Saturday, December 31, 2011

of flight and storm clouds

Yesterday ma belle et moi spent six swiftly fleeting hours, 14.30 onwards, at my freshly re-discovered friend Kay’s apartment, where we enjoyed much conversation and a wonderful array of refreshments. Before venturing out I’d already had to resort to sundry medicaments, having experienced a considerable degree of discomfort, but during those socializing hours I, thankfully, only experienced the most moderate discomfort.

The subsequent restless night came as little surprise and, as per my norm, I re-emerged from the duvet realm, this morning, feeling more than a degree under refreshed! Early afternoon found me still in reasonably good spirits, considering the previous day’s exertions, but no sooner had my optimism (in matters of health) begun to take flight than the storm clouds rolled in.

A sudden throbbing ache in both biceps necessitated an urgent squeezing of the upper arms against the torso. Shortly afterwards the all too familiar intense gnawing discomfort in the armpits took hold. A painful ache in the wrists, alternating between dull bruise-like and sharp burning throbs, was somewhat alleviated by the application of splints, as I awaited the relief proffered by an additional dose of tramadol.

The disposition of my upper limbs underwent a most flamboyant choreography as I shifted them from an extended posture behind the back, to clamping them tightly by my side whilst I sat on my splinted hands. The armpits continued to feel tortuously tickled, hollowly crumbling, provoking an intense sensation of dis-ease and nausea.

Having recovered sufficiently from that earlier dis-ease, I am now settled down with my beloved, to enjoy Prokofiev’s ‘Cinderella’ ballet [BBC4].  This festive season, the Beeb have already treated us to The Nutcracker Ballet as well as a ballet based upon Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - how's that for pampering!

my New Year Greetings have been posted on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Of Celebration and Payback

And just when you think it’s all going well, the old devil returns.

 During the past few weeks I’d been enjoying copious doses of Advent and Christmas music, predominantly of the sacred variety, as I looked forward to our quiet Christmas celebrations (just ma belle Helen, Beth and myself). To be perfectly honest, I was quite surprised by how well I’d managed Christmas decorations, food preparation, and sundry minor pressures such festivities may place upon one. Admittedly, the run up to Christmas week wasn’t without an occasional venture into the realm of shatteredness, with spasmodic eruptions of acute pain.

As lunch-time on Boxing Day approached, my chronically throbbing aching wrists allied themselves with intense convulsive pains in both biceps and shoulders. It felt as if my torso was being crushed whilst, simultaneously, being stretched on a rack. The effort of holding the DVD recorder’s remote control, in readiness for starting off a recording, seemed to set every nerve-ending on edge; a kind of pulsating bruise surged through my forearms and shoulders which, in turn, contributed to an all pervasive feeling of nausea.
For the first time in ages, the degree and intensity of pain and discomfort produced a convulsive sobbing response.

I love and adore my family, every moment spent with ma belle amoureuse affirms the privilege of love, and I always wish to affirm all the most positive values and emotions that the season represents. The joy of the season is somewhat marred by the realization / recognition that even my somewhat low-key exertion, as we prepare and celebrate, seems to demand a degree of excruciating payback in return.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

moments magic

The ache, the joy and pain of transience;
this morning I experienced
 that almost
 indescribable ache and joy -
a mystical moment -
 a Red Kite wheeled and soared
 over our garden
floodlit by a clear blue sunlit sky.
Within minutes -
 of the bird venturing further afield -
heavy grey clouds had swamped out the sunlight.

Malcolm Evison

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No rest for the shattered!

Yesterday was the busiest day I’ve spent for a considerable period of time; our friends Roy & Jacqui visited us mid-morning for a little chat. The course of the conversation, over the next three to four hours, was by turns both intimate and challenging, and covered reflection on our sundry life experiences, matters of faith, healing, and the place and limitations of reason. The person of Jesus the Christ proved a central focus to this time of fellowship.

A couple of hours after our visitors departure, Helen and I headed off to the Acorn Centre, where Helen helps as a volunteer, for their Christmas Party. The traditional Christmas dinner was cooked to perfection, and the chef received a very warm round of applause just as he’d intended to sneak quietly away! We enjoyed a quiz which followed the meal; the fact that ours was the winning team probably added a little extra to our enjoyment, and we were then entertained by the music group whose enthusiasm always compensates for any musical limitations. After three hours my body was telling me it was time to go and, I felt quite shattered by the time we arrived back home.

Although I felt achingly tired, by the time I attempted to immerse myself in the duvet realm, an intense excruciating discomfort in shoulders, armpits and upper limbs generally, made it impossible to find a restful posture. My whole body was convulsively shuddering as I, repeatedly, failed to find an appropriately comfortable position. A primary distraction from this upper limb discomfort was my essential response to the, all too familiar, erratically spasmodic intestinal convulsions.

An additional dose of tramadol was called for, before a sufficient easing of the upper limbs and torso discomfort was found. Having got into bed at around 22.15hrs, I eventually found a degree of comfort by 01.45hrs but, even then, an overactive/over-stimulated mind ensured that I remained awake until at least 06.00hrs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

a wimp addresses the nation

To be perfectly honest, I’m not coping at all well; I feel like the A1 definition of a wimp. It’s the way a set of (quite minor) incidents so easily seem to form an insurmountable aggregate of frustration, that’s really getting to me.

A simple combination of orthostatic intolerance, intermittent excruciating muscular dis-ease, spastic colon and diverticular discomfort, shouldn’t in principle detract from a full enjoyment of life but, when they collude, the bastards do tend to get one down!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

sorry 'bout this ...

For the past hour and a half, since about 17.30hrs, I’ve been divided between allowing myself to drift off to sleep or struggling to remain awake. It’s a regular occurrence mid to late afternoon to be fending off an excruciating fatigue, seemingly regardless as to the amount of sleep I’ve managed to grab the preceding night and morning; un-refreshing intermittent nocturnal sleep has just about been par for the course these past several years. Currently I’m sat with both wrists splinted in an attempt to alleviate an extremely discomforting ache in both hands and forearms, alongside a nausea inducing uneasiness in the armpits which requires me to squeeze the upper arms tightly in to the torso.

At least, today, I am not experiencing any submandibular aches and pain, nor is my spastic colon (or the diverticular disease) troubling me as much as it has done for the past several days. Even my lower limbs seem relatively trouble free.

Sorry, but current discomfort prevents any further keyboard endeavour for the time being …

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Journeying On

The rather more upbeat days continued through to Tuesday of this week; I was even able to visit ‘Open Church’ on two successive days, Monday and Tuesday, for coffee and conversation. Admittedly, sundry medications still have their role to play as part of a general coping mechanism but, it really is great to feel rather more comfortable within my corporeal frame. At the conclusion of Tuesday’s visit I welcomed the prayers of Roy and Jacqueline that I may discern a readiness / preparedness for healing. As one who constantly strives to rationalize their faith, I have difficulty in accepting that simple spiritual gift.

