Friday, 30 May 2014

Of Communists, Fascists and Others Born Out Of Wedlock


My skin graft operation did not go exactly according to plan Saturday last.  I knew I would not be in theatre before 1800 hrs because the Rather Attractive Lady Surgeon Registrar had programmed me for the last op of the day allowing me to have breakfast that morning and spend most of my waiting time in the comfort of my room rather than in excruciating agony on a hard chair in a waiting room desperately clamping my cheeks together to contain the potentially catastrophic effects of the sudden release of wind I suffer when a) unable to move and b) am in a public space.  I only went over to the Royal Free at lunchtime.

(The nurse has just come in to take my temperatures and pressures.  Yesterday the machine went berserk and tried to crush my arm, even the nurse was alarmed as I yelped with surprise and lost contact with everything below my elbow.  Apparently it needed recalibrating.  Anyway, I have just asked this nurse what setting she had on the machine today; bone crushing or merely flesh bruising).

While waiting I was seen, as usual before going into theatre (I am an old hand at this now) by a nurse consumed with a desire to know all about me; my habits, my foibles, my general state of health and whether I indulge in recreational drugs and anal intercourse.  I shan’t bore you with all the subtle variations I managed to weave into my replies on three separate occasions but they generally ran along the lines of not knocking anything until one has tried it and that sex with girls is OK but you can’t beat the real thing (I always left my definition of the ‘real thing’ vague).  We did discuss British Airways cabin crew being whacked out on drugs (it is the only reasonable explanation of their behaviour) and whether such use, as they were on duty, could be considered recreational.

The nurse wanted to take a swab from my wound.  This solved a problem for me.  The vac dressing had failed so the vac pump was alarming all the time, thus alarming those suffering alongside me in the waiting area.  So, out of consideration, I had switched the pump off.  Now that the dressing had officially been peeled back compromising the seal, I had a fairly rock solid excuse for switching the machine off and, while subsequently being seen by the Rather Attractive Lady Surgeon Registrar not long afterwards, I suggested I might be allowed to unhook myself from the machine altogether and stuff it into my rucksack.

When my time came, I was not afforded the usual luxury of changing into a hospital gown in my room before being wheeled in my bed down to theatre but had to walk to a changing room where I was instructed to place all my possessions into a plastic bag which would be secured in a locker, the key to which would be pinned to my gown so that no one would have access to my kit.  I accepted there was an element of trust expected from me as we both knew I would be unconscious for the better part of the time my clothes were secured.  I asked the nurse about the vac machine.  It was my understanding, I told her, that I would be fitted with a vac dressing after the skin graft.  Nothing unsterilized, she informed me, would be allowed into theatre.  I presumed that surgical patients were granted an exemption to this rule along with medical staff who wished to procreate in the future.  I did not give a toss about the vac machine to be honest but I was very disappointed I could not take my camera along.

Having walked the distance from the waiting area to the changing room (the hospital looks smaller than it is from the outside) I now had to walk to the theatre.  Happily, the nurse was from Madeira so we chatted away in Portuguese and I really did not mind too much when we found that the lifts had broken.  I suggested that having come this far I could probably manage a few flights of stairs but this too, apparently, was against regulations.  Clearly she felt I deserved an amplification of the reasoning behind such an edict so explained that if I fell on the stairs or was otherwise injured, she would get into trouble.  I no longer saw the irony of anything that happened to me in the Royal Free accepting as I had that it was staffed by communists.

I was just about to be anaesthetized when the Rather Attractive Lady Surgeon Registrar popped in to chat to me.

‘Where’s the vac machine?’ she asked me.

No sense blaming the nurse, it’s not her fault she has been indoctrinated into the art of sustained chaos, so I told the surgeon I had forgotten it in my locker and that since, according to the regulations no one else was allowed into my locker, I would nip back and get it.  Just to really twist the knife home I added, ‘All the money I have, that I brought with me from Angola, is in my rucksack.’  There was shocked silence as they all stared at each other in a desperate bid for inspiration.

‘It’s alright,’ I said unpinning the locker key from my gown and handing it to the nurse, ‘I was only joking.  When you unzip the rucksack,‘ I told the nurse, ‘the vac machine is on top.’ 

As she made to leave, I called out after her, ‘and don’t forget the power cable, that’s right at the bottom, underneath the big envelope full of money!’

