I had the first of my pre-op assessments this week – the Hepatic (Liver) one. It was brief.

Normally, I was told, a combined resection would be too much to consider. A liver resection is just too big a thing to contemplate combining it with anything else. There are too many (1 in 5) cases of re-intervention required due to blood and bile leakages. The risks are compounded.

I thought he was on his way to rescinding the ‘offer’ of a simultaneous resection but no – that was just his build-up. Funny how many social interactions come across as theatre.

In fact, the lesion on my liver is nicely placed. It’s on the edge and will require just one segment to be removed. Makes me sound like a Terry’s Orange but I can get over that. Normally, the liver would require an ‘L’ shaped cut under and around the right breast. The bowel is a cut from the groin to the navel. They’ll have a discussion, of course, but the plan is currently to extend the stomach access wound up to the chest, open it like a flap and slice out the offending piece of liver.

I also found out they operate on Thursdays. So it makes sense that if I check into hosptial on Weds August 26th I will be down for work the next day. Apparently it’s big enough that I get top billing on the day, and anyway the estimate is that I’ll be in there for 6-10 hours. After that, they put me in intensive care for a day or two, and then into a half-way thing where it’s one nurse per two patients, then out to the general ward. I’ll be on an epidural for the first few days. “Think of an orifice”, said my nurse, “and we’ll be sticking a tube into it”. I told my family that. They pointed out that my eyes are also orifices. I tried without success to make a quasi-philosophical defence based on the hierarchy of the senses, but abandoned that quickly as I realised it was without tenure. I instead retorted that as I would have additional orifices over and above the norm, then technically I had as many orifices plugged as would be deemed a “full set”. It’s all about the frequency, Kenneth.

Anyway, enough about our dinner table chit-chat.

It looks like my hospital stay would be around the upper end of 10-15 days. After that, I can expect to be as weak as the proverbial baby cat for another 2 to 3 months. I guess we have to have to wait and see what that means in practice. I don’t know squat about visiting arrangements, but would imagine it’s 1 person max at a time when in IC, and then a bit more relaxed when I get onto general ward, probably sometime week starting bank holiday Monday 31st.

Back in the other world, I noticed belatedly that Aeronwy Thomas died aged 66 from cancer around a week ago. She was the second child and only daughter of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife, Caitlin. She was in New York not so very long ago, and mentioned the Chelsea Hotel and The White Horse Tavern as haunts of her father. I’d like to claim the latter as one of my haunts too. It would be nice to be there now, and raise a glass to the fallen.

I will give you two pieces of music to close out this post. Both are from a live recording by John Cale dating from 1992. The first, in honour of my forthcoming operation, is Guts. The second, in memory of Aeronwy, is a setting of her father’s poem to music and the title of this post.

John Cale – Guts – fragments of a rainy season (1992)

There should never be holes at all.

John Cale – Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed – fragments of a rainy season (1992)

Open a pathway through the slow sad sail,
Throw wide to the wind the gates of the wandering boat
For my voyage to begin to the end of my wound,
We heard the sea sound sing, we saw the salt sheet tell.
Lie still, sleep becalmed, hide the mouth in the throat,
Or we shall obey, and ride with you through the drowned.

Dylan Thomas “Deaths and Entrances” (1946)