Every Breath You Take

Today I parked at my local station, hopped on the train with my book (Cloud Atlas) and went back to outpatients at our local hospital. Eventually, as I had to ask for directions. I had to go up to level 3, walk along the connecting corridor between two buildings, then head down to level 1. Eventually ending up below daylight, to get to the “nuclear testing” area.

Sounds more scary than it was, I promise. I was called in early, the benefits of allowing enough time to get lost, just as well too! I was talked through what would happen, confirmed I was who I said I was then had a cannula put in.

The machine today wasn’t an x-ray machine, nor a CT machine, but a mix of the two. Very technical here, sorry. I lay down was given a gas to breathe in, two and a half breaths worth, the machine then rotated round me as I lay there to take images of my lungs. After twenty minutes, I was then injected with another reagent, these images were quicker, only 8 minutes long.

I lay on my back with my arms above my head each time, trying to concentrate on my breath, the irony was not lost on me. I thought I could get at least a meditation session in while I was there.

Guess what? I’m normal. Well, my lungs are. Yay, no blood clots. Boo, no idea WTF is going on.

I headed to the café to get some lunch and bumped into the girl who was in the room next to me on the spinal ward. She recognised me, asked how I was going and we had a good chat. She looked really well, she’s trying out a new chair at the moment, so busy working on her core muscles as she has to sit more upright in it. But she said she’s also getting much better with a brace they’ve set up to help her control the chair.

Then heading back to the lifts to head home, I bumped into a girlfriend selling her handmade clothes. I’d been hanging out to see her, this was officially a great day! We had lunch, a coffee and a chat. I read some more of my book on my way home, headed into the office and got heaps of work done this afternoon.

Finally, one last piece of good news – the insurance claim has been processed too. Huzzah!

 

 

Take my breath away

Sorry, not sorry, for the ear-worm.

Two weeks ago, I walked into the local emergency department short of breath, the subsequent tests they ran on me were done as an In Patient. [Insert hospital food joke here]. However, I’m returning to Out Patients tomorrow after a few weeks off medical testing for good behaviour. I’m going to play with nuclear medicine this time, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow when it’s done.

During my two day stay at one of Melbourne’s finest hospitals I had: two ECGs, a CT scan, four lots of blood tests (that’s nearly an armful), an ultrasound on my heart (ouch for boobies), two walking tests (walk as quick as you can before falling over, hint – wasn’t very far), four different respiratory function tests, an angioplasty and a right heart check (this does the blood pressure inside the heart).

The last two are done in theatre; you’ve probably seen them on TV, they insert a probe into an artery and a vein in your groin and run it up into your chest, inject dye and take lots of pictures.

I was going to be sent home after a few hours in A&E as the doctor there said ‘You look too well to be in here!’ Also, none of my markers indicated there was anything badly wrong, but then cardiology got wind of a 41 year old lady (ha!) who was struggling to breathe and came down to investigate. First test he did was the ultrasound; I got puffed getting undressed, it was then and there he decided to admit me. I was then moved round to the serious side of A&E, where I got trotted round the department at high speed until I nearly collapsed, from there I was moved up to the cardiology ward where I got told to rest up.

I do not recommend ‘resting’ in a cardiology ward. Particularly when your bed is right by the nurses station. In the morning, I was given breakfast and had my obs done early as we knew I was getting the angioplasty done at some point during the day. I also got visited first thing by the consultant; just after I’d dozed back off again, who stood at the end of my bed with her arms folding saying ‘I like a challenge!’

I was walked again briskly down to the end of the ward and back, the consultant chatting to me to gauge my breathlessness all the way. I then got popped back into bed, and read / dozed for most of the morning. We got a fifteen minute call to get me to theatre, my position on the ward was also being changed as I wasn’t being monitored, so I went from bed 15, to theatre, to bed 32.

I was given a mixture of tranquiliser and narcotic. I was so nervous I was chattering away as I lay on the bed; the surgeon peered round the screen at me and said ‘She needs some more’ I was given more of the G&T mix, of which I can highly recommend, and wafted quite happily after that. My heart looked great, no signs of thickening anywhere, heart disease or anything, which for someone in their 40s is unusual. I was taken round to recovery, everything was pulled out my groin (not a euphemism) and then I was lent on to stop the bleeding. For ten, long, solid minutes at a pressure that was so uncomfortable I could not talk. Didn’t stop her from opening the conversation with ‘So, what brings you here?’ I may have given a Paddington Bear stare. May. Two weeks later, I’m still bruised and swollen in my groin, when I bump into anything at that level (sink, worktop, small child) it hurts. Lots.

I went back to bed 32, I had a window view that I wasted as I was asleep for most of the afternoon, yay for drugs. Later in the evening, I was moved downstairs to the Spinal Ward. I was no longer classified as a cardiology patient, they’d had an emergency come in to the hospital and were playing musical beds to fit everyone in.

In the spinal ward, I had my own room. I’d had a shower before I came downstairs (more in a minute), so was able to get my obs done and head back off to sleep. I was woken at 2am for more obs, and panadol as I had a sore throat, more sleeping, then breakfast was delivered. I was allowed out of bed to get a coffee (frabjous joy) so I pottered downstairs, came back up and had another shower.

