Saturday, 31 December 2011

Waning 2011 : Waxing 2012

So, I am now woefully behind in my blogmutterings. I Have just got off the phone with The Hev and The Shteeb and it would seem that my arse has been kicked back into action. :) My apologies to all who so desperately wish to read my crazy ramblings. and believe me, lots has been happening. I mean, I have only just posted about my hospital stay in October, for crying out loud. I've not yet even started the one about the op in November... What a pathetic correspondent I am become.

Janus, Vatican Museum
Photo © Fubar Obfusco
Anyway, we now find ourselves gazing heav'nward once more as the waning of one year is eclipsed by the waxing of the next. It is at around this time that this little Loris recognizes the quickening pace of the heart, a rush of blood to the head and a cold hand of fear accompanied by the faint freezing, mocking whispers of the Father of Lies as excitement, hope and promise of new and better, good, things for the new year ahead claim a momentary epiphany, that 'Janusian anxiety' arises. Why does the exuberance of seeing the New Year in always feel so hollow the moment the clocks are done chiming the new day in?

What is it in our collective consciousness that seems to thrive on setting ourselves up for dashed hopes and dreams? All over the place people are setting, discussing and promising faithful adherence to another set of New Year's Resolutions, largely consisting of the hundreds broken in the preceding years, which have all been railroaded by the end of the first week of the year (to a greater or lesser degree). Why on earth do we bother with this farce?

I think it lies in our need to keep going, to set goals that are attainable (because we ourselves set them) and provide ourselves with rods for our backs that we can then beat ourselves up with during Lent. Well, OK, that is a bit harsh, but it does seem rather a fair comment for some... Goal-setting is important in terms of sticking on track, making it through each day and so on. We seem always to be so full of hope as one year draws to a close and another one opens. We dust our grubby failures and broken promises off from our past year and long to get more done and do more right things the right way - this year...

Cyan Sky
© The Loris, 2010

One way or another I think that we area all approaching our new years with high, high hopes and hoping - above all - not to make the same mistakes as last year... That the new year dawns tinged with a blue feeling shows that we already know we are not going to measure up to our own marks.

So this year, as with the last three decades of resolution-making, my only plan for the year ahead is to make it out alive.

Whinge over, I hope you all have a healthy, happy, fun, silly, intellectual, meaningful love and laughter-filled 2012



Thursday, 27 October 2011

Another month, another hospital stay... (October 2011)

It seems that hardly a month passes without some medical drama (human, animal, major, minor or otherwise) impacting the life of the Loris. 2011 has not been a kind year thus far.

So, the latest sojourn in one's Chelsea pad was a tad annoying. There I was, minding my own business, well, I was minding Sir Merrick and Sir Shteebious's business (cat-sitting) actually, when the old ticker decided to fly off at a great rate of erratic knots. Joy. Atrial Flutter. After a couple of hours it clearly wasn't going to settle, so I called the hospital, packed up my bags and was joined by the Depressed Weirdo who carried said baggage  to the hospital on account of my needing to stay in.

Things began really rather well, I was given an ECG and AF was noted, but slightly questionable, so the Team decided it was Atrial Tachycardia instead, because one couldn't quite establish the usual sawtooth pattern on the ECG tracing. I had already owned up to having run out of toxins two days before, but that seemed not to phase the medics.

M'consultant arrived about an hour after me, and I was started on a drip of my usual anti-arrhythmic drug. It's a particularly revolting drug and requires administering in liquid glucose (the greater insult of this drug's horrid actions is the foul grey-top cannula that needs to be used - OUCH!!). Still, I was told that I'd have a high boost dose over one hour, then the rest over 23 hours. The plan then was that I would be cardioverted (akin to jump-starting your car) should the fast heart rate persist, and that they might try to get me a slot in theatre for the ablation procedure the following week (of course, this was on a Friday).

Late that night one of the Electricians (as we like to call the Pacing and Electrophysiology docs) came to see me and said I couldn't eat anything after midnight, and I'd need to go on a fluid drip at 6am, in case they had to take me to theatre. Oh great stuff - I hadn't long had some leftover scraps of food from the trolley - because they had forgotten me!) and now they were telling me not to eat after midnight (DrGoth says this is because they have twigged that I am a Gremlin. Sigh.). Oh well, I was awake long into the wee hours after I drank a vat of hot chocolate and ate all the sweets that the Depressed Weirdo left me with - just to keep the wolf from the door you understand.

Anyway, halfway through my third hot chocolate drink, a nurse zipped in with an ECG machine and a triumphant grin on her face, "how are you feeling? it looks like you are back in sinus!". The ECG confirmed the telemetry ('ASBO') was indeed telling the truth. The caustic sludge was disonnected fro my vein and I was free to wander. We were thus cautiously optimistic at 2am.

