Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Wonders of Croydon

Yesterday Dave and I went down to Her Majesty's immigration office in Croydon to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, or permission to stay in Britain indefinitely. This was the culmination of our months of paperwork and test-taking, and the good news is, Her Majesty likes us. Our application was approved.

It turned out to be a daylong adventure. We had a "premium" appointment, which sounds very Hyacinth Bouquet -- "I really must have a premium appointment, Richard. In a room bearing the royal warrant." We turned up at 10:30 a.m., shortly before the appointed time, and within an hour and a half we'd made our application, which involved a considerable stack of pay stubs and bank statements and all sorts of other stuff.

The man who took our documents, photographed and fingerprinted us said everything should be ready for pickup in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, he said, we could wait around, or we could go see "the wonders of Croydon." This was sort of an inside joke, because Croydon is not known for any wonders whatsoever. Nonetheless we decided to explore. We left the building and passed through the tired-looking shopping center across the street, which we first visited a couple of years ago when we got our visas renewed, and then went walking down an outdoor pedestrian mall. Ultimately we found a pub with the rather provocative name of The Spreadeagle, where we had an alcohol-free lunch.

We got back to the immigration office around 1 p.m., but apparently things were busier than usual because our documents weren't ready until after 4 p.m.

The good news is, I used the time to finish "Herzog," which was one of the more challenging novels I've read in a while. I enjoyed parts of it, and I can appreciate Saul Bellow's writing and his genius. But parts of it definitely got bogged down in philosophical questions and conundrums, which I understand were meant to show us the state of the protagonist's mind, but at the same time were exhausting to read. So, overall, a mixed bag.

We arrived back home last night relieved to have that task completed. But then waiting for me was a frustrating letter from the National Health Service, in which my dermatologist said the procedure performed on my forehead in July "showed the presence of scaly sun damage called actinic keratosis. Looking at the specimen at the deep margin, there was a suggestion of possible early development of a type of low-risk skin cancer but nothing certain." He went on to suggest another surgery, "removing the scar with some stitches," and said he would put me on the schedule to have it done.

So it sounds to me like they're concerned that more cancer cells, or pre-cancer cells, may remain. But even their original diagnosis was quite tentative. If all we have is an uncertain possibility of low-risk skin cancer, is that really a good reason to cut more tissue out of my face? Can't we just wait and see whether another spot develops? I mean, this spot they removed was tiny. Even the doctors kept talking about how small it was. So I'm going to consult with them and see whether another immediate surgery is really necessary. I may seek a second opinion.

(Photos: The wonders of Croydon! Top, some buildings near the immigration office. Bottom, an artwork depicting Winston Churchill in the words of his "We shall fight on the beaches" speech.)


  1. May I suggest that you go back to your GP - hopefully a specific GP you have seen before - in order to discuss the most recent communication from the specialist. I am sorry to learn that the story isn't over - as we expected it would be.

  2. Oh, Steve! I suppose they're just really into preventative health.
    But the good news is no matter what- you'll be in England where the health care is FREE!!!!!
    (I've never been able to enjoy Bellow.)

  3. Congratulations on jumping through all the hoops for permanent residency. When things are so iffy as in your skin condition , it's difficult to make a decision.

  4. Your Premium appointment made me laugh ! AND made me very happy, congratulations, best news of the day! Sorry about you doctor stuff, that can be frustrating. I am wondering is a tincture
    of medical marijuana would benefit your skin- seems that now it is finally legal here it has proven to be a panacea for all sorts of ailments related to cancer cells- and other things. Yours sound treatable maybe without having to have sharp things poke your face. Just a thought- a trip to Amsterdamn? Actually I could probably send some through the post with other things, I don't think it is dog sniffable.

  5. glad to hear all that paperwork and testing came to the desired result. as for your face, I've had plenty of actinic keratosis but the doc here has always just frozen them off. if that's what they are seeing I don't understand either why they want to cut it out...again.

  6. I agree with what Ellen (the above comment) said about freezing actinic keratosis. Roger has had several spots treated quite successfully that way. I hope they will try that before more cutting. Your appointment day sounds very long, but at least you had some opportunities for some very cool photos.

  7. I love that art of Churchill based on his words, and Mrs. Bucket (bouquet) would approve of your premium appointment. I went through some similar health appointments due to years of sitting in the sun when younger. Now I am a big fan of hats!

  8. You really did find some wonders in Croydon. I like both of the photos! And, I laughed out loud at the Hyacinth quote. I can just hear her saying it. So sorry about the doctor's letter to spoil the day. Getting another opinion or at least discussing it with the doctor is a good idea. It will certainly help you understand your options.

  9. Congrats you landed Londoners! Glad all that is behind you. I marvel often at the turns your life has taken since I first met you, when you were working across the street from me at the New York Times! (I was at 1500 Broadway at 43rd Street and the Times hadn't yet moved into its fancy fancy new building.)

    As for the forehead, what a bummer. Yes, a second opinion, but better safe than sorry I suppose. In any case you seem to be a champion healer. Your forehead looked completely better in your Florida pics, despite the early removal of stitches.

    As for Croydon, wonder is in the eye of the wanderer. See what I did there? I'm having a very corny morning.

  10. Ack - I don't like when a medical issue is "up in the air" like that, still hanging around after you think it's taken care of! Second opinion = good. But more bother.

    Congratulations on being approved to stay in Britain! Who wouldn't love to have you and Dave living in their land, really??

    I like that picture of Churchill. You did manage to find things of interest after all.

  11. I'm glad you're finished with the residency process! Nice to not have to worry about that now. And I agree about a second opinion, or talking to your primary care doctor. I didn't really even understand what the letter said!

  12. Happy to hear you got that far in Croydon.

    Please remember, the spot may have been tiny to your eyes, but cancer cells are even tinier, one of the reasons electron microscopes are continually updated, their size makes them no less vicious. That and the speed in which they can spread elsewhere/anywhere in your body once they have made it their home. So, do get a second opinion and don't play it lightly.

  13. If anyone was going to get a cancer your cancer is the best to get, if that makes sense
    But you know that