Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 12/03/16

Ill Met

I think an update on the health thing is needed at this point.

You may disagree, and I wouldn't blame you. I'm doing this largely in the hope of dispelling some of my own gloom on the matter.

(Warning! There may be parts of what follows which you would have preferred not to have read. I've tried to draw it mild where needed, but I can't guarantee that you won't wish to have un-seen some of this).

So, what has gone on since last time?

Well, I took the last of the diuretics on 26 February and went to see the nurse again as arranged that afternoon. My blood pressure had come down a bit (although not as far as I would have hoped; however, the nurse was happy with it so who am I to judge?), and I described to her the side-effects I had been getting - the extreme fatigue foremost amongst them. She made an appointment for me to see one of the GPs twelve days hence.

I had hoped that - once off the Indapamide - the permanent tiredness would start to fade off, and that was indeed what seemed to be happening. By the time a week had passed since the last tablet, I felt better than I had felt in weeks. So much so that, last Sunday, I took the next step in The Great Winter Project™, which was to start melting the varnish off some of the floorboards on the landing. Now, for all the scraping involved, this was not really very strenuous work, and I felt a sense of achievement at having moved things on a bit.

I felt OK on Monday until late morning, when I started to feel myself slowing down markedly. It took me just over half an hour to walk to Sainsbury's after work - an improvement on the previous two occasions, but not by much. I couldn't understand why I had suddenly gone backwards.

Except that a conversation I'd had with a colleague earlier that day caused me to remember something which might have been germane to the matter. I checked back on my leave record, and found that yes, I had had three days sick leave at the end of January with some sort of infection (as referenced here). Thinking further about it, I realised that the extreme tiredness which I had been blaming on the Indapamide had really started a few days before I began taking it. Could this possibly be some sort of post-viral effect? I suppose it would depend on whether the infection was viral or not; I suspected that it was more likely bacterial, but I don't know whether bacterial infections have any tendency to carry a similarly 'long tail' to their viral counterparts.

The week went on in the same sort of shittitude as Monday, and so it was a more than somewhat ragged and jagged Judge who turned up for his appointment with the GP on Wednesday afternoon.

Just to mention at this point that the previous Friday I had bought a blood-pressure monitoring device - a proper one with the upper-arm cuff. I had done three or four measurements with it and had had results which were generally satisfactory. My GP took a reading and pronounced himself pleased with the result, a sentiment which I could only echo. I then told him about the fatigue and my post-viral theory, to which he replied that it was a plausible explanation and that the after-effects of such things can take weeks to fade out. I was reassured by this and trudged home quite happily.

I need to mention at this point that I had had blood taken at my last nurse's appointment, and that the results would be with the practice by the middle of the following week. Given that a further week had passed without my having heard anything about them, I had assumed that there was nothing of import in the results. I had also forgotten to raise them with the GP.

I was quite taken aback, therefore, when I had a phone call in work on Thursday morning from one of the clerical staff at the practice informing me that my results had come in. She said something about thyroid needing attention and one or two other things. The problem here was that I was conversing with someone who - with the best will in the world - does not have any substantial medical qualification or knowledge, and so asking supplementary questions or for further explanation would have been fruitless. She suggested that I should come in to see one of the GPs again, but was unable to give me an actual appointment until nearly three weeks hence...

(A brief explanation: the practice has two locations, one about 150 yards from my home, the other a couple of miles away, about halfway between here and work. The surgeries up here are three afternoons a week and by appointment only; the ones at the main surgery are appointment-only in the afternoons, but the morning clinics - held every weekday - are turn-up-and-wait-your-turn jobs).

After I'd got off the phone, I pondered for a moment. If something needed attending to, then I didn't want the thought of it hanging over me all weekend and, even more importantly, the sooner it was attended to, then surely the sooner I might start feeling as if I didn't have the long-term survival chances of a plastic bag in a microwave.

I had a quick word with my manager, who is absolute gold on things like this. "You just do what you need to do!", she said.

So Friday morning found me having a bit of a lie-in and getting the 08:20 bus down to Brynteg and then shambling the hundred yards or so to the surgery. Having booked in, I then sat and waited along with over a dozen or so other fellow-sufferers of one kind or another. Luckily, some of them were there to see one of the practice nurses, and the rest of us had a choice of all three of the practice's GPs.

After just over an hour, I was called in to see the doctor (a different one to the one I'd seen on Wednesday, but the one I was supposed to have seen then if they hadn't had to re-jig things). He checked my blood pressure, which he professed himself very happy with, and then he looked at the test results, somewhat waving away my mention of the thyroid needing attention (which made me wonder why the receptionist had mentioned it the previous day). He got me to drop my trousers so he could check the swelling behind my knees (the Indapamide had improved things somewhat, but not a great deal), then got me on the couch to investigate the fact that the oedema seemed to have got to my abdomen as well. He said something about my kidney function not being what he thought it should be, and made an appointment for another blood sample to be taken to check that out.

I mentioned my post-viral theory to him as well, and he conceded that it was possible, as was some combined effect with the Indapamide, as were one or two other possibilities.

I headed off to the bus stop (having pulled my trousers back up, you'll be relieved to hear, but - and this was something I didn't realise until a couple of hours later - having put my sweater back on back-to-front) and went into work. Unfortunately, of the three of my colleagues in that day, only one had been in on Thursday and no-one had told him that I would be late in. The other two wouldn't have known either, so a fair bit of anxiety had been caused to them by my absence (sorry Paul, Claire and Siān; I'll get that right next time). I phoned my manager (who doesn't usually work Fridays) just to set her mind at rest so that she could enjoy her weekend without fretting (which she would have done, bless 'er). I worked through until just before 13:30 and then struggled back home, feeling absolutely shagged out.

It's now Saturday afternoon and, having managed to get some sort of a lie-in, unlike the previous Saturday when I had woken up with...

(Look, if you're easily grossed out, please skip the rest of this paragraph, OK? I'll isolate it to make it easier for you)

...a big lump of gunk at the back of my throat which not even an hour and a half of judicious retching could shift; it went of its own accord eventually, although it felt as if it was still there twelve hours later...

(It's OK, chums; the coast's clear. See how I care about your well-being, m'dears?)

..., I'm still as physically weak as before, and have just had an hour's nap on the sofa. My blood pressure is now very good (as of about half an hour ago, 129/76), but it seems that everything else is completely shot to shit.

And I'm hating it.

It goes without saying that The Great Winter Project™ has gone into total abeyance for the time being: even if I had the energy for a brief moment, I daren't risk the after-effects. The abdominal swelling may be the cause of my chronic flatulence - already a cause for concern to environmentalists everywhere - reaching weapons-grade levels. And not knowing fully what is making me like this, what else might be underlying it all, and - perhaps above all else - not knowing how long this is going to go on for (will The Project ever get finished? Will I be able to keep the garden under control this summer?); all this has stripped most of joie out of my vivre and is causing me to ponder my own mortality rather more than is good for me. Writing about it does seem to have helped a little, though.

I suppose all may become clear eventually....