Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to http://www.catminders.biz

Welcome to CatMinders

Welcome to CatMinders

Monday, 21 December 2009

TB xray

I have been found by the public health people at last .
Thanks to my extensive contact with my TB friend , I have at last been located by public health and right in the middle of our own health crisis I receive a letter indicating that Dr Afolabi would like to see me for an x ray .

I duly report to the appropriate dept which I have trundled past numerous times this weekend in my snow boots , this time carrying a portable cup of coffee and a kit kat and a small paperback expecting a Long Wait as this time I am not two steps behind a very sad looking man on a hospital trolley being pushed by a porter who seems to know everything and who communicates what he does know not so much with words but his very upright bearing and his slight smile and completely relaxed demeanour . He is not so much a porter as a philospher, an object of worship , a lover of mankind in all its forms . Or so I imagine .

No sooner have I unwrapped my kitkat than my name is called and I am in the cubicle wrestling with my own hospital gown which has a slight aroma of fish . How can this be? ( Not the smell which is not unexpected , but the fact that I too am in the x ray area ?) At least I have no drip bag on a stand to defeat me and no kindly Scottish neighbour with a repeat Warfarin crisis to help and guide me .

In fact I am on my own with my own thoughts and I reflect that on the last occasion I sat in one of these chest xray cubicles I fell fast asleep I was feeling so unwell . Today I feel fine , despite having visited a young man in a prison today with all that that entails for the claustrophobic , and I am sure I cannot have TB despite my stupid irritating cough . Fever ? No . Night sweats? No . Reader , I have googled them all .

Chest x ray complete, the radiographer asks me to wait . I wait . She calls me back into the room . Uh-oh . I think . This is what happened last time , when I had pneumonia .
But no , she has simply got a very fine shot of my necklace which I have omitted to remove . She laughs remarking that she herself despite being a radiographer had done the same thing herself when having an x ray done recently at the Freeman hospital . I wonder why she did not ask me to remove it when spotting my age ... obviously someone like me is going to forget the necklace ! Ah well .
As we leave the room she is scrutinising the plate . I try to read her expression .
Dr Afolabi will contact you , she says , ( oh , I think ) .. If necessary , she adds .
And does not ask if I am off to kiss any babies or visit any vulnerable people or breathe hard at anybody or spray in their general direction ...

Surely if I had TB she would be asking me to take a seat and wait to see Dr Afolabi when he is finished his coffee break . Of course for all I know Dr F may be at a conference in India or Spain and she may be saving me a very long wait .
Who knows .

Emergency Care Unit

D is perturbed that he is the subject of a blog , which becomes apparent when a reader texts me to ask how he is .
I tell him not much personal information has been revealed .
When I arrive at the Emergency Care Unit where he is transferred finally , I am moved by the level of support offered by a fellow patient who teaches me how to help him transfer out of a hospital issue gown into his own t shirt/pj top ( purchased for his recent trip to Spain no less ) including the threading through of a drip bag via two sleeves. I may be expert at report writing and standing up in court and holding my own . I am certainly proud of my skills in soothing the nervous cat but my spatial awareness skills are cr*p and that drip bag and its wires are all over the place .
Our neighbour is kindness itself and finally comes over to help . "I know exactly how to do this " he offers "I've had to do this all too often myself " . It is visiting time on the unit when D is admitted and I notice that not one of the men has a visitor , so when I return a couple of hours later I am pleased to see his wife and son there and they give us a cheery wave .

To D's right is a man approaching ninety, W, who is delightful , and explains that latterly he has lost something and can't always recall everything . I know the feeling . He is speaking of course of his memory . By the following morning D is feeling a little better and has taken on the role of mentor and general assistant to W and his pal across the way who is also unable to walk , pinned to his bed by a series of drips and catheters but is clearly in discomfort and rises frequently trying to set off using his tray on wheels as a makeshift zimmer frame .
I am present when W's family arrive and a young doctor engages them in a family conference behind the curtain . There is little privacy anyway but W is unhappy that we are being excluded and attempts to pull back the curtain so that he can check details with D from time to time " Can you just confirm for me where we are ? We are in a privately run hotel here aren't we ?" he asks D .... " They are trying to tell me this is a hospital " he announces with a laugh . D responds firmly " Yes this is a hospital , a very well run hospital but a hospital no less " with the air of one who has answered a number of such queries .
W's wife is patient but firm and points out that he has already checked this point several times .
When W emerges later he notes the cat at the end of D's bed ( pointing at his feet ) and asks how many cats we have . When we tell him he says he has sixteen at home though I am not convinced on this point .

He reminds me so much of my granddad , courteous , conversational , delightful , aware at some level that things are not quite adding up .

I arrive again later and everyone is traumatised.
A man who has just been admitted was eating dinner , joining in the conversation, and started to cough . D ran for a nurse when problems developed and the curtains were pulled round all the men leaving them all in their separate isolation staring at nothing and guessing at what was happening . When the curtains went back , the man and his bed were gone and the staff were clearly upset . The man's death has an impact on them all and I wonder how any of them will sleep that night . In fact I hear later they don't .

PS Thanks for messages of support . D Still waiting for more tests and diagnosis . And no doubt wishing I would write about my Christmas shopping ... what Chrismas shopping ?

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