Saturday, 31 July 2010

Red Shoes by Kneehigh

Ooh Just booked to see this!


Kneehigh Theatre at their new Asylum "tented" location.
Very excited.
The Old Man loves to celebrate health with a spot of theatre.

A Cup of Tea and a Good Book

So I'm going to tell you about a place that I really like to go to for lunch - and a book.

Way out west. In weather-swept St. Just. There is a great little cafe whose upstairs, and some of its downstairs too, is devoted to second hand books.

The place is called The Cook Book (Yeah - some of the second-hand books available are indeed cookbooks).

It's open everyday. Great for soup. Breakfasts. Salads and sandwiches - and loads of cakes.
Just go there and browse the books, read the papers, drink the coffee.

I like it there so much that I had my last birthday lunch there. And over several visits I've got myself ... art books, poetry books, cookery books ... Christmas cards.... and calendars ... and... a really pleasant time.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Diva Diva Do

Cos I been playing Verdi's "Macbeth" quite a bit recently (see Fry-ups and Nectarines post), I decided to see if I could get hold of a DVD of the film version that The Old Man and me saw ... back in the late 1980s.

And when I say we saw the film. What we actually saw was a preview screening. Back then, for a while, The Old Man was doing some review writing for a freebie magazine run by friends. No pay. Just the perks of the shows and stuff that he got to see and write about.

So off we went to a West End cinema on some rainy morning to see this version of "Macbeth"; a film by Claude d'Anna, and starring Leo Nucci as Macbeth and Shirley Verrett as the Lady herself.

We thought it was good.

It was dark and Gothic - with the Witches depicted as feral young girls. Set in a perpetually gloomy landscape with interiors filmed in a 10th century fortified castle. We lapped it up.

Naturally, it did not get a British release.

But the DVD is available. And it came in the post yesterday, courtesy of my online classical emporium of choice "Crotchet".

Loverly.

And I notice that in the booklet there is a promo picturefor a DVD of "La Traviata" - with Teresa Stratas and Domingo in a Zefirelli cinema production. Orchestra of the Met conducted by James Levine. Mmmmn. I'd like to see that. I used to like Teresa Stratas. I'd forgotten ....

Anyway. Gotta go now. Downstairs I can hear The Old Man joining in with Callas and Gobbi who are singing on a 1953 recording of "Lucia di Lammermoor". It's all very operatic here at the moment, you know. But I guess I gotta do something about supper.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Persistence is the Thing

The surgery rang back on Monday evening, after The Old Man's INR blood test in the morning, to tell him what dosage of Warfarin to take.

And by the by - his next blood test would be in "two weeks time".

The Old Man exploded. Told 'em that he needed two blood tests a week until his INR level had stabilised - cos it is still up and down like yoyo.

Reception rang back later to say that he could in fact have the twice a week that he wanted for now.

It left The Old Man puffing like a Grampus - but victory was his.

I tell you, sadly but with the wisdom of experience, - take nothing from GPs on trust. And stick to your guns. If you know where they are.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Lunatic Gardening

Yesterday I mostly planted vegetables. Too late, perhaps, to get good crops. But I've had other things on my mind and takin' my time.

So. I like to plant "biodynamically" which is to say - "by the moon". Because I am an old hippy.

A friend once told me that her new neighbours farmed "by the moon". So she imagined them frolicking about at night - scattering peas and lettuces by the light of the moon. Truly lunatic.

Not so. Biodynamic planting is a system based on plant parts, the elements, moon phases and astrology. Told yer I was an old hippy.

But however crazy you think that is. Don't see why the moon shouldn't affect plants. It plays a vital part in tides after all. That's quite a powerful effect, I reckon.
Whatever. At least the system helps me structure my gardening.

So yesterday was a "fruit" day - governing not only "fruit" fruit - but vegetables where we eat the fruiting part: like peas, beans, squash, corn, tomatoes and.... Chillies!

I had seedlings ready to plant out and it may be too late in the year to get good crops from some like the winter squash and borlotti beans - but I had to give it a go. I hope the remains of the summer will be kind to me and give me some squash I can store for winter.

My crops also suffer greatly from the abundance of slugs and snails. So this summer I am trying out a barrier product made from pelleted sheep's wool. It's supposed to be an irritant that inhibits their molluscy slitheriness. But the very smelly pellets are also supposed to provide a mulch and food for the plants.

Let's see.

