Airless Indian Summer

September 30, 2011

…..Its currently hotter here than in Hawaii!…..

And whilst it isn’t hot by some people’s standards, namely my friends in Palm Springs, where it is still in triple digits, our 84F is certainly out of the ordinary-about 18F above average.

We are currently having a really hot Indian Summer spell. They’re even talking  about it reaching 90F later in October! But of course, I keep getting AirTexts about the moderate air pollution levels that are also hanging around.

It has certainly hit my lungs at school, particularly yesterday. I had to indicate to my classroom assistant to instruct my class to clear up after lunch and she had to dismiss them for me as I simply couldn’t breathe. I always teach with the door open, but with no fresh air coming in it was like sauna meets steam room, and apparently we have air con? My lungs love dry desert heat but hate England’s almost Flordian humidity. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I have an invisible illness anymore, it’s rather obvious I clearly can’t breathe at the moment. The guy who came to fix the blind yesterday tea time commented on my asthma “are you really ok?” “that’s the worst I’ve heard anybody?” He must have asked me 5 times if I was ok. But I really was gasping and had just pulled out the sofa bed so he could get to the window easily. Shucks!

Thank the Lord we forked out for our full house air con system this summer. Julian is on Nights and has his bedroom set to 20C which is perfect for him sleeping in the south facing brick front of the house. He has had no idea of the melting pot going on outside all day.

So after multiple extra nebs, a bit of added physio as I was really inflamed and producing more mucous yesterday afternoon (sorry), and a bolus dose of Pred last night, I am ready, I hope, to face a long hot gruelling airless and no doubt very breathless day at school.

All I can do is dose up, and take it very slowly. And keep as many doors open as I can in the educational greenhouse I teach in.

…..Going to be a hot airless weekend out there too…..


About Being Breathless and Helping Your SOB.

July 18, 2011

…..So many people keep commenting about how SOB they are, so I thought I’d put a few of my thoughts and experiences in a post…..

Breathlessness is not harmful, but it is very unpleasant and frightening. I find it is important for me to still remain as active as my illness allows me to be even when I am very SOB.

  • It is very common for my SOB to make me feel frightened and anxious. But I know this can then make my breathing worse. I try to remind myself that breathlessness is not in itself dangerous. I practice PLB (pursed lip breathing) as it helps control my anxiety at being SOB. There are also relaxation, positioning and breathing exercises that you can ask a physio to teach you.

  • I have learned by experience to plan ahead. An important part of controlling my breathlessness is to prioritize and try not to do too much at once or in any one day. Although often frustrating this allows me to conserve  energy for the things that are important to me: this helps my overall confidence.
  • I know I also suffer from air hunger, particularly in the kind of humid muggy weather we have been having. And a lot of my friends have been saying the same.  I do things like cool my face with cold water. Sometimes this reduces the feeling of breathlessness. Plus, I am a mad window and door opener: any way I can create a through draught is beneficial to my breathing.

  • I constantly pace myself. I allow plenty of time and take breaks when I need them. Yes, being active increases my feeling of breathlessness but this is normal for every fit and healthy person, so why worry so much?!
  • With any activity that I find difficult, and definitely going upstairs, it is important that I get control of my breathing before I start. Tasks I find really hard when I’m SOB are things involving carrying or bending-I’ve learned either not to do it, or to ask for help, especially at school!

  • Oxygen helps me a great deal, but obviously you need to have a medical reason to be prescribed it, and not all people will respond to ‘upping the oxygen’ just because they are breathless. Because I find oxygen helpful I am prescribed to use it at anytime such as just before I walk upstairs, or when or  before walking our doglet up the road. To use it now and again when I have become very SOB is also beneficial.
  • And finally, Diazepam. Nobody likes to admit they are taking valium! But on top of all the usual myriad of anti asthma and anti breathlessness meds, I have found 2mg of Diazepam here and there really helps me. I suppose, because it is usually used to treat anxiety it can also help with the breathlessness because being SOB has so much associated anxiety and panic. Mine is usually prescribed at night as it makes me wonderfully sleepy. If you think it may help you it is worth asking your Dr about it. I have been pleasantly relieved and have enabled a decent amount of sleep on a number of occasions during this horrid weather spell, recently.

