Released into the wild on medical parole

Alright geezers, what’s occurring? I’ve been meaning to write a post for days but if I’m honest, I’ve enjoyed just avoiding real life and doing sweet FA. I’ll try and keep this short and sweet for you but you know what I’m like; I luuuuurve to talk.

From farters to moaners

You all know about the serial farter who was in the bed opposite me (if not, you can read all about it here), well when I was put on to HDU I was moved into a different bay where there were only two beds. Whilst the first night I enjoyed having the room all to myself, the following a day a rather delightful elderly lady became my roommate. She was 79, very sweet, but what I can only describe as a moaner. This is someone who moans with every exhale. Whilst she was definitely in pain, she also had a very nervous disposition (her own words, I’m not being mean) and – no word of a lie – a cough like Gollum. So peace was disturbed with ‘oohs’ at every breath and copious amounts of phlegm. Remember, I was bed bound and couldn’t run away. It was nasty. Whenever the nurses came around with her medicine, she would say: ‘ooooh nooooo. Too many pills. I don’t want them all. There are too many’ and it would be a battle to reason with her. Whereas when the nurses came to me I was like ‘what have you got?’ When they offered me paracetamol or morphine, I know which one I’d rather choose. I opted for both. I’m not stupid…

I called the surgeon a mother f***er

Look at that golfball on the back of my hand! So attractive…

I didn’t mean to, it just came out. Whilst on thrombolysis I had to go down to theatre every day where they would take out the wire and tubes, run some radioactive tests and then put it all back in. I had no painkiller because technically there aren’t any nerves in your vein so ‘it doesn’t hurt’. But the pulling and fannying around at the point of incision in my arm (where the catheter went in) was so painful. And don’t forget I was lying down with my arm out, like half of Jesus on the cross, with the radiologist leaning over it. And after one particular yank of the catheter, I accidentally let out an audible ‘You mother f***er’ just as he/she (it happened twice on two different days) made eye contact with me. I know, it was unfortunate. I apologised but they found it funny, thank God.

Just because I’ve done it before doesn’t mean it hurt any less

16559079_10154743907521001_1737980801_nIt. Sucked. I’m not going to lie, the whole treatment was horrible. It hurt, I felt crap and it made me cry. Because I had to go to theatre every day, I was woken at 5:30am every day to try and eat some breakfast and have a drink because after 6am I was nil by mouth for pretty much four days in a row. I was so dehydrated I got a bit emotional. And you don’t know how long you’ll be on the treatment for – it’s decided on a day-to-day basis – so every 24 hours you get your hopes up that it will be taken out when you go for the check.

Because of the great progress over the first 24 hours, I was convinced I would be taken off it after 48 hours. And indeed when I was in theatre, the radiologists were impressed with the progress and decided to try and angioplast (balloon) the last bit of clot away. So they stretched my vein with three different sizes and the pain was unreal. It felt like my collarbone was going to explode. But it didn’t quite do what they wanted so I had to go back on thrombolysis for another 24 hours.

Although it doesn’t sound like that long, I was gutted. I had mum with me afterwards so I wasn’t on my own but when she left (after sorting out my hair for me – by spraying the dry shampoo directly into my right earhole) I broke down in tears. Which was sad because it made me look like a baby because my mum was leaving. Awkward… But you’re entitled to a bad day, right? Thursday was my bad day.

Bed blocking

I was taken off the treatment mid afternoon on Friday. I was so happy, you have no idea. I also knew what was coming: I would be discharged the following day and tasked with administering the blood thinning injections at home. Mum and myself were also aware that I was going to be discharged on a Saturday, when it’s skeleton staff and just a nightmare. So, anticipating the problem, we highlighted these forthcoming issues to the staff and asked them to sign everything off tonight so it would be ready for the following morning. Of course they didn’t do it. So I was showered and packed by 10am on Saturday, ahead of the ward rounds at around 10:30. Of course there was an emergency at 10:30 so the only team on on a Saturday were called to theatre – which really can’t be helped. I understand that, I’m not totally heartless! But it meant that they couldn’t get anything signed off until they were back. And that’s just the signature, they hadn’t even got the drugs from the pharmacy, which closes early on a Saturday. Anytime after it closes would require the on call pharmacist and the drama continues. Nightmare.