For sure conditions for the rest of the day were challenging. The afternoon was full of Cornish mizzle and damping. As I finished planting the last of the sweetcorn and squash, my back ached and I was wet through. Cornish mizzle is very damping.

I wondered if any of the seedlings would survive the mollusc filled night.


PS. They all did. So far so good.

In which The Old Man gets behind the Wheel

The Old Man is driving his car again.

He climbed in for a test run on Friday. And it seemed to go OK.

So today we got in and drove to the beach at Long Rock. It's a good flat stretch for walking, with a free car park. So just the thing for The Old Man to stretch his legs a bit more than he can do at home.

The beach here is not very picturesque of itself. But it is part of the beautiful Mounts Bay. So here indeed was the Mount. Looking lovely.

The tide was out much further than usual this morning. The day was warm and sunny. And there were loads of people out with their dogs. It's one of the rare beaches where dogs are allowed all year round. Just in this part of the bay. So - dogs of all shapes and sizes were running, ball catching, stick rescuing, dog sniffing. Generally having a good time.

I had noticed two women on horseback following behind us as we drove into the car park.

And this is the bit that gets me angry.

Yes I know the beach is huge when the tide is out. But it is full of kids and families and dogs off the lead. These two women proceeded to gallop full tilt along the shoreline. Giving out good old horse-encouraging yells at the same time.

Not content with that - they sauntered down to the far end of the beach, turned, and did the same again. People were frantically calling their dogs in. Putting them on leads. Standing stock still while the women galloped along at full tilt. One dog raced after the horses and came dangerously close to the animals legs. But that didn't stop them galloping along and continuing their ride.

I was beside myself with fury at the arrogance of these riders . I know that a year or so ago a family's dog was killed on this beach when it was involved in just such an incident with a rider "out for a gallop on the sands".

OK. If you want to gallop along the sands. Find the right place and do it.

But NOT on one of the few family beaches where dogs are allowed.

This was really so dangerous. And so easily could have involved a child as well.

A pox on arrogant horse riders.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Proper Nursey comes to call.

So yesterday The Old Man waited in for the GP's phone call that he had specifically asked for. This was because the GP had said he would discuss the Old Man's Warfarin dosage size with the relevant Doctor in the practice.

And when I say "waited in" - I mean that The Old Man put off his daily 500 yard trip up and down the lane to exercise those muscles and heart pump. He put the walk off so long that it didn't happen. Cos he kept thinking the doctor would ring.

Did the Doctor ring?

Course he didn't.

But today we had a visit from the Cardiac Nurse. She stayed for about an hour gettin' the full story from The Old Man, taking his blood pressure, listenin' to his heart, talking about his drugs... talkin' about how to manage hisself. And assuring us that we were on the Cardiac Nurses' books and that our area Cardiac Nurse would be in touch once she was back from holiday.

She said: "Is it all right for you to be on our books?"

We said: "Oh YES."

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Fry-ups and White Nectarines



It's Sunday and GreyDoll is celebratin' her two mile walk to get a paper for The Old Man. With a fry-up.
In her cheap, but very well-behaved paella pan from the cookware shop up Causeway Head in Penzance, she makes a luverly brew for herself.
Olive oil heatin', farm shop tomato, slices of smoked tofu, and finally - an egg. With slices of toast, away GreyDoll goes.
Old Man looks on enviously.

"Can I have one of those?"
"Sure can."

He gets tomato, a fat green chilli cut in half and seeds emptied, an egg, fried bread, and baked beans.
Hey. Nobody said his arteries are clogged. He's got whistle clean arteries. The fuel lines are lovely. It was just the engine valve was crap.

All this is consumed to volume-up Verdi. Macbeth, no less.

Meanwhile - suppertime pudding is planned. A crumble made with white-fleshed nectarines - grown over in West Penwith and bought at Farmer Tim's.

Yum Yum again.   
(Edit: It WAS Yum Yum. But changed the fruit to peaches grown at the same place. And ground almonds in that crumble mix .... )

A day for feasting and being thankful for local people growing and selling good food.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

In which The Old Man gets his Kit Off

So.
The Old Man attends the Surgery for his Doctor appointment.

And as he enters the Doctor's room he starts to take off his clothes.

Doctor is a bit alarmed.
Doctor is a bit taken aback.

And The Old Man sits there, scars an' all, and points out that he wishes to be examined.

And he is. And his blood is tested. For several things. And his heart is listened to. And his lungs are listened to. And his blood pressure is taken. And he is pronounced pretty good considering.

