N-n-nineteen… Not out

Just a quick post. Nothing amazing, just to say today is the nineteenth anniversary of me starting this crap. Eeee. 19 years. Just think, pretty much every cat and dog that was alive when I started this, will now be dead. Google was barely a thing. YouTube was a mere glint, Facebook and twitter weren’t even dirty stains on the duvet. I also had all of my toes, and an unwaving sense of positivity.

So, here’s to another 19 years. Wonder if I’ll be doing this in another 19 years? Yeah, erm. Probably not.

Cheers!

My left foot, part 3!

Well, that last post was a slight detour from the current subject matter. It’s been a week since the whole steak incident, so we now return to your scheduled programming – the ongoing saga with my bloody foot! Anyway, I’ll continue where I left off. You’ll have to read below if you want a recap

July 30th came. It was a dreary Tuesday. Once again, the trip was made to North Tees.. The specialist was a jolly man. who spoke with a news-reader type voice. I entered the office, took my shoes and socks off, and he had a play around with my toes. After lots of umming and ahhing, (the type you get when a builder is inspecting your boiler (oo-er), and thinks the job is going to be rather costly), and it was decided that the best decision was to cut part of my toe off.

Well, the beWHAT? THEY’RE GOING TO WHAT? Admittedly, the next few minutes are a blur, as I had to come to terms with actually losing a body part. Thankfully, he dictated what he was going to do, and sent me a letter with it all on. Basically, there were lots of technical terms referring to lobbing off a bit of toe. It did start, however, with him calling me “This chap”. But, in a nutshell, my toes appeared to be “clawing”, as in, they’re permanently clenched in, and the tip of the toe had been rubbing so much that it probably wasn’t going to be able to be saved. There’s probably a technical name in that letter, but I can’t be arsed to look it up.

He also berated my choice of footwear. Apparently, walking boots were crap for this type of foot problem, which was entirely contradictory of what I was told by another foot specialist, who measured me up for my insoles just a few months before. For fuck’s sake.

A lady from orthotics came in and measured my feet, while the specialist went through his extensive checklist of what could happen during the operation. Strangely, a lot of bladder related stuff and not much else. It was arranged for me to have my pre-op assessment now. This was basically because it’s a 30-mile round-trip to get from the leafy grounds of Mercuryvapour Towers, to North Tees hospital.

All this entailed was a lot of box ticking, and a quick examination. “Your blood pressure’s a little high…” said the nurse. I felt like saying “Well, so would yours be if you’ve just been told you’re getting part of your toe cut off…”. A second reading was lower, so it was probably just my white coat syndrome kicking in.

On the way home, I began to concoct some jokes, after all, laughter is the best medicine. This lasted all of about half an hour, before I began to think of someone I know who started off losing a toe, then all of his toes, then his foot, then his leg below his knee, and eventually died. Sure, he had other health problems, but I began to think “Is this how it starts…” Depression certainly kicked in for a few days I certainly wasn’t in a good place for this time. It was a case of waiting for the letter to plop through the door with the date of when I was getting the chop.

The date of my operation came through, and it was exactly a week from when the letter was dated. I genuinely can’t work out if this made me feel better or worse. I had the date. It could all be over, or it could just be the beginning.

I filled the time with a few trips out. The Sunday consisted of a rather disappointing Redcar car boot sale. I’m guessing this may have just been because of the time of year, but thankfully, the walk around Redcar more than made up for it. There was one store called “Goodwins” that had an metric shit-ton of random CDs, listed for a quid.

Despite being a quid a pop, I didn’t bother getting any. There were far too many to look through, and there was far too much crap to contend with. “Top Musicians Play Sting And The Police”…. Maybe my heart just wasn’t in it.

I returned from the car boot with literally a handful of CDS and a few records. There just weasn’t very much at all. I needed something to pass the time while I was off, and cataloguing an absolute pile of CDs would have been ideal. Oh well.

This day was the penultimate day before the operation. The next day just involved work, and telling everyone that I’ll “see them when I see them”. The rest of that day was then spent going around the town, grabbing the finer essentials, namely a pair of slippers and a dressing gown for the hospital. This was also the day that I received some devastating news about the death of Rab, an old work colleague. This put things into perspective a bit. I was losing a bit of a toe. Some people have much worse problems.

