Author Archives: Epichall

Friday 2nd December 2022 – THE SOCIAL SERVICES …

… lady came to see me this afternoon, with a student trailing along behind her.

“Is it Thursday already” I asked innocently. Nothing like knocking them out of their stride. But then again, if they say that they’ll see me on Thursday then what do they expect?

Their plan apparently is that they can send me home in an ambulance and my health insurance would pay 80% of the costs.

“So what has happened about this physiotherapy at Pellemberg?”

“Ohh that’s another department looking into that”.

In other words we have a couple of different departments looking into different things and consequently working against, if not competing against, each other. I shall have to scotch this straight away before it’s gone too far.

But the idea that I’m too ill to go home under my own steam so they have to send me home in an ambulance is a horrendous idea. What happens next when I have to fend for myself with no after-care?

If anything signifies the beginning of the end then this is it, isn’t it? If I need an ambulance to go home, how on earth am I supposed to be well enough to come back?

And come back I have to as well. Not only do I have an appointment on 6th December, there are several more on 2nd January and then another on 13th March.

As I expected, the story about my breathing issues is going to run and run. And as I don’t have much longer to live, I may as well not bother. I told the Social Services person that I may as well stay at home and let nature run its course.

We talked about euthanasia but I don’t think that she took me seriously. But as for me, I’m in … errr … deadly earnest.

Especially after last night. Having gone to sleep at something like 22:00 I was awake again at 23:15 complete with headphones, listening to the radio. I switched everything off and lay there trying to sleep for several hours, watching the clock go round and round.

Eventually after several hours I must have fallen asleep because the alarm went off at 06:30 and awoke me. And having slowly come to my senses (which takes much longer these days than it ought given the amount of senses that I don’t have these days) I prepared to face the day.

Nothing much happened for a while and eventually I fell asleep again. I was however shaken awake on a couple of occasions, most noticeably by someone who wanted to take me to an echography.

No schoolgirl around this time but I had a nice long wait in the cold and draughty corridor until I was seen. And then some technician poured all over me with the machine thing.

When she let me go I had another wait until someone came to fetch me. Back here my lunchtime meal was already served up. We had different Quornburgers for lunch and they were quite appetising.

The nurses came along shortly afterwards and they gave me an infusion of antibiotics. And immediately afterwards the Social Services people turned up.

So here they are, talking about releasing me from hospital with one hand and giving me an intravenous drip with the other hand. What on earth is really going on with all of this?

Later on in the evening there was football. Pontypridd v Cardiff Metropolitan.

Cardiff played some really nice football but lacked a cutting edge up front as they have done for the last couple of seasons. Pontypridd, second from bottom, played like it and offered even less but nevertheless it really did look as if anyone was going to score it would be a Pontyridd breakaway against the run of play.

However, a hopeful, aimless cross from the Met into the Pontypridd penalty area and a wild slash from a defender took it out of the hands of the Ponty keeper and that, dear reader, was that.

The match was rather like how I feel like now. A desperate rearguard action combined with a few moments of brilliance, only to be brought down by something completely out of my control.

So what do I do now? A taxi back home is not the answer but if it’s the only game in town I’m not sure what is.

Thursday 1st December 2022 – I’M JUST BEGINNING …

… my sixth week in hospital, following an infection that laid most Canadians low for just three or four days.

I’ve had half a litre of fluid drained from my heart, I’ve had pneumonia of the lungs, I’m riddled with infection, I can’t use my left arm since the operation in my chest and since they put a catheter in the back of my hand and I need re-education on my lower limbs because I’ve lost the ability to walk and my balance is all over the place.

Every few hous I have antibiotics pumped into me and ointment smeared into my eyes. That latter, incidentally, explains all of the typos.

All I can say is that it’s a good job I didn’t catch Covid in Canada, isn’t it? I’d have been pushing up the daisies a long time before this.

Today should have been the day when the Social Services person should have been to see me to tell me how they are going to deal with my expulsion. All that I can say is that she’ll have to get a move on because it’s quite late.

In fact the only “official” whom I’ve seen today has been the record-breaking house doctor whom I saw yesterday. And if her visit was record-breaking yesterday, today’s smashed it into pieces. I don’t know how long it was because I forgot to switch off the stopwatch. And she wasn’t dragged away by a ‘phone call either.

She did however tell me that they were planning to carry out some kind of echography examination on my heart on due course. Knowing her record-keeping, this was probably the one that I had the other day when that schoolgirl helped out.

Last night I was awake at 00:45. I’ve no idea what disturbed me but it was probably some of the usual clatter. I was having a really interesting dream too and I managed to dictate it but don’t ask me what it involves right now because I can’t remember.

Come 03:00 and I was still awake, what with all of the noise going on, but I must have gone off back to sleep at some point because the alarm awoke me at 06:30.

Round about 09:15 the physiotherapist came round. He awoke me and I didn’t need telling what the score was. I was up and half-way down the corridor before I was even properly awake. He’s certainly had a rocket judging by how keep he was to get me going.

As usual, it was an agonising walk down to the end of the corridor and then coming back was the usual hell. I’m not sure how I managed it but I did.

He also had me doing a few more exercises before he cleared off at the end of his half-hour or so.

There has been bad news too. My little first-year student told me that this is her last week on the ward. She’s back in Nursing School next week. I told her that she will be sorely missed – especially by me if not by anyone else. As a little “goodbye” I let her couple me up to the liquid antibiotics and uncouple me afterwards.

One thing that I told her that the injection of the cleaner into the catheter is done depending on how well you like the patient. If you don’t like him or her you give the shot all at once with a violent shove to sent a freezing cold wave of liquid swarming through the body. If you like them, you do it gently, smoothly and slowly.

