Fighting fatigue

I’m not writing much at present because when I’m not having meals or treatment I’m tempted to lie down for a quick snooze.

I’m continuing to have very poor nights with about three to four hours sleep. I go to sleep at about 11, once the noise of staff changes and people going to bed has ended, but I invariably wake up one and a half hours later. Then a mixture of mild shoulder pain and back discomfort prevent me going back to sleep. Last night I spent a few hours reading or half dozing in the comfy armchair in the area at the end of our corridor. That’s where I am now–much the comfiest place with support for my back and shoulder.

The nurses and physio are concerned but so far at a loss as to what to do. Today the physio took notes about how I felt in the night and I think the doctor will be reviewing my treatment again.

Meanwhile, reasonable progress on the convalescence front: the 20 odd staples were removed from my shoulder a couple of days ago and the wound is healing well, which means I may be able to start treatment in the pool next week. The physio measured how far she could move my arm today and says the vertical movement has improved since last week.

One of the salutary things about being in a clinic like this is seeing people coping with much worse crises in their lives. I only see the various people with major handicaps like amputations from afar, but I have got to know three women whose lives are not at all easy.

One is a young, good looking woman of about 40 who sits at my table. She has had a back operation and is clearly still in some pain, But more serious, I think she suffers from psychological problems, eats poorly, sleeps badly and is permanently tired and depressed. This afternoon she says she fell in the gym and nobody showed any concern and the doctors reaction was that it is up to her to get better. This may be true, but my mealtime neighbour and I are very concerned that they are discharging her at the weekend. She lives on her own and is in no mental or physical state to be at home. Our view is that she should be sent to a convalescent home, Preferably where there is some form of counselling service.

I think I have already mentioned the woman who sits opposite me at lunch who had a couple of back operations and in the course of one an epidural which went wrong and has left her with one leg paralysed and the other not working well. She faces a future in a wheelchair but is tackling her physiotherapy with great courage and cheerfulness. I’m glad to say there seems to be a very small improvement this week.

The third patient facing a difficult future is my friend the maths teacher whom I now know is called Catherine. She had major injuries from a car accident–she now recognises that a Renault Clio is no match for a hefty 4 x 4! Her problem is that her injured leg keeps developing infections, preventing further surgery. If the next attempt at the surgery doesn’t take place she faces the possibility of amputation. She is only 50 and for the past two years has had to put her life as a teacher on hold.

The guy in the wheelchair who constantly wants to talk English with me also has serious problems, But like most people here, I have learnt to try and keep out of his way. He too has psychological problems and is almost certainly also on drugs. A good reminder that it is wise to lock one’s door when leaving one’s room, something I was not able to do when in le vigan two years ago and where the corridors were full of lost souls.

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