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Bag for life

By ian hook 04 Dec, 2015
Back home now after my stay at The Christie so now I am able to make good my promise of explaining why my stoma has been called Harry or more accurately, 'Arry.

Please play the video below and all will be revealed.........
By ian hook 09 Nov, 2015
If you recognise that, you're getting on a bit!
It's from Time Tunnel a TV show from 1966, Scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips are the young heads of Project Tic-Toc, a multi-billion dollar government installation buried beneath the desert. They have invented a Time Tunnel, which will allow people to visit anywhere in time and space. While testing the tunnel for an impatient senator, Newman and Phillips became trapped in time, and each week coincidentally found themselves at the site of an important historical event...... the way you do

Well for me, all this is an 'important historical event' so I'll be keeping tabs on what's going on with a simple time-line giving date, event, and may be a brief comment:

09/11/15
Pre-op assessment at 'The Christie' Manchester
First blood has been drawn,and we're off!

10/11/15
I turned up at the ward to be admitted and explained, "I can give you, either the details of where I stayed last night, or a great recipe for chicken passander. What I don't have is my admissions letter, sorry." I think that's set the tone.

15/11/15
Amazing how time flies when your full of tubes and connected to the machine that goes bing.
I'm not full of tubes now, I'm tubeless in more ways than one, but not bagless if you know what I mean. I thought about bringing my own to avoid the 5p charge. It turns out that poo bags come free so that handy.
it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride which I will detail a bit later but the highlights to date are:-
   10/11 fixed locker next bay with trusty Swiss army knife
   11/11 surgery day. It took about 10 hours. Brilliant surgeon,team and nursing and support staff.
I came back looking like a Munchkin,couldn't hear properly couldn't see properly couldn't speak properly and had terrible pain in the legs.
   13/11 This is temperature spike day. My temperature went up to38c which kicks off a protocol for blood tests etc
   14/11 This is blood pressure falls through the floor day. Hitting a low of 60 over 40
   15/11 This is right leg turns blue and yellow day as assorted bruising comes out.

The fact that I can tell you all this and make fun of it is due to the diligence skill and care of the excellent hospital staff.

I'm hoping that tomorrow is going to be NOTHING BLOODY HAPPENED day.

16/11/15
What goes, ' pitter, patter, pitter patter,pitter, patter, pitter, patter,........ WHOOOOSH... AHhhhhhhhh'?
Me, five times last night having had my catheter taken out.
Today turned out to be, photograph the multicoloured leg day. The hospital photographer came for the photo-opportunity this afternoon. I'm assuming it's for promo stills before the general release of the film of the op, 'ROBO-SURGE'. Seriously though, my entire operation was filmed for training purposes. Signed photographs for fans would be quite unique I think.
Tomorrow is scheduled as going home day.
Yay!

17/11/15
Today turned out to be, 'revenge of the evicted bum hole' day. I had a nice shower in preparation for my return home and when I'd finished thought, ' where's all that blood coming from that's driping onto the floor?'. Laugh? I nearly oozed into my bag. Everyday something unexpected has come along and this was today's, ' little treat'. No big deal apparently, just tissue fluid, but not going home today. I live in bright hope for tomorrow.

18/11/15
Today is 'bum-juice wins the day', day. Still not an issue but an awful lot of it, and given the distance to travel here it was thought best to wait one more day but home tomorrow.

19/11/15
Today is, ' stoma says no', day. Still an abundance of bum-juice, but this can be managed at home. No doubt there is a whole host of people waiting in the wings to help me ' milk the bum'. Probably look good on a CV, but I digress. I mentioned to the surgical team that 'Harry', ( that's the name I've given my stoma, the reasons for this will become obvious in a subsequent post), hadn't given of his best for 24 hours, despite me shovelling food in at the other end. They said you're not going home until he does. Fair enough. We'll see how it goes.

20/11/15
On the M6 going home! 

