Sunday, November 30

everything you do has consequences

Mary Hopkin’s dad used to say “everything you do has consequences”. At the time I thought he meant “don’t get my daughter pregnant” but now I think his advice was intended more generally.

Since I effed the hip joint a couple of weeks ago, the pain seems to have got steadily worse rather than better, and I feared it was the start of a long slippery slope towards an artificial hip. Because neither the original injury nor the further exacerbations caused immediate pain, I had little insight into what was helping and what was making things worse.

But thanks to the bliss pills, I have been able to apply rational thinking, unhampered by emotional distress. If I asked a doctor, at best they'd suggest a single diagnosis and a single cause. But I can do better than that: knowing that everything has consequences, I have been able to work my way through the events of the last fortnight, and tease out the facts (in italics) of what was going wrong.

During the month of working full-time, I was always too busy or too tired to swim, walk, or do yoga. At the time, I thought to myself “this is unhealthy, but I’m fortunate that I’m getting away with it, with no impact on me”. And then at the end of the month, I did my hip joint.

A couple of days later it got a lot worse, and I now know why. Encouraged by ra juju guru, I decided to try out the elephant sexual position from The Hotel New Hampshire. Well as you know, that pose requires some very extreme hip work, and that must have been what was making my pain worse. Naturally one wouldn't notice the pain during the actual activity itself.

So I gave up tantrism, and things got better for a day or two, before getting worse again. Now I know why.

Because of the chronic tropical ball rash, I always use a hair dryer after showering, prophylactically against the fungus. To do this, I hang off the edge of the bed, with my legs wide open, and direct the hot air to and fro over my pubes. As you do. There were no problems until I got a new bed just after the whole hip thing started. The new bed is much lower than the old one, so when I hang off it with the hairdryer, the legs open slightly wider than usual, and I'm now pretty sure that's been making the injury worse each day.

So all I have to do is find a new way of using the hair dryer, and the hip can start to repair itself. Imagine expecting a doctor to work all that out! It's no wonder they can only reach for the prescription pad.

I'm fortunate: I have no distractions like children or a social life; I'm on the no-worries pills, and I have the Narcissistic Personality Disorder to help me, so I can work this stuff out, but most people don't have these advantages.

Wednesday, November 26

ra heat

This should really be a helpful comment at ra spliff blog, but if I posted it there it might get accidentally deleted.

Hotters was asking for help with raising heat, and someone suggested using hot porridge. From my own experience I can confirm that a massive bowl of porridge for breakfast, preferably with stewed fruit and raisins, plus a huge dollop of unhulled tahini, does indeed work wonders in raising one's internal heat. As you break into a sweat, you may even find you have to take some clothes off, to let excess heat escape. (Incidentally, that is the perfect time for some creative HNT work).

As a Scot I sprinkle heaps of salt over my porridge, and this can add to the heat (salt is the most yang foodstuff).

Of course, like everything else the heat increase is only temporary. Pretty soon you get the urge to take an equally massive dump, and you lose a lot of heat. Everything has to balance up.

Saturday, November 22


Only a week since my reprieve from the black spot, and already it seems like months ago. All the lessons forgotten. But I have followed through on the resolution to volunteer to become a person who drives sick people to hospital. Partly inspired by ion, partly as penance. I suppose it's also selfish, since I enjoy the experienc of visiting hospitals when I'm not sick. They'll probably have to vet me in case I'm a pervert or a basher of old ladies.

The month of working full-time, combined with reduced dog-walking and undernourishment, helped me to injure my hip joint this week, as I jumped back on the pavement to avoid a car. I shouldn't be dashing through traffic at my age anyway, there must be other ways to get your kicks. Funny how you don't appreciate your body when there's nothing wrong with it. I'm hoping this is a temporary setback, rather than the start of one of these age-related conditions where you end up getting a new hip joint.

This week JQM sent me some statements by old people:

Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman:
'And what do you think is the best thing
About being 104?' the reporter asked.
She simply replied, 'No peer pressure.'

I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement,
New knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes
I'm half blind,
Can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine,
Take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts.
Have bouts with dementia .
Have poor circulation.
Hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.
Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92.
Have lost all my friends. But, thank God,
I still have my driver's license.

It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.


Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,

The good fortune to run into the ones I do,

And the eyesight to tell the difference.

