The Anonymous Widower

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Conclusion

I think the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac problem!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs.

 

 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Potential Site For New Cambridge South Station Named

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail News.

The article says this about the site of the proposed Cambridge South station.

There had been three options for the station site and the preferred choice, which is the furthest north and nearest the guided busway, will offer improved connections with other railway routes as well as the busway. Although the detailed plans for East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge have not yet been confirmed, it is possible that EWR trains will call at Cambridge South.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Long Road going East-West across the map.
  3. The West Anglia Main Line going North-South, at the Western edge of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Cambridge station is to the North and Shelford station is to the South.
  4. Running diagonally away from the railway towards the South-West corner of the map, is the Cambridge Busway. which connects the Trumpington Park and Ride to Cambridge station and the City Centre.

It would appear there would be plenty of space to put a station with enough capacity for this important medical complex.

Train Services

Trains passing through that area include in trains per hour (tph)

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Freater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – 1 tph – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge and Cambridge North
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – London King’s Cross and Ely via Cambridge and Cambridge North
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – London King’s Cross and Kings Lynn via Cambridge and Cambridge North
  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Brighton and Cambridge
  • Thameslink – 2 tph – London King’s Cross and Cambridge

That all adds up to 10 tph to Cambridge and 5 to Cambridge North.

When you add in future services on East West Rail, and do a bit of reorganisation, there could be twelve tph through the three Cambridge stations.

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Coeliacs And Covid-19 In Cambridgeshire

I was diagnosed as a coeliac by Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

  • One of the consultants there told me, that they had a very high number of coeliacs on the books and the number was one of the highest in the country.
  • I also used to eat in Carluccios in the centre of Cambridge and the manager once told me that they did an Annual Dinner for the local branch of Coeliac UK.
  • He also told me, that they had the highest gluten-free sales in the group.

I think it is fairly likely that Cambridge has a lot of diagnosed coeliacs.

But it is not a place with health problems, that jump out of the pages of the tabloids.

My theory is that because Cambridge does a lot of gastroenterology research, they have a good rate in finding coeliacs.

So how is Cambridgeshire doing in the COVID-19 pandemic?

In Five Eastern Counties, I said this about COVID-19 in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, where a lot of patients go to Addenbrooke’s.

  • Cambridgeshire – 673 of 852,523 or 0.08%
  • Suffolk – 936 of 768,556 or 0.12%

Both seem to be low. How do they compare to Oxfordshire?

  • Oxfordshire – 1515 of 887, 564 or 0.17%

I wouldn’t have thought that Oxfordshire would have a rate twice that of Cambridgeshire!

  • The counties are similar in population.
  • Both have proportions of industry, farming and academia
  • The cities of Oxford and Cambridge are similar in character

Could it be that Addenbrooke’s has diagnosed most of the coeliacs in Cambridgeshire?

I’m no medical expert, but someone should look at it!

 

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambridge South Station To Be Developed

To me, this was one of the highlights of the 2020 Budget today.

As I lived near Cambridge for over a dozen years and regularly played real tennis at the University, I know the scientific heartbeat of the City better than most.

I have discussed the problems of running a business in the City, with many, who are associated with some of the City’s most successful businesses. I have also funded several ventures in the area.

The same basic problems keep arising.

  • Lack of premises, offices and workshops, of all sizes and qualities.
  • Lack of staff to work in the ventures.
  • Lack of suitable housing, where staff moving to the City can live.
  • Staff are being forced to live further out and the roads, railways and other pubic transport systems don’t have the capacity.
  • Inadequate connections to Stansted Airport.

In the last few years, the transport has improved.

