Good News

Thanks for your good wishes everybody – I can now report that after two days with no Warfarin I am back in the target zone and, with any luck, will stay there.

The cause might simply be Covid, or it might be that I changed my diet dramatically during Covid. You can never be quite sure. However, as I also changed my diet dramatically whilst my leg was bad, and didn’t see any changes from that, it might be as simple as just having Covid.

There are other drugs available, but I need to lose weight before I can use them, so the remedy is in my hands. I’ve been eating a bit more over the last few days, in case that was part of the problem, but now have to stop again. I have already lost a reasonable amount of weight after the episode with my leg (loss of appetite and the inability to walk to the fridge both helping my will power) and I want to build on that.

My ideal weight, according to my medical records, is 12 stone (or 168 pounds for those of you who work that way). When I was 16 and looked like a beanpole, I was twelve and a half stone, and when I went to work I  bulked up a bit with all the physical work and ended up at about 14 stone. That was, to be fair, where I should have stopped. In those days my ideal weight was 14 stone according to the medical profession. Like so many things over the years, they have adjusted things to make me look worse.

I am off to bed now (still tired after Covid) and am going to start tomorrow with healthy habits in mind. The reason for the poppy? We still have one or two blooming every morning – they really are very persistent.

Slowly Bleeding to Death

I have atrial fibrillation, as does Mark Spitz, the record-breaking American swimmer.  Mine isn’t as dramatic as his, mine was simply discovered when I went to the doctor and she listened to my heart.

“You have an irregular heartbeat.” she said.

“I know, I’ve had it for years.”

“We really should do something about it.”

That’s why I hate going to the doctor – I always come away with more than I take in.

I have an International Normalized Ratio (INR) test every few weeks to see how my blood is clotting. I need this because the doctors make me take Warfarin to stop my blood clotting too quickly. Until a few years ago I thought of Warfarin as a very effective rat poison.

If you have a normal set-up you have an INR of around 1. If you have atrial fibrillation they try to get it in the range 2.0 -3.0 which stops it clotting and prevents strokes and heart attacks. If you have a mechanical heart valve they like it to be a bit higher. It’s nothing special, a million of us have it in the UK and ten percent of the over 75s have it.

However, it can be a bit variable, and you may have noticed that I often complain about the testing, as the results can be very imprecise, which annoys me. I do my bit – eat a dull and unvaried diet, take the pills at the same time each day and let them take regular bloods. They, on the other hand, don’t do much, as I recently pointed out to them.

So, I believe I had got as far as 3.5 for people with mechanical heart valve and similar problems. The next step is 5.0 – 8.0. They start getting twitchy at this sort of level, particularly if it is accompanied by bleeding, and start threatening vitamin K injections. At 8.0 they start getting very twitchy . . .

And at 9.6, if you haven’t admitted to any bleeding, they tell you to stop taking the pills immediately and to go for another blood test in two day’s time.

I’m not sure whether to worry or claim it as a personal best.

 

 

 

 

Looking Forward

It’s not been one of my better times. Starting in August and continuing to the present, I have been dogged by a variety of conditions, which have all contributed to wearing me down. I’m hoping that there will be better times ahead. However, in August I seem to have thought that a week or two should do the trick, and that proved to be a hopelessly bad assessment of the situation.

Hopefully, I am now back and will be improving over the next few weeks. Having thought that in August and then again in September (just before I caught Covid) I am going to be slightly less vocal about my likely improvement. Even my ten days in isolation turned into twelve when Julia tested positive. Everything in my life seems to take longer and be less good than it once was. I suppose this is old age.

The good news is that I have definitely lost weight. The bad news is that none of my trousers fit and that although braces (suspenders) are a useful solution, they aren’t the full answer. I won’t go into all the details, but they aren’t quite as practical as a belt in some ways, and they carry a continuing risk of injury if over-stressed or under-secured. I’m thinking of wearing industrial safety glasses as  a precaution against eye-injury.

I’m also thinking about going the classic route and sewing buttons to my trousers but that involves serious thought about the style of braces and whether to go for six or eight buttons. Six mean less sewing, but eight mean you can use better quality braces. Decisions . . .

Positive!

Yes, I have Covid. It seems that lateral flow tests are not a lot of use.

I probably have the Delta variant according to my sister. The symptoms are different to the original variant, which is why I didn’t realise what was happening. The Government, for some reason, isn’t publicising this. As a result, it looks like at least one nurse from the practice will be off work for ten days.

I feel bad about this, and have sent my apologies.

I’m isolating until next Thursday.

More later.

Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon

The cold I had on Friday (as reported in my last post, turned out to be a bit worse than expected and I took Saturday off work, spending most of it in bed. I spent most of Sunday in bed too and passed an unpleasant night coughing and spluttering.

This morning, feeling tired and washed out, I went to have my dressing changed (the healing is still going well)  and discussed the cold with the nurse as I was worried about the way it had knocked me out.