21/11/15
Home, but not the greatest of days. Today is , ' Stoma tries to do a bunk' day. Yesterday the stoma detached from the skin it was attached to in part. This was examined at the hospital and regarded as something that happens and is manageable at home. Fair enough. The problem was, as I tried to change the bag this morning it detached even more even as I was looking at it. The best way I have of describing it, is imagine watching your body trying to turn itself inside out. It's not a good look. We called 999, and before the paramedics turned up the district nurse rang the house doorbell, thinking they were in for a quick visit. He took one look and suggested admitting me to hospital was the way to go. We had a chat and he called The Christie and a stay at home plan was formulated. The idea being that the stoma nurse can take a view on it on Monday. Never a dull moment.

22/11/15
Today is, 're-admitted to The Christie day'
Arrived back here just after midnight. I'm writing this from my hospital bed at 2:30am. This lot don't hang about! I've been seen by 2 nursing staff and three doctors. I've had bloods and swabs taken, been examined, been given intravenous antibiotics as a precaution and am to be seen by the consultant on the ward round about 9am this morning. Hopefully I can get some breakfast in first 😊

23/11/15
Today is, ' pack the wound with seaweed day', and ' bag goes bang', day, but more about that later.
Try to imagine yourself back to 1348. You're in medieval times and the black death has just come to Europe. You develop a touch of the old, ' bloody flux' and you confide your concern to some close friends and family. They start whispering, ( when I say whisper, more a kind of shout from a distance as they run away kind of thing), in awed tones that you need to go to the haunted wood to see the ' wise woman'. She has secret knowledge that she gleaned from her friends in faerie. She can help you. If you managed to get into that, you now have some idea of the high esteem in which the stoma nurses are regarded. They too possess esoteric knowledge in the world of ' Stoma', using their wily ways to forge solutions to some very, tricky, sticky, slimey, pooie, situations. Such was the case today.
My stoma has dehist, (dehiscence), meaning that it has detached, from the skin around it and a kind of ripped hole has opened up to one side of it. 'Deep and wide deep and wide my de hist wound is deep and wide' sorry, a little nod there in the direction of old school Sunday school. This was packed by the stoma nurse with some stuff that is in some way made from seaweed and promotes healing. All to the good until some 4 hours later, Harry, (the name by which my stoma is known), decided to speak. At which point the bag split. How I chuckled when that happened as I lay in my hospital bed. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

25/11/15
Today is, 'You can call me Florence', day.
I have been paying rapt attention to what the, 'wise woman from the haunted wood' has been teaching me, and today I went solo on the seaweed wound packing thing. So now I can remove all the gubins, clean the stoma and wound hole, (think, oh my goodness that man has a carving knife wound in his stomach, and you get the idea of what it looks like), pack the hole, prepare the washer, apply the washer, putty up the gaps with sticky goop, ( see I even know the technical terms), and finally fit the bag. As I was telling you all that the bag split, and I've flown solo for the first time on the entire thing from start to finish, albeit under supervision. The nurses have said that most people wouldn't have a go at what I'm doing and the 'wise woman' had started to refer to me as 'nurse Hook'.  Pass the lamp 😁

27/11/15
Today was 'How long might you have to live day?', but first I would like to point something out. A number of you might be thinking, ' well, it's all right for him. All he has to do all day is sit or lay about getting better. I would just like to say that I have been acquiring new skills. For example, how to introduce yourself to a stranger. If you are a shy person you might find this of particular use. 
I was having a chat with a new comrade here in  Bright Hope, I was standing as they reclined in bed, and as I introduced myself I gave my right leg a little shake and out slid my bum juice incontinence pad. I kid you not, it's a real ice breaker. Give it a go, you'd be surprised. The person I was speaking to was!
The ' wise woman', came today, and after an incantation along the lines of, hydrocolloid flange extender calcium alginate polybutene amorphous silicon dioxide, she went off to her hidden cave and came back with new artifacts to appease Harry, and appease him they did. He went into overdrive he was so happy, joy all 'round.
On a different tack, I had the histology news from the pathology department. There was moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma in the rectum, the tumour is T1, 7 lymph nodes were removed non of which showed signs of cancer, the tumour was confined to the rectum having not passed through the muscle layer. All of this suggests that it was caught early and that I do not need a further course of chemo therapy.
Today was a good day! 😁

