ME

ME

Friday, November 03, 2017

When Purgatory Beckons

I’ve always heard about the road to hell being paved with good intentions and, have more recently discovered that another’s good intention can bring severe dis-ease to the one being benefited by their deed. The past few weeks have not been easy for me to cope with, the aftermath of my minor stroke and that of my step-daughter’s accident, the latter needing my beloved’s assistance to dress and shower herself.

Over many years I learned to live both in communal houses and alone, much of the time at peace with myself. In more recent years I have lived in relative peace and harmony solely alongside my beloved OH. As I’ve mentioned before, since the onset of my chronic illness I have become increasingly tetchy, even over apparently trivial matters.

This morning my semi-invalided step-daughter suggested that the dust in our (that of mine and my OH) bedroom  was rather un-healthy and, decided with her one (currently) usable arm to take the vacuum cleaner upstairs to do the cleaning. You can only imagine, or maybe not, my dismay at being told, by a young lady who has four cats romping about in and out of all rooms, that our bedroom was unhealthy! I had already been made to feel guilty at my relative inactivity when a person with one arm immobilised, and purportedly in intense pain, could manage domestic duties of a kind which my physical and emotional stamina levels require that I ration.


The final hump-breaking straw was her decision to mop the floor using a pot pourri scented thick disinfectant, as a result of which I later had to struggle to regain my balance as I took a slipper shod slide across part of the bedroom floor! Fortunately that struggle ended successfully but, it was yet a further warning that a good deed, if ill considered, is certainly a step into purgatory.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

CHANTING PSALMS out of ANGER and FRUSTRATION

Currently, my temper is running on a very short fuse, swift to anger but sluggish in calming down. At its worst I end up upsetting those whom I love and even, at times, keeping temper simmering long after the immediate (sometimes trivial) cause for letting it loose has disappeared. There are many times my anger is justified especially when I look at the policies pursued by our Tory government, that of the US of A and, indeed, the governments and people of all nations that punish the vulnerable and worship private wealth. Very little regard seems to be paid to the unethical practices that have enabled that wealth accumulation in the first place!

My less justified outbursts usually occur when I am in rather acute pain and discomfort; one word out of place, from another party, can so easily release a vehement stream of verbal chastisement and abuse from yours truly. These are times when my response / reaction leaves me ashamed and guilty for the distress which I may have caused.

Having expressed that mea culpa I can move on to the more regular occasions when the air around me becomes filled with expletives and near blasphemy. The frequency with which limbs and torso are acutely and crushingly subjected to intense discomforting pain has recently increased, reverting to that state I experienced not long after ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) first held me in its thrall. The main trouble is that the discomfort strikes so suddenly, whether in wrists, elbows, knees or elsewhere on the torso, it almost inevitably transforms the axillary lymph nodes into a discomforting, nausea inducing, dis-ease. During the night, as I futilely hope and pray for refreshing sleep, restless legs, painful feet, and lymph node tenderness compete for my attention, the only reaction that rears its head is a ferociously spitted out “Jesus Christ” followed by a torrent of expletives as I vainly attempt to find a comfortable position either in or out of bed.

This morning, as I checked out my Facebook homepage, I stumbled upon this quote from Blake Chastain – “Sometimes swearing is just a minimalist psalm”.

So, even when I find it difficult to pray, I find myself enthusiastically chanting Psalms.

In the Book of Psalms there is so much anger and despair amongst the ritual hymns but, none as succinct as the involuntary F-word that spews from my mouth when pain and discomfort is at its keenest.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

On the Opening and Closing of Doors

ON THE OPENING & CLOSING OF DOORS


Well, life has certainly been eventful, and frustrating, since my fall (http://sinnaluvva.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/a-fall-becomes-set-back-and-shaggy-dog.html & http://sinnaluvva.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/gratitude-for-nhs.html) but, nothing really much in any way I could regard as positive. Because my PPI (omeprazole) was not compatible with the clopidogrel, the GP switched my prescription back to lansoprazole; I had taken lansoprazole for a number of years and had discovered the most effective dosage was 30mg twice per day, morning and evening. It, therefore, came as something of a surprise to find that I had only been prescribed 15mg once per day.

The new medication regime began on the 19th September but, so painful and discomforting had my GORD and IBS symptoms become, that by the 27th September it became essential for me to have an emergency appointment at my GP surgery. The appointment was with a nurse practitioner who duly increased my dosage to 30mg once per day.  Even with this dosage, I still had to resort to a strong antacid each evening.

