Has this week been typical? I do not really know what passes for typical anymore. Each week is such a moving feast or occasional famine and this week has been a bit of both. It promised to be a nice relaxing week leading up to the Easter break with time to catch up with old friends, two lunches booked in and time to keep moving on my personal projects. A more difficult and uneven week ensued.
Monday saw me driving out to the Peak District to meet up with two ex-students of mine in the wonderful little village of Beeley. It was a lovely run, the sun was shining and the world seemed relatively benign. All of us in our 60s perhaps it was inevitable that ailments, illness, chronic and acute, dominated the conversation. All of us try to be active but have to drive against our bodies which sometimes let us down, but I am jumping ahead. It was a delightful meal though the chicken liver starter may have returned to haunt me. We talked a lot about the NHS and our experiences of it, the role of alternative medicines and the way in which cutting and privatising puts unreasonable pressure on services. It was as if I was going to take on a live case study on the basis of our discussion. But without doubt lovely lunch, lovely company and good mutual support.
Tuesday was a quiet day but I did one significant thing which was to replenish the bird feeder so that the varied small birds which visit continued to come and this would give me some solace as the week progressed. By the evening I was feeling a little unwell with abdominal cramping. I hoped it would pass.
Wednesday was my second lunch in Sheffield with ex-colleagues. But I woke up to stomach upset, nausea, cramps and diarrhoea. I had to cancel my lunch, disappointed but realistic. As the day unfolded this decision was vindicated as I deteriorated but will save readers a description of what was happening. I believe I had another bacterial infection probably campylobacter which I have had before and memories of the chicken livers rose in my mind. As the day progressed all plans were abandoned and I struggled to deal with this debilitating moment. My son came over in the evening and apart from his stoical skills at cleaning he was concerned about how I looked. So to the NHS.
We rang the out of hours doctors, a quick assessment and we were advised after discussion to ring an ambulance to go to A&E. We did that but was advised to contact NHS 111. So we did. Another phone assessment followed and they suggested we contact the out of hours doctors. I was feeling light headed anyway so this odd circular phone journey contributed to this dizzy feeling. This time I was referred to the urgent care centre at the hospital and we set off. At least we were now next to A&E and after another assessment we ended up in a cubicle in A&E. I was decidedly dehydrated so saline drip was set up, paracetamol infusion and blood tests. There was a lot of waiting but staff do care and as I have always found with NHS staff physical care is done without complaint or hesitation. So they looked after me for over two hours whilst the test results came back and the drips did their magic. I was tired but felt something was happening. Eventually the doctor came explained that all the blood tests had come back good so no other problems ancillary to this gastro attack were evident. Kidneys were doing good! He would admit me but quietly said it could be a few hours as I would need a side room because of the infection. I pondered and decided my own bed might be good. Wearily we made our way home and around 1.30 am I fell into a fitful but relieved sleep.
I tell this story in detail as it illustrates for me the gem that the NHS is even if you can see how it struggles to cope with demand. A newspaper article in the Guardian later in the week highlighted how Easter duty Rotas are empty for many A&E departments as they cannot get enough doctors and all sorts of incentives are being offered. The doctor who dealt with me saw me after all the assessments were done, looking tired but spend time with me explaining the options, answering my queries. It is such a hard job, unrelenting, always surprising and I for one was so grateful. Undermining the NHS as this government are intent on doing is the biggest social tragedy unfolding in thus country, particularly if you include the breakdown in care provision. I got dealt with, I feel grateful but I feel uneasy about the future. I will be back no doubt and hope the service is able to help then.
Thursday and Friday were recuperation days. Any plans I had at the beginning of the week had been abandoned as slowly and haltingly I started to improve. I slept and spent all day in my armchair watching TV but admiring the bird displays in my garden. With my camera handy I snapped away, watched how they came and went, saw the bossy Starlings take over for a few minutes to give way to the charms of the colourful goldfinches, robins, greenfinches, sparrows, dunnocks, collared ducks and the ever present blackbirds. It suited my mood and got me through the week. It has become such a pleasure to watch birds and delight every time I spot a new one. When I have managed to get to bird hides and spotted new birds it feels a real achievement. A simple joy. I cannot easily walk so access to the countryside is limited though I am working on assisted mobility as I write. This may improve access and enable me to capture birds in their natural habitats. But below are some collages and sample pics of this week.
My week ends today on Easter Sunday, still feeling fragile, but ready to use the NHS in a different capacity as I had a CT Scan this morning. Though the hospital was very quiet to be able to get such work done on a Sunday was good. The two staff I saw were chatty and relaxed and even managed to find one of my infamously disappearing veins without having to resort to the dreaded back of hand. In and out in ten minutes job done. I will always say I have value for money from the NHS. When my family are older will it still be there?
So a mixed week, some dark moments and another week before I feel properly well again but the birds helped, my son and friends helped and the NHS certainly did. Not typical I hope!
Finally some more birds, what else this week!