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  • nbrightside 5:13 pm on February 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio Marsden Free Europe 

    Friday 8 June 4:10pm

    My afternoon nap was rudely interrupted by someone knocking on the door and entering my room. Not a nurse, not a doctor, not a cleaner, not a menu collection person, not a health care assistant, not the newspaper delivery man. This time, the person was a disc jockey – a real-life radio DJ, a young man who was cutting his teeth on hospital radio before embarking on a lifetime of Saturday night wedding receptions where dancing will only commence after consumption of; two Jägerbombs (underage teenagers), three glasses of champagne (bride and friends of family), 5 pints of Stella Artois (blokes).

    ‘Good afternoon. Would you like a record played on Radio Marsden tonight ?’

    ‘Oh no – I don’t think so thank you.’

    The gentleman looked rather dolefully at a rather sparsely populated sheet of A4.

    ‘Oh please, I really need some more requests to fill out tonight’s show’.

    ‘OK then. Please can you play ‘Mr. Brightside’ by popular Las Vegas beat combo The Killers ?’

    ‘Yeah sure thing. What’s your name ?’

    ‘Norman – Norman Brightside’.

    ‘OK – it will probably be played around 8 o’clock’.

    So, after my supper, I switched over from Russia playing the Czech Republic in the second game of Euro 2012, dutifully tuned in to Radio Marsden and was horrified to hear the closing 94 seconds of ‘Making Your Mind Up’ by Bucks Fizz.

    Then I heard DJ Dave utter the immortal words ‘Well one gentleman who didn’t have any trouble making his mind up was Norman Brightside over on Orchid ward so Mr. Brightside – just for you here is ‘Mr. Brightside’ by The Killers.

    I sat up and gave my best karaoke impression of Brandon Flowers and also included some impressive ‘air drumming’ although this was hampered a little by the available kit; a straw and a pear (sticks) and a paper plate on an upturned yoghurt pot (cymbal).

    The song faded out and the aspiring DJ, ‘DJ Dave’, linked seamlessly to the next song.- ‘Well I’d forgotten how loud that song was but now it’s time to slow things down again by going back to 1964 and ‘I Love You Because’ by Jim Reeves’.

    The next day I overheard a nurse say that the ‘crash team’ had been sent to a Mr. Fothergill on Tulip ward last night. Apparently, he was listening to Radio Marsden and the line ‘He takes off her dress now’ triggered a severe angina attack.

    I waited expectantly but DJ Dave didn’t return on Saturday. Nor did he return on Sunday. In fact, he never returned for the remainder of my stay. This was a shame as I was really looking forward to hearing ‘Everybody Hurts’ by R.E.M.

    • empoprises 9:37 pm on March 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      You know, The The’s “Infected” is a nice little tune.

      Oh, and I nearly forgot about Madness’ “Cardiac Arrest.”

  • nbrightside 4:08 pm on February 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    put things in, take things out 

    Back amongst my friends in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) after my temperature hit 40 and I nearly chomped my own tongue off, the nurses took yet more of my blood, the microbiologists analyzed it and the doctors prescribed more industrial strength antibiotics to combat the infection.

    As for the root cause, well, the clever doctors were looking suspiciously at any foreign or external bodies that had recently been introduced to my body as a potential source of infection. Obviously, I still had several drains attached, a neckline as well as the portacath (inserted months ago to deliver chemotherapy). I wagered a fiver on the neckline as it was red and itchy at the entry point but the doctors seemed to favour removing the wireless access point. This seemed strange as this portacath had been in place for months with no issues whatsoever and had been accessed during the surgery (to deliver the anesthetic) but still. After lengthy discussions with various interested parties, we compromised and decided to remove both.

    An anesthetist came to visit and reassured me that this was a minor procedure and could be done under a local, sedation or a general anesthetic. I just said ‘Please just put me under and wake me up when it’s over’ and he agreed.

    After it was over and they woke me up, I laid back and tried to go to sleep. I was interrupted by a doctor wheeling a trolley. ‘Hello – I’m here to put a neckline in’. Yes, hours after removing the neckline which may have caused an infection, they were going to insert another neckline and hope it didn’t cause an infection. Worse, she was going to insert this tube using sharp implements and a local. I averted my gaze while she quickly performed the procedure.

