Things are not always how they seem

I met quite a few interesting people during my walk of Hadrian’s Wall last month. On Day 3 when Chris and I were accompanied by Dave Taylor, we could see a couple heading up the hill that we were progressing down.  We couldn’t help noticing that the male of the duo was continually stopping to talk to others and we were no exception.  His wife kept overtaking him at these points not saying a word. He got chatting to me and Dave and we worked out he was Irish.  I love Irish people and I know they like to talk – but this guy was really good at it!  We discussed where we were all from and he proceeded to tell us that most big companies in the world were run by Irish people or those descended from Irish people. He also spoke pretty fast but fortunately Dave and I had been trained to receive morse code at 1000 words per minute and were able to handle it 🙂  He also let us know the Queen had visited Dublin 60 years too late and that “people seemed to have grown up”. He also waxed lyrical about his house on the West coast of Ireland claiming that he would be able to see New York if it wasn’t for the earth’s curvature.  Again that got Dave and I thinking as we had both been trained to work out line of sight radio paths taking the earth’s curvature into account 🙂 Can’t remember why but we got onto the subject of Holland and he then claimed that most Dutch companies were run by Irishmen!  It was difficult but we managed to extricate ourselves after 15 minutes of this slightly strange one way conversation.  This was roughly in the centre of the walk and we both predicted he would have a broken nose by Newcastle.

On the evening of the next day, Chris and I met two ladies in our lodgings and I couldn’t help noticing one of them appeared to be a bit abrupt. This continued during the evening meal where I was a bit taken aback to be told by someone I had only met 10 minutes earlier, that I must be stupid because I mentioned that I get someone to proof read my blogs before publishing.  I’m a lot mellower nowadays but I do know one or two people who (shall we say) would not have been anywhere near as calm as I was about this situation.  I found out later this lady was autistic and we then went on to have a really nice chat and meal.  I’m so glad I didn’t react in a different way and have since taken the time to find out about something I don’t understand – this site is helpful if you are similarly inclined:   Thus my message title – ‘Things are not always how they seem’.

You could make the same mistake about other illnesses where things are sometimes not quite how they seem.  For a time I was curious as to why Neuroendocrine Cancer is associated with the Zebra. It took a while for me to get the connection.  Apparently, Medical staff are trained using the saying ‘if you hear hoofbeats, think horse’ and a ‘Zebra’ is medical slang for arriving at an ‘exotic’ medical diagnosis when a more commonplace explanation is more likely.  I get this but surely the exotic stuff should be discounted rather than forgotten about?

Neuroendocrine cancer is rare and some of its symptoms can mimic ‘run of the mill’ problems that a lot of people face from time to time.  It can be diagnosed by accident during invasive procedures for something more common (e.g. appendicitis – you may remember me saying this was a common site for primary neuroendocrine tumours) – these discoveries would be a surprise if the person was asymptomatic (as is often the case with this cancer). It can also be found during diagnosis of some other illness where cancer isn’t initially suspected, for example exposed via a scan – and even then it may not lead to diagnosis of the correct cancer until further downstream.  This scenario might even be the end of a long chain of vague problems – perhaps over years. Neuroendocrine Cancer forum and patient support sites are jam-packed with stories of years of misdiagnosis.  I blogged a couple of times about this here: and:

When I look at my own experience, I would appear to be somewhere in the middle and the way in which my cancer was eventually diagnosed leads me to think I had a bit of luck  – but following a period of ignorance on my part (AKA lack of awareness and feeling of invincibility).  If you remember, I nonchalantly told my asthma nurse I had lost a ‘wee bit of weight’.  That could have gone two ways ………… fortunately she sent me for a blood test and here I am now 🙂  If you want to read or hear more about my cancer diagnosis experience, check this blog:


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