  • A sophisticated and award-winning Park-and-Ride running to five large car parks ringing the City has been developed.
  • The Park-and-Ride also caters for cyclists.
  • Cambridge North station has been opened close to the Cambridge Science Park and the A14 Cambridge Northern By-Pass, with a 450-space car-park and space for a thousand bikes.
  • The Cambridge Guided Busway has been developed across the City from Huntingdon station to Trumpington via Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge North station, Cambridge City Centre, Cambridge bus station, Cambridge station and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Addwnbrooke’s Hospital is a Major Trauma Centre.
  • The forecourts of Cambridge and Cambridge North stations have been developed to create good interchanges and meeting points.
  • Great Northern now has two fast and two stopping trains per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Cambridge and/or Cambridge North stations, with trains continuing alternatively half-hourly to Ely or Kings Lynn.
  • Thameslink has two tph between Brighton and Cambridge.
  • Thameslink also has two tph between Cambridge and London Kings Cross, which will be extended to Maidstone East station, within a couple of years.
  • Greater Anglia run an hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport via Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Greater Anglia run two tph between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North stations.
  • Greater Anglia run an hourly service between Ipswich and Cambridge via Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket stations.
  • All Greater Anglia trains are being replaced with new and much larger Class 755 or Class 720 trains.
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • The A14 and A428 roads are being improved between Cambridge and the A1.
  • The East West Railway between Reading and Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford is being developed and should open before the end of the decade.

But Cambridge still needs better links to the surrounding countryside and further.

  • Connections to Peterborough could be doubled to hourly.
  • Cnnections to Haverhill and Wisbech are poor.
  • East West Railway have ideas about improving connections to both East and West of Cambridge.
  • Better connections are needed at Addenbrooke’s to connect the rail system to the hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Cambridge South station would be the icing on the cake.

  • It could be the Southern terminus of a Wisbech service.
  • It could be on a service of at least four tph between Ely and Cambridge South stations via Waterbeach, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • It would bring Addenbrooke’s and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus within easy commuting of London.
  • It would be well-connected to Bedford, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading, Stansted Airport and Stevenage.
  • There have also been rumours, that the station could be connected to the Cambridge Autonomous Metro, which would be developed from the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway and the Park-and-Ride.

Cambridge South station would be the hub, that ties all the various routes together,

The station could be a fairly simple station to build, by just building platforms and buildings alongside the existing electrified line.

This Google Map shows the hospital. and the West Anglia Main Line running North-South to the West of the hospital.

Note the West Anglia Main Line running North-South to the West of the hospital.

Station Design

This page on the Network Rail web site gives a basic design.

  • Four platforms with step-free access via a footbridge and lifts;
  • Platforms with seating and shelter for waiting passengers;
  • A ticket office and ticket machines, along with automatic ticket gates;
  • Taxi and passenger drop off facilities:
  • Facilities such as a retail/catering unit, a waiting room and toilets;
  • Blue badge parking; and
  • Cycle parking.

The page then gives various location options.

Services

These are my take on the initial services, based on the current ones and those proposed by the East West Railway.

  • 1 tph – CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport, via Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South and Audley End.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Norwich and Stansted Airport, via Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford, Brandon, Lakenheath, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Whittlesford Parkway and Audley End.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Cambridge South via Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, A14 Parkway, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Greater Anglia – Cambridge North and London Liverpool Street via Cambridge, Cambridge South, Audley End, Bishops Stortford, Harlow, Broxbourne and Cheshunt.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Wisbech and Cambridge South via March, Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton via Stevenage, London St. Pancras, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Cambridge and Maidstone East via Stevenage, London St. Pancras and Blackfriars
  • 2 tph – Great Northern – Ely/Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Stevenage.
  • 1 tph – East West Railway – Norwich and Reading or Oxford, via Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford and Milton Keynes.
  • 1 tph – East West Railway – Manningtree and Reading or Oxford, via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, A14 Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford and Milton Keynes

Note.

  1. I have left out a few less important stations.
  2. I have extended the current Ipswich and Cambridge service to Cambridge South.
  3. I have added East West Rail’s proposed A14 Parkway station.
  4. I have added a Wisbech and Cambridge South service.

