Archives For Andrew Willis

The 23rd of May. 

Well, today has been fucking terrible. Even before I heard about Manchester, it was pretty shit because the night staff messed up my antibiotics again. For some obscure reason, they decided I had to have a vanc level done in the night before they could give it to me, and the doctor hadn’t come to take the blood by the time it was meant to go up. I told them that I didn’t need bloods doing but they refused to give me the drugs until he came. He turned up about quarter past seven, but then the nurses were in handover so nobody could do it. I sat and pressed my buzzer every fifteen minutes, getting more and more frustrated at this happening again, and I continued to get the same answer from people that so-and-so was on their way. By half past nine, I was fuming, and the staff did seem to vaguely get why I was annoyed, so finally the nurse doing the IVs came to put it up at ten to ten and I gave her short shrift. I can understand it not going up until handover was over, but for it to be three and a half hours late is just not good enough, and when I asked the nurse doing it if she would find this level of care acceptable, she couldn’t give me an answer. 

So not a good start. I spoke to Andrew’s secretary because the reg I saw this morning said he hadn’t replied to the emails, and she said he was in today, but in A&E. She then rang me back later to say she’d spoken to him, and he was going to reply to the emails and he was super busy today but he would come and see me tomorrow so that is the only tiny good thing that has happened. 

Obviously, over the course of the morning, information came through about the attack in Manchester last night. I have nothing poignant to say. I just remember going to shows like that, to Justin Timberlake when I was fifteen with my friends, and the chaos trying to leave a gig like that is bad. I can’t imagine the hell that unleashes when a bomb goes off. Particularly savage to target a concert where the demographic is so heavily teen and child based. I will never understand how they can be referred to as “Crusaders” when they are so innocent. 

I saw the junior doctors, and they couldn’t understand why the nurses had thought I needed a vanc level doing in the night, because they were going to do one today along with my other bloods. They also re-prescribed this evening’s dose for 5 o’clock, but it’s five to eight and it still isn’t up so I’m really fucking angry, particularly as I have been talking to the nurse about it all day. This continues to happen to me and it is completely indefensible. There is prioritising and then there is straight-up not doing things and not explaining why. 

Then this afternoon I had a message from Dean, and he told me that he’d had a meeting with his oncologist and surgeon and it isn’t good news. His cancer has spread and they didn’t even know about a lot of the tumours until they opened him up to take out the ones on his ribs. They have offered him chemotherapy but they aren’t optimistic about it and I knew this was probably coming but for it to be concrete is still such a blow. He is going to fight it because he has to try and he has a chance so it could absolutely work – who knows this if not me? Miracles happen and he could be one too but hearing you’re probably going to die is not something I would wish on anyone. I know how he feels and my heart aches. 

 

The 24th of May. 

Ohh life is frustrating. Andrew has not been. And tonight my vancomycin can’t go up until my levels come back from the lab. And now I have to go to Andrew’s clinic in the morning because he didn’t come, so I need my morning dose to be through by half past eight so I’m not getting stressed about being downstairs on time. 

So in medical terms, very little happened today. The doctors came round this morning but really they just wanted to see what was happening about my clinics because I was supposed to be at haematology and physio today, but we’d already sorted those out. It was a reg who I’ve not met before and apart from suggesting that they check my bloods for fungal markers because my CRP has only gone down to 35 yesterday from 37 on Sunday which is a bit shit. It’s frustrating because I feel like I could go home, I don’t want to be here anymore, but I don’t want to go too early and end up back here in a month again. I think I will ask if I can go home in the daytime at the weekend because there is no need for me to be here. 

I had a nice break from the norm this afternoon because Dean and Adam came to see me. We got to talk about the shit news of yesterday, and commiserate over terrible admissions and shouty nurses. I do not ever want to have to go to Heartlands. I had my scrape there and let that be it. His chances actually sound a lot better than I thought, absolutely as good as mine were so why shouldn’t he be the one in five too? We are winners. 

They had to go about four because Dean needed drugs and Adam needed to pack to go home so I made them take a cupcake each (Mommy baked them to make up for me getting upset at the nurses yesterday) and they went back to Fisher House. 

The rest of the day has been spent waiting for Andrew and my blood test. Now because the bloods were done quite late, my vanc level isn’t back and I can’t have my dose. But at least tonight they are being straight with me about why I haven’t got it yet. I will buzz soon, just to see what the haps are. 


The 25th of May. 

