Health – A Close Shave

As you may gathered, I have been ill which culminated in surprise surgery. Recovery is proving to be more protracted than I had hoped. When I first escaped hospital, recovery appeared swift but that was short lived with some complications setting in made all the more difficult to deal with by the Covid-19 situation to deal with it.

As I was leaving hospital “on the up” I promised myself that I would write the saga up but as things turned out I really couldn’t be bothered until now.

First thing we need to deal with is EDM Models, www.ngtrains.com , current closure and eventual reopening. The closure will remain in place for the foreseeable future. All my advisers plus Annie are telling me not to rush recovery and to only return when properly mended.

There will be more details here soon……New Sales Arrangements……for once we do re-open

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The Great Guts Saga.

Back what seems like ages ago but was just four weeks ago a meal kicked of something in my guts that had me doubled up in pain. That lasted two days and pretty much meant I couldn’t do a thing. It eventually passed through on Sunday night and was put down to “something I ate”

Monday, whilst knackered, allowed some work to be completed as I thought crisis had passed. That all ended at teatime when my simple tea went off like a napalm bomb in my guts that again had me doubled over. This time 111 (NHS Help) was consulted and a DR phoned back with advice using over the counter drugs. Again, nature took its course and ended explosively.

Wednesday evening, suddenly, it felt like I had been stabbed in the side. This went on into the night, resulted in another call to 111, a consultation by phone and orders to attend the out of hours GP at York District Hospital soonest!

Two things you need to know at this point because of the Covid 19 situation: –

  1. No admissions to hospital. Basically, you have got to have a bloody good excuse to get in.
  2. Absolutely no unnecessary surgery. Infection risk is too great.

So, early on Thursday morning I was admitted (breaking rule 1) onto the surgical assessment unit for tests. After sitting about for an hour a junior doctor turned up to take bloods. She wasn’t very good at it and I ended up looking like a second hand dart board.

About an hour later the consultant and her entourage swept in. You probably need to be “of an age” to see the funny side but if you’ve seen the Doctor in the House films and seen consultant Sir Lancelot Spratt sweep in to the ward followed by his entourage of house, junior and trainee doctors you can’t help but giggle. The only difference is that to modernise the view is that there is a junior scooting along with a pedestal desk with a laptop on it for notes.

The first consultant team, the ladies darts team, then set about me with an interesting technique that seemed to consist of thumping different parts of my abdomen to see which bit made me squeal loudest. Following a left uppercut under my ribs that doubled me over she announced, “ah, gall bladder!”

The rest of Thursday was spent with more blood rests, CT and MRI scans whilst plumbed into drips of saline and antibiotics. The plan was still drug therapy, but it still wasn’t making much impression.

Normally you have to queue for CT & MRI scans so one after the other is unusual. For the CT scan you need to drink a litre of “contrast liquid”. They were quite proud that their latest version was ‘palatable’ as it used to be so disgusting it had to be laced with strong aniseed to make it drinkable. It’s still horrible.

Just an hour later it’s MRI time and another ‘contrast drink’. This lot are chuffed and bragging that is natural and that its  pineapple juice not like the nasty stuff the CT people give you. Now, I don’t mind a bit of pineapple juice but a litre of the stuff. Yuk! Anyway, I got it down me, they did the scan, got me back on the bed and then tried to sit me up when I don’t bend in the middle. Turns out projectile vomit of pineapple juice goes a long way. The MRI tech got about half a litre.

Back on the ward the consultant didn’t think I was sitting up fast enough, so got hold of me and pulled. She got the other half litre!

After a rough night, Friday morning up to 10:30, they were still talking more tests and drug therapy when a new face turned up. This face turned out to be the chief gut surgeon for North Yorkshire NHS. He explained that:-

  1. they didn’t think that drug therapy was going to work and
  2. he reckoned that as the Covid19 peak for York was still some way off there was an opportunity for surgery to remove my gall bladder and get me out of hospital before the shit hit the fan.
  3. his final point made me laugh, ” it can’t bother you if its in the bin!”

