It’s Christmas!

What do you mean, “It’s Christmas”?

Oh dear, it’s crept up on me again.  Thankfully, this year I did everything early in the hope that I’d be ready before the day arrived.

Wrap presents?  Check.

Do food shopping?  Check.

Prepare for festive visitors?  Check.

Get ready to punch Santa on the nose if my presents are rubbish?  Check.

But – and it’s a big but (resist temptation for poor-taste J-Lo joke) – there is one thing missing this year:  the major pre-Christmas panic.  This time last year I was diagnosed with cancer.  Unsurprisingly, this put a bit of a damper on Christmas, as I was waiting until January for the test results.

Obviously, the whole experience has changed my attitude to life in many ways.  For example I no longer stress about deadlines, – much to my editor’s dismay, though it should be noted that ‘Patricians’ is finally finished! – and  I’m more relaxed about life in general – except idiot drivers:  I still shout a lot at bad drivers!

Probably the main difference is that I no longer take life for granted.  Savour it:  live every day:  take the time to look around you – the world’s not a bad place, even though there are some bad people in it.

So my Christmas message this year is to enjoy the holidays.  I would like to wish everybody a great Christmas, and I hope that 2015 will be a lot, lot better than 2014 for everybody.

Yet I would like to finish on a personal note.  More importantly than anything else, this year has taught me to appreciate what I have.  I have a gorgeous wife, a cute and intelligent son, a supportive family and good friends.  In fact, with only a few alterations – for example Burnley winning more games, starting with beating Liverpool on Boxing Day – I would go so far as to say that my life is just about perfect.

Now you can see why I put Santa at the end of my ‘to do’ list.  If Santa doesn’t bring the correct presents, and so ruins Christmas, he’s going to get such a kicking!

Happy Christmas Everybody!

Update number …. I’ve lost count!

First, let me say “Thank You” to the many comments supporting me in the last year.  It has made me smile in difficult times.

The main reason for posting now, though, is that I’ve just got back from the hospital.  There is currently no trace of the cancer.  Needless to say, I’m relieved – not least because we can have a worry-free Christmas this year.  Last year Christmas was a little fraught!  However, after so long worrying – don’t forget that my PSA test came back high long before the final diagnosis – my poor little brain can’t grasp the notion that it might – just might! – be all over.   Maybe I’ll never get used to it and will spend the rest of my life with a slightly confused look on my face?  (Yes, yes, I know:  how will we be able to tell the difference!)

My only regret is that I was unable to take a picture of Owen when I told him the news. His face said everything I could think of, and more.

Me and My Prostatectomy

In response to emails about the page concerning my prostatectomy, I’ve created this post solely so that people can leave feedback and ask questions.  Doubtless now it’s created it will never be used!

A Brief Writing Update

Sorry about my lack of regular posts recently,  but I have been otherwise engaged!

Just to let everybody know that the text for ‘Patricians’ is almost complete.  I am just waiting for comments from friends before making any last minute changes.  After that the book will be finished and sent to the publisher.  I must admit that I’ll be glad to see the back of this one:  it is now tied in with all of the stress of the past year, so hasn’t got the happiest of memories for me.

Roll on book six!

Time Travel

Over the past couple of years’ writing I have become aware of a phenomenon that has never occurred to me before:  the time lapse between publication of a new historical theory and its acceptance, especially a universal acceptance amongst the general readership. Click here to read more »

My Bibliography is bigger than yours!

When I was first asked to write, I had a major dilemma on my hands:  it was several years after leaving University and upon finishing the book the question arose as to what to include in the Bibliography.

Obviously, many years of reading had formulated my theories and assumptions, and if I was forced to include the title of every single history book I had read then I ran the risk that the bibliography would be larger than the book itself.  On the other hand, to exclude books that may have helped to formulate my ideas would be unfair on the authors of those influential works. Click here to read more »

Back to the Grindstone

After several months of worry, operations and recovery it is a relief to be able to start work again without the niggling side issues that have plagued me for so long.

It has been very hard to get back into the swing of things after such a long time out. Nevertheless, I’ve just brought the story down to the death of Orestes, which is nominally the end of the book. I am now waiting for the school half-term holidays to be over (they go back on Monday), after which I can begin the process of amending/adding to the text of the last chapter prior to reading through and correcting spelling mistakes etc. Once that is done, it’s on to the Introduction and Conclusion. And the sending out of drafts to friends/colleagues to get their input – it saves me from a lot of problems!

Click here to read more »

Bad News/Good News Update

In my last post I said that I wouldn’t be updating things on my blog but have realised that one more update may be useful. On Monday 28 April I went into hospital to get the result from the first test after the operation. Although it will take years’ more tests to be positive, the first indications are that the cancer has been removed – a PSA result of 0.0007. Thankfully, this means that I do not have to go through Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy – yet.

I will now need to go back for a new test every 3 months for at least the next 18 months, in the course of which I am hoping that the PSA level will remain low, or possibly go even lower. If that is the case, then the cancer is no more, it has ceased to be, it has gone to meet its maker ….

Well, you get the idea! And I’m sorry to quote Python again after all these years!

In the immediate future, what this means is that I can now get back to work. I have been commissioned to draw some maps, but after that I will get back into the book and hopefully finish it well before the end of the year.

Once again I’d like to thank everybody for their good wishes and support. It has been very much appreciated. I just hope that the future will bring the news that I hope for.

Thank you all.

Bad News Update 3

I won’t be posting any more updates about the prostate cancer on my blog. I’ve realised, from talking to others, that many people feel embarrassed to talk about their problems in public. I have no such feelings: I didn’t want or ask for cancer and I see no shame in the problems I am having during my – admittedly very simple – treatment for the condition. Had I opted for radiation therapy or chemotherapy I would doubtless feel a lot worse and have far more ‘interesting’ stories to tell. However, even something as simple as a Radical Prostatectomy has its drawbacks and I decided that I would document my experiences and feelings so that others in the same position would have some sort of reference if they felt that they needed it.

Consequently, I have written a long and fairly detailed account of my operation and its aftermath, which can be found on the menu to the left on the main page entitled ‘Me and My Radical Prostatectomy’. If you know anybody who is having or has had the same procedure and is wondering if their recovery is standard or odd, I would be grateful if you could point them in the direction of the page, and if they want to contact me privately to compare experiences tell them to use my email address. However, remind them that experiences vary from person to person and I am not a medical practitioner, just a poor sucker that’s been through it!

Bad News Update 2

First of all, let me say a quick thank you to all of the people who have sent messages of support regarding my illness. It has been very, very much appreciated. I didn’t know so many people read my blog!

My most recent news is that I went into Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital on Friday 7 March for a “Robotic Radical Prostatectomy”. Although I was due out on Saturday, typically there were complications and I was kept in until Monday. However, I am now back home and slowly recovering from my ‘ordeal’. The incisions appear to be healing nicely and hopefully on Monday (17 March) the staples will be removed – which will be a relief: the whole area itches like crazy.

At present I have only two reasons for complaining. One is that I tire very easily, which is why at the moment I am only allowed on the computer for short periods, usually no longer than four minutes (though typing this has taken much longer – I’m going to be in trouble with Jo!)

The second is easy to understand for all men. Tubes should not go there. They simply shouldn’t! When I am walking I look like a 90-year-old man with bladder problems! And it has to be left in for a fortnight. Two weeks! Fourteen days!! Will this torment never end?

Yes, alright, “it will end after fourteen days”. I know that. It’s just that as far as I am concerned that’s a very, very long time in the future …