What’s up with Al?

People keep having questions about what’s going on and it feels rude to direct them to read my timeline, so I thought best to write down a quick explanation which I can pin and people can read if they’re arsed to do so.

On Thursday evening I went to bed with a bit of a tummy ache. That was five days ago although it feels a bit like last year now. Friday morning early hours I woke up in agony. Pain so fierce I made my peace with the universe and prayed for the sweet release of death. Death did not come.

Saturday morning I turned to medically trained friends to be told to man up, it was constipation, I was full of s£!t – nothing new there. So I called in sick and took myself off to the chemist for some laxatives. Home and a dose and back to bed. The pain came in waves, crashing over me, making me crawl into a foetal position and curse fate for the anguish I was experiencing.

I slipped into an uneasy sleep. When I woke there was a sickness upon me and I staggered to the bathroom. Then followed the comedy of trying to work out which end needed release the most. A lurid yellow liquid emanated from my mouth, a thin brown gruel from the other. This was not constipation.

I called 111 and answered their questions ruling out heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, liver failure, broken limbs, the common cold, and a multitude of other diseases and illnesses. At the conclusion of the call the operator requested an emergency ambulance and I put the phone down and got dressed.

I struggled downstairs, double-bent, cold-sweat, shivering. I stumbled to the back door and ejected a further stream of ectoplasmic stomach matter onto the concrete outside. I then made me way to the sofa where I fell into a restless slumber awaiting my saviours in green.

When the ambulance arrived I started to feel better. The pain was subsiding, I was able to string more then a half dozen words together before retching, they said they’d take me in ‘just to be sure’. I arrived in A&E and immediately started to feel like a fraud. This is where sick people came; not me. I was whisked away into a side room. The nurse came and took my blood pressure and temperature. The doctor who came next, a lovely young Asian chap – can’t have been older than 16 (child genius no doubt) – came and took some blood, poked at my belly then fingered my bum hole. I was sent for an X-ray and informed my intestine was inflamed. The blood test showed elevated white blood cells. They told me this was a sign of the body fighting an infection.

I was waiting in A&E, starting to come round, starting to feel fine, starting to plan my responses to embarrassing questions about why I’d taken a day off because I needed to poo. I was feeling hungry too. I planned what I would eat that night. It was a false alarm. I was going home. I felt fine after all.

The next person who walked in introduced himself as Jan Longname, “one of the surgeons”…

Well that escalated quickly!

“We can’t send you home. You need to stay awhile. There is a blockage on your bowel.”

I was transported to a ward and readied for a hospital stay. Stockings issued, canular in arm, gown on. IV connected. The same evening I was taken for a CT scan then back up to the ward and to bed. Shortly after midnight I was ambushed by the nurses and had a tube pushed up my nose and down my throat into my belly. A bag was connected to the end of a tube and I was told I could drink water in small sips only. Everything that went in through my mouth came out through the tube and into the bag. A frustrating, futile task.

Saturday morning the consultant sentenced me to twenty four hours of this. No food, abed with IV drip, only to drink water, watching everything I put in drain out into a tube and bag connected to my nose. Monitoring and measuring all fluids, oral and IV in; bag and piss pot out. He told me there was a kink or twist in my bowel. Nothing foreign or frightening.

Sunday morning a further twenty four hours was added to my time. Monday morning another stretch tacked onto the end. It’s only been through the support of friends, family and lovely twitter folk that I’ve remained sane though this.

Them and Phil the Reiki Master, my ward-mate, but more on him another time.

It’s now Tuesday – five days later – and eventually, finally, some progress. The tube is still in but the bag is off the end and the tube is sealed. I’m allowed to drink tea, water or juice and the aim is to see if it stays where it should. If it does I may be allowed to eat something at tea time (5 hours from now). Soup or similar, nothing substantial. If that goes well then they might take the tube out tonight. All steady progress towards discharge.

It’s a terribly frustrating process but I understand this is preferable to the alternative which is surgery. They want my body to fix itself – with a little bit of minor medical intervention rather than them having to fix it for me – with a potentially major surgical intervention. I am their hands. I have to trust them.

But I’m still playing the waiting game. Still unclear of when they will let me leave.

And all I can do is dream about food…

The thin blue line

I’m going to walk into work tomorrow knowing that the thin blue line is even thinner following the attacks in London yesterday. One of my colleagues was stabbed and killed by a terrorist. This is someone I have never met, someone I never would have known, someone I could have walked passed on the street, yet his death is felt by me.

I know the sacrifice he made. I know the nights he worked, the friends and family who worried about him, the members of the public who once upon a time sneered at him and spat at the uniform he wore – yet he did his job all the same. I know the sense of duty he felt when he went into the dark places. I know the courage he felt when he ventured into the unknown. I know the feeling of pride he felt in knowing he protected the public – even those who dismissed his role and responsibilities.

When there was danger he ran towards it, he confronted it. When everyone else ran for their lives he stepped up and was counted amongst heroes. This is something which the police and emergency services do, day in, day out.

But is is more than just something they do. It isn’t just a job, it’s a calling, a brotherhood of men and women, a family. It is not just something they do, no, it is much more than that. It is something they are.

So my thoughts are with this man, and his family, his friends, his colleagues. Those who know him. Those who saw him each day. Those who counted on him as part of their lives and part of their team. My thoughts are with him and others like him who paid the ultimate price in service of their country and community. Spare a thought, today, in the quiet times, for the sacrifice of this ordinary man who died doing something extraordinary.