When I woke up, the Rather Attractive Lady Surgeon Registrar was there.

‘I did not do the skin graft,’ she told me while I tried to figure out where I was and where all these white people had come from. ‘When we took the dressing down, the wound was infected so there was no point trying for a graft, it would only have failed and then we would have to find some other part of your body from which to harvest more skin.’

I could see the sense in that but I was still bloody disappointed.  A successful skin graft was the only tick in the box left the parole board needed prior to releasing me.  I briefly considered being depressed but then decided I much preferred a cup of tea and a packet of Jammy Dodgers.

‘We debrided some more tissue and gave the wound a good scrub before putting a vac dressing on,’ she finished.  Later, as the anaesthetic wore off I realized she had not been joking about giving it a good scrub, she must have used a bloody Brillo pad.

I was wheeled off into what is ambitiously referred to by the leaders of the People’s Republic of Free London as a recovery lounge.  I found myself jammed into this broom cupboard between an Iranian who really was having a bad time with the anaesthetics if his projectile vomiting was anything to go by and a man who I assumed could only have been a diamond buyer labouring under the very misplaced confidence that no one around him knew what he meant as he babbled on down his mobile phone about ‘juice in’ and ‘Smarties out’ of Libreville.

A nurse came in with my tea and biscuits and asked me how I was getting home.

‘I’m an inmate at UCLH out on surgical day release,’ I told her, ‘I need to go back there.’

‘We’ll have to order transport then,’ she said, ‘there’s no mention in your file about a return journey.’

Bleeding Hell!  They weren’t exactly overcome with confidence about the outcome of this operation, were they?

‘Order it from G4S,’ I said.  (That way I could get out of the vehicle at the first set of traffic lights, get a MacDonald’s and a ride back to UCLH in a taxi before they noticed).

Two hours later, me still lying there naked but for a hospital gown having passed the time persuading the poor Iranian (who was on his second bucket) that a mixture of yoghurt and Jammy Dodgers washed down with sweet tea really did cure nausea, two guys in fluorescent jackets turned up with an electrically adjustable stretcher.

‘You can go now,’ said the nurse.

‘What about my things?’ I asked.

The nurse pointed at the rucksack that had come down with me from theatre.  So the nurse from Madeira had wanted witnesses before delving into my bag, I thought.  Clever girl.

‘What about clothes?’ I asked.

‘We do not give clothes out, you must go in your gown.’

‘Hang on a sec,’ I said, ‘I was fully dressed when I came in here so where are my clothes?’

‘Where did you put them?’

‘In a locker in the changing room.’

‘Where’s the key?’

It took them an hour to find it and then it wasn’t me who emptied the locker, they did.

The two stretcher bearers insisted I lay on the stretcher.  They had a smart electric stretcher so they were damn well going to use it.  It came with restraining straps so they could hurtle around London without dumping patients onto the floor of their van so they were going to damn well use those too.

Although not as bad as on some previous occasions, I had not eaten since breakfast so had a go at persuading the guys to stop briefly at the MacDonald’s just next to UCLH.  They ignored me, deep in loud conversation as they were, so I spoke up a bit.

‘It’s alright, Sir,’ snapped the driver testily, ‘I know my way,’ and he continued yabbling.  Socialist swine.

I briefly considered kinking the vac pump tube thereby forcing it to alarm so I could claim it had detected dangerously low blood sugar and only a Big Mac with large fries and a chocolate milkshake could save me from terminal coma but realized that this would only give them an excuse to flick on the blues and twos and drive like maniacs to A&E instead of In-patients where no doubt I would have an awful lot of explaining to do.

(I have paused for lunch now but earlier today some doctors took my dressing down in order to inspect the wound and I am still sitting here with no dressing covering a gaping hole while scoffing my way through a plate of beef stew and dumplings.  The nurses were told to dress the wound again but I can understand them taking a stand.  They cannot be expected to alter their busy routines at the drop of a hat merely to rectify the results of the idle curiosity of a bunch of doctors)

That treacle pud and custard was nice.