    Weeks later, I learned that the root cause was actually a urinary tract infection (internal) so the removal and insertion of the necklines and portacath had all been irrelevant.

  • nbrightside 3:37 pm on February 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Guest Post – How I Was Affected By My Wife’s Cancer 

    Things you never thought you’d say – I am delighted to announce a guest post on this blog. This article is by Cameron Von St. James and is a very moving and inspirational post detailing the feelings a husband and parent goes through when supporting a loved one with a cancer diagnosis.

    On November 21, 2005, I heard three words that I never expected to hear, malignant pleural mesothelioma. On this day, my wife Heather, was diagnosed with cancer, and I became her caregiver, and I had no idea what I was doing. I was distraught. The diagnosis came three months after Lily, our first and only child was born. We were entering a phase of our lives that could only be described as complete chaos.

    Heather and I were supposed to make treatment decisions together almost immediately upon receiving the diagnosis. She was in shock and sat there silently, unable to comprehend the situation. When given the option of a local university hospital, a regional hospital, or a specialist in Boston, I quickly jumped in and chose the specialist in Boston, Dr. David Sugarbaker. I wanted Heather to have the very best care she could possibly receive, and felt that a specialist would be our best chance.

    Our lives were chaotic after the diagnosis. Before the diagnosis, both Heather and I were working full time. After the diagnosis, she was not able to work, and I could only work part time because of the numerous other responsibilities I now had. I had to make travel arrangements, take care of my daughter, and make my wife’s doctor’s appointments. My thoughts raced out of control, and I was overwhelmed.

    Constantly, I thought the worst, despite my best efforts to stay positive. I was terrified that I would lose my wife, and be left a widower to raise my daughter alone. My life was slowly unraveling before my eyes, and many days I would lie in my kitchen on the floor and cry uncontrollably, feeling crushed and overwhelmed by my fears and the pressure on me. However, despite these moments of weakness, I never let my wife see these fears. I always stayed strong and positive in her presence, as I knew she needed me now, more than ever, to be strong for her.

    Without the help of my family, friends, and strangers, I would not have been able to cope with my wife’s diagnosis. We received comforting words and even financial assistance during our time of need. It was incredibly helpful, and we advise everyone to accept help when it’s offered. It took me a while to let go of my pride and accept these offers, but when I finally did a huge weight was lifted off of me.

    While I was a caregiver, it was stressful and challenging with many days of uncertainty. Keep in mind that being a caregiver is difficult. Some days you will want to give up, but no matter what, you cannot walk away from your responsibilities. You have to use your resources and try to remain sane.

    It took years for life to return to normal after Heather’s mesothelioma surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Today, Heather is cancer-free and has been this way for seven years. To beat mesothelioma, an extremely aggressive and deadly cancer, is an incredibly rare task, but my wife’s strength and our community’s love and generosity helped us accomplish just that. We hope that by sharing our story, we can help others currently battling through cancer today.

  • nbrightside 11:04 am on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    blowing hot and cold 

    My wife runs cold; she turns the central heating back on during August whereas I run hot and wear a T-shirt for 12 months of the year.

    In hospital, after the operation, laid in bed for long periods, I tended to get rather hot and sweaty. It was May and on a hot day, my pillow would be soaked with sweat. On one occasion, a nurse noticed this as she was fluffing the pillows and offered to change the bed linen – ‘That’s strange you’re sweating so much because you haven’t got a temperature’.

    After 3 days in the Critical Care Unit, I was deemed well enough to return to the normal ward which was nice as there were slightly less observations and all my visitors could enter my room at once.

    I continued my slow but gradual recovery and was gently coerced by the nurses to walk to the bathroom and take a shower. This was also great; psychologically there’s something very positive about getting a proper wash.

    All was going well until on Friday afternoon (a week after surgery), a routine temperature check caused all hell to break loose. ‘Hmm – 38.6. I’ll need to get a doctor as that’s too high’. I did feel hot but not unduly unwell so I assumed the paracetamol would soon bring my temperature down below the 38 threshold.

    Only it didn’t. Next thing I knew, I had six doctors and nurses surrounding my bed as my core temperature increased further to 39.4. My wife was visiting and looked quite worried. This worried me. My angst increased further and my core temperature broke 40 ! Now I did feel poorly with extreme flu like symptoms – aching limbs, face feeling hot, sweating.

