Thursday 23 July 2009

Why I’m not convinced by the swine flu stats

Hels and Tom both have colds. I’ve had a bit of a sore throat, but it hasn’t come to anything.

When they first went down with a little lethargy, sore throat, snuffliness and all the other usual symptoms, we immediately thought that our turn might have come for swine flu. If it had, we wouldn’t be too worried – we’d get our way through it and get it out of the way. Unpleasant and inconvenient, yes, but probably not life-changing. For the vast majority of people, it’s just a nasty bug.

So, given that, Hels called the doctor. We’d heeded the advice not to actually go to the surgery and it seems our local surgery is well-prepared. Our doctor was able to take Hels’s call (not just the receptionist team) and talked through the symptoms. She (our doctor) seemed a little fed up with the Government’s diagnosis-by-checklist approach. Hels described her symptoms, including her temperature of 37.8 Celsius. The doctor laughed and said that, given her symptoms and according to the checklist, Hels did not have flu but had a cold. If, however, her temperature had been 38 Celsius, that woud have been enough.

So we are carrying on life pretty much as normal. Hels has taken a little time off work (heavy colds tend to knock her down a bit anyway due to previous illnesses in her 20s). But we are not putting ourselves into quarantine.

What I wonder is this: given that our doctor is aware that this cold bug is going around at the moment, how many of the 100,000 new cases this week really are H1N1 flu and how many are just summer colds? Are we getting false information and is the Government making decisions based on that? What will happen if/when we actually get real flu later in the year?

As an aside, the Government gave advice last weekend (as reported by the BBC) that expectant mothers and mothers of under-5s should stay away from crowds. I presume they haven’t visited your average ante-natal clinic lately, because they are never crowded, obviously. And, what of fathers of under-5s? Presumably, if they stayed away from crowded places (like shops, offices, railway stations and workplaces) the economy would grind to a halt.

As Hels put it – the Government takes the nation to war but can’t seem to work out what to do about a virus.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

I’m free! I’m free!

This morning, I had the plaster cast removed. Thank goodness for that!

I now have a “double tubigrip” arrangement on my left foot/ankle/leg and have been given instruction to gently start walking again. I can only manage a handful of steps at one go before it becomes too painful/uncomfortable, but the doctor reckons that I should progressively get stronger and more mobile by early next week. He reckons that the majority of the damage (or possibly even all of it) is muscular, not bone.

Frankly, being able to move around again is great. I was starting to become a bit of a bear-with-a-sore-head (or sore leg) and could easily have become utterly insufferable for my family. But I’m looking forward to having a soak in the bath tonight and not relying on Hels to wash my hair (I couldn’t get in the shower to do it and found it rather precarious to lather my barnet whilst balanced on one foot). And, most of all, I’m looking forward to being able to drive again and get back to proper work rahter than the half-hearted work I’ve done for the last ten days.

Monday 2 March 2009

The Disaster Zone

The title of this post reflects the name that my uncle has for our household. Thanks Ted.

So far this year:

For goodness sake, can we just have a simple life where everything bloody well works?

Friday 27 February 2009

Bone update

How odd. I’ve had a letter today from the hospital in St Malo that treated me last weekend. It is short and to-the-point.


Radiographie de la cheville gauche face et profil et pied gauche face et profil:


Absence de lésion osseuse traumatique radiologiquement décelable sur les incidences réalisées ce jour.

Beg pardon? Now, my grasp of French is rudimentary to say the least (“schoolboy” would be a generous term and possibly an insult to most schoolboy students of the language), but the word “absence” does tend to leap out of the page. Google Translate comes to my aid and tells me that the radiography did not reveal a lesion on the bone. So why exactly am in a cast and on crutches, then?

Clearly, I’ve done a lot of damage to my left foot area. I must have stretched and pulled every muscle, tendon and bit of meaty gristle down there. It swelled up a fair bit (although, by everyone’s admission, not by a massive amount) and was very sore whenever I put weight on it. But have I actually done any damage to the bone? There was much discussion at the local hospital here in Blighty when I rocked up with my cast and my French x-ray transparencies because the damage is far from clear. I think I can see the ghost of the (tiny) chip on the image in the area where my French doctor said it was, but this new letter is signed by a different doctor. Was the original doctor imagining things?

I’m booked into the local fracture clinic for first thing on Wednesday morning. I’m going to ask them to review the evidence and to take a new set of x-rays so we can be sure what has taken place – my guess is that they will want to do that anyway. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I have only damaged muscle and that, with a bit of strapping, rest and physiotherapy, I can be back up and running, or walking at least, as soon as possible.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

On suffering temporary partial disablement

Apparently, I’m suffering "temporary partial disablement". Or so my insurers say (so, hopefully, they will pay up).

As a sufferer, I can report the following: