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Working On Your Wellbeing: Is It Time You Paid More Attention To Your Mental Health?

When somebody mentions the word health, what springs to mind? As a society, we tend to focus most of our time and energy on physical health, but what about mental health? When was the last time you thought about how you feel? Mental health should be a subject in which we all take an interest. You shouldn’t have to have a psychological disorder to pay attention to your mental health. The truth is that we should all be concerned about our wellbeing. If you don’t give your mental health much thought, this guide should come in handy.

A lay looking into the sunset with her arms spread

Image from https://www.pexels.com/search/happiness/

 

The importance of mental health

Do you go to the gym or try and be as active as possible? Do you watch what you eat and try and ensure that you get enough sleep every night? Most of us make an effort to look after our bodies, but it’s much less common to go out of your way to take care of your mind. When you hear people talking about mental health, you may assume that this only applies to issues such as depression and anxiety, but this isn’t the case. Everybody should be aware of the importance of mental health. We all have a mind, we all have thoughts and feelings, and we can all do more to try and improve our mental wellbeing.

 

If you’ve never had days when you find it tough to get out of bed or you’ve never been in a situation where you’ve been crippled by anxiety when everyone else around you seems fine, you might not have given mental health much thought. Even if you are happy and content, you’re not immune to mental illness, and it’s always beneficial to try and take steps to reduce your risk of developing psychological disorders and to improve your mood. In the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 3 people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives.

I am happy with a smiley face written on a lined sheet of paper

Image via https://pixabay.com/en/happy-i-am-happy-smile-happiness-725815/

 

What are the signs and symptoms of mental illness?

Part of the problem facing a society that doesn’t like to indulge in open discussion about mental illness is being able to spot potential warning signs and symptoms. If we don’t talk about depression, stress, and anxiety, how can we expect people to understand what’s going on in their head? Everyone is different, and some people experience very different symptoms to others. There’s often a lot of confusion surrounding illnesses like depression, as it’s very poorly understood and it’s hard to express how it feels unless you’ve suffered yourself. It’s very easy for other people to view depression as a condition that can be shrugged off, but the reality is that it’s often a very severe illness. You would never tell somebody to shake off a broken leg, but it can be much tougher to understand mental illness because it doesn’t cause bruising, limping, or any other visible signs. Depression is not just feeling down or having a bad day. It’s going through periods of time when you question your worth, you struggle to control your emotions, and you find it difficult to summon up the energy or the motivation to see friends, get out of bed or leave the house.

The back of a woman who has her head and sholders hunched over apearing sad

Image credit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Figure_5._Anxiety_can_leave_a_person_feeling_extremely_sad.jpg

 

Help for mental illness

If you are worried about mental health, you’ve been feeling out of sorts, or you’re concerned for a loved one, there is mental illness help out there. You may find that something as simple as having a chat with a family member or a close friend is enough to make you feel better, you may thrive on exercise or meditation, or you might need more intensive help from doctors, counsellors, and therapists. The first step is acknowledging that everything isn’t quite as it should be. Once you understand that you don’t have to fight these battles alone, you can start to move forward. Techniques like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to process things that have happened in the past and prepare for problems that may arise in the future. They can also help you to adjust your mindset and to gain confidence.

 

Many people also find it helpful to talk to others who have been through what they’re dealing with or people that are in the same boat. It’s hugely reassuring to know that you’re not on your own, and it is possible to get better. Charities can provide group support, and you can also link up with others through forums, events, and social media.

A female doctor talking to a female patient

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/59308652@N02/5431718990

 

Working on your wellbeing

Every single one of us should want to work on our wellbeing. You don’t have to suffer from anxiety or depression to give your mental health some TLC. You look after your body to prevent injuries and illnesses without giving it a second thought, so don’t hesitate to take care of your mental health too. Often, making very simple changes to your lifestyle and how you spend your time can pave the way for major improvements.

 

To boost your self-esteem, happiness, and confidence, spend time with people who make you feel good and form positive relationships. Make time for yourself, as well as being sociable, and set aside time for hobbies and interests. If being creative or playing sport makes you happy, find time in your schedule to do this. If you are struggling in any way, for example, if you’re stressed or you’re finding it impossible to sleep, think about the causes, try and find solutions, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Triggers can range from a bad day at work to the loss of a loved one. Find activities that make you feel calm and relaxed and know when to take yourself off to a happy place. When things are getting on top of you or you feel low, give yourself a time out, take deep breaths, and calm down. Perhaps you find it comforting to call a friend, you need 5 minutes in the fresh air, or you find it helpful to meditate, stretch or write down what you’re feeling.

A book resting on a Ladies knee as she writes

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/photos/writer/

 

There’s a lot of talk about mental health at the moment, but we still put a lot more effort into keeping our bodies healthy than we do our minds. If you haven’t given mental health much thought of late, hopefully, this guide has encouraged you to be more aware of mental illness and to take steps to boost your wellbeing.

The Last Leg

“Sleep is for the weak!” I screamed as the hospital ward lights flickered on.

