Tuesday, 25 December 2018

A Merry Christmas to one and all! I'm at home for it - which I wasn't expecting to be. Hallelujah!

Sorry for the long silence, but my digestive system has been giving me a lot of gyp - to the extent that Christmas lunch will consist of a bowl of clear soup, an unbuttered slice of cracker bread, and a small dollop of vanilla ice-cream, all to be eaten  v  e  r  y    v  e  r  y    s  l  o  w  l  y. Yum yum! Still, at least I'm home with my family, which I didn't expect to be. For the past few days I've been enjoying the hospitality of the Meadow House Hospice, attached to the unlovely Ealing Hospital, and was expecting to stay there for the rest of this week...but that all changed yesterday, because a CT scan which hadn't been expected to take place until after Christmas happened pretty much out of the blue yesterday afternoon...

...and, as there's nobody around to analyse the results until the start of next week, and as I'd shown a slight improvement in the three days and nights I was there, it was decided to release me until surgeons/radiologists decide whether anything can be done for me, and whether they're willing to do it (the hospice is keeping my room for me, and I can return any time I want to). I had initially imagined I'd refuse any further interventions in any case, but hardly being able to eat is a whole new kettle of (plain, steamed) fish!

The hospice, by the way, was wonderful, and a great advert for how palliative care has improved in recent decades. Patients - most of whom are there to die - each have their own private room, a television, and their own lavatory/shower room. Not only that, but my ground-floor windows (everything's on the ground floor) overlooked communal gardens stuffed with trees, bushes and shrubs. In summer, ambulant patients like me who are in to have symptoms checked can stroll around outside to their heart's content, and the really sick ones (the majority) can be wheeled out onto the terrace directly outside their rooms to enjoy the sunshine. There's a large, light, peaceful  conservatory (with underfloor heating), where books, CDs and a CD player are available. There's also a comfortable visitors' room with tea and coffee making apparatus. Astonishing! (There was a scuffling noise at my door yesterday morning, and I opened it to discover a beautiful black labrador trying to get it. There was a lot of excited slobbering, complete with ear, nose and face licking and much tail-wagging - most of it, I must admit, by me.

The staff are all evidently trained to handle "goners", because they're friendly and sympathetic, without a tendency to go in for those overt displays of "compassion" or to use baby-talk) e.g. references to "tummies" and suchlike) which tend to set my teeth on edge. They're just nice, normal, sympathetic people who seem expert at dealing with people who (barring a genuine miracle) are heading for the exit. As for my consultant, she couldn't have been clearer or more honest and matter-of-fact about what's likely to happen to me from now on. Never met a nicer bunch of people, and, if I can't die at home, I'd definitely opt to end my days at Meadow House. Fingers crossed I'm allowed to.

So, I'm home - and while spending today at the hospice wouldn't have been a great hardship (especially as my wife and son were planning to spend the day there with me, bless 'em) - I'm delighted they let me out, and put themselves to all the bother of ordering a shedload of medications to take home with me, and spending ages painstakingly explaining what I'm supposed to take and when (it isn't simple!).

I have no complaints whatsoever about this oasis of care, efficiency and kindness - but as for the hospital as a whole, I wonder why the NHS can't figure out how to stop the two of the most maddening and seemingly ubiquitous aspects of their service: the "waiting for a porter" phenomenon (which meant I had to wait an extra needless 90 minutes to have my scan yesterday), and the inevitability of one's medications being delivered by the pharmacy at least five hours after they were ordered. Still, it gave our family a chance to watch almost the whole of Alastair Sim's Scrooge on TV before the damned things turned up.

Ridiculous, I know, but I was so excited to be home last nice, I could barely sleep, despite taking a heavy-duty sleeping-pill for the first time in over 30 years.

Anyway, Merry Christmas and God Bless - I hope you're having a great one, because I certainly am. Thank you for all your extremely kind emails and Christmas cards: I will respond eventually.


  1. Merry Christmas Scott and best wishes for the new year!

  2. I'm so pleased you were able to go home for Christmas. All the best to you and your family.

  3. So happy to see your latest post. Due to your long silence I deduced that you were not having a good time, but delighted to know that you were in a good place and that, food apart, you are enjoying your Christmas at home.

  4. We visited my aunt on a few occasions in the hospice she was staying in. Nothing as too much trouble for the staff. The level of good natured, sensible care was wonderful.
    So pleased you managed to get home for Christmas. And I'm heartened to note you haven't lost your sense of humour.
    All the very best!

  5. and obviously the patient was carousing into the early hours on New Year's Eve. Keep at it.....