Some Seaside Air and a Little Sun!

August 25, 2011

….So Jools and I popped down to my Parents place by the sea for a few days….

And in spite of it being a bit blustery, we have had one exquisite sunny day by the beach-watching the brave souls who, come what may, were frolicking in the sea (many in wetsuits!) The air is so clean and fresh here-we’re only 100 miles from our home in London, but it might as well have been another world! The ozone makes me sneeze almost constantly, but I have managed to practice my walking without oxygen-lots of stops and sitting down, but nonetheless, even though we didn’t make it out to California this summer, I am still determined to do some lung healing whilst we are breathing this fresh sea air.

Here are a few pictures I snapped yesterday in Bournemouth at lunchtime, and watching the boats at Sandbanks at tea time.

…..We will venture back to London this afternoon and pick up AB from Mum’s house. It has also been our first time way from her, something we clearly need to practice more than her though, for we have pined terribly but apparently she has had a ball!…..


Our Air Conditioning (aka The Big Chill!)

August 2, 2011

…..We now have fully installed and permanent air conditioning…..

And whilst I appreciate this is nothing original or life changing for my American, Canadian and Israeli readers, this is something quite out of the ordinary in a British house. But our house was a pseudo oven, and we have always found it unbearable in the summer months.

Julian and I are summer people. We both love the heat, but we also both love to come in to the cool. I grew up in Southern California, and Julian has joined me in being a desert lover, even with his red hair and pale skin. He is the guy who turns our car climate control down to 15c and sets every hotel room air con to minimum. I have never found that this differential between very hot and very cold upsets my lungs, except when rushing around the grocery store. Instead, what curses my breathing is the high humidity we suffer so much of the year in London. Florida is well off the map for me, Palm Springs and the dry, dry desert is my Mecca.

Julian works shifts and has a week of nights every 7 weeks. Even with a portable air con unit in the bedroom, which we have used for the last 6 years, it  becomes unbearable for him. And as the rest of the house heats up, it is impossible to cool the bricks down as we have green insulation, ie extra layers to save money on heating in the winter-barmy. We always wished the previous owners (15 years ago) had never had it put in.

So Julian and the Company we chose, after having 3 quotes and 3 draft plans drawn up, devised a system and a make of units which would dehumidify for me, chill, climate control like our car, and remove dust, pollen and bacteria from the air.

We therefore now have a 3.5kw unit in the lounge positioned so it will cool the whole of the downstairs, and 2 x 2.5kw units upstairs so they will cool every room, (except Julian’s office which is just a store room these days), and the cold air filters through the landing and down the staircase. It is ingenious. No pipe work is visible as every thing has been done in the loft. Poor men, in that heat up there. The large inverter is outside on the back wall and again, is silent. Incredible! We now have a bunch of redundant fans and the portable unit which I guess we will take to his Mum’s.

And above all, all the units are silent, and can be run as heaters in the winter (much more cheaply than our gas fired central heating), solo air fans, solo dehumidifiers, or air conditioning whilst dehumidifying. I’m not going to get all techy here, but we went with this company and used these units.

Let’s just say, in the light of the fact that we are home for the 3 weeks this August that we have always been in Palm Springs for, we really needed to do this, this year. So instead of our two vacations, we decided to fund plan and carry out this venture.

Incidentally, our lounge yesterday reached 26C and when we switched on the air con after half an hour we had got the whole house down to 20C. Sheer Bliss!

So here are some photos!

Bedroom 1: We like the way it chills Julian’s ‘Sunset in Palm Springs’ picture!

Bedroom 2 : This keeps any patient cool in our home hospital room!

In the Lounge (Bedroom 4):

Side of House Pipework (This goes up into the loft space):

Back of House Pipework (This enters Bedroom 2 and then the loft through the soffit board):

The Outdoor Multi Unit Inverter: (Conveniently hidden behind the French Windows)

And there you have it!

…..Anna-Bell says she needs to wear a jumper indoors!…..

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…..

Summer Smog!

April 22, 2011

….The nice people over at DEFRA have issued this warning for London, for Easter weekend….

”The high pressure system persisting over the UK is forecast to bring warm and still conditions to the UK over the Easter weekend. These conditions mean it is likely that the UK will experience a high pollution episode this weekend.

Elevated levels of PM10 and ozone reaching high or moderate are expected from now until at least Sunday. The forecast is therefore for high pollution for PM10 and ozone across England and Wales, and low for other pollutants over the weekend.

Some people are more sensitive to ozone than others and may begin to notice an effect on their breathing. People with asthma are not necessarily more sensitive but, if affected, can use their ‘reliever’ inhaler. The public are urged to take sensible precautions such as:

  • avoiding exercise outdoors in the afternoon can reduce exposure to ozone; and
  • avoiding making unnecessary short car journeys wherever possible can reduce the formation of ozone.”
….Please be sensible. I already have a nasty summer cold so don’t want to add smoggy lungs to the equation. Our plan is to stay in and watch some films and catch up with the house!….

Watch Out-They’re About!

September 5, 2010

….It’s that time of the Seasonal Shift again!….

The time of year when the Summer gives way to the Autumn and the EPPs (Evil Pollen Particles) disappear in favour of their cousins, the EMSs (Evil Mould Spores).

Watch Out! They’e About and they got me last night!

There are thousands of types of mould, however, only a few of them are currently available for allergy testing. It is estimated that 60% of the population may be allergic to pollens and about 20% of those may have mould sensitivity issues. If you have been tested and you know what affects you then you’ll hopefully have an action plan from your Doctors. Even if you don’t have asthma issues, these are some of the possible effects of mould irritation:
I know I need to step up my steroid tablets, (Prednisolone), and double the dose of my nasal spray, (Nasonex). The worst lung infection I have ever had was from a colony of Aspergillus which can cause pneumonia type symptoms. It thrives in damp soil-And I love to potter in my garden-this is another reason why people with a ‘wet’ lung disease, such as some types of asthma and CF, shouldn’t keep house plants. They are a breeding ground for moulds.

See these two factors below for more information and clickable links:

So if like me, you are mould sensitive and are having symptoms; (I had a full blown asthma attack that required 4 nebs to recover from at 8.30pm last night, simply because I went out into the garden to check on something random-well, my grass seed!), then see your Doctors. You may need to step up Protector/Preventer and/or Reliever type treatments or take a course of Prednisone to get you through this month.
Autumn is a time when, because the weather is changing, we may not be needing so many windows wide open, and so by shutting them, particularly, (like you should do for pollen), in the evening, you may find you can keep the EMSs out! Wash net curtains, damp dust, invest in a de-humidifier if your house is really damp. (I lived in the country, in a very old stone cottage in the mid 90s and Boy!, was I sick in the Autumn, every year-that place was dripping water from the walls it was so damp).
Oh, and if you live in the UK-listen to the Sky News weather forecast as they are giving out mould spore readings, much like the forecasters do for pollen.
….I was not at all surprised to find out that the current reading for London and the South East, is Very High for EMSs!….