6am came and all was still behaving, so the cardioversion was canned and I was lined up for release. Sadly, the consultant decided to assume that it was all my own doing, since I had missed meds for two days. Two days, eh? Hmmm, I had already said this when I arrived (I'd run out of meds and was 4 days away from picking prescription up). Also, the drug they have me on sticks around for 50 days, and is still effective, so two days without really is not likely to have caused any issue. Added to the fact that I have been in AF many times when I HAVEN'T missed doses... Sigh.  Blimey, I might be CrAzY, but I am certainly not in the habit of wantonly disregarding my medication. And hey, there were some times earlier this year when actually, I went for a week without taking any of my meds (and nothing went awry), because I was just hiding under my duvet whilst the DMoDs did their especially evil, spiky, clattering dance of destruction on and in my head. Why, oh why, do the doctors still fail to understand, nay, fail to even consider that life is not all neat and tidy, even if clinical signs are good?

It really is not too much to ask. Honestly, dearest medical folk, what do they really teach you about people? Woefully, I rather think that the answer must be, "nothing at all".



Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Dr Choccy and The Loris (Anaemia Saga) part 3: Foolish words from the so-called wise; incomplete forms and worrying practices...

So in the last post we had a quick - basic - lesson on Anaemia: what it is, what causes it and how to treat it. In this post you will get to share in the in-patient experience of this little Loris. Do try not to choke on your sustaining vittals as you read on. I warn you, we are also going to have to work together to look at how not to kill medical staff that are incapable of the following:

  1. Listening to the patient.
  2. Reading a patient's notes (that is the foot-thick tome (labelled "Volume I") that takes 4 medical students to carry);
  3. Clerking a patient in; fully, precisely and WITH the patient's Active Involvement - i.e. by asking the patient all of the questions on the form;
  4. Reading a patient's inpatient-notes (the ones at the end of the bed);
  5. Ordering blood tests;
  6. Addressing an adult patient at a level commensurate with their not inconsiderable knowledge and expertise;
  7. Following up on tests they order;
  8. Following up on things that absolutely should be followed up, had point 2 above been correctly carried out;
  9. Understanding the various needs of the 'walking wounded'; those patients in wheelchairs and the long-term, ongoing and constantly changing parameters in stroke survivors and those with complex impacting factors that blur the focus (more on that later) of prioritisation;
  10. Filling in the daily in-patient notes accurately, noting things the patient says - in relation to their health or treatment etc - this also impacts massively on article 7, above (itself already subject to article 2), and is, naturally, directly related to point 1, above;
  11. Listening to the patient (let's face it, any doctor reading this has, by now, loooong forgotten what article 1 states);
  12. Running up drips; and last (ish), but by nay means least
  13. Basic procedures and protocols...

Oh-ho-oh yes. Just a few things to cover. I do hope that you have a huge mug of tea in hand (with more in the pot or vat), your favourite cake, or packet of biscuits if you prefer (weirdo), on your lap and a kitten or a dog (or other pet/s) to talk to when you start feeling apoplectic (so that your neighbours don't think that you are mad) as we begin... And... remember to breathe, and that I am alive, out of hospital and OK now, soooo here we go...

...I arrived at the hospital, half dead with my bag (which got heavier and heavier I'm sure - maybe the Archange de la Valette was sneaking bricks in when I wasn't looking!) and my burning lungs, and was overjoyed to learn that I was in a side room far from the madding crow. Win. Things were already starting to look up. I busied myself unpacking:
© The Loris, 2011
  • Bible (because Jesus rocks.  'nuff said.);
  • needlework (must. finish. wedding. gift.);
  • toiletries (crap - forgot the shampoo n cond);
  • clothes;
  • camera (you never know what you need to document...);
  • drugs (only a few. forgot some, had run out of others);
  • journal;
  • sweets (to keep me quiet: if an annoying doctor bothered me, I'd shove a sweet in my face and concentrate on it, not the doc);
  • laptop (for the pattern for the wedding gift);
  • chargers for phone and laptop;
  • pyjamas (Nightmare before Christmas, glow-in-the-dark. Because I can, that's why...)
Good work, Loris.

Not too long later a nurse came in to do all the swabs and obs. They also spent some time filling in a form, but I was asked hardly any questions except whether I was allergic to anything and then handed a Hospital Anxiety & Depression Svale (HADS) form to fill in, and was left to my own devices until an SHO came to assess me and get my history. So far, so good... I was amazed at this apparently flawless clerking process. However, the cracks became more visible when one doctor said the plan was for "two units of RBCs and a quick titration of Iron" and then a completely different doctor came in overnight and said "Nope, he was wrong - we only do blood OR iron, Not both together." Oh dear.

I was sitting there quietly fizzing and I reminded the doctor that my Hb levels were ridiculously low and that despite my O2 saturations looking good (for me) I was still incredibly breathless and severely intolerant to exercise - even turning over in bed was exhausting. But no, I was assured that I was now only going to receive blood. So the blood was up from pharmacy, the SHO found a lovely vein for the cannula and then the first unit was started, at 11pm, running 'til 2am. Ordinarily running blood cell transfusions overnight is not advisable, but since the Hb count was so low they decided to go ahead with one unit and then retest blood in the morning.

