Hospitals “WE” have known!

August 28, 2010

….Note the ‘WE’ and not ‘I’….

So Julian has spent the day being a patient. The long and short of it is, last Sunday, in the extreme heat of Palm Springs, my red headed, fair skinned, but sun loving partner felt a bit ‘off’. We assumed it was heat stroke, dehydration and a bit too much exertion at the previous high altitude, lugging the photographic equipment around. He felt dizzy and had a few shooting pains across his chest.

Anyway, these seem to have continued, and yesterday we took him to see the Nurse Practioner at his Surgery to have his heart and blood pressure checked. She said all was ok and sent him for routine blood tests-again-all ok.

Then Julian worked a night shift last night and felt really unwell, again, with lots of pains in his chest, and arrived home at 9.01 am this morning saying to me to please take him to A&E as he really didn’t feel well.

I suppose I didn’t have time to question anything, just grabbed the keys, and shoved a bottle of water in my bag and knew that they’d see him immediately once we arrived.

So he was ECG’d instantly-and this was repeated 4 times, half hourly. He had bloods done, ABGs done, a chest x-ray done, and was given 300mg Aspirin, Clexane and some other thrombolytic. He was tested for DVT and a HA-neither of which came back positive even though he was given the meds as a precaution.

I guess we are relieved that the pains he keeps getting across his chest have been diagnosed as nothing more sinister than intercostal muscle spasms, and that he has in fact now had a complete check up, and does not seem to fit a single criteria for somebody at risk of a HA. He is super fit- even his ‘stressed out’ resting pulse was 54-that is quite incredible, and his ABGs were so good they were off the scale!

But oh dear, the direness of the situation, watching the one you love so much lying there on a gurney and feeling so very helpless. I had to grit my teeth and be oh so strong for the both of us not to lose the plot.

My Parents were great: I was in constant text contact with them throughout the whole 4 hours, and I spoke to his office twice as the Doctor has said he now needs a good 48 hours bed rest, as clearly he has been pushing things a bit too much, as, on top of the heat of the holiday, and the altitude, and the international flight, we then came home to two days of builders mess and then he was starting a night shift….

He’s in bed asleep now. I’m about to tackle the ironing, by way of which, in writing this post, I have found a great way of procrastinating!

If you read my 365 for Today, you’ll see just how much laundry I did first thing.

But really, there’s only one thing I’m caring about….

….And that’s that my Julian soon feels better….


Our Dizzy Desert Days…

August 21, 2010

….are BACK again!….

Can you tell from my side bar SATS and Stats that we are back in Palm Springs?

After an all time O2% low in Page, Arizona, of 86% I have actually woken up this morning feeling energised with SATS of 95%-just 1% below where I should be after a night on 2L.

Our drive back here yesterday was long (530 mies). Everything in US terms is bigger. The weather has been hotter, the altitudes higher, the distances driven greater. We love this country. God Bless it. We have just driven the equivalent of  1/6th of the way across it and we are-as we say, ‘cream crackered’!

And now-safely returned to our Desert-these are the things I will instantly notice today:

  • There’ll be no clouds-the sky will be an enormous, open expanse of blueness.
  • There will be no humidity and no afternoon monsoon thunder showers and lightening shows
  • Julian will not have an ‘altitude sickness’ headache.
  • The kettle will boil at 100c and we will make decent tea!
  • My emergency superglue will not explode when I open it.
  • Alcohol will have less effect!!
  • Susannah will breathe without sounding like a steam train.

Of course there are more things:

  • Palm Trees-you should have heard us whooping for joy when we saw Palm Trees as we entered the Coachella.
  • Our Mountains-Granite not red rock!
  • Our underground parking lot-not having to put the windshield sunshade up many times a day!

But don’t get me wrong. We had THE BEST time in Page, AZ-which is why we went back there this year-and for longer, too-and we are planning another trip there, but maybe not for 2 or 3 years!

But we are desert rats. We come here to Heat and Eat our way through the summer.

Julian and I are are going to enjoy sifting through his 7 Gigabytes of photos (he tells me!-14 bit Raws+Jpeg Basic, HDRs Panoramas etc)….

….And today, I will be able to swim again….

Loving Lake Powell!

August 18, 2010

….I’ve been too busy to write a proper update for days!….

