there will be an interval

interval

 

I had a letter last week. From myself. Which I had written 5 years ago. See, Time Travel is real. I am The Doctor.

I was watching an arts event, Pilots, at my local arts centre in January 2011. It was all kind of interesting and experimental, and one of the projects was by Cross Collaborations as part of their ‘Past Present Future’ project. We were invited to write a message to our future selves, to choose a button we liked from a little collection, and return it with a stamp addressed envelope to be posted 5 years hence to our future self.

As it happens, there was an interval coming up. I was bored an uninspired and had difficulty imagining myself 5 years into the future. So what I wrote was a statement of fact, what was happening in the here and now. Just a piece of information. I felt I was cheating a little and not taking the exercise seriously enough. But it didn’t have to be anything profound, or anything special. I hadn’t got any special plans for 5 years’ time.

…the will be an interval …

And completely forget about it.

I say I didn’t have plans. At least, I didn’t for five years in the future. But I was just booking a holiday for later in the year – to Peru. I’d heard so much about Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines and the holiday included staying with a native family on tree rafts at Lake Titicaca. This holiday had all of them and plenty more besides. Some time ago I’d attended a self development workshop, where we were all asked to imagine achieving something exciting and wonderful. One very timid young girl eventually confessed to wanting to go to Machu Picchu. I brought her a brochure the next day for an adventure group I was part of (SPICE – Special Programme of Initiative, Challenge and Excitement) which happened to be advertising a trekking holiday to Machu Picchu, just to encourage her to believe in the possibilities. A year later I got a virtual postcard from her with pictures of her at Machu Picchu. She was beaming.

So I was excited, and terrified. I’d never been on for great heights, so it was also a challenge to myself – initiative, challenge, excitement. My brother, rather sensibly, suggested checking with my cardiologist as it was a high-altitude holiday. I dismissed the idea but, as the time came for the holiday, I booked an appointment.

Which is just as well. Because that’s when they found out that not only my mitral valve (which had been repaired ten years earlier) was leaking, but that there was also a problem with my aortic valve – more so, in fact. When the cardiologist delivered the news, she told me to think very carefully about the holiday to Peru, because it would be very dangerous. And then told me not to cry, as she couldn’t stand it when patients cried.

I had to cancel the holiday. Fortunately, I got all my money back on the insurance.So I didn’t get to Peru, or Machu Picchu, or Lake Titicaca. Although she had said a heart operation probably wouldn’t be necessary for 5 – 10 years, in fact I needed emergency surgery within 3 years.

There will be an interval

None of which I could know writing myself a letter to the future. As I didn’t know that I would also have testicular cancer, lose my job,or lose my driving license through an eyesight problem.

Which meant, that when I did receive a letter I’d completely forgotten about writing – in my own handwriting – I was a little confused and felt I’d suddenly stepped into an episode of Lost. And I sat and looked at the message:

There will be an interval

And I laughed. And I cried. And goosebumps ran down my spine. It all seemed so prescient, so insightful, so philosophical, naive  and so pertinent. The little message from five year ago me was like a hug from someone who really cared about me. And a phrase that meant nothing at the time – except that there was going to be an interval, a comfort break for a pee and an ice cream – put everything in perspective. An interval had almost ben a finale, the script I though would be performed had become an improvisation, and sometimes we surprise ourselves, and don;t realise the significance of what we do at any on time. And it’s not all about the big performance, the centrepiece, the main event.

There will be an interval

 

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2-4-6-8 Motorway No More – on losing my driving licence, and abusive driving instructors

DVLA have taken away my driving licence, and it feels like they’ve taken away my freedom and my future. It’s difficult for me to see the road ahead, as it were.

It’s been a long journey since my heart surgery. One of the unforeseen results appears to be that either during the surgery, or in a mini-stroke afterwards, my brain was temporarily deprived of oxygen, and as a result of this some of my visual cortex atrophied. Nothing too serious and nothing that I’ve noticed. But it’s been picked up by machines and tests I find confusing and don;t understand. Neither my optician nor my Ophthalmology Consultant considered it  to restrict my driving, but – after a test at Specsavers – DVLA do. The test was a guessing game involving flashing lights coming and going, like a second rate fairground attraction, next to the Tarot reader predicting your future.

