A lot more than serious …

Following on from my last post regarding Early Retirement, things have moved on somewhat. When I first mentioned it to K***, her initial response was that ‘… I should think about it …’. It has gone from that via ‘… I think you should really consider it …’  to ‘… think you should go for it…’ very quickly. She thinks that we could over-think this and although I’m not an impulsive person by any means, I think she is right.

Therefore the decision, I think has been made. I’m speaking with our service lead on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and I’ve an idea, that he is going to ask me for a date when I want to go. From what I understand, if I say I want to go at the end of … say September, then the request will go to a corporate panel on the 8th of September and then then directorate panel on the 18th September. If it passes both panels, then my last day would be the 30th September. It is that quick.

So now all I need to do, over the next few days is to pick a leaving date! I suppose this is another one of those life changing moments.


I opened another Individual Savings Account (ISA) last week. I know that people now say the ISA has had its day with the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), but I can’t help feeling that my ISA is a better saving option. I’ve been saving using ISA’s for a few years now, but did not transfer the 2014/15 to my 2015/16. No idea why, but I think I just never got around to it. But I decided that this time I would. So I spent a good hour filling in forms to transfer the funds across. It seemed a little bizarre, that I had to manually fill in the details of the transfer as there was no online facility to do this at all. Bit odd in this day and age, but it is done now. Already to post tomorrow. Just need to set up a direct debit to put some money into the account now.

Happy anniversary to me !!

The title of this post refers to the fact that it is a whole twelve months since my operation. The actual date was the 26th so any celebration should have been on Friday. Only one person mentioned anything, and that was only because they had seen it noted in my work calendar. In fact, the person I thought would have said something, actually tried to give a bit of a *ollockin* for something else.

So after a year how are things? Well I still have a beautiful 10 inch scar running half way down my chest and still quite proud of that. I was given all sorts of ‘hints and tips’ to help it ‘fade’ but, I went through quite a lot to get that scar so it’s going to stay as it is as long as it does (if that makes sense!)

Not much else has changed really. I suppose that having to take an ‘anti-coagulant’ for life is a major change, but I had been on a stomach acid suppressant (another leaking valve) for a few years, with no change in the foreseeable future, so the idea of permanent medication was not an issue.

I suppose the real change is my memory loss. Now that sounds a bit more dramatic than it really is. What apparently happens, is that I have forgotten things that I supposedly knew. It is well documented and even has the popular name “Pump Head“. It is usually attributed to the heart going on by-pass while the surgery takes place. It was assumed that I knew about it, but only found out when I was due to leave the hospital. I shook the hands of all the other patients, and I said the one I had most of my conversations with, that we would have to keep in touch and meet up when we were both fit again. He laughed and said would be a good idea, if we remember!

It is a strange feeling. There are times when I don’t know if I have forgotten how to do a particular thing or that I never knew how to do it in the first place. It’s more disturbing, when K*** mentions a place we have been to and I simply cannot remember it. Some of the memories that I thought had gone, are now slowly beginning to come back to me, but it usually needs a few prompts and there are some things like days we have out together or places we have been to, just don’t seem to be there in my head any more. It makes you feel quite alone, when people talk about things and you struggle to remember them.

Then there is also, given my age, the slight growing concern, that the memory loss might just have a different cause. It is only a very miniscule fear, but it is definitely on my mind.

Life changer – Discharge Day

So now we come to the day that nearly spoiled the entire experience.

I had been awake since 6am and my bags were packed and I had geared myself up for leaving the hospital. I felt that it could be a bit of an emotional day and was beginning to prepare for it. I had packed my bags the night before, and there was only my washing stuff still on my locker. Breakfast came at about 10 past 8, and I had decided to have cornflakes followed by a cup of coffee and 2 slices of toast. I had just finished the cereal, when I was told that I had to move to the other ward and make the bed free for someone coming up from ICU. Now, I remember the day I came up from ICU, so the idea that I should make way for someone else was not an issue. The issue was that I had to go there and then!! Halfway through my breakfast!! It could not wait for another ½ hour, I was to go then. I said a quick goodbye to the guy that I had spoken to the most and I was packed off to the other ward. I had an idea, that that ward got their breakfast first, so in a moment of defiance, I grabbed two slices of toast and took them with me, must to the amusement of the duty nurse.

