Tuesday 30 April 2024

Side Room 1, Ward 24 (Part 2)

Despite putting everything (e.g. iPad, iPhone, and Kindle) down onto my bedside table and having my room’s light switched off before midnight, I just could not get to sleep. The pain in my left leg caused by the special tight sock that had been put on it was so great that I just could not get comfortable … and seemed to get worse as the night went on. In the end, I removed it at 3.30am, but only after a struggle to do so.

During those dark and painful hours, I felt my old enemy - the Black Dog - sniffing around and it was difficult to clear my mind of very negative thoughts … which did not help me to sleep. I remember looking at my watch at 3.45am … and I must have gone to sleep soon afterwards as the next thing I can remember was being woken up for my early morning blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature checks at 5.00am.

I feel asleep again, only to be woken up at 6.30am for my morning medications to be given to me. This was followed by another hour or so of sleep … and then it was time for breakfast! I could barely stay awake enough to eat … and then it was time for my bed bath and change of bedclothes. This was followed by yet another blood pressure etc., check, and it wasn’t until 9.30am that I felt able to relax and recover.

I spent the rest of the morning reading, resting, and listening to military music ... and waiting for news about my hoist … although as it was Sunday, I didn’t expect to hear any! Lunch arrived just after midday, along with my midday meds.

Once lunch was over, I spent the time until Sue arrived watching a number of YouTube videos about the WATERLOO UNCOVERED archaeological digs that have take place on the site of the battlefield as well as binge watching some videos made by BUDGET MODEL RAILWAYS.

Sue came in to see me at 4.15pm and stayed for ninety minutes. We spent most of the time discussing the practicalities of my going home, assuming that I was finally discharged on Monday or - as increasingly looked likely - Tuesday. We were very lucky in that the sister on duty was able to answer a lot of our questions. Apparently, once the hoist is delivered, I will be prepared for discharge. This will involve moving me to the discharge area of the hospital to await transport home. On average this takes between two to eight hours as it depends upon whether the appropriate transport and trained personnel are available.

As had become the norm during my past few days in hospital, I spent the rest of the evening reading and watching TV programmes and YouTube videos. I settled down to sleep at about midnight, hoping that overnight I’d get a message that the hoist would be delivered on Monday.

Surprisingly, I slept quite well for a change, and didn’t wake up until my usual 6,30am blood pressure, oxygen level and temperature checks. I then dozed until 8.00am, by which time any message about the hoist being delivered that day should have arrived … but it hadn’t. I ate breakfast, which was an interesting experience as the ward had had no spoons delivered with the food that was being served and I had to ‘learn’ how to eat Weetabix and milk using a wooden disposable fork!

By 9.00am I had been given my daily medications and I began to mentally prepare myself to face my nineteenth day (and possibly twentieth night!) in hospital. According to a parliamentary reply in Hansard back in early 2023, it costs the average hospital £903 per day to house a non-surgery patient, which means - to date - I’ve cost the NHS just over £16,250, not including the cost of my medications, treatment, X-rays etc. When you look at this from the point of view of getting value for money, had the hoist had been delivered to my home at the same time as the bed was (i.e. a week ago!), the hospital would not have had to have spent just over £6,300 looking after me when I could have been at home … and someone else could have been using the bed I am in.

Sue called me at 11.30am with some very welcome news … I was going home! After some discussion it had been decided that rather me stay in bed in hospital waiting for the hoist to be delivered, I might as well do my waiting in bed at home.

As soon as this decision had been made, the complex process of discharging me from hospital began. The necessary medications were ordered from the pharmacy, checked, and delivered to the ward. At the same time the specialist transport team was booked and my care package finalised … and then things began to unravel!

Apparently, the council - who were providing the carers - needed more notice and would not have anyone available until the next day … so I could not be discharged! Emotionally, this felt like the equivalent of being in a motor vehicle that was moving at very high speed and had then done an emergency stop. I quite literally felt as if all the air in my lungs had been expelled in an instant, and that I was struggling to breath normally again,

I didn’t think that things could get any more stressful … and then they did.

Sue got a phone call just after 2.00pm to the effect that they were going to deliver the much-needed hoist later that day. At approximately the same time, I had a visit for one of the council’s care coordinators who informed me that the ‘free’ carer support was actually means tested, and that only the first three days were free! After that, we were expected to pay a contribution based on an assessment of our income and assets. If you have more than £23,250 in savings and assets, you are expected to pay the full cost. This was a bit of a shock as I thought that all reablement care was free. This was something that I would need to investigate further.

Sue didn’t visit me as she had to wait at home for the hoist to be delivered … which it was at just before 6.00pm. It was finally assembled by 6.20pm … and it is huge!

Now that all the equipment was in place, I finally felt as if the end of my time in hospital was in sight. So far I had spent nineteen night sleeping in a hospital bed and hoped that the twentieth would be the last.

