ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for July, 2008

SPEEDY GONZALES


postcard©adrienne seed

SPEEDY GONZALES

I am so excited, I can’t tell you. I am actually going to Mexico for ten days as a representative of Body Positive North West for the 2008 World Aids conference. I intend to network like mad and do my bit, especially in regard to the situation regarding positive women and I will post any information on this very site and keep you informed of the latest outcomes. That’s unless of course I get sidetracked and end up in an adobe drinking tequila like Speedy Gonzales.

La la la la la la la la la – you’d better come home Speedy Gonzales

It has always been my dream to go to Mexico, as it was for my mother and I promised to take her there, a promise I failed to fulfil. I never dreamed I’d end up going under these circumstances, but there you go – out of the bad comes the good and everything happens for a reason. At least that’s what my mum always said and I’m sure she will be there with me in spirit. I will light a candle for her in the magnificent cathedral in Mexico City and also one for my son Ben, who by supporting me in my decision to go public about my status is enabling me to fulfil another dream of mine, which is by raising awareness and promoting prevention or securing financial support in order to help find a cure, we can somehow bring an end to this dreadful disease called AIDS.

‘Climb every mountain…… ford every stream….. follow every rainbow,….till you find your dream.’

I don’t know whether it’s purely psychological but I do seem to be feeling a lot chirpier (not to mention speedier) on my new combination of meds and not so down and depressed, but maybe that’s the excitement of my pending trip to Mexico. Although apparently, I was not alone suffering with depression, because according to a recent article in the Observer (Sunday July 27) one in six of us can expect to experience depression, however briefly, at some point in our lives, and I would say you could double that statistic for those of us who are HIV positive, whether we are on the meds, as anti-retrovirals as opposed to anti-depressants, or not.

Doctors these days are all too handy at doling out anti-depressants, but I for one refused to take them, although I did carry them around in my bag for months, especially after the death of my beloved mum and I do accept the fact that sometimes they are a neceassary but hopefully temporary solution. I personally felt that I did not want anymore chemicals coursing through my veins and tried to combat my depression through other means – and it seems I was right to do this, because according to the article in the Observer, changes in our lifetsyle can be as effective as drugs for depression.

In her controversial new book, Professor Jane Plant, a chief scientific adviser to the government, advocates that instead of just popping ‘happy pills’ to overcome depression, we should take much simpler steps, such as smiling more, even if we are feeling down.

‘Smiling is a way of tricking your brain into thinking that everything’s OK, even if it’s not,’ said Plant.

Well, Ms Plant, I like to think my brain is not so stupid that it could be fooled by me smiling like an idiot when really I feel like crying, or by pulling funny faces at it. Anyway, my brain is not so easily tricked. When I tell it it doesn’t want to light up a camel, it just goes behind my back and gets its crafty accomlice, my cunning hand, to take one out of the packet and put it in my mouth.

And that doesn’t only apply with camels!

Ms Plant goes on to advise us to send fewer text messages and communicate face to face. Well, that’s ok by me. It takes me hours to painstakingly tap them in anyway – and then I usually lose them. Sufferers of depression are also encouraged to increase their intake of mood-boosting chemicals. I was starting to get a bit worried when I read that, thinking she was referring to recreational drugs. But no, it was haddock and kippers – unless I am mistaken here and there is a new drug on the club scene with a smily face called ‘happy haddock,’ or a new version of ketamine called ‘kippermene.’

To cheer ourselves up, we are also encouraged to improve our appearance by getting a new hairstyle, buying new clothes and wearing make-up, because this can improve our self-confidence.
                                                                                                                                                             We are also advised to eat porridge, but only last thing at night.

Well, those scots have got it wrong then, haven’t they – remember that advert for Scots porridge oats – ‘Start off the day with piping hot porridge oats.’

The Scots, who along with the Quakers are the world experts on porridge, don’t say anything about having your oats last thing at night. Although, in some parts of the country, I believe this is viewed as part of their conjugal rights by some husbands – and yet I know for a fact that most women don’t like having to have their oats first thing in the morning, especially if they’ve just woken up and need to go for a pee. I speak from experience on this matter, because although I am not Scottish myself and neither am I a Quaker, (apart from in my proverbial boots), my ex husband had his share of Scottish blood and he had to have his oats anywhere he could get them and time was irrelevant. For him it was anytime of the day or night and with whoever happened to be around – and unfortunately it wasn’t always me.

