Tuesday, 17 February 2009

It never rains, but it pours .....

Aren't these stunning? They smell heavenly too. The lovely Victoria sent them to me a couple of weeks ago

They say bad news comes in threes; I seem to be living proof of that at the moment! Some of you will recall that I went for a Barium enema recently to get to the bottom (excuse the pun) of why my innards were making their presence known to me. I got the results back for this, and am told that I have an 'abnormality in the Caecum' that will require an urgent Colonoscopy. Good old NHS rang today, and I am booked in for this delightful procedure this coming Saturday; I am once again to experience the pleasure that is fasting and strong laxatives in preparation. I must have been very very bad in a previous life!

After the Barium enema, my breast decided to get in on the act, and despite already being on antibiotics, flared up and had me hospital bound again. My GP decided to go back to square one and I had blood tests to screen all my organs to try and find out why I kept having this problem with recurrent infection. The verdict is that I am Diabetic; I had pretty spectacular blood sugar counts, and am now on medication to try and control it. Diabetes is known to interfere with healing, so the hope is that once the Diabetes is managed, my problems with recurrent infection will be too. This may take a few weeks, and to that end I came home with another 6 weeks worth of antibiotics.

Things have been going wrong for my family too. On the 5th February, my Mum went in to Hospital to have major surgery to try and replace a massive titanium bone and elbow replacement she had done 15 years ago. As a 19 year old she had a serious accident, that left her without the proper use of her right arm as the elbow had fused. The original implant 15 years ago extends from her wrist to her shoulder, including an elbow, and gave her freedom of movement she hadn't had in over 35 years. It had begun to give a lot of pain last year, so the surgeons decided to replace it, having done CT scans and the like to assess it. She went in for this surgery knowing it was going to be a difficult and painful process, and aware that she already had a bone infection that would complicate matters even more.

The surgeons got stuck. They started the operation, and removed the old implant, but couldn't put the new implant in. Apparently her remaining bone is so black and necrotic, it wasn't possible for them to complete and connect the implant to her remaining bones. Thankfully they didn't amputate immediately, although this still might happen.

The most bonkers part about this is they sent her home because they are terrified of her contracting an infection in the Hospital before they get a chance to rectify her missing implant. She is at home with a make shift cast that causes her arm to jut out awkwardly at 90 degrees to her body. The Hospital have been contacting all the UK orthopaedics experts and professors to come up with a solution, and Mum will go back to the Hospital tomorrow to find out if a her now boneless arm is salvageable.

This is made harder for me, because I am not allowed to visit her, or go and help care for her at home because I have bugs that could harm her, although I am hoping after a screening on Friday that these results will mean I can go and help if they don't discover any antibiotic resistant bugs.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Shades of Purple

A wonderful bouquet of Orchids given in thanks by a neighbour

Have you ever sat and wondered how many shades of purple there are? How many hues and tones; the variety seems infinite! On Monday morning, I started my observation of the colour when a neighbour on their return from a 5 week jaunt through Singapore, Malaysia and other exotic locations in the Far East, popped around with this fabulous gift for me from their travels. I look after the house, garden, greenhouse etc. whilst they are away; make sure everything is secure, and that everything is fed and watered. In winter this task isn't too onerous, as really all I need to do is pop in once a week to satisfy their insurers, and water a few house plants. During the summer months it takes about half an hour a day, as I water and feed the garden and greenhouse. I have to say they grow delicious tomatoes and cucumbers, and I help myself to these as they ripen, or they would rot on the vines. I have a similar arrangement with another neighbour, and we share cat sitting duties too, and rather than pack our pets off to catteries, we take turns to make sure they are safe and well in their own homes when we venture off on holidays. I like the peace of mind that someone I have known and trusted for many years is keeping an eye on our most precious possessions; our home and our animals.

By Monday afternoon, I gained a new opportunity to extend my studies into the infinite range of purple. Distracted by the orchids as I walked between the sitting and dining room, I pondered, was the old Victorian Celery Glass really the best receptacle to display them in. Now, there is something you should know about me, I am about as clumsy as clumsy comes, and if there is an accident to be had, I will have it. I know better than to walk around and be deep in thought, accidents will invariably happen. Monday afternoon proved no different, and in my day dream state of perambulation, I failed to notice the ever encroaching brick hearth that surrounds the sitting room fireplace as I walked towards the dining room doorway entranced by the flowers. Well, that is until it made its proximity known to me, as I kicked it hard with my right foot! I fell forward and screamed, a shock wave of pain running through me. I had broken my toes! This has led to me having plenty of time to observe all sorts of new shades of purple, as the swelling and bruising spread across my toes and onto my foot. Clumsy is as Clumsy does.

To add insult to injury, the usually sluggish NHS decided to be hyper-efficient, and I received my appointment for the Barium enema yesterday. It came complete with a diet sheet and two packets of laxatives! The diet is for the day before, when I am also required to take the double dose of drugs. It's really exciting .... a poached egg for breakfast, white toast, a scrape of butter, followed by a small piece of poached chicken or white fish for lunch, boiled potatoes, no veg , no sauces, no butter! The crowning glory of this meal is that I am allowed to eat some clear fruit Jelly! Well Yippee! Supper gets even more exciting; I am allowed to have either a clear soup or a meat extract drink. No solid food allowed. The following day, I am not allowed to eat at all, no tea or coffee either! When is this to take place? 3pm on Monday, which means Sunday will be a day of purgatory. I usually make a huge roast and generally splurge on the calories having been good all week. I suspect I will not only be as clumsy as a clumsy thing, but my grumpy tendencies will be much in evidence too! Poor iGit!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Introducing Smudge!

