Or at least, some swimming pool water. More on that story later …
Wow, that was a long break. I hadn’t realised. I just thought I’d be away for a week or two. Here I am, then, to do a catch up post because so much has gone on while I’ve downed pen/fingers … blog, whatever. If you thought I might have had a smooth time of it, or lived a normal life over this blog-free period, you were wrong. I just couldn’t be arsed to tell you about it … until now. Let’s get started on the past couple of week’s madness shall we? I confess I’ve forgotten everything earlier than that.
This is a post about repercussions … and thinking in advance … and other things that are not widely pegged as MTM attributes.
We will begin at the start of last week. A post popped up on my feed, quite an old one, which talked about how inadvertently inhaling swimming pool water can give you all sorts of nasty infections because the toxins in the pool chemicals are great at growing bugs.
I filed it away under Interesting Facts That I Will Probably Forget in a Moment and moved on.
Tuesday: McMini’s school does a parents’ swim on Tuesday mornings after drop off. I haven’t been all the way through Covid but finally started back this term. As I swum across the bow wave of someone overtaking me in the next door lane (not hard to overtake me) I sort of caught a crab. As I came up to breathe, a little wave broke right in front of my mouth and I inhaled some water. Not enough water to cough, or sneeze or even stop swimming. I did it a second time coming back the other way and then managed to time myself better so I wasn’t breathing so close to the water and any breaking wavelets caused no further problems. On the way home, I scored a tank of fuel.
The noisy cricket has a six gallon tank, or is it seven gallons? It’s 44 litres anyway. It’s small; 25 litres, or about three gallons, is half of it. I had got reasonably near the bottom and managed to fill it to the brim. This meant I could do the Mum visit there and back on a tank. It’s 144 miles each way plus 12 to take McMini to school and the range is about 350 – 380 depending what I’m doing – it guzzles horribly in traffic but can get 40mpg plus if I’m gentle with the accelerator pedal and am cruising along on the motorway at a sustained level of revs and speed.
Wednesday: went to Mum’s as is the new form, I ended up taking the scenic route through Essex between junctions 29 and 30 of the M25 to avoid a 30 minute delay. On the way back I got stuck in a massive jam behind a car fire. I was singing along to the stereo and noticed there was a kind of pull from throat to chest when I sang. Didn’t think much of it. Also scored petrol from the services because as all the traffic was stuck there was no queue. Lots of giggling with the other customers at the till as we’d all been running on fumes, and we were a bit giddy about our success!
Wednesday night I began to get a stomach ache. It really felt as if there was a large metal ball right in the centre of my stomach, just under my diaphragm, and to the right a bit. I was burping lots as well, which was chuffing annoying because the bloody burps hurt my shoulder. Yeh, I dunno why either. I thought I must have got a bit hot and then cold in the big traffic jam and chilled myself. I reckoned it would be gone the next day. Yes, of course it would, I reasoned when I got in the shower and discovered that it responded magnificently to heat. Bliss.
Thursday: the strange stomach pain had very much not gone. Indeed, now, if I pressed my stomach where the pain was, my right shoulder and neck hurt too. It occurred to me that if I didn’t want to think that I was dying of an embolism all weekend (not that I’m melodramatic or anything) I’d probably better see a doctor. Naturally this being a pandemic and it being Thursday there was no doctor to hand and all other avenues of advice just assumed that chest pain = patient in death throes and referred me swiftly to A&E. I knew that whatever it was, it wasn’t death throes, but I did very much want to know what it was so I could start doing things to make it go away. Even if that was just resting very hard.
Finally, I sorted it and saw the emergency doctor at my own surgery. After examining me and finding that, when she pressed my gall bladder area and I breathed in it hurt (Murphy’s sign I think it’s called) she advised me that she thought it was a gall stone in the wrong place, and possibly a pulled muscle from the swimming, combining to give a nasty cocktail of pain. Sounded about right to me so after she’d given me some dietary advice to help ease the pain, I thanked her, went home and took some ibuprofen.
Friday: woke up with the pain still there but it was definitely more in my chest and ribs now as well as neck and gall bladder section. Hmm. Went for a very gentle walk with a friend, reasoning that if there was, essentially an over sized ball stuck in a pipe somewhere inside me, a bit of gentle movement might free it, or wiggle the pipe enough for it to plop back into the bag.