This simple service gives the following frequencies.

  • 6 tph – Ely and Cambridge North
  • 8 tph – Cambridge North and Cambridge
  • 10 tph – Cambridge and Cambridge South
  • 2 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Kings Lynn
  • 8 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and London
  • 2 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Ipswich.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Norwich.
  • 1 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Peterborough.
  • 6 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stevenage.

I feel strongly about the following.

  • If six tph is thought to be ideal between Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stevenage, then surely more services are needed between Cambridge and Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Norwich. Peterborough and Stansted Airport. Perhaps as many as four tph are needed to give a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The frequency through Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge should be as high as possible. With digital signalling ten tph must be possible.

At least Greater Anglia have plenty of Class 755 trains.

Conclusion

Rishi Sunak is right to build Cambridge South station.

You might even be able to argue, that the work done on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus could be key in fighting diseases like the coronavirus.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parking Fees Rise At Many Hospitals In 2017-18, Analysis Finds

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

Four in 10 NHS hospitals in England have increased car parking prices in the last year, new data suggests.

I don’t drive, so it doesn’t effect me and the only hospitals I’ve visited in the last few years; Addenbrooke’s, Homerton, Royal London and University College have been easily accessible by public transport.

The real scandal is that so many hospitals are not easily accessible using fully-accessible public transport.

  • Addenbrooke’s has a large bus interchange, which has connections to Cambridge City Centre and at least one of the City’s large Park-and-Ride sites.
  • Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre has a tram connection to the large Park-and-Ride sites.

But I can think of several hospitals, where the only public transport is an expensive taxi.

I also remember a hospital administrator in London telling me, that the largest number of complaints they received was about car parking.

 

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

An Addenbrooke’s Train Station Has Got The Thumbs-Up From The Transport Secretary

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Cambridge News.

These are my thoughts.

Location

Cambridge South station, if they follow the convention of the name of the newly-opened Cambridge North station, has the ideal location.

  • It is South of the City of Cambridge in a similar position to how Cambridge North station is North of the City.
  • The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway could be diverted to serve the station.
  • Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus could be a short walk or a travelator ride away.
  • Addenbrooke’s bus station could be moved to be adjacent to the new train station.
  • Services between both Liverpool Street and Kings Cross stations and Cambridge would call.
  • There is space for a large car park for both train passengers and hospital patients and visitors.
  • In the future, trains on the East West Rail Link will be able to call.

The location would also allow trains or guided buses on a reopened Stour Valley Railway to call.

Trains

When Thameslink opens fully, it looks like the trains going through Cambridge South station could include.

  • 1 tph – CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street to Stansted Airport.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Norwich to Stansted Airport.
  • 2 tph – Greater Anglia – Liverpool Street to Cambridge/Cambridge North/Ely
  • 3 tph – Great Northern – Kings Cross to Cambridge/Cambridge North
  • 1 tph – Great Northern – Kings Cross to Kings Lynn
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Brighton to Cambridge/Caambridge North
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Maidstone East to Cambridge/Caambridge North

Note tph is trains per hour.

This totals to twelve tph. And that’s only for starters.

  • The East West Rail Link will surely add 2 tph to Oxford.
  • All these services to Kings Cross and St. Pancras must surely hit Greater Anglia’s Liverpool Street services. Will this mean they use some of their massive fleet of new trains to provide extra services to Liverpool Street and Stansted.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia serves the City, Stratford and connects to Crossrail, whereas Great Northern doesn’t!

The Stour Valley Railway

If Cambridge continues to be one of the most successful cities in the world, I can’t believe that the Stour Valley Railway won’t be reinstated as another route across East Anglia.

I discuss this proposal in detail in An Affordable Reinstatement Of The Stour Valley Railway.

I came to this conclusion.

Reinstatement of the Stour Valley Railway  would be the ultimate modern railway for one of the world’s most high-tech cities.