OK i’m joking. I was extremely tired and the combination of excruciating pain, and the constant need for the bathroom didn’t allow me any quality of sleep.

I was fed, washed and dressed waiting for the Doctor to arrive. He came over and asked all the usual Doctor questions. I explained my blood pressure cuff analogy to him and said that the pain had worsened the longer I had the cast on.
He was very friendly and supportive, even saying he would take my cast off to examine my leg. But as he did not perform the surgery, and wasn’t my Doctor, he had to wait to speak to a Consultant to see what to do.

Not too long after, my nurse came over and said he’d heard I had been uncomfortable all night, and I was complaining about the pain in my leg; to which I agreed.

“It sounds to me like your cast is too tight, let me go get some scissors and i’ll cut it off for you.”

The relief was evident on my now smiling face!

It took Rich, my nurse, a while, but he managed to cut the cast all the way down to the top of my ankle.
The relief was almost instant, my leg was on fire and heavily pulsing, but I actually managed to feel the blood pumping around my leg.

After a serious dose of medication and about half an hour later, I could feel my leg again, and not just agonising pain!

The Doctor came back not too long after and asked how the pain was, he was surprised to hear how drastically my pain scale had reduced.

“My ankle still feels really tight and sore, but it’s like my leg is able to breathe again.”

Rich, my nurse, was with me at this point and the Doctor said there and then to cut the cast off completely, the cast was obviously too tight and I should be fitted with a brace and not another cast.

You would have thought i’d just won the lottery with that comment, I was so ecstatic and relieved at the same time!

Again, as he was cutting the cast off my foot, I could feel the blood beginning to move freely around.

My entire leg was massively swollen, but the tight pain had almost fully disappeared!

Unfortunately it seemed like the surgeon, Doctors and nurses had not taken into consideration my Arthritis.
Whenever I have had a knock or bump to my body in the past, my Arthritis tends to balloon. So the combination of my accident and surgery on my leg, my joints were bound to become inflamed; specifically my knee and ankle.

And that was exactly what happened…

My leg had doubled in size… Couple that with an extremely tight cast and you’ve got a lot of pain through lack of circulation.

First brace given black with foam pads as support and Velcro straps leg is extremely bruised and swollen

I trust Doctors, after all they are the one’s who went to medical school, but i’m an advocate for no-one knows your body better than you do. I’ve lived with chronic pain since the age of 7, so I know the difference between normal pain, and abnormal pain.
*****

Leg with 17 stables closing two long cuts down the right side of the leg

With each day that came and went my leg pain decreased, I owe a special thanks to my friend Oramorph for helping me with my pain relief!

Those first few days on Oramorph were certainly interesting, I was a little woozy, mostly sleepy and my brain felt like it was trudging through sludge… it even got to the point that I declared to the occupational therapist that if nothing was going to happen over the weekend then I was just going to go home and come back Monday – until my friend kindly pointed out that this was a hospital and they weren’t just going to look after my bed for me for the weekend until I decided to return!
When my brain and tongue finally engaged, I realised how ridiculous I sounded, and we had a good laugh at my expense! ;)*****

On a more serious note I did realise just how understaffed, overworked and underpaid the Nurses and Health Care Assistants actually are.

Some patients needed more support due to their age, physical restrictions and sometimes a combination of the two. It was eye opening to watch just how demanding some patients can be, and how in turn that has a domino effect on the rest of the ward and staff.
I also noticed the lack of financial funds that the NHS have on the ground and how that is impacting on patient care.
One particular lady was brought in because she had a fall and had broken her foot… She was also very elderly and suffered with Alzheimer’s

It was heartbreaking to watch her in such distress asking where she was, what had happened, where her parents were as they would be getting worried about her and the why couldn’t she go home?
When she first arrived she had one on one support from a nurse, but that didn’t last very long as the nurse had other patients and duties to attend.
It was awful to bare witness to her on a continuous loop, that turned into hysteria when nurses couldn’t be present to talk to her and soothe her.

When the nurses weren’t around I tried to engage her in conversation as best I could, going through the motions of answering her questions. At some points she and I had conversations about her life and the odd time she was even lucid for a few minutes, so it was lovely.

However being witness to this happening over a few days on one ward I am saddened that there not are specific wards for such patients who need that extra care, support and attention.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the only patient I saw this happening with. I moved wards on Saturday around midnight and there was a similar case with another elderly lady.
Thankfully this ward was much smaller and quieter so nurses and HCA’s could give more attention to her. However, other patients such as my neighbour and myself were forgotten on several occasions.
I blame the Government for these situations, not the Doctor’s,Nurses and HCA’s on the ground. But it’s plain to see that even being in a first world country, patients still aren’t getting the full care and attention they truly need.

*****

New black brace with soft padded supports and clear plastic dial.

