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Just getting on with it

I’ve blogged previously about my weird sleep patterns so some of what follows Rust readers may already be familiar with and bored by.

It happens to be 11.56pm on Saturday evening as I begin typing and that’s largely because, having gone to bed at 7.30pm, I awoke again at 10.20pm.

My normal daily practice is going to bed between 7.30pm and 9.00pm and then waking again roughly four hours later partly because I need a pee and partly because that’s what I always do. I then ‘work’ for about five hours and try going back to bed in the hope of falling asleep again which sometimes doesn’t happen.

Then, somewhere between 11.00am and 2.00pm, I go to my bedroom and sleep again for between 20 and 120 minutes, which ordinarily allows me to stay awake and functioning (as best a 66 year-old can) until it’s 7.30pm to 9.00pm again … when it’s time to go to bed.

And thus my days pass.

My ‘performance’ this past few days has been adversely affected by a growing recurrence of an old medical problem.

At the age of seventeen – playing rugby at school – I dislocated my shoulder (and relocated it again in the same moment) diving to score a try.

Although afterwards the shoulder was happily ‘back in’, the episode had apparently left the surrounding muscles and sinews in a bit of a mess.

At various times since all my life I have been visited by an excruciating pain or pains stretching from the right side of my neck … down across my right shoulder … and then into my right arm.

The effects are disconcerting, debilitating and irritating. My ability to focus, to concentrate and to live daily life is dominated by the anticipation of sudden acute stabbing pain.

About thirty years ago I was in such discomfort that I went to see a consultant at a hospital between Wimbledon Common and Raynes Park (its name escapes me) several times.

At one point I was told that one possible option – because there weren’t many others – was to have an operation to ‘snip’ the nerves in the neck or thereabouts that then ran across the shoulder and into the arm – this would allegedly at least have the benefit of removing the pain permanently.

I didn’t like the sound of that much (to me removing or ‘killing’ nerves in your body just to take pain away seems a bit drastic and anyway I’ve always held to the view that the human body had things such as nerves in it for a purpose, i.e. basically to tell you that there is something wrong, and therefore having them removed was a potentially foolhardy step) and so I told the medics that I’d think about it.

It was therefore with not a little surprise and some alarm that about three months later on a Monday morning that I opened an official-looking envelope from said hospital containing a letter informing me that my ‘snip’ operation was now scheduled for 2.30pm that Thursday afternoon.

This arrived together with an enclosed pamphlet setting out the procedures and what I need to do in advance of going in, and what I should bring with me etc., for my projected overnight stay in hospital.

I immediately rang the consultant/surgeon’s office and said that there was no way I was going to have this elective surgery.

I explained the circumstances. The idea of it had indeed been put to me in a consultation but I had very definitely said at the time that I’d think about it (I had thought with the implication being clearly understood that such an operation would only take place as, when and if I ever went back to them to say I was up for it).

The lady on the end of the phone and I therefore agreed that there must have been some sort of misunderstanding.

I apoligised if ‘theatre time’ had been booked in my honour and added that I hoped it could be reallocated to another unfortunate in need of surgery, but the headline as far as I was concerned was absolute – I was not coming to the hospital that Thursday and I wasn’t having that (or indeed any other) operation because since my last consultation I had decided I didn’t want it.

And so, dear readers, I shall now spend the next few days battling with this acute and debilitating painful condition in my neck/shoulder/arm.

Even as I rose to make my vat of expresso coffee and come to the computer I have been wincing and involuntarily yelping as the pain ‘catches’ me unawares when making movements.

Sometimes I can alleviate or reduce some of its effects by holding the collar of my sailing fleece tightly with my right hand thus rendering the arm as if it is in an invisible ‘sling’ – this somehow seems to ‘takes the strain’ of the potential discomfort in the neck/shoulder/arm before it can actually kick in any time it chooses.

Just to be clear – I’m not complaining about this (hopefully-temporary) state of affairs. I’m just filing it under Things That Tend To Happen To You When You’re Over Fifty Which You Can Do Nothing About … along with all the rest.

In the meantime, here’s a link to an article by Dr Michael Mosley, on sleep – and getting more of it – that appears today upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL


About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts