Category Archives: health, sporting injuries,

Decision Time for one Old Bat.

It is very difficult for some people to admit that they are getting old and need help. I admit that I am one of them. I have lived on my own for sixteen years and so far, I have managed reasonably well, but not now. In previous blogs I have written about the injuries I sustained as a young woman when I helped train race horses  for my father, who was an international horseman. These injuries have now got to the stage that I cannot walk very far, and I certainly cannot cope with steps. Living in a ground floor flat is good, but unfortunately the front door is eight steps up from the pavement, so it is getting more and more painful  to leave the building.  In fact, I have not left the flat for nearly three weeks, so I have to make a decision about my future.

It is not an easy decision. If I move I will not be able to see my wonderful doctor. I learned this morning that boundaries have been moved and I am not actually in the area served by my surgery. I was only allowed to stay here because I had been with them before the  change to the boundaries.

During the time that I have lived in my flat, I have made  many good friends and I am extremely reluctant to move away from them. They all make sure that I am not lonely. Loneliness is the scourge of old age,  and the company of really good friends makes life worth living.

Yesterday, I had a visit from a representative from Disability Wales, an organisation that helps people stay in their homes. Unfortunately, they could not help me.  The suggestion of replacing the outside steps with a ramp instead of the steps is not possible, because the gradient is too high and the distance  too long. A big disappointment, as I thought that this was the answer to my problem.

Days later

In the mean time, I have been in touch with the Housing Dept in order to put my name down on the waiting list for ‘sheltered’ accommodation’. It is almost impossible to get a flat in this district but I have to be on the list to be considered in the future. I am also going to get in touch with the local estate agents to see if they have a suitable flat.

The estate agents say that there are no suitable flats available.

Many days later

I was woken up this morning by a telephone call from the Surgical Unit at the hospital, offering me an appointment with the Spinal Surgeon next Tuesday morning at 7.30. They had a cancellation so I was very pleased to say that I would gladly take it. Such good news, I will let you all know how I get on. I am not expecting miracles, but a little less pain would be wonderful.

Tuesday January 30th

This morning, I had an appointment with Mr Chopra, the surgeon at Llandhough Hospital, to discuss my pain problem. Mr Chopra explained that as I had not had any relief from the spinal injections, the only step left was to have surgery. He put the MRI scan picture on his screen, and explained to me that it showed my spinal cord being  crushed by the bone of a damaged vertebra. The only hope of pain relief was to remove the bone, and replace it with metal and screws. This would mean quite a stay in hospital. There was no 100 per cent guarantee that this would work. If I did not have the operation my condition would continue to deteriorate until I would not be able to walk at all. He told me that after another MRI scan, he would operate in April.

Now, I can postpone all decisions until after the operation, and recovery time.  When, with a big bit of luck, I will be able to walk and navigate stairs. This will  enable me to remain in my present flat and on my doctor’s list. This is all thanks to our wonderful National Health Service, which is free. If things do not go to plan, I will have to face up to the situation of having to be looked after by professionals, and make arrangements accordingly.

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The OLD BAT IS NOT HAVING A GOOD WEEK

This has not been a very good week for me. The week before had been good, with the book group meeting being a success. I had also come to terms with the fact that I would have to wait a very long time for an operation on my spine. It seems to have been one of the longest waiting lists. Now that I am sleeping better, with the help of strong medication, I can manage the pain and do the best I can.

I have also made a big decision about my future.I still work a day and a half a week as a receptionist in a chiropody clinic. It is a job that I enjoy because I live on my own: I enjoy meeting and talking to clients. When I first started work the clients were just names on record cards, now they are my friends. I have just come home from work having decided that I will only work on Tuesdays in the future: the effort of getting there and back is no longer outweighed by a half day’s work. Tuesday is the day when most appointments are booked. I will make sure that all my best friends have future appointments on a Tuesday.

In the meantime, it suddenly struck me that I was drinking an awful lot of water, and losing weight. It was lucky that I had an appointment with Dr Davies to discuss the failure of the spinal injections, so when I told her about these new symptoms, she took a blood sample. Dr Davies rang up today to say that the sugar in my blood is very high so I shall have to take yet another tablet: I have developed type II diabetes. Dr Davies made an appointment for me with Sarah, the practice nurse, so that she can take more blood samples and explain the new situation. I do not know much about diabetes, except that it can occur in old age when certain organs do not work properly. I am certainly going to find out and let you know. I do not feel unwell, just thirsty, very very thirsty. I have never eaten a great deal of sweet food, as I prefer savoury.

