so (series 3, no. 1): an update on my wellness

back home five days now & glad to be here (on sunday, the day after my return from hospital, I sat down on the back steps of Jonathan & Ora’s house to rest a little before walking home from Amalia’s 13th birthday family jakhnun lunch, & snapped some winphone pics, & here are one with the trees opposite me & their shadows in the foreground, where at the right you can just see Nitza walking home accompanied by Omri towards our little red house deep in the mid-background, & one of my shadowed upper part with the bottom of my walking stick near its middle (though actually ahead of me) on the gravel path as I walked home later.

DSC02313 (800x533)
DSC02337 (800x705)& yesterday i wrote the lines below to a friend who sent me an email asking if I was well, & later I thought I’d like to share it with friends who might like an update on my wellness.

I haven’t been well, but am definitely recovering & am feeling quite reasonably good, came home a few days ago after being in hospital for about a week, to bring down the build-up of congestion & prevent a repetition of the congestive heart failure that had me in hospital for a fortnight a month earlier, all “side-effects” of the cortisone etc treatment’s slow healing of the all-over-my-body acute psoriasis flare-up I was hospitalized for over a fortnight a little over a month before that.

That sums it up. But for anyone who wants to know a little more, & I’ll fully understand anyone who doesn’t, we all have our things to bear & don’t really need to know about anyone else’s & I won’t be offended if you don’t read any further), I’ll add now that that acute  flare-up came  after quite a few months of constant & often excruciating itch which for a long time looked like an all-over rash that none of the GPs or the even the dermatologist I saw identified as psoriasis, even though I also had, & have had for at least 20 years, chronic psoriasis in several areas of my body. These months of “rash” were punctuated by periods on cortisone that were freer of itching. It now seems that what caused the flare-up was that I came off the last round of cortisone too quickly.

I’m still on cortisone (prednisolone), & with the good guidance of the geriatric specialist at the John Flynn Hospital who got me through that flare-up am coming off much more slowly this time from the daily 50 mg a day (the higher doses of cortisone, I should add, are quite a buzz, I got quite high on them for quite a while, as some of my posts from those day probably show). I’m halfway though my fortnight on 10 mg (not much of a buzz in that, unfortunately), which will be followed by fortnightly reductions of 2.5 mg (for the 7.5 & 2.5 I’ll have to cut the 5 mg tablets with a pill-splitter every second morning). My ankles are still swollen; I often feel pressure across my feet and around my shins; my legs feel weak below the knees, & I walk distances with a walking stick. I have to monitor my weight every morning, & if it’s above 72 I should take an extra 20 mg of lasix (a diuretic) on top of my daily 20 mg, but not too often because that can damage my kidneys.

I also have to take a whole bunch of other pills every morning after breakfast & before I go to sleep at night; once a week at midday I take 8 2.5 mg tablets of methotextrate for the psoriasis; the other days of the week i take folic acid, vitamin C & magnesium at this time. I get-short of breath after efforts, more than I did with my emphysema before the congestion began.

The skin on my arms & legs is mottled almost like a leopard’s, but much less evenly, with varying shapes of bruises of underskin bleeding (from the slightest bump of any part of them into anything); the latest ones are a dark red  & the older ones a lighter red, & these intermingle across archipelagos of remaining patches of psoriasis, most of which don’t itch, though some do, especially in the mornings when I wake up, but I can usually get rid of that itch fairly quickly with a 180 mg antihistamine tablet. I see all the mottling clearly every day when I sit on a stool when I shower & afterwards when I smear the betamethasone cream over all my psoriasis zones. When  I look down at my body I don’t (but already do), recognize me, not the me I remember, none of the many mes I remember, & there’s also so many more I don’t. I look in the mirror & don’t like what I see, mostly not the most recent cortisone-induced puffiness, especially around the cheeks & jowls. I’ve grown a beard, it hides some of that, but the face still looks weird to me.

So that’s how I am physically. & mentally I need to remember to move more slowly; to be more aware of how I move thru space, not just not to get more bruises, but not to scrape against anything or bump into something hard like the tow ball on the back of the car I hit my shin on the day I went into hospital, which had me bleeding for hours & then days & then seeping less and less blood for another two weeks but seems to have stopped now: no spots any more on the plaster I’m still wearing there (one of three on my legs, I won’t tell the stories of the other two)…

Well, so much for my physical wellness & the mental awareness it calls for (which I don’t always remember: old habits die hard, as I wrote in an earlier post); but otherwise I’m quite well,  (“not too bad” or “good enough” are my favorite & pretty accurate answers when anyone asks me how I am) & am fairly optimistic about my chances of gradually getting physically better & fitter & being able to do more of the many things I still want to do (with my family, with things that need doing at home, exercising, walking. writing, communicating, blogging & facebooking, getting rid of things I don’t want to leave behind for my wife & sons to have to bother with), in what I’m learning to accept, gaily enough (although I want it to last as long as it’s bearable, I’m not going to rage against the dying of the light), as the closing part of my life (& when it’s time to go, into what I don’t think of as a night, good or bad, because a night is generally followed by a day, & I don’t expect there to be anything at all to be there for me when I’m gone, I do want to go gently [Dylan Thomas was only 37 when he wrote his famous & powerful villanelle, & I can fully understand someone feeling that way at that age]).

In a recent post I published some lines about people living & loving with blinkers on. Now, thinking more about the stage of life I’ve reached, I’m beginning to feel more & more that it’s the final strophe in that set of lines I most need to concentrate on:

& what use is my caring, for those of them
that I know, & for the many I don’t know
or for all the oppressed & repressed? can it be
that this is what I see when I don’t see things
closer to myself, with my own invisible
& effective (but not visibly to me) blinkers on?



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