Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Thursday, May 28, 2020
Why is it, when one of the family manages to get some very nasty ailment, it always sounds innocuous? I mean, Kai's aplastic anaemia, and now my cellulitis...
What's the big deal with cellulite? I asked myself. Then I was given more details...
So - this is the ward. Photos of my leg underneath if you want to risk it.
The jet engine above my bed!!
What my legs should look like. (Excuse the foreshortening, not easy to get a good angle.)
Right leg Sun 10th May.
Right leg after fall and admission into hospital 15.5.20. The purple line was the doctor marking the extent of the infection so they could check if it increased or decreased during treatment. You can't see the massive purple splotches around the lower part of the leg here.
Brief rundown of events - as best I can remember them. Apparently I was rather more ill than I realised and a combination of cellulitis, kidney problems and the flucloxacillin antibio (which did NOT suit me at all) had my temperature spiking a lot. So they switched me to intravenous tazocin for 48 hours, which worked better, while they took umpteen blood tests to try to establish what the hell was going on.
Stopped my BP meds immediately, as apparently they (indapamide and ramipril), along with the ibuprofen I rely on for pain control for the back and hip problems, were combining with the infection and the antibios to have me headed for kidney failure. At least, that's what I understood from what they were saying. They kept taking blood samples, anyway, and reporting back, and on Monday(? I think?) one of the microbiologist (lovely black guy with the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen) was able to tell me that the markers were heading in the right direction and the kidneys were going to be OK. But I must stop taking 'pufen for good. Oh joy. Paracetamol just doesn't have the same effect...
They took me off the i/v taz and tried me on tablets instead - my temperature went right back up. So they started yet another antibio - co-amoxiclav, first by injection via the cannula, then as tablets, which I'm still taking at home. They do seem to be working: the swelling has reduced significantly and my skin feels soft as usual on my calf and the outside of my leg (shin is still bruised and painful from the fall - and it feels as though there may be a small lump under the skin on the inner side. May have to ring surgery about that if it doesn't go. It feels softer and less obvious today, so fingers crossed...) All the skin is peeling off my leg though, and it itches like hell. Small price for healing...
I'm back on ramipril, but only half the dose I was on, and I've been told to skip the indapamide altogether, so may need to find an alternative once everything's healed. Already missing the prufen though.
But the worst was the nights. I wasn't sleeping well anyway - combination of pain and meds and dropping off during the day - but I kept waking up to nightmares. I don't usually get nightmares. Yes, the occasional unpleasant dream, but nothing too scary. But here...
It didn't help that the ward walls were pale and tended to recede into the background at night unless there were lights on (which there mostly weren't). First time - around 4 am Sun I think - I woke up believing we were all in the morgue, and wondering why we were all still breathing as we were supposed to be dead. Second time - again 4 am-ish but not sure what day - L had some kind of episode and the nurses rushed in, talking loudly and with lights everywhere: I could have sworn we were in the middle of some kind of black ops where we were all linked up telepathically and trying to contact aliens! Was sure I heard helicopters (which I might have done, BRI has a helipad for the air ambulance). I remember being thoroughly pissed off at that point, a mood that lasted until half way through the next morning. Third time - again around 4 am. What is it with 4 am?? - I woke with absolutely no idea where I was. I actually had to hobble to the ward door and ask the night nurses where I was. They told me, but I was absolutely certain the entire ward had somehow been physically moved, and if I walked out the entrance I'd find myself in Pinhoe, in Exeter...
Fourth time - yes, 4 am-ish - I thought we were on an open plain, waiting to be picked up for some sort of experimentation under some sort of government coverup.
Can you tell I don't like hospitals much?
FINALLY, on my last night there, I worked out that the way to stop this was to leave my reading light on, tucked down behind the head of my bed, so when I woke I'd be able to see I was just in the ward with the others. And what do you know, it worked. Just annoyed it took me that long to work it out, as the previous nights had been absolutely terrifying - and I don't scare easily these days.
I told Ken about it later, and his reply was interesting and instructive. He said that it sounds similar to how dementia sufferers feel (he has dealings with such matters in his work at BCC). I have a new understanding of the awfulness of it.
So to now. K&K managed really well while I was away, but I think they're quite glad I'm back. Kai is learning to cook. Tyjer spent the week sleeping on my pillow, I understand: when he came in and saw me in my recliner he froze, and his eyes went huge - then he went to be petted by Kai. I got the cold shoulder for a few hours, which I'd expected, then he came and sat on my head, so we're all back to normal now.
All for now - have to go put leg up for a few hours. Films etc next update.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Well, that was... interesting.
After my trip to Downend temporary health clinic (set up in Downend Dental Clinic) and ultrasound confirmation that it was NOT a deep vein thrombosis - and after a late night nasty fall due to dizziness caused by the antibio I was initially given - I was summoned to our own surgery for blood tests... Next thing I knew I was rushing to the BRI (oh, the taxi fares this week!) as the blood tests had thrown up what the hospital discharge notes call 'acute kidney injury'. (Will go into details next post. Can't sit for long, supposed to be keeping my leg raised near-permanently for the next two weeks.)