She had a word with one of the doctors and I was instructed to get a Covid test. It seems that if you have symptoms they now send you for a test, even if the symptoms are of a cold rather than Covid. The three lateral flow test all count for nothing, which makes me wonder why we bother with them.

The booking procedure for a test is quite easy even if there are pages of badly designed forms to fill in.

I won’t go on. Partly because I’m too tired, and partly because I’m beginning to lose my inclination to fight the modern world.

The good news is that I can stay off work tomorrow until the result arrives. The bad news is that I might get another ten days off if it’s positive. I’m not sure I can take another ten days in isolation after being housebound for three weeks with my leg.

However, I may email my MP tomorrow and ask why we bother with lateral flow tests when doctors clearly have no faith in them.

Covid Paranoia

On Tuesday I spent several hours in the back room of a shop with two people who texted on Thursday to tell me that they both had Covid. I tested immediately, and was negative.

Today, waiting between my two appointments at the surgery, I started with a small, dry cough. During the day, it carried on . . .

By the time I got home I realised that I had probably passed it on to several people, including my two workmates. They have both visited their elderly parents during the week and this clearly is not good.

As soon as I got in, I tested again and watched for the result.

Single bar next to the “C”. I’m still clear. The cough is still here too, but yet again a simple cough has been magnified into something it isn’t. This is a relief because I didn’t want to be responsible for spreading the virus to vulnerable people.

Both my friends are double vaccinated and so far, despite one being over 80, are reporting symptoms like those of a heavy cold. This is good.

Medical report – I have a cough and a case of paranoia. I also have some exercises from the physio and am feeling better already. The nurse is impressed by my capacity for recovery and thinks I will be able to take over my own dressings quite soon. Flu vaccine is due at the surgery this week and if it arrives they will vaccinate me during one of my other appointments.

It’s all looking good.

Diet report. We are only dealing in broad figures as I had my shoes on and didn’t count the decimal places but I have lost around eight pounds in the last two weeks despite eating apple crumble and ice cream, a McDonalds and chicken kebab meat with chips. You can see why I struggle with my weight, can’t you?

My breakfast of wheat biscuits, fruit and toast and marmalade remains the same. My lunch is just one sandwich with fruit or tomatoes (that’s reduced by one sandwich). In the evening I try to eat smaller portions in the evening but haven’t made any other changes.

If I cut down more i could probably loose more weight, but I may not feel quite so good about it if I cut out all the stuff I like.  It’s a balancing act, but it’s working.

Gradually Giving Up

It’s been five weeks now and illness has changed the way I do things. I have a long handled shoe horn now, which is quite useful now that I have worked out the best way to use it. I have also just taken delivery of a set of braces. (That’s suspenders to you Americans.  I have to add that, because in the UK suspenders are a very different thing to braces.

Braces are what old men use to hold their trousers up (hence the title). Suspenders belong to a completely different demographic and are used to hold stockings up.

There are worse indicators of advancing old age, but these are the thin end of the wedge.

I’m actually wearing the braces at the moment and they are very comfortable. They also feel more secure (a shrinking waistline and a dodgy belt have conspired to make the last few weeks quite challenging). I was going to buy another belt, but after reading that they can, when tightened excessively, cause bad backs and all sorts of digestive damage.

They were a bit tricky to set up (Julia had already gone to work when I made my first attempt) and I did get one strap twisted to begin with but they are generally simple to operate and there was no unexpected pinging.

I’ve practised trouser removal and it seems simple enough. It wasn’t actually the removal that bothered me, but the retrieval of the braces. They seem simple enough in the packet but they take on a life of their own once you put them on.

Meanwhile, the physio rang me at 8.00 as arranged and I have an appointment at 11.40 so they can prod me about and give me some exercises to help me regain mobility. My phone alarm just sounded – time to get ready for the appointment. I will write again later.

An Interesting Day

Got up late and felt sluggish. Socks went on OK but the trousers fought back and it took some time to sort out. After that it was down to the pharmacy to sort things out (again) which took nearly half an hour). Then, with what was almost a bin liner of dressings and bandages, I staggered across to the doctor. Here I had a blood test. The nurse in question has a good record of getting the blood, but clearly learnt her testing technique in a time when patient pain was not such an issue.  They are still short of tubes. There was a short wait after that as I changed nurses and gat new bandages. The leg is looking  a lot better. I’m still not keen on having it attached to me, but it’s not as repulsive as it was last week.  I now have,enough bandages to make myself into a passable mummy for Halloween.

As I left the surgery I had a phone call –  it was the shop asking if I was anywhere near McDonald’s as we had visiting London dealers and they were making a day of it.

That was about the end of the excitement apart from the tempura pork. We had a pork joint at the weekend and still had some slices left so Julia did it in tempura batter and put sweet and sour sauce on it. It was delicious.  We also had stir fried vegetables but, as you know, I consider them a penance rather than a pleasure. Fried pork in batter with a sticky sauce, on the other hand, is a real pleasure.

