Heart attack

My Heart Attack

I'm new at this. Well, there's a first time for everything, I suppose. At one time the very thought of a computer would bring me o...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sunday, Sunday

I'm trying to find a different title for each blog post I write. I usually try with alliteration, as most of my readers will notice. Sunny Sunday sounds just downright corny. Well, it might be accurate. This morning, as I write this at 7 a.m., the sun isn't blazing, so it's inappropriate. I can hear the boringly repetitive cooing of a pigeon. Or is it more than one? There was one which seemed to spend a lot of time in our garden, looking, frankly, half-witted. Just do tell me, are there full-witted pigeons? I somehow doubt it. Anyway, we had a rather large water filled plastic plant pot near the shed and this stupid pigeon looked as if it was going to dive into this plant pot. It wandered about on the roof of the shed, as if it didn't have the faintest idea where on earth it was. Seemingly lost the plot. It attempted to perch on the bird feeding station and tried to get some of the food out of one of the hanging feeders, without success. The repetitive nature of pigeon noises, coo-coo-coo-coo, does rather get on your nerves. Can't they make a more interesting sound? Infact, pigeons generally, are not the most interesting of birds. The way they move, like some sort of wind up toy, the way their head keep nodding endlessly. Do they not get a headache from doing this sort of thing? I was driving into the hospital campus this morning and as i drove round the inner ring road on the way to the carpark, there was a group of around half-a-dozen pigeons idly standing in the road. They made no attempt to move out of the way. One, in particular, just stood where it was. I think I would have run the stupid bird over if I hadn't slowed down. How totally idiotic these birds are. As thick as a couple of planks of wood. Just were not going to budge. 

Alfie more or less now asks for his early morning walk. He's now got into the routine with me, knowing that I'm as keen as him to get out. No sooner had I put on my shoes than he sets off barking and wanting me to collect his lead from the hook in the kitchen. Who says dogs can't talk? I don't mean using verbal language. He uses body language quite clearly. Although he barks, so I suppose that can be classed as verbal. If nothing else, it's good exercise for me. I had to use my G.T.N. spray because I got a sort of angina attack, not too bad though. I take the spray with me in my pocket because I was told that it's best to use it before any strenuous activity, not that a morning walk is exactly strenuous. Two of these circular walks of  Eaglestone Park, one in the morning and one when I get back from the hospital.

It's turned out to be another hot and sticky day. Not bright sunshine, but nevertheless it's still hot. At night it's just as clammy and it's difficult to sleep. This heat is tiring, which doesn't make sense when I can't sleep. I'm spending time reading, the Dominic Sandbrook book 'State of Emergency.' I watched the first part of his history of the 1980's. I don't know whether he's writing a book on this decade, but I would imagine he would, based on the BBC series and following on from the next book I have called 'Seasons In The Sun' and taking the history up until the election in 1979 which brought Margaret Thatcher to power. The episode of the History of the 1980's seems be explain why things were the way they were in that decade, the rise of individualism, and the roots of what became Thatcherism. A period of strife with strikes, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, unemployment and one or two scandals. It's a period I remember very well, strikes, piles of black bin bags littering the street when there was a dustman's strike, the three-day week, power cuts and television having to close down at 10.30 p.m.

After church this morning, I drove straight to hospital. Carol feeling really bored silly with the hospital, and no wonder, she's been in there for four weeks, or at least it will by tomorrow. Her temperature is stabilised and no further problems with her blood sugar. I think she's realised how important to keep her diabetes under control.

Hospital food is really disgusting. Carol had ordered soup, which was stone cold, followed by what was supposed to be roast chicken. She was really looking forward to it, but she said what purported to be chicken didn't taste of anything. Followed up with ice-cream, rather like those ice creams you get when you go to the theatre, in a small tub. But it was defrosted. Carol said it was warmer than the soup. How on earth can you make such a mess-up of food? Can't be too difficult to produce something at least appetising. I know they have a minuscule budget but how difficult can it be to keep food warm until the patients get to eat it? Have mobile units which have hot water in them, which they use in most catering establishments. These then plugged into mains supply to keep food warm. Hospital food should help patients to recover. Most of the food is thrown away and never eaten, which is a waste.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Another Hot Day

It rained in the night. (Friday into Saturday) We were told on the BBC1 weather forecast yesterday evening. I wasn't aware of it. It clouded over during the evening and I thought it was suddenly going to pour, but it decided against it. But when I got up this morning and peered out of the bedroom window I noticed that the grass in the garden was sprinkled with drops of what must have been rain, but it had hardly dampened the ground. The road outside, having opened the bathroom window when I was shaving, didn't so much as appear damp. I took Alfie our for his early-morning walk (if you can call it a 'walk.' I do the walking and he does the running.)

I went to the One Stop shop in Garraways after 9 o'clock this morning to use the Post Office within the store as I needed a First Class stamp to put on an envelope as I had to post off a form which came from Carol's work, from the salary office. I don't know what it's about, but something to do with her no longer getting S.S.P. (Statutory Sick Pay) and it had to be posted off fairly promptly. I had fun looking for an envelope, but remembered a pack of them which were tidied away when we took the books off the old bookshelves at the time we replaced them with the new IKEA ones a few months ago. All the books were put into various containers and then deposited in the spare room. Fortunately the envelopes were in one of these containers.

Then a shopping trip to Sainsbury's. A need to pick up something for my evening meal, together with milk and a few other items before I went to see Carol on Ward 22.

I decided to walk to the hospital. At least I would be saving on the cost of parking. At the weekend the Macmillan unit is closed so you can't get your parking ticket clipped so you don't have to pay when you leave. It costs at least £4.50 a day to park which soon adds up, so the fact you can park for nothing if you are a cancer patient is something of a relief.

When I got into the ward, Carol said I was just in time as she was going for another M.R.I. scan. Or, at least that's what she thought. There seemed to be something of a mix-up and none of the nurses were sure whether it was booked. Generally you aren't supposed to eat within 3 hours of a scan, and Carol hadn't had breakfast. Then one of the nurses discovered that a scan wasn't booked, which was annoying. We want this done fairly soon because Carol's temperature is now stabilised and the doctor on the ward said that it had to remain stable for at least 48 hours before they could let her be discharged. They needed to see the scan of the infected area in her abdomen before discharging her. Thinking about it, she could have gone home, as she was told she could return home but return to the hospital for the scan and another check-up. A bit of a waste of time, considering she's been in hospital for nearly 4 weeks.

Then a nurse came in to say that, yes, Carol would be having the long-awaited M.R.I. scan. But it wouldn't matter whether she ate, which pleased her somewhat. It seemed to take some time for her lunch to arrive.  Everyone else seemed to have their lunch on the ward well before Carol's arrived. Some people had even finished theirs by the time Carol's arrived.  When it eventually arrived it was a sandwich of some sort, possibly ham, and soup. I don't personally think I could eat hot soup in this current hot weather. I had bought a sandwich from Sainsbury's, along with a bag of Popchips, a flapjack bar and an Innocent smoothie. Carol said that the soup was tasteless, so she had to ask one of the nurses for some salt to put on it. I don't think it exactly improved the taste.

Then the porter arrived with a wheelchair and Carol was whisked off to the M.R.I. scan, not more than a 5-minute ride across the road. The whole procedure took around 20 minutes and I waited in the waiting area.

It was back to the ward after the scan, by which time it was time for me to walk home. I just hope Carol's temperature remains stable and nothing too nasty shows up on the scan so that she can at last be discharged as she really longs to get out of that hospital ward.

Fortunately it hasn't be as roasting hot as of previous days, although the weather forecast says that we're going to get even warmer weather. We do desperately need rain, as the lawns and grass all along the grid roads around Milton Keynes look so parched and brown.

