MRI — The Machine Did Not Explode

Well, my Wednesday was very annoying. This was partly my fault, as I managed to get extremely stressed over something which I know, from past experience, is not a thing worth being stressed over. But I’m out of practice.

As my regular readers will know, a few years ago I had a small brain tumour removed, via craniotomy, and hence ceased a 5-year migraine and a lot of hassle, and a whole new lot of weird things needed to be coped with, but on the whole, I was much better. However, the nasty little tumour they removed (I think all brain tumours are nasty, but perhaps I’m biased) has a tendency to regrow. It’s not malignant (cancer) and so I suppose if you have to have a brain tumour, my type was one of the better ones. But it was still nasty.

Now, when they operated, they told me that due to nasty tumour’s tendency to regrow, I would have occasional MRIs for the rest of my life. These have become further and further apart, and in November they sent through an appointment—for Wednesday. I have been in many MRI machines, I know the drill, I know it is mainly boring and very loud and slightly uncomfortable because you can’t move and you’re lying on a hard surface. But they are nothing to worry about, there is no need for stress. I know all this. However, Wednesday morning I was tense and snappy and couldn’t concentrate and the whole morning was spent waiting to leave for London.

I left far too early, telling myself that trains might be cancelled and I did not want to be late, and I could have a cup of coffee at Victoria. Then, as we sat on the train, watching the rain-saturated fields whiz by, Husband’s phone rang. For some reason, the hospital only seems to have Husband’s number (I have given them mine many times, so perhaps they don’t really trust me). Anyway, it was the imaging centre, saying that my appointment had been cancelled.

We got off the train at Croydon, and I called them back. The administrator told me that yes, she was very sorry, but the MRI machine had broken, and the engineer needed to get a new part, and therefore my appointment was cancelled.

I tried to change her mind. I asked if they had more than one MRI machine (they do) and why I couldn’t simply be scanned in the other one. I told her that we had already set off, and that the scan was to discover if my brain tumour had regrown (which I don’t think is the case, but we can’t be sure). She checked her lists, and tried to fit me in, but eventually told me that sorry, I need to be in the machine for 45 minutes, and that was just too long to fit into an already full schedule. She made another appointment, for Friday. Which was not so very long to wait, but I was still annoyed. I really hope I was also polite—it wasn’t her fault, and she was being very kind.

We walked across to the other platform, and caught a train home. As I travelled home, I wondered how they had chosen which patients to phone, because I’m pretty sure we would not have been allocated to a specific machine. I then realised, that actually, some of those appointments would be emergencies. There would be people with hydrocephalus, or in agony, and for them to be scanned ahead of me was completely right. My appointment, whilst important, is not urgent. I need to be checked, but I won’t die while I’m waiting. If I learnt anything about being ill, it is that medical things rarely go smoothly, and you need to be a little chilled about it. I tried to forget about it, and got on with my day.


Friday arrived and I repeated the process. I travelled up to Victoria again (managed to get further than Croydon this time) and Husband kindly met me after work. We wound our way through the busy London streets, because I prefer to walk than take the underground. Walking calms me, and helps me to focus on not getting lost rather than on the unpleasantness ahead. Husband wondered if they had fixed the machine properly, and said he hoped it wouldn’t explode while I was in it. I didn’t find this a very helpful comment.

We arrived at the imaging centre, and I filled out a questionnaire, and assured them that I had been scanned several times since my surgery, therefore whatever they rebuilt me with must be safe in their machine.

Then it was time, they gave me ear-plugs and headphones, I lay on the hard bench, they secured my head so I couldn’t move, and lowered something like a visor over my face. I was given a plastic thing to press if I needed their attention, and offered a blanket. (I always accept the blanket, those machines get cold!) I shut my eyes, so I could pretend I was in a wide open field, and I felt the bench being slid into the machine. The voice of the operator boomed into my ears, asking if I was alright, telling me she was ready to start. I like it when they speak to me –some operators are better at that than others. Then the machine started, with judders and thumps and what sounded like metal grinding against metal, and at one point the whole machine trembled and shook, and I wondered if the world outside had exploded, and I was the only person left alive. I kept my eyes shut, and tried to not move (does swallowing count as moving? I’m never sure if I’m allowed to swallow in there!) I tried to pray, because there’s not much else to do when trapped in a machine, and it seemed a good use of time, to pray for friends and family and the possibility that the world might be about to implode.

