Picture the scene; one minute I’m fast asleep in bed, the next I’m shocked awake having landed elbow first on the floor with my face smashed into a basket of toiletries. Bang. I hadn’t just rolled out mistakenly; there’s a sixth sense that stops you doing that. I think I’d been dreaming and had leapt out. I have this recurring dream that I’m being attacked by a gang of people armed to the gills with axes, machetes, knives, hammers etc and I have to fight them off night after night. And I always just about do that but often I have to leap out of the way of a slashing blade. I’m sure that’s what was going on when I leapt subconsciously from my bed. There’s probably some deep psychological issue waiting to be explored but it can wait. Anyway I didn’t die of shock, obviously, but I did give myself quite a start plus a scratch or two to the face and one pretty sore elbow.
That was back in November not long after we’d moved to our new place here in Stratford upon Avon. And we love it here in Shakespeare’s birthplace – there’s lots to see but you can’t actually go in anywhere at the moment of course. But it’ll all be here to explore once lockdown has lifted (and I’d love to do some work for the RSC which I visited as a 6th form Eng Lit student and just adored).
So dear readers welcome back to PP. I hope everyone is safe and well although we were concerned to hear that a few of our great friends and readers had suffered with covid in the last few months, a couple quite badly, though have very happily now recovered. Plus, sadly, we lost a couple of dear friends recently through the dreaded C which is just heart-breaking. It makes writing this new posting seem totally inconsequential but I take the view that life goes on and no matter how grim the situation we just have to bear up and get on with living. I got a bit fed up writing about the awfulness of the covid situation but the vaccination programme (surely the Government’s greatest success story) has lifted my spirits enormously. So I feel happy to write again about my personal experiences, not least some pretty weird health conditions which I defy you to be knowledgeable of.
First up a chest complaint I had before we left Brackley. It stayed with me for weeks and was especially painful. Naturally with covid raging I took a trip to A&E to have it checked out and after several examinations I was diagnosed with costochondritis; it’s an inflammation of the cartilage that joins your ribs to the breastbone. I’d never heard of it but was a little disconcerted to learn that it usually has no apparent cause. Eh? The doctor who checked me out said that the the only treatment is pain management – basically paracetamol – whilst you wait for it to improve on its own, which can take several weeks or longer. Fucking great.
As it happens it did stay with me for several weeks then simply disappeared miraculously one afternoon whilst I played garden footie with some kids and my old mate Lol. Soon afterwards I spoke to my oncologist’s registrar for my annual review and told him I’d recently had the condition. Ouch, he replied, did you know Mr Leonard that it may cause unbearable chest pain that interferes with your life and doesn’t seem to go away? Indeed pain caused by costochondritis is said to mimic that of a heart attack and can be exquisitely excruciating…
No shit Sherlock. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll remember that next time it bobs around.
Not long after I got a pain in my side. Now you’re probably thinking what a fucking hypochondriac. But one thing I learned going through the C treatment was to be fully aware of your body and that any new pain impulses should be checked out as soon as possible. My poor brother was dying proof of that adage. It was hard to pinpoint the source of the pain, it felt like something internal which immediately gets you concerned of course. So I got it checked out with my GP who was concerned enough to send me for some MRI scans. It turns out that I’d developed a bone island or osteoblastoma on my ribs, a rare benign bone tumor or exostosis. In other words a new fucking rib growing inside me and poking into god knows what other vital organs. FFS. Never fucking heard of it.
Apparently progressive pain is the main symptom (seems to be my favourite kind) localised at the tumor site. It is usually a dull pain, sometimes worse at night and not easily relieved. The doctor’s advice? Suck it up Mr Leonard. Oh ok. And as she predicted the pain eased after a few weeks with, guess what, paracetamol. As far as I know it’s still growing away at the rate of 1 cm every year but fortuitously it just found a slender growth path between my right lung and heart. It should make a break-out appearance, like the little fucking monster in Alien, in about 7 years time apparently. Just in time for my 75th wey hey. Now that’ll be a party worth attending Ripley.
So where was I? Oh yeh that sore elbow. After, what 10 weeks, it was still tender (I know, girl’s blouse) plus I had this biggish swelling on the tip of the elbow. What the fuck was that I thought? So I called the GP in our new health centre and over the phone he said oh it just sounds like a bursa. A what? Never heard of it. He said it’s a small fluid-filled sac which provides a cushion around a joint to reduce friction. We all have nearly 150 bursae around the body. Each one is like a miniature water balloon with only a few drops of fluid in it. If they become irritated, say through injury from an amazing escape from a knife-wielding assassin, they can become inflamed, and it is called bursitis. Who knew?
Ah. So what’s the problem Mr Leonard? Well I look fucking deformed for one thing…
His advice? Take some paracetamol if it hurts (what a shock), suck it up and try not to put excess strain on your elbows. Eh? When do you ever do that?
So there we are. We are still in a massively difficult covid situation but things are looking brighter and aside from a few day-to-day deformities we’re surviving folks.