Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I wonder if my Immune system is fighting off a bout of Flu or a cold as it isn't coming out like a normal cold or Flu. Slight sore throat, slight cough and so on. Weird.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I'm surprised that things are similar to last year and in some way to the year before in terms of outlook and wanting to move on but being unable to decide what moving on actually means. Each year has seen great strides forward and as far as I know that remains true today, if the biopsies are clear then I have been clear for over one year and in reality more like 18 months as I didn't have cancerous cells in April 2007 either. This is a massive positive - I will wait until I am told officially but unofficially (and they haven't been wrong so far) an all clear does make a big difference going forward. Will it be enough to make or even know what changes I think I need to put in place? I suppose I'll need to tackle that in the New Year.
I've been thinking a lot about the next steps and there will be a blog about it when I have completed it. I find it the most difficult thing but perhaps it is the most important too.
For example I am trying to address:
- What do you do when you get your life back?
- Where do you go from here?
- How do you live with the uncertainty that it may come back and you'll have to go through it all again?
- Do you HAVE to make a difference or can you just go back to normal?
Juggling with the various scenarios "does my head in" and so I am spending a fair bit of time trying to rationalise it out. Everything is up for review and options need to be worked through - hence it will take me a while to work through it and eventually blog about it.
The time compacts up doesn't it? I have no idea how I am going to fit all this lot in properly in the next week and a half. I'm sure I'll manage it somehow - I always do.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I want to be fit and back to normal now but the reality is, it is taking much longer than I remember or want it to be. It sort of backs up my view that two things happened here. My Consultant told me this (if clear) would be the last lot of treatment and, as I understand it, it should be the last set of biopsies taken as an operation under a general anaesthetic. She also told me that in taking biopsies, they go deeper into the Bladder Wall to make sure that things are clear. If they have thought these are going to be the last then I'm sure that they would have gone deep and also there is a possibility there are more than the standard number done if the apprentice had a go and did a partial job.
So whatever it is I've got to get on with it and recover, it is just annoying that I am not quite as well as I want to be and that I just cannot get on with stuff that needs to be completed.
I have so much to do and it is frustrating to find myself unable to do it. I know that I should be happy enough that I'm in a position to moan about it!
I fancied going out tonight but in reality I don't want to be sitting on plastic seats or walking around much as I feel worse today than I have all week. How bizarre - all catching up on me no doubt and payback isn't comfortable at all.
I'm trying to get back up to speed with my studies and the work I was doing before last week. The trouble with that is I still cannot concentrate for long - I get sleepy too and so as much as I'd like to do a blitz and catch up, I am forced to do lots of small sprints to try and get things done.
I reckoned that they were challenging and when I did get a bad one - it really was bad but that was early on when I hadn't worked out what to do. Stupid me was trying to carry on working afterwards and the next day when I should have been lying down. I didn't prepare properly and so on. Once I worked that out things got easier. To anyone who doesn't have to have these it is without doubt the most horrendous sounding treatment to have, especially how they deliver it into your bladder but, as much as you can get used to it, you come to accept it. It is, after all, saving your life and so if you look at things that way then you can deal with it.
It is a strange thing to say that it was OK for me and some people really suffer with it and take a lower dose. I've had 24 all full doses but I'm comparatively young as most people get BC when they are much older and cannot tolerate the sorts of treatments we are talking about here.
I'm just surprised that the Doctors are surprised about the way I tolerate it. I suppose they are told by many patients how bad it is.
I've kept detailed notes about the BCG treatments and the side effects and in a way looking back on them, the first two sets of treatments that were actually killing off the cancer were pretty rough and not nice but I honestly expected that I'd be lying in a heap for days, vomiting and not being able to eat and a pile of much worse stuff, I didn't expect that I'd even be able to walk properly or be up and about but I was OK after 24 hours generally. When I hear of how Chemo and Radio work I tend to think I got away lightly. But again, if you haven't "HAD" to go through it, it still seems terrible.
I think I need to think more about this to do the subject justice. It is, in my opinion, a balance between what is acceptable in terms of cure to you. The IVU X-Ray really made me feel very ill indeed and yet these BCGs made me feel bad for a short time but just look at the results.
I am definitely a lot more tender and can actually feel where they pulled me about. My stomach muscles and that whole area feel strained and tender. I'm not sure how much that is also me getting out and about and carrying on as normal as well of course but I think you tend to notice these things.
I've decided to see what I can do to get my computer sorted out today. I have set up my e-mail on another computer (I have - no sorry had 3 so 2 remain). I need to set up some of my other e-mail accounts and to do a review of what I think is missing. I do tend to back stuff up all over the place and to have files on more than one computer. I also tend to do 2 back ups of everything and so, in general terms I am OK but anything that I have done since the last back up will be lost for sure.
As usual there is the inconvenience of lost messages and files but all my photos and important stuff is always double backed up. I might take a friend's advice and do off line storage in the future.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Yes - you forget how knocked about you are until you start to get tired out and also how you sleep for longer and feel like sh1te. My throat is still a little sore and I am still making sure that I am drinking plenty of water. The problem with focusing on anything for a long period is also manifesting itself as I just cannot get the enthusiasm together to go and sort out my broken Laptop. I've tampered with it but it does look terminal to me as I cannot even get the hard drive to spin up!
Oh well - perhaps tomorrow and my head will be a bit clearer and I wont feel quite so exhausted.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I'm doing OK with this ongoing stream of events. I find we have another one today to go to but that should be it until the 3rd January. At least I'll have an opportunity to sit down today and rest. I've been keeping going and awake somehow but when I do get home I crash out completely. I think we are out in the evening so at least I get most of the day to sort myself out.
When I reckoned that I couldn't see where they had shaved my leg, I now notice patches of hair gone from my left leg. This increases my assertion that someone other than my Consultant actually did the work on me as it has always been my right leg before. I also know that it was the same Theatre as all the rest I went to.
The back of my left hand is now beginning to ache and bruise up but everything else feels OK. My middle areas stomach, groin etc are tender but not sore - I know I've had something done to me but other than that it is OK.
The dreams appear to have subsided and the only really recognisable difference in me is an anger about the way they went about this at the Hospital. Not my Consultant's fault - just "the System" and the sheer number of sick people in Hospital at this time of year. I do hope that the results are such as to ensure that I no longer need to go in for this level of surgery again.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Oh well, it is a bit of a pain in the ass though as I just realised that I had put a list of people on it but can recover that from a friend.