Leg without staples or brace on, 2 long cuts with visible staple holes and scabbing

I’m grateful to both hospitals for the care and treatment I received because without them I wouldn’t be at home recovering, trying to live a normal a life as possible as a one legged, blind short arse can 🙂

It’s not been plain sailing; lack of medication, supportive equipment, medical appointments and staples being in my leg 3 weeks longer than they should have been haven’t made my recovery easy but it’s been just over a month since my operation, so i’ve only got 8 weeks left to go!! 🙂
****
It was lovely to bump into you Becca, and meet you Eileen, i’m just sorry it was in such crappy circumstances!
I hope your recovery is going well and you’re kicking butt 😉

Much love,
Sassy x




Me, My Operation and I

I had a call Tuesday morning to let me know that my surgery would be the next day, no eating or drinking anything after midnight, I needed to arrive by 07:00 and I would be told where on the list I was for my operation.

Gary and I managed to get lost; we rocked up to the reception desk to ask for directions, unfortunately the lady sent us off in the completely wrong direction and we ended up on the surgical ward… Through the use of a map and correct directions from the nurses we finally found the right building!

We were told that I was the first patient on the surgery list, woohoo! We filled out the last remaining paperwork, and I got dressed into my gown and stockings, I looked very fetching I must say!
I was wheeled into a waiting area and left their for about 5 minutes before the anaesthetist came to get me. Gary came in with me and we met Mr Khan, the surgeon doing my operation.
It was the first time since my accident that i fully knew what had happened: I had a displaced fracture of my Tibia and Fibula; they had crossed over each other, and my Patella had shattered and fragments were floating about in my knee.
Mr Khan would be putting in metal plates, screws, rods and wires along with artificial bone to reconstruct the knee. Without complications this would take around 3 hours.

He explained that this was a very serious fracture and a complex operation; I tried to crack a joke but he just stayed stoney faced, awkward turtle moment right there!
Mr Khan also stressed to me that because of the trauma to my leg I would now have OsteoArthritis in the knee for the rest of my life.
*Lucky me; now i’ll have 2 types of Arthritis! I don’t do things in halves do i?* 😉
The anaesthetist was very chirpy and friendly, we were cracking jokes while i asked him how long he’d been an anaesthetist?

Ct scan of a fractured Knee, the knee is displaced and splintered into 3 parts.

Gary was very nervous and worried as this was the first time he has ever been to theatre before, I could tell, and tried to be enthusiastic and show I was relaxed.
I told him to give me a kiss and that I loved him, then I settled and said it’s fuzzy i’ll be asleep any second.

The anaesthetist was very kind, taking my oxygen mask off so Gary could kiss me one more time, at this point i’d already drifted off…

*****

I came round from the anaesthetic in the recovery suite, The room was big, bright, air-conditioned and I had a monitor strapped to me checking my OBs. There was the hum of the machines and the bubble of nurses chattering.
I started to wave my arm; being blind and having a dry throat it was the most logical way to get their attention. A second or so later, a nurse came across and asked how I was? There was a lot of head nodding and thumbs up, I was too woozy to talk.

And then the pain hit… *Wow this is really uncomfortable! But I guess this is normal?*
“Could I have some painkillers please?”
“Yes of course, what’s your pain-scale like, 1 being good and 10 being awful?”
“7,,71/2”

The more time passed, the more and more uncomfortable I became. It didn’t help that I was getting hot and sweaty and my nose was extremely itchy, I kept having to take my oxygen mask off, itch my nose and fiddle about with it to try and put it back over my face.Finally the nurse noticed the muddle I was getting myself in trying to put my mask back on and offer to put the line up my nose instead. The relief was almost instant, I started to cool down and my nose was less itchy!

I kept asking for more and more painkillers, each time my ranking rating higher than the last time.
“The pain really should be subsiding by now, where is the pain?”
“My leg.” “It’s like I can’t feel the circulation, my leg feels like it has 3 blood pressure cuffs on it at the same time.”
“It is normal to have leg pain after surgery, and they do tend to wrap it quite tight to stop swelling.”
“But this doesn’t feel normal.”
“Wiggle your toes for me,can you feel me touching your foot?”
“Yes.
“You’ve got full circulation, your leg should settle down soon, i’ll give you a little bit more morphine before we take you upstairs.”
“Yes please.””Can you call Gary please?”
*I need a wee, i’ll just think of that instead of the pain…*

***

“OK Sassy we’re ready to take you to the ward now.”
“OK good, is Gary there?”
“Yes he’ll be waiting for you on the ward.”
“Thanks for your help, bye, have a good day.
“You’re very cheery for someone who is recovering from surgery!”
“Am I, hmmm maybeI am!”

I just laid back and tried to relax and the porters took me to the ward.

“Sorry, she can’t be on this ward, we’re full.”
“Oh, they told us to bring her here.”
“Well i’m sorry, I don’t know why they would, they know we are full.”
Sorry about this Sassy.”
*Oh but I need a wee*
Hey, I have a bed, i’m fine.”

Back to the recovery suite…

“We have to wait here until they have a space for her on another ward.”
“Oh right, let me ring around and find out what’s happening.”
“How long am I staying here for? Can I have some more painkillers?”
“I’m not sure Sassy it shouldn’t be too long. And we can’t give you any more i’m afraid.”
*It’ll be good to finally be on a ward so I can go for a wee*

I didn’t have to wait too long.

