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Friday, 27 May 2022

Bye-bye tap. Part 1

The PICC, sticking out of this guy's arm, provides access
to a tube which extends 42 cm into his chest cavity
and down which the chemo flows. It seems from his
expression he later faced a firing squad; not me though

When bowel cancer was diagnosed I never asked for a prognosis. There didn’t seem any point, it would be no more than some medic’s guess. And not knowing this vague date might help me ignore it. I know it sounds unlikely but this actually worked. I’d have something else on my mind and I’d notice – from facial expressions – that this form of escape wasn’t necessarily available to other members of my family.

One of the chemo nurses said they never volunteered such information but might if asked. The surgeon went some way towards a prediction but only mathematically, rating percentages against the passage of time. In fact, probability. It’s a technique politicians often use, ensuring obfuscation by missing out any exact totals. As a journalist I’ve enjoyed decades of listening to – and distrusting – politicians and fashioning my own form of the truth. But the surgeon was cleverer than the pols and I let him have his way with me.

Besides, there’ve recently been some real facts to gnaw on and they’re encouraging. It was said that the first chemo session would – probably – last six months. No guarantees, of course. Chemo has different effects on different patients. In fact that first estimate was pessimistic. Five fortnightly sessions and, for the moment, I’m done with absorbing prototoxins.. A scan is due in late July and we’ll take it from there.

Better still, on Wednesday my PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) – a sort of tap arrangement attached to my upper arm – will be removed. Since installing this device requires demanding positional skills I had thought this would remain in situ until all was done and dusted. Not so, it seems.

Whoopee! The villa rented on the Med has a pool; I’ll be able to swim. The hols are on!


  1. Whoopee indeed! That is good news.

  2. Excellent news RR. Onwards and upwards. Regrettably I cannot say the same for Mrs. Avus where immunotherapy did not help her. She died last week.

    1. Avus, I am so very sorry for your loss.

    2. Avus: I feel I've been very lucky as your horrible news seems to confirm. I was surprised to find I was reasonably philosophical about my own situation; what disturbed me was the effect it had on VR. And now I think I have a fair idea of how you may be feeling.

      You and I are both of an age and both long-married. I remember the effects being married had on me way back in October 1960, that from now on I would think as two not just as one. That the bad times as well as the good times would be shared. Except - of course - this inescapable bad time when the bond is broken. Yes, there is still your daughter and she is a strong bond (as are both mine) but the loss of a spouse must be almost inexpressible - far worse than losing a limb. More like an amputation of part of your personality, or of treasured experience.

      It's at times like these that I truly detest cliché and especially that lumbering tanker wagon, condolence. A word for funeral directors not for a husband. Luckily for me our two lives have run somewhat in parallel and when I say I think I share your feelings you can be fairly assured this is the truth as I see it. The church ceremony of marriage was not my choice, as you can guess, but I realise now it was a ceremony for the future not for the argumentative egotist I was then. A public marking of something that might well prove... well, remarkable. Given your belief in traditonalism I suspect it may have meant even more to you.

      What can you do? Reflect and, where possible, recreate. Especially those occasions when you were able to overcome difficulties as a couple. That you were part of an entity that you helped fashion. That - more than anything - it was worthwhile.

    3. Thank you Robbie - your comment was very perceptive and welcome

  3. Great news. And, by the way, I particularly enjoyed this "As a journalist I’ve enjoyed decades of listening to – and distrusting – politicians and fashioning my own form of the truth. But the surgeon was cleverer than the pols and I let him have his way with me."