A lot more than serious …


Following on from my last post regarding Early Retirement, things have moved on somewhat. When I first mentioned it to K***, her initial response was that ‘… I should think about it …’. It has gone from that via ‘… I think you should really consider it …’  to ‘… think you should go for it…’ very quickly. She thinks that we could over-think this and although I’m not an impulsive person by any means, I think she is right.

Therefore the decision, I think has been made. I’m speaking with our service lead on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and I’ve an idea, that he is going to ask me for a date when I want to go. From what I understand, if I say I want to go at the end of … say September, then the request will go to a corporate panel on the 8th of September and then then directorate panel on the 18th September. If it passes both panels, then my last day would be the 30th September. It is that quick.

So now all I need to do, over the next few days is to pick a leaving date! I suppose this is another one of those life changing moments.

=========

I opened another Individual Savings Account (ISA) last week. I know that people now say the ISA has had its day with the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), but I can’t help feeling that my ISA is a better saving option. I’ve been saving using ISA’s for a few years now, but did not transfer the 2014/15 to my 2015/16. No idea why, but I think I just never got around to it. But I decided that this time I would. So I spent a good hour filling in forms to transfer the funds across. It seemed a little bizarre, that I had to manually fill in the details of the transfer as there was no online facility to do this at all. Bit odd in this day and age, but it is done now. Already to post tomorrow. Just need to set up a direct debit to put some money into the account now.

Happy anniversary to me !!


The title of this post refers to the fact that it is a whole twelve months since my operation. The actual date was the 26th so any celebration should have been on Friday. Only one person mentioned anything, and that was only because they had seen it noted in my work calendar. In fact, the person I thought would have said something, actually tried to give a bit of a *ollockin* for something else.

So after a year how are things? Well I still have a beautiful 10 inch scar running half way down my chest and still quite proud of that. I was given all sorts of ‘hints and tips’ to help it ‘fade’ but, I went through quite a lot to get that scar so it’s going to stay as it is as long as it does (if that makes sense!)

Not much else has changed really. I suppose that having to take an ‘anti-coagulant’ for life is a major change, but I had been on a stomach acid suppressant (another leaking valve) for a few years, with no change in the foreseeable future, so the idea of permanent medication was not an issue.

I suppose the real change is my memory loss. Now that sounds a bit more dramatic than it really is. What apparently happens, is that I have forgotten things that I supposedly knew. It is well documented and even has the popular name “Pump Head“. It is usually attributed to the heart going on by-pass while the surgery takes place. It was assumed that I knew about it, but only found out when I was due to leave the hospital. I shook the hands of all the other patients, and I said the one I had most of my conversations with, that we would have to keep in touch and meet up when we were both fit again. He laughed and said would be a good idea, if we remember!

It is a strange feeling. There are times when I don’t know if I have forgotten how to do a particular thing or that I never knew how to do it in the first place. It’s more disturbing, when K*** mentions a place we have been to and I simply cannot remember it. Some of the memories that I thought had gone, are now slowly beginning to come back to me, but it usually needs a few prompts and there are some things like days we have out together or places we have been to, just don’t seem to be there in my head any more. It makes you feel quite alone, when people talk about things and you struggle to remember them.

Then there is also, given my age, the slight growing concern, that the memory loss might just have a different cause. It is only a very miniscule fear, but it is definitely on my mind.

Life changer – Discharge Day


So now we come to the day that nearly spoiled the entire experience.

I had been awake since 6am and my bags were packed and I had geared myself up for leaving the hospital. I felt that it could be a bit of an emotional day and was beginning to prepare for it. I had packed my bags the night before, and there was only my washing stuff still on my locker. Breakfast came at about 10 past 8, and I had decided to have cornflakes followed by a cup of coffee and 2 slices of toast. I had just finished the cereal, when I was told that I had to move to the other ward and make the bed free for someone coming up from ICU. Now, I remember the day I came up from ICU, so the idea that I should make way for someone else was not an issue. The issue was that I had to go there and then!! Halfway through my breakfast!! It could not wait for another ½ hour, I was to go then. I said a quick goodbye to the guy that I had spoken to the most and I was packed off to the other ward. I had an idea, that that ward got their breakfast first, so in a moment of defiance, I grabbed two slices of toast and took them with me, must to the amusement of the duty nurse.