Wheeled up to ward A522, usually for liver problems but pressed into service for other ailments during the lockdown. Poke, prod, attempts to draw blood: my veins had decided they didn't want to play and getting a needle or cannula into one proved increasingly difficult. Three holes in right elbow crook. Two in left. Five holes in back of left hand (OUCH). Eventually juuuust managed to draw enough for further tests, a cannula half inserted into back of left hand and intravenous antibios started.
Then the fun started.
Opposite me was a lovely lady - AB, early 80s - who had fallen and torn all the ligaments in her right knee and was in a LOT of pain. Next to her was 'Jean' (not her real name), a dour, grumpy, five foot nothing Scots-born early 90s who was suffering breathing problems. Next to me was Ann, who did nothing but groan in pain for 24 hours. We found out later she had shingles all down her left side and the powerful meds she was supposed to be taking hadn't reached the hospital pharmacy, so she spent the first two days in excruciating pain. She was actually in because she'd fallen in the morning and her daughter hadn't found her until 6 pm. Once they'd got her stabilised she volunteered to move to a solitary room so we could take L - early 50s, hooked up to umpteen monitors and receiving meds practically 24/7.
AB and I introduced ourselves. In keeping with my usual attempts to stay cheerful, I started joking around, which AB enjoyed and joined in. It got very very silly. Even the nurses were laughing. And 'Jean', once she was more settled and feeling a little better, sat up and listened in, occasionally, in a deep growly voice, coming out with her own funny that had us in stitches. Turned out she's a real treasure, lovely woman with a pretty awful background who nevertheless kept her chin up (when she wasn't sleeping curled around herself like a kitten!)
And the rollicking fun continued the whole time I was there. It helped keep our minds off our pain.
Others joined in. I swear the nurses loved handling our ward (well, all except for one, but I'll deal with her in another post) and joined in the fun (and the decidedly risqué jokes and comments!) Our lovely little cleaner - didn't get her name, but I think she was Polish and looked very young for someone 10 years married with two children - joined in the banter with delight - and later on thanked us all for being so nice, as she's usually ignored when she's doing her job (I hate humans sometimes). She kept dropping in for a few minutes throughout the day for another dose of fun...
Then there was Eva. Eva is tiny, and she sparkles. I thought she was a student when she first came in (there were a lot of students, working during the lockdown to make their qualifications), but then she started handling the meds, so I knew I was wrong. She was a delight, kind and funny. Turned out we share the same birthdate! (Our greeting after that was 'Happy Birthday!') I remember mentioning this to another nurse who was nearby when Eva was administering iv antibios, adding, "But we're several decades apart, of course."
She went quiet, then said, "Not so much."
I looked at her, and she said quietly, "I'm 44."
I swear my metaphorical jaw hit the metaphysical floor. "WHAT???"
She nodded. I said - "No way, I'd say you're 28 at the absolute maximum." Which is true, by the way. She looks that young.
She grinned and said. "It must be the mask."
"Can you move it a mo?"
She did, and she is absolutely beautiful. And looks no older than 28 at the most. I shook my head.
"Whatever it is, you should bottle it and sell it on the open market. You'd make an absolute fortune, Young Eva."
I swear she floated out of the ward to continue to the next one - after giving me a virtual hug and saying I'd made her week!
Then there were the cute young male nurses. Haseem, who looked like an Indian prince and was delightfully easy to (very gently) tease, and Muhammed, the only person to immediately, efficiently and painlessly find a vein for my daily bloods.
And too many truly awesome nurses to remember, with such pretty names - Mia and Maria and Leila and Crystal and Kira and Benedicta - and every accent under the sun. Goddesses, every one of them.
So what should have been a nightmare experience turned out to be almost a holiday, and AB and 'Jean', especially, simply wonderful people.
We will most likely never meet again, but you will always have a special place in my heart, and I wish you all the joy in the world.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Oh boy. What a wonderful weekend. Not.
Friday evening we watched a Dr Who ep, and then A Field In England (don't bother. We tried very hard to understand it, and enjoy it, and find anything of merit it in, but alas, it is but pretentious twaddle, an incomprehensible triumph of style without substance, and ultimately pointless. Julian Barrett was in for about 30 seconds at the very beginning before he was killed, so even that pleasure was denied me). Midnight came, and I was thinking should maybe check a couple of thing, when completely out of the blue, and in a matter of seconds, I suddenly felt dizzy and light-headed, then nauseous. Managed to close down and stumble upstairs, got into bed shivering, and an hour later took my temperature. 40.3° (104.54 in American money). K&K tried to ring 111, they were absolutely snowed under and advised to ring 999. Twenty minutes later ambulance pulled up outside: temperature confirmed, heart rate and BP high (but not dangerously so), but most importantly lungs and chest completely clear of any congestion. So not COVID-19. Advised to 'sleep' (hah!) with windows open to help lower temperature, and to try to keep down crushed and mixed with water paracetamol, and keep an eye on temperature. Nothing else to be done, it was a flu virus of some sort, hopefully short lived as came on so quickly, but to contact them again if it got worse.