    My wife still looked worried as she listened to the ongoing discussions. While everyone fiddled, she got some flannels soaked in cold water and slung them over my face and chest.

    Suddenly something changed. But not for the better. I felt cold and shivery. So shivery, my teeth started to chatter. Bizarre – temperature of over 40 and now I felt freezing.

    I tried to clamp my mouth shut to stop my teeth chattering and was horrified to find I couldn’t. I now had ‘rigours‘ (uncontrollable shakes) and I seriously thought I was going to sever my own tongue unless someone did something. Quickly.

    A nurse helpfully offered ‘ I know a drug that stops rigours within seconds. But it can’t be combined with morphine’.

    As yet another doctor was summoned, my wife got a blanket and hugged me which eventually did the trick.

    ‘It’s no good – he’s going to have to go back to CCU so we can keep an eye on him’.

    • Ruben 11:08 am on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Gosh I’m on the edge of my seat… did you survive?

    • Scott Evans 11:13 am on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Temperature of 42°C and shivering like I was exposed to -42°C and my heart rate peaking 150bpm Fun times 😐

    • Bananabob 9:56 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I can appreciate you rigours having been rushed into the HDU suffering from them when I contracted a virus a year ago

    • Michael C. Harris 12:31 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I expected at least … To be continued.

    • Darce 12:37 am on November 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Cowlers – you are a tease, but we love you – stay strong and see you soon, hopefully the 14th, love and “respec” (I teach in a Comp, hence my street talk, innit),

  • nbrightside 11:33 am on September 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    No hallucinations whatsoever 

    During my stay in CCU, I was very tired and tended to sleep periodically during the day. Occasionally, this meant I found it difficult to get to sleep at night.

    One night, I was trying to get comfortable in bed when I heard an alarm sound. It was louder and more urgent than the repeated beep that sounds when an IV drip has run out and needs attention. Immediately, I saw and heard a flurry of activity. My dedicated nurse left her station and hurried across to the bay diagonally opposite me where a clutch of doctors and nurses were gathering.

    This looked serious – then it struck me – I was in an intensive care unit. By definition, patients in here were seriously ill (including me). What followed was like an episode from ‘Casualty’ as the defibrillator machine was called for and the ‘crash team’ was assembled. ‘OK – charging to 140. Stand back please.’ I couldn’t hear the jolt or see the patient as an electric charge was delivered to the heart but I could imagine it. Vividly.

    Three more attempts were made but all efforts appeared to be in vain and I was shocked to hear a doctor say ‘Sorry everybody. There’s no more we can do here. Thanks for all your help’ followed by a slight pause ‘Time of death: 02:17’.

    I pondered on the fragility of life and wondered about the friends and family of the poor man. If I was restless before, it would be impossible to get to sleep now. I considered asking for some sleeping tablets but my train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of two men, dressed in immaculate dark suits with white shirts. They were wheeling a trolley onto the ward. Not unusual in a hospital but this trolley had a coffin on it. A beautiful coffin, sturdy, build from a light coloured wood with brass fittings.

    The men encountered a problem as they wheeled the trolley down a sloping incline with a glass partition. The coffin was slightly too large and was scraping the glass partition. They probably could have forced it but they halted and one man walked away and returned minutes later with a plane. He then proceeded to plane the wood on one side of the coffin and to ensure symmetry, did the same on the other side. Now the coffin fitted and they were able to position it next to the bed. A few minutes later, with some assistance from male nurses, they silently and respectfully wheeled the coffin away.

    A couple of nights later, there was a shift change and I found myself attended to by two Asian male nurses during the night shift. After my surgery, I was on bed rest but there was a slight complication – I couldn’t lie on my back to keep pressure off my backside. This meant I could lie on my side but every 2 1/2 hours I had to be turned to avoid bedsores from lying in the same position for too long. This 2 1/2 hour interval was adhered to religiously – even during the night, which was frustrating if you had just got off to sleep.

    The two Asian male nurses were incredibly efficient. They rolled me at 00:30 and you knew they would return at 03:00am and 05:30am. Precisely. I am a ‘big bloke’ (medical speak for overweight fatty) so they used an orange blanket to effect the manoeuvre. Quickly and efficiently. Then they would dispense the drugs and move on to the next patient.

