10 August 2022

My last blog ended with not being sure whether I could travel to UK because of last minute heart surgery. In the event all went as planned. I arrived early at the Pepin Institute where I was immediately wired up to all manner of monitors while I watched inane TV until 1:30pm the time of my operation. The surgeon I was expecting got transferred to deal with an emergency so I was dealt with by another surgeon. This was good because he was versed in modern techniques and was able to access the heart via my wrist rather than groin. The expected recovery time would be short and I would be able to travel whereas the other surgeon though senior could only enter via the groin and this would have meant changing my travel plans. I was awake for the op having being slightly numbed and did not feel a thing. Apparently they enter an artery via the wrist and send a probe to the heart. They confirmed that the RCA was completely blocked but also found that the collateral vessel which had been created over the years was working well and that the blood pressure either side of the blockage was sufficient to serve the heart with adequate blood.

Back in my room I had to wait for hours while being monitored. When they did eventually remove the tubing from my wrist I started bleeding again and thus was delayed another few hours before being released home by taxi. In fact the driver took me to O’Briens to celebrate! I had the next day off to recover and then flew to UK on the Wednesday. I was collected at the airport by my youngest brother Richard and their son, Daniel. In fact Daniel saw me before my brother! Richard and his wife Camille are looking after our mum who is living with Alzheimer’s.

The reason for my trip was two-fold: visiting mum and my house in Sheffield prior to selling to the tenant.

Mum was clearly not well but it was great to spend serious time with her and to experience at first hand the excellent care she is receiving from both professionals and family. I was blessed to be visited by brother Pete and Gill while I was there on my first visit. Mum and I did a few trips out which I will remember even if mum will not. When I first got to Richard’s house in Woking I realised I had not packed my US driving licence. I contacted my lodger who was able to send it over to UK. in the event I had packed my UK driving licence so the car hire could proceed.

I was in Sheffield for about 10 days and during that time I stayed with Kieron, a friend and fellow musician. Each day I visited the house to check which items I needed to dispose of and which I needed to send back to USA. In the event my tenant made life very easy for me. In addition to agreeing on the sale price he also made me an offer I could not refuse for the contents. He still got a bargain out of this but I had less to worry about. I was able to offload a few things to friends and family. I was also able to sell the organ to Wyvern Organs!

My birthday fell during my stay in Sheffield and as luck would have it my brother Chris and his wife Sue would be up north the previous day and my twin had agreed to drive down from Durham so the four of us booked into a Sicilian restaurant for a celebration meal. Andy and I exchanged cards and (of course) even managed to buy each other the same card!

Andy followed me back home and took away a car load of music history books and other equipment.

It was good to be back in Sheffield, to be able to visit old haunts and meet up with friends. Thanks to neighbours Inderjit and Kathy, Andrew and Ruth. I also managed to visit Helen and Gary, Ali and Pippa.

I returned to Woking for a few more days with mum before flying back to UK. I was happy to have seen all my brothers during my time there. Unfortunately somewhere along the route I had damaged the hire car and had to pay extra for the repair.

It was the start of June when I returned to work. I would spend the last week of June in Louisville at the Pastoral Musicians Convention. Normally I am not much impressed by the content of the convention but this time both content and time spent with friends were excellent. The Convention lasted 5 days Monday to Friday. My very early morning flight from Tampa was delayed because the crew’s shuttle from the hotel arrived late! This meant that I lost my connection at Baltimore and had to wait 14 hours for the onward flight. I went out of airside to complain and seek compensation. In addition to a paltry $40 food voucher I got a further $600 travel voucher … result! Time passed and I left Baltimore at 11:30pm reaching the hotel at 1:30am! Fortunately my return flight was direct and uneventful.

I had only been back in Tampa a few days when one of the friends I spent time with on the last night of the Convention rang me to say that she had tested positive for Covid. Moments later so had I. This meant I had 5 days isolation in the sun … not a bad result. Day 1 was 4 July, a national holiday, and Days 3 and 4 were normal days off. I was still testing positive by the weekend but went in to work masked. It was a week later that I finally tested negative and was able to join friends in the bar.

Over the summer months of July and August carried on working at the church but also managed to prepare my ‘New Wine’ Mass for publication. This should have been a simple process of merging created files into one publication but technology created a few challenges and it took longer than expected. I returned to teaching 3 students at Jesuit High School where I was contracted to serve during the summer break. For the last month all my lawn mowers and strimmers have been at the repairers so the grass has grown considerable in the back yard. The weather has been glorious and I have been able to enjoy days off there. I also managed a few kayak trips but experienced problems which led to me taking the kayak in for repair too.

Two weeks ago I took on a cleaner via an agency. The first visit dealt with the downstairs and as I type the second visit is focussing on the upstairs. From the sound of things she is giving the ensuite a major clean.

My greatest news has been that my brother Chris will visit me in Tampa in January. I can’t wait for this and plan to spend as much time with him as possible. More of that in a future blog.

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