Sunday, July 31, 2005

Day 71/Day 72 - Whitbread bitter

When I was at primary school to get to the shop in the morning we use to cut through the pub car park. I always remember we use to press the top of Whitbread Bitter kegs and get our fingers covered in bitter. We must of stank of beer when we went to School. I was easily led :)

The last 2 days have reminded me of the fizz and froth the beer use to through up our arms, no real ale then. My body has been forcing this white pasty froth into my mouth, and swallowing eases it for a short while before, then reappears ripping my throat open with bile and scar tissue in a sickness I would not wish on anyone.

This weekend I can honestly say has been the worse in my life, most of it in bed, all of it in pain, the only joy seeing my two beautiful children who without them I would of given up this fight weeks ago.

There is nothing witty, sexy, funny, obtuse, eccentric I can think of tonight, apart from I will talking to those close to me about tube feeding, my body is week without food, a throat which is closing and sore and ripped apart, will not last 2 weeks without serious damage and the short term loss of having a nasal tube will have long term gains.

Food and fluid will then be taken care of alllowing me to use all of my energy to fight the weeks ahead.

The ferryman x

Friday, July 29, 2005

Day 70 - 13 days to go

Its late on Friday night and three weeks ago I started the worst night of my life. I have taken to having late afternoon sleeps waking mid evening. Friday was my eating day, I think at the moment we are up to one Weetabix, One Doughnut, One piece of chocolate and three spoonfuls of Frosties. Now that is 100% improvement on yesterday so tomorrow may get onto 2 Weetabix.

There are many things I detest about this treatment but the one I really dislike the most is opening the fridge or a cupboard and wretching. The smell of foods become over powering and although you feel like eating food, you know the minute it is cooked or opened you cannot eat it. You have no taste, or the metallic within your mouth takes over. Tonight was hard, I got up wanted something to eat but the mental thought of 3 weeks ago made me scared, even walking into the kitchen made me shake. My body trembled and I could feel my heartbeat rise, I opened a cupboard door and had to slam it shut and sit down. It is clear I need my cycling face masks I wear in London, I have one some where but wearing one in Starcross may be construed as some act of terrorism or S&M! My normal outlets like lucozades are out at the moment due to the acidic nature of most of the drinks which sting my throat.

It is all small steps at the moment, but I am not quite sure what I am going to do with my £15 off Tescos home shopping voucher before August 7th! Perhaps I could stockpile goodies until the 1st week in September, but then I suspect I would be paranoid about eating unhealthy and throw it all away.

I had a doctors appointment today, one to obtain more painkillers the other reason to sort out some paperwork. I always get emotional when seeing my Doctor, I think its a manthing, I know him personally and we have had many chats about running children and life. Simon Rains has the ability to show empathy but make sensible judgements. I wandered off again on a Friday night to the village Chemist and managed to lose my perscription enroute, re-tracing the route I found it in the post office as I had dropped it on the 200 metres journey and headed back to the pharmacy. I felt like crying, I felt worthless and useless and pretty much wanting to give up life again. These things may seem irrational to those readers who have not lived through cancer or experienced it little things get you down. Keeping your fragile existance going on a day to day basis, is it very difficult.

I need to be rational about myself, I have made huge strides over the last 5 months and through three major operations, 4 weeks of "oxymoron" treatments dropping a perscription can be so hard. When feeling down tonight I had an email from a very good friend of mine who has unfortunatley the experience of cancer:

Now here the for god sake bit:- you know youve been told you have cancer, you have a major operation, radio therapy, chemotherapy its still going on now, anything in your body good or bad has completely been killed, you spend alot of time feeling sick being sick, in pain morning noon and nite, you cant even look after your kids for long because you tired, cause you cant eat for the energy, you cant really go out because you dont have the energy and you are at risk of other peoples germs. of course you feel bloody useless, and downright shit on. probably even asking what on earth have you done wrong to warrant such a punishment. so no wonder your feeling down, thats what you feeling, depressed, and of course you will. I would recommend a little bit of cannibas, because you feel your letting everyone down. But the truth is your not, and soon your be bouncing back and we wont be able to keep up with you.

Roll on 13 days of "treatment" to go!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day 69 - Full of good advice

Ok I do not really want to die, but the treatment makes you feel that you want to die. I have been reading Bob Champion book the Grand National winning jockey and in his book he was convinced they were trying to kill him with chemotherapy. I am sure chemotherapy and radiotherapy are oxymorons, where is the therapy?

I awoke yesterday I was so weak I could hardly, I had two great pieces of advise the day before one from Jan take your painkillers not when you need them but when you are told to take them and from Miss Powderham 2001(still retired unless she can win), Orpah telling me to use everyone on your help list over the next few days and boy I need all the help I can get. It was clear that my muscle tone has gone, I look like an old man, I know that will come back once I start exercising, I have lost over 2 stones, I had not eaten in three days and felt very sick. The hearing is my left ear is going, a temporary side effect I was warned about, lets hope its temporary. There was a point on Wednesday when I did question going through the last stage of the chemotherapy but as it just one more session to go I will be brave dig in and get it completed and sit back and smile its all over.

I went to the hospital yesterday for my RT and nearly collasped with low blood sugar, I was sat in the RT section and my eyes welled up with fuzz and bits of furry flying around inside my eyelids. It was clear that I had low blood sugar, I nearly collasped, I was in need of sugar help came in the way of the WRVS coffee bar, hot water and 6 sugars in each cup of hot water. This made me feel better but gave me a warning lucozade and dextrose. I had made the decision not to eat until Friday, this was as a result of the last chemo session. I was in danger of not getting away with it and fairly scary. I got very stroppy with the RT who did not seem to understand the process of chemo and insisting I saw the dietician, she was the last person I needed to see it was a straight forward low blood sugar level, it takes me three days to start eating after chemo, so get real I said to them. In fact I think I told them I was happy doing what I am doing, but did not say "after all its you who is trying to kill me" It seemed they did not understand me. Understand that I had developed a coping strategy to deal with this and with just 14 days of RT rays left I was not prepared to change the strategy just yet.

I saw Dr Sherriff who is a lovely caring Doctor, early 30s but amazing manner. We had a long discussion, estasblished my mouth was full of thrush, my weight was fine, lowest I have been since the mid 90s as all my muscle tone has gone, and agreed as long as I was drinking during and chemo he understood the reason why I could not eat. I left in better health than I arrived!

I forgot to tell you about more good advice, that included a nurse during chemo saying "you must get out more" of course love, the first three days after chemo you feel like death, the weekend you are recovering from radiotherapy, then the after chemo your white blood cells are at their lowest and you are advised to avoid everyone and anyone just in case you catch the "black death" at least it sounds quicker that murder by chemo. I did think about returning one of my one liners but as she was injecting something nasty into me, thought twice about being witty.

My sister had the best advice of yesterday champers! Her friend advised that her husband swigged champers after chemo to stop being sick, sounds good to me so get some small bottles of course to give me the taste back :) I love champers!

Things are looking up tonight and life feels better. I do feel feeble but I am not giving up on this, not far to go, not long to go before I get my life back.

As Bob Champion said "The worst should be over. I'm counting the days to the end of the treatment. They've done their best to kill me but they won't succeed now. I almost there"

Keep attacking !

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Day 68 - I want to die

I know that is a horrid title but it is the way I feel.

I woke up about 8am in pain in my mouth and throat. I have to use salty water mouth washes now becuase the oral ons I have been using burn my mouth and throat just like someone has put a flame to the roof of my mouth. When I mouth washed this morning a huge flap of the top of my mouth came off.

My mouth was very dry as I could not breath through my nose and my mouth, however sore had become the only source of air. I had a glimpse of the sickenss this morning but got all the painkillers I could inside me and went back to bed.

I do not care what anyone says but there is no way you can eat after cisplatin, teh smell of the open fridge made me wretch, and of course wretching with your thraot and mouth as it is can be described as hell.

I stayed in bed until Ron came to take me to RT, I got up at 1pm and had a strawberry build up drink which I knew would reappear.

It did the minute Ron dropped me off I opened the front door smelt the kitchen and threw up all over the front drive, in front of my neighbour and the street. I just could not get in the front door without being ill.

Well I knew it would be like this but at least that the 1st session afew more to come and yes milk drinks are definately out. Why is it your feel better after being sick? However, I know its short lived and I await the next session with dread.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Day 67 - Hospital ramblings and home

Its 0115 and still no drugs, Captain Mitchell tells me that the “Chemo” is not in the chiller but still in the “make up” room so kick off is delayed until 0200 hours. Midnight and 0200 is much the same unless you’re a ghost or have a plane to catch and after all as UK licensing laws have changed so that we can get a bloody drink when we want to will ghosts have to change their hours of haunting?

I must be a 6th former as I have been given permission to administer my own drugs which include a cocktail of painkillers and two different laxatives which to be honest is more information than you need but they seem to be all wind and no action! You have of course to sign a form to say you take full responsibility to administer your own drugs, but after all it is the same ones as I have been taking at home for weeks and then ones that I have been trying to find the most effective pain relief.

At 0200 am, Admiral Mitchell arrived spot on, he exact quote “could not be late with you on the ward” He tried to funny quoting that he had put the liquids in the fridge and it would hurt as ice cold liquid hits my body I said I bring it on as I hugged my sheep. The sheep the padded warming furry creature had been shaved and it her summer coat.

I had the last laughed Major Mitchell had forget to turn the sheep on so for the first hour I sat their thinking this bags cold!

The rest of the day went off without incident, apart from I had a Delia moment when the 1st bag of chemo finished at 1200 midday and at 1235 despite my GIMP beeping nobody came to change the bag. I reminded the staff that “I not a celebrity, but more reason to get me out of here”

Chemo finished at 2.30pm and a row have ensued between the ward and the radiotherapy (RT) department, which meant that the gap hour between chemo finishing and RT should be 4 hours. I understand the RT section has complained over the time it has taken to finish the chemo! I think it is more to do with going home early than the burning desire to get me under the microwaves!

