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Full Circle

Day 112: Kuching

Michael Palin - Full CircleEarly in the morning, in a small flotilla of canoes, we take to the river and head south and west, back to Kuching, leaving a line of chickens at the waterside to peck away at the remains of the feast, and Nanga Sumpa to recover from its hangover.

The surface of the reservoir shines like patent leather in the clear morning light and suddenly we are back amongst schools and fish farms and rubber plantations and the bus is waiting by the dam to take us ever onwards.

Waiting at the hotel in Kuching are two faxed messages from our office in London. One for me and one for Steve. Steve can hardly wait to get upstairs. His new baby is due any time. I'm not expecting any babies - that happened a long time ago - but whenever I'm away I still subconsciously worry about my three children, even though they're better able to look after themselves than I am.

So I ring with some trepidation, and talk to my wife and this is how I learn that she has a meningioma, a benign brain tumour. We must have spent weeks, if not months on the telephone together since we met thirty odd years ago but I never remember a call quite like this. Helen is magnificent, giving me a clear, unsensational explanation of what has happened and bringing me down from near panic-stricken to merely shaken by the end of a fifty minute call.

The facts are that she has had a series of severe headaches, the last of which were accompanied by loss of feeling in her arm. Encouraged by friends and family she had a brain scan two days ago which revealed a large, benign growth, outside the brain, but inside the skull. The neurosurgeon says removal is safe and routine and proposes to operate in four days' time.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 112
  • Country/sea: Malaysia
  • Place: Kuching
  • Book page no: 162

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