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 🏥🏥🚑🚑
Those eyebrows need a damn good trim!