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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Friday, 24 September 2010



Jacquie and Dawn planned to collect me at about 4.30 which was just as well as it took all of the day to prepare the discharge letters and my medication and to remove the stitches from my three drain holes, but finally all was done.

Before I was released I got a phone call from Bob, he had been transferred from York and was now at Hull in Ward 27. I checked with the Charge Nurse and he escorted me to bay 10 in the adjoining ward, it was great seeing my hospital chum and Bob was impressed to see me walking tall as I approached him. We didn't have long as, like me a week earlier; there were lots of staff needing to see him. A nice touch was that Jacquie and my sister were able to wish Bob good luck as he was being wheeled in to the lift on his way for an X-ray as they arrived to collect me.

There was grateful farewell to all the staff who had looked after me so well and it was really amazing to think that less than a week ago I could hardly sit up in bed and now I am walking down the corridors and out into the sunshine. I waited whilst Jacquie brought the car to the entrance; I had a fear that getting into the car would be painful, but not a problem. I did have to hold the seat belt away from my chest, but it was a lovely drive home and soon I was back on SKYY.

I slept much better than expected, deprived now of the all singing and dancing hospital bed, I was propped up with all the spare pillows that Jacquie could find. My Sister headed for home in the afternoon and I took my first totter around our new home, The Selby Boat Centre and its interesting collection of boats, both in and out of the water. I also met and was able to thank many of the folk who had helped Jacquie get SKYY settled in.

The only downside to the day was a call from Bob to say that his operation had been cancelled at the last moment, due to a nasal swab showing that he had picked a hospital infection at York and he was going to being sent home until the infection was cured. It was only because Bob had had his pre-med that he could laugh at the situation as he was really gutted and this would delay his operation for up to three weeks.

I continued to improve, but my appetite was diminishing and by Saturday I was having to push food in to me, this was a mistake as shortly after lunch it all forcible returned and poor Jacquie had one hell of a mess to clear up. This condition was caused by the anaesthetic working itself out of my body and for the next twenty four hours I ate nothing and drank only water as still my sense of taste was awful.

By Monday I was feeling much better and the weather was still bright and sunny, so Jacquie drove Duggie and me, with the roof down to Bridlington. Jacquie parked in the harbour car park and I was delighted to be part of the big wide world once again. The seagulls were hovering in the wind that was smashing the waves over the harbour wall and the smell of fish and chips was everywhere so that we soon succumbed. Sitting in the sunshine with a beautifully battered cod each and a portion of chips between us, this was the best tasting meal I had enjoyed for a long time, my taste buds were obviously returning to normal.

We finished of our stay with a drink, only diet coke for me, in a bar with a panoramic view of the coast, before Jacquie drove us home, with me feeling so pleased to be alive.

Not much more to blog about now, we have taken the decision to winter at Selby, everything is so convenient. The towpaths are in excellent condition and this stretch of canal is very attractive giving me plenty of reason to keep extending my walking distance. I will take advantage of the rehabilitation course at York hospital, two days a week, so that by next spring I will be fully fit and ready for cruising again.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped, offered help and shown concern over the last couple of months, and to everybody who follows this blog and a very special huge big thank you to my Jacquie, it certainly reassures your faith in the goodness of human nature and most definitely in the NHS. The excellent treatment I received and their fabulous staff were magnificent.

I probably won't be blogging much between now and the spring, but we anticipate an early cast off as soon as weather permits, when the adventures of N.B. SKYY will continue.

Friday, 17 September 2010



My memory of the next couple of days are a bit vague, but I was soon out of ITC which has a dedicated nurse to each patient and into HOB, High Observation Bay, which is a six bed bay with two nurses. During my stay in this bay I was encouraged to sit out, albeit still attached to bottles by drainage tubes. Eating and washing were also important activities and eventually the various tubes were removed except the one in the neck, allowing me to totter of to the loo supported by the wheelie stand supporting my insulin drip.

All of these activities were initially exhausting, but it was amazing how quickly strength started to return and within two days of the op. I was returned to the general ward and had my first shower, wow, now that was exhausting. My wounds were healing well and my appetite had returned and regular bedside X-rays showed that my lungs were clear. The only down side was that my observations, including blood sugar was being taken every two hours, right through the night, leading to very disturbed sleep.