At least the is horse racing on the telly. I thinking if I am honest I only enjoy Horse racing for the betting and instant cash and the generous amounts of beer and champagne and beer you can drink. Its Glorious Goodwood, 5 days of watching identical snorting horsy beasts mincing around a paddock, each with a tiny emaciated Irishman on its back, and then melee hurtling along in a cloud of clods while a very posh commentator pretends he can tell you which one you have staked your wife on with a man standing on a box wearing a dodgy car coat with a brummie accent.

Of course at Good there will be ladies day, where call centre girls from Southampton dress in flimsy dresses as the British weather unleashes a force 8 gale on the Sussex Downs and upsets the outside drinking games. One thing they can see is hours of more identical snorting beasts mincing, whilst the prance around the paddock wearing a fruit and veg stall on their head, whilst being followed by a pompous and posh commentator accompanied by a fashion expert who looks like he should be working on the fruit and veg stall!

The trouble is that horses weigh a few tonnes, have huge heads, asses as big as their owners with nasty big teeth and big hoofs, actually like their owners that get bigger when standing up and attempting to decapitate the fruit and veg stall off the “call centre” heads and throwing the tiny Irishman off like Tom Thumb. Cut to the trainer who tells Claire “A bit of big lass who happens to live with a woman” that he’s a “real baby and friendly horse at home” what does he mean he curls up with the sofa with the family or if he ever breaks a leg he will be easier to shoot than innocent man wearing a large overcoat without a tube ticket.

As the paramedics rush into the paddock to attend to the decapitated lass and the Irishman remounts and bags his fee. Now with respect, huge ass and legs, 3 tonnes in weight, awesome head with big nashers, and the chance to kill does not sound like the place to be for me, but does sound like woman I went out in my teenage years. The horse racing got worse, the odds on favourite got beaten in the big and the trainer should of said “Look all your boys who have just spent this weeks housekeeping on my horse, he was crap the jockey never understood a thing I said and should be auditioning for the Christmas Diddyman movie” Alas they don’t listen to these excuses.

• The horse does like a right-handed track! The track was 5 furlong flat course with no bends?
• He does not start well out the gates! He has run 21 times before why has it taken it until now to realise?
• He struggles on grass! Why bloody enter it, I give up!

I have managed to negotiate an early exit tonight from the hospital as the treatment has been speeded up so keep attacking I am off to pack my bag!

I got at home at 1100 and must admit my mouth and throat are awfuul, they feel cut up, I have lost the skin in my mouth and I can feel awful.

This is the worst I have ever felt in my life. I am off to bed now but the minute I walked in the door I picked up a cold, literally the minute

This does not help when you mouth is wrecked, your tounge is scarred and painful and everytime you open the fridge you want to wretch, your whole body gets wracked with pain.

Its going to be very hard this week please bear with me.


Day 67 - More hospital chemo ramblings

Its 0115 and still no drugs, Captain Mitchell tells me that the “Chemo” is not in the chiller but still in the “make up” room so kick off is delayed until 0200 hours. Midnight and 0200 is much the same unless you’re a ghost or have a plane to catch and after all as UK licensing laws have changed so that we can get a bloody drink when we want to will ghosts have to change their hours of haunting?

I must be a 6th former as I have been given permission to administer my own drugs which include a cocktail of painkillers and two different laxatives which to be honest is more information than you need but they seem to be all wind and no action! You have of course to sign a form to say you take full responsibility to administer your own drugs, but after all it is the same ones as I have been taking at home for weeks and then ones that I have been trying to find the most effective pain relief.

At 0200 am, Admiral Mitchell arrived spot on, he exact quote “could not be late with you on the ward” He tried to funny quoting that he had put the liquids in the fridge and it would hurt as ice cold liquid hits my body I said I bring it on as I hugged my sheep. The sheep the padded warming furry creature had been shaved and it her summer coat.

I had the last laughed Major Mitchell had forget to turn the sheep on so for the first hour I sat their thinking this bags cold!

The rest of the day went off without incident, apart from I had a Delia moment when the 1st bag of chemo finished at 1200 midday and at 1235 despite my GIMP beeping nobody came to change the bag. I reminded the staff that “I not a celebrity, but more reason to get me out of here”

Chemo finished at 2.30pm and a row have ensued between the ward and the radiotherapy (RT) department, which meant that the gap hour between chemo finishing and RT should be 4 hours. I understand the RT section has complained over the time it has taken to finish the chemo! I think it is more to do with going home early than the burning desire to get me under the microwaves!

At least the is horse racing on the telly. I thinking if I am honest I only enjoy Horse racing for the betting and instant cash and the generous amounts of beer and champagne and beer you can drink. Its Glorious Goodwood, 5 days of watching identical snorting horsy beasts mincing around a paddock, each with a tiny emaciated Irishman on its back, and then melee hurtling along in a cloud of clods while a very posh commentator pretends he can tell you which one you have staked your wife on with a man standing on a box wearing a dodgy car coat with a brummie accent.

Of course at Good there will be ladies day, where call centre girls from Southampton dress in flimsy dresses as the British weather unleashes a force 8 gale on the Sussex Downs and upsets the outside drinking games. One thing they can see is hours of more identical snorting beasts mincing, whilst the prance around the paddock wearing a fruit and veg stall on their head, whilst being followed by a pompous and posh commentator accompanied by a fashion expert who looks like he should be working on the fruit and veg stall!

The trouble is that horses weigh a few tonnes, have huge heads, asses as big as their owners with nasty big teeth and big hoofs, actually like their owners that get bigger when standing up and attempting to decapitate the fruit and veg stall off the “call centre” heads and throwing the tiny Irishman off like Tom Thumb. Cut to the trainer who tells Claire “A bit of big lass who happens to live with a woman” that he’s a “real baby and friendly horse at home” what does he mean he curls up with the sofa with the family or if he ever breaks a leg he will be easier to shoot than innocent man wearing a large overcoat without a tube ticket.

As the paramedics rush into the paddock to attend to the decapitated lass and the Irishman remounts and bags his fee. Now with respect, huge ass and legs, 3 tonnes in weight, awesome head with big nashers, and the chance to kill does not sound like the place to be for me, but does sound like woman I went out in my teenage years. The horse racing got worse, the odds on favourite got beaten in the big and the trainer should of said “Look all your boys who have just spent this weeks housekeeping on my horse, he was crap the jockey never understood a thing I said and should be auditioning for the Christmas Diddyman movie” Alas they don’t listen to these excuses.

• The horse does like a right-handed track! The track was 5 furlong flat course with no beds
• He does not start well out the gates! He has run 21 times before why has it taken it until now to realise?
• He struggles on grass! Why bloody enter it, I give up!

I have managed to negotiate an early exit tonight from the hospital as the treatment has been speeded up so keep attacking I am off to pack my bag!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Day 66 - More rubbish from my hospital bed

I think I am competitive, well I get competitive brushing my teeth, buying a tube ticket, getting the last racing post, or getting through the first stage of 15 to 1 and beating a lot of retired mechanical engineers from Basingstoke. Did I tell my Dad was on 15 to 1 I choose his shirt and tie but it was considered too gaudy so they made him change? No my dad was a bright bloke, and he sure was completive, medals for everything football, cricket, snake charming and wrestling with alligators in the River Exe, alas his competitive streak came to an end in the 1st round of 15 to 1 when he went out, when he failed asked two dreadful questions about Greek methodology. Now I have the view if its myth why ask? cause it’s all made up in the first place, a bit like the bible.

I felt so sorry for him I wanted to hug him, perhaps that’s my calling avenge my fathers defeat in 15 to 1 and celebrate with fireworks and on one of those little stages they build when you win the FA Cup singing “Olay, Olay, Olay”

Talking of which my DVD player on the laptop did not work here is hospital, so I still have 9 hours of Lord of the Rings to watch, there is a dayroom here with a DVD player, but there is something competitive about having a laptop and not allowing other people watch your classic DVD, ok it maybe childish but it’s the only sport I get these days. Talking of DVDs have you noticed that something’s have not changed in the DVD library?

I was mooching, what a word, my local Londis and looking at the DVDs for rental, thinking I could be even more smug by not only having the box collection of the Lord of the Rings to watch but something equally as classy like “James and the Giant Peach or Cat in the Hat” However, my observation was that virtually every cert 15 plus DVD cover featured an impossibly beautiful and decorated girl and a slick looking bloke with floppy hair. Now with respect where are the ugly videos? Under the counter I suspect  I was tempted to ask for the videos with the ugly pictures but had already caused suspicion by giggling ever louder every time I saw a good looking babe and bloke with floppy hair on a DVD cover, and after asking for “ugly videos” I am sure would of got me on the front page of the Parish Magazine which I am sure doubles as a recruiting sergeant for the WI and knitting circle or a heap of 1970s porn videos with overweight women and blokes with very dodgy moustaches, only worn by friends of Merv Hughes and men in tight white t shirts and leather trousers mincing up and down Brighton sea front on a Sunday afternoon.

I think my fascination of DVDs been watching too much Bollywood in my time at home, the cheeky kisses behind trees, satin and the unforgettable music, available at £4.99 per month from! Talking of which you I mentioned that Carol Voderman was offering to clear all your debts with a competive rate of interest, my son reminded on Sunday that in fact I had it wrong as Carol had said “You can pay all your debts off at just £100 per month” He was spot on, he has been watching the Ocean Finance Adverts as well. I think he is planning his next housing renovation in France as we speak.