If you are a crossword lover, the anagram of scots porridge oats is – ‘digest, craps or toots,’ which seems quite applicable. You can also make – ‘pert tits do go across’ – which doesn’t really make sense, does it.

Across where? Across your heart with a living bra – another old advert for the Playtex bra, which promised to lift and separate. Chance would be a fine thing. It would take more than a Playtex bra to lift my bosoms and as for seperating them, well I don’t think that would be very fair to them at this stage in the game. They’ve been together for far too long. Talking of bosoms, I do hope Dolly, the hurricane hovering over Mexico has buggered off by now.

During the Second World War, my dad and his fellow navigators had a secret expression which acted as a kind of code and which for some reason always had to be said with a Scottish accent. This was probably to confuse the enemy, as a Scottish accent can confuse most people at the best of times.

It went like this – ‘When the moonlight flits, across her tits, oh Jesus Christ Almighty.’

I never did find out what this illusive expression actually meant, but that was my dad for you. Keeping the oath of secrecy and true to his country till the end.

I should really have left well alone there with the anagrams, but as usual I had to go and take it one step further and when I was asked if I’d like to make an anagram of my name, I went ahead and clicked.

These chilling words flashed up on my screen – IN SERENE DEAD.

Well, I didn’t like the sound of that, so I quickly typed in my middle name which is Jennifer and it came up with – JEER IN DEAFENED SINNER.

Things seemed to be going from bad to worse, so I tried only using the initial J and got – DEADEN IN JEERS.

I couldn’t leave it at that, so I typed in my old married surname. Now, that was more like it – UNCHAINED JERK.

At least that made sense and was totally fitting in regard to the unchained bit, as in me being a divorced woman – and as for the jerk, say no more, but that’s why I’m divorced.

The next piece of Trinny and Susannah like advice to cheer ourselves up after getting a new hairstyle, putting on some make-up, eating kippers and going dancing, but presumably not all at the same time, was to start playing games. That seemed logical enough, but then they went and ruined it by advocating dominoes. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’d just had my hair done and tarted myself up, the last thing I’d fancy is a game of dominoes. When I think of dominoes, I either picture a rotten pizza, or a group of flat capped old men, sitting in the vault of their local northern pub, knocking on, as they say in the trade, as opposed to knocking off – or even knocking up, slang for getting off with someone. Incidentally, did you know that after an hysterectomy, the empty womb is called the vault, which for me, having that kind of mentality, immediately conjured up rude connotations of penises and pole vaulting, which I would imagine is a bit like playing tents. Although I would think most men who play dominos probably haven’t done any pole vaulting for years – and the only vault they would happen to frequent is in their local pub.

As for eating kippers, the very mention of a kipper depresses me, never mind the act of actually ingesting one, as they remind me of cooking breakfast for my ex husband, who also had a penchant for faggots, as in the kind you eat, although I don’t know what he’s into these days or what kind of sexual exploits he gets up to – and neither do I want to.

I don’t really like smoked things, as in ham or fish, although I’ve smoked enough camels in my time. With my forthcoming trip to Mexico and long air flight ahead, I have been trying to cut down, so instead of the usual herd, I’ve only allowed myself the odd dromedary or two.

A Dromedary is the most common kind of camel and only has one hump – in other words, a bit like us if we have suffered the body fat changes of lipodostrophy. Dromedaries are large even-toed ungulates, noted for their thick eyelashes and small hairy ears. They are also prone to spit and pee, which sounds uncannily like my son. If you want to remember the difference between the two species of camel – a Bactrian camel has two humps – so it is a B on its side and a Dromedary only has one hump, so it is a D on its side. Don’t say you never learn anything on the hivine.

Camel wrestling, in some countries, although not as far as I know in Lancashire, was once a common sport, although the popularity of the sport is declining in recent years due to the fact that camels are retromingents, in other words, animals that urinate backwards – or likewise, men coming home from a rugby match, who have downed one pint too many and can pee backwards, side wards, or any which way, apart from in the toilet.

