This one is for me

The entire duration – years that is – of having this blog the decision was to only ever write ‘happy’, in hope of making somebody smile. Because to not be able to smile each day must be awful.

Today though, this one is for me – more so as a place to put it all down and try my best to move on. Pity parties I don’t want, nor like. So why write this, I say. Easy, this is just a raw blog to let it all out, because despite the many, many medical people I see and speak to, I remain and feel so alone in what should be recovery. Because I’ve rarely spoken to the same medical person throughout, and feel there is nobody out there to build a good medical relationship with, who will track and guide my progress.

I’m now 11 weeks on from injuring my back and so my horrendous pain persists. Taking me from a fully able person to somebody who for weeks was barely able to leave home, let alone barely move, walk, or sleep. And to become so desperate I’d watch the clock, willing the hour to chime and allow me to dose up again. At times all but hoovering up the many pills in the many lined up pots, willing them to take effect. Because during those initial first weeks I was unable to stand for longer than a few minutes without the need to sit, or lie in the recovery position. Meaning it was impossible to e.g. prepare food, let alone shower. Never mind everything else that comes with living a life, including putting on my knickers!

Food was easy, my husband took control. Showering, not so but necessary. It was much a case of wash as quickly as possible, get out, wrap in a towel and sit down to recover before drying. And so it would go, day in, day out, unable to do anything without shooting and or constant pain. One GP advised I shouldn’t be lifting more than a kettle. Although other medical folk advised to get on with life, with a reminder to not bend, twist, reach, lift or sit for too long – not much of a normal life?!

Initially, an urgent MRI was called for, and after results were in – around 3 weeks on – and having had to insist on speaking to my GP and not wait another 10 days for a routine call, the results were: 3 discs protruding, 1 with an annular tear, and one of the discs causing nerve problems and excruciating sciatica. Having then been offered physio or surgery route, physio was my choice. GP explained this would be a physio level 2 who could administer injections as well. Sounded good, thinking it would be have physio and see where and how this worked, escalate as and when need be. Acknowledged this was not a quick fix.

Dismayed on receiving a letter advising first NHS physio would be 20th Aug, almost 10 weeks after the initial call to the surgery, it was a case of what to do while waiting? And yes, I called the physio venue regularly to see about changing for an earlier date. The response being an emphatic NO.

Not one to wait, I’ve tried a private chiropractor and osteopath, and having found each time the treatments have caused further discomfort, or worry, chose not to return for a while and let my body settle. If you can call back to less excruciating pain settling that is. I then, finally, called the NHS physio venue on a Friday to see if they would see me privately in the mean time.

‘Yes,’ they said. ‘See you Monday’. Ecstatic to start recovery/rehab I arrived. Within minutes, the physio stopped questions and took me directly to a private consultant who offered an epidural injection at £500, no guarantees it would last all that long – please book on your way out, and this appt will cost you £100. Note: no physio happened at all. I left deflated.

During this time there were also attempts at suggested exercises by GP and Chiro, which only made it worse. Also, the initial prescribed medication was so low I might as well have been taking smarties, not to mention I couldn’t work out what I could and couldn’t take together of the nerve blockers, pain killers, anti-inflammatory boxes of pills. Pain was so intense, I could barely remember my name, let alone work out a medication program.

The advice at all times mind was to keep moving, which is great, if you can. My limit was barely 20 steps, yet I tried to leave the house and walk up the road, sometimes not even making that. To help I ordered one of those walking sticks that have a folding seat – a hunting sick of sorts. Nope, didn’t help one bit. A dear family at the end of the road dropped off cup cakes and hand made card by the young children wishing me well. When thanking them the mum said it broke her heart to see me hobbling along. Another new neighbour dropped off a card that included her phone number should I ever need anything and an offer for help at any time. I was overwhelmed with the kindness.

About 6 or 7 weeks in and having yet to see my GP face to face, along with numerous occasions of considering throwing myself down the stairs, along with gnawing and punching my bedding in distress during the night, I suddenly found I could barely move. I Whatsapp’d my youngest daughter (in Cape Town) who told me to not be scared about potentially ending up in Hospital and to seek more help. My husband immediately called 111, who told me to go to A&E. Telling them I could neither get out of bed nor get into a car, they called 999. On arrival the Paramedics, within moments, told me they shouldn’t be taking this call, and told me to get up, which I could not do.

