Sunday, August 13, 2017

Of Conversation and Being Wallopped

Another shattered day, or should that be another day of shattered tiredness; perhaps a tired shattered-ness will suffice. Drained, wrung-out, exhausted; none of these quite hit the mark, although I feel quite walloped out by all of them.

Just working out the cost of spending time arguing, discussing, with an old acquaintance! Today is the 13th August and, the incident to which I refer occurred somewhere in the hours between 11.00 on 1st August and 15.50 the following day.

It was something of a shock to discover how Neanderthal the political thinking / imagining of my old friend had become, since he fell under the spell of the Daily Fail. Once he had a mind but, now, I began to wonder if that was a false memory. Only when the conversation turned to matters philosophical, theological, and even metaphysical, did the verbal exchanges become rewarding.

Once upon a time my mind and spirit revelled in such conversations, with friends and acquaintances, not infrequently running through from late evening to dawn. In those days, the conversation could be accompanied by a bottle or three of vino, and a few mugs of tea to prevent dehydration. Nowadays, a mere few hours of chatter and discussion, even in the absence of alcoholic refreshment, seems to overwhelm my physical and emotional resources. Two days after our late evening chat a painful exhaustion,  from which I’m still recuperating, hit me.

For a couple of weeks before the visitor arrived, I’d been having to resort to wrist, palm, and elbow supports, attempting to alleviate the nauseating discomfort, which frequently seems to emanate from the armpit lymph nodes. At its most discomforting phase, as I curl up, clasping my upper arms tightly to my torso, foul expletives emanate from my vocal organs as if seeking a magical miracle of healing, before the flow of tears erupts. So, perhaps, extended conversation is not the sole cause of my current exhaustion.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

For These Small Mercies

For These Small Mercies (we proffer thanks)

Today, so far at least,
is one of gentle shattered-ness;
welcome relief

from yesterday’s griping
pain and aches.
An ever present undertow,

of generalized discomfort,

still leaves the space
for a richly varied range
of sensory attacks.

Will it be muscles,
joints, gastritis, or other
less easily defined

components of
the neurological kind.
Today at least

I have enjoyed a time
of gentle relaxation,
an ease of body

and a calmer mind.

                                          Malcolm Evison
                               20 July 2017

this post also appears on my poetry blog

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

a REAL Pain in the .... just another day

Why don’t they come and release the clamps … why don’t they come and RELEASE THE CLAMPS? Stupid thing is there aren’t any clamps and, even if there were, there’s no-one around to free me from them. I’m just slowly recovering from one of those all too familiar attacks where throbbing aches and pains in upper arms, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles arrive in an apparently choreographed simultaneity.

It’s not that I’d been doing too much either; I arose from my un-refreshing sleep at around 10.15am, had a small breakfast and browsed a newspaper (online) for about fifteen minutes and then just sat, stroked the dog and made a little fuss of him, before venturing out into the big wide-world. At around 1.15pm I was chauffeured into town, by ma belle Helen, to browse and purchase one or two DVDs for my birthday, utilizing a voucher received (on my birthday) a few weeks ago.

The purchasing venture proved successful and, we were back at home within an hour from stepping out. Judging by the greeting received from Piper, our delightful canine boy, you’d have thought we had been away for days; frantic tail wags, barks of delight and excited bodily contortions were all part of his display menu.

Shortly after our return home I prepared dinner for Helen and myself, one of my own recipes, a Kedgeree cum Byriani. The meal proved most satisfactory, after which I relaxed a while, listening to Bruckner’s 7th Symphony (compliments of Radio 3). After this relaxation interlude, I began to feel uncomfortably exhausted and, hints of the painful bodily niggles were already apparent. I went to recline on the larger sofa, with the intention of watching a DVD but, by now, the niggles were intensifying and a dose of tramadol was in order.

Next thing, I was having to curl up, arms stretched between my legs, legs randomly (and arbitrarily) thrown over the back of the sofa and, of necessity my upper arms clamped tightly to my torso. By this time, the discomfort in my toes, feeling as if my socks were applying an excruciating pressure to the knuckles of these digits, had also kicked in. I think I managed to view the first twenty minutes of the DVD before having to clamp my face tightly against the sofa back.

Elements of these nausea inducing, expletive demanding, symptoms are almost a daily occurrence at present although, I must admit, were of a slightly more disconcerting intensity this afternoon. Spending more than a quite limited time using a laptop, or holding a newspaper or book, regularly induces a squirm inducing discomfort in armpits, elbow and wrists but, although I enjoy playing and wrestling with words, I find it virtually impossible to describe the nature of these swift onset aches pains and nauseating discomforts. These invisible disabilities / infirmities are a real pain in the … (fundament?)!

