A Special Day at Denbies

December 12, 2011

…..Saturday December 10th 2011…..

My Cousin Mark and his Girlfriend Katarina held their wedding at Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey.

It was a lovely cold frosty atmospheric December afternoon and a gathering of our extended family, most of whom we haven’t seen in four years. How nice to all be together again to celebrate a happy event.

The food was lovely, albeit lacking in meat!, and the wine certainly flowed. We were treated to a tour of the estate on a little train and a private wine tasting which was very fun.

The Bride and bridesmaids looked beautiful, and my cousin Mark and his Best Man, his Brother Peter both looked very dapper in their tails.

Anna-Bell had a lovely day at Kizzie’s cuddling up on the sofa with her and playing with Poppy.

We got back at 9pm after a fast frosty drive, and flopped in front of X Factor!

…..No doubt, my late Grandparents would have been looking down on us all at the event and smiling with pride at their lovely family……



A Visit from Elisheva!

December 6, 2011

…..So a 3rd member of my worldwide online community came to visit with us at home in London…..

Or as my Dear friend, AG, who started this whole visiting ball rolling back in June said, our house is fast becoming the Asthma Embassy of London!

I picked Eli7 up from Ruislip station on a cold and frosty Monday morning, after her early 6am start from Luton airport. Geez, why do people visit England in the Winter! Brrrr.

We went home and settled her in comfortably on the same sofa Steve had sat on, 2 weeks previously-(I should get a plaque of the names of all my visitors who have sat there, actually!)

And the doglet appeared and jumped all over Elisheva and had her usual tuggie tuggie fun and games! AB was extremely fascinated in Eli7’s rucksack-could have been due to the enormous stash of chocolate she had with her! She gave us lovely gifts of Israeli Halva and Bittersweet chocolate with nougat in which sounds amazing.

We chatted away happily -Britain’s Got Talent, Eurovision Song contest, all things Jewish, and of course, Eli7’s WAD party!-and at 10am decided to go to my Club to have a posh coffee. It was a nice drive in the frostiness and I hope she enjoyed seeing something of our surrounding area and actually how rural we are here.

The Club was bustling. They had a Christmas bazaar on and everybody was wearing funny hats which really amused her. I showed her my pool where I swim so she can now picture me there. She seemed amused by the reserved parking space up front that I have my badge for!

We got back home at about 11.30am and Julian was awake and up (he’d been working all weekend and was whacked out!). This meant we were able to get him to take the statutory photo.

I then did my ‘Jewish Mother’ impression and made her a packed lunch of kosher cream cheese and bagels to eat on the long train journey up north, and got her back to Ruislip station at 12pm in time to get to Euston for her 1.30pm train.

**J and I were very relieved to hear when she was on the train, munching and ready to depart.**

It was such a lovely morning, meeting with a special friend who had journeyed so far. And so confident to travel alone in a strange country and I’m glad that now she is back on her Symbicort – she was breathing excellently.

…..However, I have a strong suspicion that when she arrived in the Lake District that evening, they’d had heavy snow! Safe travels, Eli7 and enjoy Barcelona next week…..

Foggy Birthday Party!

November 21, 2011

…..Yesterday we had an incredible day of thick, cold fog…..

We went to visit my Sister in Esher as it was Oliver’s birthday, and I tried to take photos coming round the M25 whilst J was driving-but you could barely make out the dot matrix boards. The Christmas lights in Ruislip were seemingly invisible as the cloud was really down to ground level.

One of my dear friends, Michelle put this picture online a few days ago and I asked to borrow it.

It gives a really good indication of how fog can affect me. Although we did celebrate Oli-Will’s birthday and managed a very foggy walk around my Sister’s estate.

And then last night, as quickly as the fog had appeared, it went! When we went out again at 8pm to pick up some pizza express salads, it was largely gone. Not soon enough though, given the havoc it played with my lungs particularly in the late afternoon as darkness fell. But a bolus dose of Pred and the air con running on dehumidify all night long has now largely fixed things again for me!

…..And yes, sometimes it is ok to just sit and breathe, particularly if it is really foggy outside!…..



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!…..

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….

Oh No! The Shot, and I got Reviewed too!

January 10, 2011

….So it’s Winter in the UK, and Two things are definitely certain….

It will snow. There will be ‘Flu.

And 3rdly….I will be forced to have The Shot!

And 4thly….Incredibly, I just got Asthma Reviewed at the same time!

My GPs surgery has been trying to give me my ‘Flu shot since late October, ie, since when I first got sick last term. Trouble is, I haven’t been able to have it as I’ve been too sick! And now I am over the pneumonia I had before Christmas, the country has run out of this year’s supply of ‘Flu Jab. And so my Doctors have had to track me down the 3 in 1 jab for this year’s dose in order to immunize me safely. Unfortunately, last year’s Swine ‘Flu shot was the one that made me very ill with an allergic reaction, and there is no way I was going to be put through that again. So I’ve had to wait until today, when I’m better and when they now have a dose of the 3 in 1 set aside for me.

So I turned up at 5.15pm to get my shot. Coughing, wheezing, and still on 30mg Pred and possibly not sounding exactly well enough to receive it.  At which point the Nurse got concerned, called the Doctor in and together they proceeded to give me a full on asthma check.

