Category Archives: Health

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Where Do I Start? Ch-ch-ch-ch-anges!

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Lots of craziness going on in my life the last month or so. I missed my last blog post because even though I knew it was my day coming up- the day before – or maybe the morning of- I … Continue reading

Debugging a Medical Problem

I went to the doctor Friday. A specialist in allergies and asthma. When I left, after two and a half hours, I was in tears. Happy tears. For the first time in a long while, I felt someone really tried to dig through my confusion and find the root of the problem.

You see, I have asthma. It’s been very well controlled until these past few months. I’ve had this long term cough/wheeze thing going on and those, I know, are difficult to debug. Then, as winter gave way to spring, it got much worse. To the point where I didn’t want to go out of the house, my cough/wheeze was so bad. I didn’t’ know if it was something infectious or what. Did I have allergies after all these years on Planet Earth? I honestly have felt like I had some sort of chronic lung or heart disease coming on and it scared me. A lot. (Yes, after being retired from the medical field for fifteen years, I still envision worst case scenarios, a byproduct of that line of work.)

My doctor thought my inhaler wasn’t doing its job and switched me to a stronger one. A month later, I was no better, completely disillusioned and depressed.

So I saw the allergy and asthma doctor at my primary caretaker’s request. God bless her. He was amazing. Old school. He took time with me, did an extensive workup, trying to debug this cough. Tests and treatments and fifteen minute Q&A’s. I never sat waiting for more than five minutes between things.

At the end, he believed it was either an asthma exacerbation that needed help or pneumonia (even though my chest xray was normal last month.) For the first thing, a steroid can generally kick start calming things down. For the second, he said two antibiotics would be needed. But, if we did both at the same time, we’d never know which one helped. So I’m on the steroid now, as I write the blog on Saturday. Started it 15 hours ago and already I feel better this morning. Only coughed once since I got up.

For the first time in months I feel hopeful. If things aren’t significantly better in a couple days, I’ll go on the antibiotic. And, he says once things calm down, he wants me back on the less potent asthma med. He suspects I don’t need the stronger one once we get me controlled again.

Halleluiah! There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. The main reason I wrote this blog is to remind us all, myself included, to keep trying. To keep digging. If you don’t feel right, keep asking questions until someone figures it out.

Oh, and the really good news? I don’t have allergies. Most particularly, I’m not allergic to cats. That would have made life very, very difficult, since Dude likes to lay across my neck and cuddle. Whew!

It’s been a while since I posted a Dude pic, so here he is, a much happier, not-so-little cat who’s loving that winter is GONE and sunshine is returning. 🙂IMG_8410

I hope your Spring is uplifting and sunny, with just enough rain to make things grow.

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Energy

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I don’t know if it’s age, the time of year, laziness or what, but I don’t seem to have a speck of energy. In fact, the picture on the left looks like I feel. So what to do about it? … Continue reading

Old Dog, New Tricks

Synaptogenesis…ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until recently. While listening to a podcast on my MP3 player while out walking Vivvy, I discovered that synaptogenesis is the formation of new synapses in the brain. These are connecting points that link brain cells, approximately 100 billion of them, and it’s how our brain cells communicate with each other.

Deteriorating synapses are linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases, but research shows that there are ways to regenerate and increase our synapses. According to the podcast, one of the ways is to change up the way we carry out routine tasks. Fascinated, I tried it out on the walk by stepping over stiles with my right foot instead of the left which I normally do, walking a different direction around a group of trees, and going anti-clockwise around the lake instead of clockwise. To be honest, I hadn’t realised what a creature of habit I’d become 🙂

Well, it got me thinking about other areas of my life, especially writing. I’ve always been a writer who needs a solid block of time during which I know I won’t be disturbed in order to write anything like meaningful prose (!). But in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to give writing sprints and timed writing a go. Many writers have success with this kind of writing, but I never thought it would work for me.

Since I wanted to do it properly, I downloaded the Pomodoro app to my phone I set it for twenty-five minutes of writing, followed by a five-minute break time during which you get up and move away from the screen and do something unrelated to writing.

Well, it’s been a revelation! Not only does it seem to work for me, but my word count has soared. Okay, I know this is great for a first draft, and there’ll be some things to fix in the second draft, but hey, words on the screen are always welcome, thank you very much! As they say, you can’t fix a blank page.