29/11/15
Today is, ' Flashing blue lights day'.
In the 1890's a Russian psychologist called Ivan Pavlov was looking at the salivation of dogs in response to being fed. I guess he probably didn't get out much, and guess what, he found that when you bring food to a dog it dribbles. Well there's a surprise. To give him his due though, he did notice something else too. A particular assistant fed the dogs. What Pavlov noticed was that after a while, if the assistant walked into the dog room without food, the dogs would still dribble. Ivan decided to introduce a more neutral element. He rang a bell and then fed the dogs. He discovered that, after a while all he had to do was ring the bell and the dogs would dribble. It's called a conditioned response. That's exactly what happens on the ward I'm on!

At 7:45 this morning they rang the bell, and right on que the dribbling, mobile patients shuffled, glassy eyed, purposefully towards the day room. It's like something from a zombie film. That's right, breakfast is served.

Vincent was a newbie and had not yet undergone the breakfast ' initiation ritual'. He sat at the table with me and as we chatted companionably about drains, catheters and urine, the hospital fire alarm went off. It was not a drill! The automatic doors did their automatic thing and automatically shut. The fire-engines turned up with a suitable accompaniment of fire fighters who rushed to the seat of the fire namely, our day room. Without hesitation and at great risk to myself I pointed immediately at Vincent and said, ' It was him'. Vincent had burned his toast. Nobody had told him it was an industrial toaster that doesn't automatically pop up.

Later in the day I saw 25 Santa's on motorbikes ride into the hospital grounds. I thought it might have been morphine withdrawal but when I asked, other people could see them too. That was a relief.

I might be going home tomorrow. I don't want to get too enthusiastic. I've been down this road before.

30/11/15
On the M6. Going home........ Again!
By ian hook 05 Nov, 2015
Well, I didn't get to go to Middle Earth, (see previous post), but I did get to go to see the doctor.

Firstly, I would like to say that the NHS do a superb job. The care consideration and treatment I have received, has been world-class, and I have great respect and trust for the huge team of clinicians that have treated me, and continue to care for me….. but….. didn't you just know there was a ‘but’ coming…. there was a bit of a blip at the outset.

I made an emergency appointment to see the doctor and was seen by a registrar at my local practice. Having declined the offer of a chaperone, (the examination was to be upfront and personal, (let the reader understand)), after which, we laid back sharing a cigarette, (I made that bit up), and discussed the findings. The doctor's opening gambit was, “ I don't think there's a problem we will wait for 12 months and see how it goes”, I said, “I would like to be referred for a colonoscopy”, and the conversation continued like this:-

  Dr: that will take three months
  Me: no it won't
  Dr: what do you mean?
  Me: I want to be seen next week
  Dr: that will mean referring you as a potential cancer patient
  Me: OK
  Dr: are you happy with that?
  Me: yep

I guess many people, presented with the answer they want to hear, from an authority figure in the medical profession, would have gone away happy and relieved. Only to discover a year down the road, that the tumour has metastasised and the cancer has now spread liberally throughout the body.

A few days later…..
Some of you will remember the 1963 film ‘Summer Holiday’, and its signature tune. Just let that tune play through your mind briefly, got it, good, now imagine me walking into the endoscopy suite singing, “We’re all going for a, colonoscopy….no more pooing for a, day or two…. fun and laughter with, a colonoscopy…. to make your dreams come, true…. for me and you”. But this camera was going where the sun don't shine!

For some reason, I got on particularly well with the Doctor and team conducting the colonoscopy and because I had opted for ‘gas and air’ as opposed to an injected analgesic, we were able to have some banter during the procedure. At one point I remember someone saying, “I can see your blood pressure has gone up slightly”, to which I said, “You should try having one of these stuck up you’re bum and see how your blood pressure does”, and here's the thing, they said, “We all have, twice”. Respect!

If you've ever been potholing, that's a bit what it looks like as you follow the camera's journey through your colon, (see the very first post for a map). The camera goes all the way through up to the small intestine, and then the detailed inspection is done, as the camera is removed.

By now things were very relaxed; the team could see that I was responding well to what was being done to me, and so the conversation flowed, and there was a running commentary on what was on the screen. One comment being, “Ooo a lovely clean colon”.

That all changed when, what I can only describe as a set of fleshy, bloody stalactites, hanging from the cave roof, came into view. At that point, you could have heard a pin drop. I said, “Right…, don't stop talking now; I want to know what it is we are all looking at”.  I nearly made it. I fell at the last hurdle as it were, right at the mouth of the cave, the rectum.

************** NOTE TO READERS **************
Here's the problem, this part of the story will take a bit more time to develop, but I don't have that time as I am going into hospital next week for an Abdominal Perineal Excision of Rectum, by robotic surgery.
I'm hoping to blog from the hospital, so watch this space...
..... and so, as I ponder the delights of surgery by 'joy-stick' I take solace in this plaintive and comforting ballad..
************************************************
By ian hook 02 Nov, 2015
AWAKE ! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo ! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.
[1st Stanza of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam]

Well, ….. I’ve re-written it

AWAKE ! for Morning in the Bowl of Fright
Has flung the Turd that puts my hope to Flight:
And Lo ! the Surgeon of the West has caught
The Rectal Tumour in a Noose of Light.

And this is where it started, with a view down the pan, which I will return to later, but first I want to reflect on the human fascination with bodily products. Too many of us don’t pay much attention to what goes in, but you can bet we have a good look and fiddle with what comes out. Even if few of us would admit to it.

Imagine this, you’ve had a night out on the town and you’ve over done things a bit so you find a quiet spot and chuck up. What’s the first thing you do? You look at it and say, “I don’t remember eating that”.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what orifice it comes out of either. Whether we, cough it, sneeze it, pee it or poo it, there is a morbid fascination with giving it the equivalent of a bit of a prod.

I remember on one occasion, I had just returned home from an extended visit to Nepal, and the combination of my time at altitude, and the long haul flights, had clearly had an effect on me that I was unaware of. Sitting, watching TV, I sneezed, and became instantly aware that something had happened inside my head. I gently teased out this thing that was now in my right ear, and to my surprise, and immense pleasure, discovered that I was now the proud owner of a one and half inch high Henry Moore look-a-like sculpture made entirely of ear wax! I stuck my sculpture on the mantelpiece and proudly exhibited it to anyone that came to the house. I took pains to explain that it was not for sale though.

If you try to tell me that you don’t do something like this on occasion, I think you’re in denial and might possibly benefit from some counselling.

Anyway, returning to the case in hand as it were. I had noticed the occasional bit of blood on the bog paper and kept an eye on my daily ‘productions’ for a few weeks. The blood came and went, but eventually there was more ‘coming’ rather than ‘going’ as it were. This was accompanied by the occasional bit of ‘sculpting’ of the stool. By that, I mean that every now and again, a stool would have a little trench carved into one side of it. As charming as these adornments were, I thought it’s either, an infestation of pixie poo artists, or something medical. I was hoping for the pixies, but thought I would seek a medical opinion first, before running off to Middle Earth to have a chat with Gandalf about my 'ring'.

By ian hook 31 Oct, 2015
Here is a modified picture from a booklet the hospital gave me called, ‘My Little Tumour Colouring in Book’, (OK it’s not called that, it’s called ‘Your Colorectal Journey’, but I think it stands a better chance of being a best seller if they renamed it with my title) :-). Things have changed since I edited the diagram, but more of that later.
In February 2015 I was diagnosed with rectal cancer and this is 'My Little Tumour Colouring in Book'

I have a Christian faith, but no, I'm not here to sell religion. I mention it because I think God has a sense of humour, so some of the things I will say might, on occasion, be quite irreverent, but never blasphemous or heretical. Let me give you an example.

I can imagine that when the last chapter of 'My Little Tumour Colouring in Book’ is written and I go to see Him upstairs, He might look at me and say, "So you're the one that thinks I have a sense of humour... I'll show you how funny I think you've been.  I've got a pineapple here that I'm going shove up your fundament, no, wait a minute, you don't have a bum hole any more do you. Hang on. I'm God, ........ you're healed my son! Now come over here and bend over."

If you're still here...... welcome.... let's go on a journey together.