I was dumped (not true strong a word) into a side ward, and had to wait until the cleaner had finished before I could have a wash and get dressed. The senior nurse came in and told me that I would be discharged at 10 am, and I had to explain to that K*** was coming to pick me up at 2pm. This, I was assured was not a problem and that I could stay there until then. Where else I was going to go, I do not know!! I was given a cup of coffee at around ½ past 10, and apart from the nurse going over the same details, the only other people to see me was another doctor. Lunchtime came and I was given, not what I had ordered but once again what had been left. I had just finished my dessert, when I was told, that I had to vacate the side room and was ‘allowed’ to sit on one the chairs in the reception area. I was not happy by this time, and I tried to explain to the nurse, that when my wife came at 2, we would need to be away by ½ past three at the latest in order to get home for R***. Once again, I was assured that this was not a problem. He also said he had the medication that I had arrived with.

From there on in, I felt like nobody cared anymore! There was another older man, who had been there since 10am and he was really angry, and his anger was beginning to get me angrier. Again I checked that they had the medication that I had come in with, and the assurances were there again. I was told they were just waiting for my prescription to get to pharmacy, they I could go. K*** arrived at 2pm and again explained to the nurse the issues that we had, and the reply came back that it would be all okay.

In the end, pharmacy came up with the medication at around 10 past 4. We went through the medication (which I already knew, because the nurse the evening before had gone over it all) and I asked for the medication I came in with. It was then that the nurse decided that he would go and look for them. K*** went off to get the car to the pick-up point whilst I waited. He eventually came back and sheepishly explained my stuff could not be found. Now I knew that it had been moved to the ward I had recovered from as the nurse the night before had shown me them. By this time, I had had enough and left. K*** was now as angry as I had been before. It was a good job that S**** had said he would be at home for when R*** came home or that would have been a serious problem. All in all, a pretty crap end to what had been a very successful week.

The feedback survey was interesting to complete!!!

Life changer – “Day 2 + “

After a surprisingly quiet and reasonably comfortable night (which I can only put down to the morphine) I woke about 6:30. This became the norm for me, to wake at around the time I would have done had I been at home. Breakfast arrived at just after 08:00 and was asked if I wanted cornflakes or toast. Now was a bit of a dilemma. When I was getting ready for the operation, I was told to remove my dentures and put them in the pot that I had brought. To my knowledge, those dentures were still in that pot, in my toilet bag, in the locker on the ward I had come from. That meant that toast was out and I settled for cornflakes. I have to say, that eating cornflakes without teeth is not to be recommended.

I was given a bed wash, which was an experience to cherish and then introduced to the physio-therapist. She went through some basic breathing exercises and explained that I needed to cough. She also explained the importance of the cough. Whilst following the logic, I had real difficulty in putting it into practice.

This day 2, was the day when everything changed. I was going back to the main ward! This entailed removing some the pipework that was still in me. A line was removed from my neck and then came the bit I had been warned about. The removal of the chest drains. I only reference I have for chest drains are the medical soaps on television. These programs never show drains being remove. You cannot begin to imagine the feeling when 18in of plastic tubing and another 8in of similar plastic tube is quite literally dragged out of your body. The nurse had told me that I would feel a lot better with them out. I didn’t!!

Within an hour, I was on the main ward and reunited with my teeth. K*** and her sister came to visit, which was nice, and both remarked on how well I looked. So I suppose the drain removal must have worked. Dinner was a bit hit and miss, but I did manage to eat a little bit more.

From then onwards, I began to get stronger and more confident as the days went by. Everyone was impressed with my progress and it soon became apparent that it would not be long before I could go home. That date came on the 2nd July, just seven days after being admitted!

I cannot express fully how remarkable the teams that were on the ward were. Not just the doctors and nurses, but the assistants, catering staff and cleaners. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to make all of us feel as comfortable and individual as possible. That old song that says “…..Heaven must be missing and angel…..” is not right. It should be “…..Heaven must be missing thousands of angels!!!” because a large number were on that ward.

Now, discharge day was something else, and I shall leave that tale for the next post

Life changer – “Job done!!!”

This will be one of the last few of my ‘Life changer’ posts. As you may gather from the title, it’s all over. I was admitted on the 25th of June and by 1pm on the 26th I was in the famed ICU (Intensive Care Unit). I shall not to into the gory detail of my return to consciousness, as it is not a pretty story. Suffice to say, I got over it. K*** rang to see how I was doing, and they told her I had just come round as was a bit sleepy. I’ll never grasp how 5 hours unconsciousness leads to someone being sleepy, but it does. We both thought it would be a waste of time to visit straight after the surgery as I needed time to come round, so she was coming the next day.