Spent next 13 hours throwing up and in horrible pain (as well as whatever this was something bit the back of my right leg overnight and I got the usual allergic reaction - pain, bright red tight skin, and bruised looking veins.) Saturday evening the nausea eased off, and I was able to take solid pills again, but Sunday was also miserably spent in bed. However, temp on Saturday was 39°, then 38.1 on Sunday, so heading in the right direction.
Not so bad today, able to get out of bed and sit here for a little while. Definitely improving, but I would only wish this whatever this is on trump and BND. Slight silver lining is I lost over half a stone, but I wouldn't advise it as a slimming aid!
There was a fox and a cub in the garden earlier. Very cute but upset Tyjer horribly.
Heading back to bed for an hour. Catch you later.
Friday, May 08, 2020
Finally, an update!
Why am I busier now than before the lockdown? Where does the time go? (Rhetorical questions, by the way, no need to reply!)
So what have we been up to? A lot of film and series watching - see below. A lot of gardening: I found a site that sells heritage tomato seeds - Tomato Eden in Poland - and ordered some packets of the most interesting looking ones! All but one have sprouted in the greenhouse (will replace the odd one as have seeds left) and will get photos when they start fruiting. Also have climbing courgettes and mini munch cucumbers on the go in the greenhouse, runner beans, sugar snap peas, two lots of dwarf beans and our asparagus in the raised beds. Pear and apple trees are full of fruit buds (will have to pull off a whole lot to ensure the rest develop properly, a nuisance but essential), the blueberry and raspberry bushes are doing well, and I've bought some potato growbags to try. The potatoes are coming along well in one - going to try planting some heritage carrots in the other.
The front garden is looking pretty good too. My irises go from strength to strength
The bench is now down on the patio, much to Tyjer's approval...
My indoor plants are doing their usual slightly odd thing too.
On the health front, Kai is now registered as 'extremely vulnerable' on the government's list, and we're all shielding. So, not much different than before then. Main thing is it gives Ken ammunition to continue working at home if the BCC want their homeworkers to return to the office. Which is probably not going to happen until the danger is completely over - roll on the vaccines - but it's another source of stress relieved. His BP is a little high at the moment, but not enough to worry about. Must remember to check mine later.
Which is the complete opposite of Inside No. 9 (how strange! I copied that link from the IMDb twice and neither time did it link properly. Though that, to be honest, is really quite apposite for the series! Try this one instead? Ah, no, that doesn't work either. Just type in the title into IMDb if you're interested), which is just superb. Some eps are better than others, of course, and the 5th season was decidedly grim, but they are never less than thought-provoking, and season 4 is wonderful!
In a fit of nostalgia I ordered The Assassination Bureau, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, although it reminded me quite strongly of The Tourist. Heh. Maybe I'm getting so old I've seen it all before!
Kai and I are working our way through Silent Witness, which is variable but in general superior TV. As a family we're now working through the Peter Capaldi Doctor Who season 9, which we bought because it contains what I consider the best and most chilling DW ep ever, Heaven Sent. Well deserving of its 9.6 rating. (I just adore Capaldi's Doctor.)
Last time we went out for a walk someone had put a bag of DVDs on their wall for passers-by to take if they wanted (a fairly new innovation that a lot of people, including me, have found very useful). I took Vampires Suck, purely to see what it was like (I absolutely loathed the Twilight series, which I had to read/see (the first film) when I was writing Vampires). Opened the case when we got home to find it empty, so ended up buying it second hand online (the postage cost more than the disc!) I knew it's rated very poorly and people hate it - but actually, I found it OK. Very funny in a couple of places, and the acting was pretty good! Not going to recommend it, but if you know the Twilight series, it pokes fun remorselessly.
On the strength of that, I've also picked up Meet the Spartans, despite its 2.8 rating. Yes, OK, that the synopsis mentions Autobots also helped... Aiming to watch that soon. Not expecting much, but might be surprised. Fingers crossed.
That's about it for now. We recently invested in a 4 terrabyte external hard drive to archive EVERYTHING on all our computers and put in the strongbox with the wills etc, and Ken and I picked up a little 2 terrabyte external drives for additional backup. We're now in the incredibly long, laborious process of scanning/photographing all our very early work (my notebooks etc are in a pile beside my desk which is almost as high as the desk itself. Wat fun...), all the stuff on our pc hard drives, everything on teh old external, Nigel, and I'm aiming to transfer all the old photos currently on spindles of discs inside the strongbox. Probably going to take the three of us the rest of the year...
Stay safe, everyone!