Meanwhile, I was twice proffered an earlier appointment (in a saga which began a few months back) with the surgeon to discuss removal of my gall bladder but, I automatically declined as I now needed to get into a pattern with the amlodipine & clopidogrel and, I realized that if an operation was to take place I would need to be off the clopidogrel for around one week.

By way of diversion, we have an additional resident chez nous. Beth, the eldest of my two step-daughters, was discharged from hospital in York on 10th October following a bicycle accident on the 3rd. She has a fracture in the neck of her humerus, necessitating immobilizing of her right arm and plates in her jaw at the sites of two of her three jaw fractures. This latter condition means that she is only able to manage soft / pureed food. My beloved OH has to help her both to dress and to bathe / shower.

Eventually the pre-arranged appointment, on the 23rd October arrived and ma belle chauffeuse accompanied me to the clinic at the District Hospital. The doctor soon explained to me that as I had recently had a stroke, albeit a minor one, she would be unable to carry out the operation as the anaesthetic required could trigger a further more severe stroke and, although I could apply for referral after six months of reasonably good health, she personally didn’t seem much in favour of this, as she felt there would still be the risk of a more major stroke. When my beloved asked the surgeon what should happen if I had a further infection of the gall bladder, she suggested that antibiotics, albeit with the possibility of increased antibiotic resistance, were much preferable to a risk of paralysis. She was of course aware of my family history [my mother suffered a major stroke within seven days of experiencing a TIA – spending her remaining years with total paralysis of one side of her body – when she was of an age only marginally advanced from my current state of being].


Whilst I was somewhat relieved that the doctor hadn’t pussyfooted about the rather stark options, it did seem to emphasize the whole mortality issue as, later in the day, I began to feel a sense of desolation regarding an apparent futility of existence. I wondered, for a while, if I was reverting to a state of depression! In the clear light of a new day, chronic illness notwithstanding, I was so blessed with a loving wife and family, a catholic taste and enjoyment of various musical genres, literature, fine arts, and a faith that never lets go of me even when belief has evaporated.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gratitude for the NHS

Saturday and Sunday I still felt somewhat shocked and shaken, by the fall I had on Friday evening, as full sensation and feeling hadn’t yet returned to my right foot and ankle. As I stood up it still felt as though I had a spongy platform sole on that foot.

My beloved rang my GPs surgery first thing on Monday morning and, she explained to them what the paramedics recommended, so the Wednesday appointment offered wasn’t soon enough. About half-an-hour after that, a practice nurse ‘phoned me back and, when I explained the situation, I was soon granted an appointment with Dr Desha at 12.40pm. Although there was a delay before getting in to see the doctor she was extremely thorough in her examination of me, blood pressure, reflex, touch, response to hot & cold in the foot etc. She prescribed 4 dispersible aspirin to be taken immediately, Clopidogrel and Amlodipine, to be taken each morning, to deal with my high blood pressure, and prepared a referral to the TIA clinic at Harrogate District Hospital.

As the time was getting close to that for the House Group / Bible Study chez nous, my beloved left me waiting for my prescription at the local pharmacy whilst she went home for the car to collect one of the attendees at our meeting. Sat in the over-chilled air conditioned pharmacy I suddenly felt quite shaky and weepy. The pharmacist kindly phoned my beloved to see if she would bring the car around to collect me.

The house group had already started in the meantime and I was eager to participate rather than sit on my own, feeling broodingly sorry for myself. Around 3.00pm, mid-way through the meeting, the ‘phone rang and, it was the hospital informing me that I had an appointment at the TIA clinic at 10.00am Tuesday.

Next morning I saw Dr Brotheridge at the clinic and, as the symptoms had not completely cleared within 24 hours it couldn’t be classed as a TIA but was likely some kind of minor stroke. Within an hour I’d had a CT brain scan done and, on returning to the clinic he informed me there was no sign of a bleed and the brain looked normal and healthy. He also said that the medication my GP had prescribed was exactly right and he would expect me to remain on that. Meanwhile an appointment was made for me to have an ultrasound of my Carotid and Aortic arteries at 1.00pm; this left time for ma belle chauffeuse and I to pop home for a cuppa and a snack, but before that we had time to go for some blood tests which my GP had requested.

