Wednesday 30 September 2009

A relocation from the cacophony

Travails of a morning doze off

The day started a bit rough, I was in some serious discomfort through the night, I had to ask for additional medication.

In the meantime the intravenous infusion mechanism has now been attached to my right wrist, so I am tethered again and have needed help getting around on the crutches.

I eventually got some deep sleep after dawn broke just when my friend came alive with cries for sister, brother, doctor, please.

There is no doubt he is in pain, I know but rather than use the call system he calls out loud and incessantly, I lost it – So from within my deep sleep, I mustered my best Dutch and shouted out to use the call system.

Flipping pancakes in beds

He also turned 82 today, which is sad but, he has been congratulated by all, I can honestly say they are bending over backwards for him and really one must commend the selflessness that come with this line of duty.

The bed has been adjusted so many times short of having it flip him like a pancake every few seconds, not much else might happen apart from just completely sedating him, but that has its dangers.

When he was put in the wheelchair and he did not relent, I clearly told the nurses, this just cannot continue, I am no more sure if he is leaving hospital today anymore.

They took him out of the ward somewhere else for about an hour during which time I steadied myself on the crutches and arranged to visit the gym tomorrow.

Serious but quite manageable

Results of the biopsy are not complete but the initial suspicion has been confirmed, they do need to determine the best course of treatment, it probably would be aggressive because it is putrid, fungating and in more serious cases can become gangrenous and lead to the loss of the foot.

In base terms, it is a type of cancer but don’t get so struck by the word, some can be cured others subject to palliative care; I have been told medication should suffice. So far, the doctors have been positive, optimistic and encouraging, it allows one to build faith from a perspective better than the despair of things being terminal.


Finally, the best bit of news is that since my hearing is considerably more keen I have been moved to another ward where I have been practicing my Dutch with two ladies and a gentleman, Though one of the ladies does not speak English at all.

It is a bit shrewd to put hard of hearing people in the room with someone turning out to be a shrew, one of the medical personnel called him a drama queen, well, this is one luvvie that could become unloved.

Can you believe it? I can hear him from here. Save our ears. Save our sanity or as restraint overcomes whoever decides the cat of throttling him – save that man from himself.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Crutches on the drip

Happenings – fast and slow

The results of the biopsy are yet to come because that determines whether I should still be tethered to the intravenous drip mechanism or I can go home on oral medication.

The beginning of my second week has arrived with still no inkling of when my bed at home would receive the warmth of its owner.

The intravenous needle had begun to irritate me and cause pain, an alcohol/water mix pad was applied to offer a cooling effect but not to much avail, in the end, it had to be removed and everyone is waiting on the doctor to decide how I get fed my antibiotics.

Speeding ticket for crutches on the run

The physiotherapist arrived to see my foot and legs then went to get crutches on which I did a hobbling run that could have landed me on either my face or my butt, he steadied me as he told me tricks of rising and settling with crutches.

Whilst taking a breather the orthopaedic foot mould specialist arrived and my demonstration of crutch mobility was abysmal but I was commended all the same.

She took drawings of my foot, measured round parts of the foot then wrapped it around with cellophane and ruler down the front, applied a wet bandage that then hardened into a mould with was then cut out with a blade to the flexible ruler – I thought that was quite impressive chemistry.

90s, 80s but 40s?

We had a new patient nonagenarian arrive yesterday, now with my octogenarian friend who might leaving tomorrow, in fact, he has been at his most quiet today, probably because he knows when he is going back home.

Come think of it, being 43, I do not think there is something called quadrogenarian, you have to reach a certain age to be accorded a –genarian suffix and I am well away from that. The nonagenarian seems to speak Dutch with an English accent; he also has an English sounding name.

It goes to show that very few people lose their mother tongue accent no matter how fluent they become in another language, maybe he settled here after the war – my deductions might be true if he reads a high-brow Dutch newspaper but watches the English language news on television.

One observation, the hospital bed controls do not lend themselves to geriatric finesse, I have observed both fumble in frustration with the buttons, the more senior expelling expletives as if he was out at sea. Strewth!

A sport of ward probing

Then I did a round of the wards on crutches, no, I am not practising for the Paralympics but I think I have gotten a good feel of how to get around on those things.