The showers at the hospital have to be used to be believed. They’re so powerful, the pressure is so great you can’t stand underneath them as they sting your skin. But the shower heads are not industrial enough to cope with this, so they’ve cracked and swing around in the holder thingy on the wall. After I’d finished my first shower and looked round the bathroom, the entire room was wet. The two other showers I had there, I was now aware of what was likely to happen, but despite my best efforts, both bathrooms again got wet.

Three showers, three bathrooms, three towels each time to mop up the water. Which as I was supposed to be on bed rest I got told off for doing. Friday morning I had to introduce myself to my next door neighbour after I’d showered, we shared a bathroom and I’d soaked his washing stuff on the hand basin. I said, ‘Try not to electrocute yourself when you shave,’ his razor was only wiped off, as I didn’t want to touch his stuff too much.  He laughed and said don’t worry.

Back to Friday morning on the spinal ward. For the rest of my life I will wish I had this on camera, but it’s firmly imprinted in my brain, so that will have to do. I’m standing by my bed towelling my hair with towel number four as I’d used the two I’d been given to mop up the bathroom, got back into my PJs, (damp), and grabbed another two towels to dry me off with. Two junior doctors on their rounds walk past the door, see me standing up and do a perfect, classic double-take. It was glorious.

I get dressed, get put into a wheelchair and am taken to the nurses station to get my notes, ready to head downstairs for some respiratory tests. Opposite the nurses station is a man, on a ventilator, visibly poorly, I’m doing my thing looking round and chatting to everyone, so I raise my hand in greeting and wave at him too. He nods at me. The nurse beside me behind the desk whispered ‘Thank you, so many people just stare at him’.

Free Fallin’

It had to happen eventually: on Friday I fell over while out for a run.

“While out” is a bit optimistic, as I’d been running for all of 4 minutes according to the podcast I’d started at the back door of the office. I would have picked myself up and carried on, but my hands were so sore, I thought the better of it and walked back instead. I made a good decision. In addition to taking some skin off my hands, I grazed my knee and landed on my chin, bruising that and scraping some skin off under my lip too.

I cleaned myself up as best I could, got dressed getting minimal blood on my clothes, and then went in search of plasters to patch myself up. I would have gone into the first aid room, but someone was having their lunch in there. To say I’m not amused is an understatement. Three first aid boxes later, a colleague who was a nurse and I found some non-fluffy and sticky bandages and cleaned my hands with saline and patched me up.

In the meantime, the tears had started. Cross, fat, hot tears that I couldn’t hide if I wanted to, as there were also no bluddy tissues anywhere to be seen. While the first aiders were rummaging around for adequate supplies, I went on the hunt for tissues. Sat back down again, apologised for sniffing and crying everywhere, but then couldn’t stop crying. One of the managers who’d seen me after I’d got back upstairs said ‘You’re shaking and everything!’ yup I was in shock, no wonder I couldn’t stop crying.

I had some medicinal red wine on Friday night, half a bottle worth, had a medicinal hangover on Saturday morning and a relaxed day with the family which restored my equilibrium. Now on Monday, I’m still sore in my left shoulder, but have a bit more movement back in my arm than I did on the weekend. My palms are tight as they’re scabbing up, my chin is purple with a yellow tint, my knee is still a bit stiff – but I’m going to have a run on the treadmill (Melbourne is full of showers today) as I want to get back running again.

I didn’t bother trying to hide my bruise on my chin this morning, as you can see it through my make-up, one of my colleagues (good job I like her) said it looks fine, “Just like you’re growing a beard!” I’d covered it up on Saturday when it wasn’t so purple, but after I’d cried all my make-up off during Interstellar, I was getting double takes as we were coming out the cinema.

Here’s hoping for an accident free rest of the year, as Hubs said wryly yesterday, “I’m the only member of the family that that hasn’t been in an ambulance this year.” I reminded him, “The year is still young.”

Acrylic nails, the saga

If you’ve been following my twitter feed you’ll have seen the struggles I have had to remove a set of acrylic nails. I’d been listening to Woman’s Hour, one of the ladies to stop biting her nails got a set put on, and hadn’t looked back. Off I toddled on a day off and got a set put on. I couldn’t do anything with them. I couldn’t get my contacts lenses in, then I couldn’t get them out again. Then despite washing my hands, I managed to give myself conjunctivitis. I clipped them back a bit, I could do a bit more. I could type a bit easier certainly, but I still struggled to get necklaces and bracelets on.

Maddening.

Yesterday I noticed the index finger on my right hand nail was nearly off, I tried not to fiddle with it. Then last night I tried to soak them off, after an hour with my left hand sitting in acetone, I’d managed to get the nail varnish off. I didn’t have a hard enough nail file, so borrowed Hubs’ Leathermans to try and file the gel to let the acetone get access to start to melt it. That didn’t help either.

