Last blog and testament?

August 4th, 2010

Dawn in the French Pyranees. I am trapped in a high-tech French hospital in Foix, the last major town on the road to Andorra, which is one of the smallest countries on the planet. So small that it’s economy is dependant on its neigbours, and it is ruled by joint Presidents, whoever is President of France and an archbishop. Since this is the height of the French summer holiday the road is filled by a constant stream of traffic starting the long climb to the highest mountains, spurred on by the prospect of buying tax-free goods. But at 6.30 AM the silence is deafening. Outside. And in the hospital. The night staff are winding down ready to pass over to the day staff. I have pressed the red button hanging above my head. But no-one has yet come.

I am trapped. On my right side my arm is attached to a glucose drip. On the left another drip is connected to my cock, washing out my bladder and depositing the contents via a catheter exiting to a bag hanging on the bed rail. I am not in any pain. But now I am awake I want to see the sky. The button which raises the shutters is tantalisingly just beyond my reach, so I need some other human being to enable me to greet another day. And prepare myself for whatever I have to face. Which might be totally trivial or something quite serious.

For more than twenty years I have been resisting my wife’s totally sensible request that I make my will, because I have had a totally irrational feeling, that if I make my will, him up there will decide that it means I am ready to go, so he will press the termination button. A silly superstition for anyone, and particularly for me, who believes that it is probable that him up there is a myth.

A few days ago I finally grew up and acted like a mature human being. Rang my lawyer and asked him to draw up a will before my holiday in France starting on 26 July. He pulled out all the stops, and I was able to print out my last will and testament two days before I was due to catch the St Malo ferry. But I still prevaricated over getting it signed and witnessed. Instead stuffed it in my computer case. It stayed there on Monday 26 July by which time I was sitting on the side of estuary at St Suliac, a village a few miles from St Malo, enjoying the sunset (see my daughter’s picture). The following evening I was watching an even more impressive sunset at our first holiday destination, a house at Ax-les-Therms, which overlooks the railway to Andorra, less than 50 miles from the border.

I did not think about the will again, until dawn last Wednesday, which now seems an age away. After my first pee of tthe day I found blood in the toilet bowl. I did not tell anyone. But the next time I felt the call out came a steady bright red stream which looked to me at least 90 per cent blood. I lagged behind while most of the house went out for a walk, thinking over the implications. Shortly before lunch-time, following another red stream, I marched to the sitting room determined to get my will witnessed by whoever was there.

Robert, who is Chinese/American and Magali, who is French, were abviously a bit puzzled, when I put the will on the table, and gave my explanation as to why I wanted it done now, after putting it off for years. But they signed on the dotted line. And then I decided to tell them I was worried and why. Robert was very practical, running through the possibilities, starting with kidney damage (which we both knew might mean I had less than 24 hours to live). But he insisted that I should see a doctor, like, now.  Happily, we found one in Ax who saw us an hour later, and sent us on to the hospital in Foix with a covering letter.

Though it was the early evening when I arrived I was examined within an hour by a doctor. He got so frustrated with my attempts to explain my medical history in French that he fetched a colleague, who just happened to be English (first degree, Oxford, higher degree Sheffield, where he practised for several years before moving to France). He explained that under the French medical system they insisted on a whole battery of tests, many of a kind that were done in England in out-patients. He decided I should stay overnight and that they would do the tests next day.

Byyesterday afternoon, blood tests, x-rays and scans had established the cause of the bleeding was probably in the bladder. This was confirmed by the final test, a camera probe via the penis. However, the urologist could not see anything clearly on his screen, because there was so much blood around. They are going to do it again today after they have washed out my bladder.

This blog was written in my head a week ago, but situation remains essentially the same today. They discovered that my bladder was ulcerated, but they still do not know whether this was caused by something trivial or by a malignant growth. I have to wait til Friday at the earliest to know the result of the biopsy. I was released from hospital last Wednesday evening, after my urine flow had changed from the colour of a decent claret, to rose, and finally to slightly yellow water.

So I have been enjoying my holiday. Well, sort of. Off the booze, because of the anti-biotics. Cutting down on the fags in case I have to go back to hospital conditions and because it will help to delay the progress of my chronic pulmonary disease. Waiting to hear whether I have something even nastier that will keep me away from blogging.  At low moments fearing that I will die in a French hospital, will never see the view of Lyme Bay ever again.

But in lucid moments realising that not only me, no human being, can ever know whether we will live to the next dawn. Whatever we do, however much we look after ourselves, tomorrow we may be struck down by a careless driver on the motor way or a suicide bomber who crosses our path.

And I can at least be reasonably certain, that I am not going to die because I have made my last will and testament. So it’s goodbye to superstition. Next time I see a ladder I shall make a detour to walk under it.

One Response to “Last blog and testament?”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I ran across your blog, living manic depressive, which eventually brought me to your diary. you are able to explain things in a way I never could. At a time I am feeling so needy and desperate, your words made me feel understood, and for that, I had to tell you.
    I wish you all the best and hope you’re feeling well soon.


Leave a Reply