Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Another Year (Almost) Over...

Well its almost New Year, and the chocolate fest will soon be over. Even at Easter its not really acceptable to tuck in to half a box of Ferrero Rocher at 10 am, have brownies with cream for lunch, and eat stuff thats in the fridge just because its there. Someone needs to tell Sally that, even at this time of year, shopping is optional! The Bags For Life have been discarded in favour of huge boxes. Today was a horse riding expedition, followed by a trip to the shops in Macclesfield. That probably won't last long as she has taken Zac with her, never the most patient of shoppers.

Roll on Saturday, and not just because we will be well in to 2016, it is also the day I can officially put full weight through my leg. I must admit, I have been tempted a couple of times, and it doesn't quite feel right, with some interesting swellings in places that I didn't think could swell.

Its been a busy week in the kitchen, and not always a successful one. I made a cranberry, almond and orange sponge. One of Nigella's. It looked very easy on the telly, but when I found it on the net the quantities seemed a bit off. I checked the video on Youtube and after getting distracted several times, sure enough the quantities are significantly different. For one, the eRecipe uses a mixture of ounces and cups. Never did quite get the American use of the 'cup' as a measurement. Anyway, it came out very sticky, gooey and crunchy, all at the same time, more like a crumble than a sponge, but Sally loved it, and it didn't last long. When I get the quantities right she may well be disappointed.

I've not been to the pub for ages, maybe manage a cheeky couple on New Year's Eve, but if not then I will definitely be heading out on Saturday!

There always seem to be tragedies around this time of year, and I guess the flooding is what has made headline news this week. There has also been an earthquake, a shark attack in Gran Canaria, and a terrorist bomb plot foiled. There have been some very sad deaths, too. Lemmy was arguably the biggest name, but he had a great life in rock and roll before succumbing to the big C at the age of 70. Specials drummer John Bradbury also passed away at the alarmingly young age of 62, but the most tragic was surely Pavel Srnicek who suffered a cardiac arrest aged just 47. Frank Sinatra has been on the tv, but he died years ago, whilst Elvis died almost 40 years ago, but that certainly hasn't stopped him from releasing a new record.

Of course, there are also good news stories. A German man died when he tried to blow up a condom machine, and there are reports that during the recent security lockdown in Belgium police and soldiers engaged in an orgy!

One of my favourite Christmas presents, for various reasons, is my Muddy Fox cycling shades, with 4 different coloured lenses. I look forward to getting out in the very near future, though shades may be pushing it a bit, except perhaps to stave off the glare from another present, a fluorescent lime cycling top. You will definitely see me coming.

A gift that I gave to the family was tickets to see the stage version of Goodnight Mister Tom, its about the only chance I have to get the kids to do something educational! Yesterday they took to the garden in new Real Madrid and Barcelona kits. El Classico lasted all of about 10 minutes, followed by a debate about whose football team was better at whatever ages. and that is about the only exercise that they have had since the Christmas holidays began. To be fair, Ole has walked from his bedroom to the fridge many times, whilst Zac has carried lots of heavy weights in the form of disguised chocolate from the kitchen to wherever he thinks he can eat it undetected.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and I have a beef chilli partially made in the fridge. I like chilli to be hot, I hope our guests are similar! There are always a few odd people around, and so I will be making a vegetarian sweet potato chilli too. Probably not as hot. I think festive apple puffs will come in handy, so I had better make some almond paste today. So much for the term 'holidays'. Speaking of which, Sally is hoping to head off stateside in February to ride a horse along a trail. Not sure if she thinks she is Ruben Carter (you have to know the song) or Annie Oakley. She then hopes to take in a rodeo. Its a bit ambitious, particularly as she is going with my sister Fiona. Sally rides quite frequently, and although my sister is probably used to sitting on her arse for long periods of time, I am not sure her business class airline seats ever quite mimic five hours in the saddle of a potentially bucking bronco!

I think a week in the more sedate surroundings of a Cuban beach seems a better option to me.

Today Storm Frank is battering the UK, and Whaley Bridge is getting the tail end of it. Nothing too drastic, but I guess the X-Boxes will be getting some more hammer, whilst next week the first real snows of winter are forecast. That's great with the prospect of returning to work. Now where's that box of Famous Names Liqueurs I was looking forward to?