He had to go higher to get the Operation ok’d.

There followed ‘nil by mouth’, explanations of how they intended to do the op keyhole but they then have to explain how it may have to go large and all the possible complications. Next you get the anaesthetist along to tell you how that can all go wrong but usually doesn’t. Then it’s “we’re using the emergency theatre” so if something more urgent comes in you’ll have to wait. Planned op for 16:00.

At 16:10 not the porters but the surgeon and anaesthetist turn up to drag my bed down to theatre. It’d have been better if they’d gone the right way. I asked why no porters and the response was they wanted to crack on and it was quicker to fetch me themselves. 8pm I’m waking up minus gall bladder and being told by the surgeon that drug therapy would never have worked and I was better off without my gall bladder. They had done it keyhole so I had five smaller holes in me instead of a bloody great big one. Two of the holes still had pipes coming out of them to drain bags.

It was explained to me how I didn’t really need a gall bladder and just how many people had theirs removed. Something that has been backed up by the number of people wishing me well whilst letting on they were without.

Come Sunday lunchtime they’re ready to chuck me out.

I think I amused the sister as I said I couldn’t go before 12:10. Now, York District Hospital backs on to the York to Scarborough railway line and told her I had to wait until the 12:05 to Scarborough had passed. Not sure she believed me so Sister came and stood with me as the train went past playing a fanfare on its horns with its driver waving. I had to explain that the driver was Rimmer, a fellow Festiniog driver.

Up to this point the care had been exemplary under difficult circumstances but being sent home early, for fully understandable reasons, was the beginning of it all going a bit off the rails. I am going to skirt over most of this but its included: –

  • Infections
  • Fever
  • Nose bleeds
  • Headaches
  • Coughs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wild and massive errors in getting my bloods right

The bloods thing is because I am normally on warfarin to thin my blood but they countered that so they could do the operation. I was then kicked out with injections to do to myself to correct it again whilst the slower acting, but supposedly more stable, tablet based dosing. Testing was now being done by the nurses at the GP’s surgery and each time we went there was different protocol in place each time. It started with them in mask, then me in a mask, both in a mask. Its now a drive up, stick your hand out the window, get stabbed for blood on to the machine them ask the computer/pharmacist what’s next. My INR should be 2.0 to 2.3 but they managed to get it to 6.4 at one point.

The current none contact medical arrangements and the fear of Corvid19 made matters worse.  As a result of the anaesthetic I left hospital with a persistent cough. Then my surgery had an infection issue causing high temp and fevers.  I expect you can see where high temp and persistent cough are going even though neither was Corvid related but the no contact, no testing regime just means a) you’re on your own and b) you have to behave as if it is.

Pottering 1: I found my airbrush holder was broken so I made a new one

Only now as a type this in late April am I feeling sort of human again and feeling well enough to want to do things. Even then its proving to be a case of the mind being keener than the body. I am doing a bit more each day but it only amounts to pottering about at things that take my fancy. Even then things that would have taken an hour are taking a lot longer with enforced breaks.  The good news wanting to get back to them as soon as I can.

What is clear finishing writing this on the 27th April with EDM Models and www.ngtrains.com closed is that it will be a couple of weeks yet before I consider reopening in any way, shape or form. Opening before I am well enough would be stupid and just make recovery longer.

What I can do and when I am allowed to do will be controlled by Annie as I wouldn’t trust myself to be the one that decides.  Opening will be announced in a newsletter and, as always, check the website for details.

One thought on “Health – A Close Shave

  1. Hi Paul,
    Glad to hear that you’re on the mend (well, a bit….) and enjoyed reading your account of your treatment. Some of it was familiar to me – I’ve managed not to lose my gall-bladder, but I have experienced heart by-pass surgery, and it took me a few weeks to recover from that, even though I felt really fine immediately afterwards because I was still enjoying the effects of the anaesthetic (effectively, heroin.) I hope you continue to improve.

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