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My Diary/Blog For the Month of October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
11:56 GMT

   There was rain yesterday evening, and it has rained since then - in variably quantities - mostly fairly light. It was obviously a very cloudy night so the temperature did not drop that far, and today the temperature has crept up to just a fraction over 14 C - which is on the cool side, and combined with the general sogginess makes for a horrible day !

  I didn't really do much yesterday except eat to much. Fortunately that "too much" included a fair amount of fruit that I had bought when I went shopping in Aldi yesterday morning. I guess it was still a hangover from the booze on Tuesday, but that shopping trip seemed like hard work, and was less enjoyable than usual. I seemed to spend a long time in deep relaxation, or snoozing, for the rest of the morning, and into the afternoon.

 I don't know how it happened, but I seemed to sleep rather better last night than recently. Perhaps several things contributed to it. The scar tissue on my chest seems to be becoming less sensitive now. That meant I could pull the duvet right up and over my chest - for a limited amount of time. I still get plenty of pain from my chest, but it is all located on, or near the surface rather than from internal organs.

 I've noticed two more red marks appearing on my chest. They are either side of the main scar, and are probable bruises from some retractor or other surgical instrument with three prominent prongs on it. Once all these bruises and mutilations have risen to the surface, and than faded away again, my chest will be far more comfortable. It is happening, but far more slowly than I imagined - which is a source of great annoyance.

 The other great source of annoyance is my left hand. I am sure that some good news is due about it soon. It comes and goes, but I'm sure the sense of normal feeling is getting stronger below all the unpleasant tingles and other numb sort of feelings in the two little fingers of my left hand. The little finger itself is often quite painful, but fortunately it didn't seem to cause too much bother while I was trying to sleep last night.

 Every day I seem to wonder if I imagine what I think are small improvements in my left hand. Sometimes they are not improvements but changes that I hope herald improvements. Another day or two should tell if this latest change is really just imagination or real change for the better. If I put my imagination into overdrive, and concentrate on my elbow, in just the place where the nerves cross the funny bone, and where the damage is most probably located, I can almost detect something like a very subtle itch. There is no more than a one in a thousand chance that I can really detect something going on there, but that's good enough for me today. Clutching at straws - my middle name !

This morning I did something I haven't done in ages - I washed four shirts. It was slightly uncomfortable doing it, and I had some difficulty wringing the shirts out, but I managed it all in the end. Since coming out of hospital I have relied on Jo and Chris to do a bit of washing for me after they most generally offered to do some. It was a really kind service, but it is nice to get back some independence.....although I might get them to do a change of bed linen for me. It's never been easy doing that by hand, and now it is impractical to let it drip away as it dries in the garden, I really can't do any sheets or duvet covers until next spring no matter what my state of health is.

 After doing that bit of laundry I washed my hair, had a shower, and then I was ready for anything - except for going out in the rain. I never realised it was going to be so soggy today, and yesterday I was imagining that I might go for a walk today, or even in to work, but it is so glum outside that I just can't be bothered.

 There will be one exception to this. Tonight I'll be meeting the Thursday night gang in The Catford Bridge Tavern for a few pints. It would be nice to have another skinful, but I have to see the nurse tomorrow, and I had better try and behave myself - shame !!
Wednesday 30th October 2013
08:23 GMT

   Yesterday was calm and dry, but I can't recall all that much in the way of sunshine.  This morning has dawned bright and sunny.  Unfortunately it comes at the cost of the outside temperature only being 7 C right now.  The temperature should rise fairly quickly to a still rather cool 14 C, but at least it should still stay bright and sunny through to the afternoon when it will slowly become a bit overcast. Sometime after dark the clouds will become thick enough for rain.

 Yesterday morning I saw the nurse who attended to the dressing on my left leg. She seemed concerned that the wound was not healing, and even went as far as taking a swab to test for infection. It was rather at odds with my own impression, partly backed by the surgeon who had taken a quick peel the day before, that the wound was healing rather nicely. The actual area that is not fully healed is about half of that last week, and now represents a really tiny portion of the groin to ankle scar where the vein for transplant was removed from.

 I have an appointment to see the nurse again on Friday. Once that appointment was set up I was free to go to the local Wetherspoons pub to see what new beers were on for their current beer festival, and to sample one more half pint of Green King's "Abbot Confession" - a very strong, and very tasty, 8.5% beer !!

 The day before I sent a text message to Kevin warning him that I would be in the pub. Our recent record for both being fit and ready for booze at the same time has been abysmal as of late, but yesterday it seemed we were both feeling comparitively fit and healthy, and Kevin joined me in the pub. That did mean that the drinking session went on a little longer than anticipated, and more than one half pint of "Confession" was drunk.

 I can't remember what time we left the pub, but I know I was very drunk, and more importantly, feeling wonderful (even if I wasn't really). I was drunk enough to buy some breakfast (as the first meal of the day is usually known as) in the fried chicken shop on the way home. I can't actually remember what it was I bought, and I think I put all the evidence, except for an unopened can of Diet Coke, straight in the wheelie bin after I'd finished eating.

 I may have eaten a lot or a little, but I suspect the former - although several hours, and a sleep later, I felt peckish enough to cook myself a small evening meal. I did suffer a bit from an evening hangover, but I don't think that was involved in another night of poor sleep last night. One thing that was involved was my left hand. It seemed really sensitive and painful last night.

 This morning there is a slight hint that I've just passed another very small stage in the healing of the nerves to my left hand. The hand feels quite stiff, and my whole left arm has a non localised dull ache, but I think I have a just detectable amount of normal touch on the two small fingers on my left hand. That sensation is still deeply bedded in assorted tingles and stuff, but it definitely feels different today. It could be a false alarm because I've had changes like this before that have come to nothing, but maybe this one is for real.

 It would certainly be good to have a major improvement to my left hand. It is, in several ways, one of the major impediments to getting back to work. At the lowest level it screws my sleep up, and at a higher level it would make using some tools bloody awkward - although I am right handed, I also have to be ambidextrous for some tasks. On many occasions a third hand would be highly useful. One to hold the soldering iron, one to hold the solder, and the third to hold the tweezers that are holding the component being soldered. Being reduced to about a hand and a half would make such tasks very difficult. My chest, with it's still very tender scar tissue, would make working a bit uncomfortable at times, but I don't think it would stop me.

 I had been thinking about going into work this morning just to say hi, but I think some shopping should take priority. The last time I went shopping was not long ago, but I was mindful of how difficult it has became lately to carry much in my left hand, and deliberately restricted the amount I bought. I feel I should do the same today. The biggest weight allocation will go to bottles of sugar free cola, and only a bit to food.
Monday 28th October 2013
16:23 GMT

   The most significant feature of the weather was the storm last night. In the small hours of this morning the wind did get a bit lively, and a fair amount of rain fell. The wind, while often very strong, didn't seem to be super strong as some forecasters suggested, and I don't think that much rain fell in the end. The start of the day was actually quite bright, and the wind had dropped to no more than a stiff breeze. This afternoon it seems to be mostly calm, but more rain has fallen.

 While it didn't feel like the storm of the century to me, it did cause quite a lot of disruption to the railways. There is still no service at Catford Bridge on the Hayes line after tree falls at Elmers End and Eden Park. Services on the Catford Loop line started very late, and trains are being diverted to Orpington because the line through to Sevenoaks is impassable.

 With no trains from Catford station to get me to Denmark Hill station for Kings College hospital I had to endure a very unpleasant bus ride all the way there for my cardiac surgery follow up appointment. That bus ride wasn't all bad news. I got to the hospital just about on time, and I gained several "smug points" when the bus went sailing passed some bus stops because we were already almost overloaded.

 When I got to the hospital I was given a quick preliminary check by a nurse. They weighed me - amazingly still under a certain secret weight - and took my blood pressure - predictably very high, but not incredibly so. Then I waited to be seen by the surgeon. I had a pessimistic feeling it would be a long wait, but it was probably no longer than 5 minutes (maybe as much as 10, but I don't think so).

 The surgeon prodded me a few times, and listened to my chest - front and back - examined my wounds/scars and asked me how I felt. His diagnosis was that everything was just fine, the surgery was a complete succcess, and that no further follow up would be needed. Then I brought up the subject of my numb, and sometimes painful left hand.

 He did a few tests to judge how much I could feel, and how strong various muscles were (or could be controlled). From that he was able to say, like several medics before him, that it was a text book case of bruised nerves. He was able to go further than other doctors, because he was there when the damaged occured, and because he was a surgeon rather than just a doctor, and explained in greater detail how the nerves are routed, and how the damage occured.

 It seems the physiotherapist at Lewisham hospital was almost right in theory, but needs to brush up on his anatomy about how the nerves are routed !! This doesn't surprise me. I don't trust anyone whose uniform is a tracksuit. and who probably thinks sex has something to do with footballs and wet grass. However the concensus of opinion, and today's surgeon nails it down, is that it will almost certainly cure itself in the coming weeks.

 The surgeon said that my theories about how the nature of the problem was changing was an indication that the problem was healing was correct. He suggested giving it at least another three weeks, and if there was no real change for the better to get my GP to arrange some extra diagnostics. There is an outside chance that I might need a small operation similar to a carpel tunnel syndrome operation, but on my elbow to release a pinched nerve.

 Although I had been given the green light about how my operation was healing, and the actual appointment was relatively brief, it was still nice to get out into the fresh air again. Once out I wanted to light up a fag.......but that was just habit, and even if I had some with me I think I would have resisted it OK (unlike when I came out of my physio assessment last week - I could almost have set fire to my shirt sleeve and smoked that if I had taken a lighter with me !).

 I had been in the hospital just enough time for the first trains to start running on the Catford Loop Line. In truth there was a bit of a wait for a train, but I am very certain that I arrived back in Catford a lot earlier than if I had waited for a bus. On the way to the hospital we had passed a bit of tree debris on the road side, but it was at the station that I was able to photograph a broken tree - sort of !
broken tree at Denmark Hill station
Unfortunately I only had my mobile phone camera on me, and I really needed some zoom to show what I could see easily with the naked eye.
digital zoom
This is the best digital enhancement I can manage of the picture above.
Using some imagination you can just make out two long branches, still joined together forming an upside down "V" hanging over an intact branch of the tree in the centre of the picture.

 When my train arrived back in Catford I went home via Tesco where I bought some provisions. Among those provisions were a new type of Tesco own brand sugar free cola. It's not that bad, but maybe not that great either. One thing is certain though - it is far, far better than their normal own label diet cola. Once upon a time that was wonderful, and then, in 2009 (I seem to recall) they changed the recipe, and it tasted absolutely disgusting !!

 For some reason I haven't felt all that good this afternoon. I've sometimes felt a bit cool, and sometimes a bit warm. I also went through a period of coughing a fair bit....even a few seconds of sneezing. Worst of all is that I can't seem to get totally comfortable when laying on my bed. I didn't sleep that well last night, and I fear I may sleep even worse tonight.

