Breath Of Life

The life and times of Mr Mark Allen....

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Guardian Angels and Ceramic Cats


Bank Holiday saw the regular Bank Holiday market in Cannock...I purchased a lot of CDs (all legal Mr Policeperson ok!) and two ceramic cats - they had cute smiles.

There was the obligatory rainfall, during which time I sheltered in a tent and was forced to stand next to a very pretty girl..Life sucks sometimes eh?

Strangely I was in Brownhills today (queued for an eternity in the post office behind rowdy pensioners and child benefit claim-bods) and I saw her again.

This time she was doing the fine Brownhills tradition of coming out a chip shop.

I am thinking it is a sign. She could be my guardian angel and I am in for good news!

Or I may have seen lots of people twice in this time but only remembered her because she was cute - a rare sight in these parts!

Last night went to the PG for an evening of cider with Mr and Mrs W (always a pleasure) - Mrs W is so funny, she is in hysterics when she tried to tell a joke at the punchline we haven't heard yet....

We are off to see Tori Amos on Thursday. Well four people, two oxygen cylinders and a car of back up O2 are going anyway!

Today I am collecting my urine output (hmmmm not pleasant) as they want to test it in hospital check kidney function and the like.

The containers are like plastic scrumpy cider bottles or engine oil cannisters - and I have to aim into this thing, hopefully without causing a mess...ooh la la.


I have to carry this stuff to Heartlands, as well as a car full of syringes and finished IV equipment, a boot load of stuff for Newcastle in case we get the call - AND my nebulising machine for servicing.

All this week I have had very red, itchy skin and am now going onto the internet to see which of the countless drugs I am on reacts to sunlight!

Book:The Case Of General Opal... - George Meredith

Music: Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth, Tori Amos - The Beekeeper

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Cockcroft's Nuptials


After yesterday's shock 'getting back in touch after a lifetime' thingy...another today!

Richard Cockcroft (this may or may not be his correct name, those who know me know who it is!), who I haven't seen for about 12 years invited me to his wedding....and it is in the church on the next street to where I lived in Heaton Moor, near Stockport!

This is 'how are you' 'what have you been up to' - just an invitation and present list! How cheeky is that? RICHARD...I WANT TO KNOW YOUR NEWS...Where have you been? What do you do? Where did you meet her?


I can't get that far with two oxygen containers so I can't go. I would love to go just to see who is there...

(This is a boy who camped on Woolworths for CND and used to eat crisps people used to spit on at school but knew EVERYTHING there was to know about The Smiths and Liverpool FC!)

I wish him well....but...well it is so bizarre isn't it?

(His sister and brother were cool though - from what I remember)! Mr M.H and I used to comment on his sister's assets - erm...when we were schoolboys...

Of course we would be far too grown up to do that now....(coughs) he he

Friday, May 27, 2005

Blogging about Blogs


How is it going? It has been the hottest May day in the UK since 1953...Isn't it scary that every month seems to set a new hottest/coldest/wettest record.

Well Mr S and Mozza have finished the laundry room and it looks very clean and fresh. The cat flap looks a little high, when we get the kitten she must be springy!

My story about the 'Ghostbusters' went into The Post this week (hurray) and guess what they didn't prefix it with a sobbing sickbed bit! (phew)

I have started with the video log...although the large orange button on the remote (which I presumed was on/off) was actually the record there are plenty shots of me looking quizzical at the camera...quizzical? Moi?

You know I was saying with the blog, Mp3 diary and video diary I was in danger or writing about writing a diary in my blog and writing about my blog in my mp3 journal etc etc...well I have gone one further!

I have written a piece about writing a blog for The link is at the bottom of the page if you are really bored/interested!


I finished Mrs S's (tale of two Vickie's) reference and a bizarre thing happened...I got a call from Zoe (someone I knew a long time ago, out of the blue!)

(The girl I took to Jane and Mondty's wedding...yes THAT girl!)

She is coming up on Sunday for the I am sure I will have more gossip then!

My Telegraph Fantasty Cricket team had a great week, but are still bottom-but-one of our little superleague.

