James Miller - Coeliac Diary


Friday, October 31, 2003



Dinner at Scutchers with Caroline, John and Merryn. Good liver!

This restaurant is to be recommended for anyone who has any form of dietary requirement or allergy. As with any restaurant tell them when you book.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003



Went to the University of Hertfordshire to discuss how to monitor students constructively and without bias or prejudice.

Lunch in a pub and a memorable visit to the Mosquito Aircraft Museum just off the M25 at St. Albans. Go!

Friday, October 24, 2003

Maison Bleu


Finally, Celia's former chamber got round to saying goodbye.

We had a very good meal at Maison Bleu in Bury St. Edmunds. Only problem was the lack of starters. I had smoked salmon without the bread.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Real Tennis as a Health Index


Played tennis and we mused how Real Tennis with its very exact but simple to understand handicap system could be used as a health index.

You could have a series of weekly games, where selected individuals had a few drinks before and others didn't!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Chinese Takeaway


Supper was a Chinese take-away with Robert and Suzie at Thurston.

Took a lettuce to have with the duck! But it was off! Luckily Suzie had another! Crispy duck wrapped in lettuce is a good alternative to a pancake!

Suzie thought I looked well! What does she want?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003



Again I rushed up to London and rushed back.

I did snatch lunch in Carluccio's. As always quick and good!

Celia cooked some of Mrs. Leeper's gluten-free spaghetti in the evening. It was better than most before and tasted like pasta!

Monday, October 20, 2003



We woke to the news of Tony Blair and his SVT.

I've had that! Well I didn't know it at the time, but perhaps three or four years ago, I woke in a sweat with my heart racing! After a time it stopped, so perhaps it wasn't as bad as Tony's.

But then Mickey Clarke and Simon Mayo on BBC 5 Live also said they have suffered.

Perhaps, it's a disease of the male! Not heard of a woman who has suffered!

Sunday, October 19, 2003

A Busy Week


This was a very busy week, what with work, tennis, football and the racehorse sales.

I was tired at the end of it, but not that tired.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

A Very Busy Day


I started at six thirty with a bowl of Rice Krispies before setting off to Prested Hall for the UK Real Tennis Championships for those with a hindicap of 50 and above. In other words for the worst players.

Sixteen had entered and after two matches I progressed to the semi-finals, which will be held tomorrow.

Took the required energy from crips and Cruchies!

After that I rushed home and then went to Champions Day at Newamrket. I saw three good races, but missed the old warrier, Persian Punch, win the first! I suppose in human years, he must be 40 or 50 and he still keeps winning big races!

I was hungry after all my exertions and wanted to have something to eat! Wouldn't you?

But don't expect Letherby and Christopher to offer anything for anybody other than normal. I could not find any suitable snack. Even the dish of the day was moussaka, which of course had been made with flour.

Once you could get a nice plate of smoked salmon from Barry Cope or a baked potato, but now L & C have seen off all the comptitors, they make sure that everything is too much trouble.

The waiter who I asked about anything without flour, treated me like a leper!

Compare this with a few weeks ago at Ascot. There we had some very nice sea-food in Wheelers.

Just after four it was in the car again and off to Ipswich for the football. More crisps and Crunchies!

At least when I got home, Celia had prepared a very welcoming supper.

Friday, October 17, 2003



Celia's new Mini needed it's first service today and I had that done whilst I played tennis.

Had the most urbane and cultured tax-driver for the trip from the garage to the centre and back! He was from Afghanistan and spoke better English than I do!

Dinner was at the Ristorante Caruso in Newmarket. Not bad, but a limited choice of starters! I had ham and melon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

On The Road


I was in London most of the day and then rushed to Ipswich for the Town's match against Burnley. We won by six goals to one. It could have been more!

But again, I seemed to live on fizzy drinks, Crunchies and crisps. There just is no sensible alternative to sandwiches. I suppose I should have had a meal in a cafe, but I didn't have the time!

If I hadn't gone to the football, I could have gone to the Star!