 Hopeully I will sleep OK because once again I have to get up a bit early tomorrow - only a tiny weeny bit though. I have an appointment with the nurse at 10.30am. Some might say, and I could well agree, that compared to this morning I can have a generous lay in :-)
Sunday 27th October 2013
12:00 GMT

   Yesterday featured some rain and some sunshine. Most of the rain seemed to be at the ends of the day. This morning started wonderfully bright and clear. It has taken the temperature up to 16 C, but that may be as high as it gets because a new feature enters the weather - high winds ! There have been a few strongs gusts in the last half hour, and the wind will hit it's peak sometime in the early hours of tomorrow morning - according to one version of the forecast. Some doom sayers suggest it will hit hurricane speeds, while the less dramatic forecasters say to expect some storm damage - trees blown down, and loose roof tiles blown away.

 I'm not sure when I heard the good news, but I am sure it was before I wrote here last time. Originally I wasn't expecting any visitors this weekend, but it may have been on Thursday night, or Friday morning, that I heard that Aleemah's plans had changed, and that she would be able to drop by and see me yesterday morning.

 It was nice to have some company for a few hours, and it was certainly very nice having an excellent excuse to go to the Wetherspoons pub ysterday morning. They have recently started another of their beer festivals, and yesterday they had something special on. It was a special strength version of Abbot ale - 8.5% - and only sold by the half pint ! Under different circumstances I could have had several half pints of it, but at just gone 10am, and only being thre so Aleemah could have breakfast, I had to limit myself to one half. However, as it was a special occasion, I did have three other ales in half pint measures. Usually when I'm with Aleemah it is only two halves.

 Aleemah left a little earlier than usual yesterday, and that gave me a chance to have an early afternoon snooze. I had a rather optimistic idea that I might have gone out last night. There was a band playing in an easy to get to pub - one 40 minute bus ride, and the bus stops right outside the pub.

 Unfortunately it didn't happen. As soon as the sun set I lost all urges to go out, and wanted to go to bed, or if not actually to bed, to be close to it ready to jump in at a moments notice. I managed to force myself to stay up watching TV until 9pm, but after that I just wanted to lie down - which is what I did. I didn't go to sleep as early as that, but I think I may have caught my first 10 minutes of sleep earlier than usual last night.

 Just like most nights since leaving hospital, I have no idea if I slept well or badly..........although I have a slight inclination to think that maybe I slept a bit better than usual. I certainly managed a couple of long(ish) periods of sleep - long enough to fit a few dreams in. One dream actually referenced an earlier dream, and just like in real life I couldn't quite remember all the fine details of it.

 Maybe my dreams were very exciting because I woke up this morning feeling bored - straight from sleep to boredom in the blink of an eye. It must be some sort of record ! Perhaps it was fortunate that this morning was brilliantly sunny. I just knew I had to get out, and get some fresh air and exercise. If it had been warm/hot, I may well have achieved a lot more than I did - which is probably not bad as a warm up after a long period of inactivity.
Pool River Linear Park walk
The very odd thing about this walk is that it was only 2.93 miles long. After walking 1.5 miles I was still walking away from home looking for a good point to turn round and head for home again.  I'm sure my route back to home was slightly longer than the outgoing route - if only by a matter of a few yards. So to walk less than three miles seems unlikely, and yet that is what my sat-nav says I walked !
Pool River Linear Park
I'm sure on older maps the river used to be known as The Pool River, and I still find myself referring to it by that name, but it seems it's proper name now is The River Pool.
Most of the park is sandwiched between the river and railway line.
Big Brother is always watching you - even in the middle of a quiet park
10ft to the left of this picture is the railway line, and the river is possibly 20 ft off to the right, and yet Big Brother still feels it is important that no sedicious activity, like plotting the overthrow of the government should take place without it being recorded for posterity.

This signpost is wrong - Crystal Palace must be at least 1 3/4 miles away, maybe more
I'm glad I don't rely on these signposts to find my way around. This one must be wrong.
Lower Sydenham is barely 3/4 (0.75) mile away, and yet Crystal Palace must be at least 1 1/2 (1.5)miles away, and maybe 2 1/2 (2.5)miles away.
change the name half way through the park !!
For reasons that I don't fully understand, the second half of the park has a different name to the first.
Almost at Bell Green, and the first signs of commerce rear their ugly head
This was almost as far as I walked.
 A little beyond the last picture, which is approximately 1.5 miles from home on this walk, is a bridge that crosses the river. I walked as far as that bridge and crossed the river. There is no official footpath in the direction of home on that side of the river, but there is an easy going, if slightly muddy track that joins the main path where the incorrect signpost to Crystal Palace is.

 I had started to feel the effects of walking, maybe just a little fatigue, before the half way point, but if that was 5 out of 10 on a scale of fatigue, I only felt about 6 out of 10 when I got back home again. In theory I could have easily walked another mile or two before resorting to crawling back on my hands and knees ! Some bits of my body are evidently in better shape than I usually think they are.

 There was proof of this, well something hinting of proof, just half an hour after getting home again. Initially I got out of my outdoor clothes, and had a lay down. Then I got up to check my email etc before laying down again. That only lasted 5 minutes before I decided to go to the corner shop. So I dressed again and set off on the 2 minute walk.

 I didn't put a coat on for such a short walk, and yet I felt quite comfortably warm in the sunshine, and even the wind, was getting quite strong at that point, didn't feel cold. I was very tempted to go for another walk on the strength of how I felt just going to the corner shop. I'm glad I didn't because for a while it came over very gloomy, and it seemed that it would rain.  It didn't rain, and it still hasn't, but the wind still seems pretty lively.

 While some bits of me are evidently working well, and much of me feels pretty well, there are still the old sore points to contend with. I get lots of assorted aches and pains from my chest. As far as I can tell they are all "old wound" sort of pains, and nothing of a serious nature. Much of the time they are ignorable, and they only intruded into my thoughts a few times while I was walking.

 My left arm, and more specifically my left hand is still a major source of bother. While I was out it felt like my hand was getting colder and colder - almost as if it had no blood flow to it, and yet I've double checked what the doctors check that there is a very healthy feeling pulse to the hand. The pain in my little finger can sometimes take on the nature, but never the strength of a toothache. It can just sit there aching with no way of relievig the pain. Rubbing it just feels worse. Keeping it warm sometimes seems to help, but is not reliable. It's not like this all the time, but when it wants to be a nuisance it can be a bloody nuisance (like right now !!) !

 My left hand is going to be the prime topic of conversation when I see the cardiac surgeon for my follow up at Kings College Hospital tomorrow (assuming the buses and trains are running after the threatened hurricane). I feel sure my concerns will be mostly dismissed, and I'll be told to just be patient because it will heal eventually. I know that already, but it will feel good to release some venom on those who will understand it best !
Friday 25th October 2013
  18:33 BST

   The temperature rose to a surprising 19 C today, and it was fairly bright a lot of the time. Yesterday was a couple of degrees cooler, and damper with an occasional splash of rain.

 It seems that my visit to work on Tuesday was more taxing than I thought - or more likely I was just being lazy ! After doing practically nothing on Wednesday I wanted to do the same yesterday, but I couldn't. In the morning I went to the surgery to give a blood sample. On the way home from that I did some shopping in Aldi. Then in the afternoon I went back to the surgery to see the nurse, and get the dressing on my leg changed.

 If that wasn't enough excitement for the day, I also went to The Catford Ram for some Guinness with the Thursday gang. I had 4 pints before coming home again. I could have stayed a bit later because I seemed to be in far less pain or discomfort than recently, but I thought that 4 pints was about right.

 The night air felt a bit cool and damp as I walked home, and soon after I got home I started coughing and sneezing. For a moment it seemed like I had gone down with a cold, but both the coughing and sneezing stopped after a while, and didn't come back. I guess it was just one of those things.

 For some uknown, but probably stupid reason, I thought I might sleep well last night, and in a way I did, but.............As usual I was in bed ready to go to sleep by 9pm, but nothing happened (which is also annoyingly usual).  It wasn't until about 2am this morning that I started sleeping for longer and longer periods, and it wasn't until 9am, after a particularly long period of uninterupted sleep, that I decided it was time to quit trying to sleep more.

 I am unsure why I couldn't sleep a lot earlier, but I don't recall being in any particular discomfort apart from some sometimes feeling a bit too warm or cool. It was this morning that I developed quite a bit of discomfort. I slept on my side for quite a large part of my sleep last night, and that left my chest feeling a bit sore. It might also be responsible for my left hand and arm giving me a lot of grief today.

 It is one of those days where half my hand is very oversensitive to touch. When even a brief brush across the little finger fingertip feels like fire, and it is quite difficult to ball my hand into a fist. There has even been some lack of sensitivity from my index finger. It's not much, but it is noticeable. One of the worst aspects, apart from how painful it can sometimes be, is how lack of use is making my left hand get weaker and weaker. There was plenty of stuff I could do with half my hand that is now difficult due to lack of strength. If there is not a big improvement by Monday I think I will have to have a serious word in the ear of my cardiac surgeon when I see him for a check up/follow up at Kings College Hospital on Monday.

 Tonight I was hoping I would feel adventurous to try and get to a gig. The gig is in Chelsfield, Kent, and would be a bit of a challenge even if I was in A1 condition - or at least getting home from there would be. To get there I would have to get a train to Bromely South where I would change to a train to Orpington. Then from Orpington I would have to get a bus to the venue.

 The band I was hoping to see are called Dupe. They feature Dave Griffiths - an excellent keyboard player who occasionally plays keyboards for Chain, and just for tonight, special guest vocals from Jo Corteen from Chain. I reckon I will be missing a really memorable gig, but with my hand aching the way it is, and the complicated travelling, there is no realistic way I could go tonight.

Dupe playing at Party In The Priory 2012
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
  16:17 BST

   Once again the weather almost repeats itself - at least during daylight hours. There was some very lively weather in the middle of the night - strong winds and copious rainfall. It calmed down sometime before sunrise to give a rather damp and gloomy morning, but like the last couple of days, it brightened up during the afternoon. Right now it looks really nice outside with bright sunshine, and the pavement and road almost dry looking. The current temperature is just a little over 15 C.

 While it felt a great accomplishment to get visit work yesterday, I'm still not sure if I didn't over do it a bit. I think I probably slept quite well, but paradoxically I was more uncomfortable than of late. My chest felt quite uncomfortable at times, and sometimes the discomfort was on the outside, and sometimes on the inside.