When I got home I thought I'd treat Alfie to another walk. I looked at the post and another letter had arrived asking for some paperwork for our benefit application. I'm now confused as to which address I have to send the form from the salary department, so I scored out the one I had already written on the envelope and put the address they had on this new letter and when we went out for the walk across Eaglestone Park I posted it in the letterbox just along from our house. Alfie was really keen on his jaunt around the park and all told add a few steps on my total for the day, which is now 7712.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Hospital Life Continues

There is one thing we'll have plenty of in a couple of weeks, and that's blackberries. On my early-morning walks with Alfie around Eaglestone Park, the bramble bushes which grow around the periphery of the park and in large clumps in the middle, the berries are ripening quickly. They will have had ideal growing conditions, enough rain early on in the season and now, bright, sunny days. You can't but notice them or else get caught in the sharp thorns that are on some of the over-hanging branches. Some are in real need of cutting back.

Unfortunately some people don't seem to care for the environment in which they live. The amount of litter I come across is appalling, particularly where it's obvious some youths presumably gather, usually around the benches and in some corners of the park. I have seen Council workmen picking up litter, which could easily have been deposited in the bins which are provided all around the park and along the Redway. If you walk along the Redway which leads towards Milton Keynes Academy (which I haven't done in quite a while because Carol hasn't been working there for well over a year now.) the path is strewn with all manner or litter. Near the Academy gates there is a rather unpleasant pile of cigarette ends. This is where staff members who smoke have to go because the Academy, in line with anti-smoking legislation, they are not allowed to smoke on the premises and if they wish to smoke they have to go outside the school grounds and I've often walked past when several people are standing there puffing away. It's just a pity that they don't dispose of their cigarette ends in a more sensible fashion. This is also the case in and around Ashfield Medical Centre. If you park your car in the carpark at the rear of the centre you come across a similar pile of cigarette ends, mostly in the gutter. It may not be just Ashfield staff who go there to smoke, as there are other businesses in the same area, a dentists' surgery as well as Cox and Robinson's chemists, but it's still rather an unsavoury aspect of smoking that remains. No-one has thought to provide some sort of receptacle to put these cigarettes in. I don't know whether there is a risk to the environment with a build up of cigarette ends, feeding into the sewer system, what is in the filter tips of cigarettes, particularly when they get wet when it rains. Still, it looks very untidy and unpleasant and spoils the look of the place, as it does when you walk past the Academy. It doesn't reflect well on either the Academy or Ashfield Medical Centre, unfortunately. I had a probably innocent idea that most people cared enough for the environment and as a result would not make such a total mess of their surroundings, particularly this generation of children. I imagine, with so much in the media about plastic pollution that they would be more considerate, or am I just being naive? Some walk along eating crisps or sweets or drinking from cans of drink and merely throw the empty can or packet into the bushes or on the ground, expecting someone else to pick it up. How difficult can it be to either put it in a waste-bin or take it home with them to put in a bin there?

I arrived on Ward 22 in plenty of time to go with Carol to the ophthalmology department. Carol thought it was at 9.30, but on asking at the reception desk on the ward I was told it was 10.00. Also, I had to make sure that a porter came with a wheelchair to take Carol. I'm beginning to feel as if I'm still working as a Support Worker, because this is exactly the same sort of thing I'd have to do for those I cared for. A porter came in good time and we were whisked off out of the ward through the 'secret door' through into the corridor which links into the rest of the corridors in the hospital. (Not really secret. It's only accessed by staff. It is long and used, it would appear, as a place to store all manner of things which obviously don't have a home elsewhere in the hospital.)

On arriving in the ophthalmology department, Carol was soon checked in. It wasn't long before she was called in to a darkened room (!) and had to do a test, which I think I had to do when I had my eyes tested at Spec Savers about a year or so ago. You had to sit and put your chin on a special rest and peer into a screen which had a series of lights inside it and I think it was to check your peripheral vision. Carol got a good score. They did each eye separately, putting something over the opposite eye each time, doing left and right eyes.

We had to go back and wait in the waiting area. Carol's wheelchair was next to a chair which had been taken by a man, who did at least move so we could sit together. She was then called in to another room to have drops put in her eyes which made her pupils open and it stung to start with. Then she came out with me to wait again. It was supposed to be around 20 minutes, but as she was 'fast-tracked' through the system so she could return to the ward.

Another test. I'm not sure for what. I think they may have taken a photo of the back of her eyes, but I'm not sure. It was over very quickly.

Waited again in the waiting area. Not as many people as there were the other day we were in this department.

Then Carol was called in to see a doctor. It turns out her eye problems are related to her diabetes. The doctor used another device which looked vaguely similar to something they use when you have your eyes tested. It looked incredibly complex, which, no doubt it was, unless you were trained in it's use. Some sort of medieval torture device. You had to rest your chin on a special chin rest and stare into a light whilst the operator fiddles with a lens and a light is shone into your eyes. This is why they put the special drops in your eyes, to make your pupils dilate. I'm not sure whether a photo was taken. Someone said they might take a photo of the back of Carol's eyes. I think I had this done when I last had my eyes tested. Then the doctor explained. Quite clearly and precisely.  The amount of sugar in her system effects her eyes and it will eventually right itself, thank goodness. I went to ask the reception for a 'porter.' The woman said, 'go to the 'something or other' by the door', or something indistinct. I couldn't make out what she said clearly. What she thought I said was 'water' and not 'porter.' Crazy, really. The basis for a lot of comedy, when there's a mistake with a message or someone hears something different to what was actually spoken. Eventually, a porter did arrive and Carol was whisked back to Ward 22.

No sooner had we arrived back at the ward than the doctors arrived. I didn't stay as I wanted to go to the shop to buy something for lunch. On my return, Carol told me that, even though her temperature had stabilised, the doctors wanted her to have yet another M.R.I. scan, something that Carol doesn't like particularly. This is so they can access whether whatever it is that is causing the infection has changed since she started on the antibiotics. So it now seems likely that she won't be discharged until at least Monday. It will then be four weeks since she arrived on Ward 1.

I forgot to mention that Carol had the P.I.C.C. line removed from her arm the other morning. When her  12th chemotherapy cycle was completed the nurses weren't sure whether she would have it removed, just in case she needed further chemo. Carol said that the nurse who did one of the scans a few weeks ago was somewhat harsh when she was given some of the dye that was put in her arm trough the line and it hurt and wondered if it wasn't that which started the infection which caused her temperature to soar. Not clear whether that was the case, but she did wonder. Anyway, apparently she caught the line on a piece of thread or something which lead to the line begin to come out, so the nurses decided it would be best to remove it completely. Carol's pleased, because it's difficult to wash, have a bath or shower with it in place, she wasn't supposed to get it wet or the tube bandage which it was covered with to protect it.

When I got home, just before 2 p.m., I decided that Alfie would really appreciate another walk. Well, I say 'walk.' With him it's more a trot around the park with me following. I had left him in the kitchen. He seems to have got used to the idea of me leaving him on his own. I know he doesn't like it much, but he goes in the kitchen willingly. He has water and food left for him and his own bed in the corner.