Wednesday saw something of a setback in terms of muscular and joint pain but, more disconcertingly, painful intestinal grumblings (and hyper-activity) put paid to any notion of venturing beyond the confines of the house. Fortunately, recent positive activities have served to keep any acute sense of frustration at bay. By Thursday afternoon I was able to cautiously venture out to Café Culture and, I visited the café once again on Friday in the company of ma belle and Beth.

This evening I’ve prepared a casserole in readiness for Sunday dinner, a spiced chicken, mushroom and peppers casserole; even though I’ve had a healthy sufficiency of food during the day, this dish has certainly tantalized the tastebuds.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

joyous participation

After the preceding rather downbeat post, it comes as something of a relief to be able to report a few days when low key socializing has become very much a part of the week’s routine. Opportunities to participate in quite sustained periods of conversation / dialogue, and a corresponding sufficiency of emotional stamina, have felt almost like little miracles.

It has been far too long since I was a participant, or felt able to participate, in such animated conversation on matters of faith, politics and general life experience. I feel greatly blessed in meeting R. and J. at ‘Open Church’, on Monday, and the subsequent conversation chez nous.  I’ve managed to find the stamina to visit Open Church on three occasions this week, as well as attending and contributing to a lively meeting of the local Labour Party branch and, thoroughly enjoying an evening meal with Janet & Graham at their home in Killinghall.

Wow, I almost feel exhausted by the realization that I’ve been able to manage so much this week.

For all of this I am truly thankful!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

from Minor to the more mundane

Sometimes the desire to communicate "from" overwhelms the paucity of substance from which one may wish to communicate. At others, that very desire (to communicate) is thwarted by an insufficiency of physical and/or emotional stamina. I am, currently, undergoing a rather prolonged wilderness trek.

Whilst I observe nature's changing seasons, primarily in the context of our gardens flora and fauna, I'm reluctant to admit to my own ageing. Having already felt rather decrepit, for a considerable period of time, the next season for me hardly bears thinking about; much better that I skip a season and pray for Spring's renewal.

The furthest my adventurous spirit has allowed me to travel of late is 'Open Church' at our local parish church or, even closer to home, 'Cafe Culture' located within a few hundred yards of our front door.

 A somewhat spastic colon puts paid to any desire to venture further afield whilst sundry, at times excruciating, muscular aches and pains contribute little to any such desire. Discomforting armpit and submandibular tenderness, an erratically irregular sore throat, acid reflux and post nasal drip, are worthy daytime adjuncts to nocturnal restlessness, night sweats and unrefreshing sleep.

Life is never without its drama, as one may be instantly transported from a state of relative alertness to that of a shattering exhaustion.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Yesterday, I wasted a morning by attending an appointment at the chronic fatigue unit. After an initial, fairly lengthy, chat with an OT I had to wait in a corridor until a social psychologist deigned to materialize.

When the psycho did emerge I felt that there was something lacking in the interpersonal skills department. She seemed determined to prove that all my problems, aches and pains etc., must somehow boil down to low self-esteem and/or money & security worries. Way off beam!

Having mentioned my problems in coping with bustling supermarkets, sensory overload etc. and, the need to sit down and/or get out into the fresh air, it seemed as if the wind in her tail was forcing her to posit an absurd hypothetical supermarket where I was unable to find a seat and there was no way out - how would I react? Obviously I wasn't going to waste my time answering such a ludicrous hypothesis and, after about the fifth repeat of the question, by way of a response I told her I was leaving and duly walked out.

Although I was quite calm, apart from not suffering fools gladly,she followed me out into the corridor stating that she didn't intend to cause me to have a panic attack; even if she had intended to, I'm afraid that she would have failed abysmally!

Having released myself from the duvet realm a good hour earlier than is my norm, in order to attend,and subsequently spending an exhausting 110 minutes in the department, I was relieved to escape from the Wessely-an lair.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

of needles and needless worries

The physiotherapist called again on Wednesday afternoon, as promised, to administer a gentle treatment with the magic needles whilst I sat in a chair, rather than my usual supine position. At first I found it more difficult to relax whilst seated but, as I practised a few breathing exercises, I soon overcame this little obstacle. By the time the practitioner was ready to remove the needles I felt wrapped in a gently warm glow of relaxation.

On Thursday I felt even more achingly tired than usual; incidentally this kind of minor setback, on the day following acupuncture treatment, is quite regularly experienced by yours truly, the benefits usually start to be felt around 48 hours after the treatment. Although feeling totally shattered when I went to bed that night, multiple discomforts, in armpits, forearms and torso prevented me from getting any sleep before 3.00am and, even then it only visited me in brief intermittent snatches.

By the time I freed myself from the duvet realm, on Friday morning, I was surprised to feel reasonably refreshed, all the better to face another day of minimal exertion. In the afternoon I managed a visit to Café Culture with my beloved; this neighbourhood café, a few minutes strolling time from home, has proved a real godsend.

On Saturday morning we were anticipating an early afternoon visit from six Southerners plus our eldest daughter Beth. I’ve got to admit that the prospect seemed quite daunting. For the past several years, I have had great difficulty coping with any kind of claustrophobic hospitality but, in the event I needn’t have worried. For some reason (unbeknown to yours truly) I was on quite scintillating form; by way of a bonus, it was also the first full-day that I’d survived, for some considerable time, without having to resort to painkillers*.

It was only this afternoon that I recognized the latter achievement, as I passed an afternoon in state of totally exhausting shatteredness; this extreme discomfort is a far from atypical reaction to any previous days socializing, regardless of that activities duration or intensity.

* a sign that the acupunctures benefits had well and truly kicked in?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

normal service may be resumed ... tomorrow

On Monday afternoon I was really looking forward to a visit from Helen A, the physiotherapist, who over the past few years has helped me with both pain management and a modicum of re-energizing by the skilful manipulation of acupuncture needles. It had been a considerable time since her previous visit and, my body was screaming out for some kind of miraculous intervention but, my guts weren’t prepared to have any of it. No sooner had she positioned the first couple of needles than an unexpected (and unrelated) excruciating spasm of the colon necessitated a change of posture, and consequently the abandonment of the treatment.

I’m unfortunately all too familiar with colonic spasms, and quite regularly have to take an anti-spasmodic medication but, the intensity of pain on this occasion was of an altogether different order. My eyes began watering as I gasped for breath; it felt as if someone had got hold of the intestine and knotted it as tightly as possible whilst somehow managing to wield a cat o’ nine tails thus granting themselves added sadistic satisfaction.

