Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Long TIme No Blog

I'd like to apologise to my loyal reader for not blogging for ages. There's been a lot going on in my head of late, which has rather occupied me. I can laugh it off now (just about) but at the time I was given a real insight into the misery of potentially serious diagnosis. I also discovered I'm a totally pathetic individual.

Basically, I worked myself up into quite a state over the lump in my neck, and the peculiar sensations in my throat. I went to see the doctor twice - once to be told he felt no unusual lumps or bumps but that he'd set up an ENT appointment for me; twice because despite him saying he felt nothing, I knew there was something there and made the (different) doctor feel it. She said she thought it was a thyroglossal duct cyst, that it was nothing serious and that I shouldn't worry. When I said I'd go private to get it sorted out, she actually phoned me at home to recommend I didn't. As she was 100% certain it wasn't cancer, going private would be extremely expensive and might even give worse care, as there didn't seem to be an ENT specialist in private care in Scotland. She told me to hold out for the NHS appointment at Ninewells. I was reassured - for about 20 minutes. Then my mind went back to believing the absolute worst. Sore throat, a feeling of a large golf ball stuck in it, coupled with the long-term feeling that my singing voice has been compromised, just made me believe there was something more than a thyroglossal cyst. Perhaps I have a thyroglossal cyst because I have cancer, I thought.

Luckily, in a miracle of NHS efficiency, I had only about a week to wait from my second appointment (about 2 from my first). Ninewells called on Monday to say they had a slot available on the Wednesday, which I grasped with both hands. Living in a state of anxiety is not something I do well. It would probably help if I had a structured work life to take my mind off something, but the trouble with being a wastrel is that you have absolutely nothing stopping you from sitting on the sofa, imagining you have only months to live, wasting your day attempting to take your mind off it through the magic of TV and books.

On the Wednesday in question, Fisher took me to the hospital and came into the consultation with me, to make sure I mentioned all my symptoms and was totally reassured. Astonishingly, the appointment was for 2pm, and we were seen at about 2.05. The professor who saw me was the same guy who used to see Fisher when she was a lass, so no lack of experience there!

I told him all my symptoms. He felt my throat where I pointed out the lump, and all round it. He then told me to go and sit on a different chair while he had a look down my throat.

"This is where you stick a lovely tube down my throat, then," I whimpered.

"No no," he assured me. Yay, I thought. "It actually goes up your nose - then down your throat."

"Oh joy," I responded, which made him smile like the devil.

"It's really not so bad," the sympathetic nurse told me. "It'll be over in a jiffy." This reassured me, until she handed me a wad of tissues and added: "You'll need these. It'd make a glass eye cry."

It was far from pleasant, but really only uncomfortable. It wasn't painful or anything. He had a look at the nasal passages, then pushed it deep into my throat (urgle) and had a root around. Eventually he pulled it out (urgle) and said he saw absolutely nothing wrong, apart from a little redness around the trachea. Nor, apparantly, had he felt anything unusual in my throat. Puzzling, as I can clearly feel it - and so could the 2nd doctor. But, hey, he's the pro - and it was great news. He prescribed me some antacids as he thinks I have acid reflux splashes in the throat.

So that was that. He did set up an ultrasound, so the lump isn't completely ignored - but he was sure there wasn't anything seriously wrong. Unfortunately, discomfort in my throat continues today, with the feeling of something stuck at the back of my soft pallate. But I shall take some antihistamines and see if it's hay fever related. It's harvest, after all.

With the throat thing put, if not to bed, then at least down for a nap, I felt a great weight roll from my shoulders. I played a tennis match, racing about like a wild thing, having done no exercise for weeks owing to my inability to inspire myself out of the sitting room. Literally, all I did was sit around and watch the Olympics.

Unfortunately, during the tennis match I felt my lower back 'go'. I was running for a ball when - ping - a sharp pain shot through my hips and lumbar region. Luckily I was 1 game away from winning the match, which I managed to do by smacking the ball without moving my feet at all. I crept back to the car and drove home, stopping at Spar to pick up some baking potatoes for supper. Alas, my attempts at actually getting out of the car failed dismally and I was forced to drive home and sit miserably in the driver's seat until Fisher came and helped me out. Did I feel pathetic? Why, yes I did.