So, I’m going to continue with this new way of writing and along the way fire up some new connections in my brain 🙂 It’s a win/win!

A New Year

Is it safe to put my head above the parapet yet? Have all the Christmas decorations and cards come down? Is everything back to normal? Well, it is in our house, leaving me with just one thing to say:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

What does the new year hold in store for me, I wonder. Certainly hope a better one than that just gone. It was a year of  change and adjustments mainly centred on the man in my life: Dave underwent major surgery last April, then cataract ops (the second eye being done next Monday) and back in July he finally retired from work so lots of adjustments needed there on both parts but it has been lovely having him home. He told me the other day he’s enjoyed every minute of it so we must be doing something right. And even though my health hadn’t been top form, it wasn’t all bad and I did manage to get away for a week abroad to visit my brother for his 70th birthday.

Talking of holidays and birthdays, Dave is 70 in February and it’s our 40th wedding anniversary later in the year so we are planning a holiday once he gets his passport. His retirement gift from his boss was a four-figure holiday voucher so we are discussing where to go whilst waiting for the holiday brochures to arrive. This will be his first holiday for 20 years. We’re not into big celebrations or parties but we’ll come up with something to mark both occasions in our own little way.

Also looming is my first public art exhibition scheduled for May. I took the plunge last summer and joined an art group. There is no tutor, we do our own thing in our own medium. Some are leisure painters, others qualified and skilful in their craft. I still feel a little like the new girl in school and yet to learn everyone’s name but the discipline and concentration of being in a dedicated art group for a couple of hours each week is proving beneficial. The advice and support both received and given is beyond value and I’ve learnt a lot. So I’m busy deciding which pieces to exhibit and the best way to frame them. I had the two works below lined up but they’ve sold, which is wonderful. Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide what to paint next.

Dave suggested I paint the walls in the lounge. I don’t think he’s got the hang of this art business yet! But yes, we do have redecorating to do downstairs this year. There’s a fireplace we want removed, wallpaper to strip, walls replastered (and painted), ceilings repaired and oh dear, I have to start sorting out cupboards and decluttering as all the furniture and bits in the lounge and dining room will need to go into commercial storage as we have no garage and no room upstairs.

What else…? Oh, did I tell you I have novel due out in the next month or so? No? Hopefully, yes. And maybe one or two more during the year. Depends on how well everything goes, that’s if I can find the time between the paintbrushes and the garden spade as there’s lots to do outside as soon as the weather warms up. Roll on Spring. I did notice this morning through the rain that the snowdrops on the front lawn are in bud along with several hellebores, the daffodils are poking through and for the past week we’ve noted we’re drawing the curtains later and later of an afternoon so perhaps Spring isn’t so far away after all.

Okay, there were two things I wanted to say. The other is:

I HOPE 2018 PROVES TO BE PEACEFUL, SUCCESSFUL AND EXCITING FOR YOU TOO!

Whoosh… there goes November…

I hope everyone Stateside had a lovely Thanksgiving. November has gone by in a flash (well, let’s face it, most of this year has done the same), but since I’ve been especially busy, it has seemed the shortest month of the year so far.

First, I’ve been occupied with NaNoWriMo, and managing to keep my head above the sea of words as I battle toward the 50,000 finish line. Although I’ve done NaNo before, this year has been a bit of a struggle. The words haven’t wanted to come and sometimes it’s felt like pulling teeth. But nearly there and just a few thousand words left to write as I type this post. Although the conventional thing to do is to write the first draft of a new novel during the month, I’ve been a little unorthodox and used the 50,000 words to finish a story that’s been around for a few years now, plus written a short novella, and started another one. It feels like I’ve been very productive, but I have to admit I’ll be glad to hit that 50,000 and ease off a bit.

Second, I’ve tried to balance all the brain work with some physical activity.  Walking Ms. Vivvy is always a pleasure and trudging through fields always helps with the creative process, especially with the new voice recorder app on my phone. I often wonder what would happen if someone overheard me dictating into the machine, especially the love scenes 🙂

Then, thanks to a special monthly deal at the local sports centre (ahem* even more special if you’re a senior *ahem) we’ve been trying out a variety of teacher-led classes and also a new venture for the centre, Les Mills virtual sessions. So far we’ve sampled total body tone, fitness yoga, legs/bums/tums, coreX, body balance and sh’bam (phew, that one was a killer). This week it’s zumba, which I’m not too sure about to be honest.

