Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A moving experience...

At the end of Saturday when I made my farewells to the Chemo ward staff in recognition of the end of Phase 1, I'm not sure if it was chemo week lethargy or some other niggling thought, but somehow I just couldn't fully appreciate that I'd now fully completed that stage.

On Monday night though, I had an incredibly moving experience that finally cleared out the detritus from last week. Let me tell you, it was remarkably unique in several ways.

I'm conscious though that some of you may not be ready for hospital ward bowel movement observations, so I'll spare the details here. Anyone keen for more though, can click through to...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Man, I feel like a woman

You know, at the start of this, Captain Positive here is thinking - well I'll be off a while I suppose, but I can get plenty of thinking and exercise done and come out this a more complete man.

But with talk of my proposed SHAPE diet and waxing tips for the girls, then a strange revelation on Saturday - I'm beginning to wonder if this is going the other way. You see, as part of one of the rounds, the nurse asked to see my tongue - that's not the revelation - but what followed when she said, oh my - it's really coated isn't it? Is it, was it, why, what, how.... Nothing to worry about of course, I can get you something for that as its a quite common side effect to....get thrush in the mouth. Common, I said, common, to get, to get a wummins fungal problem in the mouth I said.

I mean, excuse me for being sexist - all blokes are you know - but I thought that one was exclusively for women! I know I've had athletes foot and spotted that the cream is just the same as the woman's cream - just different branding for the consumer to avoid mix-ups over thrush foot or vaginal athletics.

Regardless of today's chosen name for it though, yet another mouthwash type thing it is. That's three I'm using now.

You see, the dentist when she was helping me with my jaggy bit, my sensitive bit and my boggy bit also came up with a mouthwash to supplement my now regular salt-water rinse. And, for those of you old enough to recall - its the real deal. Remember that foul tasting pink stuff the dentist used to give you to rinse with in the days when your mum bought lucozade in a yellow crinkly wrapper from the chemist - yeah that stuff. Don't swallow she said. Never in danger. It feels like it's stripping back a coat of gum each time. Its just a matter of getting them in the right order and not too soon after brushing, with the funny wee toothbrush she gave me (tell you another time) or having a drink.

Anyway, must go now and pump iron. Later.

Come to the mould room...

That's what the invite said. Am I now a big cheese, have they picked up my poor hygiene or was it to be a class in plastic moulding for middle aged males?

I think that I maybe said some time back that I perhaps painted such a positive picture of my treatment to Ellis & Keir - that they were speculating about whether I'd re-emerge with special powers after my exposure to radiation. (I'm sure they meant more special powers, but for once chose not to be picky.) The thing with radiotherapy you see, is that your body doesn't really like the effect and so they go to great lengths to try and make sure that they zap the right spot. And, for neck job like me, this means getting a mask fitted. Closely fitted.

I left Keir, on a sickie, chatting to a nurse about the number of buttons a snowman outfit should have and headed into the mould room. All very simple, sir, you lie there, we make a mould, then off you pop next door for a CT scan. Wow - if I could have seen myself it must have looked like some cross between Frankenstein and Sci-Fi - picture ones of those hi-tech scenes where grid of electrons criss-cross over the subject until a humanoid shape emerges. Except it felt like having a damp towel shoved down on my face while the nice lady was saying that it would be good if I didn't flinch, twitch, swallow or generally move at all for the next 15 minutes. About as dull a sunbathing I reckon, with the initial feeling that you'll suffocate even though it's a mesh and you can easily breathe through it. Breathing was allowed.

Stage two was to be a CT Scan - simples, I thought. I liked the one I had before much more that the MRI, that was claustrofobic. The catch was though that I was to do it with my new mask! You might find that the mask feels a little tighter now they said. Great, more sunbathing, but with a towel over my face that had dried off in the sun and gone that stiff way. With the added bonus of a wee injection of 'contrast', it'll make you feel hot, really quite hot and like you want to pee but you won't pee - so just relax, Mr Gowan und ve shall begin the procedure, ja. Think of the nurofen advert, one minute you take it, next minute there's a red-glow inside you searches down, deep down, inside you to find the target.

Now before we switch on the scanner - we all need to leave the room and you need to just lie there, perfectly still. Just shout (what through the towel?) if you need us. I'll put some music on. Oh no...we're now sunbathing in a tight mask with hot surges and some girlie pop playing. Note to self for Bond villain plot.

