NORMALITY?

So much of our lives are spent simply letting regular life experiences wash over us. Passive recipients of what ever opportunities life offers us we, of necessity, avoid reacting to most peripheral events. Life goes on as normal but we may suddenly be ambushed by limitations to what has, so far, been our normality. On many occasions the limitation may simply be with regard to the specific situation, in which one finds oneself, for which we have had no prior experience or necessary practice.

Variety happens but, it does not always seem to add spice to life; as a matter of fact much of the variety may be of an unwelcome kind. Health-wise it has been a case of swings and roundabouts; just as one celebrates alleviation of a particular neurological symptom they seem to stumble upon a variant manifestation of the same underlying condition.

This morning, my body reminded me of the limitations imposed by a combination of neurological illness and the general aging process. It is almost as if there are (at least) two distinct normalities, that of the mind and spirit struggling with that of pure corporeality.

It is several years now since I first had to learn, experientially (the hard way), how to pace myself; having reluctantly accepted that I must now function on/from a lower plateau, than was my earlier norm, I still feel a sense of shock when any jolting reminder of this limitation catches me out.

As the sun was shining, I set out this morning, with a walking-stick supported spring in my step, to collect a prescription from my GP’s surgery, a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk. The Surgery isn’t any more than a seven to eight minute walk (even accounting for my limitations) and the bakery and grocery stores are passed en route. That would seem to be a little light exercise but, I hadn’t accounted for meeting up with a couple of friends during this restricted travel. I stopped and spoke to my first friend J for two to three minutes and a couple of minutes further on in the expedition encountered friend C with whom I had a little chat.

On arriving at the Surgery’s reception I had a couple of minutes wait before I picked up my prescription; by this time I was feeling quite light-headed and aching limbed. What I’d forgotten was that, as part of my current ‘normality’, standing to chat seems to reduce my stamina levels more swiftly than the brief walk itself! It was with great relief that I was able to sit down for ten minutes at the local pharmacy, in the same parade of shops as the grocery and bakery shops’ whilst they dispensed my sundry medications. By the time I got back home I was feeling achingly shattered!

*****

I suppose that this ‘shatteredness’ shouldn’t have been so surprising, considering that the previous couple of days had been quite eventful, even incorporating a visit to A&E and a consequent overnight stay in the hospital.

Saturday morning, at about 2.30am, a sudden sharp bruised pain down the left hand side of my rib cage, accompanied by an acute stitch-like pain emphatically (horizontally) underlining the breast bone. The pain seemed to ease as I clasped the painful area with my right hand and, it eventually disappeared after about fifteen minutes. So far, so good but, the bruised aching pain kept nagging away at regular intervals in the course of the day. Around 8.00pm, the pain returned with a pallor inducing vengeance; a hollow giddiness occupying head and torso left me feeling quite disembodied. At this time my beloved repeated an earlier offer to take me down to A&E and, this time, I instantly accepted.

The receptionist (at A&E) thought I needed to sit down and said that ma belle could log me in. Although my blood pressure went soaring, I was relieved that the ECG showed normal coronary activity. When the doctor examined me she suggested that I had a chest x-ray and blood tests but, as a follow up blood test would be required in the middle of the night, had me admitted to hospital. The doctor had inserted a cannula in the back of my hand which unfortunately, and somewhat dramatically, fell out as I moved into the X-Ray department leaving a splendid crimson blood trail on the floor. The nurse swiftly grabbed a pad to which I applied pressure to stop the flow from the distended vein, whilst he swiftly mopped and disinfected the contaminated floor area.

Eventually a porter wheeled me up to Bolton Ward where they initially set me up on a heart monitor. Everyone with whom I had contact on this ward made me feel like a person, rather than a client, leaving me most impressed with their friendly and efficient attention to their duties. The clinical support auxiliary very swiftly, and without any fuss, cannulated the median cubital vein; nursing staff always seem to perform these tasks better than doctors, presumably because they have more experience.

My second lot of blood samples were taken at around 3.00am on Sunday and later the doctor told me that the tests were negative. Once this was ascertained a nurse came and removed the heart monitor. By 10.50am my discharge papers had been prepared and, I only had to await ma belle chauffeuse to whisk me back home. I was assured by both ward sister and the duty consultant that, even though the pain was musculoskeletal rather than cardiac in origin, ma belle had done exactly the right thing in taking me to A&E.

It was wonderful, and seemed extra special, to share Sunday lunch (which I had partially prepared the previous afternoon) with my beloved but then, every moment shared with my better half is very special.

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