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.
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).
Predictions at the half way stage of todays Royal London Cup matches, some links and plenty of my photographs.
There are four matches taking place in the Royal London Cup today, which means that even if all of my predictions turn out incorrect I will still have more right than wrong at the end of it, as I am currently on 12 out of 19.
THE ROYAL LONDON CUP TODAY
This is what is happening so far…
Surrey v Essex – Surrey 278-8 50 overs At 220-3 in the 42nd over Surrey would have been entertaining hopes of getting close to 300. At 241-8 Essex would have been hoping to restrict Surrey to no more than 260. In the end the difference was almost exactly split, thanks to some late hitting from Jason Roy who had suffered a back spasm earlier in the day. Ben Foakes top scored for Surrey with 82. Sam Cook took 3-37 from eight overs, Dan Lawrence bowled his full allocation of 10 and took 2-52 – Surrey will be hoping for something similar from their nearest equjivalent, Will Jacks. I predict that Surrey will defend this total.
Hampshire v Middlesex – Hampshire 301-9 from 50 overs Until the last over Middlesex were faring quite well in this one, buit topping 300 is big psychological boost for Hampshire, albeit that 300 is not the mountainous total it once was in this form of the game. A South African, Aidan Markram, top scored with 88 and a renegade South African, Rilee Rossouw made 64. Tom Helm, right-arm medium fast took five wickets but was made to pay for them (71 in nine overs). I expect Hampshire, with their bowling spearheaded by another renegade South African, Kyle Abbott, to defend this one.
Gloucestershire v Kent– Kent 282-8 from 50 overs
The early stages of the Kent innings saw Zak Crawley make 85 and Joe Denly56. At the end Harare born wicketkeeper Adam Rouse hit 45 not out off 28 balls to boost the total. Benny Howell took 2-39 from his 10 overs, 28 year old right-arm fast medium bowler David Payne had 2-45 and slow left-armer Tom Smith had 2-47 from seven overs. I expect Gloucestershire to chase these down – Kent look to me like they are a trifle short of bowling options (they will almost certainly need Denly to bowl his full ten overs).
Thus my predictions, with varying degrees of confidence, are: Surrey, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire.
PHYSIO SESSION AT TAPPING HOUSE
Today I attended my second full physio session at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House. The exercises I did today as part of my recovery from cancer include a stair exercise, an arm exercise involving weights, three minutes on the treadmill, a set of arm exercises involving a punching action and three minutes on the bicycle simulator (I was particularly pleased with this one, since I managed to average 26kph, or approx 16mph over the three minutes). While there I also augmented my photo collection:
LINKS AND PICTURES
First three related pieces. Richard Murphy has added two more to his Taxes To Save the Environment (Taste):
There is also a piece on devonlive, which I was found by way of twitter headlined “Shock and anger as entire Devon woodland is chopped down“. The piece makes clear that not only had planning permission for this atrocity not been granted, the arrogant and unscrupulous developer had not even bothered to seek it. My own opinion is this developer should be punished by both a hefty fine upfront and by being made to replant the woodland at his own expense. My hope would be the combined expense of these two would put him in serious financial difficulties to teach him a lesson.
I select an England squad from players I have witnessed and a true all-time England squad.
This is the start of a new series which will appear on this blog periodically in between posts about other things. I will pick two squads in each of these posts – one restricted to players whose performances I have witnessed live and one true all-time squad, using my considerable knowledge of cricket history. I will also be including a few other things after the main body of the post. We will being the main part of the post with…
ENGLAND SQUAD FROM PLAYERS I HAVE WITNESSED LIVE
To begin with we need an opening pair. I refuse to consider those who went on the two English rebel tours to South Africa. The serious contenders left are:
Mike Atherton – 7,.728 runs at 37.69 from 115 test matches. A fine record, though that average was reduced by his encounters with Glenn McGrath who seriously had the wood on him.
Alec Stewart – 8,463 test runs at 39.54 from 133 test matches. These already impressive figures conceal the fact that Stewart the specialist batter (the role in which I would be using him) averaged 47, while Stewart the keeper averaged 34.
Marcus Trescothick – 76 test matches produced 5,825 runs at 43.79. An attack-minded left hander, Trescothick hit the ground running at Test level with 66 against the West Indies on debut, and until mental health issues caused his premature retirement from international cricket he went from strength to strength.
Andrew Strauss– 100 test matches, 7,037 runs at 40.91. An consistent opener who did even better as captain than he did in the ranks.
Alastair Cook – England’s all time leading test run scorer, with 12,472 at 45.35, he started his test career with a fifty and a century against India and ended it 12 years later with a fifty and a century against India.