Suddenly, the tears came flooding out as I apologized for being such a wimp; as the evening progressed the abdominal disturbances began to settle down as the pains in the upper limbs started to demand my attention. Come bed-time, discomfort in both upper and lower limbs ensured that several sleepless hours would ensue.

The good news is that I’ve had a much more settled day today and, the physio will be calling later tomorrow afternoon to administer the healing needles.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cussing and Tears

For someone who needs / requires a minimum sleep & bed rest of at least twelve hours per night, things take a quite dramatic turn when medications fail to support the necessary restfulness. Last night / this morning proved a cussingly tearful case in point; the cussing, tossing, turning and stamping during the night, the tears on late emergence into the daylight hours.

Having taken an overdue shower, mid-evening, I seriously anticipated a good night’s sleep as I mounted the stairs en route to beddy byes. A quick brush of the teeth, followed by a casting off of the dressing gown, and I was ready to snuggle down with my beloved. No matter how tired I felt, golden slumbers had little or no intention of passing my way.

Crushingly searing pains in the left arm, coupled with muscle spasms in the lower limbs, conspired against the best laid plans. It wasn’t long before the lightweight pyjama jacket, which began to feel unduly constrictive, had to be cast off and, I then tried to apply the wrist splint, which has on many occasions seemed to alleviate the intense discomfort in the upper limb. Arms stretched downwards, both under and over the duvet, then stretched behind my back followed by stretching them above my head; none of this solves the extreme discomfort. Next I try lying on my left side, lying on the right side, lying on my front with arms crossed under my pillow but none of this helps. The discomfort screamingly intensifies.

 Having taken amitriptyline during the evening, I now reluctantly resort to 2x50mg tramadol but, even these seem to have little effect. Eventually, sometime after 3.00am, some snatches of sleep; vividly Technicolor naturalistic dreams haunt me back to wakefulness. A time of hopeful waiting follows, hopeful that I may soon revisit the land of nod; I drift back into slumber and a different dream.

When I eventually feel more awake, and find sufficient stamina to remove myself from the duvet lair donning daytime clothing, I’m suddenly overwhelmed by tears of intense frustration. Suddenly, I can’t help feeling that this health-imposed lifestyle is letting life pass me by. It’s only very rarely that I can venture beyond the neighbourhood high street, even that becoming an effort at times, that even the pleasure I derive from the home garden and aquarium begins to wane. I certainly couldn’t manage without the loving tenderness, care and caresses, of ma belle Helen but, at the same time, I feel utterly guilty and upset by the stress I must be causing her.

This post also appears on 'Mal's Murmurings' as "a self-pitying yelp of frustration"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whither Labour or Wither Labour

What is Labour's position on "free schools" or, where does it differ from the coalition on anything?

As a Labour Party member I find myself somewhat concerned by (Shadow Secretary of State for Education) Stephen Twigg's  apparent support for free schools. Has the party policy officially changed since Andy Burnham declared them to be a reckless gamble?

I rejoined the Labour Party when I thought the Blairite days were over but now, with a new leader (who I voted for) condemning justifiable plans to take industrial action by Trade Unionists, many of whom voluntarily contribute to support Labour as part of their union fees, an increased number of Blairites in the Shadow Cabinet, and now this move to supporting free schools I'm wondering which party I'm in!

I am also concerned at the way the party leadership tends to support the Tory / Blairite attack on benefit claimants as scroungers. When I succumbed to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in 2003 it was incredible the hurdles I was made to jump through in order to claim any benefit at all, the medicals process causing a relapse in my condition and hence, the effort was far too great to consider applying for DLA which my therapist at the Chronic Fatigue Unit insisted I should be entitled to. My entitlement to the State Pension when I turned 65 came as a great relief but. I suppose the official line is that pensioners are scroungers too.

The party has certainly moved a long way from that which I faithfully served throughout the 60's and 70's. Sorry for the rant from what started out as a simple desire to know just where the party stands in relation to "free schools" but, instead, I found myself wondering why I should continue to support it. I, for one, care more about the downtrodden poor, especially those on low pay and/or benefits, than an ill-defined squeezed middle, which obviously doesn't include public sector workers who are scorned for wanting to take protest action against cuts, changes to pensions etc.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mal's Factory shows Promise

a new poem - or lines towards such - can be found on Mal's Factory - Poetry & Prose Poems

tasting the air - thwarting the robber barons

For once, I’m thankful for the thieving profiteering utility companies. Being reluctant to put on the fire, hence supporting their practice of extortion, I discover that it’s a more pleasantly comfortable temperature outside and, a walk in the rain (hand in hand with my beloved) provides me with a little long overdue exercise. For the past few days sundry ailments, of both very and less familiar varieties, had prevented me from
tackling little more than a walk up to the garden pond to feed the fish.

Its strange how often dull damp days have the effect of making the houses interior feel extra cold; it feels so much warmer once outside, embracing the elements, on such days as this.

The preceding lines were written yesterday, before I ran out of the necessary stamina / powers of concentration to proceed further. Today, once again, it began to feel almost intolerably cold sat in the house but, having donned an appropriate lightweight waterproof to wander up the garden and feed the fish, the external temperature proved sufficiently comfortable for me to enjoy a garden snapshot session.

Prior to this little venture into the great outdoors, I’d been feeling totally ill at ease inside my own skin; the pain emanating from armpits, upper arm, elbows, wrists and, spasmodically, the rib-cage served to sustain a nagging sense of nausea. For an hour or so it seemed impossible to find a position / posture that would permit me to either listen to the radio or read a few pages of a book without, most disconcertingly, hurting! So, once again, my reluctance to further support the robber barons, encouraged me to take to the open air, as an exercise in distraction from the prevailing dis-ease.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

of enjoyment, endeavours and frustrating limitations

I’m just so grateful that I became more alert as Tuesday afternoon progressed. By early evening I really felt on good form as Beth, Helen and myself enjoyed a meal at Brios to celebrate Beth’s birthday. I do feel really blessed with such an adorable wife and wonderful step-daughters, they have made my life so much richer.

Although it took quite a while to settle down to sleep, after dining out, I didn’t have too bad a night’s rest albeit with the far too familiar intermittent bouts of sleep! Wednesday morning, I ventured out into the garden by 11.00am to perform a few minor chores, the primary one being to split up a clump of globe thistles (echinops ritro) which had rather outgrown their particular situation. I potted up a small clump, to set aside for a friend who had expressed an interest in them. No sooner had that task been performed than Cathy arrived to visit us, and join us for lunch, just before she was due to head off back to her work in Switzerland. I must admit I was grateful for the break.