“OK Sassy, you’ve got a space on the ward now.”
“Yay, is Gary there?”
“Yes he should be.”
“Oh good!”

***
X-ray of fractured knee in which you can see the bone cracked and displaced.

Small talk between Gary and I and the nurse introducing herself to me…

“On a scale of 1-10 how much pain are you in?”
“9, 91/2.”
“That’s pretty high…”
“Yes it’s been getting worse as time passes.” “Can I have some morphine please.”
“You’ll have to wait a while, we don’t have your notes yet.”
“Oh god I really need painkillers! I need to stretch my leg”
“I’m sorry there isn’t anything I can do until your notes arrive.”
“Oh my god! It’s like 3 blood pressure cuffs on my leg at once! This is agony!!”
“I need to stand up.”
“No you can’t stand up.”
“NO I NEED to stand up!.”
“No sorry I can’t let you do that i’m sorry, you’ve just had major surgery and I need to look after you.”
“Well let me stand up, it’s the only thing that helps, i’ve been having this pain at home but it’s intensified!”
“You’re not allowed to stand up and i’m not going to let you.”
*OK I officially dislike this woman, get her out my face*
“Can you go see if i’m allowed morphine yet?”
“Yes, I can go do that “

“Right she’s gone, help me get out of this bed.”
Long pause…

“Sassy you heard what she said.”
“Get me out of this bed now!!
*Gary doesn’t move but I do*
“I need to stand up, just for a minute. It’ll help release the pain, I know it will.”
“I’ve been explaining this pain to you over the last few days, and it’s completely intensified,why aren’t you listening to me?”
“I don’t want you to get hurt, or damage your leg.”
“I’m not going to get hurt, I just need to sit in the chair and pull myself up, and I won’t be putting weight on my leg.”
*Gary helps me get into the chair.
As I stand up, i’m in absolute agony, and have to breathe hard to not cry out.
Although it’s agony, it’s doing what I thought it would, and pushes the blood around my leg. The pain although intense starts to steady itself.
Once i’ve done all I can to release the pressure I move back onto the bed*
“I’ve got some morphine for you.”
“Thanks, can I go to the toilet please?
“You’re not allowed to weight-bare, but i’ll get you a bedpan.”
“What if you push me in a wheelchair?”
“”No, i’m not allowed to do that.”
“OK, i’ll have a bedpan then.”
At least 5 minutes pass…”I really need a wee, where is she?”
“I don’t know…”
“Can you check?”
“She’s with someone else at the moment.”
“Oh great, I hope I don’t wee myself!”
“OK, I have the bed pan, if you could just roll onto your side.”

I had already lifted my backside up and started pulling at y gown.
“Just lie down for me.”
“Oh, this is how i was doing it in the other hospital it’s easier for me.”

Fumbling with gown and getting frustrated

“Gary take this stupid gown off me.”
“Let me lower the bed for you.”
“No I don’t need it lowered?”

Gary undoing gown.

“Here, let me help you.”
“Please can you just leave us to it, I want this gown off and don’t feel comfortable getting naked in front of you.”
“It’s OK i’m here to help you.”
“Well I don’t want your help, can you leave please?””

She reluctantly exits the cubicle but constantly sticks her head in.

“Can you just leave me to it, you’re distracting me and I can’t concentrate”
“I need to make sure you’re OK.”
“My partner is with me, i’m OK.”

*This woman is absolutely useless, I don’t like her*

Even though i’m ready to burst, I sit there and, nothing…

“Have you gone yet?”
“No.”

Still nothing…

“How are you getting on?”
“I can’t wee…”
“Can I come in?”
“No.”

She comes in anyway…

“So you still haven’t been? You’ve been sat there over 10 minutes…”
“Can you just get out please?
“I just want to help you.”
“Just get out!!”
“There’s no need to be so rude!”
“Well you asked if you could come in and I said no! I need to do this in my own time stop hovering over me.”

Finally she leaves…

Still nothing…

Nope, nothing.
I try everything pushing, prodding, wiggling, and even getting Gary to rub my back with no avail.

Finally an hour later…

The tiniest trickle happens!!

“What?! I’ve been waiting all that time for that??”

But the relief is insurmountable.
*****

Right leg in a white cast from ankle to thigh

Lots of love, medication and a sandwich later, i’m finally relaxing as best I can.

The nurses do a change over, and it’s time for Gary to leave.
We say our goodnights and he helps me settle for the evening. I apologise for the outbursts and severe grumpiness, he accepts my apology and says he can tell how much pain i am in.

I didn’t get much sleep that night, mostly to do with the pain, but mores because my bladder decided to kick in and I couldn’t stop peeing like a racehorse until breakfast the next morning!




Please stay tuned for the final instalment of my accident and the chaos that ensues… 😉

The Joys of A&E

Gary and I headed off to A&E on Friday morning as previously discussed by the Doctors and ourselves in Malta.
We are extremely grateful to our friends for picking us up from the airport, and then kindly carrying me to the sofa! As I had been in a foreign hospital I had no wheelchair or crutches to aid me; only the people around me!