Recent Blog Entries

Bag for life

By ian hook 04 Dec, 2015
Back home now after my stay at The Christie so now I am able to make good my promise of explaining why my stoma has been called Harry or more accurately, 'Arry.

Please play the video below and all will be revealed.........
By ian hook 09 Nov, 2015
If you recognise that, you're getting on a bit!
It's from Time Tunnel a TV show from 1966, Scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips are the young heads of Project Tic-Toc, a multi-billion dollar government installation buried beneath the desert. They have invented a Time Tunnel, which will allow people to visit anywhere in time and space. While testing the tunnel for an impatient senator, Newman and Phillips became trapped in time, and each week coincidentally found themselves at the site of an important historical event...... the way you do

Well for me, all this is an 'important historical event' so I'll be keeping tabs on what's going on with a simple time-line giving date, event, and may be a brief comment:

09/11/15
Pre-op assessment at 'The Christie' Manchester
First blood has been drawn,and we're off!

10/11/15
I turned up at the ward to be admitted and explained, "I can give you, either the details of where I stayed last night, or a great recipe for chicken passander. What I don't have is my admissions letter, sorry." I think that's set the tone.

15/11/15
Amazing how time flies when your full of tubes and connected to the machine that goes bing.
I'm not full of tubes now, I'm tubeless in more ways than one, but not bagless if you know what I mean. I thought about bringing my own to avoid the 5p charge. It turns out that poo bags come free so that handy.
it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride which I will detail a bit later but the highlights to date are:-
   10/11 fixed locker next bay with trusty Swiss army knife
   11/11 surgery day. It took about 10 hours. Brilliant surgeon,team and nursing and support staff.
I came back looking like a Munchkin,couldn't hear properly couldn't see properly couldn't speak properly and had terrible pain in the legs.
   13/11 This is temperature spike day. My temperature went up to38c which kicks off a protocol for blood tests etc
   14/11 This is blood pressure falls through the floor day. Hitting a low of 60 over 40
   15/11 This is right leg turns blue and yellow day as assorted bruising comes out.

The fact that I can tell you all this and make fun of it is due to the diligence skill and care of the excellent hospital staff.

I'm hoping that tomorrow is going to be NOTHING BLOODY HAPPENED day.

16/11/15
What goes, ' pitter, patter, pitter patter,pitter, patter, pitter, patter,........ WHOOOOSH... AHhhhhhhhh'?
Me, five times last night having had my catheter taken out.
Today turned out to be, photograph the multicoloured leg day. The hospital photographer came for the photo-opportunity this afternoon. I'm assuming it's for promo stills before the general release of the film of the op, 'ROBO-SURGE'. Seriously though, my entire operation was filmed for training purposes. Signed photographs for fans would be quite unique I think.
Tomorrow is scheduled as going home day.
Yay!

17/11/15
Today turned out to be, 'revenge of the evicted bum hole' day. I had a nice shower in preparation for my return home and when I'd finished thought, ' where's all that blood coming from that's driping onto the floor?'. Laugh? I nearly oozed into my bag. Everyday something unexpected has come along and this was today's, ' little treat'. No big deal apparently, just tissue fluid, but not going home today. I live in bright hope for tomorrow.

18/11/15
Today is 'bum-juice wins the day', day. Still not an issue but an awful lot of it, and given the distance to travel here it was thought best to wait one more day but home tomorrow.

19/11/15
Today is, ' stoma says no', day. Still an abundance of bum-juice, but this can be managed at home. No doubt there is a whole host of people waiting in the wings to help me ' milk the bum'. Probably look good on a CV, but I digress. I mentioned to the surgical team that 'Harry', ( that's the name I've given my stoma, the reasons for this will become obvious in a subsequent post), hadn't given of his best for 24 hours, despite me shovelling food in at the other end. They said you're not going home until he does. Fair enough. We'll see how it goes.

20/11/15
On the M6 going home! 