As a normal rule, ‘aliens’ who are HIV positive are not allowed to enter The United States of America, but because twenty thousand people will be descending on Mexico city for the conference, quite a few of whom will be positive and will have to transit through America, they have finally deigned to pass an official waiver, although we do have to declare our status. I was getting really worried about having to tell a lie, or having to hide my medication. Someone suggested I should adopt an Amy Winehouse type hairstyle and hide all my meds in my hair. Fortunately, I won’t have to do this, anyway to be honest, unless I incorporated a hairpiece, I wouldn’t be able to hide anything under my thinning locks.

I will miss my garden whilst I am away and the flourishing of my newly planted blooms, although I fear I have over planted somewhat in an effort to make up for my impending hysterectomy and the fact that I will soon be a barren field. Most of all I will miss the blooming of my sweat peas, but then again, thanks to these new meds, I seem to be doing enough sweat peeing of my own – and in regard to bloomers, I might just have to resort to wearing a Tema Lady in mine.

I am also going to miss the next two episodes of ‘Last Choir Standing,’ as much as I will miss my own community choir, Blackburn People’s Choir, who have been an unending source of solace and support to me, both before and after ‘coming out’, which I did in grand style when we sang at the vigil at Blackburn Cathedral, after which I received a lovely letter from our PD saying, ‘You weren’t to know this Adrienne, but the original touch of red in the choir’s uniform, was the red ribbon, the international symbol for HIV/AIDS.’

Ben, my son and I, have taken to enjoying regular jaunts to the beautiful countryside that surrounds us and on Sunday we went up to Pendle Hill, home of the Lancashire Witches, where the local bus is called the Witch hopper. I really am of a mind now to try to enjoy each and every moment and it is an unaccustomed pleasure to be able to share these moments with my son. On the way home, we stopped at a village shop, noted for its homemade ice cream and I was recounting the tale of what happened the last time I was there with my two close friends Erik and Anne, when an old lady, who had escaped from the nearby old folks home, had climbed in the car and refused to get out, begging us not to send her back.
“Thank God I’m not in old folks home,” I said to Ben, giving a good impersonation of someone who had just escaped from one with ice cream dribbling down my chin, “And if it ever comes to that, I will just stop taking my Meds.”
“Don’t worry mum,” Ben reassured me, “It will never come to that, because I will always look after you.”
                                                                                                                                                            I am so proud of my son for accepting me with my HIV and everything that goes with it, although it took me five years for me to pluck up the courage to tell him.
                                                                                                                                              Unconditional love is what most mothers feel for their sons, no matter how bad they’ve been, or what pain they’ve put you through – and now it seems for me it is pay back time, for by accepting me, he has shown unconditional love in return – the ultimate gift.

To end on a comedic note, at the support group for positive women I have recently started in Blackburn, we were talking about contraception, safe sex etc. and for some reason, I pronounced vagina, Vageeeena, much to the mirth of the girls, who wouldn’t let it drop and kept taking the mickey out of me. So on that happy note, I am now off to preeeeemark to buy some tee shirts to wear in Mexico.

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A Beautiful Day

Just to wish you all a beautiful day and thank you for visiting – let your little light shine!

New link to ‘The Pansy Project’ -a website and blog in solidarity and support to the victims of homophobia

Gone with the Wind


picture:sirocco moon©adrienne seed

Well, you’ll be pleased to know, or at least I am pleased announce, that after prevaricating for so long I finally plucked up the courage to change my medication. I took the capsules by the horns, swallowed my pride along with the new combination, bit the bullet – and by the size of some of them that’s exactly what it felt like and finally ingested my new battalion of ‘soldiers’.

It took some courage, I can tell you, because who knew how this new regiment was going to affect me, both physically and psychologically. I remembered only too well the hallucogenic and psychedelic visions my first combination caused my already surrealistic psyche. But even for me, it was stretching my sanity to its limits, when for some reason, best known to itself, my body suddenly transformed into a paddle steamer and there I was, doing the backstroke down the Mississippi wearing a huge pair of boxing gloves – although I’ve never been to the deep south and neither can I spell Mississippi without the help of the spell-check tool. The Leeds Liverpool canal might have been a more logical option (at least I can spell that) or Lancashire’s picturesque River Ribble, doing the doggy paddle (which is about all I can manage) sporting a pair of yellow marigolds as opposed to boxing gloves.

