Nurse Karnstein Will See You Now

Two more failed attempts at getting blood (By a different nurse), who then called in Dr AC to have a look, who marvelled at my lack of useful veins and that even in hot weather and an an armoured leather jacket my hands were blue and cold, checked over both arms, vetoed taking blod from my ankle, and gave me a bag of vials and notes to take to the phlebotomist at the LGI later this week.

They’ve also added to my notes that getting blood out of me is basically impossible, and not a task for the fainthearted or inexperienced, though that I’m thankfully not squeamish and most doctors will get bored of playing pin-the-vein-on-the-zebra before I do.

Advertisements

Personal, personal.

So, Friday was my other meeting with Dr L. First off was really simple – Yes, she’s willing to do the referral, they just need to take bloods for a variety of hormone levels and things like that. She took a quick mental health history (Mine, and close family), re-checked my relationships with my friends and my family, and asked if I’d ever self-harmed; Not asking to see the results, just asking if I had. I, of course, told her, listed methods, and she didn’t judge me at all – She seemed unsurprised, actually. Best possible response. She also did an assessment of “Sexual characteristics” which I assumed would have been something scientific, but was actually “Breasts are present… One piercing… Armpit hair…” So it felt more like a check of “Are you conforming to gender stereotypes?” than “This is a proxy for your existing hormone levels”. If she was actually looking for something like an intersex condition or PCOS, I’d have assumed she’d want to see things like hair growth on stomach, or unusual presentation of genitalia. So I have no idea what that was all about, but she was pleasant and professional and laughed when I said that there had been two piercings, but the cat took objection to the other one. So no fault there.

I then went to get bloods taken, and was lucky in that the nurse on-duty had a slot free immediately, so straight into the room we went, with two tiny butterfly needles. She’d asked “Good vains or bad veins?” and my response was “Crappy veins. Rolly, collapsy, deep and narrow. Paeiatric needles if possible.”

She’d been pleasant about that, seeing what the smallest needles she had were (21g) and being reasonably inquisitive about why I had awful veins. I was happy to chat about EDS-HM, let her stretch up the skin on my right forearm, offered to let her try bending my fingers back to see what a “boggy” joint felt like, but she declined since she was “Risk averse and didn’t like hurting people”. All so far, so normal, in fact fairly positive.

She listened to me when I told her where the good vein was, and I’d taken off my overshirt (leaving me in a vest) so as not to risk getting blood on my cuffs – Regular readers will know that the “one good vein” is a massive sanguine superhighway on the back of my right hand, which bulges clear of the line of the skin on either side of the anatomical snuffbox when I flex. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, a testament to the combination of good muscle development in my forearms, and to the terrifying paper-thinness of my skin. She punctured near it, managed to miss the vein (even though I could feel the tip of the needle brushing against the side of the vessel, and I was happy to tell her to just pull back by half a millimetre and have a second go) then withdrew, leaving it bleeding and with a bruise rising up. She put a cotton swab over it, held my hand to the desk with her thumb to put pressure on it, and waited for the immediate bleeding to stop to try again.

And then things got awful.

Now, you probably all know that I have extensive self-harm scars. They’re all on my left arm (Not the arm she was meant to be looking at), they’re all fairly obviously healed and they obviously (to anyone who knows what wound healing looks like) range from about six months to decades old. I don’t habitually cover them up, firstly since I dislike wearing long sleeves and I don’t think that I should have to hide any part of my body to make someone else more comfortable, and also because I think it’s probably helpful to youngsters who self-harm to see an older gent who basically has his life all in order, and has obviously also done so. I distinctly remember being a young teenager and despairing of the idea that, by self-harming, I’d be stuck forever in teenagehood, somehow. That I’d always be “emotionally immature” and that I’d be hated and thought of as disgusting or pitiable whenever someone saw my arms. I’m not exactly inviting a conversation, but I’m setting a little radio beacon on the numbers-station of non-verbal-communication, that people can have their histories and that their histories aren’t all they are.

