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Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year is a new slate

It is almost 2012 and it is a year that I am looking forward to. When I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer my goal was to make it to 2012 to see the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics being staged in London. Now I need to set new goals...or do I?

Each year is a new slate and for that matter so is each day, so maybe I need to start to doodle on that slate and try to make sure that each day has a few smileys on it. If we don't value each day then we are really losing out. I try to achieve something each day, no matter how small.

I was watching an interview of Oprah Winfrey on the internet yesterday. She was talking about how she felt she was born for greatness, but that this was not necessarily as arrogant as it sounds. Greatness is something that we all have in us but that doesn't mean that we are all going to be rich or famous. Greatness is being the best that we can be, and that does not have to be earth-shattering, but just satisfying to know that we are doing the best we can at any particular time, and in any particular place. The greatest performance at the Olympics this year might not be the one that hits the headlines. After all, will the best performance be by the person who wins with an average time, or the person that comes last but shatters their personal best and may be also their national record etc.

Maybe my New Year's resolution is to get to be better at doodling on that slate! :O)

Friday, 30 December 2011

Nearly lost my blog!

I upgraded my version of Explorer and I nearly lost my own blog because the one-click buttons I used before have disappeared!  Crickey!

Why the heck did I do that?  Now I have something I don't like using as this is the version that I have on my Netbook.  Newer most certainly isn't always better.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Why are doctors so scared?

A week ago yesterday I had my left total hip replacement operation at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.  When a student nurse unpacked my bag when I got to the ward she found my supplements and immediately reported this to a Staff Nurse, who had to clear it with the Doctor on duty.  He eventually reluctantly said that I could keep them, but that he would not prescribe them as other doctors would think he had lost it.

Now, I kind of expected this sort of a reaction, but to one of the supplements which they seemed very suspicious about, I have to admit that I was very surprised by this reaction.  The supplement in question is Arnica in homeopathic pillule 30c strength.  True, this was a junior doctor, but I had expected him to have some knowledge about the properties of Arnica.  The next day a pharmacist came round to check my meds and she was indeed suspicious of the other supplements, though this was partly because I had each day's worth in tiny jam pots who get in hotels etc rather than in their original containers (it is just so much easier to do it this way, rather than daily).  The pharmacist's opinion of Arnica - it is amazing stuff.

The properties of Arnica which help to reduce bruising and swelling are very well known, but still they come under the umbrella of 'Alternative' medicine and so conventional western medicine ignores something which is so effective and which has no known interactions with conventional medicine.  THINK people!  If it didn't work, people would not keep on using it in the age of Big Pharma and all their concoctions which are 'proven' to work.  It is used because it works and it is safe when used correctly.  I don't want to take things which give me side effects so I have to take more meds for those side effects, which give me side effects ... and so on round in circles. for more info.

Doctors are trained by a system which is totally in thrall to science, and which seems to embue them with the belief that there is only one way to deal with a given illness or situation.  Surely they still practice the art of medicine don't they?  This term indicates to me the ability to think and work from experience; to be able to adapt to a situation and use the treatment which is best suited to the patient, the disease and the situation.  One size does NOT fit all, and a monolithic approach is of no help to anyone when they are trying to deal with something that is complex, and besides, surely they should try a kinder approach first before doing something radical.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

One week post hip op

It is a week ago today (about noon) that I had my left total hip replacement operation, and it has been such a positive experience. The Royal Bournemouth Hospital was such a different experience to Southampton General Hospital on so many levels.

I arrived in the dark as I had to be there by 7.15 to book into the Sandbourne Suite which has a very posh reception area from whence you go to a small consultation room to go through the final checks. Once you are gowned up and marked up to make sure they do the right thing, you go through into a waiting room. Had to wait until about noon, but as I was one of the first in I got the nicest chair which reclined so I was alright Jack! There was a delay because of a problem with the air-con in the theatres which was supposed to have been fixed at the weekend, and this delayed things by about an hour so, as the second on the list, I didn't get to walk over to the theatre until noon - with a teddy bear in hand of course.

I was on the ward by about 4pm and on to one of those wonderful hospital beds which is adjustable to suit you without the effort of having to move yourself. I was on an air matress for a day or so until they got me out of bed. When they did get me out I managed to walk to the loo, but this was overdoing it a bit as I nearly passed out when I got back to the bed so I had to lie down on oxygen, rather than sitting out. However I didn't need a blood transfusion this time and managed to get back on track by day two post-op, and making sure that I did the exercises in bed and some deep breathing. My blood pressure was a bit up and down the first couple of days, which is probably what contributed to the lightheadedness.

