It was actually quite a good day……

I can’t say that I often think of a day of medical intervention on one’s body as normally a cause for celebration, of hilarity, or even pleasure.

A nagging pain, and the insistence of  ‘Lady of the House’ meant a visit to my GP some time ago. A subsequent uncomfortable, and personal, examination at Stobhill Hospital, near Glasgow, discovered no under-lying life-threatening situation…. so relief was unbounded. However…… the pain was still around, and a visit to another practice GP showed that there were now TWO seats of pain to be investigated…..ugh!  An appointment with a surgeon decided that knife-cutting was to be the answer.

We had a family cruise organised and knew that it was unlikely that a surgical team would meet us in Santorini, or Dubrovnik, to perform an operation, due to sensible, not-unexpected, budgetary constraints within the NHS. However the waiting list involved (which was within the guidelines) meant that no such options/decisions had to be made!

I slept better the night before the op than usual, and the alarm gently woke me. Daughter and wife saw me safely into the arms of the Receptionist, medics, and nursing staff, and I was swiftly re-clothed in the double front/back- tied surgical clothing. Strangely, it was printed all over with…. ‘Only to be Worn by Hospital Patients’……as if any non-hospital-patient person would be seen dead in it!

Then the re-questioning began…….again and again. Every member of staff who came near had to ensure themselves that I was who I was. Maybe a label attached to me like Paddington Bear, with all the details, might be more sensible…or is that what they do in a morgue?

The amount of technical information pumped-into ones brain, by the surgeon, anaesthetists (yes, I had two!), and ward staff, before the procedure, is astonishing…..as if one were able to retain it, and if necessary act on it under anaesthetic! On the trolley, going to the theatre, the chat is pretty trivial, enlivened only by me seeing a trolley coming the other way, and it looked as if we were in a race for the same theatre!

For me, the worst part of surgery is the holes they make in you, for blood samples, plasma drips, different anaesthetics, and nerve blocks in various parts of the anatomy….It’s a bit like the Tony Hancock comedy ‘The Blood Donor’ (You-Tube it). They can be painful, and you might well wish to call the whole thing off, before they get the real cutting implements out. But by then the numbing chemicals have taken effect, and no amount of complaining will come from your mouth!

Surgery started at about 9.15, and I wakened in the recovery room just after 11. Professional but very kindly faces asked on a regular basis, how I felt. This I was to indicate, on an index of pain. Since presumably everyone has a different threshold, it has little absolute meaning, but comparatively it gives an indication of improvement level. I like to work on the basis of ‘How would I accept having this for the rest of my life’, and it seems to work for me.  I have to admit that I was not a happy bunny for some little time, (after all, they had worked on two parts of my anatomy!) and pain-relief protocols were discussed and applied. This all happened within a framework of daft jokes, laughter, and good-hearted banter. The anaesthetists came to see me and gave their professional advice.

I then had the cheek to ask if I could get up to go to the loo, (‘Permission refused, Mr Monroe, as protocol does not allow it just yet!’). A bladder scan suggested to them that it would not be necessary. Gentle persuasion and discussion of the consequences, allowed a compromise, and my bladder proved it WAS necessary…technology isn’t always right!

Alternating episodes of inactivity, brief walks, and coffee, hot choc, and numerous biscuits passed the afternoon with everyone in a jovial frame of mind (it was Friday afternoon after all!)  Lady, and my Daughter arrived to take me home and I was discharged at 4pm. On return home, they indulged in a chilli con carni, whilst I made do with a bowl of cereal, apple pie and custard.

…………..and thanks to a lot of people, it had been a good day!

Advertisements

It’s a right pain!

Someone to whom we are very close has just come through many months of pain, medical tests, worry, taking of much blood, indecision by medics, and three intensive courses of chemo-therapy. This was then followed by a major operation! All this has been borne with fortitude with only the very occasional (and perfectly-understandable) complaint.

We have known this person for decades, and thought we knew them well, but the last few years have shown them in a sharper  light. Courageous, tolerant about the condition, brave, accepting of the treatment, helpful to others in the same situation and optimistic, all come out high-up in the list of descriptors which would apply.

No-one in their right mind would say that we should all have a dose of bad health, or bad luck, so that some alter ego could shine through ….because I think in a lot of situations it just would not work out that way! Many would become bitter, blame themselves or others, give up hope, and become introverted.

As we encounter the cutbacks in government and local services, with unemployment rising in both wealthy and deprived areas, it is going to require an immense amount of positive, courageous and original thinking from everyone in our society if we are to see through the tunnel towards the light. In fact, not unlike what this relatively-young person has had to imagine, meet head-on and now look forward to…….. a better future.

So is your glass half-full, or half-empty?

Walking the walk……

Lady of the House, Son, and I were at Hamilton, Lanarkshire, last night  (the ASDA Car Park to be precise), to see off some 1300 ladies young and old on a Midnight Walk. It was a beautiful evening and the ground shook and lamp-standards vibrated to the dancing and gyrations of these ladies in ridiculous costumes. All sported pink, which is quite nice and feminine, but others had luminous tu-tus, sparkling tiaras, hideously-coloured leggings,etc, which were (I imagine) intended to chase off any male pursuers!