Thankfully A&e wasn’t too packed, so we didn’t have to wait too long to be seen. I was given a set of crutches and an appointment to the fracture clinic for Monday morning to discuss surgery.

And we were sent on our merry way.

*****
Around 5 AM Sunday morning I woke up in considerable pain, my leg felt like it was having the life squeezed out of it, I took some painkillers and by 06:30 things hadn’t improved, I was starting to seriously worry; I had no DVT injection since Thursday and I was beginning to worry there might be something sinister going on.

(Fondaparinux injection is used to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT; a blood clot, usually in the leg. It is given to those who have had a recent leg operation or have severely restricted movement in the legs from an accident.)
Gary and I went straight to A&E; I wasn’t seen by a doctor until 10:00.

I explained everything from my accident, handing over my discharge letter along with x-ray and CT scan, to the fracture clinic appointment, to the pain I was feeling, the Doctor did all the checks and said that I did have circulation flowing and there wasn’t anything to be concerned about. It wasn’t until I stressed that this pain had become increasingly worse daily that he decided to keep me monitored until I could speak to an orthopaedic doctor.
Gary and I made it clear that I was blind, but I don’t think this was passed onto the HCA taking my OBs; he just stood their silently waiting for me to hold my arm out and then finger so he could take my blood pressure and pulse…
Regardless of my sight loss I thought it was almost rude that he came into the cubicle without a word, moved about quietly and then expected to take my OBs in silence and stalk off again… There has been a change in the law that people with extra needs who attend NHS centres should be given notes/ leaflets/ medical information in a format preferred by the patient. So for me that would be; verbal communication as to who they are, what they are doing in the room, talking openly about my care, and any medical information to be given to me via email.
This was never discussed with me, but as it wasn’t exactly high on my priority list I decided not to mention it.

When my 4 hours in A&E were up; a nurse explained that I had filled my quota of A&E hours and I had to go elsewhere for monitoring and waiting to see the Doctor in charge of Orthopaedics.
Discussing with the nurse as she moved us elsewhere in the hospital it’s clear that the medical professionals are aggravated by the government putting this in place.
If I were to stay longer than my quota she would get it in the neck from her bosses!
How ridiculous is it that the government are more bothered about number crunching than patients and their welfare!

My family and I were put on a ward and told that they couldn’t give us a time, but the Doctor would be with us when he could.
We laughed and joked, and waited around for at least an hour and half before we began getting impatient. My Dad and Gary were giving us hangry eyes; so Mother and i sent them off to make us some breakfast sandwiches 🙂
Thankfully for us Gary and I live around the corner from the hospital so it was easy enough for Gary and Dad to pop home, make brunch and bring it back.
Sausage and bacon sandwiches with a cup of tea was just what we all needed! Thinking back now, it was very tasty and I was extremely grateful to the boys, even if it was more for their benefit than either mine or my Mum’s 😉

We waited for at least another hour before my Mother decided to go and investigate as to what was going on, she came across a bunch of nurses just sitting on their phones not doing any work!
Upon enquiring she was given an “we don’t know what’s going on”comment.
Mother didn’t take no for an answer and eventually we were told that the Doctor we were waiting on was in surgery and would see us when he was out…
Although annoying that we hadn’t been given this information before, at least we finally knew what all the waiting around was for!

Eventually we saw the Doctor. From the x-rays he had seen the fracture was severe and definitely needed surgery, but as the hospital couldn’t access the CT scans that i had brought over with me from Malta, he couldn’t make an informed decision of how to repair the leg properly.

CT scan give for more detailed information than an x-ray. I was told that I could possibly have the surgery as early as the next morning, so I was to prepare myself by eating and drinking nothing after midnight and I would get a phone call in the morning to let me know if I would be having surgery.
It was a long day; we didn’t leave the hospital until around 14:30 but at least we had cut out the middle man of going through this all the following day at the fracture clinic.:)
** * * *
I hope you haven’t had to attend A&e, but if you have, what were your experiences with it?



The 4 Star Hospital Stay

I guess i should have known that things weren’t going to run so smoothly on our holiday to Malta; finding out just 4 days before the holiday that Low Cost Holidays had stolen £700 from us, “cleverly set the business up in Spain knowing their customers wouldn’t be ATOL protected and wouldn’t get their money back, if, they went into Administration. The robbing bastards!

I’ve never been too good in the luck department and when one thing goes wrong; it’s essentially the domino effect from there on out…

Gary always tells me to stop running off all the time. and for once he didn’t tell me to wait, and for once I really shouldn’t have thought cliff diving onto concrete would be a wonderful idea! 😉

Of course i’m only joking; I didn’t purposefully injure myself but it happened and what ensued was mini chaos.
If you’re not sure what i’m on about read my earlier post the Holiday I’ll never Forget.

After the horrific journey of my leg being thrown round in all directions at hitting every pot hole Malta has to offer we eventually arrived at Mater Dei Hospital.

