A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Friday, 26 September 2008


I think I need to be reminded that I'm only a week out of hospital, and therefore need not to be pushing myself quite as hard as I am. Whilst I'm getting very little physical exertion, my brain is spending all day in the revision gym and it's beginning to get over-heated. The problem is that my exam is only two and a bit weeks away, and my recent hospital admission ate a hefty bite out of my revision time, so I have a lot to do in a very short space of time. I know that ultimately it's counter-productive to over-work, but I do have to get my head around the concepts/critics/poems/plays/prose etc that are going to be in the exam. I have spent today analysing four poems by three Romantic poets, and trying to learn snippets of the poems that give the essence of them. It's hard! I have poetry stuck to the walls around the house (Wordsworth's 'Tintern Abbey' is next to the toilet. I wonder what he'd say to that!). I have the basic concepts of the Romantic poets stuck up on the food cupboards in the kitchen - they're getting up close and personal with the lentils - and the critics/theorists of the Realist novel stuck on the tea cupboard where they can have a drink while they ponder. You see, I can tell you where they are, but can I tell you what they say? ... erm ... not really. Maybe I'll end up writing in my exam that 'I cannot remember what the critic Kettle said about the Realist novel (something to do with it's value being in its contribution to human freedom????), but he is stuck up on my kitchen cupboard above the kettle, waiting for a cup of tea.' ... P'raps not.

I'm rambling. It's a sure sign of scrambled brain syndrome. Anyone fancy doing my exam for me? Any English professors out there who want to do my exam for me? That'd be most helpful.

On a completely different subject, Nipper is trying on a name for size - Daniel. It might not fit, in which case he might well try on Jacob, but his mummy and daddy are going to see how he looks in Daniel for a few days :o)

I can't believe it's only 8:25pm. I'm whacked. I could go to bed, but then I'd probably end up waking up even earlier and sleep isn't happening much at the moment anyway. I think that's down to a combination of exam stress and lungs being a bit more grumpy, because of my slight coldiness, but whatever it is I don't like it - I don't like mornings. Mornings are too early in the day.

Oh grumble, grumble, moan, whinge, grumble ;oP

Right then, I'll wander off and bother the cat. He's been trying to sit on me all day and hasn't understood that it's not helpful to sit on your slave when they're trying to study.


Thursday, 25 September 2008

From n-i-p to nipper

Nephew number two has arrived! He eventually made it into the world around midday today and weighed it at 7lb 10z, so although he was three weeks early, he was a very healthy size. Thankfully he appears to be an all-round healthy baby, despite the 'scares' earlier on in the pregnancy and my sister-in-law's high blood pressure throughout. Hurray! As yet the new baby has no name, although I think it's a matter of his parents making that final decision they thought they had another three weeks to come to, and I know of two strong contenders - Jacob and Daniel :o)

I've spent the day stuck in the house, dosing myself up on fruit in an attempt to keep this threatening cold at bay, and also doing/pretending to do lots of revision. I've been somewhat distracted from my studies though on account of Nipper's heading into the world (very literally). He was due to be born the day after my exam, so it's really quite considerate of him to come early, because I wasn't looking forward to trying to concentrate on writing three essays in three hours in an exam whilst knowing that my new nephew might be on his way. Well done that boy! He starts life with a big gold star from me :o)

Well, having nipped in to update you on Nipper, I'd better nip out again and do another half hour of study before stopping for the evening.


Wednesday, 24 September 2008


A quick nip in to say that my nephew-in-progress is in the process of entering the world! He's a little early (3 weeks), but so far all seems to be okay, though I guess we'll find out for sure when he actually arrives.

I'm very excited :o)

I'll be back later with another post, but I just had to share the news.


Tuesday, 23 September 2008


It's that time of year again when the birds congregate on the rooftops and telegraph wires and constantly chatter about where they're heading for the winter months. It's certainly beginning to feel colder now, and this morning I felt a chill when I woke up that made me want to snuggle further under my duvet, rather than get out of bed. I'm not a fan of winter - the cold air can cause havoc with my lungs - and I think the birds have got the right idea that migrating south through the cold months is the best plan. Unfortunately, for us humans, that either means having enough money to have a second home or spending half the year living in a tent or caravan, and I don't know about you, but I don't have the money for the former or the inclination to do the latter, even though I do enjoy camping.