I think it will be built at some time.

Cost

The usual suspects will complain about Cambridge South station being another station in a city near London, that already has two stations.

This is said about the cost of Cambridge North station in Wikipedia.

On 19 August 2015, Cambridge City Council approved Network Rail’s new plans for the station, which were not substantially different from the original plans put forward by Cambridgeshire County Council in 2013. Following Network Rail’s intervention, the cost of the station was revised upwards to £44 million.

When first proposed by Cambridgeshire County Council in around 2007, at the cost was £15 million, with a benefit-cost ratio of 3.09.

So much for Network Rail’s costing systems.

Incidentally, Kirkstall |Forge station in Leeds, which is a two-platform station on an electrified line with full step-free access cost £16 million. So as Cambridge South will probably have an extra platform and lots of parking, I would reckon £25 million would cover the cost of building the station.

To put this sum in context, two Cambridge companies have recently been sold.

These two deals must have generated a lot of tax revenue.

Conclusion

A start on Cambridge South station should be made next week.

 

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambridge Thinks About More Stations

This article in the Cambridge News has a headline of Support for re-opening South Cambridgeshire railway station is gathering pace.

It talks mainly about the reopening of Fulbourn station between Newmarket and Cambridge.

This is said.

The Reopen Fulbourn Railway Station group is calling for the station to be reinstated as part of a drive to boost rail connectivity in the area.

Later in the article it says that the Council also wants to open a new station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and reopen the closed station at Cherry Hinton.

A station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital is pencilled in for the East West Rail Link and the other two stations are on the Ipswich to Cambridge Line.

Wikipedia says this about a previous attempt to reopen the station at Cherry Hinton.

Reopening of the station was proposed by Cambridgeshire County Council in May 2013 as part of an infrastructure plan to deal with projected population growth up to 2050. A proposal to reopen the station had previously been made in 1996 but 70% of residents who responded to a Council questionnaire were against it; in any event, a new station was not considered viable at that time.

There are some cynical comments to the article as well.

But circumstances have changed since 1996.

  • Cambridgeshire County Council has more responsibility for this type of spending.
  • As I said in Will We Be Seeing More Railway Stations?, it looks like design, technology, new trains and costs are making it easier to make a good case for a new station.
  • Greater Anglia will be running new high-performance trains through Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton in a couple of years.
  • Network Rail are removing level crossings in East Anglia and there are several in the area, including one at the site of Cherry Hinton station.

The level crossings could be the clincher, as there is a lot of opposition in some places to their removal.

Would Network Rail duck the problems and leave everything as it is?

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Endoscopy

This is an old post from an earlier blog, which is dated October the third, 2003, but I’ve been asked about it a couple of times lately, so I thought I’d copy it over.

Introduction

I have written this in quite a lot of detail so that it can help others who are undergoing the procedure.

The only thing I might say, is that I am a reasonably fit, fifty-six year old, who has a strong scientific training. So on the one hand, my body should be able take most things and on the other I do have a basic understanding of what’s going on!

Before

I wasn’t that sure to expect when I went for a endoscopy.

I am also not the bravest where hospitals or operations are concerned!

I had the instructions, which said that there was a 1-in-10,000 chance of something going wrong, that I was to wear comfortable easily washed clothes and that I wasn’t to eat or drink anything for six hours before.

It also said that there was the choice of a sedative or a throat spray and if I had the first I wouldn’t be able to drive, use machinery or drink alcohol for 24 hours.

Hmm!

Would I be brave enough to have the throat spray, as it would also mean I wouldn’t have to find someone to go with me? Not easy when your wife works full time and your children live miles away!

It said phone if you wanted any help. So I did!

I was given a direct line by the receptionist and after a couple of tries, I got through to a helpful nurse who said that most people are alright with the throat spray.

So it was to be the throat spray!

I also remembered the advice given to me by a scientist who created some of the world’s best anaesthetics. He said to avoid them at all costs!

