Regulars might have noticed that I’ve been severely pissed off, this year, with Amazon’s decision to almost double the price of their Prime service while adding “free” streaming video whether you want it or not. They have failed to address the question of how this streaming video is actually free when Prime now costs nearly twice what it did without it.
If you’re a big fan of videos, and use Prime, then, fine, this is actually dirt cheap compared to renting or buying them. On the other hand if, like me, you’re of a more literary disposition, then it’s a gross imposition, having to pay twice as much as last year for something we don’t want.
And then December happened – a month in which I spent much of my time wondering if the unending horror of my rotting leg would ever, in fact, end.
And then, unbelievably, it got worse.
My leg ulcer is growing at the rate of a couple of centimetres a week and, of course, the bigger it gets the more painful it becomes, so instead of lessening my dependence upon Oramorph, it’s increasing it. In addition, we’ve now gone back to daily dressing changes. I won’t gross you out by posting pics, or telling you why, but I will say that it, too, is going to ramp up my need for analgesia, especially Oramorph
Now, left to my own devices, I can manage my pain pretty well, and that’s the problem, I’m not being left alone. My GP has a bee in his bonnet about Oramorph, and has convinced himself that a dose which is therapeutically appropriate is likely to be fatal. It’s not.
My argument is that if it was going to harm me, it would have done so at some point in the past year, when I was taking doses as high as 45ml. He says that argument is fallacious, and it might still kill me. I say he’s talking bollocks – and “might” is a hell of a long way from “will”.
I might be killed by a meteorite; the lamp-post that’s been leaning at a precarious angle outside my flat for a couple of years, ever since someone drove into it, might fall on me and kill me; next time I’m in hospital an inattentive nurse might give me 4 day’s worth of a drug in a single dose and kill me (it happened last time – not killing me, obviously – but luckily I check my meds assiduously**). Any bloody thing you care to name MIGHT kill me – but odds are it won’t.
**But that’s one of the things that scares me about my amputation. Post-surgery I am not going to be at my best. For a few days at least, I’ll be (hopefully!), heavily drugged. What happens then if a nurse does something equally dumb?
Patients, by the way, are a large part of the problem. They see the nurse and, despite the bright red tabard emblazoned with DRUGS ROUND in yellow, will start whining for a pee bottle. Use your sodding button!
Not that the nurse who nearly poisoned me was distracted at all. That was plain, old-fashioned, stupidity.
So the upshot is that, until after my surgery – whenever it is – I’m going to be in way too much pain, unless I get better drugs or a freer hand with what I’ve got, to be able to get out of here as much as I’d planned, if at all, which means I need distractions, and lots of them.
Books I have, in industrial quantities, both paper and ebooks, and a whole load of the latter still unread,** but I also have a TV, mostly sitting idle as there is so little new content on the satellite channels that interests me it’s hard to find anything to keep me entertained. Take Friday night – please, I don’t want it! There was nothing that I not only hadn’t seen umpteen times before, for most of it I knew the dialogue by heart and I thought – it’s time to change.
**The beauty of ebooks, of course, is that no matter how many you have, they don’t take up any space, the main reason why I embraced the technology literally within hours of the introduction of the Kindle to the UK. The other night, though, watching TV where a bunch of musos, of about my age, were banging on about mp3 files versus 7” singles and one said, re mp3, “Why would I pay good money for something that has no physical existence? I’d have to be stupid,”. And at a stroke he legitimised the entire pirating industry and completely ignoring that with mp3s, as with ebooks, what we pay for is the skill, knowledge and work that went into the creation of the original, just as we do with dead-tree books and physical records of all kinds, from old shellac 78s and 45s** to DVDs all of which are simply, like a stream of electrons, copies of the originals.
**There’s a common belief, repeated throughout that programme, that 7” singles were all vinyl. Not so, the early ones were shellac, like 78s. And until 1984 I had a box full of them, all early rock and roll, and soul – and threw them out. Been kicking myself ever since.
So over the “holiday” I dug out my meagre stock of DVDs and watched John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy (the first in the series, Fort Apache, was so dire I’m surprised the subsequent, and vastly superior, pair ever got made), followed by Prometheus (terrible), and Rio Bravo.
Tonight I think I’ll have The Searchers.
