1 EAGLETON NOTES: October 2017



Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Life With a Bag

No. It's nothing to do with human co-habitation. I've done that. Been there. Got a few tee-shirts. Which is odd because I've never worn a tee-shirt in my life.

No. This is a reference to a real bag. A receptacle for holding something: in this case, liquid. In this particular case one attached to my back into which a tube from my right kidney drains.

Why am I telling you this? “Too much information.” I hear you saying. Well I’m going to tell you anyway.

This train of thought started when I was listening to a chap on the radio or television bemoaning the fact that he had been told that his operation for prostate cancer might leave him semi-bladder-incontinent and that, at worst, he might have to wear a leg-bag. He railed against everything and everyone involved as if it were someone’s fault that he had the cancer that had got him into this situation and that, even if it were not, then it was someone’s fault that he might be left incapacitated after the operation. His life would be ruined. Never would he be able to live a proper life in that situation.

I suddenly realised that I had not one iota of sympathy for the man.

Firstly he might never have the problem. Secondly if he did then the alternative would be likely to be death.  Which would you choose?

Then I though just how many billions of people there are on this earth in a worse situation.

Then I narrowed it down to the millions worse off with conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, paraplegics, people in constant pain and so on ad infinitem. There are so many people, too, who have inconvenient complications because the NHS and medical science have managed to keep them alive when otherwise they would have died.

Many of those people really do have lives changed far beyond anything they can do to help themselves.

Being wholly or partially bladder incontinent is NOT one of those things. It is an inconvenience to be overcome and overcome it can be. I know because, in 1998, I was left bladder incontinent after my prostate removal.

The surgeon said how sorry he was that I had become a statistical 1 in 20. My response was that, as the alternative to taking the risk had been death, (there was no further treatment for prostate cancer 20 years ago) I was just glad to be alive to have the problem.

I did a lot of training and eventually got rid of the bag. Now I’m not much worse off than millions of ladies who have had children and dread sneezing! No one who met me would ever know the situation.

Returning to the bag on my back, hopefully tomorrow when I have another operation I will wake up with a stent, no kidney stone and no bag on my back.

In the meantime I have walked a mile in another man’s shoes and will have a greater appreciation of what he has experienced.

I will not, though, expect him to tell me how badly life has treated him.

Friday, 27 October 2017

The National Health Service (NHS)

I wrote this a while ago.

On Friday I had my scans to see how my cancer was doing.

On Saturday I was called into the hospital because an eagle-eyed doctor had seen that my kidney stone had moved and was blocking the exit to my kidney.

On Sunday I had an ‘emergency’ procedure which was not successful (because of previous cancer operation damage).

On Monday I had a Nephrostomy.

On Tuesday I had a day of waiting.

On Wednesday morning I had an exploratory dye-scan and was discharged in the afternoon to come back another time for an operation.

That was 96 hours and four nights in hospital.

Four nights when I slept well.

96 hours when I didn’t have to think but had all the time in the world to think.

96 hours when the NHS looked after my every need.

96 hours when I observed hard-working dedicated staff at every skill level each doing their bit to provide a wonderful service.

96 hours when I had a lot of time to ponder on how darn lucky my generation has been with its free-at-point-of-delivery health service.

I do not have an extensive knowledge of the health services of other European countries and our press regularly says that the French and German services are superior to ours. They may be. We do not have a monopoly on being the best at everything.  

However one thing that my research has thrown up is that other countries which are held up as paragons to us have critics in their own countries just as we do.

I do know that in many countries I would have been dead in my teens because I had a disease that is often fatal today.  My parents could never have afforded the operation and treatment that I received.

So I, for one, have a great deal of praise for the NHS.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

War Games

I looked out of my window one dismal morning recently just before a spell of really nasty weather hit us and lo and behold NATO was at it again. The Minch is obviously regarded as a good place to practice whatever it is they practice doing. I suspect that chasing submarines plays a big role. Apocryphally whenever these war games take place our cellphone and other communications all go haywire. It certainly happens but I'm sure it's just a coincidence! 

The Marine Traffic app gave a good indication of what was going on. It only identifies one vessel at a time unfortunately but if it is assumed that all the vessels the same colour as the identified NATO warship are also NATO warships then there were a lot of them around.

Hello! What's this? HNLMS Trump? Surely he's not had a warship named after him already.  No. Actually it's a Dutch frigate named after several Dutch 16th/17th century naval heroes.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Be What You Wanna Be

Back in the '60s (1962 to be precise) I made the journey from Liverpool to London's West End Adelphi Theatre see a Lionel Bart musical called Blitz. It was my first London musical. I may still have the LP I bought at the time (I don't think it went with the hundreds that went to Oxfam recently). Mind you I bought the CD years ago and I still play it. It was a very uplifting musical as well as being nostalgic. It included the song 'Be What You Wanna Be'.

I was thinking about something recently and the song came back to me. The 'something' I was thinking about was Blogland and social media and the use of cellphones and the like to keep in touch. I think it was triggered by a newspaper article which suggested that we should wean ourselves away from our general enslavement to the god of social media  and our cellphones.

Of course the term cellphone or mobile phone is a misnomer now because they are generally used less for telephone conversations than anything else. In fact several years ago a quarter of mobile phone users never made a phone call. Bucking the trend I have now got rid of my 'free' weekday and overseas calls with BT (the landline provider) saving myself about £20 a month and spending £3 of that on 'free' overseas calls on my cellphone bearing in mind all my other calls are included in my monthly fee (which is considerably less than £20) anyway.

I digressed.

What I wanna be is back in Blogland. It is, generally speaking, a far more comfortable environment than the Real World. Why? Because you can choose the environment in which you want to live. I've been so busy in the Real World (including travelling between Lewis and Glasgow - where I am at the moment) that I keep losing touch and catching up gets harder. So I'm reading as much as I can on Feedly (I can do that on my cellphone when I'm in the airport or in a hospital waiting room) but it's difficult commenting. So I'm still with you all and I'll comment as soon as I'm able.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


It's hard to have faith in weather forecasts when the Met Office weather app on my phone gives me two different forecasts at the same time for the same place. The top one is for where the phone is (it was at home) and the second is a pre-set choice of my home (for when I'm not at home).