Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Off to see the Wizard...

Just as our Colonial Cousins love their Latin we properly educated Englishmen love our Greek, but however your opt to derive it Oedema* / Edema is a serious pain in the arse* / ass. Not literally of course as that would be proctalgia* (sorry, don’t know the proper American term for this though it might contain a G and a W), but I digress comme d’habitude. For those not aware of this beastly complaint, it involves the infiltration of soft tissues with fluid. The precise mechanisms that cause this can be complex, but generally relate to advancing age and failing circulation or to severe inflammation. (Yes it can also be a direct pressure effect on the lymphatic system caused by other nastier diseases or their treatments too, but far more commonly it is just part of getting older.)

At its mildest we see it as a bit of puffiness round the ankles, late on a hot day, and especially after sitting down for a long time (typically on coach trips to “attractions” so beloved of the pre-war generation). From here though it often progresses to a worsening sense of puffiness then tightness then pain and at some point along this continuum there is the awful sensation of squishiness when you walk, and unsteadiness as a result. Add in to this the failing of other senses, that can make tripping all the easier and balancing all the more difficult and oedema can become a thoroughly miserable experience.

Such is the case for Dorothy, who this past four months has been tipped up by the whirlwind described above three or four times. Far from ending up in Oz the first episode put her in the Hospital with rib injuries and a dislocated shoulder. From that time she has become quite reclusive and thoroughly miserable and all through the simple but inevitable process of the accumulation of a half pint or so of water in her feet. Our therapeutic solution to this is to dry poor Dorothy out to reduce the swelling using diuretics. These make her need to pass more water and often with greater urgency, which is itself not great when you fear falling with every step. The problem is the other common “solution” is to apply compression with thick and heavy elastic stockings, which though effective are almost as painful as the swelling, nigh impossible to apply unaided, and Toto aside, poor Dorothy lives alone. So today we have stepped up to a stronger diuretic in the hope that we can get her back into her ruby slippers. We need this to work to restore her confidence and to quite literally put her back on her feet.

* All underlined in wriggly red lines by my rotten American spellchecker.


Elaine said...

As long ago as the early eighties, I had my spelling marked as incorrect by my (definitely not American) tutor when I spelled oedema and foetus. I had to give in when she was marking my essays, but childhood education has come to the fore since then. Glad to find someone else on side!

Nostrumdammit said...

"American spellchecker" ?

An oxymoron if ever I saw one!