Saturday 15th November

I’m going to have to change my plans over the next few weeks or so I think, as I have had some very inconvenient news.

About a year ago I had a pain in my left side which I put down to a twisted or strained or pulled muscle. After a couple of weeks the pain/discomfort went only to come again a couple of weeks or so later. “Bugger!” I thought. “I’ve obviously somehow managed to get a weakness there, perhaps exacerbated by lying awkwardly whilst asleep – this is something which perhaps I’m going to have to live with for a while,” because this pattern of the pain coming and going has persisted for the past twelve months or so.

Then about six months ago I developed a pain in my left shoulder. “Damn! Another twisted, strained or pulled muscle.” I regularly applied those deep-heat embrocations to rub into the shoulder in a (vain!) attempt to stem the pain/discomfort. Again I thought well, if it’s not a strained muscle it’s all to do with old sports injuries (lol!) or just one of those things as one progresses through maturity to infinity and beyond. Put up with it and shut up about it.

One Sunday morning at mass – about six weeks ago in Germany, I found I couldn’t sing properly. I was ok on the middle notes but could reach neither the higher or lower registers. No problem there I thought, a little of Uncle Gordon’s Gin Gargle this evening will soon sort that one out. It’s a well known scientific solution to a not unfamiliar problem and I carried on – religiously – with the treatment at least once every evening and twice on Sundays.

When we got back from our annual holidays about three weeks ago, I was advised (forthrightly it must be said) by my domestic manager to seek the advice of my GP…. and this is where it all gets a bit worrying….

The doc discovered a lump in my throat and referred me to an ENT specialist at Yeovil General Hospital. I saw him within a few days, who confirmed my GP’s findings. The ENT guy packed me off to a specialist clinic a few days later in Dorchester where they had a look on ultra sound and took some samples via a needle. They in turn arranged for a CT scan which again happened within a few days – last Monday in fact – and yesterday, Friday I saw the consultant again here in Yeovil.

The news is not terribly encouraging. I have a tumour on my thyroid gland, which will mean surgery fairly shortly and almost certainly the removal of the entire gland. The CT scan also picked up what the consultant described as “a mass” on my left scapular and on the left-hand side of my rib cage – both of which are linked to the problem in my throat. So what I had mistakenly put down to strained or ‘pulled’ muscles was in fact something rather more significant. These “lumps,” quite clearly visible on the CT images, might also involve surgery or perhaps radiotherapy or some such procedure.

The ENT chappie in Yeovil has now referred me to a colleague of his in Bristol, a Mr Baldwin, who – I am told – is one of the “top men” when it comes to thyroid problems. Mr B has his weekly case conferences on Tuesdays and this coming Tuesday, 18th November, I will be on his checklist. So I must now wait to hear from him – which I hope will be sometime this coming week.

Apart from the whole problem causing some concern, of course it couldn’t have come at a worse time as I begin my new job – but hey ho! Worse things happen at sea and I’m still doing my best with the Gin Gargle.