Fisher then departed for Island to take part in the half marathon. I was supposed to be doing my massage course, but with my back in its appalling state there was no way I could manage, so I had to give it a miss. I had an entertaining morning where it took me ages to actually get out of bed - not helped by Bridie deciding the odd noises I was making meant a game and jumping on my chest, flattening me back to the mattress with a howl of agony. I made a swift appointment with the osteo, who gave me the usual elbow-prodding (as in he prodded me with his elbow in my tender joints - he didn't prod my elbow. That would seem pointless. Unlike his elbows) and cracked my vertebrae with his usual energetic charm. It really isn't a pleasant experience - but seeing as it never fails to help, it's definitely worth it. 5 days after the cracking, my back is so much better I actually went for a run in the gym.

Now, it's been over 2 weeks since my last 5k, so I thought I'd take it easy. I put the machine on weight loss and thought I'd try 10 minutes. The weight loss programme starts the run on flat, then puts it up to a gradient of about 3%, then back to flat again. Frankly, I didn't really notice the gradient - but I'm assured it was there. After 10 minutes I noticed that I'd done over 1mile, thanks to the irritating 3 minute warm up at the start, so I decided to finish on 2 miles. I have 6 songs on my iPod's On-The-Go playlist, and at the 2 mile point I'd reached the 4th song - so I thought I'd stop after I'd listened to all 6. Then, of course, at the end of the 6th song I was so close to doing 5k I figured I might as well finish. I did the whole 5k in about 31 1/2 minutes, with a 3 minute walk at the start, and never dropped below a 10 minute mile pace. I was very pleased.

What other news? Not much. Works to the new house have been agreed, and the men will start very soon. They estimate we'll be ready by the 3rd or 4th week in September, which means we're still on track for Janus's footie 'n' food party - if she can round people up and pin them down to a date. Not an easy task.

That's me for a while. Hopefully I'll be more prompt in updating from now on.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Olympic Bid

Ok, I've looked at the 2012 website, and narrowed down some options.

1. Archery. How hard can it be? Lift up bow, pull back string, twang. To Do List: get a bow and a target. Alternatively, stand Fisher in the garden with an apple on her head.
2. Handball. For this, I will recruit the rest of the Cheese Board and one other person. Chopper, maybe? Although we'd probably be disqualified for dirty play. To Do List: persuade Cheese Board that glory is inevitable. Train. Find out what the hell Handball actually is.
3. Hockey. I was a bloody good goalkeeper at school. Perhaps I should get back into it? To Do List: Find a hockey team in need of a goalkeeper. Put on an enormous amount of weight so all I have to do is stand in the goal, fill it, and become the greatest goalkeeper of all time.
4. Shooting. See Archery. Lift up gun, pull back trigger, bang. To Do List: buy a gun and a target. Alternatively, stand Fisher in the garden with a clay pigeon on her head.

Right. Next stage involves narrowing down the list. This will take some thought. I expect to reach a decision by 2011, leaving me a good 12 months to learn, practice, and become the best in the world.

A doddle.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Slight Freak Out ... and Gym

Yes, the slight freak out is because as well as the tightness in my throat there's also a peculiar lump. It doesn't hurt (well ... it didn't. It sort of does now, but I have a feeling that's because I keep poking it) but I can't figure out what it can be. It's on the right side of my epiglotis - it actually feels like it's almost on the epiglotis, and Fisher doesn't have one.

My immediate and unshiftable belief is that it's throat cancer and I'm a single step away from the graaaaave. But in saner moments I consider the possibility it's a further manifestation of a throat nodule (hopefully not a polyp) - or else a raised gland from the nasty tummy bug I had last week. Perhaps a cervical gland?

Anyway - no use driving myself crazy. I'm going to see the ENT people anyway, so I'll find out whether there's anything wrong then. Or be dead before I get an appointment (of old age). Either way - no sense in worrying.

The gym was a bit of a success. I did 5k in 28.35, which is good for me (possibly my best. Depressing, non?). I then did a circuit of 3 weight machines - the bicep curl, the pectoral pushy thing, and the lat machine.