 What probably made it a lot worse was that I found myself sleeping on my side on a few occasions last night. It is beginning to get comfortable to do so, but not quite yet. It pulls and twists my chest scars in ways that I am not really ready for yet. I hope that some of the strange sensations I feel inside my chest are similar to the sensations I feel on the outside, and are not something nasty going on. They are sometimes very strange - sometimes like little bubbles bursting. There are some rather fanciful possible explanations for such feelings that I think I prefer not to think about !

 While my chest has been the seat of one discomfort, it is my left arm and hand that continue to be the bane of my life. I had hoped that going out yesterday might have brought some sort of improvement, and in the long view maybe it has, but not in the short view.  I have this stupidly optimistic idea that as the nerves to my hand recover it is going to feel very sensitive just before things return to normal. Yesterday evening, through the night, and through today,  my hand has been very sensitive to touch.

 The most sensitive area is my little finger, and the finger next to it. From time to time those finger tips feel like they are touching cool fire when brushing across some surfaces. They aren't quite that bad as I type this, but to add to my misery the whole hand feels very stiff right now. It's all quite a change, and maybe, just maybe it is a sign that good things are happening somewhere along the nerve fibres. On the other hand I may just be hopelessly optimistic - but I have to admit my optimism is wearing a little thin right now.

 What with the assorted pains, and the gloomy start to the day, I have not really felt like doing much. I got as far as having a shower, and considered going to do some shopping in Tesco, or if I had felt really motivated, in Lidl, but in the end I could only motivate myself to go to the corner shop. Tomorrow at 4.45pm I will have to motivate myself to go see the nurse, and then at 5pm I have to see some men about a beer. The latter will not need that much motivation, and seeing the nurse shouldn't require much either, but whether I can find something useful to do in the morning and early afternoon is just something I'll have to find out when the time comes.
Tuesday 22nd October 2013
  16:51 BST

   The weather today has followed a similar pattern to yesterday. This morning was dull, overcast, and quite wet. This afternoon is brighter and drier, but unlike yesterday "brighter" doesn't include much in the way of direct bright sunshine. Once again it is fairly mild. At the moment it is close to warm with the temperature just a smidgin under 19 C.

 Today was the day I went to say hello to work. I knew there was little chance of it happening, and indeed it didn't, but I had fanciful ideas of getting the 06:33 train as I used to before going sick from work. In fact it too ages before I felt strong enough to go out, and it was actually the 09:39 train that I caught.

 I could only guess at how I would feel making the journey to work for the first time in almost 2 months, but my best guess turned out to be fairly close. In some respects it felt remarkably routine, but it was quite tiring in different ways to the past. It was nice being able to walk from Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline non stop without my chest tiring, but it was rather odd for my legs to feel tired instead. The same was true, but more so when I walked from Earlsfield station to work.

 I arrived at work feeling like I had achieved something, but if it were possible I would almost certainly have opted for a nice lie down when I got there. It was nice to say hello to everyone, and to show off my chest scar etc. Nothing much has changed since I was last there, and a proportion of my stay there was to do all the Windows, and other updates to my work PC. I also had 130 internal emails that I skim read through. On reflection it was surprising how few of those emails had any relevance to me. Some may have had interesting information attached to them, but only about 3 were directly relevant to my own work. What a slave to emails we have become !

 It was a little after midday when I decided to go home again, and I thought I felt pretty exhuasted before I started. Evidently I wasn't because for the first time since the spring, or maybe even last winter, I walked from work to the station, and it was fairly easy going. I was almost tempted to walk up the triple flight of low and tiring stairs to the platform, but I could feel some strain building up in my chest, and didn't want to push things too far.

 My timing when I left was pretty random, but it turned out very well. The train from Earlsfield arrived at Waterloo with a very convenient 10 minutes before the Hayes train from Waterloo East. So I walked almost straight off one train, and onto the next - or would have done barring a 5 minute wait for the Hayes train.

 When I finally arrived home I was feeling seriously knackered, and to a certain extent  still do over 4 hours later - and in that 4 hours I've had some dinner and a good snooze. I am certainly going to need a fair amount of practice before I can do that journey every day. In theory I shall feel better and stronger in the morning. It's the way exercise usually works, but I am not so sure on this occasion.

 I was expecting my left hand to not feel too bad today, and to probably improve with the exercise, but it feels awful right now. It is painfully sensitive to touch in the wrong areas, and that pain is leaking out to the wrist, and maybe further up the arm too. It could be one of those nights where it keeps me awake. On the other hand I feel so drained right now that maybe sleep will come easily once I have a few of my drugs inside me.

 Tomorrow I ought to capitalise on the exercise I've done today by doing something useful. A lot depends on how my left hand feels in the morning, and to some extent how my chest feels in the morning. I think I did push my new chest plumbing a bit hard today, but I am fairly sure that has nothing to do with a big purple bruise that seems to be coming to the surface towards the bottom of my scar. Maybe it will turn out that I have a very lazy day tomorrow, and don't even get washed and dressed, or maybe it won't............
Platform A at Waterloo East at 12:47 today
A rather pointless snap of Waterloo East station on my way home today.
The time is 12:47, and I'm waiting for the 12:50 service to Hayes (via Catford Bridge).
Monday 21st October 2013
  18:06 BST

   This morning was nasty wet, grey and cold, but to my great surprise the afternoon turned out to be bright and occasionally sunny. It was even a close approximation to warm at nearly 20 C. Maybe today was just a fluke because tomorrow is forecast to be wet and cold all day !

 Last night was another occasion when it seemed hard work to relax for sleep. I was actually fairly comfortable last night, and stupidly thought that today would see some grand improvement to my various ailments. In particular I thought that I might see a great improvement in the pains/numbness, and general major annoyance in how my left hand feels.

 The reality this morning is that some bits of my hand felt worse, and some bits felt better (or improved), but I think to be realistic I would have to say that overall it seemed worse - but not by much. Perhaps one of the more useful improvements is that I am getting far less pain from my arm now. I still get some, but even in the small hours of the night it is not enough (usually) to stop me getting back to sleep. That is actually a huge improvement over the situation last week.

 I found it incredibly hard to get motivated in the gloomy light of this morning, and it was well passed 9am when I headed to the bathroom to wash my hair and have a shower. I also trimmed my beard. This was mostly because I needed it, but also because I had in mind that I might be travelling today. I almost did, but in the end I decided that a visit to Tesco was more satisfying than a visit to Earlsfield (and work).

 I didn't realise it at the time, but later I found I had made a wise decision because there was a lot of disruption on the railways with delays of more than an hour in some cases. So I was rather glad that I didn't attempt to go further afield than Tesco's in Catford ! Perhaps I'll feel keener on travelling to Earlsfield tomorrow.

 I find it hard to work out just exactly how I feel today. There are so many indicators that disagree with each other.  As I've mentioned, my left hand feels very slightly worse today, but I know that it may well have improved if I had been walking around instead of spending hours laying on my bed.  My chest scars don't seem quite as sensitive today, and when I went to Tesco the irritation from wearing a shirt was less than pain, and often just about ignorable for some of the time.

 One thing that is getting worse, but only by a tiny degree, is my cough. It is still very infrequent, but less so than last week. Sometimes it is dry and tickly, and at other times it is wet and satisfying. On the whole it no longer produces wrenching pains in my chest, but is not always that comfortable either. The funny think is that changing one of my medications was supposed to stop the cough. So I guess it is back to the original doctors diagnosis that it is just all the little hairs in my lungs and airways regrowing, and asserting themselves after not smoking for 7 weeks or so now.

 One thing that has not improved is the tiredness I still suffer from. Some of it, maybe a lot of it might all be in the head, but after doing anything more taxing than breathing or blinking I get a strong desire to lay down and relax. I know that laying down is not doing me much good, but it is hard to resist, and it is possible that the amount of times I fall asleep while doing it is some sort of indicator that my desire is for real.

 Maybe if I get a good nights sleep tonight I may wake up refreshed and raring to go. Maybe it will be far less dramatic than that, but tomorrow I will have another go at trying to get over to Earlsfield. Getting better sleep could be a reality sometime in the not too distant future. I have been doing more experimenting with laying on my side instead of my back. It still pulls at my scar, or seems to, but it is getting more comfortable every night. It also has the advantage that the duvet rubs on my scar a lot less. It is the ideal sleeping position, as proved over the last 30, 40 or maybe even 50 years, and I can't wait to get back to it. I feel sure it is going to be a major turning point in my recovery.
Sunday 20th October 2013
  18:20 BST

   It's been a very mixed day when it comes to describing the weather. The morning started off passably bright, and at about 9am the heavens opened. I could barely see the other side of the road ! That lasted about 5 minutes, and then the sky cleared to give a lot of bright sunshine until early afternoon. It then got steadily duller and duller until it was pouring with rain again.......and by pouring I mean Pouring with a capital P ! Not all that far away from here someone was treated to a thunderstorm. I saw a few weak flashes off in the distance, and the long peels of thunder were clearly heard. The temperature today has been a couple of degrees cooler than yesterday, around 15 or 16 degrees, but it is still not feeling all that cold.

 I guess I was feeling fairly depressed yesterday. It was caused by a mixture of pains, boredom, and ennui. The post-operation scar on my chest seemed very sensitive yesterday, and that made me very reluctant to wear a shirt of any kind. Had I been comfortable wearing a shirt I could have gone out for a walk, and I even had a choice of two gig venues to go to in the evening.

 It wouldn't have been agony to wear a shirt, and I would have had no problem wearing one if I was going out for a very specific purpose, but going out for a walk didn't seem like a good enough reason to bear the discomfort. Going out to a gig in the evening would have been a far better reason, but by evening other factors had set in. Mainly I was just feeling too pissed off to motivate myself.

 I also thought I felt tired last night, and yet when it came to try and settle for the night I found I wasn't sleepy, and that was after I had taken my little blue pill that is supposed to make me feel drowsy (as well as curing me of pains some weeks after I hope they have cured naturally).  It must have been close to midnight when I finally fell asleep. Just for a change I was in very little pain last night, and I think I slept reasonably well until something like 4am.

 I am still getting pains in my left arm today, but I notice they seem less than recently. Conversely, the pains in my left hand are worse in some circumstances. I don't think I've had another episode, no matter how brief, of close to normal sensation in the two little fingers of my left hand, but something is definitely going on - hopefully for the good. Both of those fingers are incrediby sensitive to light touch, and the sensation is like a cross between fire and electric shock. A heavier touch is merely very unpleasant. It might be my imagination, but I think something approaching normal sensation is returning to the part of the palm immeadiately behind those two little fingers. If, and it's a bloody big if, that normalness starts to creep down the fingers, I could be cured in a few more days. Well, it's got to happen one day somehow.

 Today had more of a purpose, and so I have been far less pissed off than yesterday. This morning I met Aleemah at the station, and we went to the pub for breakfast before watching a DVD at home. I had to put a shirt on to go out, and it was a bit uncomfortable, but maybe not nearly as bad as a few days back. While watching the DVD I had my shirt off, and on the whole I was quite comfortable for the 2 hours the DVD was playing, but it was a bit of a relief when it had finished, and a bit later when Aleemah had gone home again. I had a good snooze after that.