But the nurse breached all possible bounds of good taste. Whilst we were talking about something completely unrelated, with her holding my right hand pretty firmly to the desk, she reached out with her free hand and touched my scars. No asking permission. No “Are they a sensitive subject, or can I ask you about them?” Just straight-off-the-bat touching them. And not a brief poke with a finger to indicate what she was talking about, as she asked “What made you do that?”, no, she actually traced them with her finger. Following the longest lines, exploring the texture on the crosshatching. I was so shocked that I froze, which effectively stopped me from pulling my arm away quickly enough.

By the time I unfroze, probably only a few seconds but it felt like forever, I responded with “Because my life is horrible.” and then quickly tried to divert. I could see that she wasn’t going to stop looking at them, or stop asking about them (Just fill in the silences here with inane and incredibly personal remarks like “Don’t you already have enough pain and problems?” and “I can never understand why people would do that” and “That looks like it must have been so painful”) I diverted onto the mechanical nature of them – Indicating the difference between an atrophic and hypertrophic scar, which ones were hyperpigmented, how the difference between a full-thickness lesion and a partial-thickness lesion affected wound healing basically doing the same lecture on immune function and cell growth that I would have given to a nursing student, but with specific reference to the unusual qualities of EDS-HM skin, and with my arm as Exhibit A, instead of a collection of slides.

It was the best I could do, she wouldn’t stop looking at my arm, and she had my other hand pinned to a table so I couldn’t put my overshirt back on.

Eventually, a whole fucking lifetime later, she tried a second venipuncture, but by now I was so tense and nervous that what should have been an easy stick was impossible. Another hole, another bruise. Come back on Monday, get someone else to try.

I left, feeling utterly fucking violated, and despairing of the training of some nurses. How much special knowlege does it take to not ask someone about something that is so obviously personal? I’d never even dream of asking someone how they got a road rash, even though I know that the answer would probably be “Came off my bike, skidded a bit, was fine”, because there’s always the horrible chance that they were riding pillion and the driver wasn’t so lucky. Fuck, I’d never dream of asking someone how they got so much as a papercut. So how did she think it was all right to ask someone, who was already in a very vulnerable situation, in such graphic detail about something which was an obvious symptom of mental illness – Especially when the person doing the asking was pretty obviously not about to sit around for a three-hour unburdening of the soul about the mental and physical pains which might cause someone to self harm (see: apply topical irritant) for relief.

Unsure whether to write an anonymous note saying “Hey, so, your nurse did this, and it was a bit out of line, and she didn’t mean to be intrusive but it made me really uncomfortable, could you ask her to not do it again to anyone else?” or whether that would trace straight back to me and make me the pariah of the practice.

Also, this is at least part of the reason that I’ve been fighting the urge to self-harm so badly for the last couple of days – If people are going to make free with the healed stuff, maybe actual blood-on-skin might make them think twice about touching, or asking, or generally bothering. I know that it won’t help, but that’s how my brain went about it. It’s been a long couple of weeks.

For the record, I’ve not self harmed.

Herbs

So, yesterday turned into a complete clusterfuck.

After having woken up at 04.30, and dismissed the pain in my abdomen as “period cramps”, things kind of deteriorated.

By 3.30, I was in so much pain that I could barely keep my composure on the phone as I rang the GP to ask for an emergency appointment. I was actually in so much pain that I took a taxi to travel the less-than-a-hundred-yards to the surgery. I was piled into a transport chair at the surgery, and seen immediately by a Dr W, whom I’d never met before, who quickly palpated my stomach, rang an emergency ambulance (“here in ten minutes”) and told them to take me to gynaecology at StJ.

The ambulance arrived, I was shovelled into it, and handed the nozzle of entonox. The pain lessened, and I started being able to explain the problem, doing the standard in-ambulance checks (Blood pressure, heart rate, preexisting conditions), and phoning Best Friend and Dearest to tell them where I’d gone. Then the canister ran out, and I was back in acute abdomen hell. I fully expected the paramedic (A nice Australian who got a good balance between being genuinely worried for me, professionalism, and keeping me calm) to say that an empty canister meant that I’d had enough, but instead he just got up, installed a new can mid-transit, and handed the mask back to me with a cheeerful “Fire in the hole!”