Then it was over as soon as it had began and I'm ready for daily masking and zapping come January. Can't wait.

Water Buffalo

Bloated to the point of flooding point, me and my oft admired slippers head back for week 3.

This was to be a skoosh - there bright and early, had blood taken the day before and no doubts in my head about needing watered. Yes, yes, everything was fine. Except... that the pharmacy run was a wee bit late, 5 in and 6 out on the ward and they were so very busy that I didn't get on to a bed and the pure stuff until hospital tea-time. Mental calculator whirring already, I know its still just the 4 nights, but how late on Saturday would it be? Think my mental attitude wasn't quite right this time - still mustn't grumble - or to quote my new catch phrase, better brain deid than broon breid.

I had a new toy this time too - a portable DVD player supplied by Ross - and a wider selection of titles than the royal family.

Finished Superfreakonomics - another top effort from the working man's economist, including why; a Chicago prostitute is more likely to have sex with a policeman than be arrested by one, stats that show that Chemotherapy doesn't work! (not mine, of course) and a practical solution to global warming (global cooling) that would cost less that Al Gore's campaign to make us aware that the planet is getting warmer.

Also read Heart of Darkness. Its dark. Why this? I think its kind of like finding the item about Chemo - its that stain on your shirt that you didn't notice until someone told you about and suddenly you're so conscious of it that you're walking round with one arm a funny angle to stop people seeing it and it suddenly seems like everone is talking about stains. Only this time, connection to my dark side was it. Hmmm.

Two decent blokes on the ward and a third one that I thought seemed a bit too healthly looking to be so constantly floored. Silly me - he turned out to have swine flu!

So I was turned out of the ward. At first it just seemed to be - get out while we hose the place down, but then, no - you're stuff has been moved to a side-ward, but sit in the day room just now. Then, no, sent to my room - we have to keep you lot separate - and nearly 3 days in solitary. Except for visitors, doctors, cleaners, students, food and more drugs.

Still, made me feel less insular about watching my own wee movie system and so the reels began to roll....
4 episodes of Flight of the Conchords - wish those lyrics could be mine.
Blow - Depp & Cruz, not bad, but not entirely believable tale about how a young dealer set up cocaine imports into USA.
Blood Diamond - Illicit diamond trade in Sierra Leone with lots of bad people. Liked it despite me not really being a DiCaprio fan, I think its because he's a pretty-boy and I'm not. Gets a 4 all the same.
The Machinist - Christian Bale does haunted man very well, but then I like him because he seems more weird than pretty-boy. Be my dark side it must.

Home on Saturday around 9pm courtesy of Anne and the sno-mobile, then Hearts beat Celtic on Sunday - so a perkier end to the week!

Black bumpy vein

It looked kind of funny
But there was no pain
In the dark red patch
Round my black bumpy vein

I rang the specialist and the ward
But had to ring again and again
To speak to someone who could
Please solve my mystery and explain

Och, Dougie, no need to worry
There's no need to fuss
Though call your GP - its an emergency
If it starts leaking puss

So jings how do I react
To advice such as this
From OK -> emergency
Surely someone was taking the piss

For those who know my thinking
No way was it - straight yes or no
There had to be a way of finding
Some vague shade of grey in flow

Due at the dentist next week
I decided on my own cunning plan
After getting her update
To pin down a Dr - whoever I can

Talked her through my jaggy bit and baggy bit
And my unusually sensitive gum
Nothing to worry about
You know, she's really just like a mum

Soon upstairs I headed
To the Chemotherapy ward
To get full the low down
And make sure that it's not untoward

I see, said the nurse
Did I think she frowned?
She'd track down a Dr
There's one doing the round

Hmm, Doctor said
You're a bit thrombosed
But that's not as bad
As you might have supposed

You'll be fine next week
To come to Chemo ward 3
But get on to your GP fast
The first sign of puss that you see!

Gig-less Gowan

When I saw that Depeche Mode were to venture north for the 1st time this century - I thought, ya beauty - and I was right on to get tickets for Young Anne and me. A December Saturday night out in Glas-f-gow to look forward to. This was only May, but hey just you listen, when you get out as often as me - one must take the plunge and go play.

Come nearer the time, I was feeling fine, but of course that flu, is really a swine. So, Chemo, low blood-count and a large crowd of the great unwashed made it seem a bit risky for my low immunity mode. Stayed at home like a grouchy old toad. However, Young Anne and her pal called Fran, went wild west and had a real top wan. By the way.

