It is over four months since I last had a piece up on Broad Oak Magazine, and looking back I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to scribble something again.
Time has passed so quickly during the period from the end October last year, it is as though someone has taken a slice of time away from my life and in many ways they have.
A brief resume of events: at the end of October I came in from working in my garden complaining of feeling unwell. My wife suggested I go and lie down for a while as I looked rough, this I did and promptly passed out.
The next six weeks or so had no meaning for me as I was in a coma for nearly three weeks and what followed was just a blur.
It transpires I had pressure on the brain which was operated on and just as they finished another problem, a bleed, was discovered so they went in again. No sooner had they finished with all that then it was discovered, I have no idea how, that there was serious infection of the bowel; there was a gruesome side line to what was a difficult operation that I won't disclose here and during all this it was declared I had Covid: full house!
It was fortunate for me that I was out of it during this period, and little was revealed in the early days afterwards, which was just as well as I started to have delusions. I also became quite emotional which really is not me in a normal life; waking in the night to discover I had been crying for hours was a whole new experience and just added to the general feeling that the visions were real and not the result of what had happened to me, even to the extent I was asking why my mother had not visited me; as was pointed out I had buried my mother some years before, yet my visions told me otherwise, it was an unnerving experience but slowly I came through all this and started the road to recovery.
Strangely only one vision remained with me from those early days in a coma and that was the four horsemen of the apocalypse lined up at the foot of my bed, and however fanciful it appears now it was very real at the time. Maybe it was a glimpse of the other side, or maybe it was as most would say just a dream, a coincidence, I will never know.
I was initially in Addenbrooke's hospital Cambridge, though I remember nothing of that time. I started to come round when moved to the N&N in Norwich where the slow recovery started and finished in a rehab cottage hospital a few miles south of Norwich.
Looking back on my lengthy stay I have to say that 95% of the staff were brilliant, even the land whales - who it has to be said numerically seem too large a number by far - were in no way impeded whilst doing their job. On the downside some of the foreign assistants brought in to fill the gaps were deficient, with very basic levels of knowledge, and many were unintelligible.
Speaking to someone else who has just had a long and difficult time in hospital, it appears this is common; as she said, don’t have any searching questions for the night shift where most of the helpers (?) who look like nurses are, but really are not.
There is no doubt that management are pushing for maximum capacity: single rooms become doubles as an example. Much that is coming from the top is purely number crunching and has little to do with patients' well-being.
One of the few positives to come from all this is the fact my drinking of alcohol is still allowed, not that I am indulging presently; the thought of having to sell my cellar, such as it is, would probably have finished me!
I am currently waiting for a report from my surgeon on whether I should continue to take my anti-coagulation tablets. They have been necessary since I had serious blood clotting around five years ago, obviously they do not aid the brain bleed and have been suspended. It remains to be seen after another brain scan if I go back on them having had them withdrawn, it seems like a case of buggered either way, but what do I know.
And I am still waiting for a reply!
The NHS is rightly castigated for its food. The main hospital lived up to the to the image of reheated items that had gone stone cold again. A few dishes saved what was an almost total disaster, but anything with mash, pasta, mince, was ghastly, cooked vegetables arrived either stone cold, dry, tasteless and mostly all three; a raw cold uncooked macaroni cheese said it all.
On the other hand the rehab hospital had food and a menu one would look forward to choosing from; a different supplier was the difference, resulting in a chalk and cheese situation: decent tea and seconds if one smiled nicely.
Now back home I face the long haul to get back on my feet and start to live a normal life. My first aim is to learn to walk again and get outside; it is difficult to believe the deterioration that takes place when one is confined to a sick bed. The first time the physio asked me to sit on the side of the bed and with a frame and try to stand was unnerving, it was as though my legs did not exist, and although hugely improved it is proving to be a slow road back.
Falling is my biggest fear, as the total lack of strength in the body means, as I have discovered, one gets out of balance and just keeps falling, as has happened a couple of times. My protection of the head was the foremost thought for obvious reasons.
So despite all I am still here, though another episode like this last one is not something I would be likely to survive.