The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.

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The End

Mrs Furlong crossed the finish line yesterday morning, on Easter Sunday 2023.

Thank you for being interested in her life and stories.


Oh dear

Whatever day I wrote “Slough of despair” on, when the vet proclaimed Bass, the dog ILL, our lives have turned upside down.

The dog was not just sick, but life threateningly sick. The vet discovered a massive bleed from the huge tumour on his spleen. We had a choice, of removing the spleen and tumour, and if we were lucky, the tumour would test benign. Dogs can live without a spleen if the tumour tests benign. But the kind of cancer that likes spleens, is usually frightfully aggressive and life expectancy after removal, is three to six months.

The vet offered to put him to sleep either immediately or if the tests were cancerous.

We have decided to gamble. Maybe we’ll get lucky. The tumour has been sent for testing. We’ll know in a few days.

So far, Bass has been a model patient since he came out of hospital.

He may not bark, walk, jump, go up or down stairs, get excited, be stressed, and a hundred other things I have forgotten for two weeks.

So far, he has been VERY good boy!

His owners on the other hand are pretty distraught.


Slough of despair


After my oesophogealitis episode, my innards are not right. I changed doctors practices because of the lack of care.

No one listens to my story, my theory that since such violence in my vomiting, I have displaced summat to the left of my sternum. But before I saw the new doctor, I wrote an email to him which was delivered to him by the receptionist. He read it through whilst we were there, and ordered an ultrasound and local pain clinic visit at the town’s hospital. That’s an improvement because the last doctor made it clear I’d be referred for that to some hell and gone place in the Midlands, miles away.

I am now able to see my patient notes on “Patient Access”. Let me assure you, they are pauce, badly written, and lacking in any useful detail.

I have fallen into a slough of despair about doctors.

They can’t write.

They can’t summarise.

They never commit themselves.

They actually know nothing about you.

The date for my ultrasound is set. So at least someone is going to look!

In the meantime, Bass, our dog, is behaving very strangely. He’s not eating, lying in dark places/funny places, simply lying about. The vet says there’s nothing wrong with him. That cost £75.

Mr Furlong says “It’s almost like he’s mourning.”

That’s put a cat amongst my pigeons!

I hope Bass is not mourning for ME….

UPDATE. Mr Furlong has had to rush Bass, the dog, to the vet. The dog is ILL, not mourning. Awaiting results.


Split with reality

Saturday is grandkids day. Usually we watch a movie that Granddad has carefully chosen. But yesterday the kids chose the movie.

Two movies in fact.

The first was ‘Leggoland’ which sounded OK to Granddad.

The kids loved it. It was loud, violent, ugly, confusing, muddled HELL. The dialogues were so fast and un understandable they would have scrambled the most intelligent brain. Flashing scenes, assaulted our eyes, noise our ears. And disgust that someone, ANYONE, could dish up such tripe for kids.

The second film they chose was ‘Sonic the Hedgehog no 2’ It had a message. Hero’s must have responsibility. And it had conversations a brain might understand and several funny scenes. So it passed, just. The grandson LOVES Sonic it turns out.

Everyone can be a Hero nowadays evidently. You can be anything you want evidently.

You can save the world from the Apocalypse.

I just hope my Grandchilden can write a decent essay when the time comes. And have some logic of mind.

And that my Grandson doesn’t ‘come out ‘ as a Blue Hedgehog called Sonic and gets blue hair implants on his chest and private parts!

I wonder what his Pronouns might be?



When I left the surgery I have been a customer at, I handed in my letter which was tentatively put together in my last post. It was shorter, better, more succint and impoved in every way. It was a reproval for the way the surgery is run.

My sister said “You’d better join a new surgery chop chop, in case something happens to you.”

Well, last night it did.

I was trying to get my foot brace off whilst standing next to my bedroom chair. Alongside it was my walker/pusher thingy with two useful shelves for carrying stuff around the house.

To keep my balance, I meant to grab the chair, but grabbed onto my walker/pusher thingy instead.

As I went down flat on my back, bottom and right hip I remember what the occupational therapist said to me when she brought it to me….

“Do NOT hold onto this if you lose your balance”.

She must have repeated this instruction several times, explaining my trolley moves.

As I went down last night I remembered her last injuction as she left.

“NEVER hold onto your trolley if you are overbalancing. It will move!”

And it did.


Mr Furlong kindly pulled me up off the floor.

Two good things are:-

1. I seem unhurt.

2. Yesterday I joined another doctors surgery.


To The Surgery

To The Surgery,

30th January 2023

re – The impossibility of getting an appointment

Dear Surgery,

My doctor is supposed to be XXX – or XXX.