The NHS site suggested that I should stay home unless my temperature began to rise, in which case it might be infected and I should go to A&E.
Of course my bloody temperature started to rise, didn’t it? But not until after 8pm on Friday night. Arse.
Off we went to A&E. The McOthers weren’t allowed in of course so I sat there with a book for a couple of hours – although I was beginning to feel very tired and sleepy, so I spent most of the time putting it up against the glass partition next to me and using it as a pillow. I peed in a pot, they did bloods and then I ended up on an examination … thingy. The Murphy’s sign gave no sign this time and I was sore round my chest more. The only thing they could get it to do was if I breathed in while they were pushing just below my ribs it made my shoulder hurt. Apparently this can mean there are problems with your aorta, a big important artery. Joy.
Finally, they found a scan I’d had in 2020 and completely forgotten about because I appear to have blanked that entire year from my memory. I got a lot of reflux so I’d been referred for an ultrasound. It did come back to me when they mentioned it, but I suppose it was also the other side of the knee replacement so a lot of water had passed under the bridge since. I’d no idea what they’d looked for or the results were, the doctor had just said they were OK.
However, it seems that they’d done a really thorough job of the scan and looked at my liver and accompanying appendages at the same time. The aorta was fine in the scan and they explained that if it was knackered enough to be hurting even a little bit now, there’d be some sign in the scan then. And there wasn’t. Hoorah! By this time, I had a thumping headache but of course, no temperature anymore. That went pretty much the moment I walked into A&E, making me feel very guilty.
They did one more examination during which I dropped the polished stone I carry about with me to fiddle with so I’m not too weird and ADHD with the normals and of course, I forgot to pick it up. If you’re in examination bay 15 have a look for it. It’s pretty.
The next day, I spent the morning asleep in bed, with the electric blanket on, which was bliss. Later, talking to my sister in-law, she remarked that the symptoms sounded very similar to the way she’d felt when she had pleurisy. And then I remembered the swimming pool water and it made complete sense. Talking to Very Smart nurse buddy on t’interweb, she mentioned, late Saturday night, that if I thought it was cold-type bug, I should take a Covid test. Not a lateral flow, but a PCR – which is similar to do but you go to a test centre and they send it off to a lab. I didn’t really hoist this in.
By Sunday I unequivocally had a chest cold but it was going away steadily. I did one of McMini’s lateral flow tests and it was negative. Hoorah. In subsequent chat with Very Smart nurse buddy on the Monday, she pointed out that there was still a 25% chance I had covid.
Test was booked for Tuesday am and to my delight, there’s a centre just up the road. It’s a shitty, uphill-all-the-way, one-and-a-half mile bike ride to get there but it’s downhill all the way back. And that’s my exercise done for the day as well. That done, I had to put off my weekly walk and whinge which I have with a friend in the local park until Friday. That meant I couldn’t meet my Zoom writers’ group again, which was a pain but I did, at least, meet one of them on Sunday to go to see Ed Byrne at the local theatre. It was great fun. I thought he was hilarious.
I want to Mum’s on Thursday as she had a hospital appointment and it turned out that I didn’t have Covid. Which was nice. Although by the time I realised what I had was a cold/bogey thing I only had five days to isolate anyway. The thing is, I had no idea this was anything snot-related until Saturday evening, which meant I was walking around happily huffing over everyone from pillar to post, although luckily, not really that, because I felt so shit.
It does make me understand how easily it spreads though, because if I come up positive I will be absolutely mortified.
How to lose friends and alienate people …
Not me this time. Bloody Insulate Britain.
You what? Ask my foreign readers.
Insulate Britain. This appears to be a bunch of people from the insulation industry masquerading as eco warriors. They block roads, gluing themselves to the tarmac sometimes, and stopping traffic because they believe the government should set up a scheme to have every house properly insulated, thereby saving energy and stopping global warming in its tracks.
In short, they are very, very militant and it all seems a bit bizarre. Nothing to do with Extinction Rebellion this is something else.
They are either:
a) fucking nuts or
b) the whole thing is a not very subtle ruse to create more jobs in the insulation industry (which may already be over saturated) under the pretence of being ‘green’. Or,
c) the whole thing is a not very clever way to try and make money for their own loft/cavity wall insulation/double glazing and PVC window installing concerns.
