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1 - Up before 7am. Wow it's cold out. . .walked. Took a pic of the woofer in 'her' puddle! Great pleasure to see her romping all puppy like with another dog . . . I'm still feeling absolutely exhausted most of the time? Fell asleep for a couple of hours after some breakfast. Woken by dog barks and doorbell - BW popped in (his Mum'd had a fall and he was down in this part of the country for a day or so) and got growled at a bit. Amazingly he did his 'positive managerial attitude' bit and managed to actually stroke Sally under the chin just a little!!! He announced he was gonna 'kidnap me' and take me to dinner so after making sure Sally had her bone to chew on he took me down town in his flashy MR2 and bought me dinner!!!!! Pizza Hut all you can eat for a fiver and free refills on a soft drink! Bloody good value for money - ate LOADS!!!! Very generous of him - made me remember what it was like when I worked and had money to spend. Feel SO awkward when people are so generous and nice towards me - just dont know what to do about it and feel as though 'scales' are imbalanced! . . . back home Sally had been good (apart from again grabbing a ball point pen from the coffee table - silly me) and seemed to have spent her time chewing her bone in the conservatory - AWFUL smell and mess! That bone has to go outside! . . . fell asleep for another hour or two! . . . BB had joked I could use my angle grinder to cut up the bone - no joke - excellent idea. Cut the bone in three with the angle grinder - awful smell and lungs full of bone dust but sure gave that bone a new lease of life - Sally went crazy over the marrow and had a great time out on the patio . . .walked. MUST find some other type of lead for her - the slip chain is chewing up her fur on the right hand side!!! . . . PCd/TVd. Time has changed since getting the dog - had to check my watch to see what day it was! Not enough hours in the day!? . . . more sitting on the patio in the cold night watching the dog gnaw her bones. Opened the front door to pop something in the bin and saw a fox only feet away!! Haven't seen one of those for ages - sure looked thin and scrawny poor thing. Maybe I could put the left over dog food I am throwing away each day somewhere in the front garden for it - or maybe the lane? Luckily Sally didn't spot it and I managed to quickly close the door before there was trouble but she sure smelled something was up and sat for ages looking at the door. Late evening she seemed to lighten up and actually half heartedly played with a couple of her toys a little although mostly the one with food in - good to see her play. To bed around 1am. (6/10)pes
2 - Up early again with Sally gently woofing, guard dog like, as some neighbour put their bin out . . . walked without the chain with the lead on her collar and found a tennis ball in the grass. Sally played ball a bit and almost brought it back to me a couple of times after I'd thrown it. Excellent . . . web site ISP was down so couldn't do any updating . . .Got the bike out and went shopping. Popped down 'Jollyes' pet supply store in Longwell Green and bought a new soft rope collar and lead which 'may' be easier on Sally's fur. Saw a van that had crashed into a bill board on the way. DAMN - new I should ALWAYS take my camera out with me! Rushed up Kingswood and bought dog food and rushed home. Sally had moved her bone into the front room in my abscence and thankfully hadn't eaten anything else. Grabbed the camera and Sally on her new lead and walked down to Hanham to try and get the picture. Too late - the van had been moved. A missed golden photo opportunity. The smashed up van was from a florist and had big writing down the side saying "Flowers for every occasion". lololol Oh well. . . carried on walking and took Sally down to the river park at Conham - she discovered the river Avon and seemed to have a good time. LONG, long walk - tired her out and earnt me a blister, not because of my second hand shoes but because I've not walked much recently. Took lots of photos and put yet more on Sallys page. . .very cold! Fired up the central heating for the first time this year - still works thank goodness . . .walked more/TVd/PCd. Poor old Sally is SOooo tired. To bed around 1am again. (6/10)pes
3 - Up with a bark as the post was delivered around 7am. . . walked the dog in the morning mist/fog . . . ended up falling asleep again after some breakfast . . . woken too soon by Sally sticking her nose into me! . . . pottered in the garden a little but developed a nasty headache that no amount of annadins would shift! Touched base with BB . . . Tried sleeping some more but Sally was having none of it and pawed me and whined till I got up again at which point she lay down and went to sleep!!!!!! Grrr! . . .walked the dog as loads of fireworks went off all over the place not bothering her at all. Been having fireworks going off every night for weeks now!! Rediculous! . . . TVd/PCd/felt a bit iffy and sat in the garden for a while before bed watching Sally noisily chew on her bone. She didn't spot the frog thank goodness. (6/10)paas
4 - Woken by Sally nosing me a little later than of late - or did I manage to go back to sleep the first time? . . . walked. Next door warned me for the dogs sake she was having fireworks later! Uggh! . . . PCd and let Sally sit at the front bedroom window looking out. Seemed to fascinate her for ages . . . touched base with M/D as Sis1 pulled up outside in her NEW car. Very nice. Sally allowed Sis1 a stroke or two but then suddenly unexpectedly turned devil dog when she returned from the bathroom!!! Damn! Sis1 told me about her visit to M/D yesterday and how Dad had seemed - um - well - frankly worringly not himself. Not his old usual self at all!!!! Walking wonky, forgetting to close her car door when he'd got in, losing track of the roads and where they were, etc.!!! Didn't realise it was THAT bad!!! M/D haven't told Sis2 what is going on!! That seemed unfair to us both, so me and Sis1 called Sis2 and filled her in and suggested why he may have been a bit 'difficult' when they visited - only succeeding in making her all tearful of course! Phone bill this month is gonna be horrendous!!!! Took a couple of pics of Sis1 new car and mailed them to Sis2 . . . fell asleep for a while after food - woken by Sally later. . . walked although not for long because part of the field was being used for a small local firework display! Sally was not disturbed at all. Tried taking pics of the moon and fireworks with the camera but I guess it WAS asking too much - just lots of shots of black. Find it impossible to simply see and enjoy fireworks without thinking about war!!!!! Hopefully the closest I will ever get to knowing the hell it may be in Kabul tonight! One of the 'best' Firework displays I ever saw as a kid which fitted neatly into this feeling (past life deja vue? Ha - ridiculous hocus pocus!) was when the round table in Downend had the territorial army do a mock battle - firing blanks from their SLRs, explosions and all sorts. I wandered about afterwards collecting the brass cartridges from the damp grass . . . pulled back the curtains in both bedrooms for Sally again and let her sit for ages looking out - she really seems to enjoy it. Where are next doors fireworks? - or maybe I got it wrong and she said tomorrow? . . . PCd before bed around midnight - exhausted again! (6/10)p
5 - Woken around 5am by a nose and then at 7am by having a dog on the bed with me!!! Grrrrrr! . . .walked . . . spent a while trying to tidy up and tackling the furry/bone bit covered carpets with the vacuum!! Forgotten what a 'pleasure' that could be!!!! . . . fell asleep for another hour or so . . . walked the dog all the way through Fishponds and down to Vassals Park. Running along off the lead for so far and jumping in and out of the river she got REALLY excited and seemed to enjoy herself more than I have yet seen. Nice to see. LONG walk all the way back tired her out completely which WAS the intention - poor thing is gonna be left alone on bonfire night!!!!!!!!!!!!! . . .cleaned myself up and armed Sally with bones, chewy things, toys, TV on, windows closed and rode the bike to the guitar lesson with explosions and flashes going on all around! Hard to concentrate on guitary stuff cause I wanted to be at home with Sally to make sure she was ok with all the noise. . . back home and greeted like only an excited dog can greet. Everything all ok although looked like the poor dog may have had a caller at the door and an ansaphone message from M/D. Called M/D back - everything ok and their central heating boiler had been repaired so they were back in the land of warm and hot baths. Apparantly Uncle T has a hernia!!!!!? Going in for an operation!!!!! Blimey! . . . VERY tired and not in a PC mood at all so a bite to eat and straight to bed just after eleven. (6/10)p