I am fed up of hearing about Rover workers and their problems...They are getting free tickets to x, free entry to y, special compensation, special jobcentres...A lot of other people lost their jobs as a result of the collapse...they get nothing!

I went into Burntwood Library today and they had a punk exhibition....I got out a CD from Wire! (A band I really feel I ought to know more about.)

Less than a week until Tori must stay well for that....

A piece I wrote about blogging (you may have to cut and paste the link)

Book: Malachi's Cove - Anthony Trollope
Music: New Order - Waiting For the Sirens Call

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dolphin: "Redemption Song"...

Hello Bloggeroos,

Day 425 on transplant list... Special hello to our new loggers-on in Newcastle....!

I had a dream where all the whales and dolphins were singing Bob Marley...

(A dolphin..yesterday)

(Bob Marley..a while ago)

Well the BBC TV-bods have given me my own camera to do a video diary. So now I am doing a video diary, MP3 radio diary and this blog.

I will be doing more diary writing than actually doing if I am not careful. So it's my duty to do stuff or I will be writing about writing...

Now is that popular culture eating itself or what?!

I took my cannula out (with mum's help) on Friday...I had run out of the one drug on Thursday morning and had lots of the other one (cat's urine!) left. Hmmm

I got slowly more annoyed about the article in The Post that made me the subject of the story, when I had given them the story on the church.

It made me look as though I had got out of my deathbed to bring the church's problems to if I was some kind of campaigner...

It had my byline on it....AND a picture....aaaaagh 'infamy infamy, they've all got it in for me'!

I won't say too much as I am hoping they will publish my article on the village Ghostbusters this week. It won't be the reporters fault. It is the subs.

Strangely Mrs S was completely misquoted in a vox pop by the Express and Star, which we both used to work for.

Did anyone else see Eurovision? It seems everyone hates France, German and the UK...At least those three nations should have stuck together and voted for each other.

The best looking singer won (Greece) - perhaps with the exception of the Russian girl. What is it about those Eastern Europeans?

Mr W and I swapped many texts on how we rated the erm...songs!

John from the Beeb came today with the camera. It is set up in my bedroom so I can make late-night recordings. Watch this space..:)

I had a tough couple of days health wise. I don't know if it is delayed reaction feom the IVs or the body getting used to not being on them.

I think my 'peak' on health was about a week into the course.

Well I have to go now as I have to write a reference for Mrs S! Oh I feel all adult and stuff....but not TOO adult...I am supping a banana smoothie.

Laura met Will Young today! How lovely is that? Bless his cotton socks...


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Dad's Grave Stone and More Media-(ocre)


Hello there. Sorry I have neglected you for a few days. I really must try harder, especially as from tomorrow I will have both hands back again!

I will be able to music myself and type at normal speeds etc etc etc It's been a strange few days (when has it not!)

I am in the newspapers again. I did a piece for The Post about a parish which is in financial problems after having no weddings there for a year - the first time this has happened in its history.

They gave me a byline but strangely tied it in with a picture of me at the plaque presentation (taken by Mr P...)

No cash in it for me, but at least a by-line for my cuttings. By-lines are useful for keeping my portfolio up to date for where I am jobhunting again.

There was a lot of strangeness about me writing the story, despite my condition, as part of the story....very odd...But it keeps me 'in view' je suppose!

Mr W was also in the paper for coming fifth in a rally! Well done Mr W! (I was his best man you know...remember that Mr W when you are in Formula One!)

The main news is that the Diocese have approved Dad's headstone...and we may even have it in place for the first anniversary of his death. (June 7th)

The local vicar did not want the Masonic emblem on the gravestone, despite allowing a pair of dumbells on the grave of a youngster in the same chuch yard.

A Masonic emblem...erm yesterday?!

Since the Masons actually use Lichfield Cathedral for a carol service every year and many of the Clergy belong I knew it would work out for the best.

It just needed a carefully worded letter to the Bishop to over-ride the vicar, who mislead us into thinking it was the Diocese that had the problem.