The following photo, taken on my phone shows me enjoying the current edition of Canal Boat magazine.

Jacquie's B&B was great and she was able to leave Duggie playing with her hosts two dogs whilst she was visiting me. On Tuesday my Sister, Dawn arrived. Jacquie collected her from the nearby station and brought her to visit me, following which they both returned to SKYY at her new mooring. Almost as soon as they had gone the insulin drip and the line in my neck was taken out and as I was now free from all encumbrances I was able to prove to the physio that I could walk the corridors and manage the stairs up and down. On this basis the decision was taken to discharge me late tomorrow. Hooray! almost a month to the day from my admission to York Hospital I was going to be released and one day within the anticipated seven days after surgery, yippee!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010



I was scheduled for the second sitting or more appropriately second laying. Jacquie arrived at 9.30 and then commenced the long wait until my trolley arrived at 1.30. I was starving, but my hunger was soon forgotten as several needles were inserted in my arm and then the mask descended.

Jacquie popped her head into Intensive Care Unit at about 9pm, having already been told that operation was a success and three grafts had been made. However she didn't stay long as I was still on a ventilator and not yet ready to chat.



Today I was to be transferred to Castle Hill Hospital at Hull. I had had swabs taken from up my nose, armpit and groin to hopefully prove that I wasn't incubating anything nasty, but ward experience had taught me not to expect anything to happen until it happened and when Sister Sara said "Your transport will be here within the next ten minutes or four hours" that pretty much summed it up. As it happened it was within the hour and when the ambulance crew complete with wheel chair came to collect me there was a rush of goodbyes to my fellow patients, especially Bob, who I hoped to see in Hull on the following Tuesday and of course the wonderful nursing staff, with hugs, chaste kisses and a few tears. They are stars, every one of them.

It had been decided that Jacquie wouldn't visit today; she had made arrangements for two chaps from the Selby Boat Centre to help her move SKYY from her birth beside the lock to an on line mooring at the Centre. About half a mile away. Here it should be possible to pick up a TV signal, but more importantly SKYY could be plugged into mains electricity, thereby saving having to run the engine for several hours a day.

Before being snugged into her new home, which would be with another narrow boat breasted along side us SKYY was pumped out and filled up with diesel ready for my return.

I arrived at Castle Hill about one hour after leaving York and was wheeled into a very smart two storey state of the art Cardiac Unit and was made very welcome by both the staff and residents of bay three ward 26. The other three residents were all post operative and it was very encouraging to see how well they were doing.

The big surprise was when I was told that my operation was being brought forward to tomorrow. Less time to worry about it for me, but Jacquie wasn't planning to decamp to Hull until tomorrow by which time I could be on the operating table. Jacquie had made arrangements for her and Duggie to stay in a dog friendly B&B close to the hospital. Fortunately a call to the B&B confirmed that it would be fine to arrive a day earlier. Jacquie coped with the pressure of ensuring she had everything packed in time to get to visit me that evening and without getting too lost found her way to the welcoming B&B.

During the afternoon I had more swabs taken, had all the risks explained by a Doctor and the odds of surviving the operation were about 97%, had a chat with the anaesthetist and the Doctor who would be removing the donor vein from my leg and stitching me back up afterwards and finally Mr Choudary, the surgeon who would be doing the actual grafting, scuse the pun. After all that I was supposed to sleep well, but surprisingly I did.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010



During this period Bob and I settled down to wait patiently for our forthcoming operations and would invite new admissions to join our little clique. John came in and immediately isolated himself via head phones and his notebook computer. It took us a little while to realise that John was still in a state of shock following his heart attack, but being a fellow Scot along with Bob, he started to talk about what had happened to him and eventually he was relating to the rest of the ward.

It was intriguing though, that just before John was going to be transferred to Leeds for a Pace Maker implant, a relatively simple procedure, and he said “I don’t know if I really need this implant operation" considering that he was only alive because his wife had been a nurse and had administered CPR until the ambulance had arrived we assumed that his comment was due to his fear of the procedure. We took it upon ourselves to assure him that the alternative to not having his procedure could be fatal and packed him off to Leeds with our good wishes.