Eventually, it was finished. The very nice operator sent someone to slide me out from the machine, and I returned the ear protection, and folded the blanket, and felt a little dizzy from lying still for so long. They couldn’t tell me anything, I have to wait for my appointment with the surgeon in 3 months for that. But I didn’t really care. It was done ( and I know from experience, that if there had been anything urgent they would have delayed me until a medic had checked the scan).

We left. Jay met us on his way home from work, and we ate at The Natural Kitchen in Baker Street, and the evening was rather lovely.

I hope your nasty things this week have lovely endings too. Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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 You can read more about my brain tumour experience in my little book: How to Have a Brain Tumour by Anne E Thompson

Available from Amazon (free if you have Kindle Select).


Caution: Old(er) Woman Running

It was Grandpa’s 80th birthday, so we invited the family round for cakes and scones. Those of you who remember that I am meant to be reducing my cholesterol levels, might be wondering how cakes and scones fit with this. But my mother told me to never answer questions like that.

To be fair, I have tried to increase my exercise, and I have started to run. Opposite our house is a big field, about 125 miles in circumference, and when I walk the dog, I now jog for some of it. It’s nicely remote, so no one can see me, and I started to run just a few paces, then walk to recover, then run a little further. I can now jog around 3/4 of the field, which I think is pretty good going. I won’t be entering the marathon, as other people might measure distances differently.

As soon as I start to run, the dog picks up a stick, and then trots in front of me, tail up, head forward, as if showing me that she thinks my speed is pathetic. When Son 2 is with me, I have to tell him I am jogging, otherwise he might just think I am doing a funny walk. There is not much discernible difference in speed between my walk and my run. In fact, the only real difference is my face goes very red, and stays that way for about 3 hours afterwards. I have no idea whether it’s making any difference to cholesterol levels.

My other news is that we have started work on the pond. It’s quite a large pond, and it’s under some large oak trees. The trees drop all their leaves into the pond, so the bottom was filling with silt, and the water was becoming ever more shallow. It was also eroding the edge, so was in danger of undermining the roots of the trees. We therefore decided to hire someone to move it. Which has turned out to be fairly major work.

Firstly, I had to catch all the ducks. This worked well with my aim to teach the duckling who was hatched by the chicken, that s/he’s a duck, and over the course of a week, I managed to catch all the ducks on the pond. They’re now in a cage, very unhappy but safe, and I spend lots of time cleaning them out and refilling water pots.

Yesterday the workmen arrived. They first had to dredge the pond, so removed the fence to make an easy access point, and began to pump out the water. They also had to move some plants that we hope to keep. A delivery of sleepers arrived, and these will make a wall on the side where the trees are, so it doesn’t erode in the future. The other edge will be natural, so it will be easy for the ducks to get in and out. They painted the grass to show where they plan to dig. The island had to be far enough from the edge to be safe from foxes, so they asked how far a fox can jump. They can, according to Google, jump 2m, so I’m hoping that’s an exaggeration or requires a run-up. I’m not sure how athletic the foxes around here are – more athletic than me, that’s for sure.

Today, a digger arrived, to dig out the rest of the pond. I had to shut the ‘outside cats’ in the workshop, as they won’t necessarily be helpful. The remaining chicken and cockerel are also still in a cage, so the fox can’t get them. Which means all my animals are caged, and I do not like animals in cages. I will let the hen go broody, so she has something to do, and then I will allow them out again in September, when any chicks she hatches will be big enough to be left. The ducks will be free in a couple of weeks I hope.

Hoping you have a healthy week.
Anne x

Anne E. Thompson is an author of several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and on Amazon.
Thank you for reading.

A Low Cholesterol Diet…(sort of)

The low cholesterol diet is not going as planned. You may remember that the doctor (who I will never visit again) did some blood tests, and when I phoned for the results, they said my cholesterol was too high. Which was a major blow.

At first, I wondered if there was a mistake. I eat very little processed food, and have a fairly active life-style, and am not (I think) over weight for my age. So I decided to ignore it. But it did make me more aware, and I began to notice that I do eat rather a lot of chocolate, and cakes, and cheese sauce, and crisps, and so on. All of which are very high in saturated fat. The trouble is, everything that is nice seems to be high in saturated fat. But I decided to try and cut down, a little bit. So far, it’s not going very well.

I started by switching from semi-skimmed milk to skimmed (yes, I know that won’t make much difference, but I figured I would edge into healthy eating rather than give my metabolism a big shock and spiral down into depression because food had become awful overnight). This is fine for tea and coffee, but when I made a sauce for the cauliflower, it just seemed thin and horrid. So I added a dash of single cream that was left over from the lemon meringue pie. There wasn’t any lemon meringue pie left, because I’d already finished that.