Late afternoon found ma belle et moi back out in the garden. This time I transplanted some of the thistles, elsewhere in the garden, before shovelling out some of the wonderful humus from the bottom of our compost bin. The latter task proved quite exhausting and, it wasn’t too long before I found myself achingly on the verge of collapse. I thought it wise to listen to my body! My beloved supervised me as I took a shower before settling down to a very lazy evening. Even though I felt exhaustedly tired when I retired au lit, at about 10.00pm, an extremely restless night followed. Intermittent sleep took over from around 4.00am and I finally emerged into a beautiful new day at around 11.00am. It seems that, these days, regardless of my levels of activity / inactivity, my bed rest requirement is generally between 11 and 13 hours.

Earlier attempts to write this blog were thwarted by a nausea inducing discomfort emanating from the armpits. It’s really hard to describe this sensation, which forces me to clamp my arms tightly to my side or stretch them behind my back but, it totally disrupts any attempt to concentrate on reading or web-surfing. I’ve discovered that this type of discomfort can, occasionally, be moderately alleviated by applying my arms to a more directly physical activity but that’s entirely dependent on my having a sufficient reserve of stamina.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the best laid plans

After that wonderful Early Bird morning and subsequent day, ( bird talk – not quite up with the larks ), I fully expected  a decent nights sleep to follow. My hopes and expectations were drastically thwarted; I remained resolutely awake and alert throughout the nocturnal hours, sleep only arriving after 8.30am and, spasmodic at that. As a result, my emergence from the duvet realm (yesterday) did not occur until 11.30am; the rest of the day witnessed little action from yours truly until mid-afternoon when I gathered a few windfall apples, raked and grazed the ground (including the longer grasses intrusive moss underlay) in the more wildlife friendly area of the garden and, gathered a few tomatoes from the greenhouse plants.

The evening was spent basking in the company of ma belle, listening to some music before watching ‘Doc Martin’. By 10.00pm I was most decidedly shattered, even omitting the teeth cleaning ritual prior to hitting the sack. Almost immediately upon my head sinking into the pillow I was wrapped in slumber. Sound sleep, with a few intermittently vibrant dreams, ensued until after 7.00am. Post 7.00am   I slumped back into sleep until 10.00am, the cup of coffee, left on my bedside table as my beloved departed for work, remained untouched and well and truly chilled.

One would have thought that an early venture out of the house, following such a good apparently refreshing sleep, would have found me with an extra spring in my step but, that was not to be the case. As I headed off along the road, my lower limbs felt as firmly supportive as a pair of loosely rolled-up towels. My left arm felt like an achingly hollow lead tube.

About a third of the way towards my goal, Open-Church at St Marks, I mentally yielded to the message from my exercise resistant limbs and, after the briefest of pauses, began the slow saunter home; and now, a few rested hours later,  my body finally seems to be waking up.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

bird talk - not quite up with the larks

Emerged from the duvet lair at 10.00am, my earliest time in weeks, and commenced preparing a spicy chicken, peppers and mushroom casserole ready for dinner today (and tomorrow).  It went down a treat served with my special herb roasted potatoes and sundry steamed green vegetables.

After lunch, ma belle went to a store across town to replenish our stocks of bird feed; at present our avian friends are enjoying autumn’s bounty but it won’t be too long before they become a little more reliant on our supplements. In recent days, we’ve had a goodly number of goldfinches on both of our nyjer seed feeders. Flocks of house sparrows ensure that we have to regularly refill our token seed feeder offerings; it’s also fascinating to watch their agile manoeuvres as they cling to wheat stems, seeking out the last fruitful ears. Blackbirds can occasionally be seen in the proximity of the bruised fallen fruit at the top of the garden but, they’re not visiting as frequently as they were earlier in the year.

It’s a really pleasant surprise to not be feeling totally shattered and, many of the familiar aches and pains are currently a mere shadow of their usually boisterous selves, with only a minimal need to resort to tramadol.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Step Forward

Last night I managed to attend a Labour Party branch meeting, the first time for some months.  Colin Burgon’s most stimulating, inspiring and entertaining speech, “What can the Left learn from Venezuela?”, was followed by a lively discussion. A chance to replenish our glasses, hand-pulled ales being a rare treat for me these days, was followed by the more routine branch business. And, as if that wasn’t enough, I even managed to stay for some post meeting conversation.

Earlier in the day, I’d been seriously wondering whether it would be yet another occasion for me to proffer my apologies. After 13 -14 hours of bed rest / restlessness, it  had required a tremendous effort of both willpower and physical stamina to remove myself from the duvet lair. The gamut of emotions and felt body temperature was extremely broad, both limbs and torso felt shudderingly cold during the first hour or so, applied hot water bottles making little apparent difference. After two discomfortedly restless hours, au lit, the situation had reversed as perspiration oozed from head, torso and limbs.

Cramping pains in the left upper arm, spasmodically accompanied by aches across the upper chest and both shoulders, and a painful tenderness under the chin, conspired along with abdominal bloating to ensure that sleep remained a distant dream, or vain hope, for the next few hours. The gnawing spasms in the left upper arm persisted well into my ex-bed waking life.

Having experienced that degree of dis-ease in the preceding 20 hours or so, it came as a pleasant surprise to be able to participate in the LP meeting. Today I’m experiencing a little payback, a tawdry collection of gut-wrenching abdominal grumblings, searingly painful sinuses, aching limbs, jangling nerve ends and, an underwhelming sense of exhaustion. In terms of morale, the meeting / socializing experience, on this occasion, far outweighs any consequent additional discomforts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

refreshed ... ?

Wow, it’s already 17.30hrs and I’m just beginning to feel awake. Having slept quite soundly, albeit intermittently, retiring au lit shortly after 22.00hrs last evening and emerging from the duvet lair at around 11.00hrs this morning, I should have felt refreshed, right! Truth be told, I can’t quite remember when I last felt refreshed / really awake during any morning or afternoon but, things have got much worse since I started taking the amitriptyline.

Had a telephonic conversation with the duty doctor this afternoon; “Mirtazapine, Amitriptyline and Tramadol, they’re all sedatives”, he says. I explain that I’d only just taken a couple of tramadols today, only resorting to them when absolutely necessary. I suggest that maybe I should ditch the mirtazapine but, he thinks that’s a bad idea and comes up with the suggestion that I take it in the morning (instead of the evening) and just take half an amitriptyline in the evening.

The experiment continues …

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two New Poems on 'Mal's Factory'

I've posted two new poems - "SHATTERED" and "3.00am message to myself" - on 'MAL's FACTORY'

False Hopes

Regular readers may have noted my problems with exhaustion and a corresponding lack of refreshing sleep. Much of the time it has not been quite as simple as lack of refreshing sleep, more a lack of sleep (full stop). Out of my current average twelve hours bed rest requirement, a good night’s sleep could be as little as three and a half hours. It’s commonly said that as one gets older they require less sleep but, in my case, when it comes to the amount of bed rest required, this has most markedly increased.