Day two involved an X-Ray, but the Porter hadn't brought a wheelchair and it took us well over 5 minutes with several stops to get from my room to the lifts. Mercifully there was an empty chair there, so we nabbed that. Once back on the ward a nurse came and started Unit 2 of the transfusion and made a right old mess of the line - some unfriendly-looking air bubbles were spotted and she just wiggled the line... Hmmm... However, to cheer my somewhat disappointed (in the staff) mood three things happened: (1) I had not one, but two visitors! First of all, The Inked Eskimo came in bearing a large Strawberries & Cream Frappaccino (since it was utterly baking whether indoors or out) and tales of a lack of suitable properties to live in. We had great chats over our delicious and delightfully cooling drinks (almost like a meal in themselves) and muttered about the ineptitude of some of the staff. Just as I shuffled to the lift to wave th'Eskimo off, Matron Bossy came out of a lift, bearing gifts of munchables and readables - always a winning combination! By this time (late afternoon), the site of the cannula was beginning to really give me some grief. It had, we discovered upon closer inspection, begun to track up my arm (ie was intent on creeping further up into the blood vessel) and was very itchy. With a bit of judicious prodding and a murmur of mutterings, The Loris may, or may not have, wiggled the cannula (accidentally-on-purpose) about to the point whereupon it wished to depart company from the vein. Oops! Showed it to a nurse who then disappeared to find 'my' nurse. Once the nurse arrived the cannula was swiftly removed and the arm bandaged...

...BUT (you know there has to be a big fat BUT somewhere) the following things were observed:

  1. the nurse did not use alcohol gel to clean their hands;
  2. the nurse did not wear gloves;
  3. the nurse placed the removed cannula straight onto the patient's table, not on a prep tray or into a sharps bin; and,
  4. the wound was not cleaned.
Once the nurse left Matron Bossy and I just sat there stunned and saying, "Did we really just witness that?! Did that really just happen?" We were not amused. (Not that you could tell from our inane cackling.)

So, visits over, nurse off shift and then the on-call Card (ie cardiologist) came along twittering about my going home the following day. I told him I needed iron and since no vampires had taken blood (because, er, the doctors had failed to book me in for any blood tests whatsoever) how could we know for sure that things were actually improving? The doctor huffed and sighed and said maybe we would wait until the weekend was over and talk to the Professor. Good idea, Sherlock.

Day 3 was - apart from the weather - really rather dull & devoid of much of anything - it was incredibly hot and I spent the whole day sewing the wedding gift for my friends (whose wedding I had missed the day before, on account of that Feral FeGang and the missing HaemoGoblins.) The highlight of the day was moving from my side room to a bay (bah!) - but the silver lining there was that I was right by the window, which meant fresh air and a view of the lovely church!! 

Day 4: a registrar from The Team came to tell me that I was going to have the iron infusion. Cannula duly put in and then a wait of a few hours until somebody remembered my meds and I was finally hooked up to the iron. The saline flush hurt to start with but the drip was begun anyway with some seriously mean-looking air bubbles lining up for a party. The whole thing only lasted an hour, but it was by far the worst pain that I have ever experienced from a drip. Hilariously and, perhaps tragically, a nurse came to tell me to relax my hand and was trying to push my hand flat whilst I attempted to explain about the hypertonia following the stroke. Ridiculous! Drip finally finished so I turned the blasted machine off to shut the beeping up. Line was disconnected by a nurse and left trailing on the floor whilst she went off to look for the stopper on the 3-way tap (leaving my vein open, essentially... Later on the cannula came out - this time the nurse was wearing gloves and had a tray for the cannula to go in. But as the cannula came out so did some blood, onto the bed sheet. Said nurse attempted to mop the blood up using paper towel, merely succeeding in smudging it around. It would be another eight, 8, hours before the bloody sheet was changed... Oh, and the line was left trailing the floor for a good couple of hours, leaking the last bit of iron-infused saline onto the floor by the bed.

So, treatment and dramas over, day 5 was spent with me feeling horribly dizzy, nauseous and breathless and informing every nurse and doctor I saw of this fact. This was the day that I also finally got to peer at my end-of-bed (inpatient log) notes and was not the least bit amused by what I found there...

  1. risk of falls was scored zero, 0;
  2. previous CVA was not recorded;
  3. no patient comments were recorded;
  4. depression was not recorded or referred to;
  5. memory and cognitive issues were not noted at all;
  6. no referral made to mental health team;
Want to know what they should have said?:
  1. risk of falls should have scored 4 in the very first instance because of the diuretics I take, further to that a previous CVA and existing spinal and hip problems put me at risk, as does the osteopaenia... in short, my risk of falling is far from zero!;
  2. clearly someone somewhere is very, very stupid not to have (a) read my actual hospital notes or, (b) listened and taken on board my saying that I had a stroke;
  3. every single day I would let the nurses know that I was feeling dizzy, sometimes I would tell them I was having palpitations, some days I was very breathless or nauseous, not one single comment was recorded. Every single handover included "no complaints or concerns voiced"... lies.;
  4. despite being on SSRIs, my informing nurses and doctors, clinical depression was not recorded, the Health Psychologist was not told I was an inpatient and I had to ask several times to see them (finally on the day I went home, I saw them... come on guys!;
  5. the fact that the stroke has left some degree of cognitive processing and recall aberrations should be taken into account, particularly when discussing treatment, taking history and forward planning; and
  6. absolutely the MH team - especially my treating Dr - should have been informed!
A few snapshots of the week in Chelsea...
© The Loris, 2011
Really, dearest Hospital, this just will not do! What a disgraceful and flagrant disregard of the patient's needs! One is not impressed.

