DAY 24 THIS IS HOME

So quiet. No one has come to take my temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar level, make me swallow this or inject me with that. I had dreadful coughing fits in the night and had to empty the catheter but no more than going for an old man’s midnight pee or two.

I need to take in exactly what has happened to me and I need time to reflect. I need to be in peace and enjoy the stillness. Thank goodness the weather is so lovely and the birds are twittering and all the traffic has ebbed. The stoma is ok and I will manage but the additional encumbrance of the catheter I could have done without. One nurse, said folk nickname their stoma’s; mine is definitely called “Trumpy”; it sits on my left side farting away but where on earth could such a monica have come from? Naming a complete bag of crap “Trumpy?” I can’t begin to think. Can you? 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

The catheter is with me for two weeks, this now seems a long haul. I will eventually start to write my book but where to end it, will be the problem. Typing with one finger is very energy efficient, replying to all the emails texts and good wishes and talking on the phone, is time consuming and draining and I still have the attention span of a house fly and trust me I am WEAK.  I am very weak. I have so many chums all wanting to engage in happy banter with me but for the moment, I need to be alone with my lovely Mary and in my own space. Does this make sense, without alienating all my best friends? I also need to get my sense of humour bypass corrected; yesterday to be told at 09-15 you can go home but not achieve that till three thirty, I was the end of my tether. After about two o’clock I found myself rocking in my chair and was shouting out loudly, “Make way coming through,” and had my best Jack Nicolsan’s face on. The beard helps. No one paid the slightest attention. The ward looked like ER on speed; folk everywhere and raised voices; they  have the longest haul of all, I hope they can all stand up to the mounting pressure. They all deserve a medal at the end of all this. They are all heroes.

I have emerged, after 23 days, into one of those 60’s science fiction films; the day the world caught fire etc. it would have been bad enough without this additional mental burden and it is for everyone just that, an additional mental burden.

There will be humour, I have tried to chronicle everything; from that red emergency chord in the bathroom getting stuck between my buttocks, such panic, and the astounding medical conclusion after three days, “His blood pressure is really low, should we stop his high blood pressure tablets?” My face must have been a picture; to the nurse when I got to practice injecting myself, “Oh my god, there is blood!” Me, “No shit Sherlock? You do realise, I have just stuck a needle in my belly!” Good job Doc Martin didn’t have to stare at that back drain bag of blood, the whole episode would have been him constantly hitting the deck!

These are the folk I am fighting for our beautiful grandchildren. And of course, Mary and Laura (stuck in Switzerland) and Hannah and Dean. And all of you my friends, absolutely. Without you I wouldn’t have got here. Mike Stone (The volunteers manager at the Frimley Trust) kept up short text messages and he has been in at five every morning. He knew what to say and when to stop and made me laugh. Lovely Rita donated her knees! Too many to mention but I appreciate all of your good wishes.

Thats it, till we meet again (bugger some old biddy got in first with that!) Take care and may your god go with you. Tell all those idiots in the world to stop fighting.

Bless you all for being there and rooting for me.

Malcolm, Thursday April 9th 2020. It’s been emotional.

 

Day 22 update

Folks you deserve an update. I have been logging most of the days and I hope, god willing and a bit more strength to make this a new book. My view from the inside while the Orwellian nightmare goes on outside in the now unreal world out there.

My operation was for bowel cancer in two places (what luck! Some folk just have one.)  and it has been successfully removed. Two lymph nodes (out of 500?) may need chemotherapy but that is a while off. My bottom is now under my left arm 🥴. I had a coronavirus scare, I spent a week in isolation after a stem cell test; previously I had watched a man die in the bed opposite; it’s been an interesting journey. Latest thing to stop me going home; a litre of urine in my bladder! It’s seems my bowel has been re-educated but not my bladder quite yet. 48 hours dying to go to the loo and then peeing a Slimming World measure of gin and then thirty minutes later repeating the process was no fun at all.

Funniest of many funny moments getting the big red alarm chord that runs from ceiling to floor in the toilet stuck between my buttocks as I bent down to pull my pyjama bottoms back up! Why does it dangle there like a bleeding spider ready to snare a passing bottom?

There is a lot more to come. I now have a catheter back in and they say that should be removed this afternoon. Worst moment? 40 minutes on my front while a drain is inserted under local anaesthetic just above my right buttock; that was hell. That has still to be removed.

Today is Mary’s significant birthday! She has not been able to visit and I know has been climbing the walls. One day soon we shall share a glass of Prosecco, my darling and I love you so much!Xxxxx ❤️❤️❤️

Laura and Hannah have both also got me through this. Laura is trapped in Switzerland and has sent some  beautiful pictures of our grandchildren.