And as a result, she was gentleness itself. I’m glad that I’ve been able to help her and talk to her about her work from a patient’s point of view to give her a better understanding of what her job involves. That’s something that is often overlooked

That’s really everything. I’ve had a little chat with Liz too and that, exciting in itself, is just about as exciting as it was today. Nothing else of any importance happened.

Tomorrow is the last day of the week so I’m interested to see how things unfold. If they really are kicking me out on Tuesday they only have 2 working days and there’s a lot to fit in.

Wednesday 30th November 2022 – I MIGHT JUST HAVE …

… solved the problem of doctors wandering off on phantom ‘phone calls just as I start laying into them

During the day today I’ve had no fewer than three “official” visits from various doctors and specialists. And each time that they have set foot in here I have gone on the offensive.

And believe me. If it’s “offensive” you want, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”.

What I’ve done is to set the stopwatch on my ‘phone to start. And then I explained to the doctor or specialist concerned that my world-wide friends on the internet and I are having a sweepstake to see how long the interview lasts befoe there’s a ‘phone call.

And surprise! Surprise! The interviews have played out to a conclusion without a single ‘phone call.

Of course, tomorrow is another day. And today might have been a pure coincidence. Nevertheless it was still rather hilarious.

More of that anon. Last night I was asleep by 22:00 or thereabouts and wide-awake by 00:45. I’d been on my travels too during this little window.

Of course I’ll have to transcribe the dictaphone notes in due course but from what I remember I was at a Spacerock Festival and needed some music to fill in the gaps between groups so I was enlisted with my old CD deck and multi-cassette player from my heyday in the 80s to play a pile of old Hawkwind music.

There was a girl helping me too but I don’t know who she was. She might even have been Percy Penguin.

This morning started off with the blood pressure tests and the like. And my blood pressure was surprisingly high.

So much so that the Senior Ward Nurse came to see me a short while later.

“We need to redo the blood pressure test” she said. “It seems to be unusually high.”

Actually, I didn’t like to tell her that the cute little student nurse is back on duty and she took it this morning.

And it’s a good job that the Senior Ward Nurse came to redo the blood pressure test BEFORE the cute little student nurse came back to climb all over me to change my dressing from Sunday.

It was quite interesting watching her do it in a textbook fashion rather than in the ad-hoc way in which the trained nurses do it. I had to help her through one or two procedures and to remind her of things that she’d forgotten. But she IS cute.

Not long after I’d gone back to sleep I had the physiotherapist round. I was right about the rocket that he must have had inserted into his nether regions becaue he had me out of bed and setting off for a stroll down the corridor before I was even properly awake.

It wa a rather aimless shambles of a scramble down the 20 metres of corridor to the doors at the end that we only just about managed, and the trip back was even more exciting.

He kept on asking me “are you okay?” and “would you like to sit down?” every couple of paces and believe me, I was ready to slosh him before we’d gone five metres

The first of the official visitors was a guy from cardiology – or was he from the pneumonology? – department. He spent a great deal of time running over the history of my case and then told me that they had a few tests lined up for me – a couple of weeks after I’ve been expelled.

Of course I asked if these were tests that I’ve already undergone on ly two or three previous visits to his department, but he replied that he didn’t know. He thought that they might be new ones so I asked him why they hadn’t been undertaken when I was there on one of ly previous visits.

It goes without saying that his response was that he wasn’t there at the time and wasn’t involved in the decision-making back then. I asked him if he realised just how much of a cop-out that sounded and would he really be satisfied with such a weak excuse?

At least he stayed to the end of the interview and cleared off in his own time without a phone call.

Next up was someone from the physiotherapy department. He asked about my mobility so I told him to consult his own department and in particular the guy who comes to see me every working day.

He replied that he had done so but wanted my own opinion. I told him that I was sruggling to go 20 metres but the hospital wanted me to go 700 kms at the beginning of the week. I reckoned that I would be in the Casualty department long before I was at the bus stop.

After much discussion and debate he asked me whether I would be interested in going to the clinic out at Pellemberg for an intensive course in therapy – a couple of weeks of two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve been to physiotherapy in Granville for almost a year – one hour per week for about 30 or 40 weeks. What they are offering me is 40 hours of intense therapy in two weeks that is going to be tailored much more to my individual needs.

There needs to be a place to come free of course but having thought about the matter during the discussion I decided that if the opportunity presented itself I would accept it.

It won’t do anything to ease the trapped nerve but I may be able to climb steps and to pick myself up if I fall over.

The third official to visit me was the house doctor who seemed to be several weeks behind the time and hadn’t updated her notes. She hadn’t, for example, noticed that I’d been in the Stargate thing or that I have a trapped nerve and a couple of slipped discs.

It seemed to me that she realised it too because her visit to me, without a ‘phone call to disrupt it, lasted all of 4 minutes and 57 seconds and that was that.

The rest of the day has been dealt with being fed medication by various nurses. And Rosemary telephoned me too. Just a short conversation too – only one hour and seventeen minutes today.

There hasn’t been much else of any interest but that was enough to keep me going for a day.

Mind you, if this re-education thing comes off, it might be well worth a go. It will put on hold many other plans that I have but I think that this might be an opportunity too good to turn down.

We’ll have to see how things unfold.

Tuesday 29th November 2022 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… I’ll be out on my ear next week.

Not actually out of the hospital though, but out of my bed and out of my room. But as anyone who has been here will tell you, it’s a long walk from the dorr of this room to the bus stop at the end of the hospital premises and there are opportunities for anything to happen along the way.

Someone from Social Services came to see me this afternoon to give me the “bad” news but before I tell you about that, let me tell you about my strange encounter with someone from some kind of service that may have been Cardiology.