Anyway, I’m a pacifist, I hate fighting of any kind so I didn’t fancy being back in the hallucogenic ring, so to speak, getting knocked out for the count or bounced against the ropes by Rocky 1,2,or 3, although undoubtably that would be the stuff of some women’s dreams. But not me, even if Rocky was calling out my name, or at least my namesake, spitting, ‘Adrienne Adrienne’, through his bloodied lips and snorting through his bloody nose – Stallone could keep his bloody nose out of it as far as I was concerned.

Anyway, Boxing is an unladylike sport, usually indulged in by men and dating way back to the times of Homer’s Iliad, which contains the first detailed account of a ‘box’ fight. Although another Greek legend holds that the heroic ruler Theseus invented a form of boxing, which has since become the mainstay of many a modern marriage, in which the two participants sit face to face and beat each other with their fists (or alternatively their tongues) until one of them is killed. But then again, boxers are prohibited from hitting below the belt, so nothing like a fight between a modern day husband and wife then.

Incidentally, if you’ve ever wondered why boxer’s wear their shorts so high up, it’s because the opponent is not allowed to hit the groin area. Was Simon Cowell a boxer in his pre X factor life, or
did he wear his trousers up to his armpits because he was scared one of the contestants, or a contestant’s mother, might give him a well placed right hook in the groin?

Anyway, after enduring that ‘bad trip’ with my first meds, you can see why I was so reluctant to embark on my new regime, although it hadn’t stopped there. My whimsical body, bored with being a female Rocky impersonator, or a southern belle and probably starting to feel a bit peckish, then decided to turn my hands and feet into a canteen of cutlery. My feet were silver forks with long,
extended prongs, or tines if you must, whilst my disembodied hands morphed into an interesting combination of both spoon and fork.

I have always believed this surreal Dali-esque utensil to have been a product of my chemically induced imagination, but now I find such an item of cutlery does actually exist and it is known as a ‘spork.’ There is also the ‘spife,’ a spoon and a knife – and a ‘knork,’ a knife and a fork, although I don’t don’t how you would pronounce that without it sounding like a derogitary comment – he was a real knork, as in annorak.

If you are a lover of takeaways, there are also the ‘forkchops,’ something my neighbour Willo is sick of the sight of, as her Chinese daughter in law and family are staying over from Hong Kong and that is all they will eat.

Last, but not least, there is the multifunctional ‘Splayd,’ a cleverly designed combination of all three, allegedly invented in Australia. The word ‘Splayd’ is a combination of “Spoon” and “blade”, but in fact the real ‘Splayd,’ just to totally serve (no pun intended) to confuse us, also incorporates a fork, which according to those in the know down under, makes it an extremely flexible eating utensil. I can almost hear you yawning, but to allay any confusion between a splayd and a spork, in Australia, where they must not have a lot to talk about other than sheep and items of cutlery, most Australian’s do not make a distinction between the two and will use the term ‘Splayd’ to refer to both items. The Aussies further profess that it can be used for eating all kinds of foods such as stew, fruits and deserts, but is not so efficient for soups.

Hello you Aussies…. who would use a fork for eating soup? Pass me a spork will ya Sheila so I can eat me roo soup.

Anyway, to get back to the point, by the time the full effects of my first meds had set in, I’d felt like I’d been sporked, spifed and splayd all at once – which sounds like a good night out in Australian terms. Interestingly enough, during the course of my research I found there is an actual ‘Splayd festival’ in Sheffield, which according to the website has nothing whatsoever to do with knives and forks but features folk music and beyond – whatever that means. Is this coincidental Sheffield being famous for cutlery?
.
Before I embarked on my brand new medication, of course I’d asked advice from all and sundry and talked to other positive people at great length, only to become more and more confused dot com. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing sometimes.
‘Oh, I was on that combination and it sent me loopy; watch out, that one made me suicidal, gave me spots, thin legs, terrible wind, a buffalo hump.’

Do you think you could get one of those from smoking too many camels?