Okay. I was up early and thankfully the night staff got my vanc done and flushed off before I had to go downstairs to see Andrew. He was very unhappy about my new swelling, and now it’s spread to my face, he’s thinking we’ve got to reinflate my SVC again, super-aggressively. He said it’ll be very uncomfortable and I’ll need lots of sedation and I’m just like BRING IT ON. I don’t care, I just want it fixed. If this doesn’t work, the next option involves taking out my top rib on the right so that is very much a last resort. 

Back up on the ward, I saw the doctors and told them the plan. Unfortunately, Andrew is teaching at a conference in Europe next week, then we’re away at the wedding, so in two weeks. Which is probably better for me because it means that I’ll have recovered a bit from this whole debacle. The respiratory team want to start me on Voriconazole, which I used to be on, a few years ago, in case I do have a fungal infection, so when those pills come up, I can start. Have to carry on with the vancomycin for at least three more days, ugh. But they were happy for me to go home in the daytime and just return for evening drugs, so that is what we did. 

Admittedly, we only had about three hours at home by the time we got back, but it was still nice. I got to pet Sam, who was very happy to see some people in the daytime, and I got my lap drooled on. Lovely. We watched the penultimate episode of Criminal Minds, then Mommy put out the washing and I watched The Magicians. Then we hopped in the car and drove on back. 

When we arrived, I realised the WiFi was down, which was boring, but my vanc got put up and I sent Mommy back home. And it seemed she just got out in time because pretty much immediately after that, lots more armed police arrived (there have been a couple milling about since Manchester but only two) and they stopped all traffic going in and out, public and staff. It was very dramatic. Nobody knew what was going on, and I could see very little from my window, just a police officer in the road and a car blocking traffic. The police helicopter flew around all evening. After about an hour, the cars started to move again and people were allowed to leave, and the nurse looking after me said that apparently there had been a “suspicious package”, but it cannot have amounted to much. A statement was put out later to say that no one had been arrested and everything was fine, but it was an interesting way to spend an evening. I’m not sure how I’d have felt had we actually been in any danger, so let’s be grateful that we’re safe.

 

The 26th of May. 

Today did not start off well. By eight o’clock, I should have been having my vancomycin, even been flushed off. However, it had not started, and when I asked why, the nurses said they couldn’t do it until I’d had a level taken. This made no sense to me, as I had quite a detailed chat with the doctors yesterday about when my next level would be taken and it was going to be on Saturday, after my morning dose. I explained this to my nurse, but she couldn’t give it to me anyway because she isn’t PICC line trained, so I asked her to send the sister to speak to me. However, the next person to come in was doctor Maria, who is one of Ben’s team and she is lovely. Apparently the nurses had essentially grabbed her as soon as she came in and been like YOU NEED TO MAKE A PLAN and were very rude to her! The problem is that the nurses think you have to do a vanc level every 3 doses, but actually, it’s every 3-6, and seeing as my renal function is fine and they’re not worried about me, every 6 doses is perfectly okay. They write in the notes when they want one doing, but because she didn’t document our conversation that the next level will be done on Saturday, the staff overnight arbitrarily decided I had to have one despite it not being requested. So we talked and she’s going to write in my notes that I’m to have a level done on Saturday and on Monday and that is enough, and then they were happy to come and give me my IV. Jesus. 

I had to see the ward pharmacist, because some drugs were missing from my order that came up, and thankfully she came up very quickly and said she would sort that out. However, a pharmacy bag has appeared in my room and they’ve only given me one of the three drugs I asked for. Why?!

Anyway. We went home again for the afternoon, and had a bit more time today. We watched the last Criminal Minds (I cannot believe they left it like that, what utter bastards), then it was time to wash my hair! It hasn’t been done for three weeks so it feels much better now. Climbing the stairs was fucking horrific though. Not looking forward to doing that again. 

Back downstairs, I sat with Sam for a bit again, and he kneaded the bare skin of my knees until I had to get a blanket to protect myself. It also stopped him drooling on me which is preferable. I watched two episodes of Helix and he purred away, looking up at me with his only fang poking out. Bless him. 

Tonight, the care on the ward is not ideal. My vanc has taken two hours for some reason, and the nurse went to get a flush over an hour ago and the auxiliary I asked about it didn’t really seem to give a shit. Going to press my buzzer again in ten minutes. I think it’s going to be a long night. 


The 27th of May. 