Friday, June 09, 2017

on the mend and back again

Well, I’ve got to admit that my recovery after the arthroscopy was much quicker than I’d anticipated and, within three weeks I was back to being able to walk the dog on pavement, footpath and fields almost as before the operation. I have to use the assistance of a walking stick at present, but that was the norm until a year ago, but I’ve not had to don my knee supports. Yesterday afternoon, I had a follow-up appointment at the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic at the District Hospital and was discharged back to my GP.

During the op they had discovered some degree of arthritis (which hadn’t shown up on the X-Ray), considerable wear and tear of the cartilage and some bare bone into which they drilled two small holes. Incredible what can be achieved through keyhole surgery and, I’m just grateful for our wonderful NHS which the Tories are still intent on destroying.

The only difficulty, if I can call it that, whilst at the hospital was a need to rush to the loo whilst waiting for the appointment; sods law timing of a side-effect from the antibiotics that had been prescribed, the previous morning, for a non-related ailment. It all adds a little (off-)colour to life’s already abundant tapestry.

Now, the back story to the antibiotics: Late on Tuesday afternoon I started to get pains in the upper abdomen, right under and along the rib-cage. At first this felt more like a dull bruise but gradually intensified to a more searing pitch but, I’d had a similar, not quite so acute, sensation a couple of months back which was resolved by a prescribed doubling up of my omeprazole. I’ve long been plagued by digestive and sundry bowel and abdominal problems so, I’ve become accustomed to spasmodic disconcerting abdominal pain and discomfort, alongside other chronic pain symptoms. During the evening this more intense pain seemed to spread into the right-hand side of my back, from just below the shoulder blade into the small of the back. The discomfort & pain reached such a degree, untouched by my usual painkillers, that I had to keep changing chairs, sofas, posture etcetera,  throughout the evening, in an attempt to alleviate each recurring moment of increased intensity.

On Wednesday morning, following a telephonic triage by a practice nurse, I was granted an emergency appointment with a GP. I was amazed, and relieved, that the doctor gave me such a thorough examination of over twenty minutes duration and, judging by my reactions to the examination, he suspected an infection of the gall bladder. The doctor also arranged for a nurse to take some blood samples whilst I was at the surgery and, prescribed a course of Co-amoxiclav. He also asked why I hadn’t gone to A&E the night before, although my beloved OH had suggested that. I explained that I felt A&E were already overburdened and I didn’t want to add to it. The docs response was “but you are really ill!” and, if I experience similar pains again I shouldn’t hesitate in getting down to the hospital.

Early on Thursday morning the GP phoned me to check up how I was feeling and informed me that the blood inflammation flags were rather high and, felt that we were on the right course of treatment. I have to arrange for another blood test in a couple of weeks. Once again, my thanks are due to, and gratefully proffered for, the NHS!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

the guilt trip of an involuntary social inactivist

As a life-long socialist*, I first joined the Labour Party in 1960 and, involvement in various campaigning groups on the internationalist/ social justice/ socialist spectrum swiftly followed. Unfortunately, health problems have, for more years than I care to remember, prevented me from participating in most party activities such as leafleting, canvassing, phone-bank duties. It has been only on very rare occasions that I’ve felt able to attend local branch meetings.

The reason for my non-participation is that I never know how my stamina reserves will play out on any particular day, part of the day, or even at times hour by hour. Although my general health has recently been better than it was in the first few years after collapsing and succumbing to ME, in 2003, I have to be very careful with my pacing.

I still find it difficult to cope with visits into the town centre, a mere 10 minute car or bus ride, and I have not managed to regain sufficient physical and emotional stamina to cope with the sensory assault of cinema, theatre, church, or concert-going. Indeed, I’ve rarely felt able to visit any art exhibitions, around which, for several decades much of my life seemed to revolve.

What prompted me to write this post is the intense guilt, and even anger, I feel when I receive e-mails enquiring whether I’m able to help out in the run-up to the general election. There are so many organizations whose aims I support but, I’m never able to commit to attending meetings, seminars and sundry proffered events; on a bad day it’s even difficult to respond to online surveys re campaigning on various issues.

The internet has proved a real life-line for me and, I love to know what issues are being campaigned on but, at present I’m contemplating unsubscribing form many of these mailing lists because of my recurring guilt at not being able to proffer my physical presence in support of these causes.

* I’m not kidding myself that the Labour Party is a socialist party, even though there are avowed socialists amongst its membership. I acknowledge that even under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership it remains essentially a left of centre social democratic party with a modest glimmer of democratic socialism.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Compression Ratios and Ailments

Come Friday night, after all the preceding days anxieties, my only concern as I got into bed was whether I’d be able to get ready on time the following morning; more importantly would my beloved, ma belle chauffeuse be ready to transport me to the hospital for my day surgery. By 4.30 on Saturday morning I still hadn’t managed to grab any sleep but, I then re-awoke by 6.30am in preparation for the days events.