Eventually they warmed up and were really helpful, nice and good people. They stayed far longer than they should, until certain I was reasonably OK and walking, albeit badly. And further supplying advice on how best to space my meds, starting at 6am and ending at 2am the following morning, as well as increasing dosage (having spoken to a Doc).

NB – Medication, eventually, after weeks and weeks of unashamedly crying on the phone, many, many times, to my surgery begging for help, was so high at one point it was the pharmacist who advised I was legally not allowed to drive, if I actually was. And somewhere in the mix either surgery or pharmacy advised should anymore than prescribed be taken, I’d likely overdose – lovely. The surgery, to be fair, were good in increasing meds to help get pain under control, before what was thought was physio would take place. Only it took so long to reach that point.

Anyway, despite the paramedics visit, a couple of days later pain management and improvement remained poor and despite huge discomfort in getting into a car, I told my husband to get me to A&E. Once there, barely able to walk, the receptionist instructed my husband to get a wheelchair. It was an early Saturday morning and thankfully I was seen pretty quickly. The first nurse looked at my medical notes and slid the pile of medication I’d brought with me back to me. ‘Your notes say pain management must be dealt with by the surgery, we can’t do anything,’ she said.

‘That will be Monday, I can’t wait that long,’ I said, barely able to believe my ears.

She barely flinched. ‘What do you want us to do?’

‘Help me.’

She got up and told me to wait outside.

After a further wait a Doctor sauntered along and instructed me to follow. She kept looking back, frowning and watching me limping along. Once more I relayed the past weeks and weeks of pain etc. She finally said she would call the spine Doc and made to leave the room, instructing me to do so to.

‘Sit there,’ she said, pointing to a hard, plastic chair. ‘I can see you are walking badly.’

I almost wept. Here was the first Doctor to see me and acknowledge the problem.

Spine Doc arrived, really nice man. Told me he couldn’t change my meds as they were already so high, told me to sleep on the floor, made suggestions to my meds, and advised my case would be reviewed on the Monday. Sent me home. I began sleeping on the floor that night and remained this way for another couple of weeks.

So much has happened since then, case was reviewed and hospital appt booked.

‘How is your pain now?’ the consultant said.

‘Good now my medication is sorted.’

‘That’s good. I can’t do, won’t do anything for you, start exercising and strengthen core. Physio, yoga, pilates, plank. If you feel you need to be referred back, you can do so.’

That’s all well and good, but there are some yoga poses that are really not going to help.

At my first NHS physio session (as mentioned almost 10 weeks on from early June). The first questions went like this.

‘What are you expectations?’

‘I want to get better, to get back to my old life.’

A nod. ‘And what makes the pain worse?’

‘Not taking the medication.’

After observing my mobility, the outcome was, we do not do physio here and only send on for epidural steroid injections. I came home dismayed and distraught as all along all I’ve wanted was some gentle physio to help me begin to recover, and thought this was what was going to happen at that appt. I called the surgery to discuss with a GP. Receptionist said this was a routine appt and I’d have a phone call on 7th Sept. When pushed she said, ‘I can’t give what we don’t have, plus we’ve a public holiday coming up.’

OK, that’s almost 2 weeks away. I explained why I wanted to speak to the GP, she still would not budge. She then offered physio at the surgery. 1st Sept, and it would be a call to determine if face to face was needed. I suggested a call would not help. She said she would add a note for the physio to decide. I ended the call and sent what amounts to a begging letter to the surgery, via their online site. I’ll also add here that on a previous occasion when calling for help and apologising for doing so, I was told that if I don’t call they think all is fine, so best to call.

I’ve lost every ounce of fight I have. What gains made with pain management have gone since my failed physio appt on Friday – bearing in mind the physio had me twist and bend and lifted my leg until I cried out.

Generally not one to cry easily, often perceived as the tough one, I hover between holding back and sobbing and or weeping. Every day I put on a happy face and keep it there until in my own home where the façade can fall. Sure there are good days, but they are so few, and they have to be planned.

