Breath Of Life

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

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Hi everybody - Mark has had his transplant and woke up on his birthday with NEW LUNGS!!! He cannot use his mobile until he is well enough to go outside. He spent just one day in ICU and is now in a special recovery ward and will contact everyone asap. He thanks everyone for the cards and best wishes. It seems that half the nation's media are interested including a spot on BBC's Inside Out - watch their space.

Today's update is that he is off oxygen, all tubes out, 7-day biopsy showed no infection, no rejuction, walking a few steps out of his room and doing very very well.

Luv Mark's Auntie Judy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Arctic Monkeys and Icelandic Cod!

Dearest Beloved(s),

The picture is a 'dragon fruit'...

How goes it? Oooh its been a busy week so far. Been rearranging bank accounts, writing letters and generally being a practical personage...

Those few days when I was off the list last week - until my dry skin sorted itself out - I slept so well...It was the first time in 19 months when it was unlikely I would get called in the middle of the night.

In one way it was stressful because we were treading another a burden had been lifted. Its hard to explain.

We could go out WITHOUT planning everything we had to do that day to leave us ready if we got the call while we were out.

When I went to the dermatologist all I had to take was enough oxygen to get me there and back...not the car full of stuff we had to take to my outpatients appointment today in Birmingham.

I have to take nebulisers and pots, in case we get called and them its a false alarm, clothes, drug charts and clothes.

Mum has to leave instructions to the neighbours in the house and we make sure any bills that need to be paid are brought with us or sent off.

All this is mega stressful.......This is all added to the fact I am sooner or later going to have the biggest operation of my life.

The waiting game is the killer. Some people never get past the waiting.

I had a surreal outpatients appointment today. All my notes were in limbo between the dermatologist (who I saw last week IN THE SAME TRUST) and Heartlands.

My blowing tests (which I detest) stopped after one progonged huff because I had a nosebleed! I have to breathe in and blow out with my mouth over a strange pipe for as long as is humanly possible, expelling as much air as possible into a spirometer.

My consultant and physio are both pregnant so I think it will be the Sunday League versions lookng after me from now on! :(

AND to make matters worse....My next dose of evil IVs start next month. :(

If there is a God...PLEASE ask him to get me my transplant before the IVs start!!!

What else has been happening?

I also took advantage of the 3 CDs for a £1 offer at Tudor Tunes..Bought stuff by Tahiti 80, Trickbaby, Cube, Arctic Monkeys and some interesting label samplers (CDs containing a variety of tracks (trax?) by bands on one label.)

This means you get to listen to stuff you wouldn't normally hear. I found I like The All American Rejects, The Transplants - which feature Travis the drummer - and a Funeral For A Friend track too...

On the way back from Lichfield we went to for posh people. I felt under-dressed! We used the scan-it-yourself

We had Icelandic Cod for dinner. I have a little image of a cod swimming in unpolluted Icelandic waters. Its got to be better than what the Mersey throws up!

Oh yes we also bought a Dragon Fruit....I don't know where it comes from but its a strange looking thing....Reminds me of the weird stuff we used to pick and eat in Thailand..

The F family came on Tuesday evening. We were discussing (among other things) my tax form.

I had two letters from the Inlands Revenue, one day after another, refering to the same time period, but with the second asking for £300 more than the first.

I finally found out how I should get paid by the Express & Star. So have written my first invoice! Whooopeeee

*It is Jo+89 long-term Bloggites and day 571 since I first went on transplant list.

*How come I had a dream where I was going into Cannock Chase with the Mitchell Brothers and we had to wait for David Dickinson to navigate for us....hmmm

Firstly thanks to those lovely people at Passionate Media, (or to be more accurate LJ....who I first met at SH's party sometime in 1997/98...) This blog looks set to get a mention in the Birmingham Post's Media Types section on Monday...

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Music: All Amererican Rejects, Brian Eno, Funeral For A Friend, Clor, Swing Out Sister, Arctic Monkeys
Book: Straight Face - Nigel Hawthorne (autobiography)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Lurgy, Boils and Plague


Pic: Emma (right) with hubbie and friend after Great North Run

Front page of Burntwood Post...The Robbie Williams story you read about first on My Blog a couple of weeks ago! Gosh and golly gosh. CLICK TO READ IT

How is life? Full of golden Autumnal cheer I hope (steady on...!)

We went to see a dermatologist on Wednesday in Sol-hell Hospital in Brum. Imagine the waiting room of a skin doctor...lurgy, boils and plague left, right and centre.

(There may have been a little exaggeration in that last sentence!)

She gave me some cream (which I have to keep in the fridge and gosh it is cold when it is applied) and some brightly coloured tablets which I must start taking from Monday 17th.