At this point, I inhaled enough that I bascially only regained consciousness upon arriving in Ward 26, who immediately sent me along to Medical Assessment, where I was put in a chair in a waiting room with several other patients and the snooker on the TV. Every now and then the pain broke through to “Uncontrollable” levels, and I curled up and howled for a bit. An incredibly sympathetic nurse (Nurse H) came and took my blood pressure, then eventually took me off to a private consultation room to get my bloods (Checking for systemic infection) and generally confirm what the problem was. She had literally no idea what hypermobility was (“Oh, I just thought it was shorthand for having mobility problems”) so I proceeded to fascinate and horrify her by dropping a shoulder out of the socket and letting her put it back, and we generally had a really nice conversation about basically everything – She’d trained where I used to be a technician, we used to frequent the same bars, she asked the traditional leading question “So, do you live with your girlfriend?”, and was generally very, very friendly. After about three hours in total in Assessment, where I’d had a single dose of morphine for pain relief and nothing more, we said our fond farewells and I was transferred off to Gynaecology, where I should have apparently been in the first place.

I was put in another transport chair, and portered over to Gynaecology, which had moved, so which took a few more detours than I’d expected. At this point, I was texting Dearest as to where I’d gone, and had to update him about five times.

Gynae was a very modern, labyrinthine series of private treatment rooms, one of which I was immediately installed in, my stats taken again by another nurse, and I was left alone. After having read the contents of the instrument drawers a dozen times, and thus gone thoroughly out of my mind with terror and taken a single diazepam to clear my head and loose the  tension from my whole body (Now frankly tortured by the four hours in uncomfortable chairs), lay down on the examination bench, and continued reading (The flight to the Walpurgisnacht ball, Margarita’s remarkably affectionate scene with Woland and his retinue as they prepare for the guests).

(Relatedly, at some point I have to do a cripple’s-eye-view analysis of Woland. His accepting of guests and still being a commanding presence whilst sitting in a mess of old bedlinen, wearing only a badly-darned nightshirt and slippers, and having his rheumatism-slash-witch-related-injury attended to by Hella, is increasingly an inspiration on how to conduct business. It was actually only in that scene where I noticed that he’s always portrayed as sedentary, as leaving everything early, and as not only walking with a stick but actually being lame)

It took a further five hours to see a doctor. I was periodically checked up on by a nurse, who very much fell into the category of “Absolute solidarity with anyone else stuck in this godforsaken buildding so late at night” and was periodically told “You’re next on the list, won’t be long now.” She gave me a dose of morphine, which was no help (I later found out that I’d been prescribed 2.5 mililitres of Oramorphy, or 5mg of actual morphine. Considering that my starting dose is 14, this explains why for much of the rest of the night I alternated between screaming and sobbing, pacing like a caged polar bear, trying to distract myself with my book, and creating gynaecology-specific lyrics to Chris Cafferey’s “Pisses Me Off”.)

At eleven, I went for a leg-stretch around the corridors and saw a sobbing, frightened-looking woman in a hospital bed being wheeled through the department. A few minutes later I was told that the doctor had gone into theatre, and would be a little bit longer. I was mostly just glad that I wasn’t the woman in the bed.

By 12.30, when I was lurking near the break room in the hopes of scavenging a cup of tea, more morphine, or a biscuit (Hadn’t eaten for over twenty-four hours, since having about half a Chinese takeaway on Thursday evening) I saw the same woman being wheeled back, unconscious.

At one, I met the doctor – Impossibly young, impossibly cheerful for someone who had just done abdominal surgery in the middle of the night, and I immediately wished we were friends. She checked over my abdomen again, working out that the pain was all basically in a quadrant between my navel, the top of my left iliac fossa, and the centre-line of my pubic bone. She, again, asked if I was generally fit and well, and I told her about the hypermobility syndrome, to which, instead of getting a blank look, she said “Oh, join the club”, and soon after launched into an anecdote about a shoulder sublux whilst performing a caesarian section, which she cracked back into place without even needing to rescrub, or the patient suffering at all. I was moved to describe this as “badass”, which she agreed with wholeheartedly, and immediately started taking the piss out of rugby players with their “Oh, I dislocated a shoulder on-pitch and my coach just punched it back in and sent me back onto the field” stories. So, of course, I had to tell her about the time I’d been manually examining a cow’s cervix and ended up getting my forearm back, but not my hand.