….What I have written above is just an idea of my ways of dealing with long term SOB.  If your breathing is getting worse or you are experiencing breathlessness as a new feeling, please, please seek medical advice from your GP…..

Weather-Related Allergies

June 6, 2011

…..AT LAST! It’s absolutely chucking it down out there!…..

The relationship between allergies and weather is an obvious one. But, the summer pollens and air pollution ones are the greatest for myself. The cold of winter brings different lung issues but not necessarily allergy ones. Even though it is raining, my nose is still streaming, and even with a low pollen count my eyes are still itching.

These are some of the common weather related allergies that we are all a slave too:

Wind:  Wind-driven plant pollens such as tree pollens and ragweed pollens are blown into eyes, mouth, nose and lungs and cause allergic reactions. Tree pollens are high during spring and ragweed pollens are high during fall.

Mild weather: Mild winter may cause early pollination for trees and flowers. This may result in an early spring allergy season. Mild or rainy winters can increase the mold spores, which is a main allergy trigger. Pollen counts are usually high in the air during a mild spring season.

Rain: Weather allergies are usually less in rainy season. It happens as rain can damp down and can wash away pollens that may cause allergic reactions. However, an allergy to mold spores may increase during this season. Mold spores usually thrive in damp condition. Large amount of rain in the Autumn may create higher counts of tree pollens in the following spring.

Cold: Cold plays an important role in weather allergies. Sudden cold or unexpected freezerscan bring early spring and increase tree pollen productions in the air.

Heat: Dryness or irritation of the nasal passages may occur due to a sudden spike in dry summer heat. It may result in allergic reactions and allergic asthma,that so many of us have.  When humidity increases, growth of mold spores will also increases. Higher humidity is the condition in which most allergy symptoms may worsen.

Air pollution: my bug bear. Temperature inversions and smog can severely affect those of us who suffer from weather allergies and asthma. High humidity, heat and stalled weather systems during summer all can contribute to such air pollution allergies.

(click picture to see it bigger!)

…..At least today’s rain is strong enough to wash away the problems, albeit temporarily!…..

We’ve all got Hay Fever!

June 3, 2011

…..All 3 of us are sneezing, even little Anna-Bell!…..

It seems the dreaded summer allergy season has hit Tow Towers all at the same time. Julian and I have got the same symptoms and Anna-Bell keeps sneezing like you wouldn’t believe when she goes in the garden to play!

The pressure is high but we have had no rain so the pollutants and pollen have become down right nasty here. Julian and I have both got these non stop muzzy heads, and sinus pressure and aching ears, plus of course, the sneeziness and wheeziness in my case and itchiness in all our eyes, A-B’s included.

I guess it’s a case of keep on doing the old adages, close those open windows at dusk when it all comes down, wash those net curtains weekly, shower off after being outside, don’t wear outdoor clothes laying down on the bed for a nap (very guilty), and stay out of the outdoors at the worst pollen forecast times.

We are both on Nasonex and A-B is having her eyes bathed with cold water when they get really watery. It doesn’t seem to bother her, but how would she tell me if she also had The Headache?!

It’s been such a glorious summer so far, and neither of us suffer that badly although I have noticed my SATS have dropped and I am currently really feeling much more huffy puffy than I was, so my chest is a bit off it’s recent good norm. I’m almost down to baseline Pred but don’t want to do that last 5mg drop yet as every time I plan it I have a chesty attack and get reminded I probably need more. It’s just a number so I’m not going to beat myself up over one extra red tablet!

…..So I’m off to wash my eyes out again-typing this in the garden has been a challenge too!…..

Refreshed by Rain!

