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

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Holiday time

This is a very quick post to say that I'm off on my hols to France in about half an hour so I won't be around for a couple of weeks (back 1st July). I thought I'd let you all know so that you don't worry and think that I've disappeared off the face of the planet ... or more likely ended up in hospital. I'm really looking forward to this holiday and hoping that it goes without any health problems, although I'm fully prepared with translations of all my hospital/doctors' letters and of medications and allergies lists.

Here I go. See you when I get back.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Day out

Monday was my friend W's birthday. For ages we'd been planning to go to the Farne Islands for the day, but checking the met office website at the weekend I saw there was a severe weather warning and I doubted the boats to the Farnes would sail. Not only that, but even if they did sail I didn't particularly want to be in a little boat on the sea in a storm and then on an exposed little island with no shelter, and neither did W. On Sunday night W and I decided to postpone the Farne Islands trip and find something else to do to celebrate W's birthday, so we both spent quite sometime online searching for an alternative. Eventually I came across Chipchase Castle in Northumberland, which I'd heard the name of before, but that was it: I didn't know anything else about it. Well it seems that although it's still a private family home, they open it up to the public for a month every year in June, and they have nice gardens to wander around too, so that's where we decided to go.

When I got up on Monday morning I was a little miffed to see that it was quite sunny outside and wondered if maybe we could've gone up to the Farnes in the end, but it was already too late for that and I was determined to give W a good day for her birthday. Before going up to Chipchase Castle we went to Cafe Bar One for lunch (the other place in Newcastle, besides Peppy's, that I can eat out), which was very pleasant, and meant that W could have some birthday cake too. So anyway, then we made our way up to the Tyne Valley and found our way to Chipchase with the help of the wonderful thing of satelite navigation - essential in this case as I really didn't have much idea at all of where the Castle was and it wasn't marked on the road map. As we drove we could see the weather closing in, and just before we arrived we saw lightning flash not far ahead, but we seemed to circumnavigate the storm itself and hadn't actually seen a drop of rain before we arrived. The storm we saw as we approached Chipchase got closer as we stood in the grounds watching the sheep, the thunder crashed menacingly, the lightning flashed frequently and there was a constant booming as the storm got nearer. It came ever so close - within a mile I think - but it did actually reach us, although we got a good view of the storm. The sheep didn't like it much though and they looked very warily in the direction of the vicious storm before gradually drifting away from it's general direction. However, they were soon confused by another storm that quickly came rolling in from the opposite direction, and then a third and a fourth from the other two of the four sides of us. The thunder exploded all around us, with fireworks of lightning flashes flickering on all sides, but amazingly we stayed dry. It was like we were in a little pocket of calm amidst the tempestuous anger. I've never experienced anything quite like it.

In the end we did get a few drops of rain starting to fall on us so we headed into the house/castle for the tour (our own private tour as we were the only people there at this point), leaving the storms outside to battle with themselves. While we were inside it did rain quite heavily, and the thunder continued to crash around the area, but the storms never actually came right up to Chipchase. The tour was quite short, but it was interesting, and I felt quite privileged to allowed into, and shown around, this family home. After the house tour we were free to look around the gardens, pele tower and chapel (set out on its own in the first sheep field) on our own. It was all very lovely. I could waffle on describing it, but instead I'll post up a number of photos so you can see for yourself.
The castle
The sheep
The pele tower exterior
The pele tower interior
The chapel exterior
The chapel interior

