Nurse Karnstein has been doing this job for a very long time.

Today went really well.

Got up to the phlebotomy suite at LGI at about twenty to eleven, and was immediately in the chair since there was no queue. The first phlebotomist looked me over a few times, noted all the bruises, and picked out two or three veins that she thought might work. First, the deep vein on the left arm (“It’s so tiny, but it’s there!”) then the deep vein on the radial side of the right arm (Which was so deep that I didn’t even know it existed), and possibly one of the “So pretty!” surface veins. Phlebotomists always coo over the glowy blue veins in my arms and chest. They are literally so bright that I was once told off by a supply teacher at school for having scribbled on myself in blue highlighter (Never mind the already heinous sin of having rolled up my sleeves on a warm autumn afternoon), and are completely useless for blood draw, since they’re collapsy and soft. She even had a look at the collapsed veins down the centre of my right elbow, which just have no blood in them at all and are thus dark purple, more for her own edification than for any chance of getting blood from them.

So she called in her superior, without even touching a needle to me, and had a good old complain about whatever cackhanded twat had tried to use 21g needles, when a 23 would be more than big enough. She also got a look of horror when I said that the last time I’d been to the LGI to get blood taken, I’d ended up with needles in my femoral artery. She reassured me that “Only the doctors are allowed to go that far off-piste, we’ll just try the arms then give up”.

Her superior arrived, and the blood draw took about three seconds. She picked one of the surface veins in my right elbow, then gently threaded the needle in, narrating “Just under the skin, you’ll probably only feel a single pop, rather than two…” as she went, and then the blood flowed out neatly in one long tap, filling all three vials. She got the needle back out, taped a piece of cotton wool over the puncture, and was done. No fuss, no faffing, no half-arsing about with the wrong kind of needle.

I was free to go, with the results being sent back to my GP.

I may as well mention now that I really like the phlebotomy suite – It’s in one of the older parts of the hospital, built in 1940, and it looks the part. It’s like a set from Carry On Phlebotomy, with tiny wards and sash windows and endlass narrow corridors. It’s also, apparently, due to be sold off, which makes me incredibly sad, along with the original LGI building (1863) and chunks of SC (1904, former contagious disease centre, Where the pain clinic is). I’m not surprised, since getting the old buildings up to modern standards would cost a fortune, and the part of me that cares about accessibility and ease of maintaining hygiene really likes wide corridors, short transfer pathways and double-glazing. I’m just a little wistful, since the hospital is kind of my second home, and a little worried, since moving services from buildings in the city centre, to either share facilities with other services or to take them out to a cheaper plot that’s further away from the transport hub could cause its own problems. I may start taking photographs of the buildings and wards as I go, to have a record of what healthcare actually looks like right now, as well as what the experience is like.

Though living in a flat in the top of that gorgeous Art-Deco inner ear suite would be bliss.

Bread basket

Today was supposed to be a pelvic, transvaginal and urethral ultrasound. I was, understandably, bricking it.

Two minutes before needing to leave the house, I phoned Best Friend in a panic, feeling like I weighed half a tonne and was welded to the bed. By some miracle, he got me convinced to put on real trousers, pack a bag full of sensible medications and literature, go downstairs, and let Dearest shovel me into the car.

I arived at StJ, with Dearest, and got along to the near-empty ultrasound suite. They have refurbished huge chunks of the hospital, and this one was one of the departments they’d not quite reached yet, so it was nice seeing confirmation that the contrast between the “old” bits and the “new” bits really was as big as I thought. Not just newly-colour-coded walls, but also better signage, brighter, more diffuse and warmer lighting, more comfortable and flexible seating and more of what I’d call “passive entertainment” – Paintings on the walls, well-stocked fish tanks, facts about local history and wildlife. This particular waiting room had a couple of plastic chairs, a very sturdy vinyl sofa, and a notice saying “There were many educational posters in this ward which patients found distressing and frightening. The posters have now been moved to a staff-only area.”

