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Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Best Christmas Present Ever

     As you sit there digesting your Christmas dinner or anticipating your dinner, (depending on the time zone in your part of the world) let me tell you what is probably my best Christmas present ever!
On Tuesday I had an appointment at the Royal Free Hospital in London to have my wound examined and get the results of a recent CT scan.
   No sign of any cancer cells in my colon, abdomen, chest or liver and my liver has been restored to normal function. Hearing those words sent a wave of warmth and happiness surging at tsunami proportions from my feet up through my body and exiting via a big smile.
   Jaq here; I wanted to title this post "Laughing Man Returns," because after we returned home Tuesday evening, the stress and worry melted away from us both and Les' sense of humor and happiness returned. His laugh lines were back again and we sat at the dinette reading Friday jokes from Canal World Forum and laughing until we were doubled over with tears in our eyes. We fell asleep cuddled into each other with hugs, silly grins stretching across our faces. We had our celebratory dinner last night and will just chill out the rest of the week.
   Les will travel back to London for scans and blood tests every three months for a while. And we will stack the deck in our favor in all the ways and means at our disposal as is only sensible for any cancer survivor. He has no problem now taking a raft of supplements including IP-6--a non toxic chemotherapeutic agent which has shown tremendous promise in lab trials with rats in which colorectal cancer was initiated and allowed to grow unchecked for six months, after which the rats were fed IP-6 and all colorectal cancer cells and tumors were destroyed.
   Bacon, sausage, red meat, and sugary sweets are delicious but deadly memories. We will allow ourselves a very rare occasional treat during the holidays but otherwise our diet consists of fruit, berries, nuts, veg, some chicken and fish.
    Les wants to assure everyone that while this may sound like a meager 60's hippy and granola diet, he is full, satisfied, and his sweet tooth is quite happy with a fresh homemade yogurt and fresh fruit parfait in place of cakes, pies, candy and biscuits (cookies).
   I am walking two miles a day every day to help heal my left knee which has compensated for my right S-I joint being out for most of this past year. Each day I feel less pain and more strength in my knee.
   Roll on January 30th after which we will cruise out of this marina and turn right, heading slowly north, cruising back to our lives on the cut which will be the best medicine of all!!



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What the Brits are Wishing Americans for Christmas

(Many thanks to Adam Porter for sharing this with me on FaceBook.)

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN
A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN 
  
To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.  A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

-----------------------

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters,  and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.'  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.  (look up 'vocabulary').

------------------------

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.  The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of  '-ize.'

-------------------

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

-----------------

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists.  The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent.  Guns should only be used for shooting grouse.  If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

----------------------

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler.  Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

----------------------

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect.  At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.  Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

--------------------

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon.  Get used to it.

-------------------

8. You will learn to make real chips.  Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps.  Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

-------------------

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all.  Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of  known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager.  South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer.  They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.  American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

---------------------

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters.  Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed  with a cheese grater.

---------------------

11. You will cease playing American football.  There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer.  Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). 

---------------------

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball.  It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America.  Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.  You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

--------------------

13.. You must tell us who killed JFK.  It's been driving us mad.

-----------------

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

---------------

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream)  when in season.

God Save the Queen!



PS:  Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)! To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).
Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
-----------------------
1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').
------------------------
2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'
-------------------
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
-----------------
4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.
----------------------
5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
----------------------
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
--------------------
7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
-------------------
8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
-------------------
9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
---------------------
10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
---------------------
11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
---------------------
12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
--------------------
13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
-----------------
14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
---------------
15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.
God Save the Queen!


PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Narrowboat running costs -some end of year facts and figures.

 Here in the south of the country we have woken to a beautiful fresh sunny day. Ice has on several days of late, settled against the lock and to one end of the marina. If the canal does freeze over it will stop navigation so perhaps Mother Nature is sending out hints of what she has in store so keep those tanks topped up and get some extra coal now. The tanks that need to be kept empty are those connected to your toilet; those of us with composting toilets can ignore this last sentence says I with a grin on my face.

Being in a marina our choice of coal is limited and our normal choice from Jules' fuel boat has been Pureheat at £10.75($16.34) per 25 kilo(55lbs.) As this brand is not available in the marina it has resulted in our trying Pureglow at £10.50 and I must say they are almost identical in performance.

