Some Thoughts on Transport

Mainly about public transport, but also features autism and cricket, and of course has the usual stack of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post was prompted to by events on Monday, when I had to journey to Cambridge and back – in the course of the post I describe that day in full. However, before I get to the main body of the post there is something else to attend to…

NINE HUNDRED THANK YOUS

Well actually 902 to be precise, since that is the number of you now following this blog. I am very grateful to all of you.

A DAY THAT WAS AN ARGUMENT FOR RENATIONALISING THE RAILWAYS

I was due to visit Addenbrookes for a check-up on Monday, and had to be there by 12:00. This meant that the last train to Cambridge I could catch and arrive there with sufficient time to get to Addenbrookes was at 9:44AM, since the next was the 10:44 due at Cambridge at 11:37, which would have meant that even if it was on time I would have needed Lady Luck to play ball to be at Addenbrookes by 12:00. Being excessively cautious when it comes to making journeys by British public transport I was actually ready to leave my flat by 8:40 and saw no grounds for not doing so. I thus arrived at the station just before 9:00 and with no queue at the ticket office was actually able to board the 09:10 train, and never one to object to having extra time to spare did precisely that. It was a few minutes late departing, and then had to wait at Downham Market for a train coming the other way to pass (there are single track stretches between Downham Market and Littleport). Speed restrictions between Downham Market and Littleport cost us further time. At Cambridge I got a bus to Addenbrookes, and was there just before 11AM, giving me time to consume an early lunch before going to the oncology reception and announcing my presence.

Although the consultant was ready to see me promptly the people taking blood samples for testing were running behind, so I had to see the consultant first and then get that done. The consultation was exceedingly brief, since the scans done a week and a half earlier revealed nothing untoward (no news in this situation is most unequivocally good news). Once it came to my turn to be seen for them the blood samples were also to my great relief obtained without undue delay. Nevertheless, it was 12:45PM before I was finished at Addenbrookes. I got the express bus back to Cambridge (£2.20 instead of £1 for the regular bus, but in the circumstances worth the extra cost) and was there in time for the 13:36 to Lynn…

Cue more chaos. There was an out of service train occupying the platform from which the Lynn train was supposed to depart, causing a late platform alteration. The service was also delayed slightly (somebody had been hit by a train earlier in the day and the knock-on effects of that were being felt everywhere). However, once it got underway it ran fairly smoothly. Between them having the blood samples taken and the consultation took maybe ten minutes, maybe less, yet I left my flat at 8:40 and did not arrive back there until 3PM, and of that six hours and twenty minutes only about 40 minutes can be put down to Addenbrookes – the rest was a combination of my caution and the inadequacies of British public transport.

Although I fully accept that one cannot prevent incidents such as people being hit by trains from happening the rest, including the service pattern that meant I dared not run any risk being on a later train than 9:44 when I had an appointment at a hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge at 12:00 and the platform alteration due to an out of service train blocking the intended platform are wholly indefensible, and in the case of the platform alteration happen sufficiently often to be classed as regular occurrences on that line.

We need our railways to be fully publicly owned and fully publicly accountable. There only two groups of people in my opinion who should decide how railways are run – those who provide the service (railway workers) and those who use it (railway passengers).

Here are some photos from the journey:

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A NEW BOOK RELATING TO AUTISM

The book is to be called Your Life As I Knew It, and you can be part of making it a reality by visiting the funding site for it here.

EARTH XI TO PLAY MARS

This section was prompted by a post on the Full Toss blog comparing Virat Kohli and Steve Smith and inviting us to make a decision between them. My resolution to the conundrum was simply to avoid treating it as an ‘either, or’ situation. With Rohit Sharma and Mayant Agarwal shoo-ins as opening pair that left me only seven more players to find to make an XI. I have opted for Kane Williamson as the fifth specialist batter, Ben Stokes at six and as fifth bowler, Ben Foakes as wicketkeeper (he is the best currently playing, though as a controversialist I might be tempted to see if I could lure Sarah Taylor out of retirement for this one!), Rashid Khan the Afghan legspinner at 8 (a gamble, but I would love to see how he fares as part of an all-stars combo), Pat Cummins, Jofra Archer and Kagiso Rabada (Jasprit Bumrah is currently injured, otherwise he would be a shoo-in.). Thus the current Earth XI to take on Mars is as follows:

  1. Rohit Sharma
  2. Mayant Agarwal
  3. Virat Kohli
  4. Steve Smith
  5. *Kane Williamson
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. +Ben Foakes
  8. Rashid Khan
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Jofra Archer
  11. Kagiso Rabada

As twelfth man I nominate Ravindra Jadeja, spin bowling all-rounder and quite magnificent fielder.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Health Update

The latest (big) news on my health situation.