My day started with much confusion because after confirming that my vanc level would be done this morning, that actually meant pre-dose, so one of my doctors came to wake me up at about 7 to stab me in the wrist before they could put the infusion up. She was lamenting the state of my veins and I told her about how they were back in 2013 when I was being constantly cannulated and my hands just gave up. They’ve been worse, but I’ve only got one hand available and it can’t take much more. 

I got my cipro when the nurse flushed me off, so when Daddy arrived at ten o’clock, I was dressed and pretty much ready to go. 

So I have spent lots of my day at home! I got to have a coffee that was actually nice, and I ate some food that hadn’t been wrapped in clingfilm. For the majority of my time, I sat in the back room with the kitty. He has been a bit deprived of contact since I’ve been in, so I thought I would spoil him. Second series of Helix on Netflix and I gave him lots of brushes. Mommy said he’s been unhappy when she’s done it a couple of times but he was fine with me. Stupid cat. 

I found out when I emerged just after 5 that Daddy had started having one of his labyrinthitis episodes and had been vomiting for the past hour, and every time he tried to take a tablet to calm it down, he threw it up. Poor Daddy. I felt very bad having to leave him on his own so Mommy could bring me back to hospital. She stayed just until my vanc had gone up, then she was off straight away. I do hope she found him better than when we left. 

Just got to get my cipro from the nurses tonight, then I can hopefully go to bed at a reasonable time. But it’s a Bank Holiday weekend night shift so who might be on is anybody’s guess. 

 

The 28th of May. 

Last night was surprisingly not terrible. Emily was on and she is good. She gave me my cipro when she flushed me off, so I could go to bed when I was ready. 

My blood pressure became quite alarming, because I’ve had to stop one of the drugs that lowers it as it interacts with Voriconazole. However, when the doctor came, it had returned to normal, and this morning it was good again, so they decided not to do anything. But now it’s high again so we’ll have to watch it and perhaps tomorrow we might have to rethink my regime. 

Since I didn’t have to wait to see any doctors, Mommy came to pick me up at twelve, after she’d taken Grandma home from church. Daddy was feeling better, albeit delicate, so we watched the Grand Prix while he ate some porridge and I had scrambled eggs on a muffin. Needed a bit of iron as I noticed on my bloods, my haemoglobin had gone down to 9.2 which isn’t great. Also my CRP has gone back up to 39, but my white cells have come down to 11.2, so I don’t understand what’s going on but I don’t see how they can justify keeping me on the vanc any longer when it clearly isn’t doing anything anymore. 

I spent the remainder of my time at home sitting with the kitty. We may have a potential adopter for him, and if we can get him rehomed before we have to go away that would be excellent. He will make a very happy companion for someone. I continued with Helix, to the point where Netflix asked if I was still there. Rude. 

Now back in my cubicle and the day staff didn’t manage to get my IV up before handover, so I’ll have to see if the night nurses can get on it. I don’t suppose I will be lucky enough to get Emily two nights on the trot. 

The 3rd of May.

I have been putting this off because writing it down makes it real.

It’s been a pretty quiet, mildly shitty day. I still have this stupid dry cough which wakes me up throughout the night, although my throat is less scratchy now, which I suppose is a plus.

We went into Birmingham this morning so I could pick up my copy of the new Jeffery Deaver novel, The Burial Hour. I also needed to get a thank you card to give James tomorrow when we have our last ever appointment, and Mommy wanted a blank card to put a cross-stitch in but couldn’t find one.

This afternoon, I phoned Andrew’s secretary, Emelda, again, but he hadn’t got back to her and there were no spaces in his clinics until the beginning or end of June. At this point I got upset and I tried to explain about the wedding. I didn’t do it on purpose, but she then said she’d keep trying for me and I’d hear back as soon as she spoke to him.

Mommy then went to Grandma’s, and I watched the new Pretty Little Liars and started the book. Mid-programme, Emelda called me back, and I’ve got an appointment for 25th May, so I will “go to the ball”, as she put it. I didn’t tell her that really I need to see him much sooner because she’s obviously pulled strings to get me in there, but I’m going to have to attend the wedding in my wheelchair, on oxygen and with a giant, swollen arm. I am so tired of this. My hateful body.

The 4th of May.

Nothing like bad news from a friend to prompt a reality check. Dean had his operation on Wednesday to remove the tumour on his rib. That part went as predicted, but what the had not expected was to find new tumours elsewhere that weren’t visible on his scan four weeks ago. Obviously this has been a shock to everyone, so they don’t know what the plan will be. I am just devastated for him, for Adam, and his family. I know how it feels to relapse but he hasn’t even been in remission yet. He knows I am here, for whatever he needs, This is the worst of days.

