25 February - More waiting

Just returned from the West Cumberland hospital for a consultation with the doctor. First they took more blood from me. Then we had to wait for the results - over two and a half hours. This time, I took a book with me.

After all the results were in we waited for the doctor. He told us my blood was much better - which didn't surprise us as I had no pains in my back over the last few days and my urine had gone back to its normal colour. The question is whether one of my gallstones is blocking one of the drains - I'm referring to my internal plumbing not the house drains! It will take an MRI scan to discover this. One has been booked but we are still waiting for the appointment.

One finding that did concern me: the CT scan had by chance revealed a small cyst on one of my kidneys. This has been referred to a renal specialist for follow-up. I've read about people who have had one type of cancer and then develop other cancers. I hope this turns out to be only a cyst, not a tumour.

20 February - A lot of waiting around

I was in enough pain that I decided to see any GP I could get. We saw a young lady doctor who got us an appointment the next day at the West Cumberland Hospital.

The appointment was for 11am  and we weren't finished until late afternoon, but there was a lot of waiting around between tests. First I had a blood test - which had been done by the GP surgery at least twice previously - and an ultrasound scan of my abdominal area - which had also been done previously at Carlisle. Then I had a CT scan of my abdomen. All this proved was that I have a lot of gallstones - which I thought we already knew from the tests I'd had done previously. I don't like to criticize the NHS but I can't help thinking it could be organized a bit more efficiently.

Finally after all the results were in we saw a doctor, who began by admitting that he was not going to be the one treating me as he was a general doctor not a gastroenterologist. So we won't know what happens next until my results have been seen by a specialist consultant, which we don't have at our local hospital. However, I understand that there are two possible outcomes. One is that they will put a tube down my throat and try to get the gallstones out that way - which doesn't sound like a fun time to me but which is deemed preferable as it avoids surgery. The other outcome is surgery to remove the gall bladder.

In the meantime I still have a bladder full of gallstones which continue to make their presence known by giving me needles of pain from time to time.

19 February - Gallstones redux

I'm in quite a lot of pain at the moment. Three or four times in the last few weeks I have had a pain in the small of my back that doesn't quite feel like normal back pain. At times it is quite excruciating and prevents me from sleeping at night. Sometimes painkillers help, sometimes they don't. Usually it wears off after a few hours.

[Too much detail alert] At around the time I have this pain, I notice that my urine is darker than normal. My stools are pale brown in colour instead of the normal dark brown. Today Olga noticed (no secrets from each other in this marriage!) that they were speckled with different sized black dots. [End of too much detail alert]

We think this is because of the gallstones I discovered back in November. A stone could have moved and blocked the bile duct so that bile is not going where it is supposed to. The black spots could be disintegrating gallstones. This is Olga's diagnosis. But a GP hinted that this could be what is happening the last time I saw the doc. At the time they (and me) felt that we should wait and hope that the problem clears up without surgical intervention.

This time has been the worst occurrence. And the pain has moved from the small of my back to my abdomen. Yesterday we made a doctors' appointment but the earliest we could see the GP I like was next Monday. After a disturbed night we decided this was too long to wait, so we have got an appointment with whoever was free this afternoon.

I don't think there is any connection between this and my brain tumour unless the gall bladder problem is a delayed side effect of all the drugs that were poured into me during my cancer treatment. This has certainly caused a lot more pain than the brain tumour did. I don't even feel like playing radio at the moment. Fingers crossed that the doctors can accurately diagnose and treat the problem.

6 February - A satisfactory result

It has been a month since my MRI scan, 30 days since my last post. We have tried to be patient and wait  for the result. In the end it took a couple of phone calls before a doctor called us. He told me my scan was "satisfactory." I think I have heard that before.

The doctor understood that I wanted to discuss the result face to face and to ask about issues such as whether I can apply for the restoration of my driving licence. The consultant will arrange an appointment for us. I've heard that before, too.

After news about the tumour the question of whether I can drive is the other big issue for me. Only once I have my wheels back can I get on with life to the fullest extent. While I am stuck at home (apart from the occasional walk) I still feel like an invalid.

There is another urgency to my getting my driving licence back. If I can start driving by June (two years after my diagnosis) I can keep my no claims discount which was something like 70%, the result of 40 years of accident-free driving. That would make a difference of several hundred pounds to my insurance costs. So the longer I go without permission to drive, the greater my frustration.