Friday, July 20, 2018

And Now . . . Cleaning The House

Having had to contact our beloved landlord, he now wants to inspect the house. So I am busily cleaning and generally tidying the house. Will someone tell me that changing a king size duvet cover isn't the worst job ever??? I then go to find that the clean one is inside out and that takes some time to turn right side out. My experience of stage management and having to deal with 'tabs' (curtains) comes in handy. Working with extremely large cycloramas and tabs has come in handy, strangely. Getting the corners of the duvet to match the corners of the cover and then putting the whole thing over the bannister rail and getting the whole thing to fall out (as we would have done with tabs when working in theatre, so all the creases fall out. Some of those velour tabs weighed a ton and a half. Not literally, but if you did it wrong, when hanging onto a cleat-rail at about 40 feet from the stage floor, could be dangerous. Another story for another blog post, possibly.) Anyway, I did manage to get the duvet cover sorted. All those buttons to match up precisely is quite a difficult job. but it's done now and so another job ticked off the list. The duvet cover and sheets are now in the washing machine and doing their 'thing,' and will be out on the washing line within about another 15-20 minutes or so.

Carol has just this minute rung from Ward 22 to tell me that she's got an eye test at 9.30 this morning and I need to be there as they have to put drops in her eyes and she wouldn't be able to see properly for quite a while afterwards. Just as well I'm available to assist her.

Later. Well, I did get to the ward well before 9.30. After we'd waited some time and nothing happened (much as it did yesterday) we were then told that the appointment wasn't until tomorrow. Carol was told she was to have another M.R.I. scan, but she point blank refused to have it directly after the eye appointment, basically because, first, she wasn't supposed to eat 3 hours before the scan and second, she would have to have drops put in her eyes for the eye appointment and would not be able to see properly, which is why they needed me there to assist her because she wouldn't be able to see properly. There was a possibility that she could have the M.R.I. scan today, but it would be unlikely.

Another possible wrong piece of information. Carol was sure she had a consultant's appointment in the Macmillan Unit this Friday, but one of the nurses did some digging and found that this appointment wasn't until the following Friday. Quite a few mistakes today, but they were sorted out as the morning progressed.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Yet More Hospital

I had to make sure I was on Ward 22 by 9.15 at the latest because Carol was booked to have an appointment at the ophthalmology department within the hospital at 9.30 this morning. We weren't entirely sure whether she had to walk there under her own steam or wait for a porter to come and take her in a wheelchair. As she's not entirely steady on her feet at the moment, it would seem more sensible for her to use a wheelchair. When there was no sign of porter or wheelchair as the time ticked by, I went to the ward reception desk and enquired. It's never clear whether the porter is booked at the same time as the appointment. Having been a Support Worker and carer, I would have had to make sure that such assistance was booked in advance. 

Time ticked by and no porter arrived, with or without a wheelchair. Then, out of the blue, a porter and wheelchair appeared. It was almost 10 o'clock. I think it doesn't matter about time if you're a patient using these clinics within the hospital. Carol was whisked away and we went through the 'secret portal' which only staff can access which is a sort of bridge between Ward 22 and the rest of the hospital. We came out in a familiar corridor and got to the ophthalmology department, which seemed familiar as I think Carol had an appointment in there a couple of years ago. I seem to remember it had these huge yellow and black signs up, no doubt made large enough for those with vision problems to be able to see. If not, for a child with a small level of intelligence to be able to read and understand. We signed in at reception and Carol was very quickly seen by one of the staff who did several tests on her eyes, the old fashioned test with the letters which start large and as they go down they get smaller and smaller. Then the lady used some sort of sensor device, looking a bit like a sort of weapon from Doctor Who or one of the Star Wars films, to measure the pressure in each of Carol's eyes. She couldn't get it to work so had to ask a colleague.to help her to use it. Then she got Carol to do a colour test. I think I've done one of these at some time or other. It's in a book, with sort of mosaics of coloured blobs and there is a number hidden within these coloured blobs. Carol had no problem with this test.

Then we were thrust out into the waiting area. Packed in like sardines. A sort of game of musical chairs. People doing their best to avoid eye contact with anyone (ironic as this is an eye clinic.) Those huge yellow and black signs seem to dominate the scenery. The a very smiley lady appears and Carol is whisked off and into another room for another test. Not sure what it is exactly, but it's over very fast. We come out and have to sit further away from the reception area. Signs on a door somewhat odd saying 'Male- vacant- Female- engaged. Most likely toilets, but it's not clear. Are the men vacant and the women engaged, to be married? Vacant men, as in, somewhat empty-headed? To unintelligent? Totally without any sense? Just somewhat ironic what you can read from such a couple of signs. They have signs on some of the clinic doors which say open and closed at the same time, with a sort of slide thing that blanks out the word when you move it across, but they don't bother to slide this across, so you get 'engaged and vacant at the same time, so you don't know which room is open, vacant, engaged or whatever, which makes the sign pointless and slightly confusing.

Carol is being fast-tracked through the system this morning. It's so she can be back on the ward quicker. I think if you were an ordinary member of the public you cold be sitting here most of the day. The excitement is too much, the boredom far too stimulating for your brain. A television screen on or some music would alleviate the boredom, or even a coffee and tea machine might help, but none of these. People on their mobiles. What would happen if the whole network collapses? What did people do before there were mobiles? I was driving towards either the hospital or Ashfield Medical Centre the other morning, and I saw this youth crossing the road. It seems crazy to cross any of the grid roads around Milton Keynes because most are extremely busy. It's dangerous at the best of times, but at that time of day, probably around 8 a.m. to 8.45, during the mad peak when people are either going to work or school. There are bridges and underpasses so you've no reason to cross a carriageway. But this individual was busily fiddling with his mobile phone. I've walked around the shopping centre with people doing this and almost run into me. Just put the things away and concentrate on the world around you. You might actually miss something, or worse, get run over and killed  by a car or lorry.

Anyway, Carol was eventually seen by a doctor, who said her eye problems were cause by cataracts and she would need glasses.

So, having gone back to the reception desk and handed over the yellow form to the receptionist so that Carol's notes could be updated on the system, she got back into the wheelchair and was pushed back to the ward by another porter.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Another Hot Day?

Tuesday morning.It's only 7 a.m and the sun is shining brightly. It looks as if it's going to be another hot day. I hope not too hot as it's quite difficult to cool down in the hospital ward.

I took Alfie for a walk at 6.20. I've managed to put his harness on, which he had on more or less permanently a while ago, but Carol took it off when the warm weather started. It was parked on the bedside cabinet in our bedroom. Alfie kept looking at it. He'd stand on my side of the bed, the side the cabinet is, and touch it with his nose. I'd connect his lead on to his collar to take him for a walk, but there is a slight problem which Yorkshire terriers have, as you have to watch their windpipes don't collapse which could be fatal. If he pulls when he's on his lead, he coughs, and this isn't something I want to let him do and have horrible consequences, so I managed to get him into his harness yesterday evening. He almost got himself into the thing on his own. He knows where his head goes. So this morning we went out as I say. We went out through the front door and crossed the road and down the patch towards the park and round the circuit we usually go, Alfie being let off immediately we hit the park. The grass has been cut and it looks brown and almost like a field of newly-mown hay, which I suppose it is. It's almost a pity it's not baled and sold off for pet bedding, for rabbits or hamsters or other small rodents. Part-way round I saw a cat in the distance, so I had to take evasive action to prevent Alfie seeing it. Carol said that he wouldn't bother, because the cats who cause him bother when they enter our garden are merely trespassing on his territory, so if he sees on outside in the park, they aren't on his territory, so he wouldn't bark or chase after it. I don't know whether this is correct, but I'm not going to give him the chance, because if he chases a cat he might end up on the road and get run over which isn't something I'm prepared to risk. We walked up towards the road and over onto the Redway and then back towards home. I'm attempting to increase the number of steps, as I have a step counter, rather like a Fitbit, which measures my steps. I'll possibly take Alfie for a further walk when I get back from the hospital later this afternoon.

