Thursday 14th April 2016 – TODAY’S THE DAY …

… when I find out if the first lot of chemotherapy worked or not. I hope that it did, because I don’t want to go through too much more of it. Horrible, nasty stuff!

And so I celebrated by finding the toaster (in the cupboard under the sink), and had toast for breakfast. and a second mug of coffee too, seeing as how it was so nice. I dunno who makes the coffee at this place but they can come and make it for me any time they like.

I needed it too because I’d been well away on my travels during the night. It was something of a disturbed night, tossing and turning and waking up, and so much of what happened and where I went to has long since disappeared into the mists, but what I remember of it was all pretty exciting enough.

I started out with Nerina yet again and we were on our travels in Europe. There was a magnificent site that, to me, could only be an Iron-Age hill-fort but no-one else seemed to agree with me, and some of it had been demolished. I took Nerina to see it and gave her something of a lecture about it, explaining that it was maybe dating from the Visigoth or more likely, perhaps the Merovingian era (although neither lived in hill-forts, but we mustn’t go letting facts get in the way of a good nocturnal ramble now, must we), and that regardless of any rumour or speculation (because the Merovingians have always throughout history been treated as something quite different, even by the Church, and some have even speculated that they might have been spacemen) were just another unknown wandering Eastern tribe that finally collided with Western “civilisation” during the great Western migrations. And I pointed out loads of things that related to the hill-fort that had caught my eye. I didn’t realise it at the time that my “lecture” had drawn quite a crowd and a family came over to me afterwards and asked me to give them a guided tour. I explained that I knew nothing and was merely interpreting, as an amateur, what I was seeing, but they were most insistent.
A little later, I was in Crewe, right down the end of West Street by where Barlow Brothers scrapyard used to be, and I had a pick-up that was towing a trailer. I was out of the vehicle doing something on the verge when a huge lorry went past and the draught sucked my pick-up off down the road. I was sure that I’d applied the handbrake and left the pick-up in gear, but there it was – going off down the road. I ran after it but it was long-gone, and suddenly it burst into flames, going faster and faster down the street. A horse of mine (now, what would I be doing with a horse?) leapt off the trailer and ran back towards me. It was on fire, and quite badly too by the looks of things, but a passer-by threw some water on it and doused the flames. I had a look at the horse and although the hair was charred, the skin looked okay and so I debated as to whether I should call a vet as I put it back in my back garden. But my pick-up was long-gone by now.
And even later, I was driving along a dual-carriageway, “my” side of which was under heavy repair and the road was limited to one lane and was in dreadful condition, so most vehicles were driving the wrong way along the outer lane of the other carriageway. I attempted to do the same but was cut up by a big van so had to continue trudging along, and at the next break in the central reservation, the same big van cut me up yet again. I ended up at my doctor’s, on the second floor of a tall terraced house, right by the side of this dual-carriageway and by now the road had deteriorated into one massive construction site and vehicles were picking their way through it as best as they could. Some young boy in a souped-up American sports saloon of the 1970s was driving like a maniac and as we watched, he clipped a small car coming the other way and turned it over, and spun into a pick-up and totally flattened it. He, of course, escaped unhurt. The small car that was on its side, the construction workers used one of their machines to try to turn it right-side up but they dropped it into a water tank and had to fish it out with a fork-lift truck. After all of this, a small woman with a shaven head emerged from the car. All of her worldly belongings were in the car, ruined by now, and she was destitute. She looked quite shaken and so I beckoned her up to the doctor’s. When she arrived, I explained that the doctor was busy but we would let her go in next for a check-up. She was clearly upset, and was going on about her car and her goods and however was she going to find a mortgage to replace everything?

Having resolved the issue of breakfast, off I toddled to the hospital. My appointment was at 10:50, and do you know what time I was seen? Anyone from the UK would never ever guess correctly – they would be at least a day or two out – but I was seen at 10:50 precisely – bang on time.

They took a blood test from me and fitted a drain in me, and then I was told to wait in the waiting room. And wait I did – for all of about half an hour when I was summoned to see the doctor – a nice young female trainee who can soothe my fevered brow any time she likes. I told her everything – about my arm, about the compression in my chest, about the loss of appetite, the fatigue, the nausea – absolutely everything, and she poked and prodded me just about everywhere – right at the end she asked me “may I feel your groin?”. Well, who am I to argue with that?.

She then went off to consult her professor, and came back 10 minutes later. “We need an ecography of your stomach”.
“When is this likely to take place?”
“14:15” she replied. You can see that we are clearly not in the UK. That was only 90 minutes, not 90 days away.

So I had my ecography and then went back to hear the news.

And I suppose that you are all dying to hear what is going on, aren’t you? Well, I’ll tell you, but it doesn’t make pleasant reading – not for me and probably not for many others either. But here we go.

Basically, the embolism is back in the right arm. It seems that the veins in there are not good enough to support a drain. This means that everything will have to happen in the left arm, and the veins aren’t all that much better in that arm either and they are worried. In view of everything else that is likely to happen to me, more of which anon, they propose to fit a catheter port in my chest. This news (the catheter in the chest, not the embolism) has filled me with complete dismay.

Secondly, they have detected some gallstones. These are by no means a problem but they are blocking a good view of my intestines. They are talking about sending a camera down, but this, I assure you, they will do over my dead body. I’ll suffer like this before I suffer like that.

Thirdly, the chemo hasn’t worked as well as has been expected and so I have to have another transfusion. I had one pochette on the spot then and there, as well as an injection to stimulate the red blood cells.

Fourthly, I have to go back for more chemotherapy, and that’s fixed for 29th April. This is after the end of the 15-day period during which I’m allowed to stay here, so something needs to be done. Those of you with long memories may recall that I was given “advice” by that guy in the European Union’s Social Services department, but the net result of that as been zero. He hasn’t even bothered to reply to my e-mail, never mind do anything about the issues involved. What a waste of time that was!

However, the girl from the Social Services at the hospital seems much more helpful – she sought me out today at the hospital and we had a little chat, and she thinks that once she knows what the programme is, she might be able to help me find somewhere to stay in the neighbourhood. That’s the ideal solution – she seemed to know what she was doing while all of this was going on.

So beaten, battered and bewildered, I left the hospital and went to move Caliburn around the car park and to rescue the clean clothes that I forgot the other day. And then, I took the bus back here.

I did have a pleasant surprise tonight though. I’m limited with what I can eat right now as my taste buds are out of order and I still have some nausea. I seem to be limited to pizza and to the cheapo pasta shop up the road and round the corner. But tonight, looking for a change of diet, I found an Asian take-away. They did a huge portion of vegetable stir-fry and rice for just €5:00.

I’m not a big fan of food from the Chinese end of Asia, but I did cheer up when he started chopping up half a broccoli. And I do have to say that this was one of the nicest commercial stir-fry meals that I have ever eaten (I stress the “commercial” because nothing whatever can match Liz’s stir-fry). I shall add this place to my list.

So tomorrow I need to start work. I need to sort out this accommodation question because I reckon that I’m going to be here for the duration, so I may as well come to terms with it.

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