 Assorted aches and pains are a way of life right now, but I haven't felt that bad today............or to put it another way, other days have been far far worse. In my more wildly optimistic moments it is almost as if I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The patterns of pain from my chest, and left hand/arm are slowly changing. I sometimes thing my hand will be back to normal, or close to it, before my chest is fully healed. On the other hand, it is starting to seem very likely that the nerve damage to my arm is actually located in my chest area, and so both are healing together at the same time.

 There is an area around my left boob (or moob) that is slightly numb but sensitive to touch, and it is possible that the nerves to my arm live somewhere under there. The pysiotherapist at the hospital, in one of his useful moments, did suggest there is a "nerve junction box" in that general area. Of course he had a medical term for it, but "junction box" is a fine description for the moment. That area is slowly coming back to life, and it would be easy to imagine it's doing it at the same rate as the changes to my arm and hand. I'm sure it is 50% better than last time. The only trouble is I can't remember when last time actually was !!

 I think there is a 50% chance that I will notice some sort of useful improvement to my pain and discomfort in the morning. There has already been an improvement in my blood pressure reading. Early this afternoon, after quietly watching a DVD for an hour, it was low enough to be merely far too high - which is a big improvement on "duck ! - it's about to blow" !

 It all depends on how I sleep tonight, how I feel in the morning, and most importantly, what the weather is like, but tomorrow could be the day I make my first attempt at visiting work. It's going to be one hell of a challenge, but it will feel great once I succeed whether that be tomorrow, the day after, or any day next week or the week after that. After that I might have to be doing it for real, and I don't want to think about that until I've done it for fun.
Saturday 19th October 2013
15:22 BST

  Until the last few minutes it has been a very dull gloomy sort of day with the ground perpetually wet from drizzle. Sometimes the rain may have been heavier, but I've done my best to ignore the outside world today. It didn't last long, and maybe it will never be repeated, but a few minutes ago the sun came out - which was rather nice. The current temperature is a surprising 18 C.

 It would be fairly accurate to say that I am not at my happiest today, and yet there are reasons why I shoud be feeling good. Maybe the dull gloom just rides roughshod over any minor positives. I don't think I felt that bad last night, and my sleep last night was not terrible. If anything it was microscopically better than recently - once I managed to actually get to sleep properly.

 The most positive thing happened this morning, and yet it seemed so brief that I find it hard to believe it really happened. For little more than a second I realised that I was able to feel the texture of my trousers using the little fingers of my left hand without having the sensation completely overwhelmed by painful tingling. Nothing as good as that has happened since, but indescribable changes to how my left hand feels do continue to hint that change is happening. Maybe one change that is slightly more obvious when I come to think of it, is that it seeems much easier to calm my hand down when it gets painful. The same is not so true for the rest of my left arm, but maybe I've had hints  that is to come soon.

 It is entirely possible that all these feelings about improvements to my hand and arm are mainly delusional to counter the depression I feel today. The core of it is undoubtably impatience. It feels like all these aches and pains have gone on far too long, and that I should be doing something useful or exciting...or both ! There is also the feeling that with yet another drug being prescribed to attempt to control my blood pressure I am, once again, moving from being a patient to being a guinea pig. This last happened in 2009, and I was not happy about it, not happy at all !

 Back in 2009 I collected some records of my blood pressure. My worst figures were always when I was at the surgery, and the best were quite often after commuting home from work.
 
26/05/2009 08:10:00 219 108 105 Measured at the surgery
26/05/2009 12:11:00 185 100 84 Just before leaving to escort Patricia to dental hospital
26/05/2009 15:54:00 181 102 91 Back home again with Patricia
26/05/2009 18:01:00 187 109 89
27/05/2009 17:06:00 160 96 80 10 minutes after arriving home from work
28/05/2009 04:56:00 169 98 73 woke up about 10 minutes ago
28/05/2009 17:18:00 157 92 80 home from work via Tesco's
29/05/2009 05:14:00 160 100 72 Recently woke up
29/05/2009 17:10:00 144 100 91 walked through park on way home from work
29/05/2009 18:28:00 164 93 84 dinner and 50 mins of TV
30/05/2009 06:48:00 168 102 72 woke up 20 minutes ago
01/06/2009 04:36:00 160 91 68 woke up just gone 4 am !
01/06/2009 17:33:00 143 92 89

 It was in July 2009 that I said (to no one in particular) to hell with it ! I stopped taking all the pills, and decided to do something useful. That was the start of my long coastal walks (and some pretty long inland walks too). My first trip was to Rye Harbour, and although it wasn't a very long walk, it felt wonderful to complete it. Over the next few years I felt fitter and healthier than I had ever done before. Whether or not I was actually damaging myself doesn't deserve consideration. I saw stuff, and did stuff I would never have done otherwise, and that was priceless.

 If we were heading for summer instead of winter I could easily see myself turning my back on the doctors again. One of the frustrations now is that I find it very difficult to enjoy walking in anything but bright warm (preferably hot) sunshine. Somehow I have to find a balance, if there is one, where I can try and keep the doctors just happy enough to keep off my back until next spring comes around.

 In the meantime I've got to get through the rest of today. In theory I could go to a gig. It's only a bus ride away (not that I've been on a bus or train in something like 7 or 8 weeks now), but I would have to raise a huge amount of enthusiasm to get me out of the front door. Maybe it will happen, but I doubt it.
Friday 18th October 2013
14:08 BST

  It's 18 C right now, and I guess that means today is milder than yesterday. It didn't start out like that. It was quite chilly at daybreak, but occasional sunny spells seem to have worked wonders.

 I think it would be true to say that I am not happy today, but my optimism levels are stupidly high right now.  I tried my new pain killer drug, Amitripyline, last night, and it was useless ! For about 5 minutes I did feel a little drowsy, and maybe, just maybe the pain from my right hand was reduced. Unfortunately those 5 minutes were not the same time as I was planning, or ready to go to sleep. When I did want to go to sleep I was not very drowsy, and the pain from my left hand/arm was as lively as ever.

 Several hours later I took some paracetamol, and while that has only a limited effect, it helped enough to get to sleep eventually. As usual I slept in blocks of 45 - 75 minutes until about 4am when the pain became less controllable, and I slept a lot less until I eventually gave up any serious attempt at trying to get back to sleep at about 5.30am (although I did get a few minutes here and there).

 Waking up early was no bad thing, and indeed at some time in the future, when I eventually return to work, I'll have to get used to getting up even earlier still ! This morning it was handy because I had an appointment with the nurse at 8.45am to have my remaining bit of wound on my leg assessed, and the dressing changed. That bit of wound has still not healed, but it has shrunk by half in the last week or so - in my humble opinion. The nurse seemed more impatient than me in this instance, but while it is not painful, and not actualy leaking any blood, I am happy with it to close at it's own rate - I have other worries.

 After seeing the nurse I went to Aldi where I desperately tried to only buy wholesome foods like fruit and fish, but inevitably a few naughty things slipped into my basket. I should have bought a lot less because it was a real bugger lugging it home - all thanks to only having half of my left hand able to support any weight.

 I must say that my left hand is being rather beastly today, but for some strange reason I feel quite optimistic about it. As well as the strong tingly senstation that I get instead of touch from the two little fingers, I am now also getting completely random stabs of pain. Fortunately they are rare, and very brief. To my simple mind they are evidence of nerves regrowing, and an indicator that there will be an end to this major annoyance.

 It's a shame that the Amitripyline is not providing any useful analgesic action at this time. I notice that the web page I've linked to says that the effect on sleep is almost immeadiate, but as a pain killer it can take 2 - 6 weeks to work ! Now that is completely stupid. I sincerely hope that the worst of this pain will be completely over in far less than 6 weeks without any aid from analgesics.

 As an experiment, because I had nothing better to do, I took another tablet at about 11am this morning. It didn't give any pain relief, but it did make it is a few percent easier to doze off to sleep for the rest of the morning, and into this afternoon. It wasn't a very good test because there are plenty of examples of me sleeping much of the morning, and into the afternoon without the help of any drugs, but I'll be ultra generous and say it must have helped a bit.

 My chest continues to provide pain when stimulated the right way - which includes many common movements. Sometimes it can be bloody annoying, and at other times merely slightly irritating. I think I may have commented in the past that the worst pain occurs in a small area, and that area is slowly getting higher and higher up the scar. In the past I have suggested that once it gets to the top of the scar the pain will sail off into outer space, never to bother me again ! Perhaps that is a bit fanciful, but today some of the pain almost feels like a shaving rash under my chin (quite a long way under, and essentially at the neckline). 

 I reckon in a day or two I'll be finding out if there is a significant improvement in my chest pain. Some bits will obviously stay sensitive for a while - there is obvious bruising to show where that will be. For much of the time it is now just the surface sensitivity, that makes wearing a shirt unpleasant, that annoys me most, and the other pains I can easily live with and/or work around. As I sit here with my left hand tingling, and my left arm feeling like it's been over exercised tenfold, any small pain from my chest is quite ignorable !

 This afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow feel like they could be excruciatingly boring. My friend Aleemah is busy tomorrow, but I will be seeing her on Sunday instead. Ideally I'd like to go to a gig tonight, but I don't think there is anything suitable, and I am not completely sure I am up to it anyway. As it is, I feel like another snooze coming on :-)
Thursday 17th October 2013
13:58 BST

  Today seems rather mild compared to recently. Being dry, and even seeing some sunshine this afternoon, helped the illusion along nicely. It is currently close on 18 C right now, and I guess that is sort of mild.

 By late evening my blood pressure had returned to moderately high after being dangerously high while at the hospital. In fact at one point it dropped to almost, but not quite acceptable. High blood pressure doesn't actually feel that bad, but contrary to what my doctors tell me, I can sort of feel it. I can tell when it is high, but it's only a vague sort of feeling that is no more accurate than something more than low. Whether the relief of it coming down to sensible levels had any bearing on what was to come later is open to debate.

 To me, it was one of those random things that make defining what is wrong with me, and what to do about it, so hard, but last night I suffered very little pain, and slept rather better than I have for quite some time. I didn't need, nor take any painkillers at all......although I wasn't 100% pain free by any means. In fact by 4 or 5 in the morning the magic was over and I was in some discomfort until later on.

 My blood presssure when I first checked soon after getting out of bed at 5am was very high, but it did come right down in a matter of hours. Strangely enough, taking Ramipiril, one of the tablets that is supposed to reduce my blood pressure, seemed to have no affect at all on the rate my blood pressure was dropping.