Later. I had to go and collect the medical certificate from Ashfield Medical Centre early thus morning. I was going to leave it til gone 9 o'clock. Generally, once the early-morning rush is out of he way, there is less traffic and as I had to negotiate the roundabout which is where Saxon Street meets Standing Way, which can be difficult to cross when it's busy. But then I decided to risk it and left the house at 8.40 and got through without incident. I even managed to get the aforesaid certificate without any bother. The doctor has dated it up until January 2019, which should mean we don't need another unless Carol isn't capable of returning work well into the New Year.

I returned home and posted the medical certificate and then immediately went out again. I went to get my hair cut at Central Barbers in the Food Centre. I parked near Xscape and walked through to the barbers. As they opened at 9.30 I had to wait around 10 minutes until they opened. I used to get my hair cut here for several years but then I discovered the barbers in Monkston Park until they closed down. They were probably more convenient, easier to get to and it was easy to park immediately outside. But it's not to difficult to park near the Food Centre. I always attempt to arrive as they open. As it happened there were no other customers, so I was in the chair and having my hair trimmed within minutes of arriving. Once I'd finished at the barbers I went back to the car because I had to collect a folder as I was going to the Civic Centre as I'm in the process of claiming Housing Benefit which we have to claim since Carol has been ill and her salary has been stopped being paid. I had to take identify for us both, so I had our driving licences for that purpose. I had to go to the Nationwide and NatWest to get print-outs of statements for earnings and some of Carol's wage slips for proof of earnings (or not.) You walk in through the front entrance at the Civic centre and you're immediately confronted by a small table. No reception desk. This seems the norm nowadays. It was the same in the Jobcentre the other week and it would appear that it's how NatWest operates. There's no reception desk as there used to be. In there you greeted by a young lady with an iPad and she books you in for your appointment. Not a problem. But in the Civic Centre I was taken by the lady in the reception area to a computer where they signed me in and I was given a ticket with a number on and and told I'd have to wait until my number came up.

The place has a lot of vacant space in it. It's almost as if they've got rid of a lot of furniture. You could hold a ball in the space. Or rent it out for some sort of function. It really is rather a waste. I know they have to allow for people moving about, but it is rather ridiculous.

My number soon came up. I am somewhat intrigued how these systems work. It not only shows up on a video screen, but a very polite woman's voice tells you where to go, in the nicest possible way, of course. Just a thought, would a male voice have the same effect? Then I had to find 'Desk 9.' The red video numbers were rather confusing, and it didn't seem as if they were in a logical numerical order.

I had to hand over the documentation required to the lady who was dealing with our Housing Benefit claim. It was all in order. All we need now is either our Tenancy Agreement or a letter from our landlord. All this dealt with fairly quickly and painlessly. I was able to leave the Civic Centre and walked across towards the main shopping centre and went into Marks and Spencer, which is immediately inside the centre. I was struck by how much cooler it was. Thankfully not as scorchingly hot as on previous days. I selected a sandwich, a drink and crisps, went to the checkout to pay and then walked back through the shopping centre and across to the car which was parked near Xcape.
As it turned out, it hasn't been as bright and sunny as it has been for however many weeks we've had to endure the heatwave. It's been warm, but still somewhat overcast. Not the scorching heat, thankfully.

I returned home to offload a lot of the stuff I'd taken with me in the folder as I didn't want to take it to the hospital ward. I decided to walk to the hospital because it occurred to me that if I went in the car it might be virtually impossible to find a parking space.  It is, after all, only about a 10-minute walk and when it's sunny it's actually quite pleasant.

At around 6 o'clock on Tuesday evening I rang our landlord to ask for either a letter or a copy of our tenancy agreement and he says he wants to do an inspection of the house. I told him why we needed to apply for Housing Benefit and I trust he is understanding of the situation. He may be coming over the weekend so I have begun to clean the house. If I work steadily over the next few days, cleaning each room from top to bottom there should be no problems. As I write this, at 6.30 on Wednesday morning, I have done a load of washing and it's out on the line. As it's so sunny it should be dried within a few hours.

With all the walking on Tuesday I managed to clock up over 9000 steps. Just goes to show how many steps you can achieve when you walk so far in one day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dealing with Doctor and other Delights

I've had to visit Ashfield Medical Centre just after 9 o'clock this morning as we need another medical certificate for E.S.A. claim. I mentioned on Friday that I had rung early on that morning and was told that the doctor would only be available to call back on Monday (today). Never mind that it might possibly be vital that the D.W.P. need this document before any further payments are made. Just another dose of bureaucracy, unfortunately. The woman on the surgery reception wouldn't budge an inch. I said we really needed the medical certificate as it needed to be in the post fairy urgently, but there was no way she was going to let me have it even when I said that Carol was in hospital. I would have to have a doctor's phone call. I couldn't see a doctor as none were available. I just said that the system was inflexible, which it is. I did get her to give me a doctor's call-back but she couldn't guarantee when. So I went home and thought that I'd have to wait a few hours before the doctor rang. Why ON EARTH couldn't he just sign the medical certificate and have done with it, and I could collect it later on in the day, without all the hassle of the doctor ringing? He must know that Carol is in hospital and on Ward 22.

I did try to ring the ward to get them to tell Carol I was going to be in later. I think I rang three or four times, but it was obvious that they weren't going to answer. No doubt nobody was on reception to take my message.

Fortunately the doctor rang within about 30 minutes from walking in the door. He was able to say that he'd sign the new medical certificate and it would be ready after 6 o'clock this evening. I won't pick it up until tomorrow morning. So, at least that is one less thing to worry about.

I went into see Carol on the ward. Another patient on the ward. Also, we discovered yesterday, from Ross, who is the pastor at Shenley Christian Fellowship, who told us that the daughter of one of the pastors at M.K.C.C. was also on Ward 22. Which we didn't know about until yesterday evening, so we went to see her as she is in one of the single rooms on Ward 22.

Carol's temperature is still not totally under control. The doctors say that they have found what they believe is the source of the infection and that they have put Carol on a far higher dosage of antibiotics. She cannot be discharged until her temperature is more stable for at least another 48 hours.

I'm determined to discuss all aspects of our journey with cancer, however difficult it might be. In some ways it's almost therapeutic to put all of it in writing. The ups and downs and highs and lows. Our battles with petty bureaucracy and so on. The latest is applying for benefits. Since Carol's salary from the Academy has stopped we really have no choice. We have got the P.I.P. sorted out (Personal Independence Payment) and the E.S.A. is going through (which is why we needed the medical certificate) But now we're waiting to hear about Housing Benefit. As we hadn't heard anything from the Council, not a letter to acknowledge our application, as I would have expected, I decided to ring them this afternoon. It took at least 45 minutes to get through. Now I need to supply them with identity for myself and Carol (ie. Driving licence, some form of paperwork with our name and address on, a utility bill.) proof of earnings (bank statements) and take it all in to the Council offices. So, why did they not ask for all this when we first applied and why did it take my telephone call to them to get this information? Words fail me.






Monday, July 16, 2018

Heatwave Continues

It's as warm and sunny as ever. I've never known such a long period of warm weather such as we're experiencing at the moment. Two years ago we had a similar period, but I don't think it went on as long as this one. We visited a number of properties, some through the H.H.A., (Historic Houses Association), one being Sizencote, near Moreton-In-March, in the Cotswolds. We had toured the gardens and then were about to have a guided tour of the house and went inside with a group of other guests, but we didn't continue, because it was far too hot. I recall the summer of 1976 when we also had a long heatwave and my parents garden began to have huge fissures appear in the lawn, due to the heat. The lawn seemed to crack open like some sort of peculiar earthquake. Also,  my gather kept greyhounds and one of them sat in the horse trough in the field at the rear of the house. It looked so peculiar, this long hound, just sitting there, in an attempt to cool down. But really, we shouldn't complain about the weather. Typical of British people. We never seem to be satisfied about the weather. Either too hot or cold, wet or dry. Make the most of it and enjoy it while it lasts. It can be uncomfortable, but it can be unbearable but mostly, enjoy it.

