Caring for the carer.

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The last few years I have probably been more unwell than I have ever been in the previous 40 years.

It all started to come to a head three years ago when I had my gall bladder removed – after being rushed into hospital by ambulance because the pain I was describing sounded like I was having a heart attack. The difference having that done was amazing, and other than having to take an acid suppressant every day, it’s over and done with. In fact it is lovely to not wake up and feel so sick every morning.

Then last year I finally had my tonsils removed. Sounds silly at my age. I have suffered with tonsillitis for as long as I can remember, and my tonsils were a sorry mess from decades of infections attaching to them. It of course didn’t all go smoothly, and I ended up being readmitted a week after the op as it started to bleed quite badly.

I felt quite unwell for ages after that, but put it down to the recovery of the blood lose. However it didn’t seem to improve and eventually I decided to seek medical advice. There is one GP I like at our practise – I have a real fear of doctors, probably because all my life it hasn’t matter what is wrong with me, it would be cured by loosing weight. She is very down to earth, and therefore quite easy to talk to. After a few visits and several armfuls of blood taken, it was established I was dangerously anaemic – anaemia is something I have suffered with for as long as I can remember, but it has never before been investigated as to why. I had an endoscopy and a colonoscopy to check I had no internal bleeding – this was all clear. It was therefore concluded it was the lack of iron in my diet – I’ve never cared for red meat, combined with a body that finds it difficult to absorb iron, that was the under lying problem. I was put on iron pills – now this is what has happened every time I’ve been anaemic before, but the difference here was, the doctor wanted regular blood tests to see what effect they were having. When my iron levels were up to an acceptable level, I had to stop taking them – again what had happened before, but the GP continued blood tests for a few more months to make sure the levels stayed up, and they seemed to be doing so.     I was given the all clear.

Recently  I have been feeling run down, or having the “can’t be arseds” as it is otherwise known. Everything has been a chore, and I have to admit to doing the bare minimum to keep the family functioning. I thought I was feeling run down because of the extra burden of looking after my Mum, but it was more than that, I was tired but couldn’t sleep.     I realised it was a situation that couldn’t go on and went back to the doctors, having made up my mind as to what the problem was. I was instantly given a prescription for iron pills and four viles of blood were taken for testing. The doctor agreed with me that it sounded like I was anaemic again. When the results came back, my iron levels weren’t low enough to call it anaemia, but they were considerably down from the last test I had 6 months ago. I am to continue on the iron pills for another 4 months before the next blood tests, when they will review it. Hopefully they will see sense and even if the levels go back up to an acceptable range, they will keep me on them, even at a lower regular dose.

My other problem at the moment is my hands. My knuckles to be more precise. They have been really sore and aching recently. When I asked the doctor to look at them, she confirmed my suspicions that it was arthritis. She has given me some anti-inflammatory gel to rub in, which isn’t at all practical on your hands, and the funny thing is that the instructions with the tube state to wash your hands after use! I’m not really surprised by being told it is arthritis. My knee was diagnosed about 5 years ago, and has good days and bad days, but you just get on with it. It does worry me a little, because my Mum was riddle with arthritis before she was 50, and 4 hips and 2 knees later, there is nothing more they can do for her. I can only hope that by the time I am ready for my knee replacement it will be an even easier procedure that it has already evolved into.

For now though, I will keep taking the tablets – I already feel brighter after just under a week on them. I will keep my hands warm – well, try to get them warm, as I have always had cold hands – a sign of a warm heart I believe they say. I will stop moaning and get on with it, as there is nothing else I can do.

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