I received a letter full of gobbledygook that I didn’t understand after driving home on Friday night. And that was it. The car stands where I parked it, and I’m prevented from driving any further. My parents are escorting me around, like I’m 16 again. I’m having to make arrangement at work to work at home because otherwise – well, that’s my job, and livelihood gone, following a letter one Friday night. No help or support offered, just a demand for me to return my licence. Which also annoyed me, as it’s a proper traditional paper licence, before all this nonsense with photo ID came in. So as well as a future, I’ve lost a little piece of my history too.

The thing is, I’ve always hated driving. It’s never been a thing of joy, or open roads and wind in my hair.

I started learning when I was 17. My parents, quite rightly, thought it would give me some independence, and better job prospects – and give them a break from the daily taxi return that a lazy selfish adolescent boy demands. They kindly booked me a series of driving lessons with a local instructor, in the hope that I’d be on my way to becoming an Independent Young Man.

He was a tyrant, a master of manipulation and psychological torture and abuse. He’d smile nicely to my parents, take their money (in advance) for the lessons, then close the car door and turn on me. Phrases I remember include:

‘You’re like Frank Spencer. But he knows what he’s doing.’

‘You’re worse than somebody who’s deaf, dumb and blind.’

‘Stupid.’

‘What is wrong with you?’

There was more, much more. A boxing ring of abuse.

For some reason, I’d become the dumping ground for all his frustration and anger in the world. His son went to the same school, and was having a difficult time, while I was a ‘model pupil’ and I suspect this was behind his ire against me.

Every time the lesson came around, I’d sit on my bed shaking with fear and anxiety. I didn’t feel I could tell my parents, because they’d paid for the lessons and I didn’t want to let them down. Eventually, worn down in lesson after lesson, I broke down in tears and explained what was happening. He absolutely denied the abuse and ‘didn’t know’ why I would stop, because I ‘was doing so well’.

And I couldn’t face another driving lesson for 16 years. I moved to study in Aberystwyth, where cars were a luxury and unnecessary because we had the gorgeous Aberystwyth Sprinter to get us from the seaside back to real life. And then to London, where public transport is de rigeur.

Then my father was involved in a near fatal car crash. None of it his doing, just some unexplained driver crashing into hs life and changing ti forever. My brother and mother, family friends, rallied round to keep his business going, help him recover,drive him to hospital appointments, deal with the practicalities of a world that relies on being able to drive a motor car.

I felt useless and unable to contribute. So I became determined to drive. To break the spell cast over me by a bad driving instructor who’d gone about attacking and undermining my self-esteem.

I lived in a shared house, and didn’t want my flatmates to know I was learning to drive. The shame of failure went deep. So I signed up to a driving school but wouldn’t let them pick me up or drop me off from the flat. I started learning with a female instructor, and everything was different. I explained what had happened previously and she was appalled. She wasn’t perfect – I made mistakes, and she shouted at me, lost her cool, but we eventually got to the first test. I failed, and wasn’t surprised. I hadn’t felt ready, but things were different. I’d earned to drive in London, and got to the point where I could take a test. I’d got behind a wheel again, and that felt hugely important. I was a driver, not a passenger.

I moved back home, and continued driving with another instructor. I passed the next time, and we were both surprised. We even hugged. ‘I knew you were ready,’ he said. ‘You just lacked confidence.’

I can’t imagine not driving now. I am always grateful whenever someone else offers to drive, and on long journeys, always opt for public transport. But being deprived of my independence – being able to drive to the shops, or see my parents, or the doctor’s, or the cinema because I feel like watching a film – I can’t see that. In my head, I mean – because I can see it fine on the road. Despite what the DVLA and a rather dodgy eye test says.

I’m appealing. There’s still too much fight and anger against my first terrible monster of a driving instructor. And, like there was in that 17 year old self, there’s a determination for freedom and independence that I forgot was there.

In the meantime, I dream of driverless cars and transmat machines and shirtless chauffeurs in huge stretch limousines with drinks cabinets and wide screen televisions. And ignore the reality of what life without driving might be.

I will be heard: On being a patient, a guinea pig, and a stroppy queen

guinea pig stroppy queen

So, finally, I got round to writing a letter of complaint following being denied an MRI scan in November because staff didn’t have important information on the make and model of my heart valve to hand. The following is the letter I wrote, with a copy sent to the Care Quality Commission:

Dear [Name of  Chief Commissioner]

I attended for a MRI appointment on XXXX November at XXXX Hospital, following a referral  for loss of field vision. I was denied treatment because staff were unable to access details on my hospital notes regarding the type of aortic heart valve I had inserted following emergency surgery at XXXX Hospital in July 2013. I did request that they contact the cardiology unit for this information, or that I could do this myself if they had a contact number, but was still unable to be treated. The MRI nurse himself was polite when informing me that protocols dictated he could not undertake the MRI as there were not enough resources if anything went wrong, but it was not helpful for me to be told by another member of staff that I should know this information because ‘if it was them, they would want to know what was inside them’.