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Bread and Cakes


Since I gave up bread and cakes to go on a gluten-free diet, I must admit that I have missed some of the bread and biscuits.

But I haven't missed the cakes, as I seldom eat them!

The non-eating of cakes started when I refused one with my mother-in-law. You could never say maybe with her, as it was either yes or no. So after that it was always no, otherwise I would have to eat one, whether I liked it or not!

It was the same with puddings too!

So since then, I've hardly eaten either!

But was my body telling me something as well?

I've experimented with various breads and cakes since and with one exception they are not worth eating.

The bread is heavy and tasteless or light and tasteless!

The various corn and rice cakes are alright, but they are not very filling and need something substantial on top!

The one exception was a sticky ginger cake from Bakers Delight. They have a good web site with lots of information.

I think I'll just stick to cold new potatoes as a filler!


Sticking To The Diet


I'm still feeling better than I did a few months ago, so even if I don't have coeliac disease, I think I'll stick to the diet.

A Day of Sport


It was very much a day of watching sport on the television.

The Japanese Grand Prix was followed by three matches from the Rugby World Cup.

The roll was improved by putting scrambled egg and ham on it, but it was still tasteless!

After the film, Bright Young Things, in the evening at the Cambridge Arts Picture House, I had more ham and eggs at Pizza Express.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Gluten-Free Bread and Cakes


Celia bought some gluten-free rolls and some cakes at Waitrose today. The rolls were like the awful Energen ones my mother used to eat to try and diet! But the cakes from Bakers Delight were delicious.

I went to watch the England game in the early evening at Stuart's. Had to take my own Guinness!


Friday, October 10, 2003

Tennis Handicap


More tennis today and the handicap is getting better.

Is that due to the diet and feeling better or am I just improving?

Supper in the Thai in Newmarket.

Thursday, October 09, 2003



I had a charming e-mail from Tim about his five year old daughter and her reactions and thoughts on Coeliac.

Not sure whether I can send a message back, but I'd like to publish the e-mail here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003



If Guinness are right then I can drink the Original.

Just like my father did!

I had one tonight and it tasted good!


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Fergus Molloy


Fergus Molloy and I had lunch.

Just ham, egg, chips and beans at the Bull. All good and 'gluten-free'.

Although we hadn't met, Fergus was very much associated with Artemis in that he did a lot of independent selling and consultancy.

We finally met by chance on Audley End station, when we were both going to London! Weird!

Fergus has been lucky because he survived lung cancer that was caught in very early stages at hospital in Cambridge.

Why do people smoke?

Fergus had given up some years ago, so it didn't save him from the knife!

Monday, October 06, 2003

Breast Cancer


Heard today that someone I'd met, but who knows Celia well, has just been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer!

What I might have is almost trivial!

Sunday, October 05, 2003

The Big One Out of the Way


So! I've now got the big one out of the way!

Not too bad at all! And I'd do it again, if I had too without question! I'd also volunteer to have it filmed, if it would help others!

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Racing at Newmarket


Racing was at Newmarket for the Cambridgeshire.

The catering is very untrustworthy there, so I didn't eat anything.


Friday, October 03, 2003

My Endoscopy


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!

The Day of the Endoscopy


I got up early and had a last cup of tea at six!

The endoscopy wasn't that bad. Well, let's say that when I had lumps taken out of my left eye under a local anaesthetic, that that was worse!

After the procedure, I went straight back on the diet. It makes me feel so much better!

Thursday, October 02, 2003



I went to London to see clients!

Took Henry's Mini back to him after his holidays and then came home via Bury St. Edmunds to pick up my MG.

People moan about transport in the UK, but it took me only a few minutes longer in the rush hour to get to his house in Walthamstow and I was only about five minutes late back into Cambridge despite the fact that Kings Cross is still short of two platforms due to the derailment a couple of weeks ago!


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Worry! Worry!


Work and dinner at the Star.

Worrying about the procedure though! Especially now I seem to be getting some sort of virus!