So… My boob exploded. That was fun.

  • Take 1 bout of flu (substituting a cold may not work as well)
  • Add 1 weekend on feet running a stand at an expo,
  • Mix in a dash of terrorist attack and fear for Muslim friends.
  • Mix well.
  • Fold in an MMR vaccine and sprinkle with bronchitis.
  • Allow to rest for 5 days, applying heat packs to any bumps that appear.
  • When lumps and redness are fully developed, go to A&E for assessment.
  • Make sure you’re very dehydrated to ensure that your already tricky veins are even smaller and grumpier but IV fluids are essential.
  • If fluids and antibiotics are getting into system, make sure to move those arms about, just a little, so the IV line needs to be reinstated at least 5 more times. For added effect, try not being able to get a line in at least twice so you have to have radiology do it by ultrasound.
  • Optional: sprinkle with lots of wonderful, caring and compassionate staff with 1 b***h of a night nurse for balance.
  • After a trip to surgery, 2 different types of antibiotics, 6 IV lines, and 4 nights in a shared hospital room, head home to continue under your own care. Where possible, heal up well enough that you are not expected to need any kind of follow up after discharge.

Yields: 1 new found fear of needles, 1 open wound in the chest, 1 paralysing fear of infection combined with crippling self doubt, and 1 love of grocery delivery services.

Slightly longer version…

One of the ‘fun’ parts of CFS is that you never know what a virus, stress, or vaccine will do to your system. I will sometimes get a slight system reset after a cold, and feel really good and mostly ‘normal’ for a couple of weeks after. It’s sort of like inverse post viral fatigue. Other times it will take me weeks to bounce back from even the slightest infection.

Stress is similar – sometimes a bit of stress can help me power through challenging times, like the few weeks after the 2011 earthquakes. Other times it sucks out any remaining reserves that were there.

Vaccinations are always hard – it’s definitely worth it for me to get them, as I wouldn’t have the energy to fight the illness if I got it – but it’s a game of Russian roulette as to how it will affect my system each time.

The perfect storm of the last month’s flu + expo + mmr + massacre at local mosque ensured that no matter what I did, my body was going down. My poor, run down immune system, beaten back from every side, just couldn’t keep up and list it’s battle against the bacteria in my environment. The result: a breast abscess with a BIG, very infected area surrounding it.

IV iii. Approx 12.30 am to approx 8pm Tuesday.
The remnants of IV ii – 7am to 11pm Monday.
The scars of IV line I (in back of wrist) – 11pm Sunday to 6am Monday, and IV iv (beside knuckle of ring finger). IV iv lasted about 10 excruciating seconds.
IV iv. This one didn’t even make it in. The bruising started during insertion so he gave up.
IV vi, aka Line6. 11.30is Wednesday until 11.30ish Thursday (still good but removed when i was discharged). Inserted with ultrasound assistance. This one only hurt about as much as a blood test should.

Thanks to modern medicine, I am doing fine. I got help before I managed to get sepsis, and we found the right antibiotic for it pretty quickly. It was an unpleasant experience that I do not wish to repeat, but the staff at Christchurch Public Hospital made is as pleasant as they possibly could (with the exception of 1 nurse, but we don’t need to go into that).

The sympathetic bedside manner and upbeat approach of the surgical team, nurses, technicians, and orderlies really helped me get through what would otherwise have been a rather traumatic event, for a routine procedure.

I learned a few things for the future: i now know what if feels like to be felted, I will never let anyone put an IV line in my arm without ultrasound guidance because my veins just can’t take it, a sphere with a volume of 10cc has a diametre of approximately 1 inch, surgical staff get momentarily confused if you ask if your theatre has surround sound and 3D, having slightly high blood pressure is preferable when in a surgical ward, hospital gowns are much more fun if you pretend you’re a stripper, I need bed socks*, and the police don’t always call you back even if they say they will.

*I may have kept my hospital bed socks.

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