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Doodlecat's Homepage

Picture of Doodle - a 
black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

I would love to be able to say that Doodlecat is all my own work, but it isn’t. Much of the outdoors content is courtesy of the splendid people who participate in the annual TGO Challenge (there is a section entirely devoted to this unique event) and many others.

To help in tracking down that elusive morsel on Doodlecat, the search facility under the title bar above is tailored to help you find it, either on this home page (Doodlecat's Blog) all the rest of the site (Main Site) or – if all else fails - the internet!

So have a rummage around the old cat basket and enjoy your time with us!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Walking The Robotic

Since my operation on Friday I haven't got out much (not surprising after being hung upside down and disembowelled for six hours). Thanks to everyone for the good wishes, emails, cards and phone calls. They gave me a real boost. I'm pleased to report that recovery continues well.

I was out of hospital on Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being delivered back to the ward. Having been monitored through the night, the drips were removed on Saturday morning. By 9.00am I was sitting in a chair and at 10.00am a nurse came to assist me to walk the length of the main ward.

"I'm just walking the robotic" she said to a colleague

"That's a bit impersonal" said I.

"You guys are in for such a short time that we never remember names", she smiled. "So we always call our DaVinci patient 'the robotic', and everyone knows who we're talking about"

She then told me that once I managed ten lengths of the ward on my own, the doctors would discharge me. So after a bit of a rest and a light lunch, off I toddled, and by 3.30 pm I was out. My old mate Alan Sloman rolled up in his limousine to whisk me home, feeling bruised and battered but very relieved!
Phil at the old chicken hut
The first couple of days were a bit uncomfortable, and I get tired very quickly. Although 'minimally invasive' this is quite a major op after all, so that's not surprising. However, Miss Whiplash got me out for a slow stagger to the post box the day after my return, and the next day a bit further. Gradually the soreness is easing off, and yesterday she drove me to our local country park and we did almost a mile to the old chicken hut and back.

Miss W intends to have me 'hill fit' for Christmas, and ready for her TGO Challenge training regime (brace yourself, Sloman) by the end of January, so plenty of outings in the pipeline. Me? I can't wait.

It's good to be back!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Birthday!

I PROMISE that this is the last 'medical' post - honest!!

Not only is today my birthday, with all the usual goodies that brings, but this afternoon my consultant rang to say that lymph nodes seem fine and my op is booked for Friday. Not only that, but I have Professor Neal carrying out the procedure and his success rate is astonishingly good, with much shorter recovery times than with conventional surgery and a very low rate of the more unfortunate side effects (still might have a shorter willie though!).

I found this very interesting article from the Times, and if you're not too squeamish, it has a video of the operation as well with a commentary! So now I know exactly what Prof. Neal will be doing. Fascinating stuff - I hadn't realised that I will be tipped upside down to allow gravity to keep my innards out of the way (indignity upon indignity) nor that there is a smell of cooked meat and pork crackling in the theatre from the super heated instruments.

Will I fancy pork scratchings ever again?

Oddly, the video has made me feel very confident about the whole thing, and the story about the chap driving a tractor within a week of the op is encouraging too - not that I have a tractor, and I suspect that he is an exception.

Thanks for all the emails. I'll let you know how I get on and then I'll be back on the outoors theme again.

Toodle pip for now

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Personal Challenge

In recent months I’ve had a pretty uncomfortable time – recurring bouts of what I now suspect was prostatitis – a bacterial infection of the prostate. Pretty painful and it does restrict your life a tad. Anyway, the recurring condition led my GP to recommend further investigation (despite having had a negative blood test for prostate cancer in April).
So off to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Lo and behold, after a series of tests, including kidney scans and all sorts, plus a ‘digital’ examination (sounds hi tec – means a finger up the bum) it was declared that I had a ‘nodule’ on the prostate gland that might well be cancerous.
Me: “I’ve just had a negative PSA test”.
Consultant: “Well, they pick up around 80%, but that means, of course, that 20% are not detected by the test”.
Me: “!!!!!!?”
Next is the biopsy – to see what is really going on. Ten or twelve samples plucked from the prostate by a needle gun – fired (you guessed it) right up the bum. To be fair, they do give an anaesthetic (by poking the needle up your bum, of course). The consultant then inserts an ultrasound probe which guides him to the target area. If you’re old enough to remember ‘The Golden Shot’ on ITV, you’ll get the idea.
“Bernie……the bolt”
Ouch!!!! (x 10) Actually, it wasn’t too bad. And peeing blood for the next week (even more alarming when you ejaculate) is par for the course, apparently.
Bottom line (geddit!) is that the following week I was told that, yes, I had cancer. It’s not the benign variety that most older fellas get, it’s a bit on the aggressive side.
“Here are your options – have a think and let us know which procedure you prefer”.
One of the options was ‘wait and see’ with monitoring of my PSA levels. As this had failed to show up the cancer in the first place, I discounted this immediately.
Next is radiotherapy. Problem is (especially as my prostate is not enlarged) it can damage the bladder and leave you slightly incontinent, and also the lower bowel and anus can be damaged. Oh, and the nerves that control erectile function can be damaged. Nice! And it takes 6 weeks of daily visits to the hospital for treatment. This seems to be the preferred option for older chaps – but what about me? Young, beautiful…..etc….
Basically, I wanted the unwelcome invader removed. In surgical matters I am much influenced by Sir Lancelot Spratt in the 'Doctor' films - "If in doubt - cut it out!".