It was decided that she’d have a look at my cervix, to see if the coil was still in place, take swabs for pelvic inflammatory disease, gonhorrea and chlamydia, treat for them all anyway, and then see what happened next. As such, I stripped below the waist, was handed a speculum (Both her and the attending nurse were surprised, impressed, and thoroughly supportive of me having control of what was going on, since as she put it “It wasn’t in anyone’s best interests to traumatise me so much that I never came back”) and played the feindishly-difficult joystick game of “Where the fuck is Percy’s cervix?”

Cervix eventually found, I got some good news – Nope, there was no plastic sticking through it, so the coil hadn’t slipped down. The bad news was that there were no visible threads anyway, so it could have gone up, and be basically anywhere in my abdomen.

…So, at some point within the next two to six weeks I’ll be having an ultrasound to find out where my coil has gone. If it’s not the thing hiding in my left iliac fossa and causing all the pain, I’ll be amazed.

At 2am, with a letter for my GP, a couple of boxes of antibiotics, and a promise of an ultrasound coming up, I went home. I’d been in the hospital for ten hours, and most of that was the nine-hour wait to see a doctor. That’s pretty amazing, considering that the GP who originally phoned me in said that I needed to be seen immediately.

The Devil came to Moscow

Yesterday turned into an absolute nightmare.

I’d dislocated my right shoulder a couple of days previously, and it was getting more and more painful, wobbling in and out of socket, generally being a nightmare. It felt as if there was a crowbar shoved under my scapula, wedged right through my ribcage into my sternum. I couldn’t lift the arm without tremendous pain, I’d been at maximum morphine and diazepam for half of the week, and I was alternating between sleeping all day, and staring at the ceiling and being unable to sleep when it was appropriate.

So, by Friday, I was enough of a wreck that I phoned NHS Direct.

I cen’t remember the first responder, but I eventually got a call through from a paramedic. She was fantastic – She also lives in my village, and has two first-degree relatives with EDS – and she immediately sent a taxi to take me to accident and emergency.

On one hand, this was fantastic. I got there within ten minutes. On the other, this was terrible, since I ended up at LGI, which has what I can only describe as a clusterfuck of an A+E.

Upon first arriving though, things seemed like they were going to be fine. I was immediately put on a trolley by a ridiculously flirty nurse (In an actual nurses outfit, short skirt and all) and taken into a booth. Her and a second nurse quickly checked over what had happened, noted down my EDS, and sent me off to x-ray.

I got two x-rays, then was wheeled off to a side-room, and told that it wouldn’t be long before they got back to me with my results.

I sat there for four hours. No call button. No pain relief. Nobody checking on me. I alternated between drifting in and out of conciousness, crying in pain, and  After four hours, my attempts at shouting to anyone who passed in the corridor were finally heard (By a random passer-by, not a member of staff) and she went to find someone. After a while, a different nurse came by and said “What’s your name?” and after I replied she vanished again immediately, even as I was trying to ask what was happening. I saw nobody for another hour.

By the time another nurse came by, an hour later, I was complettely insensate with pain.

“Good news” she said “It’s not dislocated, but we just need to send you back for one more x-ray to make sure. Have you had any pain relief?”

I replied that I’d had 14mg of morphine, before coming into hospital. At this point, she snapped;

“WE’RE NOT GIVING YOU MORPHINE!”

And I quickly had to reassure her that I wasn’t going to ask for any.

A third x-ray was taken, I was told to expect a call from the fracture clinic, and I got to go home. More in pain, more exhausted, and no closer to having my shoulder feeling better than before I went.