The diet?

I’ll get back to you about the diet.

The picture is an old selfie from a day when Julia left me waiting in the car and I ran out of inspiration to write haiku. At that point it’s either turn to limericks  or selfies with special effects . . .

A Post that took a Week to Write

I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad. Even after thinking about it for a week I’m not sure.

Last  Sunday we laid my parents’ ashes to rest in a  Lancashire churchyard. On the day I was glad that the weather was good, my knee held up and my 91-year-old uncle was well enough to be there. Since then, I have been thinking, and suffering mixed feelings.

They wanted their ashes to be together, and as they were married over sixty years that seemed fair enough. When I agreed to it, I hadn’t really assessed all the implications. My sister, for instance, has been looking after mum’s ashes for the last five years, which has always felt slightly uncomfortable. Dad died about 18 months ago and we have been waiting for a convenient time to meet, allowing for the various problems with lockdown. We were going to meet a couple of weeks ago but both my uncle and I were ill, so we postponed it.

They are in the churchyard in Chatburn. It’s next to the school where they met, and it’s the church where they married in 1952. The vicar officiated, and it felt serious enough, without being overly formal. This was particularly true when the vicar found the second set of ashes to be significantly heavier than the first and my uncle remarked, “That’ll be our Jim.”

The black stone on the right is the grave of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. One of my aunts is also buried there and their son Bill is commemorated on the stone, although he is buried near Ypres. You can see it from the front in this post.

One day I should research the family history of the churchyard. I know I have at least three great grandparents buried there, two aunts, a cousin and now two parents. I’m sure there are more but I have to admit that I have never researched it or kept track of the fate of modern ashes.

It was a great day from the point of weather and views and the sense of a task completed. However, it was also sad, and raised some questions in my mind about the wisdom of delaying such things. I wouldn’t mind being buried with Julia, but I’m now wondering how fair it is on the people who have to carry out these wishes, as it does prolong the sadness. In the week leading up to the ceremony I did feel a lot of the same feelings that I had done in the week before the funerals.

On balance, I’m glad we did it the way we did, but times change and I’m going to have to think things through regarding my own ashes.

Julia’s dad had the right idea, I think. The neighbours planted a cherry tree as a present for Julia’s mum when she retired from volunteering in the village. One night after she died, Julia’s dad buried her ashes under the tree. Later, after several moves, he died, and the family was able to sneak out under cover of darkness and bury his ashes under the same tree. They are together, but there wasn’t the element of delayed sorrow I had with mum and dad.

Meanwhile, if you are ever in Chatburn, and you might be one day if you ever feel the urge to visit Pendle Hill, do call at the Brown Cow for lunch. I had the best steak pudding I’ve ever had and my sister’s cheese and onion pie looked excellent.

The church. Another uncle Bill is on the war memorial. He never lived in the village but my aunt did and had his name put there.  He is also listed on the West Witton war memorial, where he lived for some years with his grandparents. If you research memorials you will often find cases like this.

They are now buried in the walled off section at the bottom of the churchyard and are, as the vicar said, part of the history of the village. If you look across the Ribble Valley the hills you see in the distance are the Forest of Bowland. If you could see over the ridge you would see Slaidburn, a village we have already visited in the blog.

A Pleasant Surprise, a Haibun and another Senior Moment

Today, the 19th of September 2021, I had  pleasant surprise. I opened up Drifting Sands Haibun and found my haibun on the front page. I added the date because it will change over time. We are due for a new issue soon and it will change. But for a short while, I was there. Forgive my unseemly glee, but after being accepted a number of times it is difficult to set a new target, and getting to the front page of Drifting Sands was one that I had set myself.

For those of you reading this too late to see it on the front page, you can try here. Don’t get too excited, I think I posted the link before. It’s just the one about the crow and the ants.

Now, I know you are all wondering what I have done in the matter of Senior Moments. Well, some months ago, I had trouble with my emails, and nearly missed some emails from an editor. We managed to sort that out, but didn’t actually find the cause. Last week I finally started looking at my submission diary (remember I have been ill/lazy for a month) and realised that I should have had some contact from editors. I checked up and found that I had a haiku in a magazine. This was a surprise, but more evidence of the fact that I wasn’t getting emails, or I would have known it was being published.

This set up a panic reaction, because I don’t want to miss the chance of publication, or have editors think that I am rude or inefficient. I am both, but I don’t want people to think it . . .

I have just spent my afternoon writing to the editors who may have emailed me, explaining what happened. It’s a tricky email to write (three times) because there is always the chance that they may not have thought me worth responding to.

Earlier in the week I started to realise what I had done but, prodding around with my email controls in an unstructured and ill-informed way, managed to make it worse. Anyway, I have finally found the answer and corrected it.

I had reset my spam controls a couple of months ago to block a particularly irritating advertiser. In doing so, I had also added gmail to my list of blocked domains. This was clearly a bad move. However, it is unblocked now, explanations have been sent and I am a wiser man.