And the Doctor appears chastened. He says that he would have had The Old Man admitted to Hospital the previous evening if he had known.

(How would he have known? It would have been "Useless Out of Hours Ltd" answering our call. Or not. As local reputation would have it.)

And a Blood Test Nurse is booked for visiting the Old Man on Monday morning.

And it is promised that his tablet dosage size will be discussed with the relevant doctor in the practice.

And The Old Man has made his point.

And the Old Man puts his shirt back on.

A Hiccup of Anxiety

As The Old Man waited for the surgery to ring in the results of his blood test the other day - so that they could also tell him his tablet dosage - time ticked on. He had come over all faint earlier and sat with his head between his knees. Doubtless pondering something.

Tick Tock.

He decides to take the usual tablet anyway. After all - last time they were 24 hrs late giving him the result.

When the phone does ring. About 7 o'clock that evening. The doctor tells him that his clotting time is very slow - so he mustn't take a tablet.
But he already had.
"Then come in to the surgery tomorrow and we will give you some vitamin K. And we will run some more blood tests."

The Old Man looks worried after the stupid late phone call. He thinks maybe he should dial 999.
The clotting time is like it was when he became very ill.

We stare at each other.

He rings the Hospital and asks for the Ward where he was treated. They listen to him, remember treating him, ask the registrar's advice - and tell him not to worry, what to watch out for, and to get a blood test at the doctor's the next day.

He feels relieved.
I am apoplectic.

Why can't this surgery take on board that he needs more frequent blood tests at the moment?
One a week is not good enough. With no examination of any other kind. No blood pressure checks. No listening to the heart. Then they ring up with his tablet dosage when they can get round to it.

Nursey's face turns red.
Nursey's language turns blue.
Nursey wants to chew someone up into little bits and spit 'em out with accuracy.

Nursey goes to bed early.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Bus Company Blues

So we get to the Council meeting about transport.

It's tea and biscuits all round. Served by the admirable Village Hall Volunteer Ladies.

There's a table at the front laid out with printed name labels: three from Rival Bus Company; one from the Bus Company From Hell; two County Council "Transport" and "Rural Transport" labels; three Volunteer Transport Scheme labels - and one for Madame Chairman.

Everybody is milling about being very jolly and greeting one another. GreyDoll takes a chair in the body of the hall. Drinks her tea.
And looks at The Agenda.

The hall fills up. Glancing at the top table, GreyDoll sees that the label for the Representative for the Bus Company From Hell has been exchanged for a hastily handwritten one with a different name on it.

The Representatives and Councillors file in. The three Rival Bus Company reps are outfitted in collar, tie, and logos. The bewildered looking rep from the Bus Company from Hell, with his biroed name label, is sitting disconsolately at the end of the table in his shirt sleeves.

"With apologies" he says in his introduction. "I was told late this afternoon to come to the meeting. As my colleagues could not make it."

I bet they couldn't.

Oh, I'll be honest. GreyDoll thought she'd never get to speak or ask a question. The items process slowly, with everybody addressed by Madame Chairman on first name terms. The first question involves a lot of interminable bickering about precise bus stop locations in Helston.

However the complaints about the Bus Service from Hell start to mount up. The Competitor Bus Company Reps look on with satisfaction.

Old Buses, dirty buses, expensive fares, inefficient services, doubledeckers on narrow country lanes. The Representative for Buses From Hell can provide no answers. On anything. It is all either "Out of our hands", or "I don't have that information with me, I'm afraid."
Even the audience begins to feel sorry for him.

Eventually the local councillor eyeballs Madame Chairman into spotting GreyDoll's presence. And - on autopilot herself - the GreyDoll decides to recount a particular journey to the County Hospital. Two hours each way starting at 9 in the morning; The Old Man without breakfast because of the examination he was to have; the pleading with the hospital to let him out by 5.45 for last possible bus connection; - and the eventual arrival home around 9 o'clock that evening.

This seems to shock a few people.

Plainly they aren't in the habit of using buses to get to Hospital.

Councillor claps GreyDoll on the shoulder. Apparently she has galvanised something or other. So debate grows more heated.
As does the attack on the Bus Company from Hell.

For good measure, at some point, GreyDoll throws in the magical mystery tour of July 2nd.

She is well matched by the mother from a nearby village whose teenage daughter has to surrender more than an hour's earnings of her part-time wage in order to travel to the said part-time job in the next town.

