Friday, January 12, 2018

Powerslave

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
It's Captain Caprine!!
Radiotherapy has been prescribed, and I'm halfway through ten sessions. I'm having a break because it's the weekend. The basic idea is that x-rays are beamed into my lumbar spine and pelvis to zap the cancer cells therein and reduce the pain. There are no nerves actually inside the bones, but the surfaces are covered in nerves and, as this is where muscles are attached, I get bone pain that feels like pulled muscles. The radiation is helping.

There is a thread on Facebook about this with many friends making comments about how being blasted with electromagnetic radiation will turn me into a superhero, or possibly a super-villain.

As I lay supine with heavy machinery whirling around me like some demonically-possessed fairground ride, it occurred that I might resemble some pharaoh.I was wearing the little paper apron preserving a little modesty, and my arms were crossed in the perfect place for the crook and flail. I guess I should also have had one of those stripy head-cloths and maybe a couple of Bangles...





However, unlike the pharaoh in the Iron Maiden song, I have no intention of being a Slave to the Power of Death any time soon.

]}:-{>

Monday, January 08, 2018

The final curtain?

I don’t think so. But I never expected to be writing this either.



TL;DR - I went to the doctor with backache and came out with cancer.

Being a bit middle-aged, and a bit overweight, I took it upon myself to go to a clinic and, in September, received a very clean bill of health.

And I was, with slightly elevated hubris, pleased not to be dying of something out of the Tropical Diseases House of Horrors.

That was September. By October I was getting persistent aches in my right shoulder and my lower back that weren’t getting any better. They got inconveniently worse in November, and a few days of not sitting down over the Formula 1 weekend didn’t help.By the time of my trip to Munich in early December the backache especially was becoming no fun at all. Indeed, when my transfer at Istanbul included an unscheduled trip over a flight of stairs, I was in extreme pain.

So back to the clinic in December.

“A few years ago I had an issue with my left shoulder that was treated and basically cured with microsurgery by a specialist orthopaedic surgeon. Can you check the other shoulder please? And by the way, my lower back is a bit ouchie as well.”

Two x-rays later confirmed no obvious cause, so I was scheduled for a MRI scan of my shoulder. After ten days, my medical insurance decided to approve the MRI and on 12th December I was back in the orthopaedic clinic with almost no shoulder pain but crippling back pain.

“I can see bone marrow infiltration on your MRI, and you need a lower spine MRI. I also need loads of blood tests to eliminate multiple myeloma.”

My back pain got so bad after that. Following a tortured night of no sleep I went back to the clinic, another doctor told me to go to the Emergency Room and to get admitted to the oncology department.

So I did, and suddenly had a week in hospital. This was to put me in the same building as the CT and MRI machines and a load of pain-relief chemicals not normally available even with a prescription.

Every test was the same story: “We are awaiting approval from your medical insurance.” From getting admitted to all drugs, tests, procedures, consultations. A tearful Beloved Wife must have spent hours on the phone to the insurance company.

And after a week and the last (I thought) test, I was discharged with a big bag of pills and a bill for the last night in hospital “Because you should have left yesterday and our tardy approval of your last MRI had nothing to do with staying an additional night.”

Mr Mystery Illness now called for the endoscopy and colonoscopy. Can I have the endoscopy first, please? Especially if you’re going to use the same tube.” A stomach ulcer was discovered and biopsy taken.

Dear reader, you can see where this is going. And on Christmas Eve that is where it went.

I did not have the extremely nasty multiple myeloma, a horrible cancer with a typical prognosis of a five-year survival probability around 50%.

My stomach ulcer is no such thing. It’s Stage IV stomach cancer. This has quietly jumped to my skeleton and has been attacking and weakening my bones for an unknown time.

Making ‘Caucasian Male, 54’ the star of some future dusty medical paper, metastasis from stomach to bone without touching the liver, kidneys, pancreas, etc., is apparently unusual and therefore very interesting to the medical profession.

Bone and bone-marrow cancer as extensively as I have it is incurable. My oncologist will not be drawn to a prognosis. The ever-helpful Dr Google says that the likelihood of five-year survival is less than ten per cent. This is a number that I intend to beat.