6 - Woken more than once by a dog nose in my face and finally gave up and got up before seven! . . . walked. All the refuse bins over the field have been burned and destroyed overnight! Idiots! . . . lay down to nap for a moment and Sally walked downstairs to get a drink and - uh oh!!!! What is that crunching noise?!!!!! Oh dear - oh NO!!! - Sally was chewing the cable remote control!!!!!!!! DAMN - and that is technically rented!!!!! Didn't take any more than a lowering of my voice as I picked up the peices to make her terrified - poor woof! Oh well - it still works. Rang the cable company just to see, and it'll cost me 12.50 if I were to get a new one! . . . balanced my accounts . . . shopped on the bike . . . renewed Sallys interest in her chewy bone thing by stuffing cheese into it. She sure loves cheese! Poor dog doesn't seem to understand the difference between her chewy things and stuff like my remote control and was all nervous and ears down every time I looked in to check on what she was chewing . . . walked and Sally chased after a rugby player running up and down the field training! She totally ignored my calls to come back and barked and barked at him in a really threatening way - all the time wagging her tail!!!? Chastised her and 'held her nose' like I do when she does her devil dog growling barking thing - although pretty sure she hasn't a clue why! Rugby guy was a dog lover and very understanding as I apologised . . . TVd. Felt twinges of being a bit more down than of late although nothing to do with Sallys devil dog behaviour today. . . early to bed again without touching the PC. (5/10)ps
7 - Woke a couple of times, saw five o'clock with a bark, and got up around seven again. Sat drinking coffee and a noise made me look outside to see the council removing my old washing machine - so much for the 'guard dog' who didn't hear a thing! Lifted the curtain and let Sally watch the action as they loaded it with difficulty onto their lorry . . .walked . . . spent a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up my brass letterbox and inscribing the letters D O G on it with the drill and a grinding stone - should give the postman advanced warning of any unforseen 'devil dog' behavior. . . Touched base with M/D. Mum had cancelled the doctor appointment and had instead asked for a home visit because Dad was apparantly not even up to walking to the surgery!!!!!? I'm sure they are making light of it but it sounds as though Dad really has deteriorated quite a bit!!! Definitely lost some of his normal cognitive abilities!!!! This will be hard for Dad! They called back later to confirm the doctor had been and Dad was due to start various tests and such at the hospital and surgery tomorrow! Made it clear that despite the dog, if they need me they have only to call and I'll hire a car and go down -with the dog! - I could sleep in the garage with her? Despite the difficulties they will face because of no transport it is maybe good timing that the MOT on Dads car is due tomorrow and that because of his current inability to drive they have cancelled the test appointment - should prevent law-abiding Dad from being tempted to try driving whilst clearly unfit to do so!!! Uncle T goes in for his hernia operation tomorrow! . . . touched base with Sis1 ansaphone and Sis2 just to tell them there was really no news about Dad as yet. Sis2 is understandably having a tough time being 'away' IF things are starting to go in the direction they appear to be. I'm sure I'm not - but I feel -um- kinda ready for 'what will be will be' . . . napped/TVd. The free offer of extra cable TV channels has sadly ended and I'm back down to basic plus a news channel! Concorde resumed scheduled flights to the US today - beautiful aircraft - bizarre news reporting as though they were expecting the thing to burst into flames immediately upon takeoff? As if . . . walked . . . TVd but feel so SO tired!! Maybe I'm turning into a dog - walk - eat - sleep - walk - eat - sleep!!! Not enough hours in the day to do anything else!!! To bed before 10pm!!!!!!!!!!! Woken by the phone ringing but let the ansaphone take it and went back to sleep. Woken by something around 3am but soon back to sleep!(5/10)p
8 - Woken around 6:30am by the phone again!!! Grrrrr. Gave up and got up . . . awful weather as I walked the dog. Wind and rain and VERY cold! Thankfully it cleared up as we walked around the field . . .PCd a little and let the dog look out of the bedroom window. Uh oh - she has figured out if she lies on MY bed she can see out of the window in comfort! Difficult to stick to telling her off when she gets up on it. . . walked the dog up to the shops for more 'sitting amongst the crowds' training. All ok until anyone tries to stroke her and then she turns all growly! Pretty busy up there and Sally started to show the strain of all the bustle and noise so I walked her down to Kingswood Park and let her run about a bit before returning to sit on a bench in the shopping precinct. Three people turned up walking little puppies that were being trained to be guide dogs for the blind - SO well behaved and happy - showed the devil dog up rather!! :o) . . . back home and ansaphone messages from M/D and Sis1. Sis1 popped in to be growled at but I armed her with huge amounts of chocolate button treats and especially cheese and Sally seemed to be quite ok with her although obviously very worried about having a visitor. Phoned M/D and told that they had managed to walk to the hospital and surgery and that all the tests due this morning had been done and everything looked ok but some results and more tests would be some time in the future? Uncle Ts operation had been cancelled due to emergencies taking up the beds and would have to be done maybe even some months in the future!!! That's bad. Sis1 suddenly remembered she owed me some money (I'd forgotten all about that) and gave me a fiver. . . skipped lunch and waited without food until early evening and then walked Sally and stopped off at the kebab shop on the way back. VERY cold - put a thermometer out on the patio for a while just to see and it dropped to just above freezing - that and the strong windchill - VERY cold!!!! . . . TVd . . . M/D called to say their neighbour had confirmed that their surplus old washer/drier that they are giving away is ready and waiting in their garage!! M/D said I should hire a van to collect it and they would pay!!! Logistical difficulties with a dog to consider now. M/D really dont want a dog in their house and seem unkeen on the idea of me sleeping in their garage with her - can't win. Would love to have the time to walk Sally down some of the walks near where M/D live . . . to bed in the early hours. (5/10)pas
9 - Broken sleep and finally woken by the dog around 7am after not enough sleep at all. Said good mornings and ended up with the dog lying on the bed next to me for a while having a cuddle!!!!!!!! Uh oh - started bad habits. . . walked in the frosty morning - brrrrrr. Walking past the shops on the opposite side of the street and some schoolgirls on the other side called out! Ignored them until I realised they WERE calling out to me!!! One crossed over the road and asked me if I would go in and buy her some cigarettes (because she was underage!)!!!!!! Bloody hell - kids these days - outrageous! I was so taken aback I clumsily refused and missed the chance of some 'preaching' about lung cancer and such . . . got this months phone bill - bloody hell - 80 for one month!!!! Bloody hell!!!!!! How can a schizoid/avoidant have such a high phone bill? Maybe I'm cured?! :o) . . . .popped down with the dog to the 'Speedway' van hire place in Fishponds and asked about prices. 47 for one day!!! That seems like quiet a bit considering at least 20 petrol on top to reach M/Ds place and back!! Hmm. . . kept walking and went down Snuff Mills and along the river through the old Oldbury Court estate and out through Vassals Park at Fishponds again before the long trudge back. Sally got all excited again and played about in the river and bounced all over the place. Wish I lived closer - to be able to walk that walk every day must be heaven. . . back home my right knee started playing up suffering from the miles. When I am older - I AM gonna have mobility problems - no doubt about it! Slept for a couple of hours. . . walked and stopped off for jumbo sausage and chips at the chip shop. Sally maybe because she was so tired was really a lot better on the lead - not soon enough - all her fur around her neck is suffering from all the pulling and walking despite the new lead! . . . touched base with M/D and explained that hiring a van JUST to collect the old second hand washing machine seemed unrealistic at the moment - especially with Christmas coming up etc - and who knows - maybe I will consider trying to buy a cheap vehicle in the future now that the bike is pretty useless for me and a dog? ?? Agreed that they should store the machine in their garage if possible - and if it was all too much hassle to just say thank you but no thanks. . . PS popped round for growls and chats till early although arming him with a tupperware of cheese calmed Sally down quite a bit. Think I will keep a tupperware full for 'visitors'. Should help over time if Sally learns visitors = happy cheesey experience. . . PCd till early.(5/10)ps