The nurse gave me some sips of water, and like a fool I managed to take too many large sips and suffer the consequences. I was amazed how little pain I was in, but soon realised that this was due to the copious amount of morphine that was being dripped into me. They sat me up a little and some food was plonked in front of me. Some kind of meat free cottage pie and some rice pudding. At another time, I think both looked quite appetising, but not then! Some nurse, and I don’t remember what they called her, asked me if I needed help to eat. I only managed the rice pudding before drifting off to sleep. I think I slept okay, but have no recollection of it at all, until 7:30 the next day when I drifted out of sleep. I have to say that without exception all the nurses, doctors, assistants were excellent. In fact all the people on ICU were exceptional people. I did not eat much that day and I did not expect to either, although everyone kept telling me I needed eat to get my strength back.

K*** came at around 1pm, just after attempting to eat some mince and mash. I know I looked terrible!!! I don’t know how terrible I actually looked, but had a good idea. She was shocked at the state of me, as I do not think she knew what to expect. I still had various tubes and wires and lines stuck in me, but I was not really aware of them. She helped me eat some of my lunch, but I still did not have any appetite and could only manage the trifle. She managed to stop until visiting time ended, and to be honest, I don’t remember her going, before going to sleep.

So that was what they call ‘Day 1 – post op’. Surprisingly everyone called it an ‘operation’ and not a ‘procedure’ like they do on the television. Day 2 to follow and don’t worry, this is not going to be like Big Brother with a post for everyday!!

Life changer – “T” minus 10 (again)

I have a new date for my operation. This time should be a definite. They cannot bump me again. Can they? Well apparently they can. The number of ICU beds remains the same so effectively the same could happen. However, saying that, I do think that it might happen this time. Just a feeling.

The changes to R***’s respite pattern were not too drastic. K*** decided to let go away this weekend, as planned as it was thought it would be a good idea to start to get him used to being away at weekends. He appeared to go off without any problems on Friday, so we wait and see.

Work has been understanding about the whole issue of the cancellation. I now also get the impression that the so called ‘other part’ of the team, know that I’m going into hospital. One or two of them seemed to be quite interested in what happened. We shall see how that progresses.





Life changer “T” – ‘Fu*k Knows!!!!!’

This is going to get a bit political and may be a little sweary, so be warned!!

Today was going to be the first day of a new life. Today I felt the true effect of this Governments National Health Service decimation! My mitral valve repair/replacement operation was ‘bumped’.

Everything was in place. Respite for R*** had been fixed and the process of getting him used to the idea that his Dad was going into hospital had begun. K***s work arrangements had been sorted. My work arrangements were in place and S**** was on call if needed. K*** had taken me to the hospital. We had had a ‘light lunch’ as advised. I was on the ward and had had my chest X-ray. I had unpacked my bags and even had my slippers on when the surgeon arrived on the ward to tell me the news. He seemed to be quite annoyed that they would normally do four heart operations a day and are now down to five or so a week. It seems, that because of the cut backs imposed by this bunch of c**ts, (sweary bit) who masquerade as a Government, there are insufficient ICU beds available! Just let that sink in …… not enough intensive care unit beds in an NHS hospital because of Government cuts!!!

K*** was quite distraught. It has not been easy for her during the build up to this, what with the planning for R*** and everything else, and for it all to come crashing down was very hard. At the back of my mind was the words that the nurse said last Tuesday, when she said that “…… it could be cancelled ….. even on the day….” How those words come back to mind now.

So where are we now? Well for a start, I have to go to work tomorrow!! K*** has to spend a lot of time trying to realign R***’s care/respite plan, whilst trying to keep her emotions in check. That is not easy, as she had only just got her head around the fact that I was having this done now.

So now I have to ask the question, who is to blame? Here come the political bit! At first I blamed Osborne, that weasely-eyed ‘Hoo Ray Henry’ of a Chancellor. But then I thought, no he’s only doing what his leader tells him. So it’s Cameron’s fault!! Or is it? More thoughts later, and I come to the conclusion that actual fault, for all the problems that people, like me are going through, lies at the feet of one person. CLEGG!! The turncoat. The guy that presented himself to the country as the only one that could keep the Torys in check. How easily we were fooled. However, in the words of The Who … “We Won’t Get Fooled Again!!!”

It looking like it may happen sometime, week beginning the 23rd June. I have no idea now whether I am counting down or up.

Life changer – “T” minus 4

Only 4 more nights until the op. I should probably call it ‘a procedure’ as it sounds more professional. At least, that’s what they call this kind of thing on TV. I suppose calling it a procedure kind of leads you to think that this is routine. Of course, it is routine by the very nature that these experts do the same stuff everyday but that no way detracts from the complexity of the work this surgeon and his team will have to perform.

