Tuesday, 12 June 2012


It’s a fallow period.  No consultations, no tests, no health scares.  A quiet time of simply taking the prednisolone each morning and flickering the dose between 6 mg and 7 mgs to keep the pulsing pains at bay.  The target dose is 5 mg.  Decrease should be no more than a single milligram in two weeks.  At this rate I ought to be into freedom territory by high summer.  The body’s own cortisol production is around 5 mg daily.  Since starting on prednisolone my own production has atrophied.  Getting it restarted needs balance and care. 

I look at the line of drugs on the shelf: Omeprazole, Calcichew, Alendronic Acid.  Support dope to counteract the effects of the Prednisolone.  They stop you being sick and keep your bones from thinning.  I guess they’ve worked.  Further along are some hopeful things – Vitamin D, Echinacea, Zinc, Concentrated Cranberry, Saw Palmetto Complex.  This is the snake oil end of my medicine cabinet.  Tablets that work by trust rather than fact.  Mind over matter.  Hope instead of surety.  Belief.

I’ve read the books – how to walk through walls.  How to fly.  How to speak without opening your mouth.  How to lift things by thought.  How to tell the future.  How to walk on water.  None of those things ever worked.   I have great hopes, however, for what it says in my edition of How To Beat Polymyalgia Rheumatica.  People do beat it, it assures me.  It doesn’t go on forever even if it might seem like it does.

Then I hear the mail arrive.  In the days when I was an aspiring poet and sent my efforts out for consideration on a regular basis the thump of paper hitting the doormat was a familiar sound.  I always felt that rejections were like police raids.  They arrived at dawn, unannounced, and were usually upsetting.  Thank you for sending your poetry for consideration but our editorial team felt that despite its high literary values it isn’t for us.  May we wish the best of luck elsewhere.   What they actually meant, of course, was your  verse is rubbish, we suggest you put it in the bin.  But no one ever said that.  The literary world can be overly polite.

Today it’s a padded bag.  Inside is a well-wrapped bottle of something called Gastrografin and a letter summoning me in to Radiology at the Heath for a “CT Thorax and Abdo and Pelvis with Contrast”.   The letter has stern warnings about wearing jewellery and eating beforehand.  Drinking squash is okay, apparently.  Although being over 25 stone isn’t.  There’s a special number to ring if I am.  I commit this to memory just in case.

Fallow period over then.  My letter is signed by someone called Emerctbodywithgastrotemp V2.  If I don’t attend the appointment, writes Ms Emerctbodywithgastrotemp, I’ll be removed from the waiting list and my referring clinician will be informed.  

I send in a message by telepathy.  I’ll be there, don’t worry.  Thank you for your concern.  That should do it.  Then I go out for a walk in the drizzle.  Fits my mood.