Bronchoscopy

An account of todays visit to Addnebrookes for a bronchoscopy.

INTRODUCTION

This post deals with the latest medical procedure I have undergone in the course of efforts to help me recover from cancer. Some of you may find parts of what follows to be strong meat.

PREPARATION

In a letter liberally laced with dire warnings of what would happen if I did not follow the stipulated requirements absolutely 100% I was required to present myself at the Treatment Centre at Addenbrookes (a place I have not been before) by 9AM on Wednesday 13th March (i.e. today). I was also required to have someone else present as the letter made it clear that I would not in a fit state to travel back unassisted after the procedure. In view of the time we would have to leave King’s Lynn this meant a night in the camper van for my father. 

Since I shrewdly suspected that the day would entail a lot of waiting around my preparation included supplying myself with no fewer than four books to ensure that I did not run out (for the record I was in to the third of them before the day was done) of ways to fill in the time while things weren’t happening.

ARRIVAL

Having allowed generously for traffic jams and only actually encountered one, on the approach to the hospital, we arrived considerably ahead of schedule. Once we had got to the third floor of the building and located the area where the bronchoscopy was to take place there was a questionnaire to fill in, and the usual quantity of paperwork to be filled in and signed. Also, to enable the procedure to be carried out I had to have a cannula inserted. Then there was some more waiting before the doctor was ready to perform the procedure.

THE PROCEDURE

Once I had been taken through the list of possible side effects in order of likelihood and increasing severity it was time to begin in earnest. A local anaesthetic was sprayed into the back of my throat to deaden the feeling in that area. Allegedly it tastes like banana, to which I say that those classifying said taste have not actually sampled it – it bears no resemblance to banana. Then a sedative was injected through my cannula to help relax me for the procedure – it worked very well, and I came round with the procedure safely completed. A couple of observation sessions and a bit of waiting later I was able to set off, equipped with another letter warning me off food or drink before 12:45PM and off alcohol for 24 hours. 

The journey home ensured that I was free of temptation until significantly after the 12:45 cut off. As of this moment the only side effects I have experienced are a very slightly sore throat and a bit of coughing. The results of this procedure can take up to a week to come through, so they may or may not be available when I see my main team on Monday. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

A new place means a new opportunity for photographs (unless it is very dull indeed), and here are some I took during the day:

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These three metal panels are along the path that leads from the road to the entrance to the treatment centre.

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This item rotates regularly, and is a fascinating site (I have held some of todays pics back for my next blog post, including three more of this to follow the three I show here.

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100 Cricketers – Third XI Opening Batters

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series and using the photography section to mention an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers“. Today, having finished the second XI we start going through the third XI, with the opening pair. For those who are new to the series and would like to catch up here are the most important staging posts so far:

  1. The post in which I introduced the whole series.
  2. The post in which I completed my coverage of the firxt XI and introduced the second XI.
  3. My most recent post, in which I completed my coverage of the second XI and introduced the third XI

CHAMARI ATAPATTU

She owes her presence in my list to one innings , but what an amazing innings it was. In the 2017 Women’s World Cup, facing one of the pre-tournament favourites Australia she scored 178 not out. None of her team mates were able to handle the strong Aussie bowling attack – her dominance of this innings is reflected in the fact that Sri Lanka as a whole tallied only 255. 

As a one-person show it had few precedents (Viv Richards, 189 not out in a total of 272-9 v England at Old Trafford in 1984 and Kapil Dev, 175 not out coming in at 9-4 to get India to an ultimately winning 266-8 v Zimbabwe in the 1983 world cup are two that come to mind, while in test cricket there was Graham Gooch’s 154 not out at Headingley in 1991 which got England to 252 all out). Unfortunately for Atapattu her amazing innings was not quite enough – Australia won the match in spite of it. A full account of the match can be read here.

The England Women are starting a series in Sri Lanka this Saturday, and I for one hope for more fireworks from Atapattu during it. 

VIRENDER SEHWAG

One of the select few batters to have scored two test match triple hundreds (Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle are the others), and alone in having scored 100 runs in each session of a test match day (Bradman’s 309 on the opening day at Headingley in 1930 saw him score 220 not out in the first two session and then add a mere 89 in the third), Sehwag’s aggression has been well an truly backed by results. I remember a series opener between India and England when India needed 384 to win in the fourth innings of the match and a very rapid innings from Sehwag completely knocked the stuffing out of England, enabling India to win with considerable ease.