He was the one who gave me the hint that my time in here is drawing to a close. He told me that they will be arranging “a whole collection of appointments” to deal with the issue, presumably of my breathing, but “at some point in the future” after I’ve “been discharged”.

Discharged? It looks more like I’m being expelled, I reckon.

He also told me the bad news that although there’s a trapped nerve and two slipped discs (that are trapping the nerve) in my back, it’s a high-risk operation. Therefore, nothing can be done.

Consequently I asked him if he was REALLY going to send me home uncured and whether he was REALLY expecting me to come back uncured at some point or other for a series of examinations that could easily have been performed while i’ve been here?

And before he could say anything about viruses, I mentioned that the virus and I had gone together, without any ill-effects by the looks of things, down to the operating theatre the other day and I wondered what Excuse n°2 on the cheat sheet might be.

At that point, in case you hadn’t guessed it, his telephone mysteriously began to ring. “Give me a minute” he said, went outside the room and that was that.

A couple of hours later I saw him nonchalantly strolling down the corridor in the company of couple of other doctors, rounds finished, on the way towards the lifts, home and tea.

Nothing like putting the patients in their place. It was downright insulting.

In between my two sightings of the doctor I had a visit from the Social worker as I mentioned above.

Apparently there had been a meeting between the medical staff and Social Services about what to do with me. She asked me what I thought and I told her that as far as I was concerned it wasn’t a matter for me at all.

She asked me what I intended to do, to which I replied that my immediate preoccupation would be to make it as far as the bus stop. She expressed an interest in my walking state so I told her to ask the physiotherapist.

He’d been past this morning and after a couple of exercises we’d set off for the end of the corridor. He had to help me down to the end and the trip back to my room was … errr … somewhat “interesting”.

She told me that she’d seen the physiotherapist, which makes the plot sicken even more, and so I told her that she has had her answer.

Reading between the lines, it looks as if the physiotherapist will be visiting me more often and the flogging will continue – either his or if necessary, mine – until my mobility improves.

Anyway, back to the plot.

She wanted to know whether I fancied Brussels or Leuven. I told her that Brussels was right out of the question under any circumstances.

She asked me about my previous history in Leuven. I told her about Sint Pieter and Pellemberg and that strange hostel, and then when they put me onto three-monthly visits I headed off in search of the apartment of my dreams.

Shortening the time between visits became a major inconvenience but I had no intention whatever of abandoning my little corner of Paradise.

She made a point of saying that my choice of hospital and my subsequent choice of accommodation was a free choice, all of my own and I had to accept the consequences. I replied that I was quite happy with my choices and had no intention of changing it. If necessary I was quite prepared to go home, stay there and let nature run its course.

That rather shook her and so I told her that as far as I was concerned that was the end of the discussion, particularly after I’d described the antics of the doctors over the last couple of days or so, but she said that she had no intenton of leaving until she’d had her say

Ohhh! For a few doctors like that!

The discussion went round and round in circles. She wanted me to stay in a hotel but not even she could afford the €55 per night – €1700 per month – to stay in the Ibis Budget.

She mentioned a few other suggestions that might have been slightly less expensive and ended with me eventually making the suggestion that I would abandon all forms of medical care and stay at home until the end. That certainly brought the conversation to an end apart from the odd bit of discussion here and there.

She told me that there would be a further meeting and that she’s see me again in a couple of days with further news.

It might not sound much like it but it was rather an arimonious meeting. If they know how difficult it is for me to walk the 10 or so yards down to the end of the corridor, heaving me out to go 700 kms home is bad enough but then expecting me to come back in a week or two is an absurdity when they have had me here for five weeks.

During the night last night we’d had another wrestling bout with a nurse trying to find my hand under the bedclothes to plug in my antibiotics. She awoke me of course so I told her that for obvious reasons it’s much better to awaken me before doing anything like reaching for my hand.

Nevertheless she had another go at hunting for my arm to uncouple me while I was asleep instead. That’s a recipe for disaster, for obvious reasons.

So apart from the odd falling asleep and being awoken by nurses and having the odd official visit from the physiotherapist etc as stated, the day drifted off into rather more of the usual – or should I aay “habitual” way in which things have been developing just recently.

And then there was the Welsh lesson. I wasn’t disturbed too much and so apart from the odd interruption here and there, I saw it out from start to finish and that was much more like it compared to last week’s disaster
But not for long. If they are heaving me out net week I need to work on how I’m going to get down the corridor without help.

Monday 28th November 2022 – I’VE HAD A FEW …

…lovely interactions with some friends today, and isn’t that nice?

Ingrid phoned me this afternoon and we had a lovely chat that went on for about an hour or so where we discussed our problems. And “our” problems too because Ingrid has several of her own that at time make mine pale into insignificance.

And not just Ingrid either. Lots of other people have a lot more problems than I have right now and I do ought to stop moaning about them.

None of the foregoing stopped me bending Alison’s ear when she put in an apearance a little later. She came to see me later in the day too and we had an interesting chat as well. There’s quite a lot going on right now what with one thing and another.

But she’d been on a mission to Germany last week and she brought me another pile of vegan chocolate. That should keep me going for quite a while and I’m grateful.

Liz had messaged me at one point or another during the early evening so we had a lengthy chat as well and discussed a few of the issues that are arising out of my stay in here and which are of considerable interest following my visit to the operating theatre with my virus on Sunday morning.

It was nice to discuss them with several sympathetic ears and I appreciate their patience and forebearance.

Someone else whoe ear was much less sympathetic but who nevertheless had to listen to my spiel without much of an option was the doctor who’s on patrol in this ward this week.