Sunday, November 16

dead and alive

Until my recent reprieve, people were asking me to make up my mind whether I'm dying or not. Well I'm dying and living, just like everyone else. The truth is we're all dying, all the time, every day a little more. Form time to time some of us put on a bit of a spurt, that's all.

Each day, oblivion creeps a little nearer, but it makes life easier if we can avoid thinking about that. People blame doctors for lots of things, but on one level we should really be grateful to the docs for colluding in our mass denial. The docs help support the notion that the world is divided in two: on the one hand there's all of us normals who are more or less fighting fit; and there's those poor bastards who need to monopolise the doctors because they're dying.

Of course, even if you believe this, when you're handed the black spot your equanimity and common sense suddenly go out the window, and you feel as if there's a firing squad waiting just outside the door. But if you're lucky enough not to have noisy neighbours who do your nerves in, you might have the presence of mind to meditate, and then suddenly you find you can't be bothered holding onto the fears and longings, the emotions. It really helps.

Friday, November 14

nae bother

First, thanks to all our reader for yesterday's message of support.

I stayed strangely calm yesterday before the path results. By the time I saw the guy, I didn't much care which way it went. But the news was good, the lump was a lymph gland. Of course, if I'd had the courage of my convictions from the start, I wouldn't have had the lump out at all and I'd have saved the stress and money. I wonder how much the refund would be if they could put the lump back in.

I wanted to go out and celebrate with champagne and sushi, but the bliss partner chose to go home and have a night in to celebrate. But I still want to do domething special and life-affirming at the weekend. Any ideas?

Germany has officially gone into recession. There goes what would have remained of my inheritance, if it hadn't been blown already on the German medical fraternity. But I've got something better than money. Health!

Yesterday morning I had a filling done without an injection. Afterwards, the dentist read the riot act because he can tell that I haven't been wearing the dental splint at night. It's like a hard perspex mouthguard, designed to stop you grinding your teeth down to stumps in your sleep. But it's very uncomfortable. So I've agreed to try a cheap rubber mouthguard that footballers use. The dentist says it will at least prove whether I grind at night, as I'll chew my way through it in no time.

From the Glasgow Herald: In Jersey, as the grim details emerged earlier this year of shackles, bone fragments, a bloodstained bathtub and dozens of children's teeth, the revelations seemed gruesome.

Yesterday, after a 4 million pound investigation, police admitted that the rooms described as underground punishment chambers where children were beaten and raped were in fact "just cellars". Bones found at the site were in fact hundreds of years old. And an alleged skull fragment may be a coconut.

Jersey must have been trying to compete with Austria, where they've just issued a new charge of murder against guy who kept his daughter as a sex slave. Allegedly.

Thursday, November 13

slower or faster

So in a minute I'm going to get the pathology results from the surgeon. I'm feeling surprisingly unconcerned. It can't be from the bliss work, as I've had no success with that this week. Either it's simple denial, or I really do accept that we're all dying slowly, and after this afternoon I'll either still be dying at the same rate, or slightly faster.

Wednesday, November 12

non-deifheids do exist

On Sunday night I had to go to the house of Pat and Ed to admire Ed's DIY renovations. Two things wrong with this:

(1) - I'm being set up to feel I should emulate Ed.

(2) - The visit involved meeting other people and nothing good can ever come of that.

Even worse, after we arrived, it turned out that a couple of strangers were invited too! Erk! The obligation to talk to people I've never seen and will never see again, about stuff I don't care about. What a waste of time!

But in fact, once the renovations were out of the way, the two new people turned out to be delightful, and they weren't deifheids at all. Yet they were Australians. How can that be?

I discovered that she's a flying doctor, and he walks his dog in the same woods as I do. For the first time in memory, I was reluctant to leave at the end. I was drinking beer with alcohol in it - I wonder if that made a difference.

Then on Monday morning I woke before the alarm, so I had 20 minutes to spend on the focussed breathing. Twenty minutes later, I hadn't managed to concentrate on a single breath. Too excited about having a whole day off, in beautiful weather.

Thursday, November 6

the big day (getting it) out

The comments in the last couple of posts were great to read, even though I didn't reply.

