Tuesday, 5 July 2011
I'd Like To Teach The World to Sing.....
In the evening, it being the last evening when I could partake of wine before, with and after my supper, my wife and I partook of a "Final Drink or Two before the Booze Embargo" Drink. I went to bed last night steeling myself for the visit to the hospital to see Nurse Mrs Rooney and receive my marching orders.
The morn dawned and I seriously contemplated skipping the country, or just not turning up at the hospital, but common-sense prevailed - did I really want to get progressively stiffer and stiffer doddering around like an old man (you are an old man!). The drug on offer came with good reviews. Ignore all the possible side-effects - my consultant had assured me that he hadn't lost one patient yet.
I hesitantly drove the car to the hospital, parked at least a mile away from the hospital car park, it being full and anyway charging an exorbitant £2 50p to park, and in any case I didn't have any money with me. Just my appointment letter, information leaflet on the drug and the prescription my consultant had written out two weeks before but told me not to cash in yet.
If you're an only child life has dealt you a mixed hand of cards. On the one hand you grow up extremely loved and molly coddled. You often have a sunshine personality because, according to your doting parents, you are their little ray of sunshine. On the other hand you could be quite lonely; which meant that your imagination was given full rein. Add to that an inability to ask questions, preferring to work things out for oneself, rather than bothering the grown ups, meant a tendency to jump the gun, make mountains out of molehills and get the wrong end of the stick, making two and two add up to ten.
I was called into see Nurse Mrs Rooney. A lovely woman who instantly put me at my ease - it was her unmistakeably Irish brogue. "Well let's be havin' a look at you", she confided in me as she glanced at the computer screen with lots of rows and columns filled with undecipherable numbers. "Any questions now about the medication?" There was only one. "I understand I can't drink." She took a deep breath can leaned closer towards me.
"Well,me lad, it depends which consultant you talk to." "But...but..it says here.. "and I quoted what had become my holy writ..." a little alcohol once in a while." I added I thought that was fairly clear. "So I can drink whilst on the medication?" "Oh, yes, now alcohol affects the liver as does the treatment, but we'll be monitoring your blood regularly - if anything's amiss we'll know. Let's look at your latest results - Oh my goodness me your liver's dandy."
"I'm on statins for high cholesterol - is that a problem?" I probed,. Oh Heavens, if anything it'll reduce it - since arthritis being an inflammatory disease tends to increase your cholesterol. So there that's good news isn't it?"
"Now, the drug reduces the folic acid in your body, and that's vital for cell formation, so you'll have to take that - that's on the prescription." There it was I saw clearly now - in a minute scrawl "1 tab/week folic" x 6.
The prescription I had been given was for one cycle of treatment only not the whole course.
My only child brain had looked at the prescription which covered a 6 week period and the "x 6" and concluded, naturally, my treatment would last 36 weeks and then it would stop. I had confidently told all who'd listen that I would have to have a dry Christmas and not until well into 2012 would the fermented juice of the grape wet my lips.
How long would the treatment last - 36 weeks? " Oh, no dearie me: years." she replied.
God, if I had known that before, together with my misreading of the alcohol stakes, I'd have been suicidal.
"You haven't asked me about the side effects" she said in a rather disappointed tone. "Nausea, you'll get that most likely when you take the tablet." "This isn't all the time?" I queried. "Oh no, only on the day you take the tablet, which is weekly."
"Now it's important to settle on the proper day to take the tablet. There was one patient a few years back whose consultant told him to take it on a Sunday, which he did. Well when saw me he was very distressed. You see, he'd take the tablet on the Sunday morning, feel horribly sick and couldn't face the Sunday lunch his wife had so lovingly prepared. So I told him to change it to another day of the week; which he did. Do you know six months later I received a lovely letter from his wife thanking me. He'd switched to a Monday, could eat the Sunday lunch she'd prepared and as a result both were a happy as Larry."
"Your hair might thin, but I wouldn't worry if I were you, you have a fine head of hair". And with that I left, but not before I had my follow up steroid jab in the bum - to tied me over until the new stuff kicks in!
I've now had the prescription made up. I've yet to decide which day to designate as vomit day, but it won't be before tomorrow.
So this evening we'll have a glass or two to celebrate my escape from abstinence.Bottoms up!