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

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

From my bed

I come to you today from my bed in cubicle 5, Ward 29 at Freeman Hospital, courtesy of my friend's mobile broadband whatsit thingummy.

After struggling on with pneumonia for six weeks at home, and with that setting up considerable inflamation in my lungs in an asthmatic way, I finally gave in at the end of last week. I emailed the ward Charge Nurse on Thursday evening, basically with a very miserable email saying that I knew he couldn't do anything through the ether, but I was fed up with things as they are and I could do with some advice as the infection just won't go away and I'm struggling. On the Friday morning I phoned my consultant and left a message on his secretary's answer machine, saying how things were and asking if the consultant could call me back. By mid-afternoon there'd been no return call so I rang again, this time getting through the secretary who took a very detailed message and said that she'd ask Dr H to phone me when he was finished with the patient he was seeing at the time. He called back about half an hour later and after a relatively brief conversation suggested that I come into hospital to get sorted out with IV antibiotics and IV aminophylline. I'm now back on the oral antibiotics, and the pneumonia at last seems to be abating, although there's still considerable inflamation in my lungs and improvement in asthmatic symptoms is slow, so I'm still on the supplemental oxygen and I'm still on the aminophylline infusion. The docs have now started to reduce the infusion a little, and I have to say that I'm not convinced by the success of this as my peak flows have dropped again (averaging 130 pre-nebuliser, and 180 post-nebuliser, which is better than it was before I came in), but we'll see how it goes.

One of the women from lung function came up yesterday to do my spirometry. She was quite shocked by very low FEV1 of 0.36 L and asked if I was waiting for a transplant! 'No,' I said, 'It's asthma.' To say she looked surprised is definitely an understatement, and I have to say that it left me feeling a bit shaken up that she should think that I was in need of a lung transplant :o/

I'm still not sleeping well and I'm incredibly tired. I know it's going to take a while to recover from this, because although I didn't reach the critical point, I did have a very long and protracted struggle at home, and not a particularly easy ride once I got to hospital. At least I seem to be on the mend now, but I could certainly do with some good quality sleep ... and perhaps a few less tubes would be good too.

I have to say that having use of my friend's dongle thingummy (why is it that the word 'dongle' cracks me up in a very childish manner? ;oP ) has made the world of difference. The Patientline TV/radio/telephone/games/internet unit above the bed is okay for everything except internet, and it all costs a small fortune. Actually, it's internet is completely useless and crashes at the first sign of being used on most occasions, rendering it almost completely useless. At least with this mobile broadband whatsit I can access the internet and keep in touch with my friends, and my OU peers ... although it has to be said that I have no brain at the moment to do any OU studies, which is a bit of a bugger seeing as my final project for my current course is due in in about three weeks time :oO !!!

Well, on that slightly panicked note I'm going to sign off for now and try to get a bit of rest.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

More pills

I'm still not well. I've still got pneumonia, though I have some how managed to stay at home. Saying that, it's been a struggle to stay home, and each time I've seen the doctor they've questioned whether or not I should be home or in hospital. I went back to the GP last Wednesday and he started me on doxycyline - my third lot of antibiotics since this infection started. One of the side effects of doxycyline is photosensitivity, and I can categorically say that I have most definitely succumbed to this side effect. I was outside for a few hours on Sunday (my birthday) and now I resemble an embarrassed tomato. My face is bright red, and when I take my glasses off I look as though I have goggle shadows. It's really not a good look.

I had a phone call from my GP on Friday, and not from the doctor I saw on Wednesday. He wanted to check on how I was, and wasn't too impressed by the sound of me, pointing out that I couldn't actually speak in sentences, although I pointed out that I could still speak so I wasn't in dire straits. He checked out that I can still self-refer to the ward at the hospital and said to get in touch with them if there was any deterioration over the weekend. The GP phoned again on Monday evening to see how things were going, and again wasn't impressed so asked to see me, making an appointment for me there and then. I went yesterday afternoon. The first thing he noticed was the sunburn from the doxycyline photosensitivity and was quite shocked, even though I'd warned him when I spoke to him on the phone on Monday. He decided to stop the doxycyline straight away and instead put me back on amoxicillin (I've had two extended courses of co-amoxiclav already). The doc I saw last week had taken my sputum sample and the lab had returned the results. It turns out that I have Haemophilus influenzae pneumonia (Hib pneumonia), which isn't actually 'flu, despite it's name. Apparently it's quite unusual for people over the age of 4 to get Hib infections (you know, that one that babies are immunised against with the Hib vaccine), so yet again I defy normality. Anyway, Hib is supposed to be sensitive to both doxyclyine and amoxicillin so hopefully the bugs will finally decide that they don't like the company they're getting so upsticks and head off. I certainly hope so as it's been five and a half weeks now and it feels like they've taken up residence and settled in forever.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


Sometimes there are just a few too many odd occurrences for one person to keep to themselves. The first was more unusual than truly odd, but noteworthy all the same. I live not too far away from the main train line between Newcastle and Edinburgh, and although I don't hear the trains everyday, I do sometimes hear them hoot their horn. On Monday I had the back door open, and was standing at the kitchen sink doing the washing up when I heard a train hoot its horn as it passed nearby ... except that it wasn't a horn being hooted; it was a whistle being whooted - a steam train.

