3 December 2008

I was going to call this entry 'conspicuous consumption' but events have rendered the title inappropriate and now I can think of nothing to replace it

First of all, apologies for more of this but it's all that's going on right now and I still need to get stuff off my chest.

There is a lesson in all of this somewhere.

Every time I have needed to contact some medical professional about my illness they have upped the ante and given me something a little bit worse than last time.This hasn't always been the worst thing in the world. When, for instance, they upgraded my asthma to atypical pneumonia or tuberculosis, I wasn't terribly unhappy about it. Asthma can be a life-sentence, it can be a death-sentence, whereas pneumonia or tb are very treatable. To be honest, and this will sound very stupid, I secretly wished for tb rather than pneumonia because, it seemed to me, there was a bit of dark romantic glamour about tb - it was the slayer or poets, composers, actors - whereas pneumonia is what old people take with them on that last visit to hospital before they shuffle off. So, once again, the news that it was tb after all didn't particularly perturb me, especially as all the contact tracing began to confirm that I hadn't passed it on to anybody else. I did expect it to be the last bit of health news I was likely to receive for some time.

gimme medication

Following the diagnosis of tb, a nurse called round to my house with a supply of powerful anti-tb drugs. For the next two months, these would be my start to the day. Eleven tablets on an empty stomach followed by nothing to eat for an hour. Meanwhile, the lab would grow my sputum samples to identify my specific form of tb. Assuming it wasn't a drug resistant strain, my daily intake would be reduced to two drugs after two months and I would take them for a further four months. This first lot of drugs would turn my urine purple or pink, depending on what you read (in the event, orange like SunnyD). This was normal, okay, and to be expected. They might make it difficult to see red or green or make my joint aches. This was not normal and if either of these happened, I should contact them immediately. So, when various joints did begin to ache after about a week of the treatment, I called the nurse and they made an appointment for me at the TB Clinic.

At the Clinic, I notice that for several months, my life has resembled that awful show with the boxes, Deal or No Deal. Somewhere back in October or November, I really should have said 'Deal' but I played on and watched while my luck and all the big numbers drained away. I knew I should've dealt after 'chest infection' or 'asthma' but I thought I could do better and chased my losses. Or perhaps I should stop consulting members of the medical profession. Every time I do so, they just tell me something worse. The trick is to pretend they don't exist, don't answer or return their calls, abuse the receptionists so they remove me from their lists where I can once more lead a life free of the health risks regular contact with medical professionals exposes you to. Sounds like sense to me.

At the Clinic, they tell me that the lab have reported on my strain of tuberculosis and it isn't actually tuberculosis after all. Hurray! It's something called non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (ntm). Mycobacteria illnesses include tb, which I haven't got (hurray!) and leprosy which I also haven't got (hurray!). The good news is that ntm isn't infectious so there was never any risk to others (hurray!). The bad news is that it's just about identical to tb only not so glamorous, not so well known or studied, and a lot more stubborn to shift. Which means that I'll be taking a new set of drugs for at least a year instead of six months. When I get home, I make the mistake of Googling ntm and stumble onto a debate about whether it's best to remove the infected area of the lung with surgery straight away or give the drugs chance to shift it first.

So that lesson I mentioned. Whenever, and before, any member of the medical profession tells you something about yourself that you don't already know, ask them if it's good or bad news. If they say it's bad news, hang up or say 'BLAH BLAH BLAH' over whatever they say. If they say it's good news, don't believe them and do exactly the same. If you find out you've got something, never Google it. Learn to say 'Deal' when they offer you 'Chest infection' And never ask a doctor if he needs to chop your lungs up.

Vesper (sort of) in bits

7 November 2008

Getting Stuff Off Chest

So I moved way back in June. It was damp when I moved but the landlord, a friend of a friend, was aware of the problem and taking steps to remedy it. They took various steps to rid the house of damp but they didn't nail it and now, as Autumn pulls its coats tighter and bows its head against Winter's bitter winds, the house and its contents aren't so much damp as dissolving rapidly.