The attention given, and the efficiency, in each department was really special.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Fall becomes a Set Back and a Shaggy Dog Tale



Yesterday’s events brought back a memory from 1962 when I was a student nurse in Exeter. I especially recalled a young man on the orthopaedic ward who had a talent for inappropriately releasing the cot sides from his bed. He was recovering from an above the knee amputation but, to his mind and nervous system, the phantom lower limb was far too tangible. Eventually he became an expert user of crutches as he scooted around the ward and, he was soon performing acrobatics on these supports. This young man later returned, on several occasions, to offer encouragement to children both preparing for and having undergone lower limb amputations.

These days with all my sundry aches, pains and other ailments, I envy that resilience. What brought those memories to the fore last night was my having a fall, in the living room at home. I’d just decided to go for a shower but, after the first step I suddenly felt as if my right ankle and foot had just disappeared. No sooner had the thought occurred than I plummeted to the ground, my head landing on the dog’s snout. The dog was on the sofa near the door and, as I fell I heard a growling bark very close to my ear. That growling bark was the dog’s defensive call as this figure fell directly in his direction.

My beloved’s immediate reaction was a desire to drive me down to A&E at the District Hospital but, as I still had no sensation of there being anything below the calf of the offending limb I was reluctant to venture out. Whereas the young man, referred to in the opening paragraph, fell because of the imagined / phantom lower limb. My fall was because I had an intact limb but had suddenly lost all sense of there being an ankle and/or foot there.

We phoned the out of hours doctors number from which we were referred to the 111 service, (? against using the word service), to whom my wife first spoke about me having a fall due to loss of sensation in my foot and ankle. They then spoke to me and went through their usual script – attempting to detect a stroke or the like – but I became increasingly frustrated as she questioned whether I’d had the numb sensation before I got up to walk, despite my constant reiteration that the loss of sensation and my fall were a simultaneous occurrence, even though the numb sensation was still present. She then asked if there was any bleeding and I mentioned I’d had a little bleed from the base of the ear but, that was probably due to falling onto the shocked dog. There were also the usual questions about whether I was running a temperature, “place your fingers on your chest do you feel as if you’re running a temperature” was their suggestion. I explained that in my case I’ve been diagnosed with an infection by a GP even when there was no sign of me running a temperature. Ever since I succumbed to ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) some 14 years ago, my body thermostat has proved somewhat erratic).

The person on the switchboard then returned to the stroke detection questions – can you raise your arms above your head, can you smile, is your mouth twisted – to which I replied that I didn’t think it was anything like a stroke, having witnessed my mother when she had a major stroke and several TIA’s but, it wasn’t like what I was experiencing. I was just concerned about the loss of sensation in the right foot and ankle and the consequent fall which had proved most unnerving.

I eventually became rather fed-up with the inane repetition of questions I’d already answered from a person who on their own admission had no medical experience, nursing or otherwise, but she did have a list of questions she had to ask. Eventually in frustration I hung up. A short while after that, they rang back to say that there was an ambulance on its way. The ambulance duly arrived expecting to see a dog-bite victim who’d had a stroke!

The paramedics most conscientiously carried out tests on blood sugar, blood pressure, pulse rate and a couple of ECGs. Blood pressure was rather high and the one carrying out the tests did at first wonder if there was a sign of AF. They suggested that I contact my GP on Monday to arrange for a review.

The setback, referred to in the posts title, is that temporarily at least I’ve had to once again resort to the use of walking sticks, albeit as a precaution against a further fall. The shaggy dog tale / story is I believe even more obvious.

 Even an hour after the fall, as feeling gradually returned to my foot, it felt as though I had a crepe platform shoe on that foot, whilst the evidence of my eyes and the rest of my nervous system reassured me that my foot was actually touching the ground.


There was a time when calling my out of hours doctors number would put me through to the out-of-hours doctors clinic at the hospital. There also used to be a service called NHS Direct which had a far higher proportion of medically trained staff dealing with enquiries than is apparent in the 111 service. After this experience I’m rather pleased that for many of us it is, at present, still possible to have a face to face appointment with a flesh and blood GP even though the waiting time is sometimes a problem. I have never felt much adept at communicating with a telephonically disembodied voice, especially one that is so obviously reciting questions from a script!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Falling Prey to my inner wimp



Although most days, of late, have tended to feature a time of sustained pain and discomfort, its manner of onset varies considerably. Sometimes an ache in the palm of the hand and fingers, or more frequently wrist, can be set off by simply holding a newspaper or using a laptop computer for just a  few minutes;  at other times  a throbbing ache in the elbow provides  the warning  sign. Unfortunately, on far too many occasions, the ache soon spreads through the arm as a painful throbbing occurs in the elbow, and a nausea-inducing discomfort in the armpits, apparently emanating from the lymph nodes, spreads through the upper arm.

