Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Night Nurse Night Three

Last night, at about 9.00pm, after surgery had closed, Dr Toosy, my GP, dropped in to go through and reassess my medication. We have tweaked and adjusted the list with the aim of getting me a decent nights sleep. And since last night was the night of the night nurse night three I could really do with one. If you've followed the story on Night Nurse and Night Nurse Night Two you may feel a modicum of sympathy.

Polly and I have continued trying to make this work for both of us. Polly has forsaken her princess and the pea act and tried sleeping on the sofa-bed mattress which she had laid on top of a futon and stabilized with the sofa cushions. And, after years sleeping along side me, she has found the absence of the continual rhythmic noise of my BiPap ventilator distinctly off-putting, so she moved the dehumidifier into the living room with her and set it to maximum so the ensuing hum could lull her to sleep.

Meanwhile, at my end of the flat, I had been equipped with a wireless doorbell and the receiver was placed in the kitchen. This meant the nurse could ensconce herself in relative comfort with the kettle and enough space to lay out her comprehensive collection of celebrity gossip magazines and there would be no need to bathe the hall outside my bedroom with a million candle powered floodlight so she had light enough to read them. All that need happen should I need her was for me to press the button on the doorbell and she could forsake Jennifer Aniston for a moment and shuffle up the hallway to attend to my needs. Simple. You'd think so, wouldn't you.

Now, as has been mentioned in previous posts, I feel the cold and lack the means to regulate my temperature efficiently. I also find warmth to have a analgesic effect, especially when I am tired and trying to get to sleep. To this end I have an electric over-blanket inside my duvet cover. I usually have it set at maximum (9) when I first get into bed and turn it to a lower setting after a while. Last night Polly showed the nurse the simple control for the blanket and explained that I'd like it turned down to about 3 in an hour or so. The nurse nodded sagely and returned to the kitchen and to the trials and tribulations of Lily Allen.

An hour or so later I put down my book about television in the 1970s, sated with memories of Kojak, Alias Smith and Jones and Fawlty Towers, and now ready for sleep. The bed was beginning to get uncomfortably warm so I rang my doorbell and heard the bell chime in the kitchen. The nurse came down the hall and politely asked how she could help. I asked for a sip of water and for her to move my arm a little and turn down the electric over-blanket to it's number 3 setting. Moments later I was drifting off to sleep.

I awoke from a dream wherein I was an oven-ready chicken being roasted for dinner. Bathed in sweat I realised that I was being cooked in bed by my blanket which must still be on at its highest setting. I fumbled for my doorbell and summoned the nurse. Once again I asked her to turn down the blanket to the number 3. She fiddled with the control and confirmed it was set on 3. Relieved I slipped back to sleep.

Sometime later I was in a sauna with the door locked on the outside and the temperature indicator reading 'You Are About To Melt'. For some reason my night time carer had failed to actually turn the blanket down it seemed. I rang my bell. Moments later she was assuring me the control was set on 3. Perhaps my faulty body temperature control was even worse than usual. I asked her to turn the blanket down to 2. She did so.

The inside of the volcano was very hot indeed. Molten lava dripped onto my securely bound body. I struggled into wakefulness, bathed in sweat and entangled in my red hot duvet. Once again I called for help and once again I was assured that the control was set at 2. This was very strange and very very uncomfortably.
By the time I had walked through the Kalahari desert dressed as a long-haired pink kitten in a frogman's suit and later been barbecued over a pit of burning coals whilst wrapped in a woolly mammoth's fur coat I was beginning to become stressed. Surely my internal body temperature control wasn't that screwed up?

Puzzled, I asked for the controller to be placed in my hand by the nurse, who was by now regarding me as demented, so I could turn it off myself. As the bed finally began cool I slipped into an uneasy sleep. A glance at the clock told me it was 5am.

An infeasibly short time later Kalepo and Godfrey were calling me awake. As I clawed my way to consciousness I asked to see the controller that had caused me such heated distress all through the night; the controller the nurse had assured me was turned right down. It wasn't of course, it was still set at 9.

So what had happened? Well, it's possible that the nurse was getting some perverse pleasure from torturing me but I'm willing to concede that that is improbable (not to mention libellous).A more likely explanation is that she confused the on/off slider switch which has 3 stages with the temperature dial which has 9. When I asked her to set it to 3 or 2 she thought she had, but in actual fact she had set it to either 75 minutes or 12 hours. It does beg the question why she failed to notice the dial but more significantly why after the third or fourth time I called her and asked her to check it was turned down she didn't wonder about looking at the rest of the controller, which is, after all, only the size of my hand. Could it be that she thought I was making a fuss over nothing? Or, more likely, that she thought I was a bit simple and kept asking her to the same thing over and over again because I didn't know what temperature I actually wanted. I don't know. What I do know is that it was yet another long and difficult night.

Next time it'll be Night Nurse Night Night Four. Fourth time lucky?