With the winter chill comes the new bout of winter colds - the snuffles and sneezes and misery-making wheezes :o( I'm actually wondering if I'm coming down with the beginnings of a cold at the moment, because I've had a slightly sore throat all day and have been a little bit sniffly. I will ignore it and tell my lungs that there's nothing to see here, no bugs around to get friendly with, no reason to get excited ... and I'll take the more practical approach of consuming large amounts of vitamin C-rich foods too. Oh, and what an excellent excuse to have more garlic :o)

No, winter and cold of any kind is not my thing. Not a fan. Don't want it. I'd say 'bring back summer,' but we haven't really had one ... unless I missed it during a lie in one morning.

Sunday, 21 September 2008


I forgot to tell you that I got the result through for my digital photography course that I finished back in July. The Charge Nurse on the ward gave me a few minutes on his computer last week so that I could log into my OU homepage and see if my result was in, and it was. I passed with 88% ! Hurray! I really enjoyed the course and learnt a huge amount from it, though I have to admit that I haven't had much chance for photography over the past month or so with having needed to concentrate on my other studies at the moment. Hopefully, come 14th October when the exam's out of the way (exam on 13th), I'll get more time for playing with my camera again :o)

Revision for my English Lit course starts in earnest tomorrow. I'm so far behind with it it's stupid, but I haven't been in much of a position to do anything about this. However, I did manage to get myself to the revision tutorial yesterday, which showed me that I've somehow managed to retain more from my initial studies than I thought I had. I'm still worried about the exam, but perhaps a little less terrified than I was. At the tutorial yesterday I also remembered to hand in my one missing assignment from the course - the one I wrote last week when I was in hospital - so hopefully it won't be long till I get that back marked, because it'd be good to know if I was thinking along the right lines and therefore have something to revise from for that - Ibsen's 'A Doll's House', its dramaturgy, and representation of women in a patriarchal society ... kind of. I've learnt a lot on this course too, and continually surprised myself with my assignment marks. All the way through I've thought that my essays have been sparse, because I've only had enough words (damn word limits!) to discuss a fraction of what I would have liked to cover ... they've pretty much all felt like I've only written part of the answer. However, my lowest mark so far (excluding the one I handing in yesterday and am now waiting for) has been 85% so clearly I've been doing something right. Now all I need to do is pre-empt the exam and work out what the essays I'm going to have to write in that are going to be about. Not so easy. Not easy at all. I've never been terribly good at exams - I like to be able to take my time, think through what I want to say, formulate my ideas clearly in my mind before committing them to paper, and produce busy-looking mind maps in the process. No, I've never really got the hang of exams, so it'll be 'interesting' to see how this forthcoming one goes :o/ ................ Nope, sorry, can't convince myself that it'll be interesting, so let me rephrase that ... it'll be bloody frustrating if I fail at the last hurdle when I've done so well so far. Yup, that's more like it ;o)

So, to bed now so that I can revise/get into a panic about revising tomorrow.

Night all.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


Yup, it all went pear-shaped and the day after my last entry I ended up back in hospital. To be honest, I wasn't feeling dreadfully awful most of that day ... just pretty rubbish, but I was short of breath and did have some pain in the base of my right lung, which I thought may have been infection. Since the previous week I'd been planning to meet up with one of my OU friends and his wife for lunch on the day that ultimately went pear-shaped, and I managed to convince myself that I was okay to do this. Actually, I felt quite ill in a general 'I think I've got an infection and my temperature is a bit variable' kind of a way, but I enjoyed meeting up with D and his wife C and we had a lovely lunch down at Peppy's. However, once we'd 'done' lunch and they'd headed off back home after a short stop at my flat before going, I flopped and I gave into the 'I'm not well' thing that my body was telling me. I called the doctors' surgery to see if by any slim chance they might have a free appointment, but was 99.9% sure that they wouldn't as it's usually a case of having to ring up at 8:30am for an appointment and they're all taken by 8:31am. It being around 2pm, I wasn't surprised when the receptionist said that they didn't have any appointments other than emergency ones, so it was either take one of them or go to the walk-in centre. I um-ed and ahh-ed, saying (in part sentences, because I couldn't actually breathe enough to speak in full sentences - oops) that I didn't think it really was an emergency, but I was short of breath, had some pain in my lung, thought I might have an infection, but didn't think it warranted taking an emergency appointment ... on the other hand, with my medical history I wanted to see a doctor who knew me, rather than a random one at the walk-in centre. In the end I asked if it'd be okay if I took the emergency appointment for 5:30pm, and was immediately told, very warmly, that of course it was okay and not to be daft :o) End of call ... except that five minutes later the receptionist phoned back to say that she'd spoken to the doctor, explained what I'd told her and he'd said he wanted to see me straight away, rather than waiting until 5:30pm. Clearly we have different ideas of what constitutes an emergency ... or maybe it's that my emergencies tend to be critical situations these days. Anyway, feeling a little surprised by this turn of events, I put on my coat, picked up my bag, gave the cat a quick stroke and set out to the doctors' surgery. Now the surgery is only four parallel streets away, but I had to keep stopping to get my breath so it took longer than usual and more energy than usual to get there, but in the end I did and the receptionist on the front desk had been forewarned of my arrival and instructed to tell the doctor as soon as I arrived. He had someone in with him when I got there, but I only had to wait five minutes or so before I was called in.

