Monday, June 25, 2007

Lines from a hospital bed - 4

Back in hospital again, this time with blood clots in the lungs. This is an unfortunate consequence of my prolonged resting at home while my left foot healed. I have (or had) all the classic symptoms - breathlessness, dry coughing, pain in the chest, tiredness and dizzy spells. These are all cleared bar continuing pain in my left lung and an occasional cough that is driving me mad, because it hurts, I can't catch my breath and I end up gasping, unable to speak and fighting for breath. But I am coughing a lot less than a few days ago, hurrah.

I came back in a week ago and hope to be out soon. No idea when I can resume doing a decent bit of commuting though. Not only is my foot still too weak to bear my weight, the 40 odd steps at Ruislip Manor station are the equivalent of a steep hill in my current shallow-breathing state. I cannot see myself making it. Nor indeed am I fit to fight my way through the streams of people moving 'twixt Met and Bakerloo in that vortex of despair that is the stupidly narrow steps connecting those lines. God knows what cretin designed stairs wide enough for just one person in each direction. Wouldn't it be nice if the bosses of LU had to travel by wheelchair or with crutches every so often so they could understand how awful much of the Tube architecture really is.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lines from a sofa - 1

I'm out of hospital (hurrah) and likely to need at least two weeks at home while my damaged foot recovers. Thanks to modern technology I can connect to my desktop pc at the office and work almost as if I was sitting there. So a spell of working, but not commuting, beckons. It's a strange feeling. I finish my breakfast, take six steps into the living room and start reading the office emails. All my life there has been some element of commuting and for much of it, regular journeys of an hour each way have been the norm.

Just for old times sake I checked out the Tube website to see if services were running normally. They are. But if there had been extensive delays due to hailstorms at Chalfont, or something, I should have permitted myself one short smile of appreciation.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lines from a hospital bed - 3

I'm in a four bay ward and when the bloke opposite went home yesterday morning, I thought this would help toward a quiet weekend for the rest of us, given that hospitals don't do routine admissions then. I was wrong. Later that day the bed was given to a brash young man who has been a source of noise and distraction ever since. He is seriously ill with an unexpected recurrence of long-standing pancreas problems but has the air of a newly rich popstar holding court. Last night he had extensive treatment, had several machines plugged in him, hourly monitoring and visits from about a dozen assorted doctors, nurses and specialists. He greeted them familiarly, "allo, ow are you doing alright", instructed them where to insert drips and take blood, had his personal mineral water put in the nurses' fridge, told them which painkillers he wanted and made them explain every reading.

This morning the crisis seems to have passed and he only took up about 80% of the time of the main nurse on duty. Mind you, she has 4 others to look after. Actually, this is not so bad as it may appear because the rest of us need little direct care. But unlike any other patient, he spent all the time not employed in ordering nurses on his mobile. These are not discreet and quick, essential calls. He bellows into the phone in a voice that cuts into Wishbone Ash (a 1970s rock combo. Ed) playing loud on my Walkman headphones. I would mind less if the hospital had not put large red notices at the entrance to the ward forbidding mobile use within.

As I write it has gone a bit quieter (exhaustion of the vocal cords?) but it won't last. His family will be visiting later.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lines from a hospital bed - 2

Being a patient is hard work, but by God it's harder when you have to be your own doctor as well. If you don't like medical details then look away now. (wish I could. Ed)

I've been flat out with a damaged left foot. Naturally my body has reacted to the lack of physical activity, and the drugs, by shutting down certain, shall we say, functions. This has been fixed with the help of some little green pills. But, perhaps as a side-effect, a couple of days ago I had been feeling nauseous and nobody had taken any interest. I lost appetite and ate very little, returning 3 meals almost untasted. Today I stopped drinking, a real no-no, because I couldn't face anything going down my throat. Eventually I felt like vomiting, though there was nothing to bring up.There was a nurse with me at the time. He gave me an injection, designed I think, to prevent feeling sick. This made me feel so unwell - literally sick and tired - that I was almost unable to talk to my visitors a little later.

The solution lay in my own hands. I stopped taking painkillers (not that heroic because there was very little pain, but they do love doling them out). The idea was to reduce any opiates in the system because I react badly to them. Remembering something similar during a hospital stay some years ago, I induced a little retching session. Nothing came up but I began to feel better. After a repeat I was ready to think about drinking other than plain water. The next day the difference was amazing. I actually wanted my breakfast. I ate normally that day and now, a day later, can confirm that my treatment was right and the knee-jerk reponse of the nurse was wrong.

So, Dr. Commuter's advice is to listen to what your body tells you.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lines from a hospital bed - 1

My health has taken a turn for the worse and I write these lines lying flat on my back in hospital, typing one awkward letter at a time on a clamshell keyboard that doubles as a TV remote. Yes, thanks to modern technology, I can email and blog whilst nurses come and go, and 4 hours pass waiting for a fresh dressing for my damaged foot. This is certainly different to composing these finely chiselled words from the "comfort" of a tube train. Woozy from the side effects of pain killers I have unsettling dreams; physical movements are limited to finding a comfortable position and the odd visit to the toilet.

Don't worry, this is not turning into Haverings of a Hillingdon Invalid, but for the time being, bulletins of a medical nature must inevitably dominate these proceedings