Sunday 28 April 2024

Side Room 1, Ward 24 (Part 1)

Before I managed to get to sleep on the previous evening, my sudden change of hospital ward was explained to me. Apparently, the number of people requiring Accident & Emergency care has increased dramatically that evening, with the result that ambulances were stacking up at the entrance to the A&E Department. As the hospital ward I was in - Ward 22 - was part of the urgent care section of the hospital, I was ‘bumped’ out to a non-urgent care ward so that my bed space could be given to someone who was in the CDU (Clinical Decision Unit). This, in turn, meant that someone in A&E could be moved to the CDU. It appears that this had been planned to take place earlier in the day but that the bed space in Ward 24 wasn’t vacated until late in the evening.

I must admit that I was not happy about the sudden change of hospital ward, but at least I wasn’t the poor soul who was discharged from hospital late on what was a very cold April night!

I slept from 1.00am until 6.00pm with a single short break at about 4.00pm. My day started with the obligatory blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature check, after which I was left alone until 6.30am. I was then informed that my bed bath would be delayed until later in the day as the ward was understaffed.

I had breakfast at 8.00am, followed by my daily medication. It was then a case of waiting to see what would happen, I finished reading 1864 and moved on to a collection of shorts stories that featured the French detective, Maigret. I had my bed bath and change of bedclothes just after 10.15am, and then waited - increasingly impatiently - for news of the hoist. By 11.00am Sue had been advised by the hospital not to go out as the contractor might deliver the hoist without any prior notice. This was extremely inconvenient for her but she did as requested.

I saw the consultant on duty in Ward 24 at 11.30am, and he confirmed that I’d be going home as soon as the hoist was delivered. He also prescribed statins to reduce my cholesterol and explained that they were in the process of scheduling some neurological tests on my left leg that will take place at King’s College Hospital.

Lunch was served at 12,30pm, and after checking in with Sue as to whether or not she had heard any news about the hoist being delivered (she hadn’t), I settled down to read some Maigret stories and to do one of the crosswords in the free newspaper that had been handed out to patients before lunch.

After lunch I read and dozed until 3.15pm when two porters arrived to take me down to the Fracture Clinic. I joined the queue there … and was then sent to the X-Ray Department so that the clinic had images that would help them decide what to do with my cast. The X-ray showed that the break needed a small amount of manipulation, and as a result the old cast was taken off, the break was gently realigned, and a new red cast put on.

I was then sent back to have the whole thing X-rayed again to make sure that everything was alright. This took almost three hours in total and I arrived back in Ward 24 just as dinner was being served at 6.30pm.

Because it was so late, I FaceTimed Sue and listened to her recount her conversations with the Occupational Therapist. The latter had now ordered two hoists, one order being marked as ‘Urgent’ … but the contractor hadn’t even acknowledged the orders and had not answered any of the emails they’d been sent. This meant that I’m was unlikely to be discharged before Monday evening … and that it may even be later that week!

After such a relatively stressful day, I felt very tired and spent the evening resting, reading, and watching TV programmes and YouTube videos on my iPad.

I slept from midnight to 3.00am and again from 4.00am to 6.00am when my blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature were taken. I then dozen on and off until 8.00am when it was time to order breakfast. Whilst breakfast was being served, I was given my daily medications and checked up on my emails. It was then time for my bed bath and change of bedclothes, after which my seventeenth day in hospital began to unfold.

I spent until lunchtime reading some more of George Simenon’s Maigret short stories, writing up my blog, reading their people’s blogs, and watching YouTube videos. I also managed to have a short chat with the Nepali nursing sister who is charge of the ward.

Lunch was served at 12.30pm, after which I spent some time reading and dozing until Sue arrived at 4.15pm. We had a long chat about the hoist situation, and Sue informed me that the care plan was due to come into effect on Monday evening in the expectation that the hoist will be delivered by then and I would have been discharged from hospital. We shared a coffee and a sausage roll during her visit, which lasted about ninety minutes. She sent me a WhatsApp message when she got home to tell me that she’d got back safely and that the hospital car park charges had gone up by 10% from £1.50 to £1.65 per hour!

Dinner was served at 6,15pm, and after I’d taken my evening medications, I settled down to write up my blog, read a number of other blogs, and watch some TV programmes and YouTube videos on my iPad. This kept me occupied for most of the evening, and I was ready to go to sleep not long after 11.30pm.

Saturday 27 April 2024

Thank God for the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle!

Looking back over the past weeks I have spent in hospital, I doubt that I would have coped without my iPhone, iPad, and Kindle. Modern hospitals no longer seem to be fitted with TVs or radios, nor do volunteers bring round a library trolly with books and magazines on. Patients are very much thrown back onto their own resources to keep themselves amused during their incarceration. (I can now see why my father always referred to other people in his care home as ‘fellow inmates’!)

Visiting hours are 3.00pm to 8.00pm, which are reasonable compared to when I was younger, when they were often for an hour or possibly two each day. However, not all visitors can stay that length of time (your life may be 'on hold' whilst you are in hospital, but their’s isn’t!), and unless they come in relays, the chance is that the best one can hope for is a couple of hours of time each day with one’s visitors.

