Sunday, November 14, 2010


This was the year my life changed. One day I was a typical beer-swilling bloke, the next I was in hospital undergoing tests. Still, that chapter has been fully covered in an earlier blog, and hopefully this is the last word of that particular saga. A few weeks ago I went back for another consultation with the heart-failure Nurse. She increased my medication and arranged for another scan. To say I didn't like the sound of this would be an understatement. However, on the 12th of November I duly presented myself at the hospital, took the scan and returned to the waiting room. The Doctor, I was told, would see me when they got the results. It was a very long twenty minutes, but I was walking on air when I left the surgery; my heart, although still enlarged, was almost back to normal; blood pressure healthy, no sign of clotting; I could stop taking a drug called Warfarin (wonderful! I no longer need to report to my local clinic every Monday to give a blood sample).
This is known as an INR (International Normalised Ratio) test , the purpose being to check the level of my blood and set the amount of Warfarin I would have to take over the course of a week; as this was a drug that thinned my blood, activities like visiting the Dentist became a minefield. I'm still taking a lot of medication, which may also be reduced in time, but coming off Warfarin is a huge step forward. I can now enjoy the odd drink (as a treat on 'special occasions'; so on that night I enjoyed a smashing pint of lager before returning to my usual soda water and lime) and I can make plans for the furure. I will not, however, be going back to my bad old ways. Those weeks in hospital (the tests, treatment and uncertainty) have all left their mark, and it is not a part of my life that I want to go through again. This is a second chance and I'm not going to blow it.
Alright, I can't get too carried away; no one is using the word 'cured', and I know what to expect if I stop leading this healthier lifestyle; so if my heart gets back to normal, it will be up to me to keep it that way. I certainly have plenty of incentive. (Pessimistically, I still have the Warfarin tablets and all the booklets - you know, in case someone suddenly says 'oh dear, I think we were a little premature taking you off that medication!'. It would be just my luck, but think positive.)
Right, I might as well have a little rant while I'm here; which will make this entry a little more entertaining if nothing else. So I get home from hospital, and a few weeks later I get a letter from SWALEC (South Wales Electricity, who supply my gas and electric) saying they are sorry I decided to leave them. Which was news to me, so I got straight on the phone and asked them what they were talking about. It seemed that I had changed my account over to British Gas on the 20th of June. No I bloody hadn't, I was still in hospital and I certainly didn't get a bedside visit from a representitive of B.G. So I gave the lady on the other end of the line the authority to change my account back to theirs, and agreed to pay British Gas for one month's supply when the time came.
Fine, but when that bill arrived it had an entirely ficticious name on it (Mr Popop Popopp, would you believe!) Now, far be it from me to suggest that some vile little ratbag had taken advantage of my absense to indulge in a little skullduggery and poach a SWALEC customer, but 'something' underhand had taken place! I rang British Gas and told them, in no uncertain terms, that I would pay their bill, and then I never wanted to hear from them again. So I went to the bank and paid up. End of story? Not a chance. For some reason the payment never went through, and I got a letter saying that my debt would be sold on if I didn't cough up. Rang BG helpline and demanded to know what the Hell was going on. No record of payment, could I check with the bank? Did so, no record of payment there , so I made the transaction again and kept the receipt safe. Thankfully, when I rang the helpline again, the payment had gone through; so I told the nice lady on the other end of the line to terminate my account, and repeated the fact that 'I - NEVER - WANT - TO - HEAR - FROM - BRITISH - GAS - EVER - AGAIN!!!'
In the meantime, I enjoyed a Fantasy Convention in Nottingham, where I finally planted my second foot into the modern age by taking along a newly-purchased digital camera. It took a week or two to get used to it, but I'm even putting stuff on YouTube now (got my own channel, how cool is that?) Not such a luddite after all:-) So the year 2010 is drawing to a close, and its not one I shall look back on too fondly. It will be 2011 when I write my next blog. Who knows what I will have written about at this time next year?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carry On Nurse.
A visit to The University Hospital in Cardiff, and a quick once over from a nurse. Medication just right, she said, but may have to increase the dose of a beta blocker drug I'm using. Not good, but I have been told that it will be alright to have a couple of beers on a couple of nights out (and no, that doesn't mean I can have four pints if I just go out on the one night; it doesn't work that way). More appointments booked for October and November, but no sign of having my medication reduced. Looks like I'll have to live with it.
In the meantime, I have a new website called 'The David Price Cyberspace Experience' ( ) . A good replacement for the old one, and I can upload a lot more pages. A bit of vanity on my part, but why not?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

On April the 23rd, I went to the Doctor with breathing difficulties. An hour later I was in the back of an ambulance, an oxygen mask over my face. That was the start of it. I was kept in overnight, my blood pressure was checked every couple of hours. In the morning they let me go. More tests followed, I was given medication that didn't do the slightest bit of good. In the meantime, I went downhill fast.