The walk to the surgery (no, for some stupid reason I didn't use Taz to get there. Don't ask me why - I have no clue) had not only made me feel more unwell, but also made me realise that I wasn't well, so that by the time I got to see the doc I felt quite lousy. At this point I still didn't consider myself to be in a state of emergency, but the doc wasn't so convinced. He got me to do a peak flow and wasn't impressed with my grand score of 80. Actually, I was surprised by this as only an hour before hand it had been 130 (still completely rubbish, but a whole 50 better than it was by now), and I'd had a nebuliser since then too. Oops. He looked at me and said, 'For any other 'normal' asthmatic I'd expect them to be on the floor with a peak flow of 80. Can I listen to your lungs?' He did. His response to having listened to them was, 'Hmm, well I can sort of hear some air in the top of your lungs, but nothing in the bases.' Bugger. I knew it was coming - I knew he was going to send me to hospital - though he did first ask how I felt about it. I said that I had too much work (study) to do to be going into hospital, which prompted a somewhat incredulous and exasperated look of despair on the doc's face, and with that he rang my consultant at the hospital. During their brief conversation I could actually feel my lungs getting tighter and knew that I was now heading downhill rapidly. All of a sudden I didn't feel so bad at having taken an emergency appointment. Despite all this, I can't deny that I was disappointed at the docs' joint decision that I should get to hospital asap, so with a quick check that Ward 29 had a bed, a blue-light ambulance was called.

Usually when I'm ill enough at the doctors' to need an ambulance then I'm kept in the room with the doc or with one of the nurses, but for some reason on this occasion I was to go and sit back in the waiting room for the ambulance. A little irregular, but I didn't think much about it and started my breathless trek the twenty yards up the corridor ... in stages, like an expedition up Everest. I was on the third or fourth leg of my assent up the hall when I saw the FRU paramedic at the front desk asking where he could find me, and I heard the receptionist say that she thought I was in room 5 (where, indeed, I had been). I raised my hand and said as best as I could, 'I'm here.' To say that the paramedic looked aghast would be putting it mildly. He took hold of me, said, 'Bless you, you're really tight there,' and then turned to the receptionist saying that we needed a room now. There's a treatment room just off the waiting room/area that's used by the district nurse etc and this was immediately unlocked for our use, so I was guided into there, sat on a chair, and supplied with oxygen while the lovely paramedic called Dave (so his uniform told me) got a nebuliser sorted for me. During this time the ambulance crew arrived, and were shown in, whereupon Dave told them how he'd found me struggling up the corridor on my own even though I was clearly very ill. I could see their point, but I have to say that on the whole my GP practice are superb, and this is one slip in years of fantastic care from them so I don't hold a grudge.

Anyway, they got my history from a combination of a print out sheet (or four) the doc had handed me to give to them; all my cards and laminated letters; and an increasingly breathless conversation/gasping of words. Dave was pretty keen to get some hydrocortisone into me, but this required a cannula and after two attempts he'd had no luck so instead he and the ambulance crew decided just to get me into the ambulance and on my way to the Freeman Hospital. Once in the ambulance, he actually tried to cannulate me a further three times, but my veins are so over-used and scarred from hundreds of past cannulations that it's not at all easy to get venous access in me these days, which I have to say is something of a concern. There was no success in the cannulation department so we sped off up to the hospital, Dave having left his FRU car outside the GP surgery so that he could accompany me in the ambulance as he 'didn't trust [me] not to go off.'

