Breath Of Life

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yes...But is Kate a 'Blogette' too? x


So much has happened over Christmas. Just like all your Yuletides so I thought instead of boring you with my drivle I would post some piccies up instead as I upload them from the camera. New Year's Eve I am hosting a 'Banish The Winter Blues' dinner party for nine friends and am frantically trying to get everything sorted. There is a 'blue' theme to the evening and surprises are guaranteed - only some being intentional I am sure. Back to the hot stove.

Hugs to you all. Including Clare from Hazleslade Post Office who made my day with a smile when I was feeling low. That kind of thing makes one's day.

Emma and Mark - you haven't changed ONE BIT and to the paper which has just refused to pay me for all the work of mine it has published since September....Instant Karma's gonna get you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR my lovely Bloggers and Bloggettes. See you all soon and may 2006 be the best year ever invented!

Xmas pics....loads to follow. MY ROBOSPIAN ROCKS!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Kate's Mum Is A Bloggette!


Glad tidings of comfort and joy!

The new-'lung'ed Mark has been a busy bunny - Confidence rising along with stamina and lack of sleep!

On Tuesday took 10.58am train from Burton to Newcastle (via the chemist which still hadn’t got my new magnesium tabs in…grrrrr) and then taxi to hospital.

(Chemist since redeemed because I now have it!)

I had to carry the big old nebuliser unit because I was going to stay in a flat for the first time so had no access to the oxygen which I put my nebulisers through when an in-patient.

Nothing to do once checked in and taken medication, so went for an early dinner in the canteen - which is very nice for a hospital.

What I didn’t realise until told by another patient is if I showed my flat key I would have got a discount off the food.

I bought some nuts and chocolate for a hi-magnesium ‘snack’. Spent most of evening in the lounge near Ward 23, with a Diet Coke machine and The Times.

During the evening I wrote the cards for staff I hadn’t done last time.

I had to be up at 5.15am to get to the clinic before 7am – it’s a long cold outdoor walk (in a mask) from one end of the hospital, round the building site to the outpatients department.

This time I was the second person in the queue and was seen pretty quickly, although I need not have bothered, as there were few people waiting this time.

One may warned me that rejection could come at any time and it almost killed him. This isn’t what I wanted to hear thank you.

I spent the time writing in my journal and trying to only participate in positive conversation.

A lady from Glasgow had had a heart transplant 14 years ago. Double lung transplants are fairly new and risky things and I have not yet met a long-term survivor.

This is slightly worrying.

My weight was 85kg and my height was the same as last time! For some reason the torturous lung function tests were done in the room when one saw the doctor.

Mine FE1 was up to about 2.50, about 60% of what it should be for someone of my height and weight. This is up from 59% last time. He said the spirometer he had was under-reading by a couple of % too. So the real figure is closer 63%. All good.

He seemed happy with this and said many people with double lung transplants never get past 70 per cent. I didn’t want to hear that. I am not MOST though. I am Mark.

We discussed side effects I am suffering from and said it was unlikely the doses of offending drugs would be reduced in the near future. I understand this. At the moment I am doing well and ‘if it isn’t broke…don’t fix it!’

I had time to kill so had my hair cut into a Mohican at the back and short on top.

The rest of the week went in a blur really. I was delivering Christmas cards and doing the jobs that never end,

French Nathalie came on Thursday and we went for a walk on Castle Ring, followed by a coffee in the Park Gate.

Friday was eventful. In the morning I went to Burntwood and bought a coat (well I was cold….ok!); came back and wrapped pressies

In the afternoon Debbie B came. It was good to see her, as we hadn’t caught up in a while. I also arranged to meet Corinne later.

Mum and I went to a mulled wine evening at the Olsen’s house. (Hannah’s family).

I met the lovely Kate (Park Gate)’s mum (oh that rhymes!) - who is a Bloggette and many other nice people …..and the Cannock Wood Clangers – the seasonally affected campanologists.

I then went to meet Corinne and had a text from Laura to say she was in the PG. When I got in the cricket club were in too, celebrating the birth of Gareth P’s baby.

So what a triple whammy! I got to speak to the lovely Laura and the Sharp clan, PLUS Corinne and her b’f.We just needed Jim Bob and Fruit Bat to make it a party.