But if you subscribe to my YouTube feed, MyMusicalLungs you can watch a series of many little video clips from around Lake Powell and Driving off road along House Rock Valley, that I have been taking since we have been in Page, by Lake Powell, Arizona.

We are at 4,300 feet here, so I apologise for the breathlessness and hissing O2 conserver in the background of probably all of them. I am just a little somebody who will not let illness beat me and who grabs every moment, and opportunity possible to try to do these things. I am more than lucky though that I have the immense love of a wonderful partner and an awesome family supporting my antics. That gives me the strength and courage to attempt to do things.

….Enjoy the videos….

12 of 12: August 2010

August 13, 2010

….So here follows my 12 photos taken during today, the 12th day of the month of August. Not quite a usual day as we are on vacation in the Californian Desert….

I’ll also do my best to not include too many swimming pool, food and margarita shots-yes-I’ll try-but I can’t guarantee it!

1) I woke up early, around 6am, but only because my Sister texted me from the UK! My morning ritual here in our hotel suite is to walk into the bathroom and switch off/disconnect E.T. my POC. As I sleep with oxygen we always put him in another room so we don’t hear the hum and click he makes. The bathroom is large, cool and a perfect distance for my 25ft long cannula!

2) I then switched the kettle on and started another morning ritual here. That of emailing the Family our daily photos and expedition jaunts. Yesterday we went to Idyllwild. You might like to read about it here on my blog and here on my 365.

Then I went out and about with my iPhone and took the following photos of local things of interest down the Palm Springs Strip.

3) This is the fountain and bronze statue of Sonny Bono, the one time Mayor of this city.

4) Another Fountain: This/these are outside the little museum downtown. We have always loved this spot. It is right opposite our favorite Mexican restaurant.

5) Whoever Miss Cornelia was, she apparently lived here in this house-now a local landmark and a living museum. Kind of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ meets Palm Springs.

6) LG’s Prime Steakhouse. My adopted big brother and our best friend, Chip, works here. Really good juicy fat American steaks! Am I sounding like an advert for the joint?!

7) Looking down the bottom end of the Strip (Palm Canyon Drive)

8 ) Elvis’s Star. It is on the pavement outside the old Palm Springs library. Did you know Elvis and Priscilla had their honeymoon in Palm Springs? You can still take a tour round the old house, in fact I think it has an open house this weekend.

9) This is the water wall in the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Suites hotel where we stay. It is behind the jacuzzi and makes a lovely backdrop especially when lit up at night.

10) Thursday night is Street Fayre night. Palm Canyon is closed off and becomes a myriad of stalls, farmers goods, musicians and food tastings. We love it and go every Thursday when we’re here. I particularly enjoy the free jerky tasters.

11) We thought this was hilarious-the temperature was still over 100F at 7.50pm and this poor stall owner was roasting his kettle corn in an enormous scalding cauldron, complete with a full face visor and leather gauntlets!

12) Dinner at the Chop House, at the end of the Strip and the  end of the Street Fayre. These were our pre-dinner drinks! Sorry-I couldn’t refuse one margarita (and beer) picture!

….Of course the noticeable difference for me this month is that my location is Palm Springs, California!

If you’d like to read other bloggers’ 12 of 12′s, go to Chad Darnell’s Blog….

Affected by Altitude!

August 12, 2010

….We had the most awesome day out yesterday, driving up to Idyllwild, 5345 ft above the desert floor, in the San Jacinto Mountain range….

But I found the altitude unbelievably hard! I suppose I should say I wasn’t surprised. I could feel my heart thumping and my lungs struggling from even below about 3000 feet and that was just from sitting in the car whilst Julian drove the hairy switch back mountain roads. Such was my usual enthusiasm for visiting the beuatiful, quaint town, that I leapt out of the car at 5345 feet when we parked and ‘bam’ every altitude effect suddenly affected me. I knew I’d be needing extra oxygen but ‘bam’ the air seemed so thin I didn’t even know how to get it down my tubes! It wasn’t that my asthma was kicking off, I simply couldn’t seem to get any breath to do anything. It felt like to haul it into me was a major effort, like there was a great weight sitting full on the centre of my chest, and I soon developed a stitch and pains in my lungs. I knew I was beginning to be affected by Air-Trapping too, another all to common and extremely uncomfortable symptom. In fact, the only symptom that didn’t whack me full on, luckily though, was that of a banging head. My head remained as clean and clear as the mountain air even if my brain was cloudy. But I did feel a little dizzy, a little light headed, a bit wobbly, very slow, and extremely short of breath. Could have been the overpowering scent of the pine trees which was a bit like being in a vacuum of Olbas Oil-which actually we both loved and commented on all day long……if only we could bottle that scent and take it home to stinky London with us!