The gardens

Chipchase castle and gardens closes at 5pm so after a mooch around the gardens we went off to find somewhere to have a cup of coffee, landing in Corbridge, which I knew a little from when I was a child and my father had lived in nearby Hexham, but I didn't remember it very well. Although there were various coffee shops and tea rooms in the town, they looked shut up and dark, but not to be defeated we thought that we might get a much needed cuppa at the pub we'd just passed so we wandered up the street and found ourselves entering a candlelit bar. It was a bit of a weird thing to walk into, but actually quite nice too. It turned out that the storms that had surrounded us while W and I were at Chipchase had been horrendous over Corbridge and had flooded some places and wiped out the town's electricity. With no electricity we couldn't have coffee so instead W had a glass of wine and I had an alcohol free Beck's, and just as we finished and were deciding to make tracks homeward, the pub's electricity came flickering back on.
I had been very conscious that W hadn't had the birthday day out originally planned, one that she'd been greatly looking forward to for quite some time, but I hoped that she'd still had an enjoyable day despite the storms. W reassured me that she'd had a lovely day and a great time, and I certainly had. We'll go to the Farnes when I'm back from my holiday to France (I go on Saturday!), but in the meantime I'm pleased to have discovered Chipchase Castle and would recommend it as a nice day out, even in the middle of a quartet of storms.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Check up

Let me start with another apology for again neglecting my blog. For the most part I've been enjoying having a break from studies so busy doing fun stuff :o) I've also been getting the paperwork sorted for my holiday to France in 10 days time :oD I'm very excited and have all my medical stuff translated into French now, thanks to a rather wonderful OU peer who read my blog, lives in France and offered her services of translation for my paperwork and if I have any medical problems while I'm out there. She's a marvel.

So now for today's post.

A couple of weeks ago I was getting twinges of toothache so I made an appointment with the dentist, but the earliest I could get was yesterday and of course, as is the way with these things, almost as soon as I made the appointment the toothache disappeared. As it had been some time since I'd seen the dentist (about a year, because as it turned out there was something wrong with their appointment recall system and I hadn't received the last appointment they'd sent out) I kept yesterday's appointment for a check up. I explained to Mr V (the dentist) that I'd had toothache when I'd made the appointment and when he checked my teeth he said there were no cavities, but my teeth were very sensitive and there was some gum recession. He said I should use a sensodyne mouthwash, but I pointed out to him that I'm allergic to mint/menthol so can't use it and haven't found a mouthwash I can use, and also that I'm allergic to colourings and all the mouthwashes I've seen are not only minty, but are always a lurid pink, blue or green. Mr V seemed to find it difficult to get his head around this for a while, but eventually did and said to use warm, salty water instead of a mouthwash. Anyway, he said that all he needed to do was a scale and polish, but as my teeth are so sensitive I'd be writhing around in the chair with pain if he did them there and then, so advised me to use the salt water mouthwash this week and he'd put some fluoride varnish on my teeth that should help and mean that when he does the scale and polish next week the pain shouldn't be too bad. He smeared the pastey varnish on my teeth and sent me on my way. The pastey varnish, though, had a taste that I vaguely recognised but couldn't identify ... until I was going down the dental surgery stairs and my lips started to swell. It was banana. I didn't go back up to the surgery, instead opting to go back to the car and get home as soon as I could, but by the time I got back to the car my lips were really quite swollen, my tongue was fizzy and swelling, my throat was itchy, my eyes were itchy and, I was feeling a bit nauseous and my lungs were tightening. I took a double dose (as prescribed by the immunologist) of each of the antihistamines I'm prescribed for severe allergic reaction and used my nebuliser. I probably shouldn't have driven, but all I could think was that I needed to get home, so that's what I did, whereupon I continued on with the meds, sat with my Epi-Pens, phone, mobile and care alarm next to me and hoped that the antihistamines would kick in. I probably ought to have sought medical help, and I certainly don't advise taking the risk that I did, but I got lucky and things did begin to settle. Once I was well enough I thought I should probably call the dental surgery, tell them what had happened and find out the name and ingredients of the thing the dentist had smeared on my teeth. I spoke to the receptionist rather than Mr V, and she was very concerned, but also very helpful. It turned out the stuff was called Duraphat, and she asked me if I wanted to speak to Mr V. I didn't think there was an awful lot of point in talking to him as there was now little he could do, but a couple of minutes after I put the phone down Mr V rang me, sounding very worried and said that he wanted to see me straight away. The dental practice has two surgeries and he was doing his afternoon surgery at the practice so that's where I was to go, but seeing as I thought I probably shouldn't drive I wasn't sure how I was going to get there so Mr V offered to pay for a taxi. That's what I did. Between ending the call and arriving at the surgery Mr V had spoken to them at the dental hospital and they advised that I either see my GP or go to A & E. Personally I didn't think there was an awful lot of point in doing either of these things now as I was better than I had been, even though I still didn't feel 100%, but Mr V wasn't happy so I opted for phoning my GP to ask them for advice. Mr V gave me their phone and waited while I called. I spoke to Michelle - one of the GP receptionists I know well - and explained the situation. She said I'd need to speak to the on-call doctor, that they'd call me back, but she couldn't say when that would be, so I prepared myself for a long wait at the dental surgery. Mr V was going to have to go somewhere before too long, but wanted me to stay at the surgery so the other dentists there could keep an eye on me while we waited for the GP to call back. He spoke to the first of the other dentists, explaining what had happened, who was as surprised as Mr V at the reaction I'd had (Mr V said he'd never heard of an allergic reaction to Duraphat, and hadn't known about bananas containing benzoates, but that that explained my reaction) and asked him to keep a close eye on me. He then went into the second of the other dentists and did the explanation thing, but came out saying that this other dentist's patient was a nurse and she'd said that I should go to A & E, and that I should go soon because otherwise the queues would start to build up. Mr V seemed very relieved to have this second opinion that I ought to be seen by a doctor and it was decided that that's what would happen. Again he offered to pay for a taxi for me to get to A&E, but first I had to call my GP surgery to tell them what was happening and that I now wouldn't need them to call me back. Michelle asked if the dentist was getting me an ambulance and when I told her that no, I was getting a taxi she said, 'A taxi. That's an interesting approach ... well, you know where we are if need us.'

