February 2016

Had the knee surgery 3 December and it didn’t start well. I wanted an epidural because being a smoker and the fact I’ve already had 31 past operations it didn’t seem a good idea to have any more anaesthetic. The idiot took 8 attempts to get the needle into my spinal cord before finally getting it right on the ninth attempt. Then it didn’t take properly as I could still feel the aerosol spray that they use to see if you have sensation so you got it they had to give me anaesthetic.

I woke up to find that the surgeon had done both knees and so I wasn’t able to get about at all for two weeks week. It was extremely painful but the physiotherapist said that the range of movement looked good and all being equal the surgery should make a lot of difference to my mobility and to the levels of pain I’ve been enduring the last year. It was then just a matter of trying to get mobile for Christmas especially as all the family were coming here and funnily enough they expected to get fed!

The difference with the surgery compared to any others I’ve had was that I had to inject myself every day to deter deep vein thrombosis. By the 10th day I was so ill that I spent the following two days in bed, sleeping about 20 hours of each day. When I was awake I felt ill and my stomach felt distended. I decided on day 12 that I would stop the injections and hey presto things started to go back to normal. On speaking to my specialist it turned out that no one had noticed that one of my main drugs was Ibuprofen and this was a no no together with the anticoagulant injections. Ibuprofen can make your stomach bleed whereas the injections make sure your blood can’t clot!!

Second part of the drama - I had an appointment with the nurse on 17 December to have my stitches out and I pointed out I had problems. She took a urine test, which came back as infected. She went and spoke to the GP who prescribed a 3-day course of Trimethoprim. The course finished and the symptoms were better but still there, so I rang on 22 December to speak to the nurse to see what I should do. I had to wait for a call back.  The nurse rang and she said I had to speak to the GP and I that I had to wait for him to ring me back.

Eventually a call came from the GP and I explained the course of events and he said he would prescribe Nitrofurantoin 100mg modified-release capsules. I asked if I could in fact have another course of Trimethoprim. He said no as they were not working but I felt the course was working but it was too short. He said they didn’t give out long courses anymore. He told me the prescription had been sent across to the adjoining chemist and was ready to pick up. As I was not well my neighbour kindly offered to go and collect the pills. She went more than an hour after I had spoken to the GP. It was not at Lawley Pharmacy. She waited and was then told it had only just come through. Firstly the pharmacy did not have the pills, secondly the prescription was not one that could be taken to any other chemist and thirdly the script wasn’t signed.

My neighbour had to wait another 20 minutes until she was given a signed green prescription. She went to Sainsbury. They said “you won’t get that here”. She went to Boots. They said “you won’t get that here, they’ve been discontinued”. She wasn’t happy and neither was I when she arrived to tell me she didn’t have any medication for me.

I rang the surgery and spoke to a receptionist, explained the chain of events and she said she would ring me back. Another wait to be told that they had amended the script to read 50mg and I should take double the amount per day. She said Lawley pharmacy had them in stock but it was too late for the delivery service. I was flaming to find out that the chemist could have made this suggestion 4 hours before. It was too ate for me to et anyone to go back out to make the collection but I told the chemist that I wasn’t impressed as I had always been told that one should always finish an antibiotic course, now I would have a two day gap in medication and the infection  had a chance to get worse again.

Third part of the drama. Because I hadn’t felt well I had cancelled my 5.30pm follow up appointment with my surgeon on 22 December but he rang me at that time anyway. I explained that I had just put the phone down with the chemist and why.

He told me in no uncertain terms that Nitrofurantoin is not sensitive to the ecoli infection in my waterworks but to be safe he rang a colleague microbiologist who agreed that the latest updates say just that so there was no point in picking up the prescription.

It really makes you wonder what is going on in the NHS. The whole rigmarole was a circus of catastrophes and the bottom line I was without medication with three days until Christmas. The saving grace is that I always have a spare course of antibiotics in case I get caught short of one of the cruise itineraries, not all ports have a well-supplied chemist. Gibraltar is just one of the places you can pick up antibiotics without a prescription and thank goodness as it saved me on going problems.

Well if I thought the lead up to Christmas happened quickly then the actual holidays were over in a split second. Max and Justine joined me at ‘Monro Towers’ on 22nd December while Matt and Laura came the following day. I’ve only seen Matt once since the last yuletide season so it was nice having everyone together again.