Furthermore, the weather on day 5 was awful, I felt terrible and at first the docs wanted to let me go home. Anyway, they changed their mind because having finally taken blood for testing they discovered that my Hb had dropped.

Day 6 brought sunshine and the ward round with the Prof. Considering this fellow is an expert in his field, he is remarkably ill-informed about the effects of stroke on a person. I was asked how I was. I reported dizziness and nausea, and that I had, in fact, almost passed out in the bathroom only that morning. No comment. Response was anoter question about the exercise I do, followed by "cycling is very good for you". Um, yes, but Prof, I had a stroke and have appalling balance as a result, also, how am I going to apply the brake? Swimming was the next proferring from this fount of wisdom. Um, sorry, I can't swim. I told him I walk a fair bit and that I like that. He then inferred that my depression could be cured by exercise because, "we all feel better after we have been doing some exercise because we start to feel healthier, blah, blah, blah". OK, I stopped listening... No! Mister Professor, I feel like shit after exercise, I throw up because my liver is congested after exercise, I lose my balance when I exercise because of (a) the stroke, (b) my inner ears and (c) my spine, pelvis and legs having slight co-ordination issues. Sometimes, Sir, I actually forget how to walk. I literally don't know which leg to lift to make the next step, especially walking down stairs. So, the latest Fat-Cat-led cure-all is never going to wash with me. I know my limits, I'm constantly pushing them, and I am infinitely more attuned to my body than you are ever going to be.

It really sickened me that someone who had not seen me in over six years could pitch up and talk such gibberish. I was really rather concerned as to exactly who had taken over a heretofore mild-mannered and brilliant doctor. I was then informed that an emergency referral was being made to see the ObGyn specialist at another hospital. Bearing in mind that this 'emergency referral' was promised in June, no referral has actually been made yet... (Just as well I know never to hold my breath, quite frankly.)

I honestly fail to understand why the medical fraternity (let's face it, it still is a boys' club) are utterly incapable of a holistic view of the patient as a person. It is not difficult, honest! I would dearly love to have the job of teaching doctors about the parts of the body that become somewhat of a mystery to blinkered eyes, oops, specialists

Still, all of this is more material for my book...

... Oh yes, and I got my niece's Birthday gift finished and the Wedding gift for my friends' wedding, look:

Grace to you, dear doctors,




Saturday, 6 August 2011

Dr Choccy and The Loris (Anaemia Saga) part 2: The case of the disappearing Goblins

Well now, I promised the next instalment of the Dr Choccy and the Loris (Anaemia Saga) did I not?

OK, so in part 1 we learned that the GP I saw was as useful as a....
Yes, that's right, a Chocolate Teapot!
© Dave Ansell, The Naked Scientists

Just very quietly. ;)

In this part, Part the Second, I'm going to give you the low-down on the kind of anaemia (<-- this is the proper spelling, by the way) I had, namely, Iron-Deficiency Anaemia - that was caused by the Bloody Nightmare... We shall enter into the wonderful world of Loris Land, whereupon we shall find Haemo Goblins, Myo Goblins, Ferrets, Corpus Kewls, the Claret Corps and Oxygen; and we will maybe learn a bit about what makes even the teensiest parts of our Mortal Coils so utterly amazing (and THIS is why God is just so very, very worthy of our praise!).

pseudoTaxon. Genus. Goblinus, species haemo
Vernacular: Haemo Goblins
©The Loris, 2011
One fine day in Loris Land there was a sudden upset when it was discovered that some wayward Ferrets had had a major falling out with some of the Goblins, resulting in them no longer hanging out together and this FeGang even stopped more Ferrets arriving. The row started with the Haemo Goblins and, as the Ferrets disappeared, some of the Haemo Goblins either withered away or wandered evermore aimlessly along various highways on the sixty-thousand mile round-trip through the capillaries, veins and arteries of Loris Land .

Could these be the Ferrets what have caused a lot of the problems...?
The monstrous FeGang?
picture © Larissa Allen, 2008

pseudoTaxon. Genus. Goblinus, species myo
Vernacular: Myo Goblins
NB This is an oversized Myo Goblin, in his hydration shell
©The Loris, 2011
“Oh, dear, look at those poor Haemos. The Ferrets really have messed about this time. So glad that we are getting no trouble from the FeGang!” Crowed some of the Myo Goblins, who liked to hang out in the striated plains of the Loris’s muscles (obviously these were not lush plains).  But the bothersome FeGang had not finished wreaking their havoc so they stopped co-operating with the Myo Goblins too.

Eventually some of the Haemo Goblins packed up their protenaceous homes and left their Corpus Kewls for good. It was not long before the Myo Goblins did the same. Thus the dreaded Anaemia set in. It had been shooting threatening glances at Loris Land since the Bloody Nightmare began, but now, with the Myo Goblins leaching, the Loris faded fast. 

