With exactly one week to go to my op, I visited the Brighton Nuffield Hospital today to have various tests done and go through a long checklist with Liz Hills the Clinical Nurse, who will doubtless be well-known to many girls who have had their surgery at this hospital.
I arrived just before 1.00pm and left at 2.45pm. It was only a 25 minute drive from home, and would have been quicker if there hadn't been a holdup on Ditchling Road. My lift next week will take a little longer, 30 minutes say. Surely it's a whole lot more convenient than a flight to Bangkok!
I'm pleased to report that my urine sample showed no infection, and the medical checklist threw up no high-risk factors that might complicate the procedure or aftercare. As mentioned before, Liz inspires huge confidence, and is a great calming influence if you feel a little highly-strung - as might so easily be the case. This operation is a massively important event, and nobody should feel awkward about wanting to scream with tension and apprehension. It was evident that I wasn't immune from a little excitement myself: the blood pressure reading was 130/85, a bit higher than usual. I wouldn't be surprised to see it even higher next week!
Actually I still feel remarkably normal. It's over a month since I came off hormones and there haven't yet been any mood swings or unusual emotions. I've been so serene. I've also packed in a lot of travel and shopping and other things without fatigue. No hot flushes either! Or rather, for I'd like to be honest, nothing like a hot flush away from the badminton court. I got pretty hot while playing - but I didn't turn red, and didn't stream with sweat. So I reckon the warm feeling was much more to do with having to wear leggings and a miniskirt in overheated halls. In a proper sports top and shorts I might have kept nice and cool.
It helps a lot not being under direct pressure from any source. There is no family to look after. No parents to placate. No job to worry about. The Cottage is on the market yet again, but M--- is seeing to everything and I can forget about it all, at least until well into the summer. These are huge advantages over some girls, who have to snatch time away from the workplace and will be plunged into heavy responsibility again far too soon. I certainly don't underestimate the fortunate position I'm in. The most I've got to worry about is not catching a cold, or injuring myself, between now and 28 February, the day of admission.
I did go to Cambridge on Sunday. A round trip of 250 miles covered in exactly 250 minutes, not without a certain amount of high speed driving of course. But that's how I get my thrills. Although the weather was overcast and chilly throughout, it remained dry, and I enjoyed the visit very much. I walked around the town centre quite a bit, going into Caius and Clare Colleges, and (of course) King's College Chapel, with a couple of detours to take in the bridges over the Cam, and see something of the Backs. Nearly all the shops were open, although I abstained from spending money on this occasion. I even visited the station on the way out.
Cambridge invites comparison with Oxford. Which is better? Rather a silly question really. I certainly prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of Cambridge, and the colleges seem more open to the public and less shut away than those in Oxford. Oxford is definitely a more self-conscious place, definitely more snooty. On the other hand, Oxford has much to be snooty about. It has a stronger architectural presence, with more in the way of distinctive buildings. Cambridge has no Radcliffe Camera, no Bridge of Sighs, no place where the busts of Roman Emperors frown down at you. Do its museums compare to to Oxford's Ashmolean? I'm not sure. There certainly isn't an exact equivalent of Oxford's Randolf Hotel. Nor is there an Inspector Morse to brood morosely over constant academic crime. Both cities are awash with bicycles, and have precise equality on that score!
The students are more friendly in Cambridge. When wandering around Caius College, peering into the doorways, a student stopped and said to me very pleasantly, 'Take a look at the names on the doorway in the corner over there. You'll see someone you may know!' Gosh, I thought, does he know who I am? Am I recognised? Does he follow my blog for instance? But the explanation was simple when I saw 'Professor Hawking' painted on the doorway. Stephen Hawking is a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and must be entitled to rooms there, but looking up at the steep stairs just inside the doorway, with no sign of an electric hoist, I was doubtful whether he had used those rooms in recent decades. I turned back to the student and thanked him.
Tomorrow I have a kind of mini-reunion with former colleagues in Croydon. A lunch at Zizzi's. They know about my transition, but haven't seen me in the flesh for nearly six years. They'll be in for a surprise! I dare say it'll be worth a post.