A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Alone in a crowd

Apart from the cat, Zach, I live on my own. I have lots of good friends, but I often spend long periods of time on my own, usually because my friends are either away or because they work. I don't actually mind spending time on my own as I've always been one of those people who can happily occupy themselves and don't need others around me to generate energy (so I'm a typical introvert really). No, the title of this post comes from the experience of being seriously/critically ill with my asthma.

When you are taken into hospital in any emergency you are quickly surrounded by an awful lot of people. All concerned are usually very good at telling you what they're doing, why they're doing it and generally what's going on, all of which help to keep calm as well as informed. Because I've been in asthmatic emergencies so many times I don't actually need people to tell me what they're doing as they do it, because I already know, but strangely it still helps ... I think it's the contact ... the recognision that I am a person in the middle of the trauma in front of them. However, despite this, these have also been some of my loneliest times.

It's a strange state of affairs being surrounded by people, actually being the centre of everyone's attention, but still feeling incredibly lonely. So why so lonely? Well first off there's the fact that by the time I get to hospital I am almost always too breathless to speak. I am awake, aware, fighting for breath, fighting for life, and trying to convey all the information I know the medics need to treat me. This is why I keep all those laminated cards of vital details, medications, letter from my consultant etc that I mentioned in a previous post - it limits what I have to try to say at times that I can't speak, but gets the information over clearly and succinctly. Great, but I'm still in a position where I can't converse effectively with the people who are around me. I am being stabbed with needles, endless needles. I am being given copious medications. I am having my obs (observations - blood pressure, temperature, pulse/heart rate, oxygen saturations) done every 10 minutes. I usually have an ECG (heart tracing) done. X-rays are done. Oxygen masks of various kinds, delivering O2 in slightly different ways, are switched in attempts to improve my oxygen saturations (amount of O2 in my blood, which should be above 95%, but have been known to go as low as 69% in me in the past). All of this is happening to me as I just try to concentrate on breathing and staying alive. I stay calm because I know that panicking will only make things worse, but in doing so I have to distance myself slightly from all that is going on around me ... all that is being done to me ... all the people who surround me. Fear, though, can thrive when isolated from others who can calm and comfort you.

There is exhaustion too. When you've been fighting for breath for hours on end you soon get worn out. Those detatched people around me are telling me to stay awake, and every time I close my eyes they call my name and tell me to open them, that I can't go to sleep yet. I am so tired that I want to cry, but I can't do that because it'll make the asthma worse, so I tuck the tears away somewhere inside myself and keep them hidden from myself and from those around me. Another distancing.

I'm sure that everyone has experienced that echoey distance of far off voices when you've almost drifted off to sleep in a room with others chatting away. That's a little what it's like. You hear it all going on around you, and you are physically there, but mentally in some far off place that is insular. I wrap myself up in my thoughts. I draw upon the introvert in me to survive this isolation amongst others, but it's hard, and all I want is to be able to breathe and to be either asleep or alone. I am less lonely when I'm alone.

When I physically begin to mend is when I want company. Not immediately, as this is when I want and need to sleep, but a few days later I need to feel the comfort of those around me. I need friendship; physical contact that doesn't entail medical intervention; conversation; to have people sit with me even if we don't say anything. This is when I appreciate time with people and their commitment to me despite my illness. Sometimes it's when I remember the intense loneliness I felt during the emergency. Sometimes it's when I let out a few of the tears that I stored away during the emergency.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Thursday morning

Thursday morning was one of those times that some may call 'a challenge', but personally I call it a bloody nightmare ;o) It began with my not getting to sleep until 4:30am when I needed to be up at 8am for an appointment with my asthma consultant. I don't know why I couldn't sleep, but it meant that I ended up sleeping in until 8:25am, which meant that I was then rushing around in a bit of a panic as my appointment was at 9:20am. Rushing is never good for the old lungs, but I managed not to make myself too wheezy and breathless and left the house only 10 minutes later than I should've done, getting to the hospital only 5 minutes lates. When I parked the car though I noticed that I'd left the lights on, but considering that I was late I thought it'd be okay for just a short while. Now it may well have been fine for a short while, but over an hour later I returned to the car to find the battery completely flat. There was a man sitting in the car next to mine so I knocked on the window to ask for his assistance and a loan of his car battery to jump-start mine. He told me that his battery was fully enclosed, or something (I didn't really understand, but hey ho, that's what he said), but that he could try to bump-start my car. Unfortunately, at this time, there were only the two of us in the car park so he was trying to push my car on his own. He managed to move it, but the road surface was rubbish and we had no hill to work with so he didn't manage to bump-start my car, merely move it from one parking space to another. The poor man looked exhausted and rather disspirited. At this moment a couple appeared and asked if I needed help, and the gentleman kindly let me use his car to jump-start mine. Great! Now, I really needed to get home to finish making a few Christmas presents as I needed to catch the last post guaranteed to arrive before Christmas, but of course I had to go for a drive in order to charge the car battery, so off i went. I decided I'd drive to the coast on a rather long and convoluted route, which would've been fine if I hadn't then run out of petrol on the dual-carriage way! Luckily I was right beside a petrol station so was easily able to fill my petrol can and then fill the car. I continued my drive to the coast and then set off back home.