I fully understand COVID has caused huge problems within the NHS, but when I do see or speak to somebody, apart from Tom at the surgery who ends each call with ‘Ok, my friend,’ I feel like a number, no longer a person, and that makes me sad.

Many will argue, well it’s just your back, what about all those people with far more sever problems? And I say yes, I agree, and I’m sure they too feel so alone too.

The thought of never seeing a GP again and only using phone calls and maybe video calls dismays me. Physically seeing a person can say so much without uttering a single word. Local Surgery’s are inundated with work, yet they are hugely understaffed, both medical and non-medical. Is it not time to provide better funding?

See your GP, don’t call paramedics or go to A&E, we’re told. Well yeah, sure we will, if they have capacity, let alone available after normal working hours. It’s a vicious circle, and doesn’t help me feel any less alone.

So where am I now? Sitting at my desk, dosed up, wondering if I will ever, ever get better. Oh dear, I forgot to mention, a few weeks ago my surgery suggested blood tests. Great ESR levels are high, another MRI needed and . . . well who knows.

Stone Cold Steve Austin and a tin of polish

Wednesday lunchtime this week, finding myself @ day 3 of:

((Lockdown + Holiday)+(Wet + Ice)/Staycation) = BOREDOM, hubster was about to leave for work, the conversation went like this:

Me, “Hubster, so so glad we managed to find navy blue shoe polish today.”

Hubster, “So am I – “

Me, I cut him short, words on the tip of his tongue. I knew exactly what he was about to say. It was imperative to stop him. My afternoon, indeed my life depended on silencing the man. “Please,” I said, gripping his arm, prepared to beg if need be. Knees prepped to bend. “Please, please don’t clean my boots for me, that’s the only thing I have to look forward to this afternoon.”

Flipping heck, did I ever think the day would arrive when my entire happiness would be determined by a humble task of polishing boots with a precious tin of polish! Never.

And did I ever anticipate the pleasure of using a round tin of polish against the faster, simpler liquid form. Never.

Surprisingly satisfying job completed – wonderful that took about 10 minutes of the afternoon. Rest of the day, what to do, what to do? Ah yes, watch Broken Skull Challenge with @steveaustinBSR – holy cow, this is one epic challenge. Brutal yet intense. Surprised I love this? You shouldn’t be. Stone Cold Steve Austin, a huge WINNER in my eyes. Really wish I had a fraction of the competitors strength and endurance, my current fitness level sits at a brisk 30 minute walk and some regular Yoga, not exactly impressive.

Jeepers, it’s been a while since last blogging, so many changes to WordPress, managed to add blocks, strange images, far too many categories without even realising it, and then frantic, sweat inducing 10 minutes to find ways of removing them all.

Note to self: Get a grip and blog more often

2 weeks of doing . . .

So here I am, almost 2 weeks into my holiday, in fact, this coming Monday it’s all about back to work, and what has been achieved?

Not an awful lot.

My intentions were good mind. Sew and write. Or write and sew. Either way, come today, expectations had been high. Half a novel at least, even if it’s a shitty first draft. Loads of sewing, crafty and clothes – definitely not cushions.

Tally up as of this morning:

Words written – 0

Stitches stitched – 0

Immediate response to this? Get the flipping sewing machines out and at some point hit the blog at least once before Monday

Result:

Sewing – 2 face masks – different styles. Both steam my glasses up! What the blazes? How do you get by this little snag? I also feel a little like Darth Vadar, deep breathing and muffled speech.

Writing – this blog

Evidence:

Here are my masks, made from scraps, courtesy Youtube tutorials

 

Hang on a minute – Wispa eating

photo of woman running on field
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Feeling a little bit along the lines of needing to run around the park, hands flying, mouth wide, guttural sounds frightening the neighbourhood – cabin fever hit big – I managed to compose myself for a very short while before the call of the Wispa chocolate bar hit me.

Wispa, my new favourite. This past Easter the Hubster and I had a DE-LI-CIOUS Wispa Easter Egg. Man, did we enjoy it. The egg itself was neither here nor there, the bars themselves were the winners.

Back to last night then. There was a brief face-off while contemplating the sensible option of eating only half the bar.  The internal argument being by eating half tonight, then the calories will be half the bar, and tomorrow evening the rest could be consumed, therefore keeping my calorie controlled daily intake in check – yeah right on that thought, what’s a calorie-controlled daily intake?

