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Date: 31/12/23

Roundup Error

I suppose some sort of update is required, sitting as we are at the cliff-edge of another year.

Unlike previous roundups, however, this one is about me and me alone. The events and évènements of the year in what is described - with ever-increasing detachment from sense - as 'the Real World' are so mind-meltingly bizarre, extreme, unconsionable and just plain mad as to render any comment - let alone analysis - a pointless exercise for both the author and the reader.

So, no grand tour d'horizon from me; I'm simply going to put you in the picture with regards to my health issues (following on from this, this, this and this):

On December 6, it was time for an appointment with one of the local cardiology nurses to discuss why the cardioversion didn't go ahead and what the prospects were for a second attempt. What she in effect said was that it was my fault and that I was the one who needed to get it sorted. I pointed out that I had been trying to get control of my blood glucose levels for thirty-two years or more now with only limited success. I also made the point that, had I been given the opportunity at the time to inject myself with three or four units of my own prescribed insulin, I could have reached a level which would have allowed the anasethetist to proceed.

It was less than a week later when I got a call from one of the other cardiology nurses calling me in to see her regarding the MRI and CT scans I'd had at Broad Green. So back down to the hospital I did go. She had helpfully given me something of a précis on the phone, so I knew before I got there that the scans had revealed not only that the pulmonary valve was on the way out again - and that due to the nature of the deterioration another valvuloplasty was unlikely to be feasible - but they had quite accidentally discovered that I had a blood clot near the valve itself. This baffled the assembled experts, as this appeared to be a recent development and that I had been on anti-coagulants for about seven weeks prior to the scan. Given that the clot (that's the thrombus, not the poor sod who's got it) was on the outbound side of the valve rather then the input side, they weren't quite as concerned as they might otherwise have been. Nonetheless, in order to confirm or rule out whether or not it was caused by an infection, they needed to take samples for blood cultures. Yes, samples, plural. I'd already had one lot drawn off from the crook of my left albow for the usual reasons, but I then had to provide a further three; one from the right elbow and one each from the back of each hand. My natural status in life as a human pin-cushion was thereby re-asserted.

She then told me that there was to be a case conference in Liverpool the Thursday before Christmas in which it seems that I was to be the star attraction. In order to provide the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) with the maximum amount of information, I needed to have my blood checked at my GP's surgery (as I had now been put on Warfarin rather than the Edoxaban I had initially been prescribed) and yet another CT scan (in Wrexham this time). These were both arranged for the following Wednesday.

Having had the blood checked - this time merely by the pricking of my finger ("By the pricking of my finger, I was not required to linger") - I went home to prepare for the afternoon's joyous experience. Just after lunchtime found me in the requisite department of the hospital, where I was attended to by a pleasingly camp fellow, who got me to strip my upper half, remove my belt (and my blood-glucose sensor; another one lost before its expiry) and place myself on the sliding bed. His colleague then made my day by...yes, putting in yet another cannula. Lying there, distinctly chilled from the air conditioning in the room (I was wearing just a thin hospital gown above the waist), I was required to assume the position (an uncomfortable one, it goes without saying, being required to hold both arms above my head) and was then slid into the scanner.

Then came the dye injection. This time, the heat sensation was confined just to my neck and - given that it was akin to the sensation of swallowing a glass of whisky - was not a particularly unpleasant feeling.

In due course, I was ejected and disconnected and directed to wait outside. It was about fifteen minutes before the camp guy came and took the cannula out and dressed the wound. I then went back to my cubicle to dress. Unfortunately, no doubt because of the Warfarin (which the cardiology nurse had believed would dissolve the clot in due course), the wound kept on bleeding, which necessitated his applying a thicker pad of gauze and enough adhesive tape to wrap several presents. Leak finally staunched, I dressed and made my way home.

And that, m'dears, is all I have on that subject for now. I had told the last nurse I had seen that, unless it was urgent urgent, I didn't want to be told the outcome of the case conference until the new year, as I was at about the end of my psychological tether given all that had happened in the preceding two and a half months. That I haven't been contacted since at least means that they don't think I'm going to drop any time soon, but I know that significant news will emerge by the middle of January.

Although no hints have actually been dropped, I can read between the lines the likely way ahead. Given the stiffening of the pulmonic valve, replacement with an artificial one now seems a near certainty. Strangely enough, I'm cool with that. You see, it appears that they can do that 'procedure' now by catheter (just as they did with the valvuloplasty), and I may need to be in hospital for no more than three days. Having read up a little (though not too much, given my tendency towards hypochondria) on what is involved, it seems as straightforward as these things get, and the benefits are likely greatly to outweigh the inconvenience.

Nonetheless, I can hear the clock ticking, and who know when it will go "Bong!" (or, more likely, "Cuckoo!")? I now have to wrestle with the drawing up of my will (about which act some of my family have been pressing me for some time), which is a complex, depressing and somewhat morbid prospect. But it has to be done, I suppose, otherwise I will leaving behind a form of chaos which my nearest and dearest should not have to face.

So where does that leave me? The constant fatigue - physical and mental - which is probably the result of the atrial flutter continues to hamper even day-to-day activities, with some domestic chores left to go hang. Beyond that, not only my attempts to piece together Volume 2 (the production of Volume 1 having hindered me during the first part of the year), but also my regular blogging have been restricted, meaning that I have posted fewer pieces here this year than in any year of the twenty-one that this site has been active; less even than 2003, when the site was only set up halfway through that year. But then perhaps things have run their course on this; I remember the blogs which I used to read every day back in the 2000s and 2010s which seemed to be permanent fixtures, but which have long since gone into abeyance or outright oblivion, and realise that perhaps that time has come for me, too.

Oh, and my mantlepiece now has more pillboxes on it than the entire Kent coast in 1941.

No doubt I will continue to some degree or other for the time being, but 2024 may bring either an end or a revival; who knows?

In the meantime, I suggest (once again) that you follow the estimable Mr Philip Challinor, who also has a new book out.

See you next year.