Staff suggested I contact my GP to rearrange, and the Radiology Bookings Team asked for the make and model details of my valve to be faxed to them. I requested, that they access this information on my hospital notes, and gave my permission for them to access these notes or to liaise with my cardiologist Dr XXXX, surgeon Mr XXXX, and/or my GP directly in order to get this information. When I spoke to my GP myself, he agreed to fax the information, but could not understand why Radiology staff were unable or unwilling to access this information themselves. He was only able to supply information which XXXX Hospital themselves had given him, and was available on my hospital notes.

There may be reasons for this, and I would like further information on why this is the case, and also what action you will be able to take to ensure this does not happen again? This was an unnecessarily wasted appointment, and has delayed my diagnosis and treatment.

  • Did staff have adequate access to my notes, or is the IT system inadequate? Is there a training issue here to help staff access relevant material, or does the IT system need to be changed?
  • Why were staff not able to problem-solve and retrieve the information from any of the sources I suggested? Is there a culture or attitude within the Hospital Trust that does not support or encourage this? Again, is this a training issue?
  • I was told that there were only two staff on duty, which would not have been enough ‘if things went wrong’. Is this a resource issue because the MRI was scheduled at the weekend? Would I have been able to receive better treatment if my appointment had been on a week day?
  • Do current procedures not arrange for important information such as heart valve details to be easily accessible between departments? How will you change procedures to ensure this happens?
  • Are there important medical details missing or inaccessible on my medical records? What safeguards are there to ensure that if I needed treatment the relevant information could be accessed?

I am currently awaiting a re-appointment, and have found this experience unnecessarily distressing, anxiety provoking and frustrating. I was told that this is not an isolated incident and may ‘often’ happen. I see no reason for this to be the case, and expect a better level of service from my local hospital.

Please confirm that my notes now accurately display relevant medical information, and I would appreciate your responses to the concerns this experience has raised.

I have had very positive experiences of XXXX Hospital previously, but on this occasion, I feel let let down by the processes in place, and the attitude of the Trust.

 

Yours sincerely

XXXX

 

On the other hand, I’ve just completed a 7 week online patient feedback research project for Macmillan. It was partly as a result of this that I felt empowered, and angry, enough to write the letter above. I learnt that poor treatment is unacceptable, and needs to be challenged. The project has been amazing – sharing experiences with other cancer patients and exploring issues of access and diversity. It’s changed my view of the whole experience, and helped me to re-process a traumatic and frightening journey ‘from the other side’. Although the notion of an ‘online research forum’ seemed dry and unappealing at first, we were given a range of fun, challenging and engaging tasks to explore how our needs were and weren’t met, and what changes could be made for other patients. I’m choosing to share some of my responses for the final week – a period of reflection and summarising the process and our viewpoints (I may have made some edits/changes for the blog):

your shout: anything that might not have been covered?

My experience has been one of multiple health issues, not simply cancer, and I think this could be addressed more fully. How do different departments communicate with each other. Who is a principal point of contact for the patient?How is information transferred/recorded between departments.?
I work as a counsellor, and I’d be interested in more research/information on the short and longer term impact of cancer diagnosis, and approaches which patients find help them dealing with it at different stages.

a cup of tea with your Dr – what I would say to my GP if given the opportunity to sit down with a cup of tea, and all the time I needed

NO, I don;t need a wife to help me feel batter, so don’t make assumptions about my sexuality.
When you need to examine my body, be professional and courteous – if you have hang ups about touching another man’s cock and balls, keep that at home and out of the consulting room. It’s not that easy for me, either.
The hoo ha about arranging emergency appointments, but not being able to tell me why, only made me more anxious than I was originally.
If you’rein the middle of a consultation giving me a diagnosis of cancer, don’t pick up the phone to answer a patient’s query about if they’d left their bag in your consulting room.
Thank you to the staff, doctors and consultants, who did take the time to show empathy, care and to understand some of what I was feeling. and to take time to understand what was happening.
Remember my name. I’m not done yet.
A joke or two along the way actually helps.

message in a bottle: if you were to send a message ‘out there’. what would it be?