Like most customers at your surgery, I have had to settle for phone appointments from our doctors. These are sufficient some times IF YOUR DOCTOR KNOWS YOU. But getting a face to face appointment with one’s doctor one has to wait four to six weeks!

XXX is at The Surgery on Monday, but to get an appointment, I was told I had to phone first thing on Monday morning. Has anyone at the The Surgery tried to phone at eight o clock in the morning? Do you know what your customers endure?

Why are there no more staff than the embattled few to deal with that?

Why are there not more doctors? Are the SIXTEEN doctors you employ part timers? Are they earning a better living doing private consultations? Are they off exploring the South Pole?

Where are the doctors?

Recently I was in a crises situation. I phoned early morning for a doctor, any doctor, to phone me. Nothing happened. My daughter phoned to remind you. Nothing. Eventually, in the evening the ‘duty’ doctor phoned. She was as helpful as could be. She advised I should go to Lancaster A&E, who despite a five hour wait and a waiting room full of people, announced we must all go home as there were “no doctors”. It was Friday 16th December 2022.

I am shocked by my experience, the lack of a surgery doctor until evening when I needed one in the day, and the dreadful conditions at A&E.

Here, At The Surgery, I would expect you to employ doctors who can actually respond to an urgent call and be seen face to face when one needs to see them. One needs to see them when one needs to see them, not in four to six weeks time as you say on your website because you are so ‘busy’. What are you busy doing? What are The Surgery doctors doing? Surely if you haven’t enough staff for your business, you should employ more?

I am a very disillusioned customer, (I think one of many!) Your system is not good enough.

Every Doctors’ Surgery is only a business after all.


6th February 2023 – To The Surgery

Today I got up early to “phone the surgery at eight o’clock in the morning”.

At 25 PAST eight, your number “was not accepting calls at the moment”.

I think your instruction should be “phone after eight thirty”.

There are miraculously only more “than ten” people in my queue.

I have had to endure numerous notifications, which is hateful.

None of the other Surgeries have this. One other surgery, the receptionist took my call immediately. The second was on call back.

As I sit waiting, listening to the eternal notifications, I am doing Math in my head.

In our town, there are almost 30 000 people. Divided by 3 (for three surgeries that we have) each surgery may, or may not, have 10 000 customers. Your Surgery have the most doctors and probably the most customers. And the worst service! The reviews on the web give you the least points stating “the inability to make an appointment” first, and secondly, the “ghastly prescription service”.

Seeing I am still holding on after half an hour, repeating eternal messages to me is pointless as I have already heard them repeatedly.

Ooo! FIVE online in the queue!


Holding, holding – notifications for idiots who heard it all the first time continue…..

Screaming point is approaching…….

I am next in line in the queue!

Notifications continue……

I am next in line in the queue!

9:30 All is settled. A phone appointment with my doctor of choice in two days time, and a face to face in a MONTH.

This is almost miraculous! It took an hour and a half, of suffering.


To The Surgery.

I think old people like me, who remember the days when the doctor was almost a member of the family, got invited to weddings and funerals and who KNEW you, prefer to have a doctor who knows them. The excuse given to have a random doctor “because they can just read the notes” is weak.

1. Doctors are reading the notes while you are on the phone, or in an appointment. That is no time for the stuff they read to sink in.

2. Doctors write very bad notes. And summarise INCORRECTLY what you said.

3. Doctors have no spell checks on their computers.

4. Doctors notes are often wrong because they have misunderstood in their hurry, been ignorant of your circumstances, or, in their rush, misheard you.

5. Simply, the notes are skimpy, incorrect, or summarised into a medical word.

Who has given the Medical Industry the idea that in a practice business like yours, other doctors “can just read your notes”?

At The Surgery, we are given a choice to chose “our doctor”, but the way of the future seemingly, is to not bother. Any random doctor will do. In my notes on my recent horrible experience, your receptionist asked me “What do you want to see a doctor for?” Well, actually it’s none of her business. And offensive. When I said “same old stuff”, she read from my notes – “Had trouble eating and swallowing”!

This “trouble eating and swallowing” is a vast understatement. The whole experience was the most terrifying experience of my life. Far worse than the post-partum stroke I had in 1980.

And there was no one to help me.

From you.

Or Lancaster Hospital.

No one at The Surgery has a clue!

Because of my experience that I recount to others, I have heard bad stories from other people. I think you are living in a bubble where your customers are not speaking out.

I am not a “trouble maker”. I do not want to make a “formal complaint”. I am speaking the TRUTH that other people are not telling you – not even in your Patient Group, to which I belong. I cannot attend because it is scheduled at 9:00 am. A time when old people, disabled people, have enormous difficulty attending.