Mr M came to collect my MP3 diary for Radio WM - Sixteen episodes of the Life and Times of me, not unlike this blog.

I wrote a story about real-life ghostbusters in my Village News column in the paper last week and am now turning it into a feature for a different rag. Watch this space!

The BBC TV people may be coming again. This time they would like to film me going to a gig - with all my oxygen, drugs etc! I am going to see Tori Amos next month.

It's been one of those weeks where I have been trying to do 'normal' things. (Like I was ever normal!)So I have met both Vickies from 'Tale of Two Vickies' for coffee.

I went to the pub with the usual suspects on Sunday and on Wednesday with Mr H - the cricketers (and I use the word loosely were there) from CWCC.

I had a nice letter from Michael Fabricant MP. I had written to him to thank him for publisising the National Organ Donor Register.

Friday (that's today pop-pickers!) was a day of visiter. JB and BB came, as did CS and RS (Uncle 'D')...I bought some gorgeous vanilla scented candles.

Thanks for the text Miss LJS (This blog's favourite Londoner by yonks!) Yes sometimes the Mr S mentioned is your Dad. But there are also two other Mr S people, but I am sure you can work it out...he he.

Is the new Coldplay single just 'Clocks' with a new chorus? Try playing them both. See how right I am.

Music: Rufus Wainwright, KT Tunstell, strange mash-up of Eminem and the Theme From Pot Black (It works, honest it does!)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Venflon Cannula Spectacular


Friday was a nightmare...I woke up to find the venflon cannula out of my arm and next to me on my pillow...Not the ideal bedfellow!

I had to call Cannock Chase Hospital and return there...This time the nurse couldn't get the cannula tube to stay in a vein, despite several tries.

So I went, battered and bled, to Staffordshire General, where the A & E waiting time was 3 hours (I didn't have that much oxygen left!)

They saw me in minutes and a nurse passed me over to a very tall Asian doctor..I couldn't understand a word he said, but he eventually got a pink cannula in.

. (Yep I have one of these in my hand!)

Unfortunately it is on my hand which restricts me. I can't cut food, mix up or administrate my IVs/nebulisers or do anything unaided...Damn that dignity eh?

I have a gong so I can call for help if I need it, which I do as the tops on the chemicals/drugs containers are too tough to take off one-handed and the syringes too awkward to inject one-handed.

A tube that fills with blood also loops over my fingers, unattractive and asking to catch in something!

At least with the one IV being in a drip I can do some nebulisers while it's going in.

AND least it is on my right hand and I am left handed...There definitely won't be any bass or piano plonking in the near future.

But on the downside, I am getting addicted to mashed potato with cheese!

It is precariously placed (the venflon, not the mash!) and I am praying it lasts at least into next week as to find a doc to stab me over the weekend would be a nightmare.

I cheered myself up by buying a big tub of ginger biscuits....For dunking in tea from Penkridge Market, where I bumped into Mr and Mrs S.

I also got a shower cap today in the post from a friend in Australia, decorated with cats, dressed as doctors and nurses...Have I got weird friends because I turn them that way, or do I attracts them? lol

Music: Chemical Brothers

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tissued Cannula Problem (TCP?)


The Blog seems to have been off-line for a couple of days...I have no idea why, but thank God it is back on again now. I was getting all stressed out!

This morning we had a little disaster. My IVs 'tissued'. The cannula arm swelled up, because the fluids had been going into the tissue rather than vein.

It normally happend when the cannula has been knocked out of place. I think it was those strange dreams I have been having!

Anyway. We rang Cannock Chase Hospital and they were magic.

Cannock Chase Hospital

I went over this morning and they put me a new one in without a hitch. Just pray it stays in now.

I had to apologise because I was putting the 'cat's piss' IV through when the problem accurred so my arm stank like Mozza's armpit! (erm I think!)

I am trying to keep the arm as straight as possible (It is in the left one now) in between IVs.

Yesterday I went to Lichfield and the sun came out for me and everything in my metaphorical garden got a little rosier.

