Thursday, October 02, 2014

Eyes wrong

Visit to St Thomas's eye clinic this morning where after various tests Dr N H  confirmed cataracts and macular degeneration in both eyes. 'Right eye doesn't look too bad' its 'predominantly on the left. Vision is now 6/9, just within the limit for driving. Surgery isn't recommended for the cataracts because so far the deterioration isn't serious enough to outweigh the minor risks, one in 20 patients experiencing some complications, some of which can be corrected by further suger.

Nothing can be done about macular degeneration. When pressed, the doctor said that the median time between diagnosis and blindness was five years, and that should see me out as I expect to step off in July 2016.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Blood test this morning:

Hb                  105
PLT                347
Neutrophils         1.30
WBC                   3.11

The consultant was 'a little bit worried' by the trend of the neutrophil count, which has declined over the last three tests and is below the normal range of 2.2 - 6.3 10^9?L. Neutropenia, the condition of reduced neutrophils, means a greaster susceptibility to infection, Dr M recommended cutting the hydroxycarbamide to five days a week, and arranged the next appointment for October 29.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Macmillan friends

Meeting this afternoon in the Kosta cafe at King's College Hospital with Tracey, Alwyn and Pam, friends from the Macmillan site who like me have incurable cancers. We had an amazingly upbeat conversation about our treatment, prognoses and our families, and we agreed that it was useful to exchange experiences in person as well as  on  We agreed to meet again in a couple of months, next time in the Macmillan room at the hospital. 

EVAR, September 10

Today's scan of EVAR (Endovascular aneurysm repair) showing that the plastic aorta inserted in 2010 isn't leaking, It also shows the stent inserted in one of the renal arteries in June.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Virus crisis

Maurice and Diana's last day. Yesterday we went to Ham House in the morning, had lunch at the London Apprentice in Isleworth, then Strawberry Hill in the afernoon. Returned home to find my computer infected with a virus that was immune to AVG and apparently to all other anti-virus software. Maurice and I struggled to find a solution on the web, and the only site that claimed to have a solution we found was As it was after 23.00 by that time we left the computer in safe mode overnight and returned to the problem this morning. The infected machine wouldn't connect to the web, so we opened a chat line with MiTechMate on the other computer in my office and apart from a difficulty in getting the site to accept my card payment, all was plain sailing. The contact at MiTechMate took control of the infected machine and removed all the infected files, at a cost of $65. I'm wondering whether to get a year's subscription at $130, or to take a chance that lightning won't strike twice.

Its disconcerting to find that there is some malware that gets past leading anti-virus packages such as AVG and AVAST.

Friday, September 05, 2014

King's College Hospital

Maurice and I visited King's this morning as part of the Day of Action on Alcohol Harm organised by the Royal Colleges, Alcohol Concern and the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Ms Jacqueline Green, Head of Stakeholder Relations, met us and took us to see Dr Michael Heneghan, Liver Consultant, Professor Heaton, Head of the Liver Unit, and Dr Will Bernal, Consultant, Liver Intensive Therapy Unit, We then moved to Todd Ward where we met Anne McKenna, Deputy Head of Nursing, Liver and Renal Surgery, and Natalie Huxtable, Matron, Liver. Then we attended the Liver Transplant meeting, where all the experts discuss the eligibility of candidates for liver transplants. King's is the largest and most successful centre for treatment of liver failure in the UK, and their available beds are full all the time, but the demand exceeds supply. After that we met Ian Webzell, Alcohol and Substance Misuse Clinical Nurse Specialist for a discussion on the post-operative treatment of patients with alcohol problems, a high proportion of whom relapse Nobody has a definitive answer to this problem, but there is universal agreement among NHS professionals that Government should be doing far more on prevention.

Everybody knows that the two main levers affecting consumption of alcohol are price and availability. Minimum unit pricing is a no-brainer, and the restoration of the alcohol duty escalator is another.  Local authorities should have stronger powers to control the proliferation of alcohol sales outlets, and all-night drinking should be reversed. What we need, as one of the professionals we met today underlined, was a commitment by the Government to reducing alcohol consumption on a par with the successful campaign against smoking of the last decade.

Maurice took the photograph: Ian Webzell is on my right, Dr Heneghqan on my left, and Jacqueline Green,  far left

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Even more haematology

Haematology outpatients this morning below, with last time's and normal range. Platelets are within the normal range for the first time for ages, other values much the same as four weeks ago, outside the normal range but tolerable. Dr G was pleased there was no drop in WBC or Hb. He acknowledged that deciding the hydroxycaranide dose was pure guesswork so it was left at six times a week.

Blood tests
Aug-14 Jul-23 Normal
WBC 3.75 3.8 4.5 -10
Hb 108 108 130-180
PLT 388 470 150 - 450
Neutrophils 1.7 1.74 2.0 - 7.5