We had decided to celebrate the big day on Christmas Eve and to kick off proceedings dinner on the night of 23rd was a simple roast. Let me rephrase that, it should have been a simple exercise. As it was a special night when we were all together I decided on roast pork for Matt as it is his favourite, roast lamb for me and Max and roast chicken for Justine as she doesn’t eat other meats. I cooked the chicken in the top oven along with the parsnips while everything else went into the main oven.

This meal is the equivalent of what you have on the big day with roast turkey but years ago we found out that in fact none of us liked it. Mum had cooked the roast not realising it was a chicken so the timings were completely wrong. In the States it was labeled cooking fowl and we had mistook it for turkey. Mum was distraught while dad tried to pacify her saying he didn’t like it anyway. I jumped in saying I’d never liked it and Matt Jnr reiterated the sentiment. Poor mum started laughing saying she didn’t like it but had cooked it for the past umpteen years for all of us!! We ended up at the delicatessen, being one f the only thins open and had smoked salmon and bagels and it was terrific. We dined out on that story for years and the turkey was quickly changed to roast beef.

We sat down at 8.00pm. I am old school and have only ever worked in pounds and ounces and I quickly realised that I must have miscalculated the conversion when I found everything bar the chicken was under-cooked. Worse than that the roast potatoes were raw inside so we dined out on cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and roast parsnips, not forgetting the gravy.

Christmas Day starts with a tradition of sausage rolls and buck’s fizz but it was a long time coming. The timing said 22 minutes but it actually took more than an hour and a half. That is when I realised that the cock up the night before wasn’t down to me but because the oven was broken. Worse still the guarantee ended two weeks ago!

Luckily I hadn’t started cooking for the Christmas buffet so was able to use the top oven for everything else and so a complete disaster was averted.

It was lovely that ‘From Russia With Love’ starred on the ‘big night’ and was even repeated a week later. It tied in nicely after ‘The Nation’s Favourite Bond Song’ and how wonderful that we still made the Top 10.

I’m sure most of you will agree that the time came round to take down all the decorations far too quickly and the house felt suddenly quite naked. I had so much to put away so what did I do? Buy another load of stuff that was marked down in the sale including two 4-foot tall reindeer. I must be mad.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet event for me and I’m sure I was asleep before 11.00pm. Much to my amusement my friends had started phoning around 8.00pm to wish me a happy New Year as they weren’t going to be awake either. I think this is a sure way of knowing you’re getting old. My son and his fiancé had been invited over to a friend’s house to see the dawn in and for the first time ever Max didn’t have to play taxi cab driver. One of their friend’s picked him up but he couldn’t drink anyway as it was a Muslim household. Oh I did howl with laughter.

As each day of the New Year appeared so to did another packed suitcase in my hallway until all eight were loaded in the car ready for my trip to Tilbury Docks. This cruise is one of my favourite itineraries and the third time I have done the crossing but the trouble is that you have to allow for five or six days either way of cold weather and pack accordingly. As well as a full winter’s wardrobe I also had a summer wardrobe to combat the Amazonian heat.

I’m back in two weeks and have decided to give you an update on the journey in one hit.

My new dates for 2016 have been confirmed as follows.

Cruise Calendar 2015/2016

5 January – 16 February – Cruise & Maritime Magellan
6 June – 1 July – Fred Olsen – Boudicca
9 July – 23 July – Emerald Princess (TBC)
23 July – 6 August – Emerald Princess (TBC)
26 August – 3 September – Celebrity Eclipse
3 September 17 September – Celebrity Eclipse
17 September -30 September – Celebrity Eclipse
30 September – 3 October – Celebrity Eclipse
3 October – 16 October – Celebrity Eclipse
16 October – 29 October – Celebrity Eclipse

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month.

In a change to our planned Spotlight this month, the news of one of Matt's great fans came through and so in tribute this month we feature the late great Terry Wogan

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

May I take the opportunity of wishing you all a very happy New Year. Let’s hope that 2016 is a brilliant one.

I’ll see you back here in March. God speed

Warmest to you and yours

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  - Press this link to see the Amazon Listing for The Singers Singer by Michele Monro


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