I was dumped (not true strong a word) into a side ward, and had to wait until the cleaner had finished before I could have a wash and get dressed. The senior nurse came in and told me that I would be discharged at 10 am, and I had to explain to that K*** was coming to pick me up at 2pm. This, I was assured was not a problem and that I could stay there until then. Where else I was going to go, I do not know!! I was given a cup of coffee at around ½ past 10, and apart from the nurse going over the same details, the only other people to see me was another doctor. Lunchtime came and I was given, not what I had ordered but once again what had been left. I had just finished my dessert, when I was told, that I had to vacate the side room and was ‘allowed’ to sit on one the chairs in the reception area. I was not happy by this time, and I tried to explain to the nurse, that when my wife came at 2, we would need to be away by ½ past three at the latest in order to get home for R***. Once again, I was assured that this was not a problem. He also said he had the medication that I had arrived with.

From there on in, I felt like nobody cared anymore! There was another older man, who had been there since 10am and he was really angry, and his anger was beginning to get me angrier. Again I checked that they had the medication that I had come in with, and the assurances were there again. I was told they were just waiting for my prescription to get to pharmacy, they I could go. K*** arrived at 2pm and again explained to the nurse the issues that we had, and the reply came back that it would be all okay.

In the end, pharmacy came up with the medication at around 10 past 4. We went through the medication (which I already knew, because the nurse the evening before had gone over it all) and I asked for the medication I came in with. It was then that the nurse decided that he would go and look for them. K*** went off to get the car to the pick-up point whilst I waited. He eventually came back and sheepishly explained my stuff could not be found. Now I knew that it had been moved to the ward I had recovered from as the nurse the night before had shown me them. By this time, I had had enough and left. K*** was now as angry as I had been before. It was a good job that S**** had said he would be at home for when R*** came home or that would have been a serious problem. All in all, a pretty crap end to what had been a very successful week.

The feedback survey was interesting to complete!!!

Life changer – “Day 2 + “


After a surprisingly quiet and reasonably comfortable night (which I can only put down to the morphine) I woke about 6:30. This became the norm for me, to wake at around the time I would have done had I been at home. Breakfast arrived at just after 08:00 and was asked if I wanted cornflakes or toast. Now was a bit of a dilemma. When I was getting ready for the operation, I was told to remove my dentures and put them in the pot that I had brought. To my knowledge, those dentures were still in that pot, in my toilet bag, in the locker on the ward I had come from. That meant that toast was out and I settled for cornflakes. I have to say, that eating cornflakes without teeth is not to be recommended.

I was given a bed wash, which was an experience to cherish and then introduced to the physio-therapist. She went through some basic breathing exercises and explained that I needed to cough. She also explained the importance of the cough. Whilst following the logic, I had real difficulty in putting it into practice.

This day 2, was the day when everything changed. I was going back to the main ward! This entailed removing some the pipework that was still in me. A line was removed from my neck and then came the bit I had been warned about. The removal of the chest drains. I only reference I have for chest drains are the medical soaps on television. These programs never show drains being remove. You cannot begin to imagine the feeling when 18in of plastic tubing and another 8in of similar plastic tube is quite literally dragged out of your body. The nurse had told me that I would feel a lot better with them out. I didn’t!!

Within an hour, I was on the main ward and reunited with my teeth. K*** and her sister came to visit, which was nice, and both remarked on how well I looked. So I suppose the drain removal must have worked. Dinner was a bit hit and miss, but I did manage to eat a little bit more.

From then onwards, I began to get stronger and more confident as the days went by. Everyone was impressed with my progress and it soon became apparent that it would not be long before I could go home. That date came on the 2nd July, just seven days after being admitted!

I cannot express fully how remarkable the teams that were on the ward were. Not just the doctors and nurses, but the assistants, catering staff and cleaners. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to make all of us feel as comfortable and individual as possible. That old song that says “…..Heaven must be missing and angel…..” is not right. It should be “…..Heaven must be missing thousands of angels!!!” because a large number were on that ward.

