Update on Health Services

Remember how I wrote about my friend and her admittance to hospital? Well, she came to my place after having pathology done, and over a cup of tea, there were many tears, borne of frustration and overwhelm. She works as a casual with the elderly, and if she doesn’t work, she doesn’t get paid, so she has had to pick up as many shifts as she can. The specialist who ordered her scans wanted them done before the end of this week as he is going away on a conference Friday for two weeks. She tried to book in, and found that she will have to wait a month! Three sections of her spine shall need to be done as well as a brain MRI. She knows that her symptoms are a sign of something amiss, and as you can imagine, is desperate to find out what. It seems incredibly cruel to make a person wait for answers when they still have to work and somehow function in the interim.

She missed a call from her GP the other day as her phone dips out where she lives. She was let out of hospital with a severe headache and many symptoms to fend for herself. By prolonging diagnosis and treatment, the health system actually loses money. It makes no sense! It was made clear to her that if she was willing to pay for the MRI’s, she could have them done immediately. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the thousands of dollars this would necessitate. Being in a private health fund means nothing in this circumstance. It shouldn’t be this way. My job as her friend is to help keep her spirits up whilst she waits.

Slowing Down and Crumbling Spines

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I seem to have entered the next phase of my journey. I had been trying to cope with my spinal pain with minimal pain relief for several years, something I can no longer do. My MRI results showed that the remaining discs are reduced to something akin to chalk-dust and my spine is riddled with arthritis, pressing on the nerves. The pain management program has ramped up, and is necessary to keep me moving. I have had a strange sense of vulnerability as a result. Some of the medication makes me tired, and I have had to have early nights. I find it hard to remember the names of people I don’t see often, and find going to large social events trying, as I am away with the pixie’s. I want to be quiet, have rest and not have too many commitments. Sitting for long periods is agonizing and I need to move around. I have to plan everything well in advance, even the weight in the lunchbox I carry when attending excursions with my daughter. I am dreading winter as I know too well the agony that grips my frame. I have to know the time it will take to get somewhere and when I can expect to leave. If I am prolonged, it can mean a day in bed afterward. A day lost. I have left items in stores as the weight would be too much to carry. I have had to pardon myself from the table so I can move around outside. There are hundreds of examples I could give you. Things people without this damage wouldn’t think about at all. My doctor said that elderly ladies’ she knows find their spinal pain excruciating when ironing. I need to dose myself up before this task, and look on with dismay as the laundry basket fills with items needing to be ironed. I have the spine of an eighty year old, and somehow it has to keep me going for the next half of my life.

My daughter and I have a synchronised routine. At the dishwasher, she deals with the lower section. She loads the front-loader in the laundry and puts the washing on the line and takes it off. We have our dance, and it works well, an unwritten love and understanding flowing back and forth. I have high hopes that within the next decade, they will be able to rebuild and strengthen backs with a simple injection. I am walking several kilometres most days, in spite of the pain. Living in a semi-rural environment helps you escape the confines of your body and focus instead on the nearby river, the kookaburra’s and cockatoos, their laughter delighting  my angst-ridden mind.

I need to have some of my back teeth rebuilt, after they came loose on a sesame cracker. I would rather have spinal surgery, the truth be told! You have to laugh; I was trying to limit my intake of bread, so for lunch ate these gluten-free, rock-hard crackers, and lost my teeth! Even if I end up in a wheelchair, I honestly wont mind. I am so grateful for the years I have had being able to walk. I am grateful I got to carry this child, despite the odds. I am happy with my lot in life, even if I have to plan my itinerary of a day as if embarking on a mountain trek! It is about focusing on what you have, not what has been subtracted from your life. I will need to recalibrate my life, and my expectations of myself, but it wont be the first time I have had to do so. The headaches from the Lyrica have finally stopped, just as I have been advised to double the dose. Always a mountain to climb. As long as the backpack holds a tolerable weight, it will be okay.