Category Archives: Health

Thank you

 

Yes. Thank you to everyone who sent good wishes, love and concern for me yesterday, as I fought another day in what I referred to as my ‘ ear war’ or in the long lonely months since July, struggling to swallow, clear my air passages, or hear and indeed to be heard. I am sure all the staff at my local health centre might have referred to me as their local ‘headcase’ when they saw me coming or heard my voice on the phone.

I must pay special tribute to my new neighbours, who, when I went to ask them to keep a watchful eye on my house, if I was admitted to the hospital ward, insisted on driving me over to the hospital. Robert even wanted to carry my overnight bag and sit and wait with me until I was seen.  Sandra came to collect me when I was finished for the day and released. She told me that Robert had tears in his eyes when he came home, having left me all alone at the door of the hospital, to fend for myself.

Your love and concern helped me as I played the waiting game between doctors and Consultants yesterday. The online bantering certainly helped.

Arvind, all the way over in Bengaluru/Bangalore, India, told me to “Cheer up. Relax. Uncross all the fingers, toes and whatever…”. They were just the words I needed to put my problem into perspective.

My loss of perspective came to a head last week, the antibiotics were increased to the highest level that could be safely given as an outpatient. My ‘Urgent’ ENT appointment had a SIX Month waiting list… For five days I was unable to get out of my pjs, except to wash down as far as possible, up as far as possible and… not forget ‘possible’!

My hobby of crochet & knitting evaporated, there were days when I awoke in the chair with the needles still in my hand, and nothing to show for it. I was sleeping for 80% of my days. Over four of those days I did not hear a living voice, I had no desire to hear a voice or need to make a reply. Over the past months those who did phone, were concerned about me, The questions were all the same, I was sounding like a broken record repeating and repeating the same words, hearing no news from outside my four walls. My problems grew to fill my space. Boring bigtime.

Back to yesterday,

On my way home from my GP to pick up my overnight bag, which is always packed, I met a friend on the street. We greeted each other with the usual genuine warm smiles, this time we were both wearing our ‘street faces’. She asked how I was, my reply was “Don’t ask! I have been with my GP and am now on my way to A&E, so hopefully next I see you, I will have some news”. I followed up with “No need to worry, I am not pregnant!”.

Asking how she was, I learned that she was just home from England and a visit to her mother. Her brother died… it came slowly… He was missing for three days before his body was found. I asked no questions, I still have all my siblings, so had no idea of how she was feeling inside, but I could empathise with her.

Suddenly…

My problems were minuscule!

PS: This is not a pity me post. It is yet another example of perspective. Stay at home and the problem grows to fill your space. Go outside and you soon learn that others carry a far heavier burden.

Who pulled the plug?

Well that is what it felt like. Invisible plugs in the soles of my feet were pulled and all my energy drained faster than a full bath scented with my favourite bath oils.

No need to worry it is just a blip… CFS/ME is something that has been part of my health package for about fourteen years. It happens suddenly. Unexpectedly. Elly is one of the few people that can read the signs. She has seen the colour drain from my face and my body suddenly droop to a wobbly jelly. This time she was nowhere near me and busy with work and her own life – that is as it should be – I gave her life and not a life sentence to be tied to my apron strings for life.

Over the years I learned to read the signs, slow down and rest.

This time I had other things on my mind and blamed the ‘tiredness’ on what I was trying to do, so kept going.

  • My friend recovering from a fractured hip, returned home on 10th February. She needed some help with shopping etc., and my daily visits did mean that I actually sat for at least an hour to chat.
  • I was expecting visitors (Post for another day.)
  • I cut my finger badly. It has healed well on the surface, but internally it will never be the same. So now I have two index fingers that refuse to work on a touch screen – First World Problems
  • Regular weekly appointments to attend.

This is NOT a ‘pity me’ post, it is an explanation for my absence from blogging. So no sympathy comments or I will unfriend and block you. SERIOUSLY!! I do not need sympathy, it is energy I need.

In these circumstances the longer I push against the grain… the harder the recovery time. It took me all my time to getup, wash, dress and make my meals. Thankfully my freezer was well stocked with home prepared meals allowing me to thaw, heat and eat them.

There were aches and pains in all my limbs and back. Even reading made my eyes heavy and concentration evaporated.

Thinking. Thinking of a few words to put on a page became impossible. I actually closed down the laptop and put it away. I almost returned to pre technology days with only the odd visit to Facebook so family would know I was alive.

That might explain my lack of posting in the last few months:-

  • January: 6 posts
  • February: 12 posts

Tuesdays are when I go to Parlour Yarns for my weekly injection of fun people happily knitting or crocheting, nattering & laughing. I normally come home full of ideas, stories, high energy and good spirits.