10 - Up later around 8:30 although only about five hours sleep or so! . . . walked. Some guy got all chatty and recomended I go get some homeopathic 'ignacious'? for sally - to make her less nervous?! . . . just getting ready to walk out shopping and LB popped down with some bones. Excellent timing. Let her give nervous growling Sally a bone. . . left the dog with the bone and the TV on and walked up the shops. Weird how well she has trained me - at road crossings I was almost stopping and calling out Sally-Stop / Sally-Sit!! . . . back from shopping the bone was almost all gone already. Overcome with lack of sleep and laid down for a couple of hours . . . spotted a new to the neighbourhood kitten exploring along my fence and checking out the bird food!!! Grrr! Called Sally up and got her to look out of the window - then sneaked downstairs with her and rushed out into the garden - hunting in packs!! Of course the cat was quite safe and had already disappeared from sight - so Sally rushed back upstairs to gain her elevated vantage point and stared and stared until the cat went. Intelligent dog. Encouraging her bad cat chasing habits - which at all other times I have been discouraging! She must be so confused by my strange behavior. . . PCd and left the back door open and let Sally have free reign in the garden if she chose. Sneaked down and out the front to empty a bin while she was relaxing in the garden. She heard the door open and came running out all devil dog barking - at ME!!! :o) Sure her eyesight is faulty - and she sure seemed to look as though she felt stupid when she realised the dark figure in the open doorway was me. . . TVd but absolute rubbish on all the few channels I have left! Ended up listening to the radio!!!! Popped up LBs and borrowed her Guns and Roses CD and sat for a while listening to music from the past - first time in ages - poor neighbours. Felt strangely happy and content and aware of how lucky I am with my lot - even if it wasn't what I may have imagined in my youth - or even when I first heard those Guns and Roses tracks . . . got an e-mail from someone asking if the Mindlab machine is still for sale!!! It is but - oh dear - how to do business without cash on delivery!! Worth too much to risk sending without prior payment. Hmmm? . . . bed around midnight. (6/10)pas
11 - Up around seven . . . walked. Wow - she is getting noticeably better on her lead. Ran around all puppy like chasing and being chased by some old black lab - Sally that is - not me! Couldn't resist having a go on one of the kiddies swings and ended up finding 1.20 in silver change dropped all around!! How bad can life be when you get paid to walk and swing! . . . watched the cenotaph parade and two minutes silence at eleven o'clock on TV . . . took Sally and got the bus down to St George park to see how she would react on the bus. Nervousish but not too bad at all - which was more than could be said for her behavior in the park!!! At least three serious devil dog acts towards poor innocent terrified people - all of whom were shouted at to keep still!!!! Ooops! MUST find a way to stop her doing it - and for me to stop shouting at people!! Got the bus back again without any problems and a (unknowingly brave/foolish?) passenger even succeeded in stroking her. . . fell asleep for a while . . . LB popped down with her man for a brief visit and to donate a roast lamb and all the trimmings meal for both me and Sally. Walked and Sally did another devil dog act but pretty understandable under the circumstances - why was that guy lying on the wet grass in the dark on his own?! Some weird implausable excuse about making a mobile phone call???? . . . ate LBs food. Sally doesn't like sprouts - she sorted them all out of her bowl and placed them in a heap on the carpet!! Can't blame her - not keen on sprouts myself - and probably not the most sociable diet for a dog!! Poooeee . . . TVd/PCd.(6/10)p
12 - Walked . . . PCd and balanced my accounts. Wanting to find out why I had to pay customs duty on the gift from DS I called Parcelforce because I couldn't get through on the constantly engaged Customs number - they said they would get them to call me back - bet they don't . . . Sis1 called and gave me her mans mobile number for if I need to get in touch while she is away for a few days in Barcelona. She called me back after having spoken to M/D and said it looked as though Dad was worse - Mum had called the doctor to come and see him again, but they didn't want me to know and worry!!!!!!! Grrrr. Worry, worry!!!! . . . mailed the guy who wanted to buy my Mindlab machine who turned out to live in Bristol, and gave him my address and phone number. He called me just after lunch and then popped over and bought it. Excellent - although just before he came I made sure it was all still working and it really seemed quite good!!! Why the hell did I want to get rid of it - and for a 200 loss?!!! Oh well - should pay for part of last months phone bill!! One less thing. . .news flash on the news just as I was phoning M/D saying another plane had crashed in New York!!! Oh jeeze. Mum admitted things were worse (Dad had fallen out of bed last night and had trouble getting back in!!) and said Dad was in bed awaiting the doctor - just then her doorbell rang so I said goodbye expecting a call back after he had gone. No call back!? Tried calling Mum over and over but no reply!!!!! And also no reply on their mobile!!!!! I guess that can mean only one thing. Sheeeeeit!!! Rang the train company just to enquire and found out I can amazingly get a train down to Torquay WITH a dog for only about 25+ return. Pretty wound up waiting for Mum to get in touch and tell me what the hell has happened - very wound up in fact, although there is of course nothing to be done. VERY tempted to go - but SO difficult now with the dog!!!!!!!!!!! Timing as usual! . . .Tried getting the hospital phone number from directory enquiries but to no avail. Thought maybe Uncle T would have the number and should be told about what was going on so called him - he already knew cause he'd called Mum just as she was leaving with Dad in the ambulance! Thankfully he gave me the number of the hospital and I managed to get hold of Mum and - um - just touch base really. Called Uncle T back and told him things were 'ok' and he made the offer that I could go and stay in their cottage with the dog if necessary - very generous - not sure how much of the cottage wouldn't be chewed up by Sally if I did!!!! SUCH a shame that Mum wont entertain having the dog in her house! I knew the dog would be a loss of freedom but didn't realise it would impact in such a way so soon!! If not for her I'd be down with M/D already! Tried calling Sis2 several times to keep her informed but no ansaphone on!! No need to spoil Sis1 holiday - yet?! Guitar lesson tonight - to hell with that. Walked the dog but not very far. BB called to touch base. Eventually Mum was home and called to say Dad was in good hands and all was okish for the time being. I jokingly enquired if he had a bed with sides so he couldn't fall out but Mum said no, although she HAD told the staff he'd fallen out of bed last night. Incredibly as we talked the hospital was trying to call her and had to leave an ansaphone message!!! Took a while for Mum to figure out how to retrieve the message - that is one of Dads jobs. Strange how they are SO reliant on each other and each performs certain tasks that the other has no knowledge of - although Dad being Dad, over the last few days he HAS been trying to teach Mum all the things she needs to know how to do in his absence - she succeeded in using the mobile phone on her own to get a taxi back from the hospital - quite an achievement. :o) The hospital message was that everything was ok but Dad had managed to fall out of bed!!!!!! For goodness sake! . . . TVd watching the news all night and feeling trapped and like I should be elsewhere. Early to bed. . . woken around 1am by an ansaphone message!!! Got up worrying - thankfully it was only Sis2, panicing because she'd had a dozen attempted phone calls but her ansaphone wasn't working and she was imagining the worst. Called her back and told her what I knew through her tears. I have a sense of knowing how tough it is being 'away' at such times given I am stuck here because of the dog! . . .PCd till earlier. (6/10)ps