 I left home to go to the surgery very early this morning so I would be close to the head of the queue, and able to get an appointment with a doctor as quickly as possible. It was a little boring waiting half in/half out the building for about 20 minutes, but once the dors fully opened I was seen by reception quite quickly. As soon as I mentioned the magic words "the cardiac rehabilitation nurse wants me to see a doctor urgently" things moved quite fast. I managed to get an appointment for 9.10am.

 Of course I wasn't actually seen until closer to 9.35am, but it was a lot faster than the service they would have offered to someone who had been mauled by a grizzly bear. It seems the reception staff are just as scared of the cardiac rehabilitation nurse as I am !! The doctor was quite sympathetic, and gave me prescriptions for yet another tablet for blood pressure reduction, plus an alternative drug to one I am already on that has less of a reputation for causing a dry tickly cough as a side effect for some people - particularly ex-smokers like me.

 There was one other drug I was prescribed.This was a drug suggested by the physiotherapist at the hospital, and is allegedly good as a painkiller for nerve damage pain. In far higher doses than I'll be using, it is actually an anti-depressant. I just hope it works a lot better than codeine. Like codeine, it is not to be used with booze, but a careful reading of the enclosed leaflet mentions nothing about taking it after booze - just not with it !

 This is probably a very good thing because I'm out on the booze tonight. One can never tell how these things will actually work out, but it is not my intention to get blasted tonight. I'll just be having a quick pint with Jodie who will be stopping off in Catford on her way up to gig in central London, and another pint or two with some or more of the Thursday gang. It is possible that I'll be home by 7pm, and several hours will elapse before I take my new pain killing drug, and going to bed. Or maybe not :-)

 Meanwhile, a little earlier, there was bright sunshine streaming through my bedroom window. It really did pick out all the delicate tracery of purple and violet bruising among the red areas of my chest. It is no surprise that it still feels like a piece of tenderised meat. Once that brusing goes away, perhaps in another week, I rather expect I'll be feeling a hell of a lot better - or at least a lot more agile. I've got a vague idea that I want to get a lot more mobile sometime next week, and that will probably include a trip to the other side of the great divide to see how they are doing at work.
Wednesday 16th October 2013
20:46 BST

  The day started off rather misty and dull, but it didn't seem to be particularly cold. Later on, perhaps mid morning, but maybe later, it started to rain. The rain was never very heavy, but from time to time it got quite close to heavy. Even later still, in the late afternoon, we were graced with some intermittent sunshine.

 The complete and utter failure of codeine to give me any pain relief, and better sleep for the two nights I tried it, inspired me to try another method of pain control last night. I drunk well over half my months ration of scotch last night. Considering the meagre amount I get as sick pay at the moment, "months ration" may well actually mean two months ration. I'm not sure when I will be able to afford such a luxury item again.

 The scotch worked very well. I got gloriously drunk, and for many hours I slept well with no appreciation of any pain. Of course I had a bit of a hangover this morning, but it was a small price to pay. Some of the other effects were less good. I woke up sleeping on my side - something I've wanted to get back to doing since before the operation, but I knew I was not ready for it just yet. So when I woke up it felt like I had split open my chest. It was very uncomfortable for a short while, and the discomfort, at a far milder level, continued for quite a lot of today.

 Getting out to see the nurse at 8am this morning was a bit of a trial, but once I got moving I felt fairly OK. The honey that had been used to treat the little remaining wound on my leg seemed to have worked OK. The wound is still not fully healed, but shows the best improvement recently. After cleaning, the wound has been treated with more honey, and I'll be seeing the nurse again on Friday.

 This afternoon I went to Lewisham Hospital for my post cardiac operation rehabilitation assessment. It sort of went well, but once I am on the system it will involve all sorts of very boring exercise. To hammer this home, and scare the living daylights out of me, the assessment was carried out in a corner of the physiotherapy gym.

 Everything was going well until my blood pressure was checked before I was handed over to a physiotherapist to be assessed doing some simple exercises. My blood pressure reading was one of the highest I have seen, and this caused a certain amount of consternation for the nurse ! Any exercise was called off until I am force fed even more drugs to lower my blood pressure. This is usually a negative exercise. We could be approaching the same nexus as three years ago when I said sod it, no more !!!! Maybe that didn't do me much good in the long run, but it did enable me to walk much of the S.E. coast - which was far more interesting than ever increasing amounts of drugs.

 The afternoon was not entirely wasted though. While the physiotherapist was not allowed to get his claws in me, he was able to give me a quite comprehensive lecture on nerve pathways, damage and regrowth. My guess that my painful chest is part of the healing process is just about right. All the nerve damage in it while it was opened up and generally treated like a prime cut of meat to be tenderised, is very slowly repairing itself, and while it does all those nerves are going to be randomly firing of pain signals. It seems that the nerves to my left arm and hand, a major source of discomfort, are actually routed through the chest as well. So it's all just a matter of waiting until everything mends itself - which I knew already, but it is nice to have it confirmed again.

 Tomorrow morning I have to try and get myself a very urgent appointment to see a doctor. The cardiac nurse has (or should have) faxed her findings through to the surgery with a recommendation that I am treated with a particular drug to lower my blood pressure. So I'll need a prescription for that. The physiotherapist also suggested a couple of pain killers that are (allegedly) very good for nerve pain. Hopefully one or other of those will work, and one day I'll be able to go to bed without my left arm and/or hand complaining loudly !
Tuesday 15th October 2013
17:25 BST

  It hasn't been very warm today, but it has been fairly bright, and often sunny. The current temperature is a mere 13 C. Tomorrow could start off rather cold at just 8 C, and foggy as well, but then as the temperature climbs just a few degrees the rain will start to fall - and possibly fall quite heavily !

 Last night I didn't take any painkillers until the early hours of the morning when I took a couple of paracetamol to try and reduce the pain in my left wrist and hand. Initially I felt almost comfortable, and from soon after 9pm until 1 or 2 in the morning I seemed to sleep rather well compared to recently.

 After several hours of a lot of discomfort I was able to get back to sleep again. Once or twice in the night, in the morning hours as far as I can remember, I tried sleeping/resting on my side as I have traditionally done for the last shed load of years until my heart operation. It is still not perfectly comfortable, but the feeling that all my internal organs are getting tangled up with each other* seems to be fading fast, and maybe it won't be long before I am able to sleep on my side again.

* The feeling that my internal organs are getting "tangled up with each other" is, of course, a fiction to describe a feeling that I can't actually describe. It's sort of based on an irrational idea that everything inside my chest is all held together with stitches and thread. Of course a few bits of it really are, but not in the way that late night imagination can conjour up when fed with genuine discomfort.

 My main objective for today was to get to the vampires in the attic (otherwise known as the phlebotomists on the top floor/attic space) of the group practice where my doctors and nurses hang out on the ground floor. They do a walk in service for blood sample taking from 8.30am, and I wanted to get in nice and early.

 Maybe it was because this morning was not wet and gloomy that I was able to wash and dress in plenty of time to get to the surgery 15 minutes early. It all worked out rather well. I was actually seen a few minutes before the place officially opened !! Afterward I walked home via the 99p shop where as well as some non food stuffs like bleach, I bought more stuff to completely wreck any hope of losing weight.

 I am getting a little concerned about how much weight I am piling back on recently. As I may have mentioned in the past, it is very hard to reward pain and boredom with hunger. There are many good reasons why I am not keen to get back to work, but one good reason to go back to work is a more structured lifestyle.  Prior to my operation, and in a bid to avoid what turned out to be the inevitable, I lost about 2 stone. If I had kept on the same path I might well have lost at least another stone by now, and quite possibly more.

 Tomorrow I take another of the steps towards getting back to work. After a very early appointment with the nurse at 8am I am due at Lewisham Hospital at 1.45pm for a physiotherapy assessment, and general review of my circumstances. I am not particularly looking forward to it because I see it taking up a lot of time, but maybe it won't be as bad as I expect.
Monday 14th October 2013
17:14 BST

  It was another gloomy start to the day, but not as gloomy as yesterday, and after some initial dampness it has been a dry day. The current temperature is a tad over 13 C - rather cool, but not exactly cold.

 Last night I took another couple of codeine tablets, and the results were remarkably similar to the night before. Instead of becoming sleepy I became more alert, and the low level, close to ignorable, pain in my left hand and wrist became very hard to ignore ! Once again I had a very poor nights sleep !

 There is one other effect from those codeine tablets that I half noticed yesterday, but had confirmed today. They seem to have awoke my nicotine cravings more than anything else. I haven't had cravings bad enough to break me down, but the amount of times I have wanted a fag has gone up threefold, maybe fourfold today.

 I didn't feel I could be bothered to get myself ready early enough to go and give more blood samples today. It is something I may well do tomorrow, although there is no actual deadline for it apart from a sort of vague "mid month".

 I did get shampooed, showered, and dressed in plenty of time to attend my appointment with the nurse today. It was a different nurse to the one I saw the last couple of times. She declared that my scars were all healing well apart from the one little area that has concerned previous nurses. Today the nurse tried a new treatment - honey.

 Whether honey is the secret that will heal my leg will be revealed on Wednesday - very early on Wednesday ! I've got an 8am appointment. That will mean getting up, and out earlier than I've done in the last 6 or 7 weeks. I wonder if I can still remember how to do it ? The reason it is so early is that I have another appointment on Wednesday.

 It was only by happy chance that I noticed that my introduction to post cardiac stuff physiotherapy is set for 1.45pm on Wednesday.  Prior to going to it I have to fill in a long questionare of dubious quality. It asks all sorts of questions whose answers vary by the phases of the moon, the hands of the clock, and the price of beer.  I think an awful lot of my answers are going to be "sometimes" !

 Although I have an early(ish) start tomorrow, I don't think I need to go to bed any earlier than I usually do. By 8pm on most nights I am feeling slightly tired, and even more bored. So That is when I make a very slow start to going to bed for the night. Tonight I definitely won't be taking any codiene, and maybe I won't be taking any painkillers at all. So far today my left arm and hand have been moderately well behaved, and although my two little fingers are very sensitive and tingly, I've been in no pain.

 Even my chest is feeling improved today. It still feels like someone has stitched a heavy weight to it that pulls the skin in whatever direction gravity is pulling, but it is definitely less painful now. Even the touch sensitivity seems less. When I went out to see the nurse (and went home via Tesco) I could feel my shirt touching my chest as more of an itch rather than a pain. It was still nice to get my shirt off when I got home, but I didn't feel in a rush to do it. If these improvements carry on I expect I'll be feeling totally different, in a better way, next week.
Sunday 13th October 2013
17:31 BST

  It was hard to tell when today began. I don't think it got lighter than the inside of a seedy nightclub until sometime this afternoon ! I'm not sure if it has rained non stop today, but there was certainly no period when the road looked dry. It's because I haven't been outside, or even paid that much attention to the outside world, that I am also unable to say with any conviction that most of today's rain has been quite light, but I think that was the case. What I can say with some accuracy is that the current temperature is a mere 12 C, and that may well be as high as it's been all day.

