Sunday, 3 April 2011

Examination of the heart

On Wednesday 13 October 2010 I found the silver-headed ebony cane that had eluded me the previous day.

As it is not a working walking-stick, at least until I become seriously frail (joke), it had been hidden away for quite a while and its silver head was seriously tarnished. It was very satisfying—and quite a useful distraction from thinking about cancer all the time—to set about it with a cloth and metal polish and make it gleam once more. Here it is…

Silver-headed ebony cane acquired by my grandmother in Mesopotamia (now Iraq).
The handle sits perfectly under the hand.
It needs a metal ferrule on the end to make it pavement-proof.

Some of the delicate floral decoration of the handle.
The decoration feels indented. Does anyone out there know what technique would  have been used to create this?
Granny told me that the craftsman was called Zaroun,  the quality of whose work sadly declined under the influence of the alcohol with which he was plied by British officers (for shame!)

Lunch was at our local rugby-themed café with my brother and a friend to whom I had been keen to introduce him. When does fun end and networking begin, or indeed vice versa? My friend owns a market research business and at the time of this meeting was about to move from his previous company, of which he was one of the founders. I thought it might be interesting and possibly valuable to both of them if he and my brother could meet: possible work for them, more displacement activity for me.

More floral beauty, this time from the café.
Two miniature rugby players are just visible in the photo, standing guard in the window.

What was I seeking to displace, then? In fact, nothing too alarming on this occasion. I was due that afternoon to present myself for an echo cardiogram at the sister hospital of the one where I was being treated: so, no needles today! Detailed examination of the heart is required with the sort of chemotherapy I was receiving as a couple of the drugs involved, as rather delicately puts it, can cause “changes in the way your heart works”. As with love, so with medical treatment, it would seem.

The journey to the hospital was not long or problematic but, once we had arrived, the powers that be succeeded in placing a number of obstacles in our way to finding where I was to have the examination. There were several notices proudly proclaiming adherence to contemporary standards of excellence in this and that—blah, blah—but some clearer and basic signage pointing one in the direction of where things actually were might not have gone amiss. We took a number of false turns, including one into a cul-de-sac where we startled a lurking member of staff. There was a sickly absence of natural light and a general feeling of make-do in the architecture, but mercifully the people called upon to work in this unpromising setting saved the day and made our visit there memorable for good reasons.

The procedure took longer than normal because the amiable and chatty cardiologist sensed that I was interested in knowing what the technology was telling her about my heart and made great efforts to explain what was on the screen. At various points the amplified sound of my heart filled the room with its rhythmic vigour. The welcome verdict was that my heart was in good condition, notwithstanding some evidence of inefficiency in one of the valves typical for someone of my age, and therefore that it should be able to withstand the combined onslaught of cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin. Bring it on (but only in regulated doses, please).

Typical echo cardiogram image.
You get to see your heart beating: quite thrilling, so long as it keeps it up...

Echo cardiogram being carried out. In order to see your own heart, you therefore have to twist around. This Scottish patient has been given a handle to grab; I wasn't. Pah! First, free prescriptions and now this further blatant discrimination against the English :-/

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