Unable to sleep lying down, I had taken to sleeping in an armchair. Trips to the shop became an ordeal; in the end, I could hardly take a shower. Finally, I had to ring the surgery and tell them that I couldn't make it to a blood test. The Doctor came to see me later that evening. I don't know how bad I looked, but he wrote a letter and sent me straight to Llandough Hospital. By then he was using the term heart-failure, which didn't sound good. Four days later I had a scan, and the full problem was revealed. My heart was beating at less that 35% than normal; worse, a blood-clot had developed over my heart and they had to reduce it before I could have a full heart scan (one that would involve dropping a probe right inside my heart!).
I was put on a drip-feed for the first five days, which practically chained me to the bed for 22 hours a day. During this time I was given pills, injections and blood tests. My one bit of pleasure came when they finally took me off that drip. However, they had attached a heart moniter to me and I wasn't allowed to take it off for a minute (not even to wash, which turned that activity into an obstacle course!)
After 11 days, I was finally transferred to The University Hospital of Wales. The blood clot was still there, but they could work the scan around it. So they told me everything that could 'probably' go wrong, but 'almost certainly' wouldn't (the possibility of a heart-attack being mentioned) and then asked me to sign a consent form (presumably to abrogate responsibility should I be unfortunate enough to kick the bucket!)
An hour later (wearing a hospital gown) my bed was wheeled into the theatre where they finally deigned to to let me know that - should they be unable to get into my heart through a vein - they would insert the probe into my groin. Thankfully, despite being virtually bled dry after a series of blood tests, they managed to insert the probe into my right arm. Later that day I was given the first bit of positive news I'd had during my 2 weeks in hospital; there were no serious problems inside my heart, hopefully the medication would be enough (although a pacemaker might still be an option at a later date).
The treatment continued, then one day I was visited by the doctor. The hospital had done all it could, the course of medication seemed to be working; I could go home when I was ready. That night, for the first time in more than six weeks, I slept in my own bed.
Obviously, that wasn't the end of it. I'm still on a course of medication - Spironolactone, Ramipril, Carvedilol, Furosemide and Warfarin (one of them slows down my heart rate, which you might think would be the last thing I'd need!) - and I'm reporting to my local clinic every week for a blood test. The only bugbear is that I can't drink any beer (or Cranberry juice, for some reason; but I can live without that).
Otherwise, I'm in reasonably good shape after losing nearly four stone. With luck, I'll never have to take up residence in a hospital again.
Don't get me wrong, the doctor's did a marvellous job and I'm grateful; but for those three weeks I was confined to my ward, unable to move out of range with my heart-monitor. I did once, to get a newspaper from the ground floor shop in Llandough; a male nurse wasted no time in letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that I really shouldn't do this.
So my daily routine was restricted. Up in the morning when the nurses came clattering through the ward; have breakfast, wash; head off to The Day Room for a read.
Return for tests, have dinner, then return to Day Room to watch some telly. (As I was there during the entire period of the 2010 World Cup, this consisted of football, football ... and more friggin' football!) Watch the afternoon match, return for tea and whatever the doctors or nurses wanted you for, then back for the evening matches and whatever followed them.
Return at 10:30 for a late night cuppa before lights out at 11:00. Start the whole tedious process again at seven the next morning ... which is slightly better than spending 22 hours on a drip, I admit, but those 23 days I spent in hospital didn't exactly fly by.
Now my life is getting back to normal. I've returned to work, and I'll always remember the help and support I got at that time.
My brother, who came down with his wife Sue and his son Andrew, and made my home habitable in between visits.
My Aunt and Cousin, Audrey and Fred, who brought in a change of clothes when I needed it (and came to the hospital at a moment's notice when I needed a lift home). Even my Facebook friends, who posted so many messages of support on my homepage.
But it's not over yet. I will have to go back to the hospital for tests and scans, the Warfarin (an anticoagulant drug) is going to be needed for quite a while, and I still have to give blood samples. It's not perfect, but at least I'm leading a reasonably normal life. Wish I could have a few beers though!
Until next time ... take care.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Brighton Rocked

My latest convention, and it's off to the gaudy seaside resort of Brighton for a healthy dose of sea air. The location is The Albion Hotel, a place not without its shortcomings, but still a reasonable venue (its location, right next to Brighton Pier, being a big plus).
I booked in and was told that the convention fee was already covered (which was one less dent in my wallet), and then I was handed the biggest WHC goodie bag ever (and, for that matter, the biggest name-tag ever, meant to be worn around the neck in a blue wallet. A trifle ostentatious, to say the least!).
I dumped the bag in my room and then went for my first walk along the pier, a novel experience in itself, and quite an enjoyable one - wooden boards creaking underfoot, the sea crashing all around me, the many fresh-food places (hot dogs, fish and chips, fried rice), games arcades and fun rides (including a ghost train; more about that later).
The first evening passed in the usual way, meeting old and new faces before trooping off for a meal in a restaurant (where we pretty much had to guess the contents on the menu!). All very pleasant, but the most memorable night was yet to come.