It’s a day later. My shoulder is still wrecked.

Unrelatedly, but still upsettingly, I’ve been really miserable in my body lately. Not because it’s in so much pain, but because it’s just wrong. I usually don’t feel much dysphoria, but I’ve been getting more uncomfortable in my own skin pretty steadily for the last year, so it might be time to talk to a doctor. Augh. Possibly understandably I’m wary of the idea of having my relationship with my body and my social presentation picked over by a stranger when I don’t even much like to discuss it with my friends, but it feels like it might be the best course of action now. I’ve whinged before, I won’t again.

Tiny glasses

Friday was outpatient surgery, at WDH, a new hospital that I’d not encountered before, but that I’d heard absolute horror stories about from other people – That it was filthy, that it was inaccessible, that it was basically a nightmare, so I wasn’t looking forward to it.

After a lovely drive (Sunshine, spring flowers, lambs, VOTE LABOUR signs everywhere) me and Dearest arrived at WDH to find that, other than being a bit of a maze, it was really rather lovely.

Moved into a small ward, and was the only person given a bed rather than a chair (They had documentation in advance saying that I had prior health conditions). I was assigned a nurse, who did all of my paperwork for me, and I was bumped forwards in the rotation to get me home as quickly as possible, since I was in obvious pain already (Having not taken my morphine in the morning, due to forgetting it at 7am with my cocoa, then not being able to have anything to wash it down with later, and not being sure if I could take it anyway).

We arrived at 12.00, and by 12.30 the registrar had been around to get me to sign a consent form, by 13.00 I had spoken to the anaesthetist, who had told me to take my morphine, and had reassured me that she’d put some more in my general anaesthetic to make sure that I was still comfortable when I came around, and then it was only a short wait, until 13.45, before I was asked by a second nurse to go down to the theatre. This was the only problem;

“How far is it?”

The nurse thought she was being helpful “Oh, not far, just down the corridor”

“Yes, but how lng is the corridor?”

“Not long, just around the corner.”

I started walking, and she told Dearest to go and wait in the waiting room. I insisted that he should go with me, in case I fell flat on my face. She, grudgingly, assented. It turned out to be a lot further than she’d insinuated (I had to drop to a squat three times) and every time I sat to wait, she said “Shall I get you a wheelchair?” and I asked “How far is it? Because maybe” and she said “Not far!”, and every time I believed her.

Eventually, she said “Oh, it’s just through these double doors, so (Dearest) can go back now!” and indicated a pair of doors very close by. Dearest, of course, said his goodbyes and started to walk back. it turned out that she meant another set of doors, another fifty yards away. So he had to come back, and help me through them.

Do not be evasive when talking about distances, really.

Anyway, I got onto the stretcher, was introduced to everyone (Nurse, other registrar, anaesthetist again) and was cannulated in one swoop – Straight to the back of the right hand, using a paediatric needle, like I’d mentioned in the ward. She was surprised that I didn’t mind watching it be done, but was fine with it. The registrar remarked that there was a lt of money in my tattooes, and I couldn’t help but grin. Then on went the oxygen mask, and in went the fentanyl, and after what felt like an eternity of lying still and blinking, I was under.

When I came around, the nurse was talking about UKIP (Broadly in favour) and her son thinking of travelling to Japan. I recommended a working holiday visa, did my best “Farage is an outright liar, don’t trust him as far as you can fling him” and then was wheeled back to the ward.

Time passed. I got toast with two types of jam, and wanted to go home. I stood up, and the blood ran down my leg like a tap. I lay back down, and complained. The nurse, without asking, flipped up my gown in front of the whole room and assessed it as “A normal amount of blood”. Slightly horrified at having my genitalia casually exposed to the entire room without even being asked if this was all right, I went to the toilet to clean up. The nurse hammered on the door, and insisted to see me. And just reconfirmed that it was a normal amount of blood.

Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but the Mirena insertion procedure doesn’t actually involve any cutting – The coil goes in through the existing aperture of the cervix, and sits in the existing space in the womb. I have no idea why, two days later, I’m still bleeding.