He also bowled occasional off-spin, with his batting and bowling averages being just the right way round, although it would be a risible over-statement of the case to describe someone who paid 47 runs per wicket as an all-rounder. 

Finally, as a right-handed bat he contrasts nicely at the top of the order with the left-handed Chamari Atapattu, meaning that opponents of this XI would face a varied challenge right from the start. 

In my next post in this series I will cover nos 3, 4 and 5, and given who two of those are, and who I have down at number 6, I think most would agree that the luxury of an all attacking opening pair is one that this XI can well afford.

PHOTOGRAPHS

This morning was an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning, using a new venue, a Caribbean Soul Food establishment which has recently opened on Tower Street. It is an excellent space, and they were sensible about the background music – they did play some, even though it was a morning, but the volume was not too loud. There was a good tunrout, including several very welcome new faces, and I had an enjoyable morning getting away from my bungalow for a bit (something that has not been easy of late). Here are some photographs I took while I was there:

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In the summer months this seating area may suit us well, but today was definitely not the day for it!

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The establihsment includes an art gallery.

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Just across the street from the front entrance is this bakery which was also doing good business.
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This staircase is an impressive sight.

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Addenbrookes Visit Brings Good News

An account of yesterday’s visit to Addenbrookes.

INTRODUCTION

Regular readers will be aware that I have had a tough time lately, including two unscheduled visitsTHto my local hospital. It was therefore with feelings of some trepidation that I approached my scheduled visit to Addenbrookes yesterday. I will take you through what happened at various stages of the day in the rest of this post.

CONSULTATION WITH DR MAZHAR

The encouraging news from this session was that my tumour markers are continuing to fall (having at one stage been up in the hundreds of thousands they are now down at 20). Immediately after this session I went for a chest x-ray, preparatory to an afternoon appintment with a respiratory specialist. 

THE RESPIRATORY SPECIALIST

Given my situation the news from this appointment could have been anything from dreadful up to reasonable (given the known state of my lungs it was not going be good on any normal definition of that word). In the event the news was, to adapt a line from S J Simon’s “Why You Lose at Bridge”, the best news possible – the lung infection had cleared up, and it is virtually certain that the main problem in my lungs is not, as some had feared, a case of Bleomycin toxicity. It is almost certainly caused by small scale haemorrhaging (the lungs act like a sponge, soaking up the loose blood, which causes some problems but explains why there is little external evidence in such cases). A CT scan has been booked to further check this out, and if warranted this will be followed by a bronchoscopy.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

My physical state is improving – while I found walking around the hospital tiring I did not actually need to stop at any point, and I never felt like I was close to trouble. Since I went public about having experienced such things I have had no further anxiety/ panic attacks (and given both my recent circumstances and my mental health history it is no great surprise that I did experience such things). The mild tranquilizers (Diazepam for those interested in exact details) that my doctor provided to help with this issue have worked so far. There is a long way to go yet, but at least at the moment I seem to be heading in the right direction.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some photographs from yesterday… 

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The West Winch village sign
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This magnificent map adorns one wall of the waiting room for the respiratory clinic.
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The first of two shots I got of Ely Cathedral during the return journey.

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Physical Health Impacts on to Mental Health

An account of the last few days, explaining the current problems I am facing (regular readers will be well aware that I have been taking a battering in various ways over the last five months).

INTRODUCTION

Earlier this week I came out of one hospital visit caused by breathlessness only to go almost straight back in. Now I am back out again, but there are still problems – only they are mental rather than physical.

THE BOOMERANG DAY

On Tuesday I was discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital and came home. That evening when considering going to bed I became breathless, tested by SP02 on a machine I now have for that purpose, got a low reading and found myself heading back to A&E. I was tested there and we established that my machine always reads one or two points too low, and that at the hospital there was no major issue with my breathing. After a six hour wait for further developments I was moved to a bed, and I remained at the hospital until yesterday.

YESTERDAY

Yesterday evening, when I headed for bed, having made sure that my SP02 was not low, I became breathless just from thinking about getting into bed. I called my father, and with his assistance, having identified this as a panic attack, I eventually did get to sleep. I was up quite late this morning, but got my coffee going OK and checked in on the computer.