13 - Walked . . . touched base with Mum a couple of times. Dad is apparantly ok and destined for more scans and tests today . . . played with the dog and sat around doing nothing wasting time until my 2:20 appointment at the Milne Clinic . . . Rode the bike down and got there a bit early. Sat in the waiting room and found I was the only one there so sat eyes closed and tried to meditate for about fifteen minutes - felt nice. Eventually called in to see the doctor and he confirmed that it wasn't anything transmissible and that it WAS 'just' a sebaceous cyst! Something of a relief to hear that I guess although it could require surgery, and frankly - that is not the sort of place any guy wants surgery!!!!!!!!! Whatever - I just want it gone!! Doctor poked and prodded with a sharp thing then decided to see if freezing it would have any beneficial effect, so he squirted it with cold stuff and told me to go back in three weeks! Hmmm - isn't it right that frostbite makes the skin go black and then drop off? Guess I'll have to wait and see if 'that' part of me drops off now!!!! One less thing? :o) . . . fell asleep for a couple of hours despite 'that' part of me bloody hurting!! . . . walked . . . touched base with Mum who'd succeeded in getting herself to visit Dad on the bus. Long trips each way! More talk about me going down but Mum was - well - Mum!! She didn't want a dog in her house (her safe place, nice and clean with everything just so.) - she wouldn't hear of me staying in their garage with the dog cause she wouldn't be able to sit there knowing I was out in the cold - she wasn't keen on the idea of me staying at Uncle Ts cottage because that looked bad that she didn't want the dog ruining her house but was allowing it to ruin someone else's! Catch 22. Can't win. Very annoying but I think I understand her and know she can only take so much disruption to her life at any one time - best to keep her happy. I am going to sit tight at home until there is more reason to panic - Sis1 will be home on Friday. Uncle T called again being very nice and reiterating that the cottage was available whenever I wanted it and they would help as much as they could - I tried to explain Mum stuff but who would understand . . . TVd. . . BB called to touch base . . . couldn't bring myself to PC and answer some e-mails that require answering. Feel like I am contracting somewhat - like I do. (6/10)ps
14 - Walked . . .Mum called to touch base and say Dad'd had a comfortable night. She confirmed that the MOT on their car wasn't up till next week and that she and Dad both wanted me to make use of it for the time being - aha - that may change things. She sounded 'under pressure' - poor Mum - and probably not helped by me suddenly starting to say 'love you' when we end our phone conversations!! She called me back and said she was going to get a lift with Uncle T this afternoon and all of them would visit Dad - good. I feel pretty bad not being there but know Dad WILL understand - I AM my fathers son . . . sat around with a headache. Fell asleep. Walked the dog up the shops for more socialising . . . Mum called after visiting Dad - things aren't good at all!!! Ummd and ahhd . . . called DH to ask how much a taxi would cost down to M/Ds. At LEAST 100!!!! Thought a bit and then got my priorities straight and called D/SH back and asked if they could do it ASAP. Rushed around like a crazy guy packing and trying to think of everything I would need for a while, which with the dog to think of seemed to be huge amounts of everything! Popped next door and asked the neighbour to keep a loose eye on the place. Sis1 called from Barcelona (what timing!) and I felt obliged to tell her what was going on and ruin her holiday. . . SH arrived around 6:30pm. Filled the trunk with all my luggage and covered the back seat with Sally's sleeping bag - brought the dog out and immediately she went all devil dog with SH! Sally did NOT want to get in the taxi so I had to climb in and physically drag her in behind me by the scruff of her neck - she was obviously quite nervous and leaned against me all the way and hardly moved at all for two and a half hours! Arrived around nine and quickly unloaded my luggage after forcing poor mum to hang on to growling Sally's lead. Paid SH 100 by cheque - not enough for such a trip! I owe him much - he understood me embarrassingly NOT inviting him in for coffee. Set the feed and water bowls up in the cramped unusually untidy garage, to spare Mum the trauma of having the inevitable mess in the house. She got annoyed that I had put the garden furniture outside because Dad had cleaned it and put it away for the winter!! Took Sally for her evening walk all the way down to the 'Battery Gardens' the closest green open space (three quarters of an hour round trip at a very brisk pace), as Mum tried to dog proof the spare bedroom. Fed and watered Sally in the garage and left her there while I had some beans on toast made by mum - went down very nicely being SO hungry having skipped lunch! Eventually let Sally into the bedroom that had been covered with old sheets and 'barricades' to keep her away from the carpet, the rugs, the furniture and the piano! All sat in there with a coffee and making sure Mum made friends with Sally with the help of quantities of chocolate fingers. Touched base with Sis1 on her mans 'roaming' mobile. (!!!!) Left messages about the situation on Sis2 ansaphone. Eventually to bed feeling absolutely exhausted but unable to sleep as (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) Sis2 called in quite a state around 1:30am saying she was gonna try and fly home! Sleep at last!(6/10)p
15 - Woke after only about four hours sleep with a hell of a bad neck/headache! Walked the dog - very cold but beautiful views over the sea across Torbay. Tied the wet muddy dog up in the garden and joined Mum who phoned the hospital to hear Dad'd had a 'comfortable' night and that it was ok to visit later so long as they didn't call back to say he had been moved. Quick bite of breakfast and remotely checked my ansaphone - 7 messages!!!!? Most from Uncle TJ who had kindly called offering any assistance he could give but then tripped over his tongue and said something he of course didn't mean. Poor old Uncle T obviously upset - called back several times trying to straighten it out. lolol Moved Dad's car out of the garage. What a mess!? SO unlike Dad - and broken glass from a smashed jam jar laying around too!!? He MUST have been unwell!!! Moved stuff around, swept up and tried to make some more space. Covered the back of the car with Sally's sleeping bag and then drove her around the block just to see how she would react. All ok - she just lay down and snoozed. Excellent. . . some time to waste so took Sally and M/Ds mobile phone and walked down through Battery Gardens again and along the waters edge, around the harbour. Found a dogs throwing toy washed up amongst the flotsam on a slipway. Knocked at Uncle T/BJ cottage on the off chance they may be there. Uncle TJ was and invited us in for coffee and biscuits and a chat - he called BJ on the mobile and told her I had popped in with Sally. Smoothed out the ansaphone business - quite funny really. Made a joke that his slip of the tongue was just like something my mother had said the day before at the hospital. Because of Uncle Ts registered blindness he has a disabled sticker that enabled them to get a free parking place in the crowded hospital car park when they visited dad. Mum had said how 'lucky' they were to have it!! :o) BJ arrived bearing gifts of pigs ears and biscuit treats for Sally which were of course much appreciated. . . walked back 'home' and eventually drove Mum with Sally in the back, to the hospital. Parking was impossible so we ended up driving some distance away down a narrow side road before finding a space. Mum walked off to visit Dad and I waited with Sally, in or out of the car as cigarette smoking dictated. SO VERY tired! Mum returned looking happier that Dad was better than yesterday and said Uncle T/BJ were up there and gave me directions to the ward. Quite a walk. Auntie BJ saw me in the car park and called out and escorted me in - met Uncle TJ chatting to someone outside the main entrance - only up one flight of stairs - never mind Mums directions about getting the agonisingly slow lift! Uncle TJ seemed insistent I talk to the nurse BEFORE I saw Dad but that wasn't possible. Very Uncle TJ - keen to 'do the right thing' - to hand over such duties to the 'next of kin' - felt like a heavy responsibility that WAS my role! Dad looked real rough - shocking - god knows what he would have looked like yesterday if this was an improvement!!! The left side of his face and his left eye was puffy and unmoving and he had some difficulty speaking. Bid Uncle T/BJ who had to leave, goodbye. Tried to chat - tried to find out what he knew about his condition and it seemed he didn't know enough! I am my fathers son - made sure he wanted to know whatever there was to know and of course he did want ALL of the truth. Saw the S.H.O. who took me into a room armed with Dad's medical file and explained the situation. He responded well to my brutal directness and answered ALL my silly questions. As I grasped it - Dad had an egg size tumour on the right side of his brain. Swelling was causing pressure in his brain that was causing the presenting symptoms. Dad was on Dexamethasone steroids to reduce the swelling - in the short term this would improve his condition and comfort hence the improvement from the previous day but this was NOT affecting the underlying cause. Neurosurgeons at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth had been given his MRI scans to decide the way forward and this may take a couple of days. Radiotherapy was NOT a long term solution. IF surgery WAS possible it would likely be performed quickly once the decision had been taken. Prognosis after surgery was possible mobility and speech loss. Indicated with my manner and questions