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Can't quite remember the name of that Finnish Javelin thrower, was a huge man, could hit a barn door at 9 miles. Well little did I know that he worked on the spinal unit in Nottingham, well it must have been him.....
Arriving in the Lung functions department, lungs in a bag, I was introduced to the diminitive doctor, a specialist in lungology, very pretty and petite, certainly working in the right department because she took my breath away...Now Mr Greaves, very formal and stiff, what we want to do is to hook you up to this machine, put this 12 inch diamater drainpipe in your mouth, ride a bike, fill in a form and pedal. The pipe will record your breathing rates as they change as you pedal, I said nothing.........well it would have been difficult!! A bit like at the dentist where they stick 2 hands, a mirror, a cordless drill and a water suction pump in your mouth, try to get their head in their as well and then calmyly say, Hi Mr Greaves, how are you today, well I ask you....So there I am practicing for the tour de france, breathing through a small sewage pipe, when the Finn sneaks up and sticks this javelin sized needli into my lobe............ahhh the ear, I thought, I looked atthe doc imploringly try ing with my eyes to say, am I supposed to keep on pedalling or can I punch this geezer, inthe meantime, blood running freely from my ear where a kind and fastidious nurse was catching it in a bottle. The medical profession do seem to always try to get you at a disadvantage!!
Ear lobes bleed profusely, they are apparently the best place from which to take blood for the blood there is rich in oxygen. The purpose of all this was to see whether my system (Pulmonary I think) could cope with the pressures that the impending surgery would place upon me. Like all spondylitics with a fused rib cage, breathing is easily compromised, 12 hours worth of anaesthesia to come would make those pressures severe. Thankfully a week ,,,,,,ahhh memory is fickle ...... Jan Zilezny, or something like thta.....yws the Javelin man
Anyhow, as I was about to say, a week or so later I was told lung functions were good and got the ok to proceed to the next stage. I couldnt pass go, I certainly couldn't collect £200 yet, but the medical obstacles, that may impact on the agreement in principle to proceed with the surgery, were reduced by 1.
I was counselled at length by the spinal team, paralysis, loss of sexual ability (well no change there then..oops excuse me), what not to do after the surgery and so it went.
Telephone rang, Hi Alan, Jenny Sycamore here...........wow blimey is it..................nooo dont get your hopes up, I'm not booking you in yet. To explain, Jenny was the spinal ward manager, tough cookie, but we got on ok.
"Yes Sister Sycamore"
"Alan I am just looking at your records, I see you are a smoker"
[**BLEEP**] I thought, this is going to stop everything.
"Oh Well Sister, the lung function tests were ok"
"Oh is alright Alan, just wanted to say that you won't be smoking on or near my ward, will you Alan?"
Well what can one say when given a choice between not smoking at all, definitely not smoking, or absolutely not smoking atall atall?
"No Sister no well I have tried acupun......."
The phone clicked and she was gone. The message indelibly clear.
Onthe Monday following, I was in my workshop/office at the hotel with Arnie Arnold, well he was Mark Arnold but I thought Arnie a clever skit on his surname....! You don't agree? Well perhaps not, I was taking a cigarette from my packet, Arnie was as well, our 8 o clock dizzy making drag long overdue,
"Im fed up of smoking Mark",
"Me too Al".
"Im giving up when I have finished this packet" I said.
Me too Al he said, I had 3 inthe packet he had 17. It was by chance a busy day, so I got a cigrette in the lunch break and mid afternoon, this left 1, I smoked it in the car on the way home, halfway through it I recalled my silly morning claim not to smoke again. I never have. Mark still does!
I was next summoned for the big tests, the ones to map brainwaves the critical neurological stuff, had AS damaged me so much that my reponses, to signals from the brain were impaired, the prospect of this troubled me, I wasn't on the operating table yet, would I get there?
A multi coloured plastic wig, a garden hosepipe and alack of laxative would decide.....