The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Archive for June, 2009

The Longest Days

Posted by Exile on June 27, 2009

Fourteen days ago my dearest was suffering from what appeared to be a sore throat and loss of voice, Laryngitis, I thought. Off to the doctor with her then. Our normal doctor was on holiday, so we had to use the first reserve. He didn’t help much and advised my dear lady to visit an ear, nose and throat specialist. Luckily, we have one at hand.

The message we got there was not good. After having a camera shoved up her nose and down her throat into her voice box, the good doctor said, “I don’t dare say what that is.” She then grabbed the phone and demanded that  my wife should be examined at the county hospital immediately. My wife has a fluid collection, an oedema on one side of her larynx and a lump, a growth, on the other.

By now, alarm bells were ringing in my head. My father died of cancer in the throat and stomach. In fact, he was eaten up by the filthy disease within 3 months of diagnosis.

The chief surgeon at the hospital last thursday was equally vague. Hinting that this was indeed cancer, he offered some encouragement stating that if this was cancer, then we had caught it so early that radiation treatment would clear it up with a 95% certainty. He scheduled an exploratory operation for the next day. That was tuesday.

On wednesday we were again at the hospital. Early. My wife was given some foul stuff to drink and then slid into the CT scanner. The pictures were OK, we were told. No more than that. OK. The pictures were OK. Nobody would tell us what they could see in the pictures, but the bloody pictures were OK. Later that morning, my wife was duly anesthetised and underwent the exploratory op.

I collected her at five in the evening after having been home to take the dogs out and clear up at home. My poor wife was still groggy, unable to speak, hungry, thirsty and not very happy. We were still none the wiser for all this. We now had to wait. A whole week. Biopsies are not to be rushed. We were given very little information. I had not been told anything, as the discharging surgeon had spoken with my wife before I arrived. My wife just wanted to get home.
The sense of being absolutely powerless in these situations was slowly getting me down. There is nothing one can do. No influence, no quick fix, no action one can take. We were doomed to wait again. The longer you wait, the worse it gets.

Yesterday, friday, my wife was back at the hospital. The idea is, that the surgeon needs to take a look at the wound caused by the operation and control the sore for infection and so on. This he did. And then he dropped the bomb.

It isn’t cancer. The “lump” was the remains of a second oedema that had broken and collapsed. We don’t know how they formed. The surgeon had removed both offending objects on tuesday. Which was news to us. Good news, absolutely, but a little late by my reckoning. Now we merely have to wait for the natural healing process to complete itself. She’s going to be alright.

I feel both relieved and elated. This has been the worst and longest fourteen days of my life. I’ve been through the divorces, the loss of my son, disappointment of all kinds and lost comrades in arms. Nothing compares to this. I never want this kind of pain in my life again.

We were lucky this time. I realise how much I love and need my dear wife. To lose her would be to lose myself somewhere along the way.

I’m not religious, so I won’t be thanking god or anyone else. If there was a god, and he gave a hoot about us, then these things wouldn’t happen in the first place. How could an all powerful benevolent being allow this sort of thing when a simple click of his fingers would free us all of disease and other suffering?

But I have to say, for anyone out there who is suffering through anything like this, you have my deepest sympathy and my best wishes. I realise that is of little help, but I have nothing more to offer.

Believe me, I know how it feels.


Posted in General | 1 Comment »

An Earful of Milan

Posted by Exile on June 17, 2009

Milano was not the city I expected it to be. Unlike most European cities, Milano is not built on or near any great river. Everything worth seeing is spread out over the entire city, so if you want to see the sights, you have to be prepared to travel round. There is a lot to see, so we didn’t get to see it all. I did get to visit a few shoe shops, courtesy of my darling wife, and a few up-market fashion houses where browsing around feels expensive even if you don’t buy anything. I spent considerable time waiting outside these places and got a lot of involuntary sunbathing done in the process. Man, it was hot. Twenty eight in the shade and sticky like syrup. Luckily, it cools down a little in the evening.