Life without IT can be a challenge.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I am just waiting for everyone to come home and to start celebrations with my family, my neighbours and my friends. My Nephew has just arrived from Luxembourg and he has been cheering me up with his stories. Soon Mrs F and L will be here and we can start to celebrate and enjoy ourselves together. I can start to lubricate with beer - which is a bonus!
It is a time of celebration and happiness but also a time of reflection. This year I look back to some of my friends who will not be here at this time, who didn't make it and I will spare a moment for a few who face that very challenging journey soon. I hope that they will have time to find peace and solace and the courage to face their very difficult journey ahead. This Christmas for them I hope will be full of hope and laughter and joy and not one of fear or bad reflections.
This year has been a turning point in my fortunes both in my health, my career and personally and I will be thinking about how lucky I am to have such good friends (with their remarkable senses of humour) and so many people near and far interested in and rooting for me.
It makes me feel very special and very privileged and it demonstrates that in this world where there can be so many ills and terrors, disease and disasters there is an island of hope that is called humanity and the care for (and of) your fellow citizens. If nothing else that I take away from this year it is that charity, friendship, trust and honour are all things that set us apart from the rest and I hope that we continue to demonstrate that in 2009.
Thanks for all your kindnesses and good wishes, prayers, black humour, toilet humour, bringing me down a peg or two, building me up, helpful suggestions and ideas, silent strength and just for befriending me, I cannot even begin to tell you how much it has meant to me this year to have so many people rooting for me. I appreciate it SO much.
Have a great Christmas - mine starts in 5 minutes :-)
Darth Urologist and her evil henchmen having failed to operate last time are keen to get our hero on to the table? "Do you expect me talk Darth?". "No I expect you to cry 003 and a bit" (thanks Flocky - I'll never get a girl friend now!).
Having starved, as instructed and arrived shaken, not stirred at the Hospital, our hero was led immediately to Theatre Preparation but was told, as were the others in the area - "don't get changed as we don't have any beds and you may be cancelled." "Deja Vu" thought our Hero Nero! "What did you say?". "Deja Vu" "Wow I thought you were about to say that". Time ticked by and our hero practices deep breathing and self hypnosis and listens to music and generally brings his blood pressure from off the boil to slightly above having your head squeezed in a vice.
Then the inevitable happens, the Registrar walked in and said that we are cancelled but asks me alone to stay as I am a priority and it might be possible to find a bed. The chap opposite gets dressed and goes off to enjoy Christmas and new Year without his Prostate being bored out. The other chap, who has been very nervously waiting decides to pay to go private and within 15 minutes he is signed up and gowned and off to Theatre giving me a nervous look and a thumbs up. I smile and wave reassuringly to him. He looks like I feel - poor fella, I know what he will feel like in the morning. Bless his cotton socks, on the way down to Theatre he tells the Nurse that he is worried that I may get cancelled again. I tell the nurse that I was feeling for him too as he has been having a terrible time and was really anxious.
I am told that it is now looking very doubtful and I am getting to a point of having not eaten for 16 hours or so and not having drunk anything for 6 or more hours and Mrs F. turns up and we discuss going home.
Suddenly all hell breaks loose and they want me to change and get ready to go to Theatre now. The urgency in their voices can only lead to complete adrenaline switch on in my body as they rush to get me prepped for the Op. The Porter arrives as I try to put my music in to calm myself down as it was such a shock to the system. I cannot listen to music, my BP is off the scale and suddenly I am really anxious as if in shock.
I arrive at Theatre and suddenly there are about 10 people around me all talking at once and I am now getting quite upset as they are all gabbling on about something and I can't seem to answer one at a time and get them to ask questions slowly. Eventually I get some sort of sense and we go through the check list, someone almost gets a smack in the mouth for some garbage question but I just give an angry retort back to whoever that was over my left shoulder - I can't remember the question now just that it was stupid. Calm descends on the room when my consultant comes in and leans over and smiles at me, she notes my heightened state of anxiety, apologises and says they will try and make things calm for me. From then on, only two people talk to me - it must have been their lunch break - The cannula goes in and hurts a little and they start prepping other areas but this time with little urgency and not roughing me up as they were doing earlier. The last words I hear are "a little pre-med and it should feel like a gin and tonic without the hangover".
I awoke in recovery and had a drink of the best water in the world, poured from the purest fountain of mountain glacier water (or probably from the cooler) however it is the best coldest water and tastes absolutely fantastic. Then I found I was catheterised. I was not happy, in fact, it must have been obvious as the registrar was called over who mumbled something about it and how all looked OK but didn't really answer me why on this occasion but on none of the other I had this bloody pipe and wash out attached to me. As is usual in recovery you come in and out of consciousness. I went in and out the washout bag was removed and when I came to next I was going to ward 5 - they were impressed that I knew where I was going as they had to look it up and then said I was right :-) They told me as they gowned me up where I was going.
I was on Oxygen and a drip, I came off those shortly after 2:30 in the afternoon but they kept the Christmas tree of valves and bits on the cannula which meant it was cumbersome and liable to get caught which it did on a number of occasions. The catheter was (thank goodness) a smaller one than I have been used to and so it was uncomfortable but manageable. I started drinking lots of water. I was less than impressed when I asked for water to be told that it could be got from any of the taps. I did explain that as they had connected me to a bag on the side of my bed and that the tube passes between the guard rail and the bed that even Harry sodding Houdini couldn't have escaped, finally did they realise that perhaps they would do it. Eventually Mrs. F arrived and she got me some water but the same thing. On the last ward we were not allowed to get it yourself as they needed to work out liquid in and out. On Florence Nightingale's ward, the war wounded and other miscellaneous ill people obviously didn't have that sort of problem and I yearned for the Urology Ward where at least they understood such things.
The General Surgery ward - what can I say, lots of very ill and very frail people with stuff connected all over them. Two guys opposite were almost bed ridden both had made successful expeditions out of bed on their Zimmers to the door and back. They were delighted with progress as they should be, they had made a distance of about 12 feet each. I'm not detracting from their efforts, just to highlight the sort of ward I was on. I was fitter than some of the nurses on there!
So, I wasn't happy and the poor old nurses were running about with lots of sick people to clear up after and so I got left to my own devices. then I found out I was staying in overnight and the catheter was coming out at 6 in the morning and I had to pee twice after that to go home.
