Hello Hospital, My Old Friend

I’ve just got home from hospital. There’s no need to overly worry yourself: I’m OK, all things considered. Here’s the story …

In the middle of last night, while I was at work, my right arm began to feel uncomfortable. My fingertips became numb and my arm cold and tingly. It was rather like those times when you wake up in the night and realise you have been lying on your arm. So I hoped that if, like in that situation, I shook it about a bit and carried on regardless, the strange sensation would soon pass. So I did. But it didn’t.

It wasn’t sufficiently debilitating to stop me working the rest of my shift. But it was worrying. It reminded me of the sepsis incident last year which ended with me admitted to hospital hooked up to intravenous antibiotics. And it was really really annoying. 

So I finished work, headed home, crashed out for about six hours, woke up, still had the discomfort, got up, shook it about a bit, had a cup of tea, hoped it would go away, listened to the football, and was disappointed by both the result of the match and the fact that my arm was getting worse rather than better. So off I trotted to Accident and Emergency at Homerton Hospital.

After a wait that lasted about three chapters of the novel I am currently reading, the nurse and then the doc had a good look. It was the usual routine of lots of questions and checking of vital signs, followed by blood tests, prodding around and concerned looks. Fortunately, the blood test ruled out any infection. The prodding discovered that my lymph nodes were a bit on the big side, so the theory is that my oversized lymph nodes have tweaked a nerve, causing the aforementioned symptoms. 

I have to go back to the hospital a week on Monday to a clinic which will arrange an ultrasound scan of my armpit to find out what is going on. This is quite an entertaining prospect. Since ultrasound scans involve applying gel to the skin and then a hand-held device being pressed against the skin and moved around, I expect the experience to be something like having roll-on deodorant applied by someone else. This, believe it or not, is not something I have done before. The mind boggles.

In the meantime, I have to metaphoically sit tight and literally move about and exercise. And I have to be on my guard. The symptoms are thus far local: every tingle, cold feeling, numb patch and pain is located between my right boob and the fingertips of my right hand. Shoudl I start having systemic symptoms eg. temperature, dizziness, then that might indicate an infection, and that indicates the need to go legging it back to the hospital sharpish.

But here is the rub. If it is what they think it is, then it is not life-threatening or even particularly serious. But there is no simple way of sorting it out. It may involve long-term physiotherapy. It may involve long-term discomfort. And it’s my writing hand.

It seems that even when your cancer has gone, you never stop being a cancer patient.

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