We have of course plenty of wood on the roof that is under cover and keeping dry. Our normal way when out on the towpath is to burn wood during the day, using coal in the evening and overnight. Being in the marina and near to other occupied boats we have to ease up on the wood burning so as not to let the extra smoke annoy others.

The next part of this blog post is only possible because my lovely Jaq keeps records of our boat costs and locations. I don`t need to check records to know our location a year ago because it was just about 500 yards away out on the towpath. Last October I had the Bowel cancer surgery and by December I had recovered enough to leave the boat for a pre op check for surgery on my Uretha and I   missed Alistair --a regular blog reader. Alistair while out and about snapped the sign on the left and sent it to me. The guys give the location away, it is St. Omer barracks. Alistair said it reminded him of me with my stomer after the bowel surgery. He decided not to eat there.

That was eight weeks after the bowel surgery; today it`s been six weeks since the Liver surgery and although I feel pretty good I am not going to be as fit in two weeks time as I was a year ago, as this time the surgery has been more invasive.

Again referring to Jaq`s records over the past 12 months we have used;

1037 litres of diesel. That`s 228 UK gallons at a total cost of £801.34($1218) approx. 77p per litre for UK readers.

Five 13kg (28.6 lbs) bottles of propane total cost £118.65($180) that`s about £23.50($35.72) per bottle. I bet house owners here in the UK wished they had a gas/propane bill as low as that.

23 bags of coal at a cost of £245.75($373.54). At £10.50($16) per bag that`s about the same as the current price. The bags are standard 25 kilo(55lbs).


Of course we have our Canal and River Trust license that expires the end of this month and cost £833($1266).

Insurance covering the boat itself plus we have our contents insured totals £320($486).

An added insurance we have as perhaps many boaters also have is breakdown cover. We use RCR which as well as attendance by an engineer includes replacements parts cover with just a £50 excess to pay. This at a cost of £133($202) is £2.55($4) per week.

Last year we had a drive plate -think clutch- fail, the plate costs around £140($212). The whole job including fitting cost us £50($76). if you price up some of the parts covered in the above link you will see it`s a good deal. Our gearbox would cost £700($1064) if not covered by our insurance. Remember the labour is included as is the engineers traveling time.

So we have six fixed costs over the year adding up to a total of £2450($3724) that works out at £47($71) per week.

Of course there maybe some figures that need tweaking but this gives a good guide for any reader interested. Take the coal, consumption is reduced by the wood we gather so perhaps the cost of chainsaw and it`s consumables should be included but as I say this just gives readers a guide.

Now getting to the end I realise my engine servicing has been omitted. Doing my own means just parts to price which is approx - figures in my head- about £38 each for four services per year.

Please feel free to comment especially if my figures  are wrong, I am winning the Mr. C battle so think I can take what you less troublesome folk throw my way.

The $ figures for all our friends and family across the pond are based on  £1 being equal to a $1.52cents and some figures have been rounded up/down.




Friday, December 12, 2014

To close for comfort

As my health improves each day I can finally turn my energy, what little there is, to writing a blog post. The need of pain killers is almost non existent and my appetite is back to normal, just need to heal inside and build up my energy but from past experiences this I know will take time.

In the meantime we think under the circumstances we are in the best place for now. Of course because of planning laws a great many marinas all over the canal system are classed as non residential but.........

As you can see in the picture space is not in great supply but believe me people are living like this permanently. Just scroll to the top of the blog and look at what our moorings are usually like. Open to both sides and often with views over rolling countryside and often not even another boat anywhere near.
To the right we have a jetty and the distance window to window is 41 inches!  To the left it gets worse as there is no jetty and the boats are actually a thin fender apart and the window distance reduces to 17 inches! The jetty stretches down just three quarters of the boat making it impossible to tie the boat firmly which is noticed when the wind causes the boats to bump noisily together or against the jetty.
I wonder if there are fire regulations covering space between boats, i`m sure there are for caravans.
We are fortunate that the boats either side are unoccupied and are just someones summer pleasure moored for the winter.