We got home through the teeming rain on the M6 Toll Road....just before the football traffic started buiding up for England match....

Anyway...the long and the short of it is. The rash. Which was a form of dermititus is disappearing fast and I am back on the list.

(I had to take a photo of my chest and e-mail it to Newcastle so they could havce a look...oh the applicance of science eh?!)

I could still have new lungs for my birthday next weekend!

I am looking into what grants are available for doing local history project or wroting a book. (Something I could do while waiting for the transplant.)

I have already written a couple of children's books and a non-fiction directory, which are unfortunately without publisher!

I had to meet a lady who is looking into it all at Cannock Jobcentre. Gosh the staff there have me every sympathy.

The customers in there seem a worse lot than the last time I went in! It seemed to be Pregnant Chavs Only day when I was there.

I have had a couple of interesting letters from the Inland Revenue. Crazily, despite me not getting Incapacity Benefit because I was abroad for almost 3 years they still want money off me so my pension will be reduced.

They wrote asking for about £700. But i wrote back with the dates I worked when I was travelling and they reduced that to about £250 because you get reductions fo rthe time you were paying into other country's schemes.

I lost that second letter so wrote to the Inland Revenue asking for a copy. This they seny problem...but the day after...I got another latter from the IR, asking for £700 again....aaaaaaaagh.

Life eh? You couldn't make it up!

Mr first ever teacher at the village school (way back when) came for coffee the other evening with her hubbie. They are neighbours. Very nice couple. In their 80s.

Hello to Nomes. There is always a Nomes shaped hug for you! x

*It is Jo+85 long-term Bloggites and day 567 since I first went on transplant list.

*How come I am never on oxygen when I am having adventures in my dreams. BUT I have had much more vivid and lucid dreams since I have been on oxygen 24/7....hmmm

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Icelandic Dreams


I have been a busy little beaver since we last conversed. 'No change there' goes the cry from the multitude....(or maybe not...)

On Saturday we hit Brownhills....a strange place with one redeeming feature....A large outdoor market with plenty of coffee stands and knocked-off CDs.

Not knowing when I could be stuck in a hospital for two months I have to be very organised as far as buying presents is concerned.

I just about finished my Christmas shopping today (don't worry I only got some nik naks from the market...your presents won't all fall apart on first useage!)

I did get a tiny MP3 player. I wanted a small, no frills one basically to transfer files between laptop PC...As I do all my composing on the laptop, but don't have internet access on it. So if I want to send or burn anything it has to be on the PC.

Click here by the way to read my review on the new Andy Bell album CLICK

I got back to watch the England match...shouldn't have bothered. They never play well when I watch them on TV...I should just follow it on WAP or teletext!

If anyone did the Test The Nation test on Saturday night let me know your score and I'll let you know mine...weren't the general public thick?

On Sunday I had to cut short my drinks with the 'usual suspects' as it was Gracie's Christening in Heath Hayes....Oh the irony of a Baptism in such an unGodly place!

There were lots of small children running around and the vicar and his assistant were remarkably good with them. I would have slapped at least a couple!

We then went to the Winding Wheel pub for a buffet. It is a bit of a smoke hole so we didn't stay long as I was choking and hacking away and starting to suffer.

Sunday nights is one of my writing nights. I have the village news deadline on Monday and the week befores was the longest ever I think. It just wrote itself.

Monday started the long slog towards getting a dermatologist to look at my dry skin so I can get back on that transplant list. (I have been off the list for 5 days now.)

If enough people know how important it is I figured I would eventually succeed. Big up to Jo at Heartlands who got me an appoitment in Solihull (Solihell?) tomorrow!

We hit Lichfield on Monday and it was one of those days when I ran into (well walked into) several people I knew. today these included Abi (who used to work at the PG -Hello Abi!

Tudor Tunes had one of those 3 for a quid sales on and I got 15 assorted singles and albums including Telepopmusik, a Polydor complilation, some Ryan Adams,(not Bryan!)

.....Ben Folds, Missy Elliott, Sovreign, Funeral For A Friend, Death From Above, Leaves, Dogs and a wonderful Mute sampler which includes Nick Cave and Erasure.

I got the Dead 60s album and a Lennon tribute CD on Saturday and a Brian Eno one today so I need some long winter evenings to get through it all!

I went to Cannock today and bumped into Gemma - Hello Gemma! - and then a woman doing a survey who offered me £3 Boots voucher for 15 minutes of my time.

I am easily bought...Faust anyone? You can have my soul for a Moby album and some Fisherman's Friends you know!

Then I had an appointment with Work Assist lady....Although I cannot claim Job Seekers' Allowance or Incapacity Benefit (its a long story but because I was out of the country for 3 years all my previous contributions counts as nothing..) they can help put things in place for getting back to work post-transplant. Nice people!