Everyone I spoke to seemed to be on a completely different combination. One guy, who was just about to embark on the Meds – sounds like he was about to go off on his hols to the south of France but anything less like I have to say, was invited to choose his own combination from the chart, so he chose on the basis of colour.
I have only ever encountered one other person who was on the same combination as me.
‘How come?’ I asked my specialist, who informed me that mine was an old drug.
Well, I didn’t like the sound of that. ‘Exactly how old?’ I asked. Had I been taking medicine that was past its sell by date and why was I still on it when there were so many new and apparently better drugs on the market?

The answer in a nutshell was – it was working for me wasn’t it, so why try to fix what wasn’t broken. Why indeed, but then again, if there was a vague chance of me getting my bottom back I was going to go for it, wasn’t I. I’d be a bottomless fool not to.

I’d been in actual possession of the new combination of meds since before Christmas, some of which, according to the instructions on the bottle, had to be kept in the fridge, so they’d been residing there since the festive season and had a well preserved brussel sprout frozen to the side of the bottle to prove it. I prized off the frozen sprout, laid the new pills out on a saucer, then moved in for the kill. I circled them like a dog. I nudged them around the saucer, not with my nose I hasten to add, then I backed off, whimpering. I slunk back sideways, giving them the once over out of the corner of my eye, then circled the saucer some more in ever decreasing circles. I picked one up and
put it straight back down again. I couldn’t do it; I was a yellow belly, a snivelling coward.

I grabbed my mobile and tried to call the clinic to ask for a new supply of my old friend Trizivir, but the line was constantly engaged. There was no alternative, I had to get them down my neck, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put them in my mouth, because once it’s in, as the actress said to the bishop, you can’t get it out till its done its dirty work.

The ironing, that’s what I’d do instead, something I never, ever did unless I was trying to avoid something else. But it was no good, I laid down my iron. I might just as well brand myself with it as a deserter. I tapped an urgent Morse code message on my Motorola to Captain Cath, my main ally, who was on guard at the checkout at Asda, after valiantly fighting her way through the queue to the front line. SOS I texted – to which she immediately replied, what for?

Leaving her roll backs, not to mention her roll ups behind, she charged directly to my barracks, where my second in command Private Benjamin, number one son, was deeply ensconced in the trenches i.e. the sofa, eating his meagre rations, or should I say mega rations, of a fry up with two eggs sunny side up and rattling his tin cup for some more tea.

The time had come, no more excuses. It was now or never. Without further ado I grabbed the first huge pill and tossed it to the back of my throat.
‘One down,’ I spluttered triumphantly from the galley.
‘Well done mum,’ Private Benjamin rallied from his dug out, ‘Is there anymore HP sauce?’
‘Hang on a minute son,’ I’ve trained myself, although it was hard, not to call him my little soldier, he is twenty eight after all, ‘Stand guard son whilst I get the next one down, right, that’s got the slimy bastard.’

The next two, although somewhat smaller, were trickier to swallow and kept coming back up. But I finally managed to keep them down, after which I felt a feeling akin to after battle euphoria. Captain Cath stayed with me in case I presented any signs of post war traumatic shock syndrome, but apart from a feeling of disorientation, probably due to shell as in capsule shock, causing my hands to feel a bit vague, I survived to tell the tale. Luckily Captain Cath wasn’t forced to give me a short arm inspection.

The side effects of these new meds are apparently kidney stones, yellow eyes and a bit of wind. Well what’s a bit of wind I say? Wind is good for you, remember the childhood rhyme – bean, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you ….. etc.
Or the posher, upper class version – beans, beans and buckets of fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot, the more you toot, the better you feel –

I don’t think so – not if poor Amy Winehouse is anything to go by.

I waited for the wind to set in and I didn’t have to wait for very long, at which point Cath did a Scarlett O’hara and was out of the door and literally gone with the wind.
The yellow eyes followed the day after, so from now on I will be choosing my wardrobe accordingly.

