So, from 1st September I had two weeks off work, during which I did nothing in particular because I was knackered (as usual), other than a trip to Brighton with Paul. I spotted a LivingSocial deal for a hotel (£97 for two nights, about half price), so we decided to go for it - we went by coach and by splitting the coach travel into four journeys (two outbound, two return) with a stopover in London, we saved ourselves £20! Which is dumb because even if you book "direct" you still have to change at London Victoria...
Anyway, Brighton was good. The weather in Birmingham when we left was looking a bit grim so we decided not to pack any summer clothes (like shorts), so of course when we got dahn sahf the weather was bloody glorious and almost like being abroad, so we sweltered for most of it!
We got a free upgrade on our room so we had a sea view, which should have cost an extra £50 per night, so it's just as well we didn't ask for that when booking. The view was amazing, in fairness, and the hotel itself was quite swanky, though a little noisy due to roadworks right outside and the prevalence of beachside bars and cafes opening late into the evening; it was also ridiculously warm so we had to put the air conditioning on for a bit (thankfully there was no extra charge for that).
On the first night we had planned to eat at the Fishbowl pub, as they did a "batter platter" for £15 which comprised small versions of their differently-battered cod - they all sounded delicious. Unfortunately they stopped serving dinner at 7.00 so we missed it, and instead ended up going to JB's American Diner, where we had mahoosive burgers, but they were very nice. (All of my healthy eating prior to going away was basically ruined within five minutes of arriving in Brighton - we had doughnuts for lunch!)
On the second day we wandered aimlessly about; the morning's first task was to try and find a Primark or similar so we could get cheap shorts, but we got distracted by all the arty / boho shops around the back of the main shopping area. Brighton is lovely, but SO EXPENSIVE; my colleague (Nicky) nicknamed it London-on-Sea, which is about right. We had lunch on the pier that day of fish and chips (amazing), and dinner at the House Restaurant, which was also amazing. To be honest, we were spoiled for choice on where to eat; I'd definitely go back just to try some of the other restaurants.
We also had a look around the Pavilllion gardens and the museum, though not the actual Pavillion itself as it was expensive to get in. We were going to have a look at the old police cells but they're only open at one specific time in the morning, which we didn't realise until googling later, so that was disappointing - maybe next time. We also went to find Choccywoccydoodah, though alas the cafe was closed for a private function - lots of astonishing cakes, though, and I got some delicious chocolate covered popcorn&peanuts, which was expensive but definitely worth it.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the restaurant attached to the hotel had an opera theme, with "boxes" upstairs! The breakfast fare was impressive (a buffet with hot and continental options), though on the evening there seemed to be a very poor turn out in the actual restaurant, so we decided not to bother - although they did appear to have a live opera singer performing in there!
On the way back we decided to have a seven-hour stopover in London; this seemed like a good idea at the time, but TBH we were too knackered to do much of anything. We sat in the Punch and Judy in Covent Garden and watched the street performers for a bit, wandered around Soho, had a meal at Bistro1 as usual, and... that was about it, actually.
So, that was Brighton. There are some pictures on Facebook here.
Whilst I was away, I didn't drink very much - about two bottles of cider and half a bottle of wine. I'd fought off a kidney infection shortly before going so I thought I'd be okay, but that transpired not to be the case as within a couple of weeks it had come back again. You may recall at the end of my last big update I mentioned my last GP appointment before then, when I'd asked for a referral to the hospital and the locum refused...
So, on 22nd September I went back to the GP because my kidney infection had come back. I'd been back at work for two weeks at that point, and on that particular day I'd deliberately booked an appointment with my actual GP (who only works in the mornings) because I'd lost faith in the locum to take my concerns on board. I ended up having the morning off work in order to attend said appointment, at which the GP said that if the infection didn't clear up she would make a referral to a specialist (finally!)
Anyway, two days later (24th September) I had to go to A&E because I woke up with excruciating pain in my right-hand side; so bad, in fact, that it actually woke me up. Long story short, the doctor in A&E suspected kidney stones given the presenting symptoms and history (the pain in my side, the ongoing / recurrent UTI's since May, shooting pains in my groin and constantly feeling like I needed a wee). They took some blood test and an x-ray whilst I was in hospital, which didn't reveal anything untoward, and the A&E doctor then made a referral for a CT scan and a future appointment with a urologist dependent on the CT scan results.
I was discharged that afternoon with instructions to take ibuprofen or cocodamol if the pain returned, and if it became unmanagable to return to hospital where they could hook me up to morphine, though that was a last resort.
In the morning I'd taken paracetemol just to get the pain to a managable level, and was given some ibuprofen in hospital, which lasted until about 5.00pm (after I'd had a nap in the afternoon). On the way home I'd stocked up on ibuprofen and OTC cocodamol, and as the paracetemol had worked earlier I decided to take cocodamol when I woke up, which basically DID NOTHING, so later that evening I was back in A&E again. The second doctor there gave me more ibuprofen and said to take that every eight hours and take cocodamol in addition if the pain got worse.
The ibuprofen kept me stable until Saturday (27th September), then stopped working, so I went to the drop-in centre by the hospital, who advised they couldn't prescribe anything stronger than paracetemol and to go back to A&E. There's actually a GP drop-in at the hospital, as it transpired, so we waited around in there for another three hours or so to see another doctor, who had to take down the ENTIRE history again and eventually prescribed me stronger cocodamol (30mg rather than 8mg).