 As you can see in these shots through the front doors we have a large hedge blocking any view there might have been. Good access not only for nurses but also Mr Tesco makes life easier while I heal but luckily it`s not forever and although we are very thankful to be here temporarily neither Jaq or I could live like this permanently.
Boaters are such a great community, Robert having popped in from his mooring has just returned from the chandlery with some coal for the fire. If that hedge wasn`t there all we would see are the trains passing by. Luckily they are far enough to not be a nuisance in this generally quiet peaceful location.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Mountain High, Valley Deep: Healing Continues

"The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient's hopes are the physician's secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription."

~Norman Cousins, American political journalist, author of 'Anatomy of an Illness', world peace advocate

   First and foremost I wish to offer our sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to friends and family who held us in heart and mind; for the prayers, positive thoughts, ritual, and mindful healing meditation; for the phone calls, emails and direct offers of assistance; for the rides to appointments and the store.  It felt like you all had my back when things have been tough. A special thank you to Angela, Mike G. and Robert for rides and moral boosting visits and to Marilyn, Kev, and Cousin Kind Heart for...everything else.
   On the recommendation of a friend I tried the services of an Osteopath for the first time ever. After one hour of gentle, compassionate and knowledgeable care in the hands of Jane Ducklin D.O. I walked out of her office a new woman. For the first time since I injured my left foot in December of 2011 getting off the boat--it didn't hurt! My S-I joint has been out and in and out for a period of seven years and as time passed my four layers of muscles along with the tendons and ligaments around my knees, ankles and lower back have been torqued out of place and twisted indefinitely, causing collateral pain throughout my limbs. Dr. Ducklin's expertise began the process of releasing those soft tissues and helping them to return to proper alignment.
   By Saturday morning I felt like a million bucks--I had no problems climbing in and out of the boat, filling the coal bucket, bringing in wood, going for a walk or sliding our miserable heavy back hatch open and closed. In fact, I felt younger than 57--I felt like myself at 40!!
   Compare this to the week Les was in hospital and the week he came out--when I took 50 mg. of Tramadol every four hours just to stand upright, get myself down to London to check on Les and come back to take care of the boat and fix his meals for the next day. My knees felt like splintering wood every time I took a step and I could not trust myself to maintain my balance. I wasn't sleeping properly because I could not get comfortable with my S-I joints popping in and out. It was all agony...
   I've been back again for a follow up treatment and I am pleased to say Osteopathy really works! And here I thought I was destined to suffer due to being overweight, having arthritic joints, and just getting old--I've led a fairly stressful life and the past year certainly qualifies under that term--and stress accelerates aging. I was feeling closer to 80 than 57. I'm not easily impressed but I have to say this treatment worked amazingly well for me.
   Les was sent home from hospital on November 11th in the early evening after 24 hours of broad spectrum antibiotic and the removal earlier the day of his release, of 12 staples which allowed a pint of pus, dead blood cells and other septic liquid to drain out of his wound. It was left open and dressed. I had his clothes and shoes as I had planned to wash them and return the next day with clean things for him, not realizing he would be released so soon. 
   Our dear friend Angela picked Les up at 4:30 and brought him to the boat, moored up between the Dudswell locks, which is where we agreed to moor before Les went in hospital. Dear Sir jumped out of the car and came flapping down the muddy towpath in the dark, pouring rain, pajamas flapping in the cold wet, nothing but slippers on his feet. Angela and I had our hands full of his belongings and before I could get ahead of him to the boat, Les had dived over the side, hurting himself trying to get in the door. 
   He was loaded to the gills on analgesics and the remnants of anesthesia and making no sense whatsoever. He wouldn't settle down to eat, preferring instead an attempt to sort the mountain of boxes filled with drugs sent along with him.  He would scoop them towards his chest like a dragon's hoard, then suddenly stop, stand up, and walk to the back cabin, hovering uncertainly in the dark. 
   "Baby what are you doing?" I called out. 
   "I don't know, I needed to get something but I don't remember what..."
   "Come back and eat please. Your food is getting cold."
