Struggling for a title …..


The title of this post actually says quite a bit. My postings are just about me and mine. There is nothing of any importance here … no themes … no political agenda … just general rants. So often when I come to add a post title, I do struggle.

Well it’s the Bank Holiday, and of course the weather is up to its usual tricks. One minute it’s dry and sunny, next minute it’s pouring with rain. We have the Leeds Festival here this weekend and if it is anything like the 2nd year I went, it will be a mud bath again! Still 99% of the fans that go have a great time. With living local to Bramham Park we are entitled to apply for a limited number what they call “Guest” tickets at a discounted rate. I’m thinking that me and K*** may apply for next year if we can get R*** on respite that weekend. Not too sure if K*** will enjoy it much, but who knows?

The Out-Patients appointment was less than interesting. I don’t really know what I expected …. maybe a chest X-ray, an EEG, an ECG, blood pressure check, weight check and maybe even a blood test! It was nothing like that at all! For a start, two of the registrars were on holiday so that left only one to take the clinic. That of course meant delays all round of about 1 ½ hours. Finally got in to see him and the conversation went along these lines:

Him: “Hello, how do you feel?”

Me: “Okay, really good. Better than before.”

Him: “Good.”

Me: “I am getting a bit of backache around my shoulders.”

Him: “That is normal. Anything you would like to ask me?”

Me: “Erm ….. can I drive now?”

Him: “Yes, but you need to tell your insurance company.”

Me: “The white stockings, can they come off now?”

Him: “Yes of course.”

He then listened to my heart and told me that the sound was good and asked if there was anything else we needed to know. Neither of us could think of anything and we came away feeling rather deflated and disappointed with the whole meeting. Apart from using the stethoscope, there was no other ‘medical’ things done. To both of us, it seemed a waste of both our time and the hospital time/resources. It could have easily been done at the GP’s surgery. I’m supposed to have a 2nd appointment in about 6 months time and then a further one a year later. Based on this last one, I don’t really see the point. I have to see my GP sometime this month as one of my medications needs a review, so I might mention this to him and see what he has to say about it.

I emailed to car insurance company yesterday morning. Nothing has come back yet, so I will telephone them on Monday morning and find out what is happening. K*** rang her insurers (I’m a named driver) and they did not seem to take any notice at all, so it may be the same with my insurers.

* * * Update * * * Received the following email from the insurance company:

Thank you for your email.

This is to confirm that there are no driving restrictions on your policy. Providing you have not been told not to drive by your Doctor or GP and you feel fit and well enough to drive.

It’s been a while


It’s been a month or so since my last post, and a few things have happened since then. The video change that I mentioned last time worked, thankfully. Which was more than we hoped for. Both K*** and I had this fear that it might cause a problem for the driver on his way in the morning. Fortunately that issue did not arise. We now think that so long as R*** knows what is happening and so long as it happens, he is more or less fine with it.

Two weeks ago, I had to go into work to have a chat with my line manager. Because I have had more than four week continuous sick leave, I have hit a ‘trigger’ in our attendance management policy that requires me to be interviewed about how they can support my return to work. My line manager was furious about this and I understand that she had a few choice words with our HR department. Now I understand the need for the policy, however there needs to be some form of flexibility built in that allows for the fact that some people are not at work for a damn good reason. In my case, recovering from heart surgery and being told by the surgeon that I would not be able to work for three months after to operation. It does not matter that some system in HR has hit a flag, it’s down to the medical staff when I’m fit to return, not some piece of computer software. Rant over!!!

The new work structure has been issued, and it does nothing to suppress any worries I have. We’ve been told that there are enough jobs to go around, with some spare, but are those positions at the same grade that staff are at now? Will there be enough grades at my level for all those at the same grade? Without knowing what grades we currently have, it’s impossible to know what the changes might be. The meeting was only held on Friday, so those questions may have been answered. I will wait until the minutes come out, before I start asking any questions.