The application of splints, and various supports to palm, wrist, elbows, and even shoulders, serves to alleviate the pain and discomfort but, otherwise, I have to resort to pain-killers, tramadol proving the most efficacious, alongside these external aids.

Although the donning of a shoulder support can proffer relief, it seems quite strange that many times my body screams out for the removal of even non-constrictive cardigan, shirt or pyjama top. It’s not at all unusual, at these times, for me to lie down with both arms stretched behind my back, upper arms clamped tightly to my sides, to proffer a further degree of alleviation from the nausea sensation.

Discomfort in feet and toes frequently occurs alongside the pains in upper limbs and torso, and it feels as if they scream out to be relieved from any (otherwise un-noticed) constriction of socks and outer footwear. The past twenty-four hours presented me with a monstrous mix of aches and pains, necessitating the donning of additional supports for a considerable portion of both morning and afternoon, yesterday, as the full gamut of excruciating aches and pains in torso and limbs took up residence. The following nocturnal hours presented little opportunity for sleep, or even the slightest hint of relaxation; restless legs and pain skewered toes, alongside sundry discomforts in upper body and limbs, resulted in expletive laden tirades, against the night, emanating from my lips.


Helen, my beloved OH, and our faithful hound Piper, each attempt to console me – frequently to little apparent avail, as I fall prey to my inner, hopeless, wimp!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Of Conversation and Being Wallopped

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

For These Small Mercies


For These Small Mercies (we proffer thanks)


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

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

of generalized discomfort,

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

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

components of
the neurological kind.
Today at least

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

and a calmer mind.



                                          Malcolm Evison
                               20 July 2017


this post also appears on my poetry blog

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, June 09, 2017

on the mend and back again


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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

the guilt trip of an involuntary social inactivist


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

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

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

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

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



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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Compression Ratios and Ailments

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

attempted exorcism by written word

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

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

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


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

one helluva night - with tears to follow

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Not Praying but Hoping


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

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




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

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



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





Sunday, April 30, 2017

Of HEALTH and TAINTED VIRGINS




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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

iolo SYSTEM MECHANIC ACTIVATION PROBLEM version 16.5.2.214

For the past couple of days I’ve been attempting to reactivate iolo System Mechanic 16.5 premium. I first installed it on two old machines in February then, more recently, on a newer machine where it seemed to be working fine.

Then came update patch 16.5.2.214; since that time I’ve been unable to activate my key. Let me re-phrase that: it has regularly informed me that it has successfully activated and will fix any problems. Immediately when I press the FIX NOW button I’m asked to submit & confirm my e-mail address or enter activation key. The circle keeps on rolling round and paid for System Mechanic remins inactive.

On twitter, @iolo_technologies suggested that my problems would be resolved by installing patch 16.5.2.214 which contained a “bug fix” for people who had a problem with activation keys on version 16.5.2. 212! Apparently some lucky buggers who were having similar problems, to my current ones, have been blessed with a fix which makes mine inoperable.

I’ve even downloaded and installed a fresh copy of version 16.5.2.214, rather than from my IOLO CD, and guess what. I’m still unable to activate this supposedly useful product. I’m currently regretting having paid for a premium version.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

and ache becomes pain - literal & metaphorical

and ache becomes pain – literal & metaphorical

I wrote, quite recently, about the difficulty of defining / distinguishing an ache from a pain. This morning, sundry expressions of the former were, rather rapidly, transformed into examples of the latter.

Sudden onset nauseating aches in fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and armpits soon had me curling up on the sofa, upper arms clamped firmly to my side, fingers tightly intertwined and the heels of my hands clasped firmly together.

At the same time, the heels of my feet were drawn up close to the buttocks and, my forehead pressed onto my clasped hands; the initial ache was temporarily subdued by my adopting this unusual posture but, within a further ten minutes, the aches transmogrified into acute sharp searing pain which manipulated lacrimal, salivary and mucous glands into overdrive.