I forgot to tell you that during our family visit to Exeter Airport yesterday my son remarked that the shop did not sell anything of interest to children. Now as my son is as switched on as his dad I realised this could be a ploy to obtain presents by deception, however he was right. The only option was to buy William 6 and Ellen 4 a John Grisham novel or a set of expensive set of hand luggage. Now it begged the questions what kind of fool buys luggage at an airport, well I convinced myself they must be as disorganised as me and turn up for their flight with Tesco carriers bags, pants sticking out of every available pocket! Then by chance saying hooray an expensive luggage shop ideal just what I need!

I supposed I am quite a seasoned flyer having the experience of a plane tilting 45 degrees in strong winds on approach to Birmingham Airport to wrestling with an elderly Arab lady at Dubai airport. The wrestling was not part of the in flight entertainment but more an example of no one now listens to announcements on any form of transport system we have become conditioned it. Travel “Worst” Great Western Railways and we all switched off to the Conductor telling us that the “Super have a nice day ticket” is not valid and unless you get off the train your house will be repossessed and your children sent to the workhouse. “Please keep all your belongings with you” No one listens, and lets face it no really wants to watch the stewardess tell us how to attach our lifejacket when we are hurtling at 600 mph into the Atlantic Ocean 2000 miles from nearest landmass. I have found the only people watching are either intoxicated by vast quantities of duty free or testosterone on a rugby club tour that fancy their chances of a quick grope. Even the bloody captain has to apologise these days for the safety announcement and begs us to listen!

Now an example of this disrespect for announcements and safety rules was witnessed by myself. I was flying back to London from Joberg, to us frequent flyers or “mugging city” to most of the World via Dubai. We were flying Emirates airlines, which was most impressive I would think so when you consider the cash they can flash. We landed at Dubai and next to me a small Arab lady was sat. As we taxied to the hard standing the mad scramble to get to the overhead lockers commenced. You know what I am saying here it’s like Pamplona all over again, stewardesses screaming on the microphone to sit down in 48 different languages and turning the stay seated lights on and off. I had worked out the only language they had failed to give the warning too was dialect that the old lady sat next to me spoke. This sprightly lady was standing on the seat and me to rescue her full carrier bag full of duty free Jonnie Walker. She had worked out the only way she could get the angle she wanted to lever her bulging bag out of the overhead locker was to standing on the arm rest my shoulder and the hippy looking lad sat next to her. The trouble is her bony elbow was stuck in my ear, causing me to cry out in pain as all you could see were the little ladies legs sticking out of the locker. There was a temptation to flip her into the locker and close the door, but the thought of her trapped in a locker with all that duty free was too much even for me to bear.

I was too shocked to complain, in fact speechless, as her foot had caught my chin as she descended from the locker. But resolved to trip her up later and push her on the carousel later as she waited for her bags. She was however very nippy and like a mole keeping low and digging her way down to the front of the plane. I lost sight of her, but could tell where she was but the passengers who were suddenly lurching out of the way and the crashing down of hand luggage as they suffered injuries caused by this diminutive whirlwind. Just as the commotion died down and the old lady had got to front of the plane, the back doors opened right next to where the old lady was sitting and me and the hippy made our exit before the typhoon started her journey back up the plane.
Anyway back to films.

Now I have been known in my time to frequent cinemas of many different types, but with respect Bollywood films are hard to follow at the best of times. Well the first reasons is obvious unlike your local Odeon you have to watch them in “cast” what I mean by that is forget the popcorn and ice cream get stuck into the samosas and chutneys, alas all of this has an adverse effect on your ability to sit through a whole Bollywood film without need the assistance of Pile cream. The second is obvious I do not speak Hindi! Now in Brixton the local cinema shows some quite alternative films and last summer the choice was Motorcycle Diaries or some crap Italian Movie, thinking I was being trendy I watched the Italian movie. When we came out of the movie a local South London trendy type looking like Noel Gallagher said to me “You understand that mate? it was all Greek to me” Without thinking, because as we now know wearing an overcoat in summer is risky let alone being cheeky to a local bohemian type, in Brixton, I retorted “Well mate you wouldn’t it was an Italian Film” He replied understand this “F*”K Off “ I understood this verbal interaction!

So understanding Hindu is pretty fundamental to understanding Bollywood.

I have the ability to talk to me without prompting. In fact I am in more demand to talk to by strangers than Liz Hurley is by cameramen. I am always the bloke that gets the drunk sit next to you on the tube. You see them coming down the stairs, Stella in hand, swaying onto the tube train and under your breath you say not me please not me, but they do make a beeline for me and start a conversation with me which the only words you understand are the Fs, Cs and Ws.

Of course then things get lost in translation a Bollywood movie called “Masala” in this country conjours up the thoughts of a “bright creamy tomato sauce” rather than a film that has a wild mixture or romance, a cheeky Indian Arthur Askey type chappy, adventure and tragedy, with a bit of knockabout comedy, pathos, emotion, musical numbers and not a waiter in sight.

Now talking of waiters in my local “Paradise Palace” whose title could double as massage parlour if it were not in Dawlish, why is it that you can walk into an empty restaurant and the “maitre de” screams at you “have you booked, have you booked” of course you have not and he searches through his non existent booking lists and eventually able to find you a table in his empty bistro which funny enough is always next to the murals of tigers being massacred!

Lets face why do we spend so much money on a food, which causes physical pain either on the way or on the way out like we do with an Indian? Would you eat broken glass?

Now Bollywood movies are far too commercial. They are sponsored by various Indian companies who are doing rather well. The first time I really noticed sponsorship was after an interview with the Great Auzzie fast bowler “Merv Moustache Hughes for those who do not know Merv he is a fast talking, big Auzzie who yes looks like he should be walking the poodle in Eastbourne, but I can assure you he eats chickens, beer cans and children whole. Merv had just threatened to kill the umpire or something similar with his bare hands, when on came the advert sponsored by “Norwich Union Insurance for all your insurance needs” Better tell the umpire mate Merv is after you.

I am truly rambling now its 2315 on my first night here in the Hospital. Kevin warned me that it would be noisy on the ward and I now know the reason opposite there is a geezer semi asleep mumbling loudly in his sleep like a 1970s German Porn Star. I will start getting concerned when he starts shouts “Duck me, Duck me” and “Das good, Das good”

I am listening to a compilation of tunes on my “Ibiza Summer 20 Chemo hits” I decided to record 20 hits to spend the summer swinging too as I hip hop through the valley of boredom, sickness, and irrationality. It’s a funky blend of old and new but all them you want to stand up and sing to and I must admit I have been foot tapping, but not in that embarrassing way Fatty Prescott did tapping and air singing “Things can only get fatter” after the 1997 election win.

Day 66 - In Hospital

Well technically I am I told the ward staff I was going for a walk, but really I am home having hot footed here in my car, wristband on, hospital tea inside me, well about 500 calories of it, and my room without a view and the pool sorted. Things are so going down hill in the NHS!

I have been booked in by the doctor and all ready for the midnight sessions to kick off. I decided to come home because the waiting until midnight is frankly intolerable, despite the fact I have 9 hours of Lord of the Rings films to catch up on. The ward will be quiet tonight, only 4 out of the 6 beds are occupied and I have as requested a bed in the corner away from the noise and prying eyes of staff desk. I am lucky tonight because Cllr Kevin Mitchell, he of fish advice, bingo, speedway and Exeter City AFC fame is on duty. Kevin has always maintained he would not work on the ward if I was on the ward, mainly because of the difficult questions I would ask him about things he would be doing, and less to do with injecting your mates with the wrong juice, not in a shipman way, well I hope not!

I asked him to promise not to be too bossy and call me Mr Gooding, but it kind of embarrassing as I will have to be on best behaviour and leave the Father Jack tendencies at home. I must admit though he has been a rock, calls me everyday to check up on me, bollocks me when appropriate and I have Kevin to thank for not being tube fed by his constant badgering on eating and taking in calories. I just wish he would stop ringing me from pubs saying how wonderful the beer tastes and he is looking forward too another pint!

Well as expected the camper failed its MOT, Ali my Iranian mechanic, yes you heard me who is married to my mate "Big Charlie’s" sister has always looked after my cars for the last 20 years. Ali came to the UK when things went west with the Shah in the 1980s and quite frankly an amazing bloke to know. He also runs a very successful cab firm, but you can rest assured Ali will get things sorted and fixed for you at half the price of your high street garage. The only trouble is he told me what the camper failed on, I nodded and he said bring it down on Thursday I will do the work, and get it through the MOT, and "bring it down on Thursday" was the only bit I understood during our conversation, who cares by Thursday night I will have the van with an MOT and campers watch out!

I better go and sort things out at least by this time tomorrow I will only have one 4 hour bag of saline solution to go and I will be 66% through chemo and 51% through Radiotherapy!

Keep attacking! Nigel

PS: Mick Wilkinson I am sorry but I just do not believe you and the cat sorry! I use to wonder where you got those furry gloves in winter!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Day 65 - What happened after Mike TV bought it?

Ok I fell asleep with 20 minutes to go in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, just after the bit when "Mike TV" was zapped by "Wonka Television" so what happened in the end I am sure Charlie won the prize but can anyone enlighten me?

Today was tough I managed to leave my wallet in the camper van yesterday. Myself and Steve took the camper van in for MOT ready for Monday. I have always been paranoid about wallets etc and leaving in the van on a garage forecourt was not a good idea. So I was up at 7am into Exeter picked the wallet up and back in bed by 8am getting up at 1330 hours.

I took the children to the fish shop and the airport as they are due to go on their first aeronautical experience very soon and they loved every minute of it, but about 1530 a waved of tiredness appeared over me which I have never experienced before. I got home and was unable to keep awake getting the children sorted then falling asleep on the sofa only managing to wake up when their mum arrived to take them home.