The remaining Corpus Kewls in the Claret Corps were really struggling to keep up the O2 deliveries. They were not amused at Wombwall’s extravagant demands, and were really rather furious with the Racemate known as Farrawin, who was responsible for masterminding those demands. All was not peace in Loris Land.

A few days later a Wampyr took some of the Claret Corps to one side and sent them off for tests at the Lab. At last the extent of the troublesome FeGang’s damages and deeds were exposed and the Loris was sent to The Hospital, where she was told that reinforcements were on their way to Loris Land.

Sure enough, a few days later, Loris Land was happy to welcome the arrival of some fresh-faced, better-behaved and much more friendly Ferrets and two whole new Companies of the Claret Corps (these guys were donated by an Unknown Wayfaring Stranger to whom TL sends a great many thanks - thanks were sent via Jesus, OK?). Things were most definitely looking much brighter in Loris Land. And the Loris could at last breathe a proper sigh of relief and a prayer of gratitude! 

The End.

Or, for those of you with less of a penchant for the slightly more random, visual or imagination-provoking explanations, well, OK, the slightly more succinct, medical, explanation follows for you miserable Grown-Ups out there (I know there are some "out there, somewhere"). ;]

****Disclaimery bit****
All of the information I'm about to mention regarding ANY of the medical stuff is what I already know from gleanings over the decades... If you have concerns for your own health go to your GP. :) If you have concerns for mine, well, what can I say? Save up to buy me some land so I can build a house on it and have you all round for tea....
****end of disclaimery bit****

"Anaemia" means (translating literally from the Greek) "lack of blood". This translates practically into either less red blood cells ("RBCs") in the blood stream, or less Haemoglobin (Hb) in the RBCs  which then means that the blood is no longer functioning efficiently. The reduction in available Hb  (either through there being less cells or just less Hb itself) means that there is less Oxygen (O) being picked up in the lungs and delivered to the body. (Hb is the substance that oxygen molecules bind to in the RBCs in a wonderfully complex and co-operative manner - I'll spare you the very complicated chemistry, but it's important to understand where the iron fits in and why a lack of it can cause anaemia. 

Haemoglobin is a large, complex protein. It has a quaternary structure (which sort of means it's got four levels of complexity - first, the primary structure is the chain of atoms that make the protein, the secondary structure forms as the hydrogen bonds start linking and cause the whole molecule to coil, the tertiary structure of haemoglobin is determined by the haem molecule, that is to say, a protein with the iron in it, and the fourth level, the quaternary structure of Hb molecules is that, like other massive proteins like this, there are four coils - formed from alpha and beta chains, there are two alphas and two betas, but that is enough for my brain...)

Instead, here's a lovely picture of one of the four globs of haemoglobin, carrying oxygen, by Dr Anna Tanczos at the University of Surrey)

Hb molecule with the haem group
(protein in green, Iron, (Fe) molecule in red) carrying O2 (in blue)
© Anna Tanczos @ University of Surrey

Iron is a key factor (let's call it an 'ingredient') that goes into the making of haemoglobin, so a lack of iron availability in the body can cause the kinds of crises like anaemia to really knock a person for six. 

By now, the haem-less RBCs are no longer picking up oxygen and less oxygen eventually means less energy →  breathlessness → fluid retention → increased heart rate → exhaustion, and in my experience, quite a lot of pain as the muscles start  to work anaerobically (without oxygen) which causes an increase in lactic acid production and can cause cramps or just stop the muscles moving altogether. It is not pleasant.

Unit 1 of 2  of the Claret Corps
©The Loris, 2011
Treatment is fairly simple really – normally it’s either to get more Red Blood cells in or top up the Iron levels with i.v. iron. In my cause it was a combination of low Hb and low Fe that meant this time I had two pints of Claret and a bag of rusty nails (oops, a bag of iron – in saline) to kickstart the system.

The somewhat *coughexciting(alarming) *cough* experience is recorded fully in Part the Third, which is coming up in the next post. :)

 Take care, and remember to eat your greens (except do not eat people called "Green" for that is wrong. That is cannibalism and very, very naughty)!




Friday, 5 August 2011

Dr Choccy and The Loris (Anaemia Saga) part 1: The GP*

It would seem that Barney has sneaked online whilst I was recovering. Well I must say, first of all, that I am very impressed by Dave's ability to not only retain all that information but to relay it to the Barnster too. Such intelligent friends I have...

I think we are, by now, well aware of the fact that the life of the Loris never runs smoothly. And so it was with the most recent of episodes at one's Chelsea residence. It all began with what can only be described as a fothermucker of an horrendous haemorrhagic period lasting 10 days (see references to it in my blog post about the ENO Summer Celebration in June) and causing me to become utterly devoid of energy, to the point where I could hardly walk across the lounge to the kitchen, and making a cup of tea utterly wiped me out for hours. Seriously, it was awful.

