A Thoracotomy and Laser Metastasectomy

I’m a bit behind in writing this blog, mainly because I was waiting to the see the specialist surgeon in London, but more about that later.

Last week, after a quick meal at the Orangery in Phyllis Court, we went to the Regal to see the film ‘The King’s Speech’. What a wonderful experience that was. Colin Firth was magnificent as King George V1, and the rest of the cast just great – Helen Bonham Carter very regal as Queen Elizabeth, and Timothy Spall (an unlikely choice as Winston Churchill) was remarkable. Some of my earliest memories as a small boy were hearing the speeches of the King during World War Two on our crackly wireless set, and as I endured a few years of stuttering myself as a youth I could well empathise with his agony.
I’m getting on well with my painting commemorating the fire at Windsor Castle. Still a long way to go, this shows my progress to date. The portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh is still at the initial stage.

I’ve been steadily working on a very interesting historical miniature portrait for a collector in the USA. In fact I finished it just today. All the paraphernalia of Royalty and the military fascinates me, and gives me the chance to paint in great detail all the various textures in these sort of portraits.. From gold, pearls and jewellery to metal, leather and armour, plus a score of other surfaces, I love painting them all.

Felicity and Fenwick invited us to dinner last Tuesday. They live in a house at Shiplake directly overlooking the river. Felicity, a Cabin Service Director with British Airways, always amazes me how she so calmly organises her extremely busy life.
Swyncombe is a small, picturesque village nestling in the heart of Oxfordshire and at this time of the year is famous for its snowdrop weekends. The churchyard and its rustic surroundings become a mecca for snowdrop lovers, so we drove over there on Sunday. But, like last year, we got the timing a bit out, and although the snowdrops were abundant, they were only just peeping out. It was a lovely bright day and the little church looked peaceful and tranquil.

High under the eaves my companion noticed this rather sad looking carving of St. Botolph.

 Now on to medical matters - (hope you don’t get too bored). Last Monday the oncologist in Reading decided that the PET scan I’d been through just before Christmas revealed two ‘warm’ areas in my lung. This indicated that a tiny cancer cell from my operation a year and a half ago had escaped and had travelled to my lung, so he recommended that I see the UK’s leading thoracic surgeon – Mr George Ladas – in London. So yesterday I travelled to the Royal Brompton Hospital for the consultation. To précis a long and very detailed 90-minute consultation it seems I am to have an operation later this month at the Royal Brompton. The procedure is called a Thoracotomy and Laser Metastasectomy. This surgeon has pioneered this procedure which involves intrusive surgery but uses a powerful laser beam to remove the two tumours which are residing in my lung. Operating time can be reduced by half due to the lung laser’s accuracy and power concentration, which is 70,000 watts of energy per sq cm, generating heat of 700 degrees Centigrade. (So if that doesn’t kill the little devils nothing will!). I should be in hospital for about a week, the length of time dependant on how I react to the pain. And when I return home I’ll need to walk briskly for at least two miles a day and use an exercise bicycle to regain the strength in my lungs.
As I feel positively well it’s a bit annoying that this little problem has occurred – especially as I’m so enjoying the several commissions I’m working on right now, but it’s best that the diagnosis has been made so early. I’ll write at least one more blog before the operation then may be out of action for a little while.