The day is going fine, as I learn that the most inexhaustible reserve of hope, expectation and success is God's mercy for the stupid things one has allowed to happen and God’s favour to get one completely out of the rut to that place of confidence, assurance and worthwhile activity.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Getting off the pain train

Leaving the resort of pain
For weeks I had sacrificed my peace at the altar of pain, bringing offerings of agony and lamentations of the unbearable as I worshipped as a subject of things going wrong and circumstances becoming dire.
Along with this comes moments when you begin to lose faith in those around you because their problems, small as they might seem to me are too great for them to see beyond their hills to the valley of distress in which I have wallowed.
Looking for my bedpan friends
You can measure someone’s stress at work with my condition and then say the stress is insignificant; neither can one place the responsibility of visitation on others where they most definitely have their own schedules.
However, in the midst of all that, people have been understanding, selfless, considerate and concerned, one cannot descend in cascade to the depression of the hurt much as all humanly possible criteria are there to justify that feeling.
In the end, in circumstances like this you have friends but the bedpan friends are very few and sometimes very far, one can vindictively prepare for vengeance or love them all the same, I have been loved, that is why I survive, I survive because I have been spared, I am spared because I should rise to a greater calling in my life and make radical change.
Ascend and decline in thought
A hospital bed with its automatic buttons for elevation and decline, allowing for the freedom of mind but the physical restriction of the body tethered to both infirmity and intravenous infusions, a time to reflect and better not on yourself but on others and the gratitude for all that has happened to this point.
I was sorely irritated with the person I shared my ward with, obstinate he was, recalcitrant not by half, stubborn beyond belief and definitely in pain, he had lost his lower leg. He was being considered a nuisance by the nurses and he called all hours, I wonder what jumped on my vocal cords to stop me blurting out a coarse expletive, but I was restrained.
There was a need for him to sit in an adapted wheelchair for up to an hour but that caused such discomfort that he was begging to be put back in bed after 5 minutes but this went on for as long as it was required for him to satisfy that requirement. Naturally, the Dutch would find ways to circumvent the rules but put them against sticklers or enforcers of the rules and the rules win.
Entitlements come with health
Yes, I was cross with him and then he told me he was 81 and suddenly I found a deep respect for him to tolerate his situation but still it is important not to get involved.
It left me to wonder if I could survive wars and whether there were situations where the quality of my character might be diminished for the reason of circumstances in which I find myself. Pause, think and meditate.
At 81, I would have thought one had entitlements but it appears entitlements come with when you are hale and hearty, anything short and your entitlements are subject to other opinions of your circumstances – something to have in mind even if you have many to call on to support you in times of need.
Looking beyond this to times when this would be distant stories with lessons learnt, I thought I took communion this morning but I had the bread and not the wine – an abridged communion despite the concern of spreading germs in a hospital is hardly the whole treatment, I was left wondering what else was a cut down version of what was traditionally quite different.
On the up
Replacing feelings with faith one begins to see how things must change for the better and they would because circumstance that doesn’t kill strengthen you but where was it written that we should be overwhelmed, man has the innate will to overcome, my 81-year-old ward mate is not giving up after what many might called a full life, I have no right by reason of many things including my faith to not see ahead of me the reality of all this being part of my past.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Seeing hospital meals again

Scoffing at utility

It might be congenital but that is looking for excuses, my mother when she was in Europe in the 1960s scoffed at the idea of the specialisation of chiropody but God knows today that having a chiropodist look at my feet would be of greater succouring benefit than a mother mopping her sick child’s brow.

And so, did one not a time scoff at the idea of being a dietician viewing it from the perspective of those weight loss diets or regimes that seem to plasticine-mould you into body beautiful that Michelangelo’s Mona Lisa or David would jump out of their eternal states of paint and sculpt in mortal envy.

The glories of hospital food

You learn, I had a visit from the hospital dietician the other day because it appeared I was not eating enough of my food.

The food choices are to reach the goal of either more energy or more bulk, that is where the sophistication ends, she did agree that hospital food was hardly haute cuisine, well, if you thought Michelin and hospital food, it would not be about stars but probably the chewiness of rubber in their tyres, OK, maybe that is a bit extreme.

