You will recall that last week’s entry was made early as we had to travel to the airport at Limoges to welcome our friends, Peter and Marcia and drop off Clare’s Mum.
The journey took a good bit longer than usual as, for the first 45Kms or so, we were rarely able to go as fast as 50Kph (and often a lot less) by reason of the snow on the road. A one-horse open sleigh might almost have been a better bet than an Astra G estate! At the same time the emissions warning light started occasionally popping on for minutes at a time, which did little for our confidence.
The plan was simple. Clare’s Mum was due to fly out at 5pm with Flybe, whilst Peter and Marcia were arriving from Stansted with Ryanair at 12:30pm. We had already agreed with Peter and Marcia that we would all hang around until Grandma went through to departures for her flight.
That was the plan.
As it turned out, on arrival at the airport (after, you will recall, a difficult drive of over two and a half hours – were we describing this on a news programme it would probably be called an ordeal, and we would be looking at a photo album), that Grandma’s flight had been cancelled! Oh yes, and the Ryanair flight was delayed.
Whilst waiting for the flight from Stansted to arrive, I spoke with the Flybe ground staff, who informed me that the flight had been cancelled at very short notice and no-one had been told. Later in the week it came out that the airport, presumably Southampton, had closed the runway at short notice for maintenance. Anyway, the final result of that was that Grandma came back with us (and Peter and Marcia and three people’s luggage).
By the time we returned, much of the snow had cleared, and the entire week turned to mostly rain (although the sun did make a welcome appearance or two towards the end of the week).
Bad weather means a restful week. The highlights, excluding shopping, were a trip to Clermont-Ferrand (shopping, mostly) and a few games on the PS2 of Buzz, the music quiz, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Peter did quite well!
Also, during the week, swallow numbers are slowly growing – we saw three together yesterday, one of which was of the more eastern variant, displaying an orange/red breast and, also yesterday, the cattle came out from their winter quarters in the barn with their usual display of joy! And Clare’s full birth certificate also arrived, so we can press on with the state health thing.
Just as well, really. After taking Peter and Marcia back to the airport on Friday (and we are looking forward to seeing them again later in the year), we went hot-foot to Montluçon to keep the appointment with the dermatologist. Immediately on entering his office he said, with the diplomacy, sugar-coating and euphemistic circumlocution that is the province of a seasoned senior medical professional, “It’s a carcinoma – do you understand that?“. The part of my reply he heard was “Thank you“. The part he didn’t hear was “Why not say what you mean? – B@ST@RD“. We then had a ten minute chat about growth, spreading, regular checks and so on, whilst he wrote a note to another doctor and told me to go and make an appointment without delay. “Is it dangerous?“, I asked. “Yes“, he replied, “but not the most dangerous“. I wonder what he meant by that. “Would you prefer clinic or hospital?“, he asked. “Clinic“, I replied, fully expecting him to follow up with questions like “red or blue, apple or orange or maybe even muffin or crumpet“. Our final piece of conversation was, “Does your wife speak better French than you?“. I replied, with the same candour that he had used speaking to me, “No“. “It is very important that you understand all this!“. Was he trying to comfort me, inform me or scare the bejeezez out of me? Who knows?
We found the PolyClinic. We didn’t look at the brass plates on the side, as there was a very prominent notice on the door informing all and sundry that the reception for the doctor with whom we should make an appointment is through the first door on the left – and so it was. Now bear in mind we had just been told what no-one wants to hear. On a previous visit the dermatologist had given, or I had received, the impression that if there were to be any cutting out of the tumour and reconstruction of the ear, he would do it. When he told me to go aussi vite que possible to another doctor, our assumption was that his preferred course of action was not available and he was referring me to an oncologist. I say again, we didn’t look at the brass plates at the entrance to the PolyClinic and there was nothing in the reception to indicate the doctor’s speciality. We left, having made an appointment for Monday week, 7th April.
Much deep discussion on the way home. I thought we were handling the whole thing very well.
When we got home, I decided my first jobs were to scan the doctor’s note and the biopsy report from the lab, then Google the doctor to see what I could learn. Imagine my relief when I found him to be a leading Plastic Surgeon! I now believe that when the dermatologist said “We will remove the tumour …” the “we” in question referred generically to the medical profession; it was not a royal “we”. I have been speaking with a friend, whose father had the same problem a few years ago and described the treatment, which involves cutting out the tumour and enough of its surrounds to ensure there is nothing left to jump up and bite me, as pretty straightforward. That will do me. If, as I believe, the treatment includes a reconstruction of the ear so that I don’t end up looking like a cross between Vincent van Gogh and a Maasai warrior, then I shall be well satisfied.
Final upshot? Currently, we are not worried. The problem has been identified and a course of treatment decided. We are in the hands of medical professionals who have an interest in successfully treating patients. The procedures are relatively minor and the prognosis is excellent. Why would we worry?
And there is a benefit. General opinion is that these things are caused by extended periods of extensive exposure to sun, they affect men more than women (good argument in favour of long hair) and the right ear more than the left (dunno why). It is felt wise to prevent further damage by severely limiting exposure of the vulnerable parts to the sun. In an attempt to prevent further damage, I now, as soon as the evil sun thing appears, wear a hat that is very similar to that worn by one of my all-time heroes – Norman Thayer, Jr. If anyone is not familiar with that name, treat yourselves to a view of On Golden Pond, starring Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda.
Go on! You know you want to…