Up until hearing this news, I was having a pretty good day. I don’t think I have coughed so much today, but I won’t get my hopes up about improvement just yet. I had an appointment at Black Sheep to see James to re-tone my hair, my last session with him! I gave him his crocheted monkey and a card with a rainbow sheep on – I thought it was the most appropriate. I was not there for so long today, he was just going over the colour again, so now I’m a bit more vibrant. It has been our best work.

Home briefly, then back out, to the QE for my physio assessment. They were very on time, so I had barely started reading my book before I was called through. I filled in a questionnaire about my pain, then a chap came to see me. We talked a little bit about medical stuff and my current limitations re: oxygen, then he wanted to see what I could do. He had me stand up and bend forwards and backwards, then sit on the bed and twist left and right. Apparently I am quite stiff when going backwards and left. I then had to lie back and do some stuff with my pelvis and legs. Basically, he can give me some exercises/stretches to try out for a few weeks, then I’ll go back and we’ll see what progress has been made. He was very impressed with my enthusiasm and determination, which made me laugh because I used to be so terrible with physios, always pretending to be asleep when they came. I learned the hard way that that is not helpful.

The 23rd of April.

Oh god I have never been so excited about the fact that it is Monday tomorrow. Maybe my four month long saga of the fat right arm will be over soon.

Somehow I managed to press the snooze button this morning without my knowledge, but I didn’t continue to sleep for too much longer. I think I was slightly less coughy, but I had Zopiclone so it’s hard to remember. Thankfully the rest of the day has not been necessary to remember anyway.

Shockingly, it’s been mostly tv. Sunday Brunch in the am, Netflix this afternoon. I had a break in the middle for my traditional Gardeners’ Question Time and a lie down/pretend nap, but that was pretty much my only non-screen-based activity. On Netflix, I watched the first two episodes of 13 Reasons Why. I think I’ll download the next several to watch while I’m having to lie flat in ambulatory care tomorrow.

The 24th of April.

So it is done. I am praying so hard that it has worked this time but honestly I’m expecting to be disappointed.

Mommy woke me up for toast at quarter to seven, and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I managed to kill time until we had to leave by redoing some crochet that I’d done wrong, and we set off just after 10:30. Parking was a nightmare, but we drove round enough times to chance upon someone leaving. Before going to ambulatory care, we went up to 516 to give Jenny her bear. She was delighted and put him in her pocket. We couldn’t stay too long, so we had a brief chat, then we went back downstairs and she went to check patients’ blood sugars.

I checked in at the desk at ambulatory care, then had to wait until the afternoon patients were let in. While we twiddled our thumbs, we saw Vash, the mother of a girl I was treated with at BCH. Turned out she was in a cubicle in there with some mystery virus. She did not look well, poor thing.

I had a very nice nurse who liked my hair (actually nearly every person I met commented on it) and got admitted pretty quickly, then a nurse from angio came for me because I was the only one on their list this afternoon. When we got down there, I went through the theatre check list again, and Andrew came for a chat. He explained what he was going to do, and we talked a lot about gadolinium (the dye he has to use instead of the iodine-based contrast he normally would), because I have so much during these procedures, more than a patient who’s had a lot of MRIs, more than anyone he’s ever seen and there are no studies on how this much of it can affect a body so he has concerns about that. I am just tired, I want it fixed.

We went round to the suite we were going to use. I shuffled across onto the bed and there was a who, then Andrew went to scrub in and the nurses prepped me. Covered in iodine. Once everything was set up, Andrew ultrasounded the edge of my groin to find the vein, then one of the nurses came to distract me while he got stabby with the local anaesthetic. He tunnelled up as far as he could, then he put some local in my fat arm and drove a wire up the vein in there so the two nearly met, and he used them to measure the blood pressures in those vessels, and he did a run of contrast so he could see if any strictures were there. The one he blew up in January had returned, so he was going to have to inflate that again, but with a better balloon this time. Before doing that, he wanted to use the IVUS to make sure there weren’t any more, and to get some more information about my superior vena cava. I could see the screens today, so I can tell you that an ultrasound inside your veins looks like the title sequence of Doctor Who. Like going into a black hole. From this, he was able to glean that there isn’t any more narrowing, but it is scarred. Lines for seven years will do that to you.