And so the therapy started in early 2018. As at today, I’ve had a port fitted in my shoulder to facilitate administration of chemotherapy. One session down and it made me very tired for several days. I’ve had two radiation therapy sessions so far of a course of ten. I have managed to get access to some really very powerful pain relief so that I can nearly function normally.

Life is nearly normal, and with the anti-pain drugs I appear healthy and fully functional. Apart from the life-threatening cancer, of course.

More anon. I am very far from giving up.

]}:-{>

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Turkish Delight

The Goat is back from Germany again, after the semi-regular trip with Beloved Wife to the Christmas markets. With a group of six including Nix and Pegs, a good time was to be had by all. Certainly the Goat ate and drank to excess, and even picked up a few Christmas presents. On the outbound, he got all his luggage including a backpack into one carry-on. On the return journey the now bulging carry-on bag became checked luggage and the backpack constituted the Goat's carry on. And everyone had a great time in München and Nürnburg.

Animal Crackers

Beloved Wife had organised with a shipping agent to accompany live animals to their owner in Germany. The deal was that she and the Goat would accompany two pets each. Three cats and a dog. The agent would deal with all the permissions and paperwork, and all that remained for the Beloved Wife and her Goat was to meet the shipping agent at Dubai where the animals would be loaded, and to meet the owner in Munich where they would be unloaded. This is a common enough procedure.

Except with Turkish Airlines, it would seem. With a week to go, the airline told the agent that dogs and cats could not be transported together even if they were in separate cages, so the dog was bumped off the flight. Three cats in two boxes, then. The agent confirmed everything with Turkish Airlines and went ahead with the expensive export paperwork with two days to go. All confirmed, he arrived at around bidnight at DXB where there was a problem.

"Two animals cannot be transported in the same cage."

This is patent nonsense, and the agent had the approval paperwork to say so. Beloved Wife's aunt recently travelled from the UAE to the USA with her two cats in the same cage, and there was no problem with Emirates. The agent said he'd recently shipped animals to Germany with no issues at all via Gulf Air and by KLM.

And then there arose a second issue.

"Yesterday, the day after we approved everything, Turkish Airlines changed their rules and live animals can now not be transported in the hold. Nor in the cabin, at least, not to Germany."

The agent tried to contact the head office and, surprisingly because it was midnight, got a person to talk to on the phone. This person reiterated that everything was approved and teh kittehs could be shipped. But at the airport, "Computer says 'no.'"

The Goat pointed out that there would be a massive shitstorm if the agent managed to talk the cats on to the plane and they then got offloaded in Istanbul and refused boarding to Munich.

Meanwhile, the cats' owner had already travelled from the German boonies and was in a hotel in Munich, waiting for her furbabies that were now not going anywhere.

Taking the Tablets

The Goat idiotically managed to leave his tablet in the seat pocket of the DXB-IST flight. He realised this after queuing for an hour to get through airport security (where they look for all the drugs and guns everyone has managed to smuggle on to the plane in Dubai, FFS). Having cleared this security, the Helpful Man At The Counter said that the Goat should return to the transfer desk to try to get his tablet back. What he didn't say was that this involved going through a one-way door and would require queuing for security again and missing the connecting flight.

Beloved Wife eventually managed to persuade the Helpful Man to pick up his telephone, and then go and retrieve the tablet. Easy peasy..., eventually.

The long layover became ridiculously short, and now involved a brief gallop across Istanbul Atatürk to board the Munich flight, parked inevitably at the very far end of the terminal.

München Wurst

Having arrived in Munich and taken the train into town, the hotel was not overly difficult to find. Nix and Pegs arrived later, having fortuitously booked the same hotel, and all agreed to meet at breakfast the following morning to agree plans for the long weekend's debauchery. This will, in due course when the Goat has emptied his camera into a computer, form a separate blog post.