In my youthful heyday the nights when I spent as much as eight hours abed (during the working week) were very much the exception; any hours in excess of this on non-working days were most definitely a pampering luxury, rarely a necessity as they are now.

I have been finding relief from some of the daily aches, pains and spasms, through a combination of tramadol, ibuprofen sundry orthopaedic supports; unfortunately, this still doesn’t prevent intensely discomforting pains interfering with my desire, from a state of shatteredness, to get some sleep. On such occasions, even lightweight pyjama jackets and / or trousers feel like intensely constrictive pain dispensers in their own right.

A couple of months ago the GP put me on a small dose of (the anti-depressant) mirtazapine in the hope that its sedative effect would help me get some shuteye. For a week or two it certainly seemed to be helping, even though it could still take a good couple of hours of excruciating tiredness before mind and body yielded to the land of nod. Some of the more intense pains in the region of the armpit and upper inner arm persistently nagged me back into a fully wakeful state. The doctor has now added an additional anti-depressant, amitriptylene, to my evening medications primarily for its supposed analgesic effect.

Having benefitted from a couple of pain-free, almost completely restful, nights my hopes really began to build up. Yesterday, having taken a couple of tramadol late morning, I felt no need to take further painkillers for the rest of the day, simply taking the mirtazapine and amitripylene in the evening. What followed was the most agonizingly painful sleepless night; admittedly it wasn’t helped by the highly amplified sound pulses emanating (until 2.30am) from a private party a couple of blocks away. A fair bit of time was spent stomping and cussing around the bedroom and landing, experimenting with wrist, shoulder and elbow supports, as well as consuming a couple more tramadol. The pain eventually began to ease by around 4.30am but, my mind was (by then) far too active to permit me any slumbers. Thankfully, by mid-morning I attained some brief, dream-filled, spasmodic patches of slumber.

I am attempting to retain a degree of hope that the recently prescribed medications will eventually fulfil their prescribed function but, it feels rather like a hope against hope!  


since my previous post I have added a few more snapshots, 'the fuschia is present', to 'Mal's Picturebox'.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Of (Arm)Pits and Pendulum

A private resolve, to refrain from further postings until I felt more upbeat (on the health / well-being front), has now dissolved; I’m afraid that you’ll just have to take me as I am! I have no particular desire to be / become a moaner but, nor do I see any point of omitting mention of the sundry aches and, occasionally searing, pains ones flesh is heir to. For good or not so good, I am the result of all my life experiences whether chosen by or imposed upon me.

You may have previously gathered that this has not been one of my better years, any kind of relapse is unwelcome but, I still remain grateful that I have not had to plumb the most excruciating depths this wretched illness (M.E.) can deal out. I am most fortunate in only being a moderate sufferer but, even that moderation has at times proved quite intensely disabling.

And now, for the fifth or sixth time in as many days, I return to this same page in ‘Word’ in the hope that a sufficiency of stamina and a release from having to clasp my upper arms tightly to my torso (to alleviate the intense discomfort emanating from my armpits in normal free flow positions) may coincide to enable the completion of this posting.

The sharp nauseating ache and throb in the armpit is a tactile equivalent to chalk “squealing” across a blackboard. At other times an unexpected sound, not even necessarily of sufficient decibels to call a noise, can seem to sear through my flesh and crush the ribs. It’s almost as if my nerve-ends, in attempting to tread carefully on eggshells, all too startlingly draw ones attention to their own discretionary priorities.

I must admit to some uncomfortable guilt feelings in, once again, being / feeling unable to contemplate a few days away whilst my beloved has a break from work; to be honest, I even have to steel myself to cope with trips out to locations within ten or twenty minutes drive from home.

On the plus side I did manage a visit, with ma belle, to a local garden centre on Thursday and, we really enjoyed a visit to ‘Brio’ for a delicious meal yesterday afternoon. In the evening we immersed ourselves in Almadovar’s movie ‘All about My Mother’ which we’d recorded from Film 4. At lunch time today, accompanied by Cathy, we popped around to Café Culture for a little light lunch before returning home to wallow in the emotional riches of ‘Toy Story 3’.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

snapshots on Mal's Picturebox

I've just posted a few macro snapshots of bees on a globe thistle, Close Encounters - (Bees on a Globe Thistle) on Mal's Picturebox.

Monday, August 08, 2011

where to begin

Just another typical morning; cup of cold coffee on the bedside table, clock radio spewing out a familiar mix of entertainment and banality and, I’m still abed, even though the ante-meridian hour has passed eleven!

Today’s the day I’m to visit my GP to check whether the medication, which she prescribed three weeks ago, is assisting me with sleep. Problem is, after the first couple of nights the familiar routine of restlessness, coupled with fitful brief snatches of slumber, still prevails. Most of the time, after a predominantly restless night, I’m drowsily awake around the time my beloved leaves for work (around 7.30am) before drifting off into the land of dreams. The period of drowsy wakefulness is, generally, when my beloved places a (hot) cup of coffee on the bedside cabinet [see opening paragraph].

For all the intermittently fluctuating pattern of sleep, my vividly Technicolor dreams frequently veer towards a nightmare scenario, one where the goal always slips from one’s grasp as one runs, walks, or crawls desperately towards it; walkways erode and crumble beneath ones feet, a doorway inevitably narrows just as you attempt to squeeze through, a bus departs just before you reach the stop. Normality and fantasy indelibly intertwined.

Sundry muscular and abdominal aches and pains, doubtlessly, contribute towards my fitful sleep, as well as the frustration of my daytime hours. I shortly go and see the doctor but, where do I begin? Suddenly I realize the appointed hour has arrived and, walking stick enabled / encouraged, I make my way to the Surgery.

On being called in to the consulting room, Dr D makes me feel immediately at ease. She notes the spinal related nerve pain in my left arm but, is more intent on finding out about my sleeping habits; meantime, a regime of occasional ibuprofen alongside the tramadol should be maintained to alleviate the sundry aches and pains.

The GP has suggested that I should try taking the mirtazapine at around 6.00 – 6.30 in the evening. The thinking goes that, as I’m really drowsy in the mornings, the mirtazapine is probably contributing to the drowsiness and, if taken earlier (than is normally suggested) it may well help induce sleep during the appropriate nocturnal hours. The doctor suspects that the dreams may well have been heightened by the medication but, that should settle down in due course; she also said that she would be contacting Julie at the Chronic Fatigue Unit, with a view to my having a refresher course to help me with my “pacing”.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

the process of aging?

So, it's come to this; old age has got me firmly in its grasp and, I lack the stamina to even attempt to wriggle free!Recent weeks have borne witness to a severe deterioration in my sense of dutiful pride. My old familiar shattering aches, pains and nauseating sense of exhaustion has driven me to .... ! 

Pride still has a hold, on me, as I struggle to prevent the awful truth being broadcast far and wide but, it's no point trying to live a double life, the strain is just too great.