Food and drink is as expensive as it is anywhere else in Europe. For a real bargain, go to Greece. There were not a great many restaurants around us and, as my wife is hampered by a trick knee at the moment, we had to go local. We were not exactly in the middle of Milan but found a couple of pleasant places nearby and ate heartily. We dined on spaghetti, risotto, pizza and fish. I even had a T-bone at one place. The local white wines were good. Forget the bottles, go for the house white in a jug. Steer clear of anything that looks like a restaurant anywhere close to the Cathedral. Prices are double.

We found a bar, if one could call it a bar, on the Corso Buenos Aires. This was more a collection of plastic chairs and tables stretched out along the pavement, served by a small shop front of a bar with Ice cream and booze. It was nice to just sit and watch Milan go by. Drinking beer and keeping the little lady topped up with Margueritas suited my mood perfectly after a day in the hot sun. It was during this interlude that I was attacked by a horrid little green Italian insect which flew into my ear. Literally, into my ear.

You know that ZZEEEE noise that mosquitoes make as they go past your ear? Imagine that, only fifty times louder as the bug flies around inside your head.

Being the resolute type and not given to abject terror or panic, I immediately jumped to my feet, grabbed the swizzle stick from my wife’s drink and stuck it into my ear. I then performed a dance, something like a cross between the twist and the cha-cha across the width of the pavement before me, whilst wiggling the stick in my ear and screaming “Aaaaaggh! Get out of my ear hole you little bastard..”. This was all terribly ineffective but was, at least, highly amusing for those around us and those passing by on the street. Finally the creature vacated my aural orifice and I fell back into my plastic recliner with a sigh of relief. The waiter, a charming and helpful young man, asked if there was anything he could do and I decided that more beer was the only thing that would help. If nothing else, I thought, it may dampen the memory of the dreadful assault by “Insecto Italiano”. My wife took it all with a sense of bravado and could not hide her amusement. So much for pity and sympathy, support and solace. She refused to use the swizzle stick again, though I have no explanation to offer for this and never understood why.

We did get to see the Duomo Cathedral and a few parks. We walked the centre streets. I bought a pipe. My wife bought shoes and other clothing items. We used the Metro, which is surprisingly easy and cheap to travel by. We took a few pictures.

I probably won’t revisit Milano as a tourist. As I said, it’s all very spread out. But it is a vibrant city and worth a visit. As a footnote to this travelogue I have to say, the Hotel Bagliori was comfortable, clean, well equipped and well staffed. It was not opulent nor was it expensive. If you are looking for a relatively good and cheap hotel in Milano, I can recommend it. Eat breakfast in the garden. It’s a great way to start the day.


Posted in General | Leave a Comment »

Spaghetti Milanesi

Posted by Exile on June 11, 2009

No, this is not another recipe review. My holiday starts today and I’m looking forward to a week off. It starts with a short break in Italy. Milan, to be exact. I don’t know a damn thing about Milan,  apart from it’s location in the north of Italy. In fact, I don’t really know that much about Italy. OK, it’s shaped like a boot, predominantly catholic, once ruled an empire from Rome, the pope lives there and they eat spaghetti. Which they imported from China. I was last in Italy about thirty years ago in my military days and visited Venice on the R&R days. I drank loads of wine and the currency was Lira back then. I did not buy souvenirs.

Duomo-big This time I’m going with my dear lady wife who will doubtless drag me into every shoe shop in the town and I daresay I’ll be eating spaghetti at some point. I’ll probably also try the risotto and the osse bucco, along with more wine. Italy is not famous for its beer. I may just buy a new Italian pipe. I will visit the Duomo, pictured here. Not because I’m religious in any way. It’s just that it’s so bloody big, it warrants a look-see.

I will take pictures. No point being there if you can’t document the affair somehow.

I can’t help thinking of my father when I mention Italy. He was there in the last great European war. He landed at Anzio, was nearly killed at Monte Cassino and ended the war guarding trains that travelled north and south on endless replenishment runs. He saw Mussolini’s body, hung upside down, in Rome. He saw the entire country in the run of a year or so. From Calabria in the south to the very northernmost end of Italy in the Dolomite mountains. He saw Naples, Rome, Venice, Milan and Turin and all points in between. He even learned the language and, to my surprise, never forgot it. The war ended for him on a platform in Rome at the central station.

I won’t be doing anything like that. But I will raise a glass to his memory at some point while I’m there.

See you all in a couple of days.

Posted in General | Leave a Comment »