I remonstrated with the nurse about it and she said how did I know what this was all about and I did explain that as this was the fourth time I had had this particular procedure I believed I was qualified to know what normally happened. I didn't win any friends. I was getting, by this time, pretty hacked off with it all.
My consultant arrived and she could see that I wasn't my normal cheery self. She explained why I was catheterised after I asked her why in a voice that was scathing and unbelieving at the same time. Apparently she felt that peeing would be too painful on this occasion and decided to do this. Me? I think she let someone else do the operation and they were less than gentle with me and she had to make that decision. I also asked her why I had this thing drilled into my upper left arm/shoulder. It was an Analgesic needle apparently in case I needed pain killers. I asked if it could come out as I wasn't using it and am normally prescribed oral pain killers. Sure was the answer but the nurses wouldn't take it out until I was leaving which again mighty pissed me off. By now the Cannula was also beginning to hurt a lot and they wouldn't take that out either.
Frankly - bollocks to the lot of them was my attitude by this late time of afternoon - about 5 pm. I was in a really foul mood by now and the other guys were really chatty in the ward. I spoke briefly to them but then stuck my MP3 player on and tried to calm down. It didn't really work and I had a meal, and Mrs. F. and L came in to see me with a pack of Wine Gums (for medicinal purposes only). Mrs. F. was pleased that I was a little happier than when she had left me. Not much gets past her and L is a very funny girl and so we had a lot of laughs and L and I destroyed a large bag of Wine Gums in the time they were there.
After they left, it wasn't long before lights out was happening and I was happy to have my light out at 9:30 and try and get some sleep. I was still too angry for sleep and the MP3 player did its best. I got perhaps 2 or 3 hours of fitful sleep but the chap diagonally opposite wasn't at all well and coughed and wheezed and was constantly being attended to. In the ward across the way at about 2 in the morning all hell broke loose as the lady in the bed was horribly ill and they needed to do a major clean. There were bangs and metallic crunches and rings as people clattered about to control her condition and to make the bed fit for her to return to.
In fact, that is the thing about Hospitals - you don't get any rest there are always people walking past you or along the corridor and dropping things and banging into doors and people taking measurements and all that. It is worse before you go to Theatre as every footstep could be the one coming to get you.
The Hospital experience is not my favourite. I am hoping that this was the last time that I need to go through all this. The mental preparation and the dread of it hasn't gone away, in fact I am better at this than I have ever been because I have prepared myself for it.
I suppose the best news about the whole thing is the fact that the bladder looks OK, it has a few phaser blasts and light sabre marks to the walls where the BCG and surgery have done their thing and in reality, I am most grateful to the team of people who have done this for me. Whilst I may not have enjoyed the "customer experience" the outcome looks to be the one that I've dared to hope for. Another few weeks waiting around to find out the results and I hope to have a good reason for mindless celebrations.
So, after a horrible night in the ward, at 6 the nurse came and removed the catheter and joy of joys no bloody injection before hand - they fill you full of antibiotic and blow me if they don't come along and whack you with another lot - but this time, out came the catheter and all was well with the world apart from the leaking you get for the first few hours. I duly filled myself up with water and made use of freedom from the bed - on reflection I should have done a Mel Gibson at this point, stuck on some blue paint and screamed out "FREEDOM!!!" at the top of my voice. I doubt anyone would have awoken and it would have been met by coughs, wheezes and the odd fart no doubt!
I asked if they would NOW take off my cannula and the device on my shoulder so I could have a shower. "Have a Shower with it on" These people are taking the p*ss I thought. In fact I thought of harsher words than that and at one time, I was considering coming home and taking out said Cannula and device myself - how difficult can it be? I was desperate to get home. I managed to sort out a good pee in a jug for them and they recorded that, had breakfast and delivered another "good" one and then got the news "just one more" I thought they were "F" joking. When I said that "you're moving the goal posts" I was told it has always been "three". "It wasn't last night" and neither had it been at anytime before. Apparently now it is as I asked two or three people. I then decided to divide and conquer by getting all the nurses involved. Having done the third pee and it being of good colour and consistency, quality and quantity I could go home. out came the cannula which bled like you cannot believe. I was surprised I had that much blood in my body. The other thing in my shoulder just came out - it didn't seem to be in a vein or anything but there was a needle dug in me :-( YUK.
So I got dressed and we re bandaged my hand after staunching the blood. I said goodbye to my fellow patients and got out as fast as I could. Rang home and Mrs. F. came and got me.
The Registrar told me that if I got any infection (Cystitis) or any thing like retention I must get back into Hospital A&E (ER) straight away. He then informed me of the possible scenario - again he said that it all looked clear but that lab tests would confirm. Then said they would need to look inside my bladder again at 3 months.
Dread - I don't want another of these in 3 months. I really hope what he means is a Flexible Cystoscopy. Now these aren't particularly pleasant things to have but in terms of keeping their eye on you they are a lot better than the preceding I can tell you. My first and to date only Flexi was 2 1/2 years ago when I was diagnosed. The pain afterwards was excruciating but I feel I can probably deal with that now and it will be done locally not miles away as it was then. I'll find out in a few weeks time what comes next and I will try not to get too excited just yet about being clear. If I am what celebrations we will have.
My brain is still a little fuddled as I can now see from yesterday's e-mails and blogs :-) No wonder they won't let you drive home after a GA!
I'll try and piece together Scar Wars VI later and post it up here.
The main thing is that I'm certainly in a better sense of humour than when I left the Hospital yesterday. I am glad that I didn't fire off any smart arse one liners to the nurses - they have a difficult job as it is. I was almost about to accuse them of bed blocking but thought better of it. It is amazing how you can turn from being a nice rational happy guy into a monster in short order. I have to remember it is a system failure, lots of people are very ill at this time of year and whilst I was a priority patient (you are because you have been cancelled once already) it wouldn't have mattered if these had been done in January really. It is amazing how stress and frustration makes even the mildest of us into angry people.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Anyway, certainly in a much better sense of humour now that I have had some hours napping and running to and from the toilet all day :-) Keep the liquid intake up!!
