Late Night Stargazing

The recent return of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s excellent sitcom Catastrophe regularly features tonight’s tune, which I’ve been meaning to post for absolutely ages but never quite got round to.

From 2011’s marvellous The English Riviera, it’s just the right side of dreamy twee eletro-pop (I’ve never been any good at naming genres, before anyone corrects me) to totally float my boat:

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Metronomy – Everything Goes My Way

More soon

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Saturday Night Coming Up

I always loved the lyrics of Mike Skinner of The Streets, but often the actual music left me feeling a little cold.

Cue Ashley Beedle of X-Press 2 with his ruddy marvellous remix of Weak Become Heroes, which perfectly compliments Skinner’s authentic tale of a night out clubbing:

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The Streets – Weak Become Heroes (Ashley Beedle’s Love Bug Vocal Mix)

More soon.

She’s A Nurse (And She’s Alright)

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When I first decided to bare my soul and write about my illness and time in hospital (which, to be honest, was minutes after the catheter was introduced to Lil Jez) I had no idea of the reaction it would provoke.

This will, hopefully, be my last my hospital related post for a while, and so I wanted to take time to say thank you to all who have stopped by here, have left comments (and those who have emailed me directly) wishing me well and telling me how they’ve been entertained by my missives, and those who have felt that my posts have allowed them to revisit things that had happened to them, and to tell me (and often anyone else reading the Comments) about their own experiences.

As I hopefully explained last time out, my ability to respond to all of the comments and messages has been more than a little bit hampered by my ongoing health issues, and in any event I’ve always been a bit rubbish at that aspect of blogging; I worry that my response may come across as glib, crass, or sarcastic. So y’know (*shuffles awkwardly and looks at his feet*), cheers.

Also, thanks to my friends and family who stayed in touch throughout my ordeal, and carried me through.

I said I’d provide you with an update after my last visit to hospital to meet with the haematology consultant on Tuesday. Those who have read the comments left after that day will have seen that I came away from the appointment feeling much appeased, having got some answers about what happens next, and, moreover, that the arthritic issues I’ve been experiencing are being investigated and addressed.

Shortly after I was discharged back in November, I was asked to return to the hospital to have a PET scan. For those not versed in medical terminology, PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography, which probably doesn’t clear things up much. So, from the NHS website: “PET scans are used to produce detailed 3-dimensional images of the inside of the body. The images can clearly show the part of the body being investigated, including any abnormal areas, and can highlight how well certain functions of the body are working.”

Since I had the scan back in November, and hadn’t heard anything about it again, I’d assumed nothing of interest had been found, and promptly forgot all about it.

No such luck. The consultant explained to me that the scan had shown I have enlarged lymph nodes in three areas, the worst being in my left arm pit. The cause of these need investigating, and it may be the case that I have a tumour – but he was very keen to stress that at present if I do, they do not think that that it might be cancerous. So in a few weeks I’ll be summoned back to have a small surgical procedure to allow them to investigate further.

He also explained that the swollen lymph nodes are probably the cause of the loss of strength and grip in my arms, and this makes sense, since it is my left arm which is worst affected. So the plan is: have the further investigations, treat appropriately, and if that doesn’t sort out the arthritic problems, I’ll be referred over to a rheumatologist who can have a go at working out what’s wrong with me.

Anyway, further updates will follow, but the consultant reassured me that I do not need to worry. The concerns I aired in my last post have been put to bed for the time-being, my faith in the NHS restored, and I hope that when writing about my experiences I haven’t been overly-critical or given the impression of being disappointed of any of those who have nursed me back to the level of health I’m now at.

In particular, I’d hate anyone to think I was dissing any of the nurses or health care assistants (HCAs) who looked after me when I was in hospital; although occasionally one would come into my room, reading the application instructions off a tub of lube and asking me whereabouts it needed to be applied (“Take a peek under the sheets, that should give you a pretty good clue…”) they were, uniformly and often individually, all wonderful: caring and attentive to my every need. Without the merest hint of a complaint, these people mopped up my puke and moisturised my scrotum. They brought me water and, eventually, food; they changed my bedding, they adjusted my bed so my arse wasn’t numb. As I said on Twitter shortly after I was discharged: angels, every one of them.

And, of course, I can’t eulogise about the wonderful NHS staff without making a point. I’d say around 80% of the nurses, HCAs and porters who I came into contact with were not born in the UK, and of those maybe 60% were from the EU. Some of them told me, when I asked them, that whilst they love their jobs and want to make a career out of caring, they felt increasingly marginalised and sometimes unwanted, and were unsure whether they would want, or be allowed, to remain in the UK post-Brexit. To lose these unselfish, caring men and women from our health service would be an absolute travesty.

A couple of HCAs, on my last day, came into my room and asked if I would complete performance-related questionnaires about them. It was the least I could do, and I made sure I gave them glowing reviews, partly in the hope that it might make them want to stay and care for whoever the next poor sod to occupy my bed might be, but also because…well, never know when you’re next going to be back in hospital, and the last thing you want is a carer with a long memory in control of your catheter.

So, this: not much of a tribute, I know, but in an age when our beautiful, wonderous NHS seems to be vilified, denigrated and underfunded at every opportunity, it’s the best I can do:

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The Raw Herbs – She’s a Nurse

More soon.