I didn’t sleep too badly the night before, but I did get up about six.

Nothing unusual here, as Celia is often out by half past on her way to all Courts east, west, north and occassionally south. I also find that the early morning is the best time to work!

But I did want to have a last drink of a cup of tea before the requisite six hours of abstinance arrived at half past six.

It was a long wait, as I am one of those who just like others have a thinking cigarette, when I work I have a thinking drink, or a snack. I did bite my fingers a bit, until I realised that could count as food!

In the end I gave up on work about twelve and disappeared off on a series of useful, but on the whole rather time-wasting errands.

I had tried to arrange a game of tennis before, but that all came to nothing. I was dressed for the game though, as the clothes fitted the requirements.

I drove all the way to Bury St. Edmunds to collect my spare car keys from last night and then wasted a good fifteen minutes talking to the salesman about the new higher powered MG-ZT-T-230. (I would have bought one a few years ago, but now cars are just a means of getting around. Well not quite, but they aren’t so important!)

I then picked up the enlargements of the family photo taken at Imogen’s christening. I think I paid a cheque into the bank!

All things that needed to be done, but they could have waited until the Saturday!

Finally, about two I parked the car in the lane that leads to Addenbrookes.

When I visit the hospital I tend to do that, as on a sunny day (It was!) it is a nice walk and you avoid all the hassle of finding a car parking space.

Procedure

If you don’t know Addenbrokes it is not the most attractive of buildings, being a 60’s, brutal construction designed by an architect, who probably designed down to a cost, rather than up to a standard.

It’s also rather a maze, so when I entered the Out-Patients I looked around for someone to give me directions. As when I came for my first appointment, I was given proper directions to Endoscopy, which seemed to be rather an afterthought for the building, reached up what looked to be a fire-escape!

As I had forgotten to bring some suitable reading, I bought a magazine. I think it was Autocar.

Often when I go to the doctors, I’ll take a rather academic book, so that I don’t get treated like an idiot. Also something with substance and length as that seems to ensure I get seen quickly!

I waited for perhaps half an hour until twenty minutes after my appointment before I was seen by a nurse, who then asked whether I was taking the sedative. I said not, but I got the impression that most of the others were taking one.

She also said that as I have a crown on a front tooth, I was less likely to break that if I had a spray, as I wouldn’t bite so hard on the mouth piece through which the probe would pass.

Then at about a quarter past three, I was called in by the doctor.

The doctor, a Mr. Hardwick, again asked about the sedative and then outlined the procedure.

I did question him, as to why the consent form asked so many silly questions! I really don’t care at all about what happens to my body after I die, so long as it gets the respect it deserves. If it deserves any that is!

A few minutes later and he walked me through to the room where it was to be carried out.

Now I realised that except for the facts that a camera was being passed down my throat, through the stomach and into the duodenum, before a biopsy was to be taken, I didn’t know much else.

Would I be standing, sitting or lying? How big was the camera tube? After all I did know that sword swallowers appeared to take something substantial!

It’s funny, but whether because I was apprehensive or whether I didn’t want to interfere with the procedure, I didn’t take a look at the equipment out of my normal rather excessive curiosity. All I can remember is that it was made by Olympus. I hoped it gave better pictures than the last camera I bought of that make!

I was told that the throat spray was rather unpleasant and tasted of bananas. Why should bananas be unpleasant? I’ve always eaten at least one a day since I first saw one at the age of about five! (There weren’t any in London for several years after the war!)

The spray was fine and after a couple of sprays, I could feel my throat going numbish. But I still had full control and could swallow as required.

I was then asked to lie on the trolley and then I was turned onto my side.

Other instructions were given to try and swallow the probe and also to breathe normally. He also said that it was easier as I had not had the sedation and could co-operate with him. That sounded very reasonable!

