10 Jul 2014

Catchup! Thank god its over.

Hi dearest blog!

“Wha’sup?!”

It’s been a week or so since I last stopped by for a chat or to post anything. I guess the narcissist in me was feeling rather despondent that my offer to send handmade gifts to five people was greeted with silence, my attempt to pay it forward getting a slap in the face. However, I have neglected this blog for a while, not posting as regularly as I would have liked, and maybe not posting great stuff every time, so I imagine my readership is back down to 3.

The thing is, I have lost some of my focus lately (and I shall tell you why in a moment) and its actually quite selfish reasons, but I need an outlet for everything that’s on my mind and in the past this blog has been that for me. I’ve never really stuck to a genre or theme or topic and always had a bit of everything that interests me, and as much as that goes against blogging advice, I like that it represents me and my passion for many things.

A true indicator that I am under any stress is that I recently posted a poem – I tend to write poetry when I need an emotional outlet and this often comes hand in hand with being under stress – although the subject matter isn’t always directly related to the issues.

So here I am, stuck in front of a computer, preparing to spill my guts for some stress relief, and then to resume some semblance of a blogging schedule after that. So if anyone is reading this then strap yourself in and if you aren’t reading this then…wait! If you aren’t reading this then you won’t read this bit about reading this will you?

“A year on”

A year on suggests that its been a year since an event in my life and it hasn’t, but I can’t wait a full year to push the last twelve months under the carpet, and move forward with hopefully new fun times. It is actually 6 weeks shy of a year since the proverbial shit hit the fan so to speak, so I hope you can forgive me for not wanting to wait.

On 31st August 2013, the house I was renting off my father caught fire, the next door neighbour had left an unattended lit barbecue next to a fence and a shed (housing a petrol mower) whilst he had popped to the shop to buy some tongs. The girlfriend had come out of the house to see the fence on fire and tried to put it out, but couldn’t, and when it caught the shed she threw water over it – water v petrol, not a great mix! When it got even more out of hand (there was a strong wind that day – blowing the flames towards my house and away from hers), she ran out of the garden, down the street, sat on the corner and called her boyfriend (not the fire brigade). Fortunately, over 30 people called the fire department to report it and I was lucky as I was out at the time, celebrating my nieces first birthday.

To say it was a long day, would be an understatement, and I was glad to get to my mothers and rest there for the night while the smoke cleared. Unfortunately, this proved to be a bad decision as that night my house was burgled! The police did eventually catch the burglar, and I got some of my stuff back but barely a third of it. The burglar received 6 months custodial sentence, of which he probably served three, and he was out of prison before I even had my items back from evidence. I was happy that the system had worked in catching him (fingerprints) but not so pleased that I never got all my stuff back and his sentence was very short, but it was better than nothing. So many people were surprised that a burglar had actually been caught.

On the 2nd September I was due to start a new job, so I had to go to work and ask if I could start a couple of days later, it was hard for people to believe the reason why but pictures helped.

It took a while for everything to be sorted in terms of replacement windows, doors, heating system, roof, fence etc. but it was done.

After this, life calmed down for me, just the odd stressful situation with family to keep me worrying about something. I was happy to see the new year in. 2014 was going to be my year, I mean it could hardly get any worse, right? Oh the naivety of middle age J
“Dem Old bones”

However, I spent the start of 2014 in a bit of a funk and with continued parental stress, but work was fine and I seemed to be working towards a goal of some sort. This blog caused me such distraction, I moved to wordpress, but the level of spam comments you get on that is ridiculous especially compared with the zero I have received using blogger, and eventually I came back here. I had the usual weekly WTF moments but anyone who knows me knows that my desire to avoid any drama is thrown back in my face by fate by providing me with some, for even the most simple of tasks!

Then I had some luck which gave me the opportunity to plan some holidays that I wanted to take. As a temp and with the uncertainty of employment, I can at times use this to my advantage and take longer holidays than others. The house situation was deteriorating and I had to make a choice, it wasn’t easy, if I think about it now it stresses me but in the long run I know it was the best choice, especially considering what happened next! It might be embarrassing to some, and yes at my age, I do sometimes see it as my total failure to be an adult, but I am living with my mother again!

I moved after returning from a family holiday to the seaside, a place called Hunstanton, Norfolk. It was literally the day after I moved that a niggling pain in my left foot became much more, it was red, swollen, burning, tingling and extremely painful. I hadn’t had an injury to my foot.