A sore grating feel to the throat, such as may signify the onset of a cold, provided a counterpoint to those other aches which by now had become a real pain!



Saturday, April 01, 2017

Lost for Words

It’s one of those times when language seems to be somewhat limited, lacking in pertinent words to describe a particular mode of being. What I have been experiencing, earlier today, is an intense discomfort that not only induces nausea but, also brings me down into a tearful state. This sensation, however, feels to me totally distinct from anything that I would normally describe as pain; more like a dis-ease with the way my flesh and bones fit into their enveloping skin.

Quite out of the blue, whilst doing a bit of catching up (on e-mails, twitter feed etc.) on the laptop, my elbows suddenly began to throbbingly ache in response to simple tapping on the touch-pad, a sensation of tenderness in the axillary lymph nodes followed with only a minimal delay; the nausea induced by these events meant I had to immediately desist from any laptop activity. In response to this sensation I swiftly donned my elasticated elbow supports to help alleviate the discomfort.

As I attempted to relax / recline on the sofa, I suddenly became aware of a discomforting ache in both knees. Next step was to don my elasticated knee supports. At this stage, I would still describe what I was experiencing / undergoing as an intense discomfort rather than pain; perhaps what I would describe as pain is more the experience of a sustained sharply stabbing irritation rather than the initial chronic dull throbbing ache of discomfort and dis-ease.

There are times that the simple donning of supports eases the nauseating discomfort but, on other occasions they prove less efficacious. As the discomfort moved more towards my pain zone, time seemed appropriate to resort to pain-killers (100mg of tramadol); within half-an-hour the discomfort and impending pain began to dissipate.


I’ve got to admit that the moment when discomfort (chronic discomfort) and pain (acute pain) merge or transpose is extremely hard to define, or even recognize. Sometimes, words quite simply fail me and, the cussin’ swiftly takes over.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Susceptibility to Faith

This post originally appeared on another blog of mine in 2005, based on some earlier scribblings of mine in an (unfriendly/hostile) online Christian Forum



A Susceptibility to Faith?


After undergoing an evangelical conversion experience at the age of 19, there followed a spell of fervent evangelising (perhaps alienating rather than helping the victims of my outreach!). On experiencing the more conservative social values of my evangelical peers, I was forced, by the more "mature" Christians, to choose between Christ or social-activism.

At this point I tried hard to reject my Christian faith, even to the point of asking God to reveal the unforgivable sin to me! An involvement in political activism, an investigation of Eastern religions, and a later dabbling with drugs, somehow never managed to fill a God-shaped void in my life.

Eighteen months of born-again Christianity was followed by many years in the wilderness. Various apparent coincidences led me back to a Christian faith, sensing the prodigality of the Father's love as he came out to welcome me despite my aversion to many of his ardent followers.

My journey this time was via existential & linguistic philosophy, literature and biblical criticism, subsequently by degree and post-grad studies in Theology.

The secular homophobic attitude of many evangelicals saddens me, a reminder of the social conservatism that forced me to seek de-conversion nearly forty years ago. Although evangelicals now recognize the need for committed social action, their intolerance and fear of peoples sexuality can blind them to many real injustices in society at large.

Isn't it strange that issues of militarism, party politics, usury etc. do not bring the threat of schism to the Anglican communion! Arms dealing and legalised extortion are obviously insignificant when compared to the issue of gay clergy!

My theology is now more liberal /radical than formerly yet, I still read and study (contextually) the same scriptures, follow the same Lord and am prompted by what seems to to be the same Holy Spirit as my evangelical brothers & sisters.

Is it a psychological weakness on my part, that I need FAITH, or is Faith my necessary means to overcome the apparent impossibility of deriving an ought from an is?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Jesus and Me

originally published on my 'Mal's Murmurings' blog in September 2005


Jesus transformed my life but, perhaps, in turn I changed his. His
story has been transmitted to us via faith communities and, to
some extent, each believer adapts this person to their own needs.

The power of symbols is simply amazing. One time, I entered into
a personal relationship with Jesus and, my God, was it hard. It’s
strange how he expected me to take on the comfortable lower
middle-class lifestyle of my peers in the faith. Some of them knew
no better, they’d grown up with him as had I but, they’d never seen
the need to rebel.