On arrival I found my consultant had come up to the ward to see me as I came in (very nice of him, I thought ... though also rather an indicator of what shape he thought I was in). The ambulance crew and Paramedic Dave handed me over to the nursing staff, and then there was the swarm of medics ranging from F1 (previously known as House Officers) to consultant with everything in between, all of whom were desperate to get a cannula into me. I had an F2 at my left hand, an SpR (registrar) at my right hand, and the consultant at my feet, and a small cheer went up when the SpR (S, as there was more than one SpR there - also V, Re and Ri) eventually got access in my right wrist. Then it was time for blood gases (horrid things), followed by a quick injection of hydrocortisone before my usual aminophylline infusion was started, and the ITU team were called to come and see me.

It was a fight. It was exhausting. I went into acidosis - both metabolic and respiratory, so I was told. I did something new too - I managed to get dangerously dehydrated, which was all a bit weird, and I ended up needing so much IV fluids that they called it 'resuscitation'. I'm not quite sure how, but some how I managed, by the skin of my teeth, to avoid going down to ITU, although the anaesthetist was up to see me four times in the first night alone, so it really was a close call. After about 38 hours or so things started to settle and they all got ever so excited when I finally had enough breath to create a small wheeze, as up until this time I'd had a silent chest. Some time after that I finally had enough breath to sleep, and sleep is something I do very well after a long exhausting battle with asthma, so I stayed asleep (being half-woken briefly and intermittently for nebulisers to be given, bloods to be taken and gases to be checked) for 48 hours. It took a long while for me to get through the sleepy stage this time, and although I was more awake than I had been after this initial 48 hour sleep, I remained very sleepy-tired for a number days. It also seemed to take longer than usual for things to really settle, which is most likely why I was still so tired I guess, and I ended up needing to stay on the aminophylline for eight days, when I'm usually on it for more like four or five. I don't know why this is - whether it was just this particular attack, whether it was down to how acidotic I got, whether it was the queried infection (as indicated as a possibility from my blood tests, though my x-ray was clear for infection), or if it's just that I'm getting older and recovery is slower. Whatever the reason, it took time for me to get my bounce back, but eventually it returned and I was well enough to resume my study worries. I actually ended up writing my final assignment for English Literature course whilst in hospital this week, at a point where I was still on the aminophylline infusion and on oxygen! I'm not sure if that's dedication, foolishness or the effects of hypoxia ;oP

I finally got home yesterday mid-afternoon, although this wasn't without it's complications. Sometime earlier in the week my dad had visited and had brought with him my foldy-uppy wheelchair (not Taz, the other one) so that he could take me for a trundle in the park over the road from the hospital :o) Now there isn't usually any problem whatsoever about getting me, my stuff and my foldy-uppy wheelchair back home from hospital, but most bizarrely there seems to exist such a thing as an ambulance that doesn't take wheelchairs! Excuse me, but huh?! I've got foldy-uppy w/c in a micra before, so how come it doesn't fit into an ambulance? It was all very weird, but the guy who initially came to take me home insisted that this was the case so went away again without me :o( This meant that my ambulance home had to be re-booked for the afternoon (I'd previously been told to be ready to leave at any time from 9:30am) and that I was put on the bottom of the list :o( However, a nice guy with an ambulance that did take wheelchairs came fairly quickly, picked me up, brought me home, carried all my bags into my flat and left me with a smile :o)

Home at last :o)

(Oh, and I've lost any trace of guilt I had about taking that emergency appointment at the GP surgery)

Monday, 8 September 2008

Tough day

Today has been really tough, and is continuing to be this evening. I didn't get any sleep last night, because every time I lay down my lungs decided to tighten up, and then even when I gave up on the lying down bit, my lungs refused to play nicely. Now I don't know why this should be, but here's a very strange thing I've noticed: a day or two before a bad spell (or major attack) my heart rate goes very low, particularly at night, and last night I noticed that it was going slowly so I counted it and it was only 49bpm. I'm sure there must be some medical explanation for this, even if it's not a common thing, but it is something I've noticed and is almost like a warning sign for me that things aren't good and they may well be about to get worse. Indeed, today has been a bad day.