All there was left to do now was to attempt to get some sleep and hope that tomorrow, and the stay in hospital would come and go quickly….And so will part 4!

Can’t take me anywhere…

Well, it just seems that I’m seeing the inside of hospitals more frequently than I am my own house at the moment. Sit down, dear friends, and I shall tell a story. For those of you who were looking forward to part three of the foot saga, that’s coming soon enough. Imagine this as a little side-episode into my unfortunate life, where I once again, end up in a hospital.

Today was a Saturday. (It’ll probably be Sunday by the time you read this, but never mind). Jamie S fancied a day trip to Newcastle via the train. It’s been a while since we’d done anything on the rattler, so it made a bit of a change. We got there at just before 2PM. The first stop (after a brief stop at a couple of charity shops) was to get some grub. Now, the worst thing about being ina big city at that time is trying to find somewhere to eat. Wagamama’s is my new favourite spot. I have a thing for their Firecracker chicken, it’s amazing. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the queue was pretty much out of the door. Bad news. Same for Nandos, so this meant we had to find somewhere else. A few months ago I’d had a lovely steak at Red’s BBQ place, so although it’s a bit more expensive, we agreed to go there. Perfect.

Meals were ordered, and I looked forward to my steak. I got it medium. Just fancied a change from medium rare. The food came, and I started. After one single solitary mouthful, the worst thing happened. I’d clearly not chewed my bit of steak correctly, because as I swallowed, I knew that it was not going down. Now, this sometimes happens if I have a large piece of bread, and normally a bit of a drink pushes it down and we’re good to go again. Nope, not this time.

I took a drink, and I couldn’t swallow it. It was going nowhere. The only thing that was shifting was the drink of coke I had, and that was coming upwards. Panic started to set in, some people thought I was choking. Some people slapped me on the back, but this didn’t shift it. The staff were concerned at this point. I went to the toilet to try and bring it up, but nope. Nothing happened. This steak was well and truly lodged.

The shopping centre staff came involved, and called 999. This was the first time I’d ever had anything like that called for me. There’s been a lot of firsts when it comes to hospitals over the last couple of months. Anyway, the 999 service recommended I go to the RVI. They weren’t sending an ambulance because I was obviously in no immediate danger. I could breathe. There was no blood. It was just a bit of stuck meat. An incredibly uncomfortable bit of stuck meat, and I didn’t realise until then, that the RVI was only 10 minutes walk away. I was told not to try and bring it up myself.

I could feel my body trying to shift this foreign object, like a sharp pain just below my throat., and the motion of walking really didn’t help.

It’s not until you’re unable to swallow properly that you realise just how much saliva you actually produce, and it had to go somewhere. Out of my mouth, and into pretty much every place I could find. Hedges, drains, anywhere. It was not pleasant, and I’m sure anyone else watching would have found me disgusting, without actually knowing what was going on..

We got to the A+E, Jamie S helped me check in because I was unable to speak without running to the door and expelling a load of saliva. Usual triage procedure took place. Blood pressure, heart rate, etc, and I was told to go back to the waiting area. This was awful. The action of sitting just made me feel worse, so I had to stand for the entire time. I’d often clear my head by going outside and resting on the barriers. Again, I was running to the toilet every few minutes to empty my mouth, and sometimes, this did trigger a vomit. A rather loud, painful vomit.. Naturally, there was very little coming up. Certainly no steak.

Time passed. Jamie S amused himself by extracting the urine, and keeping me updated on the football scores. After about an hour of waiting around, the third vomit session took place. Again, nothing of any significance happened A bit of liquid, but nothing resembling steak.

I went back outside to cool off, and then I noticed… I could swallow. I didn’t want to bring up anything. Had that last one fixed the problem? I came back inside, and Jamie S said he’d noticed I’d looked better. Immediately after this, my name was called, by the doctor. I went in.

“Doc, this might literally be your easiest issue of the day”.

