Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Curate's Egg

Mum's legs are doing OK, it is the digestion that is causing concern. The reason she and Dad did not make the meal a couple of weeks ago was that she choked on a piece of steak. The subequent distress to the throat was exacerbated by four hours of an oxygen tube down her throat. This has meant that she has been unable to take solids since the operation. Together with fluid retention means she has not been improving as we would hope.

So the doctors decided to move her back to the High Dependancy ward while they work out what to do. HD was fully occupied so they put her in Intensive Care (fortunately not because her condition demanded it). It is a bit like flying and getting bumped to business class: you get more personal attention, a better bed and real china cups :-)

According to Dad, this afternoon she is in good spirits and even asked him to bring in a book from home - a sign that she is feeling better. I still await a full medical update, Jane is hoping to speak to the consultant soon.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Blue condition

Saw Mum twice over the weekend and I am glad to report she is improving but FWIW I would still consider her "Condition Yellow". Intensive Care was definitely Code Red and then High Dependancy, Condition Orange. When I got there Friday evening she was full of tubes, pain killers and Heparin (an antithrombotic). She was fairly pale and still on Nil-By-Mouth after a week. Even so it was good to see her for the first time since it happened, hold her hand and tell her I love her. She had not been fit to visit last Sunday because she was only just out of surgery so this was the first time I had been able to visit her since it happened. My brother, Ian, was already there and left shortly after, Mary arrived about an hour later. We did not stay long because Mum tires easily (all the painkillers probably add to that).

When we went back on Sunday afternoon the tubes were out and she was looking a lot better. They had even had her out of bed on Saturday and semi-vertically walking with the aid of some contraption. That must be good to improve the blood circulation to the legs. She is in a small side ward with a good level of staffing. They still check on her every two hours so she is not ready to go to an open ward and Condition Blue. Zurich again this week so I will get further reports by phone.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Take these broken wings and learn to fly *

Frequent telephone calls to Dad and Jane and Ian over the last 48 hours. The most recent to Ian last night. Mum was well enough for Ian to spend an hour with her. They have removed the oxygen mask and some of the tubes. He felt her toes and they were nice and warm :-)

On a lighter note I saw one of nature cliches this week. Mrs Blackbird on the grass pulling a worm out of the ground. A classic image but I have never *actually* seen it with my own eyes before. It was just as it should be: long thin worm at 45 degrees from ground to beak with the little fat end flopping out the other side of the beak.

* Blackbird by the Beatles

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Not a very good Mother's Day

She is OK now, my Mum (OK being a relative term). Out of Intensive Care and into High Dependancy. Due to transfer to an ordinary ward tomorrow.

I was in Dublin spending the weekend with Mary and phoned my Mum to wish her Happy Mother's Day (as it was this Sunday in the UK, I understand in the US it is later). Left a message and my father rang back just as I was about to leave for the airport to fly back to Zurich. In a piece of mind-boggling understatement (state of shock, probably, being calm for himself and me; I mean no adverse judgement) he said

"Your mother is not having a very good Mother's Day".

By which he meant

"She is currently unconscious, in surgery, starting a four hour operation for a blood clot just below her navel and the worst case scenario is that they cut off both her legs".


Straight to the airport, next ticket back to Heathrow, taxi back to the parental home. Dad arrives 10 mins later to say she is "fine" and back in the ward. For which read (in my mind) "Not dead! Still alive! Thank God!".

I went out with a nurse once (Matron actually). She brought to my attention the risks associated with a general anaesthetic. Don't do it if you can avoid it. If you ever have to go under ask them to whip out your appendix while they are in there. Saves having to having to go under again if your appendix ever goes.

Spoke to my Dad and sister after their visit yesterday. She is doing well. Her legs are warm and pink. They are talking of moving her to a normal ward today so the signs are good.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Mind the gap, Stand clear of the doors please

Of course the reason the Swiss trains run on time is they have no passengers. Standing on Brunau station this morning the in-bound, peak rush-hour, commuter train was half empty. Nobody had to stand and most triple seats had the middle seat empty. Try that on the 08:13 Wandsworth Town to Waterloo. You are lucky if you can shove your way onto the train at all. I have had to let three trains go before I could even get on, never mind a seat.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Robert De Niro's waiting, talking Italian

Well as it turned out Mum and Dad couldn't make it yesterday. And instead of brother Ian with SO and two younger nephews it was ex-SO, Francesca, and number one nephew, Lorenzo. Plus Sheila, a publisher from upstate New York, with her companion, Peter. We went to the local Italian restaurant, Cafe Uno. Now Francesca is Italian, my brother speaks Italian, and Lorenzo, helped by many summer holidays in Italy, is also fluently bi-lingual. So much of the conversation with the staff was in rapid-fire Italian. Were we on holiday in Italy I guess I would not have noticed, but in Barnes (South West London) it felt just a little bit strange. A bit like a linguistic worm-hole in space.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone

Yesterday was my Dad's 79th birthday and I remembered to call him up and wish him Happy Birthday. And to post a card last weekend to get there in time for the day itself!

I read once that Big Yellow Taxi was inspired (if that is the word) by the death of Joni's father - the "my old man" in the lyrics. I am glad to say my parents are still alive and well and my mission is to spend more time with them while I still can. I am off up to London Sunday night to meet them both for a meal. Along with my brother, his significant other, possibly 2 nephews, and a colleague of my brother's from NYC. Should be fun.

Tell your parents "I love you", they really appreciate it. It has taken me 50 bl**dy years to get to be able to say that. Don't delay do it today :-)

Friday, March 05, 2004

Tales Of Brave Ulysses

Watching the graffiti slide past me on the train to the airport whilst reading "The Buddha of Suburbia" (Hanif Kureishi) took me back to my school days. My exercise books were completely covered in graffiti. Much of it inspired by the pychadelic swirlings of Disraeli Gears by Cream. Very much the era of the book which is giving me a real "Blast from the Past". These graffiti artists simply choose a much more public canvas for their work but it is still doodling in my book.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Pardon me, boy is that the Chattanooga choo choo?

It Switzerland the d**ned trains run on time. Which would be fine if I hadn't left a litre of milk in John & Andrea's fridge. It was turn round and fetch it or have no breakfast. The extra 2 minutes that added to my walk to the station was enough to see the S4 pulling away from the platform. Now in England you could pretty much have counted on it being a couple of minutes late and I would have got home and to bed that much sooner. Sometimes a little inefficiency is a good thing.