21/11/15
Home, but not the greatest of days. Today is , ' Stoma tries to do a bunk' day. Yesterday the stoma detached from the skin it was attached to in part. This was examined at the hospital and regarded as something that happens and is manageable at home. Fair enough. The problem was, as I tried to change the bag this morning it detached even more even as I was looking at it. The best way I have of describing it, is imagine watching your body trying to turn itself inside out. It's not a good look. We called 999, and before the paramedics turned up the district nurse rang the house doorbell, thinking they were in for a quick visit. He took one look and suggested admitting me to hospital was the way to go. We had a chat and he called The Christie and a stay at home plan was formulated. The idea being that the stoma nurse can take a view on it on Monday. Never a dull moment.

22/11/15
Today is, 're-admitted to The Christie day'
Arrived back here just after midnight. I'm writing this from my hospital bed at 2:30am. This lot don't hang about! I've been seen by 2 nursing staff and three doctors. I've had bloods and swabs taken, been examined, been given intravenous antibiotics as a precaution and am to be seen by the consultant on the ward round about 9am this morning. Hopefully I can get some breakfast in first 😊

23/11/15
Today is, ' pack the wound with seaweed day', and ' bag goes bang', day, but more about that later.
Try to imagine yourself back to 1348. You're in medieval times and the black death has just come to Europe. You develop a touch of the old, ' bloody flux' and you confide your concern to some close friends and family. They start whispering, ( when I say whisper, more a kind of shout from a distance as they run away kind of thing), in awed tones that you need to go to the haunted wood to see the ' wise woman'. She has secret knowledge that she gleaned from her friends in faerie. She can help you. If you managed to get into that, you now have some idea of the high esteem in which the stoma nurses are regarded. They too possess esoteric knowledge in the world of ' Stoma', using their wily ways to forge solutions to some very, tricky, sticky, slimey, pooie, situations. Such was the case today.
My stoma has dehist, (dehiscence), meaning that it has detached, from the skin around it and a kind of ripped hole has opened up to one side of it. 'Deep and wide deep and wide my de hist wound is deep and wide' sorry, a little nod there in the direction of old school Sunday school. This was packed by the stoma nurse with some stuff that is in some way made from seaweed and promotes healing. All to the good until some 4 hours later, Harry, (the name by which my stoma is known), decided to speak. At which point the bag split. How I chuckled when that happened as I lay in my hospital bed. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

25/11/15
Today is, 'You can call me Florence', day.
I have been paying rapt attention to what the, 'wise woman from the haunted wood' has been teaching me, and today I went solo on the seaweed wound packing thing. So now I can remove all the gubins, clean the stoma and wound hole, (think, oh my goodness that man has a carving knife wound in his stomach, and you get the idea of what it looks like), pack the hole, prepare the washer, apply the washer, putty up the gaps with sticky goop, ( see I even know the technical terms), and finally fit the bag. As I was telling you all that the bag split, and I've flown solo for the first time on the entire thing from start to finish, albeit under supervision. The nurses have said that most people wouldn't have a go at what I'm doing and the 'wise woman' had started to refer to me as 'nurse Hook'.  Pass the lamp 😁

27/11/15
Today was 'How long might you have to live day?', but first I would like to point something out. A number of you might be thinking, ' well, it's all right for him. All he has to do all day is sit or lay about getting better. I would just like to say that I have been acquiring new skills. For example, how to introduce yourself to a stranger. If you are a shy person you might find this of particular use. 
I was having a chat with a new comrade here in  Bright Hope, I was standing as they reclined in bed, and as I introduced myself I gave my right leg a little shake and out slid my bum juice incontinence pad. I kid you not, it's a real ice breaker. Give it a go, you'd be surprised. The person I was speaking to was!
The ' wise woman', came today, and after an incantation along the lines of, hydrocolloid flange extender calcium alginate polybutene amorphous silicon dioxide, she went off to her hidden cave and came back with new artifacts to appease Harry, and appease him they did. He went into overdrive he was so happy, joy all 'round.
On a different tack, I had the histology news from the pathology department. There was moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma in the rectum, the tumour is T1, 7 lymph nodes were removed non of which showed signs of cancer, the tumour was confined to the rectum having not passed through the muscle layer. All of this suggests that it was caught early and that I do not need a further course of chemo therapy.
Today was a good day! 😁

