One Year On – Reflection

13th January 2012

This time last year a series of events started to unfold that would change my life.

I have written this blog entry to mark the occasion. Whilst its been a horrible year, I want to also remember that I am still alive so here is a lighthearted analogy, I don’t mind if no one reads it, I just needed to do something to mark the occasion otherwise I would just bottle it up and it would stress me out!

Here goes:

I have always been an active person, not a fitness junkie, just active. ‘Sit down for five minutes’, ‘Can’t you keep still??’ were phases that were often directed at me.

At the time my average day started at 6:00. I am an analyst/programmer and the job was (and still is) very intense. After the best part of an hours drive I would start work at 7:30am and finish at 4:30pm, then traffic permitting be back in time for dinner with the kids at 6:00pm. Once home it would be 8:00pm before I was ready to settle down, just in time to go to bed and start it all over again. The recent weekends were spent ripping out the bathroom and dealing with Xmas and going out for family walks in an effort to entertain the kids.

Unfortunately this is pretty much how most peoples days go these days. Lots to do – not enough time to do it!

So for the purposes of this blog, I am pretty much Mr Average with a smattering of extra stress and active to boot.

Looking back I probably was more stressed than usual because my dear nan had recently passed away, the bathroom was in bits, it was snowing – which made the commute interesting and I had a big project at work! Ok so I suppose I need a chill pill or two but other than that I was healthy (ish).

As I explained in my blog, during Xmas and the 13th I had been suffering with a chipped toenail which was (I thought) an 8 out of 10 type pain. But it seemed to be getting better.

What actually caused the cellulitis is and will probably always be a mystery but I put it down to a mix of stress, flea bites and a gammy toe!

The severity of my cellulitis was in the upper end of the scale, one of the doctors who was looking after me was convinced I was going to loose a leg. (You can almost see him in a ‘Naked Gun’ film with a set of knock off shoes in his brief case and  a coffin brochure in his jacket – just in case).

The key to cellulitis is to get it seen to quickly. That is fine if you know what to expect but for most of us its a wild stab in the dark. Anyway we must have done something right otherwise the renewal for this domain would be up by now :).

The day it all happened is still very fresh in my mind which is quite amazing really because as I found out later my body was going into shock and its natural defence mechanism is to put its owner in the land of the faeries!


I suppose the biggest thing is that I am scared of needles. Dont like hospitals and the site of blood – especially my own!  So being subjected to 3 IV drips and about 4 blood tests in the first hour of admittance was something that brings you straight down to earth.

The thing is, through all of this I was expecting to be back at work the following week. I  had no idea of what was in store.

Once I had been relocated to AEU (Accident Emergency Unit) the reality of hospital life started to hit home.  The young chap (16 I think) opposite had just shattered his leg, the middle aged guy opposite had fallen off a bar stool and was concust and finally the poor old man next to me had just had a stroke and thought he was in a hotel!

Things didn’t improve much as the people around me were sent home or shipped out. There was some guy who had tried to get high on his mates Antibiotics and a couple of bottles of vodka – what a waste of resource and life – there is me looking at the pearly gates to see if they were locked whilst this idiot is sticking his tongue out at the devil!

Having survived AEU, I was put on a trolley and taken DOWN to the ward. That wasnt what I wanted to hear especially as the ward was 3 doors down from the chapel of rest!.

The rest of the stay in hospital was a mixture of shock and awe. I had never been away from my family – my kids 7,9 & 11 were used to me being there and apart from the odd work trip I had pretty much spent all 17 years with my wife. This was all blown out of the water !!

Talking of water, the first night I was in the ward it rained and it rained and un-beknown to me it had rained in my daughters bedroom. Our extension roof had sprung a leaf, so not only was my beloved in the house on their own they were battling the elements. It never rains but it pours!!

They weren’t out of the woods come morning. Because I wasnt at home, the magic recycle bin had suddenly stopped emptying itself so things got rammed in under the sink where it lives until such time that the waste pipe was dislodged and it started raining there too!

Meanwhile back at the sharp end. The thing that was causing me the grief was the pain. Now I thought I had a reasonable pain threshold but this was rediculous! The nurse was asking on a pain of 1-10 this was now at a 50! My dignity was due to go out the window if I didnt get to the bathroom but even with morphine I could not begin to describe how much that hurt. In fact it has taken until Dan posted on my site to find words that describe it.

“Imagine being hit 4 times on the foot with a sledge hammer, then have it squeezed in a vice every time you try to stand up” pretty much sums it up. Perhaps I would change it slightly by adding ‘slashing it with a knife and putting vinegar on it’ but you get the gist!

Doctors in a rush to find out how to save my foot, my leg and even me.

Looking back now, the doctors were battling against the odds, my infection was spreading at the rate of knots and they were rapidly running out of ink. My leg was looking like a the A-Z and even the prospect of losing a foot was bearable as long as they could stop it reaching my groin!  In their attempt to work out why it was so bad they asked all sorts of questions.

Now I am (or I hope I am) a fairly honest person so when asked how many units of alcohol I consumed I told them, 20- ish. I said.  Now that wasn’t far from the truth, I do drink more than I should but my weekly intake was around 18 units so I fall within the ‘guidelines’. Trouble is the doctors know that everyone lies about their intake so they immediately double it and add some. So next time I am asked the question I need to lie. Those liver function tests were really not necessary!!

I wanna come home!

Physically hospital was tough but emotionally it was tougher. My levels with in the 400s and should have been in the 80s what ever that means so they were not letting me out till it was under control.  Coupled with the fact that the antibiotics had to be administered IV meant that I was in hospital for what seemed like an age.

I wanted to come home, but it the thought of leaving hospital was also worrying, the care at the hospital was 24/7 – at home the kids would be at school and the wife at work – quiet but a real problem if I got into trouble.

With that I just had to make the most of it all. The ‘Entertainment’ consisted of a guy who thought he was still a pilot and at around 7pm every night he would ask me what to do as he had left his wallet on the train. To start with it was scary I had no idea what to do, then I realised that he just needed reassurance that he wasnt in some posh hotel running up some big bill that he didn’t have the means to pay for.

The other ‘entertainment’ was in the form of the bed side TV. What a con! They were  charging me what ended up being £50 to watch free telly and make land line calls – something that even BT only charge £20 a month for!

By week 2 I was feeling really rough – it was like I was Tom and Jerry had just fed me through a mangle after hitting my foot with a hammer and putting it in Butch the dog’s jaws.  I felt like s**t – my whole body ached, I was tired and couldn’t sleep (mainly because the night staff thought that if they were up and working we should to).

They finally gave me the go ahead to come home…


More soon..

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