Friday 1st December 2023 – THE BAD NEWS …

… is that my carcinogenic protein has now been found in my nervous system

The good news is that the doctor whom I saw in Paris at lunchtime is keen to have a go at tackling it. And who am I to object to that? What do I have to lose? My marbles – I lost them a long time ago. In fact, I doubt if I ever found them.

But it’s nice to have some good news. It’s been a long time since I’ve had any, and that’s not a cue to talk about those three days that are missing from my blog at the end of August 2019 aboard THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR either.

But while we’re on the subject of good news … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a really good session on the acoustic guitar working my way through part of my playlist. I reckoned that if I was going to spend 4 hours sitting in a car going to Paris, that would be as good a time as any to catch up on my beauty sleep so I may as well make the most of my own personal time.

The trouble is that most of my playlist is nostalgia-based and I have a lot of stories to tell about the songs on it. For example, in REAL LIFE my heroine comes from the Outaouais with black curly hair and, quite probably, regular readers of this rubbish will recall the name by which she might be known.

Then there’s MARY JANE’S LAST DANCE. "I’m tired of screwing up, tired of going down, tired of myself, tired of this town". I remember singing this to myself driving down from Crewe to Dover Docks through the night with all of my life that remained packed into the back of an old Cortina Estate

And I could go on … "not with a pickaxe through your neck, you couldn’t" – ed

So abandoning yet another good rant for a while, I hauled myself off to bed.

As usual, being a very light sleeper and having to make sure that I’m out of bed promptly, I had an enormous amount of trouble going to sleep.

But in between the spells of wakefulness I must have gone off to sleep because the alarm awoke me.

First things first – I had a good wash and put on some clean clothes. If I’m going to be poked and prodded about I might as well make an effort.

Second thing was to check the papers in my backpack to make sure that I had them all. My sandwiches were in there too – I’d made them up the night before. It’s always a good plan to have a few bits of bread in the freezer.

Finally, there were the dictaphone notes. Something had gone wrong and we’d had a calamity. As a result everyone in our house had to go out on some kind of visit to someone important at some ridiculous hour of night in the middle of winter. There was a big storm raging. This meeting went on apparently much longer that it was supposed to and it was gone midnight when we all finally struggled back. I was in front having to feel my way along the wall and along the clothes line etc in order to arrive at the building. I eventually ended up in the outhouse to the house. I eventually managed to put the key into the door and open it. I threw on the light switch but there was very little power in the batteries so there was barely a glimmer of light illuminating anything. I could see that this was just going from bad to worse to worse.

Later I was at the University of Duluth in Minnesota last night watching a strange kind of game, something of a cross between basketball and ice hockey. Each team consists of both males and females. The aim was as in basketball or ice hockey to work the ball down towards the goal area where you could lob the ball over the crossbar. If it hit the ground you’d have a free shot at scoring a point, similar to basketball. The net was a kind-of thick arrangement where it was quite easy for the ball to be lost inside. Then it would vibrate and shake around, then dart out in all kinds of strange directions and everyone would run after it. I was watching from behind one of the goals because I knew someone from Duluth who was taking part. Duluth was leading up until the final minute when the opposition managed to get the ball over the bar and bounce on the ground behind which meant that they could have a free shot. However their free shot was held up in the net and the whistle blew before it was ejected. I went to have a chat to my friend afterwards but he couldn’t stay around because he’d only turned up to play the game. He was busy with his harvest back on his own farm.

Strangely enough, I’ve never been to Duluth. I did actually have a passage booked on a freighter going from Ijmuijen to Chicago and Duluth once but at the outbreak of Covid all ad-hoc passengers were excluded from freight sailings and as far as I’m aware they haven’t restarted.

