Learning dialysis

Today I spent the morning learning to use the peritoneal dialysis technique, which involves masks, soap, alcohol soap, clean tables,and weighing the volume of liquid that goes in and out, waiting, checking blood pressure and weight, emptying the liquid and checking how much, filling up again, and then waiting more before finally emptying again.
The nurses are very kind and patient, as are the other patients who swap stories and add encouragement. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

Its not painful and I think I getting the hang of it all. Tomorrow I’ll learn the cycler and the automatic method.

The stitches are out now and my scar is healing, and I can change the dressing myself.

I’m a bit tired, so I’ll leave it there.


2nd June. Insertion of the catheter.

I got to the hospital for ten to seven, a bit before maybe. My wife squeezed my hand, the lines in her face from worry bleached out by sadness. We walked to the big , domed building, the hospital is old and the shell is from 1840. We get to the correct department, follow the orange flashes on the floor. Like Dorothy, following the yellow brick road to Oz.

The nurse tells us the room number. Room 101. I think of Winston Smith immediately, and the rats tied to his face. I’ll tell them anything they want to know!

We sit, hold hands, waiting.Time ticks on, we joke, try to make light of the situation. The nurse tells us we are first up, and at 8.00 I kiss my wife goodbye and she bravely goes to work. I’ve already undressed and yes, my arse is already hanging out of the gown. There goes my dignity. Off they take me, through a maze of corridors. Finally I’m in a huge waiting space. The kind nurses take my temperature and blood pressure, and put a drip line in.Then at 8:30 they wheel me into a huge operating block. There is a big lamp hanging from the ceiling, silver and white. It’s really cold! They put a fan which blows hot air under the bed covers next to me. We wait for the anesthetist. She comes, and at 8:38 I get some gas. A cold liquid is injected into my arm. I feel dizzy. Then suddenly I feel very confused, and try to resist. I remember my legs flexing, and trying to resist!

I wake up, its 1130.It takes until 12 until I’m coherent. I tell the nurse she has beautiful earrings. It’s because they gave me 3 grams of morphine for the pain. I get wheeled back to room 101 and phone my wife. She’s been rather worried, but she’s happy to hear my voice, and I to hear hers.

Time ticks by; I count the squares on the floor, on the ceiling, drift in and out of consciousness, feel the pain stab and go.

My wife comes to pick me up. The doctor visits and tells me to take it easy. We get all the paperwork we’ll need, and then  my wife helps me into a wheelchair and lugs me to the car. In the car I vomit. Its Niagara Falls vomit, caused by the morphine.

Then we go home. I phone my mum and dad, give our little boy a cuddle and go to bed. He’s made a picture for me, daddy attached to the machine.

Today I’ve done nothing. Just shared the room with my “friend” the fly, who zooms into my hair.Buzzes and annoys me. I need a wash, and to brush my teeth!. But I’m slowly getting better, and I’m lucky to have had the operation, and to have such super friends and family, and such a wonderful, beautiful wife.

The wound will heal, and the 13th the will check the plaster. Lets hope its lucky 13!

Fatigue comes and goes, as does the pain. My shoulders are stiff and sore, and my intestines are having a musical party.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Losing Pluto

When I was a science teacher , the national Curriculum for Science insisted that there were 9 planets in our solar system and that they had an ordr from the Sun, and that children needed to know and retain that fact. We came up with crazy rhymes to lean , like :

My Very Easy Method Just Set Up Nine Planets

Many Vile Earthlings Munch Jam Sandwiches Under Newspaper Piles,

even encouraging children to make up their own ideas.

These nmnemonics, where the first letters of each word represented the first letter of each planet,  namely Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars; Jupiter Saturn Neptune and Pluto.

Around the 2000’s , rumours started out that Pluto was for the chop. It wasn’t the first time a “planet” had been culled from the list, as Ceres was considered a planet and then in 1850, it was given the chop. Today, It is considered a “dwarf planet”

Well all this got me wondering. What is a planet? How do we know the difference between Ceres or Pluto or Earth, or even our Moon? a quick glnce at Wikipedia and hey presto the knowledge is aquired. it seems that planets have a big enough mass for gravity to pull them into a spherical (or near spherical) shape. Ok, that’s easy to understand. It also has to have a big enough gravity to have cleared the zone of other bodies, (so there shouldn’t be an asteroid field in the orbit, for example) .So Pluto gets culled on this point, as does Ceres. And for pluto, another dwarf planet, Eris ,was found in 2005 which was bigger than Pluto. At first they said 10 planets, then they got together and decided that they would intorduce the term dwarf planet.

Anyway, since then, the UK govenrment changed the Key Stage 3 guidance to make it much less prescriptive and today it looks like this

Students must know:


Space physics

gravity force, weight = mass x gravitational field strength (g), on Earth g=10 N/kg, different on other planets and stars; gravity forces between Earth and Moon, and between Earth and Sun (qualitative only)

our Sun as a star, other stars in our galaxy, other galaxies

the seasons and the Earth’s tilt, day length at different times of year, in different hemispheres

the light year as a unit of astronomical distance.


So what happened to Pluto, I hear you ask.Well he lives with Micky and his friends!

No really, its a dwarf planet out in the far reaches of cold space. And students don’t need to know the names of the planets or their order anymore.