This is followed by a well caught pass describing the recounted experience of a German family on holiday who parted with £18 in fares to travel from one village to another two or three miles away. Their verdict on the bus and their journey involved the verb "Schtinken".

However - what dawns on GreyDoll, and a few others, is that those who live on the route run by the Bus Company from Hell - are stuck with it.

As the County Councillor for Transport points out. This is a commercially viable route. Run by a commercial operator. And the Council only undertakes to subsidise those routes which are NOT commercially viable, but are considered necessary.

GreyDoll believes this is starting to sound like that old chestnut: "Catch-a 22".

She staggers out into the village night. The "Rural Transport" Councillor and the Age Concern "Volunteer Hospital Transport" Lady both have a word, and offer help and contact on the County Hospital access thing. So thank you for that.

GreyDoll will await the promised emailed Drafts of Suggested Plans of Action from the Panel.

And fantasise about the prospect of her only available local bus route becoming either unviable commercially for the Bus Company From Hell - or very commercially viable for the Rival Bus Company.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

In which GreyDoll gets Uppity

The thing is.
I got so fed up with the chaos that is the Bus Company from Hell. (see Bus Journey 26th June) that I complained to them about their rubbish timetable.

Which lists a local bus going from Penzance to Truro that in fact only runs from Penzance to Helston.

So they emailed back that the bus went to Falmouth not Truro.

And I emailed back: No. IT ONLY GOES TO HELSTON.... READ YOUR TIMETABLES....

And they said "Sorry." ... "But it was only the timetable headings that were wrong, not the timetables themselves...."

And I rolled my eyes and sighed.

And being in the mood, I then emailed about the Bus Journey of 2nd July that turned into a magical mystery tour. They haven't replied to me about that one yet. I 'xpect they are busy roasting the driver and making him sell his wife and children into slavery by way of recompense. Perish the thought that the management takes any responsibility.

Anyway.

So I emailed my local councillor - Old Man said to - so I did. And we know who he is cos he used to run the Village Post Office. Before THE Post Office closed it down. And then of course he had to close the village shop that contained the Post Office - cos that's what had kept the shop going.

Hey-ho. Village life.

Anyway. So he's a good councillor and I emailed him about the Bus Company from Hell. And why can't we travel to our main Hospital on public transport in under 2 hours each way? A car journey of 40 minutes?

And he emailed back: That there was a council network meeting for our area on the 14th - with representatives from the transport companies and the County Council and volunteer Transport schemes. And the Public are invited. Would I like a lift there?

And I said: "Yes."

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

In which Life tries to get some Semblance of ...

Hah! Normality. That's it.

Old Man's feet? Not fairy tale sized.
Gap-tooth smile? Yeah. Tooth still missing.
Talkin', talking? Yeah still talking.
Weepin' occasionally? Yeah, Still emotional.
Walkin' about a bit? Yeah walkin about.

Blood test happenin?
Well, one so far. Should be another tomorrow.
Cardiac nurse?
No sign yet. Not even a phone call.

Same old same old on the follow-up front then.

Just as well he seems stable this time.

But the GreyDoll's life is full of "Where shall I shop today. On which bus? How many hours shall it take me? Oh, I'm tired, me. Shall I have a headache? Shall I be a headache?"

Made a "Welcome Home, Old Man - Bye-bye Jordi" lunch the other day. As GreyDoll's great nephew leaves his college down here to move on to Uni life. We swapped notes on sci-fi watchin' and vampire watchin, too. That was nice.

Bye-Bye. Good Luck. Will miss you, babes.

GreyDoll likes some youth around her. She really do.

Last night GreyDoll made herself some Pasta alla Francesca, in honour of the Old Friend and her pasta sauce. Roasted sweet peppers and tomatoes and garlic and olive oil - all whizzed up and dressing the cooked pasta. Yum Yum!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Fish Suppers and The Old Man

So I'm so sorry to have taken a while to get back to you.

You know I been busy, busy, busy for weeks now. The Old Man crisis have kept me running up 'n' down all the time.

The Old Man looks more frail in some ways than immediately after the heart operation. But he is more stable. His feet are no longer fairytale. They could get into any old slipper. He gets stronger everyday. He is talkin', talkin', talkin'.

Me? I'm so tired, it has to be said. But people have been great, you know? People have been great.

