Tag Archives: vertigo

Anarchy in the UK’s National Health Service during the Covid 19 pandemic…

(Photograph: Jr Korpa via UnSplash)

Occasionally I start a blog with a variation on: 

What’s the point in  having a blog if you can’t be self-obsessed?

This is one of those blogs. But we don’t get to that bit until towards the end.

At the time of writing, England is almost out of Covid Lockdown. 

On June 21st, all restrictions may (or may not) be lifted. The chaos caused has been, of course, even worse in large bureaucracies like the NHS.

This morning I got an email from someone I know. 

“If you think you are having a rough time with the NHS,” it said, “below is a cut ‘n’ paste of an email from my son about his wife, Sue.”

I have changed the names to protect their privacy. The email he attached read:


Dear Dad,

Hope you are doing OK.

All OK here – except that Sue had an interesting unexpected phone call last week. The number was not recognised, but she answered because it was a local number. 

The person introduced himself as her consultant and said it was urgent that he speak to Sue Simpson. 

Sue said she was speaking, then the consultant asked her why she had not attended any of her appointments over the last 18 months, at which point Sue pointed out that they had cancelled her three booked appointments and she had not received any more. 

Last January Sue had some scans – CT scan, X-ray, cat scan and bone density scan because the year before she broke three vertebrae in the accident, as you know.

She never got the results due to cancellations as a certain pandemic hit. 

We wondered why the results were not passed on to her GP but the consultant said they were too important to give to the GP and had to be dealt with by themselves… But they were obviously not important enough to keep the three appointments!!!!.

 Anyway, the consultant asked if Sue was sitting down, so Sue said she could cope standing up. The doc then said that Sue should start three new medications immediately as she has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and he was sorry but this diagnosis was made after his scans nearly 18 months ago. 

It means she has missed out on 18 months of meds and it could cause permanent damage to her spine and other bones. Basically, he said that if she has a severe jolt to her body there’s a possibility of her spine being crushed and possible loss of feeling. 

We have to take it one step at a time. But it does explain why she’s lost so much weight and her bones and muscles really play her up. 

Waiting 18 months for results has meant that she’s lost 18 months of medication and her health has got worse.


That was the email which was forwarded to me. 

If you remember, there was a reference to “If you think you are having a rough time with the NHS,…”

The rest of this blog is really an aide-memoire to myself.

Feel free to abandon ship.

I have been not 100% since I was hospitalised for a week last May with a high calcium level and dangerously low kidney function. I am still an outpatient with The Kidney Man at my local hospital. They only realised I had dangerous calcium/kidney problems by taking blood tests; all other tests showed no problem.

I am booked-in to see him again, in-the-flesh, on 14th June which is reassuring because I have not had a blood test since 19th October last year.

I was also supposed to have a telephone appointment with ‘the Respiratory Team’ at my local hospital last month – on 11th May. The appointment had been made by my Calcium Man way back on 30th November last year so, on 10th May, the day before the appointment, I thought it wise to check if it really was going to be in the flesh or by phone. In fact, the Calcium Man had asked for a Respiratory Team appointment on 27th November and it had taken to 2nd January to actually confirm an 11th May appointment in writing.

When I phoned, I was told the appointment had been cancelled altogether back on 21st February because there would be no doctor available on 11th May. I had never been notified of this cancellation. But I was told would not have to make another appointment as it was now “in the system”.

Obviously, the next day, I checked with the secretary to my Calcium Man’s secretary, who said she would sort it out.

So, on 20th May, I got two letters, both dated 18th May.

One told me my 11th May appointment had been cancelled and I had a new appointment on 14th September. The other told me my 14th September appointment had been cancelled and replaced by a 9th August appointment. Both letters, as I said, were dated 18th May. Both arrived in the same post.

Now we reach the even-more self-obsessed bit.

I have had vertigo since January. Its seriousness comes and goes. When it is not serious, I just feel light-headed and not 100% in control of my balance. 