A family day yesterday for my father-in-laws 80th birthday. One of K***’s uncles was there and he has been through the very same thing. It was interesting to hear first hand from someone who has had the ‘procedure’.

What is strange, and I’m not sure how to take it, is the number of people that have wished me ‘good luck’. I hope I don’t have to rely on luck!! They also say things like ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ and ‘hope everything goes okay’. It must be difficult to find something to say that doesn’t sound like I need a four leafed clover at my bedside. I almost kind of liked what my GP said, after he had diagnosed my Pulmonary Congestion. His comment as he shook my hand was “See you on the flip-side!”

Saw my mother on Thursday. She seems to be getting a little confused I think, as she asked me if I had had my operation. I explained when it was and what was going to happen, but she is either blanking it out or she genuinely does not get it. As for the rest of my side of the family, not heard a peep from any of them since the message I posted to them all. It is a sad state of affairs when people outside your direct family are more interested than they are. But I’m not going to fret over it. I’ve enough to worry about (excluding this) at work and at home. The situation at work seems to change on a daily basis and I can see our new boss, G***** getting a little annoyed about it all. This is about our latest office move, of which I may blog about in another post . Then there is the worry about R***. How will he take it when he realises that I’m not there for a whole week which has never happened before, and that his recite has increased. He does not take kindly to change and it has been made slightly more difficult with S**** moving out. Just glad that K*** has not told the community nurse that S**** is not at home. Heaven knows what she would have said/done if she knew. With all this going on around me, the small matter of heart surgery pales a little into insignificance somewhat.

This is probably going to be the last post on the subject until the deed has been done. So in the words of my GP …..”See you on the flip-side….”

Life changer – “T” minus 11

Just to change the mood, only eleven more sleeps until I’m admitted. To be honest, at the moment, I have no worries about this. I say ‘at the moment’ because I’m not sure what the next ten days will bring. I have another appointment at the hospital on Tuesday (note to self – print the proper route!!) the eight days later, I’ll be in and waiting.

I finished the nasal cream last night. There is still nearly a quarter of a tube left, so why on earth I needed two tubes of the vile stuff, I’ll never know. It may sound okay to squirt two match-head size drops of cream up each nostril, four times a day, but take it from me, it’s not much fun. For example, the first thing that happens is you get a persistent urge to sneeze. Then as time passes, you begin to think that the cream is running down your nose ready to drop off your top lip on to your work. Of course, that is not the case, but the feeling is real.

The thing I’m trying to do now, is cut down on the amount of food I’m eating. The hospital information tells me that they will try and ensure I get plenty to eat after the operation. However, I worked in hospital catering for fifteen years and I know the portions are not the same size as home portion. So I need to try and cut down on the volume. I’m also trying to cut out extra sugar, salt and bad fats, but that is a lot easier that not eating when you feel a bit ‘peckish’.

Life changer + 114

You know how I said that “assessment went as well as I could have expected”, well I may have been a bit premature with that statement. On Tuesday, K*** took a call from the hospital to say that there was a problem with some of the tests. I needed to get some ‘body-wash’ and some nasal stuff, and had to go back to the hospital, in a weeks time for a repeat of the test. Another £16.10 in prescription charges (more on this subject later) and I find out that I have MSSA. Now this is not the same as MRSA, but still not a nice thing to find out. From what I understand, it is basically a bacterium that is found in/on 40% of people, and is only a problem for open wounds. Hence the bit of a flap with the hospital. So now, I have to shower every day for 5 days with an anti-bacterial body wash, and also use a nasal cream, 4 times a day for 10 days. Today was the first day of this ‘treatment’ and I have to say, the nasal cream is not wonderful. The body wash is okay, I can live with that, but without going into any gory details, the nasal cream is, shall we say uncomfortable.

For years, I have moaned about the high cost of prescription charges. Well today that moan is a lot less than it was. I joined a Facebook support group for heart valve repair/replacement just out of interest. Of course, as I expected there are a lot of Americans posting on this site. What has amazed me is the both the cost of their hospital fees and the research they are forced to go into to find the best care. Here in the UK, I was told the hospital I was to be treated in, and when it was to happen. None of this £XXXXX for the operation, £XXXX for the per op care, £XXXX for the post op care etc etc. Thank whoever we have the NHS, and long may it be there. There was a young man who was paying $3400.00 just for the operation. That did not include the care before and after, that came to over $5600.00 and it seems that his workplace was not keeping his job open whilst he recovered. I’m starting to get a little political now, and this is not thread to have this type of rant in, but it does make you think!!