Walking into Cannock Job Centre though is so depressing. It is full of dead-heads and swearing chavs. There was a pretty girl reading a book on cats. Hello Catgirl! We exchanged 'what the hell are we doing here' glances! lol

*It is Jo+80 long-term Bloggites and day 562 since I first went on transplant list.

*Big hello for my Korean friends, particularly Bruce and his little students who are eating my biscuits in a classroom in Masan right now!

*Bizarre dream last night. I was a teacher in Iceland (the country, not the shop!) and I couldn't find my classroom. When I did apparently I hadn't turned up for weeks and they wanted to know where I'd been. The pupils were all characters from TV's Sugar Rush....

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Just a quickie...oooer

The blog has a mention on a national journalists' site!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Rash Decision


Its been a nightmare day.

It started well.I got THE CALL at 8am and was on the road to Newcastle by 8.50am. Staffordshire Ambulance blokes played a blinder and got us up in 3 hours!

When I got there I was x-rayed, they took swabs, blood and virtually ever kind of test was done on me....I shaved myself (I now have a shaved chest!)

I even had one of those antiseptic showers......ready for THE OP...I even signed the consent form...

But then disaster struck....They picked up on an area of dry skin on my chest, where the operation incision will be...and cancelled the case of infection.

I was gutted. Not the least because I have had this dry skin for a couple of years. Its a side-effect of all the antibiotics I am on...It gets worse with stress.

I even finally got seen by a specialist on Monday at Hammerwich Hospital who gave me some tablets which should clear it up...

I can't go back on the list until it does clear up...

I am angry that this wasn't considered a problem or a barrier to me having a transplant before....If it had gone ahead there was a high risk of death.

Presumably any of my other false alarms I had the risk too!

Any infection, however small, would be hard for me to fight off in those crucial hours post-transplant.....

This should have been sorted a long time ago....

We got home at about 6.30pm....Luckily the ambulance guys who took us up hadn't left they brought us home and we didn't have to spend a night there.

Oh one good thing. I met 'my surgeon'. A very pleasant German man called Stefan.

I am so disappointed. I coukd even have been well for my birthday on 23rd if I had been done today...

If I deteriorate and become too ill to be transplanted I will ber so angry.

Just a thought....Ronnie Barker is dead and Lionel Blair is still alive...

*It is Jo+75 long-term Bloggites and day 557 for me on the transplant list....

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Music: Andy Bell - Electric Blue

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Faggots and Mash

Hiya Bloggettes,

Pic: Faggots and mash

On Thursday I got a call from LH one of the transplant coordinators up in Newcastle - just to see how things are going...

She recently got back from taking a team to the transplant games in Canada. Knowing my luck, if I wanted to compete they'd be in Stoke!

I went to Rugeley and met mum in the cafe in the market hall. But it was so smoky. We will have to stop meeting there.

People were smoking with babies again. (They were not actually rolling up babies and making them into cigarettes, I mean smoking near babies - LOL)

Saw feisty Russians Tatu on Frank Skinner Show...It almost stole the thunder of Warney and Flintoff who also appeared. I bet Warney got one of Tatu's mobile numbers!

I went to Cannock On Friday and felt a bit rough. I went on a mission as there was meant to be a Record and CD sale at the Prince Of Wales Centre....It never happened.

But they were giving free Express & Stars out in the town centre. And my second feature. The one about blogging was in. Its a great feeling to have people reading my opinions and scribblings again...

I got a book out from the library to help with my research into Nunswell Park. I have already dug up intrigue, murder, Saxon princesses, kings, nuns and monks.

In the evening some of the neighbours (our neighbours not Ramsey Street!) went to a Black Country evening in Lichfield.

I couldn't manage that, obviously. But we were invited to partake of faggots, peas and mash Chez Nokes. It was a fine feast and the wine flowed...

I had some vino-induced dream about being on a cricket tour but MH (Matt Boy Slim) who I was at school with was in my room so I had to change and ended up sharing with a strict French librarian who scared me.

I spent the rest of the holiday (in my dream) trying to find someone to take this woman out so I could have the room back....

Faggot dreams eh? Or is that something else entirely?! (Perhaps M can enlighten us after his little trip to Italy?)

On Saturday my friend CS came round. It was good to catch up as although we have known each other for about 10 years we don't catch up nearly enough.

We drank three cups of coffee each and I think I was still buzzing when I hit the Park Gate again with G, D and M (the usual suspects) on Sunday lunchtime.

*It is Jo+71 long-term Bloggites and day 553 for me on the transplant list....

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Book: Gridlock by Ben Elton (finally finished it!)
Music: Monastery Of Sound