Thursday, May 28, 2009

The adventure of the midnight feast.

Lunchtime sees and urgent request to visit an old friend, put in by the District Nurses. When Nurse Gladys visited him this morning his blood sugar was through the roof. Not good. Especially since he's just out of St Elsewhere's after an op for diabetic complications. So I don my deer-stalker and round I zip, expecting the worst. The last time we did this I ended up having to admit him to the hospital, culminating in his surgery, a three month stay on the ward and a radical overhaul of his treatment.

Today couln't be more different. He's fine. We repair from the dining hall to his new flat in the poshest warden controlled accommodation in Ambridge (another consequence of his recent admission was the move here) for a private chat. He hasn't felt so well in ages, no symptoms to suggest any acute illness that would account for his sudden surge in blood sugar. His appetite is fine. His chest quite clear. No evidence of urinary infection, Swine Flu or other attendant lurghi whatsoever.

"So why," I gently probe, "the high sugar this morning?"

There's a pause. A pregnant pause, where the pregnancy is headed for the delivery of triplets.

"Well," he owns, finally,

"You see,

It's like this....

Last night I had a craving for the biggest bag of chips I could get. Lovely they were, all smothered in salt and vinegar. Just the job!"

Then he grins.

I nag him half heartedly about watching what he eats and then we chat about the cricket for a while.

He's going to try to be good again now, and Nurse Gladys will watch his sugars for me.

So. Another mystery solved, and yes, it appears the answer was alimentary. Now, where's my Meerschaum?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just passing....

It's not much fun being eighty. Or so says Eric. He's just had a spell in hospital. Nothing scary. He thought he'd got a tummy upset, but it turned out to be constipation.

(When you've been bunged up for long enough you get a thing called overflow, which makes it look like you've got diarrhoea-- and that's the last we'll hear on that subject today if it's o.k. with you)

Just before he went in I'd had a visit from Doreen, Eric's neice. She's been looking after him since her aunty, Erics wife, died eight or so years ago. Every day, rain or shine, high days and holidays included, she's been calling on him morning and evening, cooking, cleaning and generally fending for him. She's all the family he's got left, and so it falls to her.

She had called in to say she was getting worried about him. He was a lot more cantakerous than usual, and had taken to stopping in bed for hours on end, refusing to get up. We had agreed that I would find a pretext for calling on him-- just to give him a bit of a check-up. Under no circumstances was I to mention that Doreen had been to see me. Then, the day before the appointed "check-up" visit, he went and got himself admitted.

In the end it's made my job a lot easier. Since he's had this seemingly trivial problem sorted out he's been a lot better, but he still greets Doreen every morning with a cheery "'Wish I was dead!" She's nearing the end of her tether with him and we're going to be needing to find him a lot more support soon, if only to preserve her sanity, so having a pretext to do a review visit on discharge was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Today we've sorted out his med's and he's agreed I can call again to see how he's getting on in a couple of weeks. In her absence he can't sing poor Dorren's praises highly enough-- though I'm sure it's never occurrred to him to actually tell her to her face. She's calling back later in the week to see how I got on, so perhaps I can do it for him-- though I mustn't let on to him that we're talking. He's not quite ready to think about letting anybody else in, but if Doreen can be persuaded that she could start letting him know it's time for her to pass the baton on, he just might be. Before she goes to the wall for preference.

It's a complex web to unravel, and none the easier when none of us can articulate half of what's needed, but if we get it right Eric might just be a bit happier to carry on living for a bit yet, and Doreen might even get a chance to start.

Lucky I was "just passing..." Eric's gate this afternoon ;-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just another day at the office...

Sometimes you can go for months without incident. Other times, a bit like London Busses, everything comes along at once. Seems we’re going through one of those phases in our neck of the woods. Thankfully, thus far the “Flandemic” has not lived up to its billing.


We expect the next big scare in November or December, unless something quite bizarre happens in the interim. For now the daily email updates are moving to once or twice a week, and the planners really do seem to have a strategy in place. Whether the plan will survive more than half the work force being laid low themselves, or kept at home looking after kids/ elderly relatives who cannot care for themselves, remains to be seen. Still there is a plan.

No, this morning saw a string of genuinely troubled individuals facing potentially or already determined life threatening illness. Once again, by mid morning the surgery was more than an hour adrift with no prospect of catching up. After three patients already watching the sands of time draining from their own personal hourglasses at an alarming rate, came a mum bereaved not once, but twice in the space of six months. Her distress was etched almost bone deep on her face, and there was absolutely nothing to say except “hang in there” and “you will survive this”. I’m not sure if I was saying this for her or for myself to be honest, but after half an hour she was cried out enough, for now, to keep putting one foot in front of the other for a bit longer.

After a ten minute pause, and a half a bucket of Java, we got the show on the road again, and the rest of the day passed without incident. The poor souls who had had to wait around in our waiting room with not even drying paint to watch for amusement (all diversionary materials having been carted off and incinerated to remove possible vectors for the flandemic), were amazingly good natured, and by mid afternoon there was more laughter than tears accompanying the ebb and flow of the afflicted coming trough the hallowed portals.

Still not a day I’ll be forgetting in a hurry, or wishing to repeat any time soon. But I can’t help thinking, for all that, that I’m the one who’s got it easy here.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A visitor from the future...

Earlier this week I met Yuri for the first time. His record states he’s been in Ambridge for nigh on five years, but so far, after an initial attendance to register, and a couple of visits to Dr Neighbour for minor ailments, he’s not troubled us at all. Looking at him, it wasn’t hard to see why. It’s not that he’s particularly tall, but he’s certainly solid. The urban combats, spetsnaz style black and white striped t-shirt and high laced paratrooper boots certainly created an impression. Then there were the bulging muscles. Yuri hasn’t so much "built" his body as hewn it from living granite. His biceps put the rather weedy Jesterly frame to shame, and the suppressed aggression he exudes suggests that one false move and he could snap my neck like a dried twig. A long dead, especially brittle twig.

Happily, our own little corner of blighty hasn’t yet succumbed to the attentions of a Ray-Ban shrouded oligarch and his own private army. Yuri just came here to work, and to carry on his very impressive hobby lifting ludicrously heavy things for fun, and the odd bit of bag pummelling. Sadly, now he’s been earning for a bit, he’s found himself seduced by the powers of the Dark Side. A "mate" at the gym introduced him to chemical supplements—hormones to you and me. Androgens and anabolics.

The only trouble is, after six months of this he’s been getting some chest pains, which have him fretting. Still he’s been for an EKG back in the Motherland, and it was normal, so he’s a bit less woried now. I tentatively prod where he says it hurts. I could almost swear as I jab his left pectorals there’s a clank. I foolishly suggest we try to provoke his pain with a few resisted movements starting with his shoulder. I cling on to his elbow and ask him to lift it above shoulder height as I press down. He lifts his arm and my feet clear the deck by a good couple of inches. There’s not even a flicker of discomfort.

I decide against asking him to do the reverse move, pressing down with the elbow point whilst I try to prevent him. I value my spine, and like it just the length it is. It helps hold me up.

Still after a bit more of an exam we decide the pain is most likely a minor strain. I prescribe him some 3-in-1 and a referral to Cyberdyne Systems if he doesn't get better. Steroids, it appears, don’t do much for the 800 Series Terminator. Still, I imagine he'll be back.