Or

I could eat the entire bar last night and not have any chocolate today. Perfect. 2 days of chocolate in one go. Surely that works?

What did I do?

Gif courtesy of here: SMILE

Easy, shoved the whole darn bar down my gullet.

What happens tonight when the Hubster hovers more chocolate within my reach?

I’m pretty sure that question is easily answered. After some well thought out logic that confirms, tonight, I will be eating next Thursday’s chocolate, the Wispa wrapper will be off.

Happy Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

15 mins – had a thought

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Driving to work this morning, navigating my way around more roundabouts than should be legally built in one city, I had a thought.

My mood lifted, my grin grew.

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Photo by Emily Hopper on Pexels.com

Yes. Finally. Something to blog about. Something fun. Indeed, the kick up the backside needed to sit me at the keyboard again. Quickly the entire blog was mapped out in my mind. A little humour here, a little nonsense there, a little sharing of me. Perfect in every way. What was that? Did you mention modesty?

Several roundabouts later and quickly heading into the building, my plan was to ignore my normal daily tasks and, cheekily, whack out an email to myself, of said blog, for copy and paste and publish later on. Who would question my furious taping at the keyboard? Not a sausage.

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Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

What could go wrong?

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Palm to forehead. I bloody well forgot it all. No hints, no a-ha moments. Nothing,

Note to self: Numpty!

 

 

Purpose of this blog. No purpose. Only a place to write for 15 minutes. Thank you so much for dopping by

15 mins @Waitrose with a Stormtrooper and a Gold Medal

Well who the heck would have thought it.

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thank you, image borrowed from HERE

Lockdown Shopping @Waitrose. There I was, standing in the (very, very, orderly) queue. 2 meters apart. Rather fetching shopping bags swinging sweetly from the trolley hook. No noise, no frustrations.  All fully committed to staving Covid-19, and rightly so.

Then it struck me. The nearer I got to the front of the queue, the more my heart began to race. This moment would be BIG.

And then, reaching and crossing the threshold it felt as if I’d won an Olympic Gold Medal. All that waiting, all that willing, all that orderly queuing, it had all paid off in the end. I truly knew how Usain Bolt must have felt as he belted towards and finally crossed that mystical finish line. I was in, I was shopping.

And then, who would have thought it, at every turn into orderly aisles there were folk in masks, all looking as if they were Stromtrooppers on a day off, only they’d forgotten to remove all the components of their helmets

storm

thank you, image borrowed from: HERE

Made me smile. Something that’s important when life is as it is right now. No flippancy, no mocking, just a smile that helps me get through the tough days

Thank you NHS, you are the BEST EVER

 

 

 

15 minutes with Upstart Crow and a large head

Really thrilled to have had tickets for a show up the West End last weekend. Weather was awful – Storm Dennis had arrived – and undaunted, yet well wrapped in rain kit, thick gloves and a rather pretty scarf, we caught a fast train and before we could say Shakespeare and all that is jolly, we were in London.

Being early we headed to Trafalgar Square and mooched around the National Gallery where inspiration was high and my purse was lightened through purchasing some paints, brushes and painting book in the lovely shop. I add at this point they are still in the bag. My other purchase was a teeny-tiny puzzle. 10cmx15cm, of Van Gogh’s Wheatfield – that’s a whole other blog along the lines of 150 pieces of hair-pulling.

Next stop was the National Portrait Gallery which just blew my mind – another blog.

Back to our show, Upstart Crow. Love the TV series with David Mitchell and Gemma Whelan, and as soon as the show was announced I pounced and purchased tickets.

If you’ve not seen the show or heard about it, it’s written by Ben Elton and is about Shakespeare and his family and friends, moving between Stratford-Upon-Avon and London. At this point of his life, Mr S is successful and writing plays, but often enough it’s the people around him providing the best lines or titles of plays etc. as they go about day to day living. Cleverly the dialogue, for show and TV series, incorporates modern-day problems, from love, to transport, to politics, to gender-equality using Olde Worlde scenarios.  Just brilliant.

So, what’s with the big head then? Well, in the theatre a very nice gentleman sat in front of me, who I swear is taller than Nelson’s column because all I could see of the play was the occasional actor as they moved beyond the heads perimeter. I am not head shaming anybody, or tall shaming anybody, it’s just what it is, and was unfortunate for me.