Maltease Ambulance

Arial shot of Mater Dei hospital

It’s amazing how you remember everything is connected in your body when you sustain an injury, every bed transfer, the slight movement of the trolley or just being asked to wiggle my toes was almost unbearable.

I don’t remember how much morphine was given to me, but apparently it was a lot ore than they initially thought I would need, Yet it never touched the surface. The proof was in the pudding when the people applying plaster of paris to my injured leg yanked and tugged at my leg. They were ruthless and even when my leg went into violent spasms and I told them to stop they wouldn’t!!

Right leg in a plaster cast

I’m not trying to be a doctor but seriously, if a patients’ leg is shaping to the point where you can’t hold it straight while wrapping it, and you are wondering why i’m yelping, and why the cast seems slightly off?
Maybe, just maybe you should have listened to your patient!

Sadly Gary was not around to be my knight in shinning armour and save me from the torturous beasts as he had to leave the hospital and travel on a 80 minute round trip to retrieve our passports and eHic1 card, otherwise we would have to pay 100€ just to be seen in A&E!




I was given an X-ray and an MRI; the results showed I had a level 5 fracture, considering there are 6 levels to a fracture this was not good!The results showed that I had broken the top of my Tibia, Fibula and my Patella was shattered. Not only had the bone gone into shards but they were also sitting on top of one another.

I was eventually moved upstairs on to a ward, the staff were brilliant, although the first night wasn’t particularly pleasant… We arrived on the ward an hour after dinner was served and even though the staff knew i’d be staying until my flight home on the Thursday, they only offered Gary and I a jug of water, until I asked if we could have a cup of tea.

For me it wasn’t so bad as I had been concentrating on my leg all day, but for Gary it was hard, we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast earlier that morning.
Gary managed to find somewhere to buy us both a sandwich thankfully.

I had not long finished my sandwich when I asked the nurses for stronger painkillers as I just couldn’t handle it any longer.
The lovely nurse prewarned me that I may feel a little nauseous and the painkiller will probably make me fall asleep pretty quickly.
I got settled and said to Gary, i’m all woozy i think i’ll fall asleep any minute.
I was revelling in the wooziness when suddenly without any forwewarning from my body I threw up all over myself!
We had nothing around except an empty mug and so I managed to catch the remainder in it…
When Gary finally got hold of a nurse she came over and one of the first things she said to me was
“No, don’t drink anything if you’ve just been sick.”
When Gary replied:
“She was sick in the cup too.”
The nurse didn’t seem best pleased.
With the help of Gary, the nurse managed to clean me up

I didn’t get any sleep that night, the combination of pain and animal noises coming from another patient all night saw to that.
I kid you not when I say he sounded like a cross between Mufassa from the Lion King and a hippo. It was unnaturally loud and disturbing!




The Next Day.

The next day I was seen by a surgeon, who explained that I needed an operation as there was no way my leg was going to heal itself.
We discussed that as my flight was the next afternoon that I would be fit to fly and I could have the operation back in the UK which I was really pleased about!!

I was given a bed bath by two very lovely nurses, if you have never had a bed bath all I will say is leave your dignity at the door. They were extremely professional and careful, but I really wasn’t expecting the moment the nurse actually shoved a flannel up my vagina and gave it a good wipe!

I encountered my first time with a bed pan. They are slightly bumshaped and inside sits a plastic bowl cut to match. Using a bed pan allows urine to run everywhere, trying to lift my bum, hold my weight and stop the urine trickling down into a mini pool on the bed as I got off was much harder than I anticipated!

I also had to tackle using the toilet; when your cast goes from your ankle all the way up to the middle of your thigh and straight out is pretty strange not only pulling trousers etc down, but extremely uncomfortable to sit awkwardly as your leg sticks straight out.

I get this weird tension/ pressure in my leg… and don’t even think about pushing, it feels as if your leg is about to drop off!

Minus the pain, the stay at the hospital was good, the nurses were fantastic, even allowing Gary to sleep by my bedside each night and putting extra portions of food on my plate so we could share dinner.
They were great at supporting me by helping me go to the toilet, get dressed and generally had a calming and cheery disposition.

The Journey Home.

The front of the maltese Airport

The journey home would have been smooth, almost pleasant if the Maltese Ambulance service hadn’t of taken the piss to arrive. We booked the ambulance for 14:00 as the gates closed at 15:15 and according to the nurses it would only take 15 minutes to get there.

The paramedics didn’t turn up until 14:40 and thought it appropriate to laugh joke and go as slow as a sloth on sleeping tablets! We were losing time fast….No attempt at getting me transferred from the bed to the trolley, and again from the ambulance to the wheelchair, twice!
The drive itself was uncomfortable to say the least with it’s bumpy roads but thankfully my leg was now a lot sturdier in a cast.

Gary along with the nurse had to check us in, and when they did that (the receptionist was more bothered about what happened than actually scanning us in, we almost missed the closing gate!!