I shall leave it there, as I need to do the last cream application of the day.

Life changer + 105

The assessment went as well as I could have expected. We found the hospital without too much of a problem. The only problem we had, was that I had read the route directions incorrectly. I had read it that we should go down the A1/M1 link road to the M62. What I should have read was that we should go down the A1(M) to the M62. My little detour cost us an extra 25 minutes, which meant that we got to the hospital with literally minutes to spare.

It was a Practice Nurse that did the assessment, which turned out to be a lot of questions, a few blood samples, a couple of swabs (for MRSA) and a urine sample. This was all done in about 30 minutes and followed by an ECG. In total, including getting to and from the parked car, we were there 45 minutes only. The nurse went over some of the details of what was going to happen but I don’t think it reassured K*** much more. I have not got to the mental state yet that makes me feel worried. However, I did get the slight feeling on the way home, that it is getting very real now.

Life changer + 103

Well I did go back and see the doctor. He went through my notes and I explained that I did not seem to be improving at all. He examined me, and we chatted about everything really, home life, work. I explained the pressures of the changes at work and asked if it could be stress related. He said it could be, but thought that it was all to do with my heart condition. Now that is what I thought it could be from the very start, but it had been dismissed by both the previous doctor and the practice nurse. He thought that there was some fluid on my lungs, which would explain why the other treatments did not seem to work. So he prescribed me a course of Diuretic or water tablets. This treatment is supposed to get rid of excessive fluid from my body. So on Friday 2nd May, which I had luckily taken as a leave day, I was packed off to Harrogate District Hospital where they have a drop-in chest X-Ray unit. We were not there long, in fact we were in and out so quickly, that the parking was free!!!

The results came back last week, and K*** got the doctor to ring me, as the receptionist could not tell me anything because it was clinical and she was allowed to. It now seems that it is not a Silent Reflux and it may not even be Asthma. The doctor confirmed that is something called Pulmonary Congestion. This was explained as being a “…… difficulty of my heart to work as well as it should, leading to a build up of fluid at the top of lungs …..” which explains the cough. He is going to give me the full results to take to my assessment, which if I haven’t mentioned it before, has been brought forward by a day to the 13th May. Should mean that it will be one test less on the day. That is about all I can tell you at the moment. I’m slightly concerned that this Pulmonary Congestion, might mean that the operation is pulled forward, but I don’t think that happens outside of the TV soaps, but you never know. I hope not, as I have got my mind focussed on the 12th June as the big day. I also need some time to get my colleagues up to speed with work issues.

Work, well some of them, have been very supportive. I now have, what I call my “Dolly Trolley”. Amazon call it an “Executive Business Bag Laptop Trolley On-Board Travel Flight Case Suitcase” and it is simply a way of carrying my office requirements in one bag, with wheels. It really has made a difference, although there are a few things that I take with me, that I think could be kept in my locker.

Life changer + 88

I suppose this should be posted in this thread and I know I should have posted this before now. About 5 weeks ago, K*** got me an appointment with the GP. I’ve had a cough since about November, but it has always been a cough that seems to change. One week it’s in my chest, next week it’s a tickly throat cough. I was convinced that it was because I was working in an open office etc etc. the GP suggested, that as my chest was clear, that I was having a ‘silent reflux’. I already suffer from ‘Barrett’s Oesophagus‘ and am being treated for this. He explained that sometimes the treatment is not quite as efficient as it should be, resulting in this so called silent reflux. A course of Gaviscon was prescribed, with a promise of a phone call to see how I got on. Well after two weeks of taking this thick disgusting gloop, I was feeling no better, so an appointment was made with the Asthma nurse practitioner. This resulted in me being given (sold) an inhaler, as it appears that I may now be asthmatic. I’m not sure if it is the answer to my problem. I now feel like I have phlegm stuck at the back of my throat. Not a nice feeling to have all day. I have come to the conclusion that coming apart at the seams. As a friend said, “….you’re held together with spit and gaffa tape….” And it does feel like it most of the time. K*** thinks I need to go back to the doctors as I don’t seem to be getting any better.