    One night, as they turned me, I felt a slight stabbing pain on the back of my neck. This was strange as most of my pain was around the pelvis and lower back. The turn was completed and the two nurses quickly exchanged words in Chinese. What were they saying ? What were they doing ?

    They went to the lady in the adjacent bed. I was facing the right way to watch as they attended to her. One of them intentionally stood to block my view but I am sure they did something to the back of the lady’s neck. Just like they did to me.

    I told myself to stop being paranoid and get some sleep before the next visit in 2 1./2 hours. Only I couldn’t. The two Chinese angels of mercy had reached the elderly gentleman in bay 5. He started shouting. I assumed he was disoriented after being woken up coupled with the effects of medication. ‘Stop it. Stop it. Leave me alone. You are not stabbing me with that needle. LEAVE ME ALONE’.

    This confirmed it for me. Without any doubt, the two Asian male nurses were imposters and were actually inserting microchips into the backs of every patient’s neck so the aliens could monitor us.

    After another sleepless night and enduring one more visit from the male nurses (who wore different uniforms from everyone else – how had no-one picked up on this obvious clue ?), morning arrived and the day staff came on. The doctors rounds started. A Dr. Williams introduced himself ‘Good morning, Mr. Brightside. I am the pain relief doctor responsible for checking your pain levels and prescribed medication. Now, any bad dreams, nightmares or hallucinations ?’

    I looked him straight in the eye and uttered the immortal words

    ‘No. No hallucinations whatsoever’.

    • Scott Evans 11:57 am on September 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I had my own version of grounghog day by reliving Australia Day long weekend 1985 for 3 weeks! Morphine/Ketamin cocktail!

    • Dylan 1:22 pm on October 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Andy – great to see these posts . . . I am definitely going to show this one to my dad, who to this day still maintains that following his heart surgery – whilst in CCU and at night he witnessed some huge cover-up concerning administering the wrong medication to some patients.

      He would not have it that possibly he was hallucinating

  • nbrightside 2:50 pm on September 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    post surgery 

    Thursday May 17

    Lots of consent forms. Lots of brief chats with nurses, doctors and an anaesthetist. Each time the door opened, I thought I was going down to theatre and the nerves jangled. Finally, at 08:45, I was wheeled down to the basement on a trolley and the lengthy operation got underway.

    I was woken up around 10pm in the recovery room to be told ‘The operation went well and we are just giving you something to make you sleep tonight’. Zzzzzzzz.

    Next morning, I woke up in the Critical Care Unit (CCU). Similar to a normal hospital ward but each patient had their own dedicated nurse. Constant (15 minute) monitoring of blood pressure, temperature, pulse and other vital signs.

    My surgery was complex and involved three different surgical teams; colorectal surgeon (tumour removal), plastic surgeon (used one of my six-pack tummy muscles to reconstruct my rear end) and urologist (re-routed waterworks). Consequently, the doctor’s morning rounds meant three separate visits; one from each different team.

    I was aware I had six tubes draining various fluids from my body and I imagined each drain being a different colour (amber, green, yellow, red etc) but I preferred not to lean sideways and try to confirm this theory.

    I also had an intravenous drip (via a neck line) feeding me a white gloopy substance that looked reminiscent of PVA glue. The nurse told me this was liquid food (TPN) together with nutrients, minerals, electrolytes etc as the bowel had basically shut down after the trauma of the surgery.

    I also had a nasogastric tube up my nose and a catheter in my arm to get more drugs and antibiotics into me.

    All in all pretty overwhelming, but nothing I hadn’t been forewarned about, and I probably looked a real sight to my visitors but I felt pretty good – tired and aching a bit – although I was on pretty strong morphine which undoubtedly eased the pain.

    However, as I came round and started chatting with the male nurse (who was a Norwich fan), I realised I was thirsty – very thirsty. In fact, I was parched and I felt like I’d drunk 12 pints of Stella Artois the night before and then been forced to lick a dusty carpet.

    When the nurse asked ‘Can I get you anything ?’, I seized the chance and politely asked for a glass of water. He hesitated and said ‘OK but I’ll just have to ask a doctor first’.