The iPhone and iPad have enabled me to have access to the internet and, in particular, my emails, my WhatsApp groups, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube videos. My Kindle has many hundreds of books on it and I can add to my reading list at the press of a button. Without these I would have had to rely on Sue bringing in books and magazines for me to read … which is not something that is always easy to do when your confined to bed.

So, thank God for the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle. They’ve probably saved me from going doolally!

Doolally is the shortened version of the British Army slang noun 'the doolally tap', which loosely meant 'camp fever' and alluded to the apparent madness suffered by bored soldiers waiting to be repatriated to Britain after finishing their tour of duty in India. (Deolali/Doolally was the site of a large British Army transit camp, military prison, and fever hospital.) By the 1940s this had been widely shortened to just 'doolally', and was used as an adjective meaning mad or insane.

Friday 26 April 2024

Bed B, Side Room 4, Ward 22 (Part 4)

My sleep was yet again rather spasmodic. I fell asleep just after midnight, but was woken up at around 2.30am by flashing yellow lights that were outside the window. This was accompanied by the sounds of heavy machinery being used. I have no idea what was going on, but it sounded like the sort of machinery that is used to repair the roads … and the one that runs next to the hospital certainly needed repairing!

This went on for over an hour and once it had stopped I was able to get back to sleep … only to be woken up at 5.30am for a bed bath and change of bedclothes. I then slept until 6.45am, when I was again woken up, this time for blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature checks. After that I dozed until 7.30am, when the person who takes the lunch orders arrived in the room!

At this point I gave up the pretence of trying to sleep as I knew that breakfast, the distribution of morning medications, and further tests were going to take place.

By 10.00am everything seemed to calm down in the ward. I understood that the previous day - Tuesday 23rd April - had been a very bust day in the A&E Department and that as a result, the CDU (Clinical Decision Unit) was jammed full. I don’t know if hospitals have a term for when their capacity is pushed to the limit and beyond, but on the Indian railways this is referred to as being ‘super dense crush load’!

Lunch arrived just after midday, and once I had eaten I spent an hour sending and answering various WhatsApp messages. I then watched the lunchtime news on BBC One. One of the main items covered concerned five Household Cavalry mounts that had been spooked by the noise of building work, thrown their riders, and galloped away. They had all been recaptured, but two made it to Limehouse, which is five miles from the initial incident.

Something similar happened in our area of London back in January 2021 when some horses from the Royal Horse Artillery were spooked by what I remember as being an impatient car driver, and escaped. Luckily, they were also recaptured fairly quickly and suffered only minor injuries … unlike their riders, six of whom ended up in hospital.

After the news I read some more chapters from 1864 and listened to some music. Sue arrived at 3.50pm and stayed for a couple of hours. Thankfully she brought me in an iced cafe latter as I was getting a bit fed up drinking nothing but water and builder’s tea! We discussed how things were progressing - which was nowhere at present - and what we would do once I was back home. It looked increasingly likely this would not be until after the next weekend, which would have made my hospital stay nearly three weeks long!

Dinner was served soon after Sue left, and as I had done on the previous evenings, I then read, watched BBC TV programmes on iPlayer (including THE REPAIR SHOP), and YouTube videos on my iPad until about midnight.

I will never understand the logic of waking a patient up during the night to find out how they are and to take their blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature. It happened to me twice last night (at 12.30am and 5.30am) and interrupted what would otherwise have been a six-hour-long sleep. I did manage to doze off again after I was given my morning bed bath at 6.30am, but by 7.20am I was fully awake and ready to order my breakfast.

This arrived at 8.30am, and was followed soon afterwards by a visit from a somewhat confused patient from another part of the ward. Besides asking what I thought of ‘this flea pit hotel’, he meandered somewhat unsteadily to the window and remarked that he could see the cemetery across the road. The staff gently persuaded him to return to his own room, although he was reluctant to do so. Excitement over, things returned to normal on the ward.

At 10.15am I was seen by the medical consultant, who was happy with my progress and that I’ve not picked up any secondary infections. (Apparently - according to the doctor - hospitals are often full of people with all sorts of illnesses that can be passed on to the unsuspecting. I think that this was by way of joking banter … or at least, I hoped that it was!) We had a chat about when I was likely to go home, and it looks as if Monday 30th April is the earliest day that this will happen.

One of the staff had brought in a pile of free daily papers, and I spent some of the time before lunch reading the news and doing the crossword puzzles. Funnily enough, I found the cryptic one easier than the quick one to complete, which no doubt says something about my mind.

Lunch arrived at 12.30pm, and when my tray was collected the senior nurse informed me that they were preparing the discharge package I would need in the expectation that I would be leaving either later that day or on Friday 26th April. This was news to me, but it appeared that the hospital had put pressure on the equipment supply contractor to get a hoist delivered to my home as soon as possible. I informed Sue of this conversation and she prepared a bag of clothes for me to change into should the need arise, (I’ve been in hospital gowns since I was admitted and they are not suitable wear for me to be transported home in.)