Two weeks ago I had to push myself to attend. During my morning I managed three rounds of a crochet granny square… it was all I could do. Before I came home, Jennifer our leader encouraged and gave me an idea. A simple idea. It was just what I needed to get back on track.

Once home, fed and rested, I gathered all the odd remnants of yarn, the half used balls and all the odds and sods lurking at the bottom of a large see through storage crate. They were every colour of the rainbow and more.

I began a corner to corner (C2C) crochet throw in random colours, a first for me. Each line was a different colour and the early rows used up the little scraps of colour. The different textures and colours worked well together.

C2C Shrug

C2C Shrug

It became like a drug. I sat in my corner at every opportunity… my plan was to work to fifty rows before beginning the decreasing, with a finishing border all round the edge to complete it.  It was so relaxing and distracted me from my aches and frustrations.

I have worked the fifty increase rows and now am ten rows down on the decreases with all this yarn still to play with:

Oddments of yarn

Oddments of yarn

I feel the energy slowly returning. No way am I ready to climb Cave hill, but by the time the rain stops and the throw is finished… I might be ready to take my camera for a dander.

My finger

On January 25 a carrot, a sharp knife and my finger were involved in a contretemps.

I saw red.

Pumping red!

I ran to the bathroom for a plaster. It would not stick to my finger.

Pumping hell!

I wrapped the finger in a clean face flannel and that changed colour instantaneously. I rewrapped the damaged digit in a fresh dressing and a cool damp clean face flannel and held it in the air. I needed help.

The health centre is a mile away. No way could I drive one handed, and walking that far would surely leave a stream of blood from door to door.

The kitchen looked like a massacre had occurred. Blood on the counter, the draining board, the cooker and on the floor. The bathroom was not much better. Darn blood thinners – they sure keep the red stuff running! :sad:

💡 I could phone a friend. It might not make a millionaire out of me, but she might save my life.

Emily jumped to the rescue and became my flying angel for the morning. She even arrived with a great big towel to soak up the juice. She sat patiently waiting while I was looked after and on the way home we stopped for a coffee. It was just what I needed before going home to clear up the murder evidence.

So you see from my recent posts, I had plenty of excuses for staying away from blogging over the past month.

PS: No spiders, animals or people were massacred during this event!

Time to do a web search… Does anyone make metal gloves? 😕

Never neglect a Fall

On a Wednesday morning I take an elderly friend out for coffee. We have an outing, our coffee, a walk or some retail therapy and often a chat with people we meet along our travels. My friend really looks forward to these days out, she never knows which direction we will take and loves to see the countryside from the passenger seat.

On Wednesday 20 January, I was preparing to go and collect my friend when my phone started to buzz.  My friend was all apologetic, she would not be able to come out to play as she had fallen. Throwing my emergency bag into the boot/trunk of my car I went down to her house. She had fallen outdoors and landed on her right side, she was sure the pain was muscular. Taking one look at her trying to walk I was not inclined to agree. She was really uncomfortable and obviously in pain.

I suggested we go to the hospital and have it checked. I let that idea sink in.

Next I reminded her that since it was her right side that was sore, she would have to sit in the back of my car behind me (we drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right). Taking it gently, I broached the subject that it might be a little more than muscular and getting into the back of the car might cause more injury. I let that sink in.

Then I said that if we went in my car, she would be considered a walk-in patient, having to go through triage and then perhaps sit for several hours on an upright hard chair with others falling over us (I paint a good word picture!). I let that sink in.

Finally I dropped the bombshell:

“You have worked all your life in nursing, given your all to the health service, now it is time for a little pay back. I think we should call an ambulance. Those guys will know how to move you without causing more pain, and they will wheel you straight through, avoiding the triage and hanging about for hours,”  I let that sink in.

“Maybe you are right, it is really very painful” she admitted, handing me the phone.

So thus began a journey through three hospitals and a hip replacement. I am not her next of kin, but she made sure my name and contact number were added as the ‘person to contact’ in each of the hospitals.

I have never visited so many hospitals in such a short time before, but I felt I had a responsibility since I was the person who insisted, even if gently, that we go in the first place.

She returned home yesterday afternoon, tired, but glad to be in her own little palace and looking forward to sleeping in her own bed. I settled her in, we had a cup of coffee (well it was Wednesday!) and I offered to bring down some dinner. She is a very determined lady and said she wanted to see how she could manage on her own, but would I go through her freezer with her, and help pick out something she could manage for her meal. I did.

Carers were due to call in later in the day, so she was happy to let me go.

I will go down tomorrow with some fruit and fresh veg and see how she got on overnight.

Over the weeks my friend kept repeating that she would never be able to repay me for all my kindness.

