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 CafĂ© Culture for a little light lunch before returning home to wallow in the emotional riches of ‘Toy Story 3’.