No voice in choice

Anyway for all the integration that might be required of immigrants, losing your indigenous cuisine is probably the very last thing you will ever give up. There is a world of difference between Dutch cuisine and Yoruba food from the South-West of Nigeria, even so, there is enough of a difference between English and Dutch cuisines, and I seem to prefer those to the Dutch.

The presentation is a collage of dull colours that would hardly rival masterpieces of art out a kindergarten class, finger-painting and all.

A vulture pause will do

So we built round these courses of palatable disregard but not before I was reminded of the nursery that literally forbade eating between meals, these become lessons of life well learnt from childhood only to be debunked by professionals.

So Hiliare Belloc penned this rhyme for children and whoever had this at school was definitely scarred for breaching that rule.

The Vulture eats between his meals. // And that's the reason why. // He very, very rarely feels. // As well as you and I.

His eye is dull, his head is bald, // His neck is growing thinner. // Oh! what a lesson for us all // To only eat at dinner!

And you wonder why what is a coffee break should really be aptly named a Vulture Pause; nursery rhymes could be so unforgiving and graphic.

So, it is cornflakes rather than breads for breakfast, fruit salads in between and high-energy milk shakes for lates.

Sick as a dog

Now what I cannot understand is why over 6 hours ago I felt nauseated but the manifestation of seeing my food again took that long and by the time I finished this blog, I had been sick thrice already. Don't worry, I am sick-bag trained, no mess.

Is there a dietician in the house?

The looming abyss of a deep biopsy

A future blurred by heaven

It was definitely in the 1990s in London during one of the Party in the Park concerts at Hype Park, probably the first that I went to see Bryan Adams.

This comes up because a variation of his hit single crossed my mind and got stuck as a lingering thought as I contemplated the next few minutes of my life, it was that dramatic and I can assure you I am not that given to histrionics.

The variation was, “I thought I’ll die and go to heaven”, it was me contemplating a future that had been made fuzzy that I saw release from an impending event than live through it as opposed to Bryan Adam’s past tense of “Thought I’d died and gone to heaven”.

The foot topology of pain

I was down to see the dermatologist which took the best part of two days to book, I arranged for a wheel chair with a raised leg to forestall the excruciating pain of blood rushing down to my feet exciting the over-active nerves that send messages of pain to my brain on the emergency line untrammelled.

I only half succeeded as having morphine 30 minutes before my appointment did not do the trick, I literally cried down to my appointment.

They were serious and prepared

When the consultant came in to see my feet, he ordered deep, I mean, deep poke it in and pull it out biopsies of the wounds, my restraint got the better of me where I should have blurted out – “You cannot be serious”. Serious, they were because without those biopsies we’ll be no wiser about why we were in the situation we were in.

Here I was thinking the dermatologist will rub a balm over my wounds and all will be well, with a pat on my head, I did get a handshake but instructions were clearly what I had not prepared for.

Thankfully, all those were to be taken under local anaesthetic but injecting that was painful enough, I ended up with 5 injections where at first the doctor expected me not to move my foot as she tried to prick me, I remonstrated, she had to get someone to hold down my foot because my reaction was too natural to overcome with the discipline she seemed to expect.

Interesting role reversal

One lady held down my leg and I had another lady speaking softly to me holding my hand in role-reversal as I was asked to breathe in deeply, surely, this is not the pain of labour in a maternity ward. I could not wish for an epidural.

I stuffed a towel in my mouth, bit on it and thought about a place with no pain as chunks of fungating flesh were extracted for laboratory analysis.

When finally the ordeal was over, it was not really over because on returning to my bed, I could call on no further shots of morphine for another 5 hours, meanwhile, I had a large morphine patch pasted on my chest.

No morphine anymore

Now, I am completely off morphine because it was the cause of my nausea, the new pain-killers just numb the feeling but do not kill the pain, I cannot say I am in agony but there is enough discomfort to make me uncomfortable.

Even whilst in hospital getting treatment, you are no less an experiment of trial and error till a full diagnosis is made and a regime of therapy or palliative care is offered as succour.

No, I did not die and go to heaven; I lived through the pain to tell another story of an event in my hospital life.