Out comes the PF meter.

I scored 260 (about 60%).

I was instructed to take 4 puffs.

  • “Good technique, why don’t you use a spacer?”

“Because if I need 4 or more puffs I use a nebulizer”

  • “Do you use a nebulizer every day?”

“Yes-(Sus thinks, ‘Oh My Lord’….and ‘can we please get on with my flu shot now’!)”

So anyway she documents my (low) PF, huge wheeze, (I’d just walked in from the car park twice, as the Waiting Room was too busy and too germy for me) weight, height, and then queries why I haven’t had an asthma check with her in like 2 years.

((Probably because I’m terrified of scaring her and I’m under the country’s top Lung Drs as it is, so pretty much, no need!))

At last, sidetracking done with, the Doctor slips out and the Nurse walks to the fridge and unwraps my Flu jab (wash your hands Nursey…..aaargh!)

And the Doctor  comes back in and gives me this drug leaflet to take to my upcoming hospital appointment. And gives me a stern lecture about not getting ‘all allergic’ to it this year, and to ice my arm and take paracetamol if it swells up even the tiniest bit.

And then I spotted her entry on the computer, you know, that bit that flashes up when there is a likely interaction. Apparently this 3 in 1 ‘Flu shot is likely to shoot my Aminophylline level up. Heck. I don’t want a sicky migraine toxic attack on top of cruddy lungs and post jab sore arm. Grrrr!

So I roll down my sleeve and the Dr wants me to take another 4 puffs of ventolin then repeat my PF (270)…. 8 puffs and I gained 10 points…. Oh dear! Then I still had to sit back in the Waiting Room for 15 minutes, and she came out to check on me, as did the Doctor. And then they told me to rest this evening if I felt ‘funny’. Ooo that’s a whacky medical word, ‘funny’!

So obviously, now I’m home, 6.20pm, and I’ve just had a peak at ‘the wound’ and I think ….so far so good, it’s understandably a  tad red but not throwing a swollen strop at me, there’s plenty of time for that!

But isn’t it weird, my shoulder already aches, I feel weirdly sick and I’m developing a mild headache.

….Oh well, I’ve got tomorrow to recover from The Shot before school on Wednesday, and even more germs….




New Year Nitty Gritty

January 3, 2011

….Is it just me or did Christmas go by very quickly this time?….

I just asked my Mum this and she said she thought it had been a very long Christmas and that she had been loving all the carols on the radio since the beginning of December. But I guess that’s just it-I kind of missed most of the build up as I was so poorly for those weeks. I didn’t actually hear a carol until King’s on Christmas Eve.

So this week, on Wednesday I have to get myself back in to school mode and have to attempt to pick up the pieces where I left off, on November 11th. There is no point trying to finish off the modules I left untaught: I totally believe in new beginnings, and from experience of when this has happened to me before, I also know there is vacant time at the end of the academic year to fill with things that got missed out!

But there is something People or Doctors don’t think about or understand here. When you live with a chronic condition or a long term health problem, you often find yourself fluctuating between periods of total inactivity-in my case 6 weeks of bed rest with my recent chest problems-and a kind of flip side ‘normality’-in my case, the now having to find the energy and confidence to be back at work. I’m now not sick-I am over the lengthy infection I had in November/December, but I still do not feel anything like ‘well’ enough to be working full on, and all out.

I am suddenly realising the reason I felt ‘well’ over Christmas was because I was home, in the warm, padding around in my new Totes toasties slippers, on soft carpet, with the luxuries of flopping on the sofa for a breather, the bathroom whenever I wanted it, and of course, the luxury of rising without a morning alarm. I did a trial run of getting up at 6am today, but I’m back in bed now at 9am and still in my PJ’s!

Whilst I am somebody who functions best with routine in my life, my life’s routine for 2 months has been one of hardly getting dressed much before lunchtime and even on days when I have been ‘well’, ie recently, still needing a nap or at least a period of resting on the bed later on, and certainly, all done with the minimum of exertion. Julian has been supporting me through everything, because I’ve needed this-we have done the little daily tasks together, shopped, cleaned, visited, and all because I am still quite weak physically, and emotionally.

Tomorrow I have to see my Doctor to be signed back to work. Like I said, not ill, therefore, apparently, Fit! There is no half way house. Either I’m sick and therefore not fit for work, or I’m not sick therefore fit for work. Amen!

The trouble is, I’m only just now feeling confident enough to venture back into my life before I was sick in November. But by Wednesday I have to be fit and well enough to pick up where I left off before then.

This New Year has been a toughy for me emotionally because of it. I’m not sure I’m ready yet to pick up where I was 2 months ago, and it’s making me realise, that I might not be able to play this survival working game much longer.

Do I need to work? What would I do if I didn’t still work 3 days a week? IS there a guarantee that my health would be any better off without this pressure? (No, Don’t know, and Probably not!)

So, it’s roll on Wednesday for me here. Yes I am looking forward to it-to my old life, to my pupils and to seeing my lovely colleagues again.

….But I think I’m going to struggle to keep my head above water for a while yet. Please bear with me….