Anyway, after a full day of bed blocking on the High Dependency Unit, I was released into the wild. However great the NHS are, they have some serious issues. It’s not like I was holding up an ordinary bed either. And it was a paperwork problem that had been anticipated the day before. It’s ridiculous. I’m not saying I agree with Jezza Hunt but there does need to be a bit of an NHS shake up because bed blocking really doesn’t make sense, especially when it can be avoided.

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Breathing fresh air for the first time in six days. I had to have a sit down afterwards.

My health

As it stands, I’m in exactly the same position as I was this time last year. I still have a little bit of clot left in my left arm (the original clot was 4cm longish) so my hand still goes a bit blue when it’s in certain positions. I’m bruised everywhere but I’ve finally managed the art of injecting myself. Wahoo! I told Mum and Oli to back off, take the pressure off and then I just got on with it. I really am such a woos. But it means now that my belly is speckled with needle bruises, making me look like a proper crack head. I guess it’s no all bad because I’ve always wanted a bit of street credit.

I don’t know what’s around the corner, although I have a really strong sense of dejá vu. I’ll keep you updated when I start going to my outpatient’s appointments.

I’ve been given the medical go ahead for flying and, after a full day of chasing around (and being rejected by) travel insurance companies, I’ve finally found someone who will insure me so I’ll be heading off to New York next Thursday. Wahoo! And the cost? Well, put it this way, insurance for four days in NY with a history of blood clots, pulmonary embolisms and thoracic outlet syndromes accompanied by the latest drama, is dearer than when I spent 10 days in Occupied Territory of Palestine… Sorry, no holiday presents for you lot.

This is so not short and sweet is it? Oh well. As always, thank you for all of your support.

Love, Hollie xxx

I have a blue arm.

I’m blue dadba dee daba dye!

I have a blue arm. It’s true. It’s the right one. It’s something I noticed at work on Monday and, being quite fond of my arm, I decided to get it checked out so as not to risk it falling off. I’m right handed you see and therefore reluctant to lose it.   The view from St Thomas’ Hospital ain’t that bad…
The last time I spent a night in hospital I was 11 and there to get my appendix out. I was on a children’s ward where my mum could sit with me and pass the time. Also, with her nursey background, she’s pretty good at staying calm and laughing at situations, where I get a bit worried. This time I had Oli who was also very lol (telling the doctor he thinks I may have asthma). Until the vascular surgeon was describing to me what the problem was. It was Oli who went grey, sweaty and feint. Nothing a bit of a lie down on the hospital bed couldn’t sort out though…

But he trooped on and went home to grab me some stuff: namely a toothbrush, some pjs and five pairs of knickers. I have no idea how long I’ll be here but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here’s a question for you: what is hospital etiquette? You’re put into a bed in a room full of strangers and then you’re expected to sort of settle in. Everyone is ill so where do you look? At their ill bits? What are the rules on eye contact? Do you sleep in your clothes? Is it okay to take my bra off? Because I know I can’t sleep until the girls are free.

I took matters into my own hands, removed the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, drawing the curtain around me and tried to get some sleep.

I awoke this morning to the sounds of a loud voice from the bed opposite: “It was only a small one. I’m constipated you see.” Then the smell of wee. Oh here we go…

However, after a change of knickers and a brush of the old teeth (courtesy of Oli) I braved pulling the curtain back. Just as I expected, three other ill and old people.

But I shouldn’t judge. They’re all lovely. I’ve even made friends with 93-year-old, very deaf Ethel (the constipated one) who flashed me her undies when she was showing me how flexible she is. In any other circumstances I would be alarmed but I was actually mega impressed.

I’ve got some scans and things today but I’ll keep you all updated. For now, me and Ethel have got a crossword to finish…

Stop 21: Amsterdam

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It wasn’t actually our 21st stop, it was our 11th city on the trip. No, it was a time of celebration to welcome in my 21st year. Now, I’m going to try and not make this blog post all about me but I did have the best birthday EVER.

