Scarred for Life

Scarred for Life

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!’).

Rosemary's Baby

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?

Jack the Lab Rat

With Norwich covered in a blanket of low grey cloud, the much anticipated solar eclipse was a bit of a damp squib – more like God just dimmed the lights than a biblical black out. Hardly a spectacle to drive the ignorant to their knees. Still, I did sense a fleeting cold snap. Spooky.

I was up and out early for my appointment at the docs that morning. Following my arterial rebore last summer, the local surgery had invited me to be poked and prodded by five pairs of second year medical students from the University of East Anglia. It was revision time, just before their exams. I was the star turn and was more than happy to do my bit for medical science. The apprentice quacks grappled with inexperience and dodgy equipment and tried to find a pulse in my right leg. It would have been easier to find El Dorado. The poor things hadn’t been told about my condition beforehand but despite the frustration and head scratching, they turned out to be a cheery and dedicated lot. I’m sure they’ll all be a great credit to public health one day.

By the time I’d left the medical centre, the clouds had been replaced by warm bright sunshine. Typical. If God wants to see me on my knees, she’ll have to do better next time.

Here’s one she made earlier…

Solar Eclipse

God Save the Queen

NNUHRegular 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.

BypassAs 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?

Back on the Treadmill

Back on the Treadmill

treadmillRegular 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.

Carry On Nurse

Carry On Nurse

IMG_20130429_105333Continued from Carry On Doctor.

The day of my arterial re-bore arrived and I packed my nightie just in case I might have to stay in overnight. With all the terrible press the NHS receives these days, I was a little concerned. Added to which, I’ve never been in hospital before so it was a uncharted territory. I needn’t have worried. The process went like clockwork. I was robed, bar-coded  and wheeled around like a kiddie on a ride at Alton Towers. Matron made me pull on a nasty pair of paper panties which were ripped off by a male nurse as soon as I was horizontal without so much as an introduction. My nether regions were painted in Domestos and deadened with a large prick. The keyhole procedure took a little under two hours and, as it was done under local anaesthetic, I was awake the whole time. The doctors poked about like a couple of boys from Dyno Rod, tracking their route in the monitor that was plugged into the enormous (and presumably very expensive) scanner. I chatted away to the delightful nurse who was charged to keep me amused and mop my sweated brow. When she asked me what I did for a living, I gave her chapter and verse about our Turkey tales and the ensuing book. The lengths I go to make a sale. It must have worked as she went away with ‘Jack Scott’ written on her arm.

Liam stayed around the whole time, peeled me grapes and provided a copy of the Independent to keep my mind off the tiny silicone plugs in my tender loins. I avoided cracking a joke just in case I popped like a Pattaya cabaret artiste. He was most attentive and I milked it for all it’s worth. After a few hours in an observation ward I was discharged, a little sore but otherwise in fine fettle.

I’m not really into the whole Turkey versus Blighty thing. Never have been, never will be. Chalk and cheese in my view.  I’m rather fond of both but for different reasons. I know people who’ve received wonderful medical care in Turkey and I know people who haven’t in Britain. All I can say is that my personal experience of the NHS has so far been exemplary. Even the receptionists were helpful. And what of the pharmacy of drugs I was prescribed by my Turkish quack? I now take aspirin a day to keep the stroke away (so no danger of erectile dysfunction for a few years yet) and a statin to control my cholesterol. As for the arterial bypass; that involves harvesting a vein from my arm. Sounds like a ghoulish Frankenstein tale and is a story for another day (unless I expire on the slab, that is).