Which was a shame, since I like the terrifying educational posters of all the worst things that can happen to a body. I especially like the skin ones, showing the full-thickness diagrams of different kinds of spots, insect bites and rashes, I don’t know why.

Anyway, we weren’t waiting for long, and I went into the usual semi-dark ultrasound room, and quickly necked a couple of diazepam to keep myself from going into messy spasms. I could see the transvaginal probe on the bench, and it didn’t look reassuring (Though in fairness to itself, it did look nicer than a speculum).

The technician got me to lie down on the bench, unzip my fly and roll up my shirt .

She asked if we were looking for a hormonal or a copper coil; The copper coil shows up much more brightly, since it’s got metal parts, so is easier to find. Sadly, we were looking for a hormonal coil, so this could have been a slightly longer process.

First shot was transabdominal, so she quickly lubed up my belly from navel to pubes (very courteously tucking a bit of blue paper into my boxers so as not to completely soak them in ultrasound goo) and started ultrasounding. One or two passes, very firmly, over the bottom third of my abdomen – Asking if I was all right, and keeping me well informed of what she was doing all the way (Including the amazing statement of “Oh, there’s a loop of bowel in the way, I’m just going to nudge it to one side for a minute…”), then pressing down quite hard onto the top of my pubic bone, to see behind it. Each time the machine took a “photo” I felt a fairly strong vibration, like from an amplifier, but that was all.

“Aha!” she said, turning the screen so that I could see it (She’d earlier had to point out to me that if I tensed up my abdominals to lean up and see the screen, I was pushing the wand away from what it needed to scan and defeating the object) “There’s your coil – And right where it’s meant to be as well.” She pointed out a pair of parallel lines on the screen, surprisingly fuzzier than I’d expected, and I was immediately, deliriously happy.

“I don’t need to do a transvaginal, it’s all where it’s supposed to be. I’ll send a letter to your doctor – It must have just been a bacterial infection from having it installed in the first place.”

I have never been so happy to waste a benzo. I dried off, thanked her profusely, and went to the toilets to change into some less-jellied underpants. All in all, the whole effort took less than fifteen minutes, wasn’t painful, was technically interesting to watch, the practitioner was pleasant and professional, and the news was good.

Why can’t all procedures be like that?

Next week is a doctor-heavy week (Medication review on the 3rd, then appointment with Dr L on the 5th) but before that I have my motorcyle CBT on Saturday, then the New Zealand v England test in Headingley on Sunday, and hopefully a night at Best Friend’s house some time around then too. So all is coming up roses at the moment.

Oh, and on the 13th I’m going up to the homelands to look at bikes with an old friend. Now, let me explain this friend; We met when I was working underage in a nightclub when I was 17 (He was 21, but I still IDed him, ironically), and us and our collection of dubious metallers and goths drank heavily every week together from then until I went to university. Upon my going to university, we met up every couple of months (with the key date being New Year, wherein we would all pile back to his best friend’s ground-floor flat overlooking the quayside and sleep in a pile in the living room, leaving one-by-one through the front window after sunrise then walking back across the river to go home) and then once a year, and then eventually (when I moved to japan) not at all. Our last communique had been not long after the earthquake – He’d been intending to visit me in Tokyo, but Japan running a skeleton service made it less immediately practical. So that was the last we heard of each other.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text out of the blue asking if I wanted a night out in the homeland. It had been sent on Saturday night, and I picked it up on Sunday morning, so I just laughed it off and replied with “Yeah, if I’d had more notice.” A couple of texts passed back and forth until he asked “Hang on – Which [Old Nickname] is this?” My response was “The [Old Nick] who lives in Leeds and you’ve not seen in half a dozen years.” Seconds after the I put down the phone, it rang, and i was greeted with a delighted “HOLY SHIT I thought I’d lost your number years ago – How’ve you been!”

We caught up, reminisced, and lo, we’re going for a night out on the lash in a few weeks. Despite all of our old haunts being long-gone, there’s the rumour of a new metal night starting up and one of our old pubs reopening. And then on Sunday, probably exhausted and carrying him through a hangover, we’re going bike shopping.