 Last night I was still largely free from any annoying pain (which isn't the same thing as pain free), but my left hand and wrist were growing uncomfortable as the evening wore on. So I was really looking forward to giving my codeine tablets their first real test. I hadn't drunk any booze, or taken any paracetamol all day, and so it was going to be purely down to the codeine to kill the pain, and make me feel drowsy enough for the start of a good nights sleep.

 At 8.20pm I took two codeine tablets and waited in bed......and waited..........and waited. As far as I am concerned I may as well have taken two sugar pills (maybe I did !!). Absolutely nothing happened except the pain in my wrist got marginally worse, and I seemed to become less sleepy and more alert. At midnight I took two 200mg Ibuprofen tablets to see what they might do for my hand and wrist.

 Maybe they did some good, but I can't really tell because I fell asleep while still experiencing discomfort from my wrist and hand. However, I did seem to sleep for well over an hour, perhaps two hours, and that is unusual recently. When I woke up again I could still feel some discomfort from my wrist and hand, but it did seem quite attenuated. It wasn't that long before I was asleep again, and the rest of the night was the usual alternating blocks of sleeping and waking.

 It's hard to say exactly when I got up this morning. I did get up briefly at 5am when I spent a short time in the toilet, and also went downstairs to turn the heating on in the living room. At about 6.30am I got up to take my morning drugs. Half an hour later I was back in bed, and with sunrise being so indistinct because it was so dark this morning, it was probably well gone 9am before I did anything that could be interpreted as "being up".

 I haven't taken a single pain killer all day today. This is partly because I have avoided doing anything I know that induces discomfort, but also because my chest and left arm and hand seem to have been rather well behaved today all by themselves. Sitting here typing is starting to get my left arm hurting, but I am very confident that if I stop typing soon, and rest my arm, I'll be fine again.

 Tonight I am going to take a couple more codeine tablets to see if they do anything. If I wasn't going to give a blood sample in the morning I might well have chosen a (very) large dose of whiskey as a proven alternative pain killer, and sleeping agent, but unless anything changes badly in the next 3 or 4 hours I shouldn't really need and strong pain killers. However I can't turn down the possibility of a good sleep if such a thing is possible.

 Today I have been incredibly lazy, but I did try some experimental photo-art. Not many ideas worked out, but this photo of Chris and Jamie from Friday night seemed almost pleasing even if it was not exactly how I hoped it would look. Perhaps the secret was to stop mucking about until the whole picture was ruined !!!
Chris and Jamie
Saturday 12th October 2013
16:01 BST

  Yesterday was most definitely wet ! It wasn't terribly cold, perhaps 13 - 15 C, but the rain and general gloom made it feel a very autumn, going on winter sort of day. Fortunately there were a few times when the rain eased off, and a couple of those times very happily coincided with times when I was out. Today it is just over 14 C, and although it is a bit dull as I write this, there have been several sunny periods.

 Yesterday I had a double appointment at the surgery. First of all I saw the nurse who checked my dressings. In fact it is essentially dressing in the singular. There is still just one little area of the scar running the entire length of my left leg that is having trouble healing. The nurse has tried a different sort of dressing this time, but admits that she is baffled why this one area won't heal. It is a problem that may have to be escalated up to a doctor if it doesn't show some improvement soon.

 The second appointment was with a doctor, but it really only concerned drugs. I got a prescription for fresh supplies of the drugs I am on, and then we discussed pain control with a strong emphasis on the pains in my left arm, and how they have been strong enough to completely stop me sleeping on many recent nights. For that I got prescribed 30mg Codeine tablets - a strong painkiller with soporific effects. It should be ideal - provided I haven't been boozing. Booze and Codeine are not recommended as cosy bed fellows, but I'll probably let the pain decide on that.

 The doctor was unsure about what to make of the chest area pains I am currently getting. He did note that some areas of my chest scar are still looking a bit red, and wondered if there was some infection causing some sensitivity. He was only half sold on the idea, and has given me a prescription for some more anti-biotics with the idea that I'll only get the prescription made up if the problem gets worse. I have a theory that I am more likely to use it if the nurse declares that the wound on my legs needs anti-biotics.

 Yesterday evening saw Chain playing in The Catford Ram, and of course I had to go along. I've been so starved of live music lately that I stayed right up until the last encore had been played despite being in considerable pain from time to time. Both my arm and chest contributed to the pain.
Jo Corteen playing the Epiphone Explorer
There is one song, and I can't remember what it is, when Jo drops the electro-acoustic guitar, and takes up a full electric guitar - Chris' Epiphone Explorer.
Chris Mayer
There are a couple of songs where Chris uses a "bottleneck", but I'm guessing this was "Freebird".
Jo, Chris and special guest vocalist Jamie Bull
Jo's throat was feeling a bit rough and so Jamie Bull from Kimera was called in to do some of the vocals. He's very good at anything heavy metal, but ballads........
Chris Mayer
Chris decided to play by the bar for this song
mosh pit ? Dance pit ?
Jamie is left alone on stage as Chris plays out front, as does Jo on her tambourine.

 It was great to get out to the gig, but it was also very nice to get home again. It had stayed dry when I walked to the pub, and it was dry when I walked home again, but it was quite chilly. So it was nice to warm my arm and chest up, and to have a couple of snacks before going up to bed. If I remember correctly I felt tired enough to fall asleep quite early, perhaps 10pm, but it didn't last for long.  At about half past midnight, maybe a bit later, I was wide awake and in considerable discomfort.

 Despite the warnings about mixing booze and codeine I took just one tablet (I am allowed 2 if needed). It did seem to work, and work well for a couple of hours, but as 4am approached I was frequently waking up, and in mild discomfort. I gave up any serious attempt at more sleep at about 6am, but surprisingly I did still manage the odd 10 - 15 minutes here and there.

 Today has been interesting. I saw my friend Aleemah. My chest seemed very sore when I met her at the station, and it felt like my shirt was chafing my chest as we walked down to the pub. I was still uncomfortable as I had a pint in the pub, but it wasn't as bad as the night before, and my arm was not contributing much pain at all.

 After the pub we went shopping in Aldi. I bought quite a lot in there, and lugging it all home really wore me down. I was having particular trouble with my left hand. The two little fingers were so tingly that I had to support the entire weight of the bag on the other two fingers - and in the end they were protesting a lot !!

 I was expecting to be in a lot of pain while we watched the DVD Aleemah had brought over, but to my surprise I felt more comfortable than I've done in ages. I didn't wear a shirt so my my chest wasn't being irritated by touch, and I seemed to be able to adopt many postures without any "pulling" pains in my chest. My left arm was on it's best behaviour, and even my creaky back didn't seem to complain.

 Even now, some three hours after Aleemah went home, I am in considerable less pain than I have been recently. It's not all plain sailing though. I am getting a few twinges in my left arm, and the two little fingers on my left hand are really sensitive to touch - but not in a good way. They just respond with painful tingles.

 Even if this is just a short respite from some of the pain I've endured recently then I am more than happy with it, but I feel I want to put on my idiots grin and announce that it is all a sign of ongoing recovery - and of course it is...............but maybe just not as fast as I want it to be. Time will tell.
Thursday 10th October 2013
14:14 BST

  There was a little sunshine this morning, but it didn't last long. While the sun was shining on my coat it made it feel far warmer than the mere 9 C air temperature this morning. Currently it is only just over 12 C, and it's looking rather gloomy. It is possible that it will rain before the day is over. We really have entered onto the slippery slope down to winter now !!

 Getting out to deliver my early morning urine sample to the doctors was hard work this morning......or maybe I should say painful work. My chest still feels appallingly sensitive. Certain actions can be painful, and just the touch of a shirt in some places is not pleasant (although there are no obvious surface features to account for that sensitivity). Once I've actually been moving for a while the pains can improve a fair bit, but never really go away.

 As well as my chest, my left arm and hand are doing their best to make the day as miserable as possible. Up until today I have viewed it as progress that I am gaining more sensitivity in areas that were once very numb, but now  there are times when over half my hand can feel almost as if it is on fire. Maybe fire is a bit of an exageration, but it is definitely not nice, and not helped by the increasing frequency of strong muscular/joint pain from the arm.

 All these pains don't occur at the same time and/or at full strength. For instance as I type this my hand is only very slightly sore, but my arm feels like I've been lifting heavy weights with it all morning. Meanwhile if I sit very slightly forward my chest feels heavy and painful, and if I sit slightly back I get a similar amount of pain but pulling in a different direction. If I sit perfectly upright there is one position that is almost impossible to maintain, but is less painful than any other.

 All these pains are lessened, or if I am lucky, eliminated while laying flat on my bed (though that brings its own discomforts after a while). Paracetamol can help a lot too, but I prefer to save that for night time when I'm trying to sleep.

 Tonight I may have some temporary respite from some of the pains. At 5pm I'm going to The Catford Bridge Tavern to meet Chris, and any of the Thursday night gang who may attend.  It is supposed to be a brief drink, and I did promise Chris that I wouln't keep him late.  Maybe it will last longer than anticipated as these things sometimes do.

 Tomorrow I am booked in to see both the nurse and a doctor. I mainly want to see the doctor about my current medications - that have all just run out - but I think I am going to have to raise the problem of the various pains I have. Maybe the doctor will prescribe an alternative, maybe stronger analgesic for night time so I can use the occasional paracetamol during the day.
Wednesday 9th October 2013
09:44 BST

  Yesterday was not that bright, but it wasn't actually gloomy, and the temperature was moderate. It seems that it's all change today. It is very gloomy right now, and may well stay this way all day.  The current temperature is 16 C. That's not that cold, and probaby higher than it looks to be outside, but together with the gloom, is hardly inspirational.

 I managed to get out for a walk a little earlier than usual yesterday. I think it might have been as early as 9am when I gritted my teeth and stepped out into the cold sunshine. My primary purpose was to go to the surgery to pick up a sample tube for an early morning urine sample that I was supposed to give this morning. I took the scenic route by walking north through the park as far as the hospital, then walking through the hospital grounds to the main road. From there I walked south down the main road to the turning where the surgery is, and then with sample kit in hand, back home again.

 After a few days of eating all sorts of crap I thought it might be a good idea to try and be a bit more careful about what I ate yesterday. Curiously enough it seemed easy to do, and I ended up eating very little during the day. This turned out to be quite a good thing !

 The original plan for yesterday was that my friend Jodie would pop in and see me for a while. By Monday afternoon I was already considering that maybe we should meet for a quick beer in the local Wetherspoons pub. By early yesterday I had modified that idea to meet a bit later in The Catford Bridge Tavern when it opened at 4pm. Jodie needed zero persuasion to accept this new plan.