29/11/15
Today is, ' Flashing blue lights day'.
In the 1890's a Russian psychologist called Ivan Pavlov was looking at the salivation of dogs in response to being fed. I guess he probably didn't get out much, and guess what, he found that when you bring food to a dog it dribbles. Well there's a surprise. To give him his due though, he did notice something else too. A particular assistant fed the dogs. What Pavlov noticed was that after a while, if the assistant walked into the dog room without food, the dogs would still dribble. Ivan decided to introduce a more neutral element. He rang a bell and then fed the dogs. He discovered that, after a while all he had to do was ring the bell and the dogs would dribble. It's called a conditioned response. That's exactly what happens on the ward I'm on!

At 7:45 this morning they rang the bell, and right on que the dribbling, mobile patients shuffled, glassy eyed, purposefully towards the day room. It's like something from a zombie film. That's right, breakfast is served.

Vincent was a newbie and had not yet undergone the breakfast ' initiation ritual'. He sat at the table with me and as we chatted companionably about drains, catheters and urine, the hospital fire alarm went off. It was not a drill! The automatic doors did their automatic thing and automatically shut. The fire-engines turned up with a suitable accompaniment of fire fighters who rushed to the seat of the fire namely, our day room. Without hesitation and at great risk to myself I pointed immediately at Vincent and said, ' It was him'. Vincent had burned his toast. Nobody had told him it was an industrial toaster that doesn't automatically pop up.

Later in the day I saw 25 Santa's on motorbikes ride into the hospital grounds. I thought it might have been morphine withdrawal but when I asked, other people could see them too. That was a relief.

I might be going home tomorrow. I don't want to get too enthusiastic. I've been down this road before.

30/11/15
On the M6. Going home........ Again!
By ian hook 05 Nov, 2015
Well, I didn't get to go to Middle Earth, (see previous post), but I did get to go to see the doctor.

Firstly, I would like to say that the NHS do a superb job. The care consideration and treatment I have received, has been world-class, and I have great respect and trust for the huge team of clinicians that have treated me, and continue to care for me….. but….. didn't you just know there was a ‘but’ coming…. there was a bit of a blip at the outset.

I made an emergency appointment to see the doctor and was seen by a registrar at my local practice. Having declined the offer of a chaperone, (the examination was to be upfront and personal, (let the reader understand)), after which, we laid back sharing a cigarette, (I made that bit up), and discussed the findings. The doctor's opening gambit was, “ I don't think there's a problem we will wait for 12 months and see how it goes”, I said, “I would like to be referred for a colonoscopy”, and the conversation continued like this:-

  Dr: that will take three months
  Me: no it won't
  Dr: what do you mean?
  Me: I want to be seen next week
  Dr: that will mean referring you as a potential cancer patient
  Me: OK
  Dr: are you happy with that?
  Me: yep

I guess many people, presented with the answer they want to hear, from an authority figure in the medical profession, would have gone away happy and relieved. Only to discover a year down the road, that the tumour has metastasised and the cancer has now spread liberally throughout the body.

A few days later…..
Some of you will remember the 1963 film ‘Summer Holiday’, and its signature tune. Just let that tune play through your mind briefly, got it, good, now imagine me walking into the endoscopy suite singing, “We’re all going for a, colonoscopy….no more pooing for a, day or two…. fun and laughter with, a colonoscopy…. to make your dreams come, true…. for me and you”. But this camera was going where the sun don't shine!

For some reason, I got on particularly well with the Doctor and team conducting the colonoscopy and because I had opted for ‘gas and air’ as opposed to an injected analgesic, we were able to have some banter during the procedure. At one point I remember someone saying, “I can see your blood pressure has gone up slightly”, to which I said, “You should try having one of these stuck up you’re bum and see how your blood pressure does”, and here's the thing, they said, “We all have, twice”. Respect!

If you've ever been potholing, that's a bit what it looks like as you follow the camera's journey through your colon, (see the very first post for a map). The camera goes all the way through up to the small intestine, and then the detailed inspection is done, as the camera is removed.

By now things were very relaxed; the team could see that I was responding well to what was being done to me, and so the conversation flowed, and there was a running commentary on what was on the screen. One comment being, “Ooo a lovely clean colon”.

