Look after yourself

Three weeks ago I got a cold. Not flu. Just a stinky cold with a runny nose, a lot of sneezing and then some coughing too. I’ve been put on steroids long-term for polymyalgia rheumatica so that may have helped lower my resistance to germs and this nasty virus really went to town. And then the coughing began. All night long, I coughed. Like a dirty old man, I coughed. It was only when sitting upright and perfectly still that I managed more than a minute without coughing. This made for long nights.

But colds happen. And we work through it, right? We carry on regardless, sipping our Lemsip, swallowing the pills, and we keep on passing it on to others because it doesn’t seem right to give up at first sight of a mere cold. But after three long nights of not sleeping and when the asthma/COPD had kicked in I gave in and had to phone the out-of-hours service NHS24. It was 2am and they were jolly nice and sent a lovely Irish doctor out to bring me a nebuliser which has done the trick in the past. Its the equivalent of 25 shots of Ventolin via a face-mask and is like breathing fresh mountain air but more invigorating. (That’s probably because of the adrenalin in it which can make me a bit jittery jangly.) The nice doctor also got me started on heavy duty doses of steroids and told me to get in touch with my GP if I thought I needed antibiotics. So far, so good.

And I carried on working. A bit. I did a wedding rehearsal and some admin and a quick visit to the church party before I finally gave in and said I couldn’t do Sunday. This was mainly because my voice was going and the cough was not improving. So my dear sister took me to the doctor on the Monday because she didn’t think I should drive myself. She was probably right. My GP took one look at me and sent me to the hospital with a letter. “But I probably just need another go at the nebuliser!” I croaked. He thought they ought to make that decision.

2016-11-07-16-14-03The hospital were lovely. They did indeed give me a nebuliser. And another. And another. And then decided I really ought to stay in and have them through the night. This was not in my plan. I had a wedding coming up at the end of the week which was very important to me (and to the happy couple too, it has to be said). I had things to do. Advent liturgy books to prepare, AGM to plan, pew sheets to do, a talk on art to go to, services to take, and a whole host of other things. But no, I was to stay and breathe fresh mountain air and take lots of pills and get better first. Only I didn’t. Another night in hospital. And by this time I had horrendous pain when I coughed from strained muscles so was put on some nice painkillers too.

Now let me tell you about the ward I was on. I should have been transferred to the Respiratory Ward but they were full. So I was kept on the Medical Assessment Unit which is really a temporary ward until people are moved on. It is next to A&E and goes like a fair. In my ward there were 5 beds and I was the youngest by a considerable mile. And they came and they went and I prayed through the long nights for M who was bewildered and needed to organise everything on her trolley a lot; for E who had just been told she had cancer again and her pain was just awful; for M2 who slept a lot with her mouth open and I kept thinking she’d gone; for M3 who came and went so quickly I never found out what was wrong nor where she went; for others who’d lost their appetite and not even jelly would tempt them. I watched them all and their visitors and we all smiled when M’s granddaughter entertained us with songs and innocently amusing questions. My son came at night after work and I was sharp with him because he took so long coming. And I apologised to him too.

And then another visit from a Consultant who suggested a stay until the weekend. I explained about the wedding in 2 days time and how I really couldn’t cope with staying any longer and not sleeping. It was very busy and noisy at night. Reluctantly he agreed to let me home into the care of the Community Respiratory Team who would come in every day to check me. And I got home. And my sister shopped for me and the CRT came in and measured my oxygen levels and brought me my own nebuliser to use 4 times a day. And my congregation told me not to worry about services and that they’d cover and I should just get well enough for my friend’s wedding.

2016-11-12-18-05-05On the day of the wedding I knew I couldn’t drive to Falkirk but the bride’s witness came and gave me a lift. I took the nebuliser and painkillers just before the service. My voice was croaky but the microphone picked it up sufficiently to be heard. The service was by candlelight and the church was full. The temperature rose and rose and by the time we got to the end of it I looked like a small damp rag. But we made it! Yay! I even made it to the reception for one and a half courses before the nice woman who’d given me a lift came and told me she was taking me home again. And the next day I slept. And slept some more. And someone else took my service here and that was just fine. And still I had no voice.