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Don't Blame Me - Its Christmas

Steadily got used to putting weight down on my left foot, but there's always a temptation to do more. I also managed to cut down on painkillers. For a few days I have been down to just 2 paracetamol at bedtime and two in the night. Now I have stopped them altogether. Not always comfortable - but at least now if I do something I shouldn't the pain will tell me about it. This morning (Boxing Day) in a Lazarusesque moment I discarded one of my crutches and attempted to put 50% weight through my left leg. It was iffy at first, but eventually I achieved it, even going so far as descending the stairs, making two cups of coffee and carrying them back up again, without spilling a drop.

So, well on the way to recovery, but still taking it in small steps. In a week's time I should be able to put full weight through it, then it is a question of getting back to regular activities such as driving and cycling. However, I still have nagging doubts as stabs of pain sneak into the outside of the knee, and remaining upright for long periods of time is still quite uncomfortable.

The run up to Christmas is always a stressful time, and with me on crutches it was even worse. 'Tidy your room, Zac,' is a constant request, and after he spent about 15 minutes shuffling things around mum inspected it. 'Tidy your room, Zac,' was repeated, but Zac had an answer.
'I have tidied it.'
'Well its not to my standards'
'Well it is to my standards. How am I supposed to know what your standards are?'
'Keep tidying, and when its to my standards I'll let you know.'

Two strange things have happened in the last week or so, and both of them in bed. In the first incident I was woken up by a crutch moving from its leaning position and hitting me across my arm. Quite disturbing in the middle of the night, but perhaps it was just a breeze that caused it to lean a bit too far.

Anyway, a few days later I again woke in the middle of the night, this time as the bedside lamp fell onto my shoulder. Its not the heaviest of bedside lamps, but I have no idea what would have made it topple. Perhaps we have a poltergeist. There have been no further incidents, but I will certainly let you know if any other paranormal activity occurs.

Two days before Christmas we went shopping. I've not been out of the house much, and I had work to do, but Sally thought it would do me good to get out of the house for a short time. Now, to me shopping is a science, that should under no circumstances be undertaken without a list, and preferably one that runs in roughly the same order as the supermarket shelves. For Sally, shopping is more of an abstract concept. She knows we need stuff, but she kind of relies on Tesco to tell us exactly what it is that we need, by way of regaling us with special offers. That probably explains why we have around 8 giant jars of coffee in the cupboard at home, with additional supplies arriving every time Tesco say BOGOF. At the time of the expedition I was still not particularly mobile, so I tended to stand by the trolley and point with my crutch. I gave her a 'request' to get some Tictacs and cranberry sauce, and off she went. She returned with grapes, which we already have enough of with more on the way from Tomson's, and a multitude of dips, most of which are still sat in the fridge, rapidly approaching their expiry date. Tictacs? Nope. Cranberry sauce? Haven't we already got some of that? That's another 'No' then! I estimated that we needed about £80 worth of shopping. I was less than surprised when Sally's adventures through the Looking Glass took the total to almost double that, and we still needed Tictacs and cranberry sauce!

Christmas Day is always an exciting one, and even when the kids aren't opening presents they are content to overindulge with a variety of chocolate. Zac started the day with a packet of chocolate buttons, followed by a chocolate filled crepe and half of a chocolate Santa. As he prepared to launch into a giant bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk we called a halt, pointing out just how much chocolate he had consumed. Zac, of course, had an answer. 'Don't blame me, its Christmas!'

Ole was very pleased with his Bear Grylls style flint, but he got a bit frustrated with it. He was sat amongst a huge pile of discarded wrapping paper, moaning that as he struck the two parts together nothing happened. At that point a huge spark flew into the wrapping paper, which fortunately did not catch fire. I guess it does work after all!

After a day of 50% weight bearing things are not going well. The discomfort is turning to pain, and I might just have to resume painkillers. Then again, I have not really had too much to drink whilst I have been on crutches. Perhaps that is the problem!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Back To The Kitchen...Mmm...

Monday saw a trip to see my consultant, ten days after the operation. He removed the dressing and showed me what a splendid job he had done with the stitches. He sent me upstairs for an x-ray (don't worry, there's a lift), and when I came back down he showed me the results of his handiwork from inside. It made me feel quite sick as I saw how much he had sawed into the bone and the size of the bracket and pins. There was another chap in the waiting room with a very similar scar (we HTO patients like to wear shorts to show our wounds as badges of honour). Anyway, it was six weeks since his operation and he was almost walking ok, though still with the occasional use of crutches. Unfortunately he had not yet been passed fit to drive. It was an uncomfortable journey home as the full extent of the 'injury' began to sink in.

