Friday, November 16, 2012

And so it continues . . . . .

Two weeks ago today, my sister dropped her little doggie here for a holiday while she and her husband and kids flew to the US of A for the vacation of a lifetime.

This is Buster -

enjoying the sunshine on the back verandah with our Merlin.  He's a little Australian Silky Terrier with a whole load of attitude.  He came feeling very unsociable toward our dogs, as you can tell by the photo, he's greatly improved in that regard.

On the Sunday after Buster arrived, I woke in the morning not feeling great.  Still had my breakfast and tried to ignore my painful belly.  By late morning, I was nauseous.  By early afternoon, no amount of fingers down the throat could make me throw anything up except yucky foamy looking clear stuff.  I had a pain in my chest that went straight through to my back.  Mike kept saying 'I'll take you down to the medical centre' and I kept saying 'no, no, it'll go away, I'm sure'.  By about half three in the afternoon, I was flat on my back in my bed with the electric blanket full bore on my back and a hot wheat bag on my chest.  It was becoming quite difficult to breathe - the time had arrived for action to be taken.  Once in the car on the way to the hospital, the pain really took hold.  We arrived at Accident and Emergency at Windsor and because I had chest pains, I was taken in quite quickly, but not before I had another session of retching in the loo with all the other customers in the waiting room watching on. I was taken in and an ECG quickly ordered.  This action coincided with a young guy who had fallen from his motor bike and knocked himself out arriving in the bed across the room.  As they tried to subdue him, his screamed obscenities deafened out my moans of pain, I could not lie still on the bed but even in the commotion, I could hear my heart beating inside my head and I knew I wasn't having the heart attack they were testing me for.

An injection of morphine was ordered, then another.  I have no idea how long it took but the pain kind of eased.  The same doctor who poked my broken leg and said 'does that hurt?' last time I was there now poked my belly and once again asked the same question.  He could tell by my face what the answer was.  Off I went to the x-ray machine and once back in A&E, I could watch as my pictures were displayed on the light box amid much pointing and discussion.

At about 1.30am I was transferred to the ward, given more painkillers and told that an ultrasound in the morning would probably confirm their suspicions that my gall bladder was playing up.  Surprisingly, I slept quite well.

Monday morning came and the breakfast trolleys went right by my room - I was signposted 'Nil by Mouth'.  The ultrasound was duly done and then I waited for some results.  I was extremely tired, slept on and off all day, then had a visit from a Hospital Doctor who confirmed that, indeed, I had a stone lodged in my gall bladder, and that the surgeon looking after me would be reviewing my ultrasound and a decision would be made.  Some needed to come out quickly, some could be treated with antibiotics until they settled somewhat and an operation performed some time later, usually around 6 weeks after the first attack.  I would have to wait for the decision.

I didn't sleep too well that night, I dreamed of cups of tea, and my mouth was getting drier by the hour. I kept having to donate little tubes of blood which were being extracted from veins which were getting harder and harder to find.

Tuesday morning and the breakfast trolleys went by again.  At about 10am the surgeon came and said that seeing my pain was still quite intense, she thought it best that the offending organ be removed that day.  I was having a great problem with shortness of breath and had developed quite a rattle in my chest.  Coughing was murder.

So they prepped me for the upcoming operation, which entailed giving me a lovely pair of paper undies, a gown which, of course, meant my butt was exposed if I got out of bed and a paper shower cap which I designated as my fascinator seeing that it was Melbourne Cup Day and such things are worn on that day.  Then I waited, and listened as the morning tea trolley went by, and the lunch trolley went by, and the afternoon tea trolley went by, until about 4.30 when I was wheeled out to the operating theatre.  The clock on the wall said one minute to 5 as I was taken in.

I woke in recovery at 6.40.  I was surprisingly in very little pain and felt so much better.  About an hour or two later, the pain relief wore off and I knew I was alive.

Back in the ward, I was offered my long awaited cup of tea, but the gross taste in my mouth didn't let me enjoy it greatly.

Wednesday morning and the breakfast trolley stopped at my door.  Great!  But I could hardly eat a thing.

The surgeon came to see me about 9.30am and said she was very pleased that they hadn't decided to wait as the ultrasound had not shown quite the extent of the problem.  The gall bladder was full of pus, which was leaked out and created a raft of pus sitting under my diaphragm and the gall bladder itself was partially gangrenous.