First thing this morning I was able to go out briefly to the local post office, where I needed to go to post a parcel for baby Eleanor, but before I got home my lungs were beginning to hurt. By the time I got home I was exhausted, tight-chested and very much in need of a nebuliser. I sat on the sofa and nebbed my lungs into vague submission, and then stayed on the sofa for several hours unable to do anything much at all. I have been coughing a lot, wheezing intermittently, short of breath, exhausted and generally feeling rather unwell. At some point in the day I made the effort to read ten pages of my course text book, but I don't think I've taken much in, and since putting it down I've done a lot of nothing again.

I went briefly to the shop around the corner about an hour and a half ago to get some milk and I'm still suffering for the exertion. My peak flow is 140 post nebuliser, and my lungs just don't feel like they're doing this whole breathing thing as they should.

This evening I really don't feel very well. I will see how things go, but I have a feeling that if they go off (which I'm hoping they won't), then it's going to be very fast and I'll have to act very quickly. I am not parting from my community care alarm tonight.

A bit of this and a bit of that

Well nothing much has happened lung-wise - they're still being rather unpredictable and intermittently unco-operative, but things haven't progressed into a downward spiral towards hospital (yet). I am having to be a bit more careful than usual about what I get up to, because I'm finding things generally more tiring at the moment as a result of lack of continuity in the breathing department, but I'm still getting on with life and making sure that I'm having fun amidst the study and the precarious lung situation.

The past week has been a bit of a mix of things really. I'm not going to bore you with details, but I've done quite a bit of study ... not enough if I'm ever to catch up (which is seeming more and more unlikely), but still a fair amount - about two and a half week's worth in seven days.

On Thursday afternoon I went up to the Woodhorn Centre near Ashington, Northumberland, with my father to see an exhibition of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007 Competition. It was fantastic and well worth seeing if you get a chance. It has made me want to have more time for photography again, but I think I'm going to have to be patient and wait until after this dreaded exam in October. However, wildlife and nature photography generally seems to be what really gets me fired-up so I'm going to make sure that I give myself time to get more practise in for that ... and more opportunity too.

Thursday was also the day when my best friend from sixth form gave birth to her first child - a little girl they've called Eleanor :o) This is a very joyful occasion indeed as Eleanor's mummy has been through some difficult times in the past, and being a mother is something that she's always wanted. Eleanor was in a bit of a rush to be born, and even though it was her mummy's first pregnancy, she arrived into the world only two hours after starting to get here! Born at quarter to four in the morning, Eleanor, mummy and daddy were home by 9am! I haven't met Eleanor yet, because the family don't live locally, so I'm going to have to be patient and wait until I can get down to the Midlands, and it'd probably be wise to leave it until a) mummy and daddy have worked out which end of the baby is which; b) all the grandparents have gone back home; and c) I'm not so inundated with study. How exciting and how lovely though :o)

Most of Friday was spent filling my head with stuff for my English Lit course, but in the evening I went with three friends to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle. The guy playing Joseph was the runner up from the 'Any Dream Will Do' TV competition - Craig Chalmers - and I thought he was rather good, but I have to say that I wasn't that impressed with the woman playing the narrator. She - Tara Bethan - was one of the people who'd been knocked out of the 'I'd Do Anything' TV show for the part of Nancy in 'Oliver', and although she was enthusiastic I thought that her voice was actually pretty weak in the upper registers. Having said that, the show was great fun and I enjoyed it very much, even though we were right up in the Gods of the theatre. 'Joseph' is probably one of my favourite musicals, and one that I learnt all the words of when I was very young. I think the first time I saw it was in London and I must have been about four years old. At the time, there was a children's TV programme called 'Watch', which I can't remember anything about now, but I know that I loved it (though it took at least second place in my list of favourites after Bagpuss), and I think one of the things that initially made me so very excited about 'Joseph' was that the man from 'Watch' was playing the part of Joseph. I also have a feeling that Floella Benjamin, who at the time was one of the presenters of 'Play School', was also in it. 'Play School' and 'Watch' together made it for me as a four year old! (Oh, if only life could stay so uncomplicated). Yeah, so where was I? 'Joseph'. It was brilliant fun, and with being up in the Gods there weren't all that many people to disturb so me and my friend K could occasionally hum along quietly to the tunes. Tee hee.