There was a strange incident at the airport but running from the airport building to the car in a rain storm my trousers fell down, yep fell down, an indication of how much weight I have lost and the effect of weight loss. I am seriously considering food options for me when I come home from chemo but a nasal feed tube maybe an option I will have to go for. Today's calorie intake has been just over 1000 calories I need at least 2500 at the moment but just getting down is so hard. I know I will lose another 7-10 pounds this week after chemo so time will tell but I will not hesitate to go for nasal tube feeding should I need too.

One thing I have noticed I have noticed is the mysterious wave of sleep that appears suddenly. The last 2 weeks it appears like a sea mist and sleeping gas which makes me want to go straight to bed.

Its now just 25 hours before the start of chemo and being honest the pain for sleep has overtaken my fear of the next few days, but tomorrow I will be back on the chemo bike and just 3 weeks and 3 days left.

Keep attacking! N x

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Day 64 - Weak men believe in luck, strong men is cause an effect

I spent most of Saturday tucked up in bed, alas the longer you sleep the longer you are away from taking the painkillers. I have worked out that because my saliva rates are low I actually dribble in the night, charming for a lover but then if you sleep alone then how can it be embarrassing!

It has not been a "lucky" week for me in fact my luck at the moment would mean attendance at swingers party would end up getting my own keys and missing all the action, not that the concept appeals to me, wrestling with a sumo couple from Bideford squeezed into their best leather chaps!

Well thank you for all the concern about the fish, however I did have this fear of sitting on the loo and having fish staring at you out of the toilet plan. This did not help last night when I decided to dispose of half eaten rice crispies down the same loo. Tonight the thought of fish gorging on rice crispies is a fear that I will have to conquer when using the old white telephone.

The last couple of days I have a sackful of visitors and thanks to Chris, Steve, Jan and Tallia for making Thursday/Friday/Sat go so quickly. I must admit everyone remarked how well I looked I am not sure what they were expecting but "news of my death have been exaggerated" I told you last week that I feel reasonably well apart from the pain in my tonsil, throat and tongue area now being affected daily by the radiotherapy. In fact with the help of the morphine I am able to negate the pain for a few hours. I thought the skin would break up on my neck where the radio waves enter my body and maybe that will happen in time, but the regular creaming of the spot has meant that patch is just no more than sun burn.

I have just 2 more days to the next session of chemo, the start being getting into the Hospital about 4pm on Monday, and seeing the doctor, then coming home for a few hours before returning to the hospital overnight for the midnight start of the 23 hour drips and the constant beeping of GIMPS as the fluid drips run out. I think mentally I am a lot more prepared for the session, and I know what to expect, however with my white cells at their lowest I only hope that Friday's blood test has risen otherwise an injection would be required to stimulate the production of white blood cells in my bone marrow. It is only normal for chemo to lower my blood count and I have been expecting an infection of some sort which I have managed to avoid. The experts have said I may not have the side effects as my body will have adjusted to cisplatin or I may have stronger side effects because my immune system is well shot. Well this time next week I will know and find out. It will not be easy next week but at least I will be more prepared this time.

The visit yesterday of Jan and her 2 year daughter Tallia was a joy. It was great to see them both, and her daughter is delightful, as most 2 year old daughters are. There is a clear difference between the girls and boys at that age but what it did do is bring me back on how bad I miss my children and family life. I do not miss my old family life, that is the past and there is no going back, what it did prove to me what I have been thinking for the last 4 months that my destiny lies with family life, the joy, the support and joy it brings alongside my burning desire to be a father again. It is easy when you are ill to play the victim but my illness can not be attributed to anyone thing so forget the victim I cannot control the past, only the future and lets face it I do produce fantastic children with their fathers good looks!

Keep attacking! N x

Friday, July 22, 2005

Day 63 - Radiotheraphy pictures

This is the face mask which helps to "tie" you down to the table.

Once you are strapped into the mask, lasers are used to ensure the equipment is set up correctly.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day 62 - Radiotheraphy pictures (contd)

Strapped down and my new friend the radiotheraphy machine!

Day 62 - Radiotheraphy pictures (contd)

This is me of course strapped onto the table by my face mask, they have cut the eyes out this week to make more comfortable.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Day 61 - The fish are dead long live the King

It was nice of my three fish all to die on exactly the same day, exactly the same time! I am sure their death had nothing to do with the changing of the water and clean up operation 24 hours earlier! The death of three fish creates a major headache for me. How the hell am I going to get three identiical fish and fool my Children that their father killed "Moby, Speed and Nemo" all in one go through his liberal use of swimbladder treatment!

The trouble in they are stripey, not bland gold, but bloody stripey. I was able to bluff my way around the death of the last fish, but three could be a bit of a challenge. I can imagine them in 20 years time at University parties drunk and in tears and saying "my father was useless he even killed my fish" The best advice is not to inform Children that their daddy killed the fish but to bluff, "they were too big so I gave them to someone who have a pond...or next doors cat has eaten them, or I swapped them for these new shiny minnow types" I think my illness is insignificant compared to bluffing my children, so any ideas would be welcome.

Whilst I was thinking what to do and getting my normal fishy advice from "Aqua man" Kevin Mitchell I managed to secure 3 huge bottles of "Oramorph" from the Doctors at the hospital. That is some large dose of Morphine! The secret is have it just before you eat in relative pain free although it does make you feel sick.

The pain in my throat varies, and when the painkillers wear off it is like being stabbed in the neck, eating is impossible and swallowing is just pointless!

Anyway off to Pets at Home to try and find some shiny glow in the dark minnows!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Day 60 - More bland and a bit of pain

My throat hurts! I woke up with the mother of all migraines, it was like the troop of the household cavalry had ran over my head and not content came back for seconds. My throat was sore, dry and I started crying realising that my days of normality and control in my life were over. I realised that the ability to speak and be understood is now hard and that swallowing is virtually impossible, even liquids are through a straw.

I found some very strong painkillers I had left over from surgery and they have done the trick. I have an appointment on Thursday to attend the weekly clinic and it is time for the morphine to see me through the next 4 weeks.

In yesterday's post I slagged off the male race, well there are two people who instantly step away from the "macho" my scar is bigger than yours, or I needed PEG feeding before you brigade. They are my brother in law Ron, I called him yesterday to give me a lift into the hospital and he obliged without question like he has done virtually everyday of my treatment and my dear friend Steve Lawry, now in our 30th year.

The trip to radiotherapy combined with a discussion with the dietician, and we worked out that this week I have been only able to get in about 1000 calories a day. I have arrested the weightloss, but we both knew that next week that will reverse as chemo takes it toll. I was sent to Tescos with a shopping list which must admit resembled celebrity fat club Christmas party hamper, full fat milk, double cream, chocolate this and that! Well it is the 1st time in my life I can eat what I want and advised "eat boy eat" and I do not feel like it.

So Im off to look at my bulging fridge, then close the door and get the soup out, one day soon I will taste food again!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Day 59 - Blokism stinks!

Why are some blokes crap! I have tonight cancelled my membership of I joined some weeks ago when I wanted further information on mouth/oral cancer and thought yes be amongst people who have been through similar things and you will get support and strength from them.

Now many years ago when I lived in Exminster I started a men's running group. The ladies group in the village who are approaching ten years of running "The women's running network" was booming with 20/30 ladies turning up each club night. Having run many miles on my own I thought what a good idea it would be to start a men's group for the village. Well we started off with 5, then 3 then 0 and for many nights I would turn up and I would be on my own. I talked to a lot of people and we agreed that men were too competitive to join running groups and the only ones they did join were those who ran quickly and stuffed the team element.

Well is very similar to my running group, you join because you expect support, but end up getting blokes, and they are mainly blokes writing to you telling you how tough they are and they survived and for you sucker it will be hard. I get the impression they think there is some "macho" band of brothers who slap each others back on the pain they endured and how great they are. I clearly got the impression that they were keen to "fear" maybe it is their way of dealing with, maybe it was their way of saying it is going to be hard. I know we are all different and deal with things differently but the site went from support to sharing horror stories. I did make it clear to my fellow sufferers that medical staff had given me the sackful of bad news stories and help would be forthcoming. You can guess what happened more bad news stories from blokes, all about pain, PEG feeding and quite forceful advice to the verge of screaming at me. I did have some fantastic stories from Women, their own experiences and of their partners, non competitive and caring. I have never understood the caveman concept, and never will.

The caveman instinct is very interesting, those who know me well I have been involved in football locally for 25 years since the age of 16, retiring my position as an FA Councillor this year. I am big and ugly enough to know that thanks are few and far between and I never went through 25 years for thanks. However, not one of my former football colleagues have asked how I am or made contact. Yet take Rugby, Wessex RFC have sent their regards and kind wishes, you can guess where my loyalties lie in the future.

People ask why do I have more women then men friends? I rest my case!

Today was very tiring, I slept very well, in fact sleep has been the one blessing of being ill, it is clear my body needs to recover. I got up in time to greet "cleaning for god" Olive the new cleaner, fortunately I managed to avoid the "Watchtower" and got myself off to the Hospital.

When I awoke this morning my throat was very dry and the pain had reduced mainly due to the fact that I had found some chunky painkillers left over from neck operation. However, within seconds of leaving the radiotherapy table I could feel the burning on my throat and the pain return. The usual remedies mouthwash are too harsh without painkillers so I have adopted salty water as an effective short term remedy.

It will not be long before it is liquid only, food still tastes metallic and I have been told it is like being pregnant you try many different things until you find something that you are happy with. Lets hope it involves cheese and blueberry jam :)

I went to bed at 4pm and got up 9pm, after a phone call from Sarah to ask me to help with William who was refusing to go to Tescos! Well cannot blame the lad but it was a hard thing for me to do because I felt helpless as a dad, he went to Tescos and job done. I do worry about how my children have taken my illness and I know William as kept things bottled up so in three weeks time I will be pleased this is over for me and them.

