I thought I would write a more light-hearted blog about retirement after last week’s serious one, that is if writing about my health and fitness can be described as light-hearted. I wrote a while ago about my plantar fasciitis aka a pain in the heel. I told you that I went to see a ‘private’ physiotherapist about it for which privilege I paid £40 (a £ a minute). I did this because the wait time for the National Health appointment was about 5 weeks but I did not cancel this appointment because, at my age, you never know when you might need to see a physio. The NH appointment was the day after we returned from our Irish holiday. Something about walking on Irish beaches must have soothed my troubled heel such that by the time we got back my heel was OK. But rather than cancel the appointment I thought I’d pretend the appointment was about some other part of my body that was causing me pain. Plenty to choose from. My body part of choice was my fingers (mentioned briefly in the health challenges blog), specifically the ring fingers on both hands. I’ve had trouble with the left hand one before and the last time we were in New Zealand I had a cortisone injection (I think) for something called ‘trigger finger’. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say the injection was a lot more painful than the finger but of course it was ever thus. The finger kept locking because something wouldn’t go through something and got stuck. I really should have been a doctor.
Now it’s the same finger, with the added bonus of the equivalent finger on the other hand. This time they don’t lock, at least rarely, but I can’t bend them and they give me fairly constant pain, plus while I can still play piano (a lateral movement) I can’t form chords on the guitar, well I can but they aren’t chords known to the musical world. More of my musical adventures in a future blog and back to the physio appointment. So I went to the appointment and said do you do fingers? Yes, we do, she said but not yours because that’s not what’s on the form and we can only do what’s on the form because that is the nature of our contract with your GP. Fair enough I thought, I’d half expected this response. She looked at my hands and pronounced them a ‘bit puffy’. Which means what? I enquired nervously. Never did find out and, after one last attempt to examine my heel which I assured her was fine (how foolish of me), I left and followed her recommendation to make an appointment to see my doctor about my puffy hands.
I rang the surgery, steeling myself for a long wait for the phone to be answered and a slightly longer one for an appointment. I don’t know what has transpired since my blog lambasting (lovely word) the service I was receiving from my GP (perhaps they read my blog and were frightened by my obvious power and influence courtesy of my huge readership) but they answered the phone fairly promptly and asked very politely if I could make an appointment in a week’s time. Knock me down with a feather and eat humble pie. And apologies for all the bad things I said about our National Health Service. So one week later I rocked up to see my actual GP not even any old doctor but my very own GP which was a shame because I’d gone off him after my last meeting with him when he made his usual suggestion about exercising more. Ha, what does he know?
Anyway he examined my hands and to cut a long story short agreed there was a problem but, as the fingers were atypical (by this he seemed to mean that he couldn’t find a nodule on the ligament which he could inject which was a shame because he was the person in the practice that did the injections – remembering the pain from the last time I had mixed feelings about this news), he couldn’t do much. What he did, with much fiddling with his computer (he kept turning the screen round so I could see the flow chart of referral, which I wasn’t interested in at all), was to make an application to the (I think) Muscular Skeletol (?) service. After receiving his request they would make a decision in two week’s time when they would call me to conduct some kind of telephone assessment as to whether I was a suitable candidate for treatment. Slightly frustrated, although not entirely disappointed vis a vis a lack of pain from injection, I decided to do something that doctor’s don’t like, i.e. add on another problem in the single visit. They like you to book separate appointments for separate problems.
Thing is, my hands shake and, I reasoned, well, both problems are hand-related so maybe it’s not so bad. For a while now I’ve been worrying that I might be developing Parkinson’s Disease. One of our neighbours in Pateley has it and it’s not a good thing to have. I know I said this was a light-hearted blog but bear with me. Again, to cut a quite long story short, he had me hold out my hands, fingers spread. They vibrated nicely for him, thank goodness, don’t you hate when something you’re complaining about doesn’t happen when you’re telling the appropriate person about it. It used to happen when I took my car to the garage and told them it’s making this knocking sound – and when you get there, not a knock to be heard. I digress, my hands shook. You’ve got ‘essential tremors’, he said, silly name, with something approaching humour or as close as he gets to what we call humour, because they aren’t essential and we have no idea what causes them. Not Parkinson’s then? No I don’t think so. I didn’t like the think word. Anybody in your family have it? Yes, my grandfather. Close your eyes and stand on one leg. Surprisingly difficult so I fell over. Do you fall over? Not so far, as long as I don’t stand on one leg with my eyes closed, I said light-heartedly (a phrase that was to come back to haunt me a few days later*). Now walk down the corridor. I did so walking along the line of the carpet tiles and then back. Looked like you were really concentrating then, he said. Damn right I was, I thought. We’ll monitor it, he said, it could get worse. Oh goody. I leave the surgery partially reassured but not entirely – not by any means.
So retirement, inevitably there’s a health and fitness side to this period of our lives. I’ll keep you informed as long as my fingers can more or less hit the right keys
*I thought I would get this part of the story into my 1000 words but I haven’t, so unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait to find out about falling off a cliff and damage to my plantar fasciitis. Retirement what an exciting time of life it is even if for all the wrong reasons.