Now, discharge day was something else, and I shall leave that tale for the next post

Life changer – “Job done!!!”


This will be one of the last few of my ‘Life changer’ posts. As you may gather from the title, it’s all over. I was admitted on the 25th of June and by 1pm on the 26th I was in the famed ICU (Intensive Care Unit). I shall not to into the gory detail of my return to consciousness, as it is not a pretty story. Suffice to say, I got over it. K*** rang to see how I was doing, and they told her I had just come round as was a bit sleepy. I’ll never grasp how 5 hours unconsciousness leads to someone being sleepy, but it does. We both thought it would be a waste of time to visit straight after the surgery as I needed time to come round, so she was coming the next day.

The nurse gave me some sips of water, and like a fool I managed to take too many large sips and suffer the consequences. I was amazed how little pain I was in, but soon realised that this was due to the copious amount of morphine that was being dripped into me. They sat me up a little and some food was plonked in front of me. Some kind of meat free cottage pie and some rice pudding. At another time, I think both looked quite appetising, but not then! Some nurse, and I don’t remember what they called her, asked me if I needed help to eat. I only managed the rice pudding before drifting off to sleep. I think I slept okay, but have no recollection of it at all, until 7:30 the next day when I drifted out of sleep. I have to say that without exception all the nurses, doctors, assistants were excellent. In fact all the people on ICU were exceptional people. I did not eat much that day and I did not expect to either, although everyone kept telling me I needed eat to get my strength back.

K*** came at around 1pm, just after attempting to eat some mince and mash. I know I looked terrible!!! I don’t know how terrible I actually looked, but had a good idea. She was shocked at the state of me, as I do not think she knew what to expect. I still had various tubes and wires and lines stuck in me, but I was not really aware of them. She helped me eat some of my lunch, but I still did not have any appetite and could only manage the trifle. She managed to stop until visiting time ended, and to be honest, I don’t remember her going, before going to sleep.

So that was what they call ‘Day 1 – post op’. Surprisingly everyone called it an ‘operation’ and not a ‘procedure’ like they do on the television. Day 2 to follow and don’t worry, this is not going to be like Big Brother with a post for everyday!!

Life changer – “T” minus 10 (again)


I have a new date for my operation. This time should be a definite. They cannot bump me again. Can they? Well apparently they can. The number of ICU beds remains the same so effectively the same could happen. However, saying that, I do think that it might happen this time. Just a feeling.

The changes to R***’s respite pattern were not too drastic. K*** decided to let go away this weekend, as planned as it was thought it would be a good idea to start to get him used to being away at weekends. He appeared to go off without any problems on Friday, so we wait and see.

Work has been understanding about the whole issue of the cancellation. I now also get the impression that the so called ‘other part’ of the team, know that I’m going into hospital. One or two of them seemed to be quite interested in what happened. We shall see how that progresses.

 

 

 

 

Life changer “T” – ‘Fu*k Knows!!!!!’


This is going to get a bit political and may be a little sweary, so be warned!!

Today was going to be the first day of a new life. Today I felt the true effect of this Governments National Health Service decimation! My mitral valve repair/replacement operation was ‘bumped’.

Everything was in place. Respite for R*** had been fixed and the process of getting him used to the idea that his Dad was going into hospital had begun. K***s work arrangements had been sorted. My work arrangements were in place and S**** was on call if needed. K*** had taken me to the hospital. We had had a ‘light lunch’ as advised. I was on the ward and had had my chest X-ray. I had unpacked my bags and even had my slippers on when the surgeon arrived on the ward to tell me the news. He seemed to be quite annoyed that they would normally do four heart operations a day and are now down to five or so a week. It seems, that because of the cut backs imposed by this bunch of c**ts, (sweary bit) who masquerade as a Government, there are insufficient ICU beds available! Just let that sink in …… not enough intensive care unit beds in an NHS hospital because of Government cuts!!!