Over the course of two to three weeks it became more and more difficult to put any weight on it and I was hobbling most of the time. Other symptoms were chronic fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite. It was so much fun. I say that in the past tense but I am still having the same symptoms 6 weeks on. Although now, my right middle finger has joined in the fun! For at least the last two weeks I have been using crutches for support, every now and again (usually at lunchtime) I use one crutch (as I feel the most agile at this time) in the hope that it will be ok but whenever I do I have the sad realisation that I need two if I want to move faster than a caterpillar.

“the science bit”

After about a week of pain and discomfort and swelling I went to see the Dr, who ordered some bloods to confirm her suspicion of gout (I’m too young for that surely!) and told me to keep my leg up and rest completely. She even signed me off work for 4 days! This is the first time in 21 years of working that I have had a sick note, so I was not happy L

My bloods came back and confirmed there was no gout. They also showed that liver and kidney function were fine and my blood count was normal. The only thing it did show was a slightly raised CSR – indicating non-specific inflammation. The rheumatoid factor indicated that it was not a rheumatic problem. I went back to the Drs as there was no change. This time I was examined again and sent for an x-ray. The x-ray showed that nothing was broken. I had a high blood pressure (not something I’ve had in the past), but there was no sign of infection, and so I carried on. The swelling never went down; the pain was still keeping me awake at night even taking anti-inflammatory pills and painkillers. Of course by this time I was on crutches, it didn’t make sense, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do anything that is ridiculously bad for my health. It was and still is frustrating. I had more bloods at the Drs and this time the CSR and ESR were both raised.

I went to see an orthopaedic surgeon who asked the same questions, examined me, and sent me for another x-ray for stress fractures. The x-ray came back and everything looked fine. At this time I had managed to somehow hurt my back (left side beneath the shoulder blade) and every time I moved forward, laid down, stood up, inhaled deeply or coughed it felt as though someone was stabbing me. I spent three days sleeping sat up on the sofa alternating between coughing and yelping. I got zero sleep, well less than the little I had been managing before.

About two weeks after I saw my Dr the first time, she ordered an MRI for me, requesting an urgent appointment (that was about 4 weeks ago) and finally I am having one on Sunday. This appointment has proven to be the bane of this experience.

The first Dr (a woman) ordered it as an urgent, however, it had to go to a referral management system, they took two weeks to assess the request (even though it was urgent) and then stalled on it. The next Dr I saw, who is actually my GP – and it was the first time I had seen him since joining the surgery 4 years ago, also requested an urgent MRI. The appointment I was given was four weeks ago. Now, I am sure there have been moments when you have gone without sleep, or felt run down, or even in pain and it gets to the point when you just can’t wait anymore. So I decided to go privately, I went to my Dr to get a referral to a private hospital and he looked at me like I had told him I wanted to grow a third arm. He was actually very dismissive and I know he just wanted to save me money, but I have a deadline to be mobile again and it was zooming ever closer, so he chased it and said it was urgent.

It was after this conversation that I saw the orthopaedic surgeon who also tried to get me an MRI. Then I received a phone call from a junior Dr telling me I had an appointment the next evening. Finally! Or so I thought. When I went there it was ok, at first, then the receptionist came over to tell me that they had my appointment down as 19th July, I explained about the phone call and she went off. She was very nice, and came back to tell me that there was some confusion and they were just trying to get to the bottom of it and find out how this mix up could have happened. Personally, I didn’t care how it had happened, I just wanted the MRI. The next thing you know the Superintendent nurse or something like that comes out of here office to ask about what had happened. She wanted to investigate it and get to the bottom of it.

I explained the situation, and the phone calls etc. She told me that what I was saying couldn’t have happened – i.e. I am lying! I’m a writer, I promise you this, I would have come up with a much better story than that one. She continued on, mixing intimidation, stubbornness and bullying with complete denial – and yes, she did do this in the waiting room in front of the other patients (she didn’t even take us into her office to explain what had happened). I can promise you that when I left there, I was extremely annoyed, upset, and ready to cut my damn leg off! Ok, so maybe I wouldn’t have gone that far but the service she provided was unprofessional to say the least.

Anyway, I contacted my Dr again as I wanted the MRI sooner that the 19th July, and that was the only available appointment unless there are cancellations. I reminded him again, that I had a deadline, that I would pay, I just wanted some kind of definitive answer. I now have an appointment on the 13th for the MRI and on the 16th for the orthopaedic surgeon. I hope to know what I am dealing with and how best to go about recovering or managing it.