So, as I was saying, the graft did not happen and I was back in UCLH and on intravenous antibiotics again.  I am a bit hazy on the days because the Ward Sister has confiscated the bent nail I kept hidden under my mattress which I used to scratch the passing days on the wall but about three days later I was back in theatre at the Royal Free and this time they did the graft.  It wasn’t the Rather Attractive Lady Surgeon Registrar doing the job, it was some bloke who I briefly noted when he stuck his head round the door and told the anaesthetist to hurry up.  First impressions were deceiving for he turned to be very kind.  Evidently noticing that I had an obvious limp as a result of a wound on the left side, he harvested the skin from my right thigh thereby balancing me up a bit.

Back at UCLH, the team got together in my room to assess the latest.  There wasn’t really much to see.  The wound on my right thigh was obscured by what looked like a massive white Elastoplast.  The original wound on the left was covered by a new vac dressing but it was this dressing that had us all enthralled.  Never in my now considerable experience of vac dressings have I seen shoddier workmanship.  I have been unfortunate enough to have sat through a few TV medical dramas so I know it is normal for the surgeon to do the tricky stuff he is paid so much for before tossing his spanners over to some junior with an instruction to finish up but this job looked as if it had been concluded by a one armed janitor in serious need of psychiatric intervention.  The sponge had been cut too small for the hole so they had stuffed cut offs into the wound to fill the gaps.  Even that effort was half hearted and portions of the wound were covered merely by adhesive film. The adhesive film barely stretched onto the flesh surrounding the dressing and the vac tube had been fitted so it ran down my leg and not up underneath my underwear and out over my waistband almost guaranteeing that sooner or later I would tread on it and rip the tube out of the wound.

(Someone has just stuck their head around my door saying they were looking for my nurse.  ‘I’ve eaten her,’ I said, ‘she was delicious’)

The idea was to give it a couple of days then bowl up to the Royal Free, get confirmation that the graft was infection free and had taken and everything was tickety-boo, get the vac off, get my release forms signed and push off.

With a vac dressing sucking air and some of the wound exposed, it was hardly surprising that it got infected again. The nurses here did their best to plug the leaks with sheets of adhesive film but they might has well have been trying to patch the Titanic.  Naturally, no one wanted to pull the vac dressing off and change it lest all the new graft skin came with it.  So I festered until the day before yesterday when, after a further eight hours of confusion over at the Royal Free (‘Nurse, I’ve been waiting to see the plastics registrar since eight this morning, it is now four in the afternoon.  Are you sure they know I am here?’) an admission was finally made that no one knew I was there and that besides, I had been told to come to the wrong place (making it all my fault, I suppose).  I rang the Tropical Diseases guy at UCLH and within minutes I was being ushered to the right place and was seen by a doctor who bore an uncanny resemblance to Timothy Spall.  I cheered up instantly.

Of course he had never seen me before, was wholly ignorant of my recent medical history and was only seeing me because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone in authority at the Royal Free suddenly realized they needed a plastics specialist.  Never mind, it was worth the wait just to meet him.  Come on, you all must have met at least once that kind of person who cheers you up just by being in the same room.

‘You’re on a vac pump I see,’ he said.

‘Don’t buy one’, I said, ‘it’s fucking hopeless for cleaning rugs’.

‘We get them from Amazon,’ he said, quick as a flash.

Amazon’s bloody rubbish,’ I replied, ‘I bought a painting from them once.  It looked great on their website but the one they sent me was upside down.  The wife cried for a week.’

He decided not to put me back on the Vac.  The two socialist nurses argued with him.

‘But I’ve been to the stores and have a new dressing and reservoir!’ one of them protested.

‘Still…’ Dr, Spall ventured.

‘The patient can’t go back without a vac dressing!  Look at the wound, it’s disgusting!’ said the other.

‘Yes but…’

‘I quite like the idea of not being on a vac pump,’ I interjected.

‘You have no say in the matter, you’re just a patient!’ chorused the nurses.

And a disgusting one at that, I thought.

The last time I saw such a marked contrast between two institutions in the same city was when checking out of a hotel in West Berlin and into another on the other side of Checkpoint Charlie.

‘You should ask for a transfer to UCLH,’ I advised Dr. Spall, ‘you’ll shrivel up and die here.’

Dr Spall, as he managed to squeeze an opinion in edgeways every now and then, told me there was no need for a vac pump, that 80% of the graft had taken so it looked good to go and, after talking to UCLH, it was felt that a couple more nights in UCLH under observation and frequent dressing changes should see me OK for discharge on Friday (today).  I would have to come back to the Royal Free on Monday where the graft would be checked and I would then be handed over to the care of my local district nurse.  Cool.

Yesterday I went for a walk.  I was desperate to get a haircut.  My hair was already long (for me) when I left Angola.  A month later my head was skidding around on the pillow at night.  First I had to change some money.  The nearest place I could find on Google Maps that wasn’t a street corner tourist rip off was the Post Office up by Russell Park, a gentle half mile walk away.  Just short of the post office on the corner of Woburn Place and Corum Street there was a seedy looking currency exchange shop with a handwritten cardboard sign in the window which read, ‘We give £56 net for $100 notes!’  1.78 US to the pound I calculated, robbing bastards.

I arrived at the post office to see a bloody great queue of American tourists all wanting to change money.  I needed to know whether it was worth joining the queue (my legs were aching in stereo) or walk further to a branch of my bank where I knew I would get the best deal.

‘Excuse me,’ I said to the Americans, ‘I just want to ask the teller a simple question.’

They all very politely let me limp through to the front.

‘How much will I get net if I change a hundred US?’ I asked the young man behind the counter.

’49 and change’, he said.

Blimey, one block down the road I’m nearly seven quid better off!

The Americans had been nice to me so I felt it only fair to return the favour, after all, I was an Englishman in London and one of the things colonials want to experience in the Smoke is a bit of civility.

I gently drew one of the Americans to the door and pointed diagonally across the A4200 and said, ‘You see that place there?  They’ll give you 56 quid net for your hundred bucks so long as it is in cash.’

I limped painfully out of the door and started to make my way back towards the seedy money exchange.  Seconds later I was overtaken by the 7th Cavalry as they hurtled off towards my destination.  When I got there, the queue was a mile long.

‘Jeez!’ shouted one Yank, ‘it’s the old guy who sent us here!’

They let me straight to the front of the queue so I forgave the young punk for calling me old.

I changed fifteen hundred bucks and came away a hundred quid better off than I would have done had I used the post office.  That’s the trouble when you privatize essential government services, the Fascists take over and rip everyone off.

There was one thing I had to do.  I was going to leave it until I got out but since it was still early afternoon, I decided that there was no time like the present.  All through this blog you will find references to what was top of my priority list if ever I got back to London.  Rather like a wistful prisoner of war I dreamt of sitting in a real pub drinking a pint of London Pride.  I am teetotal now but I had to know if I could stare temptation in the eye.  Having now given up smoking, it was a case of double jeopardy.  Could I sit in the smoking area (out on the sidewalk) of a London pub serving London Pride and be content with a coffee and a bar snack while all around me were choking the weed and pouring booze down their necks?  Would the stale smell of second hand smoke, the o so familiar, friendly aroma of whisky and the hoppy smell of real ale get to me?

The good thing about pubs in London is you don’t have to shuffle far to find one but I knew where I wanted to go because it seemed so appropriate and I was willing to hobble an extra mile to get there.  Twenty minutes or so later I was in front of the Old Explorer just off Regent Street near Oxford Circus tube station, a traditional pub the sign over the door claimed and exactly what I wanted.  The atmosphere and the smells inside were intoxicating.  Hunched like some old pirate I made my way to the bar and got myself a tonic water with lemon and a packet of pork scratchings. The smoking area outside was packed but there was a chair free at a table for four so I asked if I could join the three gents who were happily quaffing their ale and smoking cigars.  Even better!  There was nothing I liked more than a damn fine cigar.  Sitting down wind, the scented breeze caressed me like an old lover,  I sat there quite contented for half an hour, nursing my tonic water and munching happily on my scratchings.  And I was happy.  Not once did I feel the urge for a drink nor the desire to a smoke.  What is left of me will return to Marcia as a new man.

While looking on Google maps I had noted the location of a traditional ‘Bob a Cut’ barber up the Tottenham Court Road so I headed slowly over there.  Nowadays a Bob a cut is ten quid but I didn’t mind, I was still ninety quid and a free haircut up on the post office.

By the time I returned to my room in the hospital, I knew something was wrong.  My leg was on fire and, I realized as I took my raincoat off, my trousers were soaked around the dressing.  Sure enough, when I dropped my strides, I could see the dressing hanging off and the wound oozing.  The nurse called the doctor.  He said he would come with the specialist today.  I was supposed to be released today. 