I have been taking Arnica pillules (homeopathic medicine) since about a week before the operation, first as a lower 6c dose, and then 30c post-op. This has really helped with the bruising and general discomfort, and if it wasn't for the staples closing the wound I don't think I would really notice there was much of a problem, although there is a large area of bruising which has been coming out. One of the nurses actually asked if I had actually had a hip replacement because the wound was doing so well. When they unpacked by stuff, once I got on the ward, they were immediately very suspicious of the supplements which I had brought with me which were then promptly locked away until a doctor could have a look at them. He said he couldn't officially prescribe them as he would be laughed at by other doctors, but when he found out what they were he said he would not object. He didn't seem to have any knowledge of the properties of even Arnica, which is very well known, and trotted out the usual schpeel about how none of this had been researched...which is so untrue. A pharmacist came along later to check my meds and make sure I had everything I needed and when I mentioned the Arnica to her she said that it was wonderful stuff. So why are they not routinely prescribing this? Who knows more about medicines - doctors or pharmacists? Obviously pharmacists as the chemical properties of medications is what they do. When a doctor needs to check if there will be any adverse interactions between meds they check with the pharmacist. So again, why is Arnica not in general use both pre and post operatively?  Think of the saving on pain meds and discomfort for the patient?

The staff were also very different from Southampton.  First of all there were so many of them - it was amazing, and secondly they actually look an interest in the patients.  Because there were so many buzzing around there were very few call buttons being pressed as you knew that you could just ask someone to do some little thing while they were passing, and they would either do it then, or actually come back in a few minutes as they said they would.  At Southampton it was rather a case of ring now and someone might come in half an hour and tell you they will be back soon, so then you could ring on a second or third occasion and possibly get something done.

The whole atmosphere was so different and more relaxed.  Staff didn't spend their time sitting chatting at the nurses station.  The food was very good, within the obvious limitations of mass producing food for the same time.  It was 'home' cooked and tasty and served on the ward.  Also I was impressed by the way that different grades of staff just mixed in to get the job done; the ward clerk or nurses helping with meals and a general lack of 'that's not my job' kind of attitude that I experience else where in life, both in hospital and work.  There was laughter on the ward, not the depressed and anxious silence that I have experienced elsewhere.  I had a lot of compliments on the fabric flowers I have wound around my crutches especially when I took a trip down to the Carol Service in the Atrium on Sunday afternoon, shortly before I went home.

Being Home Alone is rather nice as I can potter around in my own space, but the hosptial routine is quite nice as well as I am tending to lose track of time and day at the moment.  This is partially because I have not been sleeping as well because I can't get as comfortable in my own bed.  However with the flower power crutches in hand it is onward and upward...

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The day has come at last

In less than 10 hours I will be reporting to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital for the hip replacement operation that I have needed for so long.  I can't wait as I am really looking forward to having this done.  I know that sounds strange, but it is so restricting my life at the moment that I just want it to be over.  I want to be able to walk without sticks and without thinking about how I am walking.  I want to be able to cross a road without wondering if I might become road-kill if I can't move fast enough as some drivers just think of pedestrians as being targets.  Yes I AM going as fast as I can ...

The Occupational Therapist came out today but I already have most of the things I need from having my right hip replaced 3 years and 11 months ago.  Wow, when you see it written down like that it really is a long time ago, 47 months.  That operation was rather more traumatic, being admitted straight from the chemo clinic because a tumour had caused a pathological fracture of the hip.  This time it is just osteoarthritis in a deformed hip.  In fact it will be quite strange to have a left hip that works properly.  Not that it really caused me too many problems until the last few years, but all those years using heavy cleaning equipment and the side effects of my cancer treatment have not helped thing.  So now I am nearing a new birthday, a third one to celebrate.  The day I was born, the right hip's birthday and now the left hip's birthday, it is just a shame that they are all in the winter.

So it is back to going up one step at a time, and down one step at a time, until I can just walk up and down stairs without thinking.  Strangely enough your mind adjusts to one step at a time and it is quite scary when you have to remember how you go one step at a time.  Maybe this has something to do with having grown up in a bungalow and gone to primary school in a small village school on just one level.  I find I still have to think about the technique of using stairs some times.  They used to scare me when I went to a friend's house as a child.

Onward and upward!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas decoration and operation preparation

Yesterday evening I went to a carol service at New Milton Baptist Church and on the way home we went and had a look at some of the Christmas lights.  Today I got my Christmas decorations out of the attic and I've put some of them in the spare bedroom window.  Not much, but I hope it adds to the feeling that Christmas is fast approaching.