that I wanted to know the TRUTH without backing the SHO into a corner. Referring to averages and the size of Dad's tumour he answered "It's big." in such a way I knew it was life threatening serious. I felt very thankful to this man. . . Returned to Dad's bedside and explained as best I could. He seemed to understand - he took the news like Dad would. He said he wasn't scared - said 'what will be will be' - said he'd had a good run. Talked some more small talk Eventually tore myself away and headed back towards the car. Lost it on the way back and had to sit for a while having cigarettes and crying before composing myself and returning to Mum and Sally in the car. Mum was complaining about 'a smell' and was sat all frozen with all the windows open! She wanted to go home but I'd said to Dad she'd be back up so I drove up to the car park and waited in the car while she went in. Eventually drove home via the chip shop. Very hungry and ate a load and Mum even managed to eat a little too, but so much left that with a little arguing with Mum, I persuaded her it would do as my lunch tomorrow. Walked the dog - SO dark! - and Sally took ages to go like she has learned that we don't go home until she has done her thing and if she crosses her legs she can extend the walk!! . . . back home I felt as though I had taken Dad's role in (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)!!! Made me really fucking angry! Seemed SO selfish - like I am finding all this easy?!!! Went to bed with Sally early around 10pm just to get away from (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-). Dunno how but managed to sleep through a phone call from a friend of Sis2, who told us she was on her way flying home. (_/10)p
16 - Up in the morning to more (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-). Got angry again and sharply announced I was walking the dog as I 'firmly' closed the door. Walked Sally down to the waves at Fishcombe cove - she didn't like the waves -scaredy dog. Back home Mum didn't so much apologise as say she was having a hard time with everything - which went a long way to calming me down. Popped up the post office and bought another (left one at home) birthday card for JB with Sally tied up outside doing her devil dog barking act. Got Dad's paperwork about the car and rang the number on the 'service due' reminder letter and card that he'd received and made a booking, the earliest possible being the day the MOT runs out on the 22nd. Made it clear the clutch was going and that a courtesy car was essential. Rang the hospital - Dad was ok. Mum spent the morning washing the sheets off her bed (despite having a clean spare set in the cupboard!!) so that Sis2 could share HER bed!!!!?? No way - vacated the spare bedroom and sneaked all my stuff out into the garage! Uncle TJ called to check on things and confirmed that with me now taking on the 'primary role' he wasn't gonna keep on bothering the hospital with phone calls. Played with Sally until visiting time. Sis2s friend rang from the US to enquire if she was ok. Sis2 rang to confirm she was in the country and getting the coach down and should arrive around 4pm and would call us on the mobile when she was in Paignton so we could go pick her up. Driving to the hospital the mobile rang but Mum panicked and was unable to pick up the call and had to turn the phone off to reset it! Busy trying to drive and not knowing how to use the phone myself I also tried to sort out what function she had called up. In desperation I eventually dangerously pulled over onto the shoulder of the dual carriageway with an angry guy in a white van behind flashing his lights! Uncle TJ was calling - the hospital had called him in Mum's absence at home to say that Dad was 'being moved to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth this afternoon for an operation'!!! Good news? If we hurry we could see him before he goes. Rushed on - found a quicker way to the hospital - dropped Mum at the door - found a parking place and joined her inside. Dad was improved from yesterday! Chatted and then saw him moved out into an ambulance and away to Derriford. Rushed home and waited for Sis2 to call to say she had arrived. Uncle TJ called and said they were shopping near the bus station and they could pick Sis2 up for us when she arrived. Mum agreed reluctantly. Uncle TJ rang back saying the bus due in at 4:10pm was going to be late. They waited in the cold until after 5pm at which point we thought it best that we take over. Drove to Paignton and waited in the cold bus station for over an hour more before the coach eventually arrived VERY late!
Much arguing about sleeping arrangements but had my way in the end and slept in the garage in my sleeping bag with Sally laying next to me. Real nice to have an 'escape' where I could be alone, not have to worry about dirty feet or dog dribble, and have a smoke whenever I wanted, etc.(_/10)
17 - Not a bad sleep and up around 7am. Walked the dog all out along the breakwater and back because it was a bit stormy and big waves were breaking over - Sally didn't like the waves at all! Back home Mum/Sis2 had called the hospital and Dad was apparently 'confused'!! Bathed, skipped breakfast, checked the road map and eventually set off on the one hour drive to Plymouth, leaving Sally behind locked in the garage. Some hairy manoeuvres and frantic lane changing with a slipping clutch but eventually found the hospital ok - dropped Mum/Sis2 at the entrance and then drove around the car park and luckily found a space nearby - 1.60 for 4 hours parking! Dad seemed improved on yesterday but still not 'all' there! Sis2 seemed 'strong' considering. Dad had lunch and joked about chatting up the nurses and doctor and how they took his temperature via his ear! "Scared to move in case of what they may try sticking in somewhere next!". He couldn't sort out the days or hardly tell the time on a big wall clock but he was still very much Dad, giving instructions on his paperwork and bank accounts at home and where the radiator bleed valve key was located in the garage. He was spot on! A little friction with a strange nurse with an attitude and then all thrown out between 1pm and 2:30pm for patients 'quiet time'. Sat in the coffee shop and whiled away the time eating and drinking coffee and popping outside for cigarettes. Back up to be with Dad after 2:30pm but only two visitors supposed to be with each patient so I sneaked out for more cigarettes. Not possible to talk to the consultants today but a ward sister suggested more tests would be done Tuesday and a biopsy on Wednesday! Ran out of parking time so said I luv yous and goodbyes to Dad and waited for Mum and Sis2 in the car. Sussed out and bought a 7 day parking ticket at a concessionary price. About an hour later Mum and Sis2 arrived and off we went on the return trip via Mum's local Safeway for some provisions and to fill up with petrol. MUCH arguing with Mum about money but I paid on the credit card since it seemed easier to me to worry about such things later. Mum didn't agree and henceforth insisted on paying for almost everything as and when it was required, with cash drawn out of her account at the post office almost every day!! Eventually back home to a frantic dog! Walked Sally and thankfully the cloud had made things much warmer and brighter in the dark. Grabbed a sandwhich and then touched base with JB and wished her happy birthday. Sis1 called to say she was back in the country and would be down - asked her to pop in my house with her spare key and pick up any mail - and my guitar for me! Fell asleep and then woken by barking Sally as Sis1 arrived outside all ok. Unloaded everything and eventually to bed around 2am. Sis1 slept on the sofa in the living room.(_/10)p
18 - Up before 7am. Walked Sally through 'dog pooh lane' down through the woods to the cove and back - beautiful! Uncle T called - Mum called the hospital and confirmed Dad was ok. Uncle T/BJ will visit him tomorrow. All agreed that Mum would have today at home to catch up on her 'chores'? Drove to the hospital and spent the whole day there. Canteen lunch of roast turkey. Dad was much improved. Asked the nurse and managed to get hold of their chordless phone and Dad phoned Mum at home - very amusing to see them slip into 'business as usual' talking about finances and washing machines and chores and such! Very late getting home to find the vacuum cleaner outside on the doorstep? Apparantly it had started making an awful smell as the motor burned out!! 'Everything seems to be going wrong!!'I was VERY annoyed to have had to leave Sally alone for SO long - she went crazy when I returned. Walked and then sat in the garage playing guitar before sleep.(_/10)ps