It didn't get any better on Tuesday, with Zac faffing about in the morning and missing his bus. Despite her assertions to the contrary, Sally ended up giving him a lift, for which he paid with two days without his X-Box. That can be a double edged sword, and later that night, whilst Sally was giving me yet another injection into my stomach (only three more to go) Zac was allegedly doing some homework that involved a cake, grapes, and a glue gun! The kitchen was a right mess - we would have all been better off if he'd have been on his X-Box.

Tuesday was actually a busy day, as my own activity started with a visit to the physio. Alarmingly steep stairs up to her treatment room, but thanks to a lift from Clayton and some skillful crutch work I made it in one piece. She was very impressed with my progress, a good range of movement and inflexion of over 100 degrees, but she gave me some leg raises and leg straightening exercises that were excruciating. At one point she asked me if I was going to be sick.

I have to say that incapacitation is not a situation that I enjoy, but it is equally bad for Sally and the kids. So after returning from the physio I had a couple of hours before I needed to bed down into my office to do some work, and I headed for the kitchen. I laid out all of the ingredients so that I wouldn't have to move too much, and I made chilli chicken and syrup sponge pudding. Ole would be mightily relieved that he could get something good to eat (not that Sally wasn't trying her best, of course), and Zac and sponge are a match made in heaven, though he did scrape off the syruppy bits!

That is a recipe from Mmm...No1...Cookbook, and one advantage of lying horizontal day and night is it gives me a chance to spend the evenings filling in Mmm...No2...Cookbook, as well as adding to my 'The History Of Zombies' project. This is to try to get Zac off his X-Box and into books, and this week we received a reading list from Chapel School. I must admit that I wouldn't like to read many of the titles on there, and Zac was adamant that he doesn't like reading stories as they are too long and boring and don't have any pictures in. Note to self - illustrate 'The History Of Zombies'. So now, Zac is reading Harry Potter and the something or other. He got it from Ole, and when I asked how he was getting on he couldn't even remember the title. Ole, surprisingly, is showing an interest in the stock market, and he is reading 'Financial Reckoning Day' by Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggins. If you are vaguely interested  in money, stocks, shares and commodities I thoroughly recommend it. Entertaining and informative. However, its not all fun and games, and there are times when I feel quite sorry for myself. The melancholy usually hits when I look in the fridge!

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, my Sky Box went on the blink. Not catastrophically, it was just that the Programme Synopsis didn't show up. Never really realised how useful that is until it wasn't there. Over the last few weeks there have also been a few other quirks, such as failing to record, taking ages to boot up, etc. The box is over five years old and therefore way beyond warranty, so when I called Sky I wasn't surprised to hear that it would cost me over £200 to replace plus £65 call out. However, they gave me the option of taking a six month warranty out on the existing box which would cost £10 per month. That would cover my current issue. Ok then, sounds like a bargain. The engineer was booked to come out on Friday.

More problems for Zac, he has been told by his tutor at school that his bag smells. I'm not really surprised, and after removing more rotting fruit and underwear it was once again consigned to the wash. Any ideas?

Better news on Wednesday, I have won 200,000,000 something from some kind of Nigerian lottery. An American lady managed to sneak it out of the country before fraudsters got their hands on it, for which I am, of course, eternally grateful. My favourite bit of the email was the last line - 'If found in spam move to inbox'.

Today was a busy day with the Sky engineer arriving right in the middle of it. Within little more than ten minutes he had diagnosed the fault and quickly replaced not only the box but also the Sky dish with brand new equipment. No real down side, as he also told us that our previous recordings will all have gone, so I no longer have to worry about the series link of 'Come Dine With Me!

I have been on calls for most of the day, all work related, and when they finally died down Sally moved in to place. Her last chance to show that she hasn't lost her nursing skills as she prepared to remove the 20 clips holding my wound together.

She was very good at it - with only one or two actually hurting. Tomorrow sees the start of partial weight bearing. 25% to begin with, though I've no idea how I am going to measure that. If you see me hobbling towards the centre of Whaley Bridge, I've probably gone too far!