And that set me thinking that maybe I’d been a little hasty dumping Amazon Prime.
So I’ve looked again at their not-very-free video offerings, and while, for example, I don’t have the patience to watch TV series that drag on interminably, for years, I could tolerate knocking out each 26-week(or so), sequence, complete, in a few nights. And there are some I want to watch again, like The West Wing (I missed a lot of that when I switched to Sky, as it was being shown on multiple channels, and I never figured out which one I’d been watching on terrestrial TV
And I’ve reconsidered, I’ll have a go at Prime + Video for one year, see how it works out.
There’s also the problem that it’s impossible to just walk away from Amazon, I depend on them for too much and, with Prime, it’s not so much the more or less instant gratification that next day delivery provides, it’s simply knowing which day it’s coming on that matters.
That’s because – and this is a problem with hospital appointments – I have no idea how ill, or well, I’m going to be on any given day until the day arrives. So If I have a good day, and no deliveries are scheduled, I can go out, assuming I’m able to.
Having a good day, though, depends largely upon my surgery being a success which, until after the event, is anybody’s guess, though I now have my manual wheelchair plus FreeWheel adapter, and a resurrected powerchair which will go in a taxi easily, which my day-to-day one won’t.
I’ll just have to wait and see, but my Prime membership expires in a fortnight (it originally expired last August, but has been extended 5 or 6 times to compensate me for cock-ups, another reason for my disenchantment). So I’ll set it up for renewal when it runs out – and what follows is in the lap of whatever gods there might be.
Anything else? Well, yes. Unbelievably, I need to lose weight. Unbelievable because I have just one modest meal a day, and have done so for many years. And, only a little over a year ago, I almost starved to death.
Of necessity, I have a very sedentary lifestyle, like many disabled people, which doesn’t help, but just one meal and no snacks? Why am I so overweight?
When I say no snacks, I’m skating around my bedtime snack – if I go to bed hungry I just can’t sleep. I mostly have a tub of cottage cheese (about 250 kcals), or 100ml of cream sherry (126 kcals according to Thorsons Calorie Counter, or a handful of Carr’s Melts (small, very light, wholemeal crackers).
Carr’s Melts are, I confess, a favourite, as they are very light and crisp and small, just 63mm in diameter by 4mm thick, with all the substance of deep-fried cobwebs, so they can’t be doing too much damage, right?
The buggerdly things are 83kcals each! That’s more than a slice of wholemeal bread and as my “handful” is about 10 crackers, my bedtime snack just about doubles my calorie intake for the day. And they’re 21.7% fat, too, which helps explain the calorie count.
Something has to change. The problem is that both the crackers and the cottage cheese add to my high-protein diet (every time I pitch up in hospital they check that I’m still on it, yet no-one seems able to tell me why I should be – I suspect it’s due to the heavy loss of lymphatic fluid (which is high in protein), last year, and which is increasing again as my ulcer grows (the change to daily dressings is an attempt to dry it out and, so far, seems to be working).
I get a high-protein diet quite economically by combining a mainstream, meat-based, diet with the best of vegetarian diets. So If I make, say, a beef stew, I’ll add a lot of beans to it and eat it with bread (pulses and grains boost each other’s protein content), which is much cheaper, and probably healthier, than getting all my protein from dead animals. I do the same with soups too.
And before someone suggests it, it’s quite impossible to get all the protein I need from a vegetarian diet on just one meal a day – I’ve tried, and failed
If I don’t have bread, I’ll have Krackawheat wheat and rye crackers with soup but, at 34kcals each they’re a much better choice than Carr’s Melts and, of course, dry bread (for dunking), is better still.
But, getting back to bedtime, my best bet seems to be to go with the sherry, as that enables me to sleep just as well, if not better, than solid food. Actually, my best bet for sleeping without added kcals is more drugs, but that’s the last thing I want.
I also need to get back into my morning (or lunchtime), fruit smoothie habit. Not only are they very nice, they offset the constipating effects of my meds, stop me feeling hungry, and don’t tip me into an unwanted sleep the way a conventional lunch does.
There’s also the fact that the steroid needed to treat my Addison’s Disease also contributes to my weight gain and, in fact, is probably the major cause, but there’s nothing at all I can do about that. Not taking Hydrocortisone, or another steroid, isn’t an option.