I now had the mouth piece between my teeth and the doctor started to pass the probe down into my stomach. The probe was perhaps three to four millimetres in diameter. In other words considerably smaller than the occassional mint imperial, that I have swallowed by accident.

At this point, I should say that I am predominately a mouth breather and even with the mouth piece in, I was still breathing almost normally through my mouth, rather than the nose. Although I was trying to use it! I don’t think I was very successful!

As the tube progressed, I was asked to swallow and after a few attempts was able to progress it down my throat. I didn’t swallow more than about six to eight times.

I had also been worried because dentists have told me I have a strong gag reaction. It didn’t seem to be a problem!

Obviously, I was quiet and couldn’t talk. However, I did have a rather macabre thought as to whether they used the same probe if they were looking from the other end! I never asked the question!

It wasn’t that unpleasant and was no worse that having teeth drilled! It was a lot quieter and I only dribbled a very small amount.

It was also certainly better than the day in a dentist’s surgery in Smithdown Road in Liverpool, when I had the first crown fitted on my front tooth. I can still remember the smell of burning teeth!

I had been warned to expect wind as the probe entered my stomach, but really didn’t notice much and after perhaps two to three minutes the probe was in the duodenum. I hadn’t felt anything inside as the probe progressed. Was this due to the spray? I suspect it was.

So the first part was over and it wasn’t too bad at all! I hadn’t broken out in a sweat or anything like that, but it did find a bruise later on my knee, where the other one had been pushing into it, whilst I was trying to lie still!

They then took two biopsies by passing a tool down the probe. I thought I might have felt a slight prick as each was taken, but it may be that I was looking for something!

And that really was that!

A couple of minutes later, the probe had been removed and I was sitting on the trolley.

I was told that everything appeared normal and that they had got a couple of good biopsies. What constitutes a good one?

I was then told not to drink or eat anything before twenty to four and after a few minutes sitting on a chair, I walked out of the department, out of the hospital and back to my car.

My throat seemed slightly sore, but after a drink and some crisps as I filled up with petrol at the garage, everything seemed fine!

I ate a hearty meal that evening.

Conclusions

I think the first thing I should say, is that everything at Addenbrookes was very professional and I would have no complaint as to care.

Or any complaint about anything else for that matter!

Take the case of phoning before the procedure for advice about the throat spray!

This should always be available and I certainly found it very helpful as looking back, I think I made the right decision to have the spray rather than the sedative :-

1. The very fact that I was awake and fully conscious during the procedure must be a help to the staff, as they could tell me to do things and at least I could try to carry them out!

2. This must make the procedure quicker and more efficient, especially as there is no need for a recovery bed.

3. The nurse also told me that as I have full control of my jaw, which I wouldn’t have with the sedative, that there is less chance of dental damage.

Now having crowns fitted is definitely not pleasant!

4. But the biggest advantage to me of the throat spray, is that I walked out a few minutes later, drove home and within half an hour I was almost back to normal.

There is only one thing I would do to improve the system and that is to give more information to the patient.

If I had known more before I went to the hospital and had perhaps read an experience like this, I would have been less apprehensive.

It probably didn’t make any difference to me in the end, but someone of a more nervous disposition than myself, might just decide to be sedated rather than choose the spray.

So looking back about a week later as I write this, it doesn’t seem terrifying at all and I would recommend anybody who is asked to have a endoscopy, to have one without worrying too much!

And have the throat spray rather than the sedative!

Just relax and let the doctors and nurses get on with the job!

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Is Cambridge University Being Pragmatic About The East West Rail Link?

I must admit, I was a bit surprised, when it was announced in this article in Global Rail News, that the East West Rail Link would go via Sandy between Bedford and Cambridge. This is said.

Network Rail has selected the Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge corridor as its preferred route for the Central Section of the East West Rail project.

The preferred route was chosen from 20 options and will now be developed further with a view to producing a ‘line on a map’ route in May.

They also show this map.