Well, Saturday morning and a quiet start to the day with Sally catching up with the entire world on Facebook. My main aim today is to start putting weight through my left leg. Its not easy, with tightness in the calf, tightness in the hamstring, and a reluctance to let go. The clip free wound is holding up well, and with some self massaging (in my calf you naughty people) its getting a bit easier.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

That's Not Lies, That's Life!

Things started to settle down around the operation, and I discovered that cats are either very empathetic, or they know a captive audience when they see one. They have been taking it in turns to make my bed their bed, allowing me to stroke them with both hands for as long as I want. Very thoughtful of them. Anyway, By Monday I had established my home office on the settee in the play room, sorted out a few contracts, spreadsheets and reports, and spent hours on the phone. Productivity probably went up as I didn't have the stress of a 90 minute journey to Nottingham and at least the same coming home.

Its easy to overlook little things when you are fully fit, but when you are on non weight bearing crutches molehills quickly become mountains. An ironing board, casually left up as evidence of activity in that area stood between me and the loo, me and the kitchen, and me and virtually anywhere I wanted to go. A small pile of clothes left on the stairs was a hazard that could have catastrophic results if my crutch got tangled up in it. And drinks? Well, I managed to set up a system, helped by the ironing board, where I transferred them from one surface to another without having to use the crutches.

Monday lunchtime came, and Sally had left home made soup. Hmmm. I sent her a message asking whether she had actually put any seasoning in it at all, and unusually for me, I had to leave half a bowl. Inedible! Sally must have suspected that I was right as she threw the rest out without even trying it herself. There is a myth that she can't cook. This really is a myth - she will be cooking Christmas dinner as usual, and it will be thoroughly enjoyed. Generally, if its not cremated, its good food. The soup was definitely an exception. Like greasy vegetable water.

'I'm trying my best,' she insisted, and she is right. The problem is that there are two adults in the house, and with one man down the two 'kids' should have stepped up, and they couldn't.

I was starting to get about quite well, whilst still keeping up with calls and other work stuff, and noting my little triumphs. The act of putting shorts on is a prime example of this. My left leg is longer than my arms, and at the moment it has very little bend in it. I therefore have to engage in a game of hoopla until I can hook the left leg of the shorts over my left foot. If I can do it in less than 3 attempts I win!

Sally announced that there were three new flavours of home made soup in the fridge, which was odd as I had not seen her in the kitchen. I asked her where she had got them from and she simply replied, 'Tesco'. I have to say that if Tesco really are making home made soup - they need to change their cook. The first one was as insipid as Sally's. I didn't bother with the other two.

Tuesday saw a welcome visit from Gabi and Pixie, and I think the little one felt my pain. Either that or she had wind. My mood wasn't cheered by the postman, who brought notice of a speeding conviction, ironically for an offence on a stretch of road that never goes faster than 5mph, except for the one day that I drove along it having visited the pre op at the hospital first, and therefore the rush hour traffic was long gone! Later that night, the legend and good friend that is Clive Ashton came calling, and we spent a few memorable hours chewing the fat. We discussed beer, pubs, knees (of course), wine, homeless people, past Trips, and the prospect of working in Spain. Sometimes there is an obvious answer but the person asking the question can't see it. If you are struggling with what you are doing, and you will benefit from an easier job and a warmer climate, even if its just for a few months, the answer is right in front of you! But Clive doesn't need me to tell him that!

It had been a busy time, and it was perhaps this that triggered the agony of the final hour or so of the day. I was fine lying horizontally, but any attempt to get vertical led to severe throbbing in the area of the wound. I eventually made it up to bed, having switched off umpteen lights, including a multitude of battery operated ones all with a Christmas theme, and navigated another horrendous obstacle course on the stairs, but it was a restless night, By Wednesday morning my leg was very red and very warm.

I took the final sip of water from the glass that Sally had left for me four days earlier, trusting that my body would be strong enough to fight off any chance of dysentery, and considered what to do. For now I resolved to rest more than previous days, and hope for the best.

Sally pondered what to do with a considerable sum of money that needed to be dealt with. 'I think we should use our ISIS allowances whilst we still can,' she decided. Donald Trump will be pleased.