This past week has seen some improvement. I still have no voice but it is getting a little stronger each day with the help of gargling. (If you are on Facebook you could entertain yourself by watching them.) I do an hour in my study and then I rest for two. I’ve had to cancel a special Remembrance Day service I’d planned and was so disappointed about that. I’ve had to cancel meetings and appointments. I’ve been frustrated at being off sick for so long and now I’m getting bored which is probably a sign that I am getting better. The physio from the CRT say my lungs are still crackling but I am getting better so everything is now being reduced gradually. Today I managed over an hour at our Church Fair and everyone was very understanding. Tomorrow I won’t take the service but I shall chair the AGM with a croak and a prayer. And I’ve knitted 4 eternity scarves which made £20 for the sale. (My hands were too shaky to paint and I can’t concentrate on reading.)

So the moral of my story is… look after yourself. Right at the beginning of any kind of cold or virus, stay in and care for yourself. Don’t soldier on. Don’t spread it around. Don’t think you can do it because the payback may be more than you can bear. Be good to yourself.

And thank you to all who’ve looked after me.

How much do we care for our elderly?

D is 90. She is a Franciscan tertiary who lives alone simply and with a good network of friends. She is very independent and sharp as a tack, with few health problems considering her age, and volunteers regularly at a centre providing care for the elderly. (She didn’t think of herself as elderly!) That is, until a few weeks ago when she came downstairs in the morning and opened her curtains, got a sharp pain above her hip and fell, hitting her coffee table on the way down. Luckily she had her phone in her dressing gown pocket so was able to call a neighbour, who phoned an ambulance and left her lying until the ‘experts’ came. She was taken into hospital and admitted to the Acute Assessment.

Her next of kin phoned a church member so we knew about it straight away and I popped in to see her the next day. (No visitors, she’d said, because she didn’t want to be a nuisance but I told her I didn’t count.) They said she was a bit dehydrated but they sorted that quickly but nobody seemed to know why she’d fallen. Without doing an x-ray they were certain it was not a broken bone so they treated her with painkillers. Physios came and helped her with some exercises and tried to get her walking but she really had quite a lot of pain and had lost her confidence. With the zimmer she could manage but didn’t cope well with a stick. So they kept her in for about a week before discharging her with a zimmer. She still didn’t know what was wrong with her.

A friend came to take her home to a dark and cold house with no food in the fridge. Since then (over two weeks ago) she has seen a nurse every morning who comes to put a patch on her hip for pain. That’s it. Until 2 days ago when a trolley arrived she was unable to feed herself because she had no way of carrying food or drinks from the kitchen to her seat and couldn’t stand for any length of time in the kitchen. D’s neighbours and friends had to come in several times a day to make food for her. The hospital had also arranged for a cushion which came with the trolley. It was covered in plastic and sweaty to sit on. D has had no other help.

When I was visiting yesterday I discovered that D has not had a shower since she got out of hospital because she is unable to climb into her bath. She has had to make do with a wipe down herself. She still has awful pain and is stuck sitting all day on a cushion on a low couch watching TV. She has never been given exercises to do at home, nor does she know what is actually wrong with her. No x-rays, no scans = no diagnosis.

Then this morning I heard on the radio that the NHS is cutting back on unnecessary treatments which cost money. One of those unnecessary treatments is x-rays for lower back pain. And I bet if you’re 90 you’re even less likely to get one.

holding-hands-elderlyD doesn’t appear to have a Social Worker, Occupational Health worker, Care assistant, anyone to whom she can phone and ask for help. The nurses who come in the morning (seldom the same one) only have been told to put her patch on and that’s it.  Her GP comes back from holiday tomorrow so she is going to try her. We’ve helped her write down all the questions she needs to ask. Like: who will help me have a shower? can I get a chair to help the pain? are there other aids which might make life easier for me at the moment? what is wrong with me and how can I help it improve?

D is fortunate in a way. She has a community of friends from church and the Franciscans, as well as some super neighbours who can pop in and do shopping and keep her company. What she really wants is her independence back. And she wants to know what’s wrong with her and will it get better. It’s the not knowing that causes worry and sleepless nights.

But what about the other folk, I’m left wondering? What about those without communities of support? What about the forgotten ones sent home from hospital with no way of feeding or bathing themselves? More cutbacks means less care and more vulnerable people. Its just not good enough. And it makes me very sad and more than a little angry. I love the NHS, I really do. I’ll defend it to the end and I’d pay more taxes if I knew the money was going to the vulnerable and not management. But why are we not getting something as simple as communication right? I know there is help out there but I just don’t know how to access it for D.

