You might think that no posts from this quarter means no interesting news. You’d be wrong…
Mostly I’ve been so busy and so high and unable to concentrate due to the effects of steroids, that I’ve either not found/made the time, or not been able to harness my thoughts coherently enough to write blog entries.
My friends who use Facebook will have a better idea of what’s going on as I post regular brief updates there, but today I feel the need to share more fully here, so I’m taking advantage of a day at home to update my poor abandoned blog.
On Tuesday, I was volunteering with Anthony Nolan at a fundraising and recruitment event at the George Elliott building of Nottingham Trent university. The fundraising was being done via a cake sale, organised by Pam, who works for Anthony Nolan’s cord blood bank, on the university campus. The cakes looked gorgeous and the two I ate were really delicious and worth every penny I contributed… A chocolate fudge cake, made and donated by Beeston Bakehouse and a gingerbread square, baked by an anonymous baker. From the sale they raised £208. That would cover just two people to be signed up onto the stem cell/bone marrow register. Yes, it really is that expensive.
So, not one to pass up an opportunity, I shall shamelessly use this post as another chance to encourage you to register as a potential donor, or support in other ways, by volunteering, fundraising or inviting R&BE to come into your school/college/university/organisation to speak to students or any groups of people aged 16-30.
And again, if you’re over 30, you can sign up via the British Bone Marrow Registry, which is part of the Blood Service or Delete Blood Cancer.
Meanwhile, back to my story… I was busy going into the café to talk to students, giving out information about stem cell donation and the work of Anthony Nolan and where possible, encouraging them to sign up at our table in the foyer.
Recruiting or trying to recruit at a University is very different from the sessions we deliver in schools with Register & Be a Lifesaver [R&BE], where we usually get support from the school and teachers, where we speak to a classroom or lecture hall full of students, with a professional presentation, including a personal story, that generally has a very powerful effect.
For example, last week we were at Bilborough College in Nottingham – a place which has a long history of excellent support for Anthony Nolan and R&BE. A whole team of volunteers presented every day to all Year 12 students, followed up by a recruitment session on Friday afternoon. We succeeded in recruiting 140 new potential donors onto the register. When I arrived on Friday, there was a queue of young people patiently waiting to sign up and spit. With any luck, one of those may be a match for someone who’s currently waiting for a transplant, maybe even someone I know.
So, there I am, popping into the café, with my faithful photographer friend, Russell beside me, to capture some publicity shots of the event. I look around and head for tables with a number of people sat around. Speaking to a group is much easier and they are more likely to engage and ask questions, and if I speak to six or eight people, it’s possible at least one of them might actually sign up, and with any luck, encourage/drag their friends along too.
So around 11:30, I step through the serving area and down a single step to the area where people are sitting, chatting, eating, drinking, playing games. I boldly go up to a table and ask if I may bend their ears for a few minutes. So far, this strategy always works. I’ve never yet been denied, unless the students in question were rushing off to a lecture.
I spoke to a few tables, with a mostly enthusiastic response. Feeling flushed with success and needing a break, I began heading back towards the foyer. I didn’t remember the step and thought there was a ramp there, so I didn’t step up, but instead tripped up the step and landed on the floor, somewhat shaken and hurting my hand as I landed. Ow! It was sore, really sore and soon began to swell up. Charlotte, the Marrow Recruitment Manager who was responsible for the recruitment aspect of the event, kindly procured an ice bag for me from the First Aider on duty. I took two Paracetamol and spent the rest of the afternoon with the ice bag clutched onto my gradually more and more swollen finger/hand.
By 2:30, my hand was very sore, very swollen and my finger immovable. Fortunately, on site they have a student medical centre, so I went to the Sunrise Medical Centre, to find out if I could see a doctor. Fortunately I could.
While I checked in, I found out that my own much valued GP, Dr Carolyn Lott, is a part-time doctor at the campus practice. Sadly she is only there on a Friday so I saw one of the two full-time doctors, Dr Rashbal Ghattaora, a very pleasant, approachable man.