She got the “what’s next on the list of excuses?” speech and her answer was to fob me off with the thing about “you need to speak to the doctor concerned” to which my repiy was a rather curt “if they don’t ever come to see me, how can I speak to them?”.

Once again, there was no answer to that – not that I was expecting any.

So last night having been to bed at some ridiculous time, I was awake this morning at 04:28. And having had a trip across the room to the bathroom I just lay there counting the minutes until the alarm went off at 06:30.

The highlight of the morning was the visit of the doctor. She was the only member of the medical staff (apart from the nurses of course) who came to see me throughout the whole day. Had it not been for Liz, Alison and Ingrid, it would have been an awful day.

Compounded by the fact that my two little students and my Iranian refugee are now working elsewhere on this floor. I seem to have been entrusted into the care of a retired Bulgarian weightlifter. I wonder why.

On the subject of Ingrid though, we both remarked that the only difference between this and a prison is that this door here is open. And that’s a sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

But tomorrow is another day and maybe I’ll be feelng better. My Welsh class might bring me some kind of interest and who knows? The priest might come and see me again.

Things can’t get much lower than they are now.

Sunday 27th November 2022 – SO HAVING GONE …

… off to sleep at some kind of early night I had some kind of dream in which I was having some kind of tug-of-war with something or someone. When I awoke, it was almost midnight and a nurse was pulling at my hand to try to connect my catheter to a small pack of antibiotic fluid.

That could have been quite an interesting moment had I been the kind of person who talks in his sleep.

Half an hour or so later just as I was about to drop off to sleep the nurse came back and disturbed me by uncoupling me and then I settled down again to try to go back to sleep but really that was that as far as sleep was concerned.

In the WORDS OF AL STEWART, “.. all that is left is the clock on the shelf
as it ticks one day into another”

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, back in the old days when I had fewer preoccupations in my life I had regular visits during the night from three young ladies, one of whom was nicknamed “Zero” after the “girl, she’s almost a woman” IN THE SONG and there are more truths in this song than you would ever realise.

Yes, it was getting to the stage of Warren Zevon and “A RED-HEADED GIRL

By 03:00 I had given up everything and had the laptop up and running with the Old-Time Radio going. First up was an episode of Paul Temple, and there’s nothing quite like THE CORONATION SCOT at 03:00 to stir the spirit.

And I settled down later under the bedclothes with the headphones and the computer still going ready for the alarm at 06:30 and wondered how deep asleep I would be right now had the doctor yesterday not decided to wreak her petty revenge on me last night by disobeying standing instructions by telling me about my operation later in the day

regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have requested no knowledge whatever of any surgical intervention.

At about 05:00 I was shaken awake by a group of nurses wanting to take a blood sample and reminding me of my operation, which I now know is going to be at 07:30.

Apparently the catheter in the back of my hand isn’t the right kind of catheter to take a blood sample. They had to insert a needle somewhere else in my arm to continue the work of trying to transform me into a pin cushion or a junkie or something.

When they finished the sample they dumped a pile of washing stuff in the bathroom and told me to get washed. I don’t know if I replied with an expletive but if I did, I wouldn’t be surprised.

When the alarm went off at 06:30 I grudgingly staggered off towards the bathroom.

At 07:00 a nurse came to see me, one of those who had awoken me at 05:00. She asked me if I was ready for the operation. I ran through the timeline of what had happened during the night and expressed my feelings in no uncertain terms.

She beat a hasty retreat and for once I was left alone.

Only until about 07:15 when a nurse came to weigh me. I made her wait while I went to the bathroom. She retaliated by cleaning my catheter port with a force that doubled me up and connecting me to an antibiotic. So I’m not going for my operation at 07:30.

Anyway at 07:30 regardless of anything else they came to fetch me, antibiotics and all, and wheeled me off down into the basement and I saw parts of the hospital that I never new existed.

Eventually I arrived in some kind of holding area where I waited. And waited. And waited.

At about 08:00 they came to fetch me. And in the operating theatre –
Our Hero – “am I the first patient of the morning?”
Assistant Surgeon – “in this theatre, yes”
OH – “well let’s get going while the knife’s still sharp”.
But as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once famously remarked, “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”.

They actually used a laser on me to remove my infected and damaged catheter port. And now I know what burning human flesh smells like even if, because of the local anaesthetic I couldn’t feel it.

When they had finished (in an operation that had lasted 28:55 according to the stopwatch on the ceiling) I was put in another holding area where they took my blood pressure. and I reckon that 94/67 is pretty low in anyone’s calculations.

It was 10:15 when I arrived back after a lengthy stay in the Recovery Room, and you’ve no idea how much I was looking forward to coffee and breakfast. And as you might expect, it was strawberry jam this morning.

They had taken a sample of blood a little earlier this morning which showed a blood count of 6.6. I wasn’t aware that I had lost so much blood during the operation and I told the little junior doctor so. She asked me if I’d been bleeding anywhere else so I told her the story of the carcinogenic protein and gave her a small lecture on basic volumetrics.

While I was at it, I did ask her about what’s going to happen now that we know that the story about “being too full of virus for an operation”. She replied that “this was a different type of operation” so I took great delight in showing her last night’s blog entry.

She thinks that I need to see one of the doctors who sees me during the week but regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we don’t see them every day.

And as she left, I couldn’t help but say that “well, we both knew that this story about ‘too full of virus to operate on me’ was a load of nonsense, didn’t we?”

All very juvenile and childish of me I’m afraid, but you can imagine how I was feeling.

With breakfast being so late, I wasn’t in much of a mood for lunch especially in the middle of a blood transfusion. But at least that’s over now.