Of these five I can accommodate three in my squad (an opening pair and a reserve opener), and my choice, with due respect to Messrs Atherton and Trescothick is to go for Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart (mainly defensive left hander and more attacking right hander) as my first choice opening pair and Strauss as the reserve opener. It is a close call between Strauss and Trescothick, but Strauss’ captaincy experience gives him an edge.
My designated number three bat and captain is Michael Vaughan. Number three has traditonally been a problem position for England, but Vaughan was magnificent there – his only rival in my lifetime is Jonathan Trott, but since I want Vaughan as captain he gets the nod. When it comes to picking three middle-order batters there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from. There are two left-handers, David Gowerand Graham Thorpe and a phalanx of right-handers including Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Paul Collingwood who all did fine things at test level. I can only select three, two to be in the first XI and one as cover, and my choices are Joe Root, David Gower and Kevin Pietersen.
With all due respect to Andrew Flintoffand Ben Stokes who have both had great achievements at the highest level there is only one candidate for the allrounders role in my view and that is Ian Botham.
There are four potential candidates for the wicketkeepers slot, of whom I need to select two since I do not intend using Stewart in that role. My four candidates are:
Jack Russell – a magnificent keeper, but his test batting average of 27.10 was a little on the low side.
Matt Prior – there was never a question about his batting skills, but his keeping took a while to develop, though he became very good indeed.
Jonny Bairstow – A fine attacking batter and a good keeper, but rarely able to combine the two at test level
Ben Foakes– A magnificent keeper and averaging over 40 in his brief test career so far.
It will be considered controversial in some circles to give the nod to someone still in the early stages of their career, but my choices are Ben Foakes as first choice keeper and Matt Prior as reserve.
Andrew Strauss (reserve opener)
The likely first XI, assuming a pitch that does not favour any particular type of bowling would be: Stewart, Cook, *Vaughan, Root, Gower, +Foakes, Botham, Swann, Broad, Anderson and Harmison, with Kevin Pietersen just missing the final cut in favour of Root (Gower’s lefthandedness works to his advantage).
THE ALL TIME SQUAD
For this one I start with the greatest of all opening pairs, Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe. In addition to being one half of the greatest of all opening pairs Herbert Sutcliffe’s averages suggest, as does everything ever written about him, a big match temperament par excellence – 52.02 in first class cricket, 60.73 in all test cricket and in the cauldron of The Ashes, 66.85. As reserve opener I select W G Grace, reckoning that his test batting average (32.29) was reduced both by the pitches he played on and the fact that he was already 32 when he played his first test match in 1880, and his career at that level lasted until within a couple of months of his 51st birthday. My remaining choices for batting slots are Joe Root (captain), Denis Compton, Walter Hammond and Frank Woolley (the latter two more than handy bowlers as well as great fielders, and Woolley a left-hander). For the wicketkeepers I opt for Les Ames as first choice and Ben Foakes as reserve. Ian Botham retains his place as designated all-rounder. For the bowlers I retain Anderson, and augment his presence with Fred Trueman, Syd Barnes (189 wickets at 16.43 from just 27 matches) and George Lohmann (112 wickets in 18 test matches at an eye-popping 10.75). My two players selected as spinners are Hedley Verity (slow-left arm) and Jim Laker (off-spin).
Thus my squad list reads:
W G Grace (reserve opener)
*Joe Root Walter Hammond
The first XI in batting order, assuming the pitch does not justify either two specialist spinners or an all-seam attack is: Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Compton, *Root, Woolley, +Ames, Botham, Lohmann, Laker, Trueman and Barnes. I select Laker ahead of Verity as the lone specialist spinner because Woolley was a good enough slow-left armer to have taken 10 wickets in a test match and Compton could bowl slow left-arm wrist spin.
A BIT OF NEWS
Today as part of my continuing recovery from cancer I attended a physio session at Tapping House, and it went very well. I handled all four of the exercises I did today reasonably well, and my breathing behaved itself. It is a nice small group, and the setting is good.
An account of my first visit to Tapping House Hospice and the physio assessment that took place there.
At 11AM today, exactly as planned, a vehicle arrived to collect me and take me to Tapping House Hospice for a an introduction to their physio arrangements. The physio came in person along with the driver. In the rest of this post I will describe what happened.
THE JOURNEY THERE
Major housing developments have opened up a lot of North Lynn in recent years, and we were able to head for the main road to Hillington, the village in which the hospice is situated, by way of Lynn Sport and the industrial area of North Lynn. The journey pased without incident, and the physio then conducted me to the room wherein the sessions will take place when I can start them (next week’s sessions are already full, but it is just possible that I will be able to attend sessions from the week after next).