This morning they came and had a conflab.  In principle, most of the graft, enough of the graft was OK if runny.  They decided that for the sake of a couple of days until the appointment at the Royal Free it would be foolish to risk it all going awry by sending me home; best to stay until Monday.  Much as I want to get out of here, I was relieved.  I’ve done just over a month inside, it would be a shame to balls it up at the last hurdle.

So that is basically where I am with this now.  I know I have said ‘two days to go’ before and been wildly off the mark but this time I think it’s for real.  Still, two days will give me enough time to hand wash and dry all my kit.  I am due to run out of clean skids by Sunday so I had best get scrubbing…

I really miss Marcia and the boys.  I’ve had my fun in London, can I I go home now, please?

 

65 comments:

  1. Oh tom... I so do recognise the exhausting routine of hospital life.....dies your head in....
    I am down in London ever so briefly in June ( seeing 12 angry men with Nuala for her birthday)
    I shall pop in to see you.... With an emergency scotch egg
    Xx

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    1. Depends when in June you are talking about. If I am still here late June you'll need more than a scotch egg to calm me down!

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    2. 12th I think......it will be good to see you finally
      Our meeting will be historical

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    3. Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!

      No, that isn't an invitation, it is frustration.

      My flight is the sixth. I am checking the constraints of my ticket and seat availability. I have already changed it once so I might be stuffed.

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  2. You poor old sausage. A month is a long time and you've been so brave and good. Hope you get out soon but perhaps you need to rest that poor old leg and not walk so many miles. Moderation is not a word that sits well with you I guess but still........

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    1. As I read this I was convinced you were going to end the comment with, 'There, there, there bunnykins!'

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  3. Phew! A fine mess we just slogged through with you. Barely got you back to the hospital, but at least in time to bring us up to date. Don't miss your date with John; we'd not forgive you for that. And, keep up the recovery.

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    1. John? He's not my type...

      See above, I'm seeing what I can do. It'd be a shame to miss the opportunity. Besides, the he keeps promising me a scotch egg...

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  4. if you can survive the bureaucracy and the wound you are pretty much immortal!

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    1. Huh! You want to see the bureaucracy the Portuguese left the Angolans!

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  5. I hope this ordeal is over soon, and you get back to real life pretty darn quick.

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    1. Me too! It was fun to start with...

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  6. I smiled as i read that you didn't miss the drink or the smokes whilst being surrounded by them. Huge mindshift there, and bully for you for making the effort and seeing it pay off so handsomely.

    I don't wish you in hospital one moment longer than you need, but it would be shame not to meet up with the gay Welsh raconteur when you're so close.

    x

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    1. I know my release is imminent because UCLH management have warned the Home Secretary and I believe Call Me Dave is holding a Cobra meeting to work out how to cope with this unexpected threat loose on the UK high street...

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  7. this is the most amazing story. for heaven sakes. here's hoping you are free soon!

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    1. I'm sure there will be more interesting stories from where that one came from!

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  8. Glad to hear you still have your leg. Well, most of it.

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    1. Yes, me and my leg have always been quite attached to each other.

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  9. Did anyone ever tell you what caused all this? Was it a result of your snake encounter?

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    1. Nope! They haven't a clue! And THAT is the only thing causing me disquiet. This could have been little Alex, or Marcia. I have had a lot of time to think about that. Yesterday I had a meeting with a headhunter (we know each other of old) which was very encouraging so I rather think I might be returning to the common herd with proper jobs and moving back to UK. I may enjoy this high risk gipsy lifestyle but I have a duty to the boy.

      Eek! I'll have to pay tax!

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    2. Fantastic idea!

      I´m portuguese and lived two years in Angola (nearly died in the best clinic there). Survived a flight back to Portugal with an internal bleeding...
      I´m now back in Europe and back to civilization.

      You really should think on the ones that count on you...Without you , they will be in a very difficult position!
      I´m not talking about money...because money in Angola doesn´t mean that you are safe or that you have your health...
      I´m sorry that I´m being so intrusive but I´m a long time reader and I always think about Marcia and your boys.
      All the best ,
      Angela

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  10. It's great to have this update from you. I know you must be terribly homesick, but you should be patient. It would be a shame to leave too soon and have a setback. It's sounds like you're very close to putting this all behind you!