Predictably, probably, I’ve glossed over the EDS. I suspect he will assume that a life of hard work, hard drinking, hard knocks and hard luck has just caught up with me. But that’s a bridge to cross when I get to it.


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.

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.

Getting out the tape measures

A post of two halves, really.

First, I have just got back from a swim in which I clocked in a <6m 400m and a ~15m kilometre. Ended up sharing a lane with a bloke who just outclassed me, like a xebec outclasses a sloop, and trying to keep pace. I failed, obviously (He had youth, strength, and a complete lack of ehlers-danlos on his side) but I felt so much better for at least not completely embarrassing myself out there.

The second part is that today was my spinal MRI at CA.

Wandering through the usually-busy hospital, and finding it completely empty but for two radiologists in one tiny department in one tiny corner of the building was frankly eerie. Even on quiet times during the week there’s reception staff at the desks, or porters and cleaners going about their errands, but today, being a Sunday, there was just the dull hum of the lights to break the silence. Main reception was closed, the automatic admission terminals were switched off. We navigated down through the halls into the tiny annexe containing radiology, Dearest being far less perturbed by the empty hospital than I was.

Upon getting to the MRI suite there was a card on the front desk saying “Please use the phone provided to ring extension 35XXX when you arrive, and fill in one of the questionnaires on the clip boards. All the staff are busy right now.”

I was delighted by this. This was efficiency as I enjoy it – All the staff present being MRI technicians, and no disclosures to non-essential staff. I phoned the number and got a rather sweet “Great, see you soon, you’re up next!” then filled out the questionnaire which confirmed whether or not I was a cyborg and about to break their magnets.

For future reference; Titanium body jewellery is perfectly safe to wear during an MRI. I took out anything that I couldn’t guarantee the provenance of, replaced a few things with plain titanium BCRs from my piercer.

Anyway, I was taken through to a cubicle, where I took off anything that had metal in it (Jeans, shoes, hoodie) and put all of my clothes and things into a plastic shopping basket, which one of the two technicians took through to the MRI anteroom for me. I put on a gown and padded along after her in my bare feet, clutching a copy of Reise Reise and a bottle of morphine.

I’d decided to pre-dose myself with plenty of morphine and a diazepam before getting into the tube, to allow myself to stay still for longer more easily. As is the case with EDS, lying still – and especially lying still in a position that I didn’t get to choose for myself – was going to be a problem, though exactly what kind of problem I wasn’t certain of (there’s so many to delightful possibilities!)

I was given a pair of headphones, a squeezy panic button, a pillow for my head, and a support for my knees, then slid into the tube. The machine itself was a delightfully-modern-looking Siemens one, open at both ends to lessen the claustrophobia, with pleasant sea-green glass on the frontispiece; A quick image search reveals that it’s a Magnetom Avanto, known for being both quiet and fast, and operating at a magnetic field strength of 1.5T. I wish I knew more about the physics behind the MRI itself, other than the slightly obvious “There’s a huge electromagnet, which excites the hydrogen atoms in any water-carrying structure in the body, which causes them to emit radio waves. The switching on and off of the coils of the electromagnet allows different types of tissue (with different densities, different positions in the body, and different water contents) to return to a non-excited state at different speeds, making their radio waves look different, which are then picked up by the radio receiver in the machine and translated into an image”.

Most usefully, from the point of view of most people, the Avanto comes with a pair of metal-free headphones, so that you can listen to music whilst in the tube, as well as being able to hear from the technicians without anyone needing to shout. I’d picked Reise Reise as my MRI album, since it’s good and loud, very familiar, and has a lot of thunky mechanical-sounding passages in it, which go nicely with the clicks and whirrs of the MRI.

After about five minutes in the tube (Literally, a few seconds into Mein Teil) my left hip started to scream at me. Not just a dull ache, but an outright burning, screaming, unsettling agony. I wanted to lift a hand to it, crush it, stretch the knee upwards, shift around a bit on my arse… but of course, I was in an MRI machine. I grit my teeth, and bore it. This lasted for about two minutes, until I was squeezing the panic button in a complete mess and begging for morphine.

