Please skip over this post if you would find the details of my many conditions too much (or too boring) to read. In the light of my post on Tuesday 18/07/17, I decided to be candid about my current state of health. I know I have already written a lot about my list of illnesses and meds, but I don’t think I have really set them out in quite this way before.
Up until my late 40s, I was pretty fit and well, apart from the event I wrote about on Tuesday. I went to the gym regularly, attended a weekly yoga class, walked and swam (in my own weird fashion) and did loads of activities with my lads. My job as a school librarian kept me pretty busy too and had some very physical aspects. Yes, despite the stereotype, librarianship does involve some pretty active elements! After 50, however, my health started to deteriorate steadily until I reached the position I am in today, at 60.
So these are the conditions that I have today, which are getting worse:
- Hypothyroidism. This was the first condition, hitting me in my very late 40s. It has caused weight gain, hair loss, general tiredness, weakness, and brain fog!
- Chronic cough. This means that I have such bad coughing attacks that I collapse choking, struggle to breathe, usually vomit and lose control of my bladder and bowels. These bouts can be caused by triggers such as smoke, perfume, aerosols, cooking smells, food, spices, pepper etc. Or the attacks can come randomly with no apparent cause. I can go for weeks without a bad attack, or have several in one day. They can last for a few seconds, or go on for more than ten minutes. I can control some, others leave me beyond control and on the floor. I live in constant terror of the next big attack, fearing that this might be the one that kills me. My family members feel the same way and they tend to hover over me.
- Sarcoidosis. This causes granulations in my lungs. There is no known cause and no known cure. The granulations have pressed on one of the nerves that control my left vocal cord, which no longer works. This effects my ability to swallow food without choking on crumbs and also my voice. At the worst stage, I lost my voice almost completely. Thanks to a brilliant vocal specialist I can now talk again, but I still lose my voice easily. I cannot shout or sing any more. I cannot project my voice above background noise, so cannot socialise very well. It isolates me.
- Asthma. Diagnosed as an adult. I wheeze when exerting myself and cannot go out in strong winds or cold weather. Hot weather makes me struggle to breathe. Like all asthmatics, all kinds of things can set it off and I can wake up in the night in the middle of an attack.
- Acid reflux. This can be extremely painful, last for hours, and is triggered by stress. I now also have a restricted diet and cannot drink any alcohol. Many of my former favourite foods and drinks are now off limits.
- Osteoporosis. Caused by the steroids I have to take.
- Postural hypotension. Caused by low blood pressure, perhaps made worse by some of the medications. I faint regularly when standing up or when getting up from a sitting position and am lucky that I haven’t hurt myself badly to date. My family are worried that they might find me on the floor one day with my head smashed.
- Constipation. Caused by the morphine I have to take to combat my cough. Cough suppression is a side-effect of morphine and I am on a daily low dose.
- Severe depression and anxiety. Not very surprising really! Counselling and anti-depressants are having a positive effect here and I am feeling a lot better, compared with a couple of years ago.
- Weight gain. Already mentioned and related to my thyroid condition, taking steroids and enforced lack of exercise. My face shape has changed and I now have the typical “moon face” that many people on steroids report.
- My medicines include thyroxine, morphine, codeine cough mixture, laxatives, steroids in tablet and inhaler form, anti-depressants, diazepam, antibiotics, stomach acid suppressors, vitamin D and calcium.
I am trying to be calm, cool, objective, and factual here rather than complaining. Readers can judge whether I have succeeded! Now for the more positive side:
- I have huge support from Lovely Husband and our sons. Although the strain gets to us all at times, we try to look after one another and stay positive rather than sink into negative thought processes. In addition to my meds, extra therapy takes the form of long cuddles with my lads whilst I hear about their activities, ideas, thoughts, hopes and dreams. The best therapy of all 😍.
- Online friends and former colleagues have also offered lifelines and care when things have got very difficult. It is really appreciated.
- The NHS is obviously a massive bonus for us in the UK. I have had and am continuing to have world class care from eminent consultants, doctors and other medical practitioners. I have also had very expensive, ground breaking tests, treatment and medicines. I have no complaints whatsoever about my medical treatment. The only cost for us is travel and car-parking.
- Retirement has given me lots of time to spend with my wonderful lads, contemplating a range of thoughts, reading books, learning new things, looking at the world through technology and simply being. Tech has been a link to friends, ideas and the wider world. I may never go to far away places, but I can still see and research the far Himalayas, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, cherry blossom in Japan. I can connect with people around the world through Facebook and forums. I can spend money on scarves!!
- This blog has enabled me to communicate again, practise writing, think about what I want to say, vent sometimes, occasionally be political, be frivolous, develop a routine, feel slightly more useful than I did a while ago, take selfies, wear my better clothes rather than slobbing in pyjamas all day. Because I am still here despite everything.
I am still here…
If you have managed to read my rather self-indulgent rant, I promise that I have now got the need out of my system and things will return to normal tomorrow. Whatever normal might be 😁.