My answer was:

In life we cross paths with so many people, some we can help in some way, while others might do us a favour. It is not always possible to return the favours… but we can pay them forward. I am paying forward for all the favours I have received over time and need no thanks.

Doing a favour for someone does not mean they must pay you back for the remainder of their lives. A simple thanks is enough.

Never neglect a Fall.

Never try to jump up immediately after you fall, to hell with embarrassment, you could do more damage that way.

Is it really?

Coconut oil – the new wonder substance

“The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. It also provides relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength.”

Sounds wonderful. But, does it mean I’d have…

  • Silky soft curls.
  • Skin like a baby.
  • Not a care in the world.
  • Cholesterol level of below 4 point whatever the Docs are all shouting about.
  • A figure like a pubescent teenager.
  • A super duper immune system.
  • I’d be able to gorge on cream, milk and butter? (even typing that sentence makes my tummy heave!)
  • Gold star metabolism.
  • Heart problems & high blood pressure would return to normal in a flash!
  • I would never suffer from kidney problems, , diabetes, HIV, and cancer.
  • Mind you it claims only to help improve dental quality and bone strength. *

“The fatty acids and breakdown products in coconut oil can kill harmful pathogens, potentially helping to prevent infections.” **

What? It has not discovered a cure for the common cold or annual flu virus yet?

Have you noticed any Doctor prescribing it for patients? If it was that good, we would all be super healthy and in no need of doctors ❗

Think I will give it a miss so!

A glass of wine with friends and a good old giggle are the only cure I need in life, they dull the aches and pains, warm the cockles of my heart and turn the wrinkles laughter lines upwards ↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑ 

 

Big sun

** I added the red colour to the text for emphasis.

Life is good

Maybe I should up that statement: Life right now is a wonderful high!

Yesterday, my friend Emily brought me out for the day and treated me to lunch at Il Pirata. No. We did not fly to Italy for lunch, we travelled to Ballyhackamore, in East Belfast. We eat slowly and talked plenty.

Back in the car, our mystery tour continued.

Some months ago, Emily mentioned a sculpture that whetted my appetite and I was anxious to see it for myself. Yesterday was the perfect occasion and I was introduced to the work of two wonderful creative souls.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will introduce you to a wonderful sculpture, if I manage to sort my photos.  The second piece should be ready for Wednesday. The latter was right up my street and I fell deeply in love with the work.

I suddenly realised about mid morning today that the air bubble in my eye had disappeared. I was like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Yes. I can see clearly, but I am limiting my time at the laptop for a few more day.

Slowly, very slowly I will get back to my routine of blog reading. Again I plead for your patience.

“She’s Gone”

No. I am not talking about the song,

I mean ‘Yer wan who thinks she should be obeyed’. Elly! 😉

Sunday was the end of official posturing, so Monday and Tuesday were observation days to see how I managed when putting drops in my own eyes, making lunch and dinner. Elly was well satisfied so there was no need to keep her away from George, Buffy and her office colleagues.

She was here at the important time… when I needed her, so I was willing and happy for her to return home.

Today was quiet, but I had food, music, audio books and my crochet to keep me happy.

My eye is improving every day, so I am one happy bunny!

Head held high!

Surgery went well and I was allowed home to sleep in my own bed on Thursday.

On Friday we returned to The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, for an 08:30 appointment. The dressing was removed and Elly was shown how to clean the eye four times a day and how the drops were to be inserted.  On that day I saw nothing but the water level in the operated eye.

By Saturday, I could see the tops of the trees.

Posturing finished officially yesterday afternoon and Elly drove me to Carrickfergus for a short walk. It was wonderful to be outdoors again. At the moment I need to be careful stepping off or onto a kerb, but that will improve with each day.

Proof:

Sunday Walk

Sunday Walk

Eyes hidden behind my sunglasses and protected from the sun by a wide brimmed hat.

The water level mark has lowered and allowed me to see more each day. Although not required, I am still posturing for an hour in the morning and afternoon.

The Audio books keep me amused while Elly does some work. So far I have made lunch on two occasions. I then claim to be tired and leave her with the dirty dishes… well she does need a few little jobs to keep her on her toes! 😛

I have a return appointment to see the Consultant on 22nd September… not too long to wait.

I am taking it easy with reading, so it might be a couple of weeks before I return to normal posting, reading and commenting. Enjoy the rest from my mutterings!

Thanks must go to: The Medical Staff at the hospital, Elly and all those who offered help in any and every way. The good wishes, lighted candles and prayers were all much appreciated.

As an aside, I took particular notice of the team who looked after me on both Thursday & Friday, the majority were ‘Guest workers’ in our country. Prime Minister David Cameron, should be ashamed of calling refuggees ‘A Swarm’, Without these… as the Germans say Gastarbeiter, our NHS – National Health Service would crumble!

What’s on my mind?

Audio books for my posturing phase. Head down I will find it difficult enough to try to do things that I need to do, never mind hold a book.

I am hoping that audio books might distract me from the discomfort and keep frustration at bay. Not quite War and Peace – I am not expecting to be hanging down for that long, and Uselesses (Ulysses) 😉 might just put me to sleep!

I need a story that will draw me into it and the voice of the narrator is quite important to my ear. There have been a few recently that were spoiled by the drone of the reader’s voice.

I do have a few ideas so far:

Daft Wee Stories
Written & Narrated by: Limmy

The Tent, The Bucket and Me
Written & Narrated by: Emma Kennedy

The End of the Affair
Written by: Graham Greene Narrated by: Colin Firth

One Small Act of Kindness
Written by: Lucy Dillon Narrated by: Lucy Price-Lewis

Do you have any suggestions that I might try?

Anyone from John Grisham, Maggie Makepiece to Joanna Trollope and more….

I am a lady in waiting…

 

No. I am not pregnant, or sitting at the window waiting for my ‘Date’ to arrive. I am actually keeping myself busy preparing for vitrectomy eye surgery at the end of the month.

Once I make a decision to go ahead with a particular surgery, I then work out what I need to make the recovery period as easy as possible. Six years ago, I was booked in for hip surgery (can you believe it was that long ago?) and prepared myself for every eventuality. It was worth it. I was totally on my own pins and independent after six weeks. All due thanks to Elly, George and a few friends.

Nurse Hitler Elly will don her matron’s cap once more and move back in with me to nag me back to normality care and help me through the awkward few days while posturing – head down for 55 minutes in every hour. Hopefully the posturing will not last more than a week, but I accept it might be longer. I have been told that “The vitrectomy patient’s daily routine will be much more manageable with the help of friends and family members”. Do I need to hide my camera?

Bathing should be fun. Would I find it easier to take a bath rather than a shower while keeping my head down? Next week, I’ll move the soap, shampoo and any other bathroom necessities to a low spot where they will be easily reachable. How soon can I wash my hair? I hate unwashed hair, but they (whoever ‘They’ are) say that if you leave hair long enough unwashed, the natural oils do the cleaning for you. I am not anxious to try that one for size!

My usual trousers with buttons and zips are not recommended or any clothing that needs to be pulled over my head. The jumpers and tops can all be washed and put away for the duration.

I have been shopping. I now possess a couple of pairs of trousers with elasticated waist bands and a couple of button through cardigans. I already had two button up shirts and I purchased a couple of night shirts, if I am cold, then my pyjama bottoms will pull on easily. Hell, I’ll have a great excuse for hanging about in a bath robe OR to join the world of the ONSIES!

All day facing floorward, might not help my back, I wonder if I pretend to be Buffy and go around on all fours, will it help or just confuse Elly? I have no wish to be fed dry doggie food or to lick my fluids out of a bowl. Woof! Woof!

I am told that swallowing will be easier if bending more from the waist than from the neck. All drinking should be done through a straw. Do they make straws suitable for hot drinks? If so, I have not found them yet…. I need to do some more research. If I drink more than two sips of cold water, my body goes cold from the inside and I stop. Give me boiled water and I will drink it by the bucket full. What a picture: me drinking with a bendy straw from a bucket!

The sleeping schedule has been tried. Sleeping face down will take a little getting used to. I have a V shaped pillow and I already made a start to get my body used to that idea. I managed one hours sleep face down on Wednesday. I hoped to increase by an hour each night and maybe by the time I go to surgery, my body will be comfortable with sleeping face down. Thursday night I managed to remain face downward all night but my back played merry hell most of Friday. Friday night was a total wash-out and I never slept at all. As Fagin sang: I think I need to think it out again! Mind you Elly tells me she has gone ahead and rented a Face Down Sleep Support. It is due to arrive a couple of days before I go to the hospital, so I’ll have a chance to practise with it.

I have a long low coffee table that will be useful for setting my food tray, drinks, tissues et cetera on. The leaflet given to me suggests ‘The patient may prefer softer foods which are easier to swallow’. That reminds me of a guy who had his jaw wired following an accident. He was a fan of McDonald’s – I am not. He bought his Big Mac and a Coke and brought them home, put everything in the blender and had his meal through a straw!

The actual operation will take place in day surgery under a local anaesthetic. Just like my previous cataract surgery on both my eyes, I will be wheeled into theatre in day clothes and the whole procedure will last about an hour while I am awake. It is most lightly that I will stay over-night in the hospital. I suppose that will depend on how things go on the day.

Now what more do I need… Plenty of tissues, straws and more meals for the freezer and a few wee treats for matron.

Nearly ready.