Curiously having a catheter in overnight meant no burning and stinging sensation this morning which was a relief when going to the loo for the first and subsequent times - something to be said for that then but I still cannot stand stuff hanging out of my body and I was so uncomfortable with that and the half a mile of piping on my cannula. . They need to make up their minds whether they expect quantity or quality with urination checks. They asked for 2 last night then once I did that they changed their mind and made it three. By now my sense of humour failure was almost complete. The Cannula hurt like crazy and bled like mad when it came out and there was another one stuck in my upper arm near my shoulder which came out with no problems. Never had one of those before either. I wonder if they prepped me for something larger or because of the heightened state I was in did something else to me. I'm sure this wasn't the handiwork of my Consultant perhaps one of her apprentices.
Anyway, I'm back to my normal happy self after having gone through a pretty anxious and unpleasant day and a half. I've never had a set of biopsies like this - it actually felt like the 2nd TURBT in terms of how rough I felt. The cancellation bit was a nightmare and then as I was about to go home to reverse that was devastating, not that I didn't want the procedure, that I had resigned to not getting it done to 2009 in January and then all of a sudden it was panic stations, get the gown on, wow your blood pressure and heart rate are high - "No shit Sherlock!!" :-) I was into Theatre in 5 minutes flat - that from about to put my jacket on.
More when I feel up to it- have sat too long on this hard chair and can feel complaints coming from nether regions :-)
Good News = Whilst there is red patches and scarring - it all looks normal. Obviously microscope will determine that. I wasn't impressed that I may need another of these in March though :-( More when I settle down - it was all a bit fraught as I was cancelled almost and then straight into Theatre at the 11th hour - nerves frayed to pieces as is patience in keep changing the goal posts on getting out.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Have had my tablets and showered and I am packed ready to go. There is about one hour to go now. I'm tired but otherwise relatively neutral at the moment. It seems to be the pattern that the days leading up to the event are more anxious than the day itself. I was doing my deep breathing self hypnosis stuff yesterday but probably heightened my awareness of today's events rather than settled myself down.
I have my MP3 player on me and so I'm ready to get going and get this done and out of the way. I'm also ready for Christmas having sorted all the presents out and everything is wrapped. The biggest problem this year has been the chaos of the last two weeks where I have missed sending out cards to everyone or to some people. I did a lot earlier in the month and somehow I think I lost my list and unlike me, I cannot remember who got cards, who didn't and whether I sent them an e-mail or not. It is very unlike me - I haven't sent out the Company Christmas Cards (I normally do about 100 printed and 700 or so e-cards) either. It is a sign of the disruption the cancellation caused me that a lot of these things are not done.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I do hope that I get out on the same day this time - it is always much better to sleep in your own bed I reckon and you feel far more comfortable too.
Let's hope that this time there are beds available and I can get this over and done with. It means a lot to me to get it out of the way. Each of the steps you take along the way are major milestones in getting cured and moving on. This could just be the last of the "heavy" steps along the way. Diagnosis, TURBT, BCG and Biopsies plus the IVU X-Ray (my personal worst experience of all time) can all be consigned to the experience and the "in my past bin" I hope.
Only present I want this year? Yes you guessed it. Fingers and everything else crossed that it all gos to plan tomorrow.
Steve in his excellent Got Bladder Cancer Blog advocates using a breathing technique SEE HERE
I use something similar to the second technique:
- Find a little space preferably where you are not disturbed
- Get comfortable
- Long slow deep breath, hold for mental count of 4 as you exhale slowly close your eyes
- Silent mental count 1 to 10. Count each number as you breathe out. Between each breath say to yourself "one..Deeper Relaxed..Two..Deeper Relaxed.." etc
- By the time you reach the number 10 you can go deeper by visualising:
- Counting again from one to ten
- Going down one escalator after another
- A beautiful spot in nature, noticing the sights, sounds and smells (or somewhere you feel at ease)
- Skiing down a mountain
- Walking downstairs
- Swimming in the sea or lying on a sunny beach
- Floating gently on a cloud
When you are at a level of trance at which you feel comfortable, give yourself positive suggestions. Give each suggestion at least 10 times - be passionate about it; feel it, believe it
Emerge yourself silently and mentally by counting from Ten up to One and then open your eyes. As you are emerging yourself, give yourself suggestions that you will emerge "full of confidence, energy and vitality for the rest that you have just had, feeling marvellous in every way"
The suggestions I was given are below:
Every day in every way I am getting better and better
I am in control, I create my own reality
Negative thoughts have no power over me, I am in control
I create my own reality through the power of my mind and this is so
I persistently think and act in the direction of my good and my goal; to be a happy, healthy, relaxed person
I am love. I am loving, loved and beloved
I am healed by the Creative Force within me
My body knows just how to keep me well and I pay close attention to its signals. I obey those signals, I relax, I let go and stay well
My body systems are co-operating with the surgical procedure, we are all working together to create healing
My blood pressure is normal and will stay that way
My lungs breathe easily and effortlessly
Every day in every way I am getting better and better.
Now - you may think it is all Mumbo Jumbo but for me - it worked really well and this, together with music (all types work for me although thrash and heavy rock don't really soothe the mind in a Hospital - they are OK post Op though) help me to calm down. I can take myself into Hospital and not need anyone with me anymore and I can and have managed to see off the 3 previous lots of biopsies and 2 previous TURBTs plus 24 BCGs this will make 6 visits for General Anaesthetic procedures on me in 2 1/2 years. Sure - no one likes it but if you can control yourself then you begin to get to the purpose of what this is all about. It is about curing you and making you better. Sometimes it doesn't feel like that and yet at the end of the day it IS what this is all about.
How can I be of a cheery disposition and (normally) be positive? I often consider this to be a number of things:
- A wake up call
- A blessing (perhaps not quite the right word)
- A turning point
- Time to reappraise what IS important
I wouldn't say that you get some sort of deep and meaningful religious insight or suddenly the meaning of life pops out and bites your bum or anything but you do start to see things in a different light. Seeing the operations as steps to getting better and the treatments, which are challenging to say the least, aren't there to be horrible or to hurt you they do actually make you fight and get rid of (to a great extent) your Cancer. You just have to mend your thought processes around to the positives in all the horrors that are done to you. I still subscribe to the old adage that there are people far worse off than you and that I am lucky to live somewhere that not only has the ability to cure me but has the staff, resources and know how to make it happen. In some places in the world, I'd be dead by now, that is why I shouldn't be angry anymore about having got cancer and that is why I should be positive all the time.
