Monday, August 22, 2011


So continues the strangest and longest of holidays:

A month in the south of France, a day at home, a week in hospital, a day at home, two days in hospital, and back home again. My illness involves short(ish!) bursts of extreme abdominal pain followed by periods of minor discomfort. The nurses have a pain reference and they ask the level between 1 and 10. This is arbitrary of course, one person’s 5 is another person’s 10, but it is better than “it hurts” or “it doesn’t”.

I have my own pain reference.

Up to 5, I am still able to read my Kindle, but for shorter and shorter periods. When it is down to a word, pause and squirm, we are at 5. (I highly recommend a Kindle for hospital. It is light enough to hold in one hand even when you are encumbered with a drip…and with 50 books on it, never a danger of running out of distraction.)

From 5 to 8 (I consider that I haven’t gone beyond my own 8), increasingly desperate distraction techniques are required. My last week in the south of France was spent at a jazz festival learning some Brazilian Indian traditional songs. I find that reciting the song that I had to learn as a solo is a good pain distraction. It is in Portugese, which I don’t speak, and just sufficiently difficult, and fast, to require a lot of concentration.

When I was readmitted with a robust 8 on Saturday, I was forced to find new techniques during a long wait in emergency. The pain was concentrated in my upper abdomen, and I found with an involuntary moan that a certain bass note vibrated in a comforting place. Humming of this low note, combined with tapping out the clave rhythm for the MARACATU on the side of my trolley kept me hanging in there, but probably didn’t endear me to staff or others waiting.

Anyone got any other ideas for natural pain relief?

At the moment, gall stones are suspected. Perhaps if I get the frequency of the note right I will be able to vibrate them away with my voice…


Lucy said...

'Just with my voice!'(as the Fat Lady in the Harry Potter film said)

You poor sausage, I am so sorry you have been suffering so, it sounds truly horrid and altogether rather frightening. I'm sure the staff and patients should have been very grateful that you weren't screaming like a banshee as I'm sure I would have been.

Frankofile said...

Ouch indeed. Snap (if it is gallstones... A relief when diagnosed, at least. I saw mine on an ultrasound scan, the blighters). Hard to know what sets an attack off. I'm sticking to careful diet and, you know, regularity (too much information?!)

Virginia said...

Jeest, Rosie. Sounds miserable. Hope they fix it quickly.

Amy said...

This sounds so painful, hope the problem is solved soon!

And just wanted to say one of my regrets upon leaving France is that I never got to meet you in person, because I've really enjoyed knowing you through your blog.

Zhoen said...

First, a good diagnosis.

I've met my 10/10, for only a moment, but it was a timeless plentitude. I hope you get a solution very soon.

Anne said...

Oh, if it's gall stones get them out fast. I had mine out and all that pain that drives one to the emergency room was gone. I am so sorry your summer was marred by this nuisance and hope for a resolution soon.

HogsAteMySister said...

I think your Kindle would be far more useful (at 8) if you used it to knock the nurse unconscious and then wolfed down all the pills on her tray. Just a thought.

Jean said...

Poor you! I gather from other sufferers that gallstones are indeed at least an 8. Hoping you will feel much better soon, either with or without treatment. Warmest wishes.

tristan said...

maybe those stones would crumble to dust if you were encircled by very small children singing

Rosie said...

hurrah...a diagnosis.
Lots of tiny stones blocking tiny tubes.
And they are being removed with keyhole surgery next Wednesday, (if not before, if things turn nasty again)
thanks all for your advice and sympathy!