Yesterday morning, just after midnight, for about an hour, without any warning, I had very very very bad vertigo… then with added bad diarrhoea, then with added vomiting.

After that, I managed to sleep for four hours, which was quite an achievement as, since coming out of hospital last May, I have not had a single full night’s sleep – I wake up at least once ever hour, very dehydrated.

Yesterday, when I did wake up – at around 0530, I was a bit better though, if I stood up, I was still dizzy and wobbly.

Mid-morning, a text arrived from the Kidney Team at my local hospital. My appointment with the Kidney Man on 14th June has been changed – “due to COVID19” – from a face-to-face meeting to a telephone call. “We will phone you in due course” it said.

This was – erm… – somewhat disappointing as it means no blood tests.

The Kidney Man had said when I talked to him by phone on 15th February that I would be contacted about a further blood test by one of two local hospitals, but I never was. That’s large bureaucracies for you.

Anyway, yesterday I was told my next ‘meeting’ with the Kidney Man would be by phone… so no blood test there.

That was yesterday morning.

Then, just after midday, the SEVERE vertigo came back, including my bedroom walls whizzing round, it appeared, both from right to left AND from left to right. Who knew this was possible? That only lasted for about half an hour and the rest of the day was just a bit wobbly inside my head.

This morning I feel a bit light-headed.

To be continued, I feel…

Though who knows when?

Leave a comment

Filed under Medical

I keep feeling like I want to fall over…

Another one of those blogs only of interest to me in years to come; or to niche medical students.

Back in January, for three or five days, I was almost falling over.

This recurred about three weeks later and again two days ago.

I was OK yesterday during the day but, last night, the wobbliness came back. 

Since last May/June, my sleeping pattern every night is I go to bed and have some trouble getting to sleep (I used to go to sleep almost immediately).

After sleeping for about two hours, I wake up with a dry – and I mean totally dry – mouth and tongue and have to drink some water. I then go back to sleep but, at least once every hour after that, I wake up again with a bone dry mouth and have to more drink water.

This means that, a lot of the times I wake up, I have to go to the loo.

Last night, I went to sleep around 2300 and woke up about 0100… then (as normal since last May) I kept waking up with dehydration at least once in every hour until around 0800. Most times I had to go to the toilet.

All that water imbibed!

Multiple toilet trips!

But, when I got up and sat on the edge of the bed to get up, my head felt wobbly inside and my torso wanted to topple over. I had to concentrate to stay upright, then inch slowly to the foot of the bed, still sitting on it, reach out, open the wardrobe door and use my right hand to clutch the edge of the door to raise myself up.

I then had to walk a wibbly-wobbly diddery-doddery walk to the loo keeping myself upright by clutching the end of doors, doorframes and walls until I got to the actual toilet. If I had not done that, I would have fallen over.

Maybe it’s not vertigo. Who knows?

I think vertigo is a sort of dizziness with the world spinning sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly round outside or inside your head. This was more like a lack of communication between brain and balance function. Maybe it’s an ear infection.

Sure as hell, my GP won’t be any help and, as I say, at the moment, in the daylight, with my torso vertical, there’s no problem.

We shall see what happens.

Tomorrow night is another day.

1 Comment

Filed under Medical

ECCENTRIVIA: levitating ships, 3,951 dangerous pets and Meghan Markle…

Hertfordshire has been called a “dull” county…

I live in Hertfordshire, an ostensively fairly quiet county on the edge of Greater London. But it turns out there are 104 dangerous and/or ‘exotic’ pets kept here. And those are only the ones people admit to.

According to animal welfare charity Born Free, 3,951 dangerous wild animals are licensed to be kept privately in Great Britain. They say a total of 210 private addresses across 129 local authorities hold licences to keep dangerous wild animals such as lions, tigers, crocodiles and cheetahs.