I found out that Mrs. F didn't tell A that I was going into Hospital although I think that A probably knew as I'm sure I would have said something. She will let A know after I come out. Mind you not that A would be particularly worried about me going in anyway.
There is little left to do except for me to pack for tomorrow and I must catch up on my studies and on writing up this 75th History which, I am pleased to say looks to be nearing some sort of shape as I have all the information and the general layout sorted out now.
I'm trying not to think about being uncomfortable next week :-)
Sorry - it still cracks me up every time I see this photo - OUCH :-)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I also need to work out quite how I go about doing my two assignments. All of this can wait as there is always bags of time over Christmas and the New Year when I am at a loss as to what to do and so I need to make sure I do it then. it can all be done sitting down and I have a Laptop so it isn't as if I will hurt myself???
I have to remember that next week - don't lift or do anything too strenuous. We just realised that I cannot walk over to me in-laws on Christmas Day - it is just too far and there are a couple of up hill stretches that would for sure mean I'd start bleeding. The number of times I've done stuff and regretted it afterwards!! I just need to remember that they do dig much deeper with these biopsies and I have to be careful for a good three or four weeks.
You know, the main thing is to hear the words all clear in the New Year. It wouldn't quite be re-birth but it could be damn close I reckon.
A will not be there but I hope all the other children (well two are 18, one is 16 and one is 15). We have been having this party for 17 years I think. It is nice - Church and then down the road to have a great evening. All three families used to go on holiday together and we went to Portugal a number of times and France and were able to hire large Farm Houses and Villas. All that is now changing with 2 of the oldest having been away at University, two at College and one left at School. It is like a switch - once we are there and the food and drink start to flow we know that Christmas has started.
While we were out last night meeting A's boyfriend's parents - a very nice meeting I have to say - L decorated the House, put up the Christmas Tress etc and so it looks Festive now. We don't tend to do this until a few days after C's birthday which was on Tuesday.
I've started pulling out my Christmas CDs and I'll see if I can cheer myself up a bit :-) Not that I'm down, just that yukky feeling prior to going into Hospital the sort of dread feeling - difficult to explain but as if you were about to go into a difficult meeting where you were going to get roasted by everyone. Anyway, sure I'll find plenty to distract me as I go on during the day.
Friday, December 19, 2008
So tinged with a little sadness I'll see her off tonight and also with some satisfaction that she is getting and gaining her independence. It is hard to let go but you must.
I didn't have a lot to drink either, a few beers at the pub and one with the meal and that was it, so I cannot blame that for waking every hour.
This morning all is OK with the world, the sun is out and I'm at my desk working before 9. It's the day of the Office party but I'm not tempted to go, lovely though everyone is at work.
I'm catching up on e-mails from friends and find mixed news from them. One has had a Brain tumour and is undergoing treatment, another is recovering from a nasty disease that threatened to stop him working. It didn't but the recession has done that and he gets made redundant today. Judging by the news coming in, quite a few think their jobs are at risk. A couple are getting odd contract jobs here and there. It depends where you look as I still get a steady stream of offers for Program Management work and yet certain retail and manufacturing work is at a standstill. Goodness knows what the banking sector is like but my colleague last night reckoned that it was currently a bit of a "blood bath" and hard work to make a living working in. He may have to lay off some of his people having already gone to short time working and instigated other cuts. He wasn't happy about that but has to face the reality of the situation.
Anyway, the rest of the day beckons and I need to get on top of this history research.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I sent an apology e-mail out last night to many friends as I have been so disorganised this year that I haven't sent out cards, newsletters or any sort of correspondence. At least I got an e-mail out to most!
I am writing a History of the Lodge - luckily only the last 25 years of our 75 year history and it is a bit like watching paint dry at the moment as I am trawling through the minute books and taking information from there to use in the document. There is a lot of going forwards and backwards in time to cross reference things and it is time consuming and rather dry work. I hope to be able to keep interest levels up or I'll never finish it.
I'd love to go to the Office Party, it would be a real hoot and I know that a number of people want me to be there (I can be quite amusing and almost charming at parties). The trouble is that I know I wouldn't just want one beer and if I have an audience, then the actor - well stand up comic - comes out and we would have a good laugh and joke.
I think discretion is definitely the right thing to do. I must be on my "best" behaviour at least to start with on Friday as I have never met these people before and I am not the easiest person to deal with especially if you don't get my sense of humour or my attitude to life. With a light lubrication of beer I can imagine that it would be a very one-sided conversation. They are all off skiing in the morning as well so I imagine it wont be a boozy affair.
This morning, with an urgent MS Update required, two of my machines were playing silly buggers as they were updating themselves (I'm sure I turned off that feature a few weeks ago) and hence I lost a number of configuration settings. The other PC just refuses to work properly this morning and whether it has been updated or just given up the ghost I now have to find out. It is typical that this particular machine is the one I need today as I was working up a few documents on it last night.
I cannot believe that in this day and age we cannot do better. I'm lucky, I can generally fix stuff like this but Joe Public must wonder what on earth is going on.
Hopefully after I have this fixed I can get on and tackle the pressing parts of my growing to do list.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Whilst next week isn't going to be easy it really is the best way forward, I know it is and whilst I feel a little uncomfortable about it, it isn't the end of the world if some of my tasks don't get done.
I just need to convince myself - if I repeat it often enough perhaps I will :-)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Not exactly the start of the day I had envisaged. Struggling now to get the enthusiasm to get up and start the mountain of work I have set myself to do. I just can't be arsed to do it! I am tired from last night and it is one of those really grey December days outside too. I know if I don't make a start on this lot soon - I'll just compress everything into a few days and I really don't want to do that. I need a plan. I think I'll just go and have a coffee :-)
Some-days I get like this - I am abjectly p*ssed off at the moment. I can't tell you why as I have only been like this the past few years but it is as if all my enthusiasm has been drained off and I just don't want to do anything and yet realise that I perhaps should. It is going to be one of those days :-) Must be stuff that goes with the condition.
It is a bit deja vu - almost a cycle of things going OK then out of control and then OK again. I hope it is a one off though as I need to be with it these next few days to catch up on my work. Two of my all time non favourites Plato and Poetry :-( Yuk! At least they don't ask any questions on Plato - unfortunately the Poetry one they do have an assignment - not looking forward to that. How on earth did I think I would have done those if I had my biopsies last week?
