Now normally when you go to see a doctor and they say to you, “It’s all working perfectly well.” You’d be tempted to respond with, “Hurrah!” But today when the doc at Bristol Haematology & Oncology Unit said to me, Your thyroid gland is producing the right level of hormones,” we both – sadly – had to say, “Bugger! Oh no!” So having geared myself up to ten days in isolation for radioiodine treatment, I’ve had to return home for a while.

You see the active ingredient in the iodine treatment is designed to attack the cells we don’t want. But the thyroid gland naturally attracts this wondrous stuff and in fact would divert so much of it to itself, that there wouldn’t be enough of it to work on the carcinomas on my ribs and lungs and any remnants on my shoulder and throat. The fact is that when they operated on the throat tumour in mid-December – contrary to what you may have supposed - they actually left too much of the gland behind. So had we gone ahead today with the treatment it would have been significantly and considerably less effective.

Having arrived at the hospital this morning at 1100, the team finally decided, at about 1600, that on balance it would be a far better course of action for me to go away again whilst another slot is booked for a third operation, this time to remove the remainder of the thyroid – the left lobe in fact. Hopefully this will take place fairly quickly – within the next week or so – and then after another week (or so!) return for the radioiodine treatment. This, as you might imagine, is fairly disappointing – and despite all the good things one can say about my recent treatment, one might be tempted to think that perhaps the various departments and teams involved might learn to do some joined-up writing! But then you see its three different teams – the ENT people; the Orthopædic chappies and the Oncologists and working out of two different hospitals…but then, that’s why we have computers! I’m not really complaining (much!) but the delay and the necessity for a third lot of anæsthesia are annoying

Fortunately the consultant oncologist I saw today assured me that this next piece of surgery is not half as drastic as the first procedure – so that’s a relief. He also told me that the radioiodine treatment itself is highly successful, and that as long as my body takes it up – and he had no reason to suppose that it wouldn’t – I should be able to lead a fairly normal life for a number of years to come. So as frustrating as today’s outcome has been, there is also a snippet or two of good news too. Not all bad then. And of course, the thing is, these people are all really quite delightful and charming, anxious to put one’s mind at rest and keen to answer any questions – so we’ll forgive the delay…but it is just a touche exasperating!

Now I’m back at Dunpreachin, in the bosom of my family (!) and awaiting further instructions and with the blog to keep me occupied. I do hope the snow hasn’t inconvenienced you too much – it’s been a lovely winter wonderland here in Somerset – the land of the summer sun.