In Hertfordshire, the Dacorum Council area – that’s basically Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and the western part of Kings Langley – has:

15 venomous snakes 

1 bearded lizard

4 ‘death stalker’ scorpions

1 fat-tailed scorpion

3 gila monsters

2 spectacled caimans

A serval in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

6 servals (whatever they are)

12 serval F1 hybrids (presumably faster than normal servals)

and

1 recluse spider – though I suspect people don’t see much of that one

In my own council area there is, I am relieved to report, only one exotic pet – a Savannah cat.

The East Hertfordshire District Council area goes in for quality, not quantity, with:

3 cheetahs

2 pumas

4 wolves

and 2 Mississippi alligators

But never venture into the North Hertfordshire District, whose 46 exotic animals kept as pets include:

2 bobcats

2 camels

1 jaguar

1 clouded leopard

1 snow leopard

4 lynx

and 10 – yes, count ‘em, 10 – pumas

********

A ship floating… (Photograph by David Morris/APEX)

The most unlikely things are true.

A few days ago, the BBC reported that one David Morris took a photograph of what appears to be an oil tanker floating in the air near Falmouth in Cornwall.

This, apparently, was the result of a rare optical illusion caused by special atmospheric conditions that bend light.

BBC meteorologist David Braine explained: “Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it. Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears. 

“Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images – here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible.”

********

It’s all about perception.

Yesterday evening, for 1 hour and 50 minutes, ITV screened the much-hyped Oprah Winfrey interview in California with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It made me a tiny bit more sympathetic to La Meg, but she still seems strangely naive verging on being a self-obsessed airhead.

Daily Telegraph on Meghan Markle…

One thing it did was highlight the Atlantic divide. The Daily Telegraph‘s front page this morning reports US President Biden saying the Duchess (Meghan) had shown courage. Their other front page story is an opinion piece headlined: They may claim to respect her, but this is a devastating insult to the Queen.

It starts: “Towards the end of her more-shocking-than-you-can-possibly-imagine, even-in-your-worst-Royal-Family-trashing-nightmare, interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, mused, “Life is about storytelling, right? About the stories we tell ourselves, about the stories we buy into”… The story the Sussexes have told themselves about their own behaviour… is perfectly clear. The only truthful lens is their own.”

This morning, a female friend of mine’s opinion was:

“She’s a decent actress and she showed she hasn’t lost the knack.  Quivering lip etc. Knows how to let the camera catch a slight tremble. I’ve watched all of (her TV series) Suits. Loved her in it. This performance was up there. And I take my hat off to any pregnant woman who can wear those heels. Harry sounds like he’s had LOADS of expensive West Coast therapy.”

This morning, I also received a text from a gay acquaintance of mine who said succinctly and rhetorically:

“Is she a drama queen?”

********

OK – You find an image showing vertigo (Photo:Mwangi Gatheca/UnSplash)

Meanwhile, at the risk of seeming slightly drama queeny myself, my supposed vertigo hovers like an oil tanker in the sky.

I have been ever-so slightly unsteady on my feet (which means wobbly inside my head) since January when I had to spend three days in bed/holding on to walls to avoid falling over if I got up.

It recurred for a couple of less-bad days in February.

Three nights ago, I went out about 7.30pm to get some chocolate (I am on a diet, but hey-ho…) and, for the first time in a while, I felt 100% fine. 

Then two nights ago – bear in mind that, since May last year, I wake up at least once every hour during the night with a severely dehydrated mouth and drink lots of water – I got up on one occasion to go to the toilet and had to hold on to the walls and sundry objects to avoid falling over.

During the next day I was fine.

But, last night, again only once, I was again wobbly when I got up and had to touch walls etc.

And today I am OK again.

The Chinese curse: may you live in uncertain times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Eccentrics

That was the weak… Being unbalanced maybe with vertigo in a time of COVID

This is more of a self-centred, up-my-own-arse aide-mémoire diary entry for myself than a blog for others. Proceed with caution and without anticipation. You have been warned…


A page from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five”

MONDAY 11th JANUARY

Tonight, around 9.30pm or 10.30pm, I became unbalanced.

