Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Tinkling bells / rumbling chests
The last 6 weeks have been rather odd.
It started out with a pain under my right shoulder. I tend to sleep rather awkwardly, and my mattress isn't terribly brilliant, but as the pain slowly got worse, I started to think something else was up, rather than awkward back pain.
At clinic an X-ray showed lots of shading under my shoulder blade, and the answer I was hoping for was confirmed - a big blob of mucus, or a mucus plug was stuck in my lungs. The size of a sausage. At least this is fixable, I thought. Lots of physio, strong antibiotics and buckets of water was prescribed, and sure enough this strenuous regime worked, after a week the pain was gone!
But bugger my luck, a few days later I caught a cold and within a few days now only had the pain under my shoulder blade returned, but sharp pains were plaguing my entire lungs, every spot was sore. I would sneeze and my lungs would contract, held there by spasmed muscles and such a pain I couldn't move. The climax of each yawn was like an electric shock. Every part of my chest was littered with pain, and every twist, turn, move or breath would end in me releasing a small yell.
I would sit on the sofa, watching the TV my new housemate Alex dragged from his home in Sussex. People with eyes popping and burning skin on House would distract me from my own inflictions, and together with tea and my guest cat Marcy, who comes tinkling in whenever my back door is open, I wiled away a good week.
My dad would come over almost every day, and do percussion physio. Percussion was a type of physio I stopped when I was 11, but is the most magical form of chest clearance. Tilted down on a homemade wedge of cushions with my PEP acapella device firmly pressed between my lips (dad eventually constructed an epic tilt from a thin mattress in my loft) I would try make everything within my lungs rumble, and in the breaks try not to fall asleep in a daze of nostalgia and comfort. Of course the comfort would vanish as soon as we hit a tender part, and my breath would catch at the sharp pain in the tips of my lungs. 15 minutes of each side of my lungs, mucus galore, and even the addition of sander from dad's shed offering bursts of vibrations (and probably the best massage i've ever ever had), I was slowly but surely clearing the gunk from my lungs.
Friday came, and once again I woke up and couldn't move. After all the hard work i felt back at that annoying square number one, and started to think maybe something else is at play. Pleurisy, pneumonia, inflammation, fluid in the lungs all went through my mind, so took myself down to A&E.
The doctor listened to my chest ("it's remarkably clear, nothing there"), and told me to go home. I asked for at least some bloods and an X-ray because fuck me if i'm heading all the way there and I don't even receive a bit of radiation for my time. An hour later and results were back.
CRP (Infection markers): 9 -super good
Kidneys: absolutely fucked.
My lungs were quickly forgotten, and I was admitted for fluids, an ECG (to check if the raised potassium level due to my off kidneys was hurting my heart), and countless more blood tests.
3 bags of fluids and a remarkably quiet and relaxed sleep up in the acute assessment ward later, everything, and I mean everythig, was back to normal. My CRP had dropped by another 3 points and was down to 6, my potassium was normal and my kidneys were totally bog standard normal.
Bit of a bloody mystery mate.
I was let home that afternoon, went back monday morning for some more bloods, hopped down the road to the brompton to check my lung function monday afternoon (mystery deepens: lung function is only 5% down from my best ever...) though have to go back to cheslea and west tomorrow morning as the kidney function is slightly elevated again.
It's all a little bonkers.
I've been taking a very normal dose of paracetamol for the diminishing lung pain, and back on the sofa with tea and a book and Marcy, the stolen cat.
As I was walking from one hospital to the other on monday afternoon, I stopped in Daunt Books on the Fulham road. Daunt books is one of my favourite bookshops, they organise half of their books by country, which endlessly fascinates me.
I picked up 3 books. Seneca, Crash by JG Ballard, and The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide.
I had seen The Guest Cat before, and despite it being about a cat, surprisingly/ shockingly hadn't bought it.
But now I had Marcy, my stolen guest cat.
Even the cat's face on the cover, peeking up fro the bottom, looked like Marcy. So I had to buy the book.
Marcy started coming into my home about a year ago, as a teeny kitten. She would wander round, climbing the kitchen counter, disappearing into cupboards and sleeping on my bed. I like to think of her as almost mine, without the responsibility of clearing up her poop.
(Just a quick note, I found out a few weeks ago Marcy's real name is Kitty. Surely that's a crime against cats?)
"Gentle, thoughtful and subtly profound" said the guardian. Yep.
"Careful, elegant and lovely... unusually intimate, detailed and vivid", said the NY Times. Oooh, intimate. Yep.
"Lyrical and captivating....."..."Takashi Hiraide, the Japanse poet....so illumnating and achingly poetic..." The Huff post started to say... Bingo! A lyrical and captivating poet! I'm in.
So I bought it. I'm reading it, and i'd say it really is gentle, thoughtful and subtly profound, careful, elegant and lovely... unusually intimate, detai.... just, all of it. It's beautiful. (blissfully sighed Ludicrous Bunglings)
So far there is a couple, both work in publishing (I did that!), the man gets shingles (I had shingles!), and this kitten starts to come into their house (Marcy did that!). The chapters are 3 pages long (I love that!), and the imagery is stunning, like poetry (I love poetry!). Pretty perfect. I've been lounging on the sofa, wrapped in my blanket, reading the Guest Cat, drinking peppermint tea, classic fm in the background, and convincing myself i'm not old, all the while stroking my own guest cat as she wanders in, tail perked up in the air....
Today I woke up with no pain, downed a pint of water for my kindeys, and for lack of anything to do, started reading my book again. It's not a hard life these days. Just sometimes sore and always a very broke one.