INTRODUCTION

In the last week there have been two significant milestones in the story of my recovery from the cancer that nearly killed me back in October. In this post I deal with them in turn.

THE BIG OPERATION

I went into hospital early on Friday morning to have the original source of all the trouble, my right testicle, removed. Since they had decided they were keeping me in overnight anyway my surgery was performed quite some time after my parents and I had arrived. It went well, and I was transferred to a recovery ward for the night. Once I had demonstrated that I was able to walk the following day they were ready to discharge me, but not before they had taken me off the morphine based painkillers I had been on, limiting to me to paracetamol. Fortunately the pain from the operation site is not actually as bad as all that, and the paracetamol are sufficient for the job.

THE BIG NEWS

On Monday I was back at Addenbrookes to see the oncology people. They were happy with the state of the operation site. Far more significantly they confirmed that my tumour markers are now back at normal, healthy levels. After a couple of appointments next month (which were set up just after we had left Addenbrookes, and which I found out about the following morning) it will be three monthly, and then six monthly check ups for a five-year period. Once I am fully recovered from the operation I will be on the last (admittedly long) road to a full recovery.

TAPPING HOUSE

On Tuesday afternoon I visited the Norfolk Hospice at Tapping House to discuss future physio options. They can offer me Thursday morning sessions there, and of course I will be taking them up. I am thinking at the moment of notifying them that I will be ready 2 weeks today (next week is probably pushing it too far).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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Neurology Appointment and Other Stuff

A brief account of my appointment with the neurologist at QEH and of the arrival of my new computer.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday I attended an appointment with the neurologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and I also dropped my old computer at PC World so that they could transfer stuff from it to my new computer, and my aunt picked up both machines from them today.

THE NEUROLOGIST APPOINTMENT

This went well. The dizziness and disorientation I experienced as an immediate response to my new anti-seizure medication appears to relate to a problem with my inner ear, which meant that organizing an appointment with the audiologists at Addenbrooke’s became of increased importance. This appointment is booked for 11:30 on June 3rd, immediately after I have other appointments at Addnebrooke’s, t0 minimize the number of journeys to and from Cambridge. I also have in case of emergency a medication for taking if the dizziness gets really bad. I am greatly relieved to have some answers and the prospect of further answers at the audiology appointment.

WITHOUT THE COMPUTER

Yesterday afternoon and evening I had a lot of time without access to a computer, and I filled some of it by mounting postcards for display until I ran out of glue dots (I had three postcards still to mount to complete the intended display, as you will see), and I have some stamps that will need the same treatment if I am to display them. This morning I used my phone to open facebook and post a message on the NAS West Norfolk Commitee page. Here are some pictures from yesterday:

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As these pictures show depending on layout considerations one can mount three or four postcards on each side of an A4 sheet, meaning that each section of a Poundland display file contains 6, 7 or 8 postcards according to layout.

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These are the three I have still to mount…
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…and I took the opportunity to get a close-up of this one.

OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS

Of course these are not the only photographs I took…

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This is an unedited photo…
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…and this is the edited version.

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Unedited…
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…Edited

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Unedited…
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…and edited

A Week In Hospital

An explanation of the events the between caused me to spend most of a week in hospital.

INTRODUCTION

In this post I will be explaining why there has been a hiatus in this blog. I hope that normal posting will be resumed from tomorrow.

