generating electrons, and then accelerating them in a linear accelerator to the speed of light. During the acceleration stage the electrons gain energy. This beam of electrons is then fired in a controlled manner throu the head of the machine, and focused to the shape of the tumour.

When the stream of electrons hit their target (the tumour) they disipate their energy into the tumour as Photons.

The clever bit is that photons have the ablity to destroy the DNA in the cells they hit, and cancer cells are unable to regenerate their DNA and eventualy die. Healthy cells hit by the electrons are able
to regenerate their DNA

Radiotherapy can cure some cancers and can also reduce the chance of a cancer coming back after surgery. It may also be used to control a cancer or to help improve the symptoms of it.

Thats it Folks  -   No more technical stuff !!!

After my 5 weeks of Radiotherapy treatment I had to wait 6 weeks before surgery. This allowed my body, and specifically the area treated to rest. Surgery was planned for 8th November 2011at the Royal National Orthopeadic Hospital at Stanmore

More to follow !!