That evening I realised just how useless kids can be. Ole was trying to make his own tea, but it was just a barrage of questions. Where's the Loyd Grossman sauce? Where's the spaghetti? Where's the meatballs? This last one was particularly infuriating as they were in the fridge, where he had just looked, and when he looked for a second time, guess what?

I also had to explain to him how to make a cup of coffee. Instant coffee. Took him ages. Another great irony!

I stomped upstairs to the bathroom, manouevred around the most fiendish obstacle course yet, and then I went to bed. I remarked that the cats were still in and the lights were still on, even those outside. Once again Ole showed his ignorance. 'Where's the switch for the outside light? Where it's been for the last 16 years! The cats woke us in the night to be let out. I smiled to myself and pulled the covers tighter as Sally had to get out of bed!

It wasn't a good morning as the leg was now looking very angry. I booked an appointment at the docs for later that afternoon. I had visits from our groundsman, as well as my old friend Dennis, then Sally gave me a lift to see the nurse practitioner. She took my dressing off and commented on how neat the stitching was. She noted the infection and drew a line around it so that we could tell whether the inflammation had reduced, then gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I gave the prescription to Sally with £20 and she called in at the chemist. She came out immediately, with a package, and I thought she had worked miracles. I usually have to wait ages for the pharmacist to complete my order. I was mistaken. She had bought some bath cream. It was 25% off. So she had saved £1.88, but somehow I was £5.61 down. Not sure how that worked!

Sally made some more soup, this time relying on the staples of bacon and vegetables rather than a discarded chicken carcass. It was an improvement.

She disappeared to Leek and I asked her to get three A3 padded envelopes. She got some padded envelopes. Not sure about the three or the A3. She hurled them at me and they fell behind the settee. I think they are still there! She denied ever hearing the A3 part!

Its been a long week all around. Its not the pain alone - that is bearable or at least manageable. Its not even the non weight bearing aspect. That will hopefully change soon, and I will be able to get about and do stuff a lot more easily. The infection hasn't helped, but there is also the uncertainty, and as I inevitably try to do more, the prospect of overbalancing or stumbling, and inadvertently putting weight on the leg that should be up and resting, increases significantly. The biggest issue is the kitchen. It is within touching distance, but it is out of reach. To even attempt to make anything would require me being upright for far too long, and so I am at the mercy of Sally, the microwave and the children (sounds like a fantasy adventure!). Everything on tv seems to mock or tempt me. Cherry pie, chocolate muffins, chicken fried steak, corned beef hash, spam fritters, yet more burgers, all scream 'get in the kitchen and try me'. I suppose I should stop watching so many cookery shows.

So, we just about got through to the weekend with no fatalities, and a trip to my sister's for a family Christmas as she will be in Mexico when the big day comes around. The day itself was great. Meeting sisters, mum, daughter, in laws, nephews, friends, and of course granddaughter, but the journey was a nightmare. I sat in the back seat and put my bad leg through the gap between driver and passenger seat. I sat on a sleeping blanket to adjust my height, and failed to get comfortable for about two and a half hours.

My sister is a veteran of pain and drugs - and she suggested Tramadol. Even gave me a sample - she seems to treat drugs a bit like Dolly Mixtures. Not sure it made a difference but I was certainly a bit more relaxed.

Meanwhile, Zac regaled his extended family with tales of school. 'I've got three girls on the go at at the moment,' he bragged. 'You're such a liar,' Ole responded, somewhat stating the obvious, but as ever Zac had an answer. 'That's not lies Ole, that's life.' It could become his new catchphrase.

He then turned his attention to school, and in particular the desks. 'They are covered in gum. On the first day I dropped a pencil. I went down to pick it up, and when I looked up I saw the whole desk just covered in gum. Everyone chews it and then they stick it on the desk. There was white, pink, green, and even brown gum that had expired (think about that for a moment). In a few years time the desks will just be made entirely of gum.'

The journey home was quicker, though no less uncomfortable, despite me having taken one of Fiona's Tramadolly Mixtures before we set off. Something had been puzzling Ole, and it concerned his cousin Jake's friend. Dan is from Australia, but he is currently living in Woodford, near Northampton, as Fiona and Peter's lodger. I explained that he came over to play cricket, and normally he would go back in the winter to play cricket at home when it would be their summer. Ole was incredulous. 'Its their summer now?' 'Yes' 'That's weird. What about America?' 'No - they are the same as us' 'Alright then, what about Hawaii?' 'Yes, Hawaii are currently in their summer' 'So in Australia they have Christmas Day in the summer?' 'Yes' 'That's just crazy'.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Riding a Unicorn to Venezuela

Ole lost his home work this week. He was trying to install a printer and all of a sudden his rich text format document was full of gobbledegook. Some might say it was like that before, but now it was ruined. I tried several programs that claimed to be able to fix corrupt RTF files, but to no avail. Several hours later it was a lost cause - and we had to start recreating it from scratch. Computers are supposed to make things easier, but when something goes wrong time seems to lose all of its meaning. Unless, of course, its something obvious. Sally bought new cartridges for the printer. I tried to print but the printer was in an error state. I looked, and sure enough, everything that could be open was open. So I closed it all but it was still in an error state. It was then that I noticed that Sally had ONLY opened everything that could be opened, without bothering to install the cartridge.

This week was knee operation week. It started on Wednesday with a pre op assessment, in which I had yet another MRSA scan, followed by various tests, including blood. And therein lies a problem. As soon as someone gets a needle out my veins disappear. The first nurse admitted that she had only been taking blood for about 12 months, and after looking at my shrinking veins she said she wasn't even going to bother. She passed me into the hands of a more experienced practitioner, and quick as a flash the first sample was taken. Then the vein shut down. She was flummoxed. She then called in the Alexandra's version of a vampire, and she managed to get the second sample. Three nurses and two samples and I was done, except for urine which was, of course, a piece of piss.

And so on to Friday. the big day. I was a bit nervous, not helped by setting off late for my appointment. I'm not a morning person at the best of times, but Sally kept the conversation going, whilst I listened to what I thought she would want me to hear, as opposed to listening to everything. A very different experience, you should try it. I arrived at the Alexandra about half an hour late, but it was a fairly chilled out early morning.

Sally happily slurped a coffee as I got acclimatised to my room, and of course I was 'nil by mouth'. A friendly caterer came and asked me what I would like post op. That was interesting. No menu, so I guess I had a free choice. Thinly sliced cheek of a particularly jowelly rhinoceros? Russian Caviar? Sumptuously rich chocolate cake? But then she clarified. Soup or fruit juice? Soup please. And do you want a sandwich? There's cheese, chicken, tuna or egg. Egg please. White or brown? Brown please. Tea or coffee? Coffee please. What time will you be ready? No idea. Oh. Well we'll bring it when you get back from surgery. Thanks. It passed the time and was really the last thing on my mind as I waited for major surgery. Ok - it wasn't a heart transplant, but I would be out for about 3 hours.

We had some time to kill, so Sally set about remedying the tumble dryer saga. She bought one from Tesco, an Indesit model, but it didn't work. It didn't dry clothes, a fairly basic and fundamental requirement for a dryer. They sent out a repair man who replaced the pump, but it still wouldn't dry clothes, so she asked for it to be collected. It still sits uselessly in the garage, meanwhile we needed a replacement. Sally started searching on her phone, interspersed with several visits to Facebook, and after 45 minutes she was still nowhere near getting one. Somehow it was down to me, as if I didn't already have enough on my plate, but 10 minutes later it was ordered, paid for, and scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday. And not a Facebook post in sight!

Sally went on her merry way, my consultant arrived and gave me dire warnings about potential complications, but he was confident in his own ability, the downfall of many a pretentious sportsman.

