Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Well, I've escaped and am now at home!  I'm wearing normal clothes too (by my standards anyway) and not pjs and ankle socks.  The socks are a curious addition to hospital wear, for anyone who doesn't know, aimed at preventing DVT in the immobile.  The nurse who first put them on me thought I looked rather fetching in them, but I wasn't so sure.  I took them off to shower, when I eventually became less immobile, but needed a crowbar to get them on again.  Those nurses are stronger than they look!  In passing, is there a grade of nurse with a requirement for members to be 5 foot high and wear a blonde pony tail?  Or has there been a mass recruitment campaign in Lithuania recently?  Or was I just delirious?

Very many thanks to all your get well wishes and a special thanks to Ian's uplifting Three of the Best.  I'm sorry I couldn't give you a daily account of my admission (it would have been 'got up, meds, croissant and OJ, doze, watch news, tests, lunch, meds, doze, tea, meds, dinner, TV, sleep' pretty well each day anyway, so I bet you're sorry you missed that).  I think social networking sites were supposed to be blocked on the hospital internet, but I found a way round that using Yahoo! mail alerts.  But, although I could read my own blogs and your comments, I couldn't write anything.  Curiously, they also had a keyboard missing some of the essential symbols needed for my e-mail password, so that wasn't available either.

Anyway, back to the beginning - I attended my friend's funeral, having postponed my admission to hospital, but then had to go straight to A&E.  Maybe it wasn't a good idea to stand through the service.  I'm glad now that I did, for all sorts of reasons, not least because they played Buddy Holly as the coffin was taken away (True Love Ways - not my favourite, but then I had never thought of using the song like this).  I actually smiled, which was probably what my friend intended.

By then, I could have been mistaken for Data and felt as cheerful as he looks.  The hospital wasted no time in taking me in and connecting me to wires and tubes.  Incidentally, at my weigh-in next morning, I had put on a kilo overnight.  Powerful stuff those drips! 

To cut a long and tedious story shorter, I had the usual bloods and other tests on admission and they had to repeat one of the tests the next morning because they thought it had been compromised.  Apparently my bilirubin levels didn't register.  Next time they discovered it was because they'd gone off the graph.  Bilirubin is not, as I first thought, the doctor who'd cocked up my tests, but the yellow stuff that's supposed to leave your body, but in my case wasn't going anywhere except round and round.  I don't know what my level was when I went in, but it's supposed to be 20 micro-somethings to a milli-something of blood; I was up for release home when they got mine down below 300.  I'm currently 250 and falling, so still not without a pleasant golden tinge, but I don't seem to scare young children anymore or encourage people to address me in Omicron Thetan.

Hospital treatments are nothing like I imagined.  They seem to be mostly geared to stabilising and patient self-help.  Nothing much happenened over the wekend, except a lot of sleeping and medication.  I was then told after my first proper medical examination that I could eat anything I fancied and that they would stabilise with anti-biotics as necessary.  Having not really eaten for so long, it took a while to fancy food at all, but I have to say that the menu (yes, menu!) was fabulous.  My first meal was sausage and peppers casserole.  I shall remember that meal for years (hopefully).  I shan't go through everything, but (Gael please note) no gruel and no restriction to mashed potato and jelly either.  One memorable meal was Moroccan cauliflower and broccoli soup, followed by Mediterranean fish ragout (four stars)  One disaster was fish in bechamel sauce with creamed cauliflower.  Who creams cauliflower for goodness sake?  And why?  It tasted like breakfast porridge with unpleasant surprise pieces of fish hidden in it and a slightly thicker bit in the corner that had gone off (nul points).  The steak and kidney pie was a masterpiece (five bulls).  The biggest surprise (given that we were all in the ward for gall bladder or pancreas related illnesses that I thought needed low-fat management) was battered cod and chips for lunch on Friday (three starfish).  The next biggest surprise was successfully persuading them to let me have a second portion of the chicken korma that evening (two chillies and four poppadoms).  That may have contributed to me being sent home on reflection.

My procedure was eventually carried out when I was up to it mid-week and they removed a stone that had blocked an exhaust pipe (that may not be the technical term) and cleared out a load of yukky gunk (that was apparently the technical term) and at the same time inserted a stent to stop the pipe closing again.  All this done endoscopically, which I found extraordinary.  Now, as I said at the start of this, on the mend (and with half the hospital's pharmacy in my cupboard), I will go back at some later stage for another CT scan to determine whether I need anything done about stones still in my gall bladder (apparently they may not be important and anyway they may remove the gall bladder itself which is apparently also not important.  One does wonder why we have all these things - appendix, tonsils, gall bladder, third nipple.  But still . . .) and to remove the stent.  But meanwhile, back to normal life, although I might wait to wean myself back onto alcohol, having drunk not a drop for a month (nor missed it, worryingly) or coffee for that matter (haven't fancied that either for weeks which shows I'm still really ill).

Talking of pharmacy and patient-led treatment, one of the interesting phenomena were the Dealers who came round twice a day, asking if we wanted anything 'to ease the pain'.  They then seemed to hand over anything we fancied, including morphine (excellent for sleeping, but bad for hangovers), through codeine, which I thought was unavailable generally (I seem to remember Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys getting high on it illegally anyway), down to various nausea and (hooray, hooray!) antihistamines.  The Pushers came round inbetween times ('I can offer you something to help you through the day') and we could buzz for the Traffickers any time we fancied trying something different.  One or two patients were permanently connected to PCAs (patient-controlled analgesia), but this was where the system broke down - they wouldn't let me have one of those.  They made great bleeping noises too.  I also used to have daily injections of vast quantities of antibiotics (tabs now at home), mouthfuls of skunk's piss (or vitamin K, as the pharmacist calls it), and blood thinner, but I seem to have weaned myself off most of that (especially the skunk piss - I'm now on Brussels sprouts, which are a great alternative!).

Anyway, the whole point of my ward was supposed to be to wean you off medication and back onto food and into the real world - a bit like The Priory without the celebs.  You can adjust your own bed, get up and walk about, ask to be disconnected from the drip for a longer walk, get your own bikkies and water, etc and we had daily physio and medical support visits.  Not everyone reacts well to this and several kept buzzing for footling things (one wanted a new table!) and one or two even refused to help themselves, which was sad.  In contrast, I was told they wanted to keep me in over the weekend, so I sent out positive vibes and they decided to let me go early.  Hope it's not a mistake - my moods are still up and down (so don't expect a lot from me after this marathon piece) and I lurch from eating two curries to only managing one biscuit, from trying to persuade the nurses to play sardines to falling asleep unexpectedly, from sneaking down to the staff TV room to buzzing for more morphine. 

Anyway, I'm back.  And I'm going to watch TV tonight (for a change . . . .) and am I going to enjoy Borgen.

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