East West Rail Link

East West Rail Link

Various other articles suggest that the route will also be via Bourne Airfield and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

I have traced the old route of the Varsity Line and very little seems to have been built on the route of the old line. Much too, seems to be on flat Cambridgeshire farmland and farmers are usually easily persuaded by alternative and profitable land uses.

The big problem is the old line is used as the track for the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory‘s Ryle Telescope. I’ve heard several times from astronomers in Cambridge was that it is very important and it was the major reason, why the railway line couldn’t be rebuilt on the old track-bed.

I do wonder, if Cambridge University values a direct link to Oxford highly and that as the Ryle Telescope is getting quite old, that it is better value to move it to allow the railway to be built.

A Quick Look At The Route

I’m starting at the Cambridge end and going East, as that is the area I know better.

The Varsity Line In Cambridge

This Google Map shows how the old Varsity Line connected to Cambridge station.

The Varsity Line In Cambridge

The Varsity Line In Cambridge

Note how the M11 curves to the West of Cambridge. You will notice, that there is a sandy coloured line going West from the motorway, which starts at the second blue market by the kite-shaped field, that identifies the road on the map. This is the disused trackbed of the Varsity Line and after passing under the motorway, through some housing in a cutting and under another road, it turns North to join the main Cambridge to London Rail Line.

Cambridge station is in the North-East corner of the map.

Cambridge Station

This Google Map shows Cambridge station and the rail lines going South from the station.

CambridgeStationAndThe VarsityLine

Note how after going under the bridge at the South End of Cambridge station, the main rail line goes off in a southerly direction pass the sports ground and then under the A1134.

Branching off from this rail line and going slightly to the West, there appears to be a second rail line. This is the trackbed of the Varsity Line, which has been converted into the Cambridge Guided Busway.

Cambridge station is a very busy station and has recently been upgraded with a long pair of island platforms and it is going to get even busier with Cambridge North station opening soon and Thameslink services due to call in a few years time.

The opening of Cambridge North station, may ease access to Cambridge station, as those living in or to the North of Cambridge, will be able to use the second station.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital

I have believed for many years, that there needs to be a Cambridge South station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. This is the view of many in Cambridge and the surrounding areas.

This Google Map shows Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the land to the West.

Addenbrookes

In addition to being a large general hospital, Addenbrooke’s is surrounded by major research institutions as the map shows.

It is generally sited to the East of the main railway line between Cambridge and London, which runs North-South down the map, with Cambridge station to the North and the junction where the Cambridge Line to Hitchin and the West Anglia Main Line divide just off the map to the South. The diagonal line to the South-West corner of the map, is the route of the Varsity Line, which has been partially reused for the Cambridge Guided Busway.

But there appears to be plenty of space to build a station for the hospital, which would be on both the main line and the East West Rail Link.

There is scope and space on this site to create a truly world-class station.

  • It would serve the hospital.
  • It would provide services on the West Anglia Main Line to London, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Kings Lynn and Stansted Airport.
  • Thameslink would provide services to all parts of London and many places in the South like Gatwick Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link would provide services to Bedford, Ipswich, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Oxford and Reading.
  • Cross country services would call, but would passengers use the East West Rail Link and a change at Beford or Milton Keynes?
  • Would the station be connected to Haverhill and Sudbury, by reopening the Stour Valley Railway? This would give Essex good access to the East West Rail Link.

I think that a truly bold station will take the pressure of the current Cambridge station, which is squeezed into the centre of the city.

 

The Mullard Observatory

The next section West of Cambridge and the M11 is currently the Mullard Observatory.

This Google Map shows the area.

Mullard Observatory

Mullard Observatory

The telescopes seem to be clustered to the north of the track in a triangular grouping around the middle. They used to be strung out along the line. So perhaps, the astronomers don’t need it any more, as their research has moved in a different direction.

