Tuesday, 21 December 2010


For some reason we seem to have a load of kittens to re-home at the moment. Just this morning, before I left to take a load of cat food to Carol, a kitten was handed over to me. She's about 10 weeks old, very friendly and the spit of our Little Bob. When I did get to Carol's we realised the poor things was infested with ear mites and I took it to the vets straight away. Here she is.
Then there was the pregnant female, wavy black and chocolate brown fur, who gave birth to four kittens the night she arrived -2 coloured like her and two creamy grey.
And here are the rest.
The above ginger, tabby, and black and white are all from the same litter.

And lastly, Little Bob and Ted in our back garden.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Just received a call from Nicola the senior nurse who runs the programme to say that my results had arrived.

They are clear. The polyps, which it was useful to have removed, were not of the type to develop into cancerous growths.  I will be sent the faecal test kit in another two years (just because it's clear this time...) but apart from that I'm discharged. She did tell me to keep an eye on my bowels (a little difficult but I know what she means) and either call the department or mention it to my GP if I have any concerns.

I can now breathe a sigh of relief.


I told Nicola that Susan and I worked directly with the public all our lives and she and her team displayed a very high standard of customer care and we both appreciated it.

So that's over. Normal service will now be resumed.

Expect a post about kittens very shortly. I'm picking up a 14-week old one this evening and hope to see the 1-week old kittens (four of them not three as mentioned previously) and their mother when I drop it off.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


A slightly shorter version, written yesterday and with fewer cat references, appeared in my Freethinking blog.
NB, this post contains references to various bodily fluids. 

I haven't posted anything in 11 days because I haven't been doing anything. I came down with an absolutely stinking cold which went onto my chest making me spend some time honking up- well, you can imagine. The last time I saw Carol was last Wednesday when I took her a pile of cat food. Thankfully it's been fairly quiet on the cat-needs-to-go-to-the-vets and the can-you-take-my-cat fronts. Carol did have to take one old boy  to the vets. She'd recently received him and he'd been on the streets for a while. Sadly he was in very bad shape and had to be put to sleep. She also took in a cat who promptly had 3 kittens which I haven't seen yet. Expect photos in due course. 

However, more importantly, something came up which could have (and still may) completely affect my cat rescuing (and everything else I do).

So, two posts and 10/11 days ago I found out that my faecal smear test had come back as Abnormal. I should explain that these tests are sent out free to all UK citizens between 60-70 to test for bowel cancer in order to catch it early, courtesy of that bane of mad Americans to wit socialised medicine or, as it's known in the UK, the National Health Service. (Just to knock American stupidity for a moment: a few years ago some researchers asked a number of Americans what they thought of a few certain selected statements. More than a few responses were of the left/commie crap variety. The statements were taken from their own Constitution which they supposedly revere above everything except God and Jeezus).

In the letter informing me of the result was also the date of a consultation with a screening practitioner. How long did I have to wait before this happened? Um, four whole days. I went with Susan, was seen on time, and had everything explained very clearly to me by the young lady who also checked my relevant medical history equally thoroughly before giving me a choice of appointments at 3 different hospitals. I picked the first one at Sunderland Royal, my local, which took place today, a whole week later.

I'd like to say that I've been phlegmatic about the whole thing and I certainly attempted to put that kind of air but truthfully it was more show than substance. There was a very real chance -10%- that I had bowel cancer which if not caught early enough could kill me in a few short years. I had, given family history, been assuming I had at least another 18 active years ahead of me. Now I had to confront the possibility that it could be considerably less and I didn't like it. 

It's certainly made me reconsider the way I go about certain things. On a trivial level, I have over 30 books I haven't read that I want to read but haven't because I keep buying more. That is going to stop right now. Today I began a biography of Howlin' Wolf which I'd picked as part of my leaving present from work over two years ago. There's music I haven't listened to because I keep buying more. And there's more personal stuff I'm keeping to myself.

Monday, yesterday, and my last meal before the colonoscopy was at noon. I had cheese on toast with Marmite followed by a cake. Two hours later I swallowed 6 sennacot tablets with water. At 5.00pm I made up the first sachet of laxative by filling a litre jug and mixing it all in. It took me just over an hour to drink it all. Twenty minutes before the next jug full at 7.00pm I had to dash to the toilet. Repeat until I went to bed at 11.00pm.

Then hurridly get up ten minutes later.

As I was due to start on the third sachet at seven the next morning, I got up early to feed Emmy the stray cat who's been living in a cage in my garage for nearly three weeks and change her cat litter. Emmy is a lovely friendly cat, happy to be picked up and would shove her head under my chin. At lunchtime she was taken away to StrayAid where she'll stand a better chance of being re-homed as well as having much more space to move around in.

I didn't bother getting dressed as I couldn't really go more than a few feet from the toilet and even then had a couple of minor mishaps. I thought occasionally about eating food and drinking red wine. A compulsive reader, while sitting on the throne and starting the previous evening I read bits of an illustrated history of slasher movies. When the time came to go to the hospital I'd pretty much read most of it.