Bicep = 1 x 12 on 7, 1 x 12 on 6, 1 x 12 on 5
Pec = 1 x 12 on 7, 2 x 12 on 6
Lat = 1 x 12 on 7, 1 x 12 on 6, 1 x 12 on 5 (v tired by this point).

Then I went and picked a blue Fisher up from the Old Course, where she finished her 10 mile run and was feeling very morose. Her athsma is not her friend. She had to stop and walk a couple of times - albeit for only short distances - because her lungs don't feel right. I had to point out that, despite it not being a good time, it was still 10 miles - and the number of people in the world who can run 10 miles off the bat is still considerably fewer than those who can't. She is marvellous and should never forget it.

In a bid to make this blog more interesting, I've decided to peruse the Olympic 2012 website and look at a list of all the events (if such a thing exists). Then I shall pick a sport and train for the next 4 years, in the hopes that I can enter the Olympics and shower myself with glory.

So there.

Watch this space. O yes. Watch this space.



Yes, folks, I've just read over the last few entries and decided my blog needs an overhaul, for it is verily as dull as ditchwater. It is, in fact, ditchwater's twin. So from now on I will only post interesting things.

Er ...

Is this interesting? I went to the doctor to get my throat checked out, and ...

Wait! No, really, it might be interesting!

So, anyhoo, I've been concerned about my throat for a while. I sing a lot, but over the last couple of months I've noticed my throat growing a little - I dunno - hot? - when I sing for more than a few minutes. It's a bit rough. And it doesn't have any of the force it used to. Plus, I keep missing notes. It's very strange. So I used my dodgy right knee and tendonitis in my left ankle as an excuse to go and see the doc, and do the old "oh, and while I'm here" routine.

The doctor felt my throat, had a quick look, and said he couldn't see anything immediately wrong, but he was willing to take it seriously enough to make an appointment for me to go and see "the ENT guys" up at Ninewells hospital. As it's on the NHS, I'll probably have an answer for you all next year or so.


Oh - and he made an appointment for me to see a physio over my knee and ankle, too. I am, officially, falling apart at the seams.

Having said that, I felt together enough to play some tennis on Friday. It was wonderful to be out there again, smacking balls back and forth in a real game. I love chucking balls for Fisher, but there's nothing better than pitting your wits against an opponent of roughly your ability, or better.

Watching the Olympics today, it made me realise how little time I have for sports that involve sheer physical superiority. Faster, higher, stronger - whatever. You can argue as much as you like about the role strategy plays, but in the end, most athletics comes down to who has the better body - and where's the fun in that? When you play a team sport, there's so much more to rely on than who can run faster than everyone else.

Enough. Fisher has just come through to tell me she's been given the quote on the work we want done on our new house. Bad news. It's way, way too expensive. We're going to have to have a major rethink.

Bah, bah, and thrice bah.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Catch Up


For the last 3 days I've been struggling with a vicious tummy bug - the likes of which I've not experienced since, oh, last fecking month. Actually, to be fair, it was just before I went to Wimbledon with Koi, so over a month ago, but it was just as unpleasant then as it is now. Sadly, I'd promised to massage Phid's Mum and Dad every day while they were up, but had to bail on them for not only that but a HC invitation including walks, dinner and a bed for the night. I felt crappy (in all senses of the word). I hate bailing on people. Hopefully, when I see them today I might prevail upon them to come to HC on Monday instead, to make up for it.

Aside from feeling weak and run down, I'm on the mend - albeit with the help of astonishingly strong pills and extreme temperence (I've lost 4 pounds - some good may come of this!) and last night was able to go with Fisher to The Artist's house for supper. It was a dinner party, which meant convening with strangers - but they were all very pleasant. In fact, one of the strangers wasn't a stranger at all, but an old friend of Sister's whom I've known a very long time and is great fun. It was a very lovely night, with the only shame being I couldn't do any of the dishes justice. But at least it gave Fisher the opportunity to drink, which she did with gusto - but, luckily, not to the extremes she has shown in the past. Quite moderate, in fact. Not a speck of red vomit in sight. Tonight sees us entertain Sister, sans children (!!), and we've invited The Artist as well, as he was keen to see her. Unfortunately, the Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews couldn't take 4 people instead of 3 (idiots) so we've had to book the one in St Monan's instead, which means an extra drive for Sister and changing plans for Artist's train, but GOD this is dull, so I shall move onto more interesting things.