May 7, 2011

…..As forecast, last night we had a thunder storm…..

I am not usually a wet weather person-not that this is ‘wet’ though, the sun is already back out, heating the water droplets and creating nasty, nasty lung-hating humidity. Bleugh. This feels like Miami after a storm!

But we needed that storm-with nothing measurable for the last 2 months, it was the first decent downpour we’ve had. Our side of London is now in a rain shadow with this totally obvious climate change.

And this is why I am happy it rained:

  1. I didn’t get a pollution air text last night!
  2. The pollution that was so apparent is much, much less today-you can’t smell or taste it like you could in the drought.
  3. The temperature has dropped for the moment (although apparently, 80F is forecast for much of the coming month!)
  4. My back lawn got watered for the first time and I didn’t have to work on watering the front lawn like I have been doing daily for the past week!
  5. My antsy angst filled lungs feel like they have had a temporary reprieve from the horrible heat we’ve had.
  6. The whole house is cooler as I’ve flung open every window back and front and given it a total air change. Bye bye backing up CO2!
  7. The pollen has been dampened. Bye bye sneezing allergies for the day!
  8. The storm happened overnight so my lungs and head were not affected by the atmospherics or change in pressure. Phew!
  9. The garden looks beautiful.
  10. Julian has been out there with his macro and has actually seen nature in the daylight now he is off Nights!
And here are a selection of his 105 mm macro photos taken this morning after the refreshing rain.
Rose Swan Lake
Day Lily Leaves
…..Better air, and natural beauty, Truly refreshing for all eyes and lungs…..

The Whole Coughing Rainbow….

November 20, 2010

…. It’s an education in itself!….

So apart from the fact that the Locum GP made me quite unhappy yesterday, she did come up with some interesting and informative thoughts on the current state of my lungs! I thought I would share a little as I am trying to educate myself as well as my readers here!

Amongst the myriad of crackling and wheezing, how is it that I know that my cough infection is clearing up, when I’m coughing  practically as much, and now, apparently, wheezing more?

Well, of course, I don’t want to gross anybody out so I’ll be as tactful as possible, but  you may have previously come across that song, Brown Sputum, you know, the one sung to the tune of  the Rolling Stones, Brown Sugar! If not, you can find it here!

But during the last month, with my “mild pneumonia/chest infection/flu that wasn’t flu and now Acute Exacerbation of Asthma”, I’ve been through the whole Coughing Rainbow, more like the following colour splatter, ie, a more subtle and sligtly less gross to look at chart!

So why is it, that every time I cough, Julian or my Doctor, if I’m there, says to me, “What colour is it now?’

Believe it or not, it’s not the colour, but the change that matters. If your usual is one of the above, and you deviate from it then this is the indication for there being an infection, and not so much the colour itself. I was always told that having green phlegm meant your immune systen was working hard, and it doesn’t necessarily spell i-n-f-e-c-t-i-o-n. It could just as easily be a virus.

But I think with all chronic lungers, be they Asthmatics, COPDers, or people like myself who are a mixture of the two, knowing exactly what is going on down there, and keeping up with the bug busting remedies is very, very important.

I guess therefore, that having had this underlying Yeuch Couch going on for 4 weeks now, I am at least relieved that after 3.5 weeks on strong antibiotics it is somewhat less infected. But somehow, amongst the crackles and the wheeze I still have to shift the rest of the gunk, because, as my Doctor firmly stated yesterday, if it stays down there, it’s going to continue to feed the infection zone. And my lungs have fast become a one way road to Phlegm City…

So her ideas now are, try and wheeze less, therefore, extra ventolin nebs to open things up, extra saline nebs with the PEP to cough more up, and continue the bed rest to allow my body to heal up! Drink lots of  hot drinks to soothe my tight and twitchy little airways, and above all turn the heat up: warmth in the house will give myself the best chance to recover from this.

And so her prescription yesterday was:

….Another week off work….

(And that will be another post in itself)

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….