It was a bit crowded in the Park Gate….But I decided to live dangerously for once. It was better for me to be social. Social-ness should be on prescription.

So to continue the conversation……Ducks or hens? Which make the best pets? Answers on a postcard please.

I walked home in the pitch dark, but it was a comfort. I was thinking ‘Wow…I am walking home…. How good is that’…

Christmas Eve hit Lichfield and went to Tudor Tunes for the new KT Tunstall single and working there was Louise - Who some of you may remember used to be the lovely barperson at the Pig ‘ Truffle yonks ago. Well she is still as smashing as ever! Hello Louise. You haven't changed a bit and we still love you.

(Hello too to Jo and Rebecca who came over this afternoon.)

HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all our readers (isn’t that what we are meant to say at this point?)

If you haven’t had enough of me. The village news is in this week’s Mercury I presume. Although I wouldn’t know, as the stupid paperboy doesn’t bother to deliver it to me and you can’t buy that edition anywhere nearby!

I also have an article in said paper over the new year which will reveal a resolution you can make, which won’t cost any money, but just ten minutes of your time, will last forever and cannot be broken. You don’t have to subscribe a religious cult either!

All will be revealed.

Another hello to Bekki, Kelly and the horsey girls over the road. I hope you and your equine friends have a lovely Christmas. Did the four-legged friends enjoy the Christmas pressies I left for them.

Headline of the week The Sun, on Elton John’s ‘marriage. ‘Elton Takes David Up The Aisle”

Click here to see my photos CLICK

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Book: Gridlock by Ben Elton
Music: Green Day, System Of A Down. Daft Punk, Matt’s CD, Rufus Wainwright .

Monday, December 19, 2005

Miss C, Sugarlumps and Equine Vogue

My dear Blogsters, I would like your comments on the following true situation.

I have a friend. To saver her embarrassment I won’t name her, but she does have a ‘C’ in her name.

She got off with a man at a Christmas ‘do’ then he went on holiday.

“He texted or called me every night,” she gushes, “How romantic is that?”

Now let me analyse this/ that.

If I had just met someone and then texted or called them every night, even when I was on holiday she should quite rightly assume I am a stalker!

If I was actually going out with this girl, then its hardly the most romantic thing in the world to give up five minutes every 24 hours for a quick text or phone call is it?

Either way. This bloke is a loser. He is not love but lust driven and is obviously edging his bets to get a human bed warmer to go with his Christmas lights.

At the risk of getting all ‘Sex In The City’ Miss C…you wonder why each bloke you meet treats you worse than the last? Is it any wonder they use you?

In case I was completely grabbing the wrong end of the stick I spoke to another female friend on MSM last night and we chatted about Miss C (who we both know.)

In this other friends opinion I was right. Seeing a girl in a crowded room, finding out her name and sending her a romantic letter or e-mail. That, she said, is romantic.

A follow up phone call to invite her somewhere nice or to meet for coffee, she said, that is romantic and how she and her latest boyfriend got together.

Taking your girlfriend for a romantic weekend in Paris for her 30th birthday. That, she said, was very romantic. (Being 29-years-old she hoped her b/f is reading this!)

Miss C made excuses for her last boyfriend ‘not being the romantic type’ when he never wanted to go anywhere or surprise her on her birthday

In her opinion Miss C should see a psychiatrist. I think a good friend with the guts to tell it like it is would be better.

We decided Miss C is like so many people. They are so insecure they love the ego-trip of whoever shows them attention and try and justify it.

They then miss out on people who would really care for them, pretending they are happy. She then dared me to include our discussion in my blog….so I have! (You owe me one!)

Of course I am not going to say anything to Miss C…..are you? Does this make me as spineless. Perhaps it does!

I am now going to admit something that may make me look a bit silly!

I took presents for the horses over the road (carrots, sugar lumps, polo mints, a horse brass, a picture from the PDSA and a card) and gave them to the ever-lovely Bekki.

It is the horsey equivilent of Kensington over there. Equine vogue luxury. Those people work hard for those animals. I hope their four-legged friends appreciate it.

Anyway. I don’t think I had really had a long conversation with the girls from the family which owns the stables before. I now know who they all are.

I learned. Kelly is the one who arrives very early in the morning. (I always thought that was Jess!) I think I have that right haven’t I?

