Trust me, it was a shock to me.

When you meet your new GP for the first time, you really don’t expect her to have her finger up where the sun doesn’t shine, within five minutes of meeting her. Mary thought I had been coughing more, I thought my back ached not in its usual back ache place and also the bottom kept falling out of my world with blood; reverse that last sentence and you’ll get my drift without being too explicit. Sorry, if you have not had dinner yet!

Dr Lau, was quite positive and fairly up beat but the words bowel cancer did trip off her tongue; are you ever quite ready for that smack between the eyes? Discuss. One irony of this moment was the bowel screening test kit that arrives in the post, when you get to a certain age, had come two days before and I hadn’t yet completed it. She acted very quickly with an urgent referral to the hospital and, god bless the NHS, within 48 hours I had a phone call to come into Frimley Park and see a specialist a Mr. Nicolay, the following week on Monday. So we arrived and no surprise, perhaps a tad longer in minutes than my GP, but I found myself lying down on his couch with the audible smack of the rubber gloves from behind me! He said I would need a colonoscopy but meanwhile I was dispatched immediately for a blood test; by golly once they get you, don’t they just love doing stuff. The word cancer never left his lips; perhaps years of experience of people having a funny turn in front of him, had caused this hesitaion.

Sitting outside in the blood test waiting area, at least gave me the opportunity to pop into the housekeeping cupboard, where our Radio Frimley Park volume control lies (don’t ask) and turn it up to an audible level. Within about twenty minutes of sitting there a text arrived on my phone telling me my colonoscopy was scheduled for a week on Friday; once more, god bless the NHS but this is probably why Frimley Park Hospital is rated as  ‘outstanding.’ This was perfect timing as two days later we departed for Switzerland for six days, to celebrate our beautiful granddaughter Safi’s seventh birthday and calling in to Paris for one night on the way back, in order to see my old chum Mathieu, a friend from my filming days in France with LWT,  many years ago.

So here we go for the colonoscopy. I’m asked if I want just gas and air or a sedative. Taking the latter means I can’t drink alcohol when I get home; so obviously that is immediately not an option. A cannula is inserted, with something of a struggle to find a vein, apparently just in case I have a change of mind mid procedure. They tell me I’m a tad dehydrated, the Picolax saga coming up may well explain why. The colonoscopist (?) turns out to be a lady and immediate panic sets in, as this is Valentines Day, should I have brought flowers? I lie on the couch, “in the  fetal position please,” like I can remember that far back, and there is a wonderful colour TV screen for me to gaze at and admire the cameras medical fact finding journey. I had taken that morning and the previous afternoon, a sachett entitled ‘Picolax’ mixed with water, whose effects had been almost immediate and prolonged; in that, if I couldn’t be found in the lounge, I was certainly to be discovered in the smallest room in the house. I spent so long in there, I did toy with the idea of installing RFP’s output, to make the experience a little more pleasant. When I finally read the colonoscopist’s report it said “Visibility with Picolax…..fair.” How much of that stuff I would have had to have taken to get a rating of “good” I have no idea! The mind boggles.

You do have to have a sense of humour and a positivity about shite that happens, otherwise you drown in the mire of depression. (Chaucer I think ☺)(Thank you, Keith Green!)

Anyway, back to the TV screen. The camera’s journey went on for some time and on two occassions a colleague’s opinion summoned from another room was sort. He sauntered in with the air of ‘I’m the dude in charge here,’ gave his whispered opinion and then sauntered out again. I watched as the amazing gadget cut bits of me away and kept wondering why I wasn’t yelling, “Ouch!” The very nice lady, who I now discover is called Anne, tells me there and then, when she has taken the eight biopsies, there are  two cancers and suddenly I become case number 359894. A big, and I mean really big smack between the eyes this time. She told me to go and have a cup of tea and she would come and chat about where we go from here, with Mary present as well, of course.

I lay in the recovery room, watching people coming and going, for what seemed like an amazingly long time and began wondering just where the promised cup of tea was. Finally someone removed my cannula, told me to get dressed and I sat in another waiting area and the cup of tea and three biscuits duly arrived. Not having eaten since lunchtime the day before and it was now something like five thirty they were very welcome indeed. Mary came in, looking pensive and drawn. “They asked me could I be here in ten minutes, I thought you had croaked it mid procedure!” So the fact that I was alive was an immediate bonus! I felt really sorry for the one other bloke in that waiting area, as I said to Mary, “No, I’m here but I do have bowel cancer in two places.” The poor guys face dropped and I saw him mouth, “Oh god, I’m sorry.” I have no idea what his problems were but I suddenly felt really guilty unburdening myself like that in front of him.