This week I had some help from Photo-Girl of Bath. The girl is very fond of a fish. To eat, you understand. And so with a sigh of relief I left the supper time feeding of the Old Man to Photo-Girl - who rushed around on buses sizing up the local produce and makin' him fish suppers. Puttin' those brain cells back in his bonce. Third day, Jimmy the Fish came visiting. Bearing some mackerel he had caught. So she whisked them away and cooked them up. Servin' em up with potatoes, onions and chorizo. Old Man's eyes popped out at such exotic food.

Me. I just kept making myself little chick pea stews with carrot and tatie and sultanas and onion and broad bean and lemon juice and chilli and ras-el-hanout.

Finally I was able to get out into that jungle of a garden. To plant out some desperate courgette plants. And sow some far too late beans, corn and squash.

Last morning of Photo-Girl's stay, I marched her up the nearby hill. Great day. Bees buzzing all over the heather up there. Miles and miles of view. And the sea on the north coast and the sea on the south coast at the same time. Because we's a narrow little neck of land here. A narrow little neck of land.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Monday 5th July: In which the Old Man Comes Home

Yes folks. He is back home. Just making the jump to tell you this. Will backtrack to fill in any details in this docu-drama that may be of interest. But at the hospital - the winding down towards discharge continued. And Big Sis and I collected him yesterday. I will try to have learned my lessons:
Vigilance must rule.
Be careful about being out of those Woods.
And don't forget to dial 999.

BUT.

Here he is. Still wondering at his narrow escape. And still weeping at the thought of great plays and operas that he has seen. I suspect he may well weep when he finally steps into Farmer Jones' shop as well. - And all those shops that asked after him.... birdseed, newspapers, wholefood.... Old Man will weep in 'em all.

Thank you everyone that helped look after and look out for The Old Man.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Friday 2nd July

Last night, when I got home, there was large cardboard box on the doorstep. It contained a bouquet of flowers. Sent by a friend far away. Pink roses, phlox, and huge pink and white lilies. I took them indoors, plunged and trimmed them, then put them into one of the Old Man's vases.

This morning I feel fidgety and set off to the hospital by bus.

I get to Helston and, as is the way now, climb back onto the same bus, now transformed to another route. It has become an 82A. And is supposed to get me into Truro Bus Station about 12.46. So I should have time to get some shopping before getting a bus to the hospital.

The bus should take me via the Falmouth road and neighbouring villages into Truro. It's another sunny day and we set off.... shaking and bumping around the local theme park bus stop, next to another edge-of-town-supermarket building site. Then off to the old Falmouth road.

We get halfway along the proposed route. Then we seem to be drifting towards Redruth via some of the old mining villages. A pair of teenagers sitting up front, goin' on a Truro jaunt, seem a bit bewildered as well. I panic as we near Redruth and think I've got on the wrong bus. Then we swerve onto the Redruth by-pass and set off to Scorrier, then we go through Chacewater and approach Truro from the Hospital side. Sure enough we pass the hospital - which I didn't think we were supposed to do. Nevertheless I am so bewildered by now that I don't get off there. It's too early for visitin' times anyway. So then we bump along the top of Truro and down to the Bus Station. Gone 1 o'clock and too late for me to shop. Anyway, I just stand there in shock. I just get on the next bus back to the Hospital.

So - I may have finished with the Consultant from Hell.
But this is the Bus Company from Hell.

At the hospital, the Old Man has been moved to another ward. This is a sign he is on the way to be discharged, I think. He bemoans the loss of his luxurious bed. But he is looking stronger.

We get a bedside visit from the Hospital's specialist Heart Nurse. She will set up contact with a Community Heart nurse - which means the Old Man will get some continuity after hospital. The main discussion is the set of drugs he's got. And that the Nurse will be working towards him managing his own diuretics through weighing himself. This will monitor any sudden increase in fluid. Yes? A sudden jump up means accumulating fluid again. So then he takes more diuretics. Old Man offers that if he feels too dry he just drinks some more water. But the nurse says better to cut back on the diuretics than to risk mucking up the blood balance by drinking more.

This all makes sense and helps build up our shaken confidence in post-hospital health.

My two nieces have come to collect me.
Because of the changed ward and therefore the changed visiting hours, I run away quickly so that they get some visiting time with the Old Man.




Sunday, 4 July 2010

Thursday 1st July

Today we have mostly - rain and fog.

As my friends are on their way back home this morning, Big Sis takes me in to visit the Old Man.