The colour combination of the new regime is quite pleasing I have to say; fluorescent orange, turquoise, royal blue and white, the colour of some countries flag no doubt. Maybe we should start a mythical country like that bloke Danny Wallace, who called his ‘Lovely’. We could call ours Hivonia, a land where HIV positive people can live without fear or shame. People could apply for citizenship under an assumed name, the only stipulation being that you have to be HIV positive. There would be numerous job opportunities, although unfortunately, the position of queen has already been bagged by me, although I will of course need someone to make my hats. We will also need some positive Prince and Princesses, the more the merrier; a positive Prime Minister, a positive Mayor and a positive Army to defend ourselves against our enemy countries stigmonia and homophobia. We would also need a positive football team plus a few positive hurdlers, javelin throwers, bingo callers and possibly a positive pope.
If you feel you have the relevant qualities and qualifications to apply for any of these positions, I suggest you apply now as it will be a matter of first come first serve.

In the old days lepers were all sent off to live on an island to form their own colony, but as we haven’t got an island, unless Richard Branson offers us one of his, I suggest we take over cyberspace.

Any contenders?

Mandala Workshop

A Mandala Workshop is taking place today at Body Positive North West – Saturday and Sunday 11.30 am – with breakfast, lunch – and spiritual guidance provided by Jan

Graduation Day

I graduated from university today and for the first time in my life I felt really proud of myself because against all the odds I have achieved what I set out to do when I was first diagnosed as HIV positive, which was to become a counsellor and help other positive people like me.

When I think back over the journey I have undergone in the process of achieving this goal, to be honest I don’t know how I ever managed to make it through, as there were so many obstacles and so much heartbreak to overcome along the way – continuously fighting this dreadful disease and the constant battle with my health, the agony of being a mother and seeing my only child suffer and yet being powerless to take that suffering away; caring for my own mum then the final indignities she had to suffer in that awful nursing home, those last agonising weeks when she lay wasting away before my eyes in the hospital and finally and the most painful of all, the terrible emptiness and overwhelming grief I felt (and still feel) when she was no longer here to give me support and rally me on.

Then almost a year to the day after I lost my beloved mum, another shocking loss which happened before my eyes as I was forced to witness the sudden and totally unexpected death of one of my closest friends Paul and then somehow try to share the agony of bereavement so bravely endured by his bereft and broken partner. I still miss them both very much, especially my mum and wish they could have been there today to see me graduate, they would have been so proud of me.

Today was proof to me that you can overcome anything and achieve what you want to do if you really set your heart on it – so take heart anyone who has been recently diagnosed, or anyone who because of this terrible affliction, or any affliction for that matter, feels like giving up. I somehow made it through – and if I can, so can you.

Power to the red ribbon.

The situation in Zimbabwe – click on HIV news to read letter to ICW

Changing Wombs

A hyster-what-tomy?
Well, I wasn’t expecting that, was I? Did I hear David Bailey my camera wielding fandango specialist right?
“No other option,” he looked me in the eye for a change, then shook his familiar bronzed pate which I was more accustomed to communicating with, “Not much left in regards of a cervix to take away,” he informed me matter of factly.
What was going on here? I thought he’d said I was only suffering from a mild case of dyskaryosis – and there was I, naïvely visualising it in born again gardening terms as nothing more than a little weed and something easily disposed of with a sprinkle of chemicals in my cracks and crevices. Huh! Hardly a little weed then is it – it’s obviously run riot and taken over my whole garden and now I’ve got to be dug up and rotivated like a ploughed field.

“We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground.” That was one of my mum’s favourite hymns, but there’ll be no more seeds scattered on my vacant ground or family allotment, which is probably just as well as it happens. I know I don’t need my womb anymore but that’s not the point. I’m a compulsive horder. I don’t like throwing things away.

As soon as I got back from the hospital after receiving this earth shattering news, I immediately logged on and indulged in the dangerous pastime of looking up anything and everything to do with hysterectomies. An ectomy apparently is a surgical suffix referring to the removal of something and there are many kinds of ectomys of which the infamous hyster is only one, although my particular infamous hyster lives in Holland and I don’t get to see her much nowadays. In fact, you could say I’ve already had a sisterectomy and it pains me at times, like a missing limb that I can still feel even though its been lopped off and still itches. Not that my sister had anything that would cause one to itch I hasten to add, apart from possibly the odd bout of hay fever.