My pre-op assessment date has been moved forward by a day, but it still looks like I’ll be going into hospital on the 11th June, with the op taking place the next day. People keep asking my ‘how do you feel about it’ and I have to say that I’ve not really thought about it that much. My main worry is the recovery period and how R*** is going to take it. His community nurse has come up with all sorts of ideas, none of which I think will work. Things like having a bandage on my leg, to divert his attention away from my chest. Won’t work. He’s not stupid. The other thing is his carers at his day service are supposed to be creating a ‘social story’ to explain what is happening. It may work, I don’t know. What is worrying his nurse is that K*** will not cope when I’m not there and that we both will not cope when I am discharged. What worries me most is what they will do if there is the slightest issue at all. They have already talked previously about him being sectioned if a serious problem arose and I think it could be part of the plan his nurse and her team have in mind!! However, I have already made it quite plain that him being sectioned would not happen then and I say that it will not happen now. As long as I draw breath, it will not happen.

Life changer + 62 – It’s time

The dates are here! The official notification is being sent out this week, but K*** phoned the hospital and was told the dates.

The Pre-Assessment is on the 14th May, and I’m due to be admitted on the 11th June, with the procedure taking place on the 12th. It’s all getting very real and very close now. I’ll break the news at work tomorrow. I need to tell them, I’m still waiting on the official confirmation, but we can get the ball rolling.

Watch this space!

Life changer + 60

Still nothing to report on the hospital front, but we both got a huge wake-up call this past week. I’ve been using up the last of my leave this week, and K*** and I had a couple of days at the Red Lion in Burnsall. Weather was okay, but we did a walk from the hotel to Grassington, the next village along the river. Most of the walk is by the side of the river, but towards the end, you leave the riverside and go uphill to the village. That is when it hit home!!!! It is about 3/4 of a mile, and it is a steady climb up a well made path. I got about 1/3 of the way and was really flagging (Yorkshire word). I literally had to stop, and sit down. Five years ago, I would have run up that path without too much effort. K*** was really shocked. I was puffing and panting a lot, and it was then that I realised, that I had to get this shit sorted. Until then, I think we were both kidding ourselves that things were better than they actually were.

I shall blog the short break details in another post later.

Life changer + 53

Nothing to report yet, but today was the day I let the rest of my family know. I had told my mum, but it seems that with the problems she has at the moment, she had not told anyone else. So, I did the modern thing and messaged everyone on Facebook. Well I did not have their emails and I could not face phoning each one individually, so did the next ‘best’ thing. Here is what I said:

So here is what’s happening. I thought Mum had told everyone, but it seems not. About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with a heart murmur. This is basically a leaky bicuspid heart valve. It has been monitored at York hospital every 6 months. At the last check-up in January, my specialist noted some serious changes and decided that action was needed. That action is either the valve gets repaired or replaced. This is serious open heart surgery and will take place in the next few months. I will be in hospital for a least a week, followed by 3 months recovery at home. So that is where I am at the moment. I will let you know what is happening when it happens.

I think that just about covers it. Just wait for the reactions now!

Life changer + 22 …. feeling a lot (little) easier

Well today went better than I expected. After a 1 hour wait, I saw the surgeon (or at least his registrar.) We had a very relaxed meeting/consultancy and quite a lot of things were discussed. It would seem now that, after all my doctor/consultant said, it may be possible to repair rather than replace the dodgy valve. A repair would be very much more preferable to a replacement, or so they say. It all depends on the day of the operation on which way they go.

Was told, that I should hear in the next two weeks or so, about the actual date of the ‘procedure’ which should be in three to four months. I now have more time to plan things out both in my head and at work/home. That makes me a lot happier!! I’m no longer thinking that this is a ‘life or death’ situation that the urgency of the past three weeks has hinted at. So I’m more relaxed about the whole thing. This ‘worst case scenario’ can often be more of a hindrance than a help.

So stay tuned, but it could be a few more weeks before Life changer + XX gets another outing.

Life changer + 21 … aka … bloody hell that was quick!

I did not mention it, but at the end of the angiogram procedure, the consultant told me that my arteries were ok. He also said that I would be contacted by the surgeon, and I thought he said within 3 to 5 weeks. The appointment letter came today, and the appointment is tomorrow!!! As I say ‘… bloody hell that was quick’. I’m now thinking that what he meant was that I would be contacted by the surgeon AND in 3 to 5 weeks I would have the operation.

It came as a massive shock, and I still have not got my head around it. It has still only been 3 weeks (that number keeps cropping up) since the ball started to really roll. I’m beginning to think that it’s a plan to get me in and get the job done, before I have too much time to think about it!

So now what’s happening is the well intentioned but less informed messages of support. Comments like “… they may keep you in and do it straight away, if they have a cancellation…” which seems to be the favourite of my manager. I don’t think it happens like that these days. Might get ‘bumped up’ a day once I’m in, but the way the NHS is at the moment, there’s just not the staff/time/money to do things like that now.