Having had a really bad morning I spent much of the afternoon asleep or else chatting with my friend in Eastern Kent – or is it my Eastern Kentish friend? I can’t remember which is which.

After my rather stressful day it’s time now for me to settle down under the covers ready for the rigours of tomorrow.

It’s strange, isn’t it, that I was worrying about having a very quiet day and it turned into one of the most difficult to date. Tomorrow will have to go some to match the events of today

Saturday 26th November 2022 – I WOKE UP …

… this morning – (cue Blues introduction here) – in a deep dark depression.

And the only thing that has changed during the curse of the day is that it’s gone worse and I have slipped even deeper in.

The only surprise here is not that I’m in a deep dark depression but the fact that it’s taken as long as this.

So having to contend with not only the regular ointment in my eyes but also an uncomfortable catheter in the back of my left hand, I’ll tell you all about it.

It all began to go wrong last night at about 21:30 when a nurse came by to check the catheter port in my chest.

She pulled out the catheter and went to fit a new one. And then she pulled it out because she said that it wasn’t working, fitted another, still couldn’t get it to work. She said that she’d have to go off and see the night nurse.

At some point I must have fallen asleep because I awoke at 03:30 with the headphones still on and the old-time radio on the computer still going, and still no night-nurse.

A couple of hours later I started to worry about the night-nurse knocking off so I pressed my bell.

An orderly came along followed closely, surprise surprise, by the night nurse. She said that she knew nothing whatever about the problem and suggested that maybe the person last night had contacted the specialist catheter unit.

By now it was too late for me to go back to sleep. The alarm was set for 06:30 and it wasn’t long before it went off.

After breakfast the doctor came to see me and it really was the wrong kind of day for that to happen but it was rather too late to worry about that.

She told me nothing that I didn’t already know so I launched into my usual spiel. When I reached the bit about the trapped nerve and my leg she RAN AWAY – actually ran away from me out of the room.

There was nothing lef for it but to turn to my social network to vent the spleen that I don’t have any more. That in itself led to a lengthy discussion and a subsequent chat with Liz which was very nice.

Much of the rest of the morning was spent asleep and then, as I expected, the afternoon simply dragged and dragged aimlessly and endlessly.

Tea was delayed while a nurse took out the catheter in my arm and fited a new one in the back of my hand, leaving me to bleed over my hummus butties. Luckily the cute little 1st-year student nurse was in the store across the corridor so she brought me a beautiful smile and a plaster.

Apparently this afternoon she’s working on the other end of the ward so I told her to ask for a transfer.

Later in the evening the doctor came back She told me that as my catheter port in my chest was redundant they were going to operate on me tomorrow morning to remove it so I must go into famine mode at midnight.

And she cleared off really smartish-like before I had time to tell her that now that we both know that this story about not doing an operation on my while I’m full of virus is total tosh, what’s her excuse now?

We’ll probably not have the answer to that tomorrow but we can at least try to find out.

My betting is that we’ll get a “this is a different kind of operation”.

What’s your bet?

Friday 25th November 2022 – SO HERE I AM …

… stuck in my hospital bed and had it not been for the physiotherapist and several urgent needs for trips to the porcelain horse, I wouldn’t have put my sooty foot outside my bed today.

The nadir of my existence is that they haven’t even been to make my bed today and I haven’t had a wash or anything because no-one has brought me any clean clothes or washing material.

In fact, I seem to have slid downhill from Celia in “As You Like It” and her “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” yesterday to Macbeth’s “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day” in the space of about 18 hours.

It’s all been brought about by the most boring afternoon that I have ever had. Absolutely nothing at all happened this afternoon to relieve the boring monotony of what didn’t go on.

Last night I fell asleep at some time in the early evening and awoke in a panic at some point thinking that it was quite late and I still had on my headphones. However it was only 23:40 so I switched off everything with a big air of disappointment.

At a couple of other times during the night I awoke and ended up at the bathroom but when the alarm did go off at 06:30 I was already wide awake.

After breakfast the doctor came, bringing with her another junior doctor. And as I hadn’t seen anyone for a couple of days I gave the two of them a blast of what is rapidly becoming my trade-mark speech about the wasted opportunities that are happening, or not happening as the case may be.

She explained a little more about what is happening, such as this blood infection that seems to be coming from my catheter port and how on Monday I might be having another examination.

My point that with a lifespan that expires in 2026 at the latest I can’t afford all these delays. She replied that there wasn’t much that anyone can do about my underlying health condition while everyone is fighting the effects of this virus, but I was of the opinion that I would have expected all four professors from the various departments standing around me discussing my case in order to put an end to this bickering and continued case of “pass the parcel” that is wasting my life away.

In the end she went away. Not that I think that anything will hapen but of you throw enough whatsit at a wherever some of it might stick and make its was back to the professors concerned.

Shortly afterwards the physiotherapist came by. He gave me a few exercises to do while I was in bed and then a few more to do standing up and even walking to the bathroom door and back.

While we were chatting, I mentioned that strengthening my muscles was one thing but it wasn’t solving the underlying problem of mu right lower leg folding up underneath me.

He was completely taken aback by my remarks, almost as if he hadn’t heard them before.

Anyway, I launched into my story,and gave him all of the information yet againbut I wasn’t convinced that he took much notice of what I was telling him

So however all of this pans out, I bet that it won’t be exactly how I would like it to be, viz and to wit, to solve the problem of my leg definitively.

In case regular readers of this rubbish can’t recall the situation, the reason why “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” is because I’m too scared to leave. All of these issues about viruses, infections and the like mean absolutely nothing to me in the normal run of things but I don’t think that I’d get 100 yards from here on my feet without falling over.

