When I wrote my last post I fully intended to write again very soon, but for one reason or another I haven't been able to. I've written my next post in my head several times, with it being different each time because of what's been going on at the time, but because of that I've also rather lost track of how long it is since I actually managed to post anything. At last I'm here, albeit two and a half months since my last posting.
So what's been going on for me? Well, it's been the summer and traditionally a time when folk go on holiday. I haven't really been on holiday as such, but I have been up to Edinburgh to stay with my mum on two occasions, each time for about a week. I've taken the kitten - Isobel Artemis - with me each time and she's had no problem with the car journeys or getting used to a different environment, and has really loved darting up and down the stairs at Mum's. I don't have stairs in my flat, so Isobel's first encounter with stairs was at Mum's, and each time we've visited she's had great fun galloping up and down them, sounding like she's wearing boots. She's five months old now, and although young for it, she was spayed last week, mostly because she's desperate to investigate the outside world, but I don't want to risk her getting pregnant. She's healing well, and hasn't had any problems at all, which has been a huge relief because I was worried that she was a little too young, even though the vet said she'd be fine because she's quite 'long for her age'. I am completely besotted with Isobel and she's giving me so much pleasure and delight.
At the middle of July/beginning of August I spent two weeks in hospital with my asthma. I'd had a brilliant couple of days down in London for the Monty Python show and then drove back home on the Thursday. I wanted to be back home in time for choir as it was the last Flotsam rehearsal before the summer break and we were singing at the wedding of a couple of choir members at the end of August. In the end I decided to go straight to Flotsam so that I didn't have that post-drive slump at home and have to go out again almost straight away, but then as I was approaching Gateshead I realised that I was going to arrive a bit too soon so I decided to stop at the Angel of the North. I was absolutely fine when I arrived and when I got out of the car, and fine when I got the wheelchair out of the car and had a little trundle around, but very quickly and suddenly I became extremely ill. I couldn't breathe and my chest felt incredibly tight. I got out my nebuliser and started to use it, but I could feel myself going - the world was going black and I was about to pass out. I knew that if I passed out then I would die. I could see an elderly man sitting on a nearby bench, watching me, looking concerned, but he didn't approach me or ask if I needed help, and then he started to disappear into the encroaching blackness. Just as I was resigning myself to dying under the gaze of an angel, the drugs in my nebuliser started to kick in, the blackness started to dissipate, and my breathing started to ease. For the first time ever I went from being absolutely fine to incredibly ill to fairly okay again in one 'sitting.' It was a huge relief, but also very confusing because I didn't know how to deal with this new situation - would I continue to be okay? Should I go to hospital? Would I be alright if I went home?
When I got back in the car I looked in the mirror and could see that I was far from being the right colour, but my breathing did feel a lot better than they had done and I thought I was probably okay to drive ... although, in retrospect, I probably ought not to have done. I had been very scared by what had just happened and was feeling rather shocked by it, all of which probably contributed to my decision to leave getting checked out until the next day. In the meantime I decided that I would go to choir as planned because it was probably safer for me to be with people in the immediate aftermath of this than to go home and be alone all evening.
It took a long time - a good couple of hours - for me to get back to being the right colour, and during choir I was sweating a great deal and not feeling well, although my breathing remained okay given what had occurred on the way. Perhaps because of the fear of the attack at the angel and being so close to passing out, I didn't tell anyone at the time quite how poorly I'd been (it would be like admitting it to myself), but I did go straight home afterwards rather than join others in the pub for an end of term drink. And when I got home I was exhausted.
I had every intention of phoning my GP the next day to get checked over, and I set my alarm to wake me in time to phone for an appointment, but when morning arrived I was too tired to move. I tried to wake up, but I couldn't. My head didn't feel right. In fact it hadn't felt right since I'd almost passed out in the asthma attack - it felt thick and heavy and I couldn't really think straight. I went back to sleep, telling myself that I'd phone the doctor soon, but as the day progressed I wasn't able to stay awake long enough to make the call, and I was fumbling around doing my nebs practically in my sleep. I don't know what happened to the day, but it disappeared, and the next thing I knew my carer for the day was calling my name from the hall. I hadn't heard her ring the bell, knock on the door, or even phone me up, so she'd got the code for my keysafe and let herself in. I managed to explain what had happened, but I still wasn't right, and she said that I seemed a bit confused. I said that I wasn't, that I was just tired, but actually I think I was confused. The carer stayed a while, made me a drink (I didn't want anything to eat), and phoned the office/on-call to tell them what had happened and how I was, and then she had to go.
I can't remember much about that weekend, except that my head didn't feel right and my lungs were slipping again. My GP surgery is closed at weekends and I don't like A&E (plus, I didn't think I really needed to go to A&E) so I was hanging on for Monday. When Monday morning arrived I managed to wake up to make the call to the surgery, got an appointment with one of the doctors, and went straight up to the surgery. Part of me must have known that I'd end up in hospital because I had checked my hospital bag was ready, but part of me was still in denial, or maybe not thinking properly, so I didn't gather my meds together or take anything with me to the surgery. The doctor was lovely, but clearly concerned so had me admitted to my usual ward at Freeman Hospital via an ambulance straight from the surgery.
At first the docs on the ward didn't do very much for me, but I could feel my lungs getting slowly tighter, and the nurses who know me well were concerned for me. My consultant was off (his first sick leave in his whole career), and the registrar had opted to wait and see how things went with me before doing anything proactive, which was tiring and frustrating for me. I didn't see the point of being in hospital if they weren't going to do anything different from what I could do and was doing at home, besides which I could feel my lungs getting slowly tighter and tighter. The following day they agreed that the time had come to intervene and they put up the aminophylline infusion, which slowly, slowly did its thing and I started to get better, except that then the docs were too eager to get it down, despite my telling them that I need to be weaned off it very slowly. It all went pear-shaped and I ended up back on it very soon after it'd first come down. This time they kept it up until I was more stable, and as far as I remember it was up until after my consultant came back to work and could oversee the whole the process. Eventually I was well enough to be free of the aminophylline infusion, and I could start to get some better rest before going home.
I was discharged two weeks after being admitted. The general consensus was that there was most likely something at the Angel of the North to which I'm allergic - a pollen of some kind, probably - and that the confusion and headaches had been due to the lack of oxygen to my brain when I was so acutely unwell. These seemed to get better with time and rest, although I was still extremely tired for about a week after I got home and did very, very little other than sleep or lie in bed for my first week home.
Since then my lungs have settled back into their usual state of unpredictability, but I've got back into life, taking each day as it comes. I've been up to Edinburgh once since then and had some Mum TLC, which is always good for recovery from poorliness, and I've seen various friends at various times too, which help my spirits and remind me how lucky I am to have such lovely people in my life.
There have been a few other medical things going on throughout the summer and recent weeks too, but I'll post about them separately because otherwise it might be overload for both me and you. Besides which, I've just noticed that it's almost 1.40am and I really ought to take myself to bed if I'm to have any chance of seeing any of tomorrow morning, which I'd like to do as I've been enjoying the sunny September weather. So for now I'll bid you goodnight and I'll take Isobel for a cuddle in bed.