It was something of a relief to arrive home after all that, but was immediately confronted with huge amounts of cat sick (from fur balls, nothing more serious) in the hall. This is never pleasant, as I'm sure you can imagine. I cleaned it up, only for my own insides to start on a half-hour of squiffiness. Again, not pleasant and resulted in rather a lot of dashing backwards and forwards to the toilet, during which I discovered that I hadn't cleaned up all the cat sick as I stepped in some in my stocking feet! Thankfully the morning ended there, and things improved, but I have to admit that in fear of a repeat of an horrendous morning yesterday, I spent the morning in bed :oD

I hope that your days have been a great deal better than that. Mine have improved since then, thankfully :o)

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Distinctly happy

In October I finished a course in creative writing that I had been studying with the Open University. I got the result for this course yesterday ... I got a distinction (a first)! I am extremely pleased and a little surprised. I had no doubt that I'd pass as my grades throughout the course were all good (I think my lowest was 70%), but the ECA (End of Course Assessment) was 50% of the overall grade and there was no guarantee that I'd do as well in that as I did with the other assignments. The other thing to say here is that while brick universities have their first class marks begin at 70%, the Open University's first class marks being at 85%. I can hardly believe that I did so well, because it's not been a straight forward year for me. As I've said before, I've had about 3 months in hospital all together this year; then there's been the death of my friend Laura; and then an upsetting diagnosis of a close family member. I won't go into details of that, as I want to protect their privacy, but just to say that it was a shock and has been stressful at times, particularly when I was first told. So yes, this year has been challenging, which is why my achievement in the creative writing course has been a bit of a surprising, but ever so, ever so pleasing. Now all I have to do is maintain this level of success throughout the next few years of my degree!

I'm also happy tonight because I've just been out to a pantomime - an adult-only improvised pantomime. It was ever so funny (if rather rude ;oP ), and great fun. I had organised a group of us to go when I'd first seen it advertised, and knew that the company doing it - The Suggestibles - usually sold out quickly, so bought fifteen tickets. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I had a great time :oD

Okey dokey, on that note I'm off to do a little bit more Christmas present making before taking my distinctly happy self to bed :o)

Night all :o)

Sunday, 9 December 2007

By the way

By the way, I haven't forgotten or given up on my Crazy Idea. I still haven't heard back from Air Ventures, which is a little frustrating. I tried contacting them again yesterday, and ended up sending a text, but so far no luck. I will keep on at them, and get in touch with Flyability too, and I'll be sure to keep you posted.

This little piggy ...

I've been rather distracted from my blog this week by an assignment I've had for my Open University plays course. I've had to do a reworking of the story of The Three Little Pigs, but with people, not pigs, and not using houses. It hasn't been easy, especially as I only had a quick read of the relevant course material, rather than studying it properly, because of the time constraint - it was already late (with an approved extention) because of having been in hospital. Anyway it's done and out of the way now. I'm sure that what I've written is a load of rubbish, but I thought it better to get something in and have some chance of getting some marks for it, than not putting anything in and being sure of getting a big, fat zero. So instead of little pigs and a wolf I've done a reworking of the story using three young school friends and a bully from a rival school. I have to say that I am shocked at how violent it is. I'm not a violent person at all, but if you examine the story of The Three Little Pigs at all then you realise how violent it actually is. After all, in the unwatered-down traditional version, the first two little pigs end up being killed. They don't in my version, but they are severely beaten.

I guess one of the things I've realised about the difference between writing plays with other sorts of fiction is that you have to explicitly describe what happens, as opposed to just implying the action or general expressions. I have to say that I felt rather uncomfortable being so explicit with the violence in my writing ... but it didn't stop me. Mind you, I did have to get the assignment done and I'd been putting off doing it, but my extention deadline of Monday has been fast approaching. Now it's all done and sent off and I can forget about it ... until it's marked.

So what else has the rest of the past week held for me? Not a huge amount, if truth be known. My sleep pattern has gone completely to pot, hence this post in the early hours of the morning. One of my major procrastination activities this week has been making rather a lot of Christmas cards, even though I still have a huge number left over from when I had the business. I'll use some of the old ones, but I always like to make some new ones each year for family and some friends.

Lungs wise, I had a couple of days this week when what struck me was that I could actually breathe without having my attention drawn to it. It was a weird feeling - wonderfully refreshing :o) However, the lung stroppiness has returned to its usual levels. It's not too bad in the scheme of things, but it was lovely to have those couple of days where I felt what I presume to be almost normal in the breathing department. Oh well, such is life I guess.

Right then, seeing as it's 4am, I'm still very much awake and my sleep pattern is completely to pot at the moment I may as well get on and do some more creative things. I'm making various things for various people for Christmas, and still have rather a lot to do so I'll get on with some of that. Maybe if I stay up all night tonight then I'll be so tired by tomorrow night that I'll fall into bed early, sleep through and get up at a sensible time on Monday, rather than the midday to 1am that it has been recently.

Take care all.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Oh, I see ... for now.

Well I have done a little bit of finding out about all the eye 'stuff' so here it is. Basically, in the short-term the thickening of the vitreous humour results in extra floaters (black blobs in my vision), which in themselves are benign, if annoying. However, there is the possibility that this thickening can lead to the vitrous humour pulling on the retina and detaching it, which will be why the optometrist asked if I'd seen a sudden shower of black floaters and flashing lights as this is a symptom of detaching retina. Apparantly it's not common for this to happen, but is a possibility that could occur at any time in the future. I'm going to hope that I don't turn out to be unusual in yet another area of medicine, especially as I already have one fairly rare eye condition - Adies Pupil. I won't go into the complexities of that at the moment though.

That's it for now folks, but I'll be back shortly.

Take care.