Anyway, at his point the nurse got really huffy that I wanted to go home immediately, and tod me to stay for “Another few hours”. Then apparently realised that she couldn’t have it both ways (I couldn’t be both “fine” but also “needed to stay longer”) and finally let me go.

We were back home by about four.

Tomorrow, at 14.30, I have to argue to keep my medication. Wish me luck.

Weigh-ins and how hard society fucks us up.

Before going into rheumatology, I had the usual blood-pressure check (124/90, high because I was in so much pain by this point already) heart rate (85bmp, again, pain) and weigh-in.

I spluttered when the nurse told me my weight, and she immediately tried to console me; “Oh, that’s not that heavy, I mean, you are very tall!”.

I did the maths in my head. “That’s just under nine stone!”

She loked at me blankly, then smiled.

“See? Not bad.”

I twitched. “I’m five foot nine. I’m supposed to be about ten stone. I’ve lost a stone, without noticing it. And that was my weight in  a leather jacket and assault boots.

“Ooh well lucky you then, even lighter! You can knock off a couple of pounds for them as well!”

On reflection, this may have been when my uncontrollable eye-twitching started. How have we reached a point wherein everyone is supposed to want to lose weight, even if they’re waking up ravenous in a haze of ketones every morning, and haven’t had a full meal in days? How is it that, even though if the nurse had really looked at me, it’s obvious that I’m underweight and suffering because of it, her automatic thought was that I must think I’m too fat and to try to console me that I can always be thinner?

Below the cut is a, probably fairly disturbing actually, photograph of me as I’ve been all morning – Naked but for my boxers, basically immobile. [spoilered for people who just wanted the commentary, and not my self-indulgent whine].

Continue reading

Strange fortune

I’d gone to Rheumatology at StJ yesterday, to see Dr D, which was productive;

-He’s going to send me for a hip and shoulder MRI

-He’s going to point me towards a constulation with a hip surgeon* and a shoulder surgeon

-He’s going to chase Stanmore for me (Hooray!)

-He’s going to get my GP to put my Diazepam on repeat

-He’s going to look into different brands of pain-relief patch, just in case

-He’s going to ask C1, the head physio, to give me a list of textbooks and things so that I can be my own physio from now on

-He’s going to give Physio G a bollocking for being an inattentive, ignorant shite (even the Student Nurse that was in with Dr D gasped at the utter twattishness of saying to a hypermobile patient “Oh, no, there’s no such thing as a hip sublux. A Student!)

-He’s writing me an Official Letter to say “PLEASE for the love of all that’s good in the world stop trying to give him lidocaine!”

-He’s going to send me to another psychology service, to see if they’re more appropriate in helping me deal with my combined mental (The mixture between my EDS-linked stress, depression and anxiety, and my suicidal thoughts and bipolarity).

On the way into his appointment, my back and left shoulder went into spasm, and I ended up taking a lot of morphine (20mg) on the way in. Setting himself apart as a REALLY good doctor, he took the time to let me get settled (Perched on the balls of my feet on top of a chair, shoulders hanging forward like a chimp, as is my wont when I’ve fucked up my back and collar) and went immediately for both reassuring back-pat (At the prescribed 0.03m/s, circular, centred on the point of pain) and for genuine investigation of the worst of the shoulders – Feeling around the acromiclavicular and sternoclavicular junctions, measuring left against right, sticking a finger (carefully!) into the glenoid process and investigating under the scapula and around the bits of the spine (as usual, just between the lumbar and thorassic vertebrae, where I’m now sure there’s a problem) that hurt. He let the morphine do its work before trying to have any sort of sensible conversation, and he promised to send a letter covering the appointment, since he knew that it was both important to me, and that it was likely to be something I’d forget due to all the pain. He also pointed out that, even if I wasn’t actively noticing it, all the muscles around my shoulder and my back were in spasm, and that that was probably a bad sign.