    Five minutes later, he returned empty handed. No glass of water. ‘Sorry – no water allowed just yet…’ He reached into a drawer and pulled out a straw with a sponge cube on the end. He soaked the sponge cube under a cold water tap and passed it to me. ‘Here – take this and suck on it’ [ No soft porn jokes here – Ed ]

    I took the tiny sponge cube, placed it in my mouth and sucked on it. I felt a dribble of water trickle down my throat. I sucked again hard on the sponge, greedily extracting every single, last drop of water. I passed the straw back to the nurse ‘That was great – but please can I have another ?’. ‘No – sorry but that’s it for 4 hours’. Sigh.

    The surgical team visited and the surgeon told me the operation took a long time (12 hours) and was ‘challenging’ but ultimately successful. I asked him if he’d been able to remove all of the tumour and he replied ‘Yes – we’re confident we got it all out’. I could have screamed with joy and delight but felt pretty weak so I just said ‘Oh – that’s great news. Thank you’ which seemed a woefully inadequate response to the surgeon who had probably, without being over dramatic, saved my life.

    My ever increasing pile of medical notes were left on my bedside tray and a single entry caught my eye:

    Clinical outcome: Tumour excised.

    A brilliant surgeon and a man of few words.

    • Scott Evans 3:03 pm on September 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome news!

      Great to see you back on G+ & as well

      You’ve earnt your place in the survivors lounge 😉

      • nbrightside 3:06 pm on September 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah – that’s 5 months ago now and the recovery was slow with the odd setback but we’re getting there slowly. Thanks.

    • empoprises 8:38 pm on September 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      “Excised.” I like that word. I’m sure you love that word.

    • Ruben 1:24 am on September 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Keep on keeping on Andy

  • nbrightside 9:40 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    crunch time 

    Eight months on and we now approach the home straight of this arduous, emotional journey.

    Yes – the destination of the Premiership will be decided on Sunday and it looks likely that Manchester City will prevail and deservedly lift their first title in 44 years. The trophy will be presented to them – gift wrapped on a silver platter – by Sir Alex Ferguson.

    In other news, my surgeon offered me a date for surgery – Thursday 17 May. As the footy season has now finished and this offers the prospect of rest and recuperation in time for Euro 2012, I gleefully accepted. As an added bonus, I will also get to watch Chelsea take on Bayern Munich in the European Cup Final dosed up to my eyeballs on morphine.

    The surgery is complicated – there will be a team of surgeons and it will take 12 hours. As a man who gets queasy during ‘Casualty’ I will spare you the gory details and summarise the complex procedure as ‘They are going to remove the tumour together with most of my backside and rebuild it using just one element of my non-existent six pack’.

    I am scared shitless slightly apprehensive but bizarrely the team of surgeons ooze a quiet confidence and are still targetting a ‘curative solution’ so that gives me confidence. Although it is lengthy, complex, involved surgery, they routinely perform it once a week and, for my diagnosis, have a 85% success rate.

    Recovery will entail three weeks in hospital with nurses constantly interrupting ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ to take my temperature, oxygen saturation and blood pressure followed by six further weeks rest and recuperation at home filling in my Euro 2012 wall planner and carefully drafting my London Olympics 2012 viewing timetable.

    • Ed Morgan 9:55 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Andy, good luck with the surgery mate, will be thinking of you. 85% is a good success ratio, Microsoft consider a 75% success rate after a patch roll-out a success, so if that doesn’t fill you with confidence, nothing will!

    • susan 12:46 pm on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I like this post … cannot like it offociallywithout registering though .. so here is a sentence instead ..
      and while I am at it: what is wrong with homes under the hammer? you might come to realise that it is one of the BSET things on daytime TV!

    • Bananabob 11:52 pm on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hope all goes well – Will be thinking of you.

    • Ruben 2:57 am on May 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Three weeks of daytime TV, no wonder they’ll be monitoring your oxygen saturation and blood pressure. I promise to force @mjd to edit/salvage one of those vintage podcasts for you.

      Best of luck!

    • Michael C. Harris 4:26 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Oozing surgeons, that’s quite an image. Best of luck, mate, I’ll be thinking of you and sending hippy vibes.