I was let out of the tube, clutching my leg and making pained noises, and was fully prepared to be called a hypochondriac and a timewaster and an idiot. And I wasn’t! The two technicians were incredibly understanding, helped me stretch out and stand up, get my morphine and my diazepam and offered me a quick break to stretch my legs and let the drugs to their work. I took a minute or two, returning to the table, and this time had them strap my legs so that I didn’t need to keep hold of them on my own. Back into the tube I went, to find my CD was now halfway through Dalai Lama.

There were three sets of images taken, and after every one the tech paused the CD and told me that she’d finished another one, keeping me updated on the progress and giving me good estimates on how long each image would take.

I’m increasingly feeling that MRI technicians have really taken the “Patient experience is important” part of healthcare provision incredibly seriously. I can’t think of a time where I’ve been treated by anyone in the healthcare services as if I was on a very good airline, rather than being treated a bit like I was either a fascinating geological specimen, a much-loved but still stupid Herefordshire bull, or a drug-seeking twattock. Effectively, this was like taking a train journey in first class, or an intercontinental flight; The two techs were nice to me, professional, efficient, and put both comfort and precision on a high priority.

By the time the CD was halfway through Los, the scan was all finished. I asked if I could look at the images, and was shown them with some interest; Of course, they couldn’t interpret them, but I was allowed to have a look anyway. I was fascinated by how asymmetrical my back muscles are (and by how little fat there is between them) and by how the vertebrae were so big and chunky – I have very short, very fat vertebrae. And a very curved spine. And a very thick spinal cord, which might have had a syrinx, but I can’t really tell since I’m not an expert. If I can get a copy of my MRIs for the blog, I will definitely do it, because they look awesome.

I got dressed, and was told to book a GP appointment around the end of the week to have a proper look at the results of the images, and their official interpretation.

I’m now really, really curious.


Today was… Surprisingly not that bad.

Made it on-time to my appointment, only to have the reception staff tell Dr G that I’d gone for a coffee and delay my appointment by an hour – I was sitting reading my book the whole time, in the corner of the waiting room. He was incredibly apologetic when I got to the consultatiion, despite it not being his fault.

We talked for a while about my options, and elected to try fitting it there-and-then, no anaesthetic, no sedative, no waiting. He was irritated that my GP had suggested he could have me sedated there, but was happy to defer to me on the non-use of lidocaine (As was his repeated refrain; “It’s your body, you’re the expert, I just have to listen because you’ll tell me what the right course of action is.”) and was also happy to sign off on a general anaesthetic if I couldn’t get it fitted there and then.

He left the room, I stripped below the waist as-instructed, was handed a stress-ball shaped like an ambulance by the nurse, sat down on the table and promptly burst into tears. The nurse, talking me out of crying and gingerly patting me on the foot suggested that I might be better off with the general anaesthetic, and also probably a large cup of tea.

I promptly made things worse by assenting, standing up to get my clothes back on, and dislocating a hip, flinging myself face-first onto the floor and smashing my nose on the corner of the desk in the process. By the time I was back in my trousers my head had stopped spinning and there was a cup of black tea in my hand, so something must have gone right.

Dr G returned, booked me in for a general anaesthetic at some point “As soon as possible”, whilst also brushing away my apologies with more “No, really, I wouldn’t want to risk hurting you, we did the general anaesthetic last time and it all went really well so we can do that again.” and then sent me over to pre-operative assessment. Pre-op had a slot at 13.20, so I spent the next two hours reading and drinking coffee in one of the big airporty-looking lobbies that StJ is so good at, then went back up at 13.00 and was seen by 14.00. I’d have a letter within ten days, and would hopefully be re-coiled by the end of March.

And then on the way home the bus driver threw me down the stairs, then got snappy about it and insisted that there was no complaints procedure. So I’m going to have to have another fucking fight with the bus company.

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].

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