“Calm Assertive”

February 26, 2011

….This is my new mantra in life….

Since becoming a dog owner, and at that, a Chihuahua Mummy, I have adopted the same outlook on life and pet management skills as preached by The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan.

Incredibly the training and housebreaking and pack leader-ing is all done through assertive body language in a calm way. Not necessarily vocal commands, not shouting at your dog when it does something wrong, not telling your dog how to behave, but by showing you are the “alpha member”, the one to be obeyed and looked up to. Dogs of every kind are pack animals and want their leader to be in charge of them. They look to us as owners for that strength and guidance. That is when they are their most totally balanced and secure. I have learned this from scratch really in the 4 weeks we have had our Anna-Bell. She is now well on the way to becoming totally at one with us and with Poppy, J’s Mum’s big Labrador. The old adage of little dogs being snappy and yappy especially around big dogs, is now, for us, just a myth. She wants to please us in all that she does. We have even cracked her finicky eating habits this week and she is now Poppy’s best friend-so cute!

So how am I also applying my new mantra of “Calm Assertive” to my life and health issues. Well, for starters, I know I’m currently in a stable, or so called, purple patch-even the hospital said they thought I could reduce to baseline meds, and I have done so-So what better time to start being newly calm and assertive with this wretched illness.

  • Hold my head up high. Who cares how I feel-I’m not one to look sick!
  • Get those shoulders back and be proud of who am I, illness included.
  • Remember getting stressed doesn’t help one bit.
  • Exert some authority on my health-take charge-don’t just be submissive, therefore letting myself feel totally pants all the time.
  • Feel proud of the little achievements and small steps, and the bigger steps will follow suit.                                                                         ((OK-so my swimming has taken a slight back seat since we have had A-B, but the time out from the pool has allowed her to quickly become settled and balanced in our lives and I have been concentrating on improving my walking skills and therefore exercising different muscle techniques, which is of course, a positive thing.))

And Ok, I guess I have had less time to do my own thing since having A-B, but my own thing was often just spent selfishishly wrapped up in dwelling upon my health issues. It didn’t necessarily make me a better person. I was possibly more neurotic than I am now, 4 weeks later. I certainly didn’t have the ‘raison d’etre’ that I now have. Of course my health issues and the need to stay on top of how things are in the lung department and my many exploding headaches is always there in the fore front of my mind, but it’s not just my whole life now, nor Julian’s I am happy to say.

I may have illness, but it does not have me.

….And I shall try to remain calm and assertive in the lung department next time I’m faced with a biggie flare. I know that panicking does nothing to improve the situation. I need to be in control, on top of, and calmly in charge of all things. Doggie, lungy, headachey-you name it!….



Can Chihuahuas help ‘Heal’ Asthma?

February 20, 2011

….Well, I guess everybody here knows we now have our longed for Chihuahua….

But I’ve been totally bowled over by the amount of information-well, heresay mainly, or folk lore if you like, that I’ve been reading lately, saying that Chihuahuas can actually help ‘heal’ people with asthma.

Sounds completely intriguing for somebody like me who suffers to such an extent with asthmatic lung disease, and I hasten to add, this was not why we wanted a Chihuahua and actually, I’d never heard any of these reports before now!

Whilst there is of course NO MEDICAL OR SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to support such claims, we have had our little girl for just over 3 weeks and I can already attest to feeling ‘better’ in many ways-some by chance, physically, but especially emotionally.

  • I spend a lot of  time stuck resting indoors with my illness-something that in turn can and does get me down.
  • My Chihuahua is very good company and an excellent playmate and does not require me to use a lot of puff playing ‘fetch’ with her at the other end of the room.
  • Chihuahuas are cold by nature, and like to keep themselves close and snuggled up to their human companions at all times. This is so gently comforting and forgiving and purely unconditional.
  • I no longer feel lonely when Julian is at work, or isolated when my chest is rather off or my head is exploding. She doesn’t even flinch when I cough-and boy do I cough!
  • When she lies on my chest for a cuddle, the warmth from her tummy is quite incredible, like a personal living hot water bottle. This is 100% soothing for my aching, coughing, spasmy asthma ridden chest muscles.
  • She is giving me something to focus on besides my health issues. This has had an immediate calming effect on the both of us.
  • She does so many funny things I can’t help but smile even when I’m feeling really grotty.
  • She is the most incredible source of emotional support for me-already!