Their intention was to walk some 13 miles (half a marathon, for goodness-sake!) from Hamilton to Bothwell,  Blantyre and other assorted bits of the roads round the area. They were  seen-off by fire-engines, escorted by police, marshalled by stewards all along the route. Both ASDA and Tesco provided some much-needed facilities. We let them get on with it whilst we headed off to bed, and ultimately hear of their safe return.

The reason for the walk was to raise funds for St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie. This wonderful organisation has a tremendous shortfall in its finances of some £45,ooo per week, and with the government cutbacks likely to be announced this week, the situation will not improve. To put it in some kind of context, even one fewer shell per week fired in anger in our current battlefields would keep them afloat in their marvellous work…..think about that you politicians!

Women have been aware of the scourge of cancer for many years, and the effect it can have on their well-being, as it is talked-about quite freely between themselves, and in the media. Not so with men…the macho image most of them have of themselves and their bodies does not sit well with self-examination, or discussions with doctors etc.

It is well-known that early diagnosis and treatment is to be preferred, and yet the young virile male feels himself invincible and immortal. Not necessarily-so, guys! Take a lesson from the ladies, and maybe this time next year, we might see the equivalent walk with males, without the tu-tus, tiaras, and leggings, of course!

It might well be a Happier Christmas!

Glad to report that the pains which Son has had to suffer appear to be abating, or are more controlled….still don’t know which. One of the medications has the associated problem of affecting the joints of the hand, and this is now certainly evident. However he has been feeling some relief, and has had a go at a short bit of driving…..so important to the male of the species….with no obvious immediate side effect.

The Young Lady of the House, and I had planned long ago to see in the New Year in Cyprus and had been having to re-consider. However with the help of Daughter (who is a very good organiser) and our next door neighbours (who have offered meals), this should make the break possible. 

We will be at the Midnight Service at the Cathedral on 24th, have our Christmas Day meal, care of Daughter (no dishes to wash!), and head off for Paphos in the early hours of 26th, leaving the house to Son. The freezer will be filled for the time we will be away, so he won’t starve!

If I am not blogging before Christmas, can I wish everyone a Happy and Blessed season.

Buono Natale

Good news for a change!

A visit tonight to see the Consultant at Ross Hall, about Son’s problems with his hands. It was one of those meetings which you dread, not knowing if the news will be good or bad. It turned-out to be like the curate’s egg…good and bad.

The prognosis seemed to be that it was not Wartenberg’s Neuritis, but some other form, of unknown origin. It also seems to suggest that it will ‘ burn itself out’, but no time scale was mentioned or offered.

But the pains will still continue for some time, and the number of pills will increase to try to control the pain which is incessant (except when sleeping).

So all is not yet right, he is still desperate to get back to work, and feel that he is again contributing to the business.

 …..however, there is an end, if not in sight, then at least just santaover the horizon. Maybe this year, Santa will be kind after all!

So thanks to all those lovely people who have passed-on their good wishes, their prayers, and, in some cases, their experience…we will keep you informed.

Disability….and inner strength

For over 30 years my professional life has been involved with those who have a disability.

Most of this time has been exclusively helping those with a hearing impairment, assessing hearing loss and providing hearing aids and other equipment to make their life a little easier.

It started when I realised that my father-in-law was not doing terribly well with his hearing aid, and I hope that I was ultimately able to help.

Much later, the Young Lady of the House had problems with one eye, and still has effected sight. Daughter, who did a lot of walking at her job, then had knee problems, ending with two operations.

We have other friends who have suffered with constant pain for many years.

We can also look at those folk who recently escaped from the sinking cruise ship, the soldiers coming back from war theatres, those who are struggling during their suffering from malnutrition and disease in the Third World. All of those show in varying ways a surprising strength. I would not wish to be involved in any of these situations, to see how I would handle myself.

Now with Son’s continuing problems, I am convinced that the human animal constantly surprises me with how well it can handle discomfort, disability, and physical pain, sometimes with great humour.

Now if we could only bottle this inner strength!!  Maybe you know the answer……

Son’s continuing problem….

Son had to give a lot of blood to the medics on Tuesday so that they could carry-out a number of tests to try to establish the cause of the agonising pains in his hands. Unfortunately they will take about two weeks to produce results.

The Nerve Conduction Tests had to be put off when we arrived at the Hospital, which made him rather disappointed (to say the least!). Following an overnight stay at Ross Hall, it was re-scheduled for next day at another Hospital. It proved to be extremely painful to undergo, and seemed to worsen the situation.

Heavier medication has made him very drowsy, and he often gets mixed up with the day and time. To see someone who is normally very active and pushes life to the edge, so deplete of energy, is not pleasant.

When he gets through this, I think that a trip to the dentist will hold no terrors.