That all changed when, what I can only describe as a set of fleshy, bloody stalactites, hanging from the cave roof, came into view. At that point, you could have heard a pin drop. I said, “Right…, don't stop talking now; I want to know what it is we are all looking at”.  I nearly made it. I fell at the last hurdle as it were, right at the mouth of the cave, the rectum.

************** NOTE TO READERS **************
Here's the problem, this part of the story will take a bit more time to develop, but I don't have that time as I am going into hospital next week for an Abdominal Perineal Excision of Rectum, by robotic surgery.
I'm hoping to blog from the hospital, so watch this space...
..... and so, as I ponder the delights of surgery by 'joy-stick' I take solace in this plaintive and comforting ballad..
************************************************
By ian hook 02 Nov, 2015
AWAKE ! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo ! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.
[1st Stanza of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam]

Well, ….. I’ve re-written it

AWAKE ! for Morning in the Bowl of Fright
Has flung the Turd that puts my hope to Flight:
And Lo ! the Surgeon of the West has caught
The Rectal Tumour in a Noose of Light.

And this is where it started, with a view down the pan, which I will return to later, but first I want to reflect on the human fascination with bodily products. Too many of us don’t pay much attention to what goes in, but you can bet we have a good look and fiddle with what comes out. Even if few of us would admit to it.

Imagine this, you’ve had a night out on the town and you’ve over done things a bit so you find a quiet spot and chuck up. What’s the first thing you do? You look at it and say, “I don’t remember eating that”.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what orifice it comes out of either. Whether we, cough it, sneeze it, pee it or poo it, there is a morbid fascination with giving it the equivalent of a bit of a prod.

I remember on one occasion, I had just returned home from an extended visit to Nepal, and the combination of my time at altitude, and the long haul flights, had clearly had an effect on me that I was unaware of. Sitting, watching TV, I sneezed, and became instantly aware that something had happened inside my head. I gently teased out this thing that was now in my right ear, and to my surprise, and immense pleasure, discovered that I was now the proud owner of a one and half inch high Henry Moore look-a-like sculpture made entirely of ear wax! I stuck my sculpture on the mantelpiece and proudly exhibited it to anyone that came to the house. I took pains to explain that it was not for sale though.

If you try to tell me that you don’t do something like this on occasion, I think you’re in denial and might possibly benefit from some counselling.

Anyway, returning to the case in hand as it were. I had noticed the occasional bit of blood on the bog paper and kept an eye on my daily ‘productions’ for a few weeks. The blood came and went, but eventually there was more ‘coming’ rather than ‘going’ as it were. This was accompanied by the occasional bit of ‘sculpting’ of the stool. By that, I mean that every now and again, a stool would have a little trench carved into one side of it. As charming as these adornments were, I thought it’s either, an infestation of pixie poo artists, or something medical. I was hoping for the pixies, but thought I would seek a medical opinion first, before running off to Middle Earth to have a chat with Gandalf about my 'ring'.

By ian hook 31 Oct, 2015
Here is a modified picture from a booklet the hospital gave me called, ‘My Little Tumour Colouring in Book’, (OK it’s not called that, it’s called ‘Your Colorectal Journey’, but I think it stands a better chance of being a best seller if they renamed it with my title) :-). Things have changed since I edited the diagram, but more of that later.
In February 2015 I was diagnosed with rectal cancer and this is 'My Little Tumour Colouring in Book'

I have a Christian faith, but no, I'm not here to sell religion. I mention it because I think God has a sense of humour, so some of the things I will say might, on occasion, be quite irreverent, but never blasphemous or heretical. Let me give you an example.

I can imagine that when the last chapter of 'My Little Tumour Colouring in Book’ is written and I go to see Him upstairs, He might look at me and say, "So you're the one that thinks I have a sense of humour... I'll show you how funny I think you've been.  I've got a pineapple here that I'm going shove up your fundament, no, wait a minute, you don't have a bum hole any more do you. Hang on. I'm God, ........ you're healed my son! Now come over here and bend over."

If you're still here...... welcome.... let's go on a journey together.
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