I've done a load of bits today to try and get everything ready for when I go into hospital.  After all there is no way I will be able to get up the loft ladder after the hip replacement operation!  I have also ordered the turkey crown to be collected from Waitrose on 23 December, ordered my repeat prescription and so on.  I think I have finished getting my bag packed, but I should only be in for 4 days this time.

I have an Occuptional Therapist coming out to the house next week to make sure that I have all the aids that I need.  I think the only thing that worries me is being able to get in and out of bed once I get home and don't have the lovely hospital bed that I can manipulate into the most comfortable position.  I am hoping that the weather doesn't turn too icy so I can get out and about as soon as possible.  Getting the hip into action is important, or stop DVTs but to get the muscles built up and allow my body to get used to having a hip that can work properly for the first time in my life.  I just have to hope that they make my legs the same length as I have spent far too long with one leg shorter than the other, which in turn has been throwing out my neck and back.

I want to be able to enjoy the Christmas holidays despite the restrictions that I will have.  I love to be able to snuggle up in the house with some candles burning and a good book or film.  I can hear the wind and rain lashing down outside right now, and here am I comfortable in my own little world.  These days I rarely ever watch TV as I just don't find anything that I want to watch and I have started to lose interest in the news and what is going on in the wider world.  Why worry about it?  What can I do to change things?  What I do have some control over is what happens in my immediate environment. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Getting sorted...ish

Well today I spent time at work clearing out my desk and my locker.  It is amazing the rubbish I have collected there.  Some of it went straight in the bin and other bits into recycling.  It is nice to be ruthless about sorting stuff out once in a while, and it even better when you know that it will be taken away so you can't change your mind - that has always been one of my problems, changing my mind about getting rid of things.  After all one of the family mottos is 'keep it, it might come in useful'.  I also always feel rather guilty just throwing things away.  I know that I should have a compost heap, and I can be a bit manic about recycling metal, plastic, glass and paper; after all the possibilities are endless!  Humankind cannot go on using up the planet's resources in the way that we do, especially when a little bit of effort means that those resources can become another can, newspaper or fleece.

I am also trying to get things ready at home for being back on crutches.  I should be home after about 4 days this time, not the two weeks it took for them to let me out of the other hospital.  I need to move things upstairs as the 'facilities' are up here.  I have a small fridge that I can bring up, and all the bits for my smoothies in the morning.  I also got a soup maker on Monday when I went down to Castle Point in Bournemouth which can cook and blend it all in one...just put in the ingredients and set it up and let it go.  I hope it works.  I won't be able to stand for very long to do traditional cooking, so this should be just the thing - chop and go.

I have wrapped the presents that I have managed to get so far, so that is another thing out of the way.  Luckily I don't have many people to buy for, and I refuse to buy gifts that won't be useful or wanted.  One of my pet-hates is the Gift Set!  Grrr.  My younger neice's birthday is in mid November and it is difficult to find a present for her if you leave it too late as the shop shelves have been cleared to make way for Gift Sets.  These are the kind of thing that do the rounds at raffles for a while after Christmas because no one really wants them, or they only want part of them.  I won a cappuchino gift set in a raffle, and I only got that because I wanted the mug.  After all the coffee was actually past its best before date it had been doing the rounds for so long.  I make soya milk most mornings which has to cook so I make a bit mug of hot chocolate/coffee in the mug, which I have to confess is actually nicer cold so I finish it off in the evening after I get home from work, though on these chilly mornings the mug is a lovely hand warmer...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Who says supplements don't work

One week until the hip replacement operation and I can't wait.  I have been told that I can't take my supplements for two weeks before the operation and so I haven't been taking my glucosamine & chondroitin or the rosehip supplements for a week and I am slowly grinding to a halt as I get stiffer and stiffer.  I now routinely use a walking pole around college as even walking from the car to the office is getting to be more and more of a challenge.  It is 2.15am in the UK and I have been woken by the pain, so I am waiting for a stronger pain killer to work so I can get back to sleep.

Why is conventional medicine so against natural supplements? 

The rather cynical conclusion which makes sense to me is because they don't generate a profit for pharmaceutical companies and the blindness of doctors to anything that is not produced by a drug company making gigantic profits.  I once read that the top Big Pharma companies quoted on the Fortune 500 list in America make more profit than all the others put together! 

Which would you trust more?  A natural substance which has been a part of humans nutrition for thousands of years?  Or something made in a laboratory to be patented and sold with the sole purpose of profit?  Hmmmm.