I did a funeral on Saturday for a lady who was ill at home for a long time, cared for by her husband. He has about 30 items they have been ‘loaned’ over the last year to help her: a reclining chair, toilet support, cushions, hospital bed, rails, grabbers etc. He wants them taken away now for someone else to use. They can’t say when that will be. I’m tempted to hire a van and just get over there and fill it up for D.

New Year Revolutions 2015

Jumping on the blogging bandwagon of making some New Year resolutions (though Revolutions sounds more fun) for 2015. You should know that I am not very good at keeping them, however. Last year, or was it the year before, I made a resolution not to buy any more books until I’d read the all the unread ones I have. That lasted until May. And I still have a 6ft bookcase outside my study which is positively bulging with unread books. So that brings me to my first revolution:

books and coffeeReading
This year I shall put in my diary some time for reading. For the past few months it has taken me 4 weeks to read our book group offering and occasionally I can fit in another one but I read two pages in bed and fall asleep. As for reading theology and books to feed sermons… pathetic!  So this year I shall put some time blocked out in my diary and not feel guilty at all about reading. Which leads me neatly on to my next one…

From 14 April to 14 July I shall be taking my first Sabbatical. 12 weeks of time away from the parish to restore, refresh and renew myself and ministry. For years I’ve wanted to put together a Lent Book/Blog using a piece of art each day with a meditation. I am a visual person and really look forward to gazing at lovely paintings and matching them with meditations for the 40 days of Lent. I’ve taken some advice and have been told New York and Washington are the places to go to see great art so that’s where I’m headed. Then perhaps some time in Gladstone’s Library for putting it all together. My Bishop tells me there must be some rest in there too and I’m not arguing with that. Of course this is all dependent on getting some Grants to help finance it so if you know of anyone who can help…

Health and Fitness
I know! Can you believe I even have considered including this? Last year was not a great year for health but was much improved when I was sent for Pulmonary Rehab at the hospital. 6 weeks of exercise and diet left me feeling so much better and my plan is to carry on with that in the new year. I’ve been referred to the local gym and some lycra may even be purchased. Steady, Ruth! I also have liver disease (of the non-alcoholic kind, she quickly added) and was given a scary warning about losing weight (not before time, I may add) so I need to continue to eat cottage cheese and resist all cakes and biscuits on church premises. I will need your help in this, so if you see me reaching for a wee slice of malteser cake you have permission to smack my hand.

I’d like to say I will spend more time keeping my study tidy and organising it better, spending more time visiting family and friends, learning how to crochet, avoiding wasting time on stupid computer games, spending less money on purple Purple-Leather-Handbaghandbags (how many purple handbags does one woman need? really?), making time for mutual support with clergy friends, tidying up my computer files which have been desperately needing doing since I got new computer and can’t find anything, blogging more on topical issues, not leaving my tax return till the last minute, etc etc. I’d like to do all these things but suspect they are an annual hope which take more effort than I’ve ever given. Maybe this year… Oh, and stopping smoking again. Yeh that.

In which Ruth goes to the gym

Yes, I bet those are words you never thought you’d hear from my lips. For the past six weeks I have been going to the gym. Gasp!  But not just any gym, oh no. This is a very special gym – a gym for old fat and skinny folk who have lung problems. I was referred by my doc some time ago because I have asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) which gives me lots of chest infections and breathing problems. When the physio suggested that this gym might be a good idea, I laughed. I laughed and laughed and coughed. Me at a gym? And you’re laughing too at the very thought, aren’t you? I can sense it.

Gym cartoonI use my car for everything, even driving about half a mile to get to the car park in town when anyone could walk there in minutes. In my defence this is because cold air and wind sets me off coughing and is bad for asthma and being so fat makes it exceedingly hard work. And then it becomes a vicious cycle – fat people don’t walk, right? And waddling is never attractive. But I was assured by the phsyio that there would be other people at the classes in the same boat – we’d all be wheezy, clutching our inhalers, and many would be overweight because of the lack of exercise and overuse of steroids.