And then I don’t have the strength to pich myself up.

The rest of the day has been spent falling asleep and being shaken awake by a selection of nurses. It’s really been a most boring afternoon and the next couple of days will be just as bad as the hospital quietens down for the weekend.

So now I’m off to sleep. And having spent most of today trying to fight off waves of sleep, I bet that I won’t be able to fall asleep at all now.

Thursday 24th November 2022 – YOU’VE NO IDEA …

… how much I enjoyed the shower that I had this morning.

It’s the first shower that I’ve had in the four weeks that I’ve been here and it was wonderful to be underneath the hot water instead of rubbing myself with a flannel.

The only issue was that had the cute little student nurse who came to check on me come 5 minutes earlier, she could have scrubbed my back.

Last night I was asleep in bed by 21:00 and I slept all the way right through until .. errr … 00:45 when I had to leave my bed for reasons that any man of my age will yell you.

It took ages to go back to sleep again but when I did I was off on my travels, as my dictaphone will confirm when I find the energy to write them up.

The alarm went off at 06:30 as usual to awaken me but I do have vague memories of all kinds of nurses and the like coming to do something or other to me.

During the early part of the morning I was poked and prodded about by various nurses but eventually a doctor appeared.

She told me thzt there is an infection in my bloodstream that looks as if it’s come from my catheter port in my chest. Consequently it can no longer be used.

M response was to wish good luck to whoever gets the job of finding a vein in which to insert a catheter.

After she went I saw the physiotherapist who gave me a few exercises and I actually lost my balance at one point although the physiotherapist caught me before I hit the ground. He told me as he was leaving that I ought to walk more.

And so when the nurse offered me a shower I declined the wheelchair that she had brought and said that I’d walk there holding onto my portable patient thing. I had to stop for breath several times but I made it in the end. The nurse showed me the controls and left me to my own devices.

And it was wonderful.

The cute little student nurse who came to check pn me found me trying to tidy everything up so she took my stuff back to my room and then came back to accompany me there.

As on the outward trip I had to stop a few times to catch my breath but it was successful i that I didn’t fall over and I was quite pleased. It was a long way.

A little later the nurse said that she had to fix a catheter in my arm, which was why I suspect that they wanted to me to take a shower first.

The little student was there so I asked her how many catheters she had fitted. “Not many’ was the response so I gave her my arm and told her to get on with it.

The nurse gave her a little talk first and then she went and did it – found a vein and fitted the catheter with her first go. She was ever so impressed and I was ever so relieved. It could have been much worse. I don’t mind the students practising on my but I do have my limits.

Anyway they have now been able to give me antibiotics throughout the day

A doctor came to see me too. She didn’t have much to say so I asked her why they had cancelled the raft of appointments that were booked for yesterday and today. She replied that they were all breathing-test exercises and according to ner I was in no fit state to take them.

Once again I expressed my dismay at what was happening. Here was an ideal opportunity for everyone to work together to find out what’s going on with my breathing but they are just delaying and delaying the issue.

And I don’t have the time for delays, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

So having had a really busy morning, the afternoon was a disappointment. Apart from the nurses coming to give me these antibiotics, nothing happened at all. No-one else came by and I was left to my own devices yet again. I listened to all of a 3.5 hours of a Paul Temple radio programme.

But right now I’ve had enough and I’m going to bed. I expect that I’ll be awoken at some point during the night with a nurse trying to take my blood pressure or something. I may as well sleep while I can.

Wednesday 23rd November 2022 – FREE AT LAST!

This evening while I was trying to eat my evening meal someoe from the cardiac unit turned up and said that she could take out the drain in my heart.

Not exactly the easiest thing to do while I has trying to eat my hummus rolls but nevertheless she did her best.

You’ve no idea how much it hurt but as they said in Macbeth, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly” and sure enough even with it done quickly, it hurt like hell.

So right now I’m free. There are some antibiotic perfusions too but they are on a portatble patient stand, not tied to the foot of the bed like the sac of the drain in my heart.

Anyway, I’m sure that you are wondering how I celebrated my new-found freedom. The answer is that I went for a good ride on the porcelain horse.

You’ve no idea how much of a relief it was to go as well. This chair thing that I managed to negotiate has a considerable amount of drawbacks that only become apparent when you are half asleep and in some other parallel universe at 05:00.

That kind of thing is a recipe for disaster, as events were to prove. For the rest of the day I quietly abstained. I didn’t want another repeat.

It’s quite true to say that i was deep in the arms of Morpheus last night. I ws tucked up in bed early, round abour 21:00 and went straight off to sleep. When I awoke at 03:00 I still had on the headphones and was lisening o the radio. I just about managed to summon up the energy to take off the headphones.

And then there was the 05:00 disaster but we won’t talk about that.

All of my meals were absolute disasters today. Breakfast was interrupted by the Profssor in charge of the Training School telling me that the students would be on the ward this morning.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m one of the first to offer myself to a bunch of students in order to be poked and prodded about. Consequently I agreed to be examined and at 10:05 a pair of students appeared at the door.

Third-year students they were, and for the next hour or so they poked me and prodded me, sometimes with the Professor looking in, and eventually the went away quite satisfied with their morning’s examination.

We had quite a laugh though at one point.
Student A “I need to look for your spleen”
Our Hero “I hope that you have good eyes. Last time I saw it, it was in a jar in a hospital in Central France”

While lunch was being served, the assistant dietician appeared. She’d seen my recent blood test results and made the point that there’s still far too much potassium in my blood. She wants me to give up all fruit and salad.

That’s only a temporary measure, she told me. The chief dietician will come to see me at some other point in the near future. Presumably with some even more draconian measures.