Very soon after moving in I caught a cold and when I let the cold go again, I retained a small memento of its passing in the form of an irritating cough. I probably should have done something about the cough sooner but you know what chaps are like when it comes to health and quacks, especially with something as apparently petty as a cough, so I didn't.

As a child I suffered from asthma. Not the near-death-adrenalin-injection-in-the-bum form of asthma but the milder wheezy-at-footy-and-games-involving-running form. Luckily I was free of asthma just before puberty and soon replaced the absentee asthmatic coughin and wheezin with the nicotine and thc kind so I didn't really miss it that much or for very long. And when I did eventually take my new cough along for the doctor's inspection, my asthma experience meant that I had a pretty good idea what I was in for. First a course of amoxycillin for a chest infection. When that didn't work, a chest x-ray to rule out the unmentionables plus a prescription of steroid and ventolin inhalers to deal with the more palatable, and probable, causes of the coughin. I had the x-ray on Monday and got on with using the inhalers believing that my asthma had returned, no doubt encouraged by the damp conditions, and that was that.

My GP called on Wednesday afternoon. The results of the x-ray are in and something on them indicates that it's slightly more serious than just asthma and further tests are needed. It seems likely that I have one of two things: atypical-pneumonia or tuberculosis. TUBERCUWHATSIS?!?!? I explained to my doctor how, when the BCG vaccinations were being inflicted on my schoolmates, my skin-test indicated a built-in immunity to tb and I was spared the BCG. Ah, my GP reassured me, it's not as simple as that - they now believe that in some cases, a test result that was previously thought to indicate immunity might actually mean that I have been a carrier of latent tuberculosis for a very long time.

blurred sample

So now I have to spend several mornings spitting in sample jars so they can work out which I have. On the one hand, I'm not spitting up blood so tuberculosis does seem unlikely. On the other hand, I have spent large portions of my life at least attempting to write romantic poetry and I do quite fancy a trip to Lake Geneva (not to mention 5,000 grains of opium if you have Dr Polidori's mobile number handy?), so perhaps the evidence is inconclusive. I think the craziest thing is to be bagging up jars of my own sputum in a bag bearing a very conspicuous BIOHAZARD label!


sputum sample bottles


What ho! You simply wouldn't believe all the bits of kit necessary to keep a first rate handlebar in order, or even a second rate fledgling grizzler such as mine. Luckily, it's all lovely.

firehouse wacky tacky moustache wax

moustache cup with tea

handlebar club moustache brush, taylor of old bond street moustache comb

That Handlebar Club moustache brush was the last they had in stock, and they don't plan ordering any more. Something to treasure!

29 September 2008

Too much yellow

I really really really need a daylight mimicking bulb. They're a kind of lightbulb that fills your studio room with a light that works very much like daylight works - that is, it allows you to see all the colours. As in the colours on your palette, on your brush and then those all important colours that you transfer from your brush onto your paper. Because the kind of light that was in my studio room today - a sort of dingy grey daylight mixed with orrible urine yellow bulb light - doesn't allow you to see all the colours. You know, like the colours on the palette, on the brush and those colours that end up on the paper without you actually realising because you can't see them because of the orrible urine yellow bulb light mixed with depressing wintry grey daylight. Yes, I am pissed off having just scanned the polar bear I painted this afternoon to discover that instead of the almost visible suggestion of yellow I was aiming at, a kind of yellow that is more for the brain than they eye, my polar bear is actually the same urine yellow as the bulb light in my room. SO I really need that daylight bulb soon. Either that or give up painting til summer - as if the english summer is gonna help!

polar bear painted

27 September 2008

Vanity thy name is moustache

First of all, opportunities to post and read here have been limited lately because I have been unable (or only sporadically, rarely able) to access anything blogger related such as my blog, other blogspot blogs, my account etc. This seems to be something to do with my isp but I can't sort it out for complicated reasons best long-story-shortened to administrative cock ups. Not that I post or reply to comments as often as I should anyway but it's annoying when I can't.

handlebar moustache promenade

Secondly, moustaches. Handlebar moustaches. According to the British Handlebar Moustache Club, a handlebar moustache is "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities". And that, dear friends, is what I have set about raising from the erstwhile bare region in question. Last year I grew a moustache for a play and quite liked it. Nobody else liked it and one night after a performance, an unkind fellow called out "Got your number 118!" (viewers of commercial television from the United Kingdom may understand the reference) and so I removed it as soon as the show was over.