Keep attacking! Nigel x

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Day 58 - Bland

I was reading an article today in the Observer, 789 people a day in the UK get told they have cancer, now I did not challenge that statistic in terms everyday? weekends? excluding weekends etc but it is a staggering number. Mind you hardly suprising when you consider there are now 200 illnesses that make up cancer.

I have had lots of advice of yesterday but can assure you it was justified. Things were not good orally when I woke up, a razor sharp tounge and throat and expelled blood during the night, soemthing which will be flagged up tomorrow at the hospital. I must admit I did over do it physically and mentally yesterday and deserved the feeling I had this morning. The soundest bit of advice I had this morning was from my friend Jan:

"so feel like shit, moan as much as you like, say things youve always wanted to say and blame it on your illness. sleep, watch telly, and just wait for when things are getting better, and when you better, you will be a better person"

Jan is spot on need to understand I am ill and going through fairly chunky treatment so I need to chill for the next 4 weeks.

I am concerned that I have already become an expert on antiques, holiday homes in Portugal and know every word of the Ocean Finance advert, the one where Carol Voderman tells us at a competitive interest rate of 10.5% we can clear all our debts. Subtle, but the Ocean finance advert tends to be played right during horse racing programmes, now that is a bit like asking me to buy 200 duty free fags! Hey but at least the Ashes and Glorious Goodwood starts real soon so life does has a few ups :)

On that matter I am on my soap box, not not over Carol Voderman and a competitive rate of interest, passive smoking. At the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital there is a separate car park for the Exeter Oncology Centre, you then have to walk 50 metres to the centre for treatment or clinic. In addition all the oncology wards are that end of the hospital. However, there is some sort of sick and obsence joke going on. The staff/patiant smoking bus shelter is next to the Oncology centre, you have to get out your car run the gaunlett of staff and people attached to machines, having a swift fag. For someone who has oral cancer which may have been caused by passive smoking you can imagine my anger at having to run the gauntlett of smokers positioned such a short distance away from the Oncology centre, how sick is that!

Enough of soap boxes, time to get my application in to Ocean finance!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Day 57 - Under promise and over deliver

Managing people’s expectations in life is always very difficult, managing your children’s expectations and failing to deliver them is even harder. And fail to deliver your own, you have lost it.

I have the adage in life “under promise and over deliver" it will be there in three days time, get it there next day and people feel you have over delivered. It becomes of being a World guru in delivery of customer services. I can say that as I spoke at the African Call Centre Conference!

Anyway the gist of managing expectations will become apparent throughout this post.

I woke up feeling very drained, throat on fire, and mouth very dry, tongue very painful, it is white and feels that someone has slit it. I thought long and hard and called Sarah to ask her to drop William over so that I could take him out in the “Black Pig” the weather was good, tides rights and no swell. I prepared everything hitched up the boat and will always remember the look on his little face. On his arrival I told him the good news got his wetsuit out and we got changed.

The trip to the launch ramp is less than 100 metres in the car, the car is needed to move the trolley up/down the ramp, the launch went well and the boat was in deep enough to get the engine going. I will cut a long story short the engine failed to start, we were drifting around the harbour without power and I was exhausted trying to pull the start cord. Alas it brings the worst out in me, not only do I shout at the “Today” programme I also manage to shout at broken down mechanical equipment. In the past I have been known to kick cars, camper vans and computers in a compassionate way in an attempt to encourage the machine to start.

The long and short of it was a crying lad and early back to port! It was hard to assess who was most disappointed as I think WG (William) derived more fun from hosing down the boat and making soup for our tea, (solid foods are now out) than the whole boaty experience. Perhaps it was his dad who was more disappointed?

I came back exhausted but able to make the first soup of new range of “Goodie Soups” with my son, which in essence was a rewarding experience, it was carrot, cumin, parsley and garlic and to be frank it was awesome, even I was able to taste it, and WG scoffed the lot. We talked about going into business together making soup and I think a new enterprise was born.

Minding children, however how well behaved is hard work, the great conversation and fantastic questions they come out with took its toll by 6pm and the tiredness set in. I was unable to have conservation as it hurt and my mouth and I was happy to see his mum. I was aware that I was caught by my daughter in pain after taking some mouthwash. There was a moment we both looked at each other, the look I remember when I first saw my own father in pain. She is only 4 but I have tried to protect her from pain, but my mouth was very sore and I did not realise she was there.

Whatever happens to me in life my children will come first, and my time with them is at a premium.

I have made a major life decision tonight, but will keep you on edge until tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Day 56 - Ok lets get a few things straight


It is now time to be upfront with you.

My mouth is getting sore, very dry, my tounge is shrinking, getting white, and its horrible. My throat is starting to get sore. Talking is difficult as my tounge lacks the dextrity to speak at times.

I have 26 more doses of radiotheraphy and 2 more chemo sessions.

It will get worse from here on in, although I have drugs they can only give cosmetic relief. I will be lucky to still be on solid foods by this time next week. Speech will be near impossible.

So I must now warn you it is the next 3 weeks in which I need help, that includes making food, blending, helping, encouragement and serious help. If wish to stay then as I have plenty of room you will be welcome. I need your help you asked me to ask I am now going to ask!

I must warn you it will not be a bag of laughs but it will help me. I will moan, I will not seem to want to talk to you, laugh at your jokes, and say things you think are harsh. However, just forget it trying to rationlise anything from now on is pointless.

Blunt and too the point but I needed to warn you it is going to get hard!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Day 55 - The Lord Mayor's escort

Small things please me these days in particular my call to Civic duty. I have at last met my life ambition to mix with the true leaders of our Country. I am to be the Deputy Lord Mayor of Exeter companion, do not laugh but the real title is "escort" well I have to do something when this is all over! Yes I can hear you say he is making this one up. Well folks I am polishing my shoes, getting my hair permed because I am in the Rolls.

I had the call yesterday from councilor Stella Brock, married to councilor Philip Brock, he of last Lib Dem County councilor to openly hug me in his health food shop in St Leonards. Now those who are aware I tend to be well suited to these occasions, mainly due to my good looks, bags of charm and past employment, in fact still have my station managers bowler hat from days when we had to escort minor Royals from railway stations when they were due to visit local cheese factories or bull sperm banks. Stella is currently Deputy Lord Mayor of Exeter and both her and Phil have been very supportive friends. Phil as well as running his shop is also on every committee in Devon and in charge of all DCC footpaths, zzzzzzzz, the leader of the council must really like him. Stella had an engagement which Phil was unable to make and as a result requested the services of "Goodie escorts"

Now there is one down side, the mayoral car is not longer a Rolls but a stretched Rover 75, with an extremely fussy driver(see yesterdays post) well I can do Rover!
Now the task or gig I have been engaged on is not an onerous one, but in fact quite a pleasant one, attending the lunch of the Wonford pensioners who are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of the 2nd World War, as we know from earlier posting a cause very close to my heart.

I was absolutely stunned when she asked me, in fact stopped the car and smiled because a small thing meant an awful lot to me, for the first time in my life I felt wanted, and at the moment small things are proving massive boosts. I absolutely love the City of Exeter, it has so much history and importance to me and my life and to be part of its history, even for a tiny moment will mean so much. Lets hope the punters do not ask for extras! With my tummy they might get more than bargained for!

Apart from polishing shoes and shining medals yesterday was quite a bland day, as noted it is the danger period and avoiding people is something I would certainly win a Gold medal in at the Olympics, in fact I could the next Steve Redgrave, or even Vanessa Redgrave if the mayoral thing goes ok :) I went shopping and bought a new TV and DVD player for my office and cat repellent!

I can hear the cogs working in your brain as I speak, yes cat repellent. I have a few issues, well in fact loads of issues with a "tom cat" who keeps on weeing on my door. Now I have someone I know who is related to my children who used to kidnap cats that "crapped" in his garden and take them for a drive, about 20 miles drive and leave the door open then drive off. Now he will remain nameless but I thought that extreme, well mainly because it is a waste of diesel, and the cat may try and make up during its journey to its new home, or alternatively just piss on you to get his own back on you.

I tried all methods, talking to the cat, talking to its owner who looks at your blankly and thinks "his he speaking Polish" I tried disinfectant and bleach, on the area not the cat, and even thought of Orpahs, (her of Ms Kenton 1999 retired fame) idea to sit there all night with water pistols! Now having just thought about that one I would suggest that may come in useful when I want to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

I thought of the Starcross Cat hounds, but then realised organic cat pee is the answer. I visited Exeter's answer to pet retail therapy "Pets at Home" and after some deliberation with an enthused young lady who was too busy texting her boyfriend to display any interest in my feline search and destroy mission. I returned to the cash desk, now "pets at homes" has a cash machine within its walls, commonly known as a vets practice. As I was standing to pay I heard a beaming vet say to a semi retired Rover 75 types, "Well we have some new products which all the staff are really excited about" Now forgive me but if you are educated as most vets tend to me these days, attractive and good with furry animals there must be something more exciting in your life than the new products for Bonzo's worms! It is worst now but I always needed the last word! I chipped in and said the Rover 75 couple: "What she really means is that they are excited about the larger profit margin she can now make"

They nodded saying something like " Was he Polish" and I left the store in search of cats!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Day 54 - The screaming car wash

Picture the scene, hot dusty day, just returning home from having my head microwaved, car all dusty like it had been driving across the plains of Arizona, and the garage with the mechanical car wash.

Yesterday was start of danger week, no not the 1st week of the School holidays when sloshed academics take off for the sun, sangria and sunburn, the start of my period of confinement from illnesses and people. I stood in the queue to purchase the papers and obtain the token which would give me 5 minutes of visual pleasure in what was a genuinely dull day. The guy behind me sneezed for some reason I moved sideways and stared at him, if my eyes were lasers he would of been struck down in an instant and ended up in a packet of space dust. In purchasing the token you have to feel sorry for people who work in petrol stations, low wages, crap conditions, angry punters and the occasional robbery, bit like most jobs really.

