It’s been a while …


Well 10 days anyway. Nothing much to say really. My fourth, annual ‘op anniversary’ passed without any fuss. In fact it was spent working in the garden. What else … oh yes we updated our satellite television\telephone\broadbanddish subscription. I have to admit, I was a little worried about this, given that when he’s at home, R*** spend most of his time on YouTube and Nick Jr. Any issue with either the broadband or TV could would have caused real problems. However, everything went very smoothly. K*** is getting to grips with the new handset and the onscreen TV guide, but we will both get there, and R*** should not have any problems with it.

Now I say, “everything went very smoothly”, it did up until this morning. K*** wanted to print out her car insurance document printerand tried to do it from her iPad. Nothing happened! Our main printer, downstairs is a wireless network printer so printing from tablets, phones and the like is easy. I checked everything I could think off with no success, but the printer was showing as being connected in the network settings app . I checked the printer website and one of its forums and found that I needed to tell the printer that we had a new router as the IP address had changed. So after about twenty minutes of scrambling about at theSmug Mug back of the printer and another ten minutes rooting through drawers to find cables, I eventually got it working again. You know what, I felt such a “smug bas***d” when five copies of the said insurance document flew out of the printer!

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.

Happy New Year


Did it start with a ‘Bang’? Well no, not really. We stayed up until midnight as we are obliged to do, watching good old Jools Holland, but it was nothing special. I suppose now I should spout all the usual clichés, but to be honest I just cannot be bothered.

It’s been a bit of a rough year all in all. What with the concerns about the new job and the worry about whether I would actually have a job. The five office moves, the problems with R***. Eldest moving in with his girlfriend. Finally to cap it all, my heart operation.

Still, I came through all and am still here (well 99.9% of me is still here) so I don’t suppose I have too much to grumble about really. R*** seems to be in a good place at the moment. Eldest and his girlfriend both seem to be very happy. I still have a job at the same on the same pay and it does not look like we are moving office for the foreseeable future. And to cap it all, my old heart is working properly again.

Just give up now ….


I don’t know why I do it. It’s never going to happen. It’s just a waste of money. I am of course talking about the National Lottery, or Lotto as we now call it. The chances of winning even the lowest prize are so poor, that it beggars belief why anybody does it. I have a couple of pounds left in my online account, and I’ve decided, that when that’s gone, it’s gone. Mind you, I have said that before and I’m still losing money!!

Earlier this week, I signed up for a WordPress blogging course. Now, I don’t really know what I’ve let myself in for, but if it improves my postings and increases traffic, I’ll be more than happy. My blog tends to just random posts, whenever I feel like it. This one is a prime example. The main reason for posting just does not exist. It’s just a random post about nothing in particular. Just musings from the day and the time since my last post. Random.

Here’s something that is quite random: since my operation, I’ve been trying to eat a little more healthily than before, and I’ve taken to eaten a lot of foods that I would not have opted for before. For example, I’m now eating more salad leaves than I have ever eaten in my life. Practically every day I will have some food that has a portion of salad leaves. Today, seeing as we had a few tomatoes that needed eating, I suggested to K*** that we have them, sliced on some fresh bread drizzled with olive oil. I cannot think of any occasion in the past, when I would have even though that would be an option for lunch. In the end, K*** turned the idea in a kind of bruschetta, which was absolutely delicious.

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R*** has been okay today. He has been having problems with a build up of earwax, which can be quite painful. He had his ears washed out on Thursday and he was great afterwards. Last night, at around 8pm, he suddenly lost it. He was crying and shouting and stamping his feet. I went to see what the problem was and he went for me. It was the usual nipping and grabbing. He is a very strong lad and when he grabs your arm and squeezes, it really hurts. He eventually calmed down after K*** administered his PRN (http://bit.ly/1y4eRZW) but we have no idea why it happened. Today he has been as different again. I suppose it’s just part of his Autism. Something upset him and he dealt with it in the only way he knows. But it is difficult.

It’s been a while


It’s been a month or so since my last post, and a few things have happened since then. The video change that I mentioned last time worked, thankfully. Which was more than we hoped for. Both K*** and I had this fear that it might cause a problem for the driver on his way in the morning. Fortunately that issue did not arise. We now think that so long as R*** knows what is happening and so long as it happens, he is more or less fine with it.