Back to Reality

Return flights were an exercise in endurance. First, Turkish Airlines' English website refused to allow on-line check in. Then the Lovely Booking Clerk cofirmed that the Goat and his Beloved Wife would both have aisle seats in a pair of packed aircraft. "Aisle seats" turned out to mean "Window and Middle, next to a large armrest thief comprising mostly elbows" followed by "Aisle and Middle, in front of a family of screaming, seat-kicking brats".

And it seems that of two identically-coloured matching suitcases loaded in Munich, one of them (containing all of the Goat's toiletries, clothes, and Christmas shopping) got to spend an extra day in Istanbul.

Even getting the bag delivered to the Crumbling Villa was made as hard as possible. The Delivery Man rang three times in quick succession when the Goat was unable to pick up. When the Goat returned the calls, he was told that the Delivery Man, instead of ringing to give an hour's notice of delivery, had grown tired of waiting at the Crumbling Villa and had gone off to Sharjah. Further return calls went unanswered, but at 9pm the Goat received a text message to say that the suitcase would arrive at 11pm.

No, the Goat does not have WhatsApp, and cannot send a location Pin. Whatever that witchcraft might be. Does anyone remember street addresses?

The case arrived at two minutes to midnight, coincidentally delivered by the same guy who delivered Beloved Wife's mishandled case in August.

One of the Goat's Antipodean friends has suggested that the Goat is a Travel Misfortune God. In the way that Rob McKenna is a Rain God and should be paid by holiday companies to stay away from sunny holiday destinations, perhaps the Goat should be paid by airlines to travel with someone else.

Such as not Turkish, for example.

]}:-{>

Sunday, November 12, 2017

You know it makes sense

America does not want gun control.
Gun satire


This much is obvious. The right to bear arms is enshrined for ever in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and as such can never be changed. The word “Amendment” does not mean that the Constitution can be amended. Keeping and using deadly hardware is a Right, and is as important as other Rights such as freedom of religion, speech, and the press; fair trial; no cruel and unusual punishments; liquor outlawed; liquor legalised.

Motor vehicles are also items that are potentially deadly hardware, yet these have to be registered and insured, and the driver has to have passed a test of competence and have a licence. But driving a motor vehicle is a privilege that has to be earned through passing a test; keeping and bearing arms is a right that shall not be infringed. Any and all American citizens are allowed to have guns.

The bit about a well-regulated militia is largely irrelevant, coming into play only during a general mobilisation of true patriots against an oppressive regime.

If the government takes away everyone’s guns, it is obvious that the next step will be such an oppressive regime and the consequent re-education, internment, and eventually death camps. Just like in Britain and Australia.


So when The Man, as personified by the uniform and “License and registration please” stops a true patriot who is going about his lawful business, the correct response must surely not be to declare that “I have a permit and yes I am armed” but to use that weapon to avoid being dragged off to a death camp.

Control through the law obviously cannot work because criminals, pretty much by definition, do not abide by the law. And anyway, criminals who are American citizens retain their right to bear arms. It is a right; not a privilege, remember? The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Witness how the hundreds of people at the recent Las Vegas massacre so effectively took down the lone shooter. See how good guys with guns effectively prevented mass shootings in cinemas, schools, and churches. And the police, now not part of the oppressive regime, are always glad of valuable assistance from this impromptu well-regulated militia and can easily tell the difference between civilian bad guys with AR-15s and civilian good guys with AR-15s.

There is no way a criminal will rob someone when he knows that the victim is armed. That is why robbery never happens in the USA. Whereas over the Pond, unarmed citizens are mown down by the thousands by the armed criminal masses; something the unarmed police are powerless to prevent.

One final thought. The ease of access to firearms of many types makes successful suicide more likely than with pills. But gun suicides don’t count towards the firearm death toll. Neither do deadly shootings involving criminals shooting other criminals. Nor extrajudicial executions by the police for apparently reaching for a weapon, or running away, or being shot after being arrested, or having a tail-light out, or looking at me in a funny way. So the actual number of firearm deaths, in which otherwise law-abiding citizens shoot people, is tiny; no cause for alarm, and certainly no reason for legislation.