The car wash at Countess Wear garage hides round the back, when I pulled up I noticed the car that was first in the wash when I pulled up. Now cars are just not my thing, vintage cars and VWs well lets talk baby. I take great pride in annoying my "Mr Fussy" car types, you know the ones every Sunday morning go out and clean the car, god if they were any good they would be in bed making love with their partners rather than cleaning that gleaming Rover 75. This country is obsessed with status through motor vehicles, why they are only a means of getting from A to B and if people think you are cool because you spend 25000 pounds on the a car which you can buy a similar model for, listen to me its a no brainer, bank the 19000 quid, go buy a place in Tunisia, in fact a town in Tunisia and look uncool for the 30 minutes of the day you are in your car and smile! Does your partner wash the car on Sundays? I have often wondered if their sex life is as clockwork?

I sat in the queue of one and glimpsed up 2 minutes later to see the original car still in the wash. I carried on reading the form for the "Yorkshire lasses from call centre day out piss up handicap sprint" at Beverley that afternoon and then heard a cry "help me" I looked up but saw nothing, again came the cry "help me" I looked again and saw nothing. It was clear the car wash was talking to me. The bloody car wash was talking to me. I tried to think what drugs I took when I got up to allow me to hallucinate is such a way. I heard a scream then "help me" and more screams, but could not see anything but the bloody carwash was definately speaking to me. I knew I had lost it, I thought about going back to the desk and saying to harrassed looking girl "excuse me the car wash is screaming at me, help me...I think you should call for the car wash police as you are being cruel to it" I looked up and glimpsed Laura Ashely. Not the horrid floral icon herself, but some late 1980s outfit that had either come from a charity shop or remained in the wardrobe since then, god think of her undies box if the latter is the case. She looked like that picture of Diana, when the sun was behind her and we could see her form, but this version was wet and to be frank a right nag. No seriously this floral tribute now a bit soggy was waving at me from the car wash, the doors kept on opening and closing like a swiss cuckoo clock that had gone wrong, but the annoying little bird was replaced by Laura screaming yelp! Yes inside the car wash and shouting help! In fact screaming help between that and closing the doors.

I was parked next to the emergency button, well stopping the car wash was the obvious thing, but a full risk assessment was required, are there any bugs in there? is she armed? would she want the kiss of life? is she my type? oh and its hot outside my car?, she screamed again I got angry "Stop shouting I am thinking I replied" I knew I should have pressed the red button, but it was too tempting to watch, bit like fox hunting we know its wrong but people still do it. This was definately sport and all for £2.99.

She screamed, no shrieked, however this time I was angry "Stop shouting at me you stupid cow and wait I am planning" If she knew I was planning my punt for the afternoon rather than saving her dress then I suspect a court appearence would of been on the cards. I assessed the risk of pressing the button and thought it too much and went back to reading the papers whilst Laura was trapped in her metal box. Reality set in, ok mate you had your fun this woman could die, well get wetter anyway, I then banged the red button and the car wash stopped, ordeal over, not quite, for some strange reason I went in and told the cash desk girl what had happened. She looked at me is a dissapointed look, are you not going to invite me out or rob me and said I will give you, your money back,

Laura was still trapped in the wash! I had left her stuck in the car wash whilst I went to get me three quid. I shouted for her to reverese which she did with suprising speed as I cruised off think about Earl Grey tea and Thora.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Day 53 Medical update - DANGER

My life is beginning to mirror an Alan Bennett comedy but without the Earl Grey and Thora. There was a fantastic event that occurred today at the car wash which would of only come out of a Bennett play, but will save that one for the early post tomorrow.

Talking of which I have not had any post for two days has my postwoman died, or is she busily censoring everyone's mail to ensure that the village does not launch a granny strike against Charity shops. I rarely get interesting mail, but being at home you realise that the Observer still has adverts where you can ring and get a leaflet, normally on piles, weight reduction, viagra and stanna stair lifts, see back to Thora!

Anyway as you can see by the tone of my postings, the chemo issues have calmed down, Teignbridge Council and the Environment Agency has closed their floodwatch helplines and the flood gates leading onto the Exe has been released pending 14 days today. I have managed to tuck away like a little hamster a feast of "baddies" today, however crap my scales my weight loss is between 6/7 kgs, 14 pounds in a week. Now I must tell you on Consultants, Doctors, Nurses, Porters, and Peter in the post office I was told pack it boy because you will need it when the chemo and radiotherapy comes.

On a serious note I cannot afford to lose this amount of weight that quickly for the remainder of the chemo sessions. My long distance running days only 7 months hence tell me to carbo and protein load. I have been eating like that hamster ready for hibernation, in addition lucozade various drink supplements for energy, carbs and of course fluid and sulphates have been important. There is however a huge concern.

The radiotherapy has today for the first time started to affect the amount of saliva that enters my mouth, as a result my tongue, lips and mouth are very dry and hourly mouth wash, gargles and liquids of various forms are trying to keep things ok in there. I am ok at the moment in terms of having a sore throat and the ability to swallow, it is coming I can feel it, my fingers are crossed they will not cross with the next chemo days.

The radiotherapy(RT)is burning skin but there is some relief not only in cream, but in my body. When the Surgery was undertaken I knew I would lose feeling in parts of my left neck/ear/lobe area the area where treatment is being directed towards. This was a mixture between temporary loss and permanent loss of feeling. It is clear that despite the heat of the radiotherapy I cannot feel most of it because I have yet to regain nerve endings in that area. I currently have three zaps of RT, lower left neck, 45 degrees, then vertical into the tonsil area. I am almost sure these reduce to 2 soon, then one, but will find out on Friday when I have my first consultants update.

You can see mentally I am very "tiggerish" rather than last week great impression of "eyeore" My treatment is a three phased approach and in terms of treatment I only have 26 more days left, so on the scale of things, I am more than two thirds through my treatment already with some hard stuff to come I can smile and say nearly there.

It is my danger zone for infection 7-10 days after chemo so I have decided to live on the Black Pig, in the middle of the Exe with a 10 metre exclusion zone and small troop of marines to repel boarders. I have to be extra careful about things, avoiding large crowds, kissing babies, having sex with Doctor Chemo(sorry) as if you could even get a bloody erection, and generally steer away from generally unhealthy people. Kinda difficult where I live as the local beach on Sunday was swarming with people with brummie accents, short term life span issues due to obesity issues and dodgey body paintings that look like they were applied by a drunk artist needling the punter whilst sitting on a unicycle coming back on booze cruise from Calais! So sorry guys no snogging!

Anyway enough of this bollocks I am off to bed. Hope you are all well, keep attacking N x

PS: If there is someone in your life you detest, get even and ring up for all those leaflets and brochures in the back of the Observer and get them on the mailing list, they will have junk mails for decades :)

Day 53 - God is with me, well Mrs Doyle

As the chemo sickness recedes and just leaves the metal of the toxin in my taste I am able to get back to some semblance of normality. The radiation theraphy has taken it its toll today left me very burnt and lop sided through the muscles stiffening in my surgery hacked shoulder. Mundane tasks must go on and these tasks include selecting a new Mrs Doyle, those who do not know the term Mrs Doyle, she is the cleaning and woman that does, and the rock of Craggy Island parochial house and latterly looked after Father Ted, Jack and Dougal.

I spotted an advert in my local shop last week, "Olives cleaning service" Now Olive gave me ideas of a rather round youngish lady, smoking fags and married to Arthur who had a motorcycle and side car in on the buses. I called the cleaning service hotline only to be greeted by a younger well spoken woman, who took a message for Olive. I was lying in the bath this morning, be moaning Mrs Doyle and the uselessness of placing adverts in local shops. I had previously tried to buy an outboard motor once and kept ringing the guy to buy it but he kept on cancelling the appointment to purchase. He is still is advertising now! Perhaps its a Starcross sport? Cutting the long story short! I am not sure the man has grasped the concept of retailing or just obtains sexual gratification by listening to advertisers phone calls? You know a phone pervert, heavy breather type, now that is so 1970s!

Olive called just seconds after getting out of the bath and divine intervention was at hand.

I agreed to meet Olive at 2pm at home to inspect, put on her rubber gloves and charge me the earth. Olive was not what I expected, slight, young, plain and a sort of Mary Ingles for those who remember Little House on the prairie, or a character out of the Village film. I introduced Olive to the house, bugs, my rope collection, dirt and crappy moments of my life and we sat down to discuss terms, references and cash!

It was then I realised she had a destiny to save me. So tell me Olive what do you do for a living, well I work in Boots part time, the rest of the time I clean peoples houses and I work for GOD!

Now those who know me and previous postings, my biggest fear during illness was being saved by God. However, being the liberal I am, I asked how do you help GOD thinking this is a wind up, I was then treated to the double whammy " Well I help people understand the bible, as I am a Jevoahs Witness"

Well OLD MAN lets see how GOD can use a vacuum cleaner, because there is bugger all in my life to thank him for, and the events of last week he owes the World a few pints!

Get your elbow grease out LORD you are now my servant and pass the fags, booze and playboys

Monday, July 11, 2005

Day 52 - 30 degrees in the shade!

Readers it will be 30 degrees in the shade today here in Devon, normally fit and well if not working I would have got the black pig out and annoyed sailors, in fact if I can persuade Ron to help me launch her later on in the week that could be fun! I have always held true do not get mad get even! There is one sailor whose wash wave will be like a tidal wave!

However, the sun is as it's hottest this time of year. I retreated in doors most of yesterday as the effect of sunburn and real radiation are not 2 mixtures recommended in the cancer recovery text books, there are some interesting ones including a healthy normal sexlife, well if you have have a nil starting base I can call that is the norm. Although the cancer support advice on "sex and sexuality" as the medical professionals call it trying to play the whole event up like a Jane Mansfield novel is extremely interesting concept, sex advice that is, not a Jane Mansfield read.