Rebellion, now there’s a pain, one may even have to start asking
and, even worse, answering questions! Me and Jesus got along fine
for quite some time, we shared all these intimate conversations but,
no … he wasn’t prepared to back me whatever I chose to do; the
pastor knew best on that score. God, how I loved Jesus social
conscience and his love of the company of outsiders to the faith but,
according to the pastor, it was only because he was divine that he
couldn’t be tainted. It seems that somehow we poor fallen
creatures couldn’t take that risk so, we had to set ourselves apart.

It wasn’t long before we parted company, at least the church and
me; I don’t think the Jesus symbol ever let me go! My journey took
me a long way round after that, via Eastern religions, Trotskyist
politics, and experimentation with various substances, asking
uneasy questions and collapsing along the way.

All this time I remained under the spell of this divine symbol Jesus;
in him I found a voice and image of inclusivity, his demands may be
hard but ultimately that became part of the attraction. If no
demands were made how could one possibly grow? This time, the
demands weren’t to do with opposition to my working class status
but, more to do with caring about the people it was necessary to
challenge.

On my return to the fold, even in a transitional state of charismatic
fervour, I was far less inclined to “preach at” non-believers; the
most important thing was that they should realize that I was there
for them. For some time, strangers would turn up at my doorstep
or, I would be granted an insight into someone’s need to be
befriended.

It took so long for the realization to grow that, the most important
thing was quite simply to be there. Although full of doubts and
questions, regarding the Christian faith, the symbols of the faith
have well and truly grasped me. I am acceptable, tetchy human
that I may be.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

FAITH Matters

This posting was first published on my 'Mal's Murmurings' blog in January 2007



Faith Matters


FAITH is that set of values, and ultimate questions, by which we lead our lives. Questions and doubts are an integral component of faith, if we are not to become stuck in a rut of blind belief. I have been grasped by certain concepts and values of community and compassion, and much of the reported teachings of Jesus (acclaimed by many as the Christ), throughout my life, both those in which I have been unwittingly indoctrinated and, those which I have arrived at or returned to through a prolonged period of questioning.

It has always seemed a major mystery that some people seem to "need a faith", some "seek a faith" by which to measure their life’s course whilst others are quite simply "grasped" by an ultimate concern which they have neither sought nor been aware of a need for.

In my personal journey, I have at times embraced (or been embraced) by each of these modes yet, a deep rooted scepticism has proffered me a deep rooted intellectual and emotional resistance to making room for such a faith. That same stubborn resistance also occurs when anyone attempts to fob me off with multifarious scientific hypotheses disguising them as facts. I suppose I’m slightly averse to ‘fundamentalisms’ be they secular or religious.

Perhaps, with my low level reserves of physical and emotional stamina, I do not pro-actively fight for my beliefs as much as I should, but the mystery of LOVE (almost) always compels me to accept a transcendent reality.

I am "grasped" by the person and work of Jesus the Christ yet, am unable to accept much of the dogmatic doctrinal baggage with which he has been encumbered. Some emphasize his humanity, others his divinity, fully God and fully man proves a bit of a conundrum yet, in this myth of the Christ  many, including myself, have found the strength to challenge the social and economic injustices of our day.

In spite of my deeply rooted sceptical nature, it is far easier to accept the existence of God (all the flawed ontological/ teleological arguments for His/Her/Its existence notwithstanding) than it is to understand how it is possible that so much bigotry, intolerance and, upholding of the status quo can possibly be carried out in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s as if the ideological baggage of state blessed Christendom has blinded us to the truly radical nature of the Christ.


Friday, March 03, 2017

Sat to please

                            SAT TO PLEASE





Piper gently whines missing his mistress, and (the now back home) recuperating Beth; no matter how he laments these absences, regardless of duration, they never seem to affect his appetite. The prospect of a treat brings out his sunnier disposition, and his heart melting gaze of adoration; a non-stop supply of food would be his idea of paradise!

I can frequently be a miserable bugger, feeling totally emasculated as physical and emotional stamina rarely seems up to (e.g. furniture shifting / re-arranging) tasks that once would have been a doddle.

