Looking At The Same Star

“We’re riding in a strange car
We’re followin’ a strange star
We’re climbing on the strangest ladder
That was ever there to climb

We’re living in a strange time
Working for a strange goal
We’re living in a strange time
Working for a strange goal
We’re turning flesh and body
Into soul”

Thistlethwaite / Scott ( The Waterboys – Strange Boat )

There are few places I go now where I am referred to as “…a young man.” On the one hand this is delightful to hear, and reaffirms how I feel about myself, but on the other hand , the places where I am referred to as “…a fine , young man.” , are of a medical nature…and not a namby pamby, how to feel better about yourself, medical nature. No the places where I’m referred to as “…a fine , and handsome young man.” are more of the ‘front line infantry’ , medical nature.

With increasing regularity I have chats with friends where we compare ailments, and the people who are treating us for same. One of my best friends has a cardiologist on speed dial, and tells me about his diet, while defying it. Another best friend called me this week on his way back from his chiropractor and said that he’d told him he always felt really depressed after listening to him. The doctor was a bit taken aback and said he’d thought he was being positive. He asked me what my consultant was like.

“Very direct.” I answered.

“How so ?”

“I think she really wanted to be a vet.”

He laughed.

My lovely agricultural consultant had referred me to another consultant due to the fact … I was going to say that the facts don’t matter , but they do. One of the brilliant things about this strange journey we’re on is that by writing about it , and sharing it, warts and all….which is a terrible expression, when you think about it, some warts are gorgeous… anyway, the brilliant thing has been that people have actually gone and had a check up after reading bits of my story, which is incredibly cool. GET CHECKED ! Men over 40 , demand a PSA check, at every check up….and get a check up ! Don’t worry , there are no wriggly fingers involved in the PSA test…

Where was I ?

Oh yes, there I was being referred to as a “…fine , charming, and handsome young man.”, and … it was all so ordinary.

I’m being seen in the radiotherapy part of Beaumont, because my nice veterinary consultant, having sorted out my kidney/bladder cancer, and removed my prostate , and several lymph glands , was concerned that my PSA score, which indicates prostate cancer , had risen slightly , when it really should be zero.

We’re talking about tiny percentages which seem infinitesimal and meaningless until it is pointed out FORCIBLY to you that any percentage is a problem. Zero is your friend, any deviation is … not your friend.

Last November , when we saw Miss Little, she said that this was unusual, but that there were choices available , potentially, and that this next consultant was the chap to have ‘frank conversations’ with…

Weirdly, or naturally, we blanked all of this out and proceeded to have one of the best Christmases’ EVER.

But there was a gnaw.

We ignored it. Drowned it in good times, ran, drowned it in more good times, accidently signed up to Disney + and watched bajillions of things.

Slept lightly , despite being tired.

We watched Miss Marple classics on Virgin Three, I found the Aberystwyth Noir books and started into them, and listened to ‘ A Distant Mirror’ by Barbara Tuchman as I drifted in and out of sleep.

  On the eve of going to that Dublin to meet the new consultant I watched ‘If These Walls Could Sing’ , a documentary about Abbey Road on Disney. I got lost in it. Before the Beatles recorded there the biggest thing that had ever been recorded in Abbey Road was Elgar ! There were interviews with Macca, Ringo, Elton John, Oasis, and they were all wonderful. Jimmy Paige, of Led Zeppelin,  revealed that he’d played on James Bond/Shirley Bassey’s ‘Goldfinger’…

I went to bed.


We drove to Beaumont and we waited to see the new consultant.

For some strange, possibly  life threatening reason , the radiation oncology bit in Beaumont is a loong way from the front door..and everything else. But it was all calm, and good.

We checked in , and then waited.

We were called and met our new consultant’s junior/assistant/angel.

She asked about my general health, state of mind, my stoma, “Do you smoke ?” . Not since 2000.

“Any allergies ?”

No…oh wait, cheap Rioja.

She laughed at that , and my Soulmate assured her that I wasn’t joking

After basic facts were established “…fine , charming, erudite, and handsome young man.”, it appeared that there was a wee problem…

Technically I should have no PSA score at all, but for some reason I do. The options to correct this situation, other than ignoring it, aren’t very appealing, especially as I’ve already signed up for this year’s Dublin City Marathon.

The new consultant came and met us and said that he’d been doing this a long time and had never come across a case like this. This could  be viewed as a terrible thing, or a brilliant thing. I choose to view it as a brilliant thing, I may get to have something named after me, and I’m an enigma. Who doesn’t like being an enigma ?

Whilst discussing the treatment options with the consultant and his junior/assistant/angel I said that my other consultant…didn’t I tell you I have two consultants, well I do,.. had said that because of my previous chemo/surgery/stuff , I may not be a suitable client for radiation due to …without being too graphic..but being this graphic is understandable in the circumstances…the cavity created by  the removal of my left kidney, bladder and bits would be filled by my bowel and that the bowel does not like radiation at all.

My new consultant replied “I’ve seen the scans, you have a lovely bowel.”

I turned to my Soulmate and said “Told you .”

My consultant then went on to explain his preferred course of treatment and cushioned the blow with references to me being  “…fine , charming, erudite, and devilishly handsome young man.” But he would have a chat with Miss Little first to see if she agreed , and we’d meet again in a month and decide then and how to proceed.

I got bloods done on the way out.

We came home and decided to treat ourselves to steak and chips, Rioja, and then watched ‘See How They Run’ in front of a roaring fire.

Halfway up our stairs is a large window, the sky was full of stars, so I stopped for a moment, and stared. The light from those stars can take tens of thousands of years to reach us, and maybe the light from our sun is heading out into the Universe to be seen on a distant planet by some “…fine , charming, aromatic, erudite, and  devilishly handsome young man/thing.”, and we connect across time and space…..God that was good Rioja !



Author: paul

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