Happily settled on the playroom sofa this morning, complete with muddy paws!

I will begin at the beginning. About a year ago, I noticed a small black and white kitten in the garden, just doing what kittens do, chasing bugs and birds and generally being cute. I have 5 cats of my own and they didn't seem to bothered by his presence. Both my neighbours have cats too, so they have learned how to rub along with other cats without it resorting to 'Cat Wars', and constant border skirmishes and disputes. What threat was a small black and white kitten? If only they had known!

As time went on, we experienced the 'Great Food Theft', and initially this was blamed on a neighbour's cat, who lived on a diet of dry kibble, and had been seen in our house on several occasions wolfing down our cat's rations. We euphemistically called this invader' Tubby', she is as round as a barrel. Her real name was 'Tabby'. However, it soon transpired that Tubby had been wrongly accused as we caught sight one night of the rear end of a small black and white cat disappearing into the utility room and heading for the cat flap! Gotcha!

Smudge (so named because of a black patch beneath his nose that looks like a smudged thumbprint) was now the primary suspect in the Great Food Theft , and we realised we were being mugged by this little usurper on a regular basis! This ritual mugging became known as 'You've been Smudged'. My cats were not to impressed with this and it led to an outbreak of bad toilet behaviour and territory spraying, which began to get seriously depressing, as we discovered a puddle in the utility room every morning.

After much discussion with neighbours and cat re-homing charities, it was suggested that Smudge be re-homed. He was taken to live amongst the barns on a farm a few miles away, and as far as we knew was happily passing his days doing what feral cats do; catching vermin and living on their wits!

Smudge has more wits than most cats, we didn't see him for over two months, and then just after Christmas, the iGit yelled, 'did you see that?' What? I replied, totally bemused and looking skyward. 'Smudge' he yells, 'B***** Smudge is back!' Well we couldn't quite believe it, how could he find his way back here, there is a motorway and a main line railway between us and his new home? Maybe he had belonged to someone after all and he had been returned? We felt a bit bad. The feeling didn't last long.

Smudge soon made it clear that no one owned him, in fact he had decided he owned us! It wasn't long before he was up to his usual tricks and was making raids on the kitchen. It was his kitchen after all! Over the holidays the weather became seriously cold, many nights it reached well below freezing, on a couple of occasions getting down to - 10 Celsius. Smudge took to sitting on the work top above the tumble drier in the Utility room at this point. Gradually he became braver and was later found sleeping in the ironing pile; muddy paw marks everywhere!

This week he has become really brazen, and has obviously been watching and learning from my cats and how they manage us, their servants. One of my cats Gem, who is a cat of very small brain, and huge fluff, starts mewing and moaning the minute she catches you in the kitchen, on the off chance she may persuade you to feed her. Smudge has obviously realised this strategy works, because bold as you like, on Monday, I went into the kitchen to be met by the usual screeching Gem. Imagine my surprise when I along side her bulk, Smudge was sitting neatly by the food bowls too! He joined in the cacophony and starting meowing at the top of his reedy voice for food!

I assumed he would run a mile if I tried to put food in the bowl that was inches from him, but he didn't he sat patiently and waited for me to serve him dinner! This has happened a few times now, and he is often found asleep near or in the house. Last night he discovered the sofa in the kids old Playroom which can be easily accessed from the Kitchen. I think he is here to stay and we have been chosen as his servants! The tenacity of cats never ceases to amaze me, and I think this little chap has earned his right to stay if he chooses. The iGit isn't so sure and worries that it will cause more problems with the resident Pride. Time will tell.

A little news about me too. I had my first post treatment check-ups with the Surgeon and the Oncologist this week and last, and both seem happy with my progress apart from the ever present infection. This made me quite unwell over Christmas and I was back on the antibiotics. The surgeon has since put me on an 8 week course of antibiotics in an attempt to knock it on the head once and for all. I am due to go for a further check up with her after a mammogram in 6 months time. The Oncologist wants to see me three monthly. I added a new Dr to my list of hospital visits this week , and was sent to see a
Consultant Physician in Gastroenterology and Hepatology! I had expected this initial consultation just to be a fact finding mission, so that they could decide whether or not any tests were required. I initially saw one of the Registrar' who after taking notes and physically examining me suggested that I might need to go along at a later date for Colonoscopy. I didn't relish this idea, and said if she thought it necessary then I would accede. She then decided she wanted the Senior Consultant to have a look at me there and then and asked me to wait whilst she went off to find him. Soon after they returned and he looked at my notes and previous and recent medical history. He said some things that I didn't understand, and then asked me would I mind if he used a device to look inside me now! Well what do you say? Again I agreed, undressed and jumped back on to the exam couch, lying on my side in the foetal position and was promptly pumped up with air as they had a look around my rear end! I have to say this hurt, and they soon stopped when they realised how uncomfortable I was. Upshot of this was they have decided I need a Barium enema so they can investigate me further! YUK! I am told this appointment will be sent to me shortly and it will happen in the next month. Something to look forward to then!