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A turn for the better…?

Posted Nov 02 2012 8:43am

I seem to have turned a corner, health-wise. For no perceptible reason I’ve suffered from seriously disabling nausea for some weeks now (not sure how long, I’ve been so ill I’ve completely lost track, one day merging into the next**). Nothing I could do relieved the nausea.

**I’ve actually managed to isolate the point where my crash became total and potentially life-threatening – around October 11. At that point I was planning to go to the pub to celebrate my birthday on the 12th, and also planning to make a batch of faggots in gravy – neither of which happened, and I’ve felt so desperately ill, and been pretty much incapable of looking after myself for just 23 days or so – it feels like half a lifetime.

I felt, the whole time, that if I could vomit, I’d feel better, but I couldn’t do that either. Although my gag reflex seemed to be on a hair-trigger, nothing I could do would induce vomiting (I can’t belch either – never have been able to). And for several weeks my innards have been making the sort of growling and gurgling noises one associates with imminent and catastrophic diarrhoea – which never materialised, and I have no idea what the hell is going on in there.

Yesterday morning, though, I felt so goddamned awful, I took to carrying a bucket with me if I left the room and, lo! I puked, finally. After which I barely made it back to the couch before collapsing in a heap and there I remained, more or less unconscious, until the evening.

Several things happened as a result. The nausea abated, retreating to its normal level (nausea is the one constant in my 27-year battle with ME; everything else fluctuates), and the apparently physical obstruction in my gullet that restricted my fluid intake to no more than 200ml or so at a time before backing up painfully, has gone.

I finally fired up my computer, and logged into Twitter at 18.04 yesterday, only to realise that I hadn’t, apparently, been missed. Rotten sods! ;)

There was a downside – isn’t there always? Having been out of it all day, there wasn’t the slightest prospect of my being able to sleep last night at all. I finally started to doze about 05.30, so I took my 06.00 meds early, turned off the alarm, and finally dropped off.

I eventually surfaced at 09.30 and, so far, I feel better than I have for quite some time.

There’s something else I’d forgotten. Last night, for the first time in longer than I care to remember, I was actually hungry, and put away two cans of Heinz vegetable soup.

In fact, I’d been hungry the previous night, too, and had 10 fish fingers, but all they succeeded in doing was making me feel dreadful again (the grease, I suspect). No ill effects at all from the soup, and I’m still hungry this morning – hardly surprising since I’ve eaten very little for weeks.

At the moment I feel as if I could cook something, and I fancy making a chicken and vegetable soup loosely based on this Nigel Slater recipe . As you can see, the original is more stew than soup, but I’m going to bulk it up with more veggies and add much more liquid to it, making it more oriental by using Japanese Dashi powder for the stock, instead of chicken stock, plus fish sauce, and adding a splash of oyster sauce to give it depth. I’m putting in plenty of  Pak Choi, as it makes a great soup ingredient (shred the green leaves, keep the white parts chunky and be warned, like leeks it traps soil between its layers at the root end, so it needs washing once chopped. I’ve got eggs that need eating, too, so I might beat a couple and drizzle them into the hot soup for a protein boost.

Slater says to use “thin egg noodles” – useless advice as the pasta in the photo is almost certainly linguine. Also, by thin does he mean medium or fine, the normal way egg noodles are defined? I’ve opted for fine. If you cook noodles directly in the soup, they’ll make it cloudy. If this bothers you, cook them separately, rinse with hot water and then add to the soup. I also prefer to break or cut noodles for soup into 1-inch lengths – much easier to eat.

And, as soup seem to be something I can eat quite happily at present, I’m hoping to make a butched-up version of Heinz vegetable soup, with added beans* and orzo*** or, perhaps, leek and potato soup with butter beans, as I need building up.

**Napolina do a canned multi-bean salad which, when rinsed, will be perfect.

***Orzo is rice-grain sized pasta that, when cooked in soup, swells to about bean size. When using pasta in soup, it’s always worth going for a size much smaller than you think you need, as it swells very much more in soup than it does when normally cooked.

I’ve lost a huge amount of muscle weight recently – I can circle my left forearm with the thumb and middle finger of my right hand – something I’ve not been able to do since I was a skinny kid, so I need feeding up, and hefty soups seem to be a good way of accomplishing that.

Nebivolol update: I hadn’t, as I said, been taking 1.25mg twice a day, I’ve been taking 0.625mg, the tapering off dose, as I realised overnight, in a night filled with minor bouts of angina, as the fog began to lift. I took my first 1.25mg this morning and, so far, so good.

As I think I said, I don’t want to take the damn drug, but I’ve done a lot of research of late, and there is simply nothing available that’s any better, and all have side effects that are at least as undesirable, and often worse.

My feet and legs are so swollen that I can’t wear socks. I assumed – because it can be – that this was a result of taking Nebivolol, but when I stopped taking it, there was not the slightest improvement.

Nor can I wear my usual boots (I’ve had to wear walking boots since the eighties, to support and cushion my feet after they were badly damaged when I was struck by lightning). I can’t wear shoes at all. I’ve tried sandals, but without socks they hurt my feet – the skin is stretched very tight and is quite fragile as a result.

The answer, I think, is to make “socks” from Tubigrip (tubular support bandage. It’s just a matter of shaping the toe (I learned to sew when my year was trapped in the primary school while the secondary was still being built –  for 12 months we pretty much had a free run at whatever classes we fancied, and needlework was a good choice – far too many guys can’t even sew on a button), turning it inside out to hide the seam, and getting the length right. Not elegant, but I’m not going out with bare feet!

So that’s about the size of it. I’ve quite definitely improved over the last 24 hours and, for now at least – time will tell – I feel that I’ve turned a pretty significant corner.

And now, I’m off to the kitchen to make my chicken soup.

Watch this space…

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