He looks better yet. He says that the physios took him to try some stairs earlier in the day. He was supposed to climb about four steps then come down backwards, rather than trying to turn around on the stair.

But he said that instead he went on up to the next landing and then turned and came back down.

He is very pleased with himself. So am I. But I point out that excelling at tests the physios set him was not the idea at the moment - when we are trying to prevent early discharge from the hospital.

A case of blind competitiveness over savvy, I think.

Later, as Big Sis and I plod through the rain to the the further car park - I see the bewildered Asian doctor from my bus travel day (see Saturday 26th June) heading in our direction.

"Where is the main hospital?" he asks, "Is it that building over there?."

"Yes" say we.

I am very sorry for this perpetually bewildered man. But I know how he feels.

Wednesday 30th June


My friends, who deliver me to and fro in their car, have been using a satnav to find places. We wiggle through surprising and picturesque routes. A very pretty part of Helston for instance.
My eyebrows go up and down all the time at the unlikeliness of the routes it opts for.



But back to the Old Man.

Sometimes I feel like a tiny human faced with a glacier of organisational indifference moving inexorably towards me and the Old Man. Soon we will be engulfed and swept away.

However -

When I get to the Hospital today, the Old Man tells me that it seems the Consultant from Hell has had a transformation, and is himself grumbling about the Old Man's early discharge from the other hospital. He is also saying that the Old Man will not be discharged from here on Friday after all. But must stabilise more and so may be discharged on Monday instead.

Consultant from Hell even told the physio that the Old Man is not ready to try walking up stairs. Maybe tomorrow.

This is a great relief for me and and the Old Man. In fact the Old Man is quite emotional today. I think he is truly relieved at not being chucked out.

Brain damage is no longer mentioned. That seems to have been just when they couldn't get the responses they wanted on the evening of the arrest. The broken rib is not mentioned and the Old Man says he doesn't feel it. Liver damage which may have played a part in his collapse, is righting itself.

His current staff nurse also spoke of referring him to a community heart nurse who can coordinate regular supervision of his condition and drugs, etc.

Even as I stood in the corridor, staring at the coffee machine, Good Doctor passed by - said "Hello" and advised me to avoid the machine at all costs and go to the cafe.

In all, everyone here is nice as pie today!

I rang the GP surgery before I visited and they assured me that things would work more smoothly if I drop the Hospital discharge letter into them directly when bringing the Old Man home. I said that the other hospital had not mentioned handing in a discharge letter at all. They seemed surprised.

Looks like the other hospital is gonna be the scapegoat.

Tuesday 29th June

Life is a blur.

My friends take me to Farmer Jones' shop. And I buy bread, oranges, salad leaves, chard, tomatoes and cheese and other good things. Everyone asks after the Old Man.

We go home and eat some of the bread and cheese. And then they take me to the Hospital while they go off elsewhere.

The hospital is quite clear that aftercare for the Old Man is organised by our GP practice.

But I don't really understand why - if he is a patient of one of their consultants (who as far as I know has not visited him during this crisis) - who sends him to another, pretty distant, hospital for an operation - why they then play no part in aftercare from the operation that they said he had to have?

"Catch 22", I guess.

I am focusing on the drug/blood test issue which appears to be central to his stability.... as I understand it. I mean I'm not a doctor but I soon may have to contemplate training as one.

The individual dose unit prescribed by the GP is larger than that of the Hospital. So it seems to me that this alone, plus a less frequent blood test regime, is bound to make the drug/blood relationship lumpier. But I get treated like an idiot and just have to have the Warfarin action time explained to me all over again.

The Hospital also keeps talking about him coming home this Friday. Now, Friday may be convenient for the hospital - but they plainly have no notion of life in the real world.

I have to keep making clear to the staff nurse (doctors are lords and rarely talk to peasants) that after Friday 5pm we poor mortals in need of medical attention are at the mercy of the "Medical Out of Hours Service" which consists of a doctor in an office in the Community Hospital: not answering the phone and not leaving his/her cubbyhole if they can help it.

Our GP's phone is automatically routed through to them after about 5pm on the Friday. That goes on until the Monday morning. The state I am in - I find this very worrying.

Never mind. I will remember what the nurse on the first heart ward said.
"Forget about doctors - just dial 999"

But he does look better. I saw his first totter across the ward. Today the physio says she will take him to try the dummy stairs in the gym.

All this must have been a relief cos I sleep through till gone 8 am the next morning.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Monday 28th June

Today more friends arrive.