   Back Les came to take a bite or two and repeat the entire process until bedtime. The RFH staff failed to send home any paperwork detailing what drugs where given last and when--apparently we were just supposed to guess and hope I didn't overdose Les on the next round of meds.
   My Best Beloved was sent home with about a day and half worth of dressings. The Visiting Nurses (VN's) were extremely peeved as it takes three days minimum for such items to arrive at the chemists after the Nurses request a prescription from the doctor's surgery (office). The first nurse to visit and assess Les' condition felt he should not have been sent home just yet and was angry because they didn't have enough dressing to care for him properly. She took out her anger on us saying, "When the dressing arrives you will have to collect them from the surgery." Fortunately other nurses were kind enough to deliver them when they arrived. 
   Those first days were awful for us both as Les' improperly dressed wound oozed the remainder of the infection, leaking down over his stoma bag during the night loosening the adhesion. Les would wake every morning with the stoma bag hanging half off--feces everywhere, including in his open wound by day four. I wanted to grab Prof. Davidson's nursing assistant and shove her face in it. Two more days in hospital would have allowed them to be sure they had a handle on Les' wound care and given him 48 more hours to begin fighting the infection. I felt at that point that if my husband recovered it would be a miracle.    Les' condition improved slowly with many ups and downs. The Visiting Nurses are a haphazard crew. Half the time we get Health Care Assistants. Here is what the Royal College of Nursing says about HCA's:
   "As yet, there are no specific national requirements for becoming an HCA. Some employers require literacy and numeracy skills. You simply need to apply for a job as an HCA, and once you have been accepted, your employer will train you to be competent in the skills required for your job. You might want to think about getting work experience to find about what it’s like to work in health care first." (Health Care Assistant. Royal College of Nursing. ND. Web. Accessed on 26th Oct. 2014. http://www.rcn.org.uk/nursing/work_in_health_care/become_a_health_care_assistant)
  The above description is wide, and vague enough to drive a 767 airliner through. Needless to say the requirements for a Certified Nurse Assistant in the U.S. is far more rigorous, requiring a minimum of one year's schooling with a pass rate of 90% and a State licensing exam (in Washington state) with the same. It is not necessary to state "numeracy and literacy may be required"; these skills are nonnegotiable requirement in the States.  
  When the HCA's show up on the boat often they are on their own--not in the company of anyone with more skills and experience and frequently they improperly dress Les' wounds, trussing him up like a holiday Turkey, bandaging him from belly button to nipples.
  Sometimes an actual nurse or a duo of nurses arrives. It is potluck with them too. Emma is a brilliant nurse--calm, thoughtful, with experience and expertise--and she comes from barge folk so she is not overawed by the boat. She knows how to advocate for her patients with the local medical community and NHS bureaucracy. Dave is pragmatic--an experienced nurse who knows what he's doing. Denise is a competent ray of sunshine who makes us smile. We've also had nurses who spend more time gawking at the boat and attempting to interview me than tending to their patient. Some will listen to what Les says--others insist everything is done their way which means I will be redressing Les after they leave. 
   Les traveled down to the RFH for a post-op follow up. The doctor who removed his staples said the VN's had not been dressing his wound correctly. They were not packing it to keep it open and allow it to drain properly, so the doctor taught Les how to pack his own wound...and now a second small, round wound has opened where staples used to be and it is draining as well.
   Back home Les explained the doctor's orders and most of the nurses and HCA's complied although a couple were distinctly squeamish and unhappy about having to do it so sometimes Les packs his wounds and they dress them.
   To be honest I cannot blame an HCA for feeling that way. In my opinion they have no business providing wound care for patients recovering from organ surgery. Most of them recognize they are being asked to engage in skilled nursing far and away above their skill level and training.
   Needless to say Brits will understand my rage at listening to Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Burnham  MP, (Americans for an equivalent think minority Congressional member in charge of Health and Human Services committee) spouting off on Question Time about how hard he's worked to create better support for "community care" allowing people to be discharged out of hospital into trained professional care within their communities. You can bet your A** Mr. Burnham has never had to rely on the  "sterling community health care services provided by the NHS"--I imagine he goes private all the way.
