Thursday, 12 November 2009

Take It On The Chin Strap

Now the gods of medicine mock me.

On Tuesday I made my way, with Polly, to the Royal Brompton Hospital for a routine check-up. Once again I sat in a corridor and waited for people to take blood from my ear and perform arcane analysis of it. And then we waited some more. Eventually a doctor wandered down the corridor clutching a large folder of notes and summoned me to a consulting room. (Actually a corner of a ward.) He glanced at the slip of paper with the blood gas analysis on it and frowned. “Your CO2 levels are a little higher than we'd like,“ he said.

Because the alarm on the Nippy ST ventilator kept going off two or three hundred times a night we changed to the Harmony which is blissfully alarmless. Unfortunately the Harmony can not generate sufficient pressure to clear the build up of Carbon Dioxide in my body even when working at its highest settings. I need the raw power of the Nippy. The choice I am presented with is slow death by CO2 poisoning or a quick death from Polly when she cracks from the strain of lack of sleep due to the Nippy's alarm. Neither prospect appeals. The doctor decided that the best thing to do was to admit me for a few days in January and experiment with a range of machines and masks whilst I am being carefully monitored. Okay, but in the meantime...?

The Nippy's alarm goes off because the pressure drops when I enter deep sleep and my weakened facial muscles relax. The idiot machine thinks there is a leak in the system; which there is; me. The solution? Seal the leak. How? Use a chin strap. (Note to Blake – Okay clever clogs, you were right back in September.)

At this point the gods of medicine start to giggle. Using a BiPap ventilator mask already makes me look like an ill-prepared Scuba diver. Now, with the chin strap, I look like an ill-prepared Scuba diver with comedy toothache. Or worse, a Victorian corpse. The white strap wraps around my head making me look like Jacob Marley on his way to the Great Barrier Reef. If you struggled very very hard you would fail to come up with a less dignified look.

Until next time, if I survive the humiliation.