This afternoon the physiotherapist stuck his head into the room with an assistant. They ended up by giving me some exercises to do but it’s not easy when I can only move half a dozen paces from the bed if that.

There was the person from Cardiology to disrupt my evening meal at teatime but apart from that there’s not been a whiff of a doctor coming to see me. It seems that since my somewhat … errr … frank discussion with the Priest yesterday (which he has doubtless reported back to the authorities and which was part of my plan) the senior medical staff has gone to ground and are in shelter waiting for the whirlwind to pass by overhead.

Consequently I reckon that I need to be a bit more frank with the Priest next time I see him.

All through the day I’ve been having some lovelly chats with Liz, Rachel and Rosemary. It’s nice to know that I have such wonderful family and friends.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t have many friends but those I do have are the best in the world.

Tuesday 22nd November 2022 – I WAS WRONG …

… about having a good night last night. All kinds of things were going off.

But never mind that – something much more important and unusual happened this morning.

In fact, a priest came to see me.

The timing makes me think that it’s to do with my request for euthanasia but he never mentioned the subject. He listed to all of my complaint. He even made me ages late for my Welsh class but I wasn’t all that bothered because I enjoyed his visit, strange as it it to day it.

However the antics of last night were hilarious.

Having an urgent need to visit the bathroom and tied to the bed by the sac of fluid frm my pericardium, I asked for a bottle.

Sitting in bed trying to use a bottle was psychologically impossible so after a while I changed position and sat on the edge of the bed to try again

Just then a nurse came in and asked how I was doing My reply of “nothing yet” brought forth a lecture about the dangers of a full bladder

She measured it and found that it was indeed full so she went to find another nurse who subjected me to yet another lecture on the subject of full bladders and insisted on fitting a catheter. Naturally we had quite a stand-off on this point and the argument raged for quite a while.

At some point a third nurse joined in the fun. and with three nurses now watching me, however was I supposed to use the bottle under these circumstances?

In the end I chased them and their catheters away and once they had gone it took about 10 minutes to make use of the bottle.

The upshot of all of this is that they brought me a “toilet chair” that I can use in comfort and taunt whoever it is who is interested in my “output”.

So with the priest making me late for my Welsh lesson I joined in the class somewhat later. And I wasn’t there for long before an endless stream of nurses kept on interrupting me. In the end I logged out.

This afternoon I went for a couple of tests and examinations. The last one of this bunch was an echograph performd by a doctor with an assistant who looked as if she was about 12.

After he finished with his examination with the echograph I asked the little girl if she’d like a go and so with a big smile and with help from me and from the echpographis she used the echograph to examine my heart

The net result is that here is no more water around the heart for now – just a bit of sediment that causes no problem

After the echographist went to make his report, I had a chat with his little assistant. I asked her how long she’d been a student and she replied “2 days!”.

She’s actually a schoolgirl on a work placement and she was ever so pleased because I was the first patient she’s ever examined. But as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m all in favour of letting the students practise on me.

They have to learn somehow.

So right now I’m off to bed. I’ve finished my notes, had a good chat with Alison and Rosemarie and have everything prepared just where I need it.

And I’ve had a fever too – a temperature of 38.7°C. They’ve packed me in bed with a few ice-packs and it’s down now to 37.9°C

After falling asleep yesterday evening and having all kinds of issues during the night, I want a peaceful evening and a good sleep. I wonder how someone might come along and disrupt me again.

It goes without saying that they won’t let me have any peace and quiet. This crew in the ward this week are nothing like the kind souls of last week.

Monday 21st November 2022 – I’VE JUST HAD …

… surgical intervention on my heart this afternoon

That’s not all either. As I suggested on Sunday, Monday was a busy day as far as examinations go. I can’t remember how many I went on. I kno< that for one of my visits I was waiting 45 minutes to be seen.

One examination stood out more than the others. The doctor on duty this week, another over-eager and dynamic young student, told me that I have fluid in the pericardium and it needed to drained off.

That was something that filled mr full of trepidation. I’ve no intention of having pipes and tubes put into me, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and I made sure that the doctor was aware. Nevertheless at some point later on they came to collect me.

When I arrived I told them about how the talk of operations and how the idea of tubes and pipes made me have the shakes. so what we did was a compromise. They gave me a pill to relax mr, and I kept my eyes closed

They were wrong about the relaxation. I felt every prick with the hypodermic needke.

All in all they took out 0.46 litres – almost a pint – from the pericardium around the heart.

It’s not clear yet whether ths water is part of the pneumonia or whether it’s part of the preceding problem which has occupied my thoughts for the last 18 months or so but it looks as if things might be moving.

They have however left a catheter in my stomach connected to a small drainage bag to continue the drainage

Anyway, that’s for tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed looking forward to a good night’s sleep. I deserve it after everything I’ve gone through today.

Sunday 20th November 2022 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… relapse today.

This morning I awoke with a pain in my chest and it’s gradually gone from bad to worse during the course of the day.

When I explained the problem to the nurses when they were doing their rounds, my little student nurse came back with an ECG machine and took a scan of my chest.

However as the day wore on the pain became worse and worse the doctor who came to see me in the evening gave me a good going-over and sent me for an x-ray. As yet I don’t have the results.

Another thing is that I’m also off my food. I ate my soya dessert and drank my coffee this evening but that was that.

Despite going to bed early last night I was wide-awake at 03:06 and even thought I went for the usual stroll down the corridor, I couldn’t go back to sleep again and I lay awake tossing and turning for quite a while.

Eventually I must have gone back to sleep because the alarm awoke me and there was also something on the dictaphone.

The nurses came round on a few occasions to bring me my medication and take my blood pressure etc. At one point my little student nurse took my blood pressure and found that it was 98 over 67.