They are staying at a B&B in a village a few miles away. And the plan is to visit each day for a few days and see what's needed. This visit had been arranged as light relief for the recuperating patient. But what they find is a different situation. Their careful plans to take the Doll sight-seeing for a break make way for a request to take her to the hospital for a visit to the Old Man.

This is agreed and after much excited chat and some lunch and cups of tea, they take the Doll to the hospital and go to find a beach for themselves.

At the hospital so far, the sub-message that I get from doctors, nurses, and ex-patients alike is to "keep banging on about your concerns."

The latest and perhaps the only doctor to sit down and listen to us, I shall call the Good Doctor.

Good Doctor warmed to the Old Man after he asked what he did for a living, and Old Man explained his computer programming. Good Doctor talked about the books on programming languages on his father's bookshelf. Not for the first time we are brought up with a jolt as doctors and nurses equate us with their parents. Ah. We never realised what an obvious Grey Doll and Old Man we be.

Good Doctor explained that the hospital has a system of moving doctors around - so to keep reminding each one of your concerns. This does not inspire me with confidence. It also leaves me sounding like a demented parrot. I fear I will be dismissed as the idiot carer who has to have everything explained to her a zillion times.

The Good Doctor said that the Old Man would not be discharged until he was stable with the Warfarin. But Hey - Good Doctor will be on another ward tomorrow.

Yesterday Old Man was seen by a physio - who told him that they (the physios) had influence over discharge from the hospital, and that he would not be discharged until they were satisfied that he could climb stairs and take care of basic needs by himself. I hope so.

But I am a bit worn out by every day being different, and being told different things every day.

It is alarming, but natural I suppose, how many people imagine hospital patients lying peacefully in striped pyjamas in the same hospital bed - with the same staff and the prospect of a nice stay in a convalescent home to recuperate. To be followed by regular visits at home from a GP and District Nurses. (Truly this convalescent home thing has been suggested to me a couple of times by friends and acquaintances. Do such places still exist?) Anyway - a kind of "Emergency Ward 10 / Carry On Nurse" vision of the NHS.

Little do they know that modern patients face an assembly line system, at the end of which they are shunted out to the hospital "pick-up" point - nicely packaged with a Booklet.

Which reminds me - I must ask the Consultant from Hell for his Booklet.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sunday 27th June

Today, Sunday I go with Big Sister to visit the Old Man.

I rang up to check that he was still in that ward before we set out. Then I checked if it was planned for him to be discharged on Monday.

"Oh No. " says this sister/staff nurse, "The physios would not let him go until they are sure he can manage stairs and that everything is OK at home for him."

Hurrah for physios. They have decided that Monday was perhaps a bit premature for sending the Old Man home.

How kind.

When we get there to see Old Man, there is discussion of liver damage which I find very confusing. Sometimes described as because of cardiac arrest (Sorry. "Collapse.") Sometimes referred to as part of the reason for..... his "Collapse". But it is reversible. Livers are fairly obliging things in that way, providing you don't try to assist with regular applications of vodka.

When we leave we come home via Farmer Jones' shop. He' s still there. And I buy milk and pasta and bring him up to speed on the Old Man. We exchange war stories. A pineapple is acquired for the Old Man's delight and refreshment.

At home I feed Sis with the pasta and the remains of old friend's excellent roasted pepper and tomato sauce. A little green salad. A burp. And some rest.

Friday 25th June - Saturday 26th June

I visit Old Man in Intensive Care. My friend goes on to spend some time in Truro.

Old Man is doing well. They explain that they are looking to send him back to the Cardiac wards as their job in Intensive Care is done.

A cardiac consultant comes in to check on Old Man and my mistake is to try to discuss aftercare and whether he had come out of the other hospital too early. This man appears to be totally puzzled by my questions. Presumably the fate of the discharged patient does not cross his mind. He says: "Didn't the other hospital give you a booklet?"

Be warned, dear reader, with major heart operations and subsequent cardiac arrests. Aftercare? No probs. Just read The Booklet.

When old friend and I get home there is a friendly message from the Coronary Care Unit to say that the Old Man is back with them. "And how much better he looks than when we last saw him."

Later that evening old friend hands me a present bag containing a pair of green, embroidered cloth boots from China that I'd ogled in a Truro shop. She's better than a Booklet any day.



Saturday 26th June

Another cloudless day and my friend throws me out of her car at the hospital on her way back to her home 300 miles away.