So my final choice was radical prostatectomy by robotic keyhole surgery (it’s good to have your local hospital at the ‘cutting edge’ – ohhh, not sure I like that term!). Anyway, with luck, they will be able to spare the nerves and not leave me permanently incontinent and impotent.
I discussed my choice with my GP, who said “if I was in your position, that’s what I’d do”. After all the hospital discussions, where they are obliged to make sure that you know the downside of everything, it was good to hear a commonsense answer – even better as it coincided with my own opinion.
Had an MRI scan last week – and it seems local lymph nodes are affected, but it hasn’t gone elsewhere (like the bones) so I should be OK.
One unfortunate side effect is a shorter willie!!!! This is ‘cos they cut the urethra each side of the prostate, and the join it again – and I have been told that ‘ you may think that your penis has become shorter that usual’.
Me: “I always think that – and so does Miss W!”
Consultant: “Well, it won’t come as a surprise then”.
The other bugger is having a catheter and a wee bag strapped to my leg for two weeks after the op – and then learning to pee again….voluntarily.
Other than being sterile, possibly impotent, incontinent and having a truncated willie, I am told that I can look forward to a full and active life!
Well, whoopee.
But this brings me to the Challenge. I’m not sure exactly when all this medical stuff is taking place (during the next few weeks I am told – awaiting ‘phone call). Apparently it can take a while to fully recover. So, for me, the Challenge is a target. If I get on, and successfully complete the crossing, then it will prove to me, yes, I’m fully fit….
And I’ve got my life back.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Blogrolling

As some of you have noticed, the rolling links to 'recently updated sites' at the top right hand of this page has suddenly gone blank. This isn't because I've deleted all the links - something has gone wrong with Blogrolling.com, a service that I use to display only the recently updated sites, rather than have a huge list.

With any luck this is a temporary outage - if not I'll get a replacement up soon.

So if you think your link has been scrubbed - it wasn't me, and it will be back. I still love you all!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Competition Time!

Another year, another Doodlecat competition - and once again the prize is a bottle of fine malt whisky - this time it will be a ten year old Talisker (sorry - I did have some Glenfarclas 105, but it sort of evaporated).

The task this time is simple. A photo taken approx 9k from Kinlochleven (as the crow flies) shows a view at the head of a glen. All you have to do is identify the place and guess where the photographer was standing. Email us with the GR, and the first correct entry out of the hat on 31st October wins.

The mystery picture is in The Gallery.

Have fun - the bottle is packed and ready to go - just needs an address label!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ticket to Ryde

Sunday saw a variation from my usual excursions around East Anglia. I went to the Isle of Wight and achieved an ascent of 3000' with ease. How so? Well, with a little assistance from my brother's wee Cessna which he keeps at an old WW2 airfield in Cambridgeshire. If you get the chance for a flight in a light aircraft, grab it - it is great fun, and I didn't mind missing my Sunday walk one bit!

The Queen Elizabeth Bridge crosses the Thames at Dartford

One for the techies - what is this mystery object?*

Final approach to Sandown's grass airstrip

A warning to walkers on the IOW. Astonishingly there is a public footpath that crosses the grass runway at around the mid point. A chap in the clubhouse told me that a number of walkers seem blissfully unaware of the hazards posed by aircraft landing and taking off. If you are walking to Sandown, do keep a lookout crossing the airfield.

The idea was that we would get the train to Ryde, where my brother had located a decent restaurant. Taking the train on the IOW is an experience - the rolling stock is all old, and somewhat dilapidated, London tube trains, which look a bit out of context in the twee rural surroundings. We, however, didn't take the train. We bought our tickets from the machine. We sat on the platform and photographed the train opposite (which coincidentally had arrived at exactly the time ours was due) and watched it depart. After a couple of minutes we realised that it was in fact our train! A full reading of the notice on our platform was " for x, x, x, & Ryde....go to opposite platform via underpass......Do - oh.

Two 21st century aviators who had navigated the three dimensional ether all the way here, totally flummoxed by 19th century public transport.

So we dined in Sandown and enjoyed a walk along the beaches and cliffs before refuelling and heading home.

All in all, a splendid day out (and I got to refresh my flying skills as well - bonza!!!).













In the navigator's seat

Thames container port in afternoon sunshine

Golf Echo November - Bob's 40 year old plane that he bought
for "the price of a second hand Mondeo"!


Next post will have both feet firmly on the ground as I winkle Alan Sloman out of his cosy fireside settee for the first pre - challenge training walk under the stern eye of Miss Whiplash, our personal trainer. Oooo-er.

*The mystery object? It's a navigation aid for aircraft - a VOR (Very high frequency - Omnidirectional - Range radio beacon) . Weird looking thing, but there are lots of them dotted around. So if you see one, you'll know what it is (and impress your friends).

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