Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Moany Moany not Mony Mony

"Which way do I turn?" and "dare I turn?"; these related questions come to the fore at erratically scattered instants of day or night. In the past few days, tortuous pains have danced from left side of the back (a hollow bruising ache just below the shoulder blade, as if one was undergoing a sequence of blows from a felt coated lead lump hammer) to a more acute nagging pain in the left side of the back just above hip level. These sensations tend to overlap with a more constantly recurring gnawing ache just under the rib cage and, other old familiars returning with a vengeance. 

 A nausea inducing throbbing pain, on the inner side of the upper left arm - accompanied by a tenderness in the armpit, frequently prevents my attaining an appropriate period of rest during the night. As exhaustion overtakes me mid-afternoon, a gnawing ache, occasionally becoming more acute, in wrists and elbows necessitates the donning of wrist splints (both arms) and the taking of additional pain killers.Today, this discomfort in upper limbs vied for honours with a throbbing pain around the knees which seemed to ease slightly with the donning of elastic supports.

 A sensation of giddy light-headedness, alongside not infrequent griping reminders of my IBS and diverticular problems, does little to help me feel at ease. Despite all the above, I did manage to enjoy a celebratory lunch at The Park yesterday for our wedding anniversary but, even that didn't come payback free!

Monday, January 13, 2014

back to NORMALITY?

So much of our lives are spent simply letting regular life experiences wash over us. Passive recipients of what ever opportunities life offers us we, of necessity, avoid reacting to most peripheral events. Life goes on as normal but we may suddenly be ambushed by limitations to what has, so far, been our normality. On many occasions the limitation may simply be with regard to the specific situation, in which one finds oneself, for which we have had no prior experience or necessary practice. 

Variety happens but, it does not always seem to add spice to life; as a matter of fact much of the variety may be of an unwelcome kind. Health-wise it has been a case of swings and roundabouts; just as one celebrates alleviation of a particular neurological symptom they seem to stumble upon a variant manifestation of the same underlying condition.

This morning, my body reminded me of the limitations imposed by a combination of neurological illness and the general aging process. It is almost as if there are (at least) two distinct normalities, that of the mind and spirit struggling with that of pure corporeality.

 It is several years now since I first had to learn, experientially (the hard way), how to pace myself; having reluctantly accepted that I must now function on/from a lower plateau, than was my earlier norm, I still feel a sense of shock when any jolting reminder of this limitation catches me out.

As the sun was shining, I set out this morning, with a walking-stick supported spring in my step, to collect a prescription from my GP’s surgery, a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk. The Surgery isn’t any  more than a seven to eight minute walk (even accounting for my limitations) and the bakery and grocery stores are passed en route. That would seem to be a little light exercise but, I hadn’t accounted for meeting up with a couple of friends during this restricted travel. I stopped and spoke to my first friend J for two to three minutes and a couple of minutes further on in the expedition encountered  friend C with whom I had a little chat. 

On arriving at the Surgery’s reception I had a couple of minutes wait before I picked up my prescription; by this time I was feeling quite light-headed and aching limbed. What I’d forgotten was that, as part of my current ‘normality’, standing to chat seems to reduce my stamina levels more swiftly than the brief walk itself! It was with great relief that I was able to sit down for ten minutes at the local pharmacy, in the same parade of shops as the grocery and bakery shops’ whilst they dispensed my sundry medications. By the time I got back home I was feeling achingly shattered!


I suppose that this ‘shatteredness’ shouldn’t have been so surprising, considering that the previous couple of days had been quite eventful, even incorporating a visit to A&E and a consequent overnight stay in the hospital.

Saturday morning, at about 2.30am, a sudden sharp bruised pain down the left hand side of my rib cage, accompanied by an acute stitch-like pain emphatically (horizontally) underlining the breast bone. The pain seemed to ease as I clasped the painful area with my right hand and, it eventually disappeared after about fifteen minutes. So far, so good but, the bruised aching pain kept nagging away at regular intervals in the course of the day. Around 8.00pm, the pain returned with a pallor inducing vengeance; a hollow giddiness occupying head and torso left me feeling quite disembodied. At this time my beloved repeated an earlier offer to take me down to A&E and, this time, I instantly accepted.

The receptionist (at A&E) thought I needed to sit down and said that ma belle could log me in. Although my blood pressure went soaring, I was relieved that the ECG showed normal coronary activity. When the doctor examined me she suggested that I had a chest x-ray and blood tests but, as a follow up blood test would be required in the middle of the night, had me admitted to hospital. The doctor had inserted a cannula in the back of my hand which unfortunately, and somewhat dramatically, fell out as I moved into the X-Ray department leaving a splendid crimson blood trail on the floor. The nurse swiftly grabbed a pad to which I applied pressure to stop the flow from the distended vein, whilst he swiftly mopped and disinfected the contaminated floor area.    