Talking about work, K*** and I are in the process of changing S****s old room into more of an office, than a bedroom. We had decided that it would be a good idea, when I work from home, for me to utilise this now spare room, to work from. But we have taken it a step further, and although the bed is still in there, my work computer is all set up.

On Tuesday, I am going for my 1st Out Patients appointment since being discharged from the hospital. This is where I find out that I can drive again and can remove these ‘anti-embolism’ stockings for good. It is also the date when I should be told when I can go back to work. I’ve started making some plans, but cannot be more definite until after this appointment. I fear driving will be a bit of an issue. I have to inform the insurance company about my operation and I think it will mean a large hike in the premiums. I don’t see why it should be a problem, but we shall see. You know what insurance companies are like.

And now me! I feel a thousand time better than I did this time in June. It is hard to believe that such a small piece of hardware can make such a difference, but I can assure you it does! I still have a chest that aches like I have run into a brick wall, but there has never been the pain that others appear to have had. My problem seems to be one of backache. It comes on around half four in the morning and makes sleeping very uncomfortable. I’ve been told that backache is one of the side effects of the operation and that it does go away in time. Hopefully that is true. The valve seems to be working fine and as expected, it can be heard. It sounds different and different time, but mainly seems to be a clicking noise on the left hand side of the scar. Most people can hear it, and S**** seems to think it is quite cool!! I found a picture of the thing they used and I was very surprised how simple it looked. I don’t know what I was expecting though.

I think that is about all, except that K*** has decided that we need new PVC windows and doors. Groan!! That is happening in just under a fortnight, and we have been told that it will all be done in a day!! Will let you know on that one after the event!

Back to sort of normal ….


For the past few posts, I have been concentrating on my “Life changer” thread. That thread is now being wound down and I’ll continue with my normal postings.

So where are we now? Well because of the operation, I’m currently on sick leave whilst I build up my strength again. As I mentioned before, I should be off work for about 3 months or so. Given the job I do, it may be a little shorter than that, I don’t know yet and I’m not going to push for an early return to work! It’s been 4 weeks to the date, since I had my operation and apart from a response to an email I sent, nobody from my team has been in touch at all! I’m not surprised by that, but more than a little disappointed that I’ve not even had a ‘Get Well soon’ card. I did not expect anything from my previous team, but I thought there may be something from the new team.

I have for many years (at least 40 if I’m counting) had a small health insurance plan that I pay into for K*** and me. This plan pays for dental and optician treatment and also pays a daily fixed amount for hospital inpatients. I have claimed for K*** before, but this was the first time for myself. It’s not a massive amount considering what has been paid in, but it’s a nice little some as bonus.

So with some of the money, I bought myself a new camera. I have wanted an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) type camera for a long time, but I did not want one of those huge things that need multiple lenses, that I used to have before. So I settled on what they call a ‘Bridge Camera‘, a camera that is between an ‘SLR’ and a ‘Point-and-Shoot’. It appears to work very well, but I need to get some kind of bag, and possibly a better neck strap. A trip to Amazon or eBay is required now.

One of the downsides to having this new valve (or maybe an upside depending on your point of view) is that I am now limited on the amount of alcohol I can take. I’m supposed to stop all together or have a maximum of 3 units per day. Very slightly went over that limit yesterday, and I’ll explain why. You may recall, that our youngest son is Autistic. One of his obsessions is to have the VHS video player playing a video all night long. We think that it might be some kind of ‘security blanket’ for him, and to be honest, we have now got used to it. Last night there was a problem! One of the tapes he has been watching seemed to get jammed. I thought that the tape had stretched and that the player could not read it. Now for most people/kids that would not be a big problem, but for R*** it was a major disaster. As usual, this caused him a great deal of stress and this started to come out as violence. That is when the limit was breached! It was only a very small whiskey, but still it was a breach of the limits I was working to.

We gave the medication he has, to calm him down and he seemed to accept that I would sort out the problem the next day. However, the medication had the effect of giving him a new lease of life and he was up and down until around 3am. This meant that both K*** and me only really dozed during that time. I tried the tape in another machine and it seemed to work okay, so I’m thinking that it may be the machine that is at fault rather than the tape. So I have now managed to swap out his VHS machine for the one we had downstairs. We never really watch VHS videos anymore, so it will not be too much of a problem.