    And I agree with the others; you MUST stay long enough to see John.

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    1. Bugger John! I want to climb into bed with the Missus!

      See above regarding staying on to meet John, I'll do what I can.

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    2. Bugger John? Thought he wasn't your type (sorry John - couldn't help an immature quip)

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  11. Oh Lord, what an ordeal. There do seem to be major up-cocks at these establishments, (because of or in spite of the NHS?), and obviously your body wasn't co-operating fully either. I'm glad to hear that things are slowly coming to a happy conclusion, even despite the last hurdle of a "runny graft"; we just have people here running graft, and then coups, but I digress.

    You've had quite a run for your money, and I don't expect you thought you'd be away so long. I certainly didn't. Your comment about BA cabin crew resonated. The last time I travelled to UK was on BA, (the first time long haul on them for 10 years), and I thought their behaviour very odd, and quite bereft of the niceties you might expect in Business. But I digress.

    Truly hope all goes well in the final stages and you have a safe and comfortable journey home.

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    1. Well, if you are so tight you only fly Business Class, what can you expect?

      Glad to read on your blog your greatest concern is over priced rugs. I really liked the pale one but it would be heart breaking to have rugs in my cottage, about as frustrating as trying to keep a carpeted farmyard clean!

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  12. Don't fall at the last hurdle.....ensure all is right before leaving....and sitting in the pub and being content is just marvellous..long may it continue.

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    1. I'm sorry? Sitting in a pub for a long time is good for me?

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  13. Great to know that you are still with us……and thanks for such a wonderfully long tale about last week's shenanigans. Are you still going to Germany? X

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    1. Doubt it I am sorry to say. Marcia has just about finished the visa process for her and Alex to come over, I do not want that just now. I would prefer to get back to Angola, sort out all the many loose ends and then come back on a well planned and organised trip. Right now I am dealing with stupid issues like the Visa debit card issued by my Angolan bank not working here meaning I can't even book a flight or the Eurostar.

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  14. That is one hell of an infection. It loves you so much it doesn't want to go. Fingers crossed the graft takes and you'll be out of there and home soon. In which case, it looks like I shan't get to visit beforehand. (My skin op was postponed yesterday for another 2 weeks). Well done for facing temptation at the pub - it can't have been easy.

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    1. I have never been so sick so many times as when I chose to give up alcohol. When I was permanently half cut, I was never sick!

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    2. Well, whatever you do, don't be tempted to go backwards and undo all the good work.

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    3. I wonder about reinfection when you returned to your normal bed only to have the wound left open while everyone was on their break. Hospitals are full of germs

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  15. I have been checking in daily, getting a bit more concerned when nothing was updated from 24th. I am a very new reader, haven't commented before, (unless I did when drinking the red and can't remember!) Found you via the affable John Gray... ( lovely bloke btw) I have to say that to mention "simply a boil" in relation to the disgusting hole in your leg that got you here.... I take my hat off to you. It truely looked like something from Alien. But I digress, I am happy to hear that things are looking a lot brighter for you and yours. Looking forward to continuing my reading of your very entertaining blog.

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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    1. For a very new reader, your written English is excellent, well done!

      We all know that Kiwis are a bit sissyish but for us hard Englishmen, what I suffered from was merely a boil.

      I am glad you like the blog. If you are still trying to improve your English further, beware, my punctuation is often quite sloppy...

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    2. Hahaha yes I agree Kiwis can be sissyish... thank god I'm English!

      Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  16. Thanks to my careful reading of several blogs, I have finally distinguished you from that other Tom, Tom Stephenson. It's Gowans, isn't it? I shan't forget. What I'd like to forget is that photo from several posts back of your wound. Unfortunately, I can't seem to.

    I'm pretty squeamish for a 73-year-old man. Too late. Can't be helped.

    But I do laugh when I read your blog.

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    1. Oh, it is pretty easy to tell us apart. Tom Stephenson is in all respects a thoroughly decent chap who is well read and has a rather cerebral sense of humour whereas I voted for Margaret Thatcher.