Eventually a porter wheeled me up to Bolton Ward where they initially set me up on a heart monitor. Everyone with whom I had contact on this ward made me feel like a person, rather than a client, leaving me most impressed with their friendly and efficient attention to their duties. The clinical support auxiliary very swiftly, and without any fuss, cannulated the median cubital vein; nursing staff always seem to perform these tasks better than doctors, presumably because they have more experience.

My second lot of blood samples were taken at around 3.00am on Sunday and later the doctor told me that the tests were negative. Once this was ascertained a nurse came and removed the heart monitor. By 10.50am my discharge papers had been prepared and, I only had to await ma belle chauffeuse to whisk me back home. I was assured by both ward sister and the duty consultant that, even though the pain was musculoskeletal rather than cardiac in origin, ma belle had done exactly the right thing in taking me to A&E.

It was wonderful, and seemed extra special, to share Sunday lunch (which I had partially prepared the previous afternoon) with my beloved but then, every moment shared with my better half is very special.

Monday, November 11, 2013

FRAUD ALERT - Nutriberry Slim and Vita Cleanse

Having been enticed and misled by their (Nutriberry Slim and Vita Cleanse) advert on a Facebook page, at the end of August, my beloved sent for a free sample of each product, albeit for an extortionate post and packaging charge.

Shortly after receiving them her blood pressure was raised from her normal reading and her GP confirmed that there were ingredients which could have that effect.

Meanwhile I looked up the product online* and found that this company was defrauding people of substantial sums of money. They treat the request for a sample as a subscription agreement, so, we began to worry and immediately contacted the credit card company,
with a view to closing the credit card account/cancelling the card, but a lady assured her that they would block any attempt to take further payment.

On 9 September we received notification of RMA numbers from Nutriberry and Vita Cleanse to use with our returned product as follows:

From: Nutriberry Slim <>
Date: 10 September 2013 15:32
Subject: RMA Notification #XXXXX

RMA Notification

Order Number: XXXXXX
Ordered on 08/31/2013 03:37am
Dear xxxxxxxx,
This email is to inform you that we have received your request to return your order of Nutriberry Slim - Trial, which was originally purchased on 08/31/2013 03:37am for the total amount of £4.95. We have also issued you an RMA number: XXXXXXXXXX  that you can use for future reference.
If you have any questions about this notification or if you feel you are receiving this in error, please feel free to contact our Customer Service team.

From: Vita Cleanse <>
Date: 10 September 2013 15:32
Subject: RMA Notification #XXXXX

RMA Notification

Order Number: XXXXX
Ordered on 08/31/2013 03:40am
This email is to inform you that we have received your request to return your order of Vita Cleanse - Trial, which was originally purchased on 08/31/2013 03:40am for the total amount of £5.95. We have also issued you an RMA number: XXXXXXXXXXXXX  that you can use for future reference.
If you have any questions about this notification or if you feel you are receiving this in error, please feel free to contact our Customer Service team.

The next day, 10 September, ma belle dispatched the returned products by the most expensive Next Day postal delivery (where the parcel had to be signed for on receipt}.

The company waited, however, until 1.28am on 10 October before sending      confirmation of cancellation.

From: Nutriberry Slim <>
Date: 10 October 2013 06:28
Subject: Cancellation Notification #XXXXXX

Cancellation Notification

Order Number: XXXXXX
Ordered on 10/10/2013 01:28am
Thank you for using Nutriberry Slim - Rebill. This email is to inform you that your subscription status has been recently updated and any ongoing or all future charges have been cancelled as per your request.
If you have any questions about the cancellation of this subscription, or if you would like to re-activate the same in the future, please feel free to contact our Customer Service team.

From: Vita Cleanse <>
Date: 10 October 2013 06:28
Subject: Cancellation Notification #XXXXXX
To: xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxx>

Cancellation Notification

Order Number: xxxxxx
Ordered on 10/10/2013 01:28am
Dear xxxxx,
Thank you for using Vita Cleanse - Rebill. This email is to inform you that your subscription status has been recently updated and any ongoing or all future charges have been cancelled as per your request.
If you have any questions about the cancellation of this subscription, or if you would like to re-activate the same in the future, please feel free to contact our Customer Service team.

