Saturday, 22 December 2012

Poor week

Well, it's been a poor week, recovery-wise. I've always been aware of a pain where the drainage tube had been sticking through me, on my left side, but it became particularly bad towards the end of last week. Saw the surgeon on Tuesday. He checked that there was no broken rib (the pain was just like that of a broken rib) and, finding none, suggested that a nerve had become trapped during the operation. Time would be the healer, but meanwhile he prescribed some morphine patches.

I put up with a patch until Thursday lunchtime, when I just had to remove it: I was falling asleep all the time, not eating, dizzy, vomiting… and the patch did little to relieve the pain!

Yesterday I had an injection of some sort of anaesthetic, which caused some temporary relief, but today the pain is back again. At least now I am feeling less tired than before, so something seems to be getting better.

I thought you'd be interested in seeing how the scars left by the incisions progress, so here's a "before and after".

The "before" pic was taken just a couple of days after the operation and the whole thing looks rather like a butcher's shop. Elise calls it Feretería David. The white patch at the top right is the dressing of the drainage incision.

The staples were removed during two visits. A machine very similar to an office staple remover is used and very little discomfort is experienced during the procedure: just a little pinprick at the removal of each staple.

The "after" image was taken last Sunday (16 December), so close to three weeks after the operation. The whole thing already looks a lot more apetizing (well, that's one way of looking at it…) and in time the marks of the staples and other dark areas should disappear, leaving behind an almost pristine me. Well, that's the theory, anyway.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

What a Crazy World

Listening to Joe Brown's 1963 recording of What A Crazy World We're Living In makes me think of the crazy week we've just had.

I'm not talking about anything related to my recovery here, but about the absolute stupidity of a so-called developed world.

First, of course, is the mass killing of schoolchildren and teachers in Connecticut, USA, by Adam Lanza, a "smart but shy nerd." Well, the smart but shy nerd had little difficulty in getting hold of at least three of the several more weapons that his mother kept in the house. Once again, then, the USA is faced with what it considers to be the "problem" of gun control. So what's the problem? You legislate to control the sale and possession of guns and you operate an efficient, corrupt-free police force. Stuff the fact that some out-of-date part of an old constitution, written at other times, when other mores were in place, stipulates the right to bear arms: that was then, this is now. The USA is supposed to be a civilised nation; it is supposed to set some sort of example. Instead, it allows archaic, conservative, right-wing nonsense to guide it in so many ways: there are schools in the USA where Creationism is taught, for heaven's sake! That's nothing short of Christian fundamentalism gone bonkers. It really is time for the USA to grow up.

What a crazy world.

Then a piece of news that most will not even have noticed. The EU has agreed to recognise a unitary patent, recognised in 25 of the 27 member states (here's an article with the details). This will make the protection of inventions across the EU a far simpler and cheaper process. But, hang on, why not 27 of the 27 countries? Well, it was decided that, in order to limit costs and bureaucracy, patent requests could be made in any of the three most-used languages of the EU, namely English, French, or German. Fine, this is an EU-wide thing, not a local issue, so nonsensical national pride should have nothing to do with it. That's not how Italy and Spain see things, however. They refuse to take part in the agreement because their languages are not included in the list of approved ones. I'm Welsh and there are instances when I would like to see Welsh used (signs in Wales, education in Wales, legislative procedures in Wales…), but this is not one of them. It is time for member states to put away their petty, petty nationalism and work for an efficient, effective Europe.

What a crazy world.

And then, of course, there's the iPope. What a plonker! A couple of weeks ago he tried to get rid of the ox and the ass from the nativity stable/cave (a mother-earth symbol handily modified by Christians, so a completely false image, anyway), and then he tops even that bit of publicity-mongering by becoming a Twit—er, sorry, a Twitter—and having his own spot on Twitter. Perhaps he will now issue a Papal Ban, renaming himself Pope Benetwit. The chap couldn't even touch the button on the screen of the iPad he was using to initiate his great adventure into cyberworld, so just how much actual input he will have in "his" messages is anyone's guess. Still, the blind faithful will believe that every message is from his own shaky, yet holy hands and directed directly at them. And they will live in the certainty that when their time comes, Saint Tweeter will be waiting for them at the pearly Bill Gates.

God, I'm glad I'm an atheist.

What a crazy world.

Amen to that.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Unstapled and unplugged

We went to the hospital this morning.

The remaining staples were removed from the incisions of the operation and blood was taken for laboratory analysis. All seems to be going well with the incisions, though they remain painful and irritating. We shall have to wait until next week for the results of the analysis, of course.

I did not think that the recovery would take so long or be so uncomfortable. I remain very tired in the afternoons and evenings and still have quite a lot of pain.

While at the hospital, we took the opportunity to have our eyes checked. They should have been done over a month ago, but, of course, we had other things on our minds.