 So it was at 4pm that I met Jodie for some beers, and as it turned out out, some cider as well, in a pub with better ambience, and better beers ! It was probably because I was in some discomfort that I drank a little faster than usual. My chest is still very, very sore, and even my shirt rubbing against it was causing some pain. None of this is surprising considering what was done to it during surgery last month. What is surprising is why it has taken the best part of 5 weeks to actually start feeling like a piece of well tenderised meat ! I think that there are hints I am over the worst of it now, but it can still be bloody painful at times !!

 I'm not sure how many pints I had yesterday, but it may well have been 5 or less. The trouble is many of the beers were stronger than average, and the last pint was not beer but half of strong cider, and half of strong perry.  It is, or course, mixing beer with cider that is responsible for many of histories greater, but hardly known moments !!

 The pains from my chest were subdued a lot, and I felt quite supercharged when I left the pub. I also felt quite peckish. It is a tribute to how effective my recent surgery was that I was able to go charging down the main road to the cash machines, and home via the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop with absolutely no sense of stress or pain. Back in August I wouldn't have made the cash machines without having to pause for a while with bad chest pains.

 The rest of yesterday should have gone well.........but didn't ! It was still a bit early for bed by several hours when I had finished eating. The result was that when I went to bed I had not only the usual aches and pains to fight to get comfortable, but also a hangover ! I ended up having a very bad night, and I don't feel that wonderful even now.

 One bit of me that is giving a lot of grief at the moment is my left arm. I'm sure it is an extension of the numbness of my left hand. It feels like bad rheumatic (or something) pain from many of the muscles and joints. Sometimes pain like this is a precursor to improvements in how my hand feels. I am still hanging on my doctors words that one day I'll wake up in the morning and realise that it's all back to normal..... Meanwhile it means that it's quite uncomfortable sitting here at the PC keyboard.

 I don't think I have any major plans for today. Minor plans include trying to eat rather carefully today. Hopefully I'll get something closer to a good nights sleep tonight, and I'll have a more clearly defined time when I get up tomorrow to give that early morning urine sample that the doctors/nurses want. Maybe one that isn't 33% booze, 33% fried food, and the rest just common urine !!
Monday 7th October 2013
16:31 BST

  It was a chilly start to this morning, but maybe not as chilly as I expected. It's been a mostly dull day, but the sun has managed to shine for a few brief minutes this afternoon. Currently the outside temperature is 19 C - dangling right on the edge between warm and cold.

 I was in considerable pain yesterday evening. It seemed that no matter what I did it would cause some sort of pain in my chest. The only position that was semi comfortable was laying down. Fortunately a combination of laying down and paracetamol was enough to get me comfortable enough to sleep, and for a while to sleep quite well.

 This morning all the pains were back, and I noticed that bruises are now starting to surface on my chest. They are not big, in fact they are mostly small, but they are very purple ! I presume that once they fade away, then so will my pain. In the meantime I mostly fight it with a mixture of laying down, gritting my teeth, and paracetamol.

 It took quite a bit of effort and will power to go out this morning, but eventually I managed to do a short walk taking in WH Smiths, and the 99p shop. In the former I bought a couple of magazines to amuse me, and in the latter I bought some terribly unhealthy comfort food. I'll worry about being healthy when I am free of pain !!

 This afternoon I went to see the nurse to get my dressings checked. It was the same old story - two small areas of my leg wound are still not drying up all that well while the other 34 inches of the 36 inch long scar are dry and in many places even free of scabs now. I'll be seeing the nurse again on Friday, and I'll also be seeing a doctor to discuss my medications.  I did ask the nurse to make the doctors appointment a bit earlier, before I run out of some drugs, but that seemed to fall on deaf ears.

 Tomorrow my friend Jodie is going to pop in to see me, but right now I am considering meeting her in the Wetherspoons pub instead. I think I fancy a beer more than just a chat. It's just a shame that the Catford Bridge Tavern, with it's far more interesting, and superior range of beers, does not open until 4pm.
Sunday 6th October 2013
15:42 BST

  The temperature may have been a low 11 C (and probably lower still at ground level), but it was a gloriously sunny morning. The best of the sunshine has now passed, but it is still fairly bright, and the temperature is now 19 C.  Tomorrow may see similar temperatures, but much less sunshine.

 Last night was a very unpleasant night. As I tried to settle down to sleep everything that could hurt, did hurt ! To make matters worse, I couldn't remember when I had last taken some paracetamol, and I didn't want to overdose on it. By midnight I gave in, and took a couple of tablets. That was all it needed to eventually switch between bad pain, and just annoying ache. After that I got some useful amounts of sleep.

 This morning I knew that I should force myself out into the sunshine. It took a lot of effort to do it, but once I got moving I didn't feel too bad. Once curious observation is that the worst of my pains were coming from right at the top of the scar down my chest, almost from just below the chin.  It's a nice fantasy to think that the pain is moving upwards, and soon it will run out of scar, and give up.

 I walked, for the most part fairly briskly, for about 20 minutes from my end of the park to almost the Ladywell end, and back again. On the way back I went passed the tree that is putting on a fine display of autumn colours. The sun was lighting it up from the best angle, and I had a good camera with me, but still I can't capture how magnificent it looks in real life.
autumn
fungus and dew
I thought this picture came out a bit better.
In the middle is a little fungus head surrounded by grass dripping with dew.
 
 I came home from the park via the corner shop. Once again they didn't have any interesting magazines in, but I did buy something with far too much sugar in it to reward myself for going out when I was uncomfortable, and didn't really want to.  After munching said item I lay down on my bed and had a snooze.

 This afternoon I decided I wanted to go out again, and wanted to go to Tesco. I wanted more whiskey, but I also had my heart set on getting some hot cooked chicken. It seems my timing was spot on for hot chicken because it was all marked down to half price. Once again it was a bit of an effort getting out the front door, but once I was moving I was mostly comfortable walking there and back again.

 It is impossible to fight pain and boredom with hunger.......even if the long term outcome might be better. So I eating too much.......or at least up to a point I am. I seem to have little control over consuming small quantities of high calorie food stuffs, but some inhibitions kicked in when I tackled the hot chicken. Once upon a time I would have regarded the amount I bought as a mere snack, but today I got through half of it and without feeling full or anything, decided I had eaten enough - a rather rare feeling for me.

 Once I stopped eating I began to find that the assorted pains I am currently suffering from were over riding my interest of what was on TV. So it was back up to my bedroom for a lay down, and a little snooze. At least I think I had a snooze before deciding to write this.

 Tonight it would be tempting to get blasted on whiskey, but I think I'll rely on Paracetamol to dull the pain (and tonight I'll keep track of how much I've had during the day - none so far). Tomorrow afternoon I see the nurse to get my dressings checked. There is so little left to check that it could be the last time I see her, but I guess she will make that decision. One thing she can do for me is to arrange an appointment with a doctor to review the medications I am currently on. Some were only for the post operative period, and should probably be coming to an end now. I expect they will ultimately be replaced by other drugs.
Saturday 5th October 2013
18:55 BST

  I guess that today was a typical early autumn day. It was dry, but rather overcast. Later on there was some brightness, and then the rest of the day returned to being overcast. It has been fairly mild all day, and the current temperature is just under 18 C.

 One of the features of today was the same as yesterday, and will probably be one of tomorrow's features, and that is my not-smoking cough. Sometimes it is really annoying, and sometimes it just stops for hours on end. It seems that between 9am and 11.30am is a particularly sensitive time for it - for reasons that I completely fail to decipher. At other times it is just completely random. Most of the time it is mostly painless, but occassionally.................!!!!

 Sometimes the evidence that I am getting better can be quite cryptic. This morning I didn't feel any better than the day before, but with the benefit of hindsight I could consider that walking to the station to meet Aleemah, and then walking down to the Wetherspoons pub in the hight street, seemed just a tiny, tiny bit easier. A more significant effect was while we were watching the DVD of The Tomorrow People.

 When I saw Aleemah on Wednesday I was in a great deal of pain after sitting through 4 episodes (or two complete stories), and like the previous Saturday we had to suspend watching the TV so I could have a lie down for around 15 minutes. Today, after watching 4 episodes, I was merely a bit uncomfortable. I could have gritted my teeth and carried on watching, but we took a break anyway for 15 minutes before resuming.

 This afternoon, after Aleemah had gone home, I had a good lie down, and a bit of a snooze. It was while laying on my bed that I became aware of a very brief, and very intermittent sensation in the little finger of my left hand. That finger is the numbest of my numb fingers, but on just a few occasions I felt a sort of pricking sensation. If it had gone on longer than half a second at a time it could have been unpleasant. I now both fear and look forward to more of this on the assumption that this is the first real sign that my nerves are recovering.

 The tingling I currently get from that little finger when I rub it can be unpleasant, but it would be a lot more unpleasant if full sensation returned with added pains. If I was very lucky it would happen while I was asleep. If my luck was running at the sort of strength needed to win the lottery, I would wake up tomorrow morning with full sensation restored to my left hand.

 I'm also suffering lots of random chest pains as my wounds heal. Today one area has suffered more than other areas, and that area is across my right nipple. Quite what lies underneath this area that I have strained is an unknown, but it is typical of my growing realisation of just how much my chest was pulled about, and generally mangled while surgery was performed. The only realy mystery now is why it has taken so long for me to become aware of all these wounds.

 Saturday nights can be incredibly boring. Like last night, I don't feel up to going out, and so I'm staying in with only the TV for entertainment - except the offerings on TV are very sparse ! I think it's probably time to have a few large whiskeys again. I enjoyed getting slightly drunk last night, and apart from making some of my writing hard to decipher, it didn't appear to do me any harm.
Friday 4th October 2013
20:49 BST

  It was not a very nice start to today, but the afternoon shrugged off the gloom, and the day ended on a sunny note........with a red sunset. It has been fairly mild for much of the day, but it will apparently get quite cool tonight. Tomorrow should be fairly bright.

 Today promised a lot, but delivered little. At 10.30am I had an appointment with the nurse, although it was closer to 11am before I saw her. It was just a simple visit to check and change the dressing on the scar at the bottom of my left leg where the vein was removed for the transplant around my heart. There is just one little area that is still seeping a little blood. The other yard of scar is either very dry and crusty, or is fresh pink skin.

 I also asked for a dressing for the scar on my chest. That is also dry and either fresh pink skin, or slowy falling off crusty scab. Unfortunately some of it is quite sensitive, and the dressing was purely to stop my shirt catching and irritating the dry scab. It was't terribly effective but helped a bit.

 After seeing the nurse I went straight around the corner and bought some stuff in Aldi. I did my best of avoid buying anything too unheathy, and almost succeded if you ignore a few treats. Once I got home I should have had a fairly light dinner followed by enough rest to enable me to go ot tonight. It didn't quite work out like that. I was a bit careful about what I ate, but I think I knew that I wouldn't be feeling good enough to go out this evening.