I had a couple of extra nebs, which really didn’t help, I needed more oxygen than the 3L my POC runs on maximum at. It’s not that my lungs were tight, they simply couldn’t handle the low O2 air % even with my supplemental supply. This will be an interesting conversation with my hospital team when we return from vacation.

Apart from my spurny lungs, the day was awesome. We found the town too touristy for us so we headed straight for the Ranger Station who told us to go visit  the Nature reserve as it would be manageable for me-this is after all, prime hiking country-so no way!-and there I could plant my behind on every bench, and J could shoot practically every pine tree.

And to prove I was still standing….

(ps: The colours are absolutely real. The blue of the sky here was like none other, except perhaps high up in the Rockies in summer time)

And finally, a shot of the view from the summit which I was dragged up, huffing and puffing, and really feeling like I was going to expire!

If you have been following my 365 Blog, there are 4 YouTube videos linked to yesterday’s post, Day 72, August 11th. You can view them here: Idyllwild 1,  2, 3,  and  4.

It really was the most fantastic day!


….I strongly advise anybody with lungs like mine to take it easy and maybe to  consult medical advice before taking a day trip even, up to anywhere of altitude. It is a strange thing the way it affects some of us-J of course seemed totally unaffected-lucky guy!….

Desert Updates!

August 8, 2010

….Thought this would be interesting for me to trackback to, at least!….

  • Pari Neb:  is totally behaving himself after my pre-vacation panic over his on/off switch’s reliability!
  • Swimming: I am keeping it up by doing a daily 40 minute swim at about the same tempo= approx 1 km
  • SATS: They’re seeming to be better, but I am dropping them after exercise-However, I definitely feel less SOB
  • PFs: I’ve so far more than flirted with the green zone-almost managed a 90% yesterday. Improving!
  • Walking: I’m trotting around in my usual slow/stop manner but with more energy and less cramps
  • Sleeping: Definitely sleeping well here-the bed is enormous and unreal in it’s supreme comfort!
  • Music-ing: I’m itching to play the grand piano in the lobby. Do you think if I whack out a Titanic rendition the Manager will give us another beautiful bottle of wine?!

….See how the desert is so good for me, and this is after just 4 whole days!….

Sunny, Stingy!

August 6, 2010

….This is what I looked at whilst lounging on a raft in the pool, yesterday!….

Unfortunately, just as I was nodding off for a nap, one of the many desert critters decided to nibble my foot. It got thwhacked by J and promptly died-a wretched wasp!

Luckily for me, it did not sting me in a particuarly thin skinned place, and the bite only swelled up a tiny bit, whilst stinging to high heaven. Also luckily for me I am not at all alergic to wasp or bee stings, unlike my Mother! Plus, with a decent amount of Pred permanently in my system, it didn’t get a chance to cause any sort of a reaction!

Best treatment for wasp stings has been found to be a big frozen strawberry margarita-certainly numbed the pain!

But we had great fun with our friends who we will see more of today-going up to the spa at Desert Hot Springs. J and I are still very much in necessary relaxation mode and apart from a trip to Cabazon (the factory stores), on Wednesday, are still acclimatizing.

My lungs are working hard to degunk. I have a filthy cough at the moment. This always happens for a few days then things settle down. I have used my oxygen more in the evenings and overnight of course, although I managed to really drop my SATS swimming yesterday (86%) so I’m going to need to monitor that more-but I generally don’t take my monitor with me when swimming at home, so it might be my norm. My PFs are up-I have managed another 312 just now. I have also found my need to neb is already less. But again, I can never get lazy there, must always be prepared and have Baby Omron with me!

….So far, so good. The weather is ‘cooling’ for the weekend, it’ll be mild at about 108F, they’re saying!….