Liam is mended enough to return to work (at a doctor’s surgery, ironically). Broken ribs are a nasty business and it’ll be months before he’s fully repaired. In the meantime, he’s popping the pills to get him through the day (and particularly the night). It reminds me that, during our midriff years, we need to do what we can to keep ourselves match fit for the future. No one wants poor health to spoil their twilight years. At my annual MOT last year, the quack told me to watch my glucose levels or I’d be on the road to diabetes town. This stark warning spurred me on to move more and eat (and drink) less. Twelve months on, I’ve dropped over a stone and my glucose levels are almost back to within normal range. So it’s a little less sugar and spice and everything nice – except for Christmas, of course, when all bets are off.
On Christmas Eve my thumb began to ache and throb. I drank through the pain. By the Feast of Stephen, it resembled a medieval pox. The image doesn’t really do justice to the horror of it all. Though angry and weepy, it hardly seemed serious enough for a mercy dash to A&E: the busy medics have quite enough to do over the festive period without me pitching up with a silly sore thumb. So what’s a boy with a pussy digit to do? Well, a call to our local surgery the next day provided the answer.
“The nurse can see you later today,”
said the helpful receptionist.
“Nasty infection. A few pills will soon sort that out,”
said the lovely nurse.
“Oh, and it might burst in the meantime,”
And so it did. I took the pills and drank through the pain.
I recently had a lumpy growth on my ankle. It looked exactly like the ‘wisdom’ wart I’d had on my head a few years ago. Clearly I’m getting wiser as I get wider. I had the wisdom to have that ugly bugger sliced off.
So off I went again to the doc. She said,
Looks like a wart to me but best get it checked out.
I got a call from the local hospital the next day and a few days on, I was flashing my warty ankle at the dermatology top dog. He said,
Looks like a wart to me but best get it sliced off.
A week later I was flashing my warty ankle at the dermatology underling for the slicing. She said,
‘Looks like a wart to me but best get it to the lab.’
I felt rather guilty as I hobbled aboard the bus taking me home. Not to put too finer point on it, the National Health Service is facing a number of difficult challenges right now. The care I received was fast and faultless but just a bit over the top for a simple wart. But what did I know?
Two weeks later, I received a letter.
The shave excision from your right foot showed a slow growing type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma*.
So. I’m not so wise after all. And it turns out I need a bit more dug out. At this rate I’ll be hobbling all the way back to Bodrum.
*Basal cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma type of skin cancer that rarely spreads and is easily treatable. It’s probably the result of me prancing about barefoot and barely clothed in the Far East during the sixties. Serves me right, I suppose. Had a fabulous tan though.
17 miles west of Norwich in Norfolk’s rural heartlands lies the sleepy market town of Hingham, home to just under 2,500 country cousins. Not much happens in Hingham. The sun rises, the sun sets and the seasons turn. That’s about it. The town’s main claim to fame is as the ancestral seat of two famous Yankee clans – the Lincolns (as in Abraham) and the Gilmans (as in Nicholas Gilman, signatory to the US Constitution). But that was a long, long time ago. Now, heavy-eyed Hingham has woken up to a newsflash. Nothing scandalous, you understand. If anything salacious is going on, it’s kept firmly behind the neat net curtains. It wouldn’t do to frighten the horses. No, I’m delighted to say the local doctors’ surgery has come eighth in a national poll of GP practices commissioned by NHS England. That’s 8th out of 7,709. It got the hacks from the county rag rushing in for a photo call. And, yes, that’s my Liam second from the right. He wore his best pale pink shirt for the occasion.
A round of applause, please.
The image is courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press and you can read their article here.
It’s six months since Liam went under the knife to have Terry the Tumour extracted. Troublesome Terry was a lump beneath Liam’s ear and it just kept getting bigger. The doc reckoned it was benign but might turn nasty if left undisturbed. I was getting quite attached to Terry but, just like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, Liam screamed, “get it out of me!” So out it had to come. I was hoping Terry would come home in a jam jar for a decent burial but off he went for an autopsy, never to be seen again. Still, the nice Italian neck surgeon was ‘very reassured’ by the result (that’s quack-speak for ‘we got it all out, Grazie a Dio!’).
It’s eighteen months since the arterial bypass to re-acquaint my left leg with a pulse. That worked a treat too though I won’t be tripping the light fantastic on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ any time soon. For a cheeky parlour game on a damp night, we compare gashes. Remarkably, what once looked like Liam had been garrotted is now just a neat mark along his jaw line. And he’s rather pleased with the unexpected partial facelift. As for me, I was slashed open from moobs to pubes like John Hurt in ‘Alien’ so I naturally assumed my beach bum days were behind me. But no. These days, all the boys would see is a thin, slightly discoloured line mostly hidden by tummy fuzz. Now, where did I put those Speedos?
Regular readers might remember that, last year, I had keyhole surgery when a double stent was inserted into my abdomen to deal with a narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to my legs. It was affecting my mobility and a major pain in the arse (or to be precise, the calves). Although the operation itself was successful, one of the stents failed almost immediately. This happens in about 10% of cases (trust me to be in a minority yet again). After a period of reflection and torture on a treadmill three times a week, I chose to advance to Plan B – an aorta bi-femoral graft, a more traditional way of bypassing the logjam. I went under the surgeon’s knife at the end of July.
As I was wheeled to the anaesthetist, I hummed ‘God Save the Queen.’ It seemed appropriate and helped keep my pecker up and my blood pressure down. The bypass was a major op but relatively routine and given my age and general good health, everything went like clockwork. Please give a hand to Darren Morrow, a vascular surgeon with talented hands. He stitched me up good and proper (actually he super glued me up good and proper). I was discharged a few days ago and have been recovering at home ever since. I’m sore but otherwise in fine fettle, largely thanks to the liquid morphine (highly recommended). Those familiar with Blackadder will know that every queen has a nursie and I have mine. Liam is famed throughout Christendom for his bedside manner and grape peeling. I’m a lucky boy. But at times like this I wish I had a proper job – just so I could get three months off work with full pay. I was rarely ill during my time as a municipal bean-counter. Maybe I could apply for a back-dated payment?
Regular readers will know that I’ve been under the doctor because of something called PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease). It’s caused by the thin veins I inherited from my father and a wayward lifestyle of sex, drugs and sausage rolls. The condition affects my mobility and is quite common in old farts of my age, apparently. Following the double stent to unblock my dodgy groin, my consultant (and Dr Green from ER lookelikee) decided that exercise was the best way of evading the surgeon’s knife. This was uncharted waters for me. Apart from a healthy amount of rumpy-bumpy, I’ve always taken the path of least resistance in the physical therapy stakes – buses, tubes, taxis, piggy-backs. I’m a hop on, hop off kind of guy. Ask Liam. He knows. I always figured that if God had wanted me to walk further than the pub, She would have given me more than a 27 inch inside leg. Still, to avoid going the way of my dear old Dad (who didn’t make it past 50), I took the quack’s advice and joined a city-centre gym (no sniggering at the back). It’s a low-cost 24/7 DIY affair, fit for the age of austerity. Stripped-down and ultra-modern without a fluffy robe or juice bar in sight, there are just rows and rows of hi-tech instruments of torture and wall-to-wall mirrors for watching the inquisition. Thankfully, I’m not too intimidated by half-my-age beefed up muscle marys on steroids. While they’re pumping iron on the top floor, I’m fast-walking with the girls downstairs. Life’s a catwalk and I’m back on the treadmill.