19 - Walked sally through the woods accompanied by Sis1 - Sis1 got a blister! Sis1 returned home to attend a hospital appointment of her own - the rest of us WITH Sally drove in to see Dad early. UncleT/BJ arrived to visit. Canteen dinner of roast beef - plenty of breaks out to check Sally was ok in the car. Eventually headed back home but what terrible traffic! Rush hour and an accident somewhere meant we were sat there hardly moving for ages! On the way home checked out the route to the car MOT place to make sure I knew where I'd be going - straightforward enough. Home REAL late! Walked Sally but so, SO tired! Ate and felt better for it. Sis1 called suggesting that her son and daughter wanted to visit their grandfather (like a 'normal' family) and spoke to Sis2 but Sis2 thought now was an inappropriate time for such a visit! I asked Mum in a roundabout way "if 'extended family such as . . . . may wish to visit?" She was adamant - "NO!!!!" Spoke to Sis1 on the phone and tried to explain but of course that upset Sis1. Sis2 threw a wobbly. Sis1s upset, upset me!! Jeeze what a family - touched base with BB.(_/10)p
20 - Cold, cold, icy morning with people scraping ice off their cars! Walked down through the woods after Sally barked me awake. Down in the cove the sea was a flat calm and sally went for a paddle and 'almost' swam - but not quite. Back home I dabbled with some of Dads accounts as he had continually instructed me to - everything is in the infamous 'pink folder'! Balanced M/Ds current account but discovered a 2 error in Dad's accounting - unlike Dad - more evidence of his decline!!!!!! Uncle T/BJ called to confirm they were at the hospital, visiting Dad. Got on the road and made good speed doing 85-90mph all the way pretty much in silence - Mum snoozed. Arrived at the hospital and Dad was being MRI scanned and Uncle T/BJ were waiting in the corridor for his return. Mum and Sis2 joined in waiting in the corridor - I went for a braised steak and chips dinner in the restaurant and then during 'patients time out' sat outside under 'my' tree with Sally smoking and watching that strange emotionally charged hospital world go by. Eventually joined Sis2/Mum/Uncle T/BJ in the coffee bar for chats before back up to see Dad. Dad told us Doctor Z. was anxious to see us all!!! We waited for over an hour by Dad's bed. Some chatting to C. the young guy in the bed next to dad - no hair, HUGE scar over the top of his head from ear to ear following removal of a huge pituitary tumour but he seemed amazingly optimistic and was on his way back to Torbay hospital for further 'recovery'? Really??!!!! Oh dear - I had doubts!!! Bid him good luck and goodbye. Eventually gave up waiting and went and asked at the nurses station about seeing Dr Z. Was told to assemble the family in the counselling room. Met Dr Z. and told on a scale of 1 benign to 4 malignant that Dad's was "on the high side"!!!! Serious shit!!! Asked for and was allowed to see the scans of Dads tumour - jeeze - that looks like a VERY large part of his brain and deep amongst it rather than sat on the outside!!!!!! Mum insisted in looking on the bright side - I think not! Went to the car for a cigarette break in very sombre mood. More visiting and coffees in the coffee bar and all stayed until 7:30pm. Just leaving and to our surprise found all the fire doors had been closed and it was quite difficult to find our way out to the entrance? Apparently a fire alarm had gone off!!!!! Seemed obvious to me to just get outside however Mum and Sis2 stayed inside amongst a big crowd of people!!!!!?? Ridiculous!!! What were they gonna do? Rush upstairs and save Dad from a fire by wheeling his bed out somewhere? Crazy people!!! Eventually persuaded them it was probably a false alarm because only one fire engine showed up and we set off for home. Difficulty explaining why I thought their behaviour was so bizarre in the face of a possible fire!!! Some amusement and laughing on the way home imagining how maybe Dad would have been a hero and put out any fire by using his precious 'urine' bottles!! Back home Sis1 arrived. I walked Sally and couldn't resist stopping off at the pub on the way back. Calling Uncle T/BJ the other day when they were in somewhere near the harbour having a half of lager had inspired me to sometime do the same. Left Sally outside and some guy purporting to be some sort of GSD expert insisted on going outside to make friends with her- I recommended he didn't but he did anyway. SO funny to watch through the window as he approached and she went devil dog and kept him at bay!! VERY friendly atmosphere in that pub - SO unlike at home - even given a dog biscuit for Sally by the barmaid! Sat outside in the cold sipping lager and watching the stars. Eventually back home - conversations with Sis2 (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)! Seemed like we are very much strangers to each other after all her time away. Retreated to the garage and bed.(_/10)p
21 - Up a little later than of late. Walked Sally down through Battery Gardens. Everything seemed to be a terrible rush - a quick bath, a quick breakfast a rush to load the car and then on the road. Stopped for petrol and couldn't resist the offer of some skiing gloves for a couple of pounds with the amount of petrol I'd bought - crazy really - no intention of ever going skiing! Within the hour we pulled into the hospital car parks but SO crowded!! Eventually found a space but a LONG walk from the entrance. Sorted the dog out and left her in the car and eventually joined everyone inside. Dad was in a pretty bad way in terms of his spirits. He'd had a long night to worry and had not slept well and had been very cold. Painful to see him in such a state lying in a foetal position on his bed! He was clearly worried not so much of death but that he would end up like the guy in the adjacent bed - drip fed, unable to communicate and constantly uncontrollably shaking! Uncomfortable atmosphere of tension with Sis2. All took turns at Dad's bedside before he was wheeled away for his pre-op thankfully early at around 12:30. Emotional difficult time. All went to grab a bite to eat and sat around drinking coffee in the coffee shop whiling away the time. Took time out to move the car to a closer parking spot and sat for a while with Sally under 'my' tree facing the hospital entrance. Lost it a bit and ended up in tears so retreated to sit in the car until the waves of emotion subsided! Some strangely selfish thoughts about how my life was being forced into change. Returned to the ward and reluctant to be a nuisance asked what time we should be asking of the outcome of the operation - surprised to find young Dr R behind the desk - obviously NOT in on this operation. He rang the operating theatre and told me there was about twenty minutes more surgery and then a period of recovery so we should ask again around 5pm. More waiting, coffee and chats. At five we all went back up to Moorgate ward to find to our amazement he had just come back and was in the corner of the high dependency unit AWAKE! As we watched he was holding his arms up and nurses were tending to intravenous lines and monitoring equipment, etc. We were allowed to go in and immediately he saw mum at the end of his bed he held out his arms and joyously called "It's my wife!" Tubes were coming out of everywhere, he had on an oxygen mask, his head was bandaged like a turban with a flowing clear plastic drain leading off blood into a large bottle, but he seemed as high as a kite! Totally unexpected by us all!! He seemed SO happy to be alive and didn't stop talking and praising the treatment he had received by all the staff. Even the mobility of his left arm seemed dramatically improved. Amazing!!! The surgeons popped in a little later to see the results of their work and to be thanked by the patient! What extraordinary people they are. Some embarrassment and awkward feelings that Dad was SO full of life immediately after such surgery when others in the room were obviously in a very bad way and were largely unconscious! Just amazing. Our moods were all lifted by his remarkable 'recovery' and we left a little early to give him a chance to rest. Stopped for chips on the way home all rather relieved. Ate and then walked Sally and met Sis1 at the pub for a drink on the way back. To bed but difficulty sleeping - this is only the first step. (_/10)p