Today, Tuesday, is my one day of work so I was looking forward to seeing my best friends who come in on that day. What a surprise when I got inside. The main shop had been broken into. Six electric bikes had been stolen and the Chiropody Clinic had been completely trashed. Every drawer and cupboard had been thrown to the ground, papers and instruments had been kicked all over the floor. It looked as if the thief had lost his temper because he could not find any thing to cash. I returned home before the police arrived. All appointments had to be cancelled. There was nothing that I could do as we had to leave the crime scene untouched, so that the police could take finger prints and so on. Apparently they were a long time coming to investigate because there had been a bad accident on the nearby motorway. When the police arrived they found a lot of evidence to identify the burglar. There were large fresh foot prints on the clean floor of the surgery, fingerprints everywhere, and a metal implement left behind covered with fingerprints. It will be interesting to find out how the investigation turns out. The police have, to date, no suspect.

Next day Dr Davies telephoned to give me the result of the blood test. It was not good. I do have diabetes, my blood is showing a high blood count. A normal count is between 5 and 9. At the moment mine is 22, so this has to be lowered gently with medication and diet. No carbohydrates, nothing containing refined sugar, no bananas because I have high levels of potassium. All this amazes me as I have not felt unwell at all. I have just complained about my long term back injury, while this other problem lurked. Apparently it is not caused by me eating too much sugar, but more by old age and my pancreas not working properly. I might be wrong. I am telling you this so that if anyone develops an enormous thirst,or starts to lose weight suddenly, please go and see your Doctor straight away, it is better to treat an illness early.

A week later.
I am not finding it easy to change my diet. I used to eat either a baked potato or baked sweet potato with salad as the main ingredients of my main meal. No more, they are forbidden, as is the biggest culprit, bread. Now I have to eat vegetables that grow above ground, fruit not containing sugar and proteins, i.e. bacon, eggs, meat and fish. This is quite expensive, therefore not so easy for someone living on their own. No sugar for my coffee until I find a replacement sweetener. I am gradually coming to terms with a new era. I do not feel at all unwell, thank goodness.

I hope that you have all had your influenza jabs.

THE OLD BAT is going to have a spinal procedure next week.

Sixty years ago I trained race horses for my father. During this time, I fell off a few horses while training them. In those days these incidents were not taken seriously, I just had to get back on the horse and get on with the job, whether it was jumping over high fences or galloping around twenty acre fields. On one occasion, while exercising a particularly highly strung race horse, a mare called Come Lucky, a blackbird suddenly flew out of the hedge, frightening the mare who jumped sideways.  I only stayed on her back by twisting around awkwardly.  I now think that this was the beginning of the problem with the discs in my lower back.

When I got married, left my childhood home, and became pregnant, I started to have severe back ache. This pain became so bad that I could not walk. A slipped disc was diagnosed. I spent most of the pregnancy having bed rest. I recovered after the birth and spent the next few years practically pain free. I had also finished riding horses which might have had something to do with it. When I was about thirty, I developed nasty pains in my neck. On this occasion I went to the hospital for an X-ray. The radiographer told me that I must have been in a bad car accident, because all the vertebrae in my neck were fused together in one piece and calcified. There was nothing that could be done about it as it was too late: the damage had been done years before. The doctors fitted me with a neck collar, gave me pain killing tablets and sent me on my way. I had not been in a car accident but in my youth, long before the accident with Come Lucky, I had a particularly bad fall training a young horse called Sherry over show jumps. We were preparing to jump a straight gate – which is fairly difficult – when, cantering to the take-off point, Sherry stopped dead in her tracks at the foot of the gate while I sailed straight on, landing on my  head on the other side. I felt a bit sore but remounted and was successful at the second attempt with the help of my father, who rushed behind waving his arms  and shouting. I was still at school at this time and this happened during the half term break.  Afterwards, when I started to run in the school sports races, I found a stiffness in my joints and I could not run as fast as I had previously. I now realise that this event probably contributed to my present problem.

During my working life I worked physically hard on the farm, lifting heavy bales of hay, also sacks of feed for the sheep. I also abused my body by recklessly running, catching heavy sheep, being dragged around whilst restraining them when they needed treatment. It was all part of farming life when you had to do all the work yourself.

I am now old and my back and legs are extremely painful. I have had wonderful  medical care, having had every X-ray and scan that it is possible to have, all on the NHS. The MRI scan showed that the damaged vertebrae at the bottom of my spine are pressing on vital nerves, causing the pain. I am lucky to be having this procedure so quickly. I do not know exactly what it involves but I believe it is a series of injections around the damaged area under anaesthetic. I will be writing next week to let you know if the treatment is working and if I am walking better. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Please remember to get your ‘flu injections!