The honest truth is that I've been driven to watching daytime TV and, all I plead for is a little sympathetic understanding! 'Bargain Hunt', 'Doctors', and re-runs of 'Only Fools and Horses' have managed to fill the aching void of inactivity with a modicum of determined purpose. If I can't work up the enthusiasm, or find the necessary energy reserves to purposefully surf the net, tend the garden etc.; at least the vacuum can be filled by my determination to switch on the television over the lunchtime period, starting from a period frequently less than one hour after my emergence from the duvet realm.

The truly worrying factor is that, not infrequently, I'm actually enjoying the viewing experience.

Since last Christmas, I seemed to have had some of my appetite for reading restored, politics, biography, theology, as well as a modicum of fiction once more became a part my daily experience but, for the past few weeks, my stamina reserves have only allowed (primarily superficial) casual browsing. I tend to place some of the blame on the warmer weather, which has a knack of depleting my already limited reserves of stamina but, I can't help wondering if in fact the real culprit is Father Time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watching My Back

I'm still waiting, albeit impatiently, to find a more regular pattern of sleep; needless to say, such a pattern has not yet emerged. After Monday night's peculiarly refreshing sleep, Tuesday night reverted to the more familiar restlessness; emerging before 10.00am to take a shower on Wednesday, both morning and afternoon necessitated intermittent little naps. By the evening I started to feel a little more awake; not a good sign. Come Thursday morning I was still in the throes of sleep when ma belle ventured off to work (around 7.30am), finally emerging into the new day a few minutes before noon.

And then the cycle repeats, Thursday's late emergence led on to a further night of intermittent sleep, although I did manage to remove myself from the duvet lair around 11.15am on Friday morning and, I then seemed to spend most of the day in an half alert state of being.

Retired to bed at about 10.20pm on Friday evening and then gradually stumbled into a waking state some time after 10.00am Saturday morning. Early in the afternoon I went out into the garden to take a few macro shots, of bees on globe thistles etc., but started feeling a sense of giddyness which persuaded me to go back in the house. Some twenty minutes later I started to have throbbing shooting pains, down my left arm, exceeding the all too familiar aching discomfort of the wrist which is my regular companion!

So, it's panic stations (for me and ma belle) as we head off to the District Hospital when the throbbing pain shows little sign of abating. The good sign is that I'm becoming rather flushed rather than going pale but, we're totally puzzled / worried about this temporarily excruciating addition to my catalogue of ailments. The first nurse who sees me, after about 40 minutes, makes a few notes and checks my temperature and blood pressure, the latter unusually high by my standards, before I return to the waiting area.

After a further 90minutes, or so, I'm called into an examination room where an ECG is administered; at least my heart seems to be OK and, by this time the pain had subsided considerably. A further 40 - 50 minutes later a Romanian doctor comes in and, having sounded my chest and back, and a little chat about Romanian wines, she carries out a few tests on the reactions of my arms and hands to touch. She duly notes an abnormal contraction response in my left bicep before examining the top part a of my spine. Once again as she touches a certain point relatively high on the spine, a quite painful shooting throb goes through my left arm. She notes a degree of misalignment of the spine and thinks that, together with the herniated disc in the lumbar region, could account for much of the pain and discomfort I've been experiencing. As she puts it, I'm sorry to tell you it's a back problem.

An evening in which I took anti-inflammatories alongside a couple of tramadol, and a preparatory mirtazapine, still managed to lead to a night of restless intermittent discomfort rather than a good nights sleep. Today has seen me swaddled in both shoulder and wrist supports as I tackled both dinner preparation and subsequent light gardening chores. Both wrists are currently screaming abuse at me, so once more I resort to ibuprofen, tramadol and, hoping against hope that the mirtazapine will have the necessary sedative effect.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a small blessing

Today, I managed to remove myself from the duvet lair before 11.00am and, to my great relief, experienced a most unfamiliar sensation, that of refreshment. I honestly can't remember the last time that I felt refreshed after a night's sleep. Fortunately the nigglingly painful spasms in my lower limbs, as well as a dull numb ache in my forearm and hand, were there to assure me that this wasn't just a dream!


I've also posted this on Mal's Murmurings with the title "light refreshment"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

and suddenly ... SLEEP

Had an appointment with a GP yesterday afternoon. The doctor was quite firmly of the opinion that I was experiencing a reactive depression, an understandable response / reaction to the debilitating neurologically rooted myalgia, and the accompanying lack of refreshing sleep, which has been my companion for such a prolonged period; she prescribed 15mg Mirtazapine to be taken at bed time.

If the first night's anything to go by they have a wonderful sedative effect and should, hopefully, help bring about a resolution of my sleep deprivation problems. Last night was one of those very rare experiences where I remember very little between putting my head down on the pillow (lateish Friday evening) and slowly, but somewhat groggily, emerging into mid to late morning (Saturday). 

I must admit that, at first, I felt somewhat as if I'd been sledgehammered; it took until mid-afternoon before I started to feel properly awake.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Delicate Balance

This has been a week of teetering on the edge, a time when both persistently nagging, and spasmodically intermittent, physical aches and pains have been accompanied by a lack of refreshing sleep. This unsettling routine has really started to play havoc with my already fragile state of emotional stability. One would think that as months and years pass by it would become increasingly easy (and certainly necessary) to come to terms with / accept the health-imposed limitations upon ones ability to socialize. For much of the time, this has seemed to be the case (for me) but recent days have found me frequently erupting into unprompted floods of tears, probably in response to an excruciating sense of exhaustion alongside a more vaguely defined sense of futility.

It only requires a small trigger to set these eruptions in motion, especially when one spends far too many hours enjoying / enduring one's own company. Yesterday afternoon should have seen a visit from my physio, to administer the acupuncture treatment but, late morning found me awoken from my somnolent state by a 'phone call from this practitioner to re-arrange the appointment as her fresh supply of needles had not arrived. Had I not already been feeling discomfortedly vulnerable I wouldn't have given the matter a second thought but, on this occasion, it simply served to exacerbate my physical and emotional frailty. My beloved returned home from work to be greeted by a blubbering, sleep-deprived, emotional wreck, and persuaded me to try to arrange an appointment with my GP.

This morning, just as ma belle was preparing to drop me off at Open Church, the doorbell rang and it was a pleasant surprise to find my friend Katie there. Katie and I went down to Open Church, for a cuppa and a chat, whilst my beloved set off for the Acorn Centre (where she's a volunteer helper on the computer course). Just the fact of being with company has a certain healing power and, Katie herself had just been feeling a similar need for company and a change of environment. This morning's event served as a beautiful counterbalance to yesterday's upset over the cancellation of my acupuncture appointment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

sometimes the sunny side goes face down

When one's horizon becomes restricted (by reasons of health) it can be quite remarkable how much more interest / detail can be found within the narrower constraints.

When the world is one's oyster it's far too easy to overlook / ignore the pearl (one so easily overlooks that which in other circumstances would be considered of greatest import); when one's scope / potential is more restricted even the most common routine or occurrence can become a pearl of great price!

Since 2003, my year of collapses, and succumbing to myalgic encephalomyelitis, I have gradually learned to appreciate much more of the minutiae of daily experience. A walk into the garden can be as refreshing as a holiday away, the garden itself provides such a wealth of (primarily pleasurable) sensory experience which, fortunately, is not of the overloading variety such as that proffered by a visit to a supermarket, cinema, or town centre store.

The pleasure, that it’s possible to receive in abundance from the commonplace, isn’t always sufficient to stave off an emotionally draining intensity of frustration with the inescapable limits to one’s socializing horizon. It not infrequently feels as if a degree of re-active depression is lurking in the shallows, rather than the depths, of one’s psyche!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

upbeat to crestfallen and rising again

I am genuinely puzzled about where the daytime hours go, or at least how swiftly they pass; a sure sign that I’m not currently experiencing any of the more excruciating aches and pains that the flesh has so frequently become heir to. A little pottering about in the garden, the odd half-hour of book reading, listening to sundry genres of music brought to me via radio, vinyl, CD and MP3 – the time just seems to vanish.

Have to admit though that, having had the company of my beloved for the best part of 24 hours every day during the past fortnight, Monday did seem to drag somewhat at times. Even though I strolled down to, and enjoyed an hour at, ‘Open Church’ (in the morning), and performed some minor gardening chores later on, I became increasingly conscious of the absence of ma belle as the day went on and was just eager for her return home from her first day back at work.  I never cease to be amazed by the love and bond, between Helen and myself, which just seems to grow stronger with each passing day.

Reflecting on the rapidity with which each day passes by serves, quite simply, to amplify the rapid growth of that bond. It was twelve years ago last March that I first met Helen, we married eleven months after that; I just feel so fortunate in having such a wonderful partnership.


“not currently experiencing etc…..”  less than twenty-four hours after writing the preceding paragraphs, the sundry aches and pains returned with a vengeance. My colon seemed determined to painfully demonstrate its full range of spasticity whilst, simultaneously, my chest played host to a spasmodically pounding ache; at times it felt like a heavy-handed skiffler had chosen my ribs to replace his washboard.  Add to this the aching calves and thighs, sore throat and raw feeling sinuses and, you may get the feeling, it wasn’t too bright a start to the day. Having spent a goodly part of the morning in intermittent sleep, I was somewhat surprised to be overwhelmed by a heavy drowsiness in the early afternoon at which point I had to wrap myself in a slanket and seek at least a moderately comfortable posture to snatch a few more zzzzzs...zzsssss…

This morning time had moved into a long slow crawl, each moment hanging drearily on the edge of despair. At times I feared that I was heading back towards depression; reactive or clinical remains a moot point!

After a post-lunch catnap, I decided to sample a little of that which “hath charms”; in retrospect my choice of listening [The Randy Newman Songbook Vols. 1 & 2] may be considered odd in the circumstances but, somehow, even (or perhaps especially) the more cynical lyrics of Randy Newman, presented by the master himself, managed to lift my spirits.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

from twinge to twang

Payback of an unexpected kind, for last weeks gardening exertions, slammed in to me this morning as I took a shower. The shower seat, which has previously proved an invaluable aid, turned out to be this morning’s site of reckoning. Having creakily lowered myself onto the said seat, the task of standing up again proved quite excruciating; the twinge experienced during the descent became a searing twang as my spine convulsed in the vicinity of the herniated disc.

Exiting from the shower proved an intensely painful nerve-wracking experience, and I subsequently needed the assistance of my beloved to towel myself down and get dressed. It’s just as well that ma belle’s recovery is, slowly but surely, getting underway.

A first attempt to move downstairs, walking stick aided, proved abortive. As I tried to lower one foot, onto the first step, a more sustained convulsive spasm toward the base of the spine erupted; a sudden leap up the pain scale from six to nine point five. Thus thwarted I returned to the bedroom and sat down for a little while until I summoned up the courage to attempt the staircase descent once again. With my right hand firmly grasping the handrail, and supportive walking stick in the left hand, I tentatively lowered the right foot onto the first step, and utilized the right foot lead mode on each subsequent step.

A sense of achievement and relief at thus shuffling down the stairs was its own reward. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Nursing ma belle - update

Just been hitting the tramadol again, hoping that they’ll alleviate the excruciating painful ache in both upper and lower limbs. During the night it was my legs that succumbed to lightning bolt spasms whereas, by lunchtime, it’s now the biceps that are undergoing erratic spasming. 

It’s really good to find my beloved able to manage a little food today; after I’d posted yesterday’s blog my beloved’s condition deteriorated further, necessitating further contact with her GP practice who decided to change her antibiotic to erythromycin as well as prescribing some anti-sickness tablets.

No sooner had she swallowed her first erythromycin than it was vomited back; in the circumstances it was difficult to see how she could manage to take an effective dose. Throughout the day (yesterday) even bland fluids could not be retained, occasional sips replaced her normal enthusiastic swallowing.

Having managed a boiled egg and toast for breakfast, I prepared a couple of smoked haddock fishcakes for her lunch and she seemed to really enjoy them. It seems rather strange that when she was running a high temperature she was shivering and shuddering yet, today, with her temperature closer to normal she feels quite overheated. 

For myself I had a lunch of my own unique recipe spicy beef meatball pasta – I’d actually prepared it at the weekend and, in normal circumstances both casserole dishes would have already been devoured – which I didn’t feel would have been quite suitable for ma belle’s temporarily sensitive stomach. 

Monday, June 06, 2011

The moderately infirm nursing the infectiously incapacitated

Talk about the blind leading the blind; it's pretty much a case of the moderately infirm tending to the needs of the infectiously incapacitated chez nous. Fortunately the payback from Friday's exertions has not proved as severe as its promise (see previous post) so, I'm able to support my beloved who has succumbed to an infectious ailment. Her throat started to be irritatingly bothersome last Wednesday night and then, became a cause of major sleep disruption (for her) on Friday and Saturday nights. [As one frequently plagued with an erratically disruptive sleep pattern, I can normally be found jealously observing ma belle's usual mode of deep sound sleep].

On Sunday morning, feeling much worse, she visited the out-of-hours doctor who diagnosed acute tonsilitis and prescribed phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg - two to be taken four times a day for seven days. At that time, although feeling totally wretched and wrung out, Helen wasn't running a temperature; this morning, after a further night of minimal restfulness, she was feeling extremely nauseous, running a high temperature and, simultaneously, teeth-chatteringly shivering. Having spoken to her GP, via telephone, the dosage of antibiotics has been reduced to 1 tablet four times a day.