Reading on, I came across the sympathectomy, the cutting of a nerve in the sympathetic nervous system, which must be quite a common procedure, because I for one know some decidedly unsympathetic people, especially in relation to HIV, who have obviously had one of those. Then there was the oophorectomy, the removal of one or both ovaries, which by its very name sounds like a painful procedure, followed by the more romantic sounding orchidectomy, the removal of one or both testes, although I have to say in all my extensive reading of Mills and Boon style bodice rippers or Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I have never heard of testicles being referred to as orchids.

I think Lady Chatterley’s Lover was about a randy gardener wasn’t it, or maybe it was a randy gamekeeper? As a recently converted born again gardener myself, albeit these days not a randy one, maybe I should consider growing my own – orchids that is, not testicles, although if I had the chance to come back again it would definitely be as a man, without all these pesky women’s bits. Anyway, growing orchids is a highly complicated business and probably not for the likes of me, as they have highly specialised pollination systems, although according to one website, the possessors of orchids maybe able to reproduce the pollination process with a pencil or similar device. Dirty devils. The things some people get up to. I prefer to keep my pencils strictly for drawing as opposed to pollination purposes. Fortunately, there aren’t many orchid possessors around these parts. Here, up north, orchid is more likely to refer to a little brother or sister.

Orchids were allegedly in existence long before man and since the time of the dinosaurs. These days, apart from their decorative properties, they are often used for commercial purposes in the form of vanilla. The tubers of some terrestrial orchids can be ground to a powder and used for cooking, such as in the hot beverage salep or the so-called “fox-testicle ice cream” salepi dondurma, a Turkish ice cream which because of its thick consistency and tough texture, requires a knife and fork to eat it. Give me a rasberry ripple or a mini magnum anyday.

My further research into ectomys led me directly to the National geographic site, where I read the fascinating tale of the Australian carpet python, which after gorging itself on golf balls was forced to endure an urgent golf-ball-ectomy, although it was probably only looking for its tee. Now everyone knows that Australia, aside from its macho men folk, is riddled with other deadly species just waiting to see you off, such as the red back spider which hangs around in toilets (along with Australian macho men folk no doubt) waiting to bite Sheila’s bums. That’s probably where their quaint expression, ‘I’m so hungry I could nibble the arse off a rag doll through a cane chair’, derives from. But I’ll bet you didn’t know, and neither did I, that down under, aside from not being safe to sit on your own dunny or your rattan furniture, neither can you lounge around on your shag pile due to carpet pythons. Is a carpet python any relation to a lounge lizard one wonders?

But the golf ball guzzling carpet python was nothing compared to the pet python in Idaho who allegedly swallowed a queen sized electric blanket. So the moral is, don’t have a python as a pet, or an Australian macho man for that matter, if you play golf, especially with a handicap – or like a bit of shag, as in pile.

Oh dear. A hysterectomy – I simply can’t come to terms with the idea of becoming an empty vessel. Luckily, I am not a woman who is also suffering from the empty nest syndrome; fat chance of that because my particular little starling is twenty eight and still refusing to fly the nest.

Anyway, I don’t know what I’m making all the fuss about, it’s not like ectomys are something new for me. I had a misterectomy years ago when I got divorced, which was a welcome relief actually as my particular mister, like a troublesome fibroid, was more trouble than he was worth. Now it seems in an effort to get in on the act, or actomy, my most faithful appendage, my lap top has undergone some kind of ectomy of its own accord, because its disc drive won’t work anymore. But then comes the hardest ectomy of them all. Before I go under the knife I have been told in no uncertain terms I will have to have a camelectomy – in other words give up the fags.

Well, at least all this nervous apprehension has thrown me into a frenzy of activity in regard to sorting out my house and trying to get all the things done I won’t be able to do after the colposcopy bailiffs have commandeered my womb, like redecorating for example, which will involve moving the furniture around and result no doubt in an extreme makeover – ‘Changing Rooms’ style, or maybe I should say changing wombs, using the minimalist approach of course in order to make more womb.

Anyway, all in all, with all this to take in and take on, I haven’t had time to sit around as I usually would watching wombledon – whoops, another Freudian slip of the tongue as opposed to the knife.