Finally I went into work on Monday but half the cars wouldn’t start and there was a big meeting taking place. The boss asked me to go to the Centre des Urgences to explain and arrange for some assistance. All of a sudden I had a mental blank and couldn’t remember where it was. For about 10 minutes I was wandering aimlessly about the building even ending up down in the basement again in the stores with Henri. Eventually someone explained to me where it was and I found it but it seemed to be for people who were having to travel at last-minute rather than anything else Nevertheless I went over and began to explain the problem but a girl sitting behind one of the desks shouted at me “can’t you see that I’m busy? Can’t you see that I have plenty of other things to do?”. I stormed right over to her and gave her a complete and utter mouthful of exactly what I thought of her interruption and then went over to find someone else with whom I could speak at another desk.

The car came for me bang on time and as I was struggling downstairs the visiting nurse was running up on his way to attend to my neighbour.
"Do you want a Covid injection?" he asked. "I have one left over"
Do bears have picnics in the woods?

So there I was, a taxi driver at the bottom of the stairs, the nurse and I halfway up, me with no clothes on my upper body receiving an injection. It must have made a wonderful sight, but I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity.

The drive to Paris was uneventful apart from the traffic around the Péripherique of course. And finding the correct building in the hospital complex (because it really is a maze) was quite straightforward.

Finding the entrance however was another thing, and once we found it, finding the reception was even more complicated.

And then I had the doctor, and we had quite an interesting discussion.
"Do you know why the hospital at Montlucon took out your spleen?" he asked.
"To be honest" I replied "I don’t think that even they knew why they did it"

And then I recounted my tale of woe about the events that took place between November 2015 and March 2016 with which regular readers of this rubbish will recall being regaled at the time.

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, and he told me that the last lumbar puncture revealed traces of the carcinogenic protein in the liquid that flows around my nervous system

So that, dear reader, is that.

But I’ve had to fight all my life and even if I were ready to stop, I wouldn’t know how to.

Over 30 years ago I met the old blues singer TS McPhee in a snooker club in Crewe and we had a good chat. He wrote A SONG ABOUT DYING "I’m like a ship on the ocean that’s rolling from side to side".

He goes on to say "I’ve done everything that I ever set out to do". Well, he might, but I’m a long way short of that and so I’m going to keep on keeping on, as BOB DYLAN WOULD SAY

He’s keen to get in there and fight too, which is good news. It’s always nice to have allies and I don’t have many of them.

His plan is to call me in after the New Year and have me stay for a few days. He plans another one of these really agonising lumbar punctures to check the results, and then he’s going to spend some time examining my heart.

What he reckons is that following the disastrous sessions of chemotherapy that I had and which were rapidly abandoned, there might be some kind of tablet that might stimulate the nerve cells to fight back in the same way that Aranesp stimulates the red blood cells.

However it’s not for the faint-hearted – and he means that in the literal sense. He needs to know if my heart will withstand the strain. If not, he’ll have to think of a Plan B.

He told me about the side effect too, one of which is “bad attacks of cramp” however I don’t really know whether I have any vacant spaces in which to fit any more attacks of cramp.

At one time I started recording the attacks of cramp that I was having but for quite a while now, the only recording of attacks of cramp that takes place is when I go for a day without any, and I bet that you’ve not noticed too many instances of that.

After he threw me out I thought that I’d find a quiet place to eat my butties undisturbed and then phone the driver to say that I was ready but I’d hardly taken the first bite out of my bread before I was caught in flagrante delicto

Apart from the traffic leaving Paris and on the péripherique de Caen we had a straightforward drive home and I drifted away with the fairies now and again.

We were back here at 17:50 and the first thing that I did was to have an energy drink and then make a massive mug of hot chocolate. I’d had nothing whatever to drink all day.

After a rest I had another helping of sausage beans and chips. Something quick and easy.

But after my exertions today I’m off to bed. I’m not going shopping tomorrow. I really can’t haul myself off outside after today.

Instead I’ll send off my supermarket order and add onto it the things that I’d usually buy at the Carrefour.

Discretion is the better part of valour after the events of today.

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