22 - Woke at 5am!! Snoozed and then woken by the dog barking as Mum rattled the door handle as asked.Walked - emptied the car and set off for the MOT. Arrived at the Ford place around 08:10am but no sign of any such appointment?!!!! The receptionist rang Exeter and confirmed they were all ready for me at Exeter!!!! Got directions from some driver/mechanic and set off on the long drive in the rush hour traffic towards Exeter - beautiful rainbow in the sky ahead of me. LOTS of traffic but eventually found the place exactly as per the complicated instructions I'd been given - that driver knew what he was talking about. Did the business and was soon driving away in a newish Fiesta courtesy car - gassed up and headed back at speed! Touched base with Uncle TJ to wish him luck but he was sat by the phone and had yet to hear whether or not his operation was today!? Very unsettling! Arrived back home ok and cleared the car and got it ready with sally in the back and soon set off for the hospital. Arrived around midday - dropped the ladies off near the entrance and then had trouble finding a parking space. Found one but right next to a car that had a dog in the back!! No way was I gonna park Sally next to that - there would have been mayhem! Managed to catch someone's attention as they were about to park in another space some distance away and managed to swap with them. Settled Sally with water etc. and went in to join the rest. Dad was STILL all happy and 'buzzing' - the steroids maybe? He was all unplugged except for the head drain, the bandages were off and he was sat up in a chair!!!!! Amazing. Usual taking in turns as Dad ate and then left him and all went up to the canteen for some lunch. Slipped out to the car to walk sally and SO tired ended up falling asleep for a while in the car VERY cold and uncomfortable! Woke and went back in and Dad had been moved back to a 'normal' ward and was apparently soon to have his drain removed. Touched base with Auntie BJ and told that Uncle TJ was either still in surgery or recovery! Chatted a little with the mother of one of the other patients in the TV room - dreadful heartbreaking tales of how he'd had a sudden brain bleed and was real unwell and how she'd given up her job to visit every day etc, etc, etc. Reinforced the feeling that everyone you pass in the corridor of that place had some tale of heartbreak and tragedy to tell!!! All left a little earlier than of late as Dad ploughed greedily into another meal!! Auntie BJ called as we headed home and said that all was ok and that Uncle TJ should be out and allowed home tomorrow. Felt VERY relieved - had imagined the awful scenario where Dad survived a 'major' operation and Uncle TJ succumbed to a 'minor' operation!!! Back home walked Sally. All sat and chatted with Mum a bit reminiscing about 'old times'. Touched base with BB. Remotely checked my ansaphone at home and found a nice message from SA. To bed after 11. (_/10)p
23 - ---/unfinished/---(_/10)p
24 - ---/unfinished/---(_/10)p
25 - ---/unfinished/---(_/10)p
26 - Woken by dog licks as 'usual'. Fought her off. LONG walk down 'Pooh lane', through the woods, down to let Sally paddle and chase thrown pebbles in the cove, and then all the way back around the woods and down the lane - wonderful stuff - I could get used to that. Popped into the kitchen to make coffee and immediately completely out of the blue (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)!" Got EXTREMELY angry - buttoned it and went and sat in the garage with my coffee, fuming and SO tempted to go home! Unwisely Mum came out to ask if I wanted a bath that morning - I lost it and said some things - said I was minded to go home because ever since I had arrived it seemed she had been having a go at me as though nothing I did was right and that this wasn't easy for me either - I was doing the best I could - never mind the 'disruption' to her life, mine was on hold - perhaps she would be happier if I went and she should just call me when Dad had died!!! Ooops! Made her cry! Painful stuff. Sally got a bit upset by us hugging but it had to be done! Mum went in to run the bath and I took time out for a tear or two! Aint supposed to be like this!
27 - Thermometer says 8 degrees Celsius - seems to have warmed up a little with the cloud. 'Short' walk to Battery Gardens and back luckily in between rainstorms. LOTS of blood droplets all over the garage floor from Sallys 'season'!! Quick bite of muesli for breakfast then Uncle TJ called - feeling 'ok' but still some pain and advised not to lift anything - not even a kettle!! Poor old auntie B!!!! Mum called to see how Dad's night had gone and was told all ok but we should go in for a 1:45pm appointment to see the surgeons about the results of the biopsy!!! This is it!!!!!!! Also told he may be able to come straight home today because he is doing so well so it was decided we would go armed with clothes and take both cars. I drove Sis2 and Sally and Mum went with Sis1 in her new car and we arrived at the hospital at around 12:15. Said quick helloos to Dad and watched him wolfing down his lunch yet again. He was in fine form and had been practicing walking with the physiotherapist and had also tackled some stairs and even 'repaired' the loose arm of his chair!!! Left him eating in the ward and all went up to the restaurant for some lunch - more delicious melt in the mouth roast beef and all the trimmings. . . went back into the ward at around 1:35 to confirm the meeting was on and was told to assemble everyone in the 'Relatives Quiet Room'. Directed Mum and Sis1/2 in and then went to get Dad who walked with me more or less unaided down to the room. A short but long wait with M/D sat hand in hand on one sofa and us three kids squeezed uncomfortably onto another, before Dr P, Dr Z and Nurse TS joined us all quiet and business like. Felt serious. Dr P of course took the lead and very quietly and matter of factly went on to describe their findings to Dad. He described in some detail the type of tumour they had found during the surgery and how it grows within the brain. It is a glioblastoma tumour. It is fast growing and aggressive. "It WILL take your life". Dad seemed to accept the news without a second thought and thanked the doctor for being so direct and helpful!! I had questions - I asked Dr P very bluntly - How long?! He confirmed with Dad the patient if it was alright for him to answer and he then said that average life expectancy for such tumours is '180 days without treatment or 280 days with radiotherapy'. He recommended radiotherapy. I asked more questions. Dr P confirmed that without their surgical intervention Dad would now be dead. He also confirmed that it WAS likely that the symptoms that Dad presented with would likely recur in his last days - that IS likely how he would go - how he was a week ago. Once again Dad thanked them all for their saving his life and the Doctors gently exited the room leaving us with Nurse TS who explained the way forward. Radiotherapy IF Dad decided to have it would consist of appointments probably at their 'local' hospital in Torquay, not before Christmas and would be for six weeks, five days a week although once all set up each visit would likely be of short duration. Side effects could be extreme fatigue and tiredness. He confirmed this IS cancer. There was some explanation of the people who would be involved and how they would be in touch but by that stage I'm not sure any of us were really listening too closely - it would all fall into place later. Again Dad was full of praise and thanks for the care he had received and the nurse left us alone. Sis1/2 became somewhat tearful. I kept it together but soon had to leave to go outside for a cigarette - a long, long difficult walk along the crowded corridors avoiding eye contact with passers by, fighting back the tears. . . wheeled Dad around in a wheelchair and went for a coffee in the restaurant and showed him some of the life we'd been living whilst he was in there. Eventually he got the all clear for going home and started getting dressed and ready and saying heartfelt and emotional goodbyes to the patients and staff he had shared his life with these past few difficult days. Back in the quiet room the sister removed his staples with us all sat waiting and watching. She then produced the necessary drugs and instructions and reassured us that any problems should be immediately referred to Dads GP. Dad was FULL of praise for her help and for that of the rest of the staff and almost brought her to tears with his genuine heartfelt thanks and criticism of recent press reports that had given the hospital an unfounded bad reputation. Eventually off down to the entrance lobby to wait for Sis1 to bring her car round from the car park to pick him up. Very unsteady on his feet but soon had Mum in the back and Dad in the front waiting for me and Sis2 with Sally in the back to drive round and lead the way home through the rain in Dad's car. Got wobbly Dad installed safely at home with attendant nurse Mum. He reported that his eyes were going funny and that everything seemed 'small'. Took orders and then drove Sis1 and Sis2 to get fish and chips at the chip shop. Huge portions again and enough left over for some for Sally and more for a dinner tomorrow. Dad phoned Uncle TJ and gave him the news - Dad STILL VERY accepting of it all and saying how lucky he is!!!!!! Not sure he really means it - even if he thinks he does! Is he putting up a front for Mums benefit? Walked the dog accompanied by Sis1 but SO cold and rainy and just not in the mood - a bit of chatting and allowed the dog to do her stuff and then returned straight back without much of a walk. All chatted and then to bed. Something spooked the dog and I had to get up and look outside at some point but nothing there. Very cold. (_/10)p