K*** was quite distraught. It has not been easy for her during the build up to this, what with the planning for R*** and everything else, and for it all to come crashing down was very hard. At the back of my mind was the words that the nurse said last Tuesday, when she said that “…… it could be cancelled ….. even on the day….” How those words come back to mind now.

So where are we now? Well for a start, I have to go to work tomorrow!! K*** has to spend a lot of time trying to realign R***’s care/respite plan, whilst trying to keep her emotions in check. That is not easy, as she had only just got her head around the fact that I was having this done now.

So now I have to ask the question, who is to blame? Here come the political bit! At first I blamed Osborne, that weasely-eyed ‘Hoo Ray Henry’ of a Chancellor. But then I thought, no he’s only doing what his leader tells him. So it’s Cameron’s fault!! Or is it? More thoughts later, and I come to the conclusion that actual fault, for all the problems that people, like me are going through, lies at the feet of one person. CLEGG!! The turncoat. The guy that presented himself to the country as the only one that could keep the Torys in check. How easily we were fooled. However, in the words of The Who … “We Won’t Get Fooled Again!!!”

It looking like it may happen sometime, week beginning the 23rd June. I have no idea now whether I am counting down or up.

Life changer – “T” minus 4


Only 4 more nights until the op. I should probably call it ‘a procedure’ as it sounds more professional. At least, that’s what they call this kind of thing on TV. I suppose calling it a procedure kind of leads you to think that this is routine. Of course, it is routine by the very nature that these experts do the same stuff everyday but that no way detracts from the complexity of the work this surgeon and his team will have to perform.

A family day yesterday for my father-in-laws 80th birthday. One of K***’s uncles was there and he has been through the very same thing. It was interesting to hear first hand from someone who has had the ‘procedure’.

What is strange, and I’m not sure how to take it, is the number of people that have wished me ‘good luck’. I hope I don’t have to rely on luck!! They also say things like ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ and ‘hope everything goes okay’. It must be difficult to find something to say that doesn’t sound like I need a four leafed clover at my bedside. I almost kind of liked what my GP said, after he had diagnosed my Pulmonary Congestion. His comment as he shook my hand was “See you on the flip-side!”

Saw my mother on Thursday. She seems to be getting a little confused I think, as she asked me if I had had my operation. I explained when it was and what was going to happen, but she is either blanking it out or she genuinely does not get it. As for the rest of my side of the family, not heard a peep from any of them since the message I posted to them all. It is a sad state of affairs when people outside your direct family are more interested than they are. But I’m not going to fret over it. I’ve enough to worry about (excluding this) at work and at home. The situation at work seems to change on a daily basis and I can see our new boss, G***** getting a little annoyed about it all. This is about our latest office move, of which I may blog about in another post . Then there is the worry about R***. How will he take it when he realises that I’m not there for a whole week which has never happened before, and that his recite has increased. He does not take kindly to change and it has been made slightly more difficult with S**** moving out. Just glad that K*** has not told the community nurse that S**** is not at home. Heaven knows what she would have said/done if she knew. With all this going on around me, the small matter of heart surgery pales a little into insignificance somewhat.

This is probably going to be the last post on the subject until the deed has been done. So in the words of my GP …..”See you on the flip-side….”

Life changer – “T” minus 11


Just to change the mood, only eleven more sleeps until I’m admitted. To be honest, at the moment, I have no worries about this. I say ‘at the moment’ because I’m not sure what the next ten days will bring. I have another appointment at the hospital on Tuesday (note to self – print the proper route!!) the eight days later, I’ll be in and waiting.

I finished the nasal cream last night. There is still nearly a quarter of a tube left, so why on earth I needed two tubes of the vile stuff, I’ll never know. It may sound okay to squirt two match-head size drops of cream up each nostril, four times a day, but take it from me, it’s not much fun. For example, the first thing that happens is you get a persistent urge to sneeze. Then as time passes, you begin to think that the cream is running down your nose ready to drop off your top lip on to your work. Of course, that is not the case, but the feeling is real.