Indeed it was, he gave me a glass of water, and thankfully it stayed down. Panic, and this little traumatic episode, well and truly over. There was still time, so we headed back to Eldon Square. As luck would have it, we managed to bump into the staff who helped me out, so said a massive thanks to them.

I feel I have a few thanks to say, and apologies. None of these will ever read this (Jamie S might just read it to correct my spelling), but thanks all the same…

Thanks and apologies to Jamie S. I ruined your Saturday, and you’ve had to put up with me spewing up. Again.
Apologies to the staff at Red’s. You did a wonderful steak, and I took one bit out of it. I am genuinely heartbroken at the waste of such a good meal. It wasn’t your fault. It was mine. I’m such a prick. Sorry. Apologies also to the other patrons that were there, and many, many thanks to the people who helped. I hope I didn’t spoil your day.
Many thanks to the Eldon Square staff for their help. You were all greatly supportive, especially to the guy who walked us to where we needed to be.
Apologies to the people walking down The Great North Road and St. Thomas’ Street who would have saw me spitting. It’s an awful habit. I had good reason, which I hope you’ll now understand.
Apologies to the people in the waiting room with me, especially those within earshot of the toilet, who would have heard me retching my ring up.

I’m genuinely just wracked with guilt and embarrassment about the whole day. This has been a public service announcement. I’ve been Mark Lamarr, and this has been Never Mind the Buzzcocks. *theme music plays*

My left foot, part 2

A quick round-up for those who missed part 1. Back in 2016, I went walking, got an ulcer in my foot, which didn’t get seen to until 2017 Fast forward two years later, I no longer have a hole in my foot. That’s all sorted. Hurrah, huzzah, and other noises in the similar vein. That was no longer a concern. What WAS a concern however, were my toes. I can’t remember how far through the blog I got, but about 6 months after getting the problem with the base of my foot, I also started getting problems with the toes. I remember it starting with an absolutely massive blister under the nail of my 2nd to biggest toe. This came as a shock to me, as I didn’t even know if was there, thanks to the lack of feeling in my toes. It’s somewthing that has a name, but I don’;t have the “documentation” to hand.

This went through cycles. I’d go to the one-life. The base would start to get better, then the toe would start. The toe would get better, tyhen the base would rupture, and I’d end up with this never-ending cycle of pus coming out of my foot. Occasionally, there’s be an infection, and I’d get a dose of tablets, usually, Flucloxicillin, or however it’s spelt.

At some point during the summer, it flared up again. It went all red and puffy, so just on the safe side, the lady took a swab, and it did indeed come back with some type of infection. I remember clearly that the tablets started with M, and I was to receive a call from my doctor when they were ready to pick up. Nothing. No phone call. Had she changed her mind? Had she forgotten? Now, I probably should have checked myself but I didn’t. I waited until the next week, and confirmed there should have been some tablets. Alrighty then. Off to the chemists, aaaand… 4 boxes of Flucloxicillin. Waaaait, that doesn’t begin with M.

I went back to the one-life to see what I should have been prescribed, but nobody could tell me what. I asked the lovely receptionist, though as I suspected, she couldn’t see. I went into the clinic the weekd after, explained the predicament (I hadn’t taken the tablets, by the way, as in my mind, they were the wrong ones, and there’s been a history of me being prescribed the wrong tablets for other things, and the wrong antibiotics can do more harm than good.) She got the manager to check, with it was all academic, as by the time of my next foot check, the redness had gone away, and everything appeared to be back to “normal”.

Fast forward to June 21st. I’d noticed that, once again, there was some discharge coming from the toe, and possibly the base. The lady checking my foot thought that it might have been “tracking”. This was not good. This basically means that the infection is going up into my foot veins, and into my bloodstream. The word “Sepsis” was banded about, and after three people came in to check my foot, I was advised to get myself down to A+E now, for a course of IV antibiotics. I’ll probably need to be kept in. That’s cute. There’s not one of those in Hartlepool, so I had to make my way to North Tees. Daddykins already had plans which he had to bail out of. Pretty important plans, and I felt awful for making him cancel those. It’ll be one of those things that will gnaw at the back of my brain, and will every so often get an awful wave of guilt over. The person concerned will never read this, but still.