So - back to wide awake and sleep patterns disturbed. I need to be up early - it is C's birthday tomorrow so we ought to give her some cards and presents before she heads off to work. Maybe I can break the cycle a bit by doing that.
No problems from my knee today thank goodness. It seems to be when I really step out on a walk I get it. Perhaps I just need to get back to exercising gently - and I want to do that once I get my results which obviously isn't going to be this year now. I haven't heard from the Hospital and tomorrow is the last operating day of the year I believe.
Roll on tomorrow - I need to get organised and planned and I am now clear of all these parties and meals so should have less distractions to deal with as a result.
Monday, December 15, 2008
In preparation you are now put into a ward adjacent to the Theatre suite. After that you will go to your allotted ward. There is a specialist Urology ward although with the biopsies you can end up anywhere. I have been in one of the single wards once.
TV - there is a pay TV system which they push you to buy cards - frankly, I take my MP3 player in and they can stick their TV as it is pretty extortionate - some further way of catching up with funding deficits no doubt and supplied by a third party. Mine gets turned to the wall on its bracket and after every time the technician comes around to move it I turn it back again. I believe the radio is free but only certain main stations. Rip Off.
Not sure of the nurses to patient ratio but there always seems to be enough and they work really hard. The only issue I had with the Hospital is how hot it is. The first time I was there we had to bring in our own fans to cool us down. They made the Theatre block air conditioned but not the wards! Another foot shooting moment by the looks of it as the bill for electric fans must have outweighed that for a central A/C unit!
It raises an interesting question about the cost of healthcare in the UK. We can go Private if we have insurance or can afford it but generally the National Heath Service (NHS) is how most of us get treated. The NHS are funded centrally from the Government through our contributions. Everyone in work who earns over a certain threshold, pays into the National Insurance (NI) pot. Employers pay about 10% and I think we do too on a sliding scale.
After WW2 the scheme was set up and it should pay for all healthcare needs and provide a state basic minimum pension. The latter is in serious doubt now but the former is still funded by workers and their employers, each paying a contribution.
To go into the details would be another blog on its own but there are all sorts of budget problems and some local trusts have overspent their budgets and wards close. Hence when I stated that there were no beds last week, it is very probable that they were cost cutting and shot themselves in the foot as they may have saved a few thousand on having less beds but to turn us away and waste the time and cost of all the Theatre staff, lighting, heating, equipment and so on was just another false economy.
I firmly believe I owe my life and the continuing use of my Bladder and use of my Prostate to the speed and efficiency that surrounded my diagnosis and treatment. So the people who practice their medicine and the health care professionals and support staff are fine - it appears the management can't actually do the jobs that they are paid quite well to do. It is a shame really but the levels of care are good.
The Treatment of BC is different between the continents. I am following the latest European Guidelines of best practise and Steve and HK must be following the NA version of the same. Up until recently, on being clear I would have followed the cycle of BCG and Rigid Cystoscopy as of now and then have been on 8 to 12 years maintenance (I think I may even have said this a year or two back in here looking to how long I'd be treated for). Now, it appears that the results they are getting suggest that the 3 batches of 6 I have had are sufficient (I've actually had 24 in total).
Sunday, December 14, 2008
My colleague from work was there looking very well which was good to see. We had a nice day out and returned having won 4 raffle prizes and actually returned winning tickets on 2 further occasions - our luck was surely in today.
So everyone of us came away with a prize and I was very pleased to get a Silver Pendant of a Square, Compasses and Cornucopia with our Lodge name engraved on it. I was then told it is the only one in existence. The silversmith was there and so I thanked him and he very kindly then gave me a silver Stewards pin as well.
I've had a good day and only one more serious lunch to go tomorrow and I hope that is all the partying until around Christmas itself.
Nice to meet a lot of people asking about my health again. Always nice to know that they are thinking about you.
It was great as he was able to share the journey right to the top of my lane. We had a great meeting, the local choir turned up and sang for us and we sang Carols. We had a great meal, plenty of everything and my first Christmas Meal (Turkey and all the bits) of this year.
What I enjoy about these meetings is the serendipity of it all. Fancy one of their members living about 15 minutes walk away from me yet his Lodge is way over in Gillingham - a good 1 to 1 1/2 hours by train away.
Mind you I am beginning to notice that my left leg is getting sore around the knee and shin area. It has been doing this for ages but tonight it was marked. I wonder if this is the joint problems you sometimes get with BCG? It is like a very slight stiffening in my knee and I suppose I did do a fair old walk yesterday and stepped out a bit as it was raining this evening. I hope it isn't something worse than that.
On a bleaker note a friend of mine, who we have been saying for ages to go and check herself out, has ended up in Hospital with diabetes. She has been having all the classic symptoms but put it down to her having given up smoking despite us all saying what we thought it was. She is struggling away in Hospital whilst they try and stabilise her. I just want to meet her homeopathy adviser who said all was OK!! Bloody quacks should be held to account for this sort of nonsense.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The Letz Zep band were jaw droopingly good. Really accurate and there was something very familiar about the Lead Guitarist - very familiar indeed. It was the same chap who plays in the G2 (Genesis) tribute band I saw in November. They really did well and the audience were on side and so it was a good evening. I walked there which took about 45 minutes and luckily got a lift back from a friend of mine. My ears are ringing now :-)
So a real bonus to go and see these guys and a surprise to see the G2 guitarist here as well.
I need to get going soon so I can go off down to Gillingham which will be a bit of a journey. It rained this time last year too as I recall. It is slinging it down here at the moment, a real stair rods job too.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Tonight to a Led Zeppelin tribute band who are supported by another band I've seen before who are a Free and Bad Company Tribute band. It should be good and I have just noted that I can walk there in about 40 minutes so I get exercise too - well I'll need that exercise to burn off the beers at the Rugby Club where they are playing!!!!
Tomorrow I will get to go to a Lodge meeting in Gillingham. Again, I can get the train there and back and so can have a drink. last year I won a bottle of scotch in the raffle. The bottle was a one Gallon bottle and no I haven't finished it off yet...
So a bit of a bonus until I realised that we are going out on Sunday for a Christmas family meal and on Monday I have another office meal that I am going to.
I wonder why I put weight on at this time of year? Rhetorical question - sorry :-)
I like him a lot as he is insightful and intuitive about the needs and wants of people. I suppose being the head of a Charity you need to be seeing this as well as all the aspects of running what would be classified as an SME if it were a business. With about 40 staff we are a reasonable size.