Thank you,


King of the garden

This area of the UK had record breaking – 11 cold nights a while ago.

The Furlong flat has a back garden with a stunning very large kind of unidentified Tropical Palm tree in it. It grew from an unidentified tiny thing bought by the previous owner at the Sunday market many years ago. The Furlongs have been here almost seven years during which it produced yet another shoot that must have grown two meters in that time. We’ve loved it. The birds have loved it. It has produced many baby birds from the haven of its fronds.

It’s about those fronds which hang down at the end of their lives and fall off now and again, or are blown off during high winds. The Furlongs have to pick them up. It’s a nuisance we have endured in exchange for beauty.

Several weeks ago, everything changed. ALL the fronds turned a funny colour, and ALL of them despatched themselves all over our garden. It became overwhelming. The thick palm boles split open and I suspected a fungus, or a disease of some kind.

We called for help from The Tree Man who had worked for us in our last village. He and his side kick did a magnificent first clean up. The fronds are still lurching themselves all over the garden, so when they have all dropped off Mr Tree Man and his side kick will come again.

Mr Tree Man KNOWS stuff about trees.

He tells us that in our area ALL the Palms are dying.

They are not dying from disease, they are dying from – 11 nights during the last cold snap.

Our King is dead.

But Mr Tree Man is not going to dig it out just yet, only cut it down. There might be a remote chance that it might produce an heir.

Our King is dead. Long live our King!



These old Furlongs’ friend died. When you get to our age, your friends die.

This is the first one for 2023.

We got notified by mail.

Our friend simply toppled over whilst serving Sunday lunch at the kitchen table. And that was that!

She always had good taste.

We laughed a lot together with her. I will tell you the best story ever.

When she was younger she lived in a block of flats where the ground floor flats had a small piece of grass outside each flat. One day, she was out walking her dog. As she arrived home, her dog peed on her next door neighbour’s grass. The neighbour burst out of her door and exploded with rage. Our friend said, “Please don’t worry, this can be easily sorted. You go home and make a sign saying KEEP OFF THE GRASS, and I’ll go home and teach my dog to read.”

Our friend was always quick off the mark when it came to humour.

And Death.

No lingering, just DO it.

Good on you lovely friend. Go well.

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That night again

This old Furlong has some God awful nights.

Last night was a ‘could not settle and ‘fighting the duvet’ one.

Could not settle involves removing a hair from the lip, adjusting for a cold ‘leak’ of air at back of neck, feeling another hair on eyelashes, a feather on the cheek, repairing the new leak of cold at back of neck, sneezing, suddenly feeling an itch on the shoulder that entails sitting up to scratch.

Settling again. Groundhog Day.

At last after finding hairs, finding air leaks and itches, sleep comes.

The night battle begins.

The duvet is puffy, heavy and annoying. It makes crunching noises as the feathers move around in it. It’s filled with the remains of what used to be living creatures come to life and cloying at me. It’s supposed to be warm, but it is HOT and noisy. The only time it looks good and luxurious is when the bed is made. It invites you to climb in on a cold winter night.

No more will I succumb to its lies.

It’s a trap.

Today I shall roll it up, securely bound with elastic straps so it cannot escape, and store it at the bottom of the linen cupboard.


On suicide

When I was in high school, at a Convent in Africa, I remember an event.

I remembered it because of the three girls who committed suicide in one place, The Priory, which is all over the UK news at the moment.

We had a really nice common room at our school, a huge rondaval, in which there were comfortable sofas and chairs. The centre was clear for activities and there was a really good Radiogram. We kept up with the news. I was a senior. One night we heard the news that Marilyn Monroe had committed suicide. It seemed devastating news.

That night an event happened in the Convent, that unbeknown to us was happening all over the World. One of us tried to commit suicide.

I don’t know how it was discovered, maybe another girl ‘told’, but us seniors, were dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to the Infirmary. Our job was to walk, walk, walk and talk, talk, talk until the doctor arrived. And then again till the ambulance arrived which it eventually did. And our attempted suicide was whipped away.

We were allowed to sleep in in the morning.

I can’t remember if the girl ever came back to school, but I think she lived.

There was an epidemic of copycat suicides in young girls after the death of Marilyn Monroe.

Suicide is catchy.

Nowadays, people blasted with constant horrors of the new apocalypse culture shared via social media, will find suicide even more meaningful than the death of one actress who may or may not have committed suicide.

Suicide is catchy.

Or have we forgotten?

Nowadays, it seems that someone else must always take the blame.