Dizzy is not the word. The world around me was not spinning. But I was very swoony. Inside my head. I felt I was going to overbalance and fall over. In my house, if I walked across my living room, if I went upstairs or downstairs, I felt I was going to fall over and had to touch the walls to stay upright.

Since I was in hospital for one week in May (with an abnormally high calcium level and dangerously low kidney function) I had been waking up at least once every hour during the night with the interior of my mouth bone dry. No spittle, no lubrication, just totally Sahara Desert type dry. My dry tongue would feel it was stuck to the dry roof of my mouth or inside of the cheek. I had to drink water to lubricate my mouth and this, of course, meant I was having to go to the toilet a fair number of times during the night.

TUESDAY 12th JANUARY

Last night, if I stayed still and horizontal in bed I was OK but, if I stood up and walked into the bathroom, my balance went haywire. I needed the reassurance of nearby walls to touch as the inside of my head was all over the place.

It was the same thing this morning.

Not dizziness as such but a bit like being drunk (which I’ve only been twice in my life, in my long-ago twenties) – I was a bit sway-ey when I moved around. My foot-placement and balance were not 100% under my control.

This was pretty obviously NOT the COVID virus – I had no temperature, no new persistent cough, no loss of taste/smell – but I was unbalanced.

I thought: I’ll phone my local doctor tomorrow if I’m still feeling this way then.

Getting access to a GP during the current Coronavirus problems in the UK is not easy, as I know from my experience back in May. They don’t really want to talk to you; too much hassle.

This afternoon, I phoned my friend Lynn, whose husband has a slight medical background. She thought what I thought: that it was a dramatic symptom but probably something to do with an infection of the inner ear – BPPV, she suggested – when crystals in the ear dislodge. She said what I was feeling was vertigo and it might well resolve itself. She suggested I try the Epley Manoeuvre which aims to sort out the crystal problem.

There were some videos online

When I looked up BPPV online (never look up anything medical online) it turned out the loosened crystals involved are calcium crystals. I did not find this reassuring given my calcium problems back in May.

I talked to someone else I know. “Definitely sounds like vertigo,” she said. “I get vertigo attacks a couple of times a year as a result of having Meniere’s Disease. Usually brought on by dehydration in my case.”

Ah, I thought. Dehydration is why I have been waking up virtually every hour every night for about the last six months!

I had never thought of the word Vertigo until Lynn mentioned it but, when she said it, a lightbulb lit up in my head. Ping!

If lightbulbs go Ping!

I used to think I was frightened of heights but, after flying in a bubble-nosed helicopter in the US and travelling in multiple cable cars in Switzerland, I eventually realised I was not literally frightened of heights. I was frightened of overbalancing and falling… because of something that happened in my childhood.

To this day, I cannot walk across the Wibbly Wobbly footbridge or the Hungerford footbridge across the River Thames. They have no visible means of support when you are on them and I panic; I can almost feel the levels in my ears go out of control and I want to throw myself down on the surface of the bridges for safety.

This overbalancing feeling was like that… and a bit like part of what I felt before I was taken into hospital in May. Lightheaded. Unbalanced.

A week of saline drips back then got my kidney function up to a less dangerous level. 

Since then, I have been an outpatient of the local hospital’s Kidney Man and seen his mate the Calcium Man; though neither took any obvious interest in my constantly waking with a dry mouth. And no-one has found what caused my sudden kidney/calcium problem. 

I am scheduled to see the Kidney Man again in February, the Respiratory Team in May, the Calcium Man in June and, yet to be scheduled, an Ear, Nose & Throat person. All hoping they might find a cause for what happened in May.

It seems easier to see them than to get through to a GP…

Anyway, throughout Tuesday, I spent the day in bed and was still unbalanced whenever I got up to go to the loo.

I thought: I’ll phone my local doctor tomorrow if I’m still feeling this way then.

But do I trust my GP even if I can get hold of him? Not really.

WEDNESDAY 13th JANUARY 

I spent another day in bed but was maybe 60% less unbalanced when I was up and going to the toilet.