I have now met most of the horses and they have sniffed my hand and looked at me with their big, knowing eyes. (Or was that just a strange dream I had!)

Leaving the stables I saw Gary S who gave me a lift round the block in his sports car. One is so low to the ground its like being in a proper racing car. J

I went to the Posh Dress Do at The Blanks, dressed in a tuxedo and flashing bow tie. I hope there are no photographs.

It was good to see folks. But there were a few too many people there and more I didn’t know what I knew, so I didn’t stay too long. I was the youngest apart from Ellen N!

Jane, Monty and Oliver came over Sunday. It is always good to see them. It is the first time in ages I haven’t dragged M upstairs while he was here to sort out a PC bug!

I also managed to walk all the way around Castle Ring for the second time this week. It saved me using the exercise bike. But it took hours for my hands to thaw out.

I saw Tanya from down the road and her friend James jogging. I was envious. (Not because I fancied James but because I want to be well enough to jog).

I am seeing increasing side effects from the high doses of medication I am on and really hope the doses are reduced when I go to Newcastle this week.

Do you think a good beg on my hands and knees will do the trick?

Its now Monday. I know this by how many times the local radion station play 'I Don't Like Mondays', 'Manic Monday' and 'Blue Monday' - as if we needed reminding....Look out for 'Ruby Tuesday' tomorrow.

I queued for a long time to post THREE cards that needed weighing at the post office. An old lady in a wig tried to slip in front of my in the line. These old people may seem feeble but they are cunning.

I made sure she waited like the rest of us! he he

I met Vicke P and little Gracie and walked ujp to the PG for coffee and delivered the rest of the local Christmas cards. Why are some people's letterboxes so hardf to find???!!!

Off to say hi to the IT centre folk tonight. They all signed a get well card and sent it to Newcastle for me. Bless...

*Big hi to my old friend James H by the way, who I also chatted to on MSM. He is an emerging artist. I hadn’t realise he was so talented. Good on you matey. You will need the extra money when the baby is born next year! Lol

Am off to Newcastle-upon-Tyne for a couple of days tomorrow. So apologies if I have my phone turned off for some of the time.

Music:: Gang Away, Dion Jones and the Filth (This last band = excellent!)
Book: Thw Clan Of The Cave Bear by Jean Auel

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Nome De Plume and Gollywog Bonding


Nome De Plume arrived on Monday. We went to Wolverhampton bus station with a teddy bear dressed in an Australian flag to meet her!

Unfortunately her coach was late so I ended up waving it at a busload of bemused pensioners - which pulled up at the time her coach was meant to be there. Doh!

We went to the PG for a little tipple before bed and then walked back – something I would not have even considered doing before my transplant.

It felt really good not to worry about the time or oxygen and just saying ‘ok….let’s walk’.

I don’t think Nomes could get her head round how everyone was congratulating me and saying how well I looked. When she had never seen me sick.

The last time we saw each other we played a game of handball in Sydney after all!

On Wednesday we hit Stafford. Among our purchases was a Womble (don’t ask!)

We managed to set off the alarms in the old courtroom in the Shire Hall and go chav spotting (lost count!) Oh Stafford has its old worldy charm!

We met Mike and Rach in the evening and went to Tamworth to see Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire. There were only about 12 people watching it. Good for infection control!

I am still not allowed into crowded places….but I am gradually ‘integrating’!

I seemed to do rather a lot of texting through the day. The devil makes work for idle thumbs! Hmmm

Mum had made us a Christmas Dinner. So we had the roast with all the trimmings and crackers, funny hats and bad jokes.

It was just like December 25th but without family arguments or a hangover! Perfect! I wish I could cook like that. Why aren’t culinary skills hereditary?!

Spent the evening just chatting to Nomes. She is easy to talk to and it’s a while since I have spent time just chatting and listening to someone on a one-to-one basis.

People are marvellous things aren’t they!

On Thursday a photographer from the Mercury came and did a shoot for a forthcoming feature. We went on Castle Ring.

Nomes, mum and I went to Lichfield and popped in to see Jenny at H & B (Yes she is still as lovely as ever)

The craft market was disappointing but Lichfield is a great place to take a stranger to these parts. We had lunch in the Tudor Café - Service bad as ever but food good!