So on 4 November I set off for the hospital gym clutching my bottle of water in ‘comfortable clothes and flat shoes’ with more than a little apprehension. The gym part would take up an hour and then we’d have a talk for half-an-hour when the second group would join us and then they’d stay on for the gym when we staggered off to our cars, wobbling on achy legs and wheezing like old crones.  I looked around my group and discovered that I was in fact the only overweight one apart from one man with a big belly which might have been a hernia. (The second group had loads of plump ladies, many of whom brought their own oxygen tanks, which beat any attention seeking I might have been planning.) My group was full of painfully thin old women with deep husky voices and smokers’ coughs. I was the youngest by about 20 years. We were nervous and shy with each other and very unsure of what this gym was going to entail.

Ruth the Physio had us sit in a circle for warm-up first. Tapping toes, stretching lunges, rolling of heads and marching on the spot and we all joined in awkwardly. This was all accompanied by disco music (which I will never hear again without starting the warm-up routine) and soon we learned who had rhythm and who did not. We also discovered that some just couldn’t do the exercises on the spot but traversed across the circle. Nobody got smacked in the gob which was a miracle really. After warm-up, we were shown the 14 exercises we would be expected to do each session: lifting weights; cycling; squats; steps; treadmill; wall presses; goalie (the most embarrassing one where you stand with your back against a wall, crouch and put your hands on your knees and then stretch out to the right as if catching a ball, back to knees, and then repeat to the left sliding up and down the wall as you go); etc. We were to begin with 10 of each and 2 mins on bike and treadmill and mark them on our sheet. On duty were Ruth the Physio and a scary pulmonary nurse who kept an eye out for bad wheezing and were ready to gently encourage us.

I began the 12 sessions with the remnant of a bad chest infection and was coughing like a dirty old woman. Several times I had to stop and have a good old cough and splutter and that’s when I learned that exercise is good for getting phlegm up. Yes, phlegm. A revolting word for something which we all get from time to time. I feel as if I am now an expert on the wretched stuff. But by the end of the first session I had managed all 14 exercises and had time to sit down and wheeze before our hour was up. I had quite a sense of achievement.

Then two days later we had to do it all over again but this time we had to increase the exercises a bit. We tentatively spoke to one another getting to know what our health problems were, and helped one another figure out how the bike worked and how to lower the seat. We stopped being quite so embarrassed about swinging our arms and sitting down and standing up at the same time. We learned that some of the weights and poles were heavier than others and all opted for the lightest ones. We learned that Jessie was too scared to go on the treadmill and preferred to walk up and down the gym floor. We encouraged one another, asking how long we’d managed to cycle for, and comparing heart rates.

The talks were all different and aimed at our health problems, and some were more useful than others. We learned about Gym smugour lungs and how they work or don’t; about diet and stopping smoking; about benefits and deep breathing; about exercise and relaxation. We took home DVDs with Angela Rippon encouraging us to exercise from our armchairs and CDs with a man speaking gently to us encouraging us to chill out. (No, I have never played the DVD nor listened to the CD but that will come as no surprise to you.)

After my first session at the gym I had an appointment in another part of the hospital for a check-up for my liver. I have something called PBC (Primary Billiary Cirrhosis) which was picked up in a blood test 5 years ago and for which I take four enormous pills every day and mostly ignore except for annual blood tests. But at this appointment I had a new kind of scan and found out that my old liver is not very wobbly at all. Wobbly livers are good, it would seem. Mine was like a lump of tough old gristly liver and riddled with fat. This is serious, you have NAFD said nice consultant. (I think this is Non Alcoholic Fatty Disease – NON Alcoholic, please note!) You must lose 4 stone. 4 stone! Just like that. (Not before time, I may add, but it still came as a bit of a shock.) However, it did seem fortuitous that I should be going to the gym at the same time as starting the radical diet.

And now here we are in my last week of hospital gym approaching my 12th session. I now cycle 10 mins and stride out on the treadmill with a gradient too! My cough has all but gone and I have lost 9 lbs. On Thursday at our last session I will be filmed for some new promotional material to encourage others to try the gym, and even heard myself saying yes to an introduction to the local gym where I’ll get a discount and can go exercise with the big boys and girls. I know! Who’d have thunk it?

I’ve made some friends too and you will be delighted to know Jessie now toddles along on the treadmill, Mary had her cataracts done and it was a great success, and Roberta is worried that it might not be a happy Christmas for her. And I can run up the stairs of the rectory and now speak when I reach the top. And I can walk into town, albeit with a scarf over my mouth, without having to stop several times and lean on the wall. Result!