    • Steve Bland 9:36 pm on May 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good luck old bean, thoughts are with you. Homes Under the Hammer, I thought you were a Jezza Kyle type of guy!! I will be leading the chanting on the south downs with young Les.


    • Darce 10:05 pm on May 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Take care brother and like everybody else, I have fingers and toe crossed for a full recovery, so I can buy you a beer at Hookey and we can take our righful places at the bottom of the Human Pyramid – currently scheduled for 3pm on the Saturday, shortly after the “Hungarian hat dancers”, a tough act to follow, you have to concede. I am hoping to visit you on the 1st with Leo, if that’s ok. And all I can say is better an “oozy surgeon” than a “boozy surgeon”. All the best mate, and as you righlty alluded to in your email to the hurlers, this puts the “footy” , the prem and all that bullox in it’s rightful perspective, love and best wishes, Darce

    • Dee aka 120new 1:50 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good luck, Mr Brightside. I’ll be thinking of you and the surgeons on the 17th, hoping you all get to pause for a nice cup of tea midway through.

    • Hz 6:47 pm on May 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ahhh.. 12 hours, sounds splendid.
      Best of luck mate, they picked a great day for success & celebration, I (and the rest of Norway) will start on the latter, while the medical staff see to the former.

    • Doug Burns 8:41 am on May 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Homes Under The Hammer *rocks* so it’s essential they make your recovery as comfortable as possible so as not to ruin it.

      Hope it all goes well – stick in there!

    • James 10:18 am on May 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Andy – glad to hear your are there nearly there, if only the same could be said for englands chances at the euros! Please post photos of good looking nurses on your blog 🙂

    • empoprises 11:33 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m way behind on my feed reading, but I hope the surgery went well, and I hope that the Queen could spare a moment to send you a get well soon card.

  • nbrightside 4:05 pm on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    waterboarding and twice daily oral 

    In my haste, I forgot to describe a couple of additional issues associated with my radiotherapy treatment. Although my IV chemotherapy had finished, I was given more chemotherapy in the form of pills (Capecitabine).

    For this twice daily oral, the doctor insisted that the pills should be taken at 12 hour intervals and within 10 minutes of the same time every single day. Consequently, I had alarms set at 08:00am and 08:00pm to remind to swallow these toxic drugs (3 pills in the morning and 5 at night) 30 minutes after food.

    The list of side effects was similar to the IV chemotherapy (the pills are very similar but dispense about 50% of the IV dosage) and thankfully, I didn’t suffer from any side effects apart from hunting down my phone in order to silence the alarm. In fact, the worst part was that grapefruit juice, grapefruit segments or a grapefruit were now off-limits as this can hinder the breakdown of the chemotherapy and result in a mini overdose. Strange but true.

    In addition to the novel concept of getting oral at regular intervals, twice a day, the other addition to my exciting daily schedule was to consume 700ml of water 60 minutes prior to my radiotherapy appointment.

    Now, of course, it is trivial to neck a couple of pints of beer in a hostelry surrounded by friends before you can say ‘Whose round is it ?’. However, the prospect of drinking 1.23 pints of plain, boring, cold water – just after breakfast which already included a glass of orange juice and the non-negotiable cup of tea – was not always a pleasant one. Anyway, the clever doctors know best so I just did what I was told.

    As always, there is a method behind the apparent madness; consuming the water fills the bladder which helps to move it upwards and away from the bowel area leaving the radiotherapy with a higher chance of success.

    • Darce 3:37 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Love the blog as always – insightful, witty with a touch of the sardonic, I won’t suggest, again, a publishing deal but I am glad things are going well.

      I assume with all that drinking of various liquids, we’ll have to put you in for the “yard of ale” competition at Hookey this year – you”ve had the practice and it is Olympic year after all, as you pointed out in a previous blog.

      I spoke to Pete Mullins last weekend and he’s been followng your blog on line from the “ould home country”, as we plastic paddies call it ,or Ireland as the rest of planet earth has named it. So you now have an international following like Mancini (the pink panther composer not the manager). Anyway, Mullins felt he would feel a bit funny replying to you as it has been X number of years since last contact made (20+ years by my reckoning). I assured him that you”d love to hear from him especially as he’s Brentford fan and so he’s a relatively easy comedy target, so you might get a mystic missive from the Mullins massive

      Love, Peace, Irish Haute Cuisine (and pretty Irish Nurses),

    • empoprises 7:48 pm on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      One of your trans-Atlantic readers has a question – if they were so precise on the timing of the pills (with the ten minute window), how precise were they on the water measurements? If you only drank 699 ml, or if you drank 701 ml, would the whole routine be thrown off?

