So there's quite a lot of catching-up to do, given that I have been a bad pituitary blogger for the past month and a half and yet quite a few highly relevant things have happened, including meeting with the neurosurgeon and Ear Nose and Throat people (who are apparently more properly called Otolaryngologists - who knew?) and finally getting a date for surgery. I shall start at the very beginning...
At the beginning of November, my next injection was due. You probably know by now that I need monthly injections of lanreotide, a somatostatin analogue, to suppress the overproduction of thyroid stimulating hormone by my pituitary tumour. These injections are delivered into my hip via the medium of a really big needle. It's so big I'm pretty sure a camel actually could pass through it.*
One of the nurses greeted me when I arrived, took my bloods and then went to get the injection. Then something happened which had never happened before.
"Would you like any freezing spray?" she asked me.
I was nonplussed. Previously, I had always associated freezing spray with childhood trips to the Irish seaside, not hospitals. I had to ask what it was.
"Oh, it's just a spray which freezes the skin before an injection," the nurse explained.
Those who know me well will know that one of the few things I like less than injections is being cold. "Sounds unpleasant," I said.
"Yes, it's quite painful," the nurse said breezily. "But some patients still prefer it."
Now at this point, I admit perhaps I should have smelled a rat. No other nurse had ever offered me freezing spray prior to one of these injections. But I wasn't worried.
Like a fool.
Most nurses, when they do this injection, hold the needle (did I mention it's massive?) against your skin and then gently press it in. Not this nurse. Instead, she opted to hold the needle some distance away from the injection site, then take a great swing and stab me with it. It was considerably more painful than usual, and I bled a lot more than normal as well.
I can see why her patients usually ask for freeze spray.
So, I promptly became the proud owner of an excitingly multi-coloured hip bruise, which lasted for three weeks before finally fading just before I was due the next injection. I actually did try to take a photo to show you all but it just came out as a blurry smoosh. For a couple of days I couldn't even lie in bed on that side without wincing.
Anyway, that anecdote was by way of being an aperitif to the main cock-up that I encountered on that trip to the hospital. While my hip was bleeding gently, one of the endocrine nurses asked if I'd heard
anything from the Neurosurgery or Ear Nose & Throat departments, who were supposed to be getting in touch with me about my impending surgery. I explained that I'd still heard nothing and that despite my attempts to call them I'd never got through to speak to an actual human being, and they'd never returned any of my messages. The nurse went off, had a look at her computer, and returned to tell me that I'd had an appointment with ENT. On the 26th October. Which was four days previously.
I also had an appointment booked in on the 5th November with Neurosurgery which I knew nothing about, and ENT had written to me to rearrange my missed appointment for the 6th November.
They'd been writing to my old address.
I still don't have the faintest idea how it happened. As soon as I moved house, I duly phoned the hospital and updated them with my new address. Not long afterwards, I received an appointment from the MRI Department at my new house. I sighed a deep sigh of relief in the happy knowledge
that my details had been successfully updated... and it never occurred to me that they might be sending appointments to my old address.
Obviously I am also slightly put out at my former housemates, who knew I was going to have surgery and who I'd asked to forward on any hospital-looking letters, or even just let me know if they arrived so that I could drop by to pick them up. But how the hospital could get it right... and then revert to getting it wrong, I have no idea. It's not the first time it's happened, either - avid readers will recall that information about a ream of tests I had to have in July was sent to my old address despite the fact that I'd not lived there in four months and all my other letters had gone through correctly.
So obviously, I was very upset about this. I had been doing everything I could to find out
about my appointments, and no-one ever got back to me. You have to wonder how many appointments I would have had to miss before anyone bothered to do so.
* Hell yeah, I'm cultured.