I also tried having less cheese on my bolognese, so decided to grate a tiny amount to serve with dinner, and keep the rest in the fridge. But it was near the end of the block, so after I had grated a portion for the meals, there was only a tiny bit left. Not enough to be worth keeping. So I ate it.

Daughter did her best to help, and gave me some healthy snacks from M&S. They were surprisingly tasty. But Son told me that eating several packets at a time negated the low fat of each individual pack. I did though decide to buy them instead of crisps, for when I need a snack after a dog walk. I bought some from the supermarket (we don’t live near an M&S). They tasted like cardboard, so are now in the bin (not even the dog would eat them).

On the positive side, I find that if I don’t have any chocolate anywhere in the house, I eat less. Also, popcorn is a nice snack and will be healthy once I have gradually cut down the amount of salt and sugar I add. Porridge, made with skimmed milk, is not completely disgusting, and again, if I gradually cut down on the amount of sugar I add, it should be healthy.

To conclude, I’m not sure that I am presently eating less saturated fat than before, but I am more aware of it, and that has to be a good start. Plus, usually at Easter everyone gives me chocolate, and I would have eaten it all by now, and this year I received flowers and healthy snacks instead, so that must have made some difference. I will let you know how things progress.

Thank you for reading. Hope you have a healthy week. Take care.

Anne x

PS. Another learning point this week was whilst putting on make-up and chatting to Husband. I discovered that I tend to wave my hands around when chatting. I also discovered that ‘liquid eye-liner’ really IS liquid, and if you tip it upside-down it pours out onto the duvet. This does not wash off. I also discovered that if you turn stained duvet cover upside-down, Husband doesn’t notice. Or at least, he hasn’t so far…



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 Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. You can buy her books from book shops and Amazon. She lives in Kent, with her husband, several chickens and many ducks, plus a dog and a bunch of cats. She writes a weekly blog.



I know that some of my followers are also authors. I spent some time this week trying to find Christian publishers who accept submissions from authors. It took ages, so I wrote a post and included the links. Hopefully it will save you some time. The link to the page is below:

Breakfasts and Dummies

6:30 am. Husband kindly woke me with coffee and cake. He was clearly worried that I might cause him to miss his train. It was also clear that I had not been clear that my event in London started with a breakfast.

8:30am. Arrived in London. My event didn’t start until 9:30, so I followed Husband into Pret (for another breakfast).

Jubilee Line had problems, so I walked with Husband to Bank, and caught the DLR to Canary Wharf. It was very crowded. Tried hard to behave like a seasoned commuter and avoided all eye contact. At next station about 50 extra people rammed themselves onto train. I was now completely squeezed on all sides, broke commuter rule and shared a joke with the woman pressed into my right armpit. Everyone else pretended they were deaf/blind/hadn’t noticed that we were close enough to be sharing the same coat.

Arrived in Canary Wharf. Still too early, so wandered around. Lots of tall glass buildings, steel tubs of tidy flowers – no spaceships, but they wouldn’t have looked out of place. All sides of one building had signs warning that smoking there was illegal. All sides of the same building had groups of men avoiding eye contact and smoking. Thought about taking a photo – decided I might get shouted at.

9:30 am. Arrived for breakfast. Breakfast was delicious coffee and tiny pastries. Was glad I’d already eaten two breakfasts. Discussed ethics of eating more than one pastry with another guest, who assured me she didn’t want one, so I ate hers. Noticed that most of the women were better dressed than me, and very manicured. Hoped they would think scuffed trainers were a fashion statement.

Taken downstairs to a room filled with dummies. Listened to a short, sad talk, from a man whose friend had died suddenly from a heart attack. The company are now running CPR courses in memory of him.

Watched a film, which showed how to give CPR, then practised on a dummy. Noticed that several women now looked less well manicured, and several dummies were now wearing smeared lipstick.

I’ve done CPR training before, because when I was teaching, we were sent on regular first aid courses. However, this one was better, as the dummies had a device embedded which clicked when the chest was sufficiently depressed. It was quite hard to make it click – I must’ve not pressed hard enough on previous courses. Basic principle remains unchanged – add air and move it around the body – but details have altered. You now don’t bother to waste time checking for a pulse – if someone isn’t breathing, you do CPR. 30 hard pushes on centre of chest (right between the nipples) at the speed you would sing “Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk…” followed by 2 big breaths into the mouth (with nose squeezed shut and head tilted back. The patient’s, not yours). You keep doing this until help arrives (or you have a heart attack yourself, as it’s quite hard work!)