Quite strangely, by this time I was totally calm and relaxed in preparation for undergoing the surgical procedure. I duly arrived at Harrogate District Hospital before 7.30 and made my way to the Day Surgery Unit. The staff were all reallyquite brilliant in making one feel relaxed, and re-assured, about the procedure which one was there for: nurses, physiotherapist, anaesthetists and the consultant all introduced themselves and had a few word about the procedure. When I told the physio that I wasn’t too keen on the prospect of using crutches, owing to sundry aches and pains in elbows and upper arms, but I’d be happy to use walking sticks, she measured the stick I had with me and, a matching stick was cut and ready before I even went to theatre.

I wasn’t first on the list for the knee surgery but, nonetheless, I had undergone the op under general anaesthetic and was back in the bay by shortly after 9.30am. Were it not for a glitch with the computer printer, delaying printing of the discharge letter, they would have called my beloved earlier than was the case, for her to come and collect me. All that having been said. we still arrived back home by 11.40am. The nurse had laughed as she informed ma belle that I insisted on walking out and, wouldn’t take a chair. It really seems that all my anxieties had centred on pre-planning, not the event itself. Mind you, I’ve always preferred spontaneity to planning.

This morning, 48 hours after the op, I removed the bulky dressing from the wound and applied sterile patches in their place. I’ve been doing recommended exercises as and when I felt appropriate and have had little trouble with the technique for ascent and descent of the staircase. The one startling reality that has come to light is just how low the average lavatory pan & seat is; the switch from bladder release to bowel function seems to involve a considerable fall through space. If only we had eyes in our rears the operation would be a little easier. Elevating oneself after action provides considerable exercise of the arm muscles.

Since my return from the hospital I’ve only experienced the minimum of my familiar discomforts in wrist, elbows and armpits. I’ve even started to wonder if having a compression stocking on the non-operated upon leg has somehow applied a kind of lymph(atic) massage, similar to that experienced when an application of a tubular bandage support over the elbow frequently seems to alleviate a nausea-inducing aching tenderness in the armpits. [N.B. this is simply hypothetical – I am neither a medical or mystical practitioner]. Alternatively, it could have even be that my nervous system had diverted all its energies towards healing and soothing any discomfort in the battle of my wounded knee.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

attempted exorcism by written word

It’s almost as if the legions of gremlins are on the warpath again, some kind of vendetta against me. Sometimes I’ve found that expressing my hopes, aches, pains and fears in a quite open way, laying myself vulnerable, affects an amelioration of the conditions which drive me to this confessional mode.

Now, having opened up about my wimpish nature (see previous post), it seems as if my upper limbs are once again veering into nausea-inducing aches and pains, alternating between wrists, elbows and armpits. The armpit aching discomfort / tenderness seems to be the nausea inducing quotient so, in an attempt to alleviate this, I’ve removed all garments from my torso and applied tubular bandage and elastic supports to my elbows, along with wrist and palm supports.

I admit that typing on laptop pc is made more awkward by simultaneously having to press and hold my upper arms tightly against the torso’s sides but, it’s almost as if by some kind of magic I hope to drive these hellish aches and torments away. A kind of exorcism.

The weakness of my faith in this kind of exorcism is demonstrated by the fact that I’m also awaiting the ameliorating effect of 100 ml of tramadol taken some forty minutes ago.

one helluva night - with tears to follow

Well that was one helluva night! No, I don’t mean it was brilliant or enjoyable, indeed the opposite would seem to apply. For a large section of the night, which should have been spent either at rest or asleep, excruciatingly discomforted aches, pains and jarring niggles, exceeded there usually capacity to catch me by surprise.

What started as the all too familiar ultra-sensitivity of my toes, swiftly became an all-consuming ache of limbs and torso. Throbbing knees and aching hips, joined aching wrists and elbows in some kind of exotic fandango. Between the familiar aching pains, sudden jolts, as if an electric charge had been applied, seemed to run through torso and limbs before resolving to a generalized heavy ache with only occasional jarring painful explosions.

Supports applied to wrists and elbows seemed, at first, to alleviate the intensity of the discomfort but it only took a short while before the discomfort intensified once more. Similarly, lavishing my toes with moisturizing cream proffered temporary relief. After about 1½  hours, which seemed like an eternity, I was able to settle down with a vague hope that sleep would soon overwhelm me.