The new cocodamol was bloody evil (it knocked me to sleep for about six hours when I got back) but seemed to work... at least until Monday (29th September) when I'd already booked a GP appointment to get a sick note. At that point she prescribed super-strong (500mg) Naproxen to take twice a day and top up with cocodamol as required. Thankfully, the Naproxen actually worked, and after a week or so the pain had finally dwindled so I was able to stop taking them.
I've been off work since the A&E attendance; for the most part because at first I wasn't sure if the pain was going to come back and didn't want to risk going back and getting caught short in a meeting or similar, as it had reached a point, at its worst, where I couldn't even walk or sit still. Latterly I then ended up with ANOTHER kidney infection which started at some point in early October but got really bad after my birthday because I poisoned myself. :P Also, presumably as a result of the cocktail of medication I was on at the start, I seem to have developed fun new insomnia and my sleeping pattern is completely shot to hell.
My birthday itself was very sedate; as I didn't know how I was going to be, health-wise, I didn't bother organising anything. We booked a table at Fiesta del Asado (an Argentinian restaurant on Hagley Road), where we both had ridiculously huge steaks. Very much recommended. I had a small glass of wine and a liqueur coffee, then regretted it later. The day after I was back at the GP.
Oh, on 5th October I had my CT scan, which was pretty straightforward (as it was a Sunday we got there really early rather than risk bus fail, and they actually saw me an hour early!) At this point, I'm still awaiting the results; I chased them a couple of weeks ago and they said the report wasn't done yet, and until that's done I won't get a urology appointment. I last saw the GP about a week ago, and she referred me for blood tests to rule any other causes out, and made a urology referral herself to try and speed things up.
At present, I'm hoping to get back to work on Monday (10th November), as being off work for this long is really frustrating when I mostly don't feel ill, and I've reached a point where if I can manage the kidney infections then hopefully I can get back to work and not risk going off again. (I'd already been off with it in August, which triggered an Attendance Review Meeting; another absence will probably trigger an Attendance Improvement Plan, which is why I didn't want to risk going off again.)
Soooo yeah. I had hoped that as the CT scan came through so quickly, the urology appointment would be just as quick, but apparently not. I have a horrible feeling it'll come through at some point in December, just to make the Christmas run-up even more hectic. :P
As an upshot of this, I am tempted to lodge a complaint against the locum who refused to refer me, as if he'd done that in the first place I could have avoided this entire debacle. I suspected kidney stones myself because the symptoms - and indeed the frequency / longevity of the infection(s) - were so unusual for me, and he just didn't take my concerns seriously. Not only that but he blatantly lied to me by stating there was "nothing more" the hospital could do. I had joked about going to A&E anyway if things didn't get better, just to force the issue; then apparently my body made that decision for me.
I am firmly of the belief that my body / brain knows best about when I need time off work; after a fortnight off I was still shattered, so quite obviously needed more downtime. A month and a half is pushing it though! Also, I am still knackered, but that's down to not sleeping rather than anything else; getting back into a routine will be good. I've sworn that once I'm finally clear of this nonsense I will get back on track with healthy eating and exercise, as this ongoing bout of ill health has scuppered my gym attendance and swimming.
Whilst I have been off work, I have nevertheless been attending rehearsal. I missed the first two weeks due to illness (a cold and a migraine respectively), attended the third, then went to A&E the morning afterwards (that's how out of the blue it was - I felt absolutely fine on the Tuesday!) so missed the week after that. I emailed the membership secretary to send potential apologies, which she was fine about, then a week later stated that even if I attended the remaining rehearsals I would be under the 75% attendance rate required to perform in the Karl Jenkins concert on 1st November.
My immediate reaction was not to bother at all, but as I really wanted to do the Jenkins I decided to show willing and undergo a "concert check" with Adrian on 21st October to make sure I knew it.
This was irritating for several reasons...
- Firstly, I couldn't arrange anyone attending this concert given the short notice, as I wouldn't know if I was allowed to do it until a week-and-a-half beforehand. In the end only Paul attended, and there were barely any seats left. (The concert was a Gubbay promotion so was basically sold out.)
- I was a little despondent about doing the concert check in the first place, as I think I knew the music - the Adiemus bits especially - better than the majority of other choir members. I'd rehearsed all of the pieces twice beforehand just to make sure, but obviously it's my word against theirs.
- At the check in question, Adrian decided to test me on a fiddly bit of the Adiemus which I DO BLOODY KNOW, but which is very awkward to sing out of context of the rest of it, and obviously I messed it up. I wouldn't have minded that so much, but he subsequently rehearsed that entire section anyway that same evening because EVERYONE ELSE was getting it wrong!! So that was just a little unfair, I thought.
Anyway, the actual concert this time seemed to go a lot better than the one last year (I found a review online, which wasn't shared with the choir, which stated we were disengaged from the piece. Yes, we were; though quite how anyone can disengage from The Armed Man astounds me because it's so powerful.) Mr Jenkins himself was less of a grumpy sod, though he's not a very good conductor; once you've found his pace you don't really need to watch. But yes, it was thoroughly enjoyable, though it became quite obvious to me during rehearsal and the concert that some people still hadn't wrapped their heads around some of the key changes in the Adiemus bits, which just goes to prove that 75% attendance means nothing.
The next concert for me will be Messiah, as I'm not doing the Classical Spectacular, and then the Gubbay-promoted Christmas Classics concert with our special guest, Brian Blessed. I need to get some tickets sold to thatb before it completely sells out.
So, there we go. You'd think, with being off work for so long, I'd have something to show for myself; all I've managed to achieve is completing Tomb Raider on PS3, playing through Enslaved, and making a start on watching The Nanny on YouTube. I did manage to finish my POTO fic, though, so that's something. :)