And that, dear reader, is why I haven’t had time to blog for the past six weeks. It has taken quite a chunk out of my diary and I’ve had to work extra hard to catch up at this busy time of year. Will I go on to the ‘real’ gym? Who knows? Watch this space.


In which Ruth gives up the evil weed

Tomorrow it will be five weeks since I last smoked a cigarette. I gave up on the 11 November, Remembrance Sunday. It seemed as good a date as any to remember. smoking2

I first smoked at the age of about 14. My friends and I smoked in the toilets at school, huddled together in one cubicle with our feet up on the seat so they couldn’t be seen below the door. We shared our cheap Sovereign ciggies, bought in packs of 5 or 10. We smoked in our lunch hour wandering round the shops in Marchmont, ready to throw them away if a teacher passed by. We stole our parents’ cigarettes and suffered untipped cigarettes or much stronger brands. We grew into Consulate menthol and finally St Moritz with the gold band and white tip, if we really wanted to impress.  And when my uncle came home from Kuwait he brought with him Sobranie cocktail cigarettes in black and gold, or rainbow colours. They really made you cough and were terribly strong but worth the pain to be seen with such sophisticated smokes.

We smoked because it made us look older and that was what we desperately wanted in those days – to look older. How ironic that cigarettes do indeed make you look older – physically, by wrinkling your skin and your mouth. We wanted to look cool and sophisticated and grown-up and we thought that boys would want to talk to us because we looked so trendy.  And there was always that moment when you had to ask someone for a light and got to cup your hands round his for just a brief moment, while looking up under your eyelashes in a sexy kind of way. That was until the smoke got in your eye and made it water profusely. Not so cool then.

I smoked just like my parents before me, and like my sisters after me. I smoked when I was pregnant because nobody told me it might not be a good thing. They did hint in 1978 at my second pregnancy that it might be an idea to give up because the baby might be smaller, but as Baby #1 had been 8lb 4oz, a smaller baby seemed like rather a good thing really. So I puffed my way through that pregnancy too and indeed Baby #2 was smaller at 7lb 11oz. I could live with that.

And on and on I smoked. When I was a single parent with no money I smoked. I smoked instead of eating. When I was homeless I smoked. Friends bought me cigs and somehow I always managed. I smoked and it calmed me down and slowed my breathing until I felt at peace. When I was anxious I reached for a smoke, and when I was relaxed I smoked. And I had asthma and in winter I coughed as I smoked and that was not good. One year I had pneumonia and could hardly breathe but still I lit one cigarette after another. Friends nagged me and strangers look disapprovingly. But still I smoked.  And the Budgets came and went and cigarettes went up in price but still I smoked.

You see, smokers always seem to have more fun. There was always laughter coming out of the smoking room when we were separated like lepers. Non-smokers would linger at the door, inhaling our secondhand smoke and watching the fun. And we cracked open another bottle and opened the window a little as our eyes started to water with all the fug. We were the rebels, the naughty ones, the ones who had more fun.

Then I became a curate at a cathedral and nobody else smoked and I gave up. For two years I didn’t smoke and I smelled better and other things smelled better and I could walk and climb without stopping to gasp for breath. I had so much more money that I was able to buy nice things for my house, things I could never have afforded before.  Sure, I put on some weight but that soon came off as I walked and walked and walked.

It was all undone though in just a moment. All it took was a crisis, several G&Ts, some bubbly and a social-smoker friend who offered me a fag. And that was the end of that. How lovely it was to smoke again. How comforting to inhale that soothing smoke deep into my lungs, until my breathing slowed and my worries lessened. Any time my anxiety would return all it took was a long white tube and a purple lighter before my blood pressure returned to normal. Who needs Valium?

Smoking 1By now, of course, the Chancellor has really got it in for smokers and you had to be pretty dedicated to be a smoker in the 21st century. Then the Government banned smoking in the workplace and then smoking in bars. We were reduced to huddling in groups in doorways or alleys. The rain fell, the snow fell but still we huddled together, sharing a camaraderie among strangers. Somehow the smokers were not such fun anymore. We had statistics thrown in our faces, lectures from doctors and friends. We had threats of no treatment in hospital for smoking-related illnesses because they were self-inflicted. But still we smoked, defiant and determined.