Bourne And Gamlingay

From the Observatory, the old line is more or less intact and it curves to the South of Bourne Golf Club and through the village of Gamlingay, which used to have a station. An industrial estate has been built on the trackbed.

A more northerly route could also be taken, if it was desired to have a station to serve Cambourne.

There is certainly a lot of open countryside and a couple of sizeable villages, that could benefit from a station.

Potton

The line then goes on to Potton, where this Google Map shows the village, which had a station.

Potton

Potton

The green scar of the line can be seen, as it curves around the North-West of the village. I wonder if York House was the station.

 

Sandy

After Potton, the line goes through the countryside to Sandy, where the old Varsity Line came alongside the East Coast Main Line through Sandy station, before crossing the main line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Sandy, The East Coast Main Line And The Varsity Line

Sandy, The East Coast Main Line And The Varsity Line

Sandy station is towards the top of the map and you can just see how the old line curves around the headquarters of the RSPB.

One possibility in this area, is that there are proposals for a Sandy-Beeston by-pass on the A1, to remove a bottleneck. Surely, if the routes of the by-pass and the railway were considered together, planners might come up with a superior solution.

Bedford

The original route went via stations at Blunham, Willington and Bedford St. Johns and it still shows on the Google Map.

This Google Map shows the route as it joins the East West Rail Link at Bedford St. Johns station, which is on the Marston Vale Line, which is being incorporated into the East West Rail Link, to form the link between Bedford and Bletchley.

Bedford St Johns Station And The East West Rail Link

Bedford St Johns Station And The East West Rail Link

Note the green scar going between the bus garage (?) and the retail warehouses to the East. This was the old Varsity Line to Sandy.

If it were to be connected directly to the Marston Vale Line as it originally used to be, not all traffic would need to go to Bedford station.

Questions

I have some questions.

  1. How many of the old stations at Gamlingay, Potton, Blunham and Willington will be rebuilt?
  2. Will a more northerly alternative route from the Mullard Observatory to Sandy be better?
  3. Will there be a station at Sandy to link the East West Rail Link to the East Coast Main Line?
  4. Will a route be safeguarded to reopen the Stour Valley Line to Haverhill and Sudbury in the future?

Hopefully, these and other questions will be answered, when the definitive route is published.

Conclusions

After writing this, I’m surprised how much of the original line can be reinstated.

Certain factors have helped.

  • The desire of Cambridge to have a station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • A change in direction of the research at the Mullard Observatory or a pragmatic attitude on the part of the University.
  • The need to build a bypass on the A1 at Sandy and Beeston.
  • The ability to thread the railway through Bedford to link up with the Marston Vale Line.

I doubt there’ll be too much demolition of domestic properties or opposition to the route.

I also think, it will be pretty easy to build, as there don’t appear to be many bridges and viaducts.

 

 

March 30, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Will We See A Station At Addenbrooke’s?

Addenbrooke’s is the major hospital in Cambridge and it is starting to be surrounded by the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and a cluster of innovative medical companies.

Will We See A Station At Addenbrooke's?

Will We See A Station At Addenbrooke’s?

The picture shows the hospital sitting like a medical Ship of the Fens in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Public transport between the hospital and the centre of Cambridge and the Science Park relies on the Guided Bus, but as a station is being developed at the latter, it was no surprise that David Cameron suggested that there should be a station at Addenbrooke’s.

If Cambridge continues to develop, then the rail lines that fan out from the city will need to be developed, if only to allow more commuting into a crowded city. Cambridge may have a very good Park and Ride System, but getting from Cambridge Science Park station station to Bury St. Edmunds or Ipswich would mean a change of train at either Cambridge or Ely.

As all the lines in the area are either electrified or are being studied for possible electrification, I suspect we’ll see some extra lines, junctions and curves around Cambridge to improve transport routes, especially to improve links to the East West Rail Link.

The only certainty is that in a dozen years the Cambridge rail system will be unrecognisable from that we have today.

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment