16. 4 Grumpies, 2 brothers-in-arms & 1 angel

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and Ann Margaret

in, “Grumpy Old Men”, 1993.

This film initiated a whole genre of subsequent TV shows,books and even Grumpier women version!

And here’s another one ….

Rik Wakeman
Rick and a bunch of similarly minded old farts captured the mark in the 2000s for sheer disinterest with ‘modern’ life, PCness and social medja!

So, what’s my fascination with grumpy old me – apart from being one?

Today I returned to the scene of the crime, Ninewell’s Hospital, Dundee for my second pre-chemo assessment. What crime?  Well I guess now you know from yesterday’s blog posting – the hospital knowingly murdered my precious few remaining hair follicles nearly three weeks ago, but they were very clever about it. They set a time delay and I didn’t notice what they had done until it is (now) too late. Two days ago it started, but today was a clincher – clusters of my trichomes are on the way to the sewer and I have taken an executive decision.

I’m off to the Turkish barber in Cupar to have an hour or two of pampering: a hair cut (more shortly … ); cut-throat wet shave; taper bum-fluff burning on edges of ears, as well as inside ears and nose.  Some feat, that task!  All the time I experience these slightly mediaevil tortures! I can’t help thinking: feet in facial orifice jokes!

hairs on my pillow,

hairs on my gown,

hairs down my pyjamas,

hairs on the floor,

but worst of all,

hairs down the plughole, and

water from my knee to toe!

So, that’s it.  I’m aiming for the stylish ‘bald’ cut – ultimately a number 5 buzz cut (whatever that really means?), but I’ll ask them to go steady along the way Buzz 10 < 8 <5 and bingo, that should be it!

Bald Cartoon Montage
I’ll have the No.5, please!

Yesterday, was one of those disastrous – fantastic days. I arrived 1 hour late but thought the hospital clocks were wrongly set at 10:10am rather 09:10am, my appointment time, and so just sauntered along non-cholantly, browsing the second hand books, the coffee bars, other punters, and so on – not a care in the world, towards my ward, Ward 32! I bought Peter May’s “Black House”, (50p!). Elaine and I had visited Lewis, Harris, Eigg and Barra earlier in the summer, and I noted this series then! So, this is clearly the start of my next collection.

I was greeted by a flurry of anxious looking nurses and doctors all telling me, “you realise you should’a been here at 09:00am, we are not sure how we are going to fit you in but we will trust us! I do, implicitly, of course. Whew! They at least didn’t just send me packing!

I reach our corner of the ward and there is N with his newly furbished pale gray-white on semi-tanned bonce, number 1 buzz-cut all over, courtesy of his wife’s dexterity!  Also present is A with splitting head ache, and finally J with a nice new “cold-cap” already strapped around him freezing his cranium with excruciating agony for 15 minutes followed by purgatory for only another 3 hours whilst the freezing cold water is piped around that hat device that looked like a mental health brain shocking machine that starred in a Wood Allen film! I ventured, “what does that feel like, J”. It’s ok now! It was about to come off!!

So, we four then share our latest exploits: what day we felt worst after the intravenous cocktail at the beginning of the first (my case) or later (the others) three week cycle. Interesting swapsy! N and I who are both on EOX, and we had a lousy first week, though we were told the second would be worst. J and A had a bad second week, as predicted. We went on with other stuff for about an hour – absolutely fascinating! More later …

But this interlude prompted me to ask whether the rest had seen “Grumpy Old Men” on the TV. Everyone nodded and so I said “yeah”, and “just look what we’ve been doing for about the last hour”. So, (with apologies to N, J and A) I have christened us the “4 grumpies”.

For similar reasons, I think the experience that N and I are having is almost identical: initial diagnosis of gastric ulcer, Helicobacter Pylori positivity and similar chemo for both. Eventually, gastric cancer, though mine is more proximal and his distal. Even same EOX Chemo Combo! Methinks, maybe I can recruit N to my Weetabx trial!  Wonder whether Dr P would be interested? So, I have again taken a liberty and christened us two as “brothers-in-arms” (Great last studio album, “Brothers in Arms”, by Dire Straits, and first MTV video hit for “Money for Nothing” from it.


Finally, we come to 1 Angel. You may recall my day of Chemo at Ninewells (Blog 3. “Teamwork – couldn’t live without it”, well F was one of the many Angels on the ward that day – yes, even washing down with alcohol wipes all the patient chairs at 5:00pm. That is one aspect of what our wonderful NHS is about – fantastic commitment and care for health of patients. I told her about my blog and asked whether she minded being mentioned (anonymously) in it. She said, “not at all”, but would I send her a link straight away?  I did – last night. I look forward to seeing F again on Monday!

Did I ever tell you I just finished what I thought was John Grisham’s latest novel, “Gray Mountain” that I picked up for 50p in our GP’s book exchange (BlackFriars) about a week ago.

Grisham Gray Mountain

Grisham Rogue Lawyer

It is set in the Appalachian Mountains and is focused on coal-mine stripping and the rape of the land, creation of highly toxic wastes, and general mayhem visited on all who live there. And of course, there’s a new (ish) rookie lawyer charged with fighting medical cases for clients and victims – the usual stuff of Grisham novels. To my surprise, at the hospital yesterday I discovered Grisham’s actual latest novel, “Rogue Lawyer”, albeit in hardback at £20.

I am also a fan of Malcolm Gladwell (see also Blog 15.) and managed to get a half-price copy of his latest book, “David and Goliath”. I think the world is trying to tell me something – take on the writing of a left-wing plan to reform how Britain’s approach to the NHS should be approached – strategically, and genuinely conceptualised as a health and not illness service. I might just do it!

Gladwell David Goliath

Give me one good reason why anyone should think really seriously about NHS reform!

Well here is a couple?

You wouldn’t believe the number of obese (and some limbless) patients sitting in wheelchairs surrounded by equally overweight friends and relatives, all smoking, in a “so-called smoke-free” outdoor garden outside the main entrance of Ninewells Hospital, surrounded by at least twenty A1 sized signs, “This is a strictly no smoking area”, together with an intercom message of similar ilk, on a continuous repeat loop.

Elaine and I are just about the only folk not smoking whenever we visit. Naturally, I complained to reception, only to be informed that there used to be a security guard, paid for by the Scottish Government, whose job was to enforce this policy, but funding had been cut!

Yes, I might just do it: write a plan for a ‘health service’ with a proactive approach to medical education, screening, testing and treatment, together with an emphasis on front-loaded preventative research, especially on the economics of screening, something I might have benefitted from!

I’m off now, CYA again tomorrow. No science; a bit of gossip lots of empathy and affection; some politics – but there’s much more to come!

“long live the NHS – but not as you know it!







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