Mobi- Babble – 17th November 2017
I’ve made a lot of mistakes and silly decisions in my life – as is evidenced by 6 marriages and my semi-impecunious situation. But there is little doubt that my decision to return to the UK last April was probably one of the wisest decisions I have ever made.
I reasoned that with my 5-year-old metal valve in my heart, my insulin-dependent diabetes, an enlarged prostate, chronic IBS, advancing deafness, glaucoma and frequent spasms of breathlessness, I was only one medical emergency away from total penury – and quite likely death – if I remained in Thailand at the mercy of the Thai health system.
At long last, I got something right…
Since I returned last April, I have been under the care of a diabetic clinic, I have been fitted two wonderful hearing aids, had my eyes checked out and had several appointments with a cardiac specialist, including an angiogram to check out my arteries. I’ve also had jabs for flu, pneumonia, and shingles – all free on the NHS, along with all my multiple medications.
As mentioned in last months’ blog, I had the shock of my life a few weeks ago when I was diagnosed with COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – a chronic and very debilitating lung disease which leads to severe breathing problems and causes bad chest congestion.
It came on all of a sudden and explains my previous bouts of breathlessness which were originally thought to be heart-related. There are four stages of COPD and I am already at stage three with only stage four to go.
It seems incredible that only three months ago I was able to manage an hour’s steady walking with few problems, and now I cannot walk, even for five minutes very slowly without being severely distressed.
It’s amazing that I have lived so long without any obvious symptoms, but now I guess I’m making up for lost time, and as you can imagine, this disease has turned my life on its head.
A Punctured Gut
Then came the final medical indignity. Nearly two weeks ago I suddenly developed a terrible pain in my lower abdomen, along with my usual diarrhea. This wasn’t IBS as the pains with that complaint are always in the upper abdomen.
I took a peak in the toilet bowl and was shocked to see some blood clots. I knew I didn’t have bowel cancer as I had already been screened (another benefit of being in the UK), so I called the NHS helpline and they told me to get down to the local NHS clinic in Oakham ASAP and get it checked out.
The clinic immediately decided that I needed to go to A & E in Leicester – some 45 minutes’ drive away, but unfortunately there was no ambulance available for 5 hours and even then it wasn’t guaranteed.
So my son-in-law drove me to Leicester Hospital and then I started my nightmare wait in A &E, as by this time I was in agony. I won’t bore you with the details but at 5 a.m. the next day I was finally taken by ambulance to another hospital in Leicester that specializes in surgical cases and was put on a drip and at long last was given some morphine to dull the pain.
A subsequent CT scan on Wednesday afternoon revealed the worst – I had a small hole in my bowel caused by diverticulitis. I would either need surgery to repair it – which is quite a dangerous procedure – or they could try to make it heal itself by pumping me full of antibiotics. My condition was further complicated by the blood thinners I take for my metal heart valve, as this greatly increased the risk of bleeding out.
So they went for the softer option and started me on a course of IV antibiotics, reduced my blood thinners and the pain slowly went away. After 4 days I was allowed to eat.
I was discharged last Sunday, and I am just finishing off my oral antibiotics. I am also slowly increasing the blood thinners to reduce the risk of clotting around my metal heart valve. This involves a horrible injection of heparin into my stomach every day, as well as taking a high dose of warfarin the get my blood INR back to where it should be.
The next two weeks are critical and I am told there is a 25% chance I will get a relapse. If all goes well I will go return to the hospital in about 6 weeks and a camera will be inserted into my stomach to make sure the hole has repaired itself and also blow some ‘air’ into it to seal the hole once and for all.
All good fun…the joys of living over seven decades on Planet Earth.
So that’s me, then. If any of these medical emergencies had happened when I was still in Thailand, God help me. I’d probably be broke, dead or more likely both.
You can knock the UK National Health Service for all you like but for me, despite the obvious problems due to funding restraints, the doctors and nurses couldn’t have looked after me better – nothing was spared to ensure my wellbeing – and it didn’t cost me a penny.
The long wait for my family’s UK settlement visas to come through is proving quite a strain in both Nong Khai and Oakham. It’s only 3 weeks since the visa applications were finally submitted, and there will be at least another 5 weeks to go, quite possibly much longer – nobody can really say for sure.
Naturally, Lek is worried about me and wants to come over and take care. For me, it has been quite difficult time trying to manage alone although my two wonderful daughters have been doing everything they can and were magnificent during my stay in hospital.
It is not easy for them as they have their own busy lives. My eldest lives quite a long way away in Birmingham and my youngest is a full-time teacher as well as having a two-year-old to take care of, with a new baby daughter due in February. The last thing they need is an old codger like me gumming up their lives….
I apologize for my recent preoccupation with the state of my health, and in my next blog, I will try to find something a little more interesting to write about. I fully appreciate that medical matters can get pretty boring.
This month’s photos
Today, I am sharing some pics of two recent family gatherings.
The first gathering was back in July when the English Summer was still in full swing. They were taken in my old hunting ground of Essex where one of my nephews now lives with his family.
The gathering was honouring the visit of my late sister’s husband who had flown in from South Africa to see his kids and grandchildren. It was good to see him, as well as all my nephews, great-nephews, great-nieces, and so on. It was the first time in several years. I hope you enjoy the pics.
The second gathering was in Kent, at my brother’s place where he was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. Can you believe it? Wayward Mobi has had 6 wives in the same period that my brother has been married 50 years to one person – good on ya Bruv.
Finally, I was taking a wander to the local park in Oakham one Sunday, in my pre-COPD days, when to my astonishment, there was a right royal rave-up going on. All the latest songs – you know: Agadoo, Summer Holiday, Twist and Shout – I had no idea that the good people of Oakham were so with it…..
Late, late News: At the time of going to press, my brother has been admitted to hospital and is fighting multiple infections. Get well soon, David…