Come morning, I was pretty much my usual sleep-deprived self but, I managed to doze off for a few daylight hours. At first I didn’t seem any worse for the extremely disturbed rest and sleep pattern of the preceding night but, later, became quite weepy and tearful, to the extent that I developed an intense fear regarding the procedure (arthroscopy) to be carried out on my right knee on Saturday. My thoughts ran wild in anticipation of worse than usual debilitating pains to further detract from my quality of life.

At heart I’m a total wimp, I only cope with quite regular pain, discomfort and, occasional bouts of brain fog, because I’ve not been granted an opt out clause. My sense of ill emotional ease intensified as the morning went on; both my beloved and Piper attempted to console me even though I strived to reject their consolation.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Not Praying but Hoping

It’s just been another of those days that a sudden flare of aches, pains and discomfort caught me unawares; why it should be unawares is I suppose a reflection of that hope that today, or any day, is going to be one where I can evade the promised threat of intense discomfort.

I often find myself blaming the aches and pains on my own trivial actions. Maybe I shouldn’t have held the newspaper for half an hour as I skimmed through it’s pages; perhaps surfing the web put too much strain on my fingers, wrist and/or hands! One can’t spend their time expecting the sudden onset of nausea producing aches and pains, even though I can’t remember the last time when I had a day free of these sudden onset, usually temporary (thank God), debilitating occurrences.

I’m increasingly resorting to the application of supports for wrists, shoulders, elbows, back etc; rather than succumbing too regularly to opioid relief: sadly it’s more common that I have to resort to physical supports and opioids in tandem!

Sometimes I’ve found that when the aching tenderness in the armpits (axillary lymph nodes) begins, the application of tubular bandages over the elbows can alleviate the nausea-inducing aspect of the discomfort. Maybe it’s some kind of lymphatic massage, I don’t pretend to understand it! Whatever the cause I invariably find that the most comfortable position I can find is to press my upper arms as tightly as possible to the torso, and strapping up my wrists. It also helps, when I’m not having to stretch my forearms behind my back for relief, to tightly clasp my hands.

No, I’m not praying, even though it is something that I do subscribe to: in this instance I’m quite simply hoping.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


I’m currently re-discovering how an element of anxiety exacerbates, to a considerable extent, the symptoms of a chronic illness. On this occasion the anxiety is caused by the inept and dilatory response of Virgin Media to a known issue which is preventing us from receiving incoming ‘phone calls on our landline; the telephone is not only a lifeline for me but, there are several vulnerable elderly people who depend on my beloved OH for lifts. These vulnerable people only have our landline number as they are not mobile phone users. As for myself, the mobile phone is scarcely ever used, as I’m rarely away from my own house and garden and, therefore have little cause to switch it on.

We are still able to make outbound calls and, it was only by accident we discovered that friends and acquaintances had been unable to contact us. Other ‘phone users are also affected by, and may still be unaware of, this glitch.

The VM website online phone-tester reported no problems with our ‘phone, and we were also informed the line was engaged. I spent considerable frustrating multitudes of minutes on their help-line and, even there they suggested no real problem. Eventually an admission was made that someone else on the same exchange had reported the same problem, namely that callers only heard a continuous, high pitched whining drone when they dialled our number.

During the first phone call, I was frequently put on hold whilst my ear-drums were blasted with an execrable noise (which they maybe call music) for what seemed a like a multiplicity of eternities. Eventually, I was assured that the engineers would have the problem sorted by the end of the day. Of course this didn’t happen so I contacted them via social media with my complaint in reply to which I was informed that they had assisted me: the assistance I seemed to be proffered was to be told that there was nothing they could do via social media.

Later that day I had a webchat with VM, the outcome of which seemed positive. The positivity was short lived; the time in the afternoon, by which I was assured the problem would be resolved, swiftly passed with no action having been taken.

By the evening it was back to the 150 phone-line to enquire what was happening. At first having tapped in sundry digits in response to the robotic voice I was on hold for at least 20 minutes, my eardrums once again assaulted by shouted words & excremental instrumental accompaniment. When I got through to tech department I was at least able to quote a reference number for the issue but, was told that he couldn’t find any evidence of there being an issue so, he would put me through to network problems. Once again my eardrums were assaulted by a demonic cacophony whilst I awaited the transfer department.

Maybe I was getting somewhere. I was informed that it was a known issue, something to do with ported numbers (i.e. numbers which were originally BT numbers) but for decdes our line had been via Cable & Wireless which became NTL which became part of Virgin Media. Although they knew exactly what the issue was/is they are unable to say when it will be dealt with. To put it simply – THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

As I said, at the beginning, these events & frustrations have certainly had a deleterious effect on my already shot nervous system. Not only did I undergo more sustained, sleep depriving, pain last night but it also does few favours to my emotional well-being. A tainted Virgin and a chronic illness / chronic pain partnership could so easily become lethal.