Back at Selby interesting things were happening and Jacquie was right at hand to capture the action on camera. A full size tree had been brought off the River Ouse, hauled through the lock and up to the side of the basin. It was too heavy to be lifted out in one piece, so Nigel and Jim the BW lengths men, assisted by Fred the lock keeper pulled it out of the water as far as possible and gradually reduced it in size and loaded it onto the truck bit by bit.

The following picture is of Fred relaxing in his Lock Keepers hut and a couple of SKYY showing her safely moored up beside the lock. I take this opportunity to publicly thank him and his BW colleagues for their help and assurance that they gave Jacquie. Another example of how BW staff at the sharp really do go the extra mile when the need arrives

Over the weekend Joy, a long time friend of Jacquie's, arrived from West London at York railway station in time for visiting, a very welcome companion for Jacquie for a couple of nights and a fresh visitor for me who came bearing chocolate, naughty!

Another thing had happened to Jacquie that I had forgotten to blog, on the previous Monday our new 100ah alternator failed to start charging. Jacquie called RCR and within a couple of hours they had an engineer out, Jacquie is getting used to playing the 'Woe is me' role. He used our jump leads from the car and showed Jacquie how to link the starter and domestic batteries, but only whilst the engine was running. She would have to run the engine for considerable longer than usual, but at 9am on Thursday another engineer turned up and fitted a replacement alternator making only a very modest charge. Again congratulations to RCR for handling this situation so promptly and considerately.

Monday, 6 September 2010



Before I continue to relate the alternate adventures of Cap’n Mac, which will have a happy ending, my thanks to Carol and George of Rock’n’Roll and to Sue & Vic of Retirement No Problem for their good wishes through ‘Comments’. Also to Clive Davies aka Swampy, who I met on the Aston Canal in 2008, on my first and last attempt to fish. Congratulation on your purchase of Widget and good fortune in restoring her over the next few months and I look forward to catching sight of you and Wychcraft next year.

The days roll on, the regular appearance of nurse with the blood pressure machine and then the drugs trolley become high points of the day and an opportunity for a little cheeky banter. All conversation stops when food arrives and it is surprisingly good, best described as school dinners on a really good day.

The most important thing to happen in this period was on Friday when I was visited by Mr Choudary, Hulls Heart Head Honcho at Castle Hill Hospital. I was expecting his visit in the afternoon and Jacquie had prepared a list of questions to ask and intended to be there, however he arrived mid morning and without wasting time explained that it would have to be a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, usually referred to as Cabbage. In my case four bypasses were required, but it might not be possible to carry them all out, in the meantime it was thought best to keep me in hospital until I would be transferred to Castle Hill Hospital in Hull.

Whilst Jacquie was visiting that afternoon Sister came around with the news that I was booked in for surgery on the 27th of August and would be transferred to Hull on the 25th, now we can start planning.

There were four other patients in my bay and every now and then somebody got to go home. Tom from Selby left to be replaced by the larger than life George, 83 and forever breaking into song. Peter, considerable younger than me, had been in for over five weeks. He was on a six week course of IV antibiotic drip every four hours night and day. If at the end of this treatment his MRSA infection had cleared up he would be transferred to Leeds to replace a failing a ten year old pig valve with a metal one. Fortunately Pete's zany sense of humour matched mine and we became the cheeky chappies/grumpy old men of Ward 32.

Jacquie’s isolation was broken towards the end of the week by the arrival of her son Ashley and at the weekend, Justine, Ashley's girlfriend also arrived. The weather was good and they managed to enjoy a visit to Castle Howard before brightening my day. Jacquie also brought the camera into the ward and took a picture of me trying to get the blog up to the point when we got SKYY back to Selby

Bob arrived on the ward and instantly we became the Three Amigos, but shortly afterwards Pete was transferred to Leeds for his Op. However by now Bob and I had discovered that we had so much in common, our interests, life’s tragedies and our attitude to life and mostly an aversion to bed pans, that we became our own support group, plus Jacquie and Bob's partner, Christine, hit it off so well that we know our friendship will last long after recovery.

