Nov. 2005
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Check out Weeks ending:  [19 Nov 05] [26 Nov 05]

3 Weeks ending 19 Nov 05 (Bob)

News on the medical front - Within the last 2 weeks Bob went into the Salisbury Hospital, had a 6-hour operation to remove strings of lymph nodes, recovered under the careful eyes of an outstanding group of nurses, and has been released to recuperate under Judi's care.  We'll avoid the gruesome details at the moment and suffice to say that they believe that all known cancerous nodes have been removed and prognosis is good.

Updated Impression of England's NHS - After several weeks being under the care of medical professionals in England's National Health System, we have only positive things to say.  For example:

  • Our dermatologist "connected the dots" to establish that a neck lump was probably associated with skin cancer.  This connection was misdiagnosed by several doctors in the US and Turkey.
  • The nursing and support staff in the hospital were outstanding, establishing a friendly rapport with patients, always talking to them by name, observing impeccable health practices and just generally being careful in all they did.
  • The facilities were excellent, well-equipped and clean.  Wards were not private, with 8 patients in room, but that was not objectionable.
  • The doctors meet in multi-disciplinary teams when they recommend actions, thus getting opinions from surgeons, oncologists, and other specialists.
  • The NHS target for treating cancer is a short 2 weeks; there may be queues for some procedures, but cancer is not one of them.
  • Finally kudos to my Plastic Surgeon who undertook a difficult 6-hour operation on relatively short notice.  He is a no-nonsense doctor who seems to tell it as it is and commands the respect of all around him.
Sun Cautions for Cruisers - The biopsy of the 2 nodes containing malignant cells showed melanoma, a skin cancer that has the potential to go to several spots in the body.  This has been an expensive and painful lesson about neglecting skin cancer in its early stages.  The lessons learned (among others) are:
  • Minimize Sun Exposure - All sun exposure to the skin creates damage, often scrambling the genetic material so that it grows out of control - i.e. CANCER.  So avoid midday sun, wear hats and long sleeves and long pants - particularly in the tropics.  I will also add to use sunscreen, although I personally believe that prolonged use of sunscreen will prove to encourage skin cancer since it hides the obvious effects of the sun - time will tell on this one.
  • Treat All Lesions as Cancer - I have had perhaps 20 skin lesions removed by liquid nitrogen, cauterizing, and surgery over the last 20 years and my advise is to have all skin lesions removed surgically and a biopsy performed.  It may be more expensive than squirting with a freeze bottle, but you never know when you have had malignant cells driven deeper into your skin.
  • Occult Primary - No primary source for this melanoma has been found since it was probably removed earlier with liquid nitrogen and therefore no testing was done to determine if it was a melanoma - thus lesson #2 above.

Winter settles into England - As we remain in southern England waiting for Bob's mobility to recover we are experiencing the early part of winter in the UK.  Despite being "warmed by the Gulf Stream" as we have always heard, the temperatures are now dipping below freezing and frost graces the car windows each morning.  Fortunately, we have settled into a snug lodge, with gas fireplaces and a great view of the forest - plus lots of birds and squirrels that beg for a hand-out each morning.

Lost eMail - For reasons unknown, our website email server decided to lose all emails received a week or so ago, so if you have written and not received a reply (particularly the faithful attorneys in DC), we would appreciate a repeat message.

Week ending 26 Nov 05 (Bob)

Upholstery Frustrations- We have decided to upgrade the upholstery in our motor-home, and are finding it much more difficult (and expensive) than when we spruced up Long Passages in Thailand.  Labor and materials are more expensive, but most frustration has come from not being able to find any suitable fabric that is not adorned with flowers, small animals, or coats of arms - mostly throw-backs to Victorian England.  After hitting lots of shops we finally found material we liked - in a CHANDLERY!  Now the next step, turning it into covers. The contractor we have been dealing with just told us it would be ready after Xmas - a plan that will not work since we hope to be in Spain by then.  Stay tuned for this minor drama's conclusion.

Thanksgiving - Judi's tradition for the last 13 years has been preparing Thanksgiving dinner in whichever exotic destination we happen to be in at the time.  This year it was easy, England has turkeys on demand and all of the sauces and trimmings close at hand, so she whipped up an outstanding meal - and invited our good friends John and Peggy to share it with us.  There was no football on the TV but otherwise it felt like home.

Recovery for Bob - According to the surgeon Bob is progressing well - according to Bob progress should be faster. Each day he has more strength in damaged muscles and less pain, so all looks like it is on schedule.

Plans for the Rest of the Year - At the moment our plans are to drive to Spain in mid-December to catch up with Micael and Ligia, previously on S/V Quest and then on to Italy to check up on Long Passages, and convince her that she has not been abandoned. Then a return to England for a medical check-up and potentially a short trip to New Zealand - we'll see how finances hold out by then.


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