Thank you to all the others, sorry I haven’t  had the strength to reply individually!!

Bloody hell I did this! I hope the book will help, encourage others. My notes look pretty boring but it’s all there. Take care my friends; I am so blessed to have so many really good chums.

Malcolm Tuesday 7th of April.

Day 11

So weak. Much excitement in the ward G6 bags of goodies arrive for the nurses. The staff from F8 wandered in here last night, and it was like new contestants arriving in the big brother house. Filtered water, amazing new fittings; they were all agog. But constant rabbit from over excited nurses? My stoma is working, they are still drawing fluid from me. I need to sleep. But will I? Three moves yesterday, the last at midnight. 😡😡😡

Thats it folks shattered.

Take care Malcolm xxxx

Trust you are all surviving the madness .

Update from the madness centre of the world.

The operation was a long nine hours. I am very tired; so I love all your messages but to keep replying to them is very tiring. Keep ‘em coming by all means but please don’t expect an answer.

The operation according to that nice Mr. Nizar was completely successful; and in fact I thought he looked a little smug as he told me. But I will blog all about it hopefully from home, I just need to concentrate on getting my bowel working. My bottom is now on the side of my body, the nice stoma nurse is very chuffed with it visually. I keep throwing up and now have a tube in that they drag the stuff out of every four hours, where does it keep coming from, because I haven’t eaten since Tuesday just before seven, today is Saturday.

Highlight has been the nurse dragging the tube inserted in my willie along the side of the bed because it got wrapped round her leg. Tears to the eyes, was an understatement. Anyway, I’m alive which is absolutely all that matters.

Thank-you all for your concern; the really bad news and you heard it here first was that Mr. Nizar said he wanted me out and home ASAP, because he thought it was going to be worse than Italy.

Take care everyone, with my best wishes that the Orwellian craziness ends very, very soon. Be lucky Malcolm 🎧🤞🎶🎵🎶🎵

I’m OK

42717AC3-47EE-4E46-A6BB-618785CB990FNine hours in surgery. He must have had a game of snooker and taken in a b movie. A colostomy is for life, but hey I’m alive!

Cant quite see the sea!

Thanks for all your messages. Malcolm 🎧

💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤

 

 

Here we go, this is the week!

So it’s Monday and normally I would have been at my post at Slimming World. After a text conversation with the lovely consultant Angie, it was decided that I shouldn’t expose myself to the group this morning. Stop it, I have warned you before. So a lie in with a cup of tea and the morning paper. Only one problem was, that there was no morning paper. Has the paperboy self isolated? Who next, the milkman? And then what if the water people stop going to the water works? Do you turn the tap on and now’t comes out? My isolation brain was working overtime but at least taking my mind off the week ahead. And then Roy Hudd died, a lifetime favourite; I once appeared on the same bill as him at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon but that’s another story.

A shot of the mugs in the officers mess in Sandhurst; a mug shot? And another one from that amazing cemetery in Paris, just for Sarah Hillman’s other half, although I think the dude has lost his sword.

Away then to Frimley Park Hospital, with more Coronavirus madness in the news. All Irish pubs to be shut on St. Patricks day, this surely is the end of the world as we know it? I’m beginning to find it hard, even to justify to myself, to find my predicament more important than the mad, mad, world at the moment. Or indeed mean anything at all above and beyond what the whole globe is going through; blimey Treen’s got bowel cancer, so bloody what!

First stop the stoma nurse, a lovely lady (aren’t they all? Perhaps it’s an age thing!) called Rachel. The one yesterday was called Coleen! She explained all about an ileostomy, the temporary fix, and colostomy the permanent job. These are bags attached to your body for collecting poo. Sorry, you have eaten, haven’t you? So depending on whether or not my chum Graham Austin’s length of garden hose is needed will resolve the issue one way or the other; no unfortunately it will be one or the other. If I wake up from the operation, let me rephrase that, when I wake up, and the bag is on the right side of my body it’s an ileostomy, if it’s on the left side it’s a colostomy. So guess where little Malcolm’s fingers will go first when he wakes up? Stop it, you’re at it again. The ileostomy is temporary (ha! Possibly twelve weeks temporary!) but the colostomy, trust me is not just for Christmas. Mary is busily taking notes in case my brain is still malfunctioning. Rachel explains how they work, how to empty them and how to clean them and how to dispose of them. They will give me supplies to take home and make sure deliveries are made in the future. It’s a lot to take in and she tells me not to worry because they will look after me all the way through and explain everything again. Even if the doctor says you can go home, you go nowhere until we are happy that you are happy with what you are doing. Another amazingly dedicated, caring, concerned person who you know you can put your complete trust in. See you on Wednesday morning, and this may sound odd, but in a weird sort of way do you know I’m looking forward to it?