As I write this blog post, at 7.30 on a Monday morning, the sun is already out. On most evenings it's bright sunshine until well past 8 p.m. 

Carol's best friend from Milton Keynes Academy, Pauline, had left a written note through the door when I'd returned home on Friday evening. She had apparently attempted to contact Carol via mobile phone but only got voicemail. Probably because there is no mobile signal on Ward 22. So I texted her, using her mobile number on the note and then she telephoned back to find out where Carol was and I told her she was on Ward 22. She then said she'd visit some time on Saturday evening. Carol then told me, when I visited her on Sunday morning, that Pauline had come quite late and didn't stay long as they don't like visitors to stay after 8 p.m. But Pauline will no doubt visit again at some point so I have to keep her updated on how Carol is doing using my mobile. 

On Sunday I didn't arrive at the hospital until around 11.45 because I went to church last S.C.F. and then went to Morrison's on the way home, took my shopping to put away and then went to the hospital.

There is a lady in the bed opposite on Ward 22 who is behaving quite selfishly. She is constantly calling out and making the nurses lives difficult. She keeps on saying she 'wants to go home,' but she obviously can't because she's not well enough. The whole situation is stressing Carol who needs peace and quite so she can get well herself.

During the afternoon a doctor appeared, to say they think they've discovered what's causing the infection, which in turn is giving her a high temperature. They can no put Carol on a stronger antibiotic which should help to resolve the problem. I would say that the current hot weather might be contributing to some of the temperature rise in some way. Even though they have fans on in the ward, it's still very warm in there.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Another Few Days In Hospital

We were hoping that Carol might be discharged from hospital today. I usually make sure that I'm on the ward when the doctors do their rounds. They usually arrive between 10-10.30. Carol's temperature is still causing concern. But her blood sugar level is now at a safer level. The results of the blood tests to show up signs of infection seem somewhat ambiguous. The doctor said that she would need to remain on the ward until at least Monday. Not something that either of us wants to hear, but it is better that Carol remains in hospital where she can be observed and have a better chance of this thing being resolved than going home and the infection getting worse and then having to rush back into hospital and the whole sequence of events being repeated. She has numb hands. She has problems holding anything. She says that she can hardly feel anything and it can be difficult to even grip some objects, finding it difficult to do simple things like opening packets or holding a pen. The doctor said it is most likely a side effect of the chemotherapy, even though the 12 cycles were completed almost three weeks ago. The doctor said that a specialist oncology doctor would know exactly what was going on as she didn't have the expertise requited to know what all this meant.

We're having to rely on benefits until Carol gets back to work. Carol has already got what is called a P.I.P. (Personal Independence Payment) and we're in the process of applying for Housing Benefit and what is called E.S.A. (Employment Support Allowance). We got a form (it takes a lot of patience and time and effort to fill these in. Most of them are done on-line. The Housing Benefit one was, as well as the others. What happens to those who don't have a computer or internet access?) which required a cancer specialist to sign the back page. I went to the Macmillan unit first, as I assumed that they would be able to help, but no. Not their fault, but I was then sent to the nurses's desk within the unit, they couldn't help. I even asked at the nurses desk within Ward 22, but they couldn't sign it without the whole form being signed. I even asked one of the doctors who came on the ward round yesterday, but because they're not cancer specialists, they could oblige. By now I was getting annoyed. I had been told by the stoma nurse who came to see Carol yesterday and she had said that any doctor could sign the form, but as I found out, this wasn't the case. In the end I went to the oncology department, where Carol had her 12 cycles of chemotherapy. One of the nurses, who hadn't been on duty when we'd been in there, made the effort to look at the files they had and managed to fill in the form and sign it so, at last I could get it posted off.

On top of all this we got a letter from the D.W.P. (Department of Work and Pensions) that they needed a new medical certificate as the old one is about to expire. So I rang Ashfield Medical Centre. Now, you would think that it would be a simple matter of getting the doctor to sign the relevant form and date it accordingly, but we have to wait for him to ring on Monday morning for me (or Carol, if she's at home then) to explain what we want and THEN go and collect the wretched form, probably on Tuesday afternoon and THEN post it off to the relevant department. WHY couldn't this be done on Friday when I rang? It seems they are making things more difficult than is completely necessary.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Still Sunshine

As I write this, at 6.30 a.m., it's not bright sunshine. Well, probably not so early, as I don't expect the sun has risen long. As a result I thought I'd take Alfie out for a walk. I say 'walk', as he hardly walks, he runs like a little hare, darting off ahead of me and stopping to investigate every tree, blade of grass or twig and then running back to me, yapping noisily. I was determined to more than one circuit of the park as I wanted to see how many extra steps my gadget would register. As I look I can see it reads 1998. I am quite out of breath and I had a slight twinge of angina, but nothing too bad and my G.T.N. spray helped to relieve things. I certainly don't let it stop me going out with Alfie.

The glass has been removed from part of the Redway that passes through the park. As we walked (in Alfie's case, running.) round the other side, along near some houses which overlook the park, I saw a tent in amongst the trees. It makes me wonder who on earth would be camping in the park.

Carol is still on Ward 22. It's over week since we went to Ashfield Medical Centre and we then had to go into the hospital and ending up on the Acute Ward, Ward 1. She has been put on a second type of antibiotics which has to be administered by syringe in the stomach. When I was in hospital myself, some of my medication was administered in this way.

Carol's temperature and blood sugar levels are going up and down, but they seem to be levelling out considerably.

I haven't been writing any more blog posts for the past couple of days. They are becoming very repetitive. Some days there's simply not enough to fill a decent post, so I decided to leave off writing anything.

It's another hot day. I'm annoyed by the Council bin men. (Is that their correct title? Dusbin men is perhaps a bit out of date. Refuse collection operatives? I don't know the correct name.) Anyway, Wednesday is our rubbish collection day, as I've more than likely mentioned in earlier posts. You are supposed to sort your recycling into a pink bag (for some reason they have stopped supplying pink bags and we now get grey ones. What is all that about? Why the change of colour to dull grey?) Then you must put these bags (black ones for other unrecyclable rubbish.) to the edge of your property, in our case, to the road-edge so the dustmen can collect them when they come, sometime after 7 a.m. Unfortunately, plastic bags are susceptible to being attacked by cats and birds, usually magpies and crows, which live in and around this estate. If the bags are opened as they would be by a bird or a cat, the contents are spilled out onto the roadside and the lawn at the front of our house. I came back on Wednesday afternoon to find all manner of refuse left from the rubbish bags. Which was unsightly and positively annoying. I don't think the Council has much common sense in this regard, because if these bags were inside wheely bins, they wouldn't be attacked by animals and birds, plastic bags are far too easily torn open and the rubbish to spill out.

Life on a hospital can become somewhat monotonous, as you would expect. The same sort of routine day after day. Ward 22 is busy.  The patients come and go.  Not as much as they do on Ward 1.

Carol's been told that she should be able to be discharged today (Friday). Her temperature and blood sugar levels need to remain stable before she can go home. On Friday morning, at about 1 a.m., she was given a sleeping tablet so on Thursday she was extremely sleepy. Understandable, really. When I arrived at the entrance to Ward 22 at just after 10 o'clock yesterday morning I was met by Carol, in a wheelchair, being pushed by a porter. She was on her way to having another M.R.I. scan, the unit only a very short ride from the ward. I had to sit and wait in the waiting area as the scan took around 40 minutes. 