I Could Rip a Tissue (Except I Can’t)

A 1980s Crackerjack reference for you there. I’ll explain.

Back when I reappeared after my hospital visit last year, I mentioned that I’d thought of a song which I’d planned to post on my return, but had decided not to.

This one:

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Young Knives – Human Again

Truth be told, the reason I refrained from posting it back then is because Human Again is not how I felt. For whilst my skin condition has pretty much completely cleared up – almost miraculously in the areas which had been affected for over ten years – and whilst I seem to have survived the life-threatening pulmonary embolism (the blood clot on my left lung), issues remain.

Regular readers may recall me mentioning that after my GP had referred me to see a dermatologist, but before I actually got to see one, I developed pain and discomfort in both hands, both arms, and both legs.

Although I’m no spring chicken, I figured it was a bit of a coincidence that this had started after the psoriasis flare-up, and so had done a bit of online research. Sure enough, there’s such a thing as psoriatic arthiritis, the symptoms of which all seem to tick the boxes of those I’d suddenly started experiencing:

Pain and loss of grip in my hands? Check.

Pain and loss of strength in my arms? Check.

Pain in my legs whenever I go to stand, walk up or down stairs, or just walk a bit too far? Check.

All having come on during an episode of psoriasis? Check Check Check.

The symptoms haven’t really got any better or worse since I came out of hospital: I can’t open jars, bottles or packaging without using my teeth; I can’t raise my left arm above shoulder level and I have to use my right arm to force it up when needed. I get pain and stiffness in my hands if I sit and use a keyboard for very long (which explains why I’m on a reduced-hours phased return to work at the moment, and why my posts here haven’t been particularly frequent recently).

So what’s going on with this being treated? Well, not much.

Whenever I’ve been back to the hospital for outpatient appointments, with different consultants from different departments who oversaw my care when I was in hosptal, there seems to be a reluctance for anyone to address the issue.

For example, back in November I attended the Haemophilia Centre, where I was seen by a haemotologist (surprisingly enough). I asked them if they considered the arthritic issues I was experiencing to be a circulation problem, and if so what they proposed doing about it. The response I got was firstly that they knew nothing about it as there was no mention of these issues in my discharge papers. I politely presented them with a copy of the discharge report in question which, whilst not mentioning it in either the Principal Diagnosis or the Additional Diagnoses and Complications sections, did state that I had presented with the symptoms on the day when I was called back, and admitted, to hospital. The consultant advised me it was not a haemotology issue, so I needed to take it up with the other consultants.

Which I did, the next time I saw my dermatologist. At first it seemed promising, as they mentioned referring me to a rheumatologist, which I was of course agreeable to. But then the course changed, and they sent me for more blood tests and, as it goes, another three biopsies.

When I saw (a different dermatologist) last week, I asked whether or not a decision had been made: did they agree it’s psoriatic arthiritis and if so, what happens next, or if not, will they now refer me to a rheumatologist? I was told that they thought the flare-up in my psoriasis was caused by a different underlying condition, but declined to expand on what that might be, instead telling me that the consultants from the other departments would be speaking to be shortly.

Look, I get that a consultant from one field is not going to want to provide advice or comment on a condition which is not their specialised subject, but this is getting rather frustrating now.

So today, I’m off to visit the Haemophilia Centre again. Hopefully I’ll get some answers and hopefully a referral, but I think it’s more likely that I’ll have to wait another week until I visit the General Medicine team.

Sorry, there’s no attempt to inject any humour into my situation this time. Normal service will be resumed shortly, I hope.

In the meantime, this is as close as I can muster:

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The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Apologies for the radio-silence for the past however long it’s been (and thank you to those who got in touch to check I hadn’t actually died this time); fret not, I’m well.

Truth be told, after finding a bit of a flourish writing about my recent hospital exploits, I’ve run into the usual brick wall that is trying to think of things to write about in January.

Call it the New Years Blues if you like. Or Seasonally Affected Blogging.

Or let’s call it what it really is: I couldn’t be arsed, and couldn’t think of anything interesting to impart which might lift the winter fug.

Also: I started back to work this work, the first time I’ve ventured to the office in almost three months. But more of this later.

In the meantime, a late night tune which popped up on my iPod on the way back home from work the other day (or maybe it was on the way in…already the working life is a real blur…I dunno…does it matter…?), the title of which (the first bit, not the bit in brackets) seemed appropriate for to end my New Year lull:

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Scott Walker – The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)

A couple of 2019 admin points for you:

  1. I’ve gone back to using Box.com to share the mp3s I post here, as I know some of you (predominantly Google Chrome users, I think) were unable to access the links when I was using PixelDrain (as I have for the past year or so). If anyone remains unable to play/download stuff I post, please let me know via the Comments or at the email address you’ll find somewhere on this page, and I’ll see what I can do);
  2. As with a recent post, in the unlikely event that there’s a tune you want to hear that I’ve previously posted but the link is dead, leave me a Comment on the page in question and I’ll do my darndest to reupload as soon as I can;
  3. I’ve been writing this blog for over five years now – yet it seems this is this the first time I’ve ever posted any Scott Walker. How the heck did that happen…??

More soon.

** UPDATE – I’ve received notice that there’s an issue with accessing the tune via Box.com, so here’s an additional link for it via PixelDrain:

Scott Walker – The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)

Sorry ’bout that and all that.