The side effects of chemo are well listed:

Side effects from cisplatin are common and include:

thinned or brittle hair
loss of appetite or weight
nausea and vomiting
changes in taste
numbness or tingling in the fingertips and toes
unusual bruising or bleeding
black, tarry stools
dizziness or feeling of faintness
pain in your side or back
shortness of breath or wheezing
swelling of the feet or ankles

Now lets face it with the whole loads of events going on in your body do you really want to be worrying about satisfying a sexual desire. Now where do these guys come from "during cancer treatment you should be able to indulge in a normal sexual relationship with your partner" Who is he kidding, that advice came from an American website "Doctor Chemo" I would not trust my fish with him let alone my sex life, well after all he is not my type. Can you picture the scene your partner drinking champagne and strawberries, you lying on the bed suffering from one of the many romantic side effects of chemo listed above! In fact I think you would need the Mansfield costume drama just to protect you from the whole process, I could not think of anything worse, and the thought of 5 scantily clad erotic dancers in front of me at the moment would at least create a draft to keep me cool and little to provide "sex and sexuality" what a bloody daft bit of advice.

Look lets face it, forget your sexlife, because not only do you have to deal with the effects listed above during a moment of passionate but 7 days after chemo you have to immerse yourself in a tank filled with disinfectant for at least 3 days to avoid infection.

The afternoon wore on, as I checked my Victor Meldrew expression.

I sat and watched the memorial and commemoration of the 2nd World War. Those who know me my historical life has been interested around the reasons for war and normally their appalling consequences, those which we have seen in the World in recent years. I always feel moved by watching the nostalgia and courage of people, my own father joined the Royal Navy in 1943 at the age of 15 and saw active service. For those of us with children the thought of a 15 year old being sent to war on a ship which did see battle and death can only be described as barbaric. My father like many old veterans very rarely spoke about the war, until the end of his life and then it was quiet, tearful and methodical, what this brave young man went through, he like my mother a young woman growing up in bomb torn Sheffield endured daily meetings with death and told horrific stories of bombs falling. These were just children, no cross word to bear, but carried the emotional scars with them for the rest of their life through post traumatic stress which was seen as a weakness then not as an illness as it is now.

The secret in life is look into someone's eyes and they will tell you the truth, forget what they are saying look into their eyes and you will find their soul, their thoughts, the horror. I remember watching "band of brothers" the TV film series made about Easy or E company, paratroopers of the 506th P.I.R., USAF 101st Airborne Division who on the 5th June 1944 set off from Upottery Airfield in Devon to be the 1st troops in Normandy on D Day. The series showed real E company survivors 60 years on, their eyes tinged with sadness, the tears rolling down their eyes and they told their stories. The series followed them through Europe until 1946. It was clear that these young men were terrified of reliving their horrific experiences. They had the fear 60 years on as my father did of those horrific times.

What many fail to realise the 2nd World War was more brutal and cost more lives than the 1st World War. I think out of easy company only 10 out of 120 saw the end of the war. Think on that thought.

One of the most poignant and moving things I have done in my life is visit the prison camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1993. The iron curtain had just fallen and Poland was a real country, a free country, very improverished as it still is, but beautiful. There are 2 sites in the town, the 1st the rather cramped prison camp of Auschwitz which you can see the horror of prison unfold. The most moving moment walking in and seeing a huge room, and I mean huge filled with a glass wall and behind it children's clothes and shoes! It was clear that the camp was not big enough to do the job so the Germans constructed a new camp a mile away at Birkenau 1 mile away. You approach the camp on foot, you see a huge railway siding, then the gates that we all saw in Schindlers list. The fear and sense of awe that grips you is amazing, however, the one thing I will take my children to see and insist on they are aware of mankinds inhumanity to each other, is the worn concrete steps down to the now blown up gas chambers, not worn down by pilgrims, but the people who were herded into those chambers 60 years ago!

I think you may have gathered I am charting a new course for myself, my illness has made me think that life is too short. In my case it maybe, but after the crap of the 7 days I sincerely hope not! I do not give up that easily! Combined with yesterday I watch David Dimbleys final episode of "Landscape Britain" whilst the I got the impression it was made for people who have never travelled further south than Stockwell on the Northern Line it gave me the boost I needed to say get out and see this country.

So my visit list is increasing primarily to deliver a life which I can write and photograph candidly about the World we live in. I am mildly dyslexic, but if Bill Bryson can sell a few hardbacks I am sure I can, after all I am better looking than him, surely!

I leave you with two thoughts today, Max Hastings comment during yesterdays fly by the palace, not a man I would normally agree with, but his comments made me think.

"Mankind does not have a good record in looking after its youth, alas is has a record for using youth and sending them to war"

A final thought I will always remember the night my father told me when his ship(HMS Empire Spearhead) was sent to pick up hundreds of USA marines in 1944 in the USA, they became his friends, and remained until the morning he and his colleagues put them ashore on a Pacific island as an invasion force, as they steamed away and watched the horror of the invasion I could see that in my fathers 16 year old eyes his life was changed for ever. I do miss him x

Keep attacking N x

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Day 51 - Happy Birthday Princess

Today was my daughters 4th birthday party and it certainly was a good little party my involvement was once again limited to the photography department but that enabled me to stay sat down and chilled whilst Sarah and friends keep the children at bay.

It was exceedingly hot but the venue was chilled. I have been very very tired ever since yesterday morning, my stomach ached through the wretching and my kidneys hurt. I was able to find a new balanced re-hydration drink which not only put isotonic quality back into my body but also fluids. I was also able to take my first hot meal yesterday which has continued today as my tastes and my stomach returns to something like 10% normality.

I managed to spend the remainder of yesterday around family and friends and yes a few private tears were shed. I have realised that the support, joy and love my friends give me are vital to my long term good will, however today despite the crippling tiredness I was able to realise that family life is the success to my well being and surrounding myself with those who love me is the key to long term health. It has only taken me 41 years to work this out!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

DAY 50 - Leave me alone

I saw my 50th day in until 7.00am, I tried to get to sleep at about 11pm the night before but felt something was quite not right. I was aware of a migraine type pain in the top of my head and it was throbbing, and still is.

The next 8 hours proved my instincts right, not wishing to go into too much graphic detail but I was violently sick for the next 8 hours, nothing to extract but the wretching wracked my already weak body to an extent that I have only just got up.

I decided to have a bath at 3am just to try and relax me but ended up writhing on the floor screaming "leave me alone, leave me alone" to an imaginary demon inside my body and head. The extraction material can only be described as a horror film and very unpleasant.

There was a time during the night that I wished I was dead, or asleep for ever, I held a towel, like a child holds a comfort blanket to help me get to sleep. The pain and fear inside me was overwhelming.

I think there is a lot of pressure on me at the moment, eat that, drink this, do that, and mentally I am not strong enough to balance them all up and live for today. You see I need to be able to get through today, eat and drink enough for today and tomorrow is another day, so I need to put less stress on the future and deal with today.

I have had a message that my Uncle Ken, in Leeds has died this morning, a sound bloke, with a big heart and my mums older brother. I feel sad for his family, but know haow hard he fought illness, and strength to me in the 5 weeks left of treatment.

Keep attacking N x

Friday, July 08, 2005

Day 49 - Honest it was a Friday

I think I have lost the plot with my numbers but it is 7 weeks today I was told I had cancer and look what has happened.

This is a mega short posting, as although it is only 5pm my bed beckons. My neck is burning and one of the wounds of the surgery looks like it is blistering, I am creaming it 3/4 times a day but will be lucky to get away without serious side effects.

I have managed to eat today, and the tummy is settling down.

Quality of life today feels about 1 out of 10, the black pig is home after her service and that went very well, but the engergy to put her in the water is another matter.

I am trying to be positive today and one of the blessings is my own bed beckons.

KA! N x

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Day 46 - Carpe Diem

I have been watching the news today and feel very sureal.

I was at Victoria Station as a lowley station manager on Feb 18th 1991 when the IRA tried to kill me and fellow passengers. Alas, the bomb they left was in a bin which one of my fellow managers Andy Brunger suggested they should be removed for security reasons but his suggestion was turned down! One guy from Thornton Heath lost his life.

Life goes on, whilst people were fighting for their life across London I was doing the same in a small radiotheraphy room in the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

It is a strange feeling you feel very sad for those affected, killed and their loved ones, but then very selfish as well by saying I have a chance they did not. I will not waste that chance I have been given, but hopefully you will see how short life is "carpe diem" I think Walt Whitman sums my thoughts up.

O me! O life!

O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring.
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish.
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd.
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring -- What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer That you are here--that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.


Day 46 - Selling Hurdle

Can you believe that one member of my family actually thought I was entered in the following:

I can look on the positive side, the boat now called "The Black Pig" gets its first run out on Saturday and I go to Worcester on Sunday and enter a 2 mile 5 furlong selling hurdle race!

Quote: You sure hes fit enough! No Ron few more days on the gallops and who knows !

Day 46 - PERNOD Moments

Well this is an early post as I manage to survive the night, without trauma caused by sickness.

I think I am pregnant, well I have the same feeling as all the girls tell me that you feel when you are pregnant, you desperately want to sick but cannot be. Well last night I had what I call a PERNOD experience, I went to the kitchen and started preparing food and even the smell of something innocent as a cheese roll made be want to be violenty sick. It is in the book and despite the anti sickness I did manage one session of a PERNOD moment. The PERNOD moment was a rather silly night I had 18 when as a college student I thought it was cool to drink PERNOD neat. I spent virtually all evening trying to rid that horrible stuff from my body and the feeling is just the same.

