I know that many of you readers are kind enough to be concerned about my health problems since my failed hip replacement a year ago which caused me to retire precipitately at 71 years old. This retirement is still a great source of sadness to me. ” Howmsomever, be that as it may” as they say in Norfolk. I also know how the rumour mills work so, as so many of my readers have been with me for decades, I hope you will indulge me if I give you the facts.
The hip wound has been oozing for a year and no one seemed able to sort it it out. On July 14th, I was tired, with tearing back pain. On 15th, I was exhausted and , that night, my pulse rose to 160, breathing rate to 60 and I was drenched. First thing Sunday morning, I could not stand up so I rang for an ambulance, diagnosis being atypical heart attack or the dreaded sepsis which carries a 30% mortality. Happily, a blue light ambulance arrived within ten minutes and whisked us into the West Suffolk Hospital where they were on the case instantly, diagnosed sepsis and started the life saving intravenous antibiotics which I must have for twelve weeks.
Looking for a cause for the sepsis, they found a solid abscess attached to the spinal cord. This involved a trip in a private ambulance (van) to the specialist unit in Ipswich where six eminent spinal surgeons convened and decided that the threatened spinal surgery with rods fitted was not necessary and that the antibiotics should deal with it.
Next potential source of infection was the metalwork put in the hip a year ago so that needed to be removed. I shall not be able to weightbear on the right leg for 12 weeks and then a new hip may be fitted. I went in for the artificial hip removal surgery at lunchtime on August 31st and woke up in the Intensive Care Unit at 1.30am the next day after various problems during surgery. I asked the nurse to telephone Management to reassure her. “It’s 2am, we’ll wake her up”. “She will not be asleep, just start the conversation with He is OK”. Sure enough, Deannie and Charlotte were sitting in the kitchen, looking at the telephone and, after an initial heart leap, were mightily relieved to hear the news. I had a chat with Deannie and asked her to telephone our son, Calum who later told me that, although he was awake, he nearly had a cardiac episode when he saw the caller ID on the telephone. At the moment, ten days later, I am still in the Critical Care Unit and I have a concrete spacer sitting between the femur and a very sore, raw reamed out socket full of nerve endings so the pain is exquisite, requiring opiate painkillers which help a bit but cause bad dreams.
In the first dream, I was so weak I dropped my two month old grandchild down a flight of concrete stairs. The sound of the skull exploding as it hit the concrete will haunt me forever, even though it was only a dream. The second dream concerned the moment when you either lived or died. We were all marshalled and those who were carrying a pair of something (e.g. slippers, gloves or, at a pinch, spectacles) were allowed to live. All I had was a power drill so I was doomed. Happily, at that moment, I woke up. In the third dream, all the patients except me turned to ice cream and melted. The nurses poured all the ice cream into a bowl and tried to make something useful. Having failed, they poured all the liquid down the sluice and enjoyed a quiet shift!
I am still undergoing extensive tests, looking for sources of infection which could affect me in the future, and I have to have intravenous antibiotics every four and a half hours (six hours at night). More work for Deannie! I should be coming home for a time, hopping on one leg, before they fit a new hip in a few months time. Enough about me and I apologies to those who have been bored!
All this has hit my beloved Management , Deannie, my rock and my soulmate very hard. Verging between terror and exhaustion, she has really been wonderful. I was describing to a Portuguese nurse how, never willingly separated, we are like two peas in a pod. Back came the confused query “to p*ss in a pot?”
Best wishes to you all