After 10 days had passed and nothing seemed to be slowing down I made an appointment with the GP. I said I didn't care which of the doctors at the practice I saw as long as it was soon. I got an appointment for 3 days' time. So, the day arrived, got up and... guess what? Everything had stopped. I couldn't believe it! I know I'd been praying for it to stop, but... on the day I went to get it checked out?!? Seriously?! Lord, my body hoofs me off at times! What ensued, herein disclosed, all but eclipsed the previous ten days' bloody nightmare...

Went in to see the doctor (The Chocolate Teapot**, "Dr Choccy") and when I explained what had been happening over the last week and a half, things started to go downhill immediately:

Dr Choccy: Morning. What can we do for you today, [Loris]?
Loris: Hi. Well, I had a very heavy bleed. It's been horrific (goes into a small amount of detail) and I wondered whe... but she stops speaking after 40 seconds as Dr Choccy seems to either be suffering a stroke or... oh, no, no.. he's just yawning.
Dr Choccy: Er, what? hmm, yes, that can happen on Warfarin. How long have you been on Warfarin now, only a few months isn't it?
Loris: Er, no, fourteen, approaching 15, years...
Dr Choccy: oh... um.. has this ever happened before?
Loris: yes, but this is the worst that it has ever been, which is why I'm here - because I am concerned by it. I'm completely exhausted and wonder whether I might be anaemic (this was the giveaway clue to wake him up)? I'm really breathless, even when sitting down. Could it be my haemoglobin count dropping? Or my Iron counts? (the Loris really was trying to give him a chance to demonstrate his doctoring prowess...)
Dr Choccy: does not react. [Oh dear.]
After some moments...

Dr Choccy: yes, well, you were meant to be getting the [Chelsea pad] to write to me, as we still don't know anything about you. Can you do that please? Oh and get their psych' team to refer to our local mental health team about your depression as it'll be quicker than if I do it.
Loris: er, what, even for a patient that has documented suicidal thoughts and plans?
Dr Choccy: *SILENCE*
Loris: And what about this exhaustion and breathlessness? Could it be anaemia? (At this point the Loris pinches herself to see if this is some terrible dream. "Ow!" Nope. He really is stupid.)
Dr Choccy: Oh, yes, what drugs are you on, again? (He spins round to his trusty PC perhaps he's looking up the word 'anaemia' on A LOT of scrolling on the screen for my so-called non-existant notes later and the Doc chirrups:
Dr Choccy: what's this Amiodarone for?
The Loris, looking somewhat taken aback, incredulous, stunned, alarmed and irate at one and the same time manages to profer (through gritted teeth): For my arrhythmias. 
Dr Choccy: Ah, this is what you started on recently?
Loris: NO! I have been on those for 15 years, too...
Dr Choccy: Oh. Right. So why are you getting...oh yes. Right.
Dr Choccy: *tippety tappity at the PC with back to patient. SILENCE*
Dr Choccy's stance and lack of further utterances indicates to the Loris that his brain is now spent for the day. Which makes her feel bad for all the other patients, since it is only 11am...
Loris: OK, bye.
Loris exits consulting room door and a large sigh is heard issuing forth from her tired and struggling lungs. "The dumb-lazy-arsed BASTID", thought she, unto herself.

This was not a good day for the little Loris, who was by now utterly exhausted because her heart rate had increased considerably and she was now also trying to cross a busy road in order to get the bus home. She actually wanted to cry but didn't have the energy to!

Once back in the flat the Inked Eskimo saw all was not well and fixed a vat of tea and fed this Loris giant cookies, listening all the while to the ridiculous experience that had just sapped me clean out of energy and all desire to ever seek medical attention again.

However, I knew that I was not well and fading more by the hour, so I contacted one of the Nurse Specialists - called Diddy Di - at the hospital and arranged to have a full set of bloods taken when I went in for a regular INR check.

The next day the news was not great:

Diddy: Oh my gawd! You are very, very, very, very anaemic darlin'. I think we'll need to get you in for some iron top-up and quite possibly some blood. No wonder you feel like crap! You sound awful.
Loris: I bloody knew it. Stupid Dr Choccy, the Chocolate Fireguard. *FIZZ*

The next day Diddy called to say that a bed with my name on it was arranged for the Friday. Huzzah! I knew that in a few days I should start to feel a bazillion times better.

--- The Loris's experience in the hospital is reserved for the next post (it'll be worth the wait, trust me) ---

When I came off the phone from talking with Diddy, I was so relieved that I didn't feel so breathless for a moment - for the first time in a week I was actually able to yawn! I was trying to ignore the rising anger at the crap GP I'd seen. For a fairly young doc I would rate him as utterly devoid of focus, disinterested in both patient and post and just plain lazy. If he was 70 and long overdue his retirement I could understand (it still wouldn't be right, but I would understand), but he's not. Grrrrrr.

Now, I fully appreciate the fact that some doctors might find it difficult to deal with patients that either do some research about their symptoms (and self-diagnosing is always a dodgy thing) or actually know more than they do but it is no excuse to not listen, because maybe, when you, dear doctor, listen to what the (pesky) patient is saying you will learn something. It is my unwavering and constantly voiced opinion that doctors, and especially GPs, should endeavour to gain a full picture of each of their patients, so that they are aware of the circumstances surrounding certain of the health, lifestyle, cultural and maybe even religious factors impacting their life. It would be amazing if hospital consultants would also take the time to do this, too, but sadly such consults are few and far between...