Moving swiftly on, I arrive at the A+E. Awful, awful place. There was an obviously drugged-up person in a hospital-provided wheelchair, sat in a dressing gown, screaming down their phone, crying their eyes out at the person at the other end, to come and get them, and that they were not staying in, that they were going to book a taxi, etc, etc. This person went in before me, and muffled cries could be heard from the assessment wing. You get a new found appreciation for the people at the front-line on the NHS, having to put up with scum like that. Anyway, this person continued the conversation they came back… “They said I was being abusive”. Yeah, I bet you were.

I was next. I bet I was like a coffee break compared to the last person. I’m needle-o-phobic, so I look away as they insert what I thought was a needle to draw blood. It’s a standard procedure, and although it’s not one that I’m a fan of, it’s one I understand is necessary. I look down.

Nope, they weren’t drawing blood, they were fitting a fucking cannula. Now, at this point, I’ve never stayed in hospital. Theis pretty much guarantees I was about to break that duck. I’m not sure if they checked my blood pressure before or after they inserted that bloody thing (no pun intended) in my hand, but I’m pretty sure it would have doubled. Somewhere down the line, I explained that I really didn’t want to stay in hospital. I’d came straight from work, I only had the clothes I was stood up in, no other medication, I don’t even think I had money in my wallet. A compromise was to be made.

It was clear that I needed IV antibiotics, at least to start me off. That means I’d be connected to a drip, so I was led to a room. The connection was made, and a line was drawn on my foot to mark out if it was being efrective, and I sat there. I took a photo of the view so I’d remember it for the rest of my life.

OK, so one course of IV done, but still there were more. It was agreed for me to return back to North Tees at 9:30am the next morning for the next course of IV. In the meantime, the extremely uncomfortable cannula would be wrapped up and kept in there. Lovely.

Well, what a shit night’s sleep that was. As the photo shows (if I decided to include it), the cannula was in my right hand, meaning sleeping in my bed was impossible. This meant I crashed on the couch.

Both myself and Daddykins were up for part 2 of this journey. Again, the same streets, the same roadworks, the same entry, the same corridors…. Oh, wait no. This time, I was told to go to the “Ambulatory Outpatients Diary Room” I have no idea what that means, and I had even less of an idea how to get there. I have one rule when it comes to hospitals… If I’m not sure where I’m going, ask someone clutching a clipboard and/or stethoscope. At the time of typing, this has been effective approximately 20% of the time,, and if I’d followed the sihns, I’d have been there. But then again, this is Percy-logic, and I get to speak to nice poeople, so what the hey.

I arrive at the “Ambulatory Outpatients”. Nobosdy there. I examine the desks for sign of life. There’s a half drank bottle of diet coke, and the remanant of a tuna sandwich that had started to curl up at the ends. Nobody there at all. I think I was stood there about 20 minutes before someone came to see me. They must have noticed me eyeing up the rather nice selection of well-worn biros behind the desk.

Eventually, someone comes to see me, and we discuss the next course of action. Another dose of IV today, and a nurse would come out to see me for the next two doses, and the final one will be given the following morning back at the hospital. Phew, at least I didn’t have to stay in.

10 minutes later, I was free to go. I just had to wait for the nurses to come. Indeed they did. Nothing worse than sitting, watching the cricket, while two burly nurses pour drugs through a little hole in your arm. Twice.

Sunday comes, and off we jolly well pop back to the hospital. It was noted that the nedness had already began to go down, so the antibiotics were clearly working. It was agreed that I’d finish the antibiotics in tablet form, and I was fee to go. 80 flucoxicillin tablets over the course of 10 days (and two weeks on the sick) and I was right as rain. They took yet more blood, and while they awaited the test results, I had to sit around in the canteen for about an hour. They gave me a voucher for a free cup of tea, however, so it wasn’t all bad.

The IV dose was completed and finally, the cannula was removed. I was then assigned back to the high risk podiatry again for an appointment during the week to get my proper dressings put back on. This was a blessing, as within 30 seconds of me being in the chair, it was duly noted what was wrong with my foot. It looked like my toes were slightly crooked, meaning that none of the weight was getting put onto my big toe like it’s supposed to, and the little fatty bad that’s on the sole of my foot had either shifted or worn away. I was referred to a specialist for an appointment at the end of the month. And what did he say? Well, you’ll have to wait for the next part to find out!

It’s August 1st! That must mean it’s… EQUITES DAY!

I wrote this post back on August 1st 2018. It was so bad, I never let it see the light of day. Fast forward a year later, it’s still as terrible, but as I haven’t written anything for two months, I thought you might as well see it.

“Uhhh, what?” I hear you ask. No, don’t worry, it won’t mean anything to anybody but me, and you’ll have to forgive me for going into a long, drawn out ramble about something that’ll mean nothing to anyone else, but then that describes the vast majority of posts in here.

“Equites” was an arcade game, pusblished by defunct software company Apha Denshi in the mid 80s. It was a relatively novel vertical shoot ’em up, where you controlled a ship that could either walk along the ground, or fly in the air, and you had to shoot things, though you probably worked that out by the name “shoot ’em up”.

Now, to be honest, it was a rare game. I’ve only ever seen one copy in the wild.

Let’s fly back to the very late 80s. Exactly this time of year, every year, we would go to Sandy Bay, a caravan site I’ve mentioned before, on the outskits of Ashington. Every night, there would be a supervised disco thing for the kids, called the Sandy Bay Smilers Club. You know the score. You’d get put in a room with loud music that served pop and crisps, and some adults would tell you to not play with the fire doors. In the corner of this room were (usually) four arcade cabinets. Lady Bug, Frogger, Mag Max, and a little dusty one in the corner that was never switched on, without a name.

None of these were maintained very well. Ladybug had a monitor fault, which meant it was too blurry to see for the first 10 minutes. You could kick Frogger, and get 99 credits. Mag Max refused to boot up most of the time with a “RAM TEST NG” error, and the little mystery one was Equites.

Now the reason why it was usually switched off is, of course, it didn’t work properly. It had intermittent faults, all absolutely fascinating to me as a 9-year old, whose only experience in computers had been the ZX Spectrum, and it’s limited pallette.

I’d switch it on, wait for the CRT to warm up. If I was lucky, I’d get to see the game’s self test screen..

I’d get a good new minutes out of playing it, but then things would start to go wrong. Graphics would go wonky, things would stop working as they should, and eventually it would crash. It was the crash modes that held the most fascination for me. Sometimes the selftest would go red, and it wouldn’t boot up any further.

Sometimes it would crash with a text error on the screen. Now, knowing computers like I did back then, if a program brought up an error message and stopped running, you could LIST the program and see how it worked.

When this particular game crashed, if you waggled the joystick enough, you could get letters to appear underneath the error.

Could I possibly work out a combination that would list the source code of the game? Well, here’s a typical “crashed” error message…

Now, playing around with MAME, I can’t find any way to enter a character after these error messages appear. It’s possible to get the error messages to appear by randomly corrupting a saved state file, the game crashes and the “CPU” hangs. Therefore, my conclusion is that the movement of the joystick/cabinet caused my a loose/faulty chip, would insert corrupted data into the RAM, eventually causing the game to crash with the error, and that my constant “waggling” would corrupt the next byte following the end of the error message, making it look like it was typing something, but was nothing more than the faulty chip corrupting the next byte of memory after the error.

OH MY! I really need to tetype that paragraph!

Anyway, as far as I know, things didn’t end well for Equites. We stopped going to Sandy Bay, except for one fleeting visit in 1994/95ish. We were in the area visiting one of my dad’s freinds, and decided to pop round and have a look. The Smiler’s club had been demolished, along with the shed that was once the arcades. It’s more likely that, due to the dwindling popularity of the older games, and the unlikeliness of them being repaired properly, that they just ended up getting carted off to landfill, or just left in there when the buildings got demolished. I like to think that somewhere, there’s a shed, with all of the old games I used to play there, all fully restored and working, but I doubt that’s the case

And, so, this is why August 1st, to me, is known as “Equites Day”. In conclusion, a mildly entertaining arcade game, brightened up infititely by triggering things you were never meant to see anyway!

I also vote August 3rd as being “World’s Worst Blog Post Day”

ITV Racing music

Do you watch the racing on ITV? Do you like the double-bassy, mute-trumpety music they use when introducing the runners and riders for each race? Do you wish you could own a copy of this music, or at least stream it on somewhere like Spotify? Well, now you can!

It’s title is… Drum Roll Please…. “Les Fleurs” by 4 Hero, released on their 2001 album “Creating Patterns”.

I’ve been after it for ages, so I thought someone else might have been too, hence the blog post. Turns out I’ve had the exact track on a compilation CD for ages and never realised. Minnie Riperton originally performed the song in 1970.

Also, the flutey music they use when going into a break (not part of the main theme, which is also pretty flutey) is the instrumental version of “Go Do” by Jonsi.

The actual theme was composed especially for the program, and to my knowledge, has never been commercially released.

We will return you to your scheduled programming shortly. *cough*.

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long, thanks to the reliability of Discogs, I’ve got the single in my collection now, which contains the instrumental version.

Ant And Dec broke my phone

Oh, the loveable Geordie duo. Seldom seen on our screens of more recent times, they’re still apparently working on projects together, namely the announcements at the M+S tills.

Thursday was just like an ordinary day Went to work, played pool, checked Facebook on a regular basis. It was there, that something caught my eye. I had been tagged in a post. It seems that M+S have started doing chicken vindaloo sandwiches. this obviously perked my interest, and understandably, I spent most of Friday morning, at work, hoping thatmy local branch still had some in. It’s about a 15 minute walk from where I work, to there. This was, as far as I can remember, the first time I’ve been in one of these stores on my own. Almost 40 years avoiding it, and it’s a slippery slope to being in there every day, wearing their cardigans and loose fitting brown trousers…

Er, anyway, off I toddle to the sandwich section, and there they were. Chicken vindaloo! £3. Ergh. This was the most I’d ever paid for a sandwich, so it had better be special. I opted for using the self-service checkpoints. I scanned my first item, and there they were. “HI! I’M ANT, I’M DECLAN, A DUO, A TWOSOME, MANY PAYMENT OFTIONS, SO GO AHEAD AND CHOOSE ‘EM”. That’s not what the checkout really said, but you get the picture. It was some tie-in with Britain’s Got Talent, a programme which I assume they present, or something. They’ve recorded announcments for the tills, and this is why I blame them for breaking my phone. their kind, northern tones lulled my into a false sense of security.

I deposited my coins, and walked away. I bit into the sandwich, and oh yes, it was lovely. A nice taste, with a really spicy kick. I was impressed. I’m always wary when I eat new stuff, especially sandwiches and things. I hate pretty much everything that comprises most sandwiches, so I was surprised to find this one edible.

Anyway, Friday afternoon went without a hitch, and after I’d finished, Jamie S picked me up, and we headed off to Newcastle. It was at this point, something didn’t feel right. A bit of a pain in the ol’ belly area. It’s a feeling that does occasionallly happen, mainly thanks to by diet, and I knew that it’d be mere minutes until I’d… erm. Yeah, you can work that out for yourself.

So, yeah, anyway, here we are, booling up the A19 towards the town, and things got rather pressing. To take a line from a Spandau Ballet song… “In these troubled times, desperation keeps us strong”. Oh yes, something was certainly doing the conga down my colon. Somehow, we’d made it to the first place we knew that definitely had a toilet… KFC.

I jumped out of Jamie’s car like I’ve never moved before, and that’s when my phone went hurtling across the car park. It must have been resting on my lap, and obviously, due to other thing on my mind, I forgot about it, and it got launched. Slam. Crack. Goddammit. Thankfully, the phone still works, and for the first time, I’ve edited out what happened in the toilet, because it was even too gruesome for me to talk about.

So, there we have it. If I ever bump into the Geordie duo, I’m going to blame them for doing this to my phone…

I’m sure theyll understand…