Sue came to see me at just after 4.00am and stayed until 5.40pm. Apparently, she had now spoken to the Head of Occupational Therapy so often that they were now first name terms! A hoist has been ordered for a second time and the hospital expected it to be delivered tomorrow.

Dinner was served at 6.00pm and soon afterwards my roommate had his numerous dressings replaced and he was discharged into the care of his niece. His bed space did not remain vacant for very long as a new roommate was installed just after 9.00pm.

During the course of the evening I watched a series of TV programmes by Lucy Worsley about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as a YouTube video by Professor Phil Sabin about his FIGHTER DUEL LIGHT wargame. By 10.45pm I was beginning to feel rather tired, and after reading a couple more chapters of 1864, I went to sleep … or at least tried to.

In fact, I fell asleep very quickly because at 11.25pm I was woken up and told that I was going to be moved to another ward! By 11.30pm everything had been cleared from my locker and ten minutes later I was in Ward 24, Side Room 1!

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Bed B, Side Room 4, Ward 22 (Part 3)

I slept from midnight until 3.30am and again from 4.00am until 6.30am … which is a distinct improvement. Perhaps - after many years - I was finally getting used to sleeping on my back rather than my left side!

I was given a bed bath and my bedclothes were changed at 6.30am, after which I dozed until my morning blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature checks were done at 7.15am. I dozed again until 8.00am, when my breakfast order was taken, and whilst I waited for it to arrive, I caught up with my overnight messages and emails. One of the former informed me that the equipment I would need when I went home was to be delivered that morning, so I contacted Sue to let her know. We are assuming that once it has been delivered and assembled, a care plan will be put in place, after which I should be discharged.

The delivery did not go as planned … again! The bed and air mattress were delivered and assembled, but the hoist was ‘out of stock’. Because this was needed to get me in and out of bed, I couldn’t go home until it was. Sue reported this to the Operational Therapist and I informed the doctor who came to see me at 11.30am to check up on my progress.

The doctor told me that the Neurology Department wanted me to undertake a number of tests, but did not require me to remain in hospital whilst they took place. The hospital had hoped to discharge me as soon as possible, but until the hoist and the associated carers were in place, this was going to be impossible. The doctor then informed me that this would be reviewed later in the day and that it was hoped that a solution could be found.

I ate lunch at 12.30pm and then read for a time, hoping for positive news. I heard nothing, and when Sue arrived at just after 4.00pm we discussed what options were available to us. Other than hiring our own hoist - which would enable me to go home - we could not come up with a workable solution, and doing that might affect any NHS or local government funding of any care I needed after I was discharged. In the end we had to resign ourselves to me staying in hospital until a hoist can be provided … which might not be for some time.

I ate dinner soon after so Sue left to go home, and spent the rest of the evening reading, answering emails and messages, and watching videos and TV programmes (particularly the excellent BLUE LIGHTS on BBC One) on my iPad.

I slept very badly on Monday night. For some reason my stoma was playing up and I didn’t get to sleep until after 2.30am … only to be woken up at 5.30am for a bed bath and change of bedclothes. I’d only just dozed off again when it was time for my first blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature check of the day. I did manage a short sleep from 6.15am until 7.15am when I had to give my lunch order. By this time I was awake and feeling cold, only to discover that my roommate had opened the window for some fresh air and then gone back to sleep!

Breakfast was served at 8.30am and followed by the daily issue of medications. Other than a brief visit from a doctor who wanted to check up on me, I only saw a couple of nurses between breakfast time and lunchtime. I used the time to catch up on my sleep and to read a chunk of 1864, a book by Tom Buk-Swienty about the 2nd Schleswig-Holstein War.

I’d read it before (and seen the film) and I enjoyed it the second time around.

After lunch I was left very much to my own devices until Sue arrived at 3.45pm. She stayed for a couple of hours and left just before dinner arrived. Once that was eaten, I had a quiet evening reading, watching programmes on BBC’s iPlayer, and some YouTube videos made by Jago Hazzard. I finally put my iPad and Kindle down just after midnight and went to sleep.

Tuesday 23 April 2024

A big thanks to everybody

I’d like to thank everyone who has written a ‘Get Well’ comment on my blog and my Facebook page or sent me a message or email. I’ve not been able to answer them all as I am relying on my iPad and a somewhat flaky free NHS internet connection.

It’s great to know just how many nice people there are out there who want me to get better. In those dark hours in the morning when I cannot sleep and I can feel the breath of my Black Dog on my neck, I read the comments and messages and it helps me more than I can express in mere works.

I have no idea how much longer I’m going to be in hospital but I hope that it won’t be for too many more days. When I get out I’m going to be immobile for at least six weeks and possibly longer. Furthermore, my mobility might be impaired long-time or even permanently.

The Neurologists are trying to trace the underlying cause of the profound weakness in my left leg that caused the right one to break. This may take time and the problem may never be 100% cured, especially if the cause is a trapped or compressed nerve in the spine. At my age they are loath to operate on the spine and would rather treat the symptoms as best they can.

Whatever the outcome, I am determined to live the rest of my life to the full … and your continued support will help me to do that.

Monday 22 April 2024

Bed B, Side Room 4, Ward 22 (Part 2)

It took a bit of time to get used to the air mattress, but once I did, it certainly gave me a better night’s sleep than the traditional one.

I was awake by 5.30am, and by 6.00pm I had been given a bed bath and my bed sheets had been changed. I then dozed until just before 8.00pm when it was time to have my blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen levels taken. I then ate breakfast (corn flakes with cold milk, apple juice, and a cup of builders-strength tea) … and then a problem arose.

My morning drugs were brought to me, but the apalutamide - which is the daily chemotherapy drug I have to take - was missing. When I questioned this, I was told that it hadn’t been prescribed for me. Now, it was shown on the computer records used by Guy’s Hospital that patients and other hospitals can access BUT NOT on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s computer records, which only show prescriptions they and my GP have issued. The stupid thing is the the prescription was written by my oncologist, who is based at Guy’s but who works at the QE’s Oncology Department for several days each month.

I managed to access my prescription records using MyChart, and after some deliberation on the part of the doctor currently on duty on the ward I am in, I was allowed to take my apalutamide and my hospital record was amended to show that it was on my list of prescribed drugs,

Just after 10.15am I had a visit by a 5th-year medical student who is currently working in the Orthopaedic Department. He spent over twenty minutes asking me questions about what had happened, what had led up to me breaking my leg, and about my general medical history. It seems that my case will form some part of his academic studies, and I was glad to be of assistance to him in those studies.

At just before 11.00am I received a text to tell me that the technician who was supposed to deliver and instal a hospital bed (with an air mattress) and a hoist had arrived at my home, not found anyone in, and gone away again! This was hardly surprising as I am in hospital and Sue was expecting the technician to arrive between 12.30pm and 2.30pm and had gone shopping! Until this bed and hoist are installed, there is no possibility of me going home, so it looks as if my stay in hospital will be even longer than expected.

At midday one of the doctors appeared to tell me that my MRI scan had been booked to take place at 1.00pm. I pointed out that I was booked to go to the Fracture Clinic at 1.40pm, but they assured me that this would not be a problem as the scan would only take 20 minutes. I therefore chose to eat the cold lunch option, and at just before 1.00pm I was ready to be taken down for my scan … and then things began to unravel.

No porters appeared until 1.40pm, at which point I was taken straight to the Fracture Clinic … who immediately sent me to the X-ray Department to have the break X-rayed. There was a long queue there … and the doctor who had spoken to me earlier saw me and whisked me away to the Imaging Department for my MRI scan. Apparently they were running late and my ‘slot’ had just become open … so I was scanned! I was then returned to the X-ray Department where I rejoined the queue where I had left it. Once that was done, I returned to the Fracture Clinic where my cast was tidied up and a review appointment set for a week’s time.

I finally got back to the ward at 4.30pm, just in time to meet my brother and sister-in-law as they arrived to see me. They stayed until 6.00pm, after which my rather hectic day started to calm down. I managed to FaceTime Sue about the day’s events before spending the rest of the evening reading and watching YouTube videos.

I slept quite well from 11.00pm until 3.00am when something woke me up. I had a devil of a job getting back to sleep, but I was woken up by one of the nurses at 5.30am for a blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen-level test. I drifted off again afterwards, only to be woken up again at 7.45am to take my daily medications. This was followed by breakfast, after which I had loads of time to read, watch YouTube videos, and catch up on what my fellow bloggers had been writing.

It being Saturday, things were very quiet. There were no doctors around as far as I could see, and other than a few visitors, the only people I saw other than Sue - who came for two hours late in the afternoon - were staff.

Sue brought me in a power pack so that I could charge my iPhone and iPad if a power socket wasn’t available for my charger. The room had a number of standard power sockets, but most had equipment plugged into them and I could not rely on one being free for me to use. We tried it out, and it certainly seemed to work very well.

Sue left just after dinner had been served, and I decided to spend the evening watching a film on my iPad. After some deliberation, I chose GETTYSBURG, and I watched it until it was time to go to sleep just after 11.00pm.

Sunday morning was a bit different from any other morning … and not just because it was Sunday. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital lies just outside the London Marathon route with the result that all the local roads - including one end of the only road by which one can access the hospital - began to be shut for access from 7.00am onwards. This meant that staff changeover had to take place at a time when those leaving and those arriving were able to do so before finding their route closed.

The course runs along Charlton Park Lane, which was just visible from my hospital room.