And we tried to give up secretly. From time to time we put on a patch or sucked a tab or took a mood-altering pill that was meant to help us stop although nobody knew quite why… and do get in touch if you have suicidal thoughts. And we managed a day or two, perhaps a week. And every sweetie that we substituted made us feel even more depressed. Then one night at 10pm we sneaked out to the all night supermarket and bought a wee packed of 10 smokes with the intention of never letting it get back to 20 a day, but within 48 hours it had.

So that, dear reader, was my life until a few weeks ago. That was when I had such a bad cough my asthma started to play up. One dose of antibiotics and steroids didn’t do the trick and the Practice Nurse did a new test of my lung function. “You have the lungs of an 85 year old,” she said. “And the beginnings of COPD.” An 85 year old?! I am 56. And I couldn’t climb one flight of stairs without stopping half way, and coughing at the top. And at night I wheezed as I lay down and in the morning I coughed and coughed. And I went to visit Durham with friends and I couldn’t climb the hills and had to keep stopping and friends walked on.

On 11 November 2012 the time was right. I had my last cigarette and now I live one day at a time. Occasionally I have a puff of an electronic cigarette (melon or spearmint flavour) but no more than about 3 puffs a day. That’s not even one whole cigarette. Some days I don’t use it at all and forget all about it. Those days are getting more frequent. Of course I feel better. I won’t lie and say the cough has gone because it hasn’t. But it is getting better and I know that if I hadn’t given up I would be on my third dose of steroids by now and probably back on the nebuliser, gasping for clean air.

I haven’t noticed that I’m better off financially yet. In fact, I haven’t been able to put the money away because there hasn’t been any. So something would have had to go, I’m guessing. And yes I’ve put on weight. A lot of weight. I have eaten my body weight in Maltesers, in fact. In the past when this happened I’d give up and go back to smoking but this time I can’t. This time I have to keep going because fat women don’t all have 85 year old lungs. And that is reversible.

I still miss them. And I may fall off the wagon again. But please don’t judge me. It is bloody hard and I loved smoking. Whether I love being healthy more remains to be seen.

I thirst

There is a horrendous story in today’s papers about a young man who died in a London hospital from dehydration. Throughout a catalogue of disasters and omissions by the hospital, the 22 year old even dialed 999 to try and get the police to get him a drink of water. It is a horrible, horrible story and one which resonates with me too. My father, who has multi-infarct dementia, has been admitted to hospital several times in the past few years with dehydration. The care-home where he lives often ‘forget’ to give him water to drink and as a result he starts to become seriously unwell, fits and eventually is admitted to hospital. Although he is given coffee at certain points of the day and juice with his meal, he has to be prompted to drink it. He forgets to drink what is in front of him.

It is not a huge care issue – to prompt someone to drink. Without the prompting he just forgets. It is not like dealing with incontinence or wandering or shouting which many others in the home do. All it takes is for a member of staff to remind him to drink whenever they pass him. And to make sure that he has a drink beside him all the time. That’s not a big care issue in my books. We’ve even had it written into his Care Plan because for a while there were so many temporary staff nobody knew about it.  But still I will visit and find him with no drink beside him.  He has a catheter so it is important that he drinks plenty fluids. There’s barely a month goes by without him being on antibiotics because of an infection with that and I wonder if drinking more might just help.

We used to always take drinks in for him when we visited but were told we didn’t need to because they would provide it. And sometimes they do. But not always. He has gout too and what is one of the causes of gout recurring? Dehydration. It just seems such a simple thing but somehow it doesn’t always get done.

And hospitals are not excluded from this either. For when he is admitted and is given a drip it sometimes takes 4 days to rehydrate him. Then when he is taken off the drip the problem starts all over again. Water jugs out of reach, full cups of coffee removed because they are cold but nobody thinks that this means he hasn’t drunk anything.

You’d think it was such a simple thing. We are not a developing country; water is freely available. But time and time again I visit people in hospital suffering from dehydration. It is just so preventable and so simple really. Their needs are few. They thirst. Just give them a drink.

What do you do when you’re off sick?

It is almost a week since I got out of hospital. I am bored already. 6-8 weeks is starting to look like an awfully long time.