A nurse appeared. Come with me, we need a blood test. I gave on Monday. Deaf ears. Anne appeared, “I’ll see you in a minute! I’ll just let the nurse get on.” Me, “Such a shame those cannula’s don’t have a reverse valve, so you could not only put stuff in but then take blood out.” Not a smile. I went back and joined Mary, after the legalized vampire had finally had her way.

Anne joined us, “So…..” me, “I did give blood on Monday.” Anne, “Ah, sorry, I didn’t know that.” Me thinking, “You really should have done, surely.” Mental note to tell the powers that be. She then went on to explain yes, it was cancer, yes in two places, what they needed to know now was if it had spread at all. So an MRI scan and a CT scan were coming my way. They then would know what they were treating and how to progress. If it was contained to the bowel, two snips and it’s sorted. Go home and have a stiff drink, you deserve it. Now that’s got to be the first time a doctor has said that to me! But what a lovely lady, so professional, so compassionate, a true indication of why Frimley Park Hospital has an outstanding rating.

So that was my fun packed Friday Valentine’s Day 💐 and on the Monday a phone call, ‘would I be available tomorrow for an MRI scan,’ they had a cancellation; does the pope have a balcony?

I have never had an MRI scan and at least unlike the colonoscopy, I didn’t have to take everything off and don strange back to front underpants and two gowns. Another day and another cannula; this one to pop something into the blood stream to relax bits to get better pictures! No, absolutely no side effects but your vision might be blurred and you may experience a metallic taste in the mouth. They then pop two ear plugs into your lug holes and place a pair of headphones over your ears with music blaring out. They then start talking to you! No way can you hear them, perhaps it was the end of a long day. And the machine fires up. It thumps, it bangs, it whistles and got so active at one point I was convinced it was going to self destruct. It took about half an hour and no I didn’t get claustrophobic, just completely amazed at what technology the NHS does possess. A distant voice underneath the music said, “Are you ok?” Silly me, I thought it was part of the soundtrack, but bless them they were trying to talk to me again. 😂 Out I came, cannula removed and clothes back on.

Fade to black and fade up four days later for the CT scan. Ever felt got at? This time in Aldershot, which is an outreach of Frimley Park Hospital. So kind, so caring and so sympathetic yet again. But once again a cannula to pop something into the blood stream that, “May make you feel warm and like you’ve wet yourself!” Gosh, well once again something to really look forward to then! Quick procedure, “Breath in, hold your breath, breath normally.” Repeated three or four times and then it’s all over. Clothes on, sit for a while, cannula removed and you are ‘free to go.’ “Sounds like a release from a prison!” That did get a laugh. And did you get warm and feel like you had wet yourself? Sorry to disappoint but thankfully no.

So that’s where we are at. A visit to the back to the lovely GP, who offered sympathy and support at any time, she having had the colonoscopy results but nothing else. Thank you Doctor Lau. And now we wait, which is fast becoming the worst bit. But stay positive as Anthony Hopkins said, “ None of us are getting out of here alive. So please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is no time for anything else” and I have adopted that as my mantra going forward and if it’s good enough for Julie Walters, for this wretched disease, then as sure as hell trust me its good enough for me.

More news as I get it, which will come next Monday as a result of a phone call from the hospital. They have a Monday case notes study session and then will call me in.

Watch this space.

Thanks for reading M & M 💉🧪

 

 

 

A few photos left over!

As always, looking back in the cold (and I do mean cold) light of day at the last few days, there are always a few pictures that really should have been shared on these pages. The cemetery that we walked round yesterday morning was called the Père Lachaise Cemetery and is extraordinarily large and some of the gravestones are amazing works of art in their own right; the one on right below put me in mind of Stonehenge! Not all are by any means old, for example the actress Anna Karina has been recently buried there.

Returning to the birthday celebrations, some of Mary’s pictures caught some wonderful Safi expressions whilst opening her presents.