TODAY – BREAKFAST PROBLEMS

I was just preparing my breakfast (the cereal was in the bowl and I was opening the milk) when I had another breathlessness related panic attack and called my father for assistance. He came round, I ate the breakfast and have subsequently managed to get dressed and go out with him for a very short walk. I have an appointment at my GP surgery at 4:20PM to discuss my mental health situation (I am definitely in need of help in this department) and see what can be done about it. 

TOMORROW AND SUNDAY

These are the two days that will pose the most problems – I will be at Addenbrookes for most of Monday, and there are plans for a visit from Tapping House on Tuesday. That leaves something to be done about the weekend. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

My physical health is probably is good, given what has happened over the last few months, as it could be, but mentally I am struggling. I do not know why it is these recent incidents that have had this effect, but undoubtedly they have, and something needs to be done – I hope the doctor at my surgery can help with this. 

An Unfortunate Episode

A brief account of the last 48 hours.

INTRODUCTION

I have just got back from a brief stay (less than 48 hours in total) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, and this post describes what happened, covering the events of Sunday in some detail as a lead -up.

A GOOD SUNDAY…

Sunday morning started exceptionally well, with a shopping trip to Sainsbury’s, during which I walked around the store. I was also able to carry my own shopping from the car to the bungalow and unpack it myself. 

I then had a full Sunday lunch at my aunt’s house, stayed to watch the rugby match between Italy and Ireland (won by Ireland even though they never produced anything approaching their best) and went home still feeling well and happy.

I had my supper and was getting ready for an early night (preparatory to a women’s ODI in India) when the situation changed.

…UNTIL ABOUT 7:30PM

Changing from day clothes into my pyjamas tired me considerably, and my breathing became difficult. I returned to my armchair in the living room to give my breathing a chance to regularise itself, and about an hour later I thought it had done so, and headed back to the bedroom. Unfortunately even that short walk was enough to cause further breathing issues, and at that point I phoned my father who was staying at my aunt’s place. A short time later we were on our way to A&E.

A check not long after arrival there confirmed that it was not a false alarm – my oxygen saturation was down to 89, so I was put on extra oxygen and a bed was found for me. 

The usual gamut of scans and tests were carried out over the following 24 hours, and late yesterday evening my oxygen feed was reduced. At about 9:30 this morning I was taken off the oxygen altogether. A test at about lunchtime confirmed that my unassisted oxyegn saturation levels were just high enough for me to be safely discharged, and at about 3:30PM my father gave me a lift home, where I am now resting up.

 

Monday – Autism, Capita and Cancer

An account of a busy, tiring but important day in my story – yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was a very busy day for me, starting with a session in my home with Capita as part of processing a PIP claim and followed by various things at Addenbrookes Hospital. This post covers the days events in some detail.

THE START OF THE DAY – CAPITA

I was up and about by 7AM as I intended to be, giving myself plenty of time to prepare for the arrival of Capita. At just about 9AM somebody from Tapping House arrived to support me through the session, closely followed by my parents and Capita’s representative.

This session went fairly well, helped by the fact that the Capita representative actually had some knowledge of autism, which meant that I was being asked very direct questions, which in turn made handling them easier.

While I have as yet no expectations about the final outcome of this assessment I believe that it went about as well as it could have done, and therefore I am cautiously optimistic.

ADDENBROOKES PRELIMINARIES

The day at Addenbrookes started with a weigh-in (71.3 Kilos), and then an appointment with my oncology specialists to discuss progress in my case. My tumour markers are continuing to drop (from being in the hundreds of thousands they are now down to 36, while they need to get down to 4 for me to safe) and the overall prognosis is improved (when my treatment started I was told that there was about a 50% chance of all the cancers that were afflicting me being cleared, and I have now been told that the odds are better than that). When my lungs have cleared sufficiently for me to be considered strong enough to through such a process there will be an operation to remove the testicle that was the root cause of all my problems. There remains some uncertainty over what will ultimately be done about the four small tumours in my brain. I am due back at Addenbrookes in two weeks time, and in the intervening week I will receive an email from someone at the hospital to check up on me (I believe that this will be a regular feature for the future).