But my real love has to be the adult ballet classes. There was much excitement last week when our teacher introduced some very intense foot exercises, told us we weren’t beginners any longer, and bandied around the words en pointe. That led to much speculation that we would soon be dancing on our toes like real ballerinas. Our excitement was soon dimmed when she introduced a new arm position and said ‘your left hand should be lowered to just above the height of your ‘tutu’. We all went quiet after that, as visions of prancing back to the car park after class while wearing our new ‘tutus’ took on nightmarish proportions. There were cries of ‘not in a million years‘ and ‘I’d never find one to fit me’, amongst other things.  Of course, our teacher was only joking…we hope!

Have a great last week of November …

 

 

 

Experiences Old and New

I hope my American bloggers enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving Celebration yesterday with family and friends.  Thanks to everyone for your supportive messages last month.  Peter is visiting the hospital for various tests and this week we are meeting with the Consultant to discuss results.  We hope for a diagnosis, treatment plan and information as although Peter is brave and stoic it will help to know what we are dealing with – fingers crossed.

This month has been reflective in many ways but I have had some old experiences which are helping me deal with my stress levels and new experiences which have been very thought provoking,  I will tell you one old experience which we have repeated over many years.  A regular walk of ours is along part of a canal near to our house, we have various routes to and from it but the canal part of the walk remains consistent.  Different seasons add to the experience but this time of year is our favourite as less people are using the canal and fewer cyclists.  The light is different therefore the views of surrounding countryside seem enhanced.  Lots of wildlife thrives alongside the canal and various ducks, moorhens and occasional fish inhabit the area so it is interesting.  Occasional hazards occur when a local fishing club hold competitions and block the path but on the whole each group of people (and animals) co-exist. Strange specimen featured!

The highlight this weekend was a heron.  I wonder if it is the same one that we have seen over the years but is probably an offspring.  I keep meaning to find out more about herons as I am fascinated by their inscrutability and patience. This one waited for Peter to approach him, seemed to pose for the photo, glanced around then took flight looking majestic.  These birds look so elegant even when flying despite their long legs.  Our next encounter was with a pair of swans who swam right up to the bank, pecked at some reeds, then seemed to pose for the camera before gliding gracefully off.  I wondered at first if they thought we had some titbits but they didn’t seem bothered.  The two incidents enhanced our walk.  I reflect on magical moments like these during the dark grey days.

My new experience is Gong Bath or Sound Yoga (Suntatya Yoga).  Whilst yoga is one of my main exercise routines of the week this is totally different. Several of my friends have followed my example despite my not talking about my individual experience (unusual!!) as each person’s reaction is different. We assemble in a local hall, normally 8 or 10 of us, with yoga mats, blankets, cushions, comfortable clothing and lie on the floor for an hour with our eyes closed! BUT during this time Helen, a young qualified yoga teacher friend of mine, plays a variety of sounds using singing bowls, gongs, bells, pebbles, rain maker and other instruments but I am unsure of all the names.  Occasionally Helen reads a piece of poetry near the end of the session or plays a piece of music. One week around Harvest she played Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold which conjured up various images for me. I have given a brief resumé of the sessions as it is impossible to describe. We are in a totally safe environment, in soft light and the effect for me is total relaxation. Apparently the scientific theory is that toxins are released by the sound waves which help release stress, thus helping the body heal and restore itself.  I cannot say anything other than during the past year it has made an unbelievable difference to my stress levels.  I sleep well the night of the session and the feeling continues for a several days.  It is important to drink lots of water to rehydrate thoroughly as the toxins continue to be released.  I am unsure of why this works for me and for other people I know, I am pragmatic yet spiritual too so might be susceptible.  Two of my friends are deaf and wear hearing aids which they remove for the sessions but they experience similar feelings.

Old and New Experiences indeed but invaluable at this stage of my life. Relax is my word of the moment.  I hope you NaNo Challenge writers are able to do the same! Good luck for the last week amazing people.