I did have a medical emergency to deal with last night which did tax my brain and one of my poor fish, the one the kids call NEMO,(there is a suprise)who failed to realise he had become too fat for the ornamental castle in my tank, and was stuck. The resultant effect was that he had become bloated through swimbladder doubled in size and unable to get air, so only matter of time before he would survive. No amount of prodding, swearing, coaching, force feeding would get him to back out of the hole it had become stuck in. You can imagine the scene, just got up feeling very sleepy and having to deal with this medical emergency. My resident fish expert "Lord Mitchell" was too busy having a fun time(axoymoron) at his Lib Dem group meeting, so I decided to cut said plastic castle in half. The only problem would of been I needed to take the castle out of the water, put in water at the same temperature and attempt to cut the plastic in a bowl, minding I do not kill the fish. Of course the difficulty you could imagine was if it did die replacing the fish without being caught because you killed. There would be horror. The kids chose the funky little castle when they bought said stripey, only one like it in the World fish I would be in for huge tears if he was suddenly replaced with a look a like, with one stripe or ounce of weight out of place. Those aware of my DIY skills would of been aware that the fish at this point should of been read the last rights and following the PERNOD moment down the loo. I astounded myself I was able gently to coax it back out one window, then blocking that off, then off, using my fingers force the little bugger out of the plastic castle into the tank, without loss of life to him and limb to me! I can assure you that "Nemo" is fine today, I would say suffering from a little swimbladder but alive and most proberly feeling a lot better than me :)

There is one benefit of the Chemo that is it makes your drowsy and snoozy, that was an art I had lost, but now its is great I can sleep anywhere and certainly open to offers :)

I want to thank loads of you for your messages of support over the past few days I have been in tears of joy reading them. I would like to say thank you to Mark, my nephew for his kind words of inspiration and his recent promotion to Sgt in the RAF, we have never been the tightest of family units but my illness has shown how important we remain as one and I will build those bridges that may have been burnt down. A second big hello to Big John Thompson, not because he is big but I think there was a little John Thompson. I have not spoken to him for 10 years and all of sudden an email pops up and says hi, so best wishes and love to him, Shirley and Ellie.

See life in adversity has its positive sides your emails make me cry. I do cry when you support me, you have enabled me to start to trust people and come out of this protective shell thank you to my many friends.

Must go off to the hospital again, oh I cannot wait for my daily microwaves!

Keep attacking Nigel x

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Day 43/44/45 - Radiation and Chemo begins


I spent all day in fear of my visit to Yeo ward, not in fear of the ward by fear of returning to the hospital that caused me pain. I bare the hospital no ill will but my mind associates it with the neck dissection and the removal of the tonsil and wisdom tooth. I told you my fears were irrational but unless you have been in this position it must be difficult to understand.

I am very disappointed because I did not have a room and bed with a view of the pool equipped with a mini-bar. How bloody pointless it is to have a mate on the inside, young Kevin “I fell over and fractured my hand” if you cannot secure a room with a mini-bar and a view of the pool. He is a councillor after all what chance have you got of getting your pavement fixed! Rant over!

The 24 I will be here has quickly extended to 48 hours, as I now know, I was warned that the whole process tomorrow would take 20 hours, and whilst I am at it a huge does of radiotherapy in the middle.

I had my first dose of radiotherapy today quite frankly a horrific experience. The session did not start well as I was due to have the 1650 session, which with the lights being turned off and most of the staff leaving it was clear I was the on the graveyard shift! I wonder where that expression comes from I suspect it relates to some historical event of the past when gravediggers were required to work three shifts.

The skeleton staff (I know its awful) spent ages setting me up. I was led to believe that the set up stages had taken place, but no, more staging and photographs took place, which meant not only was my neck bent back in the near impossible position but I was also subjected to 20 minutes in the mask. I took away lots of suggestions from my friends about what to think about in the mask, but alas it was no good. The fear that grips you not from the mask but from being out of control is very scary. I found my mask a tomb, and all those thoughts including Miss Whiplash, no matter how pleasant in normal circumstances were far from mind.

The radiation is shot at you through a very large x-ray machine, which direct beams to your body around the mask, these areas established by the intensive planning and the consultants experience. I have to have three blasts of radiation per session, the machine and table moves you around with the precision of ballroom dancers and positions you ready for your next dose. I felt the radiation rays as the machine switched on and sent the zap into my body. I was aware that the machine was doing its job, the hair on my arms and legs stood out and flattened when the beam was over. The mask was trapping my neck, and I could feel the throbbing of my veins against my mask, at one point I thought the rays were burning the mask and melting it with the rays as I could feel it rise and fall. The thoughts that rushed through my mind were more based upon if it is doing that to my mask what is it doing to my skin. I was quickly able to establish that the mask was not burning and although painless I was racked with fear.

The ward has some friendly faces, Kevin for obviously reasons and young Jody, remember her from Otter ward that showed me such compassion on the second day after my operation. She has finally secured a job on Abbey ward, and can assure you the patients of Abbey ward will be very lucky to have an amazingly caring person working for them.

I was very glad to see my dear pal O managed to struggle in through the tidal wave and snow from Exminster to present me strawberries and cream. I came back to the ward very shell shocked and dazed, in fact so much so I had a Delia moment, I wanted to go home, I was told my treat will start at midnight which means I will be lucky to have it finished by 2200 hours tomorrow night. This threw me meaning one more night in hospital.

The radiotherapy made me dizzy and made my jaw ache, in fact I was concerned that my teeth that had fillings in had become irradiated and had this vision of me walking around with a green shiny mouth.

It is getting late but I better have some sleep and prepare for the main feature which is the midnight appointment with drip, once again my body will have pain inflected on it, I can wait!

There was a very interesting Delia moment I thought for one moment I would never see my children, Kevin once again came to the rescue even calling the ward I am sure as a threat for me to behave and be sensible. I can honestly say I felt at my lowest just before the treatment started.

The reason was simple I had a great day with the children on Sunday and it was clear that I wanted that to continue for ever, I have so much to do in life and maybe a dad again and I was about to lose the chance. In addition, surgery has tangible results, an extracted wisdom tooth, a removed tonsil or a neck dissection. Radiotherapy and Chemo gives you no immediate tangible benefits in fact dis-benefits in terms of the wellbeing and pain factor. I am aware that the whole process ensures long-term benefits but they are a long way from reality at the current time.


It is midnight and the canella is in and Sophie kicks off the marathon session which will last 20 plus hours, for the next 6 hours it will be fluids to hydrate me, then a solution that will protect the lining of the bladder, on each occasion a small wash of sodium takes place in between. After the marathon session of hydration comes the anti sickness drugs.

I did not sleep well on one side I had the canella attached to my new friend the Graseby 500 modular infusion pump, from now on called Mr Arsey to keep things cultured like. The other my shoulder and neck which had once again been contorted backwards by yesterdays “radiotherapy sessions.

The chemotherapy drug cisplatin has a side effect of making you very sick, so hopefully the anti drug will work. It was about 6 am when the real pain of the event kicked in. The bladder-lining drug was ice cold, and for 45 mins the pain got slowly worse. As the ice feeling went up my arm it froze, I thought the canella was blocked because I had this pain before back in Otter ward. My fear was just as the prelim stuff had been concluded my vein was clogged. I waited until I could bear no more pain then pressed the bell I have still not leant not to be too blokie about pain, I pressed the bell and was relieved to see Sophie. I was introduced to another friend, whom I affectionately called the sheep; the aim of my new friend is too provide heat to an affected area. The temperature of the drugs being passed into my body are refrigerated and the reason my arm had became painful was that is was being nicely chilled by the drugs. I felt my lower right arm go numb as the pain grew intense a combination between searing heat and cold. I thought we had to replace the canella but Sophie to rescue with the “sheep” an electronic hot water blanket that saved the day; the sheep and myself had a meaningful relationship for most of the day.

It took nearly 9 hours to get the chemo started; from midnight I had the pre-fluids into me. The next stage was the chemo delivered by the acting ward manager in a blue smock that would not look out of place at a Freemasons meeting and the chemo is wrapped in blue bags concealing the fluid bags of cisplatin. The next 4 hours two bags of these toxic lifesavers drips into my body. The whole process of chemo infusion was over by 1300 but I still had another 9 hours of fluids which meant that at 2235, 22 hours and 35 minutes after the whole process commence it was over.

The process had its side effects no sooner were the fluid bottles removed then the sickness sets it, it’s a wretching without the sickness, a feeling of nausea and migraines hit straight away and remained with me.

During the day I had to attend my 2nd radiation session and already it is proving hard work, mainly because of the position you have to assume but also the feeling the therapy gives you. I was acutely aware that radiation does affect you whilst on the table. You feel your hairs stand up on end but for the first time I could feel the heat on the back on throat and the burning starting. My mouth has already lost the saliva
And the glands are clearly starting to become affected.

I had to be taken back to the ward, as the walk of just 100 metres was too much.


I slept relatively well more to do with the “happy” sleeping pills but only to awoken by a fellow residents pump and an age to replace the bag which meant all the punters were woken up!

Today I feel tired, and sick today as well as very emotional and to be frank “fucked” I was offered the PEG feeding tube today which is inserted into you stomach and you get fed by a tube, because in three weeks the medics think I will be unable to eat properly.

I was fortunate enough to have done enough research to know that only if it absolutely necessary and blending, complan and smoothing fails will I resort to the PEG. If is the first time I have said no to my medical experts I can go back and say yes please in the future, but it is my body and I know my strengths, that could all change in the next few weeks.

I am at home thank you for your lovely messages and will be in touch with you very soon, please forgive me if you cannot get through to me, if the phone diverts I am likely to be snoozing so do not get upset.

It is only 4pm but feel a snooze in my own bed, before I am ill again is most overdue!

Best wishes keep attacking Nigel x