Weeks 6 and 7 – Getting bored

Learning Points …

I never thought it would happen, but I’ve had four, yes FOUR, enquiries as to what has happened to the weekly #hospitweet blog post. So the less observant of you did not notice that I missed last week and am late this week! “Is that a good sign, or a bad?”, “Is he not feeling well?”, “Is he still there?”. The answer is far less exciting. Life has descended – in one dimension – to being a rather boring note of monotony and routine that is not one I recognise as being mine. As others have so kindly put it – “now you know what it’s like to be 87” (my mother), and “it’s good preparation for retirement” (from too many to mention) … to which my reply is “no, no, surely not!” So from that you can perhaps gather that motivation is the greatest challenge I face at the moment – but more about that later. For the moment let me catalogue what I have been up to, and perhaps try to emphasise the positives and not dwell too much on the negatives because in the other dimension I’m beginning to get quite active and spend my time productively, but with the side-effect of it tiring me rather.

First technology changes. The mobile phones and telephone/broadband switch to VirginMedia (see last post) have been sorted out. I’m going to do a separate post on that experience in another place … when I have the time (lol) … but suffice to say I’m quite please by what we’ve achieved and the general high-level of customer service from VirginMedia. I never would have been able to say that about NTL, so Richard Branson has made a difference (imho). I also ordered the PC, implemented the new network, and provided the advice referred to in the last post for neighbours, friends  and also relatives for their various Christmas purchases. So that was all good fun and now I eagerly await the arrival of Pegasus’ replacement. It’s been a good workhorse, was top of the range when it was acquired by @PGHarrison c.6 years ago, but has been more of a donkey the last year. [I feel another blog post coming on, so I’ll leave it there.]

So what else happened in those two weeks. Some highlights. First, Jenny took me down to the Park Plaza so that I could meet up and have dinner with work colleagues who were in Cardiff for the UK Federated Access Management Conference. It was really great to be again with people who I get so much energy from. A real boost to my mental state … if not my physical state. I did suffer a bit the next couple of days because fueled by new found enthusiasm, I did some energetic walking – which had the obvious consequences since I didn’t couple it with sensible relaxation and resting … when will I ever learn! I went into the city to have my hair-cut and walk around the new St David’s Centre and visit the new Apple Centre. I also went into work to deliver my sick-note. Both these trips involved my friends #bus28 and #bus85 (that one will be lost to anyone not following me on twitter … apologies) but again activities that signalled a return to normalcy and allowed me to chat with some of my colleagues and receive the comment that so many have been kind to observe – “you look so well” – “yes, but …” is my usual reply.

Then last week I had my visit back to UHW to have my follow-up cardiac-surgery appointment. Unfortunately, Mr K was not there. I spent about 30mins with a very pleasant Specialist Cardiac Surgery Registrar who hadn’t been part of the surgery team, didn’t like computers so hadn’t looked at any of the imagery, and who had spent c.10mins reading my file before he saw me. He was therefore relying on me to tell him how I felt, if anything was wrong, etc and couldn’t answer any of the questions I thought I might have asked about the procedure itself. I’m far too squeamish to go and watch a video of the operation, but there are a couple of questions that remain unanswered in my mind. Which of the obstructed arteries were not by-passed? What are the consequences of not “doing them”? How does the use of the mammary artery actually work? How did they actually get in to do the work with only one incision? Why didn’t my skin split horizontally as well as vertically? Which brings me the ghoulish issue of the scars. If anyone wants to see them (after 6 weeks, you can click here).

The remainder of the week involved house-sitting (whilst the chimney was swept and the new cable broadband connection was fitted), Australian parcel-packing (mostly done by Jenny), and preparing for and then enjoying the visit of two long-standing friends – C&L who wnated to make sure for themselves that both Jenny and I were as well as we sounded on the telephone. We had a good walk around the city on the Saturday whilst I attempted not to hear what ManU were doing to WHUFC (C being a ManU fan), and a lovely meal with them and @RuthHarrison and Ross in the Rhiwbina Juboraj in the evening.

So what have I actually learnt these last two weeks:

  1. You can read a lot about this procedure, but it doesn’t mean much until you’ve had it done. If you don’t wish to watch it being done on someone else it will leave you with unanswered questions. How you deal with that?
  2. I’ve learnt how to become less impatient, the answer is you become bored and boring. Next stage no doubt grumpy, although Jenny and the family would say I have many years of experience in that field.
  3. I have got to “get a life” that doesn’t rely quite so heavily upon technology. Although it’s been my salvation the past month or so, it’s not helping my physical recovery much; but here things are about to change I fear (see later).
  4. It’s not a good idea to keep a weekly log, if things are not significantly happening/changing. So this is the last of the posts in this format. From now on any posts will be on themes, issues and mileposts as I enter Phase III of my recovery.