The highlight of Friday night was a huge party in Horatio's Bar, a pub on Brighton Pier. A large sum had been left behind the bar, and all the convention-goers had exclusive access to this shindig. I knew nothing about it, I was just trailing after Charles Rudkin and John Travis in search of food. A booth cooked up a fried rice meal while we waited, and that was when John pointed out The Horror Hotel to me. This was a ghost train ride, and he suggested returning the next day to try it out. "Why not?" I said, little realizing that I'd be trying it out a lot sooner than that.
Then Charles headed into Horatio's Bar. We followed, and I was surprised when the doormen checked our badges. It soon became clear that this was a party for the convention, hosted by a lady called Heather Graham (no, not that Heather Graham!) and that live music was the order of the night (Heather, herself, doing a lot of the singing)
The Guinness flowed, the music worked its magic, several ladies and then men took to the dance floor. Two more pints and I was on that floor myself, jigging away to the music of The Ramones. (I don't know how I looked, but it was a long time before Chris Teague could stop laughing!)
Dancing is thirsty work, so I went for another pint. However, as I set it down on the table, Ally Bird took my arm and said, "Come on."
I was led outside with Ally, Chris Teague and Steve Upham, then across the pier to The Haunted Hotel.
"You're kidding, right?"
She wasn't; as yet another treat for the convention-goers, the ghost ride had been opened up; so I stepped into a car with Chris Teague, the bar was lowered, and then we were on our way, all manner of ghouls and goblins jumping out at us. It was great fun, and even sobered us up a little by the time we got back to Horatio's.
We left shortly after midnight, and the walk back along the pier was quite pleasant; Brighton lit up before us, the wonderful sight of a pitch-black sea crashing towards the beach (almost, I would say, giving the impression of being on a ship). It had been a wonderful, madcap night and I think we were all still on a high. If nothing else, that party had made it a really memorable convention.
There were many panels and events, quite a few of which I missed. I made Chris Teague's talk about getting awards, a reading by Brian Lumley of one of his stories, a discussion panel with Tanith Lee (the subject in question has slipped my mind) and one or two others. But it was the interview with horror writer James Herbert that I was keen to attend. It started at noon, and the conference room started to fill up. It was quite a moment for me, as I have been reading his books for more than 20 years. Then he entered the room, and in an hour-long talk he entertained the audience with anecdotes, tales, a teaser for his up and coming novel, the odd bit of banter with other writers like Ramsey Campbell; he was certainly the convention's most relaxed and humourous guest. A few hours later he was doing signings, so I grabbed my copy of the convention book (Brighton Shock) and made my way to the dealers room.
The queue was long, so it was an hour and a half before I got to see him. Still, he was at a table, and there was a chair for people to sit on and exchange a few words while he signed their books. In the minute I had, I sat down and said, "I've been reading your books for most of my life."
"And look at you now," he said. Then, as he was signing my book, "From Liverpool, are you?"
"Well, Cardiff." An easy mistake to make, I suppose!
Then we shook hands, I said, "It was a pleasure to meet you," and walked away happy.
Now to find Ingrid Pitt,
In truth, I wouldn't have recognised her; sadly, she was in poor health and rather frail. All the same, she smiled and signed my book, thanked me for dropping by. I'll always remember her as that sassy and sexy star of those 70's horror films; but sometimes you get a sharp reminder of human mortality. Get well soon, Ingrid; you were a real star.
And so there were plenty of memories. Meeting old friends and making new acquaintences - Paul Finch's wife, Cathy; Debbie Kuhn, making a trip from Canada; Simon Maginn, who lives in Brighton, and so hadn't travelled at all. And the return of a few people I hadn't seen in ages; Gail Nina Anderson, and the unforgettable 'Whispering' John Carter, who hasn't changed a bit in the ten years since I last saw him!
Then there was John Travis getting all excited about catching sight of a fox on a roundabout. This event was certainly eventful.
So to the final night, the time of the customary 'Dead Dog Party' . Before that, I went out with Chris Teague, John Travis, Martin Roberts and his Girlfriend, Helen Hopley, in search of food. We ended up in a quaint old pub called The Essex, which served a delicious steak and a beautiful pint of Guinness-extra-cold. Then it was back to the hotel, where the final night was falling as flat as a pancake! The one problem with the hotel was the way a number of bar's were spread out, and so the convention-goers were mooching about all over the place.
Step forward a forthright Scottish chap called Paul. "This isnae a dead dog party, this is just fookin' dead! Wait here." Then he thundered off to find the rest of the convention-goers. Into another bar - 'Move yerselves, the party is upstairs.', and then, to the bar staff, "Put these lights out, we're going tae a party.'
Next thing I knew, the staff were hauling chairs and tables into the conference room, and within an hour we had our party. And so, thanks to this indomitable Highlander, a very pleasant time was had by all on the last night of the convention.
And that was it, the end of another World Horror Con. Bags packed, time to say a few farewells, and then a walk to the train station for the journey back to Cardiff. Past the pier, where I'd had a meal of fish and chips just hours before that party, along the seafront (a walk I had taken every morning to wake myself up), then home. In the words of a song, I'd been to a marvellous party.