Fingers crossed for a better night tonight.

Life changer – Discharge Day


So now we come to the day that nearly spoiled the entire experience.

I had been awake since 6am and my bags were packed and I had geared myself up for leaving the hospital. I felt that it could be a bit of an emotional day and was beginning to prepare for it. I had packed my bags the night before, and there was only my washing stuff still on my locker. Breakfast came at about 10 past 8, and I had decided to have cornflakes followed by a cup of coffee and 2 slices of toast. I had just finished the cereal, when I was told that I had to move to the other ward and make the bed free for someone coming up from ICU. Now, I remember the day I came up from ICU, so the idea that I should make way for someone else was not an issue. The issue was that I had to go there and then!! Halfway through my breakfast!! It could not wait for another ½ hour, I was to go then. I said a quick goodbye to the guy that I had spoken to the most and I was packed off to the other ward. I had an idea, that that ward got their breakfast first, so in a moment of defiance, I grabbed two slices of toast and took them with me, must to the amusement of the duty nurse.

I was dumped (not true strong a word) into a side ward, and had to wait until the cleaner had finished before I could have a wash and get dressed. The senior nurse came in and told me that I would be discharged at 10 am, and I had to explain to that K*** was coming to pick me up at 2pm. This, I was assured was not a problem and that I could stay there until then. Where else I was going to go, I do not know!! I was given a cup of coffee at around ½ past 10, and apart from the nurse going over the same details, the only other people to see me was another doctor. Lunchtime came and I was given, not what I had ordered but once again what had been left. I had just finished my dessert, when I was told, that I had to vacate the side room and was ‘allowed’ to sit on one the chairs in the reception area. I was not happy by this time, and I tried to explain to the nurse, that when my wife came at 2, we would need to be away by ½ past three at the latest in order to get home for R***. Once again, I was assured that this was not a problem. He also said he had the medication that I had arrived with.

From there on in, I felt like nobody cared anymore! There was another older man, who had been there since 10am and he was really angry, and his anger was beginning to get me angrier. Again I checked that they had the medication that I had come in with, and the assurances were there again. I was told they were just waiting for my prescription to get to pharmacy, they I could go. K*** arrived at 2pm and again explained to the nurse the issues that we had, and the reply came back that it would be all okay.

In the end, pharmacy came up with the medication at around 10 past 4. We went through the medication (which I already knew, because the nurse the evening before had gone over it all) and I asked for the medication I came in with. It was then that the nurse decided that he would go and look for them. K*** went off to get the car to the pick-up point whilst I waited. He eventually came back and sheepishly explained my stuff could not be found. Now I knew that it had been moved to the ward I had recovered from as the nurse the night before had shown me them. By this time, I had had enough and left. K*** was now as angry as I had been before. It was a good job that S**** had said he would be at home for when R*** came home or that would have been a serious problem. All in all, a pretty crap end to what had been a very successful week.

The feedback survey was interesting to complete!!!

Life changer – “Day 2 + “


After a surprisingly quiet and reasonably comfortable night (which I can only put down to the morphine) I woke about 6:30. This became the norm for me, to wake at around the time I would have done had I been at home. Breakfast arrived at just after 08:00 and was asked if I wanted cornflakes or toast. Now was a bit of a dilemma. When I was getting ready for the operation, I was told to remove my dentures and put them in the pot that I had brought. To my knowledge, those dentures were still in that pot, in my toilet bag, in the locker on the ward I had come from. That meant that toast was out and I settled for cornflakes. I have to say, that eating cornflakes without teeth is not to be recommended.

I was given a bed wash, which was an experience to cherish and then introduced to the physio-therapist. She went through some basic breathing exercises and explained that I needed to cough. She also explained the importance of the cough. Whilst following the logic, I had real difficulty in putting it into practice.