The laxative did its job and my gut was well and truly flushed out and what I was passing looked like clear yellow urine. Surprisingly I didn't really feel hungry despite all I'd had in over 24 hours was the laxative and a few mugs of black coffee.

We got there early and managed to get a parking space after only five minutes. After signing in I pulled out a book to read -it being 15 minutes before my appointment and I was expecting to go in late- when my name was called. The registration process followed, then I was taken to a bed with a locker next to it, the curtains were drawn and I was told to strip, put my clothes in the locker and put on the hospital gown. That done I was handed over to the colonoscopy team.

I opted for a sedative, primarily because it would help relax my bowels as well as me, which went in my arm. I was told it would probably leave me with gaps in my memory of the procedure and the post-op chat with the nurse practitioner. And it must have done because, while the colonoscopy itself took over twenty minutes and I was watching it on the screen, my memory says it only feels like five. I didn't find it particularly uncomfortable either.

Once done, I was wheeled back to the cubicle to rest for half an hour and  basically told to fart as much as I could to get rid of the air which had been pumped into my colon to inflate it. I  did my best before I fell asleep, no doubt  an effect of the sedative. After that, got dressed, had a cup of coffee (terrible) and a cheese sandwich (not much better), by which time I was feeling fine and went for the post-op interview with Susan, who had been waiting patiently for nearly two hours, in attendance.

Three polyps had been found and removed for biopsies. The doctor who performed the procedure believed them to be harmless and that I should be fine but that won't be confirmed until the biopsy results are in on Friday. I feel quite reassured but the jury's verdict isn't in yet.

On the way home I decided I had a mad hunger for fish and chips so we duly stopped off so I could get some. Back home, after feeding myself and the cats, I lay down on the bed and flaked out for two hours. The sedative won't be flushed out of my system until tomorrow so I've got to take care, not drive, and avoid alcohol for another night as it reacts badly with it. Bugger.

As for that vile monstrosity of socialised medicine, all I can say is that I was treated like an intelligent individual, shown courtesy and consideration, given meticulous and prompt treatment, and it didn't cost me a penny. Shame about the lousy coffee but every complaint should be so ludicrously trivial. 

Thank you NHS.
And now back to the cat rescuing.

Saturday, 4 December 2010


This post also appears in my Freethinking blog.

I don't generally get involved in dog rescue but an extra hand was needed as the rescue involved picking up, walking, and transporting four dogs. Phil was driving, Andrea would be in the back with the dogs, and I'd help with them outside of the van.

Basically the dogs were very neglected and one of the two owners was threatened with the loss of his job because he smelled. When we arrived at the house, the reason he smelled wasn't because of the dogs though, admittedly, if you don't clean up dog shit inside a house it might be a contributing factor. Basically the house was filthy and squalid and on a par with the worst I've ever seen. It was just disgusting. Three of the dogs had hair loss on their backs, probably due to a flea allergy. But the fourth, the oldest and mother of the others and had been used for breeding, had a mass of pustles covering half its back. Yet the dogs were friendly and mother the sweetest of the them all.

We took them for a walk in the snow prior to getting them in the van so they could empty themselves.
As I said, they were friendly, they also barked a lot and in the confines of a small van that was a lot of loud barking. Anyway, down the A19, right onto the A690, turn left onto the A1M, take the first exit and turn right or this in this case left for a case of 6 and one 3, and here we are at Stray Aid rescue deep in the frozen Durham countryside.

Stray Aid, which primarily does dogs plus a few cats, are a well-resourced organisation run by a vet and her partner. Phil was arguing to place the case with the RSPCA which Stray Aid were supporting. But that meant heading back up the A1M to take the dogs to the RSPCA place at Felledge near Chester le Street. Personally I felt they should be left with Stray Aid. But no, up the A1M we went. But first a little gambol in the deep snow.
The sheep were already there. We haven't started rescuing them.
Although Stray Aid is only 50 yards from the A1M, it's two miles to drive to the nearest slip road.

Before we set out I did suggest phoning the RSPCA but was told that they never makes decisions over the phone. So off we went up to the Chester le Street turnoff. Just as well it wasn't further as the dual carriageway there was reduced to a single lane. We doubled back heading south again along an urban dual carriageway and saw the traffic on the other side of the road stuck in a tailback at least two miles long.

So we got to Felledge and Phil went inside and learned that not only did they not have anyone on the premises to make a decision, they couldn't contact anyone to make a decision.

So: back to Stray Aid or take the dogs back toe their owners. I suggested it would be highly unlikely that they'd take them back and a phone call proved this to be the case. They may have poor standards of hygiene but they weren't completely stupid. I wasn't convinced there was any point in prosecuting them as the dogs had been neglected rather the object of deliberate cruelty. So: back to Stray Aid via Durham and the A1M turnoff we'd last gone down two hours earlier. Here's Felledge.

Our van.
And the dogs were left at Stray Aid. They felt sure that two were easily re-homeable after some flea treatment, a third would need some behavioural work, the mother would be put to sleep to end her suffering.

Despite all the pretty pictures I've taken it was a long and dispiriting five hours