]}:-{>

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What a job

Marshalling at Yas Marina Circuit
The Goat had a call out of the blue in early September regarding Paid Employment. An actual proper job, and not merely a per diem for marshalling motorsports. Excellent news: he's not done any real actual work since finishing the flat in Budapest.

One long telephone interview later, and the job was his, barring some paperwork. Just resubmit his CV in the Client's required format for the rubber stamp and Robert would be his mother's brother.

The job itself is right up the Goat's alley. It is design management and not the project management that the Goat knows and loves so well. The Goat does not fancy living and working in Lahore away from home, and the employer agreed that provided that the Goat would Roam for a few days at a time to design offices in Lahore and New Delhi, with the occasional trip to the project site up in the Hindu Kush - yes, Afghanistan - he would largely be able to work from home, co-ordinating the design teams an writing the technical reports. And as the employing firm is Australian, being paid every fortnight would be a bonus.

Start date mid-September, or so everyone thought.

At this point, the client approved the Goat's CV, that far exceeds the Terms of Reference: a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and at least ten years experience in a relevant field. The said relevant field is not a level playing field, but a mountain. Exactly like the Hajjar mountains in the UAE but writ much, much larger. At his prospective employer's suggestion, he made a PowerPoint presentation to show off his relevant experience and, to be honest, his presentation skills. But this sits on his home computer gathering virtual cyberdust.

But, and here comes the big but, the international bank that is financing this huge project doesn't like the Goat's BSc. The previous candidate, who was approved and then for personal reasons ("Afghanistan? Are you out of your mind? I forbid my husband from...etc") withdrew has a MSc. Now the bank requires a Master's.

How careless of the Goat not to go to Oxbridge University and get his Master's automatically a year after graduating.

It is as if the Bank specified a Yaris, was offered a Patrol, and then turned his nose up at a Pajero.  

The firm is, as the Goat writes this, trying to talk sense into the Bank. However, here we are at nearly November. The site is now covered with snow and will be inaccessible until about May 2018. The firm doesn't have any realistic alternative projects, so the Goat sits at home kicking his fetlocks.

And not being paid.

]}:-{>

Friday, September 29, 2017

Moderation

The Goat is fed up with deleting spam comments from his blog. All comments will now be moderated, because the Goat is not interested in hosting sleazy adverts for Russian and Indian/Pakistani call girls.

Yes, Arooj Malik. I am looking at you.

Apologies to genuine commenters for the inconvenience.

]}:-{>

Monday, September 11, 2017

Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology

There comes a time in a Goat's life when he has to accept that he's no longer young, and really ought to have his body checked in case anything is starting to go wrong with the plumbing.

The Goat's local clinic offers a "Male Executive Health Check", comprising 16 tests plus a consultation, all for the special package deal of a mere one thousand of your American dollars Grand: screening for possible issues with blood, heart, kidneys, liver, thyroid, prostate, bowel...

Except that the Goat's insurance provider will only cover the cheapest five of these. And by paying for the rest 'à la carte' the total cost would be over $1200. Is this price gouging by the clinic? Possible answer below.

One thing that seems certain is that this is an insurance business plan that is nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with making money. By not covering the test for, say, prostate cancer, which is usually undetectable by its owner, such a cancer would go undetected until later when symptoms appear and "I'm sorry, but it has metastasised and you will be dead in six months."

The insurance company avoids the relatively small cost of dealing with early onset cancer, and is faced with the huge cost of cancer treatment. But the latter is time-limited. A few months following diagnosis they stick the Goat in a box. Win-win for the insurance company.

If the Goat were really worried, he'd pay for the tests. And one of the Goat's diving buddies has indicated where a full commercial diving medical can be had for a fraction of the $1000 quoted above at the Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology. "Believe me," he says, "If there was anything wrong with your body, a commercial diving medical would find it."

Hmmm, $1000 to $1200 versus $400 for a more comprehensive set of tests? We have an answer regarding price gouging. But what of all those who can't afford even that?

Those who are so keen to slag off or even dismantle the NHS or similar government-funded medicine really ought to try living in a country where there isn't one.

They might find themselves dying in a country where there isn't one.

Of treatable conditions.

]}:-{>
 

The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.