So good for her and home for me, but it wasn't the only one I failed to see. Because if missing Depeche wasn't enough, I missed the Specials part II and wasn't chuffed. There was, however, a little consultation, when gig buddy Marty said it didn't match our Spring trip from Waverley station.

I can't pretend that its all been bad, you'd think I was turning a sad old fool - as I did get to see Keir and the orchestra from school. Would it be safe, should I go, 130 kids with noses to blow? But how could I not, for my (not so) tiny tot, up on stage with his P7 lot. Glad I went, it wasn't that bad, and I was there as a proud old dad.

So not quite gig-less if orchestra's count, but gutted about Depeche without a doubt.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Magic Curtains...

If lying in hospital you haven't been
Then unluckily you will not have seen
The magic effect of the mysterious screen

When the Doctors visit with their band
The head one simply waves her hand
And before you know -its your own grandstand

Might be to ask how're you doing
Or how's that lump you've been brewing
And tell me, how are your bowels moving

Its all fair game - think of student training
But even in whispers, with voices straining
They're daft if they think it's sound containing

We laugh and say - don't be daft
It only stops the bloody draught
But no they insist its all a part of Doctor craft

So if you find yourself in my position
And discussing everything with your physician
Just remember, everyone can listen!

Monday, 30 November 2009

As Tonto might have said... chemo savvy.

Yes, its me, home again home again, older, wiser, but not really any balder. Girls, it seems that the effect is more sporadic than I thought; one nurse confided in me that her sister lost all of her hair during chemo - except on her legs! Maybe my steroid for hair and appearance (SHAPE) diet needs more research.

Biggest lesson from last week was really about the dehydration; meant 5 nights in rather than 4. Though this did allow me time to Cycle Home from Siberia (good read with unexpected sideline comparing religions en route), complete some nasty Awaydays and start to Thank You For the Days.

Lots of visitors, lots of sweets and won lots of biscuits from Hospital Radio for winning their competitions. Haven't been able to face sweets or biscuits since last Wednesday though.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Golden Showers

Update on 23/11

There's been a delay on drugs with real powers
And they've put me off for 24 hours
Apparently my hydration levels were really low
So saline and dextrose have been on full flow

My message refers to the dual effect
One of which happens more quickly than you expect
Are you there with no the need to speculate?
If not, find the meaning - to micturate

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Two pricks, a fat foot and a Brazilian...

I encountered two pricks at the GP's on Thursday, the practice nurse was very gentle with them though and gave me one in each arm. Flu schmu, its a foofaraw, between me and you. Getting there was colder and wetter, but even after I've never felt better.

Now though its something that I don't want to shout
I'm known to experience the odd bout of gout
Not booze but dehydration is primary cause
And theories about bad living are a load of ba's

The problem you see was my normal cure
Its non-steroidal, max strength and pure
But my Unc Ologist told last time I was in
"afraid those chaps, need to go in the bin"

Been phoning round before its too fat for a shoe
'Cos hopping down on Monday just ain't going to do
But help was at hand, well down a phone line
"take the other stuff with codeine, and you should be fine"

It is so far so good, I have to say
More drugs to take uninvited swellings away
And now that the boot is on the other foot
No excuses when, for the Western, it time to scoot.

Girls, I've found another idea for you to add the diet one. I've not been waxing but seem to be losing body hair every day. From everywhere. I reckon you could DIY with sellotape and save a fortune on waxing! As I said, I've not been, but Neil was right about losing some hair - it does...

btw Apparently you can get something to keep you head cold and stop hair loss. I'm not pushing of for it though.

Penelope Cruz came to me last week...

..via Lovefilm. Volver is a Spanish movie by Almondovar - bit spiritual, bit suspense and bit of tongue in cheek aimed at local customs. 4 out 5 I'd say. And, no not just because of her.

She was squeezed in with Lives of Others and the Last King of Scotland. 4 out of 5 each too. Also watched No Country for Old Men, pretty good but maybe doesn't get 4 as I'd read the book first.

Monday, 16 November 2009

This last week, mostly I have been...

..eating. Those steroids must do something to your metabolism.

Even though I've done zero exercise I think I'm a couple of pounds lighter, but have had sweeties, cakes, ice cream and even late night chocolate. Girls? Want to trim those buttocks without all that exercise nonsense...