 I passed a lot of the afternoon just dozing off on my bed. If my non smoking cough hadn't caused some discomfort, and other odd or unpredictable strains hadn't caused my chest to ache (quite a lot in some cases) then maybe I would have forced myself to go out tonight.  Instead, I developed a new strategy.

 Tonight I hit the whiskey instead of going out. Now I have no idea how often the realisation becomes apparent, but the joy of hitting the booze is not always getting drunk. Tonight I could easily be far drunker than I am, but the joy comes from not getting drunk, but from saying I don't care if I get drunk. I don't know if it is a concept that anyone else can understand, but to me, and tonight in particular, to say "I don't care" feels gloriously liberating. So I've had a lot of scotch, but for some reason I don't understand, I've stopped while still on the edge without going over. I don't think I actually intended to get completely blasted. I just wanted enough to say to the world that I'm in control, and the meanies can go to hell (or something like that).

 Tomorrow I will be getting another visit from Aleemah, and after a brief session in the pub we'll be watching more stories from "The Tomorrow People". After that I have no idea what I'll  be doing. If I find some previously undiscovered energy than maybe I'll go to Greenwich in the evening to see Chain playing, or maybe I'll have another boozy night !!
Thursday 3rd October 2013
17:17 BST

  This morning wasn't bright, but it was dry. This afternoon saw some rain, but not the torrential downpours that had been forecast. I suspect they passed by slightly to the west of here. The temperature has made it up to 19 C - sort of borderline between cold and mild. It seems like tomorrow will have a few bright periods, but also some rain in the morning, but the afternoon should stay dry, but rather dull.

 Today feels like some sort of transitional day. I don't feel any better than recent days, but somehow I feel different in ways I can'y always easily explain. For instance my left hand feels just as numb as it has been for far too long now, but today it is feeling it in a different sort of way. It is possibly more uncomfortable, and yet more useable. I'm hoping I'll be able to look back on today, perhaps in a few days time, as being the day when the numbness started to go away.

 I have a similar difficulty describing my chest. The wound, and in particular the two areas of it that still have some crusty scab left, seems to be really annoyingly sensitive, and I've avoided wearing a shirt whenever possible. Other bits of my chest seem to be less sensitive, and the occasional bouts of coughing that afflict me seem to generate far less pain today. There are even hints that it will soon become comfortable to sleep on my side again - maybe in the next couple of days if I am lucky.

 Sleeping on my side will, or at least I hope will cut out a major source of pain for me. Today I've done a lot of reading, and like sleeping, it has all been done while laying on my back. My neck and my shoulders are just a mass of pain at the moment, and I predict I'm going to have another very uncomfortable night. I would never have guessed, a couple of weeks ago, that things would be getting a lot worse before they got better.

 The only trouble with gritting my teeth, and getting through this painful period, is that my healthy eating plans have completely inverted. I am eating all sorts of crap that must be having the exact opposite effect to all that I wish for ! In some ways it is a wonder that I still manage to resist smoking after this time, but somehow I am resisting the, admittedly rare now, cravings for a fag.

 This morning I gave in to another evil. I wanted to go to the corner shop - principally to get some Diet Coke, but maybe to buy a magazine too if they had one. I decided I wouldn't go straight to the shop, but would detour via the park. Instead of a two minute walk it became closer to twelve minutes.....perhaps a few minute longer. It wasn't the greatest of exercise, but it may have helped, and I did manage to get another autumnal looking picture.
flame coloured leaves on a tree at the start of autumn
 This photo doesn't really show just how vivid those flame coloured leaves looked in real life.

 In the corner shop I bought three different things that I really should not have - an ice cream bar - loads and loads of sugar and stuff, a couple of flapjack bars - loads of sugar, and a couple of packets of crisps - all sorts of fats and salt and crazy stuff - and all rather too enjoyable !!

 Tonight I really out to have the lighest dinner I can possibly manage - or ideally, no dinner at all. I think I may be able to compromise on just having a couple of bits of fruit. Then I ought to try and stay up watching TV for as long as possible to allow my neck and shoulders to recover a bit from far too much laying on my back today.

 Tomorrow I have an appointment with the nurse at 10.30am. It's only to check the final bit of dressing on my leg, but I may ask her to put some sort of dressing on my chest to reduce the chafing from my shirt. I'll also take the opportunity to moan about this that and the other, but I'm not really expecting sympathy or help for this extended period of the healing process.
Wednesday 2nd October 2013
17:07 BST

  Some of this afternoon has been quite bright, but the day started off damp and gloomy. Fortunately the heaviest rain probably passed to the west of here. The current temperature is just under 20 C, and that is higher than I would have guessed. It seems tomorrow will see similar temperatures, but it will be the afternoon when it is wettest.

 Yesterday morning I went out for a walk in the park. I was not particularly keen to do it, and it took a lot of effort to get out of the front door. Maybe I knew that it would be far harder than the walk in the park I did the previous day. It was definitely a longer walk, but not by a great deal, and my sat-nav application reckoned my entire walk was only 1.25 miles.

 That sounds like it should have been a ridiculously easy stroll, but it floored me for some reason. It was a huge joy to get back home and put my feet up ! I felt knackered for the rest of the day after that. One possible explanation is that despite being on anti-biotics, I have picked up some sort of cold. I'm not aware of running a temperature, but I must admit that I was genuinely surprised to see how high the temperature was today. I thought it was far colder.

 This lack of energy, plus a lot of aching here and there, has continued on to today.  This morning I was coughing a lot, and although most of it was mostly painless, some was definitely not painless ! I seem to be going through a phase where lots of me is getting better, but other bit's aren't. My left hand is a good example of this.

 This morning I seemed to be getting about 33% normal sensation masked by 66% tingling from the small fingers of my left hand. I rate that as an improvement. It hasn't lasted all that well through the day, but I choose to believe it as a good omen for continued recovery. In a similar way, I am getting far less severe pain from my chest......most of the time.

Washing my hair this morning was not exactly painless, but probably less painful than last time, and the slight increase in sensation in my left hand made the experience less of a chore too. Overall, it was a fairly good start to the day, but it didn't last long. I saw my friend Aleemah this morning, and that meant walking to the station.

 It wasn't hard work, or painful to walk to the station as it was before my operation, but it was not a trivial thing like it should have been this morning. I deliberately arrived at the station 7 or 8 minutes early so I could take a breather before Aleemah's train arrived. Once it had we walked down to the Wetherspoons pub.

 Oddly enough, that walk, although something like one and a half times as long as home to the station, seemed easier. My main complaint during that walk was my chest feeling sore where my shirt was irritating the still crusty (in places) wound down the front of my chest. My chest also felt cold.

 Aleemah assured me that it didn't feel cold in the pub, but it did not feel that warm to me, and I thought it felt very slightly warmer when we left the pub. Even with a pint and a half of beer inside me, I didn't feel that wonderful on the way home, and it was nice to get inside and sit down again - for a while.

 After watching two story lines of The Tomorrow People on DVD I was so uncomfortable sitting down that I had to have a lie down on my bed. After 15 minutes we resumed watching the DVD for the final story (on that disk - one of three). At about half past two Aleemah went home, and I had a nice long rest on my bed.

 I don't feel too bad at the moment, but that is largely reliant on my doing practically nothing. Hopefully I'll feel a bit more lively tomorrow, but there is no special need for it. Chain are playing a rare Thursday night gig at a venue I can't really get to. The significance of that is that Chris won't be attending any Thursday Night Gang drinking session in Catford (or anywhere else). So I can be as lazy as I want all day long !! It would feel nice to feel a bit better though, and fingers crossed, I will !
Tuesday 1st October 2013
 07:07 BST

  Yesterday was quite mild, and for a time it was bright and sunny. Some say the temperature exceeded 20 C. Today should also see some sunshine, although the top temperature may only hit 18 C. Tomorrow it's all change. The temperature may not dip much further, but it is forecast to be wet !

 Yesterday was quite a busy day for me. It took awhile until I managed to find the energy/enthusiasm to clean myself up, but once I was washed and dressed I set out to do some shopping in Aldi. I wasn't sure how comfortable it would be wearing a ruck sack to carry some heavy items home, but it turned out OK. I had three 2l bottles of Aldi own brand diet cola in my ruck sack, and the rest of my purchases in shopping bags.

 I was quite happy to get everthing home again, but I didn't feel like I had pushed myself to anywhere near my limits. About the only part of me that was uncomfortable was my left hand. Sometimes the numbness in it gets worse, and at other times it gets better. Sometimes the worst is about as bad as it has ever been, and sometimes the better gets tantilisingly close to being almost back to normal. The general bias is towards better, but it is annoyingly slow.

 A couple of hours after my shopping trip it turned sunny, and I decided I just had to go out for a walk in the park. One of the long term aims of my rehabilitation is to be able to briskly walk for about 40 minutes without getting out of breath. It was not my intention to try and achieve that yesterday, but I did come close enough to it to realise that it shouldn't take much effort to achieve it in the near future.

 Lewisham Hospital Cardiac Care Unit as seen from the park outside
My plan was to do a simple walk up to Ladywell and back again, but I particularly wanted to stop and see if I could identify where I spent my first few days in hospital. Behind one of these windows is the Cardiac Care Unit, and bed 1 where I spent 3 or 4 days before being moved to Kings College Hospital.
yellow wagtail
I should have taken another photo to put this one in perspective with the one above. At the bottom of the building in the top picture is the river that runs through the park, and this area of river has had some boulders added. With a bit of patience I managed to snap this yellow wagtail as it hopped amongst the boulders.
The colours of autumn starting to show
As I walked back towards home on the other side of the park I snapped this tree showing the bright reds of it's autumn colours.

 After taking the final picture I went full speed ahead home - and it was fairly easy. I arrived home damp with sweat, and breathing deeply, but not actually panting.  Even that wasn't the end of my "active" day. After a rest I had to get myself cleaned up again for a visit to the nurse. It was just a quick dressing check. Most of my wounds are now left undressed, but there is still a small leak at the bottom of the long scar down my left leg.  That required a new dressing, but it is almost dry now.

 After all that exercise my first few hours in bed felt fairly comfortable - perhaps the most comfortable I've been in bed for ages now. I still find it generally uncomfortable to sleep on my back. By midnight that comfort was rapidly wearing off, and at 2am, give or take half an hour, I was back to feeling bloody uncomfortable for the rest of the night.

 This morning it is taking the usual age to feel OK. The diuretic pill I took at 6am is still working it's magic every 20 minutes or so. My back feels sore, my left arm and hand feels sore, and my chest is still rather delicate.  However, give it another hour or two, and I think I'll be out in the park again, and maybe for a slightly longer walk.