So, this little Loris will not be making appointments with Dr Choccy the Chocolate Teapot again any time soon. She hopes other GPs at the practice are more competent... (But she's not holding her breath.)

Hospital escapades up next...

The Loris

* The "Part 1" in the title is there because there are many versions of 'Dr Choccy' in the realm of the Loris. Sadly. :(

© Dave Ansell, The Naked Scientists

**as you might expect of the Loris by now,she does like to be sure of the science to back up her rantings. She knows a thing or two about chocolate and heat, but if you don't believe her, then The Naked Scientists (heroes of the Loris) will show you just how useless a chocolate teapot is...



Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A sneaky little lamb's tail. Oops, tale.

Dear Readers, it has been a few weeks since the Loris has been online, and there should have been a report on the second ENO Community Choir performance in the Piazza at Covent Garden. However, the Loris was taken a bit poorly - remember the total nightmare that was the day of the ENO thing in June, when she was all tiredy and breathless and all the dizzies? Well, she ended up in the hostabul. Or somewhere. But don't worry, she had to have a blood meal (which sounds very dangerous and disgusting), because some Horrible Goblins had stolen some of her Claret Corpsekewls and she was very very neemic (that's what Dave said anyway, cos he heard the doctor telling the Loris. I don't know how to spell the words really, but they're sciencey medical words. I'm sure the Loris will tell you more very soon.). I was really worried, because I was back at the ranch and looking after Harvey and Joseph and Ratty and all of the other creatures and assorted fluffy ones (be we've no idea where Mr Messy has got to) and Dave was in the hostabul wiv the Loris. He was very worried because she changed colour. We thought she might be turning into a hoptocus or a squiddly diddly or a camelia, but after her goblins stopped misbehaving she was ok.

Okies, I gots to gambol, for I am a lamb and it's what I do best. See!:

picture borrinated from

Barney James



Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Monday, 13 June 2011

Opera, Summer Celebrations and The Perfect Picnic

Yesterday (12th June 2011) was such a day of contrasts for me, but also a day of great blessings, laughter, friendship, encouragement, empowerment and a lot of pain! However, the day was as long and exhausting as it was quickening and over-too-soon.

It was the début performance of the English National Opera's Community Choir ("ENO CC") as part of the ENO's "Summer Celebration". It was also my début in a chorus for an opera company (as a one-off charity event some of the members of the ENO CC signed up to form the chorus for Opera on the Run's fundraising show (raising money for ENO CC)), "The Perfect Picnic", an hilarious operatic farce. The libretto was written by the Opera on the Run's directors.

I, The Loris, have been really struggling with a ridiculous degree of energy loss and exhaustion for a while, but so much more in these last two weeks. This situation arose due to the ridiculous behaviour of my uterus. But anyway, I'll spare the gories for you sensitive types.

A knackered Loris pulling a silly face whilst getting
ready for rehearsals
© The Loris, 2011
So, with dizziness setting in, muscles weakening and a total disappearance of energy levels I found that getting to the Railway Station to meet La Diva became somewhat of a very difficult, painful, slow and seemingly endless journey. Yet by some miracle I made it in one piece and arrived at my destination early enough to be able to grab a drink stuffed with important vitamins and then La Diva found me. The theatre's only a few minutes' walk from the Railway Station, but it was obvious I was going nowhere fast. I was getting hardly anywhere slowly... so, we got a cab to the theatre. Great move - we were the first into the dressing room which meant that I had plenty of time to get into The Frock (this was a full dress rehearsal) and rest between movements (every little thing I do at the moment is exhausting).

The rehearsals went well and the hour-and-a-half just whizzed by, leaving some of us still slightly confused about certain things, but we'd have to wait and see how the event panned out later on...

The Loris looking impish ahead of Choir rehearsal
© La Diva, CJ, 2011
So, rehearsal over, it was back to La Diva's for lunch, a nap, face-painting, choir outfits on and then back for choir rehearsal, break, and then.... on with the Show!! Night and Day!.....

No pictures of the choir as yet, because no photography by the audience was allowed, which scuppered our plans, but there's one of me getting ready,  look...

Rehearsal went brilliantly, and, due to the Ridiculous Amount of Stairs between the ladies' dressing room and the stage, I collapsed onto a chair in the wings and prayed for the energy to make it through the next 3-4 hours! La Diva returned with a refilled bottle of water and then it was nearly time to go.

By some terrible accident, I had managed to not only get into the front row of the choir but also, by dint of stage direction, to be the leader-on of the choir. Joy. I think. We had arranged for a chair to be left on the stage for me, which was great because it also acted as a place marker to head for in case the nerves got the better of us!