I was going to say that I didn't do anything but study yesterday, but actually I had a rather wonderful and very skilled friend put up some new shelf units in the bedroom. This is tremendously exciting, because the so-called floating shelves I had in there before had always been threatening to either crash on my head as I lay in bed, or smash the computer printer on my desk. They weren't so much 'floating' shelves as 'sagging treacherously and making a bid for the floor' shelves. M has done a fantastic job at putting these new shelves up and making sure that they're perfectly safe, perfectly straight and not likely to land on my head at any time in the foreseeable future - always a bonus! M's rather talented at that kind of thing, which is fortunate, because it's one of the things he does for a living :o) Yes, that was a terribly exciting Saturday event.

Nothing exciting at all has happened today (technically yesterday as it's now gone 2am), but that comes from a great deal of lung grumpiness in the morning that meant that I couldn't actually drag myself from bed until gone three in the afternoon. Most frustrating, but I gave into it and got through by very regular nebbing, listening to the radio (I love Radio 4) and playing lots of games of something I can't remember the name of on my NDS. It's a far cry from the study I felt that I should be getting on with, but it was either that or a probable further slump in breathing ability, which I didn't fancy, funnily enough. Sometimes it's necessary to just give in and do what needs to be done, rather than what ought to be done, even if it's frustrating.

It's probably about time that I took myself back to bed now. That's the trouble with getting up late - it knocks my whole body-clock off kilter. Ho hum, back to the books tomorrow.

Night all.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


My lungs are still tight and bagpipey and last night was quite a struggle, which made sleeping difficult and it didn't happen until sometime around 5am. I was tired, but my lungs just wouldn't settle enough to let me fall into a slumber, which is what I really needed (aside from being able to breahe easily). I don't know what's going on. I mean, I don't know why they're so grumpy at the moment, other than the fact that they're often grumpy for no reason. It's all rather frustrating, and quite frankly it's boring too!

On a positive note, it seems as though the coldiness I thought I felt has gone, and so may have been residual allerginess from the hops plant reaction last week. I know that it seems rather a long time from Wednesday to Sunday (or was it Monday???) to still be feeling the effects of an allergy, but they can be like that. After recovering from an anaphylactic reaction, I can be wiped out for a week or more, and my body usually aches with an intense exhaustion so that it almost hurts even to touch the bed that I'm lying on at the time. It's very strange, and I'm not sure I can describe it all that well ... all I can say is that at those times it definitely feels as though I've been poisoned. So although I've not been this bad from last week's reaction, and it wasn't anaphylactic, the pseudo-coldiness could have been an allergy hangover. That doesn't really explain the current lung tightness though, but then, as I say, my lungs never need an excuse - I think they just get bored of doing the same in/out thing all the time.

I went up to the hospital today, but managed to steer clear of all doctors who know me :o) Actually, I did see one of the ITU docs in the corridor, but I managed to scoot into the lift before they could notice that my lungs aren't behaving themselves too well. No, on this rare occasion I wasn't there for myself, but for a friend who's in there. He's thankfully on the mend now, but he's had quite a rough time of it over the past few months with one thing and another, so he's looking a bit wiped out. I always find it a bit odd visiting others in hospital, because I'm so used to being the patient. There's a certain skill to being a good visitor, and I'm not sure that I have it, because although I know what I like from a visitor when I'm an inpatient (and it varies depending on my stage of ill-health or betterness), other people like other things. Sometimes I need just to have someone sit with me and maybe hold my hand; other times I need very basic conversation - reminding what day of the week it is and how long I've been in hospital. Sometimes I need to be distracted from a desperate state of breathlessness by hearing all about what others are up to, or perhaps, even in that state being 'allowed' to tell them my fears or my random thoughts. Sometimes I want to cry with my visitors, or laugh with them. Sometimes I want to play cards. Sometimes I'm not sure if I even want visitors, and that's a very strange state, because you kind of wait all day for visitors to arrive, but then shortly after they do you wish they were gone again. There's nothing very logical about it ... it's just that visitors can be exhausting as well as stimulating, and it takes someone quite skilled in the art of hospital visiting to be able to judge what is needed by the patient at any particular time. I've had much more 'practise' at being the patient on the receiving end of visitors than of being a hospital visitor, so when I visited E today, I felt a little unsure of myself at first, though he seemed to be at a point of quite liking having company, but not wanting people to stay too long. I hope I judged it correctly. In the end I left so that I could find somewhere to use my nebuliser that wouldn't scare a passing nurse into thinking they should contact my ward, not that I was that tight, but I needed to 'do some breathing'.