I have to say that I felt like a bit of a twit arriving at A&E displaying few symptoms of severe allergic reaction by now, but saying how things had been earlier, but they were okay (although saying that I probably should have gone earlier) and I was seen fairly quickly. The doctor was rather patronising and obviously hadn't read the copious notes they have on me from my multiple admissions for my asthma. He questioned my 'possession' of so many different antihistamines, until I explained that they were prescribed by the immunologist; he questioned how I had access to a nebuliser (!) so I then had to explain about my asthma; he questioned my allergy to mint (I keep a list of all my meds and allergies and I'd given him this list) simply because he hadn't heard of it before. Anyway, after examining me he said that mostly I was okay, but I was tachycardic, breathing a little quickly and my peak flow was a bit low at 165, so he prescribed more nebulisers and said they'd keep me there for a while to make sure that I didn't have a second wave (biphasic reaction). After a couple of hours or so a different, much less patronising doctor came to see me, saying that the first one had now gone off shift but had handed me over. He redid my peak flow, which had picked up to 250 and he felt I was probably okay to go home, but because of my history (he'd looked at my notes) he didn't want me to feel like I was being pushed out before I was ready and he'd be happy to keep me in overnight if I felt like I needed to be. I didn't think I needed that and I felt lots better, though very tired by now. The doc checked that I had an Epi-Pen, was a little worried that I live alone, but reassured that I have the community care alarm. He gave me strict instructions to keep that beside me, the Epi-Pen beside me, all my other meds beside me and the phone beside me all evening/night, and if there was any deterioration at all then I was to 'dial the 9s' immediately.
I have now had the very weird, but very good experience of walking out of A&E! I don't know when the last time that happened was. In fact it was such an exciting experience for me that I had to take a photo of the exit/entrance as proof of it. Here's the photo:

Today I'm okay, but still very tired and still have that post-poisoned feeling so I've done very, very little, which is rather boring and very frustrating.

Even though things turned out okay in the end, yesterday really wasn't the day I'd had planned.