We also learned how to use a defibrillator. This was incredibly easy, because when it’s turned on a voice tells you exactly what to do. It even checks for a heart beat, and tells you when/if to zap the person, so there’s no danger you might give someone an unnecessary shock. I think I’ll suggest we buy one for lunch club – seems like a good thing to keep in a church.

Had lunch. This was a buffet, with tall round tables to stand around. I hate to stand while eating, so asked if I could take my plate to the seats in the lobby. They didn’t say no (when you’re a partner’s wife, people rarely say no). Was joined by all the other middle aged spouses who like to sit while they eat.

Coffee and chocolate brownies, then caught the train home. Less crowded thankfully. I did check all the other passengers carefully, in case anyone needed CPR, but all seemed healthy.

Thank you for reading. Have a good week.

Take care,
Anne x


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Anne E. Thompson is an author. She writes a regular blog and has written several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her books in bookshops and on Amazon.


Don’t tell anyone, but….

I found a lump. I don’t usually discuss personal things on my blog, I like to keep them private. But sometimes it might be helpful for people to hear, so I occasionally force myself to.

Anyway, I don’t usually check for odd lumps and bumps – do you? I know that I should, especially as there is so much family history of cancer. Though it seems to me, that nowadays, everyone has a family history of cancer. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost a parent or aunt or cousin. To be honest, I think it’s because I know cancer is in the family, that I don’t like checking. I kind of don’t want to know. I don’t want to have to deal with it, to think about it, to have all the hassle related to any kind of medical problem.

It’s not that I’m worried about dying. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, the reality of my body having a ‘use-by’ date was rather hammered home. I had to face that I very well might die soon. It wasn’t scary, because I know what I believe about God, and I trusted him to take care of the whole afterwards side of things. But I didn’t want to die. I still don’t. Partly because I don’t want to miss things – I want to see my children settled, any grandchildren that come along, spend time as a grumpy old woman with my grumpy old husband. Plus there’s lots of things I still want to do. So death, although not scary, is unwelcome.

No, it’s not that I might die, it’s the medical intervention that worries me. I don’t want to be ill. All the hassle of hospitals, and having no energy, and inconveniencing other people. I just don’t want it. I’ve been ill, had my five year headache, recovered from a craniotomy, done. I don’t want something else. Surely it should be someone else’s turn? So, I don’t check very often, but occasionally I do, and this time I found something. Big bummer.

I went to the doctor. Never easy, but they gave me an appointment and I saw a very efficient woman, who said I needed to be referred to the hospital. Disappointing – I was hoping she’d tell me it was nothing and to go home and not be silly.

The hospital appointment came within a couple of weeks, and off I went with some books to read and snacks. Hospitals are never quick. I didn’t tell anyone, because I found with the brain tumour that people don’t always react how you want. They either try to reassure you, and tell you not to worry – which they cannot possibly know, and you are worried, so that doesn’t help. Or, they go into panic mode and you end up reassuring them instead! So I mentioned it to Husband, but then went off on my own.

It was fine. The staff were very professional. I had to wait about three years in various waiting rooms, and I was pretty sure one patient had died a few weeks ago and hadn’t been spotted yet, but when you actually were with the doctors, they were very good. They managed to be sensitive and business-like, and I trusted them. People moan about the NHS in the UK, but I wouldn’t want to be ill anywhere else. We have good doctors and nurses and support staff.

People in hospital are different, have you noticed that? Outside, they might be highly educated, or very fashionable, or super-rich. But in hospital, waiting to find out whether or not you have cancer, everyone is the same. Just people. All tired of waiting. All slightly tense. All real. There’s not much pretence in a hospital, which I kind of like.

My lump turned out to be nothing. It can safely be ignored. They were nice about it though, said I did the right thing to have it checked – because if it had been something nasty, they can often deal with it before it does any harm. Which is why I’m writing this. Old or young, male or female, when did you last do the ‘odd lump’ check? Perhaps you should. I’m not brave, and I hate doing things like that, but if I managed it, so can you.

Thanks for reading.

If you want to know more about what I believe, take a look at :

On a completely different note…..I was emailed by Samantha Day from Meridian FM and asked if I would speak on the radio about psychopaths, and JOANNA, and my book launch. Wow! Very scary, very exciting. I am going on Wednesday 15th at 11 o’clock. I’m assuming it’s a live broadcast, as her show is 11 til 1, but it might not be. I will let you know how I get on.