Whereupon I’m taken by ambulance to hospital and proceed to impersonate a swan….

Undoubtedly, what will follow will contain many grammatical errors and mistakes, but once you are familiar with the cause of them, I’m hopeful of your tolerant indulgence.

For my last blog I had planned to highlight Ed Milliband’s absurd posturing with regard to the minimum wage, and also was also planning to use this snippet of Howard Beale to illustrate the dire economic times in which we live. Futhermore, I was also planning to rename Ed Milliband as Dead Wood, and thus compare him to Ed Wood, the film director, famous for making some of the worst films in Hollywood history. For this blog I was planning to elucidate upon the dichotomy of being offered rehabilitation when are you are least in the mood for it but then as John Lennon so famously observed, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”. Which seems a highly apt line, given what did happen.

On Sunday 16th November, I was taken by ambulance to my local hospital (some context might be needed here!) Earlier that morning when I’d been brushing my teeth I noticed that one side of my mouth wasn’t working properly. For some wholly inexplicable reason I didn’t think this needed mentioning. Later on in the day Avril came over, took one look at my face and pronounced that something was wrong with it. I immediately thought ’Look who’s talking!’ but I could see the look of well intentioned concern on her face and as both she and Blue Eyes – my housemate who seems to (misguidedly!) think I am somehow worthy of her energy – examined my facial features. I knew that something wasn’t quite right, a feeling only heightened by being offered an Asprin! Doing what anyone who’s feeling a bit poorly is wont do, I repaired immediately to bed.

Avril took the opportunity to phone my local out of hours G.P and having explained the situation – namely that the left side of my face had seemed to lose all muscle integrity, she was advised to phone up NHS direct. This she did, only to be faced with a dilemma when asked to state her relationship to me. Avril and myself don’t discuss such matters, as I believe that if you engage in interminable discussions about the exact nature of your relationship one ends up destroying the thing one wanted to discuss. This puts me in mind of a conversation I had with a support worker Julie some time ago. Julie had enquired as to what exactly the nature of my relationship with Avril was. “Were we a couple?” she asked. I phoned up Avril and repeated the question that Julie had asked me. I left a suitable pause and then said “I told her yes, that we’re a couple, a couple of c*nts!” Julie was understandably unsure whether to laugh at his or not, but the bellowing laugher that gushed from the phone reassured her.  Avril has on many occasions said that the day she met me was the worst day of her life and that I am her nemesis. Equally, she has also said that I’m an emotional psychopath. Avril said nothing of this to NHS direct instead resorting to the simple and understandable moniker of partner. Describing my symptoms they in turn advised her to phone the London Ambulance Service. She phoned them and soon an ambulance was dispatched. I can’t fault the ambulance crew. Their calm, assured professionalism had an immediate restorative effect, which I immediately dispelled, when in the ambulance I remarked to Avril that the last time she’d been in an ambulance with me I’d flat lined and nearly died. Understandably she wasn’t keen to reminisce upon that experience.

After the short journey to my local A&E I bypassed the waiting room and was instead placed in the treatment area where upon the ambulance crew gave a handover report to the sister on duty. After a couple of minutes I was shown into a cubicle. Then the fun really started! First of all a nurse came and asked me to raise up my t-shirt to which she exclaimed “You’ve got chest hair, this will hurt!” As she applied sticky pads at various points on my chest and abdomen, she then got a tangle mess of cables and then deftly connected each cable to a sticker. There was a machine behind my head onto which the information from my body was being displayed. Thankfully I couldn’t see it.

A doctor came to see me sometime later and Avril explained more of what she had seen and that I had experienced a severe brain injury sometime before, in case the doctor thought that all of my current symptoms were a result of this present episode. A nurse then entered and took my blood pressure. It was higher than on the previous two other occasions and I thought, ‘What the f*ck is my body doing to me?” As good luck would have it, it was about this time that Blue Eyes appeared. A little later on the doctor arrived with a consultant and they were both peering into my face with a look of dispassionate professionalism combined with a learning opportunity. What I was suffering from was either neurological or viral, they concluded, and the only way to establish for certain either way was to order a CT scan. I was whisked out of A&E and into a clinical decision unit where I waited for my CT scan. Avril joined me up there amazed to find out that I’d already had my CT scan. Then Blue Eyes returned with the wholly welcome news that an inability to close one eye independent of the other was a sign of Bell’s palsy. Up until then I’d been fearful that it had to mean a stroke and was doing a good impersonation of a swan – above the water all calm serenity but below the water furious activity.

In my case, exuding stoicism, but feeling petrified (of which more in the posts to follow). News that there was a possibility that it might not be a stroke is hard to over emphasise exactly how much relief that gave. Then another consultant came back with the results of my CT scan and asked if it was alright for Avril and Blue Eyes to hear the results. And I thought, these two who have done so much for me so selflessly and tirelessly, of course they have every right. This thought was highlighted by the occupant of the bed a few away form me (but not, as it turned out, phew enough!), who was having the loudest and most pungent enema, one that should not be experienced in an confined space. The consultant explained that the CT scan had proved that it wasn’t a stroke and that it was Bell’s palsy– a condition that affects facial muscles, resulting in temporary paralysis on one side of the face. She asked me a load of questions but being able to see a way out by just answering “No.” to everything she asked – thereby minimizing the likelihood of prolonged interrogation and the possibility an overnight stay – this seemed the most prudent course of action.

Eventually I was discharged and sent home.

Now hopefully you’ll understand if there are any errors or mistakes in the above account. Whilst I wrote in my opening blog that I would alternate between topics of wider relevance and topics relating only to me, given that this has happened to me, I think this is more worthy of your time than reading about me pontificating about wider issues. So the next few blog entries will be taken up with this, my ‘fun’ with temporary facial paralysis.

And also, because the Bell’s palsy affects my eyesight quite grievously, rendering me temporarily unable to look at a computer screen for any significant amount of time, what you are reading, and until further notice, will have been dictated.