K*** is taking it very well, at least on the surface. I know from some the emails she has sent to R***’s support nurse that she is very worried. There are two counts for her worry. On one hand she is worried how I will cope with R***, given his sometime violent nature. But on the other hand, she is equally worried how R*** will cope with me being ill. It could be a bad time for all. However, we may all be getting this wrong and R*** will be fine and understanding. It’s something you cannot tell with R***, but I don’t intend to worry about that.

Work is being very good about all this. They have done me a favour last week with my time off, and I’m very grateful. So tomorrow, I’m working from home in the morning (will set up after this) then taking flexi time in the afternoon. Can’t beat a bit of give and take.

Get ready for tomorrows update, if they let me home!!

Life changer + 17

Well, I think it all went according to somebodies plan yesterday. It was one of those days when you just cannot get your head around what is happening. My appointment was at 12:30, and we got there about 12:15. The Staff Nurse (I think she was the Staff Nurse) went over a few points before realising that there were more men than women for the procedure. So they had to swap beds around, which looked fun. K*** was told she would have to go and I was shown to my bed/trolley. Paper knickers, I ask you. As if it was bad enough, they gave me paper knickers to wear.

I sat around for about an hour whilst they ‘did’ the ones before me. I have to say, some of the people that were there were a couple of years younger than me, but without being too smug…..they did not look it. One guy was 6 months younger than K*** and he looked about 10 – 15 years older. Laid there with a bit of a smile on my face, which kind of lasted until they told me it was my turn.

F**k, it’s happening!

I was wheeled in to what they called ‘the lab’, which was basically a room with lots of high-tech equipment. Bless them, they did their best to put me at ease, but I knew from the gibberish that I was coming out with, that ‘ease’ was the last thing I was feeling. Then my consultant came in. It was unusual to see him in his ‘scrubs’ (see how I got the technical talk off to a tee) as I have only seen him in a suit. He explained what was going to happen, and it was all quite painless really. I think there might have been a little panic at one point when someone called something out and the consultant shouted back ‘I’m on it!!’ I looked at one of the many screen and saw that the heartbeat monitor was off the scale. So that was a bit scary, but it all settled down and I was out of there in less than 20 minutes, after being told that my arteries were good.

After a couple of hours recovery, I was told I could go and K*** was waiting for me. They explained that I was to take it steady for the next 48 hours and to keep checking for problems.

So today, I was classed as being ‘on the sick’. I was going to work from home on Friday, but was told to just rest. So rest I will. I’ll need all my strength for when R*** gest bak from respite.

Life changer + 15

Well, tomorrow is the first of the big days. Tomorrow I go for my angiogram. I’ve done all the ‘home-prep’: the personal details form completed; the next of kin form completed; donor card checked (wait … do I have anything worth donating ….. will have to check that one); Kindle and phone fully charged. All done.

I’ve had lots of messages of support from friends, but with some, there seems to be some misconception about what is going to happen tomorrow. From what I have read, and I may be completely wrong, all that is going to happen is that they are going to put a tube (or two) into an artery (or vein) and inject a dye into my blood system. They are then going to take lots and lots of X-rays to check if I have any furred up veins/arteries. The worst thing that I will feel, is a sensation that I have wet myself. I may be totally on the wrong track here, but it sounds very much like a plasma or blood donation, and I’ve had hundreds of them over the years. So I’m not too worried.

The main thing that is bothering me at the moment, and it may all change, is genital hair!! Yes, I have had to have the obligatory shave. I have had to do this before of course, many years ago when I had the ‘snip’. On that occasion, the whole lot was done. This time is just the groin area …… is this getting too much ….. no …..well the only problem is, when the damn stuff starts to grow back. You see it’s the itching that’s the problem. Not so much the itching, more the inability scratch that itch.

So, watch out for Life changer + 16 tomorrow (if I’m feeling up to it of course.)

Life changing day plus 8

When the doctor said that my angiogram appointment would not take long to come through, I was kind of thinking four to six weeks. We all know how the NHS works. Unless it’s an emergency, you wait. Well the doctor was more than right. My appointment is on Wednesday, the 12th of February, which considering that we only talked about it two weeks ago, is a pretty fast move. I’ve told my line manager, my service manager and my former colleague D***, and of course they are all very supportive, but I’m betting they’re more than a little concerned about the timescales. I still have to get some pyjamas!!