We arrived in Amsterdam at around 15:30. We split from Kieran as he was meeting a few friends from home who had flown out to meet him for the weekend. We were staying at the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel (names can be deceiving, it’s still a hostel) on Kerkstraat. The instructions said told us to take a tram. By now we considered ourselves to be experts at map reading and able to distinguish between a long walk with our heavy backpacks or a short walk. We made it to Kerkstraat within 10 minutes. We felt proud of ourselves. Now all we had to do was follow the numbers until we reach 136-138. We were at number 670. Oh my was it a long walk. An hour later we made it.

We had booked the hostel back in England because we had been told that last minute in Amsterdam is unlikely and expensive. The Hans Brinker doesn’t have a kitchen but it does serve breakfast in the morning (included in the price of the room) and meals at dinner time. Granted, they’re not Michelin standard but at around €6 a meal it’s pretty good grub. The rooms are small with a small en suite shower and toilet. This makes it stuffy and horrible to move around in. However, it’s clean and perfect for a few nights stay. There is even a club in the Hans Brinker basement.

Our bodies knew that Amsterdam was our last stop and all we could think about was sleep. So we did. That is when our two roomies arrived. They were a very sweet Argentinian couple but meeting them properly would have to wait a few hours. We were out for the count.

Prepping for the evening’s activities (we were going out to welcome in my birthday) I hopped in to the shower. Upon exiting said bathroom I was greeted with a cake and a face full of balloons, accompanied by Uncle Bryn style shouting “SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!” (For those of you who are not avid Gavin & Stacey fans, click here to see what I mean.)

Now, I’m going to try and explain the evening’s events and still maintain that it was my best birthday ever, but you’re not going to believe me. I think it was a night where you had to be there in order to understand the hilarity of it.

We met up with the boyf and his four friends who had flown to Amsterdam for a lad’s holiday and overlapped for my birthday. They had been here for two nights already so we followed them. They were taking us to ‘the best club in Amsterdam’, Club Air. It had better be the best club at €16 per person for entry! It wasn’t. It was pure House music (that’s the kind of music that pumps your ears, has no lyrics and you have to dance by sort of punching the air). I guess for some people it’s great, but we were seeking Katy Perry, Tom Odell and Carley-Rae Jepson. After about 20 minutes we left. We weren’t upset/gutted/angry at all. Our night was to continue. We then walked the age back to the Hans Brinker to resume drinking in the club there. After a while we decided to go for another walk to seek another club and so on. It doesn’t sound epic, if anything it sounds like it an absolute ball ache (excuse my Dutch), but we had a laugh.

I would like to say that the following day, 1st September, we explored Amsterdam, but we didn’t. We climbed into bed around 5am and didn’t stir until 12. What we did do however, was hit up one of Amsterdam’s most famous attributes: it’s Coffee Shops. Needless to say that that night we slept well.

The 2nd September was our final day of the entire trip. As we had to check out of the Hans Brinker by 10am and we weren’t due to leave until 21:30, today was our day for sightseeing.

Amsterdam is stunning. By now I would have though we would have seen it all but no, Amsterdam is something else. The canals cannot be compared to Venice of course, but they are still beautiful. The houses are tall and thin and some of them even appear to be falling forward. I thought those buildings were dangerous to walk past, let alone live in. However, Architect Emily informed us that “it is possible to rebuild a building but keep the original facade.” So that’s what we presumed was the case.

I found visiting Anne Frank’s house very moving. Although it is not furnished (in respect of Otto Frank’s wishes) it is still has the same impact as if they had been mocked up. At €9 per adult visiting, I found it fascinating walking around the rooms in which I had read about in the diaries. The original book shelf hiding the doorway to the annex remains. Videos of interviews documenting the lives of the inhabitants by surviving friends are scattered throughout. There isn’t too much reading required so you are free to absorb the information at your own pace.