   As the bottom two inches of Les' wound healed up and it wasn't so much looking and smelling like a recently gutted road kill, I became more involved in his care. Often I undo the dressings that the well meaning VN's have slapped on. I also actually clean his skin with surgical spirit, removing days worth of tape adhesive with dirt stuck to it before laying on clean dressing--something the VN staff neglect completely. I fail to see what good it does to lay out a sterile field of dressings and materials, slap on some gloves and then layer on dressings over dirty skin, however that seems to fall in line with the doctor at the RFH who removed Les' staples saying it wasn't necessary to use a sterile probe each time he packed his wound as Les' body obviously isn't sterile 'nor is our home so why bother? Some things we are told are beyond believable if we weren't hearing and experiencing them for ourselves. 
  Les has had four difficult days and nights in which he articulated that he was "feeling rough" and "my gut hurts." We were up until nearly 2 a.m. Sunday the 16th of November as I tried in vain to figure out what was going on with Les, seeking more details on the kind of pain (sharp, burning, stinging, throbbing) and the intensity (on a scale of 1 to 10...). I broke down at 10 p.m. and called the After Hours number to be told they were very busy but would have a doctor call. At 11:30 the After Hours Care called back asking for details of Les' issue--never mind I had already provided it when I first called an hour and a half ago. I was assured then a doctor would attempt to visit but they could not guarantee when as they were very busy...
   Les could not get comfortable no matter what. After Hours Care called again at midnight to reassess the situation and assure me a doctor would be calling soon. Finally I insisted Les take a Tramadol and he drifted off to sleep sometime after 1:30 a.m. upon which I called After Hours Care and canceled the doctor's iminent house call. 
   In the morning Les seemed fine especially once his stoma bag filled up. He ate granola with milk and fresh strawberries for breakfast, and half a sandwich for lunch. By mid afternoon his pain was back again and it progressed apace as the evening carried on. Now the pains were moving up toward his right shoulder, just below the top of his surgical scar. A light went on in my head!
    As a veteran of eight surgeries I remember the awful, pressing pain of gas which is pumped into the body cavities to hold it open during surgery and afterward gets trapped in odd places as we convalesce. A patient is fortunate indeed if this gas is simply trapped in their gut. Fart and relief is instant! For those whose gas is trapped in the abdominal or chest cavity, it can move about like a will-o-the-wisp, settling in below one's shoulders, feeling like an elephant sitting on one's chest. 
   I spent the evening dosing Les with Lemonade (for Americans British Lemonade is carbonated water with lemon flavoring) to help him burp which relieved some of the pain. Again in the morning he was still uncomfortable until his intestines emptied. 
   Another light bulb flashed in my head...Les had finished a fourteen day course of broad spectrum anti-biotic a few days prior. Undoubtedly all the good digestive bacteria in his guts had been slaughtered by the power of the antibiotics. No wonder his gut ached! I suffered the same but instead of experiencing it after two weeks of treatment my gut shuts down in the first 24 hours of antibiotic use and digestion becomes impossible for me right away. It was unbearable for me and I felt instantly guilty for not anticipating this would occur to Les.  
   A quick trip to Tring for probiotics and a revised diet of homemade yogurt, whey and fruit smoothies, water, juice, and a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup with all the bits strained out resulting in a rich nourishing, flavorful broth, and we were into day two of "What in the World is ailing Les?" 
   Les called the Rothschild House Surgery where he is registered as a temporary patient and asked for a doctor to call him. Just before dinner time she did. Les explained what we thought was going on and how we were addressing the issues, asking if she thought we were on the right track. Dr. W. was mightily impressed with our common sense and said we were doing the right things. She made an appointment for Les on the following Friday because she wanted to meet him, get to know him, and examine Les to be sure all was well. 
   Les' general pain returned again that evening, just behind his L shaped incision and I dosed him with Tramadol every four hours. Pain eased, he slept well and woke feeling much better. The final light bulb went on in my head as I realized that Les being Les--he had stopped taking all pain meds the end of his first week home. He has a phobia of becoming addicted to drugs.
   Why?? I have no idea. Although Les was born in West London and was in his early twenties in the 1960's era of Drugs, Sex and Rock 'n' Roll--it was not his scene and he has never dropped anything trippier than an aspirin pharmaceutically speaking. He was thinking this time would be much like last year's surgical recovery when he came home two weeks after surgery and used no analgesics at all. 
