Thursday, August 05, 2010

exercising caution

Cautious, that's the only word for it; last night every move I made, as I lay abed, was carried out with an excessive degree of caution. It's not at all unusual for me to spend many hours lying awake, frequently changing my position, rolling over from left side to back, back to right side, arms stretched out, arms used as a prop for my resting head - the possible postural permutations are immense. Last night, however, I attempted to restrict any stretching movements, as my freshly sutured back felt rather stiff and necessarily unwilling to stretch.[At least I was able to enjoy listening to 'Through The Night' (BBC Radio 3) between 2am and 5am, as I lay awake; Brahms, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Verdi and,a new discovery for me, the Croatian composer Lhotka, provided a relaxing background to my restlessly creative thoughts.]

Yesterday I attended the Dermatology clinic for the excision of a basal cell carcinoma from the middle of my back. The operation turned out to take more time than the norm, extending beyond forty minutes. At least I was able to chat with the consultant as he performed the surgery.

The tumour was somewhat larger than anticipated, the hole from which it was excised having a diameter in excess of a 50 pence coin and, a little arterial bleed required a considerable degree of staunching, sundry blood vessels needing to be tied off and / or cauterised. By the time the operation was completed, my chest, back, hair, beard and hands all needed cleaning; amazing how far and wide a 'little' bleed spreads its message. A considerable stretch tension exists around the sutures, owing to the size of the wound, and we've been told to expect a bleed. My understanding is that the sutured wound is about 8cm in length.

The importance of keeping the wound clean, clean vaseline being applied twice daily (in ideal circumstances). At this point I have to point out that my beloved can be quite squeamish, already evident as she was called into the surgery to be told how to keep the wound clean, but regrettably, it's impossible (where it's situated) for me to treat it myself. If I'm to take a shower, vaseline has to be applied both before and afterwards and, I'm also somewhat doubtful that it would be wise to remain seated in the shower for my normal duration. Admittedly I don't always have the stamina to cope with taking a shower, even when I feel a bit more able to stretch.

It's important that I remember to avoid lifting and any strenuous activity during the first four weeks as, any stetching of of the wound can affect the healing process. I'd have loved to have had that reason / excuse to avoid games, and the attention of our sadistic PE teachers, in my schooldays. Perhaps it's a blessing that, since succumbing to M.E. in 2003, I've already been forced into pacing myself and (whenever possible) avoiding any strenuous exertion.

Suddenly, I find myself taking stock of my activities / capabilities once again; just a few days ago I was lugging around compost and sacks of wild bird feed. I'm even going to be careful about watering the tomato plants in the greenhouse as the plants positions necessitate a good deal of stretching; I've a feeling my beloved may choose to perform that task for the duration.

It really is amazing how much we take our body's daily exertions for granted; only when caution has to be applied, prior to any action, do we become truly aware of our routine practises and capabilities.

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