After that, we went to the cafeteria to enjoy a light breakfast (had to be without food or drink earlier for the blood to be taken): freshly pressed orange-juice, tostada de tomate rallado con aceite de oliva y queso, and coffee.

Arriving back at the car, Elise tried to start it and got nothing at all: flat battery. In her hurry to get to me after having dropped me at the hospital entrance some three hours earlier, she'd forgotten to turn off the headlights after having parked the car. Fortunately, this sort of thing is covered by our car insurance, so a quick call to Mapfre had the problem sorted out within half an hour. An excellent service, if you ask me.

Friday, 7 December 2012

That's a relief

Just back from the hospital.

Most of the staples have been removed, as has the catheter.

Big relief!

Have to go back on Tuesday to have the rest of the staples taken out.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The return of Bagman

Initial analysis results being very good (no more malignant cells found, remaining kidney already taking over much of the function of the missing one, etc.) and a CAT scan showing all present and correct, I was allowed to return home on Tuesday. No chemo- or radiation therapy treatment is scheduled, so that must be a positive sign.

There's a lot to going home: speak with the surgeon, get instructions from nurses, get dressed… The getting dressed part was harder than it sounds, as some way had to be found to do carry the catheter, together with its tubes and bag: this was achieved by taping the tubing to my thigh and leading it down to my calf (with a couple of loops) to where the bag was taped. Not a long-term solution, perhaps, but it sufficed for the short journey home.

That short journey felt a lot longer than normal and, by the time we arrived home at about lunchtime, I was quite exhausted and things were getting very painful. Some painkillers and a bed more or less solved both problems, however, and I knew little more of the world for the rest of the day.

Wednesday (yesterday) started off quite well. After breakfast I even made some bread. That's not as much work as it used to be in the days when I made bread in a more artisanal manner: nowadays I just put the required ingredients in a machine, select the required program, and your mother's brother's name is Robert. Half an hour tops, but it was enough to tire me out. I imagine the tiredness is as much a result of the pain-killers and other medication that I have to take. Anyway, I went to lie down on the bed for a while and the next thing I knew, Elise had returned from her weekly visit to Guardamar and it was some two hours later!

After lunch, numerous visitors came to see how I was getting along. Very nice, but again very tiring.

Today has begun very well. I've had breakfast and am now fully dressed and ready to go for a little walk. This time the catheter tube will be carefully led out of the traditional opening of the front of the trousers, hidden by a longish cardigan, and going further into the collecting bag which is cunningly concealed in a Gerry Weber carrier bag.

Monday, 3 December 2012

A room with a view

I am fortunate enough to have been allocated a large and pleasant room in the hospital and even more fortunate that the view from the room is so good.

Hospital San Jaime is situated just to the north of the town of Torrevieja. Looking through the window and to the left, the town can be seen almost completely. Looking straight out, however, is more interesting. In the far distance is a range of low mountains is visible, the slopes of which lead down to the pink-coloured salt lagoon of Torrevieja. The pink is not any form of pollution, but rather is caused by the millions of tiny crustaceans, called Artemia salina, that thrive in the waters of the lagoon (and are thoroughly enjoyed by the flamingoes). If you click on the small image to the left, you will see a larger image and you can just see some long piles of salt over to the left of the picture, at the height of the white roof of the round building.

On this side of the lagoon, there are quite a number of buildings to be seen before arriving at the centre of the photo. Here, the large round building and the smaller complex to its right stand out. They certainly look smart, but are, unfortunately, just another example of PP (Partido Popular) corruption. The buildings are empty and serve no purpose whatsoever. The round building is a fully-equipped theatre, once used for a meeting of the PP faithful; the complex was intended for musicians to practice in. Like other prestige projects of the PP (other include the Aeropuerto de Castell√≥n and the Ciudad de La Luz), the whole thing was based on corruption, with no forward planning, costing, budgeting, or any other -ing, other than profiteering.

The green area is an uncultivated natural area, which leads into the as yet unmetalled parking area of the hospital. This is used when the available parking places prove inadequate, which is just about every day. The road which runs around the hospital and some of its parking spaces can be seen in the foreground.

As the light changes during the day, the scene can alter greatly. In the evening, the sunsets can be quite lovely.

And as for me, I feel a lot better today. Had a CAT scan this morning.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Half the man I was

It is now six days since the operation. Apparently, all went well, though I feel as bad now as at any time. In addition to the pain still caused by the internal disruptions, the staples that have been used to close the incisions are highly uncomfortable. I have bedsores on my back, caused by lying in basically the same position for several days, my left foot swells up when I walk, and I have to put up with a penile catheter, which, believe me, is not the most pleasant thing in the world.

Analysis results will be in tomorrow and the decision to discharge me will be based on those.

Can't complain about the hospital: the nurses have been excellent and the food abundant and very good, given that it's hospital food, of course.

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