Satisfied that I only needed the one inflation, he gave me some sedation (they are not comfortable experiences) and I had a tiny nap. Then all the tubes and wires got pulled out and I had to lie there while he pressed very hard on the puncture site to stop the bleeding.

In recovery, I had some water, then the nurses took me and my notes back to ambulatory care. Mommy was coming back in at the same time, so we both returned to my bedspace and I told her what had gone on. Andrew came round too, and we talked through what he’d seen. He also explained that there’s no point in strenting the vein he inflated because it’s surrounded by bones and fibrous tissue so would probably just get crushed. I have to keep wearing the sleeve and squeezing the stress ball, and hope that this time it’s had the desired effect. I’ll get an appointment for his clinic. Maybe I’ll be able to wear something that doesn’t drown me.

The 8th of March. 

In total contrast to yesterday, many things have happened today! Last night I got told I needed to be nil by mouth from midnight because endoscopy were probably expecting me to go down for my bronchoalveolar lavage (or bronchoscopy for short) in the morning. 

Ben came to see me first thing and we had a very brief chat, which concluded with the decision that I would indeed have the bronchoscopy. There were only two other people on the list so I wasn’t waiting long until my turn. 

Dr. Thompson was doing the list, so when I went down to endoscopy, we had the chat about what he would be doing and I signed the consent form. As he explained the process, I realised that it was going to be horrific and I would never have agreed if I knew what I know now. I was unable to have any effective sedation because my sats were too low, so I was awake for the entire thing. Here is what happened:

Firstly, I had to do a deep “Ahhh” and he sprayed the back of my throat with lidocaine (local anaesthetic) which stung like crazy and numbed the back of my throat, which made me feel like I couldn’t swallow. Oh and I’ll say now that I coughed intensely throughout, to the point where I nearly threw up multiple times. 

Then another “Ahhh” to spray the vocal chords, so then I was coughing, in pain and couldn’t speak. I was able to signal that I could not tolerate having it go up my nose – if you imagine, the camera is about 4mm in diameter, and I could barely cope with the thinnest NG tube available, so having an endoscope up my nose and down my airway was not an option. 

One more spray, then I lay down, but then he sprayed me again and I had to sit up to cough more. He gave me 2mg of midazolam which my liver gobbled up immediately and did absolutely fuck all, so I was completely conscious, eyes screwed shut, biting down on the plastic guard that was in my mouth to stop me biting through the scope. He put the camera down my throat and into my windpipe, then deeper into my lungs, where he squirted some water which was then collected to be tested for all the bugs. I was coughing and coughing, unable to move because another doctor was holding me down, telling me I was okay and to “Just breathe” (which is really NOT FUCKING HELPFUL), honestly feeling like I might die from the strain of it. Finally he pulled it out and I had an even worse coughing fit and nearly threw up again, and he sort of patted me on the shoulder and told me to breathe. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t want to cough any more, then I was brought up to the ward, where I had to have my obs done every fifteen minutes and remain nil by mouth for another hour and a half, and I just wanted a hug and to have a cry. It is the literally worst fucking thing I have ever had done to me.

Mommy came in early, and I had a little cry when I related the experience to her. She gave me lots of hugs and thankfully the nurse who was doing my obs was amusing. 

Sometime before midday, a vascular nurse called Donna came to see me to talk about lines, and she said that they’d talked to Andrew Willis and he’d agreed that the mid-line was the best plan, so she’d come back after one o’clock with another nurse called Caroline and an ultrasound machine and she’d put one in. 

I ate some food and drank some coffee, and it wasn’t long before Donna returned with all the gubbins. She found a nice vein using the ultrasound, and I actually could understand which black blobs were veins and which were arteries. Basically, if she could squish it and it went away, it was a vein, and if it pulsed, it was an artery. She and Caroline got gowned up and covered me in various sheets, and put some lidocaine in my arm. She got started, and it was all going okay until she tried to feed the wire into the vein for the line to follow, but something seemed to be getting in the way. Caroline picked up the ultrasound, and we could see the vein, but then there was a large black blob that wasn’t a vein or an artery, and it was stopping anything going any further up my arm. She couldn’t try any more for fear of seriously damaging the vein which would leave us with no options, so the next option is that I have to go to interventional radiography for them to use dye to find good veins. And of course I am allergic to the standard dye. Donna and Caroline went down to talk to Andrew, but he wasn’t here this afternoon, so Tracy (the appointment coordinator) has booked me in for a line, but I don’t know when that’ll be, and Andrew and Dr. Hopkins who has also been involved have been emailed. 