But I could go home that afternoon, although by the time I got here, I seriously doubted that it was a good idea.  I was just so sore.  My kidneys basically stopped working and over the next three or four days, I swelled up with so much fluid that I could scarcely bend my knees and the skin on my legs was as tight as a drum.  Not a great way to get rid of your cellulite!

Anyway, over the last 6 days or so, I have made much improvement.  Still a little sore.

The surgeon told me the day after the operation that the long term effects of gall bladder removal can be many and varied.  Best case scenario, there may be very little change in what I can eat, worst case scenario, there could be chronic diarrhoea for the rest of life.  I guess even chronic diarrhoea has some semblance of predictability, better than the surprise diarrhoea that I'm suffering from at the minute!

So since June this year, I have had a dose of pneumonia, a broken leg and now removal of my gall bladder.  That'll just about do me for this year, thanks all the same.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Frustration Friday . . .

Okay, so it's only Thursday, but it doesn't go quite as well with 'frustration'.

I am struggling with my mending ankle.  I had my first big day in the garden on Monday, clearing weeds that should have been dealt with weeks and weeks ago.  In the space of 25 minutes or so, I managed to twist over on my ankle twice.  I broke a blood vessel in my finger that is still purple today. So I came back inside and promptly walked into the corner of the dishwasher door.  Which I had left open.   My ankle looks almost normal first thing in the morning, but as the day progresses, it becomes more and more swollen.  I bought an elastic type support which comes a few inches up my shin, and by the evening, I have a veritable balloon of swelling over the top.

Put your foot up as much as you can, they said to me.  While I had the cast on, that was basically all I did, sat in my comfy chair with my foot on a leather footstool kindly lent to me by my son and his wife.  I knitted and sat, and sat and knitted, and my foot swelled.  No! no! they said, you have to have the injury higher than your heart!  I challenge anyone to sit with their ankle higher than their heart and remain looking dignified and sane.  Let alone manage to do anything at the same time.  The mind boggles!

Yesterday, I got sick of the feeling of my leg being so swollen, and I started to research ways and means of reducing same.  Compression stockings!  Wow, those suckers are expensive!  Hang on a minute - they ring a distant bell.  A quick search of the right drawer brought to light a pair of somewhat second hand looking compression knee high socks.  They belonged to my dear old mum.  Look, there's the laundry mark the nursing home wrote around the inside of the top - 'Room 41'.  Mum suffered greatly from chronic oedema in the last few years of her life, really much worse than what I'm going through, and as I struggled to roll the sock onto my leg, I apologised to her for not being more sympathetic.  They are a size larger than I would have bought, but the relief they have given me is quite something.

So today I went off to my physiotherapy appointment, in my new sock, and came home more sore than when I went.  I was quite grumpy and made my frustration at the whole situation quite obvious.  Poor guy, he didn't cause the issue and he's only doing his job.  I expressed my displeasure at having a cankle which is completely unstable, making it very hard for me to walk on any ground that is uneven as it twists from underneath me so quickly and hurts like mad when it does. I demanded to know how long this situation was going to remain and, indeed, if ever it was going to heal completely!  Could be 12 months and short answer, no.

So I shall endeavour to sit more, with my ankle higher than my heart.

There is an old house on the hill across the valley from us.  It was built in 1834, I think, so is surrounded by an old garden.  It's recently been on the market and was described in the real estate blurb as having a potager, amongst other things.  Sigh . . .   It's now sold, and as I sit, I'm watching two guys (and two dogs which look like they've just been released from a courtyard by their enthusiastic activity) clearing out the old garden.  I can see old fences starting to appear from the undergrowth and new retaining walls going in.  Stuff is constantly being delivered and everyone whizzes around busily.  I'd be scared to do that so soon after moving in, in case I was pulling out old treasures, but by the same token, I'm so envious of their progress.  I wish I had an army of gardeners with all the earthmoving equipment under the sun who would come every day and I'd say 'let's build a retaining wall here, and dig a big pond over there, and create a pergola walk of roses across there . . . . .'

. . . . . all while I sat with my ankle higher than my heart.  That should make 'em work hard!