A wee visit to Ninewells

Well it was that time again.  Bed and breakfast for a few days in hospital under the good care of dermatology at Ninewells hospital, Dundee. This is my fourth visit to the team at photobiology.   One of the knock on effects of the carcinoid syndrome is photo sensitivity, problems with my skin, niacin deficiency, vitamin d deficiency.    

For some folk going into hospital can be daunting enough, put the distance of 100 miles from home and some unknown testing to be done in the mix and it would make one feel a tad nervous.    However, I can assure anyone that may ever need to go to photobiology at Ninewells.  There is no need to fret.  The staff are brilliant.  This visit Steve and I were just going into WH Smith on the hospital concourse for a browse when a familiar figure walks up to me and asks how I am,  it’s  Dr Sally Ibbitson – she is one of the head consultants in the photobiology unit.  The beautiful kind lady spoke genuinely and took time out of her time to talk.  On going up to the ward – the staff made me very welcome, cup of tea as soon as I arrived together with some digestive biscuits.   The nurses I met previously with asked how i was, the family, dogs, etc.  all this is important to us beings that get admitted into wards.  It’s so lovely to be treated as YOU and for some of your stay not be referred to as ‘the patient with marked & torn skin’ or ‘the patient that’s photosensitive’   Don’t get me wrong there is total professionalism at all times.  

The staff here are used to my hypos.  Understand – or at least try their best to understand my malabsorption, low blood sugar levels, etc.  They feed me up.  Give me extra meals, it’s not one bowl of cereal – it’s two and some toast and tea 🙂 

On my visit this type the porters were on strike.  How was I to get from the ward to the photobiology unit?    Easy:  a willing nurse from the ward wheeled me down.  On arriving at photobiology I was met by familiar face – Gordon.  He sat with me till the doctors arrived.  After my consultation it was decided what would be done this time.  Through to the testing/treatment area.  They have had some funding and there are new curtains, TVs and its freshly painted.  Some patients will want to take their minds of what’s happening and watch some TV.  The choice of what to watch is each individual patient.  Jeremy Kyle, children’s TV, news channel – whatever floats your boat.  I prefer tv off and talk to the staff.  But then everyone that knows me will know I can talk a gramma phone to scrap.   I change into the gown and then sit in the special chair.  My opinion hasn’t changed and no matter how good the staff are, how pleasant the surroundings are – to me the chair resembles an electric chair.  No matter how hot it is in the hospital the chair feels so cold to touch.  Sit in it and get fried.  I get many different things done.   one particular provocation test does fry me.  Most folk get a setting at over 20 joules and have it glaring on their skin for 15 minutes.  For me I get a tiny patch on my wrist worked on.  Andrea wraps my arm with special blanket.  Cuts a dressing and applies it to my arm, exposing a very small square of skin. The large Perspex sheeting is put on top.  The timer is then set – I only get 5  joules for 3 minutes.   At the end of the provocation test my skin is hot and red.  At the 5 hour check over, my wrist is swollen, the skin is very hot and broken.  There has been a reaction on my back this time – the skin is tingling and feels uncomfortable.  It’s fairly hot and the broken skin is becoming irritable – I feel I could scratch.  It was hoped that the increase in nicotinamide medications I have been prescribed helps with the problems I have.  

The conclusion on the last day is – stay on all the same medications.  Wash in oilatum gel.  Then cover my skin in diprobase.  Then apply sun sense ultra factor 50 over my complete body.  Then mix the two coloured dundee creams together.  My colours are beige and coral pink.  When they are mixed together they produce a colour very similar to my natural skin tone.  I then apply the dundee cream to my skin.   I’ve to get some blood tests to check the usual routine stuff and check my vit d level.  Dr Ibittson says it would be a good idea for me to get regular light treatment – 3 times per week – start in the winter.  

It’s never ideal being in hospital, however places like Ninewells and staff like they have makes a stay much easier……..I’ve met some nice people whilst I’ve been in hospital too. 🙂

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