Sunday, 5 September 2010



By now I felt fine, no pain and I was being well looked after, I had been transferred to the general coronary ward and at some point I had a scan of my heart taken, just like a pregnant mum only I didn’t get to keep any pictures. Jacquie was coping well. She had hired a car to get to and fro for visiting time and the lock keepers at Selby had moved SKYY from the visitors mooring and into the basin close to the long term moorings. There was a water point and hose right along side, but no electricity, but SKYY could stay there for as long as necessary.

During the weekend Jacquie returned the hire car to Enterprise in Leamington Spa and got a taxi back to Wigrams Turn Marina to collect our car. As expected, after four months the battery was flat, but Don the Harbour Master jump started the car and Jacquie’s first stop was Halfords in Daventry for a new battery to be fitted. That done Jacquie headed up to Nottingham to stay the night with Ann and Brian and arrived back in York in time to visit me and this time with Duggie who obviously had nearly forgotten who I was, unfaithful little fella.

On Monday morning I was sent down for an Angiogram, the first I knew of it was when Sister dropped one of those flappy open back gowns and a pair of paper knickers on my bed and said are you OK to shave your groin, sadly I had to admit that I probably could manage on my own, so no fun to be had there then.

In the very high tech visual imagining suite, they insert a tube up the femoral artery from the groin right into the heart and at various stages a dye is introduced into the blood stream, the progress of which is monitored via several X Ray screens. The way the dye travels through and around the hearts arteries indicates where the problems are. In my case there were two completely blocked coronary arteries and a couple of others that were 80% blocked. Something would have to be done but at this stage the Doctor performing the procedure wasn’t willing to confirm the way forward, but said that the heart specialists at both Hull and Leeds hospitals would confer on Friday and decide on the best way forward.

Nothing for it but to be made a model patient and patiently wait until Friday.



Here we are again, not cruising yet but an explanation for the delay in continuing our return journey south is called for.

Unfortunately at approximately 5.30 on Tuesday morning I started to experience chest pain which continued to increase until I realised Jacquie needed to call for an ambulance.

I was diagnosed with angina twelve years ago and had got used to managing the pain, understanding that pain was the heart telling me to slow down or stop whatever it was that I was doing. However last Friday whilst I was filling SKYY with water at Boroughbridge unexpectedly pain kicked in and for the first time ever it did not go away when I sat down.

By the time Jacquie returned from the shops the pain had gradually subsided, but I was left feeling a bit shaky. After a rest I felt OK enough to start on our return to York and after a few hours we arrived safely and happily I was still feeling OK.

I had a very lazy weekend in York, with Jacquie taking over all dog walking responsibilities. I realised that I needed to visit a doctors and that it was possible that I would be sent to hospital for tests, but I didn't want to leave Jacquie and the boat vulnerable on a river that was prone to flooding. On Monday morning I felt fine and we returned to the safety of the Selby Canal.

My intention to visit the doctors in Selby on Tuesday was rendered obsolete as the ambulance drew up right alongside SKYY and seemingly in no time at all we arrived at the emergency entrance of the York Hospital at about 6am. The pain had subsided after several sprays of GTN, and after a short stay in A&E I was transferred by trolley to the Acute Medical Unit on the second floor, for further observations. Around about lunch time and surprisingly I was looking forward to it, well, I had missed out on breakfast, I was informed by Ann, Sister of the Critical Care Unit that I ticked enough boxes to be admitted to her ward. By wheel chair this time Ann took me up to the top floor and the moment I arrived I was wired up and told not to move, but press the red button for what ever I might need. My scepticism that a bottle made out of recycled egg boxes could hold a liquid was ill founded, which was good news considering that 'not moving' meant exactly that.

I was in CCU for 48 hours whilst they decided that I was out of risk of another attack. Blood tests confirmed that I had experienced a mild heart attack and that I should be kept in for further tests. I obviously won’t be back on SKYY for a while yet and regrettably there are no photos as Jacquie forgot to pick up the camera as I was being lead out to the ambulance, you just can’t the staff!!!