Yesterday, after a big breakfast I borrowed the bliss partner's car to drive to the hospital. The nurse asked me who was coming to pick me up, and when I said "nobody" she said "that's unusual". I didn't get where I am today without being unusual.

I found out that the insurance is picking up most of the tab, and I was only out of pocket $250! Where else could you lie around in a dress and no undies, among nubiles in nurse uniforms, without having to have sex?

They give you a room for the day and put you to bed. I had the whole day off work, and all these good people around me were looking after everything. There was nothing I had to do except do nothing. Indeed there was nothing I could do. Instead of switching on the TV, I spent the time more usefully. I lay on my back, and did the autogenic breathing exercises that worked so well the other day. After a handful of breaths I drifted into a wonderful warm half-sleep.

At times of stress the reptilian senses, like hearing, take over, and my awareness focussed on the melodious chirping mid-morning chat of the female staff in the distance. It was a very special feeling, primal even. When I was fully conscious again, I felt ready for an adventure.

In pre-op, when she found out I had opted for a local, the anaesthetic nurse asked if I wanted any sedatives, and I said "what have you got?" Thinking I was joking, she said "I suppose you'd like a whisky?" I said no, I really wanted to know what sedatives were on offer. The first one she mentioned, some kind of -azepam, sounded good so I said "I'll have that one." As she was getting the needle ready, I said "I'll still be able to drive home, eh?" I shouldn't have said that. They said I wouldn't be able to drive for 24 hours, so I told them to forget it, I'd do it straight.

In the theatre, they put me on the operating table, then they all went out and left me alone. I was able to get a good look around the room, more ramshackle than in the films. If I'd been sedated, I wouldn't have been able to lift my head off the table. Back when I was half my age and I had the original black spot op, I was well sedated on the table and when the anaesthetist said he was about to put in the curare, I was so cheery I shouted hooray for the curare.

Anyway, during the operation yesterday, with a wee sort of green tent over my head I couldn't see anything, but I could hear everything including the beeper connected to my pulse, quite slow and steady. I was able to chat to the main nurse, who turned out to be a big fan of Oor Wullie and The Broons. And from time to time I asked the surgeon what he was doing. He's built like a rugby forward, with massive doughy fingers. When he started in with the diathermy, a sort of soldering iron scalpel, he kept hitting a nerve and making my arm lash out at him. Bizarre.

His voice from above the tent explained that he was cutting out the lump but that it was joined to a nerve. I freaked a bit at this point. The type of black spot that I originally had is known to have a propensity, almost a desire, to spread along nerves, so this wasn't good news. My own nerves were suddenly shot, and the racing beep of the heart monitor announced to everyone in the room that I was spooked. It was a bit tough then.

The bonhomie in the room seemed to evaporate, and the stitching and bandaging proceeded in silence. Or that's how I remember it. The surgeon told me to come and see him next Thursday, to get the pathology results.

Back in my room, the room nurse told me how confronting it must have been to have no general and no sedation. She said she's too wimpy to even go in the theatre, that's why she works outside in the rooms.

The promised lunch never arrived, so I had to get up and find someone to complain to. If they're going to sell themselves as something special, they'd better expect consumer complaints. (Of course I realise that one should be just as pushy with public medicine and then things might improve). The replacement lunch came. I put the steak in my bag for the dog, and got dressed.

Back at home, to take my mind off my impending demise, I got out the old neck CT scan from 10 years ago, and found two image slices through the same area where I'd just had the lump removed. And there it was, I'm sure - the same size and shape of lump, ten years ago. Now that's a good sign. Everything's balancing up again - I've got one bad sign and one good. 50-50's good enough for me right now, though I may start to feel different as next Thursday the 13th approaches. I may have to meditate again.

After the day's excitement I slept great last night, and today at work I was on fire. The bliss partner has a full weekend planned, but I only have to attend one of the events, so it's looking good for some serious doing nothing, maybe even some more amateur blissage. How fortunate one is really.

Wednesday, November 5

what a relief

Thank goodness he romped home as it turned out. If you think America's international standing was mud already, just imagine if the election had gone the other way. I think even I would have been considering a semtex strap-on. But as it is, this makes up for Martin Luther King. What a wonderful moment.

Mind you, who would want the job after the country and the world's been thoroughly shafted now? Besides, give him a few years and a few mistakes, and we'll see the press and voters turn on him. The Blair effect. But what a gifted guy!