The thing I’m trying to do now, is cut down on the amount of food I’m eating. The hospital information tells me that they will try and ensure I get plenty to eat after the operation. However, I worked in hospital catering for fifteen years and I know the portions are not the same size as home portion. So I need to try and cut down on the volume. I’m also trying to cut out extra sugar, salt and bad fats, but that is a lot easier that not eating when you feel a bit ‘peckish’.

Life changer + 114


You know how I said that “assessment went as well as I could have expected”, well I may have been a bit premature with that statement. On Tuesday, K*** took a call from the hospital to say that there was a problem with some of the tests. I needed to get some ‘body-wash’ and some nasal stuff, and had to go back to the hospital, in a weeks time for a repeat of the test. Another £16.10 in prescription charges (more on this subject later) and I find out that I have MSSA. Now this is not the same as MRSA, but still not a nice thing to find out. From what I understand, it is basically a bacterium that is found in/on 40% of people, and is only a problem for open wounds. Hence the bit of a flap with the hospital. So now, I have to shower every day for 5 days with an anti-bacterial body wash, and also use a nasal cream, 4 times a day for 10 days. Today was the first day of this ‘treatment’ and I have to say, the nasal cream is not wonderful. The body wash is okay, I can live with that, but without going into any gory details, the nasal cream is, shall we say uncomfortable.

For years, I have moaned about the high cost of prescription charges. Well today that moan is a lot less than it was. I joined a Facebook support group for heart valve repair/replacement just out of interest. Of course, as I expected there are a lot of Americans posting on this site. What has amazed me is the both the cost of their hospital fees and the research they are forced to go into to find the best care. Here in the UK, I was told the hospital I was to be treated in, and when it was to happen. None of this £XXXXX for the operation, £XXXX for the per op care, £XXXX for the post op care etc etc. Thank whoever we have the NHS, and long may it be there. There was a young man who was paying $3400.00 just for the operation. That did not include the care before and after, that came to over $5600.00 and it seems that his workplace was not keeping his job open whilst he recovered. I’m starting to get a little political now, and this is not thread to have this type of rant in, but it does make you think!!

I shall leave it there, as I need to do the last cream application of the day.

Life changer + 105


The assessment went as well as I could have expected. We found the hospital without too much of a problem. The only problem we had, was that I had read the route directions incorrectly. I had read it that we should go down the A1/M1 link road to the M62. What I should have read was that we should go down the A1(M) to the M62. My little detour cost us an extra 25 minutes, which meant that we got to the hospital with literally minutes to spare.

It was a Practice Nurse that did the assessment, which turned out to be a lot of questions, a few blood samples, a couple of swabs (for MRSA) and a urine sample. This was all done in about 30 minutes and followed by an ECG. In total, including getting to and from the parked car, we were there 45 minutes only. The nurse went over some of the details of what was going to happen but I don’t think it reassured K*** much more. I have not got to the mental state yet that makes me feel worried. However, I did get the slight feeling on the way home, that it is getting very real now.

Life changer + 103


Well I did go back and see the doctor. He went through my notes and I explained that I did not seem to be improving at all. He examined me, and we chatted about everything really, home life, work. I explained the pressures of the changes at work and asked if it could be stress related. He said it could be, but thought that it was all to do with my heart condition. Now that is what I thought it could be from the very start, but it had been dismissed by both the previous doctor and the practice nurse. He thought that there was some fluid on my lungs, which would explain why the other treatments did not seem to work. So he prescribed me a course of Diuretic or water tablets. This treatment is supposed to get rid of excessive fluid from my body. So on Friday 2nd May, which I had luckily taken as a leave day, I was packed off to Harrogate District Hospital where they have a drop-in chest X-Ray unit. We were not there long, in fact we were in and out so quickly, that the parking was free!!!

The results came back last week, and K*** got the doctor to ring me, as the receptionist could not tell me anything because it was clinical and she was allowed to. It now seems that it is not a Silent Reflux and it may not even be Asthma. The doctor confirmed that is something called Pulmonary Congestion. This was explained as being a “…… difficulty of my heart to work as well as it should, leading to a build up of fluid at the top of lungs …..” which explains the cough. He is going to give me the full results to take to my assessment, which if I haven’t mentioned it before, has been brought forward by a day to the 13th May. Should mean that it will be one test less on the day. That is about all I can tell you at the moment. I’m slightly concerned that this Pulmonary Congestion, might mean that the operation is pulled forward, but I don’t think that happens outside of the TV soaps, but you never know. I hope not, as I have got my mind focussed on the 12th June as the big day. I also need some time to get my colleagues up to speed with work issues.