Met Mr S for drinkies in the evening and we were the only ones in the side bar or conservatory all night...perhapsd this is a result of the 'cat's pee' too.

I got an envelope through the post asking me to collect the ends of my DorNase nebs - (which I do once a day) - when I have collected 30 I get a £10 voucher.

I have no idea which shops the 'voucher' can be used at but it means I am being paid 30p per DorNase nebuliser I do...good incentive not to miss one.

Well I will stop now as my IV arm is aching and I have to pracitce my web design later. I am still having problems when I design a form. I can get the form to send a blank e-mail to myself but not collect the data from the form and send it.

Lichfield College lady cannot do it either so we reckon we are doing everything right and it is the fault of the PCs in Burntwood!

Well I will tottle pip off now...I hope this publishes ok. I feel I have to check every time I log on the computer now, just in case....

Huggles and snuggles to one and all.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Colomycin and Cat's Piss


The nurse came today with the grim news that the new IV antibiotic Colomycin has to be taken three times a day and each time has to be mixed and hung from a drip.

I had to improvise with the chandaliers! (sssssshhh don't tell!)

This is in addition to the 'cat piss' I am taking by IV three times a day. I am starting to sweat that stuff! (oooor sexy!)

What with the nebulisers, tablets, insulin injections and physio I am a walking medical casebook.

The good news is I am only on the IVs for another 11 days (whoopee!)

The bad news? Well here are the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine.


Muscle weakness

Visual disturbances

Balance problems involving the inner ear (vertigo)

Pins and needles (paraesthesia)

Damage to the nerves

Kidney damage

"Because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect." Comfort? hmmmm

"The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug's manufacturer. " :(

Is it a case of the cure being worse than the condition??!! I must remember to take some good bacteria there will be no germs alive inside my body..

Time to tootle off to computer class now....Big Hugs

PS: Karen and Matt have put some more pictures on my photo site from South East Asis if you want to take a look...

Music: 5,6,7,8s

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Julian Cope and Social Butterflies


I have had a social weekend and although very pleasant has left me with a voice croakier than Kermit The Frog's grandfather and a permanent hangover larger than Miss Piggy's panties.

Last night I went to Victoria and Colin's (as in 'tale of two Vickies' Vic) place for some food.

V's friends H and G were there and their baby...Cleave. We ate some good food and laughed at ridiculously unfunny jokes...he he.

I have been advised to listen to Radio 6...I may even do it.

I had sobered up enough by the time mum took me home to do my nebulisers and IV antbiotics without putting myself in danger...I think.

Alcohol makes my late night physiotherapy session go quicker though.

Sunday saw Suzy C (my ex-neighbour and a former Radio 5 presenter) arrive for a visit. Her mum taught with Julian Cope's mum in Tamworth.

Suzy used to take us into the woods for adventures and den-building when we were about nine and she was an old and responsible 13!

Her and her hubby are friends of J.C and she was telling me all about his strange and wonderful life and works.

This is the same J.C as in band "The Teardrop Explodes" and hits "Try Try Try " and "World Shut Your Mouth" etc. How cool is that. Answer = very.

Apoligies to Mr P who came with some magazines for me at the same time!

I went to the Park Gate at lunchtime with the usual subjects. Mr and Mrs S had come back from a cruise to Guernsey, but had ended up in France!

Mr F came over this afternoon and we chatted about Mr and Mrs W, New Order and some other stuff lost in the mists of time.

I wanted to sleep all evening but had to do the village news for The Mercury and am now off to do more IV antibiotics.

The nurse is coming tomorrow with some fresh drugs to be injected...ooooh the fun!

Book: The Signalman - Charles Dickens

Friday, May 06, 2005

Blood, Sweat and Beers


I got up early to do my nebulisers as the nurse was coming test my Tobramycin levels...Apparently too high a dose harms the kidneys and too low is useless.

The idea was to do two blood tests; one before my IVs and one after. However things didn't go to plan....

Despite frequent stabbings my veins didn't want to give up enough blood for her so she left empty-handed.