HIATUS PART ONE: PHYSICAL SICKNESS

On Monday morning everything went OK until breakfast. The carer arrived and I was still OK, though feeling a bit tired. Then just after the carer left I was sick. My entire breakfast came back up. My aunt came round, and helped sort things out, another carer cleaned up the mess and washed the stuff thatr needed washing. My aunt left at about 11:30. Between then and her return around 1PM I was sick twice more. There was then another episode while decisions were being made about what to do. Near the end of the trip to Addenbrookes I brought up some pure bile. 

At Addenbrookes I was admitted overnight, given an x-ray and a CT scan and they decided that the most likely explanation was a partial seizure. I was discharged the following day, with a new anti-seizure medication added to my regular medications. 

On Wednesday I woke up feeling OK, got up to open the curtains and nearly fell out of bed in the process. I returned to bed to read for a bit before getting up, but by disorientation and sense that the room was spinning did not go away. I was not able to concentrate of the book for very long, and went back to sleep for a period. The carer called an ambulance for me, and as there was no way I could be got into my aunt’s car and an emergency ambulance can only take one to the nearest hospital I was off to QEH, although efforts were made to get me moved to Addenbrookes. I was taken off the anti-seizure pill as what I had suffered was known to produce the symptoms I had experienced as a common side effect. I was then put back on it to see if I could cope and I could. They were originally going to keep me in until Tuesday so that I could see the neurologist, but eventually an outpatient appointment was made for 10AM on Wednesday and I was discharged yesterday. 

Our misgivings about QEH notwithstanding the staff were excellent and the care and support I received was splendid. 

I had an uninterrupted night’s sleep last night and a good start to the day this morning, and have had a good day so far today. On the way to my aunt’s for lunch today I overlapped with the end of the Great East Anglian Run (GEAR), but through being in hospital so much recently I had missed the fact that NAS West Norfolk had arranged a designated meeting point, so although I had a chance encounter with one of my fellow committee members I was not part of our presence at the event, something which I regret and for which I take this opportunity to publicly apologise.

I hope that the appointment with the neurologist sheds more light on what has been going on and that we can move forward from there.

A Brief Visit to Addenbrookes

An account of my absence over this weekend.

INTRODUCTION

This is going to be a brief post to put people in the picture about my current situation.

THE EVENTS OF THE WEEKEND

After a good Friday I woke up on Saturday morning feeling dreadful. The trouble was a headache. At about 7:30 I took two paracetamol, hoping that they would ease it and I would be able to function something approaching properly. By 9AM it was clear that such would not be the case and I phoned my aunt to request her company. She called 111, and the paramedics who came decided that a visit to hospital was warranted (I have secondary tumours in the brain, so a headache cannot be ignored). After speaking to my parents my aunt decided that rather than have the paramedics take me to QEH (who have blotted their copybooks more than once since I become ill) she would drive me to Addenbrooke’s, who were informed that I was on the way.

At Addenbrookes after a check of my vital signs revealed nothing to worry about I was taken for a CT Scan and then temporarily admitted to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9. The scan did not reveal anything that it shouldn’t, and by Sunday morning the headache had gone and I was feeling a lot better. By that stage the only question was how long it would take to attend to necessary bits and pieces before I could be discharged, and by 2PM I was in my parents car and we were heading to King’s Lynn.

Normal blogging service should be resumed from tomorrow.

I have no pictures of my own to share, but here is a graphic posted on twitter by Anne Memmott for Autism Acceptance/Appreciation Month:

Autism Acceptance

 

Health Update

A brief account of what happened in my appointment at Addenbrookes today.

INTRODUCTION

This will be a brief post related to today’s visit to see my team at Addenbrookes hospital. There will be a more substantial post coming later about a different subject.

GOOD NEWS IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES

Regular readers of this blog will be well aware that healthwise I am in a position analogous to the person who asked an Irishman for directions and was told “Oi wouldn’t have started from here”. In view of that the fact that the preliminary finding from my bronchoscopy is that there has been some bleeding in the lung qualifies as good news, since it is unquestionably better than the alternatives. Also, the fact the Dr Mazhar decided that he does not to see me again for four weeks can only be regarded as positive news. The operation to remove the testicle that was the origin of all the trouble is probably still a couple of months away.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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Just three pics with this post – I am saving the rest for my next post.

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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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