I walked to the theatre where I was greeted by Makhoun. I think that was his name - I met so many people including Joe, Heather, Donna and Cherry. Anyway, Makhoun was of middle eastern appearance and he was very friendly. My anaesthetist said that there was a slight delay whilst they checked all of the equipment. High Tibial Osteotomies are not an every day operation, and they involve a saw. I imagined a Heath Robinson contraption being brought out from beneath a dusty cover with a rusting saw that needed plenty of oil and grease. Fortunately, I would not have to view what was beyond the theatre door as I would be out by then. In the meantime, Makhoun asked me all manner of nice questions to relax me. Where are you from? Have you had any snow yet? Who is waiting for you? This may be wrong, but my questions in return would have been 'Have you been back to the Middle East recently? Have you been radicalised? Does that make me slightly racist. Probably not. In fact I'm sure Daesh don't recruit only those of Middle Eastern appearance - that would make them racist. In fact it would be better for them to recruit those of a Western European visage, or maybe Slavs or Scandinavians. And what about Americanss? I suppose it would be difficult to get a suicide belt in XXXL. There's me being racist again! Before you all write in - its a joke. Makhoun was friendly, courteous and professional, and then it was time. The anaesthetist started his work. He said the first bit was to make me relax, like I'd had a couple of glasses of wine. Then it got quite heavy, kind of bringing home that this was not a trivial operation and it needed a lot of anaesthetic. It was quite painful, and then I prepared to meet my maker. Come to the light, come to the light, but rather than the gentle tones of a friendly angel these words were spoken in a broad northern accent, and I realised it was Sam Allardyce beckoning me to the Stadium Of Light. He wanted to sign me as an impact player off the bench. I told him I would get back to him, but at that point my Unicorn was waiting to take me to Venezuela. Although it spoke in a gruff voice its name was Judy. Turns out it is a transgender Unicorn, just waiting for the final part of its operation. It was a quick journey, but then at security the Venezuelan mafia asked Judy, sporting a 5 feet long sharp pole sprouting from her nose, 'Do you have anything that can be used as a weapon or looks like a weapon?' She just shook her head, disturbing a couple of light fittings with her horn as she did so, and we continued on our way. We ended up in a large room where I was to test my new leg. My old one came off rather easily, like those on Action Man dolls, and I replaced it with one that had been realigned similar to the operation I was about to have. Twisting By The Pool by Dire Straits started, and I ran around in ever decreasing circles. On the wall a clock counted up from zero, and when it reached 42 seconds everyone disappeared. My original leg was back in place and I was ready for dinner. I didn't realise before, but Venezuelans are quite partial to fresh unicorn meat, and Judy was served up in a piquante peppercorn sauce. Back in Cheadle the Alexandra laid on some fabulous entertainment, with Elvis Presley and Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies performing a duet of Onward Christian soldiers, followed by Duncan Bannatyne bringing to life Emu, the infamous bird of Rod Hull fame. This faded from view as I opened my eyes, and I was wheeled back to my room. After all that excitement I was glad to get back to normality and egg sandwiches. Sally came to see me, but she disappeared, complaining that I was drowsy and not making much sense. This augurs well for the years of fading memory and infirmity!

But, it was only around 5pm - surely there would be a steady stream of visitors later? Sally coming back, err, apparently not. Gabi with her new found ability to drive without Pixie? Perhaps not. My good friend Clive, probably out on the pop in Cheadle anyway?. Hmm, not quite near the teetotal Alex! So I got some rest, made a couple of calls and settled down for the worst night's sleep ever. My right leg (the good one) had a pump on it for circulation. And every 42 seconds it induced a muscle spasm akin to someone pinching the calf very hard. So I got several batches of sleep, all around 42 seconds each, before I finally overcame it having had another dose of codeine and a blood pressure check.

The morning came and I was able to get to the loo aided by my crutches. I had breakfast - I could have murdered a bacon sandwich but the previous day, for some reason, I had ordered Weetabix, yoghurt and prunes, so that's what I got. The consultant came and said he noticed the difference straight away, The physio came and was impressed by my range of movement. I negotiated a couple of hundred yards on crutches to the pharmacy, got my drugs and was on my way. But wait, what are those needles for? Stomach injections, to prevent clotting. No one mentioned that, and I have a well documented case of trypanophobia. Its alright, Sally would be able to do it. Great! We got home and I delayed the injections for as long as possible. The first one went in and blood spurted out. Ok, maybe not spurted, but there was definitely a drop. And I have two weeks of these. I dozed through several football matches, and at around 11pm went to bed. Wow! At some point in the previous six hours the remnants of the morphine must have said farewell, and I was in agony. So much so that I thought I would be sick. I somehow made my way to bed, downed more codeine and settled down for a surprisingly good night's sleep. Today I have no intention of getting out of bed - though attempts to procure a bottle have so far been beyond me so I guess the loo will have to be visited.

My consultant said  that I would regret having this done for the first six weeks, and yesterday I laughed at him. Today I am not laughing! Except at Zac.

Yesterday he wanted to go to the Taxal School Fair, but with a very precise aim.

'Mum, will you take me to the Christmas Fair?'
'Yes, of course'
'Right, but I only want to be 20 minutes, so don't get sat down and comfortable in that chatting room'.