Meanwhile, tomorrow's the day I get the lump out. The hospital phoned and told me to turn up at 7 a.m. I pointed out that the doc told me he'd do me at the end of his list, around lunchtime, so what was I going to do for 5 hours? "You could read a magazine." Bugger that, I'll turn up mid morning and they'll still have a couple of hours to run around with their forms.

Then the woman said don't eat anything at all after tonight. I pointed out that it's to be a local anaesthetic, not a general. "Well I'm just telling you what I've been told to say." The admin people are Australians, so they haven't a clue. If I'm to hang around in a ward for half the day, I'm not doing it on an empty stomach. Fasting for a local anaesthetic! They've got to be kidding. Porridge bacon and eggs here we come.

I think I'm going to be a bolshie patient now that I'm not getting it for nothing.

And my manager, all heart, when he heard I'd be off for a day asked me to do some extra paperwork because Q, the person I'm standing in for, should have done it before they went on holiday. I couldn't be bothered reasoning with him, so I decided to start getting the hang of these mind games - I told him I'd do it, knowing full well it would unfortunately slip my mind, just like it slipped Q's mind.

Monday, November 3

one lump or two?

It's lump time again. I had been observing a small neck lump for months, and when it became impossible to believe it was still just as small, I went to the doc. She referred me for an ultrasound, but I had to wait a week for the appointment. Over the course of that week I moved gradually from laid back cockiness to panicky pessimism. By the time of the ultrasound I was, well let's just say I wouldn't need laxatives.

After they handed me the results, I waited till I was on the bus before tearing open the envelope. I deciphered the jargon using what I could remember from second-year medicine. Hurrah! "No hilum can be indentified" - that must be a good thing, who wants to have a hilum, whatever it is? "No vascularity is apparent at colour doppler". That must be good too. I seem to recall that one of the first things that the black spot does after moving in is install decent plumbing.

But everything balances up, and the same report said they had found a second, smaller lump.

Since then, I've had a week of R and R and denial. This afternoon I've to see the surgeon, so just now I thought I'd prepare by using the web to look up the jargon from the ultrasound. Now I wish I hadn't.

Still, I suppose it's good to clue myself up before seeing the guy. You can't give informed consent if you refuse to be informed.

At the same time, I'm working a four day week (on 2.5 days' pay mind you) for a month. At least it gives me something else to focus on and gets me out of the house every day. Hurray for work! And when I'm not immediately busy, I'm building myself a new home computer in my office. If I get stuck, I can get help from the hardware people.

This morning I had a joyless walk with the dog, and now I'm going back to bed till lunchtime, to read and maybe sleep.

I ended up trying to meditate in bed, so I was asleep by the fifth breath, but I had time to notice how with each breath the throat relaxed and opened up, accompanied by a similar relaxation in the trouser department. I made a mental note to try this mediatation thing again, just in case there's something in it.

My oldest friend in Scotland is a doc himself. He told me about the shorthand terms they use at his hospital. An anaesthetist is referred to as a "gas man," an orthopaedic surgeon is a joiner or a chippie. Urologists are called plumbers. A plastic surgeon is a painter and decorator. Most surgeons are butchers.

So I went this afternoon to see the butcher, and he said it'll have to come out. The good news is he agreed to do it under a local. He gave me the choice of paying my own way ("we could do you this week") or for free ("maybe the end of the month"). So it was a mental toss-up between fear and stinginess, and fear won. Of course, once I got out of there I was kicking myself for my decision. Even "the end of the month" would have been sheer bloody luxury compared to a Britsh NHS waiting list.

Never mind, I get a day off work but the actual op only takes about half an hour, so I'm ahead on the deal. Tonight I've had my first real beer since Duneditin, for relaxation purposes. But in the long term I'm going to have to learn to meditate. It has come to this.

Saturday, November 1

love-hate balance

Scientists at University College London have shown that there really is a thin line between love and hate, at least in the brain.

A new study reveals that the brain's "love" and "hate" circuits share identical structures.

At last, I think I understand why I pursued the annoying but delightful Denny for years, then let her slip away after I had won her, yet still missed her even after she was dead.

Everything in the universe, it's all just more and more balancing up. I'm hoping I can still see things that way when I'm at death's door, just balancing up my birth. That would help.