When he asked about my medical history and what, if any, medication I was on, I warned him this could take a while. I took a deep breath and reeled off my whole story and everything I’m taking, which if you recall is quite a long list, as mentioned in a blog entry I posted a few weeks ago, entitled Not Normal.
Dr Rashbal dealt very well with my probably unexpectedly long narrative, showing an appropriate amount of respect, medical understanding and comprehension that the combination of myeloma, osteoporosis and steroids may have compromised my bone strength. His opinion, without any hard evidence, purely based on the colour and size of my now blueish fat hand, was that I probably had a fracture.
In fact, he said if he were a betting man, he’d bet on it. He also said that the fracture might be in the finger, which would be easier to heal, unless it had dislocated, in which case it might require fixing with small wires. Yikes! Or it could be one of the metacarpals in my hand, in which case, I would probably need a cast.
He sent me off to have an x-ray before going to A&E, which is now called the Emergency Department. Having a referral to x-ray from the doctor eliminated the need to wait in Emergency beforehand, which was very thoughtful of him. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long in x-ray or Emergency. Thank goodness it wasn’t a Friday night!
Fortunately, Russell, the photographer friend I mentioned earlier, had picked me up from home and driven me to the Uni and was able and willing to chauffeur me to the hospital. I may not have been able, possibly would not have been permitted, to drive myself. Russell was a real star. He not only drove me to the Park & Ride, but came with me on the MediLink bus to the hospital, sat with me in the x-ray waiting room, came down to the Emergency Dept. with me and sat waiting again while I was seen. Later he drove me home and came in with me to make sure I was okay before going home himself.
In another strange twist of fate, when I saw the triage nurse in Emergency, I mentioned living quite locally, in Attenborough, whereupon she asked which road. When I told her, she looked amazed and asked what number. We discovered that she used to live but four doors down from me and had only moved away a couple of years ago, with her twin boys, who I remembered very clearly and realised I’d not seen for some time. Unsurprisingly, they have not been at the forefront of my mind over the past couple of years. It was a nice little interlude.
Meanwhile, the x-rays showed that yes, there was a fracture to the proximal phalange of the middle finger of my left hand. To a lay person, that’s the first bone in the middle finger, from the hand to the first knuckle. My ex-neighbour simply applied a two-finger stretchy bandage to the fractured finger, splinting it onto the third finger. It’s called ‘buddy-taping’, which quite appealed to me. My two little buddy fingers helping each other out, like good buddies do. She gave me a sling and asked me to return to the fracture clinic the following morning.
I had two anxieties:
1. not being able to drive… My friend is working away and while I might be able to manage some journeys by taxi or public transport, the prospect was really not appealing and would make all journeys a lot longer and more tiring and ultimately would mean I’d have to give up some activities and commitments.
2. not being able to go dog sledding on my forthcoming trip to Finland in just four weeks’ time… and no insurance arranged yet. Bugger!
The next day, my relief was palpable when I discovered that I could in fact drive, with only slight difficulty taking the handbrake off and needing to use the palm and heel of my hand for gear changes. I drove myself to the hospital and turned up at fracture clinic, only to find that despite waiting at the desk in Emergency the previous afternoon while an appointment was made, it had not been entered on the system. I had to wait almost an hour to be seen.
Fortunately, the doctor confirmed what the nurse had told me the day before, that all I needed was to keep it elevated and use a buddy bandage for the next four weeks and it would heal. Just in time for Finland! Hurray! I was promptly and happily discharged. Simple! Phew!
It’s difficult to drive, prepare food, wash dishes, type, wash, get dressed. etc. with a hand in a sling. Even when not in a sling, many things are difficult, as I have lost a lot of strength in my left hand – temporarily, I hope! I’m not keeping my hand elevated as much as I probably should, but I do keep it raised when I’m at rest and I’ve been sleeping with my hand up on a pillow at night.
I’m glad to see that the swelling is gradually reducing, despite being such a non-compliant patient. However the colour of my hand looks much worse than it did on the day itself. I’m watching it change and looking forward to the time when the blue becomes greeny-yellow… Just for the variety!