During the summer I took part in another amateur dramatic production wherein my endeavours were enhanced by a hirsute appendage. Googling around in search of grooming tips and purveyors of wax, I found the Handlebar Moustache Club and my purpose in life became clear. I immediately set about extending my hirsute appendage in the direction of graspable appendages. When the play finished, I kept the beastie, remodelling it slightly with the aim of achieving an english. I quickly secured the position of Pirate Captain for which a handlebar was considered appropriate and so now the hirsute appendage is a permanent fixture, and one of which I'm insufferably proud.

vanity thy name is handlebar moustache

It is somewhat alarming and depressing to note the derision and hostility with which hirsute appendages are generally received by 90% of the Liverpool population, including close friends and family. I can number on one sawmill adjusted hand the number of positive comments it has attracted in person. The uninformed moustachism of the hairless-toplipped-masses have only hardened my enthusiasm to be a moustache activist. That is, if some of you who hate it had only expressed a little indifference it might not be there now for you to hate but as it is, well, it is and so shall remain.

23 September 2008

incomplete illos

A couple of illustrations waiting for a paint job. Both for a teaching pack on Scandinavia and Liverpool.

polar bear on diminishing ice

northern lights fox

According to one legend from Finland (Scandinavia? The Nordic countries?),the fox was brushing the snow with his brush and from the sparks and swirling snowflakes, the northern lights formed. It's going to be an interesting and challenging experiment, painting the northern lights with gouache! Maybe it'll be several such experiments...

19 July 2008

modern ills

modern ills 1/10
modern ills 2/10
modern ills 3/10
modern ills 4/10
modern ills 5/10
modern ills 6/10
modern ills 7/10
modern ills 8/10
modern ills 9/10 (unfinished panel)
modern ills 10/10 (unfinished panel)

unfinished business

There's so much I haven't finished - sometimes haven't even started properly - that I'm going to post a load of it here just to keep the place ticking over while I head off to more northerly climes. I think it's a real problem of mine. I can make reasonable, decent, sometimes fantastic starts but I rarely see any of them through to any kind of meaningful, life progressing ends. Education, jobs, relationships, this blog, art projects, you name it I won't finish it, That might come across in a feeling sorry for myself way but it isn't meant to - it's just something I'm increasingly recognising and realising I must address if I'm not to feel perpetually frustrated and thwarted by my own shortcomings.

12 July 2008


a lazaruse to jumpstart a braindeaded head and an ongoing inquiry into whether anything is better than nothing

11 July 2008

expect no answers

a lazaruse to jumpstart a braindeaded head and an ongoing inquiry into whether anything is better than nothing

10 July 2008


a lazaruse to jumpstart a braindeaded head and an ongoing inquiry into whether anything is better than nothing

5 June 2008

While I was away...

...I moved house. About half a mile away but no less stressful for that, especially as I would have been happy to stay in the old house forever except our friend need to sell.

moving on

...I moved operating system. Too many reasons to list all of them but mainly because the replacement operating system, Ubuntu Linux costs nowt and doesn't regard my 4 year old (but otherwise perfectly capable) hardware as obsolete. In real terms, however, this has meant about a month of fiddling, fucking up and reinstalling, but it's well worth it and I've learned loads.

...I broke the dog. Well, she broke herself. Twice. Once by falling UP some wet steps at Sefton Park, then by dancing on some broken glass a week later. Aw. And now I'm washing up at the vets for the foreseeable future.

poorly doggie