The play room looks like a small corner of Hamleys but Safi was taken by the good old fashioned jig-saws we bought her and immediately started doing one, once her guests had left; enlisting the help of Mary and Aline. At the finish there were about four pieces missing, Mary could see problems looming ahead, of returning it to Amazon etc.etc. Safi looked around and slowly opened her hand to reveal the missing pieces, having kept them back so she could be the one to “finish” the puzzle. Smart lady!

She was so taken by the unicorns, that they went off to school with her on Monday! The outlook from the hotel in Paris, was exactly as it had been the first time we visited and the chap did seem to remember us; in fact we convinced ourselves it was probably the same room.

When we were leaving we said the usual goodbyes and he yelled after me, “And next time, no tempest please!” Presumably assuming we had come from England and brought it with us. The lovely taxi driver misheard terminal 2A for terminal 2E, it’s all in the pronunciation, but seemed un phased as we pulled into 2E and then upon realising our error, he did some amazing back doubles in the airport and dropped us outside 2A. In fact the ticket was wrong and it was 2F, but not that long a walk inside. We passed over London and the flight was fairly smooth; a BA person flying as a passenger in front of us, (gently reminding the man sat next to him that this was an emergency exit, so put your bag in the locker above sunbeam) told us that flying from Berlin the day before had been a little “sporty”. They didn’t serve hot drinks on the way back; I guess just in case it got a little sporty again.

Amazing how much gubbins is in those wings! And Wembley stadium viewed from afar but always reminds me of where my working life started. Not in the stadium but in LWT’s Wembley studios, close by; and, of course, Mary’s.

Funnily enough, Mathieu said one of his early jobs was working on a documentary in this very cemetery. So there we are folks, I hope you enjoyed the trip, as much as we did. Next stop is probably Gruyères again for Zach’s tenth birthday 😱😱😱😱, now that just does not seem possible but watch this space.

As always, thank you so much for reading and comments are always most welcome.

Take care M 🎧 and M 🎶🎵🎶 👋👋🇨🇭🇨🇭

Oh, hello from blighty!

 

What a fantastic evening last night in Paris. We caught the train from Geneva to Paris and Boris, have we got news for you! No customs checks at all!

We just got on board and away we went. Mathieu picked us up in Paris at Le Garde de Lyons and transported us to our hotel. We then had drinks and dinner in a wonderful Paris cafe!

As the storm outside intensified! The meal cost for three, came to less than a meal for two in Switzerland! So I will now stay in Switzerland but eat in France! 😆😂 Makes total sense to me!

So a great shot of the staircase at the hotel and we had a walk the following morning round the wonderful cemetery that is so close to the hotel.

Wonderful statues in such wonderful places ! And there you have it;

The best moon shot I ever took and Mary enjoying the breakfast delivered to our room.

Take care, good night!

Thanks for reading M & M xxxx

The party.

This morning a rather crowded dining room; shock, horror! But the moment I had been waiting for so long, very nearly arrived. You may remember my obsession, on previous visits, with the egg boiling machine; I have accounts of it all going wrong, of eggs cracking open, resulting in the white foam invading everywhere and the machine being removed; of people just not knowing what to do. Well, this morning an oriental couple sat down and then the gent wandered off to the far corner, grabbed two eggs and some other bits and pieces and sat back down with his wife. Immediately I realised he had simply taken two raw eggs, assuming they were hard boiled. My excitement mounted alarmingly and I gestured to Mary, drawing her attention to the two eggs lying idly on his plate. On the strength of what we were about to witness, Mary ordered another small pot of tea and we sat back in comfort to observe, what we thought might be a wonderful slapstick moment, of the chap cracking the egg open only to discover it was raw. An eggcellent moment of hilarity was about to unfold. Just before the moment of truth something triggered the wife to call a halt to the proceedings; what sixth inscrutable sense kicked in, we shall never know, but it did. She removed the eggs, went back to the machine, read the instructions carefully, that are only in French, English or German, so good on her and proceeded to plunge the eggs into the now boiling water and returned to the table with her little portable timer. We finished the tea and left deflated.

Off to the flat, where Zach did his homework and the cake was completed by Laura; it turned into a huge chocolate cake, accompanied by dancers as requested, which became the main birthday theme.