On the way out, my back started getting worse. I had to drop to a squat three or four times in the corridor down to the main entrance (I may or may not have mentioned this before, but one of the great joys of StJ is that the main entrance hall looks like the departure lounge of an airport, and I’m really fond of it. Plenty of warm, accessible places to sit, a coffee shop and vending machines, and accessible toilets. Also always supervised.) and can vaguely remember wobbling down the central staircase since the lifts were still broken.

The next thing I’m really clear on is feeling a bit of spite towards the obviously-healthy paramedic who nipped into the disabled toilets ahead of me, then curling up on the bench outside the toilet, in pain, then handing off my medic alert bracelet and EDS card to someone who worked for the ambulance service, then being in a transport chair, then being almost flung out of the transport chair when it went over a bump, then a lot of screaming as my back arched to the point that my ribs at the back slipped under my pelvis, then a lot more screaming, then being in a cubicle on a bed in A+E, hearing someone say “He’s stopped screaming, but he’s biting his wrist really hard and I think I can see blood” then “We’re going to give you some morphine…” and having a syringe stuck between my teeth. (A further 10mg). I later found out that between the howling and sobbing, I was muttering “I just want to go home, please, let me go home” which apparently influenced my treatment.

At some point, I managed to re-open my eyes for more than a couple of seconds, and found myself talking to a rather sweet young doctor T, with blond eyelashes, who batted away my apologies, fitted a cannula to my right hand  (And he was right, he WAS the bloke to go to when the patient had odd veins – He listened to which one I told him was the good vein, used a very tiny needle, and investigated with the needle tip under the skin before going for the venipuncture, to ensure that the vein had run out of escape-room and that he wouldn’t just tear it open, like so many people did) with two ports – One for more morphine, one for dexamethasone.

It was probably about half an hour later that the nurses came and flushed it – cold up to the elbow, perfect – then admitted the morphine (Stopped at 4mg, due to a local skin reaction) then more water, then dexamethasone (No idea how much), then found me a cold flannel for my arm to stop the itching, since my veins in that arm were now black and raised up tight against the blotchy red skin with inflammation.

More time passed. I slept, I think, and the pain started to subside from “screaming whenever I stopped sobbing and biting myself” to “unthinkable” to eventually a dull ache through my whole body. The doctor came back, and volunteered that my best chance of saving the day without needing any worse intervention was to hurry home and take as much morphine as I could hold once I got there, and maybe a diazepam or five, then sleep it off.

One of the nurses removed my cannula, and I apologised for having been snitty and short-tempered, which she accepted with an “In that position, I would probably have been just as snappy” and I was allowed to go home. I shuffled out through the front doors, poured myself into a taxi, and broke down onto the settee in the living room. For the next five hours I drifted between sleep and dreaming, half-watching TV and feeling my left eye start to tic violently.

The tic continued, and by evening it had been joined by a horrendous ache in my sartorius in both thighs – that was an ache I would have expected in the morning, perhaps, after the previous night’s long swim (A performance in which my lanemate was a little dismayed that the Go-Faster-Juice I was liberally swigging as I churned through a 200×4 IM and 2km freestyle was morphine sulphate, not some kind of strong stimulant) but now it was happening and it really, really hurt.

Leery about taking more morphine (With the morning’s slow release and the fill-up when I got home, I was pushing 100mg) I fell asleep at about 2am, and slept like the proverbial brick.

Today, I’m sore, and my eye is ticking, but I feel remarkably good considering the previous day. Here’s to the dexamethasone doing me some good, and once again, hurrah for compassionate doctors who know that sometimes their job is just to alleviate suffering.

Also today, my letter arrived telling me that I have an MRI booked for the 1st of March (Yes, the Sunday) at 1.20pm, at CA X-ray department. With instructions to take out all my jewellery and bring a CD – I’ll probably go for Reise Reise or Rosenrot. Or both. This of course reminds me that I have no idea where any of my CDs are.

Next post is going to be a little pictographic coda to this one, about a single encounter with a nurse which was the only bad encounter all day, and it wasn’t really her fault so much as Society’s fault.

*”Who’s the coolest person in the hospital? The hip surgeon! What about when they’re on holiday? Then it’s the hip replacement!”