I stayed in bed until around teatime, then went out and walked to the nearby shops and back. I was a bit meander-y with slightly uncertain footing and, on the way back, my body felt very hot internally – inside the torso – which, I think, was just because I had over-exerted myself. It was only a 10 or 15 minute walk.

(Look, I told you in advance this is more of a self-centred, up-my-owm-arse diary entry for myself rather than something of interest to others. You were warned…)

Back home, I booked a COVID test just in case. I had none of the main symptoms, but my post-May symptoms sufficed. I also managed to slightly twist my lower spine by bending down to pick something up – never a good thing to do since I got hit by a truck while standing on a pavement in Borehamwood in 1991. So I had to sleep on the floor tonight.

(Like I said in the brackets above, you were warned…)

THURSDAY 14th JANUARY

Same as yesterday.

I stayed in bed until around teatime, then got up and walked to the nearby shops and back. I was a bit meander-y with slightly uncertain footing and, on the way back, my body felt very hot internally – inside the torso – which, I think, was just because I had over-exerted myself. It was only a 10 or 15 minute walk.

Yup, like I said, same as yesterday.

Though my balance was very slightly better.

I thought: Shall I phone my local doctor tomorrow? I think I’m feeling slightly better.

I didn’t phone.

I slept on the floor overnight, to try to mend my back.

It was all getting a bit samey.

FRIDAY 15th JANUARY

My balance was slightly better.

I thought: Is it worth phoning my local doctor with all the hassle and evasion that will involve?

I didn’t.

I took the self-administered COVID test which had now arrived and sent it off.

I slept on the floor overnight, to try to mend my back.

SATURDAY 16th JANUARY 

My balance was slightly better.

I slept on the floor overnight, to try to mend my back. 

SUNDAY 17th JANUARY

My COVID test result arrived by email and was unsurprisingly negative. That’s my seventh negative test, including three during my week in hospital in May. Did I mention I had been in hospital in May?

My back had mended. But the back of my neck and right shoulder remained occasionally painful. That has been going on for about the last three or four weeks and is, like my spinal problem,  connected with the after-effects of the being-hit-by-a-truck incident in 1991. I may not have mentioned that incident…


Those were my travails over that one week.

But they were minor and mean bugger-all. They are mild inconveniences. Over that same week, the DAILY death figures from COVID in the UK were around 1,000 to 1,500. The following week, they got up to 1,600 and 1,800 deaths per day.

At the time of writing this, there have been – as of yesterday – 97,329 deaths due to COVID – another 1,348 yesterday; and the number of COVID patients on mechanical ventilators in UK hospitals has passed 4,000 for the first time – 4,076, according to the BBC.

I know someone who had COVID very badly at the beginning of last year and, about a fortnight ago… one day… two of his toes fell off. One of his big toes and another toe. 

It kinda puts my problems of a dry mouth and being a bit unsteady on my feet fnto perspective.

Apparently what sometimes/often happens when a person is critically ill and on a life support ventilator – which he was for months – is that drugs called vasopressors are used to support the patient’s blood pressure. He had to have vasopressors for a long time to keep him alive. These drugs constrict the blood vessels in order to increase blood pressure, so that blood circulates through the vital organs to keep them alive. 

A horrible side effect of directing blood to the central organs is that it can induce ischemia (reduced blood supply) to the extremities. The toes are most commonly affected but some COVID patients have lost fingers. 

In his case, his whole feet were affected. The nerves in his feet were damaged by lack of blood supply and they were in constant pain. The toes on one foot did not recover from lack of blood supply and turned black. Rather than amputating the affected toes, the doctors decided to leave them to ‘auto-amputate’, which is considered safer than surgery. 

The process tends to take about a year – in this case it took ten months. 

Even though he knew it was going to happen, it was obviously mentally traumatic. 

Two of his toes fell off.

Apparently another two will follow.

So my minor ailments are nothing.

Life is shit.

All shit is comparative.

2 Comments

Filed under Medical