When my beloved received a statement from her credit card company, today, she was dismayed to find that £84.99 (Nutriberry Slim) and £69.95 (Vita Cleanse) had been charged to her account on the 10 October despite the sample product having been returned one full month earlier. So much for the credit card personnel who assured her that the would block any such attempt to charge for a product which we neither receive or use!

This evening my extremely upset wife has had to contact her credit card company once more.


*For more information concerning this scam visit

Monday, October 21, 2013

the young visitor

this young sparrowhawk stopped by, Sunday lunchtime, for a rest on our summerhouse!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

minor travel major travail

Just where is that emotional stamina hiding; come to that, it would be useful if I could uncover a resource for topping up my rather limited levels of the physical variety. After a short trip across the Pennines, about which more later, even my already constrained ability to concentrate on any sustained reading has gone into abeyance. At least I’m hoping it will return! No matter how much I enjoy looking out onto the garden, the heavily overcast and frequent rain-sodden days do little for one’s morale.


After a morning of extremely vividly disconcerting dreams, I finally felt sufficiently alert to remove myself from the bedclothes at around 11.15am, thirteen hours after availing myself of their embrace. As my beloved doesn’t go to her place of employment on a Wednesday it made the rest of the day more bearable. By about 4.30pm I felt it necessary to rest my eyes, at which point ma belle enquired whether I needed to lay myself down on the sofa. At the time it didn’t really seem at all necessary but, within half-an-hour my legs began to suffer a dull throbbing ache, feeling as if they’d been waterlogged.


Finally I had to admit my OH was right and, I really did need to lie down; no sooner had I reclined, in supine posture, than my wrists began their far too familiar nagging ache requiring a swift application of splint supports. Just another ordinary day!




Now comes the report on that trans-Pennine journey, although, in terms of mileage, it was a short drive, to me the outward journey seemed a far too protracted arduous nightmare. Spastic colon, and acute diverticular discomfort set the tone of the adventure; within the parameters of a 70 mile route, I most urgently required a loo break on three occasions, the first of which required a diversion from the route we were travelling.


The SatNav redirected us, via the Old Skipton Road, across desolate sodden moorland. This route didn’t help at all as a kind of agoraphobic panic attack overwhelmed that attention which had previously focussed on my painfully aching abdomen. When we eventually arrived at the hostelry where we’d be spending the night, it was encouraging to see they had at least four draught ales on offer. As we approached our upstairs accommodation the heat in the hallway proved overwhelming, as was that which greeted us in the room.


That evening we attended a wedding party, the purpose of our visit, at a nearby Jacobean venue. On arriving at the venue, I managed ( whilst leaving the badly lit car parking space) to trip on a protruding step as ma belle and I sought the relevant hall entrance. The entrance was attained via an ill lit awning tent and, once again I tripped as my foot fell from the edge of the footway.

Not a good start; since my days as a union steward I’ve been well aware of health and safety issues, and the ill lit irregular causeway would certainly have been a major concern. As I’m prone to giddiness, and an associated fear of falling (such that I will only take a shower when my beloved’s around), I wasn’t able to relax at all.


Inside, the venue was disconcertingly sprawling and, we failed to find the quieter lounge. We spent best part of an hour, but seemed much longer, sat at a table in the bar area chatting with one or two family members. Just the noise of chatter became overwhelming; part of my illness means that I find it difficult to cope with crowds or noise so, really, I was in the wrong place. My total alcohol intake was less than half of the pint of ale I’d imagined I would enjoy.


Ten years on from succumbing to this condition (moderate Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), it becomes increasingly hard to understand that I once, not only coped with but, whole heartedly, enjoyed a quite gregarious lifestyle, pubbing, clubbing, politicking, wining and dining, leading  house groups and more!


Back at the inn, the landlady turned down the radiator at our request and supplied us with an electric fan and opened the skylight, the only window in the room, to allow some air to circulate. Most of the night was spent restlessly on top of the bed; music from nearby filled the air until 2.00am after which I became aware of the swoosh of traffic, presumably from the motorway. Further distraction was proffered in the form of other guests returning to the inn, as the floorboards groaned and roared their disapproval of human footfall. A worn out washer on the hot tap in our en suite, erratically appliqu├ęd a kind of water torture onto the other aggravating layers of distraction.


Having missed out on food the night before, I was looking forward to breakfast but even this hope remained unfulfilled. Still feeling rather stressed, and upset by and commenting on my trip up experience of the previous evening, I interpreted a nervous smile from Helen’s brother as a sneer and duly threatened to deck him. At that point I quit the breakfast room.