The assessment consisted of a number of parts:
Get up from a chair and sit back down five times in a row.
Stand in front of the chair with my eyes closed and my feet together for 90 seconds – I felt that I was shaking like a leaf when I did this but apparently the reality was less dramatic than what I felt.
Walk to the door leading into the ‘snug’
Walk a short distance, turn around and walk back (the physio neasured the appropriate distance).
Put one foot on a step and bring it back down again five times
Then it was time to sample the equipment – two minutes on the treadmill at its lowest speed, three minutes on a bicycle simulation (it offers much more physical support than a real bike, but you pedal it as if on a bike – my average speed over the three minutes was 14.1kph – just a tick over 8.5mph – a baseline figure against which future attempts can be measured) and a brief introduction the all-over workout machine, which I did not enjoy since my balance has never been the best, and I did not feel secure at any stage.
I think I have missed something as there were supposed to be seven stages, but this is what I remember of the assessment.
Louise made some sensible suggestions about outside walking, involving making use of the area immediately outside my bungalow, which I shall put into practice from tomorrow (weather permitting) – I did actually manage a visit to the very local shop yesterday, but it was tiring. She also helped me with some advice on regulating the breathing, which I shall endeavour to make full use of.
The journey home passed uneventfully, and although we had taken the precaution of bringing the wheelchair along for the ride it proved to be unnecessary, and we probably won’t bother with it next time I go to Tapping House. I enjoyed my first visit to the hospice, and look forward with more enthusiasm than apprehension to getting involved in group physio sessions once there is a space for me.
An account of yesterday’s very successful meeting with a physio from Tapping House.
Louise Gent, physio at Tapping House Hospice, came to visit yesterday as planned. First of all I showed her my flat and demonstrated things like how I get in and out of bed and down to and back up from the toilet. She has arranged to get me a new piece of equipment for the toilet – a combination of a frame and raised seat because she noticed that to get up I had to put both hands on the metal grip to generate sufficient leverage.
This led on to discussions about…
Louise’s opinion having seen me in action was that my basic mobility is not too bad but that because of the fall I took at the weekend I lack confidence, which is entirely accurate as far I am concerned.
I will be attending regular sessions at Tapping House starting fairly soon. They provide transport for people, so this gets me out of the bungalow as well as helping to rebuild confidence and fitness without overstretching family or friends by needing someone to take me to Hillington where they are based.
Tapping House have made it abundantly clear that they will do all that they can to help me, and I in turn will do my absolute best to benefit from their help, for which I am very grateful.
Just one pic today – while I was watching the world go by from by bungalow a magpie was doing likewise from a perch near the top of a tree that is fully visible through my living room window…
Accounts of a very important and successful meeting yesterday morning and of a personally very satisfying moment also from yesterday when it was cinfirmed that I have got anm Arts Award (Bronze level).
This post deals with two things that both happened yesterday, one of huge significance, the other less so but very personally satisfying.
A VERY SUCCESSFUL MEETING WITH REBECCA FROM TAPPING HOUSE
I had arranged to see Rebecca yesterday morning for a follow-up meeting after our first very successful meet-up a little earlier. This meeting went magnificently, with Rebecca making a number excellent and logical suggestions for ways to help me. I have agreed in principle to meet with either an Occupational Therapist or a Physio to talk about ways to improve my physical fitness. She also suggested that I might be interested in courses they run at Tapping House where I would have the opportunity to meet others who have had similiar experiences to my own, which also sounds a very interesting possibility.
Knowing that I need help and support to get through this difficult time in my life I am minded to consider any options that seem sensible, as all of the above do. I finished yesterday’s session feeling much better about life in general for the knowledge that such potentially useful help and support is being made available.
Whatever happens from here on, Tapping House have already proven to be worth their weight in gold, and I am very grateful for everything they are doing for me.
AN ARTS AWARD
One of the last things I did before illness took over my life completely was to submit a portfolio at Musical Keys for an Arts Award (Bronze Level). It has now been confirmed that I did enough to earn to said award (equivalent apparently to a grade D at GCSE), which I am delighted by. In addition to the specific Musical Keys stuff I had to produce something about seeing art in the flesh, and I had chosen something where the only photographic record of the occasion was my own, so this award means, albeit at a low level, official recogniton for my photography. I also had to produce something about an individual artist who had inspired me, and I opted for Maurits Cornelis Escher, for whom there is an official website from which I cribbed (and of course admitted to doing so).