No matter how much I appreciate those activities that I can (and do) manage, an aggressive and anxiety laden self-pity, far too often, takes over. Our wonderful hound quite frequently alleviates these more morose moments, just by his close proximity and his readiness to please.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Just A ... Day

The day started with a generalized non-specific ache, nothing major this time, aching rather than painfully discomforted. Part and parcel of these aches is a sensation as if an arterial infusion has embalmed one into a state of physical, spiritual and emotional shatteredness, a temporary shutting down of any apparent future light. I manage to upset my beloved OH as a result of my wimp inspired tetchiness, a fear of being alone, a fear of physical collapse.

As the day went on, utilizing a 7" tablet pc seemed to put too much stress on my arms; an ache in the elbows transmogrified into a sensation of bruised tenderness in the armpits and down the inside of both upper arms. The application of tubular bandage and elasticated support to the elbows seemed to alleviate the most nausea-inducing element of the discomfort although, by this time I was already donning knee-supports in preparation for the dog's evening walk.


Add a touch of IBS and a throbbing headache to the equation, and what do we have? Just a(nother) perfect day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

new post on Mal's Factory



I have posted a new poem (or maybe perhaps a poem in progress) on 'Mals Factory' entitled "in the moment"

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

REFRESHED or NOT

To sleep, perchance to dream; no that’s not it, I dream that I may once again experience a sense of refreshment from my sleep. I have, quite simply, lost track of how many months, or even years, have passed since I last remember having felt really refreshed after a night’s sleep. The one thing that’s for certain is that I now require at least eleven hours of bed rest per night just to function quite modestly.

What has brought this state of affairs to a head is the (apparent) payback I’ve experienced the past couple of days, a result of having an early appointment at the local hospital on Monday morning. By early, I’m talking a 9.20 appointment which incurred my curtailing my bed-rest by just over two hours; that experience may, perhaps, demonstrate that I do in fact receive a certain amount of refreshment from my normal extended bed rest, hence the payback yesterday and today.

Yesterday was the first time, for a while, that I was totally unable to tackle the short evening walk with Piper; a sudden onset giddiness alongside unsupportive (de-boned sensation) lower limbs. Today, I started the evening walk but was suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of breathlessness / gasping for breath accompanied by a not unfamiliar discomfort in the upper abdomen, alongside a bruised tenderness in the armpits (axillary lymph nodes).

Apart from the sleep deprivation (early appointment), the hospital visit went well; I saw consultant, went for X-Ray, saw consultant again and, in spite of having heard an apology for delay in the clinic, was back on the road home, with ma belle chauffeuse, within 80 minutes of the clinic appointment time. I now await an appointment for an arthroscopy of the right knee.


The excitedly enthusiastic welcome home from Piper, our delightful hound, was overwhelming; he re-acted as if he’d missed the pair of us (ma belle et moi) for at least a couple of weeks. Of course my excursions away from the immediate vicinity of the homestead are quite rare occurrences so, the simultaneous absence of both his people may prove a little unsettling for our boy Piper.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

CHANGING NOCTURNAL TRADITIONS - (one man, one woman, and their dog)


Last night, once again, was of the somewhat discomforted variety, regardless of a pre-emptive dose of amitriptyline and tramadol. It was rather difficult to clamp down on the moans & cusses that seemingly forced their way out of my mouth; my beloved responded by cuddling me tight (until she was overwhelmed by sleep) but then, the cuddles were followed by a gentle patter of feet, approaching the bed, as our beautiful hound came to add further comfort, stretching his forepaws across my upper arms and his head across my shoulder, and onto my neck as he lay along the edge of the bed.

You may well think that Piper, our beagle–podenco hybrid hound, was very clever to hear, and respond quite swiftly to, my moans upstairs, when his bed is in a room, behind a closed door, downstairs. Up until a few short weeks ago he did indeed sleep downstairs, usually on a sofa in preference to his quite de-luxe bed. Matters changed when Helen had a bad coughing fit, at night, to which the solitary Piper responded by whining, barking and finally banging against the living room door.

After this sustained barrage of sound we succumbed to his whiles / concern and allowed him to run upstairs. That night he settled himself on the duvet, creating his own cradle in a ridge between the recumbent bodies of Helen and myself.

After a couple more evenings he had decided that he needed to keep an eye on us, sneaking through the living room door in the time it took to switch off a light. He soon decided that he didn’t like being alone and commandeered the bedroom armchair, equipped with an old blanket and towel, as his customary nocturnal roost.


Come morning, he pays a visit to our bed, as if to check we’re alright and still there. If he outstays the welcome of his inspection routine, he can generally be persuaded to go back into HIS chair!