   Les was underestimating his need for pain relief. His body was hitting a wall every afternoon when a day's worth of using those tender muscles in his chest
and abdomen to breathe and move all day took their toll. Our plan now requires Les to take one Tramadol starting at 3 p.m. every afternoon, as needed until he drops off to sleep in the late evening. 
   He actually walked the half mile round trip up to the bus stop in front of the BMW garage near Wharf Lane and back to the boat last weekend! Les is spending more time awake now and less time sleeping. We may have turned a corner....
  A definite bright spot for us was our meeting with Dr. W at the local Tring surgery. She agreed to take us both on as permanent patients and this means we can get out of Watford at last!! 
   Ten days have passed since Les began having issues which we've sorted. It was exactly a month ago today Les had liver surgery. We were told by the medical staff at the hospital--including Prof. D-- that it typically takes "several months" for a wound as deep as Les' to heal completely. I assume he did not use the term "a couple of months"which assumes two versus "several" which means more than a couple. 
   A nurse came in yesterday who hasn't been in to see Les for awhile on the rota. She was absolutely gobsmacked by how quickly he is healing. It has healed from the bottom up and no longer requires packing. A healthy scab has begun to form over part of the top. She commented, "You must be eating very good food." 
   Damn straight sister! It's the daily smoothies made with a banana, a cup of frozen blackberries, Pink Sun cross flow, micro-nutrient Whey Isolate Powder, an L-Glutamine pill ground with mortar and pestle into a powder and tipped in, a capsule of Solaray Mega B Stress Complex opened and added in, a scoop of Pecta Sol and orange juice to cover, designed to stop muscle wasting and provide an adequate amount of protein and cell energy for deep healing. It's the EmergenC sachet he takes daily providing him with 1000 mgs of vitamin C and all electrolytes in balance. It's the Ubiquinol gel caps, Woebynzyme tablets, and Milk Thistle capsules taken before bedtime; the probiotics and homemade yogurt. It's twenty four years of experience as a medicinal herbalist and nutritionist, a witch and wise woman. It's relentless love....
   Meanwhile I had an enlightening conversation with a gent here in the marina who told me about ten years ago he needed to have surgery on his right knee. He went to his GP for a referral to a surgeon, asking how long it would be until the surgery was scheduled. His GP replied, "Well we have to generate the referral letter and send it off to the surgeon whose office will respond at some point and get in touch with you in a couple of months to schedule an appointment. I reckon it will be three to five months minimum."  
  Once back home this bloke realized he had private insurance he had never used. He was self employed so he had taken out private health insurance but never needed it before. Calling his GP back He explained about the private insurance asking if it would make a difference. 
   "Oh absolutely," his GP replied. "I can generate a referral letter for you today. It will cost you £25.00 for it to be expedited by my office but you can pick it up this afternoon and hand deliver it to the specialist's office.
   Referral letter in hand, the bloke gave it the receptionist at the surgeon's office later the same day, who smiled happily at the news he had private insurance.  
   "We have an opening this afternoon at 4 p.m." Of course he took the appointment. The surgeon examined his knee and his x-rays carried in hand from his GP. 
   "You definitely need surgery. Your meniscus is deteriorating and surgery is the only answer." Turning to his desk calendar, the surgeon reviewed open times in his schedule for a couple of moments.
   "Today is Tuesday. I have an opening this Thursday. Will that work for you?" I walked back to our boat totally overwhelmed with despondency for the state of health care in Britain.
   The moral of this lesson? Brits who can afford private health insurance get quick and expert first world medical treatment right away--jumping the queues of NHS patients waiting, and waiting, and waiting for their care for which they paid dutifully out of every paycheck for years.
   Those who have paid into the State coffers of the NHS all their working lives and who cannot afford private Health insurance must rely on the over-burdened and increasingly ill--staffed second world health care system provided by the NHS and hope with fingers crossed they get their treatment in time and it is provided by someone who speaks something passing for English, and who is adequately trained and personally motivated to do their best rather than shrugging each case off as "just another day on the job."
    Perhaps if Les hadn't been forced to pay into the State coffers to fund the NHS he could have taken that money and paid for private insurance.