Of course, whether we sufferers really admit to it or not, Asthma has a very strong psychological weight on its causes. And just as pets can help psychologically by giving and receiving love, they might help in dealing with asthma. Chihuahuas are just so loyal to their owners.

As far as Julian is concerned, and he has had a horrible long lasting virus of unknown origin since last summer and has been feeling so very anxious and totally rotten, I can already see a difference in his wellbeing. Again, nothing scientific, but I do know that his anxiety has already decreased, so however/whatever- it works!!!

Bizarrely, this will the first Easter break in over 10 years that we have not been planning a trip to Palm Springs, California. And Jeez, do I feel relaxed about that. When there were just the two of us and of course, we have no children, life had become one great big selfish existence. But now we have somebody else to think about all the time instead. It is such a breath of fresh air! Plus, it’s been one totally big bad Winter health wise for the both of us and this dog has got us firmly grounded in one place caring for her and not just routinely and expensively travelling half way across the globe. Yes we need a holiday, but we are going to have a few days break here somewhere we can take her with us, like a proper Family. We will all be able to bond, love, heal and grow in strength on home turf. Julian and I just aren’t up to it and Anna-Bell needs us at the moment, 100%. In that respect, she IS curing us of lots of our stresses and strains. Planning and undertaking foreign travel is not for the faint hearted, and we both feel pretty awful at the moment. God moves in mysterious ways, I always say.

Did you know: Even though Chihuahua’s are the most hypoallergenic of all dog breeds as they have so little hair, no dander and shed very little, if at all, in an English climate, they do sometimes have respiratory problems and may make wheezing sounds similar to asthmatics. How funny is that! Ours does, and it takes us by surprise-maybe she is just copying me, who knows?! We keep remarking she sounds coldy like me-and she snores!

Whatever: Whilst our little Chihuahua makes an excellent pet and a loyal friend for an often housebound asthmatic like me, she is not a substitute for my long-term control medications, quick-relief medications, allergy treatments, and steroids! All of which are in my daily arsenal for asthma care and avoidance! Remember there is no medical or scientific proof to the above.

….I leave you to sum up your own thoughts. There is loads on the www, it floored me that such a little dog could be so important and so healing: something first documented by the Aztecs. Amen to that….

Lemony Lungy Lust and Love!

February 16, 2011

….I crave lemons! The taste the smell, the zest, the juice-pure Heavenly lemony bliss-and, it seems, they’re good for my Lungs too….

Right from the year dot, way back in my oboe playing days I was told to think of ‘Opal Fruits’, you know, the soft candy that was “made to make your mouth water” when my embouchure went all dry, playing in hot auditoria. And I still adore all citrus fruit now. Whether it’s because it keeps my arid mouth and throat moist or the whole Susannah psychology that the astringent effect of lemons is somewhat cleansing to my cough, snot, mucus and even maybe, asthma condition, or whether I just like them, who knows! My Mother, another migraine sufferer told me her mother, my late Grandma, used to give her a raw lemon to suck to induce vomiting when she had a bilious stomach. Interesting philosophy there, Granny! In fact, I like raw lemons and sometimes just suck one as they have such a lubrication effect on my mucosa (lining of the mouth!). We are all different. I don’t think though, that with my reflux condition I could even eat raw lemons if it weren’t for a 20mg dose of Nexium twice a day!

Lemons are just so refreshing, and even in the middle of winter. Cook a roast chicken with lemons inside-wow! Add lemons sliced finely, to a prawn pasta dish-such zing. Add some lemony syrupy slices to a plain Angel cake-delicious and refreshing. Start your day with a cup of lemon slices in hot water-very Zen Spa Hotel-ish! Or as I do, a caffeine free lemon tea with a slice of lemon in it!