It was random being on a wheelchair with no arms and narrow frame getting on the plane, then getting hoisted onto the seats by a bed sheet!
I had always wondered how permanent wheelchair users would be able to get on the plane and get to their seat.

The flight back was more comfortable than I expected, I had an entire row to myself, and it was only the armrest digging into my back that made the journey uncomfortable.

Gary had to sit on the end aisle seat and hold my legs as the airport runway is small, so i became increasingly worried that my leg was going to go flying and I would be in agony.
I was happily surprised, the landing was very smooth and my leg didn’t jolt at all.

A big thanks to Ryanair for being so accommodating with flight adaptations! Thank you also to Luton airport for your smooth running specialist assistance and transfer! 🙂

And that was my hospital stay in Malta, stay tuned for the 2nd instalment coming soon!!

* * * *
Have you ever had an injury abroad? How was your medical treatment and attention? And the journey home?




Let’s Talk About Depression

Depression is a chemical imbalance not a personality flaw. Mental illness  affects 1 in 5 people, with 1 in 4 people suffering from depression.

It can affect anyone, rom any background, at any time. We can all feel low, fed up and down at times, and this will usually pass within a week or two and doesn’t interfere with our daily tasks or living. Depression makes it hard to function and enjoy life like you once did, some people describe it as a black hole or feeling of complete emptiness, other people have described feeling angry, irritable, agitated or restless. There are many signs and symptoms of depression  which I am going to list below.




If you’ve had any of these signs or symptoms for 2 weeks or more, please seek help.

Signs and symptoms:
  • You feel hopeless/helpless
  • You’ve lost interest in friends, activities and things you used to enjoy.
  • You feel tired all the time.
  • Your sleep and appetite has changed.
  • You can’t concentrate or find previously easy tasks difficult.
  • You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try.
  • You are much more irritable, short tempered or aggressive than usual.
  • You are consuming more alcohol than normal, or engaging in reckless behaviour.
  • You are self harming.
  • You have thoughts of suicide, or feelings that people would be better off without  you around.
Mental illness has such a stigma around it that people feel ashamed, embarrassed or deny that there is something wrong with them. People don’t want the label of having a mental health condition, or to be labelled as “crazy” or judged by others. As I said previously 1 in 5 people suffer from mental illness, with 1 in 4 suffering with depression. It could be your neighbour, coworker, or even a family member who may not have opened up to you.
We need to end the stigma around mental illness and depression, because in most circumstances a person just needs to be reminded  that they are still loved and thought of. You would go to the Doctors /  Hospital if you broke your arm, so why won’t you go for your mental health? Our brain is the main organ in our body that keeps us breathing, thinking, running and smiling, we need to remind ourselves that if our mental health is suffering, then
our body will too.
The ultimate protection from the discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness is to tell no-one, and keep it a secret, however this protection comes at a cost, feeling more alone and vulnerable than ever. In order to combat the stigma, and relieve some tension, you should find a confidant, someone you can truly trust, and will listen. This may be a health professional, close friend, family member, or even writing anonymously on forums/discussion boards.
There are so many benefits to opening up to your confidant; you no longer have to worry about keeping the secret, you can be more open in your day to day life, those you choose to tell may express support, and value your honesty  in confiding in them, those you share your story with may share similar stories o confirming you aren’t alone in your circumstances or experiences, your disclosure may help others in need, and of course it can help to  diminish negative connotations and stereotypes of mental illness.
My Story:
I myself suffer from depression, and looking back as  far as February this year these signs and symptoms started to appear. Unfortunately  I didn’t truly pay attention to myself,  any time I had a really bad or low day, I put this down to external circumstances and moved on. It wasn’t until August that I truly started to realise my behaviour and mood was drastically changing, and my partner and I had an open discussion about things and he suggested it was time to visit the doctor to ask for help.
I visited the Doctor, and my partner and I explained how I was changing, my mood was erratic and I felt hopeless  and exhausted, but then I would change to being extremely irritable, angry and  crying daily. During this talk I got emotional and said I hated feeling like this and treating my boyfriend this way. She was extremely patient and comforting. I was given a questionnaire to fill out, and told to fill it out thinking of my worst days, she asked me to bring back the form and she would look at my results and we would discuss options and where to go from there.
I returned and the Doctor said that my results ranked very highly  on the depression scale. We discussed options; I could choose to take anti depressants, speak to a counsellor, or do both. I opted for the anti – depressants, as I had never been on them before, whereas I had spoken with a counsellor in the past.
Every medication has side effects and that includes anti depressants, and I was told this before I had decided to opt for medication. The Doctor explained that it would take around 2/3 weeks to see any affects of the anti depressants, and I was to go back for a review in 3 weeks to discuss the treatment, I was also informed if I suffered any side effects I should contact the Doctors ?Surgery immediately.
The first few days were pretty crappy; I had dizziness, nausea and was extremely tired… I read the side effects and surprise surprise those were there, what was amusing was the side effects were also; feeling wide awake, overly tired, restlessness, irritability, increased appetite, loss of appetite, weight gain, weight loss, suicidal thoughts… As you can see they were contradictory effects, and essentially covered symptoms of depression its-self. Obviously depression isn’t funny but my partner and I have a warped sense of humour and thought it silly and amusing. I did suffer from several side  effects but chose not to go to the Doctor, as  the side effects were so extensive, I decided to just wait it out and see.
I’ve now been on my anti depressants for 3 months now, and can genuinely see and tell the difference, my sleeping pattern is far more regular, i’m nowhere near as exhausted, and I can concentrate and pay attention to things like I used to, and I am back in contact with friends socialising a lot more! As I mentioned the first few weeks were tough, but I don’t have any of the side effects now, and I’m beginning to really feel like my old self again 🙂
I know medication isn’t for everyone, but I just wanted to share my story and say, if you’re feeling hose persistent symptoms/signs above, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you can trust. I’m thankful my partner and I are so open with one another, he noticed my changes from the beginning but he had to let me make that final decision on getting professional help.
It’s OK to ask for help and admit that you’re changing and not happy with it. Please never battle alone, or think that no-one cares, because that’s never true.
I’m more than happy to talk to anyone privately about their worries, or any questions you may have. I am also going to link some really helpful links below for people/organisations to contact if you so need to.
I’m also going to write a more in depth insight of my depression to give you a fuller insight, but i’d just like to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading, and I hope this information was useful to you.
Take care and best wishes!
Much love, Sassy x
NHS Support:
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
Samaritans:
http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us
Mind:
http://www.mind.org.uk
9 Thinks You Didn’t Know About Antidepressants:
http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/news/real-life/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-being-on-antidepressants-20151258066?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Hootsuite




