Month: May 2014

Back to juggling

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I haven’t felt well enough to go juggling since the British Juggling Convention, about six weeks ago. Yesterday I decided to buck that trend. I took some painkillers beforehand to give me a better chance of being able to enjoy myself. I was able to juggle four clubs, and also tried an alternative four club pattern, where I always throw crossing doubles and make two throws from each hand. This pattern is known as 552 among jugglers. The second pattern didn’t go quite so well, but I’m not so good at that pattern anyway, and I haven’t done any juggling for six weeks, so I can’t really complain. Unfortunately I didn’t get to do any passing. But happily the session passed relatively pain free.

I’ve also been able to play the piano a bit more in the last couple of days.

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More antibiotics

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I finished the two courses of antibiotics about ten days ago. I felt much better. Despite this, I was still spending most of the day lying on the couch. This was due to pain in my chest and back, a by-product of the radiotherapy on my chest. That finished two months ago. I was hoping the pain would be gone by now. When it’s bad I don’t feel like doing anything. Every other night I don’t sleep. Even when the pain isn’t so bad, I can’t do some things that I love doing. For example, after playing the keyboard for two or three minutes, the pain becomes too much. I don’t think I can pass clubs with this pain.

On Monday I phoned my doctor to make an appointment. ‘Is it an urgent appointment?’

‘No.’

‘The earliest appointment is two weeks from now!’

‘I can’t wait that long.’

‘OK, I can fit you in on Thursday at 11:00.’

‘That’s fine!’

That day I got an email from Dorothy, a German friend, saying she was going to be at juggling that week. I replied saying I intended to be there too. On Wednesday I felt terrible, I couldn’t go. It dawned on me that maybe I hadn’t shaken off the chest infection. If I had thought that when I phoned the doctor on Monday, I would have said it was an urgent appointment.

The doctor confirmed that I still had the infection, and prescribed me two weeks of the same antibiotics. Also he said that when I finish the course, I have to go and have a chest x-ray. He also gave me some painkillers, and reassured me that the pain would subside eventually. I had arrived early at the doctors, and he was able to see me early. I was with him for about 25 minutes.

At the moment I’m getting very good use out of the basket that Mum’s friend Marion gave me for all my medicines!

A real chest infection

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For several weeks now I’ve been struggling with my breathing. I thought it was just a side effect of coughing up bits of tumour. Also my appetite’s not been very good. Over the last weekend I was very bad. I went to Mike’s daughter’s first communion on Saturday. Sitting on the pews in the church during the service I had great difficulty breathing, and was reduced to tears on a couple of occasions. On Monday I went to the pub quiz with Mike, Darren and Brendan. I was still struggling and they bullied me into going to see my doctor.

The surgery phone line is supposed to open at 8. The answer machine was still kicking in at 8:40. When it was finally switched off, the phone just kept on ringing. For the first five minutes I got a message every 30 seconds saying: ‘you are being held in a queue…’, but after that the message stopped. Did that mean I’d dropped out of the queue? I waited 10 minutes on the phone, then tried again, this time waiting 15 minutes. It was all very frustrating. I thought that if I couldn’t make an appointment by phone, I’d just have to be annoying and turn up at the surgery.

The receptionist explained that they had problems with their computer system that morning and apologised. She asked if I needed an appointment that day. I said it would be preferable. She said if I was willing to wait 25 minutes I could see one of the doctors. I would have been willing to wait much longer.

The doctor said I had a chest infection. She said she could give me a course of oral antibiotics and send me away, but she decided to send me to the hospital. Her reasoning was that if it was a serious infection, they could administer antibiotics intravenously, which would be much faster working.

Mum accompanied me to the hospital, and we were there for 6 hours in total. First I saw a triage nurse. When she took my pulse, initially there was a look of horror on her face, and she turned the machine’s display away from me. She tested it on herself before taking my pulse again. She explained that the first reading was 234. Thankfully, the second reading was 117, which, while high, is not dangerously so. When she was questioning me about my weight, fluid intake and eating, she was more inclined to trust my Mum’s answers! While I was there I had an ECG, an X-ray of my chest and blood tests for various things, like liver and kidney function, and infection. The doctor said I was bit dehydrated, so I was put on a saline drip. In between, there was a lot of waiting. Mum took this time to visit a friend being treated at the same hospital. Also another friend of hers turned up at A&E with breathing problems related to her asthma.

The blood tests confirmed the infection. There was a shadow on the X-ray, but the doctor said he couldn’t be sure from an X-ray that it was an infection. Initially he said that he thought it was a further growth on my lung. I found that hard to believe, given that I’d just finished radiotherapy six weeks ago. Eventually I was sent home with two courses of pretty strong antibiotics.