The London Marathon had a staggered start. The Elite Wheelchair races began at 9.05am, followed by the Elite Women's Race at 9:25am, and then the Elite Men's Race and the Mass Start taking place at 10.00am. I should have been able to see the runners from my hospital room but my bed was facing the wrong way and I could not see out of the room’s window. Instead, I watched the start of the races on BBC’s iPlayer until the elite runners had finished their races.

After lunch I read for a while and - thanks to Feedly - caught up with the output from the many blogs that I follow. Despite the road closures messing up the bus routes in the area, Sue managed to visit me for a couple of hours during the later afternoon. We were able to discuss the possibility of me leaving hospital soon, once the necessary equipment was delivered and fitted to our house.

After Sue left I ate my evening meal and then binge-watched a YouTube channel about building a model railway. It had been recommended to my by one of my regular blog readers - 'Lee - and kept me entertained until it was time to go to sleep.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Budget Model Railways YouTube channel

During my enforced time in bed, I’ve been watching a number of YouTube video channels, including the one entitled BUDGET MODEL RAILWAYS. In fact, I’ve rather binge watched them as I like the fact that they tend to be short (I would estimate each video’s duration to be between five to fifteen minute) and fun to watch. The creator is very enthusiastic about his hobby, and over the seven years he has been making and uploading videos, he has built many different layouts in different scales.

Unlike some railway model videos, these are not ‘look at the fantastic detail of my model layout that has taken me ten years to build’ ones: these are ‘if you want to model railway, just get on and do it’ videos. That is not to say that his layouts are slapdash in any way, but they are built to a budget and use second-hand or cheap materials whenever possible. For example, one of the baseboards he used was built by glueing cardboard boxes together for strength and lightness and others were made from old shelves.

Sue refers to this YouTube channel as BODGE IT MODEL RAILWAYS, and in some ways she’s right … but you cannot fault the creator’s enthusiasm, his output, and his downright enjoyment of his hobby.

The creator also runs a very small, part-time business producing a variety of 3D-printed items, including an 009 locomotive body and rolling stock kits. They all seem to be reasonably priced for what you get.

Friday 19 April 2024

Bed B, Side Room 4, Ward 22 (Part 1)

I was transferred to a bed in a side room of Ward 22 of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, at dinner time on Tuesday evening. There was another patient in the room, but I could not see him as the screen was pulled around his bed.

The room was very basic, but it was a great improvement on the CDU. The whole atmosphere was calm and there seemed to be more staff per patient. Once my bed was in place, I was asked if I needed anything like tea, coffee, painkillers etc., before being left to settle myself in and rest.

On my first day in Ward 22 I was fed the same breakfast as was available in the CRU, but was able to order my other meals from a daily menu … which was a distinct improvement! Throughout the day I had numerous visits by medical staff who checked on my blood pressure, the oxygen in my bloodstream, and my temperature. I was also visited by the medical consultant and her registrar, and they spent nearly twenty minutes examining and testing my left leg to see why it had collapsed, causing the right one to fracture. The diagnosis was as yet unclear, and it was decided that further tests - and the involvement of the Neurology Department - was the best way forward.

Sue managed to visit me during the afternoon, having had to wait at home until the furniture removers had arrived to make space in the conservatory for the bed and hoist that are to be installed so that I can go home. She left just before my evening meal arrived, and from then on I was pretty well left to my own devices, having discovered that my as-yet-unseen roommate speaks almost no English.

I did not have a very good night’s sleep after my first full day in Ward 22. However, despite being very hot at times, I certainly slept better than I had done in the CDU. I was awake by 6.00am, and by 7.00am I had been given a bed bath and the sheets on my bed had been changed. By 8.00am I had taken my daily medications and eaten a simple breakfast, after which I caught up on reading comments on my recent blog posts and Facebook postings.

The arrival of lunch coincided with a visit by a doctor from the medical team who oversee the ward I was in. After repeating everything I had said the previous day, they came to the same conclusion … that a neurologist needed to be consulted. After I ate my still-warm lunch, I dozed for a time before speaking to Sue using FaceTime. She was at home waiting for my bed and hoist to be delivered, and been in contact with the OT (Occupational Therapist), who was under the impression it should have been delivered.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading Roy Brook’s THE STORY OF ELTHAM PALACE. This was published in 1959 when the Royal Army Education Corps were headquartered there and before it was vacated and handed over the English Heritage. I also watched ACT OF KINDNESS on my iPad. This was the famous episode from the 1970s CALLAN series where he visits a wargame convention and takes part in a series of wargames. Very refreshing for a bed-bound wargamer!

Just before 4.00pm Sue appeared, and she had been with me for nearly an hour when a team from the Neurology Department arrived to see me. They examined my legs in great detail and decided that I needed an urgent MRI scan of my back, hips, legs, and ankles. Their initial diagnosis seemed to be that the cause of the weakness in my left leg may be due to nerve compression, possibly in my lower back, and that this might also be affecting my right leg.

The doctors left at 5.00pm and Sue followed them about thirty minutes later. I then sat reading until my dinner arrived at 6.05pm.