As they were finishing, a porter came to collect me for my chest x-ray that I probably should have had on Monday after the drain was taken out. That was not very interesting, and I’m sure the results will just show that my lung has re-inflated. 

Upon my return, I found Philippa and Kirsty from the liver team in my room, talking to Mommy, so they cheered me up from my shitty day. 

I am exhausted, and I would really like some more progress. My breathing has improved – I’m not getting as breathless when I talk, for example, but moving is still a huge struggle. And somehow I think that I am not going to recover very quickly. 

The 9th of March. 

Oh, frabjous day, I have a line!

At eleven o’clock last night, the cannula site started bleeding. My immediate thought was “Oh, fuck.” but I was pleased because it meant that my need for a line was even more urgent. Thankfully, the cannula itself was still working, so I was able to have my meropenem through it. The nurse doing IVs last night offered to put another one in my right hand and I was able to warn her off, but she was quite keen. Last time I let people cannulate my hands, they were destroyed. 

We had no idea what time I might be going down to angio to have my line put in, if at all, but I knew they would want me to have been nil by mouth, so I elected to starve until we knew what was happening. Plus, the nursing team were not thrilled that I wasn’t eating or drinking, so they made extra effort to find out what the plan was. I was effectively on hunger strike, but it was directly related to the outcome, because I knew if they called me and I had eaten, they wouldn’t be able to necessarily do what was needed. 

I stayed hungry all morning, and I saw all of the respiratory and haematology doctors. Ben and his team are just waiting for results from my bronchoscopy, so hopefully tomorrow we might know something from them. The haematology chaps just pretty much wanted to know why I was still here, as if it’s my choice. It’s just that we (the doctors and I) need to know that if I’m discharged, I’m not going to be back in 48 hours complaining of other symptoms. So we do the tests, get back all our results, and if something needs treating, it gets treated. If not, I suppose it just means I am still recovering from the pre-Christmas pneumonia and my right arm still needs deflating. Fingers crossed there is news in the morning. 

I was told by the nurse in charge that she had agreed with the booking coordinator that they would talk at 12, then I would know if I was going down this afternoon or whatever the plan would be. However, at 12, the nurse here rang and got no answer, then she had to go to a meeting, so we knew nothing. Two hours passed, and I was getting increasingly irate and hungry. Mommy went and hovered about for me, and found the nurse had returned and was in the office on the phone. Whether it was about me, I don’t know. But about half past two, a porter came to take me to angio! He didn’t have any oxygen, so had to go and get some (you would think that for respiratory patients it would be a requirement), then he and a student nurse took me downstairs. Then we had a problem down there because nobody had done a theatre checklist on the ward, so we did one in recovery, then the nurse had to go back upstairs to get my nurse to fill in her half of the checklist, and she came back (after getting lost) with my checklist and a red wristband to tell people that I am allergic to things. 

I had a chat with a few people I now know down there, including Mark who has done a venoplasty on me before. Turns out the reason Andrew hasn’t been around yesterday and today is because he’s off sick, which is frankly unacceptable, but I suppose even doctors get poorly sometimes. Still, one of his “senior colleagues”, Dr. Hicks, was looking after me, and had been there when my case had come in on Tuesday. He decided that we were going to do a PICC, not a mid-line, and I thought I’d let him because if he fucked up my veins, he’d just have to fix them, and he would be in trouble with Andrew. I had not got the energy to argue. He also felt that dye wasn’t going to be necessary, and he could do it with just the ultrasound. Rather defeated the purpose of me going down there in the first place but OH WELL. It didn’t go swimmingly to begin with – he started on one side of my arm, didn’t seem to find a vein there, so had me flip it over. He found one there, but something caused a problem because he had to take out the wire and line he’d got in, then have me put my arm back the way it was originally. He finally got into a vein and it was all going to work, when I heard him say “Oh, I’ve done it wrong” which is not what one wants to hear on the table. He just meant that he’d cut the wire in the wrong place, so it was too short and he needed another one, thank god. When he got to the final bit, when the end of the line is being positioned very close to the heart, the x-ray machine came out and this time I could see what was happening! He was working on my left side and the screen was on my right, so I could watch my chest rise and fall, and the line thread across the screen into the dark mass that was my heart. It was slightly unnerving when I could feel the tip poking inside me, and I swear my heart jolted in my chest when it got prodded. 