We will ‘do’ the rest of Lichfield I’m sure when N returns in January.

We briefly went to ‘Heart of the Country’ centre at Swinfun. I love the Rolf Harris paintings there – shame on me – Sorry we didn’t have time to go to the lovely café, but I did see the sparkly singing waitress and waved.

In the evening we had a meal at the PG with Victoria, Colin, Erik and Diana. I will try to put a link to the pictures from this page. The picture of us at the table was courtesy of Kate – the emo-chick waitress. Hello Kate!

After a great meal we all chatted in the conservatory and walked home. Cannock Wood is still and dark at night. But with tomorrow the biggest full moon in 20 years forecast there was enough light to make out ghostly shapes of long-dead iron age soldiers (or was that just a dream?!)

I didn’t sleep at all on Thursday night and by 5am Friday I was up and drinking coffee. The longer one stays awake, the harder it is to go to sleep.

To be REALLY honest. I felt terrible on Friday. I was sneezing. Shaking and my mind was full of things I had to do in the coming week.

We took Nomes to the bus station at some unearthly hour. I was sad to see her go. I really did have a good time. She is great company. But she is coming back in January - if she survives a Xmas Guinness-fest in Ireland – a country so ‘good’ everyone wants to leave and live in Australia or America.

Why do the Irish all claim to love Ireland so much, but none seem to live there? Lol

I can’t understand this as I went hostelling around Northern Ireland and Eire and loved it. It’s a great place, full of real characters….(Gosh I am talking in stereotypes again eh?)

Autralia seems to go barmy on St Patrick’s Day – Does Australia have a saints day? I reckon Shane Warne is a candidate. ‘Shaney’s Day’ or ‘Warne Week’ has a ring to it!

Friday night I started a letter to Burntwood Bev (who we saw in Gilesport) and gave up fo rthe night. Still feel rotten. But hope a good night’s sleep with solve it. I hope so. There is a party next door tomorrow!

It’s a ‘posh party’. I may wear my DJ…BUT If there are too many people there I will give it a miss…..It’s a small price to pay!

Other highlights of the last few days include a short film by NR and MA called ‘Boxing Kangaroos’ – don’t expect Spielberg to be in touch!

Muslc: Gang Away, System Of A Down, Matt's Disco Disc, Moby,


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Quick Update


Just a few words...Everything is looking up. Got a commission to write a feature over Christmas....should have backpay coming from work I have done over two years (thanks to Tim..who is a lovely man!)

AND Take-a-Break are doing a feature on me in the Feb or March edition....

Oh yes PLUS holdthefrontpage - the web site for journalists by journalists is doing a news item on me in the coming days....see you soon!

Cut and paste this link for the HOLDTHEFRONT article
Music: Telepopmusik, White Stripes

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Noami and I Moan (the same backwards!)


I am VERY excited because Naomi (who does comment on this blog) is coming over from Australia on Tuesday.....I haven't seen her for FIVE YEARS....streuuuuth.

Well I am also going to have a BIG MOAN.....I am still owed money from articles I wrote for the press back in September...

People always point the finger at journalists as being only slightly above lawlers in the hate stakes.....But its management that don't play the game!

A lot of papers are willing to take and publish features which I have written and not pay anything for them....Local papers are the wordt for this.

If any other industry took advantage of the disabled like this there would be heads rolling!

I remember when I started on my first paper doing stories on nurses pushing for better pay - nurses were on TWICE what I was on....and had more regular hours!

Moan over....

Everything seemed to be fine after my tests and I have another outpatients just before Christmas and a biopsy in January.

Its been a busy week. But it was punctuated by good things. These included finding the Amelie DVD on Cannock market, all the people who have wished me well.

I felt like ROCKY when I did my first walk arond Castle Ring this morning with so many people saying hello...Famous for 15 minutes eh?

Chatted to Stan and Kay and we saw a robin so close it was was like it was us!!

I have also very almost, nearly, kind of finished my Christmas cards and need a sack to take them to Rugeley Post Office tomorrow.

Still decorating the house....but WE HAVE A TREE!

Big hello to everyone at the Cats Protection League do on Saturday...especially Maureen (who will be on the look-out for a kitten for me in the spring) and Janet.