“That’s really low” she said. “Normally when I take your blood pressure it’s much higher than this.”

“Not ‘arf” I thought to myself. I might be old and bits of me might not be working but none of that affects my blood pressure, especially when a pretty young girl leans all over me to wire me up to all kinds of machines. It’s usually like the “blood pressure” scene from CARRY ON DOCTOR.

For most of the rest of the day I’ve been curled up under the bedclothes. With no-one coming by, no tests or examinations, there hasn’t been anything else going on so I may as well take it extremely easy.

There’s a lot going on tomorrow and I need to be ready for it. That is, if my chest doesn’t get any worse.

Saturday 19th November 2022 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about it being a quiet day today because almost nothing has happened today.

It was quiet through the night as well. I hardly remember anything at all. There was a moment when I went for a walk down the corridor for the usual reasons that any man of my age will know, and that’s about that.

Another thing of note was that it wa a very slow morning. I didn’t stir at all after that until the alarm went off. And even so, it still didn’t galvanise me into action.

What did get me going was the arrival of all of the nurses with the medication and all of the measuring devices:

The doctor put in an appearance too before breakfast and asked me how I was. I told her that it was too early to say and I haven’t even had a coffee. Strangely though, she didn’t sit on the edge of the bed next to me like she normally does That’s rather sad.

THere were three meals today and I had to ba shaken awake to eat them; The soya yoghurt for breakfast was there as was the soya dessert for the evening meal. There was a kiwi as well with my evening meal but in accordance with our agreement I exchewed it

The nurses had to awaken me for a few other tasks I’m definitely having my money’s worth of sleep right now.

There was football on the internet this evening too Penybony v TNS.

There’s no doubt that TNS are a mile better than anyone else in this league and play the ball around amongst themselves far better than the rest of the league and that was evident today.

However the team from Bridgend defended resolutely and while they never ever looked like scoring they kept TNS away from the goal and it ended 0-0.

In the middle of the second half the student nurse came to give me my medication so I let her listen to the language of my grandmother.

So that’s it really. A peaceful day and i’m likely to have the same tomorrow. So that calls for an early night. I have to build up my strength.

Friday 18th November 2022 – SCHRODINGER’S PATIENT …

… is still in his hospital bed and is likely to be here for the weekend as well. It seems that wiser counsels have prevailed at last.

And Schrödinger’s patient? That’s a patient who is simultaneously too ill to go for a 2-minute bicycle ride and a 6-minute walk but at the same time is well enough to be signed out of the hospital, travel 700 kms and then come back 700 kms 2 weeks later.

Last night I was in bed quite early and slept right the way through until all of 02:45. After a trip down the corridor I went back to bed and it took an age for me to go off to sleep. And once I fell asleep that was that until the alarm went off at 06:30. I must have slept right the way through the early morning racket.

After breakfast they came to collect me with a wheelchair. They took me down into the dasement of the hospital where eventually a young girl came to see me. She had on a beautiful dress under her housecoat and I told her how much I liked it.

She had my scan from yesterday and talked to me about it. There’s a trapped nerve that seems to be causing a lot of problems and she seems to think that physiotherapy might solve the problem.

Having had a year’s worth of ineffective physiotherapy I expressed my doubts but she did her best to reassure me that there are some special exercises that she can prescribe that a skilled physiotherapist could follow, and that I need to go to a specialist, not one of these mainstream butiques of the kind that I’ve been visiting.

Back here the physiotherapist came to see me. We did a few of the exervises that we have done before but we didn’t do some others. Instead he had me doing one or two others so maybe word has already filtered down.

However on leaving, he said “see you Monday” and that at least is optimistic.

After lunch the dietician came to see me. She asked “why are you ordering bananas and kiwis? You have a very high potassium content and these aren’t doing you any good.”
“Well” I replied, “as long as these are the only options for a vegan dessert on some days, I don’t have a lot of options”.

We discussed my diet at great length. I told her that the food was boring and monotonous but being on a vegan diet I can’t expect too much. At least it’s nutritious and filling. And I made sure to tell her of the two slices of courgette that I had for a main meal in hospital in Riom.

In the end we agreed that if she put soya desserts and soya yoghurts on the menu, I’d refrain from ordering kiwis and bananas. That sounded like a good deal to me.

While we were chatting, the doctor poked her head in and when she saw what was happening she withdrew. I expected to see her shortly afterwards but she didn’t appear and I dozed for most of the afternoon, being shalen awake by a variety of nurses.

The doctor came back later in the evening. And I was right in that wiser counsels have prevailed and I can stay here until at least Monday. They are trying to find a room for me in a half-way house but that’s unlikely. If they fail, a xocial worker will come to see me on Monday.

Another visitor that I’ll have on Monday is an euhanasist. It seems that at least ONE of my complaints is being taken seriously. Maybe this will be the catalyst that will start things moving, although I have said this before in other circumstances

The bad news is that this doctor is moving on to a new ward next week. That’s a shame because I happen to quite like her as a person. It’s just a shame that she’s had to be the one who has borne the brunt of my moaning.

It’s just a shame that no-one of the hierarchy of the hospital has been to see me while I’ve been here. I bet that, having been made aware of my discontent they are keeping well away.

However she did say that she would look in on me at some point over the weekend as she’s the on-call doctor. That will be nice.

So now I’m off to bed. I’ve had a chat with Liz and Alison on-line, and one of the trainee nurses said that she would look in on me later. I seem to ba “flavour of the month” right now.

So if I’m having a nurse come to see melater, I’ll have to try hard not to fall asleep. I’ll have to be careful if I curl up under the bedclothes with my headphones.