Our journey back across the Pennines was a far happier experience, travelling predominantly on motorways advocated by the disembodied voice of the SatNav.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

the space-hopper weighed down

A deep lethargic spirit consumes my very being; a lead weighted space-hopper would be about right as a description of my personage at 11.30 am. Last night was the worst of those seemingly endless, restless, nauseatingly painful nights that I’ve experienced in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, a disconcertingly discomforted restless night is currently par for the course, but last night was topped with added painfulness. Even my regular pre-emptive strike against nocturnal discomfort, amitriptylene and tramadol taken an hour or so before snuggling under the duvet, seems of little if any avail these days.


As I fitfully tossed, turned and squirmed au lit, post-nasal drip and gastro-oesophageal reflux added a further frustrating layer of dis-ease to the tenderness of cervical and axillary lymph nodes. Invisible clog dancers throbbed their way from armpit to elbow, elbow to wrist, before treating the rib cage as a xylophone. As I stretched my legs over the end of the mattress, my toes burnt as if they were being scrubbed with a wire brush. Once the nagging aches pulsed through my hands I decided to don my wrist splints which, somehow, seemed to gradually alleviate the pains in my upper arms.


Even the weather seemed to conspire against sleep, the roar of the wind was disturbingly amplified as I lay there, watching the flickering shadows which took on a somewhat threatening character in the darkened bedroom. An irrational childhood fear of the dark seems to have re-emerged recently, although it only applies to darkness within a building not in the great outdoors. Switching on a bedside lamp almost miraculously eased some of the bodily tension but, even then, only quite short snatches of sleep, from around 4.00am,were on the menu. It seems to be the rule that only unrefreshing sleep may be proffered to yours truly! The past couple of weeks have also seen an alarming resurgence of diverticular and spastic colon symptoms, no doubt contributing towards the sudden all enveloping exhaustion which erratically disrupts my daytime routine (or lack of such).


I am of course in that period of my life when I start to question how many of my ailments, or to what degree, they are symptoms of an ageing body as much as the manifestation of an underlying chronic illness?


Now, here’s the surprise. In spite of all the foregoing ailments I still manage to enjoy life, constantly amazed by the intricacy and complexity of the world around us, attempting to interpret one’s relationship not only to the earth and one’s immediate vicinity but, how we fit into the whole cosmic scheme. The joy that I gain by observing the sheer variety of flora and fauna, even just within the confines of our garden, still fills me with a sense of wonderment. That there is something, rather than nothing, into which we have been thrown, is cause enough for celebration; the love I share with ma belle Bright Light ultimately overwhelms a one time tendency of mine towards cynicism.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Changing Conditions

Sometimes conditions affect one in unexpected ways. I found it difficult to cope with the heat on the warmest of our summer days, flagging with fatigue after less than half-an-hour sat out in the garden, in the shade of a parasol. The only answer was to retreat into the house, draw the curtains, and switch on the
oscillating fan.


As daytime temperatures have cooled down, and an occasional chilly dampness returned to the equation, some of the old familiar aches and pains have decided to re-inhabit my corporeal being. This correlation of events, leads to a suspicion that these aching components are perhaps more to do do with arthritic and rheumatic twinges than the underlying neurological condition. No sooner have I proffered that suspicion than I recognised that a different interpretation was also plausible.


As more moderate temperatures returned, the temptation to tackle a few additional ‘light’ gardening and household tasks was all too easy to yield to. My main problem is a tendency to only listen to my body when I’ve almost drained my low stamina reserve. The trick of ‘pacing’ is to always keep a little stamina in reserve, otherwise any further exertion almost inevitably results in some kind of payback.


In the course of the past few days, a light giddily disorienting headache, accompanied by sudden onset pallor has been a recurring theme; my erratically disrupted sleep pattern (during my required dozen hours of bed rest) does little to alleviate such irritations. At other times the sense of being ill-at-ease within my own skin, a sensation that the skin is too tightly constricting the flesh of torso limbs and digits, proves grindingly nausea inducing.


I am thankful that, at present, the gnawing tenderness of glands under the jaw and in the armpits is only quite rarely experienced.


My beloved ‘Bright Light’ has been enjoying a holiday from the workplace, last week and this, but finds herself needing plenty of rest so, whilst I’ve always revelled in her company, we’ve been kept busy keeping an eye on each other, each making sure that the other doesn’t overdo things. My life has never felt so complete as it has in the time since meeting and marrying ma belle; her faith and loving disposition makes me feel privileged to know her.