I am confident about getting a bus home.

Find Old Man on his new ward and check him out. Then have to leave for their three hour "lunch and rest" slot.

I take myself back downstairs and pick up a sandwich and drink. And spend most of the three hours trying to compute the 25 miles back to my home by the rural bus services. Being a Saturday - one of the buses I had reckoned to catch does not come to this hospital. I will have to get another bus into the city in order to get that bus - in order to catch my home bus. Just three buses then.

During this computational period I am joined by a lady with a small case who has been visiting her husband for six weeks. She says that another bus route that I was contemplating is unreliable as to whether it comes or not.

We compare notes on the Caring Life. She says that one day she found herself on the floor at home. She lay there wondering why she was on the floor and then realised she hadn't got round to eating tea .... or lunch ....
She leaves me and sails back to her husband's ward for the start of afternoon visiting hours.

My visit is not due to restart for another hour.

I go out to the bus stop to check the times for buses into the city.

"Excuse me." I turn to see an Asian gentleman in sunglasses. "I am a new doctor here and must get into the city to get to bank. When is the next bus?"

"Well" say I, " Here is the list. See? Where they say Truro Bus Station? But you have to watch this column here. See? All these are saying Not on Saturdays...."

"It is very strange." he says "I have worked in Zurich and Amsterdam and all these places encourage people not to use cars. They have wonderful bus and tram services. Here. Everyone uses cars."

I can't begin to tackle pointing out the difference between European cities and the English rural South-West to this distressed gentleman. "City" is perhaps an administrative description of Truro, rather than a lifestyle description. I wish the bewildered doctor well and leave him to wait for something to come along ..... for somewhere.

I go back to see Old Man. And during my visit the Consultant From Hell reappears. He does not acknowledge me, of course. And during his discussion with the staff nurse at the Old Man's bedside he airily remarks that the Old Man may go home on Monday.

My own modest blood pressure racks up another notch. When the Lord Most High sails on his oblivious way, the staff nurse looks at us and pulls a face. "I shouldn't think you are ready to go home Monday" she says.

I must remember to ask the Consultant From Hell for his Booklet.

Old Man and I talk things through and plot strategy. I try not to worry him. But I am very worried myself. Does this system never learn about chucking out its patients too early?

It is about quarter to five. I tell the Old Man that I must leave to start my journey home. I kiss him on the bonce and go.

Outside I get my first bus. This is to the Main Street in Truro. Then I walk through to the Bus Station. There I have about half hour to wait for the next one, which which will take me to Helston where I will catch my final bus.

An optional bus comes in. But I decide to leave it on the grounds that I'd be more out of my way if there is a problem with the third bus.

I start to regret this decision as it becomes apparent that the bus that I've chosen to wait for is late arriving. All these things have a knock-on effect after all! Eventually it does arrive and I get on.

Along with a gentleman who also has experience of heart ops and proudly tells me of his own disappointing experience with possible eight month wait here in Cornwall. So that he shot over to France and had his op done in Toulouse in a matter of days.
"Be on the watch all the time." he says. "Take notes. And.... learn to drive, girl. Learn to drive."

He gets off the bus in a pretty rural village. He waves and wishes me well.

Our bus is rambling down tiny lanes and byways. It is very pretty on a fine summer evening. But I am now tired and aware that I am likely to miss my third bus. Slower and slower we go.
A car parked outside a house completely blocks the lane. The bus beeps. An apologetic man comes out of the front door waving his keys. He gets in the car. Fires up. Moves on to a pull in, and our bus passes him and carries on through the village. Horse riders. And the bus stops again. My optimism is running out. I am starting to fidget and swear under my breath. The one new passenger in miles takes forever finding their money.

By now I know I have missed my bus and resign myself to waiting for the next one at about 7.30.

When we get into Helston, the bus stops completely and the driver gets out.

Eventually another driver gets in and starts the ritual of form ticking and putting on a jacket.... There is no new number yet on the front of the bus. Its doors open.

"Excuse me," say I "Are you a number 2?"
"Yes. Didn't the last driver change the number? He's supposed to."

My luck is in after all. My bus from Truro has transformed into my Penzance-bound bus. I get on with a great sigh of relief.

With a shaking roar the bus takes off.
Little more than 10 minutes later the bus has screeched into my home village.
I get off. In shock. And watch the bus speed away in a cloud of smoke and diesel fumes.

I have been rescued by a Bat out of Hell.