X-RAY AND BLOOD SAMPLES TAKEN

Following on from this session it was time for a chest X-Ray and then for some blood to be taken. Both went extremely smoothly, with my veins being fully co-operative for once. 

After this there remained one last thing to be done at the hospital…

AN IRON INFUSION

The iron infusion looks like liquid rust (this one is the third I have had, and may well not be the last). It takes about half an hour to run, and then one has to wait for another half hour while potential side effects are monitored. Fortunately there were none and I got away fairly swiftly at the end. This was a tiring but very satisfactory day, and one that has boosted my confidence for the future. There will still be tough times ahead, but I can also look forward with confidence to a better future. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures I took yesterday and today…

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A windmill on the way to Addenbrookes.
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The first of three pictures taken in the hospital.
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This bust is of Edward Douty.

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A pride flag in the hospital car park.

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Ely Cathedral
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The spire of St Nicholas Chapel (1st of today’s pictures)
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The clock at The Pretty Tea Shop, Norfolk Street, where I went for an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning today (first of six pics from that venue).

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An upcoming NAS West Norfolk talk.

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Receiving My Bronze Level Art Award

An account of how I gained an Arts Award (Bronze Level).

INTRODUCTION

Today was the day I and three other people picked up Arts Awards (Bronze Level) from Trinity College, London, for work done at Musical Keys sessions in King’s Lynn run for autistic people. 

THE WORK

There were four elements to the work that had to be done to earn this award:

  1. Creating music during the sessions.
  2. Demonstrating knowledge and understanding of how to create that music and being able to share with the group what one was doing.
  3. Providing a record of an arts related event that one had attended.
  4. Providing some information about one particular artist from whom you have taken inspiration.

I am now going to give you access to each of these four areas.

CREATING THE MUSIC/ SHARING HOW THIS IS DONE

My creative work was done using Scratch and Reaper on the computers. I do not have this work available to share at present, but here is a link to an old post which describes the process.

This one shows Scratch:

Here are some extra pictures set into a word document:

Photos from MK

A RECORD OF AN ARTS EVENT

I interpreted this a trifle loosely so that I could use something for which I not only had a record but for which mine was the only photographic record – the time when Number 2 Hampton Court, Nelson Street, King’s Lynn was turned into an exhibition for Heritage Open Day. 

This is what the document I submitted looks like:

2 Hampton Court

MY CHOSEN ARTIST

I selected Maurits Cornelis Escher as my featured artist. Before producing my own offering about him, including three sample pictures I give you a variation on one of his pictures from Anna, titled “Never Ending Blogger

Never ending blogger

Maurits Cornelis Escher has been a favourite artist of mine for a very long time. His mathematical pictures and impossible constructions particularly appeal to me because I enjoy mathematics, and unpicking optical illusions myself.

https://www.mcescher.com/about/biography/

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. His art is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, as can be seen on the many web sites on the internet.

He is most famous for his so-called impossible constructions, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity, his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis I, Metamorphosis II and Metamorphosis III, Sky & Water I or Reptiles.

But he also made some wonderful, more realistic work during the time he lived and traveled in Italy.

Castrovalva for example, where one already can see Escher’s fascination for high and low, close by and far away. The lithograph Atrani, a small town on the Amalfi Coast was made in 1931, but comes back for example, in his masterpiece Metamorphosis I and II.

M.C. Escher, during his lifetime, made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. Like some of his famous predecessors, – Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and Holbein-, M.C. Escher was left-handed.

Apart from being a graphic artist, M.C. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals. He was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, as the fourth and youngest son of a civil engineer. After 5 years the family moved to Arnhem where Escher spent most of his youth. After failing his high school exams, Maurits ultimately was enrolled in the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem.

Here are the three pictures I selected to show along with this:

Relativity
“Relativity”, a personal favourite
Monks Large
“The Monks”
Waterfall Large
“The Waterfall”

TODAY’S PRESENTATION

I had been worried that my health might prevent me from being present to collect my certificate, but fortunately I improved sufficiently to be discharged from hospital AND a care plan was put in place ready for said discharge, and in the event, although I found the experience quite tiring I was able to attend and collect my certificate in person. Here are some photos from today:

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Me with my certificate, with Oliver from Musical Keys next to me (the black beanie covers the most visible effect of the intensive chemo)
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A group shot
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A close-up of the certificate.