Hopes and fears for Phase III – I’ve been “signed off” by the cardiac surgery team; I’m now about to start cardiac rehabilitation. It’s up to me now to get FIT. I mustn’t stretch myself, but I must push myself to the limits of my capability. I want to be fitter when I get through this thing than I was before it started. That depends upon getting fit in body and mind. It requires life-style changes and a degree of single-mindedness that I’m not that good at. I must do it for myself. There won’t be someone (Jenny for instance) looking over my shoulder to advise on where I’m letting myself down. I have to develop self-control for myself. This is not going to be easy.

Objectives – Cardiac Rehabilitation will be a new experience. I’m not a gym person. I never liked PE at school. I always preferred team games, or ones where you competed as an individual (squash, tennis, badminton). The idea of circuits etc. does not appeal to me; the possible alternative however (as C suggested to me) of water aerobics would be an absolute nightmare. Thankfully that’s not on offer at The Heath. I need to start thinking about getting some structure back into my life; some routine; some organisation. It’ll soon be Christmas and then after that New Year and a return to work. Must get my mind thinking in those terms. I must also think how I can support Jenny as she enters the next stage of her treatment plan. She’s been an essential part of my recovery story to date; I need to be able to return the complement and be there for her too.

Week 5 – Feeling stronger

Learning Points …

Turned out to be a “quiet” week in the end. I hadn’t set myself too stretching targets for the week, so I wasn’t too disappointed by failing to meet them. 🙂 So what did I achieve?

I spent a fair bit of Monday looking after myself which was satisfying and confidence-raising. As ever, I didn’t have to think about preparing food because Jenny had done that for me – she’s been so attentive to my needs even when she’s had to have her mind on her own hospital appointments. We went out in the camper van one afternoon – just to exercise it; did a little walking around shops – as the weather wasn’t that encouraging for outdoor walking; sampled the new coffee shop in the village – first impressions, good; and the highlight for me was having lunch with TW at the Black Griffin in Lisvane with a quick bus-ride back home.

Other than that we set-up new mobile phone contracts with O2 and I arranged PAC codes to move away from Orange – for the first time ever we’ll be able to use mobile phones INSIDE our house, instead of running upstairs, into the garden, or into the street. I can recommend enforced home-rest for the purpose of “sorting things out”. Think we’ll be saving money in the long-run, but at least we should be seeing service-improvement and a rationalisation of service-providers as a result. I’ve also been helping friends with recommendations for home networking and pre-Christmas PC purchases which (on the back of the project I’d been doing anyway for our own set-up) was fun! Next week I really must order the new PC – that’ll be a good project to keep me busy when the weather outside is grim.

Health-wise, everything seems to be knitting together well. I saw Dr E on Thursday and am signed-off for another 4 weeks. The next important date is December 1st, when I see Mr K at The Heath. I also know now that my cardiac rehabilitation starts on December 7th – I hope that’s not too rude an awakening to my body and it’s current lack of fitness. 🙁

Family-wise, the week finished on a high with a trip down to see my mother and also my sister who travelled across to spend time with us. Great to see them both. Really so grateful to Jenny for driving us down; she must be very tired!

So what have I actually learnt this week:

  1. Practically, I’ve reviewed my medication both with my GP and the Pharmacist (I was called-in to have a Medicine Use Review when I dropped a prescription in). I’m happy with what I’m taking and will be well prepared to discuss that with the consultants when I meet with them. That’s important because I don’t want to be passive and just take the pills without questionning whether I need them, or not.
  2. “Lord of the Rings” is worth watching, but was better with a year or so between each part! I got bored with the battle scenes, and annoyed with some of the “story-telling”. Good film, but nowhere as good as the book.
  3. It is important to do things for yourself as soon as you can, and as soon as you feel confident of being able to do them. That doesn’t extend (yet) to driving – I won’t be even thinking of doing that for another couple of weeks – but taking control back of some things is vital to your recovery. So, the fish in the pond and the wild birds in the garden are pleased to see me back and looking after their feeding needs.

Hopes and fears for Week 6 – I’m finding it hard to think of any. I’ve fallen into a new routine. I recognise that I DO get tired, and now accept it. That’s not to say that I rest as much as I should, but I’m getting better in that respect. The “impatient” is becoming a bit more “patient”. So … no new hopes and fears, is that good, or bad?

Objectives – I’m looking forward to going out on Monday evening to meet-up with UK-FAM colleagues from JISC and universities. Otherwise the week looks a bit “thin”. So I must get some serious exercise, and balance that with some real rest so that I’m looking in good form when I go back to UHW the following week. Also … I suspect I’ve got no excuse for not getting Christmas preparations started and for starting to move the back-log of reading that’s piling-up.