Ronniewatch – day hundred and something…

I suppose you’re all due a quick update for Ronniewatch. I have perhaps been neglecting him on the writing front. Though I think he probably appreciates that.

He’s been home for about a month now and seems to have managed to stop losing weight, if not put any on quite yet. He reminds me less of a concentration camp escapee now that he’s recovering from his Nelly inflicted hair do.

Food is such an issue he’s taken up cooking, sparking a series of Ronnie’s kitchen nightmares jokes and generating yet more dishes for wee Liz to clean up. It has meant a hugely increased amount of fried-chinese style food is being consumed by yours truly – it wouldn’t do to see the left overs go to waste now would it?

He now has a clot in his leg. Or more accurately he’s probably had it for a month or two, but it’s only becoming apparent now. Note the photo below shows a DVT. Not twins.
dvt.jpg On a medical note, it’s one of those things that we’re probably discovering more often cause we scan more often for them now. Which brings up the whole question of is it or is it not worth treating? Large parts of medicine are made up of what is know as plausible theory. For example if someone is a bit short on oxygen then giving them oxygen must be good for them. Right? [Hint: if anyone ever asks you such a question then the answer is “not necessarily”, though if you’re in Sunday school at the time then it’s probably GOD, JESUS or Moses…]

To complicate the example (and I will try to keep it simple), if someone dies from Pneumonia (pronounced of course “p-new-monia”, all that silent “p” stuff is just what we use to make lay-people look stupid. Next time a doctor uses the silent “p” be sure to correct him. What, do you think I’m trying to make you look stoopid or something…?), then generally what’s done it will be the lack of oxygen to the tissues (particularly heart, brain, kidneys etc…) of the body.

The plausible theory would be that providing supplementary oxygen should help prevent them dying. Surely we have lots of evidence to confirm this? [See “Hint” above]

There’s a guy (admittedly I paraphrase to the point of invention. This is the type of thing I picked up on the morning ward round in NZ, along with how you can use coconuts as IV fluids if you need to, so I’m dubious if it actually happened) in South Africa trying to conduct a study comparing the treatment of kids with pneumonia, where the only difference in treatment is the availability of supplementary oxygen (in many parts of SA this is common). In the less well-equipped areas, where no oxygen is available the kids who run low on oxygen either get better or die.

The interesting question is that whether giving oxygen actually makes any difference to survival. Does giving oxygen simply make the numbers on the monitor look better? In other words if your pneumonia is bad enough for you to need oxygen then giving you oxygen isn’t gonna make a difference.

I feel I may have lost even some of the early readers with that little foray, even the enthusiastic ones who started off with appropriate footwear and a flask of warm lemon drink.


The problems with clots in the leg is that they fire off and travel round the body and get stuck in the lungs and stop the blood flow from the heart – which is unsurprisingly kind of bad. Sort of like sticking your finger in the end of a running hose.

The treatment to stop that happening is good old fashioned rat poison (minus the crushed glass of course). Of all the nasty drugs patients come in on, I hate that more that all the others.

Incidentally I’m doing well on my list of things I never wanted to see happen to my family:

“The biopsy tells us it’s cancer” – Check

The “sit down in the relatives room and wait for the surgeon” chat – Check

Relative on a ventilator – Check

Relative on warfarin – Check

But I suppose it does work despite all the complications so maybe I shouldn’t diss it quite so much…

Consider it added to Dad’s ever growing list of “every complication possible” (though no matter what he says, he’s got all kinds of options left to explore!).

It does give him a busy week, 4 hospital appointments in 5 days, 3 sets of blood tests. I tend to underestimate the effect of all these diagnoses on people. To me a clot in the leg is “not a big deal”, just cause it won’t kill him. Again confirming that I have a lot to learn about quality of life.

We were also back for an appointment in the Belfast hospital where Dad had the surgery. Walking along the corridors was not a pleasant experience. I went down the wee spiral stairs in the atrium to get a cup of coffee and it all hit me again, the waiting, the phone calls, the fear.

On a positive note we did get to meet some of the staff who’d looked after him, and that was cool. For them and us I think.

To end on a positive note, he got behind the wheel of a car again (the mighty volvo of course) and we drove down to the shop for some milk. Winner.

Hidden in the back of my mind, somewhere under all the blogs and the books and the new Broken Social Scene album is the likelihood of the odd bad day ahead.

Not that I expect them, not that I’m being negative. Just that the road to recovery has lots of chances for wrong turns along the way.

[Note: I admit that last one is a tad clicheed, hope it doesn’t leave you sick as a parrot… Just take me away from the keyboard before I hurt myself…]


1 Response to “Ronniewatch – day hundred and something…”

  1. 1 Roads November 19, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Excellent post again, Nelly. Hospital appointments are a pain at the best of times, and they take such a bloody long time as well.

    Interesting thoughts on whether oxygen (or any non-specific treatment) really does increase survival rates. My view is that it probably does, if only of the medical team. I’ve long suspected that some of the treatment plans are undoubtedly done for their own feeling of well being, as well as the patient’s.

    Perhaps it’s a bit like football these days. The referee awards a penalty, and you get to expect that he’ll be surrounded by a group of angry protesting players.

    And if he isn’t, then in a way it’s almost disappointing, since some part of the expected role play has been missed. The same philosophy probably applies.

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