I went to college and was about to start confusing myself with the web design stuff when there was a fire alarm and we had to stand outside in the cold (Ah memories!)

Then I got a call from a doctor at Heartlands Hospital to say since they could test my Tobramycin levels I should stop taking it after tonight...

I will still inject the horrible 'cat's piss' Keftazidine over the weeked three times a day though....

Then on Monday someone will come out from Birmingham with a replacement anti-biotic. If its one that isn't likely to kill my kidneys then bring it on! :(

It actually got quite warm in the afternoon (hence the sweat part of the title!)and we went into Lichfield via the tip and Viking furniture supplies.

I went into Holland and Barrett and bought some dodgy fruit drink that claims to have no sugar but will rejuvinate the soul (or something like that!)

I really don't go in there because there's a pretty girl serving...honest!

Did you know that one of the South American cardinals tipped to become Pope last month was Cardinal Sicolla.

But we couldn't have a Pope Sicolla could we? Coca Cola would go mad!

We definitely should have had POPE IDOL though and voted for our favourite by text.

Talking of elections. Well done Fabby our favourite maverick Tory. I once went camping (ooer) with him and mountain rescue bods in Kendell. Great fun.

Serously. If I lived in his constituency I would have vote for him because he was very press friendly and has promoted the donor organ register. But I don't.

Good luck with thye kittens Marium....I am sure you will find a good home for them. I am only sorry I can't give one of them a place until after my op.

I stayed up writing a feature on the Ghostbuster lady of Cannock Wood and listening to the election on Radio 4....until I fell asleep.

Luckily I didn't dream of John Prescott in a jam sandwich. I DIDN'T (oooops I protesteth too much!)

PS: The 'beers' part of the title of today's blog will hopefully come very soon - Have I Got News For You needs to be watched with a can...rude not to!

Book: Love and Death, Short Stories
Music: Rufus Wainwright - Want One

Thursday, May 05, 2005

TV cameras and IV cannulas

Susie and John (TV peeps) came at film me getting up and dressed before the date with destiny at the hospital (ok...So it was only an outpatients appointment but drama works!)

They filmed the car being loaded with overnight stuff (in case we got the call) and oxygen cylinders (in case my liquid oxygen ran out) and put out the lists for neighbours.

We go through this rigmarole everytime we go more than 30 minutes away from the house as there would not be time to come back here first.

I was at outpatients for the last false alarm! It does happen!

I had a few problems walking to the ward as we only found a parking space on the other side of the hospital and it was cold. I suppose they have to film the rough with the smooth.

To be honest I am glad they see me at my worst as well as my best. Hopefully it will show people what it can be like...

I did all the usual tests (my lung capacity was up very slightly again, the fourth or fifth month in a row) and my weight was steady (I have to try and stay at a similar weight to when I had my transplant assessment last year.)

I saw the dietician, physio and nurses too. All did their normal prodding and poking, questioning and answering..

The duo filmed all the talks with my consultant, now matter how personal. I want anything shown to be a reflection of what normally happens, so it is pointless having taboos.

So if you want to know the state of my body watch the programmes (Of course I may end up on the cutting room floor when producers see and hear me.)

I think the more they film the wider choice they will have of footage to use so bring it on!

The cannula was put into my arm so I could pump my own antibiotics through three times a day. (One smells like cat wee!)

I had to leave with a trolley load of bottles, syringes, sharps bins (Sharpy?) alcohol (for washing the hands apparently, but I may find other uses).

There were enough needles about to keep Pete Doherty happy for days!

In short the car was a junkies' paradise....So if anyone broke in the street value of the medicine would be higher than the value of the car....(Perhaps!)

We found out more about the series 'Life On The List'.

It will be a series of five programmes at 7pm on BBC in the 3rd week in August. (Get those diaries out)

Some people they have been filming have already had transplants, others like myself are still waiting....They are covering all main types of transplants and at several centres.

In the afternoon we went to Asda in Minworth for food and retail therapy before going home.

I did some composing on the laptop (keeps me sane!) and they filmed me doing some basic bass guitar work (I hadn't the courage to try anything ambitious so just gave them 12-bar blues!)

The evening was fun. I met some friends and we went to the Park Gate and had some ale (well I had cider). We chatted on and off camera and everyone said nice things about me (isn't that normally reserved for one's funeral!) It was a good evening...I haven't laughed so much in ages.

You are lovely people and you know who you are...(even the ugly one!)

I told the landlord you can't BUY adverts like this on the Beeb!

Of course the down side was I had to come in and try and get sober enough to do my nebulisers and then my IV antibiotics. Luckily I remembered what nursey had told me and was able to keep a steady enough hand not to do too much damage! :)

Off to drink a stupid amount of water and tea. Does tea count as my daily water intake because tea is mostly water? Hmmmmmm time to ponder.

*Thanks for the Kenny Everett call this morning Susie. It solved a mystery! And everyone seemed how nice you and John were/are...(despite my efforts to disuade them!)

Music: Air - Virgin Suicides Soundtrack, + some of my own stuff

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Spacehoppers and Auntie Beeb

Hello Bloggajobbies,

Well I got a strange delivery this morning...A spacehopper. Apparently I had won a competition at Morrissons/Safeway and won a Heinz Beans Spacehopper, with pump!

Anyone born in the 70s like me will remember these strange 'toys'...Oh what fun we had with them for literally.....minutes...before we got back on our Raleigh Choppers or came off our skateboards to play Kerplunk...


I also got a DVD through the post, which I didn't order, so think I must have won that as well from someone....

I do crosswords and stuff while I am doing my nebulisers and sometimes send them off (like the rare times I finish them....) perhaps the good karma is getting me? Perhaps my angel is stirring, luck is changing...?

Just in case any of the the above is happening....I bought two lottery tickets today!

In Lichfield today I ran into Lorna (who used to be Cannock Wood Cricket Club's only groupie way back when!) and Helen, who I knew from my teenage years. The former is married and the latter is divorced if anyone is interested.

Then when I went to the college to paw over web design I bumped into Chris who I knew from my Pastor Rod days (Pasta Rod, is that spaghetti?) Spooooky.

Working backwards (ooer)....Over the Bank Holiday (whoopee!) I went to the car boot sale in Cannock and came away with just......(drum roll) two glow sticks! Mum bought some wooden ducks (don't ask!)

Then the rain came down and everyone wanted to leave at once....We queued for 70 minutes to get out of the field! It was a good job I had plenty of oxygen left in the cylinder!

Seriously though....If we had got the 'call' - God knows how we would have got out! Where were the stewards we paid £1 to to park? surely they could have opened another gate or something? Oh silly me...they had gone HOME!

It's been a money day...I changed some cash around different accounts and found my on-line account had no money in...turned out I had told them to put money in from another account I have...but given them the wrong account number!

The Monty family came round on Sunday and Mr M tried to use part of the PC I got from Mrs W-B to increase the speed of mine (add one of the memory card).. But my PC was not playing ball...and the mission was aborted. :(

Little Oliver seemed fascinated by my ringtones and I am sure he will work at a call centre one day or make music on old Casio keyboards.

It's D-Day tomorrow....The BBC TV people are coming to film me again and I have to go to the hospital for some IVs (and take ALL the bumpf home with me)

They are talking about filming me playing the piano or the bass guitar. The piano keys have chosen to stick annoyingly...particularly the notes near the middle...

I may have to plug an old keyboard into the bass amp or just show them some of my computer compositions on the PC....(I can just click on the mouse and leave it it play itself!)

I am then going to hit the Park Gate in the evening (accompanied by the cameras)...and try not to swear, burp or gawp at a barmaid. (not that I would anyway you understand.)

I hope they find our house at 7am tomorrow (yes they want to see me get up!) as we have no motorcaravan on the drive and new front bay windows since the last time.

"Opposite the stables"!

Happy holiday to BB and JB (the Bates family) who left today....

Music: Matt's Mix CD, Moby 'Hotel', Air 'Virgin Suicides' (Soundtrack)