Tuesday, 17 January 2012


The flare is not going well. In fact it’s not going at all. It’s been there along the whole length of my right leg for about two weeks now. Throb throb. A big polymyalgia echo with an attendant and depressing fog accompanying it. Not, naturally, that I’m allowing any of this to slow me down.

I’ve just done a six mile amble round the headland from Mumbles to Caswell Bay on Gower. Bright sun, lots of stiff breeze and not really that exerting. For a wild in the country walk the whole thing turned out to be extremely civilised. The trail was mostly concrete-topped with a regulation handrail on the seaward side to prevent those likely to sue the Council from falling off. People passed me carrying plastic-lidded Starbucks-style cups of coffee bought from any one of the many branches of the Surfside Café who have clearly won the contract to provide refreshment along this stretch.

Could you tell I was a sufferer? Not really. It was only on the uppies that I slowed more than I once did. Leg muscles pulling. They never used to do that.

I get on the phone to Rheumatology. There’s a number on my appointment letter. I reach the Appointments Hot Line where the only thing they can suggest I do is call the hospital’s main number and ask to be put through. So I do that. But there’s no reply, just endless ringing. Switch board off at lunch.

I hunt the web and turn up a page clearly put there by Rheumatology itself. There’s a number. I dial and reach it. A recorded voice tells me that this is the Rheumatology Advice Line and would I leave a message. They’ll get back to me. But there may be a wait. Useless.

Eventually, after delving through my files of past hospital correspondence and appointment letters for various things, still active and past, going back several decades, I unearth a different general hospital number. I try it and, wham bam, I’m speaking to a real person. They put me through to rheumatology. It’s all pretty straightforward after that.

The flare from my description is not sounding much like a flare should. What I’ve described, says the rheumatologist, sounds more skeletomuscular. I get an appointment to go in again sooner rather than later. Plus the advice to reduce the prednisolone dose immediately. Let’s forget about the 20 mgs I’ve been trying because the flare was so awful. Instead we’ll go down from 15 mgs to 12.5 mgs daily. Will that lift the spirits? Ought to. I take a long stare into my Lumie SAD lamp, the Mediterranean once again flooding my study. I’ve got Mahler on the player, a bracing choice for a dull Tuesday morning. I go over to the machine and turn it up.

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