Deep Thoughts… 

I suppose this blog is a bit off the beaten track for my usual style but I’d prefer to mix it up slightly rather than having long whiny posts 😛
So let me begin; I went for a routine eye hospital appointment. I spoke with my Professor and Consultant at length and they informed me that my vision was definitely going to get worse; one day i’ll go totally blind (black blind). As I had been preparing for this and noticed myself that my little bit of vision left had been deteriorating it wasn’t a shock, just fact.




Going black blind worries me for 3 main reasons:

•Feeling alone. 24/7 I have technically been black blind for 24 hours after my operation and it was the loneliest time of my life. It felt like i was in the darkest depths of a cave, with nothing but darkness, density and quiet around me. I was alone with only my mind, and as you’ll probably know yourself, your mind can be your best friend or worst enemy.
•Not being able to navigate around homes, or new places, for how little sight I actually have, I rely on it every second of every day. I’m worried about not being able to feel comfortable in a new place, and continuously bouncing off things.
•My sleep cycle; i’m a girl that absolutely love sleep! Well who doesn’t? But talking to friends who are also totally blind, sleep seems to be a major stressor. Humans see light and their body resets itself, your eyes see the light and it distinguishes between light and dark, and your body clock feels more awake, and thus we get tired when it’s dark. (The nonscientific quick version).
I understand it’s normal to feel these apprehensions and deep down I know it’s not my fault, I have no control over it. It’s just human nature to worry about the future, how will I cope? How will I react? Will I be super stressed and take it out on those I love most? Will my sleep pattern get screwed over?

But then I realised there was no point dwelling, when it happens i’ll deal with it, and it’ll just be another hurdle i’ll hav to overcome.
I came to this realisation when I was talking to my family over the weekend, well actually i’ll be honest, my partner pulled me through it.




*Quick backflash*

Earlier this year my partner and I went to a friends’ for the evening. The conversation of my potential total blindness came into conversation, and I said well if it happens i’ll kill myself. My partner Gary and my best friend fell silent, while her fiancee questioned me on it, reminding me i’d been through a lot in my life and I would get through it like everything else. I was stubborn and explained as best I could that if he’d experienced how it felt to lose your sight completely, he’d feel the same way.

When we got home Gary and I had a conversation about it, he even got emotional, saying that I hurt his feelings saying what I did and I was being brutal to myself, , and why couldn’t we get through this together? I realised that I had almost broken the man I love with my selfish words.
And from that moment on I truly realised I might be the person going through it, but i’m not the only person that’s affected by it. Whatever happens as long as I have the support from him, and the rest of my family and friends who’ve supported me through all my struggles in life, i’ll get through it.
No matter how much we worry, stress, and are scared about our futures’ life is going to come, bitch slap you round the face and leave again. We always have a choice; give up or give it all you’ve got.
I know my sight loss is inevitable, and many things and feelings may occur. but i’ve taken on Gary’s advice and started doing daily tasks in the complete dark to get myself prepared. I still feel happy every time I open my eyes and can still see that little bit. but it’s a positive step toward what will happen, instead of denying it and letting it hit me like a tonne of bricks!

We need to learn to love wholly, show gratitude, and enjoy life to the fullest. Stay true to yourself, and even when the bad times come, roll with it. What matters today, will most likely no longer affect you a year from now.
I hope i’ve shown you that no matter how negative things are, or, could be, we’ve always got something to be positive about.

Happiness and good health to you all 🙂

Much love, Sassy x