What in the name of holy fuck brought them to their current line of activity though? I mean, really? Hey everyone! I know who to get the country behind us. Let’s do something that will fuck off all the little people. Let’s make everyone’s lives drabber and harder and more grim than they already are with covid and the shortages (I’m not allowed to call it the Brexshit hitting the fan, however similar to the projected prognosis that might be – and to be honest it isn’t actually all caused by Brexit – just the lorry bit because they employed foreign workers to keep the wages artificially low and overheads down and after Brexit the lorry drivers were some of the ‘them’ who got sent home).
Seriously though, who drives for fun on the motorway? Abso-fucking-lutely nobody. Zilch. People use the roads because they have to in order to get from A to B. They have jobs to get to, stuff to deliver, kids to take to school or a duty of care to visit someone. This time of year a few are still on holidays but nobody with kids, so that’s about three quarters of the holiday makers back at work now. In short, most of it, be it Wandsworth Bridge or bloody Dartford, is people who are there because they have to be. Are these road users on business?
Well, this is the thing. In a lot of cases, not exactly, no.
Ergo, who on God’s green earth is not only so dumb but also so shitty as to make the commute or work journey even more crappy than it already is. That’s really going to get us on side with your cause isn’t it you absolute spunk buckets. Bear in mind that this is a journey, which, for the most part is to work or school, so it’s a journey many travellers wish they could avoid taking to a place they’d prefer not to be visiting.
What bright spark ever thought making that worse would be a good idea?
If the insulation industry is in trouble and looking for ways to create jobs, then maybe, instead of pretending to be green, they should look to their behaviour. Perhaps the many companies cold-calling folks with a view to selling insulation and double glazing might think about a different approach. What’s the current schpeil? Ah yes …
‘We want to tell you about a government grant that will allow you to have your loft insulated.’ Yeh. Sure. Or did you mean, ‘We’ll charge you twice as much, so you get the job done for the going rate, but think you’ve had a bargain because the Government pays the other half, which we pocket.’ There’s another one where they do a ‘survey’ to ask you about home improvements. In both cases you end up being sold to, it’s just a loop to still be able to call people who are on the Telephone Preference Service (and have, therefore, opted out of cold sales calls) without getting a five grand fine because they can say it’s a survey or giving out information rather than a sales call.
Except it’s a sales call. Natch.
Then again, thinking about it, maybe that’s why Insulate Britain are behaving like such a bunch of insane cockwombles. Are we talking about them? Yes. But is anyone sympathetic to their cause? Is anyone thinking, ‘hmm yes, maybe we should think about setting up a government scheme to get every house in Britain properly insulated to stop heat loss, save energy and single handedly halt global warming.’?
Of course we’re fucking not. And a lot of people in Britain have already insulated their houses.
Has gluing themselves to the M25, or Wandsworth Bridge or wherever furthered their cause …?
It’s just royally pissed everyone off and made our lives a bit harder and fuller of admin and pissy shit than they already were. Marvellous, can’t have enough admin and pissy shit, now, can we? You go ahead and super-glue your sorry arses to the road. We’ll wait.
Seriously, imagine it. Employee break room in a nondescript red brick building on a science park near Dartford. A fleet of vans is parked outside.
Activist one: Hey friends, nobody is buying insulation any more and the industry is in crisis. All our jobs are in jeopardy.
Activist two: My next job isn’t in jeopardy, it’s down the road in Billericay.*
* Sorry I know this is a shit joke but I couldn’t resist it.
Activist one: No, you spigot! I meant that our jobs, and everyone else’s, are looking a bit wobbly.
Activist three: Isn’t that the pandemic though? I thought it was because people have been furloughed, and they’re skint, or they’ve already got insulation. Then, there’re others who are pissed off with the cold calls we make, pretending to be conducting surveys so we don’t get done for it. It makes them think we’re all smarmy spivs. If I hadn’t already done my own house, I’d have got local builders in, who I know and trust.
Activist one: What d’you mean? Why would that kind of behaviour piss anyone off? People love having cold calls from sales people who start by pretending not to sell things. It’s fun. It’s the only time they get to talk to someone in a day for some of them.
Activist two: It would piss me off.