Transported carefully to the farm, the cake candles were added later. Laurent and Aline did a marvelous job, as always, entertaining the party arrivals and the adults assembled and put the world to rights; Brexit of course being the main featured topic of discussion.

Jean-Denis and Lilliane (the other grandparents) arrived followed not long after by Caro and Julian and wine was taken and food provided. The children were loud, but that’s children for you, and they all certainly seemed to have a great time.

We got some great family pictures despite Zach complaining at one point that his legs were aching; the football from yesterday taking its toll!

The presents were opened, Happy birthday was sung and the cake was cut.

Some boys continued to be boys! Finally peace was restored (guests went home!) and Safi played with some jig-saws. More pictures tomorrow, because it’s late now and we have to drive to Geneva in the morning, probably in the rain, where hopefully we will catch a train to Paris and Laura a plane back to blighty; fingers crossed for that one!

The birthday girl and a picture that Zach drew.

Thanks for reading M & M 🎂🍷🎈🎈🎶🎵

Saturday and Laura is flying in!

Gruyères was remarkably quite again last night but looked as beautiful as ever. We dined once more in the Rampart Restaurant, served by a Swiss waitress. Mary had a humble cheese salad whilst I spoilt myself with a small steak. Did I say, the waitress the first night was from Portugal and the second night was from Belgium?  The lovely Belgium one complemented Mary on her French and explained the strong regional variations of the cantons in Switzerland.

We breakfasted almost alone and collected Safi and Zach at nine o’clock from the farm. We stopped again at the co-op to buy pizza for the troops tonight and a metal grill to cool the birthday cake on. Bye bye £35 for buying just half a shopping basket full of goods! I actually think it’s better when you have no idea how much you are paying, which is why I often like to pay in cash with Swiss Francs and don’t convert; unfortunately when you pay in the supermarket by credit card both francs and pounds come up on the read out in front of you. I’m sure the cashier always wonders why I always seem to gasp so loudly and without fail, as he asks me politely to enter my pin, and he contemplates whether I simply have indigestion or maybe that the mad Brit in front of him is just about to have a heart attack.

Back at the flat, Mary set to work to bake the cake and the troops watched a video of Spider-Man while Zach blew bubbles! We watched Laura’s plane take off a few minutes late from Gatwick, on Flightradar24 and then after a swift brunch, I and Zach headed for the football and Mary and Safi remained behind to start on phase two of the birthday cake.

As you can see the cake didn’t quite fit on the purchase from the co-op and in fact experienced a small hair line fracture on the right! Never mind, when it is soldered together with its other half, I’m sure all will be well. Safi played happily with her scientific kit, (there are no lenses in the glasses!) whilst Zach battled on the pitch and a certain intruder had to be kept an eye on, and definitely away from the cake!

After the second half of the seven cake was baked, we all went back to watch Zach’s team playing well but unfortunately not winning the tournament but we were delighted to have seen him play.

The sun shone down on the Cafe du Cheval Blanc over the road from the flat, as Laura arrived home not long after we ourselves had returned. In the end, the pizza was put on hold, and we all went out for a meal fairly locally; where Zach proudly pointed out his name on the notice board in the restaurant, announcing the day’s proceedings at the indoor pitch. After dropping everyone back at the flat, Mary and I returned back to the hotel.

Never knowingly not looking a good dessert in the face, the troops end the meal in style. A very badly snatched picture of the notice board but the boy done good.

Tomorrow the party, so please do join us!

Thanks for reading M 📷 & M 🎂 ………….. comments as always welcome.

Happy Birthday Safi

The official day of the birthday but the party is not until Sunday. After spending only £147 in the co-op, on the usual bread, cheese and toilet rolls; we picked Safi up from school and after a quick lunch dropped her back for ice skating in the afternoon. At the same time we collected Zach after his morning at school and swimming. Keep up at the back!

Last night, a salad to start and then a rather splendid venison sausage and Mary had Rosti and we were both joined by a cat, who we were both sure shouldn’t have been there, in yet another crowded restaurant!

We headed, after collecting Safi, to a little cafe in Romont for some cheeky birthday cakes.

Back to the flat to Skype Laura at work! And then we dropped them back at the farm! Laura arrives hopefully, storm permitting, tomorrow but first we collect them both at nine in the morning and then take Zach for football after lunch!

And relax…………….

Thanks for reading! M 🌭 & M 🍰