After the weigh-in on my latest trip to Clinic E I found myself sat waiting for new money kilos to be converted into some old money pounds and ounces I could understand. I was fearing the worst and expecting a familiar dressing down from the diet police, but unexpectedly I found myself facing smiles rather than thin lips.
I’d actually managed to put on a whole seven pounds since I was last weighed. I’m now eight stone ten. My cream cake and Chelsea bun diet seems to be paying off. There’s a way to go before I can call myself a normal weight but at least I’m going in the right direction.
My BMI is now 18.9, which turns out to be a way short of the UK average (26.9) and even a bit off the Ethiopans (19.3) a people not known for their hoarding of fat. But I’m on a roll, I’m coming after them.
So I’m still on two of the protein drinks a day, though there’s talk of cutting those down/off if progress continues. There’s no doubt I’m able to eat more and more often these days, though it’s still a bit of a struggle at times. My appetite, though better, is still a way off what it was.
And because my saliva production is poor there are some foods I have problems eating; dry stuff like bread and, infuriatingly, chicken. Now these days eating the occasional chicken body part is as far up the evolutionary scale as I’m prepared to go for protein, so it’s been particularly infuriating to find myself chewing and chewing, trying to get each forkful into a swallowable condition.
When the dietitians said try chicken thighs and since then I have and it’s worked, it’s been pretty much a time for singing and dancing.
I’m getting well used to Clinic E, and it seems the feeling is becoming mutual. These days the nurses say hello Mark when they see me. Now this is all very cheerful and matey, though I can’t help sensing the bonhomie is only a step away from their thinking ‘oh here he is again’.
This time I was ushered in to see Mr A for what has become my regular examination, only to find yet again it wasn’t him I would be seeing. He apparently had more serious patients to see.
Well that’s probably fair enough, I know what they mean. But it is slightly off-putting to be termed non-serious, as if I’m somehow not pulling my weight and need to pull my finger out. Don’t these people know how hard it was to put those seven pounds on? Ethiopians aren’t easy to beat.
I must have looked a little disappointed because the day’s doctor was at pains to tell me that he knew what he was doing, had done it lots of times before, had all the qualifications. In fact I was beginning to think he was protesting a little too much. But I thought well I know the drill, if he needs any help I can probably nudge him along.
Of course he was brilliant. He managed to combine friendliness with professional efficiency in a way that made trusting him easy.
He was a bit let down by his equipment though. It turns out Mr A holds onto all the hi-tec stuff. His assistant has to do things manually. So it was back to how it must have been done in the old days. There was no screen to view the images from inside my throat on. The doctor just had a hand-held viewer attached to the camera, which was at the end of the same old tube that he stuck up my nose.
But maybe the old ways are the best. After feeling around my neck for lumps and saying everything looked fine, the doctor hit paydirt. He found that part of the base of my tongue had fused to the side of my mouth as a result of the radiotherapy. Not easy to spot, and something the student nurse he implored to get close and take a good look struggled to pick out.
But it did explain why that area remained sensitive. Nothing to be concerned about though.
I was sent away with another appointment, and with a homework assignment. I have a minimum of another seven pounds to put on before I can think about beating the Ethiopians.