Work, well some of them, have been very supportive. I now have, what I call my “Dolly Trolley”. Amazon call it an “Executive Business Bag Laptop Trolley On-Board Travel Flight Case Suitcase” and it is simply a way of carrying my office requirements in one bag, with wheels. It really has made a difference, although there are a few things that I take with me, that I think could be kept in my locker.

Life changer + 88


I suppose this should be posted in this thread and I know I should have posted this before now. About 5 weeks ago, K*** got me an appointment with the GP. I’ve had a cough since about November, but it has always been a cough that seems to change. One week it’s in my chest, next week it’s a tickly throat cough. I was convinced that it was because I was working in an open office etc etc. the GP suggested, that as my chest was clear, that I was having a ‘silent reflux’. I already suffer from ‘Barrett’s Oesophagus‘ and am being treated for this. He explained that sometimes the treatment is not quite as efficient as it should be, resulting in this so called silent reflux. A course of Gaviscon was prescribed, with a promise of a phone call to see how I got on. Well after two weeks of taking this thick disgusting gloop, I was feeling no better, so an appointment was made with the Asthma nurse practitioner. This resulted in me being given (sold) an inhaler, as it appears that I may now be asthmatic. I’m not sure if it is the answer to my problem. I now feel like I have phlegm stuck at the back of my throat. Not a nice feeling to have all day. I have come to the conclusion that coming apart at the seams. As a friend said, “….you’re held together with spit and gaffa tape….” And it does feel like it most of the time. K*** thinks I need to go back to the doctors as I don’t seem to be getting any better.

My pre-op assessment date has been moved forward by a day, but it still looks like I’ll be going into hospital on the 11th June, with the op taking place the next day. People keep asking my ‘how do you feel about it’ and I have to say that I’ve not really thought about it that much. My main worry is the recovery period and how R*** is going to take it. His community nurse has come up with all sorts of ideas, none of which I think will work. Things like having a bandage on my leg, to divert his attention away from my chest. Won’t work. He’s not stupid. The other thing is his carers at his day service are supposed to be creating a ‘social story’ to explain what is happening. It may work, I don’t know. What is worrying his nurse is that K*** will not cope when I’m not there and that we both will not cope when I am discharged. What worries me most is what they will do if there is the slightest issue at all. They have already talked previously about him being sectioned if a serious problem arose and I think it could be part of the plan his nurse and her team have in mind!! However, I have already made it quite plain that him being sectioned would not happen then and I say that it will not happen now. As long as I draw breath, it will not happen.

Life changer + 62 – It’s time


The dates are here! The official notification is being sent out this week, but K*** phoned the hospital and was told the dates.

The Pre-Assessment is on the 14th May, and I’m due to be admitted on the 11th June, with the procedure taking place on the 12th. It’s all getting very real and very close now. I’ll break the news at work tomorrow. I need to tell them, I’m still waiting on the official confirmation, but we can get the ball rolling.

Watch this space!

Life changer + 60


Still nothing to report on the hospital front, but we both got a huge wake-up call this past week. I’ve been using up the last of my leave this week, and K*** and I had a couple of days at the Red Lion in Burnsall. Weather was okay, but we did a walk from the hotel to Grassington, the next village along the river. Most of the walk is by the side of the river, but towards the end, you leave the riverside and go uphill to the village. That is when it hit home!!!! It is about 3/4 of a mile, and it is a steady climb up a well made path. I got about 1/3 of the way and was really flagging (Yorkshire word). I literally had to stop, and sit down. Five years ago, I would have run up that path without too much effort. K*** was really shocked. I was puffing and panting a lot, and it was then that I realised, that I had to get this shit sorted. Until then, I think we were both kidding ourselves that things were better than they actually were.

I shall blog the short break details in another post later.