Two weeks ago, I had to go into work to have a chat with my line manager. Because I have had more than four week continuous sick leave, I have hit a ‘trigger’ in our attendance management policy that requires me to be interviewed about how they can support my return to work. My line manager was furious about this and I understand that she had a few choice words with our HR department. Now I understand the need for the policy, however there needs to be some form of flexibility built in that allows for the fact that some people are not at work for a damn good reason. In my case, recovering from heart surgery and being told by the surgeon that I would not be able to work for three months after to operation. It does not matter that some system in HR has hit a flag, it’s down to the medical staff when I’m fit to return, not some piece of computer software. Rant over!!!

The new work structure has been issued, and it does nothing to suppress any worries I have. We’ve been told that there are enough jobs to go around, with some spare, but are those positions at the same grade that staff are at now? Will there be enough grades at my level for all those at the same grade? Without knowing what grades we currently have, it’s impossible to know what the changes might be. The meeting was only held on Friday, so those questions may have been answered. I will wait until the minutes come out, before I start asking any questions.

Talking about work, K*** and I are in the process of changing S****s old room into more of an office, than a bedroom. We had decided that it would be a good idea, when I work from home, for me to utilise this now spare room, to work from. But we have taken it a step further, and although the bed is still in there, my work computer is all set up.

On Tuesday, I am going for my 1st Out Patients appointment since being discharged from the hospital. This is where I find out that I can drive again and can remove these ‘anti-embolism’ stockings for good. It is also the date when I should be told when I can go back to work. I’ve started making some plans, but cannot be more definite until after this appointment. I fear driving will be a bit of an issue. I have to inform the insurance company about my operation and I think it will mean a large hike in the premiums. I don’t see why it should be a problem, but we shall see. You know what insurance companies are like.

And now me! I feel a thousand time better than I did this time in June. It is hard to believe that such a small piece of hardware can make such a difference, but I can assure you it does! I still have a chest that aches like I have run into a brick wall, but there has never been the pain that others appear to have had. My problem seems to be one of backache. It comes on around half four in the morning and makes sleeping very uncomfortable. I’ve been told that backache is one of the side effects of the operation and that it does go away in time. Hopefully that is true. The valve seems to be working fine and as expected, it can be heard. It sounds different and different time, but mainly seems to be a clicking noise on the left hand side of the scar. Most people can hear it, and S**** seems to think it is quite cool!! I found a picture of the thing they used and I was very surprised how simple it looked. I don’t know what I was expecting though.

I think that is about all, except that K*** has decided that we need new PVC windows and doors. Groan!! That is happening in just under a fortnight, and we have been told that it will all be done in a day!! Will let you know on that one after the event!

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 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 + 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 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.

Wednesday again … so soon


The hospital appointment went well. No waiting about much, which is one of the features of York District Hospital. That is probably why North Yorkshire NHS Trust is in such a bad way financially. 

My consultant does not seem worried about the progress of my condition. He did explain a bit more about the problem I have. It seems tYork District Hospitalhat the valve that is not working correctly, is in a part of the heart that is more difficult to repair. He explained that repairing this valve is not an operation that is usually done in Britain. so what we are looking at is a replacement valve. This also has its risks and downsides. A metal valve and life on Warfarin. But he did say that I am not at that stage yet, and that here is no point doing an operation when it is not yet needed.

My new works laptop is due any day now. I’ve not taken the old one out of the drawer since last Wednesday. There’s not much point really, as I think the battery has died. It did not seem to be charging when I last used it. I have taken the floppy drive out as there is no point throwing that away, when I may be able to use it somewhere else. It will fit the other laptop, if not my new one.

I emailed the tickets and poster off this evening. I just hope they are alright. It is difficult to know what someone wants, when you only hear the details second hand. I think they look quite good, but we will wait and see. I think I will offer to laminate some of the posters. They will look better, when they are attached to the street lamps.

I planted out my Dahlias on Monday. There is about 14 of them, and they look quite good. They have done a lot better than the Nasturtiums I planted. I have the strangest feeling that the compost was too good for them. I recall reading somewhere, that they grow better in poor soil. The leaf-beat has been a great success too. We have lots and lots of leaves, and managed to cook some on Sunday night, albeit not really enough to go round.

That old work colleague from my cooks days, that I contacted on Friends Reunited, sent me a ‘jokey’ email today. I get quite a few of them from various people (mainly Sue), but this was quite a useful one. I was just reading through the list of people that he had sent the mail to, when I spotted the email address of another old colleague who I would like to keep in touch with. We met up a few years ago, when his son was going to the same school that my son goes to. This may be just the step I need to find another old friend from those days, who I would dearly like to get in touch with. That would be really interesting. JT was the guy who got me interested in computers in the first place. I have trawled the internet, trying to find him, but to no avail. I will email RH tomorrow…fingers crossed.