I'm still hoping that this lung tightness is a blip that might resolve itself, rather than the beginnings of a downward spiral. Time will tell.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

School days

The schools have gone back today. I don't have children so this doesn't directly effect me, but I have friends with children, some of whom are starting school for the first time, and some of whom are starting secondary school for the first time. This has got me thinking about my own days at school, which quite frankly were bloody awful. Some of primary school was okay, but I hated every second of secondary school until I went to sixth form at a different school.

As everyone does, I remember the day I got my GCSE results, which was somewhat hampered by the fact that the school was burnt down the previous week, so although I'd sent an envelope for my results to be sent to my house, they weren't there when I came home for the day from my holiday in the Lake District with my father. Oh, and because I was away I hadn't heard about the school's encounter with an arsonist. This meant that I had to get my results over the phone, but I was too nervous to phone up myself so my father called on my behalf. I didn't do very well. My results weren't awful, but they didn't reflect my capabilities, and they weren't what I'd been expecting. Having said that, I've never performed well in exams, which has in the past, in part been down to the fact that I didn't know how to revise and nerves always got the better of me (with my fast-approaching exam for my OU course I'm hoping that I've overcome both of these limitations). At the time of my GCSE results I was very disappointed, and I know that my parents - particularly my father - were too.

I've thought about this in recent years, more so since starting my Open University studies. I've also talked about it with my mother on several occasions, and have realised that I actually didn't do too badly considering my health. I've always had asthma - my first attack was at three months old apparantly - and as I've got older it's gradually become worse and worse so that it's now at its present level of rubbishness. Prior to my GCSE years my asthma was bad and was already on the decline, although it was still managable, but I had bronchitis and pneumonia on several occasions throughout my GCSE years, so that during those two years I ended up having at least six months off school. This is a huge amount at any time, but particularly so during important years at school and I missed an awful lot of important teaching so found myself busking my way through my GCSEs a lot of the time. I turned out not to be so good at academic busking.

Perhaps I'm now enjoying the hard work of my studies with the Open University so much, because although it's a struggle with my health, I am succeeding. I am finally reaching my potential and I'm proud of myself. I know it's not fashionable to say such things, but I am proud of myself. My lungs are rubbish, I'm constantly struggling to breathe, I'm continually in and out of hospital, but all the same I've been getting consistent firsts for my essays and for my last course. Okay, so this won't necessarily continue, and I still have this forth-coming exam to get through, but so far I think I have reason to be pleased with myself.

I suppose this shows how things can change for the better, even when other things are changing for the worst. My lungs and my asthma continue to go downhill, but with that my determination has increased - determinationi to live, determination to make the most of life, determination to succeed and do what I can when I can. I guess though, that I wish I'd managed to do some of this much earlier in life, and I hope that those starting news schools today manage to reach their potential while they're at school, and enjoy their days at school, unlike me ... until now.

Monday, 1 September 2008


Today is a bad day for my lungs and they're doing a fine impression of a set of bagpipes. I haven't been too grand for a couple of days, which I think has been down to the warm, humid weather, but today the air is a little clearer so today's lung-tightness most likely isn't due to that. This evening I've wondered if I'm getting an infection of some kind, because I've got a very slight sore throat and a few sniffles, which could just be a cold, but colds more than often land me in hospital, because my lungs go into major protest. This is the down side of being on immuno-suppressants for my asthma - susceptibility to infection is greatly increased - and my immune system is fairly screwed up to start with. So yes, I've been struggling today and I'm not sure whether this is the beginnings of another downward spiral into hospital, or if it's a blip that is rescuable (is that a word?). My peak flow has fallen to 150 today and isn't picking up much or for long after nebs. This is a bad sign, but I'm really hoping that I can beat this blip and not end up having to fight for my life again in the very near future, especially as I have an exam for my OU course in about seven weeks time. I'd also just like not to have to do the exhausting fight.

I suppose the upside is that I'm forced to sofa surf, which means that I have more study possibility than if I was free to go out and enjoy myself ... Hmm, I have a feeling that this is sounding a little desperate in the attempt to find a positive. I am.