I spent the rest of the evening until 8.30pm watching various videos on YouTube, at which point I was transferred to a bed with an air mattress. This took three nurses and a special hydraulic hoist, and involved some intricate ballet-like movement of my old bed, my new bed, and the hoist in a space where the clearances were measured in millimetres! They did it … but only just!

They finished just after 9.15pm and I read until around 11.00pm, when I then tried to get some sleep.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

My days in the CDU

The CDU (Clinical Decision Unit … or as I prefer to think of it, the Casualty Dump Unit) is part of the hospital’s Accident & Emergency Department. I was ‘parked’ there just before lunch on 11th April, having been admitted to A&E at about 2.00am (after a wait of about an hour) with what I later discovered was a fractured lower right leg. (The two breaks - one in each bone - were clean and aligned so that they should not require pinning.)

The CDU is NOT somewhere to stay for more than a couple of days. It isn’t equipped to deal with patients for more than that long. The food menu in the CDU is restricted and there is often little or no choice and it is very repetitive. There is also nothing to stimulate the patients, not even a TV or radio.

The section that I was in had five beds, and during my time there I saw a regular turnover of patients. Many were from care homes or were living at home with carers, either family members or professionals. Some had dementia, confusion, and/or underlying mental health issues.

During my first three nights I got very little sleep as one of the other patients slept all day and then shouted ‘Social Carer’ or swear words all night. Another persistently tried to get out of bed, only to fall over after taking a few steps and pulling his IV lines out.

The day - and night - was regularly punctuated by tannoy announcements related to emergencies that were on their way to the A&E Department and asking patients and doctors to contact the main desk. This was not inducive to a calm atmosphere, rest, and a good night’s sleep.

By the end of the fifth day a care plan was being written so that I could go home, but implementing this was going to take a lot of time and planning. As I was immobile, a room in our house had to be cleared so that a hospital bed and hoist could be installed and visiting hoist-trained carers could be allocated. This process was going to take several days, and I fully expected to stay in the CDU until I was sent home..

I was preparing to spend another night in the CDU when I was transferred at very short notice to a normal medical ward. As a result, I had the best night’s sleep I’d had for days, and I was now in a side room with one other patient. My days in the CDU were now over … I hoped!

Monday 15 April 2024

An unfortunate break

My most recent blog post was written on Wednesday morning and scheduled for publication on Saturday. Unfortunately, just before midnight on Wednesday evening I fell over when my weak left leg gave way … and I broke both bones in my lower right leg, just above the ankle.

Sue was unable to help me get up and phoned for an ambulance. It arrived less than fifteen minutes later, and by 1.00am we were in the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.

Both my legs and ankles were X-Rayed, and it was at that point that the fractures were identified. By 10.00am I was moved to the CDU (Clinical Decisions Unit) within the A&E Department … and I’ve been there ever since.

Saturday 13 April 2024

On my way to Salute ...

By the time my regular blog readers are reading this blog post, I should be well on my way to SALUTE!

I have to drive through the Blackwall Tunnel to get to ExCel, find somewhere to park, collect my mobility scooter (again, many thanks to Martin Gane and the South London Warlords for arranging this for me!), and make my way to the show's entrance.

I am hoping to spend some time just looking around the various games that are on show as well as the trader's stands and, if possible, to listen to some of the speakers that have booked. I also want to meet up with as many of my fellow wargaming bloggers as I can. Last year we had a picture taken ...

... and it would be nice if we could repeat this again this year.

Assuming that my camera or phone work alright, I hope to be able to write a photo-heavy blog post about SALUTE early next week.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Bob Cordery, you shall go to Salute … thanks to Martin Gane and the other South London Warlords

Yesterday I received a comment from Martin Gane in reply to my recent blog post about going to SALUTE. He had read my blog post and on behalf of the South London Warlords he has booked me a mobility scooter from ExCel, thus enabling me to go.

I have now booked my ticket and I am really looking forward to going. It will only be my second time ‘driving’ a mobility scooter (I had to drive and park my father-in-law’s some years ago … and it was a terrifying experience as he had jammed the throttle wide open!) so watch out for me as I zip around the show!

Monday 8 April 2024

A gift to raise one’s spirits!

An unexpected gift is always something to gladded one’s heart … and one such gift arrived in the post on Friday. It was WARGAMING WORLD SOLO: ANCIENT TO MODERN SOLO WARGAMING by Gregory Ward, ...

... and it was sent to me by my old friend Tony Hawkins (AKA The Amazing Antony – Mind Reader).