To begin with, when you are feeling poorly and dopey apres anaesthetic, it is fine to lounge around in your jammies, popping in and out of bed, watching a little light TV (attention span not good over 30 mins) and reading a page or two before falling asleep again. Having a shower really takes it out of you and a lie down is required before the hair is dried.  Checking emails and feed reader lasts about an hour before a shift of position is required. Appetite is lacking and a little bit of toast is about all you can manage politely but when pressed will force some French Toast/Eggy Bread down reluctantly.

But as the week goes on, things start to improve.  This brave wee soldier can even manage to make her own tea now, if forced. Attention span for TV is up to one hour programmes, but fell asleep half way through an old episode of Morse. (Enjoying old episodes of Moonlighting and Tooty Fruity.)  Emails and playing on Facebook etc is now lasting 2 hours. One wee nap in the afternoon is all that’s needed although little dozy episodes do happen from time to time.  Reading ecclesiastical whodunnits is improving and up to at least 10 pages before eyes close.  Dealing with lack-of-water-crisis at church is not fazing and I am sure that someone else can deal with it without my help.

Son #1 has turned out to be a really good nurse. He loves cooking and has been a little disappointed that I’ve not required any of his masterpieces yet. But the cups of tea and fluffing of pillows have been timely. And he is awfully good at nagging when he thinks I’ve been at my desk for too long.  His girlfriend is now on my car insurance so is taking care of the shopping and enjoying having a runaround for a wee while.

So there we have it. Week 1 of convalesence post hospital is almost over and I am feeling much better.  Thanks to whoever brought me a doze of the sniffles. (Coughing and sneezing is a big no-no!) Visitors always welcome – if you make your own tea.

A lesson in humility

Sunday morning brought my sister and her boys over to do my housework and change my bed.  They also taught me Harvest Moon for my DS Lite in case I’m interested in getting it.  (Not sure that I am!)

Son #2 came to visit and eat bacon rolls.

A & K from church came to visit with a purple cushion with ‘Queen’ on it and some books.

D & M came with communion which was a surprise and lovely. That’s the second time this week I’ve been ministered to and it was really rather special.

Finished My Name Was Judas by CK Stead which is our book group book this month. Well, this will be an interesting discussion methinks.  We have to assume that Judas did not commit suicide or die but lived on in Greece and is now telling his version of a shared childhood with Jesus and what it was like being one of the 12. There were quite a few ‘oh that could be right’ moments and lots to ponder. Interesting version of the naked young man who was seen running away when Jesus was captured. Loved that bit! Worth a read.

To tell or not to tell?

Blogging about personal things or one’s health is always a tricky one. I know some clergy just don’t do it.  Never a peep.  Although sometimes they use their cat as a substitute. Others do it a lot and that comes in for some criticism. It is a dilemma, right enough.

In the past I have blogged probably more than I should.  Occasionally it has brought about interesting discussions and I was glad I did it. But that is not always the case.

The thing is, there is so much mileage in this latest medical adventure of mine. The jokes are just bubbling away during visits and phone calls and I’d love to share them with you. But that good taste gene is just pulling me back whispering in my ear, “Don’t do it Ruth. Step away from the lurid stories.  You are a priest and must maintain the aura of …. ” (fill inthe gap yourself.)

So let us just say that I have had a wee stay in hospital which involved an operation under general anaesthetic. It was quite nippy after. All has gone well and now I must desist from lifting, driving, bending or hoovering for 8 weeks.  My attention span is that of a gnat.  So far my days have passed in reading, sleeping, reading, sleeping, sleeping, a little TV and then more sleeping. Visitors have been much welcome and very entertaining so far.

And I have promised not to sit at the computer all day long. So a little update in the mornings which I fear will all be much of a muchness is all that I shall do. Well I’m saying that now…

Blogging pause

Normal service will be resumed when the anaesthetic has worn off.

I may be gone for some time.

Please pray for healing for my bits that need healed.

Going in to hospital tomorrow morning, op at 1.45pm and home a few days later when they prise me off the morphine drip. What a lark!

Recuperation is to take 6-8 weeks I am told. Not a happy bunny about that, I can tell you. But that takes us neatly to Advent Sunday which I guess is a good place to start back.  And gives me plenty time to catch up on reading and preparing those Christmas services.

And whatever you do, don’t make me laugh – or cough.

Oh, and it is Ward 210 (not 120 as I told everyone who asked today).