Monday, July 09, 2018

More Reading and Watching-1

I'm currently reading Dominic Sandbrook's book 'State of Emergency,' the third of his series of books on the history of Britain since the Suez Crisis of 1956. It's covering the Heath government of the early 1970's and his negotiations for Britain to enter the Common Market, or E.E.C. (European Economic Community) and how he had to get the general public on side and then to get the required support of Parliament. It's interesting, in light of the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should leave what has now become the European Union (E.U.) and how indifferent the people of Britain were at the time. There was a referendum later in the 1970's, when Labour returned to power, which lead eventually to more integration with Europe, the Maastricht Treaty and the eventual creation of the single currency, the Euro (which Britain didn't join, for better or worse.) It's an extremely detailed account of the whole process and well worth reading. I have one more book, 'Days In The Sun' to read once I've completed this volume, and each volume is a think door-topper, each around 600-700 pages. 'State of Emergency' covers the years 1970-74, whilst 'Days In The Sun' covers the years 1974-1979, the year that Margaret Thatcher came to power. I'm hoping that Sandbrook will eventually release a book which covers the Thatcher years of the 1980's and, eventually, one on the 1990's.

The third  series of 'Humans' has finished. It is a co-production between Channel Four and the American network A.M.C., and is based, however loosely, on the Swedish television series 'Real Humans.' I have watched all the series up until now. It has been an enthralling series. If you don't know what it's about, it's set in a parallel world to our own, where synths (robotic humanoids) have been developed to aid humans in many tasks, from caring for the home to working in a range of jobs, such as in factories and warehouses. It's what science fiction should be, it should ask questions about such things as modern life, automation, A.I., computers etc etc. In another respect it can comment on such things which modern society discusses, issues which we are concerned with at present, such as immigration, genocide, integration, the introduction of automation, and how these things effect the world we live in.  As yet there has been no news as to weather a fourth season will be commissioned, but it certainly deserves to be decommissioned as there are so many plot threads which could lead to a fourth season.

I'm watching some of the classic television comedy which is shown on channels such as Gold, Yesterday and W. I've been revisiting sitcoms such as 'One Foot In The Grave.' The one where Victor and Margaret get trapped in their garden shed by a swarm of bees and then Victor has to go to get his eyes tested and has drops put in his eyes and, because he can't see, doesn't realise that everyone has gone home in the optician's. It's as funny as I remember it from first seeing it back in the 1990's. A comudgenly pensioner with a grumpy disposition, the bane of the people he meets, and a wife who often dispares when he is being moody. A gloriously understated performance from Annette Crosbie. Strange to think she played Queen Victoria in the ITV series 'Edward VII.' My mother always made mention the fact, when this actress was on television in anything, that she didn't have all her teeth, for  some strange reason. I hadn't noticed, but it was possibly true. She had all her front teeth, but for some reason or other, had none at the back. Why or how I have no idea. This would be before video recorders were invented, and you could record something off the television and then freeze frame. What an odd thing to remember? And how did my mother know? It must have been a gift to notice such things. Never mind. I digress, as ever. Just saying, it was a long way from Queen Victoria to Margaret Meldrew. She played another queen in the 1970's series on BBC1, 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII,' as Catherine of Aragon, opposite Keith Michell as Henry VIII. It must have been one of the first big colour drama series.

Another episode, from, I think, the second series has Victor attending a life-drawing class and when he gets home he shows the drawing of the naked female model to his wife Margaret, who becomes suspicious when Victor takes a job at the woman's home. Further complicating ensue, as they invariably do in a lot of sitcom, when Margaret has a male neighbour in to help with some jobs around the house and they go out together and one thing leads to another. Misunderstandings and the like, the basis of so much comedy, from Shakespeare right up to date with not only 'One Foot In The Grave' to many other shows, in the theatre and on television.

I recently bought the box set of 'Allo, 'Allo. I absolutely love this series, but I have never seen the earlier episodes. In 1985 I worked on the show as a Supporting Artiste, when it was being filmed on location in and around Lynford Hall, near Thetford, Norfolk. The stable yard was the location of the village square immediately outside Rene café, which is the centre of activities. I was amongst quite a few other S.A.s who played German soldiers and we were supposed to hang around in the square. Some other scenes were shot in the West Tofts Military Training area, not usually open to the public. I also filmed there for a drama/documentary series called 'Soldiers.' We were supposed to be the dead and dying at various battles all round Europe, including the Battle of Waterloo (details of which are mentioned in an earlier blog post on here.)

The thing about 'Allo, Allo' is that it has several plot lines running through it, which is unusual for a sitcom. Usually in a sitcom, you get the same characters appearing every week, and each situation, generally, ties up within each half-hour episode, but with 'Allo, 'Allo you get several of these plot lines running concurrently, the Gestapo chasing after the stolen paintings of the 'Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies,' The Resistance ('I will tell you this once and once only' etc etc.) The British Airmen and how they will be got out of France to return to England etc etc and how all these inter-relate and run across whole series and, indeed, the entire 80-odd episodes.  It is actually a parody of an earlier BBC drama series called 'Secret Army' which starred Bernard Hepton and Angela Richards, an actress who was in the company when I was starting out in Stage Management at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham in 1969. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Carol Moves Wards

Friday began fairly mild and not a great deal of sun, but as the day progressed, the sun came out and we were back on hight temperatures. The heatwave doesn't look as if it's going to end soon. As much as I like sunshine, I don't like it this hot. Just doesn't suit me.

I drove the car to the hospital, the same as I did yesterday. My thoughts were that possibly Carol would be discharged and we could at last go home, but, unfortunately, the issue of her blood sugar level and her temperature is still causing problems. It is odd that her temperature was around 37.5 only a few days ago and shot up to dangerous levels over a very short space of time as well as her blood sugar levels, which seem to have shot up also. 

The doctors have decided that she needs to remain in hospital for a few more days, to make sure the temperature and blood sugar levels are reduced considerably before she can be allowed home. She was to be moved on to Ward 22 during the afternoon when a bed became vacant there.

Carol had an M.R.I. scan booked for 12 noon. When no porter arrived a before the time, we began to wonder whether she would be going for the scan or not, but by around 12.20 a porter did arrive and she was whisked out of the ward and a short distance along the corridor to the imaging department and around to wait outside the M.R.I. scanner room. I sat in the waiting area outside the doors which had warning signs to 'Not Enter. High risk of radiation.' The whole process took a little under 15 minutes. When the scanning was progressing, the doors automatically locked themselves and lights came on, rather in the manner of when they were filming for television and you got 'Red light and bell' before a 'take.' She soon reemerged and we returned to the ward.

There was a lot going on in Ward 1, during the morning. Lots of patients leaving and new ones arriving. It must be quite difficult for the staff, because they bring new patients in on their beds and there is little enough space to manoeuvre beds around, beds having to be taken out first before new ones can be bought in.

Finally, after a couple of days waiting, Carol was informed that she was going to be moved to Ward 22. We began clearing up her belongings, but we still weren't given an exact time. We just sat and waited, and waited. Bur eventually we were given the go-ahead and   a porter arriving on  the Ward1.

Ward 22 is where we had to go to get the pump removed at the end of one of Carol's chemotherapy cycles, so it was at least familiar to us. Compared with Ward 1, it differs in that the 'bays' are separated into male and female and each 'bay' has only four beds. As a result there's a good deal more room for each patient and each 'bay' has separate toilets and shower rooms. The first thing you notice is how quiet it is. Which makes a change from the constant noise on Ward 1, although, having said that, that ward was relatively quiet compared with some of the other wards we've been on. But on Ward 22 there isn't the constant coming and going of the patients being brought in and taken out. And the patients we came across seem eager to at least chat to you.