Activist one: Bollocks! Everyone does it. I’ve this great idea. If we could persuade the government to make it compulsory for everyone in the UK to buy the most up to date insulation, we’d be working till the cows come home. It would save our jobs and our industry and if we say we are doing it for environmental reasons we look like the good guys.
Activist three: How would you get their attention?
Activist one: Easy. Pick on the little people. Let’s find something that the person in the street really hates doing, and make it even more difficult and shitty for them. They’ll get behind us straight away if we do that.
Activist three: But shouldn’t we go after government? Isn’t picking on the little people just causing a lot of pain to folks who have no power to help us anyway?
Activist one: No. Well … yes but that’s the point. If we really, really piss everyone off, they’ll do absolutely anything to make it stop.
Activist three: That’s like torture, and we all know that doesn’t work! They’ve done scientific studies and everything. People just say any old rubbish to make the pain go away. We want results.
Activist one: We’ll get results!
Activist three: Are you sure we’ll get the results we want? People will angry and grumpy with each other, and us, but the people we want to inconvenience … they don’t drive round the M25 with the plebs. They’ve got chauffeurs and helicopters and that. They won’t even notice.
Maybe if Insulate Britain disrupted the champagne delivery to number ten or caviar sales or something they might get somewhere, but pissing off the normals? Can you see anyone in Government giving a toss?
Yeh, I’m not convinced.
Other highlights …
Recently I’ve been trying to get out more so last month McMini and I went to see Jonathon Lydon’s one man show. We were going to some friends’ wedding anniversary party the night the Lydon show was on in Bury so McMini and I headed off in the car to Ipswich. It was awesome, as was the party! Although I probably hadn’t thought through quite how sweary Mr Lydon was. He is a gem though, an national treasure.
This week I continued my I-must-get-out-more drive to Do Things by going with a writer friend to see Ed Byrne at my local theatre. On a Sunday night and all! That was also excellent, although I’d forgotten a) how bad and loud my laugh is and b) how much the sat-down, stand-up comedienne in me misses doing live events … He was very funny, and I think he relaxed with us a lot more in the second half. There weren’t any no photography signs so I took a photo and got told off. Oops. I’m not going to put it anywhere public. It’ll just stay on my phone but it’s a nice souvenir. One the up side, I do have this rather lovely picture of the inside of the theatre, which I think is OK to post. For the whole of the first half there were two empty seats in front of us so we decided we’d sit in them for the second half. After the interval, I headed off to the bog and my friend went back to our seats ahead of me. Needless to say the minute she sat in one of the empty ones at the front, the people whose seats they were turned up for the second half. Oops. Never mind.
Mum is well although she was having trouble with her words on Wednesday’s visit so I am hoping that she’ll be alright for the next couple of weeks as I can’t get to her. It’s half term, though, so Bruv is going to see her with his crew. On the up side, this last week, I had the first journey down to Mum’s for six weeks when I was able to drive up to the QEII Bridge without having to take a scenic tour of Essex round some giant traffic jam. Chatting to Mum, we did also decide how we are going to thank the venue for Dad’s memorial so I wrote an email to them, but haven’t heard back yet. It may be that my email was too weird, or that I emailed the wrong member of staff. I’ll give it a week or two and then try a tentative second approach after half term. Or I’ll just use my standard procedure if I have trouble being heard, get my brother to ask. People always take notice of him. 🙂
It was a lovely hot day so we sat outside and had a sherry. I think that’s where the trouble started. She’d been up to the school Dad worked in and had a wonderful time celebrating the fact that the school chapel is finally completed … it only took 153 years! She saw lots of old friends and had three ‘glasses’ of champagne … except I think it might have been more because she was drinking it out of a teacup! As a result it had absolutely wiped her out, but in a good way because she’d had so much fun. And of course, if she’d just given in and had a ten minute nap she’d have been fine but she refused to sleep because she wanted to enjoy her time with me. Bless her.
Right then. I think that’s probably enough wittering. I’d better go and get on. This post is going to come to you, through the wonders of modern technology, a week after I write this, while I’m busy doing other things.
You could always try reading one of my books! Well … if you’re desperate that is. The first book in the Hamgeean Misfit series is currently free everywhere and the audiobook is still free from my author store – because I forgot to change the price back to £1.99. So if you want to grab a quick freebie, that’s the one to go for. More information and links to all retailers can be found as follows: