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.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

just like a woman

Sometimes we depend too much on the information presented by an official department, in this case the Endoscopy Unit at the District Hospital, that we are in danger of failing to notice any contradictions present in the leaflets provided. As mentioned in my previous post, my colonoscopy has been brought forward to tomorrow so today is a day of vital preparations.

At the head of the page titled 'The Day Before Your Examination' that "at any time today you may drink any of the following: Tea / coffee (with milk or sweetener if desired) ..." yet at the foot of the same page (following instructions with regard to Breakfast, Lunch and Supper, as well as preparing and taking the sachets of bowel scouring preparation) we are told that "Tea / Coffee after Lunch should be black" and that's with lunch allocated for midday!

This footnote also informs one that "no further solid food or milk and other dairy products are allowed after  Supper until you Hospital Procedure". The allocated time for supper is 7.00 - 9.00pm when it clearly states that "No solid food is allowed." Surely the note should therefore read that NO FURTHER SOLID FOOD ..... ALLOWED AFTER LUNCH UNTIL YOUR HOSPITAL PROCEDURE"

 For lunch I had a portion of chicken breast (steamed) and my next solid food will not be permitted until after my procedure due to commence sometime after 3.15pm tomorrow. I’m already craving bread, crisps and even fruit but I’ll just have to grin and bear it. I’ve never felt such desperate need for a cigarette since I gave them up last June.

A warning that I, as a male of the species, would have liked to have been given concerns the very drastic nature of the bowel preparation. After two violently liquid diarrheal episodes I felt, a short while later, an urge to empty my bladder (having been encouraged to consume lots of liquids) and considered it safe to do so from a traditional standing posture. Unfortunately the attempt to urinate produced a simultaneous anal leakage. Since then it has been essential to adopt a woman's seated posture whenever I need to take to take a pee.  That probable side effect would have been worth knowing about!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Urgent Preparations

And all of a sudden it's panic stations; after last month's sigmoidoscopy an appointment was made for me to have a full colonoscopy at the end of this month. Having just had a late lunch today the telephone rang; the endoscopy department had a cancellation and they wondered if I could go in on Friday afternoon. This means of course that I've unavoidably breached the dietary preparations for "Two Days before your Examination" and tomorrow will be the day for taking two sachets of the purgative solution (Sodium Picosulfate) and my last minimal low fibre food intake will be at mid-day, midway between the two doses, although i am permitted a clear soup or meat extract drink and perhaps a little clear jelly sometime between 7.00 and 9.00 pm.

It's not a case of me having the largest of appetites but, as the appointment on Friday is not until 3.15pm, I feel pretty certain that I'm going to be somewhat pre-occupied with hunger pangs. On reading the preparatory notes I find that it's necessary to "Talk to your doctor before taking the bowel preparation if you:"... - the relevant note here being "Have reflux oesophagitis (a condition where acid from the stomach enters the oesophagus". As things stand, I've been treated for this condition for a number of years so, a hasty phone call to my GP's surgery was in order. Within ten minutes a doctor called me back and assures me that, as the 2x30mg lansoprazole along with occasional doses of gaviscon kept it reasonably under control, it would be OK if I just continue with that medication. [My primary concern had been that the notes went on to state that "some conditions may require you to be an inpatient for administration of bowel preparation" and, somewhat ironically, I've always felt that when one's feeling grotty hospital is the last place you want to be!]

Sunday, May 01, 2011

passively full days

Though still, of necessity, doing little that requires any degree of exertion it's amazing how full my days seem to be! My noblest intention of posting more regularly (to the blog) remains just that, an intention; perhaps I could blame the paucity of posts on not wanting to bore my readers but, that doesn't seem to have bothered me in the past. Perhaps the fact that my days seem to be 'full' is quite simply a reflection of my somewhat restricted stamina levels; had I a greater reserve of stamina then I would be able to fit much more into my days.

Never having been much of a sun worshipper, it's really quite amazing how much time I've been spending sat out in the garden during the current prolonged spell of dry sunshiny days. Parasols are regularly erected at the table in front of the bench, immediately behind our living room, and beside the love seat near the pond, to offer a degree of protection to this fair-skinned beauty. Even whilst sat beneath the parasol's shade I wear a hat, taking full heed of the advice I received when the basal cell carcinoma was diagnosed and excised  from my back last year. The shade, proferrred by the parasols, seems to camoflauge my presence for the garden's avian* visitors which have quite frequently settled themselves down in much closer proximity to this human interloper.

An irritable, intensely frustrating, spastic colon has ensured that I rarely ventured far from house and garden in recent days, my most distant jaunt being to 'Open Church' at St Marks - approximately 10 minutes walk - for coffee and a chat. Even that little stroll could prove a little more difficult now that my back trouble (related to the herniated disc?) has flared up again; hopefully a combination of tramadol, ibuprofen gel, and a firm back support will keep that little problem in check. Fortunately, I seem to have regained an ability to concentrate on doing a bit of reading, in the past few days having read Tony Benn's 'Letters to my Grandchildren' and the first couple of hundred pages of Manning Marable's 'Malcolm X a Life of Reinvention'.

Recent bank holidays have meant that I have been blessed with a few more days basking in the company of ma belle Helen, life could hardly be better.

* more on the birds in the garden on my beloved's blog


earlier today I posted a couple of snapshots 'must be a tea garden!'  to Mal's Picturebox