We did take a trip into the Red Light District. It’s insane! Men, women and men dressed as women are just flaunting their junk in a window the size of a shop. If the curtains are pulled it means the prostitute is occupied. It is such a foreign concept to us. We did leave shortly after we were hollered at. “Do you girls work here? No of course not, you’re too sexy.” Er, no thank you.

What better way to finish our Amsterdam trip than with a visit to the infamous ‘I Amsterdam sign’. We thought we were hilarious having our photographs taken whilst we were sitting on the ‘T-E-R-D’ section. We thought that was the most hilarious thing until Rebec tried to get down from the top of the ‘E’. Rather than describe it, I have included the video below.

I would like to say that come 21:30 we would be boarding a flight to Gatwick and that we would be home before midnight. Alas, no. You must remember we are still students and we took the second option. We took the 11 hour Megabus that would drive through Brussels in Belgium, to Calais, take us on to a ferry for an hour and a half, arrive at Dover only to drive past our junction on the M25 for another hour to take us safety in to London Victoria for 7am. But for £1 it was worth it. By now we had learnt to sleep on public transport and we were such a close-knit group who shared so many hilarious memories, we didn’t care.

I thought Amsterdam was our last city stop, but I awoke as we were crossing Lambeth Bridge, where the rising sun set the Houses of Parliament alight. No, this was our last city. London: a stone’s throw away from home.


Rebec trying to get down from the ‘e’

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James Bond: Skyfall ★★★

James Bond: Skyfall is the 23rd film in a series that has spanned 50 years. My ticket to the preview at the ODEON in Leicester Square. Images © Hollie Borland

With a series of 23 films, spanning half a century, featuring around 85 Bond girls and six different Bonds, how does one create something fresh? One doesn’t. One merely starts with the familiar and twists it and turns it and manipulates it in a way that makes an audience believe it is unfamiliar. Thus Skyfall is created.

‘New’ is not something fans have always craved – Bond is traditional: he went to Eton, he drinks a Martini and he has a love for Queen and country to rival none. After all, we did display him as a national treasure in the Olympic Opening ceremony. No, we don’t want anything new, we want a show. And boy don’t we get one.

Director Sam Mendes has taken the challenge and blown it right out of the sky. A pre-credits chase scene puts you right back where you belong – accepting the stupidly impossible, yet desirably cool moves that can only be described as ‘Bond’. Even when all seems lost, the full four-minutes-plus of Adele seems so right. From scenes in Shanghai messing with your head, to a one to one on an isolated island off of Macoa, to straightforward shooting scenes in Scotland, I found myself trying to stay one step ahead of a game I couldn’t quite fathom.

With a wikileaks-esque storyline, Bond (Daniel Craig) is sent to recover a hard drive stolen by cyber-terrorists, which holds a list of names of Nato operatives, which are leaked gradually over the Internet. As well as being pressured to quit her job as head of MI6, M (Judi Dench) faces a dilemma when her Head Quarters are blown up.

The central theme is old and new, highlighted by the number of times the word “transition” is mentioned. Dench looks noticeably old and Craig’s rough, aging look is emphasised when the young new Q (Ben Whishaw) tells Bond that “We don’t go in for exploding pens any more.” In some scenes this theme is in danger of becoming too sentimental. The secret to 007 is that we think we know him, but as M says, he’s a creature of the shadows and is better off left there. Thankfully, the storyline delves little deeper than his relationship with M– any more and Bond would become simple James.

There are moments in Skyfall where Bond appears almost to have given up, lost his flare, and you find yourself watching with desperation, hoping against hope that he will find it again. Craig’s moody, brazen Bond is pleasantly balanced by Javier Bardem’s delectable villain, Silva. The camp, sensual, playfulness lacking in Bond, Silva more than makes up for. Almost suspiciously relishing in being caught, Silva is playing a game that may just be too big for agent 007.

Even with minimal gadgets and an unexpected Bond girl, I found myself laughing out loud, gasping, biting my nails. From the 007 theme music to the Aston Martin DB5, previously seen in Gold Finger, I got that familiar feeling falling through unknown waters. Skyfall is tense, funny, tantalisingly good, and so very, very Bond.

Skyfall is released in the UK on 26th October 2012. Watch the trailer below.