This day 2, was the day when everything changed. I was going back to the main ward! This entailed removing some the pipework that was still in me. A line was removed from my neck and then came the bit I had been warned about. The removal of the chest drains. I only reference I have for chest drains are the medical soaps on television. These programs never show drains being remove. You cannot begin to imagine the feeling when 18in of plastic tubing and another 8in of similar plastic tube is quite literally dragged out of your body. The nurse had told me that I would feel a lot better with them out. I didn’t!!

Within an hour, I was on the main ward and reunited with my teeth. K*** and her sister came to visit, which was nice, and both remarked on how well I looked. So I suppose the drain removal must have worked. Dinner was a bit hit and miss, but I did manage to eat a little bit more.

From then onwards, I began to get stronger and more confident as the days went by. Everyone was impressed with my progress and it soon became apparent that it would not be long before I could go home. That date came on the 2nd July, just seven days after being admitted!

I cannot express fully how remarkable the teams that were on the ward were. Not just the doctors and nurses, but the assistants, catering staff and cleaners. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to make all of us feel as comfortable and individual as possible. That old song that says “…..Heaven must be missing and angel…..” is not right. It should be “…..Heaven must be missing thousands of angels!!!” because a large number were on that ward.

Now, discharge day was something else, and I shall leave that tale for the next post

Life changer – “Job done!!!”


This will be one of the last few of my ‘Life changer’ posts. As you may gather from the title, it’s all over. I was admitted on the 25th of June and by 1pm on the 26th I was in the famed ICU (Intensive Care Unit). I shall not to into the gory detail of my return to consciousness, as it is not a pretty story. Suffice to say, I got over it. K*** rang to see how I was doing, and they told her I had just come round as was a bit sleepy. I’ll never grasp how 5 hours unconsciousness leads to someone being sleepy, but it does. We both thought it would be a waste of time to visit straight after the surgery as I needed time to come round, so she was coming the next day.

The nurse gave me some sips of water, and like a fool I managed to take too many large sips and suffer the consequences. I was amazed how little pain I was in, but soon realised that this was due to the copious amount of morphine that was being dripped into me. They sat me up a little and some food was plonked in front of me. Some kind of meat free cottage pie and some rice pudding. At another time, I think both looked quite appetising, but not then! Some nurse, and I don’t remember what they called her, asked me if I needed help to eat. I only managed the rice pudding before drifting off to sleep. I think I slept okay, but have no recollection of it at all, until 7:30 the next day when I drifted out of sleep. I have to say that without exception all the nurses, doctors, assistants were excellent. In fact all the people on ICU were exceptional people. I did not eat much that day and I did not expect to either, although everyone kept telling me I needed eat to get my strength back.

K*** came at around 1pm, just after attempting to eat some mince and mash. I know I looked terrible!!! I don’t know how terrible I actually looked, but had a good idea. She was shocked at the state of me, as I do not think she knew what to expect. I still had various tubes and wires and lines stuck in me, but I was not really aware of them. She helped me eat some of my lunch, but I still did not have any appetite and could only manage the trifle. She managed to stop until visiting time ended, and to be honest, I don’t remember her going, before going to sleep.

So that was what they call ‘Day 1 – post op’. Surprisingly everyone called it an ‘operation’ and not a ‘procedure’ like they do on the television. Day 2 to follow and don’t worry, this is not going to be like Big Brother with a post for everyday!!

Life changer – “T” minus 10 (again)


I have a new date for my operation. This time should be a definite. They cannot bump me again. Can they? Well apparently they can. The number of ICU beds remains the same so effectively the same could happen. However, saying that, I do think that it might happen this time. Just a feeling.

The changes to R***’s respite pattern were not too drastic. K*** decided to let go away this weekend, as planned as it was thought it would be a good idea to start to get him used to being away at weekends. He appeared to go off without any problems on Friday, so we wait and see.

Work has been understanding about the whole issue of the cancellation. I now also get the impression that the so called ‘other part’ of the team, know that I’m going into hospital. One or two of them seemed to be quite interested in what happened. We shall see how that progresses.