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Sun 4th Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -5:


Wake to monster stomach gripe. Downstairs Alice and Matt have nearly finished washing up and clearing away the glasses and cutlery.

Hannah and Tall J emerge at midday. We have a cold lunch with pork pie, pâté, ham, cheese and croissants followed by a viewing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

We travel in convoy to Lincoln and have a meal at Zizzi’s. I have a skinny pizza. Athena loves playing with the balloons and staring out the waiters. It can be incredibly unsettling. I don’t think she blinks once.

We part company with Alice et al at the car park and take Hannah and Tall J to Newark station where they catch a train back to London. We feel bereft.

When we get home, we watch Walking the Nile (overrated) after which I watch Match of the Day. Man U beat Yeovil 2-0 with goals from Herrera and Di Maria.

I still feel bereft.


Mon 5th Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -4:


I feel really bad after a fevered night’s broken sleep. I am sweat-soaked and suffering from the gripes. When I get downstairs, I ring the Health Centre. The duty doctor returns my call and arranges a 10.50 appointment, asking me to bring in a urine sample. I immediately start drinking lots of water but I cannot wee at all. I eventually manage to squeeze some out into a plastic bottle which I wrap in a Tesco bag.

While I am getting ready to go to the Health Centre, there is a knock on the door. It is a man with a delivery of post-op aids which Occupational Therapy has arranged following a pre-Christmas phone call. There are toilet seat heighteners, toilet frames and a perching stool. The chair cushions, alas, are the wrong ones for the designated chairs. What we need are bases for the legs to rest in. The man says that he will get this sorted.

When I go to the doctor’s, there are no parking spaces opposite the Health Centre so that I have to park on the estate. This makes me late. I am finally seen half an hour later. The doctor says that my urine is clear. He suggests that I am suffering from a gastro-intestinal virus and that ‘there’s a lot of it about’. He tells me to drink a lot of water and get plenty of rest. He does not feel that I need antibiotics.

Two hours after I arrive home, I get a phone call from the Lincoln hospital telling me that my urine sample from the 30th (the one that leaked in my coat pocket) shows that I have got a urinary infection. So I need antibiotics, after all. The hospital has been in contact with Market Rasen Health Centre who says that they can be picked up later in the afternoon. Jane duly obliges.

In the evening we watch University Challenge. Trueblood from one of the Oxford colleges is awesome and wins it on his own.


Tues 6th Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -3:


A fiery night again. I sleep in late. For breakfast, I have half a Weetabix, a paracetamol, an antibiotic, a Rennie and a small hot water bottle.



I gurgle while I read Perfect. Then I fall asleep. This is repeated all day: gurgle, read, fall asleep.

Jane disappears to Lincoln to buy me moccasins, pyjamas and a dressing gown for hospital on Friday - even though there is now a strong chance that the surgeon will not want to go ahead if my griping gut continues or if I have not yet finished my course of antibiotics. It is so frustrating.

When Jane gets home, she says that she has been pushing Athena round Lincoln Tesco in one of those trollies with a car in front. I feel extremely jealous.

She says that Athena refers to me as ‘da-da woorly’. Matt is also ill with gut ache so he is ‘daddee woorly’.

In the evening, I read Perfect and fall asleep to Silent Witness.


Wed 7th Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -2:


My hot water bottle leaks in the night, soaking my pyjamas, but at least I am now solid at last (or nearly). I feel well enough to visit my hairdresser in Lincoln for a pre-op haircut. (For all major events in life, you need to look your best).

After the haircut, I take the moccasins back to Tesco to change them for size 10s and buy toiletries for the hospital. On the way back, I try to park in Market Rasen so that I can pay in Jane’s Slimming World money at the bank but every car park is chocker (including the Market Square which is blocked off for tomorrow’s fruit and vegetable market). There is an announcement on the radio that they will be adding a second of time to this year. I experience a feeling of déjà vu after just finishing Perfect or could that be apprehension or even a sense of impending doom?



I come home to the Guardian Quick crossword and a pink pig wheat-pack, bought for Jane this Christmas after she scorched last year’s panda. I also ring the parents in Boston. I cannot understand my dad (he was 90 in October) who is eating a biscuit. I explain that I cannot visit owing to my virus and infection. He tells me to rest and hopes that the operation goes well. He says that my mum (she was 84 in October) has just got up. It is 11.30. (Sadly, she has vascular dementia).

On the television at 12 o’clock, there is news of the massacre of the journalists and policemen at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris with footage from a bystander’s phone. President Hollande calls it barbarism which is exactly what it is. It brings back memories of the 7/7 London bombings. One of our friends, Steve, was there on the day and it took a worrying hour or more before we knew that he was safe.

It is impossible not to think of the families of those innocent people mown down and of the shock which must be spreading through the country.

In the afternoon, I start to read The Narrow Road into the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Its descriptions of inhumanity seem horrifically appropriate given what has just happened in Paris.

I take a risk with some chicken for my tea.

Before I go to bed, I watch the television coverage of the crowds in the Place de la République in Paris showing their solidarity with the journalists by holding up their Je Suis Charlie placards.


Thurs 8th Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -1


Wake late. When I get downstairs, I ring the Occupational Therapist to enquire about the new chair supports. I also start to fit the toilet seats but break one of the plastic screws which means that we cannot have a higher seat on the toilet upstairs. I have to ring the Occupational Therapist back to apologise.

After paying in Jane’s money at the bank in Market Rasen, I go into Lincoln to buy a dressing gown. (Jane couldn’t get one on Tuesday). I forget that the A46 is closed which means that I have to backtrack through Market Rasen and to travel to Lincoln via Holton-cum-Beckering and the Skegness road.

Park in the NCP car park near the Brayford. £5.20 for two hours!

Buy a dressing gown from Primark for £5.00. (Shapeless but cheap).

Then it’s off to Waterstones where I buy H is for Hawk and have a Flat White and piece of Tiffin in their café.

When I return home, the television news says that the terrorists are still on the loose and that they have held up a petrol station in the north of France.

When Jane goes to work, I pack my bag for the hospital and try out the toilet.

I read the description in Narrow Road of Dorrigo Evans’ attempts to save Jack Rainbow’s life by cutting out gangrene at the top of his leg. It is the third amputation on the leg and described in horrific detail. Probably not the best thing to read before tomorrow’s operation.

Alice rings. I tell her that I feel like a condemned man on his last night before a trip to the gallows which I realize is embarrassingly melodramatic.



Early evening, I have to have a snort of whisky to settle my nerves.

Jane gets back from work and we go to bed early. I cannot sleep. This will be the first time that I have ever had invasive surgery. Just the thought of a scalpel slitting through my flesh makes my nerves jangle. The pain is also a frightening prospect. Will I be able to bear it?

This is the last night that we will be sleeping together for some time. When I return, we will be in separate beds. It will be like a monastery.


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