Fisher and I went to check on the new house t'other week, and left HC in miserable fog and drizzle. Not 10 minutes later we were driving out into beautiful sunshine and considerable heat. I glared angrily at Fisher, suddenly realising that living on the East Coast of Scotland had deprived me of much needed vitamin D for the last 8 years. And it's all her fault. Had she not been so goddamned addicted to Fife, we could have moved somewhere far more exotic years ago. Like Clackmannanshire. Which, by the way, is more than you imagine. (See press releases for confirmation).


Ok, this is now several days later. I planned on taking a small break, but couldn't get back to the old blog before going out for supper with Sister, Fisher and Artist. We went to St Andrews after all, and had pleasant grub - but, unfortunately, it proved too much for my recovering tummy and I was plunged back into hideousness which laid me out for a further day. I've been sensible today, though, and feel much better. With any luck tomorrow will see me right as rain.

So, where was I?

Oh yer. Fisher and I took a jaunt up to the new house, to check it was still standing and to feed our inherited bantams. I was concerned they might all have died, or been scattered to the 4 winds, especially after whistling for them for some minutes and seeing hide nor hair. Or, rather, hide nor feather. However, after we'd looked round the house, checked all was sound, and returned to the garden 15 minutes later, there they were under the tree looking for bounty. We duly provided, and they clucked and pecked in that comfortable way chickens have.

After looking at the house, Fisher and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and decided to seek out the nearest loch - Loch Tullybelton. It didn't look too far away on the map, but it was a fair drive to an appropriate parking place, where we left the car, unloaded the pooches, and set off to ramble. It was an easy walk, probably a little over 2 miles there and back, and the sun beat down all the way. The pooches bounded at the ends of their leads, with Bridie very keen on a mutton supper, and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, utterly enchanted at the thought of this being our new back garden.

At the loch, I was determined to have an outdoor swim, having missed out at Loch Awe due to ... well, abject cowardice and a loathing of cold water, to be fair. Getting to the lochside proved slightly harder than it originally looked, as a lot of it was marshy at the edges and surrounded by deceptive reeds. We found a miniature beach, though, and I stripped down to undies and shirt. The bottom was muddy, and it was a little murky, so I gave up on the idea of a swim and waded out knee-deep instead. Bridie followed gamely on the lead, swimming and snorting like a sleek black otter. To get maximum refreshment, I crouched down and sank up to my waist, before deciding the bottom really was quite grim between my toes and it was time to go back to the shore. I felt much cooler, and it was a beautiful, soul-soothing spot.

On dry land, Fisher handed me the golden dog and began to wade in for her own spot of paddling, when I felt something ticklish on my ankle. I looked down and, to my horror, saw what I first took to be a slug writhing on my skin.

"A leech!" I cried, with loathing. "There's a leech on me!"

Luckily it came off with a quick brush as it hadn't got its teeth into me, so I was spared a Laura Ingalls Wilder scene of pulling the bastard off, watching it get longer and longer before detatching, leaving a trickle of blood in its place. It squirmed and thrashed in the sand for a while before perishing, and Fisher, upon spying some 20 leeches on various rocks by the shore, decided she could do without a paddle.


Even so, it was a lovely walk, and the paddling was desperately needed owing to how hot it was, so the leech can go to Hell.

Like I said, the rest of the week has been sadly marred by this evil tummy bug. I wasn't able to entertain Phid's parents, or even finish more than 2 massages. Phid and Wheeler were supposed to come for massages tomorrow, but they've kindly put it off to give me an extra day to recover. Phid will now get done on Thursday, but Wheeler won't be around so I have to do him next week some time. This puts me rather behind schedule, even with the extra 2 from Phid's Mum - so I may have to go into Edinburgh later in the week and start some new people. God, what a pain in the arse this massage course is turning out to be. I can't exactly ask people to come to me, but I don't think it's designed for people whose clients are over an hour's journey away. Pain. In. The. Arse.

Bah. I'm just feeling tetchy, tired and really fed up with not being well. I've also just made the mistake of watching Dr Alice on TV talking about the stomach and intestines, and am now convinced that my tummy bug is actually bowel cancer and I have weeks to live.

I'm going to bed.