…. yeah but no but yeah but no but …….
What he actually said was; “I’ve think we’re at the limit of what we can do here. I have no problem referring you to Birmingham. I’d be interested to see what they can do.”
So – Mr ENT is going to refer me to another ENT department – one that specializes in treating professional singers. He is surprisingly (to me) supportive of my wish for a singing voice again – or even the chance to discuss the possibilities of further treatment (or not). My speaking voice has improved dramatically over the past few weeks – perhaps all that Australian sunshine made a difference. My singing voice is lagging behind though – there is some improvement but it’s slight compared with speaking.
Mr ENT has a new camera but it has a few teething problems. I was supposed to be at this clinic before going to Australia (seems a long time ago now…) but they cancelled owing to ‘equipment malfunction’. There’s now a technician sitting outside the consulting room door – he comes in, makes a few adjustments and leaves. We start – and stop again. Enter technician, twiddle, twiddle, and we’re good to go again.
The old camera was pushed up my nose – not altogether unpleasant once the numbing effect of the banana-flavoured sedative had taken effect – but this one goes straight in the front door. I feel it probing the back of my throat (no sedative this time). This new camera (or rather, camera system – there’s a new monitor as well) allows recording and playback of the images and after having a good poke around, Mr ENT invites me to watch the screen. My left vocal cord looks white and fat – and moribund – like a contented maggot asleep on a sunbed. (I know that might sound gross, but that’s what it looks like.) As I utter a stream of ‘Es’ the right cord wriggles over to join it. They meet and slam shut, pretty effectively, all things considered. The ‘posterior chink’¹ still refuses to close, but this is something that Birmingham might be able to sort out.
I had expected a battle over the referral because I thought there might be a little professional pride at stake (there was none) and because it might seem a trivial request in the grand scheme of things. Back in 2011 when I was first trying to juggle the conflicting priorities of the cardiology unit and the ENT unit, a cardiologist had commented that restoring my voice was a “lifestyle thing”. Meaning that it was not life-threatening and therefore not important. It did not command the respect, resources and time that sorting out the heart did. This may be true – but only to a point. Having no voice is misery. Full stop. Full glottal stop.
But Mr ENT understands totally and so – we wait and see. It will probably take months, but that’s OK. It’s not cancer.
Which by happenstance is what this morning’s post from Oxford suggests. It’s my copy of a letter to my GP. It doesn’t matter what people actually say – the message always carries more weight when it’s set down in back and white. Whatever the news.
…..Since his last review here six months ago he has been very well and reports no constitutional symptoms of note. His appetite is good and he reports no weight loss and his main issue is that his exercise tolerance has been limited by his cardiac issues and his pneumonitis post-radiotherapy.
He had an up-to-date scan on 17th April 2013 which was compared with his October imaging. This shows no evidence of any recurrence of his disease. This is most pleasing. I have informed Mr Spratley of the results and that we would like to see him back in six month’s time with an up-to-date CT of thorax, abdomen and pelvis for review…..
I love ‘This is most pleasing’ – as if Jane Austen had written to my GP: ‘Dear Dr D’Arcy, we find the absence of disease most pleasing.’
I feel like I’ve gone back in time to 2008 (or possibly 1808). I was fully recovered from the bowel resection, the liver resection, chemotherapy and the removal of the awful ileostomy bag. We took our bikes to Spain and France that summer and assumed that we would ride off into the sunset. And when I wasn’t riding my bike, I was singing in a band.
Of course at that stage I was not deficient in the breathing department to the tune of one lung. And my heart was far from dickey. (Oh no – sounds like a song title coming up…). We didn’t know, couldn’t know, that the sunset would turn out to be a cliff.
But – in spite of the ‘limited exercise tolerance’ I feel better than I have done in ages; both physically and mentally. It seems like progress. Which is weird when you think about it – that going back in time is progress?