Oh yes finally booked train ticket for my outpatients on 21st December....took me SO long to find a route that would cost us under £100. If I had five kids or spent all my savings I would get these expenses PAID....

Snuggles and bubbles


*I finally worked out who the pretty girl who delivered the card this afternoon is - she was the waitress at the Park Gate on St George's night...

MUSIC: Green Day, Dead-60s, Linkin Park, Gorillaz, Annie

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Slinky Psycho, More Media and Cyberhuggin'


Note the attempted irony of the more 'giant tubes' for me!

More media. A big feature I wrote on my transplant appeared on Pg8 of the Express & Star today. And...The Chronicle also phoned for an article. Its on Pg 4 and there is an update in The Post on the front page.

The feature the E&S put in was an amalgamation of a two-part column I wrote after I came out of hospital. Do you think double the length means double the money?

its been a busy few days (If I had a pound for everytime I started a blog with those words…. I’d have about £3.75 by now!)

Firstly, a couple of hellos. Firstly to the ever radiant ‘Slinky Psycho’. I read your e-mail on the train. Congratulation on the promotion (this girl is going places.) I am hugging you right now through cyberspace!

And a BIG howdee to Erik and Diana, with whom I spent an enjoyable afternoon enjoying the measly 2 units of alcohol a day the docs allow me – we got high on Park Gate coffee and started to think about my New Year dinner party.

I spent the best part of a frantic day on the net booking Naomi’s coach tickets from Heathrow and back to Gatwick – yes I know it’s a strange route but she’s going to Ireland. I got these JAW tickets, which are returns to different locations – much cheaper.

I haven’t seen her in five years and am SO excited she is coming over. She will be here next week and coming back in January, when I will be able to do more.

Anyway. I booked these e-tickets that were e-mailed direct to her in Oz for her to print out – oh the appliance of science.

I was also booking tickets for mum and I to go to Newcastle for my outpatients.

We discovered booking single tickets from Cannock to B’ham and B’ham to Newcaslte (South then North_ is cheaper than going more or less direct.

Returns seem to be SO MUCH more expensive….I also have these travel tokens that I can use between Cannock and Brum..

We picked the tickets to and fro Geordieland up from a dalek-like machine in Brum. Bizarre. By the end I had travel timetables coming out of my ears– HOLD THAT THOUGHT

Anyway got to Newcastle on Monday evening and bizarrely it was good to be back. So many positive things have happened to me up North. (I try to forget the blips!)

I had to be up at 6am – I got to the outpatients at 7.20am and there were already loads of people there.

We had to take tickets (like in the post office) and when they called your number you went for a blood test, had morning medication and were ushered out for chest x-ray and lung function test before seeing a doc after breakfast.

I was ticket 97!

There were loads of inspiring people there. I was in ward 27 (next to 27a where I was before) and had a bed opposite a guy who had a transplant 14 years ago – Hello Graham you look fantastic mate!

Also Sue from 27a – I am sorry I didn’t put your pic on the website – because I don’t have one. I only took pics of the staff on my last morning (didn’t want to look like a freak or a perv you see!) But e-mail me one and I will put it on!

Anyway. The tests went well. My lung function was well up on last time and I think my technique may at last be improving.

It was nice to see Gerry Doctor again and the lovely Alison S (I really like that scarf by the way….I think it really suits you – kind of emphasizes your eyes. I don’t know why you don’t like it! (Oh dear….I wouldn’t make a very good fusion guru with clichés like that would I?)

On the way back we sat to two very loud lesbians on the train. They were like gay Vickie Pollards and would have made a great ‘ironic’ double act for a comedy night. Book ‘em!

Ok…you can stop the emails about the village news round-up in the Lichfield Mercury. It WILL return this week. I did send it last week but it must have got lost in cyberspace.

*Did anyone else think it was ironic that George Best died on the first day he could have actually legally drunk all day and night???!!! (Sorry for that)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Media Madness


More media appearances....A feature on transplantation I wrote is in the Burntwood Post, pg 7 and a picture of my 'homecoming' is in the Cannock Chase edition of the Express & Star, pg 28. and in the Cannock Chase Chronicle( all 1/12/05) Again these are editions I get so don't about

More transplant pictures...CLICK

MUSIC: White Stripes, Telepopmusik, The Transplants