I'm just hoping that I don't fall victim to the same infection as, ma belle already feels guilty at having me running around after her! I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the sense of helplessness I experience when my beloved is unwell; although I’m happy to prepare whatever she’d like to eat or drink, it’s hard to cope with the fact that she  can’t manage, nor has any desire, to eat anything at the moment. It’s altogether a quite unusual situation as Helen is normally the one who can be relied on to “eat what is set before you, nothing doubting”. As she has already been sick a couple of times, sans food, I don’t think it would be fair to coerce her into eating just to help put my mind at ease!

I suppose that, in a way, this reversal of roles helps me to further appreciate just how difficult it must be for my OH to cope with my ME related sundry ailments and pattern of remissions and relapses. A carer’s lot is not a happy one.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

swings and roundabouts - a modicum of payback

Yesterday, the weather proved too enticing to resist so, having acquired a few more plants for the garden in the morning, I overcame my natural caution regarding over-exertion and created an additional (mini-)border as well as some plantings in pre-cleared areas of the extant ones. This task was left until later in the afternoon when the earlier heat had subsided a little. Once the plantings were completed we retreated to the house to relax.

Mid-evening the doorbell rang as some children had spotted a hedgehog under Helen's car, and they didn't want it to be accidentally run over. The hedgehog in question had meantime moved across to some decaying leaves in a corner of our pebbled forecourt,seeking shelter; to ensure that it didn't dash out onto the road, I picked up the hedgehog and took it to shelter in the undergrowth at the wilder end of the garden. The creature remained on the spot where I placed it for a few minutes before scurrying off, much to my relief, into deeper cover.

Although extremely / achingly exhausted before retiring to the bedchamber, sleep proved very difficult to come by - discomfortingly patchy at best, with erratically random bouts of acute nightsweats as a keynote. By mid-day (today) my whole being was a patchwork of nausea inducing aches and pains, abdominal, glandular and muscular. Abdominally, in terms of discomfort and activity, it seemed as if mild diverticulitis and IBS had conspired to optimize my sense of dis-ease.

Today has, of necessity, been a time of great idleness chez nous as I have little desire to exacerbate the situation.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Procedural Matters

Three days after cancelling, and rearranging, the hastily appointed barium enema, I received a letter from a consultant in the endoscopy department to say that they would shortly be arranging an appointment for this procedure. This epistle was dated 12 May but postmarked (second class) 19 May; my bewilderment / dismay at the too short notice received for the initial appointment may have been compounded by the fact that I was not aware at that time that any such appointment was being arranged.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the barium enema / X-ray procedure went without a hitch, even though it’s a long time since my recumbent (though not necessarily in total comfort) torso had to undergo so many postural changes in such a restricted (30+ minutes) period of time. (The exercise must have done me good!). Procedure completed, how wonderful it was for this hollow stomached being to return home, and ravenously devour a banana whilst awaiting the due sizzle time for the subsequent bacon butty; my previous solid food intake had been shortly after noon the previous day.

That gets me on to thinking about the privileged life I lead. Whilst so many in the world lack a roof over their head, access to a ready supply of drinking water and food in their belly, I can eat and drink at whatever moment suits my whim. I adore, and am adored by, my beloved wife, companion and lover Helen and, have two wonderful step-daughters. As long as we stand firm against the Tory / Lansley menace, future generations will also have the opportunity to access the same freely available National Health Service, not at all dependent upon one’s ability to pay, whose services are very much appreciated (despite minor glitches) by yours truly!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Only here to serve ... and cause upset

Much as I love, and am determined to defend, the NHS it does seem to have a recent record of setting out to upset me. After the last minute arrangements for (and subsequent abortive attempt at) my colonoscopy, a similar last minute arrangement has been made for me with radiology for a barium enema.

This morning having just emerged from the duvet realm at around 11.30am, I opened a small package from the District Hospital informing me of an appointment at 8.50am tomorrow. Of course the preparatory evacuant was to have been taken at 8.00am and then between 2.00 and 4.00pm today. I duly 'phoned the hospital to say that I would be unable to attend but they said that if I forego my lunch I could take the first dose of the preparation right away and, I could take the second dose at 5.00pm!

No sooner had I put the 'phone down than the realization struck home that as I'd not yet had breakfast and, the lunch that I'd have to forego was also the last food permitted until after the treatment; I wouldn't have had any food since teatime yesterday until after the procedure tomorrow! Once more I picked up the 'phone to ring back and cancel the appointment; at this point I became a stuttering, stammerring, tear drenched wreck!

When my beloved returned from taken a little service at the local Methodist Homes for the Aged, she rang the hospital to re-arrange my appointment for one weeks time.

I have only just noticed that the appointment letter was dated 13 May 2011 but the envelope postmarked (franked by the hospital) 17 May 2011 - this delay accounts for the 'actual' last minute / too late notification! Perhaps ConDem induced staff cuts could be held responsible for this lapse in communication.

Monday, May 16, 2011

a painful disorientation

I must admit that a combination of feeling totally drained and exhausted, with a subsequent nocturnal pattern of discomforted sleeplessness, didn't bode well for this new day. Bearing this introit to the day in mind, I shouldn't have been unduly surprised by the morning's turn of events. After a familiar lazy start to the day, emerging at around 10.30am from the duvet lair, I decided to venture down to Open Church for coffee and conversation. Although it's only about a ten minute slow walk, I already felt quite tired on arrival, a dull bruised ache across the chest at collar bone level being sustained against an erratic cramping counterpoint from the abdomen, provided a somewhat disconcerting background to an overall sense of light-headed giddiness. Suddenly, apparently out of nowhere, there emerged floods of tears from yours truly, an involuntary response to an all pervasive fearful sense of disorientation.

A generalized sense of disorientation and  bodily discomfort,spasmodic griping cramps in the abdomen, and a head best described as a bruised hollow floating dysfunctional globe of giddyness - had already provided the keynote (for considerable portions) of the past several days. On top of that, a sharply bruised tenderness around the ribcage (dx costochondritis) has done little to encourage any real sense of well-being. In fact my whole colonoscopy debacle (recorded by my OH, as 'My beloved's bad experience', on her Bright Light blog) seems to have caused a general setback healthwise; of course the timing may be completely coincidental.

I have an appointment at my GP's surgery this afternoon for a general checkup.


PS 17.12hrs I saw my GP this afternoon who gave me a general maintainance check via stethoscope & sphygmomanometer and he feels that it was a panic attack alongside all my old familiar aches and pains. He has also given me a booklet 'Panic : a self help guide' and a mental health questionnaire as well as arranging a follow up appointment in 10 or 11 days time.