It seems that the hair thing is starting too. Pulled out the clippers when I got home as my fringe was getting to that fluffy stage, but its not grown and I noticed that not having shaved for 3 days has finally got me that designer stubble look. Perhaps I could emerge from all this as a handsome bloke...all I need now is major cosmetic surgery to my nose, cheeks and chins.

Oh aye, and I signed up for lovefilm since I'll be in a lot. The Lives of Others was reet good.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Home until 23rd November. The idea is to let the strong stuff drain away, before you hit it again.

Think of it like recovering from a very heavy week on the sauce, shocker of a hangover that takes 7-10 days to peak(!), then just when you're feeling fighting fit - you go for another week long bender.

Still, mustn't grumble. In fact, quite the opposite. First its the neighbours feeding the boys and Anne to help with her busy schedule as a visitor, then visitors, then a topper of a cake from a another mum, then today a barrow-load of books from my closest chums at work. I tell you, if I had a glass eye...

Monday, 9 November 2009


Me, PJs & slippers reported Western General on the 2nd as per the invite. Will they delay? Will they go ahead? Should I have cut my hair?

Uncologist didn't even blink, "it's all logisitcs, you see". So before you know it, there's a young lady in a nurse outfit asking if I'd like to try some new drugs. They're such a hit that I find I'm instantly hooked. In fact, they have such an affect that you find yourself taking other ones to counter the effect. Then yet more to counter the effect of the ones to counter the effect. And prunes.

Passing the time is probably the biggest challenge, once you ignore the needle in your hand that's attached to a tube that's attached to a sort of coat stand on wheels that you take with you everywhere. Everywhere.

What else to mention? Lights, beeps, visitors, texts, reading, day-time TV, more queasy than a partly fried egg on top of a hangover, e-mails, sweeties, Connor & the toes, neat stitches and Helen's ungrouted tiles do it little justice.

Home Friday night. Still wabbit & queasy, so taking it easy.

Christmas list

The other thing that happened between dentist visits was that a letter arrived inviting me to the Western General the following Monday. Slow slow, quick, quick, quick!

If it did start then, with Chemo for 5 days starting every 21st day, then I'd be out for Christmas. Problem is what to ask for since I had buy PJs and slippers on the Saturday just in case. Hadn't really had either since I lived with my mummy and it felt a bit of a strain to part with money for clothes to wear to bed. Quick dance near changing room exit with PJs on and hamster face got my lot smiling, and very strange look from bloke browsing coats.

Incidentally, I rarely shop at Debenhams and wasn't tempted by their 'take out a store card you don't need today and we'll give you 5% off', until I got to the till. £60, or if you take out..., it'll be £12.75 less. Eh? Money's money so find myself in the sign up panto. But, am rewarded by being charged £40.10. I tell you, these store cards really are jolly good value you know. Take the discount, pay the bill, chop the card. ps It was Santander finance, so you lot aren't paying for it either.


Well, the things you learn. The consultation to confirm my news drew such a large crowd that Anne had sit at the side of the stalls. 1 for this 1 for that and, as I've said, a dentist? The thing is you see, once someone has fired some nuclear device at your throat every day for a month or so, you dry up. This makes healing after dentist work problematic. So, do it now just in case.

Children out there - brush your teeth.

My young boy decay and healthy load of fillings certainly gave rise to a few eyebrows. Initial conclusion was to get an x-ray done and return next day. "ah, that's the fist time I've seen a horizontal wisdom tooth under the gum at back." I half form the thought, "hmmm, this may slow things a bit" whilst the dentist gets
to the punch-line, then find myself agreeing to a general anaesthetic for all work to be done the day after next.

So 48hrs later and pleasant young Dr is explaining the drill. Dig em out, stitch you up, send you home. Its all going swimmingly as they administer the anaesthetic, but then I wake to find I've become a little problematic. Whatever, it's not home, but a sleepover instead. Dr packs me off next day with news that "we had a wee bit more trouble than expected" and a goody bag large enough to sedate an elephant. "You've a face like a hamster", is the quote of the day as I get home.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me begin...

...with a brief history; swollen gland in neck. Still swollen gland. GP. Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI). ERI for MRI. Vague letter telling me that I have swollen glands in neck. Really? ENT for closer look. Hmmm. ENT for even closer look with a General Anaesthetic and CT Scan. Confirmed tumour in throat. To be nuked,but some dentistry first!

I'll do an separate note on dentistry because it has been a real revelation!