It also suddenly hit me that I had not spoken to the two people I supervise. I have been meaning to tell them. I’ve been meaning to get them both together in a room and explain what is happening. I just have not got around to it yet. There always seems to be some reason excuse why I have not said anything. So I’m going to do it the coward’s way. I shall send them an email. An apologetic email. I shall feel really bad about it (I do already) but I hope they understand the pressure I’m under. You see it’s not the op that I’m worried about. I thought I was worried about the recovery time, but it’s not that either really. No what worries me, is what happens while I’m away. I could be off work for three to five months, and a lot happens in a week these days given what the government is doing to public services. I had to explain to our finance person today. One of the things I have to do is run some nine or ten reports on the 1st of April. There was a problem last year, because D*** forgot to refresh the report (it has to save with data) and the finance person has no faith in D*** being able to do the job. I do have faith in him and I am thinking of emailing his manager to ‘fly the flag’ for him. As in the song ‘… there could be trouble ahead ….’

Now, back to what this thread is about. I don’t really think this has sunk in yet. I will have the angiogram next week and then wait. But for how long? A month? Three months? Or will it be the following week? I cannot really get anything straight in my head yet. I suppose with time it will come and the worries that others seem to have will start to form. Hopefully, this thread will help me.

Life changing day .. plus 1

    Firstly, let me get one thing straight here. This is not going to be a day by day diary of the build up to my operation. It is going to more a recording of events that have a connection to my op.

    This morning I talked to my manager about what happened at the hospital yesterday. I was going to speak to our service leader, but did not get chance, and anyway, I am seeing her on Friday for a one-to-one. So back to my manager. She knew I was at the hospital and the reason. I had explained that I go every six months for an ultrasound and a consultation with the doctor. So the first thing she asked when I walked into the building, was “Is everything ok.” I replied, something like “…well I’m still alive….. I’ll come and have a chat when I get settled in.”

    Got the computer up and running and went through to her office for a talk. I explained what had happened, and she was extremely supportive, wanting to know all the details. After about an hour, I went back to my desk. Five minutes later, she called me through to her office and explained that she had spoken to our service manager about it and she was just as supportive. About an hour later the service manager called by my desk, sat on the corner and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was and she replied that if I was getting too stressed, I could work from home. I said I was fine and she tapped my upper arm and said we would talk later, which was very moving I thought.

    My manager had also mentioned it to the girl, I am supposed to work side by side and she had been very supportive too. I’ve not mentioned it to the two that I “supervise” as one was not here today and I want to tell them both together, so I’ll do that on Thursday. Tomorrow, I have to explain to my old colleague from my former job. I still do certain bit of work for them. Partly because I enjoy it and it keeps me in touch, but the main reason is, that they don’t really have anyone trained in the work. This has to change, and tomorrow is the day it changes. They have no choice now.

Life changing day . . . .

    As the title says, today was life changing. I may have mentioned it before, but I have what is called an Abnormal Heart Murmur or a Regurgitation or more commonly, a Leaky Valve. I’ve probably had it since I was born, but it was only noticed about 8 years ago. Since then, I have been regularly monitored at hospital. There has always been the view, by the doctor, that one day, the valve would need replacing. It has always been, in the doctors words “…. a conversation for the future…” That future arrived today. I had my regular ultrasound appointment closely followed by an appointment with my doctor. I had the strange sense that something was different during the scan. It normally take 20 – 25 at the most, but on the doctors’ instruction, the radiologist took a lot more readings, and in the end, it was nearly 50 minutes before the job was done. It was now time to see my doctor, Dr Mc****y.

    The results of the scan, were a bit late in coming from the radiology department, so I had a bit of a wait before I was allowed into see Dr M. When I say ‘… a bit of a wait…’ it was about 45 minutes, which I don’t consider long at all. You should have heard the moans and groans from the patients that were there. Everyone was complaining about how long it was taking and how long they were delayed. For f**k sake, it’s not the end of the world if you have to wait 30 – 40 minutes to see your doctor. It is usually because some earlier patient was late or had been given some bad news. Just get over yourself, you’re not the only important person in the place !!!!! I apologise for the mini rant, but it does get me so cross.

But I digress. So my notes are delivered and after another 5 minutes, my turn comes. Dr M asked how I was and asked the usual questions eg do I get out of breath, can I still do everything I used to etc etc. I usually say I’m fine, but recently, I have been getting a little out of breath doing things like climbing stairs. That was it! He was like a cougar, jumping into action. He examined me for about 10 minutes and then hit me with the bombshell …… “I think I need to talk to the surgeon at the next meeting.” I just sat there nodding and saying shit like “fine” and “okay” and “I understand”. What he was basically saying, and he did not mince his words, was that I need my mitral valve replacing, and it needed doing soon.

I shall leave this as a bit of a cliff hanger …… to be continued!