Saturday morning. It's started out sunny and bright. I'd decided a few days ago that Alfie needed a treat. He's been locked up in the house every day this week when I'v been to the hospital.  I wanted to take him for a walk before leaving the house. But with one thing and another I forget, but this morning I got myself organised and managed to get him on his lead. Even then he made a great deal of noise, barking and generally getting excited. We got out into the road outside the house and made for Eaglestone Park, where I let him off his lead and he bounded off, running like a little hare. I couldn't see any problems with his back leg which he has previously had a problem with, none of the holding it in the air or anything. Barking madly as usual. We did a complete circuit of the park but when we came down the Redway section near the shops I saw glass in the path. It might well have been as a result of an accident, but the way it looked, with a large and rather nasty larger piece of glass in the centre it looked like it had been put there deliberately to puncture some passing cyclist's tyres. I don't know what sort of idiot would brazenly set up this sort of thing, some mindless fool who should have known better. Even if you were to accidentally step on it with trainers, as I was wearing, it could cause a really nasty accident, with cuts to the soles of your feet, or if you fell on it, you'd need to go directly to the A and E department of the hospital. Also, all around the bench I was hoping to sit on and rest with Alfie during our walk, no end of litter, mostly drinks cans and cigarette butts. How disgusting are people? There is a great deal of litter around the park and it just shows that there is a certain element who live in this area who simply don't care about keeping things clean and tidy, regardless of the fact that there are no end of water bins to put there rubbish. A couple of squirrels running for cover as we walked on, but fortunately Alfie didn't notice them, otherwise he'd have run off in hot pursuit.

I've been up to the One Stop shop at Garraways in Coffee Hall. Just after 7 a.m. once they'd opened. I had to top-up electricity and gas. There's an A.T.M. machine outside so it's easy to check both bank accounts. A few extra bits bought, sandwiches and drink to take with me to the hospital ward which will mean I don't have to go to the shop at lunchtime. From Coffee Hall I drove to the Shell filling station in Grafton Street and put in £40-worth of diesel. One thing I can say about the Renault Captur, it's easy on fuel. The road has been resurfaced , which might explain all the  yellow diversion signs around the area. No road markings, but I suppose those sort of things put back at a later date. They are slowly managing to resurface most of the grid roads in and around Milton Keynes.




Friday, July 06, 2018

N.H.S. 70th Birthday

Today will be the fourth day Carol has been on Ward 1. She still hasn't moved and I don't see her moving to Ward 22.

Yesterday it was as hot as ever. When I got to the ward at around 8.30, having walked there as usual, there was a change of staff as well as patients. They seem to come and go at a regular basis. It's like a railway depot, with beds coming and going. Not a lot different today (Thursday) to yesterday, to be honest. When I arrived on the ward it was a change of scenery, patients and some staff I'd never met before. Carol's blood sugar levels had come down considerably. But for some reason, they began to creep up slowly as the day progressed. She had been on insulin drip and they had put her back on metaformin. She is type 2 diabetic. This is the medication she had been on since she was diagnosed around three years ago. She had been able to keep it under control with this medication and with careful monitoring of her blood sugar levels, using a blood sugar monitor which she used first thing in the morning and sometimes late at night. But, unfortunately, when she was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel last year, the diabetes seemed to go out of the window. Because they used glucose as part of the chemotherapy, it seemed pointless to keep taking the diabetic medication because it would be affected by the sugary glucose. It now seems crazy that no-one flagged up the fact she was diabetic at some point over the last seven months since the chemotherapy started and the fact that she wasn't still taking medication to keep it under control. Which is where we've got on this journey.

I didn't walk to the hospital today (Thursday). I went by car and parked in the carpark near the oncology department. The idea was that I would walk in where we usually enter the hospital, through cardiology and then go to the Macmillan unit to get the parking ticket clipped. No problem on all counts and then on to ward 1. It has taken a couple of days to get my bearings and find my way to Ward 1, managing to see how it fits into the route I'd need to take from either carpark, the multi-storey or the ground level carpark, some of the route going along what they call the Fire Road which is where the M.R.I. scanning unit is based.

But unfortunately Carol's blood sugar levels began to climb at the day progressed. As a result, there was absolutely no way she was able to be discharged. Which is what we both wanted, as it's not the most pleasant experience to be in hospital, regardless of of good the care is, because you can't fault the care given, the dedication and hard work of all the doctors, nurses and other professionals who work for the N.H.S.

Carol has been on several drips during today (Thursday) not only insulin, but also antibiotics and paracetamol, which I didn't realise could be administered via drip. Carol said that, during the night, she felt shivery and cold, which one of the nurses said was the fever coming out. Worrying, when you think how dangerous to get any sort of infection if you're on chemotherapy. It didn't last and they said it must have been the fever coming out.

By coincidence, today, 5th July 2018, is the 70th birthday of the N.H.S. We didn't immediately see that there was anything going on a regards any sort of a celebration. At lunch time I went to the restaurant to get something to eat. The patients get lunch. I noticed that there was going to be some sort of recognition of the fact that it was the N.H.S. 70th birthday. There were tables set up in the courtyard which is outside the restaurant (and actually directly opposite Ward 1 where Carol is currently.)

As I write this, I'm watching BBC1's 'Look East' programme, which is coming live from Milton Keynes University Hospital, rather odd when I'm sitting only about 200-300 yards from the hospital and even more peculiar that the place is so important to us at the moment and we know it so well, although, under the circumstances not something we'd really want if it were possible. I have set our SkyQ box to record this so I can show Carol when she gets home. There were some parts of the live television programme from the courtyard where the celebration was being held.

Carol texted later in the evening, telling me that some of the doctors and nurses had birthday cake whilst she had some disgusting soup to eat. We couldn't find her mobile, which I'd taken in yesterday. We weren't sure yesterday whether she was going to be discharged, and we began to pack up her belongings on the off-chance that we could leave the hospital and she could come home. I had intended to walk home as I had walked yesterday and would go home to get the car, but then Carol suggested we call a taxi and have a porter push her in a wheelchair to the front entrance of the hospital, but, as it happened, she didn't get discharged and as a result the mobile got mislaid, but the later discovered at the bottom of a bag.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

A Day At Hospital

I got a telephone call at about 6.45 on Tuesday morning. One of the nurses on the ward where Carol is at the moment. Carol has asked if I could bring in the penguin socks when I visit because her feet are cold. So, at least her sense of humour is intact. 

Alfie is wondering where Carol is. He came upstairs when I went to bed last night. He's finding it more and more difficult to jump up on our bed. We often have to pick him up to give him a hand. He's quite capable of jumping on the sofa and has got a bit lazy as he knows he will be helped, that is, if he plays the trick he uses to just stand and look at me for long enough He usually sleeps on our bed, but during the night I could hear him jump off and go downstairs. I knew he would go into the lounge and curl up on the sofa, but when I came down at about 5.30 I found him asleep in his bed on the corner near the patio doors. He finds the net to be a sort of haven where he can be safe and warm. When I went back upstairs he followed me, and at one point stared for a second or two at the space where Carol should have been sleeping and I could almost imagine him thinking to himself 'where is she?' It's odd how dogs have a sort of sense when things aren't quite right. I think in his case it's the routine which is changed. We are ourselves creatures of habit and if our routine suddenly changes, he knows.

I walked to the hospital this morning. It's not a long walk, taking about 10 minutes. Then about another 5-10 minutes to walk through to the ward, which is easy enough to get to as it's not far from the M.R.I. scanning unit and opposite the restaurant, which you can see from the ward through the window. They have tables set up outside in the courtyard with large blue umbrellas over the tables, which are ideal places to sit if you're having a meal in the bright sunshine.