But did you know, lemon essential oil is an expectorant and encourages the airways to expel mucus. It’s not just drunk with honey for a calming effect therefore, when you have a cold or flu type lurgy. It’s scientifically proven and is in just about every single cold and cough remedy, therefore, for a purpose! I recently read about a five year study of over 60,000 people in Singapore, which found that a diet rich in lemon fruit fibres discouraged chronic coughs. (Just imagine what I’d be like without my lemons then!) Researchers suggested that the antioxidant effects of flavonoids found in lemons may protect the lungs from inflammation and tissue damage.

Take Action Folks!: Make yourself some homemade old fashioned lemony lemonade, add lemons to your cooking-they are even delicious roasted with your winter veggies. Use zest and juice instead of adding salt for flavour. Inhale the vapour of lemons and their zest over boiling water if you’re really stuffed up. Much more gentle than the astringent eucalyptus oil type products.

….Let’s see my friends and readers positively lusting after lemons. Add a little to your life, they’re so lovely, and very good, it would seem, for your Lungs!….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2011

….Wishing all my fellow bloggers and readers a really Happy Valentine’s Day!….

….Love your Chihuahua, Love your Lungs!….

12 of 12: February 2011

February 12, 2011

…. So here follows my series of 12 photographs taken throughout today, the 12th of February, 2011….

So what’s news this month? The year is flying by. We are rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day,  I’ve got one more week until Half Term and I’m up to Day 257 in my Project 365. With Today being a Saturday, there is lots more variation going on in my life, but the most noticeably different thing this month is that we now have our little doggie, 6 month old Anna-Bell. We adopted her 2 weeks ago and she is quite the most gorgeous little girl. So if you like Chihuahuas there are a few photos below.

Anyway, Enjoy, my day! I hope to read and enjoy yours too!

1 ) 4.15am I woke up for more water and of course found myself in the garden potting the dog at 4.30am! This is my shadow on the fence. Julian’s night time search light is so bright it makes our back garden almost like daylight in the dead of night.

2 ) 6.20am. J’s alarm went off and he was amazed to find Anna-Bell sleeping next to him in the bed. I’d taken her up with me at 4.30am and she’d burrowed her way under the covers!

3 ) 6.45am Poor J is on Earlies all weekend, so I made his breakfast before taking him to the station.

4 ) 8.05am My Tesco’s online shopping turned up-2 hours early! As we have it delivered the ‘green’ way, sans bags, I just have to dump it all in the hall these days else the dog will do a door dash-(something we are working on preventing!) She is of course, naturally inquisitive and was right in there sniffing out the packages!

5 ) 10.45am I pottered about and did the ironing, and Anna-Bell settled down in her bed  in the kitchen for a sleep. This photo is taken from our Slingbox. Julian installed a dog-cam so I can keep a check on her wherever I am, rather like a baby monitor!

6 ) 11.30am Anna-Bell was still snoozing so I took the opportunity to do 10 minutes of tidying in the back garden-it was so windy last weekend that we had bits of our ornamental grasses blown everywhere, so I raked them up. It’s amazing how much neater it all looks after just one simple chore.

7 ) 12.15pm Lunch time. I fancied  a prawn roll. So here’s my GF sub, and prawns with Hellman’s extra light mayo as I am still watching my cholesterol. The grapes were my attempt to eat something other than a carb lunch which I needed!

8  ) 1.05pm Anna-Bell and I went to visit my Sister’s family so they could meet her for the first time. She travels in a very smart pink travel box in the back of  Falcon, our big Merc. She was so good and just slept in her box-no whimpering or whining at all!

9 ) 2.30pm The Boys, S-J, Dave and I took Anna-Bell for a walk around their estate. It was a glorious sunny afternoon and she was bounding along so excitedly, totally out-walking me, who had to sit on selected house walls to recover both energy and puff. What a fab time we all had.

10 ) 3.20pm After our walk, S-J made tea and had these delightful little cakes the Boys has made at school, complete with doggie style decorations on the top. I’ve brought a couple home for Julian. She also got me a GF banana cake. I was thoroughly spoilt by my lovely big  Sis this afternoon!