It got me thinking this morning that my disappointment is that I wont know where I am so there is some uncertainty. Lets face it, I've been clear for some time now and a reversal would be a lower percentage option than a clear. A reversal would be devastating but controllable. This particular Cancer (the version I have) is slow growing and so a delay of perhaps a month or two is no real issue in terms of the long term outcome of my situation. Last May it could have been as the results would determine a further course of BCG treatment.
So, what about those who had tumours or other things more serious. The anxiety for them knowing that there was something growing inside them that they know to be dangerous (but may not have researched this thoroughly) can only be causing them more worry.
All of this because some Spreadsheet Manager decided to save costs and improve efficiency. In a way you wish the aforesaid Spreadsheet Manager would have been in the next bed waiting for a life saving operation and then seen what the news meant to them. The rest of us are a tick in a box for the moment but I know our Consultant will be going through the roof. I wouldn't want to argue with her - ever. She is brilliant but I wouldn't like to cross her or receive the benefit of her wit...
The cost not to operate means that in effect the Hospital will now have to pay twice for our procedures whereas if they had the beds they would have paid a one off cost. The National Health Service gives great care and whilst it occasionally screws up, you hear far more good things than bad. The trouble is and you can apply this to most large institutions is that you have managers who cannot manage and a bureauacy that would make your head spin, the litigious society (thanks US) that we now have over here and the utter nonsense that goes on under equal rights policies (the underlying stuff not the intent) plus constantly changing Government 'targets' are wreaking havoc and distracting top management downwards. If they could actually put together a vision, get everyone bought into it and execute it we would have the best health service in the world but not whilst some pencil pushing, spotty jerk with an NVQ in spreadsheet pie charting is controlling patients and health care professionals.
I think that is this morning's rant out of the way :-)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This is an interesting site and a thing that I did know but thankfully it doesn't apply to me but, there but by the grace of God go I....
The Blog Site is here
Your arse ALWAYS hangs out the back of them no matter what you do. Invariably the cords to do the gown up with are broken or otherwise knotted. The cords are round the back making it impossible to do up anyway unless you do it up at the front and then try and get you arms in the holes! Those who can do them up are hideously deformed or are contortionists.
If you do manage to do them up there are always gaps where your arse hangs out.
It says all over the gown "For Hospital Use Only" For the life of me I have absolutely no idea what on this planet you could possibly do with one other than use it in Hospital, you wouldn't be seen dead in one and frankly and rightly the Style Police would arrest you and lock you away for life just for wearing one. Then there are the DVT Stockings - vitally necessary but again, no fashion statement there :-) The whole thing looks like some bizarre secret ritual and it is played out every day in Hospitals around the world. Not content with having to go through the psyching your self up for the process, the trauma of going into hospital etc, when you are there they ridicule you by making you dress up like a clown :-)
I've added Cystoscopy here as well because, in essence, that is what I have to have the biopsies taken but they use the same tool (I believe) in both because it cuts and cauterises the procedure is similar.
Here is the US:
In the US you go to the hospital as an "outpatient" and do not spend the night. After the surgery you get 1 hour of Chemo (no salt wash) and 3 hours of recovery, then you are sent home with a catheter. You take codeine (lortabs) for a couple of days, and on the morning of the third day, you remove the catheter yourself. By the fourth day you are back to mostly normal movement and should have bladder control with only minimal discomfort.
Here is the Canadian:
In Canada, you need to not eat after Midnight. Next day you need to go 3 hours before the Surgery, they put IV and Antibiotic through IV. Once the Surgery is done, 2 tubes are attached in Catheter ,one to clean your bladder with Sodium Chloride and the other to void through Catheter. Also IV is attached to. Doctor comes and checks in the morning (after 18 to 24 hours), and informs the nurse to remove IV and catheter.
Need to Void in the bottle to check how much urine comes out. Once it okay then you need to go home. If it is not enough then doctor decides either you have a Catheter go home or you stay in the Hospital. Sometimes doctor will come after couple of hours after surgery and he will give Chemo. ( doctors Decision). I hope this will help you .
Doctor will give you antibiotic once you are released from the Hospital.2 to 3 day is very painful. If you bleed a lot , need to go to Emergency that what doctor tells the patient. After 2 to 3 weeks result is given about the Tumour.
Here is the UK:
Typical no eating routine - if you go in for an afternoon operation then no food after 7:30, you can drink small quantities of water up to 11:00 and you go to the Hospital to arrive at 11:30. They take you to a pre-theatre area, get you kitted up into one of those gowns for operations, get your DVT Stockings to put on and you look a right Charlie! They do the usual tests and operations start at 2 pm. You can go any time from 2 to about 4 or 4:30.
You are wheeled to theatre - you would have signed consent forms and they go through a check list. You go to a prep room where they insert a cannula into the back of your hand and it depends whether or not you are awake or not whether they wire you up to the ECG and BP cuff etc. Sometimes it has been done before the cannula sometimes they must do it after they knock you out.
If a TURBT you wake up with a catheter inserted with a couple of large bags of washing out fluid and a bag for that to empty into. This is usually a frame based system to the side of the bed. Later you may get a leg bag to use. Often you will have a drip in the back of your hand and be on Oxygen for up to 30 minutes afterwards.
The Catheter stays in for about 36 hours. Certainly all the next day and the morning after that it is taken out before which they give you a jab of antibiotic. The nurse takes a sample from the catheter for analysis and then drains the bulb part holding the catheter in and she withdraws it - you give a few coughs to get it moving out past your prostate. The relief is short lived - see next para!
The first time you pass urine after this is perhaps the most painful thing and after that it gradually gets better. Passing blood for a short time then after two or three weeks the scabs will be ejected.
With a Cystoscopy for biopsies you go through the same routine as above except you do not have the catheter on waking and you maybe just have the drip. You need to pee in jugs to start with so they can monitor input and output (they do that in a TURBT as well). After the first pee which is every bit as painful as the first one noted above, they monitor you for a while. If they are happy you can - potentially - go home on the same day. Normally they monitor you overnight. In general terms with biopsies you don't pass much blood at all and after a few weeks the scabs come off and you pass them.
On both you wake up with a shaved leg - when I asked about that, it is where they ground the machine that cauterises the bladder as it cuts.
If you feel up to it - this short video shows the process of removing a tumour from the Bladder with the cauterising loop. Not for the feint hearted.