The book contains a large number of colour photographs and is split into the following parts and chapters:

  • Preface
    • What is Wargaming World Solo?
    • Author's Notes
    • Common Links
    • Wargaming World Solo Ruleset Design & Purpose
  • The Golden Rules
  • Wargaming Solo – Overview & Step by Step Set Up
  • Part 1 – Preparing the game
    • The Focal Point & Strategic Objectives
    • Unit Quality – Troops, Leaders & Impact
    • Game Characters – Leaders, Skills & Casualties
    • Battle Plans & Taking Sides
  • Part 2 – Playing the game
    • Force Deployment
    • Game Turn Sequence
    • Solo Player Unit Activation & Commands
    • Random Events
    • Flank & Reserve Units
    • Movement – Marker Phase & Deployment
    • Movement – Both Forces
    • The "Virtual You" – Reactions & Decision" Making
    • Shooting
    • Hand to hand Fighting
    • Morale
  • Part 3 – Tools for the game
  • Appendices

Considering the number of wargamers who either choose to fight their wargames solo or who are forced to do so as a result of their circumstances, the number of books dedicated to solo wargaming are few in number.

This latest one is a very welcome addition to the genre and certainly provides lots of ideas for those of us who are already solo wargamers and it is an excellent starting point for someone who is contemplating solo wargaming.

The rules seem eminently playable, and I particularly liked the way the writer has presented the game sequence as a flowchart. This is something that I have tried to do myself in the past and the author's version is certainly easier to understand than mine was!

WARGAMING WORLD SOLO: ANCIENT TO MODERN SOLO WARGAMING was written by Gregory Ward and published in 2024 by Caliver Books (ISBN 978 1 85818 847 8).

Thursday 4 April 2024

My battle with the Black Dog ... and going to Salute

Back in January when I wrote in detail about my health, I finished by writing the following:

'The last three years have drained me emotionally and physically, and I seem to have very little physical stamina these days. I am – however – slowly beginning to recover, and I try to walk at least a mile each day. My ability to concentrate has begun to improve, and over recent weeks I have begun to feel far more positive.'

Unfortunately, my recovery has not progressed as well or as fast as I hoped it would, and in some ways my health has got worse. Not long after writing that January blog post I had a rather heavy fall whilst bending over to pick something up. As a result, an old injury to my left knee flared up and seems to have triggered a problem that may be linked to an after effect of my radiotherapy, lymphoedema.

Over the past few months, my left leg has become weaker and weaker and has now triggered problems with my right leg. I have spoken to my oncologist, and they have referred me to a vascular surgeon … but the earliest appointment available is at the end of November. My GP and the practice physiotherapist are also now involved, and I have an MRI scan, CT scan, and whole-body bone scan booked to take place towards the end of next month. Hopefully this will identify what is wrong and I’ll be placed on an appropriate course of treatment.

My mobility has been severely restricted by my knee and leg problems, and things have become so bad that climbing the stairs in our house unaided is almost impossible. I am frequently having to use a walking stick, and even the act of walking a hundred metres leaves me tired and with pain in my ankle and knee joints as well as my leg muscles. My feet also swell so much that I either cannot get my shoes on or if I do, the swelling starts being uncomfortable after a short time and eventually becomes very painful. In addition, I also have to be careful about what chairs I sit on as many are too low for me to get out of unaided and getting in and out of a car is sometimes very difficult.

As you can imagine, this situation tends to sap one’s ability to be positive and on several occasions I have been very conscious that my black dog is sniffing around. Luckily, Sue has been a tower of strength and has listened to my complaining, given me words of encouragement, and helped me deal with difficult situations as they arise. Without her, I would be in a slough of despond ... and firmly in the grips of the black dog's jaws.

I had hoped that I would be well enough to go to SALUTE this year, but unless I regain some of the strength in my lower limbs, I suspect that might be just too much. There is a lot of standing about, very few places to sit, and the floor surface at ExCel is somewhat unyielding and tiring to walk or stand on even if you are physically fit. That said, there are still a few weeks before it takes place and I remain hopeful that I will improve enough to go.

Salute 51 will be taking place at ExCel London on 13th of April 2024.

I'm sorry to bore my regular blog readers with my problems, but I hope that the above explains why I am not blogging as frequently as normal. Hopefully, 'Normal Service Will Be Resumed As Soon As Possible' ...

... as they used to say in the days of black and white TV!

Tuesday 2 April 2024

My last talk?

Back in 2017 I became the Provincial Grand Orator (ProvGOrat) for the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire. Since then I’ve delivered numerous talks to Masonic lodges in Hertfordshire, London, Berkshire, Essex, and on cruise ships.

Normally Freemasons who hold an active rank do so for seven years and I am due to be replaced at the next Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in September. The role I’ve performed is due to change and will become the Provincial Grand Learning & Development Officer (ProvGLDO), so it makes sense that I step down.

Later today I will be delivering a talk about Freemasonry in the British Army to the Lodge of the Legion (No.9827), which meets in Cheshunt. This Lodge was consecrated in March 2007 with the express purpose of supporting the British Legion and laying poppy wreaths at all war memorials within Hertfordshire on the annual Day of Remembrance. They also regularly organise trips to Europe, visiting various memorial sites and battlefields.

The way things are, this is likely to be the last talk that I do as ProvGOrat … and I can’t think of a better Lodge in which to perform my final talk.