I would like to tell the general public….many cancers are treatable. Don’t be afraid, except by politicians who dismantle or undermine the NHS and its treatments.

I would like to tell other people who have been diagnosed with cancer … hang in there, make use of the information and support at hand. You don’t have to be ‘brave.’

I would like to tell the family and friends of cancer patients …. It’s not just patients who are affected and who need support. You’re an unpaid healthcare system – what you say and do makes a difference.
I would like to tell employers … my employers have just stopped access to our Employee Assistance Programme, which provides counselling support. It helped me through a difficult time, and assisted my return to work more than any of the HR or OH rules and regulations. At a time of great uncertainty, I needed structure and support, and felt a pressure to return to work too soon because my pay was reduced.

I would like to tell Macmillan …  I’m very proud of my family involvement with Macmillan, and my respect for them has improved greatly.
I would like to tell the government ... Stop privatising the NHS, value its greatest resource more – the people who work for it. Don’t use people’s health as a political football – it damages our well-being and creates a negative and self destructive, fearful and anxious culture.

If there is someone else to whom you want to send a message in the bottle, just say whom and what your message would be!

A big thank you and hugz to all the participants . You’re amazing, honest, thoughtful and brave people.It’s been a privilege to spend some time with you.

The three most important things I have learnt are:

1. I’ve been very fortunate in my cancer journey, both in terms of diagnosis, support and treatment services.
2. Nevertheless, the journey was much harder than I had given credit to, and sharing experiences with other cancer patients has allowed me to come to terms with feelings and experiences I hadn’t owned up to. It’s provided a source of healing and care I hadn’t realised was important.

3. Sometimes you need to stand up and fight, sometime you need to lie down and take a nap.

 

And the best thing about the project, and the hope that I have for writing a letter of complaint, was a very simple thank you response, ending with one important line:

‘You will be heard.’

Too goddamn right.

The Sprinkles of Life

cake-sprinkles-heart-isolated-17741856

So I was in the Baking aisle of my supermarket, minding my own business and poring over their selection of cake sprinkles in preparation for the return of The Great British Bake Off when I hear my name being shouted out. I looked around, and decided someone must be looking for a lost child or street urchin and returned to my sprinkle safari. Until a tap on my shoulder.

I looked up and recognised Margaret, who used to run the Off-Licence round the corner from me (I was a fairly frequent visitor). It’s always been my favourite Off-Licence – inside, it was covered in wire caging to prevent anyone nicking the oodles of booze on show, with a peep-hole for the Shopkeeper just large enough to pass a bottle through. It was like a prison for alcohol. Its chief unique feature was a series of optics that would dispense individual shots of spirits if you fancied ‘a wee nip’ – very useful if you were baking or cooking and wanted to add a little vodka or whiskey – or, indeed, for a late night medicinal toddy. Margaret also used to open up for an hour on Christmas Day, so you never ran out of the ‘Merry’ for Merry Christmas.

We’d bonded because I was a regular visitor, and I had a ‘signature’ bottle of wine that she used to order specially – which had the same name as where I live, so it was a proper ‘House Wine’. It was also gorgeous – deep red, chocolatey velvet and spicy.  And, like me, fairly fruity and strong.

She looked somewhat frail in the supermarket, holding onto her trolley and wavering a little. I’ve not seen her for a while, and had often wondered what had happened to her – although she still lives above what used to be the off-licence, now a beauty salon of dubious reputation. I haven’t tanned there myself.

So we caught up a little. We’d bonded when she ran the shop, as she also had cardiac issues, and survived heart surgery, so we became  like Old Soldiers reminiscing about the front-line.

And, like me, she’s a had A Bit Of A Time Of It recently. Sadly, her husband died at Christmas after a long illness. And two years ago she was at Death’s Door in the cardiac unit, in Life Support for a week. To the point where they tried to offer her family the ‘Liverpool Pathway’ – where food and resuscitation are withdrawn. She shook as she told me this, and proudly told me her daughter told them to ‘F*ck Off’. Fortunately, she had pulled through and introduced me to her daughter-in-law and granddaughter before giving me a big hug and wandering back off to continue her shopping.