When I came back to the ward, I pretty much shoved a sandwich into my face, then I was wondering when I might get my afternoon dose of mero, because I wasn’t here when it was supposed to happen. Just when it looked like it might be coming, somebody in the bay across from my cubicle crashed, so everybody charged in there with trolleys and machines, so I didn’t get my drugs until half past six. I don’t mind, obviously I understand that my antibiotics are not quite the priority when that sort of thing happens, but I am going to be very tired when I finally get my night time dose. I may try to go to sleep and just leave my arm available. It has been a long day.  

The 16th of February. 

We have a plan. In fact, we have many plans! I got called in pretty much straight away again (I do like the promptness of Andrew’s clinic) and first off, he was really very annoyed that I hadn’t heard from the compression garment people, so he fired off what I think was a politely passive-aggressive email immediately. I went on to explain how it’s affecting my breathing and mental health, and I didn’t cry, but I wobbled. He went back into my pictures, and we talked about my contrast allergy again. I showed him the pictures of the rash and he agreed that I cannot have the iodine-based contrast, so we have four other options available: carbon dioxide, which they would watch displace the blood, measuring the pressure in the veins, the gadolinium (the MRI dye they usually use on me) and IVUS, which is intravascular ultrasound, where they put an ultrasound probe inside the vein and get pictures that way. Then it really depends on what they find, but he’s going to try to sort it out asap, because he now understands how debilitating it is for me. We have to wait for him to talk to the people who make IVUS because it’s not a standard going they have in the hospital. I left feeling much better. 

Then, on the way out, I got a call from the compression garment people! They were very apologetic and asked if I could go there right then, so we turned right back around. I went to the orthotics department and booked in with the receptionist. Again, I was called in super fast, and the nice man took lots of measurements of my arm. He’s ordered it today, and has asked them to get it sent out express, so I’m hoping they’ll call me back early next week? I have to wear it 24/7, so that will be fun. 

Afterwards, we went back to Andrew to let him know that it had happened, and he was delighted. Polite passive-aggressiveness works!

We went into town so I could get Penny a birthday card, then by the time we got home, I was starving. Lunch was most welcome. Then this afternoon, I watched the series finale of No Offence, and worked more of the complex, fine wool doily. Hand cramp ahoy. 

The 17th of February. 

Well, I have my compression garment. It is not my favourite.

I got a phone call just after eleven from Chris, the guy I saw yesterday. My sleeve was in, when could I go in to collect it? I suggested two o’clock which he was happy with, and I hung up still in shock at how quickly it has happened. 

We went out straight after lunch, and were waiting for a little while but kept amused by the nonsensical rolling news along the bottom of the screen (“Armed with a machine to pick cows up and an angle grinder, man gives cows pedicures.” “A nationwide depot search was conducted but the painting was never found.” “The club described the player as having a contagious energy and sense of humour which lit up a room.”). 

After twenty minutes, he came to get me, and proceeded to fit the sleeve. I do not look forward to us having to do it – it’s so much harder than the TED stockings. He said the most common injury in their department is ruptured fingers – dislocated knuckles and torn ligaments from pulling garments up people’s limbs. I have to wear it all the time except in the shower. God. 

Once it was on and in the right place, we went into town again to take back a jumper I’d ordered (did not resemble website photo), and I got a different one which will also go back because the arms aren’t big enough. 

This evening, I was out at The Old Rep to see Josie Long, supported by Tez Ilyaz. There was little traffic, so I arrived ridiculously early. To fill the time, I got myself a glass of wine and read the little programme Josie had made. When the doors opened, she was doing pre-show karaoke, which was basically her singing along to the Pina Colada song on her phone. Such fun!

She did a bit, then Tez did his bit (which was very good, I am going get tickets from him at Machynlleth), then it was interval time. I had to pee, and on the way to the toilet I saw Malcolm, who I used to hang out with back when I was at school and was one of the photographers at Becky and James’ wedding. Then, when I came out, I was recognised by Bryony, a nurse from the QE who I love dearly and haven’t seen for ages. Bonus, unexpected chat, so that was an added delight to the evening. 