28 - Woken around 7:30 by Sally's cold wet nose as 'usual'! Thermometer on the shelf next to me said 7 degrees celcius!! Fed then walked Sally down 'pooh lane' and through the woods to the beach for a paddle and some thrown pebble chasing and then back. . . Dad'd had a reasonable night although woke a few times somewhat disorinetated with Mum almost constantly awake afraid he'd fall out of bed again!! . . . Phoned the garage about the misfiring/hunting car problem and arranged the earliest appointment possible of 8:30am on Friday at the service centre in Torbay!!! Damn - decided under the circumstances that I'd give M/D some space and go home later today and make sure everything was ok and return maybe tomorrow night or early Friday. . . Dad spent the morning all franticly sorting out some of his paperwork with Sis1s help! Strange urgency to his actions!! Almost like he is overcompensating - made me worry - although he assured me he WAS REALLY ok and just happy to be sorting stuff out and that he was SO lucky to have things work out the way they have!! . . . Drove Sis2 up to the laundrette and left her there taking care of some of her (and my!!!) washing and drying. All finished within a couple of hours. . .ate the microwaved left over chips and fish from last night for dinner. Drove Mum and Sis2 to Safeway to do some shopping - last time Mum will be able to do that without a car!! . . . bid farewells with everyone to Sis1 and then set about packing lots of my stuff up and loading it all into the car. Coffee, goodbyes and drove back home with Sally asleep in the back of the car behind my bags, the guitar in the front seat! Traffic ok once past the local rush hour and back home around 7pm despite the car running badly around town. Sis1 briefly called on M/Ds mobile to say the traffic was ok - first time I've driven at 85mph while trying to use a mobile phone!!! Bloody dangerous! . . . everything ok at home although Sis1 had left my outside light on when she'd called in to pick up my mail and my guitar!! How long ago?!!! Seems like months!!! . . . called M/D/Sis2 to confirm I was safely happily home . . . walked the dog . . . returned long overdue plates and CDs to LB and told her what was going on . . . touched base with Uncle T/BJ and confirmed there were no objections from M/D to people knowing the truth of what was happening. . .checked in with the PC and read lots of nice visitor book comments and e-mails etc. Got a bit emotional but got a grip - time enough yet for all that. Last e-mail I received looked dodgy and may have infected me with a virus worm!!!!?????? SHIT!! Don't need that right now - although since I am in my own address book wouldn't I know if I had been, by getting further mails from myself? Who knows/cares right now!! . . . in the mood for some company so called PS and said 'tonight?' guess I should have warned him what my topic of conversation would be all about!!! . . . PS popped round for chats till early. . .Sis1 touched base and explained her concerns in our mothers interest over Dads finances and will, after having spoken to her man who is of course an expert on such and who had offered any assistance. Agreed to mention it . . . touched base with BB. (_/10)ps
29 - Woken quite late by Sally . . . walked in the rain . . . rang the Ford workshops and changed the car appointment to a Bristol garage for as early as possible tomorrow. Touched base with M/D/Sis2 and told them I'd sort the car out and have some time at home to assimilate the recent events before returning back down although they should call if they need me of course, no 'burning martyr'. Bluntly expressed the concerns over Dad's arrangements which he was thankful for and seemed willing to discuss . . . touched base with Sis1. . .PCd. VERY , very tired. Fell asleep for a few hours until Sally woke me! . . . BB called to touch base. . . TVd . . . neighbour rang the bell and asked how Dad was. Told her and thanked her for looking out for the house while I was gone - she said she was sorry and they'd be happy to help in any way, which was nice. Feel pretty down and in need of aloneness. Damn. No wonder people are religious - a belief in such agonising pointlessness to life is hard to bear. . .touched base with SA . . . walked/TVd . . .did some thinking - need to do lots more. Lots of stuff to absorb from these last few weeks. Good to be home alone. . . couldn't sleep and ended up eating pasties and watching one of my favourite films 'Same Time Next Year' which happened to be on until 2:30am! (_/10)ps
30 - Up at 6am with the alarms. Walked briefly in the drizzle . . . took Sally and drove the car to the Ford place in Bedminster. Arrived around 7:45 and told they would need it all day but no courtesy cars and not keen on giving me a lift to the 'centre' with the dog so ended up having to walk in the rain! They also wanted the original receipt of works done at Exeter and although I was reluctant to part with my evidence they assured me I would get it back. Luckily the Bristol harbour ferry arrived at a pick up point near the Cumberland Basin just as I got there so I got it into the centre despite having no change and having to hand over a fiver! Think I was charged double but only 1 and the floor of the boat ended up soaking wet and muddy thanks to Sally so I didn't quibble. Nice way to commute. Sally managed to suffer some people stroking her without too much growling as they got off. Short wait and paid the 1.30 and got the bus back and home by 9:15 . . . M/D/Sis2 called to touch base. Dad insists I have their mobile phone and they will buy a new one! He also wanted a short discussion about what simplification changes he was planning to their finances to make Mums life easier in the future - all made sense! . . . fell asleep for a few hours. The Ford place called and told me there was a problem with the fuel injector, a tire was bent and some damage had been done to the drive shaft when the clutch was fitted and that they recommend I take it back to Exeter - and they wouldn't charge me for telling me so!!!! Set off up to the bus stop with sally and suddenly heard a commotion behind me. A woman had pulled up in the middle of the road in her car near the building site and another woman was distressed. Decided to walk back and see if I could be any help - the builder was calling the police and the older woman was VERY distressed and all shaking and tearful. Someone had snatched her handbag and fled in a car!!! She seemed most upset that medication she needed was in the bag. She only lived around the block so I offered to run round and get her husband. Ran with Sally and knocked on the door all dishevelled and breathless - the old guy only opened his door a crack - "There's no need to worry - " I started off but he jumped in all macho and said "I'm not worried!" I told him what had happened and he sure looked worried then! Left him to get his shoes and such on and returned to the scene of the crime. He soon came running down the road to comfort his wife - hope his heart was strong!!! VERY upsetting!!!!! Who knows - the animal that had snatched the bag may have ruined that woman's life by destroying her confidence and making her housebound for the rest of her life and her husband rushing down the road like that may have ended up having a heart attack! Felt VERY upset but nothing I could do so headed off for the bus. Got the bus and the ferry and walked and returned to the Brunel Ford dealer. M/D called briefly on the new mobile Sis2 had gone out and bought for them as I was crossing a park. Sally has a badly upset stomach - must be those smelly bones I left in the freezer!! Nothing had been done to the car except a cursory examination to suggest what the problems 'could' be! "possible injector fault at idle, possible tire out of shape or drive shaft damaged when clutch was done. Car to be rebooked" So-they'd had it all day and actually done nothing and now recommended I return it to Exeter where the original work was done!!! Told that a proper diagnosis would cost around 120 for a couple of hours labour never mind any repairs necessary. Not happy but accepted what they were telling me since it really wasn't their problem and they weren't gonna charge me for their examination. Asked for my original receipt back and was told it would be in the car - was told as per the ticket attached to the key that the car was in bay 98 right at the back of the building. Took the key and walked round with Sally and eventually spotted the car in bay 78. Searched all over the car but no original receipt. Back inside and waited as the service receptionist ran all over the place trying to find my missing receipt. Told me he was sure it would be in the mechanics toolbox but he had gone home so he would post it to me tomorrow!! Very, very angry/despairing and frankly feeling sick and tearful! Drove home through the centre in the rush hour traffic - took almost an hour! Spent a whole day and 4.60 on buses and boats and walking miles and petrol and all a waste of time! Bastards. . . touched base with M/D/Sis2. Sis2 planning to return home to the US maybe Sunday - don't think I'll be driving down to say goodbye under the car circumstances!!! . . . PCd. DEFINITELY been infected with something from that e-mail the other day (From: Steve Molyneux (_steve.molyneux@virgin.net file attachment ATT00010.TXT ) Scared to mail anything to anyone and have no idea what it may be doing!!!!!!!!! . . . threw all the old bones into the bin, walked Sally and went for a kebab . . . ended the day feeling really VERY down and sick of it all. Involuntary desire to be able to swap places with Dad! Early to bed. (2/10)p