A small pause and a drink of water and away for my lung test. There is no music in the waiting area and Radio Frimley Park paid a lot of money to put our output in there because they asked for it and wanted it, when they became jealous of the music in the ED department. My brain hurts.

A very nice nurse takes me to see a doctor but no hand shake. Once more we go through the questions of have you had this or that and then paperwork completed there is some confusion with turning the computer read out on or off and my boosted confidence starts to wane. I cough and am immediately attacked by hand sanitizer spray, which are becoming like gold dust I am told. Once more, shirt off and many leads connected to my body and breath into this tube. “Oh, that’s better than predicted,” exclaims the doctor as the graph on the computer registers my efforts. “No shit, Sherlock!” I want to say but keep my countenance. “Based on?” I question. “Your weight and height,” I add, “and age?” “Ah, yes,” he agrees. Then I’m asked to sit on the bike and pedal. A mask is attached and I’m asked to no longer talk but just nod if I’m asked anything, and away we go. Just keep as close as you can to 60 on the readout in front of you and try to keep the little light green, it will become harder eventually. Then another discussion about what should be on the screen and why wasn’t was my blood pressure registering. Am I the first person they have seen since they both got back from a holiday? They wander about and the nurse almost looks like, as we are in for the long haul, she is very much regretting not having brought her knitting in to occupy her, while I pedal away. “It should change after six minutes, automatically shouldn’t it?” They gaze at one another with furrowed eyebrows. “It’s going to get harder now, try and keep it at thirty. Ah, yes look, it’s kicked in.”

“Slow down slowly and just ease the pedals off and carefully get yourself off the bike.” Even I’m impressed that nothing hurts, aches or irritates. “I’ll get you a drink.” “Large gin and tonic would be lovely.” She stoically passes me a cup of water. The doctor goes back to his notes, “Right. Any chest pains?” “No.” “Any dizziness?” “No.” “Well I think you should be fine for Wednesday. It will be a Mr. Shergar, looking after you.” I presume this is the anesthetist and I’m so, so tempted to say that I bet no one has seen him for a while but again I keep my countenance and thanking them both for a wonderful afternoon, I depart.

On my way out I engage the receptionist in a bit of conversation about the lack of music. We turn the volume control up to 10, it’s highest level and you can just about hear something. “It would be lovely to have some music,” and I explain they should have and tell them I will let our lovely engineer Mike know and he will sort it. “Oh thank you, that would be nice.” Odd they never said anything to us when they could no longer hear any music but I’m afraid people do no longer surprise me.

I meet Mary in main reception and once more there is an almighty stationary queue to get out of the car park. I call security, “No, we do know. We’ve raised the barrier so they can just drive out, so nothing else we can do.” When we finally arrive at the exit, of which there are two, sure enough the barriers are up. However, two main problems are standing in the way of a quick egress; the first is, people don’t look and are still assuming you have to put your ticket in, not realising the barrier is vertical. The second is that one of the exits, that presumably was giving trouble, even though the barrier is up, still has two large traffic cones in front of it completely preventing its use. Surely a man, arm waving people through, would have helped and taking the bloody cones away would have been another good idea. Is it me?

So that’s it folks, it is now Tuesday morning and the Picolax has kicked in already. I had breakfast before seven o’clock and now it’s just liquids all the way to F8, tomorrow morning at seven. Mary read a sign outside the stoma nurses emporium about diet and it seems jelly babies and marshmallows are the order of the day and white bread. This is not going to sit comfortably with my Slimming World regime, is it? But hopefully this is a temporary diet, purely for medicinal purposes and I can return to my beloved whole meal bread quite quickly. But the thought of jelly babies and marshmallows because the doctor said so, at the moment is something I’m quite looking forward to, purely from a medical point of view, of course. 😉😉😉 And thanks to SW and Angie, I’m in a much fitter, healthier place to face this than I would have been  before I lost my three stone. In fact one of the questions before the bike ride was, “Do you get breathless going up hill?” My answer, “No not any more and I can whistle,” brought a puzzled look to his face but both Mary and Angie would understand.

All Mary’s choirs have stopped and all concerts have been cancelled, such hard work, rehearsals all down the drain. My problem compared to the carnage being wrought all around the world, is really completely insignificant and in a way the madness at the moment has put it nicely into perspective.

Wish me luck! And thanks as always for reading. M & M 🏥🏥🚑🚑

694E4CCD-0673-40C2-80B8-E624E93093E7

Those eyebrows need a damn good trim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey has begun!