“the deadline”

The deadline I speak of is the 29th July! In September of 2013, after the fire drama, I applied for tickets to go and see the Commonwealth Games (athletics & gymnastics) and was lucky enough to be allocated some. My mum wanted to come too and so we booked our accommodation and have been looking forward to it. The Commonwealth Games are in Glasgow, and I decided to go alone to Edinburgh after the Games to enjoy the Fringe festival.

The issue I have is that for an independent solo traveller like me, my main mode of transport on which I rely is by foot. I love walking, and I like to be able to walk around places, and have no idea how I will do this with crutches. I am too stubborn to cancel it and not go, hell no! But I have no clue as to how I will cope.

A month after I get back, I am leaving again to America for a month, for the first two weeks I will be alone (I don’t know anyone) and when I was mobile it wasn’t a problem, but now, now I am wary. How does a backpacker, backpack on crutches? Answers on a postcard.

“the hope”

The hope is that its some random freaky foot thing that will disappear as quickly as it arrived. I am hoping for this as 14 years ago when I was living in Africa, I had a similar occurrence with my left wrist and eventually right knee. I was flown back to the UK and had numerous blood tests, exams, and they even contacted the Tropical disease unit, but eventually ended up diagnosing me with…an unknown virus! So that’s where my hope stems from. Currently the doctors are deciding between bone infection (which the MRI will rule out) or Rheumatoid Arthritis (which I definitely don’t want!). So can we cross our fingers for freaky foot?
“the future”

So, I have 19 days until I go to Glasgow, 24 days till I am alone in Edinburgh for ten days. And 8 weeks until I board my flight to Seattle, with or without crutches.

Well, I do feel better to have that all out of my system, now to bigger and better things!


If you know of any travel blogs written by solo slightly hindered (I am loathed to say disabled) travellers then let me know in the comments. And if you have only just noticed my pay it forward post, then leave a message and I will make you a great gift! 

6 comments:

  1. Hi Kate, I must have missed your pay it forward post but I think it's a great idea so count me in!

    You've had a pretty crap time haven't you? The fire and being burgled must have knocked you for 6 and I think you did absolutely the right thing in moving home for a while to regroup.

    I had something almost identical happen with my foot. One morning 3 years ago I had a niggling pain in my ankle, by lunchtime my foot and ankle had blown up to 3 times their normal size and were incredibly painful and inflamed.

    I had many of the same tests as you, xrays (normal), tests for gout (wasn't that), test on my circulation (normal), they couldn't find ANY reason for it.

    I was lucky in that the pain subsided fairly quickly but it did leave me with the swelling which took several months to go down.

    No reason was ever found and it hasn't come back since.

    Now I know this doesn't help you at all but the similarity was spooky!

    I really hope you find the answer and the cure and in time for it not to spoil any of your plans.

    Let me know how you get on and how the pay forward thing works.

    Take care x

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    1. Hey thanks Sarah! Its lovely to hear from you :) and I am so excited to have someone to make something for! I shall email you for your address when its ready to send.

      It is weird, right? especially as I had it before, and hearing that you had something similar too is reassuring if not also odd. lol!

      Thanks again x

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  2. Lovely Kate - I'll look forward to it (my email link is on my profile).

    The foot thing was REALLY weird, it came out of nowhere but it's been fine (fingers crossed) ever since and, I did get to have a very hunky consultant tell 4 medical students several times that I had perfect ankle (although they were looking at the xray at the time ... )

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    1. heheheh...still perfect though I'm sure :) What would life be like if we couldn't appreciate and admire our bones? lol!

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  3. There is a reason the fates brought us together...we are one in the same! Everything happens for a reason (although I have yet to determine the reason for most of my life's happenings as I'm sure neither have you), but someday maybe we'll know and it will HAVE to be amazing! You just gotta keep the faith that it's all gonna work out in the end (after all, hope is all we have). Gimp foot or not, I will make SURE that the final leg (no pun intended) of your America trip will make you forget all your troubles (for at least as long as you're here)!

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    1. I've been thinking if us meeting up is going to create a vortex of some sort, or open up a gateway to a parallel universe? I should probably keep those thoughts as thoughts, hey?
      Awwww...thanks, I take it from the last sentence you have stocked up on Southern Comfort?

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