The Great RF (our choral director & conductor & general champion) was soon on stage, and we were off! The great thing that he did was not to tell us the order of the songs... "The man must be insane!", might be an expected first thought, especially with a non-professional choir that has had, let's face it, something like 24hrs of practice sessions and 1 hour rehearsal time, but The Great RF is clearly a man of great faith and discernment. We only found out what pieces we were doing as he introduced them to The Audience. It was great. Here's our programme for the night, then:

The Water of Tyne (Northumbrian folk song);
Non Potho Reposare (Sardinian love song);
The King Shall Rejoice (Handel's anthem);
Per Crucem (a canon from the Taize songbook - we sung in 6 parts);
Okolo Hradisce (Moldovan/Czech folk/love song);
Night and Day (Cole Porter classic smoochy nonsense, and the Title of our performance).

Yes, we had a short (45 minute) set, but it was just brilliant, and really well received. Not quite a standing ovation, but almost, we even got a few cheers at various times through the evening too! It was splendid. We did ourselves - and the ENO - proud.

I had to sit down after a couple of the songs because my legs were giving out, or my head was spinning, but by and large I found the strength to stand to sing all of the rep.

The Couch Potato
©: image borrowed from here

As with all these events, there is always at least one distracting audience member, and he happened to be in the seat right below where I was stood. He sat through the whole thing eating his way through a never-ending bag of crisps... What is it with some people?!

So, choir off the stage, down to the dressing room (now overcrowded) to change for the opera.

This is where the genius of The Loris shone - I'd put my white bra on over the top of the black strapless one for the choir performance (black trousers and white top so white bra required) so all I had to do was take one bra off - La Diva had already helped me into the uber-tight and holding-everything-in-place strapless number before leaving her place - and it was fairly easy going from there.

A few pins later and the straps on The Frock were shortened a bit, more make-up and lippy applied, La Diva did the honours with the eyeliner (as I am ridiculously hopeless at this art) and then it was 10 minutes to go, and then, "Chorus to the stage please!" over the tannoy... and off, up the Ridiculous Amount of Stairs to the wings and 15 minutes later we were one, big crowd of wafty-underwater-bar-brawlers... we sang for a bit, left the stage, quick prop swap, and La Diva & The Loris plus 7 others of us were back on stage being terribly sensible and exacting critics...

Except I would have been an exacting critic had I not lost my pen somewhere on the stage when I crossed my legs and notebook & pen slid off The Frock and parted company as they hit the deck... Ah well, I retrieved the notebook and still pretended to be writing though. Keep Calm & Carry On, right?

The Diva (in the opera) stopped singing, we "bravo"'d for one bar, then quick exit, and prop change. A couple of minutes' later, we were enjoying wafty-underwater-picnic food and a splendid rosé whilst the Characters went about their arguing. Trying not to laugh (it is, after all, a farcical libretto) was somewhat of a challenge for me. This got almost impossible for me once "Puck" started throwing food about the stage - at us and the Cast and then at The Audience; but I did manage to re-focus and get a grip on myself and then at last it was time to turn and face out to The Audience (up until now we were all faced upstage - backs to The Audience) and sing about the British Weather....

...Thunder, rain and well, the picnic was over! Act one almost over and for us it was off the stage and back down the Ridiculous Amount of Stairs to the dressing rooms and time to chill*, eat our picnics and chat before going back up to the stage for the curtain call (yes, that entailed going back up the Ridiculous Amount of Stairs!)

Alas, no pictures yet of the actual opera performance for the same no-pictures-allowed reasons, but here are ones that La Diva and/or I took at the end of our performance. La Diva and I used this time to take a few pictures for posterity (some included here) during this break.

La Diva, promo shot 1
© The Loris, 2011

La Diva, promo shot 2
© The Loris, 2011

Sops, finishing our picnics during Act II
© The Loris, 2011

The Loris, relaxing offstage, post picnic...
© La Diva, CJ, 2011

Cast out for their bows, Chorus out for our bows, cast back out for second hurrah!, drinks handed to cast by Chorus members and that was it. All done and dusted! Party time!... Or not. Bed time!

The Mater and Th'Avunculus ("The TPB") plus The Flatties were there with smiles and hugs for us at the end, and more photos were taken ( Although The TPB) seems to have somehow engineered not being in any) and then we all headed for home.

The Flatties and La Diva, the end of the night...
© The Loris, 2011

The Flatties & The Loris, the end of the night...
© The Loris (courtesy of Ma), 2011

The Loris et Mater, the end of the night...
© The Loris (courtesy of TPB), 2011

La Diva et The Loris, dead on our feet...
© The Loris, 2011

After what seemed like hours of waiting we finally got on a bus and made it home, having been entertained by a rather worse-for-wear birthday girl and her friends. Ah, the wonders of the night buses.

It was an utterly exhausting, but amazing, day and I know, with even greater certainty, that this is not the life for me, but it was something amazing to be a part of. Would I do it again? Most definitely, but I'd need a less Ridiculous Amount of Stairs to contend with, for a start...

But my thanks and greatest appreciation goes to the Jesus for getting me through it, and the many friends that prayed for my health to hold out, and for the people that came to see us, La Diva for being there, The Great RF and oh my word, I'm sounding a bit too luvvie... But yet I mean all those thanks with the deepest and most sincere gratitude!

TL, from her pit, 12th June, 2011

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14th June 2011: ENO Community Choir pictures up on ENO's Flickr Photostream

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