Josie then came on and did her show, and I just love her. She is such a font of positivity and optimism but also rage, which is what we need when the world feels so terrible. She ended on a high note of an audience sing-a-long to Take That’s Never Forget, and as people filed out they all wanted photos and to talk which she gladly took part in, and I climbed up the stairs to the stage so we could catch up. I met Tez, and Josie’s boyfriend Johnny, and we talked about the show and Mach. They tidied up the stage, removing all her banners, and we ambled out of stage door where there were still some very dedicated fans waiting. 

I am not looking forward to sleeping with this thing on my arm. 

The 2nd of February. 

It’s been a very busy day. As soon as we arrived at the QE, we bumped into John Higham from the dental hospital (there with a family member, not ill himself), and then Janet, who adopted Monica from us ages ago. She’s doing really well, climbing up onto their garage roof, yet when she was with us, she couldn’t even jump onto the windowsill. 

Andrew saw me super promptly, which was excellent. He showed me the pictures from the venogram, and it’s quite obvious that what he did should have worked. He doesn’t want to go back in immediately, which is understandable, and having looked at my arm, our first port of call is going to be a compression garment which he is trying to get organised as an emergency (it normally takes two weeks to get an appointment). I have to keep it elevated, and squeeze a stress ball a lot to encourage blood flow, and see him again in a couple of weeks, when we’ll talk about next steps if necessary. 

We were meeting Naomi for lunch, and there wasn’t time to go home and back again, so we went into town. I bought a new jumper with large sleeves to add to my current rotation and spent the book token I got for my birthday on Negroland by Margo Jefferson. 

We got to Strada first, and it was full of elderly people obviously going to something at Symphony Hall. When Naomi arrived, I gave her the bunny I made, and she was delighted. She was very interested to hear about my most recent Anthony Nolan trip and to talk about the charity – she’s learning more about how they work because she’s choreographing the new show being created about Kids Company that’ll be on at the Donmar in the Spring. Must go see it, it sounds like it’s going to be fascinating. 

I had pizza and a chocolate fondant, neither really worthy of photos but very tasty. She had to go at half two because she was seeing Love at the REP, and we came home where I have done very little except squeezed a stress ball. 

The 3rd of February.

Bleah, my cough is extra rubbish today. I can feel the gristle in my lower ribcage as the bones grind together. It’s really not very pleasant. 

This morning, I did the blog post I should have done yesterday, and I started taking some diuretics. We thought it was worth a try to get some of this fluid shifted, so today has also involved more peeing than is normal. Maybe they, along with the stress ball squeezing and arm elevation, will help the fluid. Heard nothing about the compression garment.

After lunch, Daddy and I went to see Sing. It was that or Hacksaw Ridge, and I thought I needed the light relief of singing animals. I was not prepared for the ten or so children who were there – at a two o’ clock screening on a weekday, there should not be loads of kids, no matter what the film. If they’re ill, they should be at home, if not, they should be at school. I had to shush them several times because their parents were not doing anything. 

Apart from the children, I did enjoy the film. Rosita is my favourite – I love her and her piggy power.

The 31st of January. 

Well, I’ve spoken to the person who books appointments for Andrew’s clinics, and she can’t do anything until she’s spoken to him. I don’t feel ultra-confident that she will do this very quickly but hopefully she’ll surprise me. Still no sign of deflation, and I am measuring it every day. 

I have been vastly unproductive today, apart from a blog post this morning. I was at the chiro this afternoon for the first time since before Christmas, and it was not fun, but very necessary. I know it’s bad when Trine winces upon touching my back, exclaiming about how it feels “solid”. She did lots of kneading and crunching and stretching, and I’m going back in two weeks. Hopefully I will not be in pain when I try to go to sleep tonight like I have been for the past week. 

Afterwards, we had a very quick trip to Sutton so I could get a box file for Cats Protection post-adoption forms, and while there bumped into June from Black Sheep, so had a tiny chat before she had to get back to work. 

Need to decide on my next crochet project. Mindless hooking is my meditation. 

The 1st of February.

I have been surprised! The lady I spoke to yesterday actually rang this morning – she has seen Andrew and he’d like me to go to his clinic tomorrow, which I can definitely do. Still exactly the same size. 

The rest of my day has not been so great. I needed oxygen after getting dressed, have been coughing all day, and my back still feels stiff and painful. Stupid garbage body. It would be nice to be able to complete basic tasks without feeling like I’ve just sprinted 100m. 

I had been considering a new crochet project, and as we are meeting Naomi for lunch tomorrow and it was her birthday the other day, I thought I would make her something. I had seen a pattern for a cute bunny, so I’ve spent my day making that. It is super adorable.