Later that day I went for a trundle in Taz to make the most of the sunshine. While I was out I saw a couple of people walking two very small dogs, that turned out not to be dogs at all. Nope, what I was seeing was a couple of people taking two ferrets for a walk. Of course I've heard of this before, but it's not something I've ever seen and it was a little surprising, although smilesome :o)

You may have missed this news story yesterday, but it is truly odd. It is the story of a Russian man who went to see the doctor because he had a bad cough, was coughing up blood and had chest pain. An x-ray showed a shadow on his lung and he underwent immediate surgery to remove the tumour. However, the tumour turned out not to be what anyone was expecting, but rather a 5cm fir tree growing in the man's lung! It's thought that maybe he'd breathed in a seed while walking in the woods, and had somehow found conditions good enough for germination. Ya know, this is one thing that my asthma consultant hasn't considered as the possible cause of all my problems, so maybe next time I'm at clinic I should ask to have my lungs checked for rogue fir trees.

Several years ago I had a friend, C, who I came to realise was actually detrimental to my mental health. I won't go into details, other than to say that at the time I was very depressed, C had her own mental health problems, and she was the kind of person who needed to be needy and needed to be needed. It took a lot for me to end this 'friendship', but I knew that it was what I needed to do, and after doing so I felt huge relief. For some strange reason, on Monday I found myself thinking about C about that time of my life. Even weirder was that on Tuesday I had a phone call from C. She said she was phoning to ask about a chair she'd bought off me after my business had closed, and she then went into some long and protracted explanation of how this chair had now broken and how she was 'in consultation' with Ikea, where the chair had originally come from. It was all rather boring, to be honest, and yet (and as ever) she tried to make it sound like it was the most disastrous thing to happen in all the world, and what terrible repercussions the event had ... which as far as I could tell were that she had a broken chair and a sore bum. It was a very odd phone call, but really I think it was an excuse for C to get back in touch with me. It's not going to happen. Thinking about C fills me with a depressed frustration and I know that she's still no good for me. We were both ill when we met, and the one thing that she couldn't cope with was me getting better from depression - she wanted me to be ill. During the strange call from her on Tuesday it became evident that she's still ill; apparently hasn't made any progress; and she sounded hugely disappointed when I said that although my lungs are rubbish my mental health is great. I don't need that. I don't want that. She was odd then. She's still odd. The phone call was odd. The fact that I'd found myself thinking about C the day before the call was odd.

Some odd things are good, others are just ... odd.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Doctor, doctor

For the past three to four weeks I've been struggling with pneumonia. Although not at the request of my GP, I've managed to stay at home, but it really hasn't been easy. I've been on horse pill antibiotics, which seem to start doing their thing, then the course finishes and the infection decides to make a come-back. I finished the most recent course at midnight on Wednesday, but I already feel the heaviness in my chest returning and the sweet taste of infection coming back. I've been permanently exhausted, but then you expect that with pneumonia, but I'm getting a bit fed up with it all now. Of course the whole thing has been playing havoc with my asthma, and my peak flows have been 150 at best. Okay, so they've been much worse than that before (and at times during this too), but everything is hard work when breathing is hard work. It's getting me down a bit. I'm okay ... I'm just fed up ... and I guess I'm a bit lonely too, because while I'm poorly like this then I can't go out much. I have been out a bit (only in Taz though), but not for long and it's mostly been on my own, although I did see a friend on Tuesday and one yesterday.

I went to an out patient appointment with my asthma consultant yesterday. No new break-throughs in the treatment of brittle asthma, of course, just another chat about where things are up to at the minute, but he did listen to my lungs. Despite having finished the antibiotics there are still crackles in my lungs, but he didn't give me any more antibiotics - just said to see how things go, keep a close eye on things, and go straight back to my GP at the first sign of things going downhill.

So that's where I'm up to. Breathing's a bit of a struggle; I'm a bit fed up; and the pneumonia is a bit of a bore. I'm just hoping that I can shake it off soon and also manage to stay out of hospital.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


There's a problem with formatting on here when I copy and paste from the documents on my computer. It seems to undo paragraphing and tabulations. I only noticed this (I'd forgotten about it) when I came back this morning after posting Circular Breathing yesterday, and realised how difficult it is to read without the proper paragraphing etc. I've gone through it and added lots of .s to create kind of paragraph spacing. I know it looks a bit weird, and it halts the flow a bit, but it's the only way I've been able to make things work. Sorry about that. Anyway, I just thought I ought to explain.