11 ) 6.45pm The bath photo! I was so tired I literally sank into this bath-complete with my Times Jumbo crossword from today’s Times newspaper. I haven’t had a glass of wine in 3 weeks so I was drinking Roses’s lime cordial. A totally heavenly, bubbly soak!

12 ) 7.35pm Dinner. And we had Mexican! Well, you can’t own a Chihuahua without being a fan of Mexican food now, can you?! I made beef burritos, green veggies, salsa, and a few refried beans and we had a delicious Caesar salad to start.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my diary day, 12 pictures taken on the 12th of the month and complete with a little Chihuahua now!

Night, night and see you next month!

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

Call me “Frosty Foggy Head!”

February 8, 2011

….I woke up at 4.30am with a screaming migraine!….

Ventured downstairs feeling pretty sicky, because I knew I had to hit this hard with Imigran and quickly, and it is kept in the kitchen cupboard. That of course meant I woke the dog up and she’d then need watering.

So at 4.30am I was standing in the garden whilst she performed, albeit she stood on 3 legs as it was so frosty her paws were  unbearably cold!

I had no idea we’d had such a bad frost and I certainly had no chesty rumblings and grumblings to suggest the thick fog that greeted us both out there at that time.

My lungs are the barometric detectors of all things foggy-I don’t even need to open the curtains to tell you what the weather is doing-usually! But today they were totally clear and it was my head that threw a massive migraine strop at me.

Blurry, hazy morning fog indeed. But somehow it was all in my head and not my lungs. I’ve never had it this way round before. Although for the past 4 days I have been waking up with muzzy heads. Today I got the full on full blown Imigran needing migraine. I wonder why? Atmospherics or strange pollution?

It’s 9am and it’s lifted now, the fog and the muzzy head. Even more mysterious!

….I’m just feeling extremely short of sleep…. and the little doggie wants to play!….

Potassium Problems

February 5, 2011

….Yet again I have problems with my Potassium being too low….

Hypokalemia can unfortunately for me be caused by long term use of Prednisolone and hefty doses of Bronchodilators. It is something that is seen quite often in patients taking a lot of prescribed asthma meds over prolonged periods of time.

Although I eat a potassium rich diet-potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, kettle chips and gatorade, I always know when I am going down hill. Lots of people get muscle weakness and/or cramps, but I am riddled with them, and exhausted beyond the point of aceptable levels of fatigue, because my muscles are so tired. A potassium depletion usually causes muscular weakness, myalgia, and muscle cramps, I’ve been in cramp agony for a while now.

My Serum Potassium was measured at 2.9mEq/L on Wednesday when I was at RBH. This puts me in the moderate hypokalemia category (2.5-3mEq/L). Normal serum potassium should measure 3.5-5.5mEq/L.

It’s no wonder therefore that since I was on vast quantities of nebs and high doses of Pred before Christmas, I have continued to feel so absolutely run down. Tiredness all the Time Syndrome I think it is sometimes called. But mine was added to by having such low serum K.

So  what are we doing about it?

The hospital phoned me to say see your GP immediately and get a K supplement for 2 weeks then have your blood work redone.

So I saw my Dr yesterday after school, picked up my script and started on the gory stuff yesterday evening. I’ve just had my 2nd dose -it’s a 2 a day fizzy tablet thing-the single grossest liquid I could drink actually! Last time I had a one a day slow release tablet, this time I’ve been given Sando-K. Ack indeed!

Well, I’m pretty good at stomaching such things. I always chase it with something sweet like fruit juice. My GP said to mix it with tomato juice, I tried lime cordial last night. It’s a bit like drinking flat lemonade mixed with sea water! The salt kind of gets to you and the sweetness never really shines through the palate.

I’ve got my form too for the blood retest in 2 weeks-that’ll be my first day of half term so I’m quite happy about that. I also have to  get my Aminophylline retested as RBH seem to have lost the result from Wednesday, hilarious, not!

….Hopefully in a day or two I’ll pick up and not be so very very tired all the time with these horrid muscle cramps….