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September 9, 2010

I can recall about 10 years ago, saying to somebody in passing that I had never been an inpatient in a hospital. Foolish boy!  A year later I had started my new career, moving from consultant to consultant and hospital to hospital. Yesterday I had once again to travel up to London to Kings College Hospital to see the pain consultant who had, in her turn, referred me to St Thomas’ Hospital for specialist treatment. I only see her every 6 months, just to give her an overview. Pleasant she was, no doubt of it, professional and expert as well. But I find all of them don’t fully appreciate what patients have to go through. To get there for 3.30 pm, I had to plan the day. I have a routine, like most disabled folk, which takes in dressing and washing, medication, eating (which has to be matched to the drugs) and so on. I suffer from chronic pain as a result of 2 failed back operations. My pain killing drugs have affected my pituitary gland which means I need to take various hormone preparations to compensate for that damage. But I can’t avoid the drugs because they are the only way I can face life.  To help me reduce the damaging medication, I have had to have a spinal neurostimulator inserted. But this takes an hour a day to charge up. Thus, I have to plan the day backwards from the appointment to allow sufficient time for everything.

Of course, I could ask for a later appointment, although doing so means that I am still travelling home when the next round of drugs is due.

Yesterday was the Tube strike in London and with all the turmoil, I found myself on a slow, all station, train. Standing all the way was somewhat uncomfortable, but 30mins from my home station, I noticed a couple of worried glances coming my way. I knew what it meant, and lifted my hand to my forehead. The sweat was running fast. My hair was soaked. Yup, cold turkey!  I began to shiver, although the train was hot – and when I staggered off the train, I was so cold in the slight warm breeze that was blowing down the platform. It’s a 10 minute walk usually, but the tremors meant I had to be careful not to stumble.

It was then that I realised the wonder of the mindfulness meditation I had been trying to practice for pain control.

 “Don’t think about the distance, think about just this step, feel your foot go down and your weight roll from heel to toe. Switch to the other foot and move it as gracefully as possible past the first. Try to feel the sensation of movement in your ankle and foot. Follow the breath, inhaling so that it travels down each leg in turn and meets these sensations. Stay in the moment.” Time after time I must have gone through that routine, but there is no counting in the moment, there is no last step or next step, there is just this step.

I got home, but even that one hour delay in taking the meds meant that the pain broke through and I knew that today would be a grand effort to get it all back under control. Sad really! But you have to laugh!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 1:24 pm

    Well done for getting home, you!!
    I have a similar ordeal next week, less so as himself is off and can run me to the hospital in time for my 8.40 scan. Once this nasty ordeal is over(I shan’t go into details) I see my consultant who will probably try to persuade me of the benefits of radical surgery. I’m pretty sure various things have changed since my last scan and the chances are I need yet more surgery.
    Since I haven’t anything better to do right now, surgery might be a welcome distraction from morbid introspection.

    • September 12, 2010 4:43 pm

      Good luck with the hospital – keep us (me) posted, will you?

      • September 12, 2010 5:00 pm

        Will do.
        I am not expecting anything really dire, just more of what I have already experienced, and as for women’s intuition, well, let’s be honest: knowing one’s own body is hardly anything supernatural.

  2. September 10, 2010 10:04 pm

    I could speculate on what the surgery might be Viv but, whatever, I hope your ideas about the outcome of the scan are proved completely and utterlywrong. This is not, of course, about empathy, sympathy, fellow feeling or caring, I just need another couple of anecdotes to finish my thesis on the absolute cobblerology of womens’ intuition. or something like that. See, I’d say anything to sidetrack you from morbid introspection in a way not involving surgery! :-X

  3. September 11, 2010 12:52 am

    Hi Ian,
    I am sorry for the pain that you go through every day. I don’t know what to say – except that your pain must me much more than mine because you can’t do without the medicine. I can’t fully appreciate it – but I hope that you find a remedy that helps you reduce if not eliminate your pain and also your medication.
    Warm Regards,

  4. September 12, 2010 4:41 pm

    Thanks Shafali, I wasn’t aware that you were in pain, did I miss a post somewhere?

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