I'm not certain I like the idea of DIY catheter removal. I have not had any chemo with my treatments but I know they load you full of stuff at the time of the operation.
Pain relief is normally with Ibuprofen and Paracetamol tablets. They must give you something when you are under as well of course.
Generally results are 2 weeks - sometimes I have waited up to 4 weeks.
I have agreed a short working month and to be able to review my e-mails and be in touch. Hopefully this will allow me to get all the planned stuff finished and to have a few days up in town with my work mates. If tonight is anything to go by, it should be most interesting!!!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
They arrived this morning which was a bit embarrassing - I had expected them to arrive sometime this week and as I wasn't going to be here....
It certainly was a surprise for them to see me but there you go. We are working out a plan that means I can work at home and come in on the odd day over the next two weeks or so.
I hadn't got a contingency plan for this at all! I should know better being a Project Manager for goodness sake! Mind you, life is a bit too short to plan for everything.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I will keep my ID bracelet on for a laugh. What a crazy thing, I have to now go and negotiate time off and sort out all of the things I was planning to do because I would have been sat at home at my office and spent the time doing it.
I will need to work out quite how I can fit everything in and spend the right amount of time on each. It's just one problem after another :-)
I'm pretty upset as I wont know now for some time whether I'm clear or not, perhaps for some time to come, like January or February.
All the plans I had as well, to spend the down time doing useful stuff is now in deep trouble. I was fully expecting to spend next week doing this 75th History for my Lodge. That is obviously going to have to be reconsidered. On a better note - it does mean that going out on Saturday is going to be back on and perhaps the gig on Friday if there is a spare ticket. There are other things too, like my assignments and catching up on my Open University stuff - I can go to the tutorial on Thursday too now.
So - the Hospital is full of sick people :-) I did feel sorry for the chap opposite me who was to have his tumours cut out but he was reassured that they were low grade and he would be back very soon to have those sorted out.
After all the psyching up and worry and adrenaline expended, it was all for nothing. I walked home and had some soup and a sandwich and I am just settling back down and calming down - if I let it get to me I'd be very upset almost tearful it is just very annoying and just think of the costs of all those theatre staff and all the preparation work that was lost today. In trying to save money you can see how the NHS losses it when something like this happens.
What does Captain Jack Sparrow say at a time like this? "Oh Bugger!" :-) How very British!!
Right - must be off then, adieu.
So now showered and dressed and have an hour and a half to potter about the place and get myself ready, my bag packed, attend to last minute e-mails and then I can check batteries, run through my check list and take myself off to the Hospital.
I'm feeling calm and in control now, it is often the way. You just have to accept that this is it what it is going to be and make the best of it and whilst the worry precedes it, this time tomorrow it will all be over and in fact in less than 8 hours it will be over so it is just like a day at work - the one that seems to drag forever. Waiting at the Hospital can be a real pain as time just drags away. You are almost relieved when the blue coats come and get wheel you down to the Theatre.
So, apart from a slight stirring of my stomach (not sure that is nerves or the porridge earlier!) I'm sort of OK about it now.
Once they are out of the way I can have the house to myself and then get ready. More later.
Monday, December 08, 2008
I suppose I shouldn't have had a little shot of scotch with my coffee but hey, why not? It all helps to settle me down for the night. Tomorrow will be here soon enough and I'll have my music and breathing and self hypnosis to get me through the waiting.
The back of my hand is throbbing already - I wonder if they'll get the damn thing (cannula) out earlier this time? I wonder if they'll keep me in over night and at the end of the day, well, I suppose what will be will be.
It isn't any use worrying about these things but it does play on your mind. You know what is going to happen and you're back on the Roller Coaster my friend. You don't get off until they say you can. There is nothing worse than being out of control when you are a controller yourself!
I think a number of people were startled that I wasn't going to come back to work before the New Year but hey, maybe if I feel good I will go back if I can face the long walks either end of the station. That really is the test of how it will be. There are some staff parties, not least of which on Wednesday which would have been great to attend but needs must and this is far more important to me than missing a party. There is another couple in a week and a half time. Maybe those ones?
We will see how I get on. It was sad to say goodbye to some of my colleagues - I don't think they knew I was going but I didn't broadcast it. Some people know. At least they'll get their cards soon and I have laid on a nice surprise from Harrods for them a little later in the week as a thank you for being great people to work with. I'd liked to have spent some time celebrating with them but again, that can wait. Who knows I might have some really good news to celebrate and wouldn't that be fun if I did. We could start 2009 off on a positive note. I really hope so.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
What it means is that this is with you all the time then. You are effectively clear and the cancer hasn't returned and the longer you are clear the less likely it is to recur. So the odds diminish but the thought of having to go through this lot again is a sobering thought.
We were out on Friday and they have, most unusually a Cigar bar - up on the roof of the restaurant, it has heaters, blankets and all sorts and I was really tempted to have a cigar but did very well I thought not to even have a puff. It is a powerful deterrent to remember that there was every possibility that smoking in the past may have contributed to my bladder cancer in the first place.
I am hoping that all is clear as it means turning over a new page, yet again, in this ongoing treatment and recovery process. Perhaps I can turn back to some long term goals and to shake off some of the baggage that goes along with it. Life has been put on to pause for 2 1/2 years so far and things really need to move along a bit. I wonder whether the worry of recurrence can be overcome. I suppose with time it can but I have a feeling that there will always be a nagging voice in the back of my head. At the moment any little ailment is cancer! That is just the way your head works.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
I need to remind myself that things were a lot grimmer then than they are now and to get some balance into my way of looking at this. There are some other new ones on there too. I normally end up playing the whole lot in two sittings before and after the Op and at 1Gb of tunes - about 3 or 400 that takes some doing.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Don't start me on that. Had a great day - friend with arm break was there but nasty two place break - yuk. We had a lovely meal which could have been better had the head up arse waiter hadn't been quite so anally retentive. I almost asked him during the quiet periods ahead where he felt the custom might come from. The food was great, the company was brilliant and then I got the train which, half way home announced a body on the line which held us for a while, reversed us back up the track almost back to where we had come from and then after 30 minutes messing around to go the other way reported that said "body" had been removed and we recommenced our journey home wards. The strange thing is that the trains from this particular London terminus always seem to be filled with the loonies and left overs. Tonight was no exception. At least I got home in one piece.