      I tend to drink a good amount of water, but even I don’t know if I could drink 700 ml in a very short period of time.

  • nbrightside 2:58 pm on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    six weeks on a sunbed 

    Today I completed my course of radiotherapy treatment which lasted for 30 days.

    The radiotherapy treatment entailed lying face down, with my face supported on a plastic pad, on a sun bed while the radiographers position your body into precisely the correct position for the X-rays to hit the right place.

    Radiotherapy is an very exact science and the nurses would typically spend 5-10 minutes meticulously preparing for the procedure. All I had to do was ‘lie heavy’ and relax. Occasionally the nurses would gently move my buttocks slightly as they took various readings and checked and double checked various measurements to the nearest millimetre. The height and position of the sun bed would also be adjusted slightly and I was surprised to hear that the machines would actually allow for the slight movement of the body caused by normal breathing.

    In another blog, in another universe, the prospect of a pretty nurse politely asking whether she could ‘pull your boxers down just slightly’ (so she could see the marker tattoos) would be amusing but the radiography team were just brilliant – welcoming, friendly, professional, reassuring and, above all, caring.

    After the positioning and setup was complete, the nurses would all leave the room, someone would hit the ‘Last Man Out’ button and a warning beep would sound 10 times before the machines buzzed and whirred into action. The treatment was very quick – less than 5 minutes before the nurses returned to lower the sun bed (‘Back to ground floor’) and it was over for another day.

    The treatment is completely painless – you don’t feel anything – not even a warm glow in your buttocks. I experienced a few side effects in the final three weeks which I was forewarned about as the radiotherapy has a cumulative effect. Consequently, the skin around my rear end became rather sore and tender. However, the specialist radiography nurses gave me creams and then some wonder gel that helped manage this discomfort.

    Initially, the treatment is aimed at the general tumour area and in the final week (phase 2), there is a lower dose that is targeted at the central core.

    For today’s final sun bed session, I treated the nurses to a glimpse of my ‘Superhero’ boxer shorts which was very well received. As I had been treated by the same team for six weeks, I had built up a relationship with the fantastic radiography team so I gave them a ‘Thank You’ card and some biscuits to share at coffee time.

    As these lovely ladies had endured looking at, and occasionally having to touch, my big, fat, hairy bottom every morning for six weeks, I felt it was the least I could do.

    What next ? Well – there is evidence that radiotherapy continues to act on the tumour after treatment has stopped so I will have MRI and CT scans again in mid-April to assess progress.

  • nbrightside 12:52 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Chemotherapy Comedy Awards 

    Enough of the boring medical updates. With the Grammy awards allocated and the Oscar nominations in, it’s time to present the contenders for the inaugural ‘Chemotherapy Comedy Awards’ where we look back at humorous moments and amusing quotes during the three months of chemotherapy.

    • ‘Careful – we don ‘t want all these ladies going beserk’ after being asked to unbutton my shirt without the curtains being drawn.
    • ‘Be assured, Mr. Brightside, I’ve seen it all before and so have these ladies’ – the nurse’s quick-fire response which filled the room with laughter.
    • ‘It’s the secret of a long and happy marriage doctor’ – my response to a surprised doctor’s reaction to the news that my wife had already examined my backside earlier that morning.
    • ‘Do you mind if I have a feel ?’ ‘No – go ahead – it’s the best offer I’ve had this week’. My response to a pretty Irish nurse attempting to rectify a failed attempt to access the portacath device.
    • ‘Has the ileostomy bag been a great help then ?’ I was sorely tempted to reply ‘Not really – it was much easier to pooh out of my arse like everyone else’.
    • ‘Any problems with breathing ?’ Standard fortnightly medical checklist question. The reply was always ‘Nope – I am still breathing’.
    • ruben 12:14 am on January 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      You should vidcast your hospital visits. It could be the new Seinfeld…

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