Ward 1 is an extremely busy place. I'm not sure how many patients there are on this ward, probably about 30-40. The staff are extremely busy. Like the oncology suite, the  nurses in particular never seem to stop. Carol had a cup of tea for breakfast. She wasn't up to anything else. Every hour she has someone come and do 'obs' (observations), blood pressure, temperature, heart rate. She had a load of tubes connected to her, one for insulin. They are in the process of stabilising her diabetes, which is the reason for being on the ward. They keep checking her blood sugar levels. During the morning she had a visit from a group of doctors, doing their usual ward round. Two student doctors came along with them and later came back to ask Carol questions about her treatment, no doubt as part of their training. Then Doctor Saka, the oncology consultant we've seen on several occasions, and who is in charge of her treatment, turned up. It turns out he only does a ward round on a Tuesday, so it was a good thing (if being in hospital is a good thing.) that Carol was on this ward on a Tuesday. He cannot give any clear indication of where Carol's treatment is going. He told us that it really depended on the results from the various scans she's having and what the verdict from Oxford turns out to be.

At lunch Carol had oxtail soup. She gave it a try, she certainly did. She had one spoonful and gave up. It looked to me like the sort of substance, perhaps varnish or wood stain, or something you'd paint your wooden floor with. It had the consistency of a dark pond. the sort of thick mud in which all manner of wildlife lives and moves. She said it was extremely salty. How on earth, in the twenty-first century, is it not possible to produce something that even looks and tastes decent and helps N.H.S. patients get better? Seems an almost impossible thing to ask, even on the tiny budget they have to play with in the hospital kitchens.

By about 2.30 Carol was feeling sleepy. She had enough of being prodded and poked for blood samples, having her finger pricked for blood-sugar levels, blood pressure being taken, thermometers being stuck in her ears for temperature and so on. She just wanted to have a sleep. It seemed a good idea. There's very little room on the ward. The cubicle (for want of a better word) you have has a bed, taking up most of the space, room for a chair (usually for the patient. They don't like you to stay in bed too long, so you're expected to sit out in the chair provided as your health improves, and usually room for a cupboard to stow your clothing and other belongings. I'd be intrigued as to how they decided, no doubt in the dim distant late 1940's, just as the N.H.S. was being set up, a group of Whitehall mandarins in a committee, deciding how much space the average person needed, more or less 12 feet by 12 feet (probably more, probably less, not too much to keep costs down. How many beds they could fit into each ward. A regulation, standard sized space when they were planning to build each hospital, probably the standard right up into the 1970s when they were planning to build a hospital for Milton Keynes. Not actually enough space, but never mind. Just about adequate. Then they have to fit in all the machinery you'd need, the stands to take the drip-bags and the monitors for hearts and pumps for other medications. The bed to be such-and-such a size, the one Carol has (and I reckon fairly standard through the N.H.S. nowadays, in three sections which can be raised and lowered by electric motor and controlled by a hand-held keypad.

I digress. If Carol was going to be having a sleep, I might as well go home. So I bundled some of the things I'd bought with me in a Morrison's bag and went home, through the heat and haze of the summer sunshine.

I had left my mobile charging at home when I went to the hospital, as well as turned off. It seemed a bit pointless to take it with me. Carol had texted me, and later said that she was going to move to Ward 22. I thought I'd wait until she'd moved, and then she said they were waiting for a porter to take her. Sounds like a repeat of when we needed a porter when she was discharged last time she was in hospital. It was a good 45 minutes before a porter came. This time she, apparently, went up to Ward 22, but she then told me, via text, that there wasn't a bed available. Which seems crazy, when you think they sent her there, with the idea that there was a bed available. Not making sense at all, so we'll have to wait and see what happens in the morning. Mind you, when I was last in hospital, they moved me to a different ward in the middle of the night, so who knows.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Carol In Hospital

This is a continuation of the previous post. Read on . . .

Carol hasn't been feeling well for at least a week now. She's been complaining about not being able go walk properly, feeling extremely tired as well as having a severe thirst and having absolutely no appetite. She's been drinking a lot of fruit juice to try to relieve the thirst. Maybe, with the current hot weather, it's not such a bad idea to drink plenty. You don't want to get hydrated when the weather's so warm. Not just her, but also myself. She hasn't been able to eat properly and has only managed to eat breakfast cereal and had some of those protein drinks I managed to buy in Sainsbury's. As mentioned in the last blog post, we tried to get an appointment at Ashfield Medical Centre, first attempting to ring but then I drove there at gone 9 o'clock this morning (Monday) and managed to get a 'ring-back.' We had to wait several hours before the doctor rang and spoke to Carol and gave her a 5 o'clock appointment with one of the practice nurses.

When we went into the nurse's room, the nurse took Carol's temperature and found it was about 38.2. Carol had been told that if it went over 36C she would need to go to the A and E department of the hospital because she was going to be prone to infection, as she was on chemotherapy. At the same time as doing all the usual observations (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate etc etc.) she also did a blood test and it showed that Carol's blood sugar levels were hight. Since Carol has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she has been on medication to keep it under control, but since she has been on chemotherapy since before Christmas, she hasn't been taking the medication, basically because they gave her a glucose solution as a drip before giving her the chemotherapy as the glucose acts on the chemotherapy. The glucose would therefore give a high blood test result so she stopped taking the diabetes medication.

The nurse rang the hospital. I'm not sure which ward or department. She described the symptoms that Carol had and immediately she was told that Carol needed to go immediately to Ward 1, the Acute ward at Milton Keynes University Hospital. She printed off the information gathered from the tests at the surgery and we immediately drove to the hospital, deciding it was best to go through the Accident and Emergency department. Fortunately the carpark had plenty of spaces and I was able to park virtually directly opposite the A and E entrance. On arriving in A and E we were directed straight through to Ward 1 by the receptionist and checked in at the ward's nurse's station. We soon went into a side room off the day-room and a nurse came and took down notes and did more obs and took blood for testing before a doctor came to talk to Carol. It took some time for a bed to become ready on the ward and Carol and I went through to the ward. It seems that most wards in modern hospitals are arranged in the same way, smaller eight or six bed 'bays' with beds facing one another, with their own chairs and cabinets in for the patients to put their belongings, also, with curtains that can be drawn around the bed so that they can be more private when the doctors and consultants do their rounds. Unfortunately Carol didn't have a cupboard or cabinet for her to use, although one of the nurses said that if one became vacant she could have it.

After a while a doctor came to see Carol and looked at some notes, listened to her heart and so on and it was decided that the problem she had, the fact that she was thirsty and generally not well was possibly down to her not taking her diabetic medication. They needed to keep her hydrated and to give her insulin to stabilise the diabetes. This would take a couple of days, as no doubt they would need to keep her in hospital for observation to see how things developed. They also needed to make sure there was no infection as a result of the chemotherapy, so there are quite a few things that need sorting out before she can be discharged.

I had to return home to collect some things for Carol. First I had to make sure I knew exactly where the ward was, which may sound crazy, but if you know Milton Keynes Hospital, you will have some idea how complicated the layout is and finding your way around is quite difficult. Once you realise that each department is within a colour coded area it is actually quite straightforward. I had to walk all the way round the site and back to the carpark and fortunately found that the barrier was raised so I didn't have to bother with payment. I soon got home and managed to find the items Carol needed as well as feeding Alfie, who must have wondered what was going on, why we had gone out and left him alone in the kitchen. Having gathered the items together in a holdall, I drove back to the hospital and no sooner had I got there and was again with Carol than the doctor came in to speak to Carol.

By this time it was near enough 9 o'clock so I went home, expecting to return at around 8-8.30 with the hope that we will get further answers when results are back from the blood test so they can get the diabetic problems resolved.