This morning Peanut went for his swimming lesson, I went to the local shopping mall to go to a nail bar. Nothing was open as it wasn’t 10am. I brought a nail shaper at the supermarket that was open and sat by the side of the pool filing the gel off.

We went shopping to spend some Christmas vouchers, after lunch I went to a nail bar and asked for them to be taken off. The lady tried to prise them off with another nail, she got half way along the middle finger on my right hand and I squealed in pain. This is the finger that got stuck in a door at playgroup, the nail came off, I sported a comedy bandage on my hand for a few days. Mum had to soak it off my hand in the bath, eventually ripping the bandage, and last remnants of the nail (sorry if you’re eating) off.

Talk about ouch. The nail is a funny shape because of the injury in my formative years, but it’s also more sensitive if I bang my finger too; as I’m typing this, it’s sore. After sitting with both hands in a bowl of acetone, over a bowl of hot water, the lady got to work with a rotating file, if you visit a nail bar, you’ll know what I mean. If you don’t, think what you’d file model kits down with, that’s close enough.

Soak, buzz, soak, buzz. Repeat. Half an hour later, I was finally, almost totally acrylic nail free. My middle nail of my right hand is not in good shape, it’s almost down to the quick and tender. The rest of them are very short, very flaky and very scuffed. The lady who helped me said my nails are too thin, which is why I couldn’t get them off easily, apparently. She told me not to get them done again. I’d made my mind up about that before the weekend! The only good thing is, I’m not biting my fingers now.  I’ve just got to give my hands and nails some very TLC to help them get better.

Bicep, rotator cuff and deltoid, oh my

You know when you’ve hurt yourself. I’ve been living in and using this body for 39 years. When something just doesn’t feel right, I can tell, and on Friday, I could tell. No matter how much my colleagues said ‘You’ll be sore for a couple of days max’ after boxing.

Saturday morning I could barely move my left arm. Getting dressed was difficult, reaching for anything was difficult. Peanut at one point was sat on my lap when I needed to reach around behind me to release my bag, it brought tears to my eyes and a squeak from my throat. (Anyone else’s default pain noise a squeak or squeal? No? Maybe it’s a good job I didn’t go into labour after all).

Sunday afternoon, I did a Bikram class, working on the assumption I need to get used to the heat, so if only laying or sitting there getting used to the heat was all I could manage, that would be good. Cobra I was expecting to hurt as I couldn’t weight bear with my arms at all, just rolling over in bed was a trial. However, wind removing pose, was difficult as I couldn’t reach for my knees. As an aside, I love the name of that pose; as another aside, being a coeliac with IBS, it’s great. Still at the end of the class completing what I could, I felt fantastic. My balance is still coming back, but I was able to do every pose for at least a few seconds, most of them for the majority of the time – not bad for my second visit. I went to the supermarket afterwards, glowing like a sweaty tomato, the studio has only been there a couple of months, so people aren’t used to seeing beet-red, sweaty faces out and about yet. Hubs said I look great when I get home from the classes, you can’t concentrate on anything other than your practice and your breathing, so for 90 minutes, my mind is my own.

This morning, Monday, my shoulder was still sore, still stiff in the morning. I called my osteo practice and got slotted in to see someone at lunchtime today. Andrea who has done boxing knew exactly what had happened when I told her, because my left arm is non-dominant, it wasn’t going back into the full resting position each time, firing off other muscles to support the joint. If I do boxing again, she’s told me to do what I can, at the speed I need to do to do it properly, otherwise I’ll cause more damage. She was pleased I went to Bikram though, she said that it helped stretch out the joint and also flood it with blood to help it repair.

Sunday morning I also went for a run, my legs felt great, but it was a bit cold so I should have worn another layer. I’ve entered into the 10km run in the Melbourne Marathon Festival in October, so I need to up my Ks and fitness levels. Hence the boxing, I’m not over-enamoured with it though, now I know the damage it’s done. I’ll head down to the gym tomorrow lunchtime and increase my speed on the treadmill to see how I go instead.

Happy training y’all this week.

I was right, it does hurt

Yesterday lunchtime I went to a boxing class at the gym down the hill from work. I was an ‘odd bod’ so was paired up with the instructor, affectionately known as Hercules. Instead of doing any spotting for my buddy, I did all the punching twice. I worked hard, as I had no-where to hide. Have you tried doing push-ups with boxing gloves on? You rest on your knuckles, it hurts.

Then as I’d managed to successfully miss the three Bikram classes I’d been planning to get to since last week, (1. turned up on the wrong night, 2. BBQ blowing out on Father’s Day delaying lunch to dinner, 3. feeling rough on Monday), I went to a class last night as well. I couldn’t complete the whole thing, it was the first one back in four years so I need to get used to the heat again. My balance isn’t the best at the best of times, so I wobbled a bit out of some of the poses and towards the end of the floor section I was just running on empty, still I went and am going again on Saturday morning. I was impressed by how much I remembered though, I found myself grinning at my reflection at one point.

I thought about packing my gym stuff again today to go for a run, but decided against it. It can wait until tomorrow. I’m a little bit tight. Only in every muscle of my body.