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  17. Well I am glad to see you are alive and still kicking with both legs and a visit from Kev "Guido" Alvity and his handy saw was not required. Just don't be penny-wise-pound-foolish, and cut this fine experiment in socialist healthcare tourism short. It would be sad if things went pear shaped again because you went back before the repairs were 100% complete. Having personally experienced the wonders of the continental portugee public heath system I can only imagine the nightmare of the Angolan colonial cubanized version and would not want even you, tough-as-nails-ass to face it off with an second bout of the flesh eating bacteria form hell.

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    1. Pah! This was no pansy shit bacteria from Hell, this was a mean muther from Angola! Angola bacteria spit in eye of devil!

      Actually, there were three forms of bacteria noted, one resistant and quite common, another unusual and a third that has them all guessing.

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    2. Sounds like cow shit to me! no really, like I said before remember reading in recent years of a couple of cases in farmers who spend their days elbow deep in cow shit to come down with "necrotizing fasciitis" here. Didn't you mention you were adding manure to your garden not to long before you came down with this thing? I could not find any direct reference to the cases I remember reading about but here are a couple of interesting pieces on the subject.
      http://alternativendhealth.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/rare-flesh-eating-infection-necrotizing-fasciitis-in-maine/
      http://www.emmc.org/news.aspx?id=111388

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  18. Get well soon and write a book Hippo!

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    1. Yes, I must get back to work on the book...

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  19. You are amazing. I can't believe you walked all that way on a new skin graft. I hope you can go home soon with a solidly mending leg attached to your strong body!

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    2. and signing... I'm Jake the Peg ... Just do not sing that near too close to a girl's school

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  20. I'm holding forth in mid-Missouri and following your story with occasionally wide-eyed amazement. I know you can barely restrain yourself from returning to Angola. Please don't leave London until the folks with the stethoscopes are pretty sure there is no evil bit lurking in your leg waiting to parade forth and sabotage your recovery. From what I've read and heard, that MFing NingF is right up there with the absolutely worst you can encounter and have even a wisp of a hope of surviving. I've come to know and love you and your family. I'm voting for a non-eventful reunion when ever and where ever that may be.
    BarbaraB

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    1. I keep telling everyone, it was only a burst pimple!

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  21. Riiiiight! Remember, you showed us the pictures!

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    1. Honestly, you get worse at sea... can't see what all the bloody fuss is about.

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  22. All this laying about doing nothing when you could have completed at least 2 volumes of your soon to be best seller. Come on old chap, get a grip.
    Good to hear the progress and the imminent repatriation with the family. Would love to have been able to visit. Safe trip home.

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    1. Who says I'm not working on it?

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    2. I think he is just avoiding the tale of defeating the regiment in Belize. He must have made it all up and has gone to this extreme to distract us

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  23. Glad you're on the mend old bean! It won't be long till you're back home.I'm glad you kept your leg.

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    1. If I'd have lost it, I am sure you could have knocked me up a nice peg in seasoned oak!

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  24. I'm surprised you didn't head for McDonalds when you were on day release. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you are almost at the end of this hospital marathon. Though you tell the tale with such jollity, you must have suffered as much anxiety as the pain you have endured so manfully. Surely Angola is getting closer once more.

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    1. They have to starve me on Nil by Mouth for days to get me slavering for a MacDonald's!

      The only thing I was anxious about was Marcia getting here before I was out and relieving her boredom (and my wallet) down Oxford St!

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  25. Hey there. Good to hear all went well!

    How is Marcia doing? I hope she is ok as well as the boys. Bet you cant wait to see them. a whole month. Gee Whizz

    Macdonalds? yuk

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  26. I cannot help but think this whole mess started with a necrotic spider bite that went on to explode in major infection. Glad you are doing better. Great good luck to you.

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  27. Phew. I enjoyed that. Thanks for up-dating us and now I see you have been to Wales and had a scotch egg. Nice.

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  28. I'm amazed at the power of blogging....we are total strangers and yet care so very much that you get well and reunited with Marcia and your little one (and one to come!). :). Hugs to you Tom.

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    1. I'm happy to read that you have recovered enough to have returned home to your loved ones, I bet they have missed their hero a thousand times fold.
      You are one brave bloke, no scotch eggs, but if you are ever in Tennessee, I would treat you a sausage roll and a custard tart ;)
      Stay well !
      ~Jo

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Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.