Ouch!

One of the conditions for being let home to recuperate is that I have to take a blood thinner called Clexane for three weeks after my date of discharge. Which would be fine, but it’s delivered by subcutaneous injection.

By me.

And I am, of course, as regular readers will know, more than a little needle-phobic.

The Clexane comes in boxes of individually wrapped, ready to inject, completely self-contained syringes that are designed to be pretty much foolproof. All I have to do is follow the instructions. It’s not difficult – take the thing out the packet, remove the safety cap, “pinch an inch”, stick the needle in as far as it will physically go, and depress the plunger until it clicks. Then remove and throw the whole thing into my florescent yellow sharps box.

Except sometime it’s almost painless, while other times it stings like the devil. Meanwhile I’m feeling light-headed and vaguely sick. And because this is a blood thinner, if you happen to pick a spot with a vein or capillary under it, it bleeds for ages. My thighs and tummy are now covered in a series of little spots where I’ve self-injected, and managed to either provoke a bleed, or a big bruise. I look like the proverbial pin-cushion.

The good news is that as of tonight, I only have four more syringes left. Roll on the weekend, when I will be able to look forward to going to bed without having to jab myself with a needle first!

Anything to declare?

Last weekend was the 2011 International Broadcast Conference, which is run in Amsterdam. It’s the biggest broadcast media event in Europe, second only to the National Association of Broadcasters event (NAB) in Las Vegas. This year over 50,000 people turned up, completely swamping Amsterdam, amd filling all the hotels and restaurants for 6 days.

IBM sends quite a lot of people to the conference – some to man a stand, run demonstrations, and meet our customers, and others (like me) are just there to host our customers to the conference. In my case, this was my second visit to IBC, but my first with an ileostomy. It was somewhat eventful.

The trouble with having an ilesotomy is that if you’re going out and about you need to do a fair amount of advance planning, and always factor in as much flexibility as possible, because (as Murphy has noted) things will go wrong.

The joy of business travel is that you are, thanks to the airport security requirements, rather restricted. Add in all the extra problems of attending an insanely large conference, and needing to attend or host a series of business meetings, and you become very restricted. Add to that the fact that it’s run over a weekend, so you’re more tired than normal, and switch the time zones around, and change your diet (because you’re living in an hotel) and things start to get hairy. Very hairy. Which is not a good thing.

In the end, over the 3 days I was there I had 3 bag failures. One at dinner with some customers, one on the way to the conference centre, and one in a customer meeting at the conference centre. I generally carry some medical supplies with me for emergencies, but it’s just not feasible to carry a change of clothes. Frankly, that whole aspect of the trip is one that I’d like to put behind me. The patience & forbearance of my customers and colleagues still amazes me.

But there was one amusing (in retrospect) ileostomy-related element of the trip, and that occurred on the way home. When I went through security I discovered that Amsterdam has some kind of body-scanner technology installed, which spotted my ileostomy bag. The security guards then wanted to frisk me, which was OK up to the point where they tried to grab my bag and pull on it.

There then ensued a fairly heated discussion, with them wanting me to take the bag off, and me not (as my changing kit was by now in the airplane hold). The security supervisor eventually turned up, and her better English finally meant I was able to explain what the bag was, and why it really wasn’t a good idea to take it off in the airport departure hall…

Thank goodness for having been blessed with a sense of humour.

Alarmed?

Yesterday was the 1st of April, or April Fools Day, where traditionally one is expected to play pranks on those around you during the morning. I’m still trying to fathom out if I was the subject of a fairly elaborate hoax, or just strange set of circumstances.

Around 10:30am I went to change my ileostomy bag. About half way through the process I suddenly heard a huge commotion outside the bathroom in the corridor, followed by a frantic pounding on the door. In burst a couple of burly security guards and several of the nursing staff; it transpired that the smoke alarm in the bathroom had gone off, and there was concern that I was being engulfed in some sort of conflagration. After determining that everything was OK, the fuss died down, and apart from some good-natured ribbing, life returned to normal.

Until about an hour later, when I next went to change my ileostomy bag, and had exactly the same thing happen again.

So I am now apparently infamous amongst the medical staff for being able to set off the fire alarm system merely by changing my ileostomy bag, and the subject of considerable amounts of good-natured ribbing from my fellow patients whenever I head off in the general direction of a bathroom.

Needless to say, I’m now using a different bathroom…

Hospital humour

A gynaecologist had become fed up with NHS paperwork, the cost of malpractice insurance, the long hours, and was generally feeling burned out. Hoping to try another career where skilful hands would be beneficial, he decided to become a mechanic. So he went to the local technical college, signed up for evening classes, attended diligently, and learned all he could.

When the time for the practical exam approached, the gynaecologist prepared carefully for weeks and completed the exam with tremendous skill.

When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had obtained a score of 150%. Fearing an error, he called the instructor, saying, “I don’t want to appear ungrateful for such an outstanding result, but I wonder if there is an error in the grade…”

The instructor said, “During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was worth 50% of the total mark.

“You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also worth 50% of the mark.”

After a pause, the instructor added, “I gave you an extra 50% because you did it all through the exhaust, which I’ve never seen done in my entire career!”