This little sketch might give you an idea of what I saw of the show – as well as an idea of how badly I draw and would explain why the paints and brushes are still in the bag.

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Photo – all mine, copyright exists, but why anybody would want to use this image is beyond me

 

 

15 minutes – hovering above the loo seat

Photo credit: HERE Piqsels

Cutting straight to it, there is nothing that makes my skin recoil more than sitting on a wet toilet seat, at work! Or anywhere for that matter. Oh man, just gross. And exactly what happened to me this past week. Ideally not something to share, but there you go, it’s been shared.

Having wiped and gagged and vacated the cubicle, I was immediately taken back to being probably no more than a toddler or just older. Out with my Nan shopping or something, desperate for the loo – on that note, as this seems to be all about sharing, my bladder has always been about the size of a postage stamp with the loo being a close friend. So, out with my Nan, me needing a wee-stop, into the public loo we went and having surveyed the facilities and deeming them OK to use, Nan instructed me to not sit down, but rather hover over the seat.

Really! How on earth does one hover over the toilet? Levitate? Throw my legs up and have Nan hold me under the armpits while hoping of all hope the toilet is under me? However it was or happened, I don’t recall wet feet or hem of dress so one can only assume it was a successful visit.

Actually, the more I think about stupidy and the loo, I can also remember trying to hover over the loo, only as a much older person – likely a teenager. At least at that stage, there was no need for somebody to hold me under the arms to navigate position.  No, on those occasions – because as established I could never wait until reaching home – the routine was to hoick up clothing and attempt a balancing act that required pretty darn good core strength while keeping skin from the seat.

I think that’s enough about the loo for today, and indeed forever

 

 

 

15 minutes in the airport lounge

woman in white top and denim jeans sitting on red luggage bag
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

So, there I was, Cape Town airport lounge. Glass of bubbles emptied. Cranberries and cheese and a tiny brownie consumed. Now to wait. What to do?

TV has cricket on. BORING 101. Wondering how to switch to the WWE channel without being noticed. Quick check out of the immediate surroundings and no remote to be seen. Damn it. Now I can’t infuriate my fellow travellers with some overacting, angry faces, ripped bodies and terrible storylines, and a little bit of wrestling every now and again. Heavy sigh.

grayscale photography of wrestler on field
Photo by Mike González on Pexels.com

Instead, I find myself interested in fellow travellers. To my left and slightly behind there are a group of young people – probs about 6. Am I awful for hoping they aren’t on my flight? Nothing against them personally, only they are very happy and chatty when they could do with putting a sock in it – when sleep is calling that is.

Just behind them is a gent who filled his plate with grub, a bit like a squirrel prepping for winter. To the right is a slightly older couple, both plugged into their phones, an array of empty glasses close by.

Directly in front of me, a young gent is almost horizontal on his chair. To be fair he is quite tall, legs like an octopus, feet as large as an elephant. The chair is far too small for him, he needs a lounger. He too is plugged into a phone. He had a friend who has gone awol.

To my left, there is a gent clearly in the process of immigrating from South Africa. His phone is attached to his ear and his mouth is working ninety to the dozen trying to explain how he needs to sell his house and needs his original matric certificate and how he still thinks SA is for retirement, but can still go 50-50 in a property deal in SA if need be. He also shared a bit about somebody who is welcome to visit but not with somebody else. Now he is on ex-pat tax. Sell and invest apparently is the way to go. He is a thirsty chap, pouring tumblers of something down his gullet. Not surprising with all the chatter he is doing. For the love of all chatter, now he is advising on doing AirBnB. I think I need to check out what he is drinking. Oh no, he tells me, err sorry his caller, he is a family with no cousins – pass me a tissue I’m about to weep and sob my way onto my flight.

Flipping heck waiting for a flight is boring.  Not even people-watching is making it enjoyable. One thing that is evidently clear is the mobile phone/Cellphone has taken over life.

Mini rant – put the phone down and pick up a book. Because quite frankly I don’t give a flying hoot about your personal life. Keep it to yourself. Let’s go back to the old landline.

What do you do while waiting for a flight?

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