Gosh not one phone call but three! And hey, the weather is good, the sea is calmness personified, so the journey began today with a pre op and will continue next Monday, as advertised but with a stoma appreciation session now first, before the bicycle, let’s test your lungs session, culminating in the operation itself next Wednesday 18th of March at 0700. The calls just kept coming. “So the operation itself will be next Wednesday,” pause, “have I taken you by surprise?” My legs I can feel are shaking slightly, “Well yes. I am just amazed at the speed.”

So, how do I feel? You know the operation is coming because they have told you but when you do know the actual date for sure, (I guess there is always some flakey place in your mind that thinks a) it’s all been a horrible dream or b) they made a huge mistake in the first place,) there comes that smack between the eyes again. And suddenly we are off with a pre op date, and a very nice lady calls to add my stoma educational date to my lung testing day, to cut down on multiple visits to the hospital. The diary is filling up again but with dates that are certainly not uncertain and this time will be fulfilled.

This morning I arrive at the first floor of Frimley Park Hospital, not really sure what to expect, except Mary has told me it’s nothing invasive. They have asked somewhere in all the relevant paperwork that arrived through the letterbox yesterday, that I take along a urine sample in a clean bottle. Why I didn’t go to the surgery and get a sample bottle I have no idea; my brain certainly seems not to belong to me at the moment. So I find myself seeking out an almost empty after shave bottle and preparing that for use this morning.

A lovely warm smiling greeting, “Sit yourself down over there Mr. Treen and someone will be along to attend to you.” The television is on in the waiting area and the interminable Coronavirus story continues to dominate any conversation in the news. I will forever associate my treatment with this world wide Orwellian outbreak.

“Hello, Malcolm, come through.” Oh, how I wish I could remember names under tension. A lovely lady checks, as always, my date of birth and I lie on a couch while she attaches stickers and wires all over the place, mainly feet and chest and eventually she pushes a button. “All done, thank you. Sorry, it takes longer to wire you up than actually take the reading.” Back out to the waiting area, where the global apocalypse carry’s on, with Ireland now announcing its schools and colleges are to shut. Another lovely, lovely lady escorts me to a room and here we go with lots of questions. Again a bit like Tony Hancock, had any of these diseases, and the answers are no, no, no and certainly not that one, how dare you! Gazing at the screen, “Right, let’s take a look at your medical history.” Now there is a long pause; which is strange because there cannot be much to look at and indeed maybe she can’t quite believe what she isn’t looking at, if you see what I mean?  “2004, an endoscopy?” “Yes, I’m afraid that’s about as good as it probably gets. I couldn’t swallow and was admitted overnight and then had that endoscopy procedure eventually to make sure all was well. And it was; I was simply told to make sure I went away and masticated. Which my mum always told me would make me go blind!” She chuckled but had obviously heard this one before, indeed as she had with the hearing question, when I replied, “pardon?” “I sometimes fall for that one, if I’m not concentrating.” “Let’s take you blood pressure.” The machine kicks in, “Text book reading!” 

We parted real chums and she explained everything beautifully. I was given two sachets of the dreaded Picolax and her deepest sympathy and some nutricia preOp, to down in order to replace the fact I would be pretty dehydrated. She explained her love of being a nurse was just such a lucky calling because she got up every morning and actually wanted to go to work. Shades of me and LWT, because I always said I was so lucky to be in exactly that frame of mind most mornings myself. The thought of 9 to 5 in an office was just a non starter. Her husband, apparently, couldn’t understand her frame of mind but his problem she explained not mine. Once more someone’s dedication shone through and I explained how Mr. Nizar’s love of the bowel had really filled me full of confidence. “Funny, we never meet them,” she said. “You should, you really should,” I said, “Have a cup of coffee one morning with him in Café Glade, you’d love it.”

Back to the waiting area and finally escorted to take a blood sample. Even the nurse was old enough to quote Hancock back at me, “That’s nearly an arm full!” And I was allowed to drift down to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for some antibiotics to take the day before the operation. How they stay in place when the Picolax kicks in, I have no idea and I didn’t ask. They know what they are doing don’t they?

The queue to get out of the car park, almost took longer than waiting for the prescription. When that system works, a bit like Heathrow, it is fantastic. When it goes tits up, it’s a nightmare. In the queue, I have time to realise I still have that aftershave bottle of pee in my pocket, no one has asked for it. Now be careful dear boy, I know you no longer possess your brain, but do not to get confused and put that bottle back on the bathroom shelf! Splash that all over yourself in the morning and the dentist will not be very impressed. Oh god, the dentist, Friday 13th, what can possibly go wrong? 😱

Six days and counting and how do I feel? Sorry, I have no idea, I really haven’t. So please, don’t ask me but I may ask myself again soon.

Thank you for reading, dear friends.

M & M 🧪🎭💊