Friday, 26 August 2011

Potassium and Schubert

After the usual night of sleep interrupted by clinical observations, changes of drip and the like, I awoke in better heart and strength than on previous days. I even ate a clementine with relish, the first sign of returning appetite.

The morning was pretty upbeat, the afternoon onwards, I am afraid, less so. I have been feeling increasingly exhausted and breathless and in consequence more easily irritated. The reason is that I am more anaemic, with a haemoglobin of 8.1 and falling, than I have ever been before. Once Hgb goes below 8 blood transfusion is a priority. I will be given a transfusion at 6am tomorrow, but this is delayed because, in my case, platelets are a priority and the platelets initially delivered were wrong for my particular blood sub-type. Cue more irascibility from me, but the Portuguese night nurse was the embodiment of calm and reassurance. I apologised. They do not want to give me my first ever transfusion overnight in case I have an adverse reaction, but at least the right platelets were eventually stolid and have now become part of me.

Appetite has definitely perked up, although hospital food continues to undermine it. A passable piece of fish was served up with Smash reconstituted with cheap margarine, well at least that's what the "creamed potatoes" tasted like to me and my wife. I chewed most of my way through a dry chicken sandwich but in disgust consigned the final few mouthfuls to the flames of Hell...sorry, the bin.

Jamie Oliver will be hearing from me when all of this is over. I will also be asking the dietician what input she is able to have into the sort of food served up to patients. The public canteen is poor too. Every time I see such mediocrity I hear the snicker-snack of scissors cutting corners.

Sorry if I give the impression this has been a bad day. Far from it.

We had a visit in the morning from a very nice Anglican chaplain and have asked to take Communion.

Exhausted in the afternoon, I reclined on the wonderful adjustable bed. As potassium dripped into my arm, my soul received an infusion of Schubert's wonderful three late piano sonatas. It always makes me weep that such a supremely gifted composer died so young: what would he not have gone on to write? The sublime Franz takes you on rich emotional journeys, distilling a mass of melancholy into a short phrase and then bringing the sun out.

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