Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Feeling groovy

I’m currently deriving a huge amount of amusement from the adverts on this page.

I slung the Amazon sidebar on because I already had an affiliates account and - well, you never know - someone might spot that perfect Christmas present while enjoying a light read about brain cancer, click through and make me 27p. But it has proved to be quite the little funster in itself.

These ads are sort of intelligent, they work by trying to match the rest of the content of the page to available goods which readers of that page are most likely to want. My favourite recommendation so far has been for Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, although Photographic Print of Trephination, 1593, (also available as a jigsaw) is a close second. These ads change all the time to best fit the content, so I’m now checking back on my own blog every now and again for new gems. It doesn’t work all the time, Palliative Care Consultations in Primary and Metastatic Brain Tumours has been less gigglesome, and I actively blocked Noel Edmonds’ vile output on the grounds of taste and decency, but I am enjoying many of the recommendations hugely.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m deriving quite so much pleasure from this. It could be the steroids, but I do feel a certain sense of enhanced appreciation at the moment which makes small joys somehow more crystalline and perfect, and that goes for all the nice messages people have been sending, too: from the email this morning from an old friend who took the advanced god-bothering course some years ago and who has informed me that he is going to pray for me despite my expressed opinion on the subject (or yah-boo sucks as I believe it is phrased in the King James version); to my cousin messaging that, in her mother’s considered opinion, I don’t have a brain tumour but a toffee she remembers me shoving in my ear when I was five - and if it does turn out to be that, can I pass it on so my aunt can prove herself right?

In fact, I feel pretty good in general. Not exactly happy or content, since some pretty horrible things have happened recently, but balanced, clear, receptive and aware, without much of the usual day-to-day fog of routine and ennui. It’s quite an odd but not unwelcome sensation. Obviously, I would like to make it clear that while appreciation of life is fine, if I do start to slip towards sentimentality I would like someone to come round and beat me with sarcasm for my own good.

Steroids aside, I suspect my general well-being has a lot do with the fact that I’m in no pain or even discomfort, which has left the whole business still all a bit theoretical. I have so far been pretty much free of symptoms other than the initial impromptu horizontal disco-dance I did on the office floor back at the beginning of October which prompted all the medical investigations that revealed my little cranial cohabitee. That was more embarrassing than anything else; I’ve always been a terrible dancer, even upright. I have also had a couple of minor but odd visual effects - including a very disconcerting 30 seconds of perfect double vision last week - but that’s been about it.

There have been a few incidental sair yins along the way, of course. The fit caused me to bruise or crack some ribs, which meant I had to sleep on my back for weeks, but that’s completely cleared up in the last few days (thanks, steroids). And there was the sensation of lying in an MRI machine having cheerfully agreed to being injected with a tracker dye, listening to headphone-fed soft rock overlaid with the sound of a radiographer muttering about my veins keeping collapsing while stabbing away regardless; I’d be a crap junkie. And then there was the cannula for my blood tests last week - the needle didn’t bother me in the slightest, I give blood every three months so I’m used to it, but the medical answer to duct tape they used to hold it in place perfectly defoliated my previously-luxuriant upper arm more effectively than napalm, and with a similar burning.

Still, so far the worst part has in fact been the driving ban. One little fit and they shop you to the DVLA, then it’s no more vroom-vroom until they say you can, which is a pain.

Obviously, in about 36 or 40 hours someone will be drilling into the side of my head, which is going to sting a bit. But despite a certain trepidation, I’m kind of looking forward to getting it over with, and my little steroidy chums should have by that time ensured that there’s no nasty swelling or anything in there to make the surgeons’ job any more awkward. As Clare has just put it, “Make sure you have an immaculate brain - I don’t want them thinking we’re common”.


  1. All the best, Graeme. I'm sure Kevin 'The Sun' Schofield and Brian 'Gibbering Monkey' Ferguson would also pass on best wishes. However, both are now in prison.

    Only joking.

    They are actually both giving evidence to the media inquiry...

    Anyway! All the best from The Falkirk Herald 'young' crew of 1997ish...

    Not feeling so young anymore, but nevermind.


    Alan Muir

  2. Dear Graeme,

    It was a pleasure to talk with you at our school reunion in September. Inevitably it wasn’t for that long: 420 minutes divided by fifty people equals an average of eight minutes and twelve seconds; I think we were slightly above that but not by much. I’m always delighted to hear that people have made a career in Glasgow – it’s the other side of the story told by the Glesca Dyspra. I was very much struck by your contentedness: the fact that you found a calling early in life, near to home, made a career of it, and clearly loved it. Right enough, I had just spoken to John Mair (sorry Mr M! ).

    I think you’ve missed a trick on the prayer front though. You could have said “Thank you for your prayers. God responded and you’ve to send me a hundred quid”. It’s a strange thing, though, I think, being a West-of-Scotland-Presbyterian atheist. I don’t think you ever lose that sense of fatalism. That’s the tragedy Graeme, if not for you, then for us. To see someone with such a sense of contentedness being struck in the head without warning doesn’t play to that fatalism. Bad luck should follow bad decisions, and it often does, but in this case the dice just landed badly, both on their edges – chance in a million that.

    Of course, being a bloke I like to talk about solutions. But I truly believe that you are in the best place in the world. My mother had a heid operation back in 1996, although for a benign tumour. She had two of the best brain surgeons in the world at, I think, the Southern General. Maybe fatalism will out: just as Glasgow was the making of you, it should now be the saving of you.

    Looking forward to your next blog.

    Moray B.