Day 15 – ‘The smell of willow’

Using Mrs C’s analogy of the ‘layers of the onion’ approach to treatment and subsequent withdrawal today was one of the very outer layers (or is it inner?) – staple removal.

As ever my immediate thought on this was ‘will it hurt?’ Surely it can’t be as bad as removal of the drains can it? I mean its healing, surely if they are ready to come out then they can’t hurt can they?.

The truth is it is still very tender, what do I expect, I am cut from the top of my old chap to just under my chest, it’s not going to miraculously heal in 2 weeks.

We took pictures as a before an after for posterity

‘Ohhh was that really necessary Simon?’. Yes, it is

Living with and beyond cancer is very real. As well as providing a forum to update friends, family and colleagues of my progress this blog is also intended for others about to go through treatment as an extemporaneous record of what to expect. I make no apologies.

Having summed up the ‘stiffest of upper lips’ I laid down and awaited the removal. Typically for me the first staple to be removed decided it was going nowhere . After much heaving and pulling it eventually gave in and after a full 7 minutes staple No. 1 was removed. Only another 47 to go. Heaven preserve us.

It was a close run thing as to who was sweating from their forehead the most, me or Nurse Jane. Once again the classic deep breathing technique was administered: And in , and out , and in , and OWWWEEEEE’ ( staple flies across room).

40 minutes in and every other staple had been removed. This is as recommended, with the remainder being removed tomorrow. Cant wait , said no Simon ever.

Call the midwife

Today also heralded the visit from the local ‘Stoma Nurse’. Don’t ask me why but I had this romantic notion that the nurse would arrive in a modern day version of a Morris minor getting out clothed in a Navy Blue cape and uniform with a white paper hat. I was to be disappointed when a rather plain blue ‘Berlingo’ van pulled up and out pops the nurse dressed in cargo pants and a ubiquitous navy polo shirt, the same uniform that seems to adorn every support service industry from Policeman to electricians. Clearly I had allowed myself to be influenced by the generalisations of Call the Midwife, a rose tinted version of a Community nurse that is now well outmoded.

We preceded to the bathroom and shut the door. My eyes glanced up to a sinister brown splodge on the ceiling that I missed from the night before. Thankfully her gaze didn’t stray upwards, and unless she developed a flip top head or lay on the floor last nights stoma balloon would be my little secret.

After another edition of ‘show and tell’ where I ably demonstrated how to change a stoma bag in under 3:50 without getting poo on my hands, we then went downstairs retiring to the lounge for a more gentile conversation about ‘ongoing support’ over a cup of PG tips.

When you are a ‘stoma newbie’ all top tips are welcome, and I milked this for all it was worth.

Having exhausted the stoma conversation and blagged some ‘apple flavoured’ glue spray, and some talc, there then followed a lull in the conversation.

After what seemed an eternity a hand disappears into her case and pulls out a ‘flyer’

“Have you thought about support pants?” As she handed me a card.

For a fleeting moment my whole life flashed before me, this vision of ‘Thora Hird’ sat on a Stana Stair lift on the back of the Radio Times was vivid in my mind. Oh god, is this as good as it gets, is this it, is this how it’s going to be.

I felt like a bit part actor in one of those ‘dentagrip’ adverts, you know the ones where the recipient is a beautifully sculpted man (or woman) with amazing grey hair clearly not the sort of person who has dentures, but adds a certain ‘glamour’ to having false teeth.

“They’ve very good at preventing parastomal hernia’s” she said.

“They’re really populour with men of your age” Mmmm, what age did she mean? Middle age? ‘Or younger men? Yes younger men. Il take the latter, I need a boost.

Apparently you get the first one for free and then as many as you want on prescription. That will be novel at the Doctors.

“Hello I’d like to repeat my prescription please, Omeprazole 20mg & 2 pairs of elasticated pants in the taupe please”

Actually, they are not too bad, a bit like a woman’s ‘Panty Girdle’ , panty girdle now there’s a name that never fails to raise a titter.

Il let you know how I get on later, how exciting and sad at the same time, my life had decended into looking forward to receiving a pair of Hernia pants. Showbiz folks

P. S weighed today.. I’ve lost 1stone and 2 pounds in 2 weeks. It’s a bit drastic but sadly needed, I could still lose another stone and still be respectable.


It was great to receive another visitor from work today as a Liam from Corsham visited me.

I was humbled to receive a moniquered cricket bat from all the team up there, it truly is fantastic to receive this level of good wishes and support.

I’m actually not an avid cricket fan in case you were wandering, but the cricket bat is entirely relevant for me as normally accompanied with a straw boater it is frequequnetly deployed at social events where alcohol is normally involved.

“Iv been told not to discuss work” he said. Damn I thought , as much as I don’t want to know I do. I don’t cope with being the invalid very well, and want to feel like a contributing member of society.

After some initial conversation regarding my recovery I deployed some of my best Jedi mind tricks and tried to creep in around the flanks with some work related inquiries.

My feeble distracting technique was soon rumbled and the conversation pulled back to safe territory. Bugger


Day 14 – ‘Gentleman Jim Reeves’


Day 16 – ‘Express Delivery’


  1. KarenJohnson

    Can they not give you entomology when having your clips removed? I was given it for the very reason that it does hurt! Ask mate, can’t do any harm unless it affects ‘Little Simon’? X

  2. KarenJohnson

    Memo to Kaz ….check your grammar before sending!
    Entonox………bleddy predictive text malarkey! X

  3. Mark Bullard

    Hi Simon, i have been laughing at the little Simon issues. You explain it in such a humorous way. I do look forward to reading your blog, which gives me mixed emotions, as I would much prefer you did not have to going through this experience. I recall someone saying about writing a book for others in your situation to read. I think that would be a fantastic idea. Say hello to Ali.

  4. Rosemary and Francis Polglase

    Oh my goodness Simon..,.brave man….glad you are at least off the ‘staple’ diet 😘Xx

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