I watched her go off into the fray, to continue the good fight for survival, amidst the pain and loss of her last couple of years. I looked back at the rows of sprinkles, and all the celebrations they were designed for. The birthdays, the weddings, the anniversaries, the comings out, the passing of exams, the new jobs, the new homes, all the trappings of our lives being lived and loved.

For a moment, we were back in that caged off-licence, a little refuge for the old soldiers, and we poured shots from the optics and celebrated our good health.

At first, I was alone … musings on a year of surviving to fart around

vonnegut fart around

I started this blog just over a year ago, as I was waiting for some planned heart surgery. But my heart couldn’t wait for the doctors.

A year ago today, my aortic root tore and I was rushed into hospital for an emergency, and life saving, operation.

I can remember everything before the operation, and was lucid and alert throughout.

I’d spent the morning with my parents, having a pot of tea and an apple turnover at a cafe.

I came home and was interwebbing. I felt something inside me break, a sudden chest throb, and realised I was having difficulty breathing. I knew immediately something was wrong, very, very wrong.

I also decided I was going to survive. I knew that this was serious, and made a commitment to do whatever I needed to to get through. I closed the computer down (after clearing internet history, naturally …) I found the will that I’d made a couple of weeks earlier, and put it in a safe place. I opened my front door and left it on the latch so that, whatever happened, someone could get access.

I phoned my parents. ‘Something’s happened. I need an ambulance’ I told them. No questions, they said they’d be right round and arrived minutes later. Sometimes I think how fortunate I was they were in, and that they answered. As soon as they arrived, they called an ambulance and between breaths I explained my postcode and what was happening. I lay on the bed gasping for air as my parents looked on helplessly.

The medics arrived and had easy access as the door I’d left open remained so. They got an update about my waiting for an operation, took blood pressure, pulse, started giving me oxygen through a mask, and then went to get ‘ a cot’ bed to take me down to the ambulance. All of a sudden, I needed to be sick and despite my breathlessness rushed into the bedroom. No way was I going to be sick on my silk bedclothes. I was on out of hours cover for my work, so as they were taking me away I was telling my parents what to say to work and who to contact in order to transfer cover. On the way down the one flight of stairs I bumped into Waterbed John, my neighbour. We exchanged pleasantries and I was taken to the ambulance. My Dad made arrangements to follow the bus while my mum travelled with me in the ambulance.

Part of me was excited. It was a proper ‘Casualty’ type scenario – the flashing lights and siren went on, and I was jolted from side to side as the ambulance ran through red lights en route to the emergency ward.

We arrived, and I was carried through straight into A&E as doctors ran around fussing. I heard them ring the surgeon, and the ambulance crew stayed to hold my drip up for me. The surgeon arrived, and I was told they would perform an emergency operation and I saw him lead my parents off down a corridor for a very serious chat, with lots of heads nodding and occasional glances over at me. I’d only met the surgeon once before, and hadn’t liked him – well, in truth, I hadn’t liked the information he’d had to give me about the surgery, and I blamed him for it. I didn’t want my life to be in his hands.

I was still vomiting, and kept apologising to the nursing staff for being sick into a cardboard container. I joked that I’d been planning to get my hair cut before the operation and didn’t feel I looked so good at the moment. Vanity, always vanity. They joked that my bleached hair might turn pink with the anaesthetic – apparently it does, sometimes. I said I’d always wanted pink hair.

The anaesthetist popped in – a crazy haired eccentric who, I think, was Spanish, but looked and sounded like he should be nowhere near a hospital, except strapped in a bed. However, he was delightfully calm and mad and funny, and when he stuck tubes all over me in preparation for surgery, I had real trust in him.

Strangely, he didn’t put me under before taking me into the operating room. So I went in and it was like one of those ultra bright alien probe dream scenarios you see in X-Files, all bleached light and shadows. Except that there was a line-up of very young surgeons next to the table, who I said hello to, and asked them to do their best before shaking their hands. All very cordial. They (rather clumsily) lifted me onto the table and then my slightly mad anaesthetist friend really did put me under. I remember telling myself to allow the surgeons to do their work, and committing to survival.

The rest is all third hand. Something about a 13 hour operation, enormous loss of blood, an induced coma, my father phoning family in Ireland for a ‘Family Blood Blessing’. A dark time for my family, as the odds weren’t in my favour apparently.

I woke up and my first words were a demanding ‘I want a smoothie’ before I drifted off into a hallucinatory recovery full of imagined Chinese nurses, ribbons, hippopotamuses, malevolent caretakers and Ali Baba.

I’ve done a lot of thinking in last 12 months, much of which is contained within the pages of this blog in a fairly haphazard sort of fashion. I’ve been back to work, and back off absent again, and returned last week. It all feels different this time around, and I’ aware that recovery isn’t just about the physical stufff – it’s about soul and confidence and identity and vulnerability and feelings.

It’s been an opportunity to learn much. or re-learn. I recently blogged on gratitudes.

Today, it’s enough just to still be here to fart around.

The View From A Fridge is fine. Just fine.

more beautiful for having been broken

kintsukuroi

Kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold paste, ‘to repair with gold’  has also been described as ‘more beautiful for having been broken’, or the beauty of being broken. It’s been part of this year’s blog experience for me as rogue and queen (from the Eartha Kitt song All By Myself, also about becoming beautiful through painfulexperience.) The proof of its fragility and its resilience is what makes it beautiful.  I even like the fact that the gold paste used is potentially poisonous – repair itself is dangerous.

My journey this year has been through cancer, strokes, heart surgery and loss of lovers and loved ones. The picture above is of something I chose not to repair, as it reminds me of my best friend Mary Harlot, who I wrote about in another blog entry Betty Bones And Mystery Of The Phantom Clipper Knicker. Mary was my oldest, oldest, oldest,  schoolfriend and I bought him the candle holder  as a birthday present to keep on a lovely glass table in his beautiful scarlet papered front room in his home in South Wimbledon home (once used as a setting for a hovel in an episode of The Bill which caused me no end of amusement.) At some point, in drunken revels, he broke one of the glass candle holders. He died suddenly and tragically over ten years ago and I read a poem , shaking like a leaf, at his funeral. When his parents cleared out his flat, they offered me the opportunity to take something away as a momento and I chose the candle-holder. When my Mum saw it, her immediate reponse was ‘you can get that fixed.’ I told her I didn’t want to fix it. Dad understood, but she didn’t – she wanted to repair it, as she always wantes to make things better. I keep it broken, because I like fragile things, and resilience. Not quite kintsukuroi, as it’s not mended with gold, but certainly more beautiful for having been broken.

This year, I’ve written two novels Second Moon and Endlings (which, to be honest, I should be working on finishing now),  and a collection of short stories A Happy Finish. Both novels have touched on my experiences of being broken, or beautful fragility and resilience. Earlier this year, I had a very polite thank you/but no thank you rejection for an earlier romance novel The Leading Man I had published a while ago which I was looking to re-publish. It was also written after a period of illness and brokenness.  Fortunately, as a writer, I’ve had very few rejection letters, but know it is part of most authors’ experience, and we have to believe in the beauty or resilience of our writing to carry on. I encourage myself, and other authors, to treat rejection with politeness and gratitude – not only might you need the contacts again, but someone has taken the time to read your work and respond, and you can learn something valuable both from their criticism and the experience.

We’re all broken. We’re all beautiful. I remind my counselling clients of The Power Of Gratitude – reflecting on the things we can be grateful for, however difficult or painful the experience might be. Often, they will choose to create Gratitude Lists – reflections on what is positive in their lives, as an antidote to the Negative Chatter we often experience. Gratitude often allows us to accept, to look beyond and through the pain itself, and move on.

I hope your experiences of being broken reveal your beauty in 2014.

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Gotta Go Home (Barbara Streisand)

So I finally broke out of hospital and got home Sunday night, with that song running through my head. It reminded me of thinking I was cool at the gym when the guys were singing what I thought was the Boney M song but was in fact Duck Soup’s huge club hit…
It took four hours to get signed out and they lost my meds meaning my brother had to make a return visit.
Yet it’s also strange not having the dependency of being in hospital – no regular tests, no hospital routine. Yesterday we went to the warfarin clinic which I’ll need to be on for ever and a day. Rat poison, I ask you! Aside from ‘moderate alcohol’, I can no longer drink cranberry juice. Now I want to be drinking cranberry juice.
My parents took me shopping, in a wheelchair, afterwards and I mischievously told staff I had no idea who these people were and for Security to GET HELP.
Today a visit from the nurse and I